Author Archives: JNUrbanski

Daily Catskills: 05/16/22

A humid morning with mist rising off the mountains. Steamy with a high of 77F, and thunder storms moving through continually throughout the afternoon. During a quick break between storms, it looked like most of the green had suddenly filled in over the past few days.

© J.N. Urbanski 5pm – Usage prohibited without consent

The Arts Inn, Fleischmanns, NY

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

The Catskills village of Fleischmanns in Upstate New York is undergoing a very slow but sure renaissance, after a long period of quiet, under the influence of newcomers who remember when the village was bustling with locals and tourists fifty years ago. Main Street, which has been relatively sleepy in recent decades in comparison to neighboring towns and villages has sprung to life following the opening of its cafe, The Village East. In addition to the farm store run by Alan and Robin White of Two Stones Farm, and the Main Street art gallery, there is a keenly anticipated wine bar and Greek restaurant in the works.

Adding to this burgeoning roster is The Arts Inn on Main Street which will host arts workshops like poetry and plein air; meditation and dance classes; music evenings and movie nights. The Inn will open its doors on May 29th, 2022 from 5pm to 10pm for its first variety show that is free to the public and donation-based. There was a fundraiser online and all the performers will be paid.

Opening an arts and event space has been a lifelong dream for former dancer and teacher Heidi Stonier who owns the property with husband Randy Leer; they closed on the property two weeks before the pandemic hit and have spent the last two years renovating it. The Arts Inn is coming to an area that really needs and welcomes it. “I feel the love,” says Heidi who has been been conducting free meditation classes and has made deep and genuine connections with members of the community.

To fund their vision, three rooms are available for rent via AirBNB. The rooms are themed: guests can stay in the Jane Austen room, the Rumi Room or the Matisse Room. There are weekend packages available for guests who participate in the workshops. Art is for sale in the rooms, most noteworthy are exquisitely serene barn paintings by Carol C. Young in various striking turquoise hues, think Edward Hopper without the people. Downstairs in the common areas are a lounge, a game room, a dance studio and a music room gorgeously renovated.

Says Heidi: “We have to think about creating a world that’s based not on material things, but on love. The way that we can communicate love, aside from caring for those directly around us, is through art. It brings people together. This is how you can touch someone on the other side of the world in a different culture or set of circumstances. It’s a universal language that spreads love”.

The Arts Inn, 923 Main Street, Fleischmanns, NY 12430.

Wild Edible Grilled Cheese

© J.N. Urbanski – Usage prohibited without consent

Spring is here and the wild edibles are unfurling. This week, we have garlic mustard around the raised beds here at Lazy Crazy Acres, in their second year. Leaves, shoots, seeds and the unopened flowers of garlic mustard are edible at certain stages of growth, and if you don’t eat all of your crop it should be pulled because it’s an invasive weed that crowds out native plants.

Greens like garlic mustard can be introduced into your spring diet by packing them into a grilled cheese. I got this idea from Dina Falconi’s Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook – a must-have in every wild kitchen. In it, she details her “Wild Grilled Cheese Master Recipe”, but there are a variety of ways to make the classic American grilled cheese. Every American has their own method as I discovered when I first arrived in the States. In England, we fry everything, even chocolate, so even I’m surprised that we didn’t come up with the idea of frying a cheese sandwich in a pan. I was taught to cook a grilled cheese by my own American and that recipe is below.

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Bill Birns at the Village East in Fleischmanns: Tuesday April 12th 2022 @ 5.30pm

Image: Mountain Arts Media, courtesy of Bill Birns

Bills Birns needs no introduction having been a teacher in the Central Catskills area for over 40 years. Read my first interview with him here, the most popular post on the website with 13,000 views and counting on social media. He has very much made an impact.

As a writer and poet, Bill has published several works, his latest being Fleischmanns In Verse, A History and next Tuesday he will read from this works at The Village East Cafe in Fleischmanns, 1109 Main Street, Fleischmanns, NY 12430 on Tuesday April 12th, 2022 at 5.30pm.

All are welcome.