A frigid morning of 7F but the sky remaining mostly bright with thin, wooly cloud slashed through with ribbons of blue. A high of 27F. Another winter advisory pending.
Another stormy day with clouds like puffs of grey gun smoke, and a steady two inches of snow. Whiteout on the peaks and a high of 34F. A thick layer of ice underneath the new snow makes the going treacherous.
Another dazzling day: endless bright blue and a high of 34F.
A stormy morning: a few more inches of snow with whiteout conditions, clearing by late lunchtime to reveal some sun and a sky dappled with cloud. A high of 41F and a mostly clear early evening.
A bright day in the week: cloudless sky all day. A high of 36F. Icicles dripping in the brilliant sunshine. Perfect hiking weather.
Steady, light snow most of the day with the occasional breeze shaking snow out of the trees. Overcast with a high of 32F. An enigmatic week in the sap bush.
The winter storm dumped over a foot of snow, but had dissipated by morning. Overcast with a high of 32F. A winter wonderland.
Despite a winter snowstorm advisory, we have a warmer start to February: 23F at 7.30am with a steady flurry of dry snow. A high of 27F with the winter storm well established by dusk.
We’ve spent the rest of January frozen over with frequent snow storms and frigid, low temperatures. 3F at a glorious red sunrise and a high of 20F. Sun glowing through gauzy cloud for most of the day.
Local mushroom tea, dried mushrooms and tinctures from Birch Boys Inc in Upstate New York.
Prepare for Spring by reading Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi.
Local Natural Historian Michael Kudish’s The Catskill Forest, A History.
Taproot Magazine, based in Portland Maine, is an ad-free, bimonthly print publication for “makers, doers, and dreamers”, with a focus on food, farm, family and craft.
Back to the quiet glassy dome in the morning that dissipates into cotton candy swirls by late afternoon, revealing some sky. No breeze and a high of 28F.
Another mostly clear day with a thin veil of cotton wool cloud stretching across half the sky. Bitterly cold with a high of 29F.
A rare sunny day: clear, expect for squally clouds that drop snow on the high peaks like they’re icing a cake. Always fun to watch. A light breeze blowing snow off branches in the valleys. An uplifting day with a high of 30F.
Another gloomy day up on the peaks: as quiet as the moon. A high of 30F and overcast with a low cloud, flurries lead to a swirling whiteout at sunset.
Still and quiet with a thick layer of snow and overcast with no hint of sun. Chilly with a high of 34F. Gloomy day.
An overnight snow storm has passed by morning leaving 6 inches of snow under rippling morning cloud that transforms into a solid dome of milk glass by afternoon. Still and quiet. A winter whiteout with a high of 36F.
Overcast for most of the day with individual foggy clouds of snow wafting over the peaks. A high of 30F. Snow storm on its way.
Freezing overnight sleet turns mushy and then disappears throughout the morning. Light flurries on the peaks, but one end of Belleayre gets a substantial dusting of fresh powder. Gusty winds, swirling clouds and a show-stopping gunmetal sky at sunset. A high of 36F. It’s as if the year has decided to get going after a quite gloomy, pensive beginning.
The first day of both a year and a decade is still and quiet with snow remaining only on the peaks. Overcast with a high of 32F.
A dusting of snow like icing sugar on the peaks, but drenched and soggy in the valleys with roads turning to ice. Humid and overcast with thick, hulking cloud and a high of 34F.
Sound of rushing rivers still echo in the valleys. Slight rise in temperatures and sunny with distant cloud, but still bitter with a chilly wind and a high of 32F.
Back to the snow. Overnight flurries, a plunge back into bitterly low temperatures with a high of 21F. Overcast and gloomy.
Christmas Day flooding. Humid and overcast. Steady overnight rain continues into the morning. Rain and snow melt causing flooding along the tributaries and in low lying areas. A high of 59F.
Flood warning and high of 47F. Overcast with low swirling cloud, and mist hanging over the peaks like fading gun smoke. Rushing rivers and blustery winds blowing rain in all directions. Stormy.
Sunrise through a thin streaks of shimmering cloud looking like a clawed wedding veil that melted into gauze at noon, and a high of 37F. Still, frigid and quiet on the third day of Yule. Keep the fires burning before tomorrow’s rain.
Gusty winds blowing snow and overcast with thick cloud looking like a rumpled duvet. A high of 36F and an overnight low of 27F.
30F at 7.30am and overcast with rippling cloud and a pink sunrise at 7.36am, rising to a high of 40F and sunny with wispy balls of cotton wool clouds. Icicles as big as railroad spikes glistening in the afternoon sun.
Winter Solstice began at 5.20am. The first day of Yuletide, the shortest day of the year (7.36am to 4.29pm) and originally an ancient pagan festival of lights. There’s a reason why there are festivals of light in religions in this hemisphere around this time – the darkest time of the year. The seasons are caused by the tilt in the earth’s axis. This tilt is constant as the earth spins in its orbit around the sun in an elliptical pattern (an oval). We’re at one of the narrow ends of the elliptical orbit, and the northern hemisphere is the farthest away from the sun at this time.
It’s that cake again: my go-to cake, the Heritage Apple cake, but this time instead of mixing the stiff batter with two cups of chopped apple, we’re mixing in a cup of lemon rind that has been steeped over night in maple syrup, the act of which transforms it into something else. Now it’s no longer a cake, but a chewy, lemony, brownie thing. If you like candied peel, you’ll like this. Candied peel is a zesty winter snack for people who still remember eating seasonally. Oranges were rare when I was a kid in London and so they were preserved in sugar when they were in season and eaten at Christmas. We used candied peel in our Christmas cake. This brownie reminds me of home.
I was co-incidentally given a cup of lemon that had been soaked in maple syrup to make Tree Juice Lemon Maple Syrup and, now that my only adventure in 2020 has been cooking, I put it in this cake. And by heck, it’s gorgeous. Here’s the recipe:
The BatterContinue reading
Beat cabin fever this winter. Get outside and and go hiking. Here are the top most exciting or beautiful Catskills Winter Day Hikes, ranging from easy or moderate to very difficult. All require crampons or snow shoes. If you’re a novice hiker begin with The Shavertown Trail in Andes. Read our Winter Hiking Tips post before you try winter hiking for the first time. Click on the header links to see a more detailed description of each hike.
This is family hike for all generations with a hemlock forest and long, panoramic views (pictured above). The first mile is the most strenuous, but the rest of it is relatively gentle. There’s a pond and a bench on which to rest if it’s not too cold.
Bearpen is bearish: a long, winding and slow snowmobile trail with spectacular views into Schoharie Valley at the top. Bearpen used to be a ski mountain and the old machinery still remains hidden in the undergrowth. There’s a magical winter wonderland at the top in the dead of winter. Gorgeous.
This is a spectacular hike. You’re coming up the back of Belleayre Ski Center and there are picnic tables at the top where you can eat in front of magnificent views and watch skiers and boarders drop over the edge of the double-black diamonds like stones over a frozen waterfall. This is a long, interesting hike with lots to see. Keep dogs on a leash at the summit to keep them out of the way of descending skiers.
Slide is a long, steep hike for experienced hikers, but absolutely majestic in winter with breathtaking views. There’s also access to the rest of the Burroughs Range for the highly-prepared experts.
The trail to the summit of Westkill is an extraordinarily difficult hike with a thigh-busting two-mile uphill struggle from the beginning, but the picturesque drive through the Spruceton valley, the double waterfall at Diamond Notch and Westkill Brewery make this a memorable experience, even if you don’t manage to get very far, because there’s a great of deal to see, and a tasty beer in a modern setting at the end.
Winter hiking in the Catskills can get dangerous very quickly. One minute you could be trotting along atop a magical winter wonderland, but take your gloves off for a few minutes to take a picture and end up with frostbite.
Water can freeze in your backpack by the time you’ve reached the summit of a mountain when you’re most dehydrated. If you’re layered with cotton and start sweating on your ascent, you’ll stay wet and soggy for the duration of the hike, which makes you more vulnerable to plunging temperatures. Your food can freeze and be impossible to bite or cut up. And then, of course, you can get lost or step into a deep snow pile and twist an ankle, which is easy to do on very rocky summits like Balsam and Giant Ledge.
Perhaps we should call this the Pessimists Guide to Winter Hiking. As we’re all keenly aware however, life in general is sort of dangerous these days wherever you go, and the outdoors is the safest option to enjoy the company of friends and extended family. Plus, there’s nothing more satisfying than eating your lunch while absorbing the views from some the Catskills’ highest ledges and summits.
Top tips: Don’t hike with a hangover. Start drinking water the night before and drink few pints of water before you set out, so you don’t have to carry extra, because water makes your backpack much heavier. Take an empty vessel so you can melt some snow in an emergency. Eat a hearty breakfast. Include highly calorific, but light foods in your backpack like grilled bacon, sliced meat, nuts, chocolate or boiled eggs. Take a hot beverage in a light flask to drink at the summit. Always take a lighter, some pocket hand warmers and a sturdy knife to break ice. Have a full battery on your phone. Most important: take the number of the local forest ranger before you start hiking and tell family or friends where you’re going.Continue reading
A wild year at Upstate Dispatch is hurtling to a close and due to the uptick in COVID-19 cases we are being advised by epidemiologists, doctors and the media not to have Thanksgiving with people outside our immediate household. The Atlantic declares that there’s only one pandemic rule.
This year’s hunting season seems to be more popular than previous years as these mountains ring out with gun fire daily, one incident shaking the rafters of my house like a thunder clap. Food is expensive and this year has been financially difficult for everyone, but most of the Catskills is open for hunting, and so extra precautions – over and above the COVD-19 precautions for outdoor recreation – must be taken during this hiking season. See links below. Watch this space for winter hiking tips coming shortly.
November has been taken up with research and development for 2021’s TV station, Catskills Air. I’m now taking names of people to interview for my new Women of the Catskills segment for Catskills Air, and my Upstate Dispatch You Tube channel. If you would like to participate, or know a woman of the Catskills you would like to nominate, please email me on email@example.com. Candidates will be coached on Zoom lighting and back-drop set-up.
The Catskill Mountain Club has reported that we have already had four hunting fatalities in the region. Most of the Catskills is open for hunting, so all hikers and their dogs must wear blaze orange when hiking the Catskill State Park. The CMC has published a list of other places to hike during hunting season.
Cabin fever will be even more real this year. Hike with the Catskill 3500 Club: see their December schedule for winter hikes.
Treat yourself to the all-British menu at Arkville Bread Breakfast in Arkville this weekend November 21st and 22nd, 2020. As a Brit, I can confirm that Jack’s fish and chips has always been the best.
A tried-and-tested recipe for warm golden milk with turmeric and honey that keeps cold away.
Belleayre Ski Center has been making snow this week, and training its new employees. Get outside (safely) this winter!
Snow lingering on the peaks. A high of 41F. Gorgeous winter scenes hiding in the shadows and on the north faces that make you fall in love with the Catskills.
A whiteout just in time for Halloween. Overcast with a high of 41F. Crunchy, wet snow.
Landscape faded to russet under a thickly overcast sky. Chilly, windy and raining for most of the day and a high of 43F.
A little chillier today with a high of 61F, but sunny with a deep blue sky. On the peaks, most of the leaves are gone, only the copper and burnt orange tones hang on, flickering in the breeze.
A high of 70F with plump clouds. Landscaping fading quickly on the peaks with tufts of yellow remaining in the brush.
Fog hovering in the valleys at dawn. 70F by noon, humid and misty with a high of 72F. This week, we have some wild earth tones: a whole range of ochre, maroon, mahogany, brilliant orange and scarlet.
First the barrels had bourbon in them. Then they had Tree Juice maple syrup aging in them. As of 9am this morning, they contained Jenkins + Luekens apple juice, recommended locally as both tasty and well-produced, allegedly the best apple juice in the Catskills which is UV light-treated (cold-pasteurized). JL Orchards based in Gardiner, NY, have 200 acres of apples and other fruit like peaches and plums.
Now is a good time to experiment with cider making; apple season is winding down but there are still plenty of apples left. One 10-gallon barrel (pictured above) will be used to ferment the juice into hard cider that will spend its entire production life in the barrel. Perhaps we’ll go a little wild with this barrel, remove the bung and leave it to take on ambient yeast. The other barrel will be decanted into two five-gallon carboys with champagne yeast, fermented into hard cider and then returned to the bourbon barrel for aging.
This will be intensely flavorful Catskills juice. Watch this space.
A high of 65F, warm and humid. Leaves flying in the breeze.
Wightman Fruit Farms say that they’re closed on their Instagram account, but we found them open for picking yesterday from their small selection of heirloom apples and grapes. If they close this week, you can still pick apples from their cooler and put cash in the box. Wightman’s have an historic, 150-year-old tree called The King of Tomkins (pictured above) that is still full of fruit. The apples are larger than usual, crisp and juicy. They made a beautiful apple crisp.
Wightman’s charge $15 for a peck of apples, $25 for the honey crisp. If you’re still looking for outdoor dating ideas, you’re not going to get anything more romantic than disappearing amidst the rows of low-rising fruit trees, especially as the temperatures are still hovering around 60F until Saturday – the forecast calls for 70F on Thursday. Call ahead first to see if farms are open. Some farms in the Hudson Valley still operate if you pre-book an appointment, or their farm stands are open.
JL Orchards in New Paltz still had apples to pick this past weekend. Check their website for their apple picking update. Wright’s Farm in Gardiner were open last weekend and they are dog-friendly. Wright’s farm market is open year-round. Stone Ridge Orchard in Stone Ridge has a farmstead and a farm bar with pizza, cider, NYS beers and wine tastings. They have U-Pick apples now. Call them for availability.
How much more can we take of this gorgeousness? A seasonal gift to usher us through the last months of 2020. Another astonishing day with Autumn gold turning to copper with a thick carpet of fresh, brassy leaves in the forest. A high of 60F and breezy but humid, with a hazy sky.
A beautiful clear Autumn day: crisp, breezy and raining leaves. Copper, gold, sepia and umber tones shimmering in the sun. A high of 55F.
Enigmatic misty, rainy day, overcast, humid and moody. Warm despite a high of 55F. The incredible Fall of 2020 has not finished yet.
October 15th, 2020 was National Mushroom Day, but this passed by unnoticed around here because rest assured that every day here at Upstate Dispatch is mushroom day. The obsession is feverish around these parts for mushrooms of all kinds.
Mushrooms are one of the world’s most sustainably grown plant – they’ll even grow on coffee grounds – especially if they’re foraged. They’re part of nature’s fascinating underground network of information and nutrients passed between trees and other foliage called mycelium. Not only to do they give a superbly bold, earthy flavor to soups and sauces, but they’re also high in Vitamin D (unlike any other food) a notable mood-lifter in dark months. Mushrooms are a good flavorful substitute for meat and they’re high in soluble fiber. Other nutrients they provide are Vitamin C, B, potassium, copper and selenium. They’re also being used to make bio-degradable packaging and in cleaning up the environment. Here are some great resources, information and recipes on this astonishing organism.
A recipe for easy mushroom gravy.
The best book for the novice mushroom forager from Teresa Marrone and Walt Sturgeon, Mushrooms of the Northeast.
American-grown mushroom supplements and grow-your-own mushroom kits from Host Defense.
It’s raining today October 16th in the Catskills, so mushrooms should be popping up everywhere in the next 24 hours – this weekend should be a prime time for foraging.
Horseradish is a spicy root of the Brassicaceae family of vegetables (that includes mustard, wasabi, broccoli, cabbage, and radish), that looks rather like a white, gnarled parsnip. The roots run deeply into the ground and the edible leaves that are bigger than rhubarb leaves, but long and thin instead of round, can grow to four or five feet in height. It’s easy to take credit for a huge horseradish crop, but the reality is that you can never really be rid of it. Once you try digging it up out of the ground, you realize that it’s tentacle-like roots travel far and wide around your garden, so you have to stop digging at some point. Whatever root is left is sure to pop out of the earth and produce leaves the following year. If you like spicy food, it’s a really easy crop to grow because of the low maintenance, frost resistance and it’s prolific growth rate. Hot peppers are much fussier than this hardy root.
Horseradish is most commonly found in a sauce with vinegar, but vinegar plus horseradish seems a little excessive: do we really need to suffer that much? I don’t. You can make it a little gentler on the palette by grating it into a condiment like mayonnaise or ketchup, or soups, or finely grating it into a hollandaise to put over eggs for a spicy benedict. It also goes well in a creamy butter sauce for venison or steak.
Store unwashed horseradish root in the vegetable drawer of the fridge. Once washed and grated, it should be put into vinegar to preserve it, but it must be used within six weeks.
Horseradish root is high in fiber; said to improve digestion and metabolism and contains a variety of nutrients like calcium, potassium, folate and Vitamin C.
A perfect Fall day – still t-shirt weather. A high of 62F and warm in the sun. Breeze shaking the leaves out of the trees. Overcast with rolling, blue-gray clouds that cast a beautiful light over the mountains at dusk.
A dewy morning, humidity making it feel warm despite being only 45F at 9.30am. Hazy cloud and bright sunshine. A high of 60F. Leaves carpet the landscape.
A chilly morning, after an overnight low of 38F. A high of only 58F with billowing, plump clouds. A substantial amount of green remaining in the foliage despite the bare brushes becoming obvious. The range of Fall from start to finish is present in the landscape.
Fall turns crisp: a high of 57F and a distinct chill in the air despite the sunshine. Morning clouds dissipated slightly by the afternoon.
Overnight rain spills into the morning, then a slight break in the cloud cover with some sun and a high of 66F. Still humid, and bright despite thunderous looking clouds.
A high of 64F but still humid and warm in the frequent bursts of sun. Overcast with more swirling, grey-lined clouds and early morning fog. Soaked with overnight rain and a low of 52F. Schoharie County has more dazzling colors than its southern neighbors: vivid reds, plums, maroons and magentas join the oranges and yellow. A riot of color in the Catskills. A glorious Fall.
More cloud cover, mist on the peaks and a high of 71F. Humidity keeping us at t-shirt weather. Continual thick cloud cover hampers a chance at portraying the fall colors in all their glory. Early evening rain becomes more torrential overnight.
Overnight rain ends mid-morning making for another misty morning landscape and overnight high of 61F. An overcast and humid day rising to a high of 73F. We’re approaching peak fall as the oranges appear with the yellows and some sparse reds. Cloud cover dampens the colors.
Humid and overcast with thick rolling cloud and a high of 73F. Autumnal fireworks in full effect: approaching peak leaf peeping. Overnight lows have risen to the sixties.
Thick mist rising out of the valley in the morning. Humid and overcast. A high of 72F with a light breeze. T-shirt weather and almost peak fall season with overnight reds and oranges joining the yellows. Spectacular.