Bright despite being overcast with a cool high of 68F.
We’re all saddened to have learned of Anthony Bourdain’s passing. He was a tireless advocate for good food, travel and culture and I intend to use my radio show to continue his message by advocating for good food, featuring guests from all over the world.
Monday’s radio show – on WIOX, based in Roxbury, New York – will be about beekeeping with Kelley Edkins of Honeybee Herbs. Join us as we discuss honey products, herbs and all things beekeeping on Monday June 11th at 9am. Click here and scroll down to the middle of the page to find the Adobe Flash Player button. Click the button to stream the show online.
Lilac blooms don’t last long, at high elevations at least. A reminder of the fleeting nature of the seasons, the blossoms begin to brown and drop off barely week after the all buds on each stem have opened. It makes sense to snip a few to put in a vase or soak a couple of cups in syrup. Lilac syrup makes a subtle floral soda and pairs well with gin.
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
2 cups of lilac blossoms, flowers only, not stems
You can make more syrup, but the ratio must be the same: 1:1 of water and sugar. Slowly boil the sugar and water together until the sugar has dissolved and let it simmer gently for on low for a minute until it’s syrupy. The thicker you want your syrup to be, the longer you should simmer it. Wait until the mixture has cooled a little: you don’t want to burn the flowers, but you want the mixture to be hot enough. Rinse the flowers in cold water and add them to the syrup. Stir the flowers gently into the liquid until they are soaked in syrup. Cover and steep overnight.
In the morning, strain the syrup a couple of times and bottle. Unless you preserve the syrup by canning or other means, it will last for a few months in the fridge.
Mix on ounce of syrup with six ounces of club soda and pour over ice.
A sunny morning and a scorching day with a high of 87F. Clear night sky to watch a full moon rise.
An overnight low of 52F and a gloomy morning turned into a sunny summer’s day with a high of 80F and scant cloud with a light breeze.
A high of 80F and hot with the landscape lush with an extraordinary abundance of blossoms and wild flowers. Summer’s here.
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A high of 65F, bright with hazy cloud and warm in the sun. The forest fills in with chartreuse.
A high of 70F with huge, scene-stealing clouds and intermittent rain showers. Humid with early evening fog descending into the valleys and rising off the Esopus. Shoots a-shooting. Buds a-budding and the maple leaves unravel first. The forest comes alive and the soft earth ejects a few ancient objects.
A high of 70F with scudding clouds and mostly sunny with more yellow blooms arriving to keep the solitary daffodil company.
44F at 10am and gloomy with mist rising off the Catskills and a light drizzle. There’s a burn ban in effect until May 15th, so the sky is keeping us well-watered and the sun decided help by completely disappearing. Wild leeks love the weather.
A high of 55F, humid, misty with continual rain. Rushing rivers.
A balmy high of 54F, overcast and no need to go out for lunch with a coat. The calm before the storm.
Overnight rain continues into morning. Heavily overcast with rippling cloud and light snow caps on the tips of mountains. More rain, and a high of 37F.
It’s been an interesting week, in terms of weather. We’ve had high temperatures that have dried laundry in hours, rain, freezing low temperatures, snow and then more soaking rain. It’s still a bit squidgy out there today as the snow melts. Upstate Dispatch has been transformed into an editing suite most of the week, with the highly addictive ProTools, preparing a podcast series.
Here are some of the week’s links and happenings, locally and internationally.
Fly fishing clinic at Westkill Brewery Sunday February 25th. Beer and fishing? The two go together like cheese and biscuits.
Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint 101 Class at Hudson Valley Vintage in Rhinebeck, NY. Milk Paint has been around for over a thousand years and contains only five 100% natural ingredients. Leave the class with a painted project.
Yoga in the Catskills: near Phoenicia, NY.
Progress made in sustainable agriculture in Holland from National Geographic. “How The Netherlands Feeds The World”. And hydroponic greens grown by AeroFarms in Newark.
The Greenhorns and their farmer’s almanac.
“A man is worked upon by what he works on. He may carve out his circumstances, but his circumstances will carve him out as well.” Frederick Douglas
Fire cider is a traditional, ancient folk remedy and winter tonic in which curative roots, herbs and spices are steeped in apple cider vinegar. The basic ingredients of fire cider are garlic, horseradish root, jalapeños, habaneros, ginger and onion. Chop these ingredients finely, put them in a mason jar and cover with apple cider vinegar. To this mix you can add extras like grapefruit, rosemary, garlic, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne pepper or really anything that takes your fancy, usually a root or herbs because they steep better than powders. Continue reading
32F at 9am and clear with hazy cloud on the horizon. A high of 42F by the afternoon.
A high of 48F, humid, overcast and grey with thin strips of aquamarine on the horizon.
A high of 52F, snow and ice lingering on the high peaks.
A bitter high of 20F, face-deadening cold, but bright, almost cloudless sunshine for most of the day.
It’s syrup time. Taps went into trees a little earlier this year. Tree Juice is now offering a CSA.
There are many maple syrup producers in the Catskills and some of them welcome visitors. It’s worth paying more for local sugar and seeing how it’s made. Some of the modern equipment is more complicated that customers realize. Farmers and producers use miles of tubing to collect the sap. Syrup is produced by condensing the sap and 50-60 gallons of maple sap yield one gallon of syrup. It’s completely organic. Continue reading
15F at 9am with a snow flurry glittering in the sun. 21F by mid-afternoon and partially cloudy with a bitter wind.
A high of 19F, bright and cloudless with new snow on the peaks.
Yesterday, the temperature inexplicably rose up into the sixties for a few hours, followed by rain and a severe flood watch. Since then it has plunged back into the teens after an overnight snow storm, during which I woke up to the sound of cracking trees and thundering wind rattling my drain pipes. Never a dull moment here in the mountains. Continue reading
Overnight, gusty, house-creaking, tree-waving winds continue into morning, with rain melting the last of the snow, and bright despite being overcast. A lush landscape of brunette tones is revealed, and the landscape welcomes a drenching before the ice storm. A balmy 61F. T-shirt weather. Flood warning. The carbon sink (compost piles) gets a thorough soaking.
We have a large rocky outcropping on the edge of the forested part of our property that juts out sharply towards our neighbor’s ten-acre forest (pictured above). This rocky area, about an half an acre in size, is essentially a pile of assorted boulders that look like they’ve been tossed down the hill, but I suspect that this pile is home to various creatures great and small. Years ago, when I was brushing my teeth, casually looking out the bathroom window, I saw a fisher cat sneaking through the back of our woods behind the house towards this rocky outcropping. Continue reading
Cabin fever has you wondering if its possible to survive another six-month winter and why you would put yourself through another one, but there’s a reason we have winter in the Catskills. I like to think that it’s not because the earth suddenly tilts for no purpose whatsoever, as if holding its cold ass to the fire. No, winter’s for learning, seed planning, and drinking a lot of warming winter cocktails like hot toddies and mulled wine. If the earth must kick back, so can we. Continue reading
We enter the New Year 2018 with formidably low temperatures. Christmas was bitterly cold and New Year’s Eve’s overnight low is predicted to be -8F. I cannot remember it ever being much lower than zero in previous winters. It feels like a thorough cleansing, as if Mother Nature wants to properly destroy everything before she resuscitates the landscape next Spring. Previous milder Winters have been blamed for the prevalence in ticks, for example. This year – this past Fall – we had a record number of ticks on our ridge and extremely low winter temperatures do their part to kill the eggs and larvae hibernating in the soil. Continue reading
A high of 33F and cloudy with freezing rain. Mountains shrouded in mist. Tea with a friend.
A high of 26F with continual, light snow.
I know what you’re thinking. This looks hideous. Who would eat this? But, If you’re an avid mushroom hunter, a devotee of all things mycological, then you’ll miss the vast array of mushrooms that were available in the forest during the warmer seasons. Pictured above is a mushroom grow kit, specifically Lion’s Mane, a delicate, fragrant mushroom with a taste and texture that’s a cross between lobster and truffles. I found only one stash of Lion’s Mane back in August in the forest and it was delicious. I’m trying to recreate this mushroom in my kitchen with a grow kit purchased from Catskill Fungi, but I think the room is a bit too light and warm. Mushrooms are extraordinarily sensitive and I have not been able to encourage this packet to achieve its full potential. In the wild, it looks like this: Continue reading
A high of 29F and gloomy with rippled, moody clouds and a bitter chill. Late afternoon flurries cover iced ponds.
Support a local farmer and cut a local, sustainably grown Christmas tree this year. Tree growing is one of the few ways farmers making a living in an area highly regulated against industry in order to keep New York City water pure for drinking. Continue reading
A high of 42F, with vivid blue ribbons of sky shining through thick streaks of cloud. A persistent breeze scatters the milkweed. Not much snow this month compared to previous years.
Food, booze and small favors like soaps and scented candles make great gifts without costing a fortune. Plus, they can be easily mailed to friends and family members across the country. The Catskills is filled to the brim with local producers, making it ever easier to shop locally for the holidays. The Catskills also have some of the best local artists selling everything from small works to large pieces in studios across the region. Watch this space for features on local artists selling their wares during the holiday season. We’re also compiling a list of places you can cut your own Christmas tree. It’s never been more important to shop locally. For every dollar you spend locally, the community will benefit to the value of five to seven dollars. Industry in the Catskills is strictly regulated because we have to protect New York City’s drinking water. Spending money on the Catskills’ small producers keeps our regional economy afloat. Shop Upstate for the holidays. Continue reading
A 35F high with rippled cloud.
A high of 39F, overcast and dull. Warmer temperatures to be found in pre-Thanksgiving drinks by a roaring fire in tasting room of local distillery.
During the winter, if you have a spot in the house that gets a great deal of sun, turn it into a hothouse for cultivation. It couldn’t be easier to grow your own celery. When you next use celery, chop off the entire root system in one slice. Place the celery, root pointing down, in a glass of water (pictures below) and then plant it once your get some new growth that looks like frilly lettuce (pictured above). Continue reading
A frosty morning with fog rolling over the mountains and hazy sunshine. A high of 44F, bright and breezy.
A high of 36F with a mix of sun and cloud. Chilly.
A base layer of dirt, then grass, then a thick wedge of insulation and finally, twigs topped off with a small, vacated wasp’s nest and a large insect exoskeleton, probably a caterpillar/butterfly. A once crowded bird box now getting repaired and cleaned out for new tenants.
After this week’s election victories, Monday’s radio show will feature two prominent guests: Jeff Senterman and Julia Reischel. From 9am to 9.30am, we will hear from Jeff who is Executive Director of the Catskill Center. Many people ask me what the Catskill Center does and now here is your chance to find out if you didn’t know. From 9.30am to 10am, we’ll hear from Julia Reischel, a former local journalist and co-founder of the now-retired Watershed Post, who is now going into politics.
You can stream the show online on WIOX on Monday November 13that 9am. Let’s hope it’s warmer than today’s 22F.
A high of 46F, cloudless skies, snow melting in the blazing sunshine.
“There’s this thing happening… the women’s movement, and I want to cover it.”
Writer Nora Ephron uttered that sentence over 40 years ago and, as of last year, during the last election cycle, it seemed like our quest for equality hadn’t really advanced that far. Women still earned less than men for doing the same jobs, women’s rights were being eroded and sexual harassment in the workplace continued unabated. According to one New York City chef, writing in GQ Magazine, whole industries have been marginalizing the achievements of women in the restaurant business for decades. This year, though, we are experiencing a wholesale transformation in our zeitgeist. It’s a paradigm shift of epic proportions. Women are beginning to speak up, becoming more politically active and attempting to effect change by running for public office. “Women hold up half the sky,” the saying goes, and we should have half the representation.
Here in the Catskills, we have a remarkable abundance of female entrepreneurs: women blazing their own trail in this wilderness. The area is filled with strong, female icons, role models, influencers, artists, farmers, scientists and teachers. Last night, election night, saw a female entrepreneur, Julia Reischel, former journalist, take a seat on our local town council and all over the country democratic women won hard-earned seats in local office. Continue reading
38F by mid-afternoon and bitter with enough snow dropped at 4pm to transform the landscape to a winter wonderland.
Despite wearing a watch, and having several electronic gadgets that will automatically tell me the time, I have been doing things an hour earlier since the clocks went back at the weekend. How long has it been? Only 48 hours you say? Feels like forever. Having been a city dweller for most of my life, it feels like city living forces the time on you where as country life coerces you into succumbing to nature’s rhythms (and the weather). I’ve hardly left the house in the past few weeks, but that’s about to change. Meanwhile, here are some links to past Upstate Dispatch posts to some recipes and food reviews to keep you occupied until I get back out into the Catskills.
Beberts Chicken Tagine
Jeanette Bronée’s Roasted Carrots & Prunes
The Bull & Garland Pub in Hobart.
Supper Club at Heather Ridge Farm in Schoharie County.
Fish & Chips in the Catskills.
The best burger in the Catskills (at the time of writing).
Oh, and by the way:
We already knew that temperatures were ten degrees warmer than last year, making fall a little disappointing, but here’s Bloomberg’s official report.
A 55F high, humid and overcast with scattered showers. The landscape turns to thatch. Only the green of the fading grass remains.
A high of 46F, windy and overcast with a shimmering sky and scattered showers. The grass begins to yellow.
As a friend pointed out, there’s a lot of content on Upstate Dispatch and, moreover, a great deal of content that doesn’t much get read, or hasn’t been read by regular readers.
So, as winter approaches and I scout around for ideas for winter content, I offer some links to past work that are first person articles that are desperately in need of a follow up.
Deer hunting season approaches: a link to a 2015 post I wrote about hunting.
My first Catskills 3500 ascent: Balsam Mountain two years ago.
Eat Your Weeds, instead of throwing pesticide on them that ruins the water table.
Scroll through last year’s November. The gift guide still holds.
And finally, writing of gifts, here’s our donate page. UD takes thousands of hours a year to write and does not do paid or sponsored content or advertising.
60F humid, overcast with blustery winds and dashing rain getting stormier going into the evening.
A 65F high and sunny with scudding cloud and gusty. The last of the diehard shades hold fast amidst the brush: russets, ambers, umbers and burnt orange shades lingering like the ghost of summer.
Cold suddenly, like this autumn-summer thing has finally expired. Goosebumps for the first time walking the dog, as we’re showered with burnt orange leaves and a sturdy breeze. Chilly at 52F.
65F by mid-afternoon. Humid with rippling cloud. Moody.
Another blazing autumn day with a high of 80F, hazy sunshine and steady breeze.