Above: A selection of Catskills dairy products. Photo by Toni Brogan.
The locavore movement has made a celebrity of many a humble ingredient, sparking a renaissance of old-fashioned vegetable varieties and elevating the lowly pork belly to the level of haute cuisine. But through it all, milk has mostly remained, well, milk—and the local-food revolution has left most dairy farmers behind.
For farmers in the Catskills, once a proud and prosperous dairy region, the modern milk market is a tough one. In the world of commodity milk, where the milk from many farms goes into a single vat for processing and prices are set by federal law, small upstate New York dairy farmers have a tough time competing with vast feedlots in the midwest and California. Read more
The Northeast is currently bracing for a midweek storm that threatens to dump snow, ice, sleet and rain on Thanksgiving plans. To the south and west of New York State, snow and rainstorms that will fuel what the National Weather Service is calling a "complicated" storm system have already claimed over a dozen lives, and left thousands without power.
Above: AccuWeather graphic showing potential scenarios for a storm that's slated to move up the coast toward the Northeast next week, just in time for Thanksgiving. For more on that, see AccuWeather's Friday story about the storm.
In the rural Catskills, 2013 was the Year of the Absentee Voter.
On Nov. 5, Election Day, dozens of races around the region were too close to call from the machine count alone. In a few of them, a count of the absentee and affidavit ballots reversed the results of the initial count -- and revealed some surprising differences of opinion between voters who cast their ballots at the polls and those who mail them in. Read more
Need a little help with your baking this Thanksgiving? Apple pie from Bread Fellows in Andes is as artful as it is delicious. Photo from Bread Fellows' Facebook page.
November 28 is roaring up the calendar at us—are you ready to feast? Here’s a roundup of the many options for Thanksgiving throughout the Catskills, whether you’re celebrating around a family table or ditching the chores for a night out.
If you’re cooking at home, you’ve got just over a week to finish up the grocery list and the planning for the big feast. Fortunately, Catskills farms and food purveyors offer lots of options for locally grown meat and veggies, as well as baked goods that will convince your guests you mastered pastry school. Read more
Above: A Catskill Mountain Railroad train heads west to Phoenicia, for the first time since the 2011 Irene floods washed out part of the railroad's track. The railroad used ticket sales to fund the rebuild, since FEMA funding to repair the track is still frozen at the county level. Photo by Al Johnson.
There is still no end in sight to a long-festering dispute over the future of Ulster County's rail corridor. But for now, the Catskill Mountain Railroad has won a couple of hard-fought victories.
In a ruling on Wednesday, Nov. 6, a judge granted the Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) a reprieve from a threat of eviction by Ulster County, which owns the tracks the railroad rolls on.
The same week, the CMRR alerted local media that its volunteer workforce had restored train service to Phoenicia, two years after a portion of the track was destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene. Read more
Above: Prime Steakhouse & Spirits welcomes the Windham ski crowd. Photo by Jennifer Strom.
Let’s just pause for a moment and think a grateful thought about Catskills restaurateurs.
First of all, opening a restaurant anywhere takes guts. The effort and responsibility required are enormous; the risks are high. Here, the restaurant business is not a matter of establishing an Arby’s beside the freeway exit, with a central corporate office for support and a steady flow of rubes funneling past. This is the blizzard- beleaguered, flood-washed Catskill Mountains, with winding roads, a widespread populace and uncertain cell service. Yet, chefs and entrepreneurs continue to flock here, trying their hands at rebooting old- fashioned diners, introducing new concepts and embracing ethnic cuisines.
Here’s a sampling of new places whose proprietors joined the fray in the last 12 months. Read more
Above: Hot peppers come by the pint or the peck at Shaul Farms in Middleburgh. Photo by Richard A. Smith.
Buying Catskills foods year-round is like being on a 12-month-long scavenger hunt. One farmstand has the heartiest greens and another specializes in heirloom tomato varieties.
The best eggs, the ones with the golden-orange yolks, are at yet another stand. The tastiest veal is sold off the front porch of a farmer in the next town, and the mind-blowing raspberries are hidden in a humble greenhouse a few miles in the other direction.
There are many ways to buy Catskills food, from visiting the nearest farmers’ market to arranging to purchase a quarter of a cow months in advance. It’s more complicated than shopping at the supermarket. But the groceries you bring home are fresher, tastier, and often, if you know where to look, cheaper. Read more
Everybody eats. Whether at our kitchen tables, at a fancy restaurant or out of a car cupholder on the daily commute, every meal we eat represents a choice made. As OnEarth Magazine put it in an article about the Catskills’ growing role as a “foodshed” last year: “With interest in eating high-quality local food higher than at any time since local food was the default, the Catskills are perched on the threshold of perhaps the greatest food-marketing opportunity in North America.” Read more
Above: Democratic supervisor Marge Miller and Republican challenger Nelson Delameter, of the Delaware County town of Middletown. In unofficial results from the county Board of Elections, Delameter bested Miller by just 22 votes.
Most of Tuesday's races in local elections were settled decisively. But around the Catskills, there are still a few close races in which voters will have to wait until all absentee and affidavit ballots are counted to be sure of the victor.
The Watershed Post canvassed the county Boards of Elections on Wednesday to find out how many absentee ballots are still outstanding in the region's closest races. Affidavit ballots, which are cast by voters in cases where it is unclear whether the voter has the right to vote in the district, could also have an impact on some of the closest races.
Not all absentee ballots have been received by the county Boards of Elections yet. To count in the election, absentee ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 4, but they will still be accepted until Nov. 12. After the deadline passes, the county Boards of Elections will begin counting absentee and affidavit ballots. Read more