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NewsShed: Calling all ski bums

Above: Belleayre Mountain looking good on the first ski weekend of the season. The Catskills' three large ski centers -- Belleayre, Windham and Hunter -- all opened for ski season last weekend. Plattekill Mountain in Roxbury is slated to join them for the upcoming weekend, with a Dec. 7 opening day. 

Season's greetings, Catskills. It's that time of year again: The Thanksgiving leftovers are all but polished off, the Christmas carols have begun in earnest, and if you've got a pair of skis buried in the attic, it's high time you exhumed them.   Read more

Rain will go away -- but not before changing to sleet and snow

Above: Rainfall totals for the storm so far, posted to Facebook by the National Weather Service station in Albany around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. 

Rainfall has been heavy in the Catskills during the storm that began Tuesday afternoon. Most areas in the region have received 1 to 2 inches so far, with localized rainfall of around 3 inches in higher elevations in Ulster County. Rain will continue into the afternoon, with about another half-inch expected to fall. 

A flood watch issued on Tuesday is still in effect for Ulster and Greene counties in the Catskills region, along with a portion of the mid-Hudson Valley and parts of New England.

Drivers should watch out for fast-changing road conditions. Through the afternoon and into the evening Wednesday, roads in the area may ice over as the temperature drops quickly and rain shifts to sleet and snow.  Read more

Catskills dairy farmers forge a local market

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

Winter weather in the forecast for Tuesday

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.

The latest forecasts from local National Weather Service stations predict that the storm will reach the Catskills region by Tuesday afternoon, and continue into Wednesday, with initial snow and sleet shifting over into heavy rain as the storm moves through the area. With about 1 to 3 inches of precipitation in the forecast for the event, some flooding is possible.  Read more

NewsShed: Nor'easter takes aim at Thanksgiving

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.

Hang onto your Pilgrim hat: Forecasters say a couple of storms headed for the Northeast could combine forces to form an intense nor'easter by the middle of next week. Whether the storm takes the form of snow or rain depends on the track it takes, Hudson Valley Weather explains, but several major forecasting models are all predicting that a powerful storm is likely.  Read more

Every vote counts: Absentee ballots flip results in local races

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

Bounty of the season: Guide to a Catskills Thanksgiving

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

The Freshman Class of Catskills Eateries

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

Buying Local Food: A User's Guide

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

Announcing our Catskills Food Guide

Foods of the Catskills, styled and shot by Toni Brogan and featured on our Catskills Food Guide cover. 

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