Dick and Leanna DeNeale donated a conservation easement on their property to Champlain Area Trails (CATS), a nonprofit organization that has created twenty-three miles of hiking trails in the Champlain Valley since 2009. » Continue Reading.
Whether measured as 9,375 square miles or as 6.1 million acres, we can vouch for the fact that the Adirondack Park is huge. We covered most of the main roads in the park, visited nearly 120 bars and clocked over 5,600 miles since we began our project in January, 2011, to find the best 46 “High Peak” bars in the Adirondack Park. The farthest distance traveled one way was 110 miles to Cranberry Lake. Many others were very close to that distance in any direction. Pam, a self-proclaimed excellent driver, logged most of those miles while Kim served as navigator, photographer and chief note taker. » Continue Reading.
When I was a teenager I had a small streak of juvenile delinquency. This is not uncommon in young men of course and it comes in different flavors. Some do a little drinking or drugs. Some do a little stealing. Some might commit minor vandalism. I didn’t do any of that stuff. I liked to set things on fire.
One March in Cleveland when I was fifteen or so, after a particularly long and snowy winter the weekend broke into the sixties, setting me and two of my like-minded friends, who were possessed with acute cabin fever, into a manic tizzy to play basketball. Sadly the driveway was covered in slush from the thaw, splattering us with every aborted dribble. We tried shoveling, sweeping, even hosing it down, but to no avail. Then we came to another solution. » Continue Reading.
Over the years I have been urged from time to time to write down stories from my family’s many journeys in the Adirondacks. Frankly I was never sure I’d get around to it. But along came Lost Brook Tract into my life, inspiring me to the point where I could no longer resist.
I have written a year’s worth of Dispatches now, many of them drawn from our experiences. However there is one tale in particular that others who know our adventures have repeatedly urged me to tell. As it happens, it is a Christmas story and I have waited eleven months to tell it. » Continue Reading.
We’re hearing it more and more. Don’t just shop local, eat and drink local too. A prevailing theme in the Adirondacks is, “We need snow. If we don’t get any this winter, we might not be here next year!” With so many bars and restaurants supported by tourism in summer and winter, we need to help them stay afloat in between. Think of the number of times you’ve passed a restaurant or store and thought I really have to check that place out, only to find it closed for business on your last drive by.
Grace’s Restaurant in Warrensburg is one of the places we wish we had frequented more often, but we were too busy reviewing bars for Happy Hour in the High Peaks everywhere else in the Adirondack Park! » Continue Reading.
A new edition of the trail and camp food classic The Hungry Hiker’s Book of Good Cooking by Gretchen McHugh has been published by McHugh’s husband John Sullivan of Chestertown. Hungry Hiker was first published in 1982 by Alfred A. Knopf, who assigned Judith Jones its editor (Jones was also editor for Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and before that The Diary of Anne Frank). The book was in Knopf’s catalog for 25 years. It sold 50,000 copies in 13 printings, inspired multitudes of back-country meals, and many imitators.
“When Knopf dropped the book in 2007, we started making plans to revise and republish it,” John Sullivan told me recently (he’s a neighbor, across the valley on Kipp Mountain). “We were barely under way when Gretchen was diagnosed with Frontal-Temporal Dementia.” She moved to a nursing home last spring and John decided to go ahead with the new edition in time for its 30th anniversary. A new generation of readers, now schooled in the kind of 1970s self-sufficiency that served as background to this classic when it was published, will be glad he did. » Continue Reading.
After years of kitchen drudgery and dishpan hands, all of a sudden everyone wants us to join them for Thanksgiving dinner. Provided, of course, WE BRING THE DRINKS! Pammy’s no Julia Child but she can do a throwdown cocktail that’ll make Bobby Flay take notice! Creativity is all you need to shake up the traditional feast. Just keep the menu in mind. Compatibility with the flavors of the meal is important. Compatibility with family members or other guests is something we’re not qualified to help you with, but a few tasty beverages might not hurt.
We’re not sure how it goes at your house, but we always have a plethora of snacks and appetizers, serving no other purpose than to keep the hungry guests from whining and the kids out of the kitchen. The unfortunate result, once dinner is ready, is a roomful of gluttonous guests too stuffed to engage in the carnage that is Thanksgiving Dinner!
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With Thanksgiving looming on the horizon, my thoughts the past few days have been centered on my favorite part of the holiday preparations- pie making. I’ll admit, I can spend hours upon hours in the “pie zone”- slowly but carefully making the pastry, rolling it out, crimping the edges and then finally filling the pie and baking it up.
There is just something that is so satisfying about baking a pie from scratch. The taste and flavor of a homemade pie are one bonus, but I think the best part is taking the pie out of the oven and beholding the beautiful creation you have spent hours making. » Continue Reading.
Though only a few tables remained on the Mediterranean style raised terrace at JC Montana’s in early November, it was obvious that this would be a great place to sit and relax on a summer day. Located in the center of Lake George on Canada Street, just across from Shepard Park, JC Montana’s affords an opportunity to enjoy food and drinks with friends, watch passersby or listen to music either on site or from the nearby park.
The sandwich board outside boasted a plentiful array of seafood specials and the smells from the kitchen as we entered the restaurant and bar made it difficult to pass up. Instantly greeted by the bartender, Chris, we were immediately introduced to every person in the place. We met Katie the waitress and spoke at length with local patrons (and bar “enthusiasts”) Bear and Suzanne who shared their opinions of some of their favorite bars in the Adirondacks, past and present. The warmth from the gas fireplace was outdone by the welcome we received. If that type of atmosphere carries throughout the busiest days of summer, JC Montana’s would be a welcome rarity in Lake George. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Museum Curator Hallie Bond will present a program on the history of food in the Adirondacks, particularly the connection between bread and beer. The program, called “Traditions in Bread and Beer: Lives of Adirondackers Before Modernization,” will involve discussion and displays; participants will be able to sample both ingredients and final products.
Bond is co-writing a book about traditional food of the Adirondacks and has discovered connections between bread and beer; the two were complementary tasks for early Adirondackers. Her presentation will address how they were made before World War II and how transportation networks, particularly railroads, were established.
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If you’ve seen a well-developed clinker polypore (inonotus obliquus) protruding from a tree, there’s a good chance that you remember it. This fungus causes large, black, cinder-like growths, sometimes neatly conical, but often rough and ragged. Also called the birch polypore, you can find these conks on all species of birch, as well as on hophornbeam and occasionally on other hardwoods. By the time the fungal tissue is visible on the outside, the inside of the tree is likely to be rotten to the core.
Much is yet to be learned about this organism, but it seems that infection often occurs after another fungus, called Nectria, has invaded a tree. Injuries, too, allow the clinker polypore to get a foothold, and once it has settled in, death – though sometimes a slow death – seems to be inevitable. » Continue Reading.
Exploring the Adirondack backcountry is hard work. Vaulting over downed logs, crossing streams on beaver dams, pushing through dense vegetation and constantly swatting away hordes of biting flies requires a massive amount of energy. Since this energy derives from food carried into the backcountry, it is important to maximize calories while simultaneously reducing its weight in the backpack.
Food connoisseurs may insist on a fresh and/or extravagant menu, even in the backcountry. These food snobs go to outlandish lengths to carry the oddest foodstuffs regardless of weight or practicality. In my many years of backpacking, I witnessed numerous strange selections in the wilderness, such as pounds of sandwich meat, jars of spaghetti sauce, bags full of raw carrots, cans of oysters and even a square egg maker (although no square eggs ever emerged). Most backcountry adventurers are practical folk, and thus avoid carrying a heavy food load, if possible.
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We’ve visited well over 100 bars in the Adirondack Park on our quest for the best 46 bars in the Adirondacks, what we have termed as the 46 “High” Peaks. When we began our search, we didn’t have any preconceived notions about what would make a bar a 46-er. We have since chosen most of those 46. No two are exactly alike, and none has fit any absolute standard. A major factor in our determination, however, was that most people would feel comfortable at this bar.
That criterion works both ways, in that some may be too haughty for most people, inasmuch as some may be too divey. Honestly, there were very few too haughty. As we work toward our final reviews for our upcoming book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, we hope to be able to convey what can be expected at each of these Adirondack bars. Each will offer varying atmosphere and amenities, but all have the potential for a good time.
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Applications are being accepted for the training that will begin in January 2013. The program is open to anyone who has an interest in expanding their gardening experience and knowledge. Participants learn to improve their own gardens and landscapes, including scientifically-based gardening information in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere.
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This past spring I was making the rounds of some local garage sales when I stumbled on a great find- a barrel meat smoker in pristine condition for only 20 bucks. This particular smoker is a really basic, just a metal barrel with three racks, a pan for water to keep the meat tender, and an electric element at the bottom on top of which you place the wood chips.
Serious barbeque enthusiasts out there would probably scoff at my little smoker, but given the the dirt cheap price and the fact that I had never smoked anything in my life, I figured it was a good way to get started. I followed this purchase by buying a copy of The Joy of Smoking and Salt Curing by Monte Burch. If you have any interest in tackling the art of smoking meat and fish, I highly recommend this little book. The instructions are very clear and concise, and it covers all the most basic points of the science of meat preservation.
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