Monday, November 11, 2013

Giant Puffballs: Orbs of the Mushroom World

puff_ballWho left that soccer ball on the front lawn? Come on, you know it didn’t just grow there.

Pretending to confuse a giant puffball mushroom with a soccer ball (or vice versa) is a well-worn joke among mushroom foragers. For the rest of us, finding out that there exists a common mushroom in New York, Vermont and New Hampshire that frequently grows to soccer ball size sounds like more of a hidden-camera, the-joke’s-on-you kind of gag.

Not only do these giant mushrooms exist, says Ari Rockland Miller, a Vermont based mushroom foraging expert, they are edible, even delectable, early in their lifecycle, when their flesh is white and has the consistency of Styrofoam. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Training Planned

image003(1)Cornell Cooperative Extension in Warren County is now accepting applications for the new 2014 Master Gardener Training Program. Space is limited, so contact the office soon for more information and an application.

After enrolling in the course, the participants are provided with a binder of information that supplements the weekly presentations from Cornell University faculty, Cooperative Extension staff, and local experts on a wide range of horticultural topics. The topics include basic botany, entomology, soils, home lawn care, vegetable and fruit gardening, composting, organic gardening and other practical and interesting subject matter. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Community Gardens: How Did Your Garden Grow?

Gardeners diningHow did your garden grow? In Keene, Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Paul Smiths, Minerva, Bolton Landing, and an increasing number of other Adirondack villages and hamlets residents are coming together to create community gardens. Keene has a very rugged landscape and many residents simply do not have relatively flat and sunny backyards for individual gardens, but the hamlet does own a large flat field where its airport, farmer’s market, and various community festivals are based.

Several years ago under the leadership of Jim Herman and Dave Mason, and with support of the town board, most especially Paul Martin, a plot of land was set aside near the community-owed Holt House, tilled, and laid out to form eight foot by eight foot plots that were made available for individuals to rent for a modest fee while being given the option of renting more than one on a space available basis. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Pizza Perfection in the Adirondacks

PizzaDeep in the heart of the Adirondacks lies a special spot.  Unassuming at first glance, possessing neither towering heights nor glittering finery, it nonetheless, like so many places in the park, harbors intimate secrets.  This is a place of near perfection, of pleasures nonpariel.  Elsewhere will you find it loftier, thicker; elsewhere will you find it more scenic.  But nowhere – I mean nowhere – will you find it better.

And it comes in only medium and large. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Local Corn That Pops, Preserves Cultural Traditions

IndianCornBPW724As winter edges closer, sweet corn is but a distant memory and field corn is fast disappearing into the insatiable headers of roaring combines. But here and there a few market growers and gardeners are bringing in some less common types of corn. While not very significant to the regional economy, locally raised popcorn and decorative “Indian” corn have emotional and cultural value that goes beyond their monetary worth.

In recent years, US farmers in the Midwest have been producing around 200 million pounds of popcorn annually, which translates to something like $70 million. (It also equals roughly a billion kernels, in case that fact comes in handy for you someday.) » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Fulton Chain Steamers 101: The Pickle Boats

Fulton Chain Pickle BoatDuring the first half of the 20th century,  campers along the Fulton Chain welcomed the whistle of the steamer “Mohawk”, signaled to the pilot and knew that their meat and grocery provisions would soon be replenished by the Marks & Wilcox “floating supermarket”, known as the “Pickle Boat”.  Today few people realize this name was borrowed from an earlier steamer built by Fred Kirch in Inlet.  There were also other supply boats.

At an “Old Timers’ Banquet” held at Louis Sperry’s Riverside Inn in July 1934, pioneer guides and businessmen with names like Thistlethwaite, Sperry, Parsons, Rivett and Christy spoke of the good old days.  At that gathering, a man named John McConnell “told of operating a supply boat for his father, a row boat he used for trips around the lakes.” » Continue Reading.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Prep Raised Beds Now for 2014 Spring Planting


5554AmyIvyRaisedBed3004Raised beds are a great way to grow, and now is the ideal time to get them set up so you’ll be ready to plant early next spring. If you’re new to gardening, start with just one, you’ll be amazed by how much it will produce, and how much easier it is to manage.

There are many ways to build raised beds, so let’s cover some basics that you can adapt to suit your own site and needs. Gardening in raised beds lets you concentrate your efforts into a smaller area that makes weeding, watering, and tending a lot easier.

An ideal size is 3-4 feet wide by 8 feet long. You don’t want to walk in these beds, so this size is easy to reach across and walk around. The sides are made with 2×6” or better yet, 2×8” lumber.  White cedar and hemlock are preferred since they are slower to rot, but they may be hard to find. Rough-cut pine is your next best choice, but if all you can find is common pine that’s okay, it just won’t last as long. Use wood screws to build a simple box. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Growing the Great Pumpkin in Northern New York

PumpkinsIn the Peanuts comic strip, the precocious, blanket-toting Linus waited faithfully for The Great Pumpkin all night on Halloween in spite of being disappointed every year. Perhaps his unwavering belief in the mythical pumpkin was spurred on by the fact that almost every year brings the world a bigger “great pumpkin” of the sort one can measure and—at least potentially—eat.

Of the approximately 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins grown annually in the U.S., only a very few are grown for size. Primarily within the last thirty years, giant pumpkin enthusiasts (that’s regular-size people, giant produce) have developed varieties that attain jaw-dropping proportions. From a nearly 500-lb. world record in 1981 to a half-ton in 1996 and a 2,000-lb. record in 2012, today’s giant pumpkins would be a dream come true for Linus. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Gardening: Food Grown Right, in Your Backyard

Food Grown RightAs the founders behind the Seattle Urban Farm Company, Colin McCrate and Brad Halm have heard it all: My backyard is too small; how can I make space for a garden? Do I really need to buy fertilizer? What on earth is that creature crawling on the tomatoes? My crops took off and the zucchini is out of control — who has time to harvest it all!

Food Grown Right, in Your Backyard (Slipstone, 2012) is a primer for these questions and more. In response to the rising interest in homegrown foods, the Seattle Urban Farm Co. builds vegetable gardens for everyone from busy families to restaurants. Along the way, Colin and Brad teach beginner growers from all walks of life the techniques of organic food production. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 30, 2013

Wholeshare Buying Clubs Provide Access to Local Food

CFLocalLivingFairNCBountyBPWhattamFor nearly two decades my family has grown much of its own food.   If we can’t produce it ourselves, sometimes we purchase through a cooperative buying club and place an order online each month.  A semi-truck deftly maneuvers the backroads and delivers the items to our club site where a handful of co-op members unload, sort, and weigh groceries and organic produce.  We buy in bulk and save money.  It’s like a slick combination of Sam’s Club and a natural foods co-op.

But one aspect has been conspicuously absent: most items, especially the produce, are not locally sourced.  Enter the next generation of online cooperative buying clubs: Wholeshare. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

High Peaks Happy Hour: Rum Runners Weekend

RumRunners1Nearly a century ago, the bootleg trail from Canada to New York City ran smack through the Adirondacks. Bootleggers risked life and limb transporting locally distilled hooch and smugglers ran whiskey from Canada, eluding dry agents and spawning crime and corruption. Chestertown and its surrounding communities recently commemorated this period in history with related activities.

It was a damp and drizzly Thursday night at Warrensburg’s Luck E Star Cafe where the Greater Warrensburg Business Alliance hosted a 1950s-era Car Hop. Among the vendors, we hawked books and passports as the drama unfolded. Those gathered were whisked from the 1950s to the roaring ‘20s when a carload of rumrunners screeched into the parking lot and piled out of their Model A. Within seconds, the law appeared on the scene in pursuit. Smugglers scattered like rats, slipping into any hiding place they could find. Perhaps the heat considered our Happy Hour in the High Peaks booth a likely refuge for Prohibition outlaws – they were on our tent like feathers on a flapper. We decided to scram before the bulls started asking questions and we were long gone before the feds pinched Wesley, his moll Giselle, and the rest of their gang. We’re no stool pigeons. » Continue Reading.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Video: Country Malt Group of Champlain, NY

made_in_clinton_county_country_malt_group
I recently visited Country Malt Group in Champlain, NY, a family-owned backyard business that has tapped into the rapidly growing craft beer industry to expand nationwide.
You can learn more about the company in the latest installment of “Made in Clinton County.”
You can also see an extended interview with Country Malt Group Managing Director Bryan Bechard by clicking here.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Stems and Steins: A Celebration of Wine, Beer, and Food

Stems&StiensiconView will welcome the fall season with its fourth annual Stems and Steins, a celebration of wine, beer, and food from across New York State this weekend, Friday, Sept. 20, from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 21 a.m.-7 p.m.

A beer tasting will kick off the event on Friday at the Old Forge Fire Hall. Craft brewers from around New York State will be pouring samples of signature style beers as well as some seasonal flavors. The Friday event will also include the addition of Adirondack Distilling Company, offering crafted spirits, and live music by Beth and Fritz. Admission to the Beer Tasting is free. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Local Fruit: Harvesting The Wild Grape

wild grapeThe Norse Vikings referred to the east coast of North America as Vinland, with grapes so plentiful they could be smelled from the sea. Such historical abundance is questionable; the description may have been a marketing ploy similar to the misleadingly named Greenland. Yet wild grapes are plentiful throughout the Northeast and they’re ripening now, to the delight of the many animal species that eat them.

Among humans, European grapes seem to get all the attention. Chardonnay, Bordeaux, and the seedless table grapes found in grocery stores are all cultivars of the Mediterranean grape vine Vitis vinifera. The most common wild species in our area are V. labrusca, the fox grape, and V. riparia, the river grape. Both have remained a forest curiosity since European colonization due to their sour taste and low sugar content. Only the Concord grape, a 19th century V. labrusca cultivar used in juice and jelly, has met with commercial success. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

High Peaks Happy Hour: Drinking is Popular Again

PopularWe’re back! Winter found us sequestered at Pammy’s Pub finalizing (and editing, editing, editing) bar reviews for Happy Hour in the High Peaks: An Adirondack Bar Guide. Add to that the preparation, primping, and posing of 46 cocktails for their close-ups, and it’s easy to see why we’ve been absent. Spring coaxed our creativity with a marketing plan and promotion schedule. Summer put us on the road throughout the Adirondacks, selling and signing wherever we were welcome.

With all that attention to detail and embellishment, the realization hit. The current trend toward drink artistry, rather than guzzling gluttony, has led to a focus on flavor and presentation. Complicated preparations, the use of local and home grown ingredients, and the almost daily arrival of spirited new flavors populating liquor store and beer aisle shelves have prompted an emphasis on savor over swill. Drinking is popular again. » Continue Reading.