Seize the Season

by Adirondack Life | February 2016

Photograph by Due West Photography

Make the most of an Adirondack winter

Mixologist Zachary Blair, of Lake Placid’s Whiteface Lodge, wouldn’t be bragging to say this concoction—with just a hint of spice—is the best thing to happen to hot chocolate since miniature marshmallows.

Humble Pie
1½ ounces apple pie bourbon
½ ounce tawny port
1 dash of chocolate mole bitters
3 ounces hot chocolate

Mix and top with whipped cream and grated nutmeg.

Find the beauty in below-zero with a colorful ice craft that will last only as long as the freezing cold does. A great project for kids and adults alike, these suncatchers are easy to make.

1. Add about an inch of water to a shallow cake pan or other round container.

2. Set a small cup filled with rice or rocks inside the pan, an inch or so away from the edge.

3. Freeze (in the freezer or, temperatures permitting, outside) for about an hour.

4. Decorate with drops of food coloring, glass marbles or colored ice cubes.

5. Freeze for a few hours or overnight.

6. Remove from freezer or bring indoors to allow the ice to warm for a few minutes—just enough to loosen it from the pan and remove the cup.

7. Tie a ribbon through the center hole and hang the ice catcher from a branch or hook.

For more detailed instructions and other ice crafts, see

It heats the house—but that’s not all. The top of your woodstove can cook stews and soups or scent the air with simmering aromatics; inside the firebox, on coals, you can roast potatoes or meat. Using an old-fashioned apple schnitzer, you can create a deliciously simple dessert. And making yogurt is as easy as setting milk and a “mother” culture by a warm stove. Even ashes can be put to good use. Find more recipes, including mushroom barley soup and “bandit-style” Greek lamb, at

3 cups 2% or whole milk
¼ cup plain yogurt, Greek or regular

Preheat milk to about 105º in a microwave or on a conventional stove.

Pour milk into a Mason jar rinsed in very hot water. Stir in yogurt gently, just a couple of spoon strokes. Place lid and band on lightly.

Make this as the stove is winding down, either as you head to work in the morning or in the evening well after you’ve put in the last charge of wood. Place jar on a trivet near the stovepipe and leave undisturbed for at least seven hours. After that time you can tilt the jar slightly to see if the liquid has thickened; allow to ferment for a few more hours if it is still
as thin as milk. Then refrigerate for at least four hours. If you want true Greek-style yogurt, strain the cool yogurt in a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Save the leftover liquid for baking or pancakes.

Heaven Scent
Place cinnamon sticks, citrus peels, dried herbs or other aromatics in a pot of water atop the stove to humidify the room while making the house smell amazing.

Think Spring
Don’t toss those ashes. Come growing season, you can mix them with acidic soil to improve your garden beds. Be sure to have the pH level of your soil tested first.

There are worse ways to while away a winter’s day than staring out the window counting birds. After all, you’re doing it in the name of science. Share your observations with organizations that monitor wildlife populations, weather conditions and more.

Audubon Christmas Bird Count
The nation’s longest-running citizen science project takes place between December 14 and January 5 each year. See to find a counting circle near you.

Great Backyard Bird Count
From February 13–16, count the birds at a single spot for as little as 15 minutes.

Project FeederWatch
Report feeder sightings throughout the winter for this Cornell Lab of Ornithology project.

Winter Wild Turkey Flock Survey
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is monitoring wild turkey populations statewide between January and March. Report your sightings at

Moose Study
The DEC, along with other organizations, is conducting a multi-year study of the Adirondacks’ largest mammal. Report sightings year-round at (518) 897-1291 or

Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network
Join observers worldwide in measuring precipitation in your neighborhood.

In winter, the Adirondack population thins and the frenzy of summer activities slows. But some of the best fun of the year is had at winter gatherings that bring friends and neighbors together for music, drink and cozy cheer.

Every Sunday afternoon in January, the Recovery Lounge in Upper Jay becomes a cross between an open mic and a giant living-room party, when the January Jams bring musicians of all ages, genres and abilities to the stage. Call (518) 946-8315 or visit for details.

Ski a moonlight mile, then warm up by the trailside bonfire or duck into the lodge for food, drinks and live music at Cascade Cross-Country Ski Center’s Full Moon Parties, January 23 and February 20. For more information call (518) 523-9605 or see

The weekends of January 22 and 29, the Sagamore Resort’s Glacier Ice Bar & Lounge—carved from 18,000 pounds of ice—is the coolest place in Bolton Landing. Call (518) 644-9400 or visit for details.

Next time a fireside chat turns to reminiscing, save those yarns for posterity. StoryCorps has a new smartphone app that allows anyone to record and share interviews to be archived in the Library of Congress. The app includes suggested questions for family or friends to get the conversation rolling. See for details.

Of course, if you unearth any good Adirondack tales, be sure to send them to Adirondack Life at

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