Common Goldeneye Ducks

I recently met Lake Placid based photographer John DiGiacomo at the Essex derry dock where he was photographing Common Goldeneye ducks and other waterfowl.

The Essex-Charlotte ferry channel has become a popular destination for birders ever since Lake Champlain froze over last month. Ferry captains have been meticulously nibbling back the ice to maintain a navigable passage ”canal” between New York and Vermont, and thin watery strip is doubling as a sanctuary for the lake’s waterfowl (including the rare Tufted Duck) accustomed to watery diets.

John DiGiacomo photographing Goldeneye ducks at Essex ferry dock. (Photo: virtualDavis)
John DiGiacomo photographing Goldeneye ducks at Essex ferry dock. (Photo: virtualDavis)

I introduced myself to John while he was photographing ducks near the Essex ferry pilings and offered Rosslyn’s boathouse as an alternative “birding blind”. He hauled his tripod and gear up the road and captured those magnificent photographs of Common Goldeneye ducks from the boathouse pier.

Dramatic Goldeneye Ducks

John was humble about the photos, apologizing for the grey day: “unfortunately the light was pretty poor that morning”. I share his preference for photographing with clear, high contrast natural lighting, but I actually think the flat light adds to the drama in this series, accentuating the crisp black and white coloration of the Goldeneye ducks. Spectacular!

Knowing little about Goldeneye ducks I poked around online and discovered these cool facts about Common Goldeneye ducks:

  • The eyes of a Common Goldeneye are gray-brown at hatching. They turn purple-blue, then blue, then green-blue as they age. By five months of age they have become clear pale green-yellow. The eyes will be bright yellow in adult males and pale yellow to white in females.
  • A female Common Goldeneye often lays eggs in the nest of another female… She may lay in the nests of other species of ducks as well.
  • After the ducklings leave the nest they can feed themselves and require only protection. Some females abandon their broods soon after hatching, and the young will join another female’s brood. Such mixed broods, known as “creches,” may also occur when a female loses some ducklings after a territorial fight with another female. Young scatter and mix when females fight, and not all of them get back to their mother when the fight ends. Some or all of the ducklings may be transferred to one brood, usually that of the territory owner. (Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Beyond Goldeneye Ducks

Smithtown: Then & Now (Arcadia, 2011)
Smithtown: Then & Now

John also offered kind words about Rosslyn and mentioned a restoration related project he had been involved with that sounds intriguing.

I am thoroughly impressed with your restoration of Rosslyn. I love seeing these historic structures restored to their former glory. A few years back… I worked on a Then and Now book with the Smithtown (Long Island) Historical Society [Smithtown: Then & Now (Arcadia, 2011)]. It was a fascinating project as I learned so much of the town’s history from the three historians I worked with. I would joke with them that I wish I could take credit for the historical shots and not the current ones. So much history has been replaced with strip shopping centers or cookie cutter buildings. ~ John DiGiacomo

Little by little my bride and I are pulling together our own “then and now” visual history of this quirky property we call home. Too bad I didn’t have John shadowing me for 3+ years of Rosslyn’s rehabilitation to help document the process!

If you’re interested in learning more about John DiGiacomo’s photography you can visit his website, PlacidTimesPhotography.com. Don’t miss his spectacular nature and sports photos.

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Decrypting Bird Tracks in Snow

Decrypting Bird Tracks in Snow: Mallard (Photo: virtualDavis)
Decrypting Bird Tracks in Snow: Mallard (Photo: virtualDavis)

I don’t recall whether or not I was fascinated with animal and bird tracks in snow as a child, but I suspect I was. I am now… (Fox Tracks, Foxtrot & X-Country Skiing)

It wasn’t until my nephews (now teenagers but still “pocket sized” then) began asking me to identify bird tracks in snow, four legged critter tracks on muddy paths, and snake trails on the sand that I rediscovered how exciting it is to decipher locomotive narratives on the ground. That was more than a decade ago. The boys’ interests have wandered from bird tracks in snow to life’s adventures, but I’m still wandering around looking at the ground trying to figure out what passed where. And when. And why.

I’ve collected a backlog of track photos, mostly shot on a mobile phone because it’s often all I have along. I’m not sure I’ll manage to ever aggregate all of the photos in any comprehensive and useful manner, but I will pass along some of them as fancy strikes.

Most of my recent photos of bird tracks in snow have been shot in Rosslyn’s back meadows and woods during lunchtime cross country ski and snowshoe outings, but that image of the mallard tracks comes from the lawn right outside the “morning room” where I eat breakfast. Susan has become an avid bird feeder, and this winter an endless parade of mallards have joined the daily buffet. There’s something lighthearted, even happy about meandering duck prints!

Wing Prints in Snow

Less lighthearted but far more dramatic are the sort of wing prints visible in the photograph below which was captured by friend and Adirondack Coast neighbor, Kim Rielly.

Often a snow crater and feather printed like that will intercept the tracks of a squirrel or a rabbit. Sometimes a drip or two or scarlet in the snow to heighten the drama. But the story told by these bird tracks in the snow is more upbeat (and likely has a happier ending.)

Decrypting Bird Tracks in Snow: Grouse Hole (Credit: Kim Rielly)
Decrypting Bird Tracks in Snow: Grouse Hole (Credit: Kim Rielly)

Before we reached the actual trail, we stopped to see a great example of a “grouse hole”. The grouse entered the deep snow for shelter, and created the hole and accompanying wing marks in the snow when it emerged. Since the snow was so new, this must have been a recent rest stop for the bird. The hole itself had evidence of some feathers and “sawdust” looking stuff; positive clues. ~ Kim Rielly (Lake Champlain Region)

I learned to spot these grouse holes a few winters ago during a guided snowshoe trek, and I’ve been looking for the tell-tale “sawdust” (grouse scat) ever since. Not the coziest place to spend the night for those of us who depend on lasagna layered synthetic materials to stay warm and dry, but a downy grouse might well consider this the perfect winter’s repose!

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Midwinter Gator Service

I mentioned the other day that frosty, persistent midwinter is the perfect time to get Rosslyn’s lawn and field equipment serviced so that it’s ready for prime time once the snow retreats and the dandelions bloom.

A few days before the tractor was picked up, the folks at Mountain View Equipment (formerly Giroux Brothers) retrieved the John Deere “truckling” for a top-to-bottom Gator service. The machine is a couple of years old, and this is the first time we’ve sent it in for a checkup. The battery has been running down between uses; the left rear side panel is cracked from an encounter with the backhoe teeth; and fluids, filters, etc. were due for a change.

Gator Service & Home Again, Jiggety-Jig

As it turns out, the battery hasn’t been charging since the day we took ownership of the Gator. The in-line fuse that enables the battery to get charged was never installed at the John Deere factory. Hmmm… Quality control?

The v-belt was ready for replacement ($60, ouch!) and the fuel sender was giving inaccurate readings. Not mission critical, but it would be a pain in the posterior to be working in the back meadows and find out that the Gator was out of gas despite a full gauge reading. And the replacement panel was installed. All of the routine maintenance (filters, spark plugs, fluids, etc.) was undertaken including a pressure wash and spit shine. Well, minus the spit, I hope.

Gator service complete.

Gator Service Done, We’re Ready for Spring

With a freshly spruced up Gator, all we need is for the snow to melt and the temperatures to double. And – as if on cue – a blast of warm weather spoiled us on Tuesday (when the Gator was dropped off) despite a blizzard forecast.

[Wondering about the music layered over the Gator service video? I couldn't resist, the song's called Gator Drive!]

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Midwinter Tractor Service

Ten below zero without wind chill and Babe – our cooold blue tractor – needed to be warmed up with a kerosene heater under a tarp “tent” in the carriage barn before it would start. (Note to self: Next time, remember to plug the tractor in over night…) Then off to Peru Tractor Center for windwinter tractor service.

Babe’s Annual Checkup

I’ve learned that cars and tractors and John Deere Gators need annual checkups just like we do. And early late February or early March is the perfect time of year to service Rosslyn’s heavier equipment so that everything is ready to run come spring.

When the tractor service pickup was scheduled there wasn’t any significant snow in the forecast. The good folks at Carriage House Garden Center in Willsboro plow our driveway, so in theory we no longer need to rely on the tractor for snow removal. But it’s a handy backup in case we need to we get a huge snow dump and then need to remove our cars  before Carriage House plows us out.

But a clear forecast indicated that this was a good time for Babe to take a tractor spa-cation. That little slide show above was photographed on March 4 around 7:30 AM.

March Blizzard Blankets Essex

A week and a half later we’ve received no update and no tractor drop-off. We have received possibly the biggest snowfall of the year. Murphy’s Law.

Fortunately the Carriage House team has cleared the driveway (after a new fellow accidentally plowed a new driveway across our back lawn), but Doug is still lamenting the fact that we don’t have the tractor to push back the banks. Maybe it will be dropped off early next week? Maybe not? Hurry up and wait! Again…

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Slow Cooked Chicken

Sorry the slide show is so fuzzy. And that this post is flickering to life almost a pair of weeks after the last tender morsel of slow cooked chicken went tobogganing down my gullet.

As for the fuzzy photos, I’m not quite sure what happened. They looked crisp before I turned them into a slide show. Technology is an unreliable bed buddy! I’ll try to get the slide show gremlins sorted before posting another.

Blustery Weekend = Slow Cooked Chicken

It was bitterly cold two weekends ago, and not at all enticing for outdoor adventures. No sunshine. No fresh snow. Bone chilling cold, and constant wind. In short, the perfect conditions for culinary adventures!

March triggered a deep-down biological alarm clock – ring-ring, ring-ring – that’s been jangling in my ear. “Spring thaw.” “Snow drops.” “Seed the tomatoes and eggplant…” And yet, snow and ice and cooold temps endure. It feels like springtime may still be a long way off.

So rather than lamenting winter’s overstay, I decided to cook up some comfort food. I had picked up a 3.8 pound chicken with our Full and By farm share the previous Thursday, so I pulled out the big blade and played butcher.

Improvisation: Slow Cooked Chicken 101

Some meals require advance planning, meticulous execution, and draconian quality control. I don’t cook too many of those meals! I prefer more extemporaneous culinary adventures. Raid the larder for fresh goodies and then divine a common link…

This slow cooked chicken fell unquestionably into the improvisational school. Whack up a local fresh bird into breasts, legs and wings. Tip the bird bits into hot coconut oil and brown up the skins with salt and pepper. Chop up some onions and scallions and heat them until just shy of caramelizing then return the chicken to the pot, add parsley bay leaves, garlic and the better part of a bottle of dry white wine. The most important step is also the simplest: slow cook all day. Let the house fill up with aromas so tempting that even my vegetarian bride comments on how delicious it smells.

At day’s end, celebrate with a tasty, local, healthy supper. Comfort food…

A special thanks to Sara and James at Full and By Farm for providing the fresh, organic chicken, onions and scallions that transformed this frosty midwinter weekend into a slow cooked chicken banquet!

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If You Lose Your Purpose, It’s Like You’re Broken

"If you lose your purpose, it’s like you’re broken." ~ Hugo Cabret
“If you lose your purpose, it’s like you’re broken.” ~ Hugo

Everything has a purpose, even machines… They do what they are meant to do… Maybe that’s why a broken machine always makes me so sad, they can’t do what they are meant to do… Maybe it’s the same with people. If you lose your purpose… it’s like you’re broken. ~ Brian Selznick (spoken by Hugo Cabret  in The Invention of Hugo Cabret)

In the summer of 2006 my bride and I set out to repair a broken house. Rosslyn, a stately but crumbling old home, boathouse, ice house and carriage barn needed us. We could save them. We should save them. We would reawaken a property that had lost its purpose. We would pump our passion, our time and our limited loot into repairing the broken property.

If You Lose Your Purpose

But over time we came to understand that we were at least as broken as Rosslyn. We had both lost our purpose, and we were both foundering. Leaping into an adventure as feckless and risky as moving our lives and work from New York City to the Adirondacks while renovating four buildings many decades past their “best if used by” dates nearly destroyed us. Emotionally. Economically. Physically. And yet, little by little we discovered that Rosslyn could (and eventually would) repair us. The broken, purposeless wreck we set out to rebuild ultimately rebuilt us.

Two years ago I holed up in a remote abbey in the New Mexico desert to sort through my recollections and artifacts from the years of renovation. A month alone reading and revising. One night I watched Hugo for a refreshing distraction. A children’s movie. Sort of. Sort of not. I was enchanted. Something happened to me that had never taken place before (nor since). As the movie ended, I restarted it and watched the entire film through a second time. Double header. Better the second time than the first. It resonated profoundly with the book I was trying to write, a memoir about the years spent rehabilitating Rosslyn.

It’s Like You’re Broken

Hugo is one of the best films i’ve seen in a long time. Be forewarned though, this is not your typical fantasy movie…  The movie reveals the darkest times and how fear can be the driving force in everything we do… Also the fragile nature of human beings can be at any age and the limitations we have are only the ones that we put on ourselves. ~ Melissa Arditti (Windsor Square)

I’m not sure that Hugo is one of the best films I’ve seen, but it was the perfect narrative at the perfect time. And I will watch it again. Soon. I need to, in part, because I’m still grappling with this idea of a what it means to lose your purpose. I’m still working on repairing the broken machine. Rosslyn. And within. I’m reawakening purpose. Thank you for assisting me along the journey.

If you haven’t seen Hugo yet, here’s a teaser, the passage that still appeals to me two years after first experiencing it.

Purpose Lost & Purpose Found

As a storyteller and I writer I’m conscious of the temptation to “find” purpose where it isn’t, and to ascribe purpose where and how it fits best. How I’d like it to be.

Over the past decade I’ve been trying to unlearn the habit. Rosslyn Redux, marriage, small town life, the joys and woes of midlife and the rapidly evolving world of publishing have served as my tutors, and I’m confident that I’m beginning to make headway. Two final quotations from Hugo offer the optimistic note I’m hoping to achieve in my closing, and they both offer a glimpse into the view from where I am lately.

I like to imagine that the world is one big machine. You know, machines never have any extra parts. They have the exact number and type of parts they need. So I figure if the entire world is a big machine, I have to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too. ~ Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret

In that moment, the machinery of the world lined up. Somewhere a clock struck midnight, and Hugo’s future seemed to fall perfectly into place. ~ Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The machinery is still aligning, but I’m confident that soon it will all fall into place.

Word to the wise? If you lose your purpose, hold off on plunging into the sort of adventure we undertook. First watch Hugo. And then… plunge!

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Kestrel Sighting

Kestrel at Rosslyn boathouse in Essex, NY
Kestrel at Rosslyn boathouse in Essex, NY

Katie Shepard posted this vintage photograph of the steam yacht Kestrel on the Essex blog recently to see if anyone could identify the vessel, the boathouse, the men on the pier, the approximate year, etc.

Greater Adirondack Ghost and Tour Company: Wow, what a great photo. That’s the steam yacht Kestrel, owned by Samuel Keyser. The Keyser family used the Kestrel while summering in Essex and she was a regular sight on the Lake from the 1890s until the late 1930s. This beautiful 19th Century yacht still exists today and I’ve actually had the pleasure of seeing her first hand, she’s a magnificent vessel…

George Davis: You ghosty folks sure are good. Well done. And extra credit since you’ve seen the Kestrel in person, up in the 1,000 Islands, I imagine. Right?

Greater Adirondack Ghost and Tour Company: Thanks! We were visiting Alex Bay this past summer and went out to see Boldt Castle. Admission also covers the Boldt’s boat house over on Wellesley Island which we had never visited before. Sitting in one of the slips inside the boathouse was the Kestrel in all her glory. It took a minute of head scratching and “hmmm…where have I seen this boat before” until it finally clicked. It was a bit of a jaw dropping moment. I had no idea the yacht even still existed, but she’s an amazing survivor.

Kestrel at Boldt Castle Yacht House

While I knew that the Kestrel still existed and was afloat in the Thousand Islands, I was surprised that others were aware of the local connection and even more tickled by the fact the Plattsburgh “ghost folks” had spotted (and identified) the handsome old steam yacht. The following information is published on Boldt Castle’s yacht house web page. It helps illuminate the Kestrel’s lengthy history.

The Kestral was designed by D. Crawford and built by George Lawley at his South Boston shipyard in 1892.  Her first owner is not presently known, but the first available written records indicate that she was sold on June 14, 1899 to Samuel Keyser of Baltimore, Maryland.  After a succession of owners who lavished money and care on her, she was sold to James A. Trowbridge of Norton, Connecticut on February 19, 1937.  Mr. Trowbridge enjoyed her for nearly 33 years and her ship’s log shows  many short trips up and down Long Island Sound with a favorite stop at Northport, Long Island.

Records show an overhaul and some replacements in 1957.  Her original boiler was replaced first in 1926 and again in 1967.  In 1972, she was sold to Robert P. Scripps of New York, and appeared in the New York Harbor for the 1976 Parade of Tall Ships.  She was then sold to the American Maritime Academy on Staten Island.  The American Maritime Academy used for a few years and then abandoned her.  In 1988 she was acquired at auction by Mr. John H. Luhrs of Ponte Verde, Florida.

After purchasing the Kestrel in 1988, the owner chose to have the steam engine completely repaired by the renowned Conrad Milster at his boiler room at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.  In 1990, she was taken to Kettle Creek Yacht Services at Tom’s River for final finishing.  Some of the individual items that were salvaged and could be reused were her 1967 boiler and cylinder blocks, part of the engine shaft and assorted hardware.  She now has four pineapple finials atop her compound engine.

Her interior has been completely redesigned and painted white.  She has sixteen “Wylie” ports with decorative wedges, ten 22-inch deck cleats, and a compound curved sliding hatch on the forward deck.  Her outward appearance shows a semi-permanent canvas awning with roll-down protective panels around her fantail stern.  Her new five foot stacks displays Mr. Luhr’s private signal and brass decorative dolphins adorn her railends.  Her capstan is original, while her galley has all modern conveniences and the head has a very unique brass faucet with shower attachment.  During a period of five years Mr. Luhrs completed her final restoration at St. Augustine Marine Center in Florida.

The steam yacht Kestrel is representative of the period and vessels owned and operated by George Boldt.

On July 30 of 2009 Mr. Luhrs generously donated the Steam Yacht Kestrel to the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority for permanent display at the Authority’s Boldt Castle Yacht House facility for the enjoyment of present and future generations. (Official Boldt Castle Website)

Our Friends at Greater Adirondack Ghost and Tour Company shared this ”photo of Kestrel docked outside her palatial new home. She sleeps inside the center (largest) berth in the yacht house.”

Kestrel at Boldt's Boathouse, Wellesey Island (Credit: Greater Adirondack Ghost and Tour Company)
Kestrel at Boldt’s Boathouse, Wellesey Island (Credit: Greater Adirondack Ghost and Tour Company)

Kestrel at Keyser’s Boathouse in Essex

Nowadays I refer to our boathouse – the revitalized dock house captured in the vintage photo at the top of this post – as Rosslyn boathouse, but the name is actually slightly misleading. Rosslyn, the name given to our home by the W.D. Ross family when they built it in the 1820s, would likely not have originally been used for the boathouse.

You see the boathouse wasn’t built for another three quarter’s of a century, and when it was, the waterfront had been sold off from the rest of the property. It was purchased by Samuel Keyser for construction of a boathouse / dock house to moor and service his steam yacht, Kestrel. Sound familiar. Although the Keyser estate is located north of Rosslyn by a half mile or so, the pier on their own property was ostensibly damaged during flooding or perhaps an ice flow during Lake Champlain’s spring thaw. (Still trying to learn more about this, but scarce information available.)

The turn-of-the century building was most likely designed and built for the Keyser family to accommodate their 62 ft. long, steam-powered yacht, Kestrel. Constructed entirely of mahogany, the yacht plied Lake Champlain’s water the 1890’s through the 1930’s, becoming as much an iconic vessel in Essex history as the boathouse has become in the century since it first adorned Merchant Row. (Essex on Lake Champlain)

Thousand Islands Field Trip

In closing this already run-on post, I’d like to make myself a promise to visit the elegant old steam yacht. Soon. And in the mean time, I’ll try to contact the staff to see if they have any interest in a few vintage photographs of the Kestrel to add to the ship’s log…

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La Vie en Rose

La Vie en Rose: Rosslyn boathouse during late February sunset (Credit: Kristen Eden)
La Vie en Rose: Rosslyn boathouse during a late February sunset. (Credit: Kristen Eden)

Je vois la vie en rose
I see life through rose-colored glasses ~ Édith Piaf

Édith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose” – usually translated as ”Life Through Rose-Colored Glasses” – inevitably, joyfully came to mind when this sexy photograph was shared with me on Facebook by an Essex friend and neighbor, Janice Koenig. It turns out the photographer, Kristen Eden, is also an Essex neighbor and, if Facebook counts, a new friend.

Kristen’s photographs (see gallery below for a few more) capture warmth and tenderness, unusual characteristics for mid-winter images of icy Lake Champlain. Even on sunny days our North Country light in February tends to by harsh and severe, so these unlikely photos were a welcome sight. They lit up Facebook prompting “likes” and comments from many local and distant fans. My downsized, watermarked versions of her photos don’t fairly do the originals justice, but you can enjoy the image above, “Ducks swimmin’ in pink lemonade” (in larger, better format) on Kristen Eden Fine Art and Photography.

Sensuous & Harsh: La Vie En Rose

Piaf, France’s “Little Sparrow”, similarly blends the sensuous and the harsh. Perhaps it’s the scratchy old recordings. Or her crushed velvet sound. Or her swooping transitions and confident refrains. Who knows? A siren’s mystery. Listen and decide for yourself.

Piaf’s song wove itself inextricably into my already Pollyanna-prone psyche during my college years, and despite the lyrics’s unlikely resonance, they remain evocative and hypnotic half a lifetime later. Piaf’s sensuous sound makes me nostalgic for the years I lived in Paris even now as I type these words about photographs that remind me how much I am enchanted with Essex, a world away from The City of Light.

Thanks for your Rose-colored Glasses

Thanks, Kristen, for your stunning photographs. And thanks, Janice, for bringing them to my attention.

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Venison Green Chile Stew

Venison Green Chile Stew: looks like dog food, tastes like bliss!
Venison Green Chile Stew: looks like dog food, tastes like bliss!

He that strikes the venison first shall be the lord o’ the feast. ~ Shakespeare, King Lear

I admitted to the butcher at the Village Meat Market in Willsboro the other day that I could easily give up beef for game. I enjoy meat of all sorts, but my pallet is especially charmed by seasonal wild game including duck, rabbit, venison, antelope, elk, boar, pheasant and even goose which many people consider too rich or greasy. So you can imagine my pleasure when I received this text message from our caretaker, Doug, earlier today.

Hey, George, I have some venison sausage. Do you want it in the fridge or the freezer?

Thanks! Freezer would be great. I just cooked up the last of my venison sausage yesterday to make green chile stew. Perfect timing. Thank you, Doug.

I’ve been fortunate to receive gifts of venison from Doug and other local hunters ever since moving to Essex. North Country gourmets (and gourmands) tout the merits of tenderloins – the venison equivalent of filet mignon, small strips of meat located along the spine inside a deer’s cavity – and backstraps – larger strips of meat located along the spine outside a deers’s cavity – but ground venison and venison sausage are often overlooked. Not delicacies, perhaps, but unfairly neglected, especially considering how much more ground meat than tender steaks is produced when a deer is butchered.

One of the easiest preparations for ground venison is a grilled burger.

Ground venison makes the tastiest burgers, though the trick is to cook the meat to medium for six to eight minutes total, preserving the texture and juices. ~ Elizabeth Folwell (Adirondack Life)

Because venison is very lean, you may wish to add olive oil, butter or lard when preparing and seasoning the burger.

My favorite way to cook ground venison is to mix it with pork sausage as the protein base for Green Chile Stew, a dish that seduced me when I lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico during my twenties.

Venison Green Chile Stew.
It looks like dog food,
But it tastes like bliss!

Here’s the most current version of my perennially evolving venison green chile stew recipe.

Venison Green Chile Stew Recipe

Utensils reconnoitering with Amaryllis. (Credit: virtualDavis)
Utensils reconnoitering with Amaryllis. (Credit: virtualDavis)

This time of year, green chile stew is an ideal core-warning, vitamin rich comfort food. If you’re only familiar with red chile, it’s time to try something new. The flavor is totally different, and you just might change your chile preferences.

Consider the following recipe a rough guide, not a set of rules. (Ditto for all recipes, mine or otherwise!)

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 medium/large onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. venison, ground
  • 1 lb. pork sausage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 16 fl. oz. chicken or beef stock
  • 16 fl. oz. white wine or beer
  • 3-4 cups green chiles, fire roasted/peeled/chopped
  • 2-3 large potatoes, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

[Note: I prefer a slow cooker to cook green chile stew, but these directions can be adapted to crock and range cooking.]

Heat olive oil in a large skillet (or range-safe slow cooker liner/crock). Add onions and garlic, stirring over low-to-medium heat until the onions become soft and translucent. Add venison and pork. Break up any large lumps of meat and continue stirring and heating until ground meat is fully cooked and mixed with onions and garlic. Add remaining ingredients (except salt and pepper) and mix thoroughly before transferring to slow cooker. Set temperature and timer for four hours (high) or eight hours (low). Stir and check for adequate moisture from time to time. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

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Essex-Charlotte Canal

Ever seen the Essex-Charlotte Canal? Snapshot from an icy ferry crossing on February 19, 2014.
Ever seen the Essex-Charlotte Canal? Snapshot from an icy ferry crossing on February 19, 2014.

The Essex-Charlotte Canal offers a chilly commute, but it sure beats 3-4 lanes of traffic jammed, coffee guzzling, angry drivers on a thruway…

It’s not every winter that we get to enjoy the ferry commute between Essex, New York and Charlotte, Vermont (remember when the Champlain Bridge was closed for demolition/replacement?), but the “landlocked” winters certainly do make us appreciate it when Lake Champlain Transportation keeps the ferry open. And this winter has provided plenty of ice to make it challenging, but the boat, captains and crew have endured. Thank you for creating and maintaining the Essex-Charlotte Canal!

Essex-Charlotte Canal Confusion?

By the way, if you’ve discovered this post by mistake, you’re probably looking for the Champlain Canal, not the Essex-Charlotte Canal. The former has been in existence since 1823, about the same time that Rosslyn was constructed (and probably one of the ways that non-local materials were transported to Essex for construction, furnishing, etc.). The latter, the “Essex-Charlotte Canal” I reference in this post, is a figment of my icy imagination. And the collective experiences of the LCT captains and crews, and most every ferry commuter who’s crossed Lake Champlain in the last month or so! But you won’t find it on any maps…

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