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Kaatscast: the Catskills Podcast is a biweekly series featuring Catskills culture, history, sustainability, local interviews, literature, and the arts. Shows are hosted by Brett Barry and produced by Silver Hollow Audio, in the heart of the Catskills. Subscribe and experience what reviewers have called “delightfully informative” storytelling with “great production quality.” Voted “Best Regional Podcast” two years in a row. Episode archives, transcripts, and a robust search engine at kaatscas ...
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WJFF-Cooking in the Catskills with Brett August

Brett August, WJFF Radio Catskill

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Hosted by Chef Brett August, Cooking in the Catskills is a podcast (and forthcoming cookbook) that explores the history & current pulse of the Catskill Mountains through the lens of food. Chef August dives deep into modern cuisine, as well as the history of food & hospitality in the Catskills — from the "Borscht Belt" bungalow colonies of the 1950s/60s to contemporary farm-to-table. Cooking in the Catskills celebrates the Catskill Mountains and what makes them so uniquely beloved through con ...
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When we spoke with Michael DiBenedetto for our special Ukraine report in August, 2023, he mentioned he'd consider returning in winter, when the volunteer pool was likely to thin. Well, Michael's a man of his word, and we caught up with him this week in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city just about 20 miles from the Russian border. He's voluntee…
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Catskill Neighbors, whose mission it is to "help seniors wishing to remain safe and comfortable in their own homes," was born of necessity in the wake of 2011's Hurricane Irene. Founder, Reverend Ralph Darmstadt, died in January, 2024, but his legacy lives on in an organization that serves seniors in parts of Ulster, Delaware, and Greene counties, …
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Before cell phones, before touch tone, before dial tone, even, if you wanted to make a phone call, you'd pick up the receiver and talk to an operator. If that call was placed in the Catskills in the late 1940s through the early 1960s, Lula Anderson might have been working the switchboard. Lula invited me to her home in Greene County, where she reco…
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Plattekill Mountain, in Roxbury, is the last of the Catskills' independent ski areas, boasting 1100 vertical feet, 40 trails, and 4 lifts. But those statistics aren't necessarily the draw at this laid-back family-run resort. Plattekill's rustic lodge, with its rough pine walls and wood burning stove, is reminiscent of other small ski areas that wer…
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Happy new year, and welcome to the first episode of our 5th season here at Kaatscast. To ring in the new year, we thought it would be fun to raise a glass with the owners of three breweries across the region. And the breweries we're highlighting don't just call the Catskills home ... the Catskills are brewed into every pint, whether that's by start…
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A visit to the North Pole! In an hour and ten minutes? Where can one catch this train, you ask? Why, the Kingston Plaza parking lot, of course, where the Catskill Mountain Railroad embarks on a magical Christmas expedition every holiday season. And while Santa's schedule is booked solid this time of year, you can still ride with him through Decembe…
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Cheyenne Mallo and partner Zac Schiff are the makers and purveyors of Cheyenne Mallo Pottery, in Olivebridge, NY. Their signature mugs feature raised topographic maps of Catskills places, like Overlook Mountain, North South Lake, Kaaterskill Falls, and West Kill. Mugs feature black topographic lines transected by red dotted hiking trails, and uniqu…
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When it comes to Thanksgiving feasting, 2/3 of Americans prefer side dishes to the main entrée. So we visited two of the Catskills' best chefs for a fresh take on the beloved side dish! At Tannersville's craftsman-style Deer Mountain Inn, chef Corwin Kave shows us how to whip up a fresh and flavorful Charred Broccoli Di Cicco with preserved lemon a…
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On today's Kaatscast, we checked in with Bill Merchant, Deputy Director for Collections, historian, and curator at the D&H Canal museum, recently transplanted to the historic Depuy Canal House in High Falls, NY. Not every visit to the museum comes with Bill's VIP tour, so here's an opportunity to soak up his encyclopedic footnotes before embarking …
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Bill Abranowicz is a renowned photographer who started snapping pictures 50 years ago. Bill's career has taken him around the globe many times over, taking pictures for the likes of Condé Nast Traveler, The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Architectural Digest, Vogue, Bon Appétit, Martha Stewart Living, and the list goes on. In his latest phot…
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On the heals of Indigenous People's Day, Kaatscast sat down with Justin Wexler, of Wild Hudson Valley, for an overview of the Catskills' own native history. If you've ever wondered about the people who came before us, and where they are today, consider this "Indigenous Catskills 101." For a glossary of terms and recommendations for further reading,…
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Welcome to a special edition of Kaatscast: the Catskills Podcast. This is episode 100, and we've got lots in store –– including a conversation with a 100-year-old Catskills native; an interview by Mollie Zoldan with the host of this podcast ... me! And a top 10 list of our most listened-to stories. Got a few minutes? We'd love to get your feedback …
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In late September, the basketball court at Shandaken's Glenbrook Park serves as a community dance floor, where area residents and visitors are transported through music to eastern Europe. This year marks the third anniversary of the Balkan Mountains Music Festival. Hear from organizers Beth Waterman, Max Fass, and Samantha Awand-Gortel about this f…
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Late last year, and 20 episodes ago, Michael DiBenedetto joined us in the studio and made a convincing case for copper bullets over lead, citing collateral damage to our Catskills bald eagles. On today's show, we reconnected with Michael -- in Ukraine -- where he's volunteering as a driver with an organization called Road to Relief. Michael drives …
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Ann Cihanek is a goat farmer whose herd of semi-retired goats are employed across the region to clear sites of invasive plants, brush, and overgrowth. We caught up with 10 of her Green Goats at the John Burroughs Memorial State Historic Site, in Roxbury, NY. Years of overgrowth on hilly, sensitive terrain, called for a novel approach to restore a h…
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In July, a small group of hikers was apprehended and ticketed for leaving two Adirondack chairs at the summit of Slide Mountain. Those hikers' actions, while misguided, may have been good-intentioned. But they fly in the face of outdoor ethics and "leaving no trace." At the core of "Leave No Trace" are 7 principles that provide a framework of minim…
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Nearly a century ago, famed photographer and innovator Emile Brunel purchased Boiceville's Brown Hotel and transformed it into Le Chalet Indien, a world-class resort frequented by famed artists and politicians of the day. Brunel's fascination with Native American culture manifested in an adjoining sculpture park, which still stands and is now stewa…
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Wave Farm –– in Greene County's Acra, NY –– is a 29-acre campus that's not only home to WGXC 90.7 FM, but a hub for terrestrial radio, transmission arts, and resident artists. Hear from Executive Director Galen Joseph-Hunter how Wave Farm has been pioneering the "transmission arts" genre for more than 25 years. Thanks to our sponsors: Briars & Bram…
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In this podcast episode, Chef Brett August interviews Chef John Dettori from The Creek House Grill, located at 19 Lower Main Street in Calicoon, NY. Discover Chef Dettori's passion for exceptional cuisine as he shares his culinary inspirations, innovative techniques, and collaboration with local farmers and artisans. Experience the vibrant flavors,…
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Silver Hollow Audio had the honor of recording –– and this month, publishing –– the audiobook version of Kim Brown Seely's Uncharted: A Couple's Empty-Nest Adventure Sailing from One Life to Another. Faced with an empty nest, stagnant jobs, and an economy in freefall, Kim and her husband decided to embark on a grand adventure. On an impulse, they p…
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The Catskills naturalist John Burroughs once wrote, "The place to observe nature is where you are; the walk to take to-day is the walk you took yesterday. You will not find just the same things: both the observed and the observer has changed; the ship is on another tack in both cases." His 1886 essay, "A Sharp Lookout" predates terms like "sit spot…
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When Mel Bellar established his Andes, NY landscape design company, the Catskills were considered "zone 4" on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Thanks (?) to climate change and warmer winters, the region is now solidly in "zone 5." We talked with Mel about that shift and how it's reshaping our options. Join our conversation for many more Catskills…
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Spring has sprung in the Catskills, and with the reemergence of our native flora and fauna, invasive species are also happy to awaken. Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) director John Thompson tells us what to watch out for, how to report our findings, and what we can do to stem the tide of invasive pests. Plus, two emerging inv…
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In this podcast episode, Chef Brett Augusts interviews Ian Boyle, the executive chef, and co-owner of The Old Foundation Restaurant. Ian shares his culinary journey, from his early days working in dive bars to honing his skills in Italy. Despite traveling extensively, Ian has now settled in Sullivan County and recently became the new proprietor of …
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April is Financial Literacy Month! It's also National Jazz Appreciation Month, National Fresh Celery Month, Foot Health Awareness Month, World Landscape Architecture Month, and National Soft Pretzel Month. But let's just stick to finance for now, a topic that affects us all throughout the year. And for a refresher on that topic, we met up with our …
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Just two weeks before the start of trout season, the Catskills lost a paragon of angling. Henry "Hank" Rope, Jr. wore out a pair of wading shoes every year, fishing Catskills creeks and tributaries. Hank shared his love of the sport through his Big Indian Guide Service and volunteered his time with Trout in the Classroom at a community elementary s…
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Radio Catskill hit the airwaves in 1990 and operated out of a hydro-powered station in Jeffersonville. But when a building was recently offered in nearby Liberty, WJFF shed its 30-year skin and relocated to the now fully-renovated, modern production facility. Technological advances aside, this small public radio station is still very much focused o…
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As Catskills black bears emerge from hibernation, we spoke with three bear experts –– wildlife rehabilitator Kristine Flones, and conservationist couple Patti and Bill Rudge –– who shared some handy tips for coexisting peaceably with our Catskills bears, including ... the best time to wrap up your wild bird food (and why) the importance of taking o…
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As any skier knows, squeezing into a pair of ski boots can be quite the challenge. For skiers with physical and cognitive disabilities, though, preparing for a day on the slopes can require exponentially more time and effort. But that doesn't stop skiers like Todd Reid, who lives with spina bifida, from savoring a day on skis. At the base of Windha…
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If the Catskills seem busier lately, you're not imagining it. According to a new report, visits to the Catskills more than doubled between 2018 and 2021, when the region welcomed an estimated 12 million travelers––that's roughly equivalent to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone, combined! The ongoing deluge, it turns out, is the very reason…
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Washington Irving was an early author to set his fictional tale in the Catskills, but he certainly wasn't the last. If Rip Van Winkle were alive today, he'd have no shortage of contemporary Catskills suspense stories to help keep him awake. Kelli Huggins is on a mission to read all things "Catskills," and she hankers for horror. If a novel features…
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There's a "herd" of sewing machines in the hundreds, in Delancey, NY, and they're in the loving and capable hands of one Billy Hancock, owner of Billy's Make & Mend, an outpost for sewing machine repair and maintenance, sewing work, machine lessons, and plenty of history. Thanks to our latest sponsor, Ulster Savings Bank, which was established the …
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To start off the new year, we visited Shea in the Catskills, a tarot practitioner, artist, facilitator, organizer + contemplative, for a (deeper than perhaps expected) conversation on community, tarot, inspiration ... and some insights for 2023! Check out Shea's own podcasts! They're simply produced, clean, and inviting -- rumination and curation i…
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Just off the Kingston traffic circle, you'll find a couple of gas stations, a used car dealer, and a drive-through vegetarian burger joint. But in the 1940s, this was the site of "Seal College," a training facility for some of the most famous sea lions to share the stage with the likes of Abbott and Costello, Bob Hope, and Ed Sullivan. In his new b…
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Charles Shreyvogel was an Eastern artist who painted famous Western scenes. His favorite model was also decidedly non-Western. Greene County’s Kenny Bloodgood recounts tales of his great-uncle Grant and his unlikely appearance in some of Schruyvogel’s most famous paintings. We produced this episode as part of Catskill Historical Views, a collaborat…
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Whether you're a human who enjoys venison, or a bald eagle that scavenges a hunter's kill, lead = poison. And as it turns out, common lead bullets fragment on impact into hundreds of pepper-sized flakes that can be devastating to wildlife (and not so great for humans, either!). Michael DiBenedetto is a lifelong Catskiller, a longtime hunter, and a …
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When the Wiltwyck Cemetery and family crematory started following us on Instagram, instead of getting ... well ... creeped out, we decided to reach out, and learn about this unique establishment. Kingston's Wiltwyck Rural Cemetery goes back to the mid 19th-century, with tombstones artfully occupying some 60 acres of beautiful rolling hills. A crema…
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Catskills writer Violet Snow is the author of To March or to Marry, an historical novel about the lengthy fight for a woman's right to vote, both here in New York, and nationally. As we prepare to cast our ballots in 2022, it's hard to imagine that just over 100 years ago, women were excluded from that process. In this episode of Kaatscast, I talk …
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Overlook Mountain is a popular Catskills hiking destination, complete with a scenic fire tower and the ruins of an historic hotel. According to researchers, and bolstered by groundbreaking scientific evidence, the mountain's popularity precedes modern hiking; 19th-century tourism; even colonial settlement. A parcel under the protective watch of the…
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If you've ever heard (or even ... uttered) the word "cidiot," to describe an urban transplant, likely that term wasn't used in a positive light. Podcast host Mat Zucker has been doing his best to rebrand the word in a podcast that bears the name. Cidiot is a popular biweekly show about "learning to live in the country," and last year it won "Best R…
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In our last episode we took a ride on the old Ulster & Delaware rails with Rail Explorers, a pedal bike experience in Phoenicia, NY. This week, we're at the neighboring Empire State Railway Museum, at home in the historic 1899 Phoenicia train station since 1983, for a look back at Catskills railroad history. Curator Tom Comito tells us about the 19…
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From the late 19th- to the early 20th-century, passengers could board an Ulster & Delaware train in Kingston and ride straight up through the Catskills, to Oneonta. These days, you can still experience a 4-mile stretch of that track, between Mt. Tremper and Phoenicia, with one small caveat. You have to pedal! Rail Explorers has repurposed a few suc…
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Long before "THE" concert so closely associated with Woodstock, "Maverick Concerts" have been delighting fans of classical music for more than 100 years. We sat in the historic concert hall with music director Alexander Platt to hear about the history of the utopian Maverick art colony, the concert series that stemmed from it, and some 21st-century…
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Earlier this summer, we joined dozens of auto enthusiasts for a 135-mile loop on the Schoharie Turnpike - Kaaterskill Clove Road Rally, one in a series of rallies that pairs Catskills scenery and history with the love of driving. Join us as we drive the northern Catskills in some unique and well-loved automobiles. More drives in September and Octob…
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Stephen Sautner is a lifelong fisherman, environmental activist, and the author of several books on those topics. And while his passion for fishing has taken him to the Falkland Islands, Cuba, the Zambezi River, and even ... New Jersey, a rustic fishing cabin in Hancock, New York, is Stephen's happy place. Tune it to hear Stephen's thoughts on trou…
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Anne Hall's addiction to flower growing is a boon to Catskills designers, florists, restaurants, and individuals who want locally grown, chemical-free flowers in another league from generic supermarket fare. In February, we put out an episode on Jarita's, a local florist serving the Catskills for 45 years. One of our listeners heard that episode an…
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If you're looking for a unique way to experience Catskills views, there's no better time to check out the Catskills' 6 hiker-accessible fire towers! The 2022 Catskills Fire Tower Challenge encourages hikers to visit all 6, with the added bonus of a challenge patch, a subscription to Conservationist magazine, and other prizes. We met with the Catski…
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Just a few years ago, the coveted Catskills "cabin on 5 acres" was priced at $300,000, give or take. Today, that same property could easily cost you double. Real estate in the Catskills is booming, and while housing markets ebb and flow, according to realtor Peggy Bellar, there's no significant retraction in the forecast. Bellar showed us three pro…
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