Tag Archives: winter activities

Explore Winter Wonderland at Cattaraugus County in The Enchanted Mountains

Explore the Winter Wonderlands at Cattaraugus County in the Enchanted Mountains

Contributed by: Cattaraugus County

Western New York Winter is upon us in The Enchanted Mountains! Here in Cattaraugus County, one day we could be shoveling out two feet of snow and the next dodging raindrops! Never fret, whether you choose to explore the Winter Wonderlands of our Natural areas or prefer to celebrate the season by visiting our splendid indoor museums, galleries and theatre performances, you are sure to celebrate all of Winter, not just the holidays. Come and enjoy these fun winter activities with the whole family, you’ll be glad you did!

Snowmobile season is in full effect! [Image: enchantedmountains.com]

Trails and Lodging 

When the snow comes down all fluffy and fast, you can be sure that is the best time to ride a snowmobile. Cascade over the freshly fallen snow laying peacefully on the fields or slow down in our forested areas to look up and glance at the snow-lined trees. We have over 450 miles of trails, including those in Allegany State Park. With all those miles and trails that connect into the next County, you will need at least a couple days to pack in all the fun! We have numerous lodgings with easy trail access including cabins in Allegany State Park, Harwood Haven, Mystic Water Resort and The Woods at Bear Creek! Plus plenty of B&B’s, house rentals and more! Call 1-800-331-0543 for your Free Trail Map and brochure which lists these places and more, plus restaurants, snowmobile rentals , snowmobile service stops and gas stations along the trail!

Here is just one example of the day of fun that awaits you this winter!

Stay at The Inn at One Bank Street in Randolph, which has restaurants and gas within a half of a block from your guest room. Walk over to Vern’s Place in the morning for an affordable, delicious meal to give you the energy to be out in the cold all day. Head back to the room, gear up and take your sled over to Arrowmart to gas up before you go, again just a half block away! Now you’re ready for an adventure – but don’t forget your trail map! It is very important to respect the landowners that allow the trails to go over their property. And remember, just because you see a trail doesn’t mean it is for your use! It is your responsibility to know the trails and stick to them!

How about heading up to Little Valley, then over through the back hills of Ellicottville through the McCarty Hill Forest then over to the quaint town of Franklinville. Check out the Woods at Bear Creek for dinner and to warm up. The Woods at Bear Creek offers a view of the pristine snow over their lake that can be seen from the restaurant! Once you’re warmed up, head south through Ischua and down through Portville. If you didn’t grab a bite to eat at The Woods at Bear Creek, then give Sprague’s Maple Farms a try! Almost everything on the menu has maple syrup in it! There are gas opportunities here too at Kwik Fill and the Halfway Inn Bar & Grill. Make your back to Randolph through Allegany State Park to start scoping out a location for next year’s snowmobile vacation.

Love winter but prefer the indoors?

Why not ease into it with ice-skating at the William O Smith Rec. Center in Olean. This is the perfect compromise. You get to enjoy a great winter sport, but can step off the ice to warm up at any time. Plus, what makes a better date night than ice-skating? (Hint, hint) Afterwards, take that special someone out to a lovely dinner at any of the new restaurants in Olean. Try Woodside Tavern on the Range on River Road for a beautiful setting, or the hip new Ravyn & Robyn Lounge, featuring fine Italian Cuisine made from scratch! There’s always the tried and true favorites as well – The Beef N Barrel, Brothers Bistro, El Mariachi and Angee’s! Recount the funny happenings of ice-skating while you dine together and enjoy the slower pace of winter.

Historial Museum exhibit fat Cattaraugus County New York

Cattaraugus County Historical Museum  [Image: Cattaraugus County]

Can’t stand the thought of cold weather?

Well, we recommend you make your way into one of our outstanding museums, galleries or theatrical performances to keep you warm. We have 26 museums in the County that can be viewed in our Heritage Brochure (free if requested as well). These have a variety of interests including Town and Village histories, History of the County, Seneca Nation Culture, themes relating to African American History and the Underground Railroad and one even has a Mammoth! The Regina A Quick Center is located on the campus of St. Bonaventure University and has stunning and important works of art from their collection and others. There are also live performances here from renowned musicians thanks to the group “Friends of Good Music”.

The theatre is alive and well and as you know the saying goes, “The Show Must Go On”. And that means in the winter as well. Spend a delightful evening inside dreaming of other lives lived and hearing the great stories and musicals put on by our fantastic local talent. Olean Community Theatre will be starting their 38th season in 2017 and will feature “The Big Meal” “Assassins” and “9 to 5”. The Olean Theatre Workshop has provided family theater for over 34 years and upcoming performances of The Odd Couple will debut in Feb. The Ray Evans Seneca Theatre is the host to the Cattaraugus County Living Arts Association’s performances. “Hair” will be gracing the stage here in February and is sure to be the talk of the town for the months surrounding. This one is not to be missed!

Actors play a scene from the play Arsenic and Old Lace at the Olean Community Theatre in The Enchanted Mountains

Olean Community Theatre, Arsenic and Old Lace Play  [Image: Cattaraugus County]

So whatever you’re idea of winter is, a time to enjoy crisp cool air and fluffy snow or a time to slow down, relax and find special moments indoors, then The Enchanted Mountains of Western NY are where you need to be! Visit us online at EnchantedMountains.com, call us at 1-800-331-0543 or follow us on Facebook!

Winter Never Gets Old in the Enchanted Mountains of Western NY!

Contributed by Cattaraugus County Tourism

People walking on snow at Cattaraugus County

Image: Cattaraugus County Tourism

Do you tire of winter before it even begins? Or how about just after the holidays? Think that there is nothing to do when it’s cold outside besides sit under a blanket and try to keep warm? That’s not what we think here in Cattaraugus County, the Enchanted Mountains of Western NY. We have many reasons to love winter and all four seasons of the year. We are in the top of the list for counties who receive the maximum snowfall in NY state. It’s no wonder we know how to have fun in the snow! How does cascading over the snow on a trail-dominating snowmobile sound? Or exploring the back woods? Or breaking your own trails on snowshoes? You can do all that right here and will soon be warming up to winter as well!

December is here, and that means snow can happen at any time! The trails open up right after hunting season ends (December 22), the week before Christmas vacation. Plan ahead to enjoy the upcoming season of fun by calling for a FREE snowmobile map. Our trails will take you through deep woods freshly covered with snow, around small towns with businesses that welcome snowmobilers, and sometimes even over a frozen lake! The map will guide you throughout our miles and miles of trails (almost 400!) in our county and into the neighboring counties as well. You won’t have to worry about getting lost! And if you don’t feel like traveling far, our trails offer more than enough dashing through the snow. The number to call for the map is 1-800-331-0543.

Trail of people on snow mobiles at Cattaraugus County

Image: Cattaraugus County Tourism

If you don’t have a snowmobile, we can recommend where you can rent one—even ones that will be delivered right to where you are staying. We can also recommend places for you to stay right off the snowmobile trails. Allegany State Park has winterized cabins that range from rustic to high-end cottages that include all the amenities of home besides food. You can spend the day out riding in the snow and then come back to a comfy cabin warmed just to the temperature you like. If you have a large family or your snowmobiling club wants to vacation together, try one of the newly restored group camps at Allegany State Park. The cabins are all located together with plenty of bathroom space (handicap accessible also) and a large kitchen/dining area so you can all have meals together.

Prefer the slower paced enjoyment of the wintry outdoors instead of riding snowmobiles? You can take up snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. We have plenty of places for that as well! Allegany State Park has a large trail system for cross-country skiing: the Art Roscoe Trail System. It’s almost 25-miles worth of loops, giving you opportunities ranging from a casual walk to an all-out workout. You can rent skis right across from the system at the Summit Warming Hut. Snowshoes are not permitted on this trail system, but are allowed anywhere else in the park. Find your favorite summer hiking trail and attempt it in the winter. Compare the differences of the seasons and add even more memories to your favorite hikes. You can also cross-country ski at Holiday Valley, known for its downhill skiing. Cruise the ridgelines at the top of the mountain or circle around the golf course down below—both offer spectacular views. They also rent out cross-country skis if you are in need.

Pfeiffer Nature Center has miles of trails just waiting to be explored. The trails are well-groomed and kept clean all winter long. They have rentals, but the number is limited so call ahead. There are two properties of Pfeiffer Nature Center: the Lillibridge Property and the Eshelman Property. The Lillibridge Property will take you through an old growth forest with red and white oaks estimated to be around 150 years old. Thorton Thruway leads you to the southern border of the property where you can see one of the oldest Black Gum trees in the East, which is more than 500 years old! The Eshelman Property offers hikes of shorter distances, going along a creek then up a hill for a great view of the valley, before meandering by the meadow. It’s a great place to see animals!

Of course we also have ice skating, ice fishing, and plenty of indoor options for you as well, which can be discovered on EnchantedMountains.com, including upcoming events! No matter what you decide to do in the Enchanted Mountains during winter, you will find yourself shouting, “Let it snow!”

People riding snow mobiles banner from Pocket Ranger app

Featured: Yellowstone National Park

This month’s featured park is none other than Yellowstone National Park, a sprawling 2.2 million acres of natural geothermal bedspread based in the northwestern corner of Wyoming and certain parts of Idaho and Montana.

This vast ecological center is seated on top of the Yellowstone Caldera, a massive supervolcano stretching between 35–45 miles. Not to worry, though; the last recorded eruption was approximately 70,000 years ago, and our technology has since improved so that you’re highly unlikely to be caught in the fireworks so to speak.


Yellowstone National Park is dazzling in the summer. [Image: http://www.hdwallpaperscool.com/]

While there are various debates on where the park attained its name, the two outstanding theories are that it may be named after the Yellowstone River from the Minnetaree Indian name Mi tse a-da-zi (Yellow Rock River). However, based on common lore, there is also the possibility that the name was derived from the yellow rock surrounding the area. French trappers came and called the river “Roche Jaune” (Yellow Rock) which, when later translated, was what stuck with travelers and led it to be referred to as “Yellowstone.”

Ferdinand V. Hayden primarily headed the expedition, discovery, and the park’s eventual designation as a protected natural area. It was a slippery discovery that lasted an approximate 30 years before it stepped past the label of myths and folklore. On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant officially signed what was considered The Act of Dedication that protected the park’s area from settlement and occupancy. Since then, the park has been successfully conserved for almost two centuries and is the leading (and arguably most important) geothermal resource in the entire world.

If you’re planning to visit Yellowstone National Park this fall or coming winter, here are some activities and views that you can enjoy while at this wonderful, breathtaking area.

Geothermal Glory

Yellowstone is well known for its geothermal and hydrothermal system and its many geysers that can be found within the park. A study in 2011 estimated the park to have approximately 1,200 geysers with about 400 of them active annually. Impressively, the park is estimated to contain 10,000 geothermal features, meaning that 2/3 of the world’s geysers are concentrated in Yellowstone.

One of its most famous geysers is Old Faithful, which erupts at a rate of 45–120 minutes.


Old Faithful erupting in the sunset. [Image: http://www.yellowstonenationalpark.org/]

Aside from Old Faithful, other famous geysers in the park include Castle Geyser, Lion Geyser, Beehive Geyser, and the Norris Geyser Basin. You can visit the park at any point throughout the fall and winter to witness these amazing spectacles.

Wildlife Viewing

Because the park’s ecosystem is one of the most primitive and well-preserved on Earth, it makes for a suitable environment to house a diverse population of wildlife. All across its mountains and acres of space, various mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and fish can be found dwelling within this natural ecospace.

Among the mammals that can be found in Yellowstone are coyotes, wolves, the largest purebred bison herd in the Americas, and antelope. Bears are also commonly encountered in Yellowstone, so it is highly advised to read up on safety methods before visiting. Coming near or disturbing the animals is not advised, and visitors are recommended to stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves, and 25 yards away from any other mammals in Yellowstone.

Yellowstone wolves howling. [Image url: http://enchantedseashells.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/us-national-parks-yellowstone-wolf-quest-2-wolves.jpg?w=584&h=304]

Yellowstone wolves howling. [Image: http://enchantedseashells.files.wordpress.com/]

The park is also home to 311 species of birds, including bald eagles, ravens, and even whooping cranes (though the recorded sightings of those are rare). One can also spot harlequins, ducks, ospreys, and peregrine falcons.

Fishing is allowed in Yellowstone, and 18 species of fish can be found here, including lake trout, cutthroat trout, and mountain whitefish. Be sure to check the Rules & Regulations as well as the seasons and bag limits if you wish to go fishing in this reservoir.

Reptiles can be found within the park, including about six types of snakes such as the rubber boa, wandering garter snake, and the prairie rattlesnake. And additionally, amphibians can be found on the park grounds as well. Boreal chorus frogs, boreal toads, and blotched tiger salamanders are only three examples of what can be found within Yellowstone.

Early Winter in Yellowstone

Now that winter is coming, Yellowstone is probably the first park to trudge deep into the season. With its wonderfully arched slopes and miles upon miles of trails, Yellowstone is premium for winter adventuring. Tons of snow piles on top of the surroundings so that the whole scene is a gorgeous blanket of white surrounded by pine trees adorned in silver. It’s particularly beautiful when the setting or rising sun’s soft shades of red, purple, orange, and yellow hug the skies. These same colors illuminate the blanket of snow, truly making for a breathtaking sight.

Winter in Yellowstone [Image url: http://www.nps.gov/features/yell/slidefile/scenics/winterscenes/Images/10029.jpg]

Winter in Yellowstone. [Image: http://www.nps.gov/]

Meanwhile hot springs decorated with tufts of snow erupt in their usual frequency, providing a sense of heat. Coyotes, wolves, bison, and bears trudge through the snow and leave behind paw prints on the winter grounds.

Despite the cold freeze, Yellowstone is a marvelous place for various winter activities, offering miles of perfect, snow-filled trails for skiers and commercially-guided snowmobile tours. Other opportunities include winter ranger programs, guided ski and snowshoe tours, and cross-country skiing.

If you wish to visit Yellowstone, check out the following links to help guide you in your adventure!

And as always, let us help you! The Pocket Ranger® National Park Passport Guide features a comprehensive guide of Yellowstone National Park. Find us in Apple Store and Google Play, and go adventuring today!

Climbing Mt. Pilchuck

Contributed by Michael Restivo of Mike off the Map

Heading north on the I-5 corridor reveals one of the most spectacular roadway vistas in the state of Washington: a breathtaking panorama of the North Cascades. To the northeast, the all-white pyramid of Mt. Baker rises from the horizon, flanked by the serrated summits of Three-Finger Jack. While theses peaks dominate the view, there is one prominent mountain that stands out. It is a sharp, black mountain that from a distance appears daunting, but offers one of the most classic hikes of the Northwest. This is Mt. Pilchuck, and the view from its famed watchtower is unforgettable.

The Summit and Watchtower of Mt. Pilchuck [Image Credit: Michael Restivo]

The Summit and Watchtower [Image Credit: Michael Restivo]

In the early spring, this trail takes on a distinct alpine ambiance. While the grade is no more difficult than Mt. Si, the path is much more exposed while traversing unbalanced rocky ledges over a blanket of ice and snow. The top of the peak is a maze of precariously placed ledges, cornices, ridges, and steep snowfields, capped with a historic fire-tower, which now shelters hikers. As an added bonus, the shelter is open year-round, so you can spend a night at the summit and wake up to the sun beaming over the volcanoes.

Four volcano panorama from the Watchtower of Mt. Pilchuck [Image Credit: Michael Restivo]

Four volcano panorama from the Watchtower [Image Credit: Michael Restivo]

The trail begins by crossing a lush northwestern forest of evergreens and pines, steadily rising through a series of moderately steep switchbacks. As hikers gain altitude, the trees gradually pull back, revealing the deep green valley of Snohomish County and Mt. Rainier looming over the landscape to the south. As the tree-line begins to fall away, dirt paths turn to rocky steps, and hikers scramble over granite ledges connecting to the upper trail. Suddenly, the entire atmosphere changes. From what was once a dense, green woodland, is now an alpine wonderland of towering walls, large boulders, and pinpointed footwork on uneven granite switchbacks. Among the talus and stony ledges are rusted chains and wires; the remnants of an old ski resort that closed in the 1970’s.

Glacier Peak from the snowfield [Image Credit: Michael Restivo]

Glacier Peak from the snowfield [Image Credit: Michael Restivo]

After a few short, steep sections, the path winds through another small forest while the mountainous vista becomes more visible. A final strenuous section traverses the snowfield and reveals the distinct summit ledges, topped off by the famed watchtower. While just having made it to the top is worth its reward in the view, the climb to the tower, which involves scrambling over a series of boulders reveals an indescribably beautiful panorama. From the wooden rails of the tower, there is a 360-degree view of the North Cascades bordered by the Snohomish County valley and four volcanoes: Rainier, Baker, Glacier, and St. Helens prominently rising above the jagged skyline. On clear days, to the southeast, its possible to gaze on the city of Seattle, Puget Sound, and the Olympic Mountains.

What makes Pilchuck such a spectacular hike is its ambiance and exposure. It’s an excellent introduction to hiking in the North Cascades or for hikers who wish that Si was a little more exciting and a little less crowded.

Thaw Out in the Enchanted Mountains at the Annual Maple Weekends This March!

Contributed by Cattaraugus County Tourism

About the beginning to middle of March, most people start to grow tired of the cold or have a severe case of cabin fever. Cattaraugus County is otherwise known as the Enchanted Mountains for its vast countryside, serene landscapes, and picturesque hills and valleys. With expansive forests and an area indigenous to tall maple trees, Cattaraugus County offers up some of the best maple syrup you can please your taste buds with. In fact, the area loves maple syrup so much they have two weekends devoted to their maple farms, when they invite visitors to learn about their process and sample their goods. So, how does warming up with a hot pile of pancakes sound to ease the cold of winter?

Row of different grades of bottled maple syrup [Image Credit: John P. Welksnar]

Maple syrup comes in different grades. Learn more about them and even taste a few at the Annual Maple Weekends! [Image Credit: John P. Welksnar]

March is the beginning of a season of tradition, where local maple farms begin to tap the trees in hopes of some sweet sap flowing down into their buckets. The time period between winter and spring is best for collection, with temperatures around 40 degrees being ideal. Various legends exist to explain the initial discovery. One is that the chief of a Native American tribe threw a tomahawk at a tree, sap ran out, his wife tasted it and found it to be sweet, then boiled venison in the liquid. Another version holds that Native Americans stumbled on sap running from a broken maple branch.

Nowadays, trees are tapped with cordless drills and small plastic spouts are placed to run the sap into a hanging bucket. But technology is ever changing the ways people do anything, and has exploded into this process as well. Some maple farms have intricate webs of tubing, going straight from the tree to the tank, with vacuums to draw out that delicious sap. Each farm uses the same basic idea to get the sap, but have different techniques and processing systems to bring syrup to your table.

Old green tractor ride [Image Credit: John P. Welksnar]

Image Credit: John P. Welksnar

Maple farms in the Cattaraugus County area will play host to the public and encourage families to come see how they produce syrup, teach how much sap it really takes to make the syrup, and offer samples. Some of the farms will have the evaporators running, give tree tapping demonstrations, and share the history of their farm. This activity is great for families and is kid friendly, running from 10am-4pm each day, March 21-22 and 28-29. Get out of the house, explore your environment and learn something new!

Sprague’s Maple Farm in Portville will display their authentic old-fashioned sugarhouse along with various demonstrations, sugar on snow parties, wagon rides to the sugarhouse, and activities for the kids. Starting out as a hobby over 30 years ago, this huge farm now boasts a restaurant serving all your maple favorites as well as free-range turkey dinners. Maple is used in every dish that is served making anything you order sweet and savory!

Rows of old bottles and cans inside a sugar shack [Image Credit: John P. Welksnar]

Image Credit: John P. Welksnar

Visit Wright Farms in Farmersville to see how they are able to manage an astonishing 7,200 taps. Five generations of Wright’s have worked to maintain the tradition of producing maple syrup and maple products on the farm. In fact, one of those generations was inducted into the American Maple Museum’s Hall of Fame in 1978 for his contributions to the maple industry.

Stop by Boberg’s Maple in Delevan, known for their Maple Cream, for a tasty treat! Their process is more traditional with older equipment adding to the charm of the farm. Warm up to this family-owned and operated business.

Red sign for Moore's Pancake House [Image Credit: John P. Welksnar]

Image Credit: John P. Welksnar

The Pancake House at Moore’s in Freedom still serves up “all you can eat” pancakes from January to mid-April, but you can order their products online, by phone, or in their store out back. Their unique restaurant is filled with a selection of antiques, including a washing machine, sleds, tools, chinaware, knickknacks and other memorabilia.

Maple Glen Sugar House in Gowanda will present a candy making demo for Maple Weekends.   Their store offers a variety of unusual gifts for sale like 7 flavors of gourmet pancake mix, maple sugar, maple sugar candies, maple cream, jellies, and maple mustard to maple peanuts.

Plate with a stack of pancakes [Image Credit: John P. Welksnar]

Image Credit: John P. Welksnar

The health benefits of maple syrup are becoming more evident. It can be used in a variety of recipes as a substitute for sugar, having more nutritional value. It is all natural, fat-free, cholesterol-free and has as much calcium as a glass of whole milk.

Whatever farm you decide to go to, admission is FREE and all are more than happy to welcome you to their Sugar House with a sweet warm aroma of maple syrup being heated. Each farm takes pride in their product and are happy to be doing what they’re doing. Come to Cattaraugus County and embrace their agricultural side…. your stomach will thank you! Naturally Yours to discover and play in!

Two weekends not enough? Then keep a heads up for the Franklinville’s WNY Maple Festival on April 25-26. Two days of pancake eating, craft items, a parade, and live demonstrations. Read more about these events or places on their website: www.EnchantedMountains.com or get more information by calling 1-800-331-0543 or emailing info@enchantedmountains.com.

3 Recipes for Romance: The Perfect Valentine’s Day Camping Menu

Ah, February 14th—that special time when we celebrate love and romance on Hallmark Day. Er, we mean Valentine’s Day. Sure, this holiday has a dark and twisty origin, but what kind of love story doesn’t? Have some dark things, that is? (Note: we are not condemning any of those dark and twisty things that happened in ancient times, just in case you weren’t on our kooky train today.)

Now that we’ve cleared that up, we thought we’d take some time to help you plan the best dinner menu for your Valentine. And, since this is Pocket Ranger® Blog, we’re obviously going with an outdoorsy spin. Check out our favorite Valentine’s Day camping recipes for romance! (And if these recipes for romance don’t make your date fall in love, well, you made them wrong.) 

Easy Chocolate Fondue

Courtesy of dirtygourmet.com

Maybe dessert comes last, maybe it comes first, or maybe it’s both for you and your Valentine. Either way, you can’t have Valentine’s Day (or a good camping trip, for that matter) without some good ol’ fondue—especially when you dip in graham crackers and marshmallows and strawberries for a funky deconstructed s’more. Easy to make with your camp stove!

marshmallows and chocolate is one of our recipes for romance

Image: www.dirtygourmet.com/easy-chocolate-fondue


  • 1 cup (8 ounces) cream
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)
  • a pinch of salt 

Things to dip, such as:

  • Fruit (e.g. strawberries, grapes, bananas, pears)
  • Dried fruit (e.g. dried apricots)
  • Nuts
  • Pretzels
  • Marshmallows
  • Cookies (e.g. graham crackers, shortbread, macaroons)


  1. Pour cream into a pot and heat until it just starts to boil, stirring constantly. (If you have a stove that only burns on high heat, just hold the pot above the flame so that the cream doesn’t burn. You’re just heating the cream enough so that the chocolate melts, so it won’t take long.) Remove the pot from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir until it melts.
  2. Serve immediately with fruit and other dippers.

Venison in Red Wine + Port Mushroom Sauce

Courtesy of georgiapellegrini.com

Wild game is the perfect thing to serve for a romantic dinner for two in the woods. We thought about sharing this delicious recipe for dove nuggets (doves, after all, mate for life and are a symbol of Valentine’s Day) but we figured a) nuggets, while tasty, aren’t quite Valentine’s-Day-fancy and b) since they’re a beautiful symbol of the holiday, maybe we shouldn’t eat them (at least not on the actual day).

Venison strips with red wine glaze on plate [Image: www.georgiapellegrini.com/2013/11/11/blog/cooking/venison-in-red-wine-mushroom-sauce]

Image: www.georgiapellegrini.com/2013/11/11/blog/cooking/venison-in-red-wine-mushroom-sauce


  • 1 venison backstrap
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grape seed oil
  • 1 cup sliced button mushrooms
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup port wine


  1. Season the venison with salt and pepper liberally on all sides.
  2. Heat a skillet with 1 tablespoon of grape seed oil until smoking hot.
  3. Add the venison backstrap and sear on all sides until well browned (about 5 minutes in total for rare, about 8 minutes for medium rare.)
  4. Remove the backstrap to a rack or cutting board and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon of grape seed oil to the pan, heat, and add the mushrooms and shallots. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to help release the juices. Cook until soft.
  6. Sprinkle with the flour and stir to dry out the pan.
  7. Add the red wine and port and simmer, stirring to break up the flour. Let reduce by about half until thickened and the alcohol has burned off.
  8. Slice the venison into thin slices and spoon over the sauce.

Truffled Mash

Courtesy of foodnetwork.com

Valentine’s Day in the wild is all about making meat and potatoes sexy—so we’re giving you simple mashed potatoes, gourmet-style. You’ll get your rustic feel with a fancy shmancy truffled twist.

Bowl of truffled mashed potatoes [Image: www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/truffled-mash-recipe.html]

Image: www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/truffled-mash-recipe.html


  • 1 pound peeled and quartered russet potatoes
  • 2/3 cup half and half
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup grated truffled pecorino cheese
  • Salt & pepper 


  1. Cook peeled and quartered russet potatoes in a pot of simmering water until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain.
  2. Heat 2/3 cup half-and-half and 2 tablespoons butter in the pot. Add the potatoes and mash.
  3. Stir in ½ cup grated truffled pecorino cheese and salt and pepper. Cover and let stand 5 minutes.

We thought about giving you some sort of fancy yet rustic vegetable dish, but said to ourselves: it’s Valentine’s Day! We can pig out and just eat our favorite things. Besides, with all of that chocolate and venison and mashed potato goodness, we doubt you’d have any room left.

Top 6 Beginner Ice Skating Moves

Have you ever felt in complete awe when watching figure skaters? It’s a wonder how they do all those crazy, fast spins and dangerous axel jumps without getting disoriented. They didn’t learn it overnight, and started out just like the rest us, by the barrier doing penguin steps. After hours and days of practice, ice skaters can master some of these techniques. Ice skating is freeing once you’ve gained confidence and courage on the ice, and are able to learn new moves. If you feel comfortable enough to balance yourself and know how to stop, make your practice fun by learning these top 6 beginner ice skating moves.

Mom and daughter ice skating outdoors near mountains.

Image: www.msn.com

Forward Stroke (or Glide)

It’s recommended that beginners master the swizzle and the one-foot glide before starting the forward stroke. Stroking means moving from one skate to the other. Ice skaters either do a forward or back stroke. Skaters usually begin their session by warming up with one lap of strokes across the ice. Notice when pushing away on one foot, the free leg is extended back.


Outside 3 Turn

The outside 3 turn is perfect for those jazzy dance songs! This move means changing direction and edge. When doing the forward outside 3 turn, the skater goes forward on the outside edge and ends on the backwards inside edge. You can also learn the different combinations: forward or backward, left or right foot, and inside or outside edge.

Skate Backwards

While this may look hard for a beginner, the idea is to glide and push backwards. You can start by doing penguin steps backwards to ease you into the move. Begin rocking side to side and pick up speed. Don’t wiggle your bum! Proceed to pushing and transferring your weight from one leg to the other.

Forward & Backward Crossovers

Crossovers are grand, and essential to any figure skating routine. It helps you travel beautifully across the ice. The idea is to generate enough speed to get you around corners both backwards and forwards. Start from the T position and do half swizzles to get some speed before going into the crossovers.


This move may be considered an intermediate move, but if done slow you can master it. If you have experience doing the 3 turns, the twizzle shouldn’t take you long. The twizzle starts off similar to a forward inside 3 turn.

One Foot Spin

The one foot spin is the first spin that most figure skaters attempt. You start off by pushing off into a circle with your arms helping you rotate, and your free leg extending back then coming around. Once your free leg is 45 degrees, lift your knee and keep rotating. Try it on the floor before attempting it on the ice.

While you’re still practicing for jumps and spins, try out an easy bunny hop! And don’t forgot to download our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps to find winter sports and activities.