Monday, September 15, 2014

Just Doin' It in Oregon This Week

Mikayla is so excited this week – we finally leave the interior of the country (Oklahoma, Ohio and North Dakota have been the past three weeks remember) and head back to the Pacific Coast for a trip to “The Beaver State” this week.  That’s right, it’s Oregon week!  Wait until she hears that the state crustacean, the Dungeness Crab, of which Oregon is a leading producer, is on tonight’s menu.  But before we can feast, it’s time to learn more about the state that brought us the man who made the phrase ‘D’oh!’ famous, has a city with the dual nicknames of the “City of Roses”  and “Beervana” and is the nation’s leading producer of Christmas trees!  So quack like a duck, make sure you can see both sides of the flag when you hang it and thank this guy for your ability to ‘click’ on all my fun links as we start our Oregon adventure!

Speaking of adventures, it was quite an adventure for the earliest settlers of the nation’s 33rd state.  And if you’re around(ish) my age there’s a fair chance you’ve experienced that adventure your with a well-known computer game (be honest – did you die of dysentery?).  I’m of course talking about the long expanse through the mountains for settlers to make it all the way to the Pacific Coast, the Oregon Trail.   Beginning in Missouri and spanning across 2,200 miles to its end around Oregon City.  (There were several branches at the point off the main trail for settlers to choose from.)  From the early to mid-1830s through the 1860’s the Oregon Trail and its many offshoots were used by about 400,000 settlers, ranchers, farmers, miners, and businessmen and their families.  The Conestoga wagon was the main means of travel along the treacherous trail, though disease was the main killer for those making the journey.  The Trail made it possible for westward expansion of the country to occur – Oregon alone gained nearly 40,000 settlers from 1860-1870 alone.

After traversing through Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming and Idaho, perhaps site of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon wasn’t exactly the most welcome.  But there is no denying that the range lends Oregon some of its most distinguishable landmarks and opportunities for unique activities.  Mount Hood is the highest peak in Oregon – though what that height actually is can be debated.   Regardless, the peak is actually a dormant (sleeping) volcano that most recently had a minor eruption in 1907.  The USGS lists its eruption threat as ‘high’ – though that means there is a 3%-7% chance of it erupting in the next 30 years.  About 30 miles north of Mount Hood you can find Hood River which has been ranked as one of the top spots in the world for windsurfing.  Also part of the Cascade Range is the deepest lake in the country; Crater Lake.  A caldera lake formed by the collapse of Mount Mazama, Crater Lake is known for its deep blue color and the clarity of the water.  

The Willamette Valley which lies between the Cascades and the Pacific Coast is a source of fertile soil provided by the sediment left behind from glacial movement during the Ice Age.  One of the most important Oregon crops from this area – the hazelnut!  Oregon produces 99% of all the hazelnuts in the United States.    It is the official state nut of Oregon (with all kind of interesting traits) and we will definitely be doing some hazelnut sampling here this week!  This same area also allows Oregon to be among the nation’s leading producers of blueberries, potatoes, wheat and the marionberry – a crop exclusive to Oregon. 

Need something to pair with that marionberry?  Perhaps some fine cheese from Tillamook!  Or to be more specific, Tillamook Cheese.  The Tillamook County Creamery Association is a co-operative that includes 110 dairy farms producing cheese, butter, ice cream, sour cream and yogurt.  Their premier product is Tillamook Cheddar which in 2010 won the gold medal in the World Cheese Championship Cheese Contest.  The cheese is produced at the largest cheese factory in the country where over 1 million visitors come to take the tour every year.  Believe it or not, Tillamook cheese is distributed across the country and I’m determined to get my hands on some this week!

You may have never heard for the marionberry, but I think it’s pretty safe to say you’re probably familiar with ‘the swoosh’ symbol.   One of the most recognizable logos in the US, Nike, Inc.’s swoosh became its corporate logo in 1971 after being created by Carolyn Davidson, who was paid $35 for her efforts.   Originally founded as Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964 near Beaverton, Oregon natives Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight established Nike, which actually has ties to the University of Oregon.  The company is still headquartered in Beaverton and in 2010 the brand alone was valued at $10.7 billion, making it the most valuable brand among sports businesses.  (I found all kind of interesting facts about Nike if you want to ‘just do it’.)  While wearing your Nikes you may jump with an Olympic Jump Rope.  While the name might not be as recognizable as Nike, I pretty much guarantee if you went to an elementary gym class you used these ropes are they are the original plastic segmented jump ropes invented by a school teacher and coach looking for a durable sports product to be used indoors or outdoors.  The company was founded and is based in Portland and you can actually go on the website and design your own!  Something else you might do while wearing your Nikes; check out the Oregon Scenic Bikeway.  Oregon actually has the only scenic bikeway in the nation.  The different routes cross the state and offer scenic, historic, natural and cultural experiences along the way.  Some routes are day trips and some can stretch longer spans.  Want to go to Oregon to cycle – plan your trip ahead!

So I’d say there’s plenty to see, do, try, eat and experience with Oregon this week.  (I’m really hoping we don’t die of dysentery…)  As I started off by mentioning tonight, Mikayla is definitely on board if it means a little (or a lot!) of seafood this week.  And since she was all about helping me in the kitchen after school today, I did decide to hook her up right away and try out this recipe for Oregon Dungeness Crab Sandwiches.  A Dungeness crab has six legs and is found primarily in the chilly waters of the Pacific Northwest with a season running from December to early Spring.  Okay, confession, I did look VERY hard but was unable to locate actual Dungeness crab for tonight’s dinner.  So I made due with the rest of the recipe and we’re pretending it’s the real deal.  I have promised the Bean to keep an eye out for it during prime season.  And she got to eat the leftovers for lunch today so she's a happy girl anyway.  To go with it I made a Hazelnut and Pear Salad.  I’ve already told you about hazelnuts, but the pear is actually the official state fruit of Oregon as well.  And one more hazelnut recipe for dessert, these Oregon Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies.  The Bean was all over these today and I'd say they turned out just beautiful!  Thank goodness I had my chef in training today.  She cracked me up by issuing my standard line back to me with "Hey Mom, if I make these and they're not good we can just order pizza, right?"  Oh my Bean...

Alright, I’d say that’s plenty on Oregon to keep you on your toes (which might be snug in your Nikes).  Looking forward to this week’s adventure.  It’s a busy week around here in general with Religious Ed classes kicking off tonight, Scouting and the Ice Cream social on Wednesday, a Girl’s Night Out for me on Thursday and plenty more.  It’ll be great!  So until then…

Oregon Fun Fact of the Day: “The Beaver State” – Prized for its fur, the beaver was overtrapped by early settlers and eliminated from much of its original range. Through partial protection, the beaver has been reestablished in watercourses throughout Oregon and remains an important economic asset. The beaver has been referred to as "nature's engineer," and its dam-building activities are important to natural water flow and erosion control.

My favorite little chef

Look at the knee - she cracks me up - she is SO my child


My taste tester trying them out - she had two

Oregon Wall is up

Isn't this pretty?

Pear and Hazelnut Salad

Crab Sandwich

An Oregon Dinner

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