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Five Ways to Celebrate Memorial Weekend in the Greater Portland Region

Posted on: May 8th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

 

Memorial Day weekend is a great time to explore the Tualatin Valley's agricultural scene!

Memorial Day weekend is a great time to explore the Tualatin Valley’s agricultural scene!

Summer solstice may be well over a month away, but Memorial Day weekend is always a sort of soft-opening for summer. Ease into summer with a lackadaisical weekend of wine tasting, farms just opening for their summer season, all-American baseball and patriotically minded museum exhibits.

Memorial Day Weekend Wine Tasting

Oregon Wine Month ends on a sweet note as as the wineries of the northern Willamette Valley joyously open their doors for the weekend. Whether you’re staying in Portland, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Forest Grove or somewhere in between, you’ll be a quick drive from wine tasting in Oregon. Don’t miss Dion Vineyard’s Tasting Room Grand Opening!

Visit an Alpaca Farm

Make new friends—and not necessarily human ones at the Open Alpaca Barn (May 23-24, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., free). Alpaca mothers and babies will be outside to welcome visitors, as will artists working on handspun yarn.

First of Summer Berry Picking and Farmers Markets

Blueberry season doesn’t fully burst onto the scene until July, but the first of summer produce will be sprinkled among our fresh farmers markets. Choose from the Beaverton Saturday Market, Cedar Mill Farmers Market or the Hillsboro Saturday Farmers Market.

Patriotic and All-American Memorial Day Events

In honor of Memorial Day, take a visit to the Washington County Museum (Wednesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; $4-$6 admission). In addition to the “Washington County Goes to War” exhibit, take a few minutes to peruse the adjacent exhibit, “Americans All: The Bracero Program in Washington County.” View artifacts that help tell the story of how Washington County came to have the largest Latino population north of Sacramento during World War II and Mexico joining the Allies in 1942 to help fight the Axis.

What’s Memorial Day without a little baseball? Sit in the stands of the Hillsboro Hops Memorial Day Challenge (May 23-24 at Hillsboro Stadium) and cheer on talented youth baseball teams.

Have a happy, safe and wonderful Memorial Weekend with us!

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Celebrating Agriculture in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: March 18th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Celebrate agriculture in the Tualatin Valley!

Celebrate agriculture in the Tualatin Valley!

Happy National Agriculture Week! In the locavore-minded community of the Tualatin Valley, our farmers, chefs and food servers are supremely tied to the land, the food our area produces, and the farm-to-table experience that food provides for locals and visitors alike. We’d tell you to make a point to explore the agricultural wonders of the Tualatin Valley during your visit, but the truth is that we don’t have to—our farming and food culture is an organic (pun intended) part of any person’s stay.

Chew on this: the Beaverton Farmers Market is the largest all-agricultural market in the state of Oregon. Throughout the seasons, you can ogle at onions, gawk at gourds, chomp on chives and ruminate on raspberries. The final dates of the winter market are March 21, April 4 and April 18. The weekly summer market begins May 2. As each market runs Saturdays (through November) from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., you can partake in some brunch and lunch from the local farm and food artisan offerings. For those traveling from far away, there are plenty of locally made goods that won’t spoil on your journey home. Head to the Unger Farms booth for jams that keep the juicy punch of their berries intact. Our markets reach beyond just Beaverton. In the summer, you can find a farmers’ market in one of our towns or cities almost any day of the week!

In addition to markets, take a drive on the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route for a self-guided tour of the Tualatin Valley’s agricultural bounty. The tour route includes roadside crop signs, summer u-pick farms, charming taverns and classic general stores. Come July, the route’s road will be fragrant with the scent of not only fruits and vegetables, but herbs as well. Cruise into lavender farms for purple picture-ops and aromatic souvenirs.

Of course, the wineries of the northern Willamette Valley fit into our agricultural story, too. For a new take on wine tasting, plan a day traveling the sustainable wine trail. Not only do all of our winemakers make outstanding varietals, but many do so by organic and biodynamic standards—no small feat!

We hope you enjoy the bounty of the Tualatin Valley as much as our farms and markets enjoy growing and sharing it.

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The Life Cycle of an Oregon Hazelnut

Posted on: January 9th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey 6 Comments

We have just reached the end of Oregon’s hazelnut season, which also means that the life cycle of a hazelnut tree has begun again at the hazelnut tree farms of the Tualatin Valley. The Willamette Valley (of which the Tualatin Valley is proudly a part) grows 99% of all of the hazelnuts in not just Oregon, but the United States; so the start of the New Year and the hazelnut life cycle is pretty darn exciting for us. Yup, our beloved perennial shrub has dropped the last of its delicious filberts and it already using Oregon’s temperate and cool weather to prepare for next season.

The four seasons of a hazelnut tree in the Tualatin Valley.

The four seasons of a hazelnut tree in the Tualatin Valley.

The Hazelnut Growers of Oregon has created a mecca for true hazelnut aficionados at Oregon Orchard Hazelnuts. Here, get your hands on a wide variety of hazelnuts with a roast worth a boast, including salty and sweet varieties. Even out of the prime hazelnut season, you can still connect with farmers of your favorite filbert at the Beaverton Farmers Market, which returns with its winter series in February (complete with white chocolate covered hazelnuts at the Ken & June vendor)

Hazelnuts are not only delicious, but healthy, too. While the roasted nut is often used in confectionery delights, it also provides healthy fats, protein, vitamin E, dietary fiber and antioxidants. Has all this nutty talk gotten you “hangry” for some hazelnuts? Never fear! While waiting for the next crop of filberts to bloom in the spring and summer, you can try one of our hazelnut recipes to hold you over:

Hostess with the Mostess Granola
Nutty Berry Torte
Berry Baked Oatmeal
Chocolate, Cherry & Hazelnut Cookies

P.S. Learn even more about Oregon hazelnuts here.

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Focus on Autumn with Fall Harvest

Posted on: October 15th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

To focus on autumn means to focus on Oregon’s bounty. Focus on the gentle breeze whistling between the Tualatin Valley’s apple trees. Focus on the bright flavor of a just-picked pear. Focus on the gleeful expression of a child finding that perfect pumpkin in the patch. Focus on the sun setting in the hazelnut orchard. And don’t just focus on these precious moments—take a picture of it for the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest!

 

A filbert farm sunset along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. Photo by Karl Samson.

A filbert farm sunset along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. Photo by Karl Samson.

The Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest is our way of celebrating all the ways people experience autumn in the Tualatin Valley. In addition to capturing beautiful moments, photographers are also encouraged to enter their photos for a chance at the prize package that is worth $2,500! With a first, second and third place prize (as well as an honorable mention), you could win premium and professional photography gear like a Canon EOS 70D DSLR camera and amazing editing software.

So, hang your camera strap around your neck and be ready to snap the magical moments you catch at our farms and markets, as well as on the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. In case you want a creative sparkplug, we’ve included a few photography ideas below:

From Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, pumpkins are a big deal in the Tualatin Valley. Our pumpkin patches are a photographer’s dream with punchy-orange gourds resting below the mountain-scape views and barrels of hay.

The ever-photogenic poinsettias will be waiting to be photographed at the Evening of Lights (November 6 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Al’s Garden Center in Sherwood; free). Here, stroll through designer-decorated holiday trees and freshly grown poinsettias as one way to usher in the upcoming holidays.

Photo contest procrastinators can rally at the Thanksgiving Wine Weekend (November 28-November 30; varying times, locations and tasting fees). Tour some of Oregon’s best wineries for stellar wines, as well as beautiful photo-ops. Just don’t forget to submit your photos by November 30.

 

A winery along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route in fall. Photo by Wayne Flynn.

A winery along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route in fall. Photo by Wayne Flynn.

Find even more Tualatin Valley photography examples and inspiration!

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Food on a Stick!

Posted on: September 10th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
The turkey leg is perhaps the original food on-a-stick!

The turkey leg is perhaps the original food on-a-stick!

Portlandia’s “put a bird on it” highlights the Greater Portland region’s love of all things quirky. This fun sensibility translates into our food, too, where the motto isn’t “put a bird on it,” but rather “put it on a stick”!

Yup, that’s right. Food on a stick isn’t just for corndogs anymore. One of the best ways to enjoy the dwindling days of summer is to eat that portable, festival-approved snack on a stick. See below for our round up of on-a-stick culinary delights.

Medieval Food-on-a-Stick
We’re not sure how historically accurate it is, but the Oregon Renaissance Festival’s food court is brimming with on-a-stick options. Tear into that turkey leg (hey, a bone is a stick of sorts) or merrily chomp on one of the other fair-findings:  

  • Steak on a stake
  • Hickory smoked sausage on a stick
  • Boneless pork chop on a stick
  • Chicken on a stick
  • Macaroni and cheese on a stick
  • Chocolate-covered cheesecake on a stick

Kebabs

The kebab is perhaps the ultimate food on a stick as it’s not only delicious, but steeped in rich, Mediterranean culinary tradition. Enter, the Gyro Mediterranean Grill. Don’t let the name fool you—this local favorite does more than a good gyro. Go for the kebab combo plate, which comes with one chicken, one lamb, and one kafta shish kebab, along with basmati rice and Greek salad.

Farmers Market DIY
When you have fresh ingredients, making a cute and delicious appetizer on-a-stick is easy, yet looks impressive. Simply head to our farms and markets to pick up the freshest of fresh ingredients. Use the link on the page to see what’s in season right now so that you can plan ahead. In the height of juicy tomato season, we can’t get enough of the classic Caprese salad. Simply load your wooden stick with alternating cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. For something a bit more unique, add these Beaverton Farmers Market finds to your next on-a-stick masterpiece: Sun Gold Farm apples, Briar Rose Creamery’s Chevarino Romano (firm aged goad cheese) and a drizzle of Winters Farms honey. Delicious!  

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Oregon International Air Show Itinerary

Posted on: September 8th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey 1 Comment
Late September promises a weekend of old planes, new crops and lots of fun in the Tualatin Valley

Late September promises a weekend of old planes, new crops and lots of fun in the Tualatin Valley

The weekend of September 20 will be hoppin’ in the Greater Portland region. The annual Feast Portland brings foodies together for a weekend celebration of Oregon bounty. But Oregon’s bounty extends beyond just food. Use our itinerary for a weekend that’s about food, where it comes from, the planes that fly over it and the culture that surrounds it. It’s easy (and affordable!) with six hotels offering a special promotion. Book a stay with one of the following hotels and get up to two free general admission tickets for BOTH Saturday and Sunday (valued at $20 each) to the Oregon International Air Show:

Friday, September 19
Roll into town and get your fireworks fix right from the start with the Frontier Night at The Oregon International Air Show (6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Hillsboro Airport; $5-$75). Catch an aerobatic show and one of the best fireworks shows in Oregon, serving as a perfect send-off to summer.

Saturday, September 20
Meet the farm community that makes eating locally possible in the first place at the Hillsboro Saturday Market (9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Main Street, between 1st and 3rd Avenue). The market is a 30-year tradition of Oregon’s bounty, hosting more than 100 vendors throughout the year.

Now, shift to a festival that focuses on just one crop. Choose from the Annual Corn Roast – Celebrating Forest Grove (1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Pacific University; free) or the Apple Harvest Festival (1-4 p.m. at the John Tigard House Museum; free). Both have specialty foods showcasing the season’s best produce.

Escape the city for the Tualatin Valley’s outdoors at the OMSI Star Party: Autumnal Equinox Celebration (7 p.m. at Stub Stewart State Park; free; weather permitting).  Use the collection of telescopes on hand to see Venus, Saturn and Mars.

Sunday, September 21
If you’re interested in historical foods—or just carnival food—then head to the last day of the Oregon Renaissance Festival (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Washington County Fair Complex; $7.95-$15.95) for jesters, jousts and, of course, a turkey leg or two.

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Pear Sangria

Posted on: September 4th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Sip the season with our pear brandy sangria recipe.

Sip the season with our pear brandy sangria recipe. Photo: Melissa Hay

Here we are again. The early days of September hold that heartbreakingly beautiful crux between summer and fall. We’re not quite yet ready to say goodbye to the long summer evenings, but the promise of crisp fall afternoons makes us itch for the days ahead.

In salud to this very special time of year, we always whip up a batch or two of sangria. The chilled wine encourages sunny patio happy hours, while the fruit welcomes the first produce of the coming, chillier season.  Last year, we shared our recipe for season shift sangria. Try it along with the recipe below for pear sangria. The local fruit, wine and brandy concocts a refreshing, yet warming nod to September’s bounty in the Tualatin Valley.  

For the apples, peaches and pears in this recipe, gather the best of the best from our farms and markets. Find (and u-pick!) juicy fall fruit from these farms:

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons superfine sugar
4 shots McMenamins Pear Brandy
(purchase at the McMenamins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse our McMenamins Grand Lodge)

1 lime, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
2 ripe peaches, cut into wedges
1 ripe green apple, cut into wedges with seeds removed
2 ripe pears
1.75 bottles of dry white wine
(especially good with David Hill Vineyard’s 2013 Estate Pinot Blanc)

Directions:
Combine sugar, McMenamins Pear Brandy, lime, lemon, peaches, apple and pears into a large pitcher.
Cover fruit mixture with the dry white wine. Stir.
Chill sangria for at least 2 hours. To bring out all the fruity goodness, let chill for up to 24 hours.
To serve, spoon fruits into glasses, then pour the infused wine over top of the fruit.
For an effervescent effect, top each glass of sangria with a splash of soda water (optional).

P.S. Continue savoring autumn in the Tualatin Valley by sharing your visit with others! Enter your nature photography in our Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest.

Recipe: Nutty Berry Torte

Posted on: August 1st, 2014 by Jackie Luskey 2 Comments
Make our delicious recipe for an Oregon berry torte.

Make our delicious recipe for an Oregon berry torte.

Do you suffer from berry anxiety disorder? Symptoms include extreme concern about one’s ability to consume as many fresh Oregon berries as possible during the summer months. The disorder manifests itself in weekend u-pick outings, excessive visits to farmers markets and long drives, spotting berry crop signs along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. You know what they say: food is medicine. So cure your summer berry anxiety disorder with our scrumptious (and gluten free!) recipe for nutty berry torte!

 

Nutty Berry Torte

Adapted from Carol Kicinksi’s Simply…Gluten Free Desserts

Pecan Crust
Ingredients:
2 cups Jossy Farms pre-picked walnuts (pecans and hazelnuts work, too!)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 pinch kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Spray a nine-inch pie plate with non-stick cooking spray
In a food processor, pulse nuts, sugar and salt together until ground
Add melted butter to the food processor and pulse until combined into the mixture
Press the mixture evenly into the pie plate, taking care to make sure it is evenly spread
Bake crust for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.
(The crust may be a little soft, but it will continue cooking outside of the oven and firm up)

Let crust cool completely before adding the filling.

Torte Filling
Ingredients:
8 ounces of softened cream cheese
¼ cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Freshly squeezed lemon juice from ½ of a lemon
2 pints of assorted berries
(we like Gordon’s Acres raspberries, Smith Berry Barn blueberries and Ungers Farms Albion strawberries)

¼ cup jam (we like Unger Farms raspberry jam)
2 tablespoons of Chambord raspberry flavored liqueur

Directions:
In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla with a mixer until well blended.
Spread cream cheese mixture onto bottom of the pecan crust
Top with berries
Refrigerate for four to 12 hours
In a separate small bowl, whisk together jam and Chambord until well combined
Drizzle the jammy liqueur over the berries and serve

Tell us your favorite dish to make with Oregon ingredients and maybe we’ll give it a whirl in our own test-kitchen!

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What’s in Season and Where to Get It

Posted on: July 7th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Check the farmers market boards (or our website!) to find out what's in season in the Tualatin Valley.

Check the farmers market boards (or our website!) to find out what’s in season in the Tualatin Valley.

The Tualatin Valley is bursting with the juiciest of produce right now. A drive down the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route makes curves and bends around strawberry fields, corn stalks and acres of pear trees—and that’s just to name of few of the agricultural bounties found along the route.  For a one-stop-shop of the area’s best food finds, head to one of our farmers markets. Here, farmers congregate to share what’s ripe right now. No matter when you visit, you can always find out what’s growing with our “Seasonal Guide to Oregon” on our Farms & Markets page.

Now, let’s see what’s in season now, as well as a sampling of the u-pick farms and farm stores where you can get it. Please note that many of the farms listed below actually offer a wide array of fruit and vegetable options; so feel free to continue exploring your u-pick and farm stand options!

Berry Fever
Stain your fingers purple with Oregon’s best berry u-pick farms. Pick berries by the bucket while dreaming up tantalizing cobbler and pie recipes.
Blackberries: Rowell Brothers U-Pick
Blueberries: Blueberry Hill Farm, Bonny Slope Blueberries, Muir Blueberry Farm, Sara’s Blueberries (all u-pick)
Marionberries (short season): Hoffman Farms Store (u-pick)
Raspberries: Gordon’s Acres (u-pick)
Strawberries (short season): Groveland Acres (u-pick)

Stone Fruit
Pick ‘em quick because these beauties enjoy a relatively short season. It’s hard to beat a perfectly ripe peach in the summertime.
Apricot (short season): Beaverton Farmers Market’s ProFarm Produce (farm stand)
Cherries (short season): Duyck’s Peachy Pig Farm (farm stand; other fruits available for u-pick)
Peaches: Jossy Farms (u-pick)

Cooking Mainstays
Sweets don’t have to rule your summer produce. Experiment with new soups, casseroles, and sauces, too!
Beans: Dairy Creek Farm & Produce (farm stand)
Herbs: Unger’s Farm (farm stand; also great for berry u-pick)
Lavender: Oregon Lavender Festival (u-pick and farm stand)
Tomatoes: Gramma’s Farm Store (farm store)

Signs of Next Season
Even in the thick of summer, there are signs of fall. Fall favorite produce—like apples and potatoes—actually begin their seasons as early as late July or August, which is good for picnic fare like apple pie and potato salad.
Apples: Smith Berry Barn (farm store, late August)
Potatoes: Baggenstos Farm (farm store)

What’s your favorite fruit? Whatever it is, don’t settle for the grocery store when getting it. Take a little getaway so that you can get to know your favorite foods, up-close-and-personal.

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Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway: Wheel Turn 5

Posted on: June 25th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Avid cyclists take a break at Olson's Bike Shop along the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway.

Avid cyclists take a break at Olson’s Bike Shop along the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway.

Are you ready for a quaint downtown, vintage trains and a ma-and-pop bike shop? We’re back with our fourth installment in the “Wheel Turn Series” of the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway. As a review, you can cycle backwards and read the previous Wheel Turn blog posts:

After riding 17th Avenue for an easy stretch—passing cute city parks along the way—turn right onto Elm Street for a dose of Forest Grove’s small business charm. Unsurprisingly, Olson’s Bicycles welcome bikeway cyclists to pop into their shop and say hello, use the restroom and pick up any mid-ride supplies.  The full-service bicycle shop is well-equipped for any necessary tune-ups, or just a granola bar.

If you happen to be riding on a Wednesday, take a cultural detour to the Old Train Station Museum on 19th Avenue. Open Wednesday s from 9:30 to noon (or by appointment), the century-old train station now holds 150 years of local history. Get up-close with old-time locomotive gear, WWI and WWII era photographs, and emblems of Forest Grove’s early days.

The parallel Main Street is worthy of a bikeway pit-stop, as well. The sweet stretch confirms all of the history that the Old Train Station Museum so lovingly documented. A slow cycle through the historic street shows impressive and well-maintained architecture from a bygone time. From May to October, Main Street offers a First Wednesdays Farmers Market, complete with handmade crafts, wine tastings and scrumptious tamales.

After enjoying small-town bliss, cycle back toward the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway, which you can pick up again on 20th Place. Following signage, you’ll weave through another range of Forest Grove neighborhoods before turning left onto Oak Street, which will set you up for a long breadth of agricultural delights ahead.

For the full effect of the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway, check out this stunning video from the Path Less Pedaled:

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