Farm to Table

Whit Peters walks between cranberry bogs at Peters’ Cranberries in Sixes.

The Tart-Sweet Oregon Cranberry—Bogged Down

Cranberries, as American as Thanksgiving, bring Oregon flavor to fall dishes written by Sophia McDonaldphotography by Amanda Loman Around the time Portland was welcoming its first train passengers, Morrow County was being incorporated and the Grants Pass Daily Courier was delivering its first newspapers, farmers began forming bogs and filling them with cranberry vines along the southern Oregon coast. These tart treats have been an important agricultural crop in a region which has been better known for animal-based foods such as seafood and dairy since 1885. They also deliver a fine option for locavores who can’t imagine a holiday season or a turkey sandwich without a spoonful of the ruby-red berry sauce. This thoroughly American berry (one of the few fruits native to North America) has been Whit Peters’ business for most of his life. He and his mother, Sara Osborne, own Peters’ Cranberries in Sixes, about twenty miles south…

Blackberries cover about 50 acres at Duyck Family Farm in Banks. The farm grows the Kotata variety.

Back in Blackberries

Delicious and fulfilling fruit of hard work on Duyck Family Farm Written by Sophia McDonaldPhotography by Daniel Stark “Growing up, I would always tag along with my dad, whether it was just riding in a truck or hoeing or working with a cousin. I always knew I’d come back. I just didn’t know when or how.”— Jacque Duyck Jones, of Duyck Family Farm, on taking over the family business Blackberries reach their peak in July, just in time for pie making, ice cream churning, jam jamborees, backyard cocktail mixing and gluttonous fresh eating. While they’re at their best straight from the vine, juices warm from the sun and staining your fingers, they also freeze well, something that makes this Oregon snack available year-round. In fact, the freezer is the first destination for the vast majority of Oregon blackberries. According to the Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission, more than 90 percent…

Lemon lets the Oregon blackberries shine in this traditional pie.

Pie Eyed – Double Crusted Blackberry Pie

Written by Thor Erickson Photography by Tambi Lane When I was about three years old, my parents emptied their savings account and bought a small bakery. For the previous forty years, this bakery had earned a reputation for producing all kinds of cookies, pastries, cakes and pies. As part of the sale, before hanging up his apron and retiring, Ernie, the original owner, agreed to train my father how to operate the business. Although my dad had a bit of kitchen experience, when it came to baking, he was a newbie. Ernie prided himself on maintaining operating costs for the bakery. He bought flour, sugar and spices in large quantities, used bottled flavor extracts and pre-made fruit fillings packed in five-gallon buckets. With the exception of dairy products, none of the ingredients were perishable. With minimal storage, all of these items were stacked high and took up every last inch of space….

Oregon wasabi

Oregon Wasabi?

Oregon-grown wasabi is a versatile and spicy option for your cooking written by Sophia McDonald Sushi aficionados, take note: That spicy, lime green paste next to your dragon roll may be called wasabi, but chances are it isn’t the real thing. Most of the time, it’s a combination of horseradish, powdered mustard and green food coloring.  Wasabi is native to Japan, but you can buy it closer to home than you might think. Oregon Coast Wasabi in Tillamook County is one of only three commercial growers in the United States. Co-founder and CEO Jennifer Bloeser quite by accident stumbled onto the relative of the horseradish plant at an equestrian event. A fellow participant had brought some plants to the gathering and was giving them away. Bloeser’s neighbors in Southeast Portland were always sharing the bounty from their gardens with her, and she was looking for something to give back. Wasabi,…

Strawberry Alarm Clock

written by Thor Erickson photography by Charlotte Dupont LIKE CLOCKWORK, every year in early May, I start to hear a voice in my head. No matter where I am or what I am doing, it stops me in my tracks. A deep, faint, mildly pleasant whisper. “Strawberries,” it gently says, like a game-show host leading a yoga class in The Twilight Zone. “Strawberries,” it tells me, more frequently as days pass. This voice is telling me that Oregon strawberry season is looming, and I had better be ready. The haunting refrain “Strawberries …” is warning that there might not be enough time to fully capture the fleeting ripeness of these sweet little Northwest gems. “Strawberries …” underscoring that no time machine would allow me to live in Oregon strawberry season for eternity. If I don’t heed the call, I might not have enough time to enjoy the Totem, Hood, Tillamook,…

Columbia Farms on Sauvie Island bring the berries to the people

written by Sophia McDonald photography by David L. Reamer Come May, the rows of calf-high plants at Sauvie Island’s Columbia Farms have reached their full size and seem to stretch endlessly toward the horizon. Hidden beneath waterfalls of sawtooth-edged leaves are one of spring’s biggest treats—strawberries, some big, some small, all bright red and promising sublime sweetness. Maybe it’s just that strawberries are the first fruit to come on the market after a long winter full of earthy storage crops and bitter greens. Maybe it’s that unparalleled flavor, coupled with their charming heart shape and striking color. There’s something special about this berry—especially for Oregonians, who live in one of the best berry-growing regions in the world and, as a result, have access to premium fruit during the short growing season. So many people don’t know where their food comes from, and u-pick is a great way to bridge that…

The Art of Goat Cheese

The Art of Goat Cheese

A second-generation goat cheese maker dishes written by Sophia McDonald photography by Eugene Pavlov Does anything epitomize spring more than baby goats frolicking in a farmer’s emerald green field? This has been a familiar view for Patricia Morford with Rivers Edge Chèvre since 1958, when her father brought home the family’s first goats. Jack, Stripes and Pinky had a specific job—eating the blackberries that had overrun an apple orchard. They stayed with the family long after the vines were gone, however, and ended up being the inspiration for Morford’s career as a farmstead cheesemaker. Long before she wrapped her first log of chèvre, Morford was known for her outstanding goat breeding program. “I just kind of fell into making cheese because I had such good milk genetics and I was interested in producing food,” she said. She started making cheese for her family around 1970. By 1990, she had decided…

Oregon-grown hot peppers can spice up any meal

written by Sophia McDonald | photography by Amanda Loman Chili peppers have long been considered an aphrodisiac. The theory goes that the capsaicin, or spicy compound, in these colorful vegetables triggers a release of endorphins as it hits the tongue. That little release of pleasure makes your body warm and ready for other pleasurable activities. Oregon-grown hot peppers aren’t available in stores or farmers markets around Valentine’s Day, but those lucky enough to have stocked up on chili powders and fermented hot sauces from Crossroads Farm near Eugene can still get their spicy fix. Debbie Tilley, who operates the 25-acre organic farm with her husband, Ben, has been producing value-added goods for decades. She used to specialize in dried flower arrangements and ornamental produce, including strings of chilis similar to the ristras found all over New Mexico. “About [the year] 2000, dried flowers died. Dead in the water,” she said….

Old Blue Raw Honey Behind the Scenes

Nectar of the Gods: Old Blue Raw Honey comes in many (nuanced) flavors written by Sophia McDonald | photography by Bill Purcell The jars of thick liquid sitting on Old Blue Raw Honey’s table at the Corvallis Farmers Market ranged in color from spun gold to dark amber. As customers picked them up, company co-owner Camille Storch explained the hand-printed notes on the labels. Storch and her husband, Henry, who has been keeping bees for about twelve years, pay careful attention to the nectar source available to each of their hives. Instead of mixing everything together when they bottle the honey, they keep each hive’s products separate so they can tell customers where the sweet liquid came from and what the bees were eating. Why go to all this trouble? Just as an animal’s diet affects the flavor of its meat or soil influences a wine’s terroir, a bee’s food…