Wednesday, April 25, 2012
I love a day where I have absolutely nothing on my calendar. That usually means that we get to do something fun and something new. So, last week when one of those days came up, we thought a nice hike and a taste at 2 Towns Ciderhouse sounded like something really fun!
We headed to the William L. Finley Wildlife Refuge. It was a bit wet outside so donning the appropriate apparel, we trekked a few miles and became quite aware of this peaceful place where nature combined with hiking trails, a few red barns and tons of photo ops was breathtakingly beautiful.
Just outside Corvallis and a little south, not too far from Hazelnut Hill, this refuge area is closed for just a few months out of the year but beginning Aprl 1st, photographers, nature lovers and folks that love a nice easy and somewhat level hike through wetlands and rolling green gentle hills can enjoy this little piece of heaven.
Someone once told me that I would never really need to go to Ireland because Oregon is so green and damp and beautiful. I would agree to some extent and after visiting this refuge, I would hope to entice others from all over the world to come see how we do "green" in Oregon!
After a nice hike, I'm always up for a cold beer and maybe some pizza but I had already planned this trip to 2 Towns Ciderhouse. People are talking about this place, spewing cider stories worthy of a stop for sure. So, stop... we did! The guys are great and after a few bottles of hard cider shared and tasted, we took the tour which wasn't long but how fun it is to be at the cusp of greatness already spinning out of control and so the Ciderhouse grows!
In a few months, 2 Towns Ciderhouse moves just about 20 feet around the corner in to a brand new building. It's bigger, better and will have room for music, perhaps some bites and events that will truly make this place rock! It's good to have friends they say and these guys have them in all the right places. Already popular to the hilt... Ninkasi, a winery making Honey Wine and now 2 Towns Ciderhouse! The Willamette Valley is surely becoming even more so, the "happenin' place" to be this summer!
Always find the best hikes where you can enjoy nature in all it's glory and always find the best drink and the best food in the valley afterwards! Make a day of it or a week of it!
Thanks guys at 2 Towns Ciderhouse for the tastes and congrats on your success!
Friday, April 20, 2012
Once again I get to answer another question for a visitor coming to Oregon this summer! I love this question because they are asking so much and I love to give them all the ideas I can about what they'll get to do here. It's one amazing place to be!
So, here is the question today: "I'm trying to plan a trip to the Oregon area with my fiance - we both have never been there before. She likes museums as she is an artist and also likes hiking, dining in nice but not super expensive restaurants and just exploring interesting, towns. I like cycling, looking in quaint towns, some antiquing, some hiking and exploring some wineries and walking around in fresh clean air! We would be coming to Oregon around the middle of August for about 10 days or so. We like staying at bed-and-breakfasts, although we could stay at various hotels. Perhaps seeing some theater if available and reasonably priced, . Can you suggest some itineraries we might consider? We need to relax some, while exploring around."
I am the Travel Oregon AskOR Willamette Valley Ambassador! The first thing about your question that caught my eye was the fact that you would like to check out some of Oregon's Bed and Breakfasts. I happen to be one of the Bed and Breakfast inspectors for our B & B organization, The Oregon Bed and Breakfast Guild. Their link is: www.obbg.org You can go to this site and find B & B's all over Oregon. Throughout this email however, I will only refer you and provide links to the inns I have personally seen and/or inspected.
Secondly, since I am the Willamette Valley Ambassador, I will provide you with many ideas and links to places I have been to and enjoyed throughout the valley. I do hope you plan to spend some time here however, all of Oregon is worth experiencing!
So, here we go...
I saw "museums" on your list and so my first recommendation would be for you two to check out our Evergreen Air and Space Museum in McMinnville. The link is:http://www.evergreenmuseum.org/ I have been there several times and if you've ever wanted to check out the Spruce Goose, this is its home! Also, you will certainly be in the heart of wine country in that area and so please check out several wineries while you are there! Here is a link to the Willamette Valley winery map: http://willamettewines.com/winery-map/ Click around on this site for more info and please feel free to ask for a hard copy of this pamphlet. A few of my favorite wineries are Sokol Blosser in Dundee not too far from McMinnville, Adelsheim in Newberg and when you are hopefully traveling down 99W south, you will be able to make a stop at Left Coast Cellars! Their link: http://www.leftcoastcellars.com/ I have to say that I am pretty partial to this place. A gorgeous long winding drive to the winery with stunning sights to see. Trees, vineyards, green rolling fields and once at the top, the wine is pretty sweet too! They opened a little cafe at this winery last summer and it's a pretty big hit for us wine lovers.
While you are perusing our valley, please don't be afraid to take a side road on a spur of the moment decision. That is my most favorite way to find new and interesting things to do. I love hiking and this is how I have found some of the best trails in Oregon! Near Corvallis, Oregon, you can find several hundreds of miles of hiking trails all cared for and maintained by Oregon State University. The link is here: http://www.cof.orst.edu/cf/forests/mcdonald/ Please don't forget your cameras and all that "safety" hiking gear because you'll want to spend a whole day or more hiking these trails.
Once your hiking day is over, please head to my most favorite pizza place in the Willamette Valley. American Dream in Corvallis: http://adpizza.com/ Go to the one on 2nd Ave. in Corvallis as it has this awesome roof top dining area where the atmosphere alone after a long day of hiking in the summertime can be quenched with deliciously cold beer and yummy pizza! Here is another link that will be very helpful in finding more places in Corvallis that include art and galleries too! http://www.visitcorvallis.com/index.php?action=thingstodo&type=Arts%20and%20Culture Enjoy perusing this website!
You can also rent bicycles in Corvallis at Peak Sports: http://www.visitcorvallis.com/index.php?action=transportation&type=Bicycle%20Rentals This area of the Willamette Valley is right in the middle of the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway ( http://rideoregonride.com/inspiration/itineraries/scenic-bikeways-a-unique-way-to-see-the-state/ ) and so our roads are conducive to an even, moderately paced ride and the sites... amazing! If you wanted to, you could rent bikes and ride over to Albany which is only 12 miles from Corvallis and enjoy their museums and try a burger at First Burger on First Avenue! Locally grown food and locally raised beef and man oh man... the most delicious fried pickles can be found at First Burger and the Albany Regional Museum and the Carousel Museum are only blocks away. Let me know if this sounds like fun and if you'd like, I could set you up for a personal Carousel Museum tour where you can see first hand how the volunteers are hand carving and painting several animal in preparation for the end of a 15 year carousel making project. It is truly an amazing and magical place for anyone let alone artists from all over the world!
By the way... a few notes about antiquing here. Carlton, Oregon which is closer to Dundee and Newberg, has some pretty nice antique shops and also, if you do ride or drive over to Albany, check out the Albany Antique Mall. Two stories and many booths filled to the brim of vintage goodies. This mall is the stop for tons of folks traveling the interstate 5 going north and/or south.
Also, you can find in almost every town in Oregon a local theater group. For example, in Albany, the Albany Civic Theater will be showing "Children of a Lesser God" in August! Here is their link for more info: http://albanycivic.org/actsched.html Also, check out this very cool drive in movie theater in Dallas, OR. The Motor Vu Drive In: http://www.dallasmotorvu.com/ This place isn't too far from Left Coast Cellars off hwy 99W!
One more place I'd like to tell you about and then I'll start my list of places for perfect lodging choices. Brownsville, OR is a great "little" town here in the Willamette Valley. There is a very cool pioneer museum and the town is easily walkable. Randy's coffee house often has local bands playing music and along with his coffee and cinnamon rolls, it's a favorite locals hangout. I highly recommend The Brownsville House B & B. Their link: http://www.thebrownsvillehouse.com/ Please take your time and peruse this website because you get to choose who you have breakfast with! Choose an artist, a grass seed farmer, the mayor among so many more! I love this idea and Bob and Cyndi, the innkeepers, are great too!
Here is a list of B & B's I have either stayed at, inspected or visited in the Willamette Valley:
I know of tons more so if you want to look for yourself, please go to the site I gave you above, The Oregon Bed and Breakfast Guild (www.obbg.org)!
I hope this helps and sorry it's so long but you had a very fun question and I got to elaborate and brag about our stunning Willamette Valley. I do hope you stay a while here and enjoy yourself immensely! Please let me know if I can help you further.
Travel Oregon AskOR Willamette Valley Ambassador
If you want to see a preview of what Debbie and her friends will have at this sweet seasonal shop, come by the inn for a tour! We have decorated the inn with many baubles, pillows, vintage photographs, pictures, paintings, furniture, linens, silverware, dishes and more purchased at Vintage Roost over the past four years!
The Pfeiffer Cottage Inn will enter it's FIFTH YEAR as a B & B in Albany, Oregon on May 1st 2012!
Please give us a ring at 541-971-9557 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
...and, we'll give you the grand tour!
side note: the inn does go back on the market and will be for sale beginning next week!
See you May 4th at the Vintage Roost or sooner at the inn.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
CHILE RELLENOS CASSEROLE
2 fresh anaheim chili peppers quartered, seeded and roasted in a hot oven for 5-7 minutes (or a small can Ortega Green Chili's chopped)
1-1/2 cups shredded jack cheese with jalapeño peppers
3 beaten eggs (I use duck eggs when I have them)
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teas. baking powder
1/4 teas. ground red pepper
Salsa and Sour Cream (I use Creme Fraiche when I have it instead of sour cream)
Grease a 2 qt. square baking dish or make individual in large ramekins. Place prepared chili's in bottom of pan and sprinkle with the grated jack cheese. In a blender, combine eggs, milk, flour, baking powder and ground red pepper and 1/8 teas. salt. Pulse a few times to mix well and then pour over the chili's and cheese.
Bake, uncovered in a 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until a knife inserted into the egg mixture comes out clean. Sprinkle with a little more jack and top with some sour cream or creme fraiche.
Serve with some delicious fresh pico de gallo or salsa!
My salsa recipe is simple and came from Ray and his firefighter buddies at the Corona Fire Department where the best Mexican food in SoCal is made! Thanks guys!
2 cans diced tomatoes (I sometimes use the roasted tomatoes)
1/2 onion diced
a bunch of cilantro, washed, dried and chopped
1/2 to 1 whole jalapeño (chop'd)
Chop onion and put into a bowl. Blend the tomatoes, cilantro and jalapeño and pour over the onions. Add garlic salt to taste and stir. Serve with the Chili Rellenos Casserole.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
"Where is the best place to vacation, with wildlife and canoeing, and mild hiking? We don't want to be around ANY hunters or any guns going off or anything. We want peaceful canoeing, sightseeing, and good places to dine."
Thanks for your question!
I am the Travel Oregon AskOR Willamette Valley Ambassador and the first place that popped in to my head for canoeing was the McKenzie River area of the Willamette Valley! My friends at the Eugene, Cascades and Coast Adventure Center in Eugene have an awesome website so here is the link for more info: http://www.eugenecascadescoast.org/visitors/things-to-do/water-activities/
You will find outfitters on the website too! It looks like you'll be totally covered with gear and be set up perfectly for the ride!
The McKenzie River is gorgeous and there you will find many species of birds and other wildlife. Here is a blurb I found to give you some idea of what kind of wildlife may or may not be found along the McKenzie depending on the time of year:
"The McKenzie's streams and forests provide critical habitat for numerous endangered and threatened species, including Northern Spotted Owl, Spring Chinook Salmon, Bull Trout and Oregon chub. This area is also vital habitat for elk, black bear, mountain lion, otter, mink, red tree vole, flying squirrel and many other species that rely on healthy forests for survival."
Last December I was invited to go hiking along the McKenzie and wow... such a beautiful place. There are tons of trails and many places to enjoy some "mild hiking" as you have asked about. Check out this link for more info: http://www.oregonwild.org/about/hikes_events/explore-wild-oregon/northwest-oregon-hikes/oregon-wild-hikes-mckenzie-river-and-sahalie-falls
As far as good places to dine, I would choose Eugene! My favorite places include the Granery for pizza and beer, Sweet Basil for the best Thai Food in the valley and Marche' for fine dining experience. And... if you are considering lodging, check out a new hotel attached to Marche' called Inn at the 5th! It a gorgeous hotel!
There is so much to see in the Willamette Valley so if you are wanting to do more here, let me know and I can help you find more places to enjoy! Thanks again for your question!
Travel Oregon AskOR Willamette Valley Ambassador
Monday, April 16, 2012
I love this question because I too LOVE BEER!
"Planning a road trip from the Bay Area to (and through) Oregon on my way to Vancouver. Would love some recommendations on cool routes to take, places to stop, food to eat, beer to drink, hikes to go on, etc. Thanks for the help!"
I am the Travel Oregon AskOR Willamette Valley Ambassador and I love your question. I get to tell you about all of my favorite stops and places to play, eat and drink beer!
I have a B & B in the Willamette Valley and you are taking the same route most of our guests throughout the summer take so I can certainly help you plan some fun here. First of all I hope I can entice you stay a few days or longer.
From the Bay Area, you may want to mosey on in to Oregon and check out Jacksonville. I am the Willamette Valley Ambassador but I love Jacksonville too and can recommend a few places for lodging and dinner so if you choose to check it out, a great place to stay is the Touvelle House B & B. Their link is: http://www.touvellehouse.com/ The guys are great and can certainly recommend a great place for dinner but if you wanna try the best Italian in the area, check out Pasta Piatti at http://www.pastapiatti.com/ in Ashland, OR not too far away and well worth the drive from Jacksonville.
Once you are on the road again heading north, you will want to get off the interstate. You can see and enjoy so much more from the side roads. A couple of awesome and must see spots are Crater Lake (east of Medford, OR), Eugene, Corvallis and then you will be in the true heart of the Willamette Valley! Hwy 99 is a great route and will take you through some of the most beautiful country you have ever seen. If you choose to stop in Eugene, you must have a beer at Ninkasi. Here is the link: http://www.ninkasibrewing.com/ Ask for the tour too! One of the fastest growing breweries in the state and one fun fact... they use more hops in their beer brewing than any other brewery in Oregon! Yes... I took the tour!
If you are in Eugene and you are hungry for some pizza and more beer along with some music and culture, check out the Granery. Their Facebook link: http://www.facebook.com/GranaryPizzaCo If you are wanting to lodge in Eugene, I have a recommendation! The Inn at the 5th is right next door and is a new hotel and it's pretty gorgeous! From a simple room on up to a plush room with a jacuzzi tub... it's your choice! It's totally worth the stay in Eugene!
Taking hwy 99 on up north, you pass through cities along the way that will entice to stay a while longer! Albany, Corvallis, Rickreall, Amity, McMinnville and so many more places and guess what... I can tell you where to eat and get a really good beer in each one of them! First of all... in Albany, check out Calapooia Brewing Co. (http://calapooiabrewing.com/ ). In Corvallis, check out Block 15 ( http://block15.com/ ). In Rickreall, check out ( http://www.leftcoastcellars.com/ ) for wine and food... no beer but the wine is awesome! In Amity, you have to eat at the Blue Goat Cafe, ( http://amitybluegoat.com/ ). I just discovered this place and wow... it's my favorite right now among all the places I get to check out to eat and get a good beer! McMinnville is a "must stop" city and please check out a McMenamins restaurant at the Oregon Hotel! (http://www.mcmenamins.com/HotelOregon ). There is nothing better than sitting on the roof top at this place and eating a burger and some tots and my fav, a Ruby Pale Ale. Tons of choices for food and beer here and a great place to spend the night too!
A few ideas for hiking: http://www.everytrail.com/best/hiking-eugene-oregon This link takes you to many places and some I have been to and some I have not but you will not be disappointed in the views! Also, my favorite place to hike is near Corvallis and is the McDonald Dunn Forest. The link: http://www.cof.orst.edu/cf/forests/mcdonald/ This is seriously an unbelievable place. Hundreds of miles of trails right outside Corvallis and you must not forget your camera! By the way... if you do this hike, you have to go to American Dream Pizza in downtown Corvallis and have a pizza and beer on their rooftop patio. It's kind of routine for me and I look forward to the "after the hike" treat every time.
I hope this info helps! Let me know if I can answer any more questions for you about our Willamette Valley. I would love to entice you to stay longer!
Travel Oregon AskOR Willamette Valley Ambassador
"My daughter and I stayed at the Pfeiffer Cottage Inn for a short stay last week. We found Debbie and Ray to be gracious hosts of their comfortable, beautifully maintained Inn. The Inn had perfect accommadations for us, with two bedrooms and our own bathroom! Debbie is a bit of a "foody" so
I love this review! It's really quite amazing how well our guests get to know "us!"
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Here's a recent "AskOR" response to this question:
"We are planning a mini-reunion, 6-8 women, this Sept.-Oct. Where might we stay for 2-4 days; what to do? One of our group lives in Bend; another in the Portland area. The rest of us are scattered across the U.S. Thanks."
I am the Travel Oregon AskOR Willamette Valley Ambassador and I love your question! I happen to run a B & B so I am going to focus on that right here in the valley.
We have had many mini-reunions at our inn and they are truly fun for everyone! At a B & B, you can let your hair down so to speak. They are relaxing and there's something about sitting in your jammies at the breakfast table chatting and enjoying a delicious homemade meal you didn't have to prepare that is so fun!
I am an inn inspector for our B & B organization and so I get to see a lot of inns. I only refer people to the inns that I have personally inspected and would actually stay at myself. So, here's a list in the Willamette Valley (which is an awesome place for everyone coming to Oregon by the way), of inns that I have inspected that would be able to provide you with enough rooms and space for your group of women. I have also included their links as well:
The Oregon Bed & Breakfast Guild: www.obbg.org (the main website for all of Oregon's inspected inns)
LePuy Inn: http://lepuy-inn.com/
Black Walnut Inn: http://www.blackwalnut-inn.com/
Lobenhaus B & B: http://lobenhaus.com/
Harrison House B & B: http://www.corvallis-lodging.com/
This should get you started and if I have helped and you'd like a longer list, please let me know! I have also inspected inns in the Eugene area, Cottage Grove and in Southern Oregon in Ashland and Jacksonville.
Now... I'd like more detail about the women as far as recommending "what to do?" Do they like hiking, shopping, walking, reading, knitting or quilt shops, tea houses, museums, kayaking, wine tasting, brewery tours, running........ I am happy to help with the details once you can provide me with more info!
Thanks again for your question and I look forward to hearing from you again!
Travel Oregon AskOR Willamette Valley Ambassador
I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have stood over the past four years in a state of disbelief! Oregon is more than an amazing place to live, it's place that surprises me with each new experience. And what's better than experiencing it all myself... telling you about it!
Please follow me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/OregonBliss
I will tell you about Oregon, I will help you find the best food, the tastiest beer and brag about each and every one of my personal Oregon experiences. And occasionally... I will wander beyond and share those experiences too!
It's all about the ride and man oh man... I don't want to get off!
Sokol Blosser Winery... summer 2009
The very first day of the Pioneer Square Monday market in Portland, Oregon!
On my hike near Mt. Hood!
Hiking with my mom and dad near Corvallis... 2010
Old guy on a tractor towing a Christmas tree for a family in the Willamette Valley!
On the Wahkeena trail near Multnomah Falls... my 49th birthday was spent hiking this entire trail!
Rogue Creamery... Southern Oregon 2010
The results of a cooking "Show Off" at a local culinary school in the Willamette Valley!...
deliciousness by: Matt Bennett of Sybaris Bistro in downtown Albany, OR
Crater Lake... August 2010
My latte' from Lovejoy Bakers in the NW district in Portland, OR. Just a few blocks from my loft in the Pearl!
Come see why I love it here!
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
My Irish Stew made with Old Speckled Hen
Put all this stuff in a crock and stew about 7 - 8 hours. Ray loves it and I have to admit, I've been tempted to sneak a bowl for myself so I'll be looking in to making a vegetarian version soon!
In a crock pot put the following:
3 Bay leaves
2 lbs. cubed beef
1 large onion quartered
2 garlic cloves
1 teas. thyme
1 teas. rosemary
2 - 3 T flour
3/4 c. water
1 cube beef bouillon
1/2 c. Old Speckled Hen ale (or any ale of your choice)
1/2 lb. carrots
salt & pepper to taste
Note: beer bread would be a great accompaniment for this stew and a very good way to use up the rest of the Old Speckled Hen ale. I have doubled this recipe a few times for family visiting and it's very filling and nice when it's cold and rainy outside.
Let me know if you make it.
Monday, April 2, 2012
An answer to a recent question I received from someone wanting to know where the best place in Oregon is to get engaged!
I am the Travel Oregon AskOR Willamette Valley Ambassador and I am happy to answer your question. You are in luck because I have a few ideas to share with you!
I happen to have a B & B in the Willamette Valley and we host many newlyweds so noting the locations our brides and grooms chose to "tie the knot," can also be some of the most romantic places to "pop the question."
If I could give you just one answer, I would chose smack dab in the middle of a Hazelnut Orchard! Off hwy 228 between Brownsville and Sweet Home, Oregon, you'll find the sweetest orchard with old trees anchored solid in to the earth in the most perfect rows. They have been there forever and their branches hang like arms in protection of something special and what a peaceful place.
You will find many Hazelnut Orchards all throughout the Willamette Valley and just using "Google," you can find more.
The Willamette Valley is gorgeous so choosing any outdoor venue would be perfect. At Mary's Peak after a nice long hike to the top, behind the falls at Silver Creek Falls, at Left Coast Cellars in between the rows of grapes or while enjoying a picnic at one of Linn County's covered bridges. Wherever you choose, I wish you luck and very romantic and memorable moment.
Travel Oregon AskOR Willamette Valley Ambassador
Our book club meets tomorrow night and I've been reading like crazy! Being in a book club like ours makes you wanna read. I am not sure for me if it's a competition or what but being that we each read what we want instead of the same book each month, I can pile through books like a mad woman. I think I like having the tallest stack of books on the table to share.
Our book club hasn't formally met for more than two months now because a few of us went to Southern Oregon in lieu of book club for our March meeting and eight of us met and had tea all for "the cause" also in March. Using vintage books I collect, I was able to help create a very sweet center piece for our table and knowing that all the money at this event went to help women in my community get the help and treatment they need to prevent breast cancer was very satisfying!
Before my trip to Germany a few weeks ago, I purchased a Kindle. I told myself that I would never be able to use one of those. I like holding a "real" book in my hands. I like the thick feel of the pages, the smell of the paper and seeing it sit on my desk or next to my bed waiting to be read. But, traveling light seemed more important this trip so I splurged and loaded several books up and totally loved it. I will still enjoy one of my many books now and then but I think I can get used to using the Kindle for the most part.
The books I will be sharing tomorrow are as follows and if any of you have read them, let me know and I can share that as well! My daughter and mom tell me what books they are reading too so I guess you could say we have some virtual book club Chick Lits.
You Know Your Way Home
Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children
Face of Betrayal
Waking Hours (I'm reading this one right now!)
And... there's one more that I won't mention here because I'm not sure I should but it came highly recommended. I may be persuaded to share that title with only a few close friends.
Next to my bed are the two books that I grab whenever I need a dose of logic or a moment where I need to stretch my brain and let the nurse in me come out. The Disappearing Spoon and The Omnivore's Dilemma sit there taunting me at times because I can only read a few pages then I'm ready for something way more fun.
I do enjoy a little practicality now and then with some science and life lessons thrown in for good measure. But, it's so nice to get lost in a book and let it take you away to someplace distant, someplace you've never been before or someplace you'd love to go. Holding my book in my hand whether it's downloaded into my Kindle or a "real" book where I take in the scent of paper and see that the picture on the front can give the story away, reading to me is a sweet pleasure and certainly a necessity either way.
Chick Lits meets monthly except for the summer months. If you'd like to join us, please leave a message on this post!