Fresh rhubarb purchased at the Portland Farmers Market. Grown by the Ainsworth Family of Sun Gold Farm, Forest Grove, OR.

While we were visiting with friends, the pink and red of local “pie plant” – as my Grandma Fitz used to call it – caught my eye. Well, I could make a rhubarb pie, I thought. Rhubarb? No, you can’t take that to a dinner party, can you?

Pity the poor rhubarb plant. Old fashioned. Forgotten. Often growing under people’s houses, rarely pampered in raised beds.

Always rooting for the underdog, I decided to give the rhubarb a chance. At home, while searching for a recipe, I found out that the top cooking magazines all feature rhubarb recipes. So I guess “pie plant” does get respect after all. Here’s the recipe I used, posted by Carol on allrecipes.com.  

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1 1/3 cups white sugar
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
  2. Combine sugar and flour. Sprinkle 1/4 of it over pastry in pie plate. Heap rhubarb over this mixture. Sprinkle with remaining sugar and flour. Dot with small pieces of butter. Cover with top crust.
  3. Place pie on lowest rack in oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and continue baking for 40 to 45 minutes. Serve warm or cold.  

Bob made the pie crust using my mom’s recipe.  Turned out great!

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wine thiefIt delights Oregon Bob and me that different wines of the same variety from the same vintage can have such distinct prersonalities. Today we tasted seven different 2007 Willamette Valley Pinot noirs at Portland’s E&R Wine Shop, noting that even wines from the same areas showed different characteristics. All were low alcohol, which was commonplace among the 2007s. Here are our tasting notes:

Hawks View 2007 Hawks View Vineyard Pinot Noir- Chehalem Mountains AVA – Sherwood. Hints of white pepper on the nose. Bright mouth and a bit acidic. New winery to us.

iOTA Cellars 2007 Pinot Noir – Pelos Sandberg Vineyard – Eola-Amity Hills AVA – Amity. Refined, scents of cherries and plums. Well balanced flavor. New  winery to us.

Antica Terra 2007 Willamette Valley Pinot noir – Amity. Although the grapes are grown in nearly the same location, this 2007 Pinot tasted much different than iOTA Cellars’. This was our favorite of the seven. Nice layers of complexity. Hints of pepper. New winery to us.

Evesham Wood Vineyard 2007 Pinot Noir Le Puits Sec – Eola-Amity Hills AVA – Salem. Soft, nicely balanced. Light, strawberry colored but full flavored. Familiar and beloved winery to us.

Scott Paul Wines 2007 Cuvée Martha Pirrie Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley AVA – Carlton. Nice acidity. Hint of licorice. Familiar winery to us. Bob really like this tasting room.

Beaux Freres 2007 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley AVA -Newberg. Big, bold Pinot – a bit too bold for me. Tannic, chewy finish and strong new oak tastes. Familiar winery to us.

Domino IV 2007 Pinot Noir Black and Red – Carlton Winemakers Studio. Tastes of plum and balckberries, very nicely balanced tanins and nice hints of oak. New winery to us.

Thanks, E&R Wine Shop, for hosting this opportunity to savor such wonderful wines. With renewed admiration for the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, we’ll be heading out that way soon, I’m sure. We suggest you do the same!

Marsh Shadbolt of The Cherry Country

Marsh Shadbolt of Cherry Country

Roaming the farmers market to procure ingredients for pork with cherry sauce, we made a delightful acquaintance: Marsh Shadblot, owner of Cherry Country, a cherry orchard and factory near Rickreall in the heart of Oregon’s Willamette Valley

Sharing this recipe that ran in Real Simple magazine, she helped us determine that we could use dried cherries and their cherry habañero pepper jelly instead of fresh fruit and orange marmelade.

Bob selects pork from Sweet Briar Farms

Oregon Bob selects pork from Sweet Briar Farms

Next, Bob selected the pork from Sweet Briar Farms near Eugene. We so enjoyed meeting and talking with these passionate producers.

At home, the preparation was easy and the outcome was delicious! As Marsh says, the sweet cherries bring out the flavor of the pork. We agree, it’s a nice combination. Here’s how we adapted the recipe:

Pork Chops with Cherry Sauce

3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
½ cup of dried Bing cherries
½ cup low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons cherry habernero pepper jelly
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
8 boneless pork chops, ½ inch thick
Sea salt and course pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the cherries, broth, jelly and vinegar. Simmer until the sauce thickens, 6 to 8 minutes. Season the pork with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. In 2 batches, cook the chops until golden brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Divide among individual plates and top with the cherry sauce.

To learn more about where these cherries come from, check out this Road Tested video featuring Food Network’s Pat and Gina Neely visiting Cherry Country.  Enjoy!

I’ve just returned from a weekend at the Oregon Coast with friends from high school.  Three of us live in Oregon, two in California and one in Arizona. Although we all have family in Corvallis, we haven’t been in the same room together for decades. We had a marvelous time catching up, being silly and enjoying the glorious coast line.  As we were procuring provisions at the liquor store, I was showing the out-of-staters the Oregon craft distillers area featuring 18 local spirits.  Of course, we drank Oregon wine wtih dinner and one friend made a point to bring a wonderful Willamette Valley Pinot noir from Stone Wolf Winery.  We had lunch at McMennamins and sampled the craft brews. When we shopped at the grocery store, I pointed out the locally grown produce, and it was at that point when one friend said, “OK, Miss Oregon, enough!” So I guess I tend to go overboard extolling the virtues of Oregon and the Northwest, particularly the artisan products.

Although we’ve done so for many years, my husband and  have had a great time recently discovering wonderful “finds” at farmers markets, breweries and wineries. I’ve been documenting these adventures on Twitter and Facebook but those channels limit what can be said. So Bob suggested that I start a blog. And since he is not only wonderfully supportive but also creative, he suggest the name: Oregon Betty.  He lit the match and the flame took hold.  How hot it gets remains to be seen but right now it feels so good to warm my hands dream about what lies ahead!

Oh, yes, and one more thing.  I think some of my friends who don’t live in Oregon any more miss Oregon in a primal way.  I know what that’s like, but let’s leave that for another discussion another day.

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