It is easy to understand why the intrepid forefathers of the Oregon population became enamored with the Willamette Valley. Lane County rests at the southern end and it extends from Cottage Grove north to West Linn, and lies nestled between the Coast and Cascade mountain ranges. Abundant sunshine warms the rolling green hills and now, rows of lustrous grapevines march from peak to valley in support of the ever increasing winery businesses. Mint-green fields in summer and golden yellow remains of acreage recently harvested in the fall, and of course the stately evergreens spiraling skyward, sustains the legendary "green” reputation we have all read about. It was love at first sight for me; however, I’m sure I would feel differently in the winter.
While hunkered down at the Douglas County Fairgrounds (Exit 123) this week south of Roseburg ($20.20 per day with W & E and a free dump – no reservations but lots of room) we have driven The Lone Ranger on a lot of back roads and I have indulged my hobby of taking pictures of post offices in the towns we visit. I have added 11 new ones this week. We have eaten out in eight different restaurants and can only recommend three: Tidal Raves in Depot Bay, Harbor Lights in Reedsport and Elmer’ Pancake House in Roseburg. These three served excellent food, the service was first rate and the prices were reasonable.
This past Thursday, trusting my 2008 Oregon map (totally inadequate I must say now), I picked out a back road route (noted as Mountain Trail on the map) to take us from Canyonville after our “linner” at Seven Feathers Casino (notice it is not on the above list) to Roseburg. If not for our wonderful “Carmen” Garmin we would still be driving around up in those mountains … lost until someone came along to lead us out as we had NO CELL SERVICE! Being the more nervous Nellie of the two of us, I was checking our food (one pkg. of cheese crackers with peanut butter and my sugar free throat lozenges) and water (one and half bottles) as we drove on and on, up and down, over pavement and gravel and some one lane road for at least 30 miles without seeing any other sign of life. We passed many turn offs that were not on the map (and several appeared logical) that would have no doubt seriously confused us if not for “Carmen” leading the way. Once we thought she was lost but she quickly caught up with herself and got back on track. There is no doubt in my mind the dollars invested in her were the best money we ever spent since going fulltime in our motorhome. My normally easy-going partner abhors not knowing his exact location when he is behind the wheel and he and I would certainly have been arguing from frustration (and a bit of fear) about which road to take had it not been for Carmen. I must say, both Phil and I were extremely relieved when we finally broke out of the woods and drove into the tiny town of Camas Valley. From there through Winston on hiway 42 we scooted on home where our pretty Penny was waiting patiently for us to return!
We stayed home on Saturday. After Linner on Friday we found a fruit and vegetable stand where we bought some veggies, peaches and a pineapple. We ate leftover crock pot cereal for breakfast and then in late afternoon Phil grilled some NY steaks from our freezer and in my new free steamer (from a garage sale where everything was FREE) I cooked our baby red potatoes that needed to be used up and the cauliflower (past its pull date and also free) from yesterday and grilled some garlic French bread. We complimented our steaks with sautéed onions and sliced fresh mushrooms seasoned with butter, garlic, salt and pepper and a little white wine. They were delicious!
Earlier in the afternoon, I had baked an apple pie. I decided to try a trick I read about the other day which suggested pre-cooking the apples to cut down on the baking time. Soooooo, I peeled and sliced the apples then put them in the microwave to cook. Well, 10 minutes later on full power, I had cooked them w-a-a-a-y-y-y too long (remember this was my first time) and I was thinking we would no doubt have applesauce pie. Is there such a thing?
Ever the optomist, I stirred in a mixture of one fourth cup of Splenda, 2 Tbsp. flour, 1 Tbsp. cinnamon and 1 tsp. nutmeg and used two pre-made pie crusts (pretty darn good). After moistening the top crust with water I sprinkled about a Tbsp of the leftover Splenda mixture on top. In our wonderful convection oven, I baked it at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. It browned beautifully and I was amazed because the pie actually looked perfect. The “trick” will work … the timing just needs to be adjusted! When heated up later and served with some sugar free vanilla ice cream it was delicious!
Taking a hint from the Canadian Geese we have been hearing every morning; tomorrow we will be moving farther south to Klamath Falls, Oregon for a week. This will be brand new territory for us.