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Bake Them

Baked.

Dried.

Juiced.

Jellied.

Plucked fresh from the vine…

Southwestern Oregon, sometimes called the Napa Valley of cranberries, produces some of the finest cranberries in the country. The long growing season along the western half of Coos and Curry Counties means berries that are sweeter and darker—deep red to purple at harvest—than berries grown in other parts of the United States.

The Oregon cranberry harvest season stretches from late September through October. Just in time for the holidays, three native Oregon artisans share their enthusiasm for the cranberry.

Traditions

Cranberry Harvest by Kent Holloway

Cranberry Harvest, oil painting by Kent Holloway. Used by permission of Peggy Powell.

Settlers have been cultivating cranberries since before Oregon was a state. The Winters family has grown cranberries since 1937. Chelle Winters-Webb and her husband Michael Webb started Bouncing Berry Farms more than a decade ago.

Winters-Webb calls herself the history buff in the family. She cherishes memories of learning to bake with her grandmother. When her daughter was diagnosed with allergies to wheat gluten and casein, a protein in dairy products, Winters-Webb found herself learning to cook all over again.

“I grew up with Grandma Winters making pies. When (my daughter) was diagnosed . . . it threw me for a loop,” Winters-Webb recalls. “I was looking for a product in the health food store for her to be able to take to a birthday party, because I forgot she had to go, and she can’t eat that typical party food fare.”

She didn’t find anything “grab and go”—so Winters-Webb started baking with cranberries from her own fields. After some prodding from her family, and a sell-out test run at the Bandon Cranberry Festival, Winters-Webb took her cranberries to a commercial kitchen in Portland. There, she made her first large-scale commercial batch, working to keep the recipe just as tasty and healthy as her home-made version.

“It is a learning curve to make it in bulk versus a small pot on stove,” said Winters-Webb. “I was very worried about making sure it wasn’t too sweet. Cranberries are nutritious and I didn’t want to negate that by making it too sweet.”

Her Gourmet Cranberry & Organic Apple Fruit Delight hit retail shelves in Southern Oregon and Northern California this fall. With four apples and 300 cranberries per 32 oz jar, Winters-Webb hopes her Gourmet Cranberry Foods will delight families looking for foods that are healthy and easy to prepare. She’s also building a woman-owned business as a legacy for her daughters, who happily munch fresh cranberries straight from the field.

Winters-Webb and her children often start the day with a batch of gluten and dairy free pancakes topped with her Cranberry Fruit Delight.

Chelle’s Pancake Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup rice flour
3 tablespoons tapioca flour
1/3 cup potato starch
4 tablespoons dry buttermilk powder ( soy milk, casein free alternative)
1 packet sugar substitute
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 eggs
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups water

In a bowl, mix or sift together the rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, dry buttermilk powder, sugar substitute, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum. Stir in eggs, water, and oil until well blended and few lumps remain.

Heat a large, well-oiled skillet or griddle over medium high heat. Spoon batter onto skillet and cook until bubbles begin to form. Flip, and continue cooking until golden brown on bottom. Serve immediately with condiments of your choice.

Queen of the Kitchen

Gwen Stadelman, 2010 Bandon Cranberry Festival Queen of the Kitchen

Gwen Stadelman, 2010 Bandon Cranberry Festival Queen of the Kitchen. Photo by Geneva Miller

Each September, the Bandon Cranberry Festival goers celebrate the city’s favorite fruit with a parade, arts and crafts bazaar, and cranberry eating contest. The festival committee even crowns a Cranberry Festival Queen of the Kitchen.

This fall, Gwen Stadelman, age twelve, won the judges’ hearts and palates with her Cranberry Chicken Pizza. Stadelman says she’s been playing in the kitchen as long as she can remember. Her mother Kathleen Stadelman, a chef and former restaurant owner, calls Gwen her own “little chef.” Gwen won third place in the Cranberry Festival kitchen competition two years ago, but was nonetheless shocked and pleased to be crowned 2010 Queen. “I didn’t think they’d let me win,” said Gwen. “I’m a kid.”

“I have to admit, I loved the look on her face,” said Kathleen, recalling the moment Gwen was announced as first place winner.

When Gwen set to work preparing for the 2010 Festival, she followed her gut, literally. Since she was craving pizza, that’s what she set out to make. She shared her first Cranberry Chicken Pizza with her mother, grandmother and aunt, who offered encouraging feedback. Gwen took her notes back to the kitchen the day of the contest and baked the winning pizza, delivered it hot to the judges’ table, then went back to school.

Gwen’s Cranberry Chicken Pizza

Pizza dough:
½ cup hot water
½ cup olive oil
2 Tbs yeast
1 cup flour, plus additional 3 cups flour
¼ cup chopped fresh or thawed frozen cranberries

Mix water, olive oil, yeast and one cup flour in a bowl. Let stand 10 minutes. Add remaining three cups flour and cranberries. Knead dough until pliable. Let rest ½ hour. Roll onto floured surface.

Pizza Topping:
½ cup basil pesto
2/3 cup cream
¼ cup chopped fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 lb chicken breast, uncooked and thinly sliced
1/3 cup dried cranberries

Reduce cream and pesto with chopped cranberries to approximately 2/3 cup. Spread over thinly rolled pizza dough. Add half the cheese. Place sliced chicken over entire pizza. Scatter the dried cranberries, then top with remaining cheese.

Place in 400° oven for about 12 minutes. Cheese should be golden and chicken cooked through. Cool approximately five minutes, cut and enjoy.

Holiday Cheer

Doug Fir Infused Gin and Champagne Cocktail

A string of cranberries can add a festive touch to your holiday tree or your cocktail glass. Photo by Geneva Miller

A string of cranberries can add a festive touch to your holiday tree or your cocktail glass. This season, bartender Lena Hawthorne is serving up a festive aperitif at Redfish, Port Orford’s newest restaurant. Chef Patrick Zulick trained in the French culinary style, so Hawthorne’s fizzy champagne cocktail, reminiscent of the swinging 1920s, should appeal to those seeking an expat vibe.

Doug Fir Infused Gin and Champagne Cocktail

1.5 oz. Doug fir infused gin
.5 oz. Cranberry juice, preferably 100% organic juice
.25 oz. Fresh Lemon juice
.25 oz. Fresh lime juice
Simple syrup to taste

Pour first five ingredients over ice and shake

Top with 1 oz. Champagne

Serve in a martini glass and garnish with fresh organic cranberries and tiny Doug fir sprig.

To infuse gin, use 2-3 small fresh picked Douglas fir branches, about 6-8 inches long, per

750 ml bottle of gin. Insert sprigs in gin bottle and let sit for no more than 24 hours. Strain and discard branches before serving. Adapted from “Sips and Apps: Classic and Contemporary Recipes for Cocktails and Appetizers” by Kathy Casey.

Looking for bog fresh berries grown in Southern Oregon?

Visit these grower’s sites:

Bouncing Berry Farms, www.bouncingberryfarms.com
Coquille Cranberries, www.coquillecranberries.com
Vincent Family Cranberries, www.vincentcranberries.com

Geneva Miller is a freelance writer. She lives on the southern Oregon coast.

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