To dive into the history and culture of the Gorge, and stay dry, I would recommend visiting the Hood River County History Museum or The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center in The Dalles. Both offer a look back at the history of the Gorge through unique photos and exhibits. The Discovery Center is also the site of the Interpretive Center for the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area, with several exhibits featuring the natural history and ecology of the area. I always love seeing the raptor show featuring resident birds of prey from the rehabilitation center, also housed at the Discovery Center. It is a powerful experience to see these birds up close.
Another fun historic stop in The Dalles is the Sunshine Mill Winery. The Sunshine Mill has a long, colorful history. The Sunshine Mill milled wheat for more than 130 years, and was the first building in The Dalles to have electricity, powered by a Thomas Edison Motor which can still be seen in The Mill. It is also the only designated skyscraper in The Columbia River Gorge. The Sunshine Mill now houses Quenett and Copa di Vino wineries. The original milling equipment is still preserved in the tasting room decor making this a unique place to taste wine. Grab a bottle to bring back to Sakura Ridge and enjoy in front of the fire!
Harvest time is here! We are pulling out bushels of fresh veggies every week, not to mention all the pears we are picking. This week we harvested lettuce, two kinds of kale, chard, carrots, radishes, celery, leeks, onions, basil, and purple and green shiso.
“What is shiso”, you ask? Shiso, pronounced she-so, is the Japanese name for an annual herb called perilla, which belongs to the mint family. Shiso comes in green or purple leaves with a slightly prickly texture and pointy, jagged edges, and it has a unique and vibrant taste that I could describe as herbaceous and citrusy. Like most leafy herbs, I find it is best used raw, the leaves whole or chiffonaded. The green variety produces more tender and more flavorful leaves than the purple variety, but the latter makes up for that with a potent dyeing action: it is what gives umeboshi its color.
Shiso is used in many asian cuisines, though most typically with Japanese dishes. It can be used anywhere mint or basil are called for. Some yummy suggestions include adding it to rice or soba noodles, sprinkling over tofu, adding it in a cucumber salad with rice vinegar, or in spring rolls. You can also make a pesto with it and put it on pasta, serve it with sashimi and rice, or try it with chicken stuffed with chopped umeboshi with soy sauce glaze. At Sakura Ridge, I use it in the Bento Box breakfast, perfect for days that it’s too hot to cook! Anyway you make it, it is sure to add a fresh, herb flavor to your meal.
Last Sunday got our hearts pumping with a white water rafting trip on the White Salmon River. The White Salmon is a 44-mile tributary to the Columbia river that originates in the glaciers of Mt Adams on the Washington side of the Gorge. In October of 2011, the Condit Dam on the lower section of river was removed to allow free flow from the headwaters to mouth. Parts of the river have been designated Wild and Scenic and it is easy to see why.
Sunday was a perfect day to be on the river, only 3 boats went out with our morning trip so we practically had the place to ourselves! The White Salmon is a gorgeous river canyon, with steep, mossy walls, towering trees overhead and cold, clear water.
The trip we did was with Wet Planet Rafting. They have a private put-in and take-out on the river which gives you 2 more miles of rapids and an optional 20 ft cliff jump after BZ Falls. Very refreshing!
We also went over Husum Falls, a rollarcoaster 10-ft drop that gets the blood pumping! After the falls, a few more lazy rapids and we were back at the base. We were starving after all the excitement, so we headed just down the road to Big Man’s Rotisserie and enjoyed delicious Ugandan Chapati wraps fresh off the BBQ. Before heading out back to Sakura Ridge, we stopped for a quick wine tasting session at AniChe Cellars on Underwood Mountain. Love these ladies and their wine!