Labor Day weekend signals the last free weekend of summer. Meaning that from then on, we don't have the luxury of being totally uncommitted during the week. We are returning to schedules that include school, work, work and more work.
But that doesn't happen until Sept. 5 — in the meantime let's keep summer fun rolling.
What will you do with your extra day this weekend? I can offer several suggestions, and several more for keeping the relaxation of summer in your lives throughout the fall months.
n First off — you've got to visit the Oregon State Fair. When was the last time you went to the fair? It is jam packed with events, concerts, competitions and more that showcase the best of Oregon agriculture, arts and entertainment, cultures and business. There are many options for reducing the already low admission fee. Visit oregonstatefair.com to view the schedule and get complete details. The fair is located at the state fairgrounds in Salem, a short drive south on I-5.
n Spend the extra day fishing. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife lists 50 places to go fishing within 60 minutes of Portland on its website, dfw.state.or.us. You don't need to commit a full weekend to a fishing excursion. The website also shares information about what you need in terms of equipment, licenses and other helpful information. What kid wouldn't love to brag that they caught a whopper over Labor Day?
n Go wine tasting. Many wineries without regular tasting room hours will be open Labor Day weekend, offering a rare opportunity to taste wines in a leisurely fashion.
My friends Sarah and Dave Specter at Bells Up Winery, located at 27895 NE Bell Road in Newberg, will be open from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 2 and 3. They invite all to enjoy light fare pairings and hang out on their new wine porch to take in the spectacular views. They will be pouring four wines including 2016 Prelude Rose of Pinot Noir (released April 1 and nearly sold out already!), 2013 Titan Pinot Noir (rated 91 points by Washington Wine Blog and International Wine Report), 2014 Titan Pinot Noir (Silver Medal winner in the Great NW Wine Invitational Competition) and 2015 Firebird Syrah (named one of "Top Ten Wines to Serve at Your Next BBQ" by Urban Bliss Life.)
I'll be there Saturday signing copies of my book "Willamette Valley Wineries," so come on by.
n Field and Vine Events is hosting a Farm to Table dinner at Fir Point Farms with Forest Edge Vineyard on Sept. 2. Chef Pascal Chureau will prepare a six to seven course dinner from local ingredients to be paired with Forest Edge wines. The dinner takes place at Fir Point Farms, 14601 Arndt Road in Aurora. Cost is $85 per person.
West Linn's Fiala Farm is the site for the Sept. 9 Farm to Table dinner, featuring Chef Chureau's preparations paired with Solena Estate wines. Don't miss out. Field and Vine Events dinners are scheduled throughout the fall months. Visit fieldandvineevents.com to view the complete schedule and make reservations. These are a real treat to attend.
n The Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon is taking place in Carlton Sept. 3. Participants rave about the small-town charm, scenic course and great wines served at the post-race Wine and Music Festival, presented by Ken Wright Cellars, 236 N. Kutch St., Carlton.
n Take the Canby Farm Loop and visit area farms. This is a self-guided farm tour that leads you to 20 farm stops in the Canby Aurora area. Check the canbyfarmloop.com website to see what is available when you are ready to go.
n Perhaps you'd like to spend the extra day making pickles or canning fruits and vegetables for the winter. You can purchase fresh produce from area farmers, find who has what produce online at tricountyfarm.org.
Two vegetable I know you will find in great supply at area farmers markets and farm stands are tomatoes and zucchini. I found a couple of new recipes using both and I guarantee the zucchini chips will become your new go-to appetizer. Pair both with a nice crisp pinot noir rose, making a fine meal to enjoy befoer we have to get to the routine.
Bon Appetit! Make eating an adventure!
Sea Salt and Vinegar
Makes 2 servings
1 7ounce zucchini, cut into 1/8-inch thick slices (about 48 slices)
1 tablespoon malt vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 200 F.
Combine zucchini, vinegar and oil in a medium bowl, tossing to coat well. Let stand 10 minutes.
Place zucchini slices in a single layer on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper; sprinkle evenly with salt. Bake at 200 F for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until chips are dried, crisp and lightly golden, flipping chips halfway through baking. Remove from oven; cool completely.
Recipe courtesy of myrecipes.com.
Hot Italian Sausages with Roasted Tomatoes and Shallots
Makes 4 servings
3 pints ripe cherry tomatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)
8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
4 small shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, thinly sliced
4 hot Italian sausages (about 1 1/4 pounds)
Basil leaves, for garnish
Crusty bread for serving
Preheat oven to 400 F. In a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish or roasting pan, scatter the tomatoes, garlic cloves and shallots. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Top with the butter pieces and bake until the tomaotes are wilted slightly and look juice, 25-30 minutes.
Meanwhile in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and the sausages. Cook, turning the sausages occassionally, until well seared on all sides and cooked through, about 25 minutes.
Remove the tomatoes from the oven and stir briefly. Transfer the sausages to the pan with the tomatoes, nestling them in. Garnish with basil leaves and serve with bread.
Recipe courtesy of Saveurselects.com.