Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The River Wild

In 1994, the scariest thing on the river was Kevin Bacon.

In 2012, it was my daughter in the front of the raft singing "Mr. Cellophane" at the top of her lungs. Deer fled in terror. Salmon stopped spawning.

And our vacation had just started.
Four days. Thirty five miles down the Rogue River.
Roaring rapids.


Rustic lodgings.

Time on the water.

Time to just chill.

Hearty, delicious food.

Zero cell service. No wifi. Not even a pay phone*.

Even so, we loved it.


Or, to get a taste of our experience at home, try the following.

Wrap everything you own in thick, waterproof rubber bags, then jump in the bathtub fully clothed.
Look for bald eagles.
Climb rocks.
Have some wine.
Hang out with your family.
Make new friends.
Turn off all the lights at 10pm.
Sleep better than you have in a long time.

Here are some recipes, one from each lodge we visited, to get you started with the eating part.

Black Bar Lodge's Sourdough Biscuits
From Mace, our host on the first night out.  Unlike most biscuit recipes, these don't have butter or shortening in the recipe.  Nobody even noticed. They were the hit of the evening.

2 heaping c. flour
4 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 heaping tsp. baking powder

Oil a large glass baking dish.  Combine above dry ingredients in a large bowl until well mixed.   Add liquid (sourdough starter, milk, or water - Mace uses a starter), until dough is thick but still quite sticky.  Turn onto a heavily floured surface, then roll and cut into individual biscuits.  Place into prepared pan, and allow to rise for 30 minutes.   Preheat oven to 425.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until deep golden brown.  Serve hot with lots of butter and homemade jam.

Click to print this recipe!

Mariel Lodge's Fruit Torte
Recipe from Lori & Pat, our hosts the second night. Awesome with pears, but Lori says the recipe works great with any kind of fruit. Like the biscuits, not a shred of butter in here. Who knew?

1 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. fruit (any kind), cut into chunks
1/2 c. chopped nuts

Coat a 13x9 pan with cooking spray, and set aside.Preheat oven to 350.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl, and set aside. Combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, fruit and nuts in another bowl, then stir in the flour mixture. Pour into prepared pan, and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool and serve.

Click to print this recipe!

Paradise Lodge's Potato & Parmesan Cakes
Night number three's outstanding appetizers.  A cinch to make, and they're baked, not fried!

4 russet potatoes, peeled and shredded with a grater
1 onion, grated
2 eggs
a few Tbs. of Dijon mustard
a handful of chopped Italian parsley and/or green onions
tons of Parmesan cheese (almost as much as the potatoes)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat.
Mix all ingredients together by hand or with a large mixing spoon until it has the consistency of mashed potatoes (mushy is OK!)

Scoop by rounded spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 30-40 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time, until deep golden brown and crispy on the edges. Serve as an appetizer, with a sour cream or yogurt dipping sauce, or as a side dish for breakfast/brunch.

Click to print this recipe!

Morrison Lodge's Famous Orange Rolls
Our incredibly decadent treat to celebrate the voyage's end. Seriously fantastic.

For the dough:
1 c. lukewarm water
1 pkg. active dry yeast
3 1/4 c. flour, divided, plus extra for kneading.
2 1/2 Tbs. sugar
2 1/2 Tbs. shortening, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
1 tsp. salt

For the filling:
1/3 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. finely grated orange zest
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, very soft

In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, and 1/2 c. flour.Stir to dissolve, and set aside until yeast is activated (it will begin to bubble and foam), about 5-10 minutes.

While the yeast is proofing, combine the remaining 2 3/4 c. flour and 2 1/2 Tbs. sugar in a separate bowl.

Using a fork, or the dough hook if you have a stand mixer, work 1/2 of the flour/sugar mixture into the yeast mixture, then add the shortening and the egg and mix until combined. Slowly add in the remaining flour/sugar mixture. The dough will be stringy at first, then very sticky as the flour is absorbed. Stir in the salt.

Move the dough to a floured surface. With floured hands, gently knead the dough (it'll be sticky at first!) about 5 minutes, adding flour as needed just to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers or the kneading surface. The finished dough will be tender, soft, and slightly tacky. Allow to rest for a few minutes.

Generously grease two muffin tins. Combine the 1/3 c. sugar and the orange zest in a small bowl, and set aside.

One a well floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle measuring 24 inches by 10 inches. Brush with the softened butter, then sprinkle with the orange sugar mixture. Roll the rectangle lengthwise into a tight tube (as with cinnamon rolls). Cut the tube into 24 1 inch slices, using thread if possible (the thread will slice more easily and cleanly than a knife). Roll the tube one-quarter turn after each slice to keep the tube round as you go.

Place the slices into the prepared muffin tins, cover loosely with a towel, and set aside in a warm place until rolls have doubled in size. Heat the oven to 400.

Bake the muffin tins one tray at a time, until the rolls are puffed and golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Cool slightly, and serve warm.

Click to print this recipe!

* Although, on the third morning, my son said to me during a hike, "Last night I dreamed I had cell service! I was in the far back of one corner of the cabin. It was fantastic. And then I woke up." He was constantly fretting that either a) Los Angeles had fallen into the sea or b) something had happened on facebook, and that in either event, he had missed out completely by being in the wilderness at the time. I have to admit he wasn't the only one going through withdrawal. When he told me about the dream, I think I asked him, "Which corner, exactly?"
** We went with Row Adventures. Great guides, super well organized, and a really fun group!  The rapids photos and several of the other shots were taken by our guides along the way.

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