The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Two holidays (and off-topic pictures)

JMonkey's picture

Two holidays (and off-topic pictures)

Sourdough chocolate cherry bread has become a Valentine's Day tradition around our house. This time around, I reduced the chocolate a bit to make it a bit more manageable to toast (molten chocolate all over the toaster oven is a real pain in the neck) and used some of Carl's 1847 Oregon Trail Starter that Leemid was nice enough to pass along at the Oregon Fresh Loafers' Meet-up back in September.

Awfully tasty stuff.

For the President's Day weekend, I did a bit of baking, but was most satisfied with the whole grain sourdough hearth bread that I set up Monday night and baked this morning, which went very well with some chicken soup and a salad this evening. This time around, however, I forgot about folding the dough and so, just before I went to sleep, I remembered that I'd not done a thing with the bread, beyond hydrating it. Out of necessity, I jumped out of the sheets and did the "French Fold." It turned out very well indeed, flavor-wise, at least.


Not that anyone cares about that, of course, but this is a bread forum, after all. Anyway, on Monday, I had the day off while my poor academic wife had to teach class. My daughter was taken care of at her school, so I had ... gasp ... a day to myself!

From my house ... well, actually, from down the street, you can see Dimple Hill towering over the valley, a bald hill that stands just five feet shy of 1,500 feet tall. It's probably not a mile from my house as the crow files, but if you have to hoof it like most mortals, it's nearly a 4 mile hike. And it's lovely. Until today, we had 5 or 6 straight days of clear skies and brilliant sun, which soaked all the way down to my bones. On Monday, I was itching to hit the trail.

I walked through the Timberhill Open Space, into Chip Ross Park, and then took Dan's Trail to the top. It's a lovely walk through meadows, old orchards and managed forest. It's not old growth by any stretch as it's smack in the middle of the Oregon State McDonald Research Forest, but it does pass by at least one old growth stand.

The scenery is nice.

But the view from the top is a real treat. Here's a view to the east of the snow-capped Cascades and the Three Sisters. Snow pack in the Cascades is about 190% of normal, so the sisters are all decked out in wedding attire.

To the West a view of Marys Peak, which, at 4,097 feet, is the tallest mountain in the Oregon Coast Range.

And right before me, Corvallis' little corner of the southern Willamette Valley.

The rain does get to me a bit when it goes on, uninterrupted, for weeks on end. But it sure is fun discovering what a beautiful part of the country I now live in.


rainbowbrown's picture

How wonderful to walk through the mountains in the Willamette Valley.  A couple summers ago I stayed with a couple of farmers in Kings Valley right by Corvallis for a month to work with them at home and at their blueberry stand at the Corvallis farmer's market.  Spending the summer in the Willamette Valley was one of my favorite of all time.  The woman I stayed with in Kings Valley, a couple others and myself hiked to the top of Mary's Peak one sunny day, we even took the extra half mile trail to go avoid the parking lot near the top.  Dang, how beautiful that was.  Lovely pictures.  What a splendid place in which you live.

JMonkey's picture

My family tried to go to the top ... or as near as we could to the top ... of Marys Peak the morning of Dec. 31. About a quarter mile in on the road up the mountain, it was snowing. After a half a mile, my little Saturn couldn't go any further, so we played in the snow near the side of the road.

I guess we'll just have to wait for summertime ....

AnnieT's picture

Oh Oregon indeed. Lovely pictures, JMonkey, enough to make a girl homesick! Your bread was pretty nifty too, A.

manuela's picture

pictures! You truly are fortunate to live in such a beautiful place.

zolablue's picture

JMonkey - Those breads are gorgeous and look absolutely delicious! You really got some pretty looking loaves there. That's the good. hehe.


The bad is that - well, ok, it is not really bad. It is pure envy - hey, I live in Nebraska! But I'm happy for ya - I really, really am...!!! It is zero here now and supposed to warm up to about 6 having been below zero last night and frigid for days and days...oh, it is so painful. :o)


Your photos of that breathtaking countryside not to mention waterfalls which I love are at least reminding me that it can warm up again and maybe Spring will come. You do indeed live in a very beautiful part of the country and I'm really happy for you that you got a rare day off to enjoy yourself.

JMonkey's picture

Wow. Break out the bikinis. I feel for you ZolaBlue.

Paddyscake's picture

to discover now that the sun is starting to shine!! Yeah!! I still don't miss the winters back home (CT). Those are great pics and you'll love Mary's Peak this summer. You'll have to take a ride up north near my neck of the woods to Silver Falls. Another nice, easy day hike.

FMM's picture

What a fabulous post JMonkey- the bread and the scenery.  I am visiting Oregon in June (albeit I'll unfortunately miss the snow) and those photos have really whet my apetite.  Gotta give the bread a go as well.


holds99's picture


The breads look really great (outside AND inside) and the Oregon photos are enough to create a very wide envy streak.  From here that area (southern Willamette Valley) looks beautiful and inviting no matter how wet it gets.  Looking at those photos of the mountains reminds me of that line form The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy said: "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore".

Thanks for sharing,


JMonkey's picture

The only advice I have is to try as much as humanly possible to keep the chocolate inside the loaf. Any pieces that are exposed to the heat of the oven will turn to charcoal. Folding the chocolate in helps a lot.

Good luck!