Recipes for the Last of Summer

Grilled Summer Squash with Fresh Mozzarella and Toasted Sunflower Seeds

Grilled Summer Squash with Fresh Mozzarella and Toasted Sunflower Seeds

Recipe Note:
A super simple way of dressing up the summertime staple; grilled zucchini. Perfectly smashable as a starter or side with a cold glass of Underwood Pinot Gris in hand.

Serves 6-8 as a side dish

Ingredients:
6 zucchini
3 eight oz. balls of mozzarella or burrata
1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
a handful of sunflower sprouts
edible flower petals (optional)
juice of one lemon
extra virgin olive oil
salt

Grilled Summer Squash with Fresh Mozzarella and Toasted Sunflower Seeds

Method:
Heat a grill to a medium high heat and make sure the grate is cleaned and seasoned with oil. Cut the zucchini down the center, lengthwise, and toss in a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt. Grill the zucchini, turning as needed, until they are well caramelized and tender, but not mushy. Remove from the grill and place directly on a serving platter.
Tear the balls of mozzarella with your hands into bite sized pieces and arrange on the platter with the zucchini. Sprinkle the toasted seeds over the entire dish, followed by the sunflower sprouts and flowers. Before serving, finish the platter with the freshly squeezed lemon juice and an additional blessing of extra virgin olive oil and flaky salt.

 

Blistered Shishito Peppers with Shaved Pecorino

Blistered Shishito Peppers with Shaved Pecorino

Recipe Note:
Blistery and sweet peppers with salty pecorino and crisp pinot gris makes for instant happy hour at home.

Serves 4 as an appetizer

Ingredients: 
½ lb (~4 cups) shishito/padron peppers
4 oz pecorino cheese
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
flaky sea salt
lime or lemon wedge (optional)

Blistered Shishito Peppers with Shaved Pecorino

Method: 
Heat up a large cast iron pan to high heat. Add the extra virgin olive oil, followed by the peppers. Make sure they’re evenly dispersed in one layer. Toss the peppers in the pan every thirty seconds. It’s important to let them sit and blister between tosses, so resist the urge to stir! Once the peppers are evenly blistered and softened, remove from the pan onto a paper towel lined dish. Season with flaky salt before transferring to a serving plate/bowl. Freshly shave pecorino cheese with a vegetable peeler over the blistered peppers before serving with a lime wedge and a few glasses of pinot gris!

 

Maple and Whiskey Glazed Peaches for Pancakes or Waffles

Maple and Whiskey Glazed Peaches for Pancakes or Waffles

Recipe Note:
Brunch is our favorite excuse to drink before noon, and these boozy maple peaches give us even more of a reason to crack open a can of bubbles. Spoon these peaches over pancakes, on top of waffles, or even on a croissant with mascarpone. Pair with an Underwood R
osé Bubbles mimosa for the perfect Sunday brunch.

Serves 4-6 

Ingredients:
4 yellow peaches
2 tablespoons butter
4-5 ounces maple syrup
2 shot whiskey

Maple and Whiskey Glazed Peaches for Pancakes or Waffles

Method:
Slice the peaches into large chunks and set them aside. Heat a large pan to medium-high heat and add the butter, followed by the peaches. Cook the peaches, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes before adding the whiskey, followed by the maple syrup. Be careful adding the whiskey as it may flambé! Allow the peaches, whiskey, and maple syrup to cook down together for a minute before removing from the heat. Let the peaches cool down a bit before serving.

Maple and Whiskey Glazed Peaches for Pancakes or Waffles

Recipes and Photography by Chef Kevin Oconnor

Beginner’s Guide to Backpacking

Backpacking Eagle Cap Wilderness

I know how intimidating and overwhelming it can feel to get started with backpacking. There are so many questions that need answering. What gear do I need? How will I stay safe? How will I know where to go?

When I first began backpacking, I dove headfirst into the longest hike of my life; the Oregon section of the PCT. I backpacked for 30 days using ill-fitting, heavy gear, paper maps, and a whole lot of extra stuff I didn’t need. My feet hurt throughout the entire trek, red, sore, and covered in blisters. But I made it and all that anguish was worth it!

I’ve learned a lot over the 6 years since that hike. I’ve been able to swap out some of my gear for more practical items and successfully spent countless nights under the stars in the mountains, in the desert, and on the coast. My objective with this post is to share some of the lessons I’ve learned from my adventures. Hopefully, it will give you the confidence to branch out beyond car camping.

Backpacking in Eagle Cap Wilderness

Before I get started, I want to clarify that this is what I’ve found works for me. Everyone is going to feel differently when they enter the backcountry, so make sure to do plenty of your own research and trial and error to figure out what you’re most comfortable with.

So if this sounds exciting to you, but you aren’t sure how to get started, I’m here to help! Here are some ways to work up to backpacking:

• Start with longer hikes! Tackle a long-distance trail and bring a heavier backpack with plenty of supplies, including extra food and water (we call this training weight). Do all the research you’ll need beforehand to complete the hike safely. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment while training your body to carry a heavier load. It will also help familiarize you with the experience of spending several hours immersed in nature before trying it out overnight.

• If you have no experience backpacking, I recommend going with knowledgeable friends the first few times. There’s only so much you can glean from the internet. Learning directly from those who have experience will be so helpful when questions arise. And they’ll be there to back you up if you forgot to pack a crucial piece of gear. Don’t have friends who want to backpack with you? Try a local club, MeetUp.com, or reach out to like-minded folks on social media.

Underwood Wine Cheers

• Before you invest in your own backpacking gear, try borrowing from a friend or renting from an outdoor store. This will help you narrow down what kind of gear you like best and will ensure that you’re well equipped with knowledge and experience when you do finally purchase the items you need. There’s also plenty of used gear shops out there for those with a tighter budget. REI has a whole used gear section on their website. This is the perfect way to get started while simultaneously keeping used gear out of our landfills.

The most important step you can take to prepare for your first backpacking experience is to do a lot of research. Knowledge is so empowering and the more you have, the more comfortable you will feel in the backcountry.

One creative option is to take an online or in-person class on backpacking. For example, REI teaches many outdoor skills classes, including topics in navigation, survival basics, women’s wilderness skills, and First Aid. They also have local backpacking trips in many cities across the US for those who’d prefer to learn from experts on multi-day trips. This is also a great option if you’re looking for new like-minded friends to go backpacking with.

Backpacking trip by a lake

When choosing a location for your first trip, start with a fairly easy, low mileage trail and only stay out one night. That way you won’t be far from your car if you forget a crucial piece of gear. Starting easy and working your way up to longer and more difficult treks is perfectly normal. And there are plenty of short trails with beautiful views! It may just mean a little less solitude.

If you’re not sure how to find trails near you, I suggest using the AllTrails app downloaded directly to your phone. There’s both an unpaid and paid version. There are benefits to the paid version, like the ability to download maps that you can follow while you hike, but the free version works great as well and you can still often view the maps offline. This app will help you figure out what trail will suit you best. It lists the length and elevation gain of each trail. Plus, people write helpful reviews on trail conditions and campsite locations.

Once you decide on a trail, google the nearest ranger station and give them a call before you depart. They might have more recent information about trail closures, permits, wildfire restrictions, and conditions that you won’t find on the internet.

Wallow Whitman National Forest Backpacking

Start your hike early in the morning. Getting an early start will allow you to take your time getting to your destination and will most likely give you the chance at the first pick of the best campsites. That way you’ll have the rest of the day to play and enjoy the gorgeous views.

Safety in the Backcountry

Have you heard of the 10 essentials? Carrying these items with you every time you step into the backcountry is so important, even on short day hikes. And knowing how to use them will be incredibly valuable if you ever get yourself into a bind. They could save your life.

Backpacking Essentials What to Pack

The Ten Essentials:
• Navigation: map, compass, altimeter, GPS device, personal locator beacon (PLB), or satellite messenger.
• Headlamp and extra batteries
• Sun Protection: sunglasses, sun-protective clothes, and sunscreen
• First Aid: including band-aids, ointment, and insect repellent
• Knife: and gear repair kit
• Fire: matches, lighter, tinder, and/or stove
• Shelter: carried at all times (even as simple as an emergency bivy)
• Extra Food
• Extra Water
• Extra Clothing

Having a whistle could save your life if you accidentally slip, fall, or are rendered immobile in any way. Many backpacks have them attached to the shoulder straps, but you can also purchase one separately. Experts advise keeping it around your neck, in case you’re separated from your pack. 3 loud blasts, each lasting about 3 seconds, is the universal call for help.

I always carry an extra iPhone battery charger with me. Smartphones aren’t only good for taking amazing photos and videos of your travels, they double as navigation, map storage, and potential call for rescue. The last thing you want is for your phone to die on the trail when you need it most.

Always be sure to tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to be back. Supply them with the phone number for the nearest Ranger Station and let them know at what point they should be worried enough to call.

As stated earlier, always be sure to know what your selected trail conditions will be like and check the weather forecast before you go. Knowing what to expect, in terms of weather, will give you the information you need when you’re packing for your trip. But it’s also important to “expect the unexpected.” So even if the forecast isn’t predicting rain, I’ll stuff a raincoat into my pack just in case the weather turns. This can happen frequently in the mountains, so it’s best to be prepared.

What to Pack

Having the right gear for your trip is essential, but don’t get too hung up on the fancy stuff! Expensive gear can be a huge barrier for a lot of people. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with borrowing from friends, finding used gear, or starting with the less expensive, but probably slightly heavier stuff. When I started, everything I brought with me was used. Over several years, I slowly replaced the vintage items with more lightweight ones. It’s ok to start wherever you are. The most important part is knowing how to use what you have.

It’s really helpful to have a physical list and cross items off as you go. That way, you won’t get stuck without a crucial piece of gear when you’re miles away from town.

REI has this super helpful and comprehensive backpacking checklist that you can download and print out at home.

In order to determine what you need to pack, however, you’ll have to consider several factors, including how far you’re going, what kind of weather you’re expecting, how long you’ll be out for, and what kind of terrain you’ll be crossing.

Here are some items I deem essential:

Backpacking tent

A One-Person Tent (unless sharing with a friend):
I recommend using a one-person tent to keep your pack weight down. However, if you have a dog or you prefer something roomier, you might want to consider a two-person tent. I use a Nemo Hornet 1 Tent, because it feels spacious enough for me and my pup, it’s easy to set up, and it packs down small.

Stove:
A stove is a great item to share with a friend to keep weight down. But you can also bring your own. I have the MSR Reactor Stove because it performs well in snowy conditions. But this might be overkill for the casual summer backpacker. There are several lightweight, less expensive options to choose from as well. Jetboils are a popular option amongst backpackers.

PLB’s and Satellite Messengers:
My Garmin InReach Mini is my most valued piece of gear. It gives me an added sense of security whenever I’m outside of cell range. I often use it to text my parents my location when I arrive at camp. Just knowing that someone else has my exact location gives me that extra peace of mind. I also love that I can check the updated weather forecast whenever I need to.

However, these devices can be quite pricey. If you don’t have the funds to invest in an emergency device right now, don’t let that keep you from going. Just make sure someone knows where you’re heading.

First Aid:
It’s important to always hike with some form of first aid. Even on short day hikes, I carry a handful of these items. You can buy a readymade kit or build your own. I’ve been using the same first aid kit for a few years now, and I simply replace the items as I use them.

The items you bring will largely be dependent on where you’re going and what time of year it is. You’ll want bug repellent in the mountains during summer, for example. I always like to stash away some extra ibuprofen as well, to soothe my sore muscles at night.

Self-Protection:
I bring SABRE Frontiersman Bear Spray with me on my solo hiking and backpacking trips. This is my preferred method of self-protection. Keep it somewhere easily accessible and know how to use it before you go.
Another option would be to carry a more standard pepper spray, like SABRE RED Tactical Pepper Gel. If you aren’t hiking through bear country, a spray of this strength would be perfectly suitable.

Underwood Wine in a lake

Underwood Wine:
No backpacking adventure would quite be complete without a delicious can of Underwood Wine to reward yourself with after a long day. Just chill your beverage in the nearest spring-fed river or alpine lake and wait!

Ok, now that you’ve made it to your destination and set up camp, what do you do with the rest of the day? This is my favorite part of the trip and it’s so full of possibilities!

A few fun ways you could spend your afternoon:
• Take an exploratory side hike. Pack an extra small backpack. It can easily double as a stuff sack for clothing and will provide you with a small pack to take with you on those fun afternoon explorations. Fill it with snacks, a water bottle, your camera and you’re good to go!
• Sit and read a book or Kindle in the sun all day. This is my favorite afternoon activity. I use a Kindle because it’s so lightweight, low profile, and means you can carry multiple books!

• Tie up a hammock and nap the afternoon away while you listen to the birds chirp.
• Listen to music or podcasts downloaded on your phone. Just be sure to download everything you might want to listen to while you’re still in cell range.
• Draw or paint your surroundings! Bring a small sketchbook and a set of paints or pencils and practice your art skills in an inspiring location.
• Bring a set of cards and play games with your friends or solitaire by yourself.
• Pop open that can of Underwood, cheers your friend, and watch the sun slowly dip behind the mountains.

Leave No Trace:

Lastly, some of the most pertinent information you can familiarize yourself with is the 7 Leave No Trace Principles. Make sure to educate yourself on these practices and understand the “why” behind them. Mother Nature, local wildlife, and your fellow hikers will thank you.

You can find more in-depth information here at lnt.org.

Now get out there and enjoy!

Brooke Weeber Backpacking Trip Tent by Lake

Photography and story by Brooke Weeber

Rosé Sangria for Summer

Summer Rose Sangria

Summer is here and we are all about it. The days are longer, warmer, and full of hope as more and more of us are able to see our friends and family after a long year of trying to stay safe. So let’s celebrate with an easy, picnic ready Rosé Sangria! With fresh fruit, coconut sugar, and Grand Marnier, this simple and refreshing sangria is sure to be a favorite all summer long. We like to pair this recipe with a good friend, a picnic blanket, and a shady spot in our local park.

Summer Rose Sangria

Summer Rose Sangria

 

Ingredients:
1 orange, cut into wedges
2 cups strawberries, halved
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
2 cans of chilled Underwood Rosé
1/3 cup Grand Marnier
1 handful of fresh mint leaves
1 lemon, sliced
1 mango, peeled & cubed
1/2 cup blackberries
Sparkling water for serving
Skewers

Summer Rose Sangria

Directions:
Place oranges and strawberries in the bottom of a large mason jar or portable glass pitcher. Add the coconut sugar and stir.
Let sit for approximately 15 minutes.
Pour in the rosé and Grand Marnier. Add the mint and lemon. Stir and place in the fridge for 1-3 hours.
Pour the sangria into glasses with ice and top with sparkling water. Add the mango cubes, blackberries, and some fruit from the pitcher to skewers for garnish (and snacks).
Enjoy!

Summer Rose Sangria

Recipe Inspired by: A Couple Cooks

Celebrating Spring at Tom McCall Preserve

Tom McCall Preserve Tom McCall Preserve

In addition to their work to fight climate change, improve the health of our forests, restore habitat at the coast, The Nature Conservancy helps to protect millions of acres of land across the world. In fact, in Oregon alone, they have protected more than 530,000 acres. One of these special places is Tom McCall Preserve at Rowena.

Arrowleaf Balsamroot

Tom McCall Preserve at Rowena

Located just east of Hood River in the Columbia River Gorge, the Preserve bridges the wet west side of the Cascades with the drier grass prairies of the east, creating a unique landscape with many rare and sensitive plants. Each April and May the preserve is full of bright native flowers. The flowers that are the most prevalent at the Preserve are Arrowleaf Balsamroot and Lupine. Native plant species help preserve the planet’s biodiversity and are often better able to support the local environment and wildlife than ones that are introduced.

Red Tail Hawk

The Preserve is a great example of the beauty and diversity the earth offers when it is protected. The work The Nature Conservancy does help to restore and protect these 231 acres allows birds and other species to thrive. Among the many native flowers, we saw a few red tail hawks during our visit.

Underwood Wine and The Nature Conservancy

We recommend making a trip out there within the next week or so as the peak blooming season is coming to an end. Please stay on marked trails to protect the sensitive species that call it home. Pack your camera, flower identification book, and your favorite beverage.

Learn more about The Nature Conservancy’s efforts to protect #NatureNow.

Tom McCall Preserve

As always, pack it in, pack it out, stay on the trails, and please don’t pick any of the flowers.

More information on the Tom McCall Preserve at Rowena, including directions, highlights, and other resources, is available here.

Above Photo: Rowena Crest ©Gary Grossman/TNC Photo Contest 2019
All Other Photos: ©Union Wine Company

Brett Stenson Artist Spotlight: Behind the Design of Our New Cans

 


My process usually starts with some sort of trip or some sort of experience first, like, how do I develop a strong emotional connection to something I’m going to start drawing or carving? So it starts with coming up with what am I emotionally connected to? And then from there, I start sketching stuff, come up with the composition, come up with the idea.

Brett Stenson Artist Spotlight

Brett Stenson Artist Spotlight

If you go out and draw something that is laying in a stream, you’re going to see a composition that nature made, you didn’t make it up sitting at your computer, like you had to be subjected to it and look at it and accept it for how beautiful or weird or not that beautiful it looks and turn it into something that it is really interesting and cool on paper because if you do it cool, somebody is going to enjoy it so you don’t have to overthink it very much.

Brett Stenson Artist Feature

The idea behind the cans was based on having your own perspective when you’re standing in a river and being able to look down and see fish swimming in rocks and plants. So it almost puts you in a place of, oh, I’ve stood here before or I’ve been in this place before. I think what was cool about designing something that you had to spin and look at was that I wanted it to feel almost like an infinite continuous loop of a river, kind of like passing by as you spin it.

Brett Stenson Artist Feature

I feel like Union Wine and Underwood has such a great reach that they can show a lot more people in an unexpected way, you know, you think you drink it and you’re like, yeah, it’s wine, but it’s also made of water. If it’s not good water, it’s not going to be good wine. So you have to have great water. That makes great grapes. That makes great wine. Making artwork or making design work for people that are going out there and protecting trails, protecting forests, is my way of helping by making things that raise awareness for that stuff because I don’t necessarily have the knowledge or energy to go out and like, know how to protect a river or make it more fertile for fish to live in because that’s what biologists are for. So my design work is like my way of connecting to the things I care about.

Brett Stenson Artist Feature