Springtime Entertaining with USA Pears!

mache-post-4Remember that recipe Amy mentioned in her last post?  The one that combines sweet green Anjou pears with nutty mâche greens, with added flavor from ingredients like fresh tarragon, sliced fennel, and shaved Parmesan?  Well, USA Pears has teamed up with Epic Roots to develop this special salad, and we’re sure it will impress your family and friends at spring picnics and brunches.

If you’re wondering what exactly “mâche” is, you’re probably not alone.  Mâche (pronounced “mosh”) is a salad green that first became popular in Europe during the Renaissance period, where it was loved for its flavor, texture and color.  Today, our friends at Epic Roots grow their mâche in northern California, where the soil and climate is perfect for growing these tasty little green rosettes.

mache-post-2Not only will you find this special recipe on packages of Epic Roots Mâche now through mid-April, you’ll also notice a coupon for $1 off the purchase of 2 packages of any Epic Roots Mache Salad!  We hope you’ll try it – we’d love to hear how you like (and hopefully love) the tasty combination of fresh pears and fresh mâche!

This Weekend: Wine, Cheese & Pear Jubilee!

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If you’re going to be in the Willamette Valley this weekend, don’t miss the 7th Annual “Wine, Cheese & Pear Jubilee” at Willamette Valley Vineyards. You’ll have the chance to sample award-winning wines paired with local artisan cheeses and of course, Oregon grown pears! We’ll be there sampling ripe pears, so come on by and see us!

P.S. The $5 admission includes a free Riedel wine glass!

The Olympian’s Quest: Part One

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In just four days, the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games will commence.  You can be sure we’ll be pulling for U.S. Ski Team member Torin Koos, a cross-country skier we’re extremely proud to sponsor.  As a native of Leavenworth, Washington, Torin grew up in the heart of pear country.  He checks in with us regularly with postcards, photos, training videos, and his reflections on training and competing in the Olympics, a dream he’s had since he was a child. 

In addition to his love for skiing, Torin also enjoys writing.  In fact, he’s in the process of getting a master’s degree in communications at Westminster College.  He recently sent us an article called “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters” which we’re very pleased to share with you.

Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters

It’s a quiet Sunday night as I begin to write. At first it’s all stuttering and stopping, cross and erasing. The creative complexity of writing, of making language flow from thought, escapes me. I’m trying too hard. I’m thinking too grand.

I go back to the basics. Write about what you know. Use single, short declarative sentences. Always seek the active voice. Show, don’t tell. Write. Put pen to paper. Then, only then, let the inner copy writer’s voice come out.

Finally it comes. Yes, this is it. If I had to compose a group of words to live by, these might be mine.

To Seek, To Strive, To Find, and To Never Yield

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Part One:  To Seek…

It’s on the outskirts of the Banff National Park where I find myself for the last days of preparation before heading West to Whistler. Isn’t this the way it always is, headed West, leaving the stepping stones behind for the land of new adventures and experiences? In my mind’s eye I can see the big mountains as I can breathe in the wet, slightly salty maritime air. Ah, sometimes life’s too good, isn’t it?

Writing these last lines reminds me about what it’s all about – the universal appeal of sport and the Olympian’s quest. It’s to fully inhabit the most traditional and hallowed sense of the word amateur; a lover of. What a feeling it is to wake up every morning, pop out of bed, let out a big, boisterous Shazaam! and get right to it, loving every minute of the process. Maybe it’s encouraging to know (somehow, it is for me anyways) that this state of perfection is beyond most Olympian’s daily way and means. This, though, is the personal standard. The one most worth striving for. When you get to this level, hold it, cherish it, nourish it, share it and carry it’s memory with you always. I’ll try to do the same.

A friend says, “It’s so easy to die before the fact of it.” This reminds me of the Jack London penned poem, the work urging one to be the spark that burns out in a brilliant blaze, to be that meteor, every atom in magnificent glow.

To this I say, raise high that roof beam, carpenters! To use every fibre of our bodies in taxing effort, to beat back the deadening effect of habit, to abhor merely existing and instead shine, shine, shine like that exploding star shooting across the dark night sky.

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Show Torin Your Support!

Visit the new USA Pears store, at www.usapearsmarketplace.org to purchase a limited edition Torin Koos trading pin.  All proceeds from pin sales will benefit one of Torin’s favorite charities, The Boys and Girls Club!

Pearty Like It’s 2010

 

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In this season of gift-giving, I like to think of a nice, high quality cocktail as a small gift that I can give myself.  Now I’m not talking about cheap booze mixed with high fructose corn syrup, I’m talking about a quality spirit, fresh sqeezed or muddled fruit, and an unexpected touch, such as fresh herbs or a hint of spice.  A work of art that’s meant to be sipped and savored.      

pear-agon-recipe-finalWe have several excellent cocktail recipes that call for fresh pears, which were developed by mixologists across the country. 

We’ll even show you how to make super cool pear garnishes and give you ideas for food pairings.  In addition to this superb collection, we also like to keep an eye out for new cocktails.  Enter the latest Imbibe edition, which has a recipe on page 53:  the “Pear-agon.”  Developed by David Wolowidnyk of West(a popular restaurant and bar in Vancouver, B.C.), this cocktail calls for a ripe pear and pear liqueur…we can’t wait to try it! 

Happy New Year!

True to His Roots

Here’s the first of several videos I’ll be posting of Torin Koos, the cross-country skier we proudly sponsor.  Torin grew up in running, skiing and working in the pear orchards near Leavenworth, Washington.  In less than two months he’ll be representing  U.S.A. in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and this short video gives you a peak at what it’s like to train for the winter games.  Stay tuned for some exciting things we’ll be doing to show our support for Torin as he goes for the gold!

P.S.  Torin’s favorite pre-race breakfast includes a big bowl of oatmeal topped with brown sugar and slices of Green Anjou pears.  It’s no wonder we love him!

The Gift of Fresh USA Pears

gift-pear-companiesWith all the rich chocolates, fudge, cookies, and candy passed around at the holidays, why not stand out from the crowd and give the gift of fresh and naturally sweet USA Pears?  Gift pears are special because they’re the best of the best, premium grade, hand-picked and chosen for customers who want to give their family and friends something special.  We’re sure the recipient of a gift pear box will be thrilled, but don’t take my word for it, here are a few notes we’ve received from the recipients of fresh pear gifts we’ve ordered:

comice-pear-small2The pears arrived on Monday and were the most gorgeous, delicious pears I have ever tasted or seen!  It was more beautiful than a still life painting and truly a divine gift.  My family agreed they were the most delicious pears, and my aunt loved the Comice pears with their perfume scent and juicy taste.  Truly a beautiful gift.”

“THANK YOU so much for the beautiful gift box of USA Pears.  My pears came picture-perfect, and when I opened the box the aroma literally filled my office.”

Available from several companies in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve listed a few for your convenience:

  • The Fruit Company
  • Harry & David
  • Heirloom Orchards
  • Bountiful Fruit
  • Naumes Fruit Gifts 
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    Happy shopping!!!

    Happy National Pear Month!

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    December is officially National Pear Month, and here in the Pacific Northwest we’re celebrating!  Here are six things you can do to join in the fun:

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    1.  This one’s obvious:  incorporate pears into your meals, snacks, desserts and beverages!  You’ll find plenty of inspiration here, or invent something and send me a photo (you might just win something).

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    2.  Decorate with fresh pears – they look beautiful in wreaths, centerpieces, garlands and more.  Follow the simple directions for one of our projects, or invent your own and send me another photo!

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    3.  Make a gift basket using fresh pears for friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, the mailman, whoever.  Once again, we have instructions and inspiration here, and I don’t want to say it again but I will, INVENT YOUR OWN AND SEND ME A PHOTO!

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    4.   Click here to receive our monthly e-newsletters.  They always have a fresh recipe and some sort of contest or drawing.  We know you like to win stuff.

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    5.  We’ve taken the liberty of listing a few restaurants that feature pears on their menu here, but this time of year, you can find pears on most restaurant menus.  If you taste something good tell us about it and we’ll add it to our list!

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    6.  For Oregon and Washington’s 1,600 pear growers, tending pear trees is a way of life.  Get to know some of the families who bring fresh pears from their trees to your table by clicking here.

    Filling Your Kitchen with Love: The Joys of Home Preserving

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    Memories…that’s what life is all about.  My mom told me that other day as I was headed out of town for a birthday weekend in Las Vegas.  It sounds funny, but I was reminded of some of the responses we received from our e-newsletter contest last month because really, whether you’re partying in Vegas or bonding with your family in the kitchen, the memories we make with each other stay with us our whole lives.

    We asked our readers to tell us why they love preserving, (or why they would like to start) and were overwhelmed by the touching responses we received. 

    Our winner, Amanda from Mississippi, said this:

    bartlett-honey-butter3I grew up watching my mother and grandmother preserving fruits and vegetables. I remember going with them and picking the fruits and vegetables from our gardens and trees. I loved the way we would all go together and the closeness I felt toward both of them. When we came home I would help to clean the fruits and vegetables and sit at the table watching as they cleaned the jars, then boiled them. I also loved how wonderful the kitchen smelled, so warm, comforting and filled with love. I would carefully help them carry the jars to our basement where there was a big shelf made especially for the jars to sit on. The colors in the jars were so beautiful and almost looked like jewels. I did more to help as I grew older and when I became a mom and wife myself, the first thing I did was to plant a garden and preserve vegetables. My grandmother would come over and help as would my mother, bringing fruit and memories.

    pear-cabinet1When my grandmother was gone, my mom would come over and I loved the memories of the three of us when I was a little girl. I lost my mom last December and this will be the first time I will not have her to help make preserves with me. I will  have my daughter though, who will be helping me for the first time. I will tell her all the stories of myself, my mother and grandmother and together we will make our own memories to add to them. Preserving to me means love, tradition and something special which binds us all together forever.”

    We  had so many wonderful responses, it was hard to choose a winner so I sort of created a “runner-up.”  Maria from Michigan sent us this response:

    “In our fast paced, stress-filled society, preserving the harvest becomes an opportunity to step back into a time when simple joys brought deep satisfaction and abundance that could be enjoyed by everyone in the family and with gifts to neighbors and friends as well.  As a young girl during WWII, I remember the excitement and patriotic joy of planting our Victory Gardens, delighting in the beauty of the harvest, and enjoying my special time with everyone in the family as we “put up” the wonderful fruits and vegetables we had raised in a variety of delectable recipes: jams, jellies, spiced fruits and relishes, sauces, and individual jeweled jars of tomatoes, peaches, pears, etc.  The garden offered us exercise, entertainment and good health.

    photo-fNow as a 74 year old military widow remembering my past, I continue to look forward to the joy of the harvest and all the aromas and beauty of the harvest season.   I continue to enjoy the peaceful pleasure of the canning process and the satisfaction of viewing the collected assortment of homemade delicacies just waiting to be enjoyed during the coming Michigan winter or given as small gifts to my sons as additions to their holiday tables.  Preserving the harvest becomes a visit to happy memories of the past and anticipation of a delicious future.”

    A big thank you to Amanda and Maria for sharing their special memories with us!  Amanda received a home preserving kit, and Maria will receive one of our Partridge in a Pear Tree ornaments, plus some other pear goodies.  Thanks to everyone who replied, and don’t forget to sign up to receive our e-newsletters – we love to reward our pear-loving readers!