Creating a Labyrinth on the Beach with Artist, Denny Dyke

We get home to Oregon regularly and though I grew up in Bandon, hidden gems and little adventures continue to take me by surprise. This is exactly what happened on New Years Day this year when we happened upon Denny Dyke creating a holiday labyrinth.

Image of people walking a hand-drawn labyrinth on a sandy beach taken from above

We first met my dad at the house and visited for a short time. He shared with us his latest projects and we then proceeded to downtown for our usual Fish & Chips at the Bandon Fish Market. {When it is in season, Salmon Fish & Chips is the best!}

Labyrinth Art

Earlier that morning, I had fortunately caught an advertisement of a labyrinth event shared on Facebook and I was looking forward to seeing the Circles in the Sand near Face Rock Beach.

We were delighted to arrive early and thereby have the chance to take part in the creation of the labyrinth. It’s amazing how simple it is once Denny describes his vision to you. He lends you a few tools and off we go filling in the design.

image of mother and daughter creating a labyrinth on the beach

When the design was finished, we were able to set down the tools and be amongst the first to walk the creative maze. As we walked, we could contemplate the coming year and give thought to the year that past.

In Greek mythology, the original Labyrinth was an elaborate structure designed and built by Daedalus for King Minos of Crete at Knossos. Its function was to hold the Minotaur (half bull, half man) eventually killed by the hero Theseus (son of Aegeaus, King of Athens). According to the mythology, Daedalus had so cunningly made the Labyrinth that he could barely escape it after he built it.

Serendipitously, I was inspired to write this post as the kids and I just read of King Minos, the Minotaur, and Theseus earlier this morning and we recalled fondly our own labyrinth experiences.

image of two children jumping in front of the famous Face Rock in Bandon, OregonThere has been a resurgence of interest in the symbolism of labyrinths which has inspired a revival in labyrinth building in recent years. On low tides, labyrinth artist Denny Dyke regularly creates classical cretans, baltic wheels, and double spirals in the sand. He also draws large versions of the Chartres and Santa Rosa.

May 2nd is World Labyrinth Day. Join Denny at Coquille Point (aka Elephant Rock) to join in the fun in creating a labyrinth with a sandy path.

The Harvesting of Cranberries

Native Americans had been gathering cranberries for food, as a dye for blankets, and for medicine long before the first European settlers arrived.  After their arrival in New England, colonists also discovered cranberries and soon thereafter, on sailing ships and in logging camps, cranberries were eaten to ward off scurvy and by the middle of the 19th century, they were being grown on both sides of the continent.

This post contains affiliate links. 

I grew up in a small town on the Oregon coast – where fishing, farming, and logging were prominent.  One of the largest agricultural products harvested in the area were cranberries.  Many of my friends’ families owned bogs and we looked forward to the annual Cranberry Festival each September when we would celebrate the annual harvest season.  A couple years ago, I was delighted to share this experience with my own children as we took a field trip to a bog to see the harvesting of cranberries first hand, Sweet, Tart Cranberries.

The Harvesting of Cranberries

Sadly, we were not able to go this year.  In consolation, we again enjoyed the book, Cranberries by William Jaspershohn.  Though the book focuses on the bogs of Massachusetts, the author does an excellent job of describing the varying harvest methods – wet and dry.  Another title for youth, though one I am not familiar, is Cranberries: Fruit of the Bogs by Diane Burns.

As cranberries are harvested in autumn, it is not surprising that they are commonly found on one’s Thanksgiving table.  In our home, we enjoy cooking the tart berries a variety of recipes year round. One of our favorites is Lingonberry Cake – a small, tart berry native to Norway that is similar to cranberry.

Lingonberry Cake

Cake:
2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1 egg
3/4 cup lingonberry or cranberry preserves

Streusel topping:
2/3 cup oatmeal
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F). Combine flour, sugar, and baking powder then cut in the butter with pastry blender. Add the egg and mix well. Spread into a greased 20×30 (8×12″) pan. Spread the preserves over the batter. Bake 25-30 minutes, until golden. Cool in the pan.

I feel it is important for children to understand where our food comes from. Having an understanding of food production and harvesting is important – particularly now with the controversy of GMOs. I encourage you to provide opportunities for your kids to discover the agricultural products in your local area.

Enjoy, but first, here is the Norwegian Table Prayer.

I Jesu navn går vi til bords
å spise, drikke på ditt ord.
Deg, Gud til ære, oss til gavn,
Så får vi mat i Jesu navn.

Amen.
In Jesus’ name to the table we go
To eat and drink according to His word.
To God the honor, us the gain,
So we have food in Jesus’ name.
Amen.

AUTUMNbookidea

This post is part of the Autumn Book & a Big Idea link-up at iHomeschool Network.

Face Rock Creamery :: Cheese Factory

Growing up in Bandon, Oregon, I have many fond memories of walking down to the cheese factory with my brothers to sample the cheese curds.  Often, we would walk home with a giant scoop of delicious Umpqua Dairy ice cream dripping down the sides of the cone. One of the most memorable field trips I enjoyed as a student at Ocean Crest Elementary was to the cheese factory where we had a behind the scenes introduction to the science of cheese making.

Over the years, we have returned to Bandon often and the vacant lot in the center of town was more than a mere eyesore, it had been a bitter reminder of a loss the city and its former residents have continued to mourn.  The cheese factory, of course, was gone. It had been for years. Cheesemaking had been a tradition. It was history. In addition to cranberries, it was part of what Bandon was.

cheese factoryIn July, we visited the Bandon Historical Museum with my dad and according to a display in the museum, cheese making began in the area around 1880.  Swiss immigrants Fred and Ida Moser, opened their factory on the North Fork of the Coquille River in 1895 and by early 1900s as many 15 cheese factories operated in the Coquille Valley.  Bandon was incorporated in 1891.

In 1927, the original Bandon Cheese & Produce factory was founded. And so it went for more than seven decades. Then, in 2000, the Tillamook Cooperative Creamery bought the Bandon Cheese Factory and retail shop. Three years later, they closed the factory and one year after that the store was also gone. They demolished the building in 2005.

On May 8 of this year, the Bandon Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony for Face Rock Creamery, welcoming the return of a cheese factory right on the spot where the old factory once thrived.  Owner Greg Drobot even lured renowned cheesemaker Brad Sinko home from Seattle where he helped launch Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. Sinko knew more than a little about Bandon cheese. His father was the former owner of the factory.

“I learned at the Bandon Cheese Factory,” said Sinko, who last year won the American Cheese Society’s Best of Show and in 2007 won best cheddar in the U.S. “I got taught the routine. I didn’t like it at first. But it turned out I have a knack for it.”

cheese factoryDuring our July visit, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to watch the cheese curds being made and we were given a short tutorial.  There are several steps that are needed in order to make cheese curds. The first step is getting a good load of quality milk. It takes about 10 pounds of milk to make 1 pound of cheese. After the milk is put into the vat, a coagulant is added. This is a milk-clotting enzyme that helps turn the milk into solid pieces of cheese.

You can try this at home too if you have access to quality, un-pastuerized milk from a local dairy. 

After the coagulant is added, and cheese curds are formed, the cutting process begins. This process separates the liquid (the whey) and the curds from one another. Once the cutting is done, there is a stirring and heating process in the vat. The curd and the whey are stirred by a big stainless steal arm while being heated to a desired temperature in the vat. After this process, the whey is drained living the curd behind. Finally the curd is ready to eat!

cheese factoryWhen we visited again last week, we learned that Face Rock Creamery has earned unprecedented kudos in the cheese making world, winning first place at the annual American Cheese Society’s Judging & Competition held in Madison, Wisconsin. The winning recipe was my personal favorite, Vampire Slayer curds, under the “fresh, unripened cheeses with flavor added” category.

Vampire Slayer curds and cheese are some of the most popular items at the creamery. Sinko won’t list all the ingredients — trade secret — but did say the recipe is all-natural, uses lots of garlic, parsley and other herbs with no added salt.

Face Rock Creamery curds, including classic unflavored, jalapeño and garlic; plus fromage blanc, In Your Face Rock Cheddar, garlic cheddar and Monterey Jack will be available. The retail store also features a selection of Oregon-made artisan cheese and wine.  And of course, Umpqua Dairy ice cream by the scoop.