From the Publisher's Desk: Bandon, berries and the big Bake-Off

By Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate October 25, 2011 04:19 pm

Triplicate columnist Anne Boulley and me at the Chowder House and Fish Market in Bandon. Del Norte Triplicate/Rick Postal
Triplicate columnist Anne Boulley and me at the Chowder House and Fish Market in Bandon. Del Norte Triplicate/Rick Postal
If you read last Thursday’s Triplicate you probably saw the front-page story about the third- and fourth-graders from Foursquare Christian School’s field trip to the cranberry bogs in Bandon. Rick and I were there to cover it, then suddenly I was thigh-high in a bog.

Two years ago I drove through Bandon on my way up to Salem, Ore., for the birth of my granddaughter and happened on a cranberry harvest. I stopped to watch how the cranberries floated to the top when the bog was flooded and found the whole process amazing. I wrote a column about the experience and that’s how I became acquainted with Chelle Webb.

Chelle read my column and sent me an e-mail explaining the history of the bog I had written about. She was very familiar with it because she used to work there. Now, she said, she had her own bogs and invited me to come out for the next harvest.

I couldn’t make it last fall, but this year I made sure to go. Chelle told me about the school coming on Monday, so Rick and I went up Sunday to make a little vacation out of it.  When we decided to have lunch, we chose the Chowder House near the crab docks and the boardwalk. While we were waiting for our food, Anne Boulley and her family walked in.

I met Anne a few years ago through a mutual friend. Anne, an accomplished chef and caterer, recently joined the Triplicate family as a monthly contributor with her food column, Artisan Cuisine. I found out Anne knew Chelle and was in Bandon for the harvest, too.

Monday morning I acted very patient as I waited until every single child had taken a turn in the bog so I could borrow their hip waders. Rick couldn’t believe it when I rushed toward the floating berries and sunk thigh-high into the water. I had to yell at him to take my picture – I think he was in shock.

On the ride home, still giddy as a third-grader from my hands-on experience in the bog, my mind wandered to thoughts about baking cranberry bread. Then I thought how Anne probably had a good cranberry bread recipe. And that led me to think about Michelle Morgante and what a great baker she is and how she undoubtedly makes a mean cranberry bread.

Then my idea for the challenge was born: Three chefs, three recipes, one winner. I sent Anne a text and I e-mailed Michelle, challenging them both to a Cranberry Bread Bake-Off! I’m no pro, but I’ve put a few loaves in the oven in my day.

I’ve asked Chelle Webb to oversee the judging. We’re all meeting tomorrow to finalize the plan. The bake-off is Nov. 4 at Vita Cucina during First Friday Art Walk. The public will be invited to taste and vote for a small fee. The money we collect will go toward this year’s Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

Stay tuned for more about the Cranberry Bread Bake-Off and if you have a killer recipe send it my way.

Reach Michele Thomas, the Del Norte Triplicate’s publisher, at m­­tho­mas­­­, 464-2141, or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.