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Fruit recipes season new local cookbook

Hungry for some Pear Crumb Pie?

It's just one recipe in the newly-published Fruit Loop Cookbook.

The cookbook will be unveiled at 3 p.m. Sunday. at the CAST Performing Arts Center, 105 Fourth St., Hood River.

The book is dedicated to Thom Nelson, who was Executive Director of the Hood River Grower Shipper Association for 15 years.

The first two copies of the cookbook will be presented to his children, Katie and Erik, during the open house at CAST.

The following complimentary desserts will be served, featuring recipes from the cookbook:

Huckleberry Cream Cheese pie from River Bend Country Store; Pear Crumb Pie and Caramel Apple Pie from Market Fruit Bakery; Autumn Cheesecake from Pearl's Place; Sour Cream Apple Squares from McCurdy Farms; Lucille's Peach Cobbler from A & J Enterprises. Coffee and tea will also be served. There is no charge for admission and the community is invited to attend.

Members of the Fruit Loop chose to recognize Thom, not only for his role as a respected advocate and resource for the commercial fruit industry, but for helping create both the Hood River Farmers Market and Hood River County Fruit Loop.

The Fruit Loop Cookbook will be for sale at Waucoma Bookstore immediately after the dedication ceremony for $12.95. The Fruit Loop Cookbook profiles each of the 25 participating member farms with a page written about each farm, followed by their family's favorite recipes.

Funding for The Fruit Loop Cookbook was provided, in part, with a grant from the Oregon State Lottery through the Regional Investment Fund administered by the State of Oregon Economic and Community Development Department. Additionally, a portion of the matching funds were provided by the Hood River Chamber of Commerce. All proceeds from cookbook sales go toward promoting sustainable agricultural diversity in Hood River County.

The cookbook has a fruit theme, with over 130 recipes featuring apples, pears, blueberries, cherries and other products grown or raised in the Hood River valley. The book also features an interesting Chapter on the history of agriculture in the Hood River Valley.

According to the book:

By the early 1900s, Hood River was well known as "apple country."

The 1900 World's Fair in Chicago brought another 16 awards to local farmers.

The Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition of 1905 in Portland, found Hood River farmers capturing most of the coveted medals for the exceptional quality and beauty of their fruit.

A Chicago newspaper reported, "Since the Centennial Exposition, everybody in the world knows about Hood River apples."

Each farm, no matter how small, had its own packing house and their own fruit label. Many of these antique labels have been reproduced and will be available for sale in Fruit Loop's new Gifts By Mail section on their website beginning in October. The website is:

www.gorge.net/fruitloop

By 1916, about 11,000 acres were planted in apples and 250 acres in pears.

In the winter of 1919, the temperature dropped to 27 below zero and about 60 percent of all apple trees were lost.

That event triggered the shift in the valley from apples to pears.

Today, the Hood River Valley is Oregon's largest pear growing district as well as one of the largest in the world. Pears represent 87 percent of the fruit grown here. There are 2000 acres still planted in apples, 1000 acres in cherries and 11,500 acres in pears.

The packing houses pack 418,923 boxes of apples (42-pound box), 381,679 boxes of cherries (20-pound box), and 6,410,869 boxes of pears (44-pound box).

The Fruit Loop was organized in 1992 with an Ag-Development grant from the ODA written by Thom Nelson and Kaye White. The first map was produced in 1993. The Fruit Loop mission is to promote sustainable agricultural diversity in Hood River County through the promotion of Fruit Loop members via on-farm sales, organized retail opportunities, marketing and public relations campaigns; provide educational forums that create public awareness; provide visitors with a rural farm experience; and to promote the preservation of Hood River County's rich agricultural heritage for generations to come.

The cookbook's unique cover art was done by local artist Paul Linquist. The cookbook also features the design talents of Micki Chapman.

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