by: MAUDE KERNS ART CENTER, Art such as this made with Jell-o will be on display at Jellotopia Saturday at the Maude Kerns Art Center in Eugene.

I wish this weekend could magically reoccur, like the movie 'Groundhog Day,' so I could have time to take in all the fun events on tap this weekend. There are a couple of unique happenings taking place in opposite ends of the state.

I'd like to spend the weekend in the Northeastern part of Oregon in a place called Minam. I'd like to ride the Fish Train that runs through the scenic Wallowa River Canyon. The Fish Train runs between Minam and Kimmel each Saturday and Sunday during the winter steelhead season. The two-car train drops fishermen off at one of six stops along the 10-mile stretch to fish to their hearts content. Chuck Fleser, the genius behind these excursions and owner of Minam Motel and Market, limits the number of fishermen to 25 to keep the river from getting over fished.

The train, an excursion run by the Wallowa Union Railroad, leaves Minam at 7 a.m., then sits at Kimmel for several hours, before departing for Minam at about noon, arriving at 12:45 p.m. People can ride from one hole to another or take a break on the train. At 1:30 p.m., the train begins its afternoon run, leaving Minam and heading for Kimmel again. The train leaves Kimmel for the last time at 3 p.m., picking up fisherman along way and finally pulls into Minam around 4:30 p.m.

The motel has eight rooms and is literally right on the river. The market adjacent to the motel carries fishing gear as well as groceries.

Karen Tokuda, Fleser's sister, is helping him with the motel this season. She told me the excursion is in it's fourth year. She invites us all to come out and drop a pole in the water.

'The fishing is great,' she said. 'The Wallowa River is 100 feet from the motel and people are catching fish right off the hook. The water is at a good height and not cloudy.'

The full day fishing trip, which includes a hot lunch, is $65 for adults and $15 for children under 14. Half day trips without lunch are $30 for adults, and $10 for children under 14. People just wanting the ride the train to watch birds and wildlife and enjoy the scenery are welcome.

Tokuda invites us to take a vacation unlike any other and come to Minam. At press time there was still space available for the Fish Train. Call to make reservations right away at 1-877-888-8130 or visit the Web site at for more information.

I won't make it for this steelhead run, but I will try to get to that part of the state this summer.

If the five-hour drive to Minam is not something you can fit in this weekend, how about a quick jaunt to Eugene to take in Jellotopia: The 20th Annual Jell-o Art Show?

Jellotopia will be held this Saturday at the Maude Kerns Art Center, 1910 East 15th Ave., in Eugene from 5 to 8 p.m.

What will it involve? Jell-o as an art medium. I was told you will see all types of art made of Jell-o such as still life, two-dimensional and hanging displays, if this year's exhibit is anything like the past 19. A photo gallery on the Web site is very interesting, definitely arty … and not very appetizing.

Admission to the reception is $3 per person or $5 per family. If you care to enter your Jell-o art in the exhibit organizers ask that you bring it to the art center between 3 and 4:30 p.m.

Since I cannot relive this weekend, I'll stick with my original plans: Send one son back to college, attend the first session of a new wine group and teach a 100-Mile Dinner Class (The First Tastes of Spring) at In Good Taste.

The entrée for the class is a spring salmon dish that you could make with your Minam-caught steelhead, and serve it alongside a nice Jell-o salad …

Bon appetite! Try

something new!

Salmon with Fennel and Pernod

Makes 2 servings

1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature

2 tablespoons minced shallots

1 large fennel bulb with fronds; bulb quartered, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Chop fronds to make 2 tablespoons

2 6- to 7-ounce salmon fillets

2 tablespoons Pernod or other anise-flavored liqueur

Stir fennel seeds in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer seeds to small bowl; cool. Mix in butter, shallots, and 1 tablespoon fennel fronds; season butter mixture with salt and pepper.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter mixture in same large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add sliced fennel bulb and 1/4 cup water to skillet; cover and cook until fennel is crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Uncover skillet and sauté until fennel begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer fennel to plate.

Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon butter mixture to same skillet and melt over medium heat. Add salmon; cover and cook 5 minutes. Turn salmon over; add 1/4 cup water to skillet. Cover and continue cooking until salmon is just opaque in center, about 5 minutes longer. Slide salmon to 1 side of skillet; return fennel to skillet. Add Pernod, 2 teaspoons butter mixture, and remaining 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds; stir to heat through.

Divide fennel mixture between 2 plates. Top with salmon; spoon remaining butter mixture over salmon.

From Bon Appetit, Dec. 2007

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-635-8811 or by e-mail at [email protected] .

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