Blog

Oregon Prunes: for Health!

Recipe booklet, 1909 I rather like prunes. However, I rarely eat them. As a child, I occasionally encountered pitted prunes stuffed with a nut and rolled in powdered sugar, and those were pretty appealing. Oh, wait a minute—those were dates, not prunes. A century ago, prunes were a great big crop in the Santa Clara…
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Cruisin’ to Astoria

Over Labor Day weekend, I once again I found myself in Astoria aboard a cruise vessel, the American Spirit, once again as a guest speaker. This was a special themed cruise, a fact I discovered two days before I boarded the ship, and the theme was “Food and Wine.” For that reason, we had a…
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Mable in Albany with Cranberries

My aunt Mable (not Mabel!) was born in 1913 in an Oregon logging camp. She married my dad’s older brother Gaylord, and they lived in various places in western Oregon over the years: the now-vanished town of Signal, North Albany, Goshen, Albany, Springfield. Mable was the last survivor of my dad’s generation, living long enough…
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The Brief Life and Fiery End of The Elk

Graphically, it’s not a very impressive menu, but it caught my eye. That was because the typography suggested that the menu was printed earlier than the seller’s estimate of the 1920s. Oregon restaurant menus prior to the 1930s are pretty scarce, so I looked inside: what’s to eat? The variety of offerings, as well as…
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A Short Saga of the Sagamore

Baker City, population 9,828 in the 2010 census, has never been awfully populous, but it has long been a stopover city for travelers, salesmen, and fortune seekers. There are and have been some noteworthy hotels, such as the Geiser Grand (1889), the Antlers (1900), and the Art Deco Hotel Baker (1929). All three are still…
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A Sly Sty Stealer?

This is a rather unnerving postcard. It was mailed from Marshfield (now Coos Bay), Oregon, on December 24, 1905, to Miss Annie Edie in Tillamook, Oregon. There is no message, and it is unsigned. Annie Edie may be the sister of Charlotte, who married B. C. Lamb, a prominent Tillamook businessman; there is a collection…
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The Russians Are Coming

Back in the 1930s, the Russians were coming! At the time, Portland and Oregon had rather few immigrants beyond those from China, Scandinavia and Germany, and the food and restaurant scene was a bit short on ethnic variety. But there were some examples, such as the Samovar Russian Cafe that Paul E. Bulkin ran on…
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Salmon in Klamath Falls

No, you won’t be reading about the dams on the Klamath River and their impact on the salmon runs. This is a post about the Pelican Café, a long-running landmark in Klamath Falls, where pelicans are more noteworthy than salmon.  As Mark Joneschiet wrote of pelicans—and the café—in his reminiscence of KFalls, The Pelican’s Briefs: “It…
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Cathryn’s by Kathryn: Dining on Barbur Boulevard

I confess: I bought another matchbook cover. It led me to the tale of a once-charming suburban Portland dinner house on Barbur Boulevard, in what today is the sprawling city of Tigard. Cathryn’s Dinners first came to my attention when I ran across it in a 1946 edition of Adventures in Good Cooking (Famous Recipes)…
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Astoria: Sukiyaki and St. Louis

Paper ephemera—items like restaurant menus, product brochures, and recipe booklets—have been the triggers for much of my research into Oregon’s food history. Matchbooks are pretty small, with little room to suggest a story. I’ve never collected them. Well, until recently. Here’s a story from one little matchbook. Astoria is one of Oregon’s most cosmopolitan small…
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