Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A St. Paul Sandwich at the Green Hut

The Green Hut was a landmark cafe, souvenir stand, and vista point at the base of Grand Coulee Dam. The cafe was opened in 1938 by Clarence D. Newland, who had previously operated Green Huts at two earlier federal dam projects, at Fort Peck on the Missouri, and at Boulder on the Colorado. The prime location below the Grand Coulee spillway made the  Green Hut a tourist destination from the beginning of construction until it burned on September 11, 1964.

The cafe included a souvenir shop, and Grand Coulee souvenirs -- postcard views especially -- often feature the Green Hut. After the cafe's demise, the Grand Coulee interpretive center was built on the former site of the Green Hut. This menu, which dates from about 1950, includes two carbon paper sheets of daily special items, one of which is shown here.  Beef makes a strong showing, and the cafe had apparently recently purchased one of the county fair's 4-H grand champion steers; this was once a common gesture by restaurants in agricultural areas. The menu's wide-ranging variety of dishes suggests the wide-ranging employment draw of the Grand Coulee project: there's ham and hominy, ham and pineapple, calf brains and liver, salmon and spaghetti, and gooseberry cobbler.

The sandwich menu (not shown) includes not only hamburgers and tuna fish sandwiches, but also salami, bologna, Denver, and St. Paul sandwiches. A Denver sandwich is related to a Denver omelette: onion, green pepper, ham, and scrambled egg between bread slices. But a St. Paul? Wikipedia expounds on an egg foo yung sandwich that is popular in St. Louis (yes, St. Louis), and also rather vaguely asserts that the term "has meant multiple things over the past sixty years";  "Originally, the St. Paul sandwich was known to contain four pieces of white bread with chicken and egg stuffed inside." I shall have to peruse some old cookbooks, I can see.

The Green Hut had one later incarnation, at another federal dam project. The Portland Oregonian on August 14, 1949 did a story on McNary City, which grew up around the construction of McNary Dam on the Columbia River. "The Green Hut Cafe, one of a string put up on damsites the Pacific Northwest by C. D. Newland, is McNary City's only restaurant. Its three chefs put out meals from 5 a.m. till after midnight for practically everyone employed at the dam."

I'm still looking for some kind of biography of Clarence D. Newland.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Astoria 1899: The Monday Club Cook Book

A recent acquisition: one of the oldest regional cookbooks in my collection. It’s The Monday Club Cook Book, “compiled by the Ladies of the Every Monday Club, First Presbyterian Church, Astoria, Oregon.” The Astorian Job Printing Company did the work in 1899, and my copy is inscribed, “Mrs. F. P. Kendall, December 12th 1899.”

Like most regional cookbooks of the period, rather few of the recipes make any mention of distinctively local ingredients or preparation methods, but there most certainly are some. A splendid feature of this copy is the fact that the contributors’ names are included: as published, most recipes are noted as a contribution by “Mrs. K. H.”; however, Mrs. F. P. Kendall went through the book and carefully spelled out the surnames. Now I know that the contributor was Mrs. K. Hobson. Thank you, Mrs. Kendall!

Here we have two recipes for Welsh rarebit, one peppery, the other slightly beery. The notable feature here is the specification of “Clatsop cream cheese” in both recipes. Such references in local cookbooks often indicate that the product is advertised in the book, but I did not find reference to it in any of the advertisements. "Cream cheese" here is not the Philadelphia kind, but a reference to a full-cream cheese, probably akin to a cheddar.

Pioneer clams, 1913
Warrenton clams, ca. 1925
Another local product is canned clams; these are indeed specified in at least one recipe. And the cookbook includes an ad for Pioneer Brand minced sea clams, packed at Warrenton by the Sea Beach Pickling Works. Pictured here is a leaflet from the successor Sea Beach Packing Works, and another from the Warrenton Clam Company.

On the other hand, the carbon copy, typed, and tipped-in recipe by Mr. F. P. Kendall for clam chowder calls for fresh clams. Note that Mrs. Kendall adroitly inserted her husband’s recipe in the special section “From the men”; the heading shows through the thin copy paper of the insert.

And who were Mr. and Mrs. F. P. Kendall? Mr. Kendall directed the construction of a fish cannery in Kasilof, Alaska, in 1882, and soon after directed the building of a factory for the California Can Conmpany in Astoria. He was a longtime executive of the American Can Company, and headed the Oregon Fish Commission in the 1920s. John N. Cobb, founder of the University of Washington’s College of Fisheries, called Mr. Kendall “one of the deans of the industry.” In the Cobb photographs collection at the UW  (which I once oversaw) is an image of F. P. Kendall with another “dean of the industry,” Astoria cannery operator Marshall J. Kinney. Mrs. Kendall? More research is needed!

This entry is respectfully dedicated to Dedie Uunila Taylor, a native Astorian, and her husband, Lonn Taylor, who is an oyster and seafood aficionado.