Vintage Cooking – Central Lutheran Ladies Guild of Portland X Purefoy Hotel

Though I’m not a particularly accomplished home cook, one of my favorite things to collect is old cookbooks, in particular the small run examples turned out by local community organizations, or businesses capitalizing on the secrets to their own menu. Besides what you can cook from them, they’re always fascinating anthropological documents. The introductions and asides, back page advertisements and acknowledgements, and illustrations and photographs carry a wealth of details about daily life at time of publication. The evolution of cooking techniques and wax and wane of the popularity and availability of different ingredients evidenced by the writing is always interesting too.

Today, I prepared a few items from two cookbooks I’ve accumulated…

The first is from one published by members of the Ladies Guild of Portland’s still extant Central Lutheran church in Northeast. Printed by the Kenwood Company of Portland in 1956, this volume advertises Scandinavian specialties on the cover, and the set of lefse recipes I adapted from are featured front and center.

The second is from a 1941 edition of the Purefoy Hotel cookbook, authored by Eva B. Purefoy. Being a lifelong resident of the Northwest I can’t say to what degree the byline “Tried and True Recipes of Real Southern Cooking” stands up to a practiced connoisseur, but they all look pretty tasty, and the one I prepared certainly delivered.

On account of dietary restrictions and preferences in the household, a number of modifications applied to both recipes. For standard wheat flour, I substituted the gluten free 1:1 substitution mix we have around the house. Milk ingredients were also omitted or substituted.

I started off with the creamed chicken recipe from the Purefoy cookbook. Since I have an instant pot handy I just used that to cook the chicken, which since I’m not keen to deal with a whole bird was just two pounds of fresh chicken breasts. Cup of water, some salt and pepper, and a bit of garlic powder thrown in with it for 7 minutes at high pressure did the trick nicely. I then cubed the meat and set it aside.

The rest of the recipe I followed fairly faithfully, though I went heavier on the vegetables, especially mushrooms since I enjoy them a lot, and couldn’t find pimentos in the midst of the Coronavirus-instigated grocery apocalypse this weekend and so left them out. Substituting chicken stock (from bouillon) for milk worked just fine, and the gluten-free flour posed no problems aside from being a bit more prone to clumping. Adding it in slowly and aggressively whisking it into the butter and stock mixture was enough to compensate for that tendency.

The “lefse” I prepared ended up being a more troublesome adversary. I used red potatoes out of personal preference, leaving the skin on, and cooked them in the instant pot to start. Then I cut them into small sections and started mechanically mixing them at lowest speed with a flat edge beater attachment. Other ingredients were added in quantities somewhere in between the two lefse recipes pictured, with the cream and sugar omitted, and a non-dairy butter substitute used.

I’m not certain what exactly what went wrong, but I suspect the gluten-free flour… The resulting dough was not at all suitable for rolling out and I gave up on that idea in moments. As an alternative I first tried dropping a ball into a pan on the range and pressing it flat, but found the stickiness of the dough to be a problem, and also ran into the issue of it being quite slow to cook through. I tried a few different heat settings and thicknesses of cake and found the sweet spot to be about 1/4″ thick of a dough blob at 1/3 power, low and slow. Once one side firmed up the cake could be flipped without disintegrating, and yielded an passable but not pretty result. The better preparation came by way of a suggestion from my partner, who offered that we might want to drag out the waffle iron. That worked far better, at about 40% heat with a well oiled grid.

As the comments on the recipes suggest, the finished product loses its crisp pretty quickly following preparation, so I was glad I did the potato cakes last.

The finished combination is perhaps not the most aesthetically pleasing dish, but it was very delicious. It came together as something resembling a chicken and dumpling soup, or inverse chicken pot pie. Certainly something I’d try again, especially once I’ve done a bit of research as to how to improve the handling of the potato based dough.

Walk Like An Egyptian – Takasago “Egyptian Madness” slot machine

Grabbed a slice of Las Vegas’ past today. One Takasago, AKA TDC, model PSL-005 stepper driven computerised slot machine. I’ve read these were common in the airport and certain casinos at one time before the rise of IGT and Bally/Williams in the market. It showed up on Craigslist, described as non-working, and cheap enough to be worth the gamble to me…

The seller saw a lot of interest, but was honest enough to run their sale first come first served without striking up a bidding war, and I happened to have been the first person to respond the night the ad went up. I picked it up the next day (paid a bit more than asking since I appreciate a straight shooter on Craigslist…). After wrangling the beast out of the van and onto a cart (I forgot how big these things are… They look pretty small in their normal casino context, but they’re actually pretty big, use a lot of metal parts, and weigh a few hundred pounds) I set to work diagnosing what was going on.

Applying power, I saw cabinet fluorescent lamps come on, but no sign of life from any of the computer controlled modules. The reel assembly was loose and the main board was floating on its mounting rails, so someone had opened this thing up before. I reseated everything and tried again, with the same result…

Unfortunately, there is precious little information on these machines on the Internet, so I started digging in. Pulling out the module with the credit meters and and reset switches presented me with a tray with a switching power supply and some bridge rectifiers attached. Tracing out the outputs from the switcher let me know which of the front panel connections provided logic power to the rest of the machine, and gave me points to test with a multimeter to verify voltages. When I put the probes to the logic power pins, I got a big zero… So, that was the first issue uncovered.

The power supply installed in the machine is similar to what’s used in a lot of arcade games, but provides -12V which is a bit unusual. The only new power supply I had on hand only output +5V, -5V, and +12V, but I traced things out and to me it looked like the -12V output was only used by the electromechanical counting units. So I installed my new power supply, left the -12V lead off, and powered things up… And the machine came up and worked just fine!

The sound track is pretty minimal, just some beeps and boops typical of the era. The onboard diagnostics are pretty robust, with a lot of self test routines and audit value recording that are very reminiscent of the arcade stuff of the same vintage. There are some notes about networking machines for progressive jackpot payouts in the manuals I’ve found, and I believe I have the extra board installed required for this but I haven’t investigated yet.

After getting the new power supply installed I messed around with it for a while and it promptly stopped being able to count coin hopper output, so I’m not out of the woods yet! Need to order some new locks, too, but even after spending a little money on parts it’ll end up being a solid deal on a rather rare machine.

Ghost Signs – Jefferson West Apartments (Cordova Hotel)

The businesses in this building at SW 11th and Jefferson began to dwindle and vanish right around the time I moved to Portland. The cheap apartments above the storefronts emptied out as well, being replaced by units in the Jeffrey a few blocks away.

Formerly home to the divey River City Saloon, a salon, a mail center, and a copy shop, one of the corner storefronts also served as an art and civic space called Field Work during the years between the closing of the businesses and the end of the story for the building.

I noticed a big bite had been taken out of the corner of the block in late August, exposing the interiors of some of the old apartments.

The rest has been coming down throughout September. Eventually the lot will be cleared and a new 15-story student housing development will be erected. Unfortunately, it follows the trend in private student housing of being heinously overpriced at a thousand a month for a shared room, and three hundred more if you’d like a private studio.

Whether or not the new development will be particularly useful to anyone other than transfer students with wealthy parents, it’s good to see the block redeveloped. If nothing else the luxury accommodations should soak up the moneyed kids and leave more of the older and/or PSU owned cheaper housing stock available for others; and the new construction will revitalize several block faces that have been empty and moribund for the better part of a decade.

The demolition exposed a painted sign on one of the formerly hidden walls of one of the original buildings in the conglomorate. Presumably this advertised the Cordova Hotel that was a historical occupant of the site. Besides the hotel, the building also played past host to Reed’s classrooms, several music venues, and a porno theater.