These old-time recipes, and many more, can be found in the Grant County Genealogical Society’s compilation called “Through the Spokes of Time: A Collection of Recipes,” along with bits of Grant County history. The society’s library and research center is located at 281 W. Main St. in John Day.

Gold Town Pasta Salad

4 cups cooked pasta

1/2 cup ham, diced

4 slices processed cheese, cubed

One 12-ounce package frozen vegetables


1/2 cup salad dressing or mayo

1/4 cup 1,000 Island dressing

1/4 cup celery, diced

1/4 teaspoon salt


Thaw frozen vegetables; add ham and thawed vegetables to pasta. Mix dressing, celery, and salt. Add pasta mixture to dressing mixture. May be served right away, but can be refrigerated for flavors to blend. Very popular at restaurant salad bar and buffets. Above recipe makes a family-size amount.

Contributed by Betty Elliott who owned Gold Town Pizza in John Day with her husband, Dean.

Seneca Loggers Navy Bean Soup

2 1/2 cups dry navy beans

2 cloves garlic

Two 7 1/2 ounce cans tomato sauce

Shank end of smoked picnic ham

1 heaping tablespoon chili powder

2 large onions

1 bay leaf

Pinch of sweet basil


Wash beans and soak beans overnight. Cook beans with ham shank in water to cover until beans are almost done. Remove ham shank and cut meat into cubes. Dice skin and return to beans. Cut up onions, dice garlic cloves, add to beans. Add chili powder, basil, bay leaf and tomato sauce to beans. Simmer until onion is tender. Remove bay leaf. Salt to taste. Figure on 3 to 4 hours cooking time. Feeds a bunch.

Contributed by Elaine Husted, this recipe was by Albin J. “Al” Reynolds. His wife, Esma, was active in the Blue Mountain Hospital Auxiliary, and Al made this soup for many years for the Christmas Bazaar sponsored by the auxiliary. Esma was also a teacher at Seneca School and was director of the Seneca Jump Ropers in the mid-’60s.

Fresh Apple Cookies

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup shortening

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 medium peeled and grated apple

(no eggs)

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt or less

Mix shortening and sugar well. Add grated apple and vanilla. Mix well and add dry ingredients, mixing well. Roll into balls the size of a walnut and roll in this mixture: 4 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Do not over-bake. These cookies keep well and they freeze well.

This recipe, which was contributed for the book by Mary Ellen Brooks of Mt. Vernon, is by Mary McKern. Brooks said when she was a child, McKern taught 4-H cooking in the old Grange Hall in Mt. Vernon that burned in the 1940s.

Hot Water Sponge Cake

2 eggs beaten

Stir in:

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder


Add items in order listed. To this mixture add scant 1/2 cup boiling water. Pour into loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

This recipe, contributed by Linda Holland of John Day, is by Pauline Corwin/Royse-Farra. She and her husband, Harley Farra, settled in Fox Valley around 1930, later moving to John Day where they started up the business Farra’s Harness and Shoe Shop.

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