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Lumber Camps

Need a good cream tartar biscuit recipe? Check this one out if you need to feed 40 working men three meals a day! The recipe and other information from The Northern magazine, April, 1921.

“For a crew of forty men, take six quarts of flour. Six tablespoons lard and work into the flour. Add to the flour when sifted, six teaspoons soda, 12 teaspoons cream tartar, 4 tablespoons salt. Then add cold water enough to make a stiff batter. Flour the bread board and roll the batter about one inch thick. Cut out with biscuit cutter, and wet the edges with a little melted lard so they will not stick together in the pan. Have the oven hot before beginning to bake, and bake about ten minutes.”

For rye bread: “Ten quarts wheat flour, 5 quarts rye flour, 3 ounces yeast, 5 quarts water, 5 ounces salt. Let rise 4 ½ hours and handle same as white bread. When using the cheaper grades of flour, it improves the bread to put in the dough about one pint of potato just mashed to four pounds of flour.” Other bread baking hints given by the cook…

1. Always sift flour before using it;

2. A good cook usually has from one to three barrels of flour warming in the cook camp;

3. Bread mixed overnight in winter is usually poor due to uneven camp temperatures;

4. The pan with rising dough should be covered to prevent crusting over.

5. The making of good yeast rolls is an art.

The logging camp head cook was often a man, but some women held that job. A Mrs. Beaulieu had the job on one cutting operation for GNP in 1923. Her husband may have been one of the bosses for the cutting. Another No. 1 cook mentioned is a William Lawless in 1925. Another talent of his, “when scraping the fiddle he is in a class by himself.” The Northern mentions cooks, head cooks, chefs and cookees.

A sign on display in the museum’s logging room shows wages for workers in GNP’s Spruce Wood Department, 1917-18. The highest paid were the blacksmith, cook and saw filer. Without the work of those employees, the wood would not be cut and delivered to the mill. Cook A received pay of $2.75 a day, cook B $2.40 and cook C $2.10.

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