Country-fried quail à la "Oregon's Mother of Equal of Suffrage," Abigail Scott Duniway
Heather Arndt Anderson / OPB


Superabundant dispatch: Country fried quail à la Abigail Duniway and this week’s news nibbles

By Heather Arndt Anderson (OPB)
March 1, 2024 2 p.m.

Plus a brief history of women’s suffrage in Oregon

OPB’s “Superabundant” explores the stories behind the foods of the Pacific Northwest with videos, articles and this weekly newsletter. To keep you sated between episodes, Heather Arndt Anderson, a Portland-based culinary historian, food writer and ecologist, highlights different aspects of the region’s food ecosystem. This week she offers a recipe for fried quail adapted from “Oregon’s Mother of Equal Suffrage” herself, Abigail Scott Duniway.

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March is Women’s History Month, and to kick things off, we’re highlighting the trailblazing efforts of some of Oregon’s first suffragists. Among the various tactics employed by women in order to gain the right to vote, marching and rousing the rabble were most common, but Abigail Scott Duniway favored the “still hunt” — playing nice and biding her time until the men changed their minds. Her patience eventually paid off and her wit and charm won them over in 1912, but her slow burn technique took quite a while. Do you know how long Oregon’s suffragists fought for the right to vote? Read on to find out!

Related: Watch 'The Suffragists' episode of 'Oregon Experience'

Celebrity sourdough, bagging a grocery monopoly, a fish weir win, local talent gets its due and good things in markets

Pioneer sourdough becomes TikTok star

Not since the early days of the COVID pandemic has sourdough gone so viral, but a sourdough starter that made its way west on the Oregon Trail in 1847 is now a TikTok sensation. The folks tending the starter will mail a sample to anyone who sends a request with a self-addressed stamped envelope.

Suing to stanch a supermarket sweep

The Federal Trade Commission and nine states, including Oregon, have filed a lawsuit against a proposed merger between America’s two largest grocery companies, Kroger and Albertsons. The Teamsters and the United Food and Commercial Workers International unions have expressed concerns over the merger, but the Northwest grocery workers union UFCW Local 555 seems to be on board.

Unbuild it and they will come

Less than a year after partially removing a fish weir from the Umatilla Basin’s McKay Creek, salmon have already begun spawning in the waterway. Fish passage had been blocked since the 1990s, when the weir was installed to prevent fish stranding in portions of the creek dried up by the McKay Reservoir Dam.

Oregonians in the James Beard Awards semifinals

The James Beard Foundation has announced their semifinalists for the 2024 James Beard Awards. Congrats to the many Oregonians on the list: outstanding chef Sarah Minnick (Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty, Portland), outstanding restaurant Langbaan (Portland), best new restaurant Hayward (McMinnville), outstanding bakery JinJu Patisserie (Portland), outstanding hospitality Han Oak (Portland), outstanding wine and other beverages Program OK Omens (Portland) and best chefs Northwest and Pacific, Josh Dorcak (MÄS, Ashland), Gregory Gourdet (kann, Portland), Matt Lightner (ōkta, McMinnville), Ryan Roadhouse (Nodoguro, Portland) and Peter Vuong (Ha VL, Portland).

Good things in markets

Though it’s been a lot of roots and starch as usual, we are starting to see spring shoots — that means chives, scallions, asparagus and the most tender herbs imaginable. Look for the transition of winter root vegetables into their sweeter springtime — baby carrots, new potatoes and crisp radishes (like last week) are lovely with fresh eggs and herb sauces.

Winter citrus is still as lively as ever. If you’re lucky enough to find fresh yuzu and feeling adventurous, try planting the seeds — though the trees will take around 10 years to produce fruit, they’re cold hardy.

If you’re out and about in the woods, keep an eye out for stinging nettles and butterbur shoots, known locally as coltsfoot (Petasites frigidus). The earliest dandelions of the season are also their best-tasting; try them in salads or fermented as mindeulle kimchi.

A brief history of the subtly rebellious power of recipes

Abigail Scott Duniway was a busy woman. Besides publishing her weekly radical paper The New Northwest (in defiance of her brother Harvey Scott, editor-in-chief and co-owner of The Oregonian), hosting the Oregon leg of Susan B. Anthony’s Pacific Northwest speaking tour, rallying Black women to join the cause and leading the formation of the Oregon Woman Suffrage Association, Duniway did her bit for women’s voting rights like any ordinary gal would: by sharing a few recipes.


For decades, cookbooks were one of the primary ways for women working in the suffrage movement to publicly broadcast their political views on a national scale, though local culinary contributions to the cause are somewhat difficult to pinpoint. In the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, Oregon’s middle and upper class women were generally friendly toward the idea of women’s suffrage, but cookbooks published by various women’s aid societies, like the “Web-Foot Cook Book” (1885) and the “Neighborhood Cook Book” (1912), didn’t specifically promote suffrage even if the women sharing the recipes were all for it. And although Black women like Mary Beatty, Katherine Gray and Hattie Redmond were active in the movement locally (and most certainly did more of the actual cooking in their homes than their wealthy white counterparts), they don’t seem to have been included in producing these early cookbooks.

Among the recipes for Mother’s Election Cake and Washington Tea Biscuit included in the first of the national suffrage cookbooks, “The Woman Suffrage Cook Book” (1886), were Duniway’s recipes for a transparent jelly, salt-rising bread and her instructions on how “To Fry Spring Chicken and Make Gravy As Mother Did It.” By the time “The Suffrage Cook Book” was published in 1915 (and perhaps knowing they were on the precipice of victory), suffragettes were on their third wave, were more strident in their mission and far less coy in their recipes, which included those for Hymen Bread and Pie for a Suffragist’s Doubting Husband.

Though Oregon women had already gained the right to vote three years earlier (and Carrie B. Shelton had become Oregon’s first woman governor three years before that), Oregon Gov. Oswald West nonetheless offered his endorsement and words of encouragement on page 220, noting that Oregon women had gotten busy right away in exercising their new right, and that “their influence is most always found upon the side of better government.” (Depending on how you feel about Prohibition, of course. — Ed.)

Recipe: Country fried quail à la “Oregon’s Mother of Equal Suffrage”

Country-fried quail à la "Oregon's Mother of Equal of Suffrage," Abigail Scott Duniway

Country-fried quail à la "Oregon's Mother of Equal of Suffrage," Abigail Scott Duniway

Heather Arndt Anderson / OPB

After the initial suffrage efforts kicked off in 1870, the state’s first official suffrage convention was held on Feb. 15, 1873, at the Oro Fino Theater, a venue which included a known saloon of disrepute. Ironically, the Oro Fino was co-owned by James Lappeus, a former gold miner (and likely gang member) who also happened to be Portland’s chief of police until he was removed from the job on charges of corruption and bribery. Why the suffragettes repeatedly chose the Oro Fino as their event space is kind of a head-scratcher. Besides the fact that the theater offered nude dancing and prostitution, Lappeus had frequently butted heads with the temperance crusaders whose membership formed an almost-circular Venn diagram with that of suffragists.

Anyway, at around the same time that the suffrage movement was picking up steam in the Northwest, valley quail were being released into Oregon’s wilds at a staggering clip; by the time Portland native James Beard’s “Fowl and Game Bird Cookery” was published in 1944, valley quail were the most widely distributed game bird in the state. Since last week’s newsletter featured chicken, we thought quail would be a nice change of pace — it’s become more available over the past decade or so, and, coincidentally, Beard recommends serving fried quail with country gravy, just like Duniway’s mother’s spring chicken. (After rallying Oregon’s male populace for more than 40 years, Duniway was no spring chicken herself; rather, the fine hen was 79 years old when she wrote the Oregon Woman Suffrage Proclamation in 1912.)

Here is Duniway’s original recipe as it appears on page 36 of “The Woman Suffrage Cook Book”:

To Fry Spring Chicken and Make Gravy as Mother Did It

“Cut the chicken into pieces convenient for serving. Have ready a frying-pan half full of boiling lard or butter. Roll the pieces, first slightly salting them, in fine flour or corn meal. Fry quickly till thoroughly done; dish on to a large platter and pour the surplus ‘fryings’ into a bowl for future use, leaving less than a gill in the bottom of the frying-pan. Into this stir rapidly a heaping tablespoonful of flour, then add a pint of fresh milk stirring constantly till it boils and thickens. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour the gravy over the chicken in the platter or if preferred in a separate gravy dish. Any kind of young fowl is delicious cooked in this way, and no child forgets the delights of the side dish of gravy that accompanies it.” ABIGAIL SCOTT DUNIWAY

While we favor butter for almost every other application, we respectfully disagree with Ms. Duniway and do not recommend frying in butter — its smoke point is far too low (it burns easily, which will ruin your food) and its water content makes for a lot of dangerous spatter. If you don’t use lard, shortening or vegetable oil are both great. We’ve updated the recipe to ensure success in a modern kitchen and recommend serving with James Beard’s suggested biscuits and honey. Serves four.

Note: You can sometimes find quail frozen at mainstream grocery stores like Winco or Costco., but feel free to sub Cornish hens, which are even easier to source. We used a cast iron skillet for this, but any heavy-bottomed pan or pot will work well.


2 cups lard, bacon fat, vegetable shortening or vegetable oil

8 partially deboned quail (halved) or 4 Cornish hens (quartered)

Salt and pepper

½ cup flour or finely ground cornmeal

2 cups whole milk

Freshly ground nutmeg (optional)


  1. Bring the frying oil to about 350 degrees over medium-high heat — there should be about 2 inches of fat and 1 inch of clearance in the pan.
  2. Sprinkle the cut pieces of quail or Cornish hen with salt and pepper, then dredge them in the flour (if you want more seasoning, you can salt and pepper the flour or add paprika for a little extra flavor). Carefully lay the dredged fowl into the hot oil and cook, turning every minute or so, until the exterior is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer says the meat is 165 degrees. Remove the fried poultry to a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and stash it in the oven on the lowest setting.
  3. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the cooking oil (not down the drain!) and whisk in the remaining dredge flour. Cook the roux over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until it turns golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and whisk in the milk and nutmeg (if using). Once all the lumps are stirred out, return the heat to low and simmer until the gravy is thick and bubbly, about 8-10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed, then serve the warm fried quail with the gravy.

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