Buckhorn Springs Heritage Cookbook in the Mail Tribune

 


BUCKHORN SPRINGS

Like most delectable ideas, the “Buckhorn Springs Heritage Cookbook” was cooked up in the kitchen.

“The guests eat out in the dining room and they just kept asking my mom for her recipes,” said Lauren Sargent, whose family owns the historic Buckhorn Springs lodge and retreat a dozen miles east of Ashland.

“They’d say things like, ‘Oh, my gosh! That’s so good! I want this one and I have to have that one,’ ” she added.

“And would I tell them I really didn’t know what all I had done with it,” interjected her mother, Leslie Sargent, chef at the resort.

As is the case of many folks who know their way around a kitchen, she knew each recipe like the back of her hand. But she didn’t have it precisely written out.

So the family, including father Bruce, a self-described history buff, put together a 240-page hardback book chock full of recipes and history articles about the resort, whose roots tap into the 1800s. The subtitle of the book is appropriately: “A Place where Family and Food Feed a Historic Journey.”

The family will celebrate release of the book from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Roxy Ann Winery, 3285 Hillcrest Road, Medford, in an event open to the public.

In the book, readers can feast their eyes on more than 100 recipes from apricot tea bread to Pad Thai stir fry with peanut sauce, or sample historic accounts from the construction of the resort guest cabins in the early 1890s to the Buckhorn Mineral Springs Sanitarium, run by Vienna-born physician Herman Wexler’s in the 1940s.

The Sargents, who have owned the land for more than two decades, also serve up color photographs of the food as well as photographs from back in the day.

“The world has many cookbooks but this one features ingredients of history, family devotion, living local and the resonance of a place like no other,” wrote Oregon poet Kim Stafford in the foreword to the book.

All the proceeds from the $34.95 book go to the Buckhorn Mineral Springs, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The Sargents — Lauren’s siblings Russell and Quinn are also featured in the book — are using some of the funds to establish a museum on the property.

Native Americans were drawn to the mineral springs, now surrounded by the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, long before white settlers arrived, Bruce said.

He pointed out a small circle of large rocks near the circa-1930s building with an old sign reading, “Carbon Dioxide Vapor Bath.” The stones, which make a rough outline of a bath tub, are believed to be remnants of a vapor bath used by Native Americans, he said.

Inside the building are half a dozen baths which have hinged wooden covers, each with a hole cut out for the bathers head.

“They would sit down in them,” Bruce said. “Their heads would stick out.”

If they didn’t keep their heads above the vapor bath, they wouldn’t be able to breathe, he said.

“No oxygen,” he explained, adding that a lit match held in the bath is automatically extinguished for the same reason.

Emigrant Creek percolates — literally — through the middle of the property. Gases from deep underground form bubbles in the water.

Near the vapor bath is an old hand pump over a shallow well.

“Old timers would come and bring their extracts and mix it with the carbonated mineral water,” Leslie said.

The mineral water takes a little getting used to, she acknowledged.

“I tell people to take at least two sips because after the first one you are ready to accept it more,” the chef said.

The core of the old lodge, built just north of the stream, was constructed when the nation was still embroiled in the Civil War, Bruce said. He bases that on historic documents as well as interviews with folks like old-timer Vernon Hopkins, who died a few years ago at age 93.

“Vern told us that his brother Elmer Hopkins said the core of the lodge was built in 1864,” Bruce said.

Using old photographs, Bruce reproduced the second floor and railing around the lodge to faithfully reflect its early-day appearance.

“The top floor had burned off and the roof was different when we got it,” he said. “Like any place, it had its ups and downs over the decades.”

When Lithia Springs in Ashland was a going affair, with folks bathing in its mineral water a century ago, Buckhorn Springs was also attracting like-minded people, he said.

“But in the 1930s there was a major downturn,” Bruce said, referring to the Great Depression.

Since acquiring the place where the three siblings were reared, the Sargents have painstakingly restored it.

They have also added a greenhouse and an expansive garden in the form of a circle to provide fresh produce for the lodge, thanks to the expertise of gardener Aiyana Hart-McArthur.

“I like adjusting the recipes to what is growing at the time,” said Leslie whose is the author of most of the recipes, although others connected to the resort over the years have also contributed.

“I love cookbooks — I love to read them,” she said.

“But I had to hang around to watch how she was making something or pin her down for an exact measurement,” added Lauren with a laugh.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at [email protected]

Thanks to everyone who made it out to Roxy Ann for another successful afternoon of book signing!

Lauren