Most Twin Cities food co-op members associate the growth of co-ops with the period 1960–1975, when so many of our present co-ops began. A notable exception to the Sixties food co-ops was the Credjafawn Co-op Store, which briefly served the Rondo community in the years immediately following World War II. Its freestanding building at 678 Rondo Avenue lay only four blocks northwest of today’s Mississippi Market on Selby, at what was then the corner of Rondo and St. Albans, about half a block west of Dale.
The Credjafawn Co-op Store was a project of the Credjafawn Social Club (1928–1980), one of the Twin Cities’ earliest African-American social institutions. The Credjafawn was a community builder, sponsoring youth events, picnics, dances, concert recitals, and other events for the citizens of Rondo. During World War II, it organized its own credit union to lend money to members and bought war bonds to support the war effort. One of its immediate postwar projects was the Credjafawn Co-op.
Six seventy-eight Rondo Avenue had been constructed sometime between 1910 and 1925, when the neighborhood was still largely Jewish, and until the Credjafawns took over the store, it had been run as a neighborhood grocery by a succession of Jewish owners, including Jack Dimond, who supported the organization by buying ads in the Credjafawn’s concert programs. In those days, writes Evelyn Fairbanks in Days of Rondo (1990), both sides of Rondo Avenue were lined with groceries, bakeries, shoe-repair shops, banks, and other businesses, many of them in duplicate: one African-American owned, one Jewish owned, “but gradually the Jewish businesses followed the Jewish customers to their new homes in Highland Park.”
In 1946, Dimond sold or leased his store to the Credjafawn Social Club, which operated it as a food co-operative. The lively 1948 photographs of the Co-op Store document a tidy, well-equipped corner store with white-painted (or porcelained) cases, a two-tiered produce display (“Frigidmist Air Conditioned”) backed by tall mirrors, and grocery carts small enough to thread their way through very narrow aisles. The Co-op’s two big windows—one facing Rondo, the other St. Alban—were partly papered with posters featuring the National Cooperative Business Association’s familiar twin-pines logo.
The Co-op did not survive long; by the mid-1950s, the store had become Martin’s Grocery. Soon thereafter, it and its neighboring businesses were swept away: even before Interstate-94 hollowed out the Rondo neighborhood, its core was demolished to prepare the way for the coming freeway. Today, what remains of Rondo Avenue hangs on the southern lip of I-94, now renamed Concordia Avenue, its businesses long since gone.
Mississippi Market is proud to be the successor to this pioneering Saint Paul food cooperative in the Rondo neighborhood. It’s fitting that we commemorate Credjafawn Co-op Store’s brief existence and display the photographs of the hopeful, committed co-op grocery that preceded the one where you shop today.
Photos of the Credjafawn Co-op Store are currently on display in the seating area of the Selby & Dale store, in honor of African American History Month.
Special thanks to Lisa Tabor of CultureBrokers L.L.C., publishers of the “Spirit of Rondo” pamphlet for introducing us to the Credjafawn Co-op. For more information, visit www.culturebrokers.com
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New Year’s Day in the American South is celebrated by many families with Hoppin’ John, a stew made with black eyed peas. Some people add a penny or other small trinket to the beans when serving them. Whoever finds it is promised especially good luck in the new year. As many recipes can be found for Hoppin’ John as there are cooks who make it, so use this one as a foundation for creating your own version. Read more …
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All of these recipes make great use of your leftover Thanksgiving turkey…
Roast Turkey Hash
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 ½ cups diced roast turkey
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced red pepper
1 cup diced boiled or roasted potatoes
1 cup diced cooked butternut squash
1 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. garlic powder
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp water
Salt & pepper to taste
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions and peppers for 6-8 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the spices and sauté for another minute. Add the potatoes, squash, and turkey. Adjust the heat under the skillet to very hot. Slightly mash the mixture in the skillet and let it brown for several minutes before stirring. Slightly mash the mixture again, and let sit for another few minutes to continue browning thoroughly. Add the water and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook another minute until the water is absorbed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Courtesy of strongertogether.coop
Turkey, Avocado, and Shiitake Sandwich
Everyone enjoys a nice sandwich, and this is a hearty winter one. Make this big handful with wonderful Rustica levain, miche, or other rustic bread, and you’ll need nothing else for a terrific meal except a fine dessert apple.
Makes 2 servings
2 tsp. mayonnaise
Freshly ground black pepper
3 slices of roasted turkey breast per sandwich
1 ripe avocado, sliced
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
½ c. fresh shiitake
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 thinly sliced green onion or several thin rounds of sweet white onion
- For two sandwiches, cut four thick slices of bread and spread them with mayonnaise; grind black pepper over the mayonnaise.
- Lay slices of turkey meat on half of each sandwich; follow with slices of avocado. Sprinkle these with apple cider vinegar and a smidge of sea salt.
- Heat a small skillet on medium, then add olive oil. When it begins to shimmer, add thickly sliced shiitake caps, stir to coat, and when the cross sections of caps turn a pale gold, add soy sauce. Cook until caps soften; remove to a side dish and cool slightly.
- Lay lettuce leaves on second slices of breads, then add sliced onions.
- Spoon cooled shiitake onto avocado slices and join two halves of each sandwich.
Chicken Tender Tacos
Locally-raised, Kadejan chicken tenders are on sale through Nov. 18 for only $5.99/lb. But what are they and what can you do with them?
Knowing their identity, chickenwise, makes the difference between something succulent and something with the texture of sawdust. That’s because this cut is white, fatless meat from the underedge of chicken breasts. It’s thin, and if you don’t protect it during cooking, it will not tempt your appetite. If you enjoy furtive stops for fast food, you are certainly familiar with so-called chicken tenders: they’re those deep-fried, crusty little chicken nuggets or fingers that so many people fuel their gridiron football season with.
To get the most out of chicken tenders, protect their fatless selves by either breading and frying them or poaching them delicately. Here’s how, followed by a tasty taco to make with the meat.
Breaded and fried tenders
½ pound chicken tenders
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup flour
¼ cup dry bread crumbs
coconut or refined peanut oil
large paper bag
1. Cut the tenders into whatever size you want, but no smaller than 1 inch square. Dredge the nuggets/pieces in beaten egg, then in flour and bread crumbs. Set aside to semi-dry for about 15 minutes.
2. Pour about ½ inch of high-smoke-point oil into a heavy (preferably cast-iron) skillet or Dutch oven. When the top starts to look iridescent or the temperature reaches 360°F. on an immersible thermometer, lower a small handful of coated tenders into the oil. (A Chinese spider works perfectly for this; if you don’t have one, use a large, perforated spoon.) When the tenders have turned a lovely golden brown, lift them out with the spider or spoon, and place them on the paper bag to drain.
small piece of fresh ginger
1 scallion, cut into three pieces
2 cups of cold water
½ pound chicken tenders
1. Cut a 2-inch piece of ginger from the main stem; you needn’t peel it. Slice it crosswise into several thinner coins. Add this to a large, heavy pot (cast iron, cast aluminum, enameled iron), along with the scallion and 2 cups of water, cover, and bring the water t a boil. Boil for 5 minutes.
2. Add the chicken tenders to the water, turn off the heat, re-cover the pot, and allow it to sit for 45 minutes. When you uncover the pot, the meat will be cooked through, very delicate in texture and flavor, and not the least big dried out.
Makes 4 well-stuffed tacos
8 corn tortillas
½ pound breaded/fried or poached chicken tenders
1 lime, halved
¼ cup very finely sliced red or white onion or scallions, white and green parts, cut crosswise
1 ripe avocado, smashed, then salted
some salty feta or queso añejo
salsa or sriracha sauce
fresh cilantro leaves
1. Heat a cast-iron griddle or skillet on MEDIUM, then add about 1 teaspoon of oil, and spread it across the surface. Lay two tortillas, one atop the other, in the pan, and heat until they start to bubble and heave. Turn them over, adding a bit of oil if the pan becomes dry.
2. Tuck ¼ of the meat, squeeze of fresh lime juice, onion or scallion, spoonful of avocado, cheese, squirt of sriracha, and cilantro leaves to each doubled tortilla, and serve immediately.