Pioneer Potluck: About being afraid of boats and big bodies of water

Editor’s note: This piece continues Grannie Annie’s story from July 20.


Year 1969 on the beach of Nikishka Bay, Cook Inlet, Nikiski, Alaska

I thought I was safe and sound on the sandy beach of Cook Inlet. I always got the sideways glance from Gene and Betty about my comments, of never getting in a boat or water, but they never said anything. Gene finally mentioned once that the only way to get over that fear was to get in a boat. I said to him, “Well, I don’t think so ... maybe ... we will see.”

I had NO intentions of getting in a boat in the water. Later, I was to eat my words.

That time came sooner that I expected. The tide was high when it came time to set the nets at 7. Betty, a hard, hard worker, had hurt her back. My husband could not get back down the beach at high tide from delivering the fish the night before. So it was decided by Gene it was time for me to learn to set nets from the boat. I unwillingly got in the boat. I unwillingly helped him put the nets out and unwilling got soaked and unwillingly took orders from Gene who manned the boat: “NO! NO! Not there, over there, over the bow, lean over the bow, pull that net tighter. Watch for the buoy. Grab that running line. Don’t fall overboard!”

He barked orders all at the same time, over and over again, until I was too exhausted to worry about getting wet but I sure as heck did not want to fall overboard. When we got back to the beach, I fell out of the boat onto the beach, dragged my shaky legs up under me and again, fell onto the beach. I glared at Gene. He stood there laughing at me.
“Not bad for a Colorado land lubber, you will do better next time.”

Ha! I had news for him! There would be NO next time. I ate those words too.

He dragged my unwilling body and soul into the boat a few more times that summer. Sometimes to pull nets at high tide, now — that was real work! Dirty inlet mud and dripping wet, fishy smelling nets, that was work for this short legged farm gal. Was this my idea of owning fishing sites on the beautiful beach?

Just as the season was winding down, I thought I was home free from getting in the boat — ever again! Early one morning Gene came running into our cabin shouting at me, “Help me get the boat out of the water! This storm is going to beat the bottom out of the boat. We have to get it to Arness Dock and tie it up.” We had a big of storm blowing in. 

As usual my husband was gone before the tide came in and me and the kids, Gene, Betty and their two kids were still on the beach. “I AM NOT doing that! I am not getting in that boat!” I screamed at him.

He whirled around and pointed his finger at me, “Get your rain gear, get your boots on and HURRY!”

“But! But, but —”

“NO BUTS! Do it!” He shoved me out the door threw me my boots and he started running for the boat. I grabbed my boots and ran for the boat. Then I saw what he was talking about. The boat was going to get swamped and beat to pieces on the rocks. I barely got one foot in the boat, and Gene took off into the waves. Bucking and sliding sideways, I started screaming, as I was putting wet feet onto my wet boots. “I don’t wanna die this way, I don’t wanna drown, what about my kids, and I want OUT OF HERE!” I screamed and cried, each time getting louder and more hysterical.

He had his hands full trying to keep the boat upright and headed for the dock.

Aggravated, he turned to me and shouted, “sit down, shut up and bail!”
I heard the word BAIL and panic set into my bones! I let out a bellowing scream, sat flat down in the bottom of the boat with water up to my waist and started to bail with a little red coffee can. I bailed so hard and so fast, all I could think about was getting the water out of the boat; the harder I bailed the more silent I got. I needed to concentrate on getting the water out of the boat.

We finally bucked, bounced and sloshed our way to the dock, where my husband was waiting to tie the boat up. Gene got out. They both had to pull me out of the boat, dragging me over the side and onto the dock. I sat up, sopping wet and yelled, “I was sure we were going to drown!”
They bent down and pulled my boots off. The rest of Cook Inlet water drained out. They laughed and laughed — “I thought we were dead — drowned at sea!” I started crying all over again.

Gene, laughing at me, said “I told you to sit down and bail, to shut you up.”

Now I was really mad. They wanted to know if I was as mad as a “wet hen.” 

They pulled me to my feet and put a coat around me, and led me to the warm pickup, turned up the heater, then started telling each other how funny I was screaming my head off in the middle of the boat, bailing water, with a little coffee can. They teasingly told me and everyone else that would listen, that all they could see was this wet, blonde head in the boat, with tiny streams of water from the coffee can, being tossed over the side of the boat. I was just scooping up tiny amounts of water instead of big cans full. They never apologized for getting an entertaining laugh out of the poor screaming land lubber, setting flat down in the bottom of a boat, up to her waist in water bailing small amounts of water.

“Did you think you were going to save us?” Gene would ask. Gene’s way of telling me I was a good sport, a hard worker and a good fisherwomen by the end of summer, was the comment, “Thanks. Not bad for a short legged, blonde land lubber.”

The series is written by a 44 year resident of Alaska, Ann Berg of Nikiski. Ann shares her collections of recipes from family and friends.  She has gathered recipes for more that 50 years.  Some are her own creation.  Her love of recipes and food came from her Mother, a self taught wonderful cook.

She hopes you enjoy the recipes and that the stories will bring a smile to your day.

Grannie Annie can be reached at

Homestead Stew

Place in crock pot in order given or in a Dutch oven with lid and cook on top of woodstove or a campfire.  This can be cooked over a campfire in Dutch oven, during moose hunting season. Just place all ingredients in a large Ziplock and transport in the Dutch oven to the campsite.

2 onions sliced in large pieces
3 large potatoes cubed
4 carrots cut in large pieces
1 to 1 1/2 pound of stew meat. (Moose, Beef, Sheep, Goat or Bear can be used in this, trimmed of ALL FAT.)
2 tblsp quick cooking tapioca or 2 tblsp flour
1 can beef broth (but one can of beer is better, tenderizes tougher pieces of game meat.)
1 beef bouillon cube
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Cover and place on medium heat, and cook up to 8 hours on woodstove, 4 to 6 in crock pot and all day on a campfire.  I usually put the Dutch oven on the campfire in the morning after breakfast and you have dinner done at 6.  Give everyone a bowl and a spoon; ladle the stew into the bowls.  Pass buttered sourdough bread or buttered biscuits.   
Dinner's done!!

Campfire Biscuits

Use Bisquick for this recipe:

Mix dry ingredients ahead of time and put in Ziploc bag:
2 cups flour
1/4 cup dry milk
3 teaspoons baking power
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 tblsp instant minced onion
1 tblsp parsley
1 cups Cheddar cheese, grated

At the campsite you will need:
1/2 cups to 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup butter for pan.

Transport to campsite in a Ziploc bag.  When ready to cook, melt butter in an iron skillet.  Add enough water to biscuit mix to make soft dough in the Ziploc and knead for 30 seconds.  Press into butter iron skillet to 1/2 inch thickness and score with a knife.  Cook 6 to 7 minutes and turn out on paper plate and slide back in pan to brown the other side 4 to 5 minutes. 

To cook in campfire oven:

Pat dough out to 1/2 inch thickness and cut in strips or squares. Place in buttered skillet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes in a very hot 450 degrees oven.  Makes 12 biscuits.  Pass the honey in a bottle or the blueberry jam.

Hobo Burger

2 lb. ground beef
1 cup cracker crumbs
1/2 tsp garlic salt 
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp celery salt
1/8 tsp red pepper (cayenne)
1 finely chopped green pepper (optional)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 egg

  • Mix by hand and make 4 patties like a mini meatloaf.
  • Place on 4 double thicknesses of foil.
  • Pat in to a rectangle.
  • Place thin sliced potatoes on one side of rectangle.
  • Slice of onion.
  • Thin slice carrot.
  • A slice of pepper jack cheese
  • Roll the “naked” half of beef on top of vegetables.
  • Seal edges.
  • Roll up foil to seal.
  • Bake on grill or in oven.
  • Unroll foil and “crisp up” over flame or under broiler.


  • Place a slice of bacon on top of burger before broiling
  • Place a slice of jack cheese on top after opening foil
  • Place catsup on top of beef, then bacon, when finished crisping the bacon place a slice of jack on top. 

Serves four very generously… Serve with green salad and garlic bread.

Betty’s Coleslaw

Betty told me she never wrote down this recipe. I wrote it down while she repeated it to me.

Cabbage finely shredded with a sharp thin knife, like you would do to process sauerkraut.
Grated carrot for color.
Place in large bowl and salt the cabbage lightly. Mix.

Mix in a small bowl the following:

3/4 cup to 1 cup Best Food Mayonnaise (You have to use Best food she insisted!)
1/2 to 3/4 cups milk (I use buttermilk sometimes)

Stir to blend.

Mix in:

1/3 cups apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar (depends on how sweet you like it – increase to 1/3 cup)
2 small squirts of mustard

Mix until well blended.

Add dill weed or caraway seed if you like.  Mustard and celery seed can bee added also.

Serve to the hungry gang of happy friend having fun on the beach watching the tide come in and the sun set over the mountains and Inlet.  Warm happy memories.


Chicken, Beef, or Fish Stew in Biscuit Bread Bowls

Purchase hard rolls, or make biscuits.
Hollow out bottoms of rolls. Butter inside, and toast carefully under broiler.

Use your favorite chicken potpie recipe.
Or use thick clam chowder soup, with cooked salmon and halibut in it.
Or use favorite beef stew recipe.

Place stew/soup in bottom roll, letting some run over sides.
Sprinkle with cheese of choice.
Place top roll or biscuit on top of stew.

The individual potpies put a smile on your hungry eaters and you can smile because it was SO simple!!

Easy Peach Cobbler

This can be doubled and baked in a 9 X 13 baking dish.

If you are cooking over a campfire – use 2 foil 9 x 13 pan, placing the one foil pan inside the other to make the pan stronger.  Place cobbler over campfire to one side of warm coals.  Cover with foil, loosely and let bake, turning often to keep the baking even.  Slide warm coal under to keep fire at even heat.  Fun but requires a constant watch for an hour.

Use Bisquick or biscuits or the following:

1 1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 stick butter
1 large can peaches

Mix first 4 ingredients to make dough.  Melt butter in a small 8 x 8 baking dish; pour dough over butter and top with can of peaches and juice. Sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Yes, the dough is on the bottom and peaches on top. Bake 350 degrees to 375 degrees. Bake until crust is brown. 

Serve with vanilla ice cream!

Pioneer Potluck: About being afraid of big bodies of water and boats


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