Pioneer Potluck: About Ben’s boat and clam digging

Part 2

Year 1971 - Homer, Alaska


Ben had just beached his boat on the outside shore of the Homer Spit.  We stopped like the bottom of the boat had a big suction cup attached.  Ben had broken the steering wheel off with his chest and he was still hanging on to the steering wheel in death grip.  He kept repeating “I hope nobody got hurt.  I hope I din’t hurt nobody.”  We assured him we were OK.  Nadene assured him SHE WAS NOT!!  “You jest look at me Ben!”  Only then, when he looked up at Nadene in all her muddy glory, with gunk dripping from her always perfect hair, did he start to laugh.  We all laughed so hard we could not get out of the boat.  We just sat there and pointed and laughed at each other. 

Someone came running down the beach asking if everyone was OK.  We looked up and there was a big crowd of onlookers standing at the top of the beach, looking down on us, some offered help and some just stood with hands in their pockets and they all joined in our laughter. 

We finally regained our composure, surveyed the damage, and started gathering up the clams that had flown forward and now underneath the bow of the boat.  That took us a long time, crawling under the bow, putting them in buckets, hauling up the steep incline to the old old yellow bus.  Turn around and go back and get more clams, crawl around, get another bucketful and haul it back up the incline.  Just ONE other fellow helped us haul clams up to the bus.  The rest decided the excitement was over and slowly went back to what they were doing before they were interrupted. 

After hours and hours of gathering clams and carrying them up to the final resting place, the men took off in the boat to the marina, with a pair of vice grips where the steering wheel was not.  They had a heck of a time going around the end of the Spit and into the marina as the vice grips kept sliding off.  They had to go slow, for fear of running into something.  It was a long time before they got to the docking area.

Nadene and I met them, thinking maybe finally we would possibly go get a shower at the public facility, but we did not want to go alone.  Oh!NO!  They had other plans. 

They headed for the Salty Dog; they had a story to tell!  Not knowing what to do we joined them all caked with mud and stringy hair.  Somehow men with dried mud on them look better than women wearing dried mud.  We all had fun telling our version of the “Wreck of Ben’s Boat,” to anyone who was interested. 

The next two days we spent cleaning, eating and canning the wayward clams.  And ever once in a while we looked up and we would burst out laughing all over again.

They had a terrible time getting the boat up on the trailer, when it came time to go home. With only the vice grips for a steering wheel, we finally solved that problem with two ropes one on each side of the boat, gently nudging and tugging the boat forward, no full throttle this time.  Nadene was standing off to the side, with her hands piled on top of her head, urging us on – a one person cheer leader.  “Owh Owh, come on now, Owh Owh come on Ben, you can do it! OWWWEEEE now be “care-fee.”  I looked around and sure enough, there was a small crowd gathered, watching and wondering what was going to happen this time. 

Ben and Nadene would come and visit us or we would go see them or go fishing together on the Little Su, or water skiing on Big Lake and the first thing we would do was laugh and point fingers at each other. OH! What fun we had in the Nort’ Land!

Year and years have gone by since then and I still get the giggles when I tell this story. 

We all usually end up with the giggles and tears running down their cheeks. 

The End

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

Alaskan Cabbage Bowl (For Dip)

Alaska is known for the wonderful large heads of cabbage.

Remove the outer leaves, leaving a few large green leaves.
Slice off the bottom of cabbage to make it set level.
Use a large sharp knife to hollow out inside.
Save in Ziploc for another cabbage dish.

Rinse very well.
Drain for at least an hour, in refrigerator upside down on towel until well chilled.
Make your favorite chip dip – spinach, bleu cheese, French onion.
Spoon in to hollowed cabbage bowl.
Serve with crackers and assorted vegetables.
A great conversation piece at summertime picnics and bon fires.

Bob's Potato Soup

Bob loves potato soup.  Whenever I ask him what he
would like to supper, he says potato soup.

In large preferably glass soup pot, (No aluminum please!) heat:
2 tblsp butter
1 tblsp olive oil
1 large onion chopped
2 stalks celery sliced
1 carrot sliced.

Cook until tender.

Alternatives:  If you want to use bacon, fry diced bacon, drain off fat, add the butter and oil and sauté  your vegetables.  Or add diced ham to the vegetables you are sautéing. 

2 cans chicken broth
2 can water
3 or 4 potatoes diced
Bring to boil and simmer until potatoes are tender.
Mash potatoes slightly with potato masher. 

2 cans canned milk
2 cans of 2% milk

Heat through but DO NOT boil.

In a small bowl mix:
3 tblsp cornstarch with
4 tblsp cold water.

Stir a small stream into the hot milk.
Turn off heat and continue to stir until thick. 
Add salt to taste and sprinkle of pepper. 
Ladle into large bowl and dot with butter, sliced green onions and shredded cheese.

My version of salmon chowder, as Bob does not like this, I use the potatoes soup as a base and stir in 1/4 cup of canned salmon into my bowl of hot soup.

Soda crackers and butter are always on the table with this soup.

Sweet and Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Chicken

1 cup brown sugar
2 tblsp chili powder

Mix with fork and set aside:
1 pound of smoky bacon-cut in half or thirds
1/2 pound of chicken tenders cut in thirds-bite size

Wrap bacon around chicken bites and roll in the sugar chili powder mix.

Place on foiled lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until the bacon is crispy and the chicken is cooked through. 

Serve as is or with a favorite “dunk.”


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