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Pioneer Potluck: More About Daniels Lake

Posted: January 18, 2012 - 10:03am

North Kenai
Now Nikiski, Alaska
1967 to 1969

David recovered from his broken arm and went on to ski and skate like a pro. He was on teams, in the new, at that time “kicked up arenas” in Anchorage and where he went to high school at Chugiak. He has skied at Aspen and Badger Mountain, in the “Lower 48,” and many many times at Arctic Valley and Alyeska.

The kids learned to skate and ski and were pulled by snowmachines across Daniels Lake in a sled or holding on to a rope. They were gone all day. They came in for hot soup at lunch and back out they would go, with dry clothes, socks and gloves for another round of skiing, skating and being pulled by the snowmachines. I was busy drying clothes on a make-shift clothesline in the living room above the fuel oil stove, and on a rack beside it.

When we ran out of dry gloves, layers of odd socks (from the big box of odd socks) went on the hands and empty Wonder Bread bags went on the feet to keep them dry. Susan hated the odd socks on the hands, can’t blame her much!

And it did not stop at sundown, which was at 4 in the afternoon. They were out in the dark of night just as happy as if it was daylight! During the days on Daniels Lake the sun would come up in the northeast about 10 a.m. and set in the southeast about 4 p.m. We had the benefit of having the sun most of the 5 to 6 hour days. The temperature was in the 10 below range.

Gail learned to cross-country ski that winter with Mr.Wally Sidback, coach and teacher. She earned several awards and patches for her coat, for cross-country skiing from the North Star Elementary School to Halbouty Road and back. She also was the first person with the rope behind a snowmachine, yelling “Go faster!” She has mastered the snowshoes and used them many times when she lived on a homestead in Nikiski. She was member of the Nordic Ski Team and trained hard on downhill skis that her Grandma sent her.

We went to sled dog races and snowmachine races. We went to other people’s houses that had loads of kids too, and most of the time we did not see any of the kids all day long, as they all had fun on snowmachines, pulling someone around on a sled or skies or skates, with a rope. Sometimes they stopped long enough, to stand by a big bonfire, one of the daddies built for them, to get warm so they could “go again.” Marshmallows were toasted by the fire — no graham crackers or Hershey Bars. Hot chocolate was the warmer upper.

Susan remembers the big cracks in Daniels Lake and how spooky it was to be way out in the middle of the lake when the ice “burped” and cracked in the dark. She would take off skating or skiing, just a yelling, going as fast as her legs would carry her. She learned the art of skating and did very well. She wanted to be just like Peggy Fleming when she grew up.

We took a trip a few years later and ended up at the Broadmore in Colorado Springs where she got to see Peggy Fleming in training. I wish we could have spent more time there — it is an awesome place and maybe she could have met Peggy.

Daniels Lake is where we learned all about deep snow, snowmachines, downhill and cross-country skiing and skating that year. Good memories of winter time. We all had loads of fun watching and participating in one of the finest times, at the beginning of our now 45 years in Alaska.

Tortellini Sausage Soup

1 pound mild or hot Italian sausage-remove the casing.
1 tblsp garlic
1 onion chopped
2 -14oz cans diced tomatoes
3-14oz cans chicken broth
1-8oz can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 tbsp sugar
2 tblsp Italian seasoning
2 carrots-thin sliced
2 small zucchini sliced
1 pkg-about 9 oz frozen cheese tortellini-thawed
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Brown the sausage with the onion and garlic in a heavy Dutch oven.  Drain.

Return to pot and stir in broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, carrots, sugar and seasoning. Simmer for 40 minutes. Stir in the tortellini and the zucchini.  Simmer 10 minutes.  Serve with the Parmesan cheese sprinkle on top. 

Alaskan Halibut Chowder

Yummy to the tummy this time of year

Halibut is the last thing you add to this soup.

Make the base of the soup first. In a pot of boiling water boil:

4 potatoes, large dice
1/2 chopped onion
2 stalks celery sliced
2 carrots sliced
Boil until potatoes are almost done, about 15 minutes.
 
While vegetables are cooking, in a large pot filled half with water:
Bring water to a boil add:
1 teaspoon each garlic and onion salt, 1/2 tea basil and a shake of cayenne
Add four pieces of halibut the size of your hand. 

Turn OFF burner, cover with lid and let set on the stove for 30 minutes.  This makes a tender, flakey fish.  I also do this to chicken pieces.  It will be well done. Take halibut out with slotted spoon and slightly cool. Break into chunks.
 Pour off vegetable water until water is just covering the vegetables

Add:
1 cup of small cut fresh broccoli
1/2 cup mixed frozen peas and carrots
1/2 cup canned whole corn
1 can evaporated milk
2 cups of 2%milk
1/2 teaspoon each of garlic and onion salt
1/2 teaspoon dry basil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.  Do not omit this, it add to the flavor. It will not be spice hot.

Bring to a simmer – Do Not boil.
Heat (simmer slowly) until the vegetables are just tender, about 15 minutes. 
Adjust the seasoning and add more garlic and onion salt, if needed. 
 Mix 2 tablespoon cornstarch and enough water to make a liquid.  Stir into the hot soup and let simmer, stirring until thick.

Take off heat and fold in halibut chunks
2 tablespoons butter.  (op)

Serve in a large bowl with garlic toast.  

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