Pioneer Potluck: About Bernie, airplanes and airports…….

Bernie and Ann.

1992 Nikiski and Colorado


Have you ever had a dear friend that is such a delight to be around? Have you ever flown with that friend and go on a wonderful trip? Did you have so much fun that you wind up laughing every time you mention “Bernie and airports.” Everyone should take a trip with Bernie! What fun … well almost!

“Hi Bernie, I’m going to see my mom and sister in Boulder, Colorado and see the rest of the Colorado family. You want to go with me?” Bernie lived in Colorado before her husband, King, moved her unwilling body, soul and mind to Alaska. What an unhappy lady! It was so hard for her to adjust. She had such good friends in Colorado. I am so happy they moved to this area because my life has not been the same since! (P.S.: Bernie now lives in Nikiski in a beautiful house built by King on a lake and loves and enjoys everything about Alaska.)

“Oh sure!” she replied. “That would be so much fun … when?” 

We planned all the details and made the reservations. The day finally came for us to leave.

We flew out of Kenai on a small airplane, with way too much luggage, the bulk of which we had transferred straight through to Denver. We also each had carry-ons with wheelies that you pushed, pulled and shoved around. We also had great big purses with long straps that slung over our shoulders, weighted down with too much junk inside. Arriving in Anchorage was uneventful, after all, what can happen on a 20 minute flight?

When you get off a small airplane in Anchorage, after they stop, they open the door and you are on your own. You have to retrieve your own carry-on out of the luggage compartment of the small airplane and wheel it into the airport. You become the luggage handler.

Bernie stops flat in her tracks inside the door of the terminal, turns to me and says, “These darn purses are in the way! Here let me show you what we will do, so they do not hang off our shoulder and hurt our back.”

She grabbed my long strapped purse, began to wind it around and around the handle of the wheeled carry-on. She un-clips one of the clips that shorten the purse handle and re-clipped it up tight to the handle of the carry-on. Houdini could have not gotten that undone, let alone some purse snatcher. She did the same with hers.

Happy as a lark and both of us jabbering to each other, we arrived inside the big Anchorage airport. She stopped short again, takes a left into the cafeteria and said “I’m hungry are you?” Before I could say yes or no, she pushed her luggage into the slot-lane, ordered fruit, roll and juice. I did the same but wanted coffee. She pushed, pulled and shoved her wheelie luggage to the check stand. She fished around in her purse, tied to her wheelie luggage, got out her money and paid for her food. I look at my purse tied up in Houdini knots and could not get my hand into my purse to get my money! 

I started untangling the darn thing, ending up un-clipping the long strap tied to the luggage. The big purse starts to fall onto the floor and leaves me standing there with my hand high in the air over my head, hanging onto the long strap to get my purse off the floor. I bent down, retrieve my purse, paid for the food, apologized to the waiting crowd behind me.

By then I was just a little bit embarrassed and a whole bunch aggravated! I pushed, I pulled, I shoved the wheelie luggage through the little slot-lane past the cash register. I got to a little table just as my purse fell on the floor again with me holding the end of the long strap. I jerked up on it so would not hit the floor. I retrieved the thing again! I flopped it on a little table, trying to get my red faced self composed, my wheelie luggage, my purse and long strap back in order.

I looked to see where my friend Bernie was. She was hiding over in the corner next to a booth laughing so hard she had her legs crossed with tears running down her face. She tried to point at me and all she did was break out in loud laughter. She bent over and went into hysterical laughter again and that made everybody turn and look at her and then back at me.

I looked back at what she thought was so darn funny I looked right into the eyes of a gentleman peeking over a newspaper, sitting at the same table I had slam my purse down on. The poor man immediately hid behind the paper and Bernie started laughing again. I slung the wayward purse over my shoulder with the end of the strap and tried to push, pull, and shove the darn luggage thing over to her. By that time she was in the booth with her head on the table in a total laughing heap.

I started to sit down and get out of the limelight when I realized I had left my food on the poor gentleman’s table. I went to retrieve the food off the table and the poor gentleman was gone!

I shuffled back toward the laughing Bernie. She tried several times to tell me what happened through her hooting and laughing, tears streaming down her face. Seems I had yanked on the purse strap at the cash register and slung it around just missing the poor gentleman at the table by inches. He pulled down newspaper and looked at unsuspecting me, pull his paper backup and hid. I never even saw him! Then when I slammed the purse down on his table, never realizing he was within inches of me, he peeked over his paper again and that is when I finally saw him!

Bernie saw the whole thing and all she could do was laugh. She never came to my rescue! I finally saw the humor in my slinging, flying purse and started to laugh uncontrollably, which triggered Bernie’s giggle button again and we were both a mess. 

I don’t think we even ate, we just laughed. Then it was time to push, pull, and shove the wheelie luggage to the gate so we could finally be on our way Seattle. We were taking a side trip to see my good friend, JoAnne, who had abandoned me several years ago and moved to Buckley, Wash. It was going to be so good to see her.

Next week, Colorado, my mom amd her purple hat and Bernie and our return trip at the Denver airport.

Grandpa's Beans

Bernie’s Dad used to make this whenever they were invited to a potluck dinner.

She uses the slow cooker and leaves them cook overnight to mingle the flavors.

1/2 pound ground beef

Sat and pepper to taste

1/2 pound bacon, fried and chopped

1/2 cup onion chipped

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup ketchup

1 tbsp vinegar

1 can lima beans, drain off half the liquid

1 can pork and beans

1 can kidney beans

Brown meat: add onion. Season with salt and pepper.  Add remaining ingredients.  Mix well.  

Put in crock pot on low overnight and up to 12 hours – stir occasionally.  OR put in 350 degrees oven for two hours.  

Bernie's Salmon Cakes

Bernie says that her husband, King, eats these like candy. 

1 jar of canned salmon – or about 2 cups of left over salmon

1 egg

3 tbsp mayonnaise

2 tbsp sweet pickle relish

3 tbsp minced onion

1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs

1 tbsp olive oil

Mix all ingredients together except oil.  Form patties and fry in hot oil in frying pan.  

Fry patties till crispy on both sides. Great with horseradish sauce. Left over patties makes great fish sandwiches.  

Basil Salad Dressing

This works best with fresh basil. This herb grows so well in Alaska’s warm long days.

1 cup sour cream

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

3 tblsp fresh basil – minced or 2 tblsp dried, sprinkle with very small amount of water.

1/4  tea onion salt

1/4 tea garlic salt

1/8 tea celery salt

Pinch of red pepper

Combine all ingredients.  Cover and chill at least 1 hour. Serve over  those fine red Alaskan tomatoes, picked right from the greenhouse and sliced over torn bib lettuce.Sprinkle with cracked black pepper.

Monkey Bars

Supposed to be heart friendly……..a big hit at our annual Labor Day picnic.  

1 2/3 cups mashed ripe banana-about 5 bananas

3/4 cups brown sugars

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup milk 2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp each baking soda and cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt 

1 3/4 cups flour

1 cup mini chocolate chips (we had the regular kind and Elaine put half the bag in the batter and sprinkled the other half bag over the top..ummm)

Bake at 350 degrees in a foil lined and buttered 15 x 10 baking pan –kinda like a cookie sheet.  Leave the foil sticking out over the pan 2 inches at both ends so you can lift the cookies out of the pan.  

Method:  Mash bananas, sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, baking soda and cinnamon and salt in large bowl until mixed thoroughly. Stir in flour until just blended and stir in 1/2 the chocolate chips.

Spread batter in pan and sprinkle remaining chips over top.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until tooth pick comes out clean.  Cool completely on rack.  Hold foil at both ends and put on cutting board, Cut lengthwise into 4 strips and then cut each strip in 10.  


The rule of thumb for cooking fish is to measure the thickest part of the fish and cook 5 minutes per inch.  

Example:  If it measures 4 inches deep at the thickest part, cook at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Or if cooking in a cast iron skillet, 10 minutes on each side, watch and test for doneness after your have flip fish over and cook for 10 minutes longer.  You are looking for moist on the inside.  Never, never overcook fish.  Simply serve with butter and garlic or sour cream and snipped dill weed.  Sour cream and grated cucumber is elegant.  And of course the ever popular tartar sauce or catsup and horseradish.