Pioneer Potluck: About getting electricity & buying a toaster

House with sunroom built by Bob for Ann.

Nikiski, 1997


We had running water as long as we plugged in the noisy generator. We had hot water as long as we kept the wood stove burning. We kept the wood stove burning as long as we had wood to split and haul into the house every night. We made trips to the outhouse, summer and winter for two summers and three winters. The second summer we applied for electricity. Next year, they said. 

The third winter I was real sick and made 3 to 5 trips an hour to the outhouse in the below zero weather. I don’t have to tell you how cold my pootoot was! In the spring Bob built onto our little house and we had a wonderful bathroom, bathtub, sink, stool, and he added a laundry room. 

In the early third spring, we hauled all our paper work into town to the electric company. We made mountains of paper applications. We met with the lady who takes the applications. She made an appointment for us to meet with the engineer. Another week and we met with the engineer. He clicked on his computer and told us we already had electric! No! No! That is the cabin that we own. Oh! he says. “Well, you will have to come off of a street a block above you, come through your property a block down and you will have to have all the hook ups in place.” He clicked off his computer and gave us a ream of things we had to do to get ready for the power line. We did all those things and we still waited. 

My next trip to town to bug them, I asked him for a cost estimate. He said he would have to come out and locate the main power line. But they were backed up and it would be a least a month. I bugged them for four months and finally got an answer. It would cost us $28,000 to get power! Bob and I almost fainted! First thing out of Bobs mouth was, “We will just built a wind mill, we don’t need you! And if we have extra power from the generator, we will sell it back to you!” That was a law then — do not know if it’s so now. The man gulped and gasped, said we will try and work another idea out. 

“Why,” we asked “do you have to go the long way around, (about 5 1/2 blocks) when you could just come up the driveway from our cabin with the buried line?” (1/2 block). He would have to go back to the drawing board and figure that out! On his computer no doubt. I do have to add that the young man was always polite and kind — just doing his job. 

I bugged them for three months. Finally we got the OK to come the short route and it would cost is $8,000. (After the $28,000 quote – that seemed cheap!) We could pay it off every month with our power bill. We said OK and then we waited and waited! In the middle of October the little machine that digs the line in, showed up, dug the line and was gone within the hour. Then we had to wait for the electrician to hook us up. Finally we were hooked up had power to run the pump, to run the water, to heat the water, to run it in the tub/shower, and the washer and dryer. We retired the generator. 

Then we went to town and bought a toaster. We both had missed toast in the morning. We talked and dreamed about a piece of toast for breakfast. We bought a loaf of white bread. We toasted all of that in one day. Bought another loaf of white bread and that lasted two days! I made sour sourdough bread, I made raisin bread and wheat bread. We toasted every slice. I was given a bread machine and we ate bread machine toast. We still like toast and smile when we take the first bite. 

We were just a snug as could be. Then Bob added a sunroom. What a blessing that has been. Then, getting tired of me yelling “turn that TV down!” and eating around my sewing machine on the table, he built me my wonderful Sewing Cottage. This is where I write cookbooks, sew and sew and write the articles for this paper. Life is good and we have no complaints, except we seem to be getting older! 


Next week: Bob falling, retrieving our cat from the attic, and me calling 911. 


We are blessed with good friends Judy and Jim

Jim bakes wonderful cookies and shares them with us.

Judy gave me a big bag of recipes, no doubt to be more organized

than she already is. I have spent hours and hours reading those recipes

Here is just one that I want to pass on to you.

1 can 16oz refried black beans

1 Tblsp southwestern seasoning mix

1 lime squeezed to make 1 Tblsp juice

1 8oz pkg cream cheese-room temp

1 can 4oz chopped green chilies, undrained

1 garlic clove – pressed

1/2 cup red onion finely chopped

1 can pitted ripe olives – divided (or small can, sliced-divided).

5 ounces of cheddar cheese-grated divided, equal 1 1/4 cups

1 Tblsp fresh cilantro-sniped


Tortilla chips


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix refried beans with 1/2  of the southwestern mix. Spread on bottom of deep dish pie plate. 

In a bowl: Mix the lime juice, cream cheese, garlic, chilies, the other half of the seasoning. Add the grated cheese. Mix well. Spoon over the refried beans in plate.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until hot. Remove. Decorate top with a few olives, cilantro and shredded cheese. Serve with the tortilla chips


From my ‘Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ Fish From Cold Alaskan Waters”

This is just one of my many salmon patty recipes!

2 1/2 cups of very dry mashed potatoes

1 pt of canned salmon-dark pieces removed but used the liquid

1/4 cup diced each onion, celery and green or red bell pepper

1 1/2 Tblsp lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon each lemon pepper, garlic salt

4 to 6 shakes of hot sauce

1 egg

1 Tblsp mayonnaise

1/2 cup fine saltine cracker crumbs


For the coating:

1 or 2 sleeves of saltine crackers crushed fine

1/2 cup of plain finely crushed bread crumbs

Mash the salmon into the mashed potatoes. 


Add rest of ingredients including the fine cracker crumbs. Mix with hands until holds its shape. If to dry and does not hold its shape add another egg.

Place the cracker crumbs and bread crumbs for the coating in a plastic bag. Form patties about 3/4 inch thick and about the size of your palm. Place the patty inside the bag. Pat down and turn over bag carefully and pat crumbs into patty. Remove to a cracker crumb sprinkled cookie sheet. Refrigerate 2 hours or until supper time. You can freeze the patties at this point for abut 3 months. Thaw in fridge before frying. Fry in 1 inch of vegetable oil in a large cat iron skillet or your electric frying pan, two at a time. Remove to warm platter. Serve with cabbage slaw from you garden. 


Serve with the following Favorite Tartar Sauce. I love catsup on mine!!

Favorite Tartar Sauce 

From ‘Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ Fish From Cold Alaskan Waters’

1 cup mayonnaise or sour cream or a combination 

2 Tblsp hot horseradishes (op)

1 Tblsp finely chopped onion

1 Tblsp sweet relish or finely chopped dill pickle

1 Tblsp lemon juice

2 to 3 drops of hot sauce.

Prepare early in the day and refrigerate.

Be sure and save two patties for fish sandwiches for next day’s lunch.

Toasted bun, lettuce, tomato, thin sliced onion and dill pickle slice, tartar sauce or mayonnaise, or catsup. 



This is the time of year coleslaw is on the menu at our house. Here is a different way to make the dressing for the cabbage. This is from Judy’s stash!

3/4 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

3/4 cup brown sugar.

1 teaspoon salt 

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

Mix until the sugar is dissolved.

Prepare 1 medium head of cabbage-thinly sliced

1/2 red or yellow onion thinly sliced and diced

3/4 cup fresh parsley-chopped

3/4 cup of raisins, Craisins or dried cherries


Mix cabbage and rest of ingredients in with the dressing.

Add one of the following two hours before serving.

2 small oranges peeled and sliced thinly, each slice into one fourths.

Or mandarin oranges drained 1 can

Or 1/2 chopped unpeeled red apple

Or 1/2 can pineapple tidbits. 

You may have to double the dressing recipe. This recipe can be made up to two days ahead of time. 


I am making these for a wedding this month

1 cup of room temperature butter-NO substitute! 

1 tblsp vanilla

3 tblsp powdered sugar

2 cups flour

1 cup fine chopped pecans

Cream butter and powdered sugar and vanilla. Add flour and mix well. Add pecans.

Use a teaspoon to scoop dough and form into small balls. Place on sheet, cover loosely and chill 24 hours. 

Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Roll in powdered sugar while warm. Roll again when cooled. Store in sealed plastic container until serving. 

This recipe is easy to double. 


Pioneer Potluck: About getting ready for visitors

Our summer visitors from the “Lower 48” get a peek at our home-style Alaskan living. We are always glad to see and greet them as... Read more