Pioneer Potluck: About snow, outhouses and surviving in Nikiski, Alaska

With the recent snow and the warmer temperatures, brings back a story about our first Christmas and New Year in a new tiny house that Bob built. We were snug and warm as long as we kept the wood in the fire. As long as we cut wood, split it and stacked it and then hauled it into the house. Then we discovered Sam the Wood Man. He brought us nice dry, cut-to-length wood. The first purchase that winter was a homemade wood splitter that we use to this day. It is on loan to our neighbors at any time. But the days we had to walk out to the parked truck at the cul-de-sac to go grocery shopping or laundry and get a shower, were some of the days I will never forget. We tried to do this all in one day.


The following is taken from my “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ at the Homestead.”

Although we never lived on a homestead – we certainly admire the homesteaders of Alaska. We have had lots of friends that are homesteaders. Many have shared their stories and recipes with us. I do feel my family has homesteading qualities as it takes a certain type of hardy individual, hard, grueling work, love of the outdoors, love of nature and animals. It also required trips to the outhouse in the middle of the winter at below zero weather. Now that is the hardy part of homesteading that I marvel at!

Falling and sawing wood, splitting and stacking and hauling into the house, trying to start the fire in a cold, cold house is challenging. And so are the trips to the outhouse again. Keeping the fire going, heating and cooking and baking food on the woodstove, as well as hauling water to be heated for a bath in the dishpan in the middle of the kitchen in the middle of winter. And the trips to the outhouse again!

Then there were the day that we walked into our place with the snow falling on top of already 8 to 12 foot of snow. This was the time my foot and leg fell through the crust of snow and the other leg stuck straight out in front of me. Bob was ahead of me, not knowing I was stuck. He turned around just in time to see me flailing and flopping trying to get out. I was screamed and him ‘Help Me Help Me!” As he turned he slipped and the two sacks of groceries he was carrying went tumbling down the hill and onto the frozen lake. He crawled over to me and I finally rolled out after flopping around like a walrus. I pulled my foot out but left the boot in the bottom of the hole. We laugh so hard because neither one of us could reach my boot. Finely Bob flopped down on his belly and reached down with his face in the snow and retrieved my boot.

We both looked like snowman. We had always walked up our lane and over the hill and down our driveway. But Bob decided that we should take a shortcut over a bigger hill and down behind the house. I had a full laundry bag of clean dry clothes that I was dragging behind me. I was screaming MAD setting in the snow and struggling to get my boot back on. “Why did we come this way?” All he did was laugh at me.

So the next time we walked up the lane and over the hill and down the driveway, with Bob pulling a sled loaded with two 5 gallon containers of water. The sled got away from him and he gradually got it down the hill only to have the water containers slowly tip over at the very bottom of the hill. I laughed that time.

Our trips to the outhouse were the topic of many conversations! Who would go first to “warm up” the seat? NO! NOT ME! But Bob would usually out-wait me and I was the one who blazed the trail to the state of the art outhouse that was built just for me. Or when we had so much snow, the trail to the outhouse had to be shoveled every day. I would see Bob out their throwing snow way up high above his head to make a tunnel to our most important part of the living in the woods and snow. He spent hours keeping the trail open. I think he was just as glad as I was when he announced that he was installing a bathroom the year that we got running water into the house. Well, almost as glad – I was so excited and I got to use it first!!

Many homesteaders told us the many ways to keep your patoot warm in the outhouse. The most inventive - we used this version - simple hang the seat behind the woodstove and take it with you when you went to do your business. And the battery operated seat warmer – that was not such a good idea. Tried the fur and fuzz covered ones too – nope not for me!

Our outhouse was built by Bob with help from JT. It had a nice linoleum covered floor, corrugated tin on the sides and greenhouse corrugated plastic see through roof.

I bet you have never sat in an outhouse with kitties in the chokecherry tree outside looking in the roof at you – I have!!


Bob and I wish ALL our good friends and helpful neighbors and Wonderful New Year.

Basic Cookie Dough Recipe

I use this basic cookie dough recipe for several different types of cookies. This dough can be frozen.

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

2 cubes butter or 1 cup butter flavored shortening

Cream with a mixer until very fluffy. Add two eggs and beat into fluffy mixture.

NOTE: If you want a softer cookie add either 2 more eggs or as I usually do 2 tablespoons applesauce. The applesauce keeps then soft and moist. If you want a crisper cookie do not add the additional eggs or applesauce.

Add 2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoons vanilla, almond extract or rum extract.

Stir 3 1/2 cups flour into mixture, 1 cup at a time

Mix until well combined

This is at the point where you add the ingredients of your choice and freeze or drop by tablespoon on foil lined cookie sheet and bake 350% for 12 to 14 minutes until slightly browned.

My first choice is:

One package German sweet baking chocolate (in the green wrapper) broken into chunks with a knife and chopped into small pieces. Also add one package milk chocolate chips and 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans.

My second choice is:

Add 1/4 cup baking cocoa to the above recipe. Add 1 teaspoon each vanilla and almond extract.

My third choice is:

Add 1 cup Craisins or raisins and 1 cup chopped nuts to basic recipe. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

My fourth choice is:

1 package each butterscotch chips or peanut butter chips and 1 cup walnuts. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

My fourth choice is:

1/2 cup chopped candied pineapple, 1/2 cup each red and green candied cherries, cut in half. 1 cup nuts of choice. Add 1 teaspoon almond or rum flavored extract. This makes a very festive Christmas cookie.

My fifth choice is:

1 cup coconut, 1 cup walnuts chopped. Add 1 teaspoon rum flavored extract.

If frozen thaw to room temperature and proceed to add ingredients if you have not already added and bake as directed above. I put this recipe together after many “oops” that Bob willing ate. He loves cookies of any kind, shape or taste! I invented this in 1999 by putting many recipes I liked together. Enjoy!

The Very Best Blueberry Pie

I love to bake pies. Nowadays I cheat and buy already made pie crust – it’s just as good or better than from scratch. Time-saving too! I baked Ginny, Kevin, John and Nikki blueberry pies for Thanksgiving. A week before Christmas, John brought me a large bag of frozen blueberries with several hints of how good the last blueberry pie was. He got another one for Christmas. Nikki said they warmed large slices for Christmas breakfast and added French Vanilla ice cream.

This takes 4 cups of blueberries in total-divided

In a medium saucepan combine the following

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons of flour

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg optional

1/4 teaspoons cinnamon

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries-reserve the other 2 cups for later.

1 1/2 cups of apple juice

Combine all the ingredients with the apple juice before you add the 2 cups of blueberries.

Bring to a simmer slowly and then bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly with a spatula or a whisk until thickened and clear. Add the remaining 2 cups of blueberries and stir gently. At this point you can pour into a baked pie shell (see note below) or a graham cracker crust and chill in refrigerator. I prefer to cool and then place in unbaked pie shell and cover with top piecrust, vented, cramp edges, brush top with water or beaten egg white, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. Bake on a cookie sheet at 350° for 35 to 45 min. until crust is browned. Remove from oven and let cool on rack. Give to your neighbors.


Pour COOKED ingredients into baked pie shell or graham cracker crust and refrigerate until cold.

Top with the following:

2 cups Cool Whip

1 teaspoon powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix and spread over chilled blueberry pie. Decorate with a thin slice of lemon twist. At this point you can freeze the whole pie. Thaw for 30 minutes at room temperature to serve.

Peach Cobbler Pie

One piecrust frozen, thawed or handmade crust, place in 9 inch pie pan and flute edges...

2 large cans sliced cling peaches sweetened in juice

Drain juice into saucepan and stir and:

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Small pinch of nutmeg

Stir to combine and heat slowly until thickened and clear, stirring constantly – you can use the microwave to cook this until thick also. Add to the drained peaches in a large bowl and stir gently. Pour into prepared unbaked pie crust.


1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup old-fashioned oatmeal

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

3 tablespoons butter

Cut in butter until crumbly and add 3/4 cups chopped walnuts. Stir and sprinkle on top of peaches. Place on one rack below middle of your oven. Bake at 325 for 35 to 45 min. until crust is done and top is golden. Watch the top of the pie as it will burn easily. Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream. Share a slice with your friends.


These recipes can be found in my Grannie Annies Cookin’ at the Homestead cookbook.


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