Pioneer Potluck: About Ben's boat and clam digging

Continued story


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 laughingfl 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


Thank you for the many comments on this story.


2 pounds halibut chunks cut in bite sized pieces

Stir-fry quickly in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and remove. In the same skillet add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


1 cup thin sliced carrots

1/2 cup sliced onions

1/2 cup celery sliced diagonally

1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 package frozen thawed French style green beans, drained, or one can French style green beans can be used but added at the last minute just to heat through.


1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 half can chicken broth

Simmer 5 min. Add halibut and simmer 5 min. Serve with white steamed rice

I have had this recipe since 1969. Try halibut cheeks cut in half with this or chicken cut in bite size pieces.



Our good friend Marie Bean made this for my hungry little faces and their young mama when we lived in Poudre Canyon, Colorado.  We would travel up to her house once or twice a week and play Yahtzee and eat her Mayonnaise cake or her home made ice cream sandwiches.  She was a retired teacher and playing Yahtzee is how she taught my young family to learn to count and use addition and subtraction. Thank you Marie and Happy Birthday September 3.

In a large bowl:

3 cups flour

6 tablespoons Cocoa

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon soda

Stir with a fork to combine the dry ingredients.


1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat with a wooden spoon for 2 min. Pour into an oiled 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 min.

Cool and Frost with chocolate frosting, or that good pecan-coconut frosting in a can.  I liked this recipe when we moved to Alaska because eggs were not one of the items that we could get here in 1967. This recipe also started me on something I still do today;  add one or 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise to box cakes in place of one of the eggs. 

The recipe card this was written on has a lot of history around it, from Marie’s hands, from Poudre Canyon to Alaska. It’s all yellow but readable. Is there a place for recipe cards in the Hall of Fame?




Very good rainy day dish,  served with coleslaw.

In a large 9 x 13 baking dish-oiled:

1 cup of milk

1 cup sour cream

1 egg

1 cup Velveeta cheese cut in small chunks

1 or 2 cups cooked small elbow macaroni

1 tablespoon flour-sprinkle over wet ingredients

1 tablespoon chopped onion

1 tablespoon chopped celery

1 tablespoon red or green chopped bell pepper

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 pint canned salmon with dark pieces removed-drained

Stir until well blended

 Top with:

Dry grated bread crumbs or potato chips, crushed

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, garlic salt and black pepper

Bake at 350% to 45 min. until bubbly and brown on top.  Serve with coleslaw or sautéed zucchini and garlic bread.  Upside Down Pineapple or Peach cake for dessert. 


I am sure you have had Coconut Shrimp in a fancy restaurant.  Here is how to do it in your own kitchen.


Prepare 1 pound large Kachemac Bay shrimp; you may need more than 1 pound as sometimes all you get in 1 pound is four or five shrimp!  Take shells and headed off, rinse and set aside.

Make the dipping sauce:

1 cup apricot or orange marmalade

1/2 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

A few drops of soy sauce if you like

Stir and set aside


Make the batter in a medium bowl

1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups cold water

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1 1/4 cups flour

1 1/4 cups cornstarch (combine and stir the flour and cornstarch together before adding to batter)

Stir until very smooth and set aside

In a flat fish place:

3 cups flaked coconut

Heat oil in deep fat fryer to 375° Dip shrimp in batter, then roll in coconut. Fry three or four at a time for 3 min. Do not over fry!! Take out and drain on paper towel. Serve with the dipping sauce to your very best friends. 



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