Pioneer Potluck: About cold weather and keeping warm

North Nikiski, Alaska



This recent cold snap has reminded me of our earlier days after we built our house in the mud and the rain in 1993. That winter, it snowed so much we were snowed in. We had to leave our vehicle at the cul-de-sac about a block away and we walked out or in all that winter. 

Although we are not homesteaders we have a lot of friends that are. They have shared their stories and recipes with us. I feel my family has homesteading qualities as it takes a certain type of hardy individual. Hard, hard work, love of the outdoors, love of nature and animals and trips to the outhouse in the middle of the winter at below zero will make you leave Alaska or stay because you love it. 

Falling trees and chopping wood, splitting and stacking and hauling it into our house-making a fire in the cold, cold stove and of course the trips to the outhouse. Those trips, bundled up, sometimes walking over and around snowdrifts will make you one hardy person. Bob has shoveled his share of pathways to the outhouse from the house, sometimes the path had six-foot walls.

There are many stories about how to heat an outhouse. The one we liked the best was just taking the toilet seat with you that was warmed, parked behind the wood stove. It hung on a wire hanger. Grabbing it as you hurry out the door after you are all bundled up takes a lot of advance planning. 

Bob built our outhouse as a “state of art” — see-through corrugated roof, linoleum on the floor, bright yellow toilet seat and a sun-powered light inside. Spring and summer is no problem at all. I actually enjoy the trip. We used our outhouse for four years, and then I needed running water and a bathroom. All I had to do was ask. Bob built a very nice bathroom, installed a tub and shower. Made an entry way and hooked up the long awaited washer and dryer — then running water! No more carrying water up and down the hill. No more heating water on the woodstove. No more lugging laundry in or out into the cold to the car, driving to the laundromat, hauling clean clothes back to the car.  Back home, out of the car, loading on a sled and up the hill and down the hill to our house. We did that for four years! We do however heat our house with the same woodstove as we prefer wood heat, besides that we get our daily exercise hauling in wood.  We play the game of who’s going to bring in the wood-sometimes I do.  But most of the time we help each other. 

Cooking on our woodstove inspired my first book “Cookin’ on the Wood Stove.”  It was a challenge to figure out how or what to cook. I just put myself in the shoes of my grandmother and my mother in earlier days. It worked. So I guess we can call ourselves homesteaders even though we did not clear land, plow the fields and plant a crop as required for homesteading. My hat is off to those hardy tough people. They know how to survive in the land of the North. We cleared our land with a bulldozer, we built our house in the rain and the mud. We read to each other by candlelight and lanterns. We laughed a lot and we worked hard. We wish we could do that again — well, just once in a while.


Follow the directions exactly.

In a 1 quart measuring cup heat in the microwave:

1 cup low-fat milk.

Stir in 1 cup old-fashioned oats-not the quick kind.

Stir in

1/4 cup applesauce

1 tablespoon vegetable oil or olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cool this mixture for 10 min.

While cooling, mix the following in another bowl:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoons salt

Stir dry ingredients with a fork until well mixed. Add the cooled milk mixture, stirring very gently until flour is just blended. Batter will be lumpy. Do not over mix. Fill sprayed or foil lined muffin tins 3/4 full. Sprinkle with a pinch of oats and sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Bake in hot oven of 400° for 18 to 20 min.

Next time you bake another batch, try the following. Add dried cranberries or fresh cranberries about 1/2 cup. Or 1/2 cup each: dates, walnuts or chocolate chips. Or try 1 cup fresh blueberries or 1 cup diced fresh strawberries. For a new different tastes sprinkle with sugar in cardamom and in place of cinnamon. These freeze very well.



This is from my friend Judy

1 cup butter room temperature

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 cups flour

1 cup chopped pecans

Cream butter add powdered sugar. Add vanilla mix slightly, then add flour. Mix well, add pecans and mix. Use small cookie scoop or a teaspoon to scoop out dough and shape into small balls. Place in refrigerator 24 hours or overnight. Bake at 325° for 20 to 25 min. Roll in powdered sugar while warm. Tips for making a round cookie:

Use only real butter

Be sure they are well chilled and hard before baking

Roll in powdered sugar while warm and when cool hide them away in a bowl with lid.  Give as gifts to friends and bake another batch for Bob and Dan.


This comes from Good News Pres(byterian) in the Our Daily Bread column sent to me every month from La Salle, Colorado


8 ounces of macaroni

12 ounces of Polish or kielbasa sausage - thinly sliced

1/4 cup butter

2 large onions, chopped

1/4 cup flour

2 cups milk

4 teaspoons spicy mustard

1/4 teaspoon caraway seed

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Cook and drain macaroni. Brown sausage slices in 1 tablespoon of butter and set aside. Add remaining butter and brown onions, stir in flour and cook until bubbly. Stir in milk and cook 3 min. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients except the cheese. Place macaroni sausage mixture in a shallow 3 quart baking dish and place shredded cheese on top. Bake at 400° for 30 min. recipe was from Doris. Thanks!