About saunas and cold Alaskan winters



Living in the cabin

Saunas are for the young, old, daring and the bored in the middle of the winter. It feels so good to get warm in zero and below temperatures, with 10 to 12 feet of snow and more slowly falling out of the sky. Its time to fire up the sauna. In our case in our younger years, we had a sauna cabin that had to be fired up (Bob’s job) about two hours before you could shed all your clothes and enter into the steaming good smelling cedar room. There was a small one man Jacuzzi tub in the corner

Lots of cold winter days were passed with the thought of the nice warm sauna at the end of a very boring day. There were times when a big jug of wine was shared and there was the time the jug of wine ran out before our bones got warm. So it was once again Bob’s job to go get more wine out of the refrigerator in the house. Bob in his entire nothing, headed out the sauna door, to run to our little house, to get more wine. He bailed out the door, ran bare footed across the yard in a big cloud of steam. All of the sudden he stopped, backed up, looked and took off running around the other side of the house. A none-to-happy momma-moose stopped in her tracks, not giving in on her territory, or as Bob said, “I think she was as shocked to see me as I was her!” He ran up the steps to the house, grabbed the jug of wine and retraced his steps around the back side of the house, across the yard and into the sauna, all of which took about 3 minutes.

I am sure the momma moose was wondering what that big steam cloud with feet was. It took Bob a long time to warm up, the wine helped!

About two week later, sitting so comfortable in the warm steam of the sauna, Bob said, “Oh man! We are running out of wood!” We were just getting the bones warmed and telling each other “I could just stay in here all night – this feels so good.”Again the temperature had not moved above the zero mark.

Bob always built great fires in the old log eating wood stove in the corner of the sauna. It took lots of wood to heat, get warm and stay warm. A slight miss-calculation and you could cut yourself short of the very thing you built the fire for. We loved just to sit in the sauna for a long time and get the winter blues and blah’s and sore spots soaked out.

My statement “I could sit in here all night” was taken seriously by Bob. Beside we had some wine left! Things were not ending evenly matched (like too much gravy and not enough biscuits). All of a sudden Bob disappeared out the sauna door in his nothing. Not paying to much attention I sat totally relaxed, thinking any time the fire would die down and we have to leave this little warm Hacienda in the middle of the woods.

I was shook to reality when I heard a big thud, then a little shake, then another big thud, and another little shake of the sauna. I jumped up and before I could get through the sauna door and grab a big towel, there was the third thud and a shutter. I opened the main door of the sauna cabin and there was Bob in his entire nothing, with an axe in hand, chopping up the steps to the sauna!

It took some convincing that the steps were not fire wood and beside I was ready to go to the house, “So put the axe down please.” We went back into the cooling sauna, dried off and headed for our little house before the fire completely died out.

Do you think maybe wine had anything to do with the non-calculation of the firewood and the chopping of the sauna steps? Those steps bore the big hash-chop marks for many years. I always smiled as I was going up those steps to get my bones warm.


If you freeze clams as I once did – you will have to grind the partially frozen clams with medium blade and grind one peeled potato. Clean grinder with small amount of warm water into the ground clam bowl.



2 to 3 cans minced clams with liquid

2 onions diced in large chunks

1 cup celery diced

1 can chicken broth

½ red pepper diced – green will do (one half)

2 small carrots sliced

4 medium new potatoes unpeeled and diced or peeled, diced Red McClure’s

2 tblsp olive oil

4 cups milk or 3 cans of canned milk (I prefer the canned milk)

Sometimes I add one small can of sliced mushrooms, to extend for unexpected company.


Heat cooking pot with oil and sauté vegetables for 5 minutes. Stir – do not brown. Add the chicken broth, ground clams and potatoes. Simmer slowly for 15 minutes until potatoes are done. (The old, old recipe said to simmer one hour!)

Add a pinch of Basil, Parsley and Cayenne pepper.(and canned mushrooms and liquid) Add garlic salt and black pepper to taste. Simmer 5 minutes.


Thicken with 2 tablespoons cornstarch in one fourth cup milk. Add slowly in a small stream, stirring constantly until medium thick. Simmer just one minute.


Ladle into soup bowls. Top with butter and sprinkle with black pepper. Add a grilled cheese sandwich or buttered toast.



Are you licking your lips? This is a wonderful recipe. Takes some time to make but well worth the effort. My grandpa and grandma Cogswell lived in the middle of an 80 acre cherry and apple orchard in northern Colorado. I loved to pick cherries and apples. Grandpa would carry a hoe to “clean out” any weeds he would find while walk through the warm soft soil and smell the cherry and apple blossom in the spring. I usually took off my shoes and walked barefoot. Grandma made wonderful cherry and apple pies in the fall and canned pickled apples and cherries. Yup! Pickled cherries!

The cherries were made famous even before George Washington. You use the frozen pkg of dark sweet cherries for this very old recipe. Read recipe through first.


10 oz Italian bread trim crusts and cut into ½ inch thick slices.

10 tblsp butter-melted

2 cups milk*

1 1/2 cups whipping cream*

NOTE: You combine 2 cups of milk and ½ cup cream for custard* – I used canned milk for the whole thing, making 2 ½ cups canned milk. The rest of the cream (1 cup) is for whipping cream. Make it easy on yourself and buy it in the can!! So omit the whipping cream if you want. Just fascination that heavy cream was used so much in all the old recipes. Maybe because we all milked cows and had the milk and cream to use.

1 ½ cup sugar

2 egg yolks

1 – 12oz pkg. frozen pitted dark sweet cherries thawed and drained – about 1 cup.

2 tblsp Kirsch – almond extract as a substitute.

½ tsp finely grated orange peel

1 tblsp powdered sugar

Chocolate sauce to follow.


Cut bread sliced into triangles. Brush both sides with butter. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan combine milk* (cream?) and ½ cup sugar. Cook and stir for 5 minutes until sugar dissolves. Lightly whisk egg yolks and stir very slowly into the hot mixture. Arrange half the bread triangles over the bottom of a buttered 6 cup-2 to 3 inch deep- oval or rectangle baking dish. Spoon about 1/3 of the custard over bread triangles. In a medium bowl combine cherries and remaining 1 cup of sugar, Kirsch (almond extract) and orange peel. Spoon this mixture over the bread custard. Arrange remaining bread over top of cherries and pour remaining custard over top. Let stand on cupboard for 20 minutes for the bread to absorb the custard. Preheat oven to 350 % and bake for about 40 minutes until firm and lightly browned. Cool on a rack. Serve at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream (from the can) on top. Spoon some chocolate sauce on top.


2 ½ tblsp butter

2 tblsp milk*

2 tblsp whipping cream*

*(Again) I used 4 tblsp canned milk for this.

1 tbsp sugar

4 oz semi sweet chocolate finely chopped. (Substitute) ½ cup of chocolate chips do well.

1 tblsp dark rum or almond extract

In a small saucepan combine all ingredients except the chocolate and extract. Bring to a gently simmer and stir in the chopped chocolate or the chocolate chips and the extract. Stir until smooth and drizzle over whipped cram and bread pudding.


Or try turkey!

Heat crock pot and add the following:

1 ½ pounds of chicken breast or turkey breast meat – cooked, cubed

2 cans of chicken broth

2 cans of water

1 large onion chopped

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon chili powder (or less)

1 tablespoon ground cumin (or less)

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more)

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 four ounce can diced green chilies and liquid

½ pound (about 2 cups) Great Northern small beans.

Cook on high 4 to 6 hours, turn to medium or low 2 hours, depends how done the beans are. Serve with the Cornmeal Muffins.


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