Pioneer Potluck: About birthday parties and starting traditions

We had a wonderful time this weekend celebrating two birthdays. Great granddaughter Cecile lives in Washington and is visiting here, and her cousin Natalie, who lives in Anchorage is visiting here also and because we miss celebrating their birthdays in July and in February we have a birthday party for them in August. This is going to be a tradition from now on. It was so much fun. It started with Lily, our little friend from Seward whose birthday is in August about 5 years ago. She was not able to attend this year.


Bob did the honors of decoration his cave-shop. He amazes me with his creativity! One roll of crepe paper and a package of balloons transformed his cave into a birthday party house. The youngest to attend the celebration was my great grandson, 3 months 1 day, Bralyn, his Mom Jewel and his Grandma Gail.

Neighbors, Cathy, Dan and Chase and neighbors across the lake Ginny and Kevin also attended. Grandma Susan with camera clicking and Grandpa Porter and Great Grandpa Bob, both who love to sing, sang at the top of their lungs to smiling, grinning little girls. Grandpa Bob finished off the singing with a song he sings to everyone about how special they are.

The girls blew out the candles and opened presents. So much fun we will do it again next year. Maybe Lily can attend next year!!

A note of interest: It has rained and rained all week. The afternoon of the brithday party, the sun came out, we built a bon fire and everyone sat around in the sun a watching the men play wiffle golf.

Birthdays were special when I was growing up also. My Dad took charge at the birthday table singing and joking, after Mom had worked for hours and days to make the celebration just right. First of all it was always fried chicken time, so catching, preparing the chicken the day before and making the cake which for me was a angel food cake made from 13 egg whites beaten to high peaks, gently poured into the tube pan. Then with a warning from Mom, “DO not to come in the kitchen, OR slam doors because the cake would fall.” We all waited quietly until the cake came out to see the finally results.

Mom would careful take it out of the oven, turn it upside down on a cup for it to cool, and us kids could resume the running outdoors and slamming doors. (Of which we always got scolded for!)

The frosting for mine was chocolate. Dad loved Angel food cake too, but he like the Seven Minute Frosting that mom made by stirring hot syrup into egg whites and beaten until it stood in “peaks.” And Dads birthday was in February so we also had home made ice cream to go with his special cake.

Fast forward to this day and age! I have always baked birthday cakes. BUT I found a beautiful ,round, one layer, chocolate cake, decorated, at the local grocery store for a little over $5.00 and my fragile mind and the older part of me said, make it easy on yourself, so I bought it! I was delicious! I can see my Mother shaking her finger at me!! Makes me smile!


This almost tastes like strawberry Ice Cream!

You can combine raspberries or strawberries using half berries and half rhubarb.

Place 3 cups finely sliced fresh or frozen rhubarb (or half other berries) in a 13 X 9 glass dish. Sprinkle with 2 cups sugar, toss, cover and bake at 375% for 35 to 40 minutes until the rhubarb is tender. Reduce baking time for half berries and half rhubarb. Stir half way through baking. Cool. The original old recipe says to place in food processor, but I do not do this. Place in bowl and refrigerator to chill.

To make the ice cream:

In a large bowl:

1 cup whipping cream

1 cup milk - I use canned milk.

Note: As a substitute for whipping cream and milk, you can use two cups of canned milk.

1 tsp minced fresh ginger. Powdered ginger will take 1 /12 tsp.

2 tsp lemon juice.

Chill in freezer to almost crystals. Not necessary but speeds the churning in the ice cream maker.

Fill the container of the ice cream maker according to directions. Process.

When finished, let it cure in the freezer 4 hours or next day. This is a necessary step for this flavor of ice cream as it improves the flavor. AND I am sure that Dad would enjoy this ice cream. If you asked him what kind of ice cream or pie he wanted-he would reply with a smile “gooseberry.”


This is so good and SO easy!

Combine in a large bowl:

1 stick butter, melted

2 eggs

1 1/3 cups sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 to 1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup milk

3 cups shredded coconut

Mix well and pour into an ungreased 9 inch pie plate. Bake at 350% until golden brown on top - about 35 to 45 minutes. Turn half way through baking to evenly brown. Enjoy this delicious pie! Thank you Judy!!



I have had requests to repeat this recipe.

This takes care of the green tomatoes that did not have time to ripen this year.

The variation comes from my recollection of my Grandma Cogswell’s delicious relish that she called “German Sweet Relish.”


24 green tomatoes of various sizes, cut in pieces

2 each of large red and green bell peppers-quartered

2 large onions-cut in pieces

Grind in a hand grinder or a Food Processor, all vegetables. I have added:

½ head of Cauliflower and ½ head of cabbage in the grinder also.

Place the ground vegetable in an enamel or glass pan, lined with cheesecloth.

Sprinkle with:

2 to 3 tblsp non-iodized salt or pickling salt.

Stir into ground vegetables. Tie cheesecloth and let drain in colander for 4 to 5 hours.

Sterilize ½ pint jelly jars (or 1 pint canning jars) and lids as instructions with your hot water bath canner.

In a large glass or enamel kettle:

4 cups sugar

2 ½ cups apple cider vinegar

2 tsp pickling salt

4 tsp dry mustard

4 tsp celery seed

2 cups water

2 tbsp cornstarch

1 tsp turmeric

Stir and heat to a rolling boil.

Stir in ground vegetables and heat again to a rolling boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, simmer for 15 minutes.

Put relish in sterilized jar, making sure you add some hot liquid to ever jar so the relish is covered. Leave ¼ inch headroom. Put lids on jars and hot water bath for 10 minutes.

VARIATIONS: Add ½ teaspoon NUTMEG to the syrup as it boils. This is my adaptation of German Sweet Relish that my Grandmother made. If you do not have red peppers, I use 2 carrots ground up for color. I have made this for many years and give it away as gifts at Christmas.

From "Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ at the Homestead" cookbook.


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