About birthday presents

Around 1986-87, Nikiski, Alaska and Boulder Point homestead


“How in the world are you going to haul a pig?” one of my friends asked me. “Besides, Susan and her boys were coming from Fairbanks to help celebrate Gail’s birthday.” (June 13)

“I’ll just put it in the car, take out the backseat and put in a box for the pig and two milk crates for the boys to sit on.” I will never be able to describe the look on his face! If I would have said a chicken or a rabbit or a duck, a cat or dog… but a pig!

I went to pick Susan and the boys up at the airport. But first I had to take the back seat out of my old green LTD. I struggled, tugged, pulled and pushed and finally got the huge backseat out, got in my car and headed for the airport in Kenai. I had the foresight to put the milk crates in the back for the boys to sit on, in the absence of a backseat.

Joe and Mike, ages 7 and 4, came running out of the airport to greet their grandma.

When I explained they had to sit on milk crates in the seatless back seat because we were going to Sterling to pick up a pig for Gail’s birthday, Joey looked at me with great suspicion, and with eyebrows raised, looked right in his Mom’s eyes and said, “Dad’s not going to like this!”

I was so glad to see Susan and the boys and busy jabbering that I did not pay much attention to the total disgust of two little boys that had lived in the city all their lives, dressed in nice slacks and cute shirts with perfect manners, being pushed into the bare cavern of a back seat. Then their Grandma telling them “just sit on the milk crates, we are going to go to Sterling and pick up a pig for Gail’s birthday. But first we have to pick up pig feed at Cadre’s in Soldotna.” Again, total silences. Off we went stopping to pick up a bag of pig feed, drove on out to Sterling to pick up the little birthday piggy!

We picked out the little pig, but there was a problem! The two milk crates, the bag of pig feed, and the box for the piggy to live, did not all fit in the back of the car. So this old Grandma in all her wisdom, took out one of the milk crates, parked Mike on one crate and told Joey to sit on the bag of pig feed next to the little pig in the box and off down the road we went to deliver the birthday pig! But not before I heard Joey tell Mike, “Dad really is not going to like this!”

We delivered the little piggy to Gail who lived back at Boulder Point on a homestead. To get there was a 2 mile rutted, dusty trail that sometimes had big holes full of standing water. So the trip was most difficult I am sure for two little boys trying to sit on a sack of pig feed and a milk crate. Gail was totally surprised, the pig was happy to be out of the box. The boys were very happy to run around looking at all the animals Gail had in her yard. It soon came to an end, they had to climb back in the seatless backseat, get back up on their milk crates for a ride to Grandma’s place.

Back then in the days of “do what you can to get by,” we had to make do. But in today’s world, I would have been put in jail for child endangerment and animal cruelty!

This story has been told many many times in our family, and was requested by friends and family for me to write this. Yes, it is a true story!

Happy Fourth of July and God bless America!

The Pioneer Potluck series is written by 50-year resident of Alaska, Ann Berg of Nikiski. Ann shares her collections of recipes from family and friends. She has gathered recipes for more that 50 years. Some are her own creation. Her love of recipes and food came from her mother, a self-taught wonderful cook. She hopes you enjoy the recipes and that the stories will bring a smile to your day. Grannie Annie can be reached at anninalaska@gci.net.

Pineapple bread pudding

This is one of our favorites around Easter time.

My mom made such good bread pudding, usually with her left over homemade bread . It was good hot or cold, but always with cold thick cream skimmed off the top of the milk from our old milk cow. Add a spoonful of sugar on top of the cream and smile as you take the first bite. It is wonderful!

There are fancier ways to make this dessert. I always have the common ingredients around. If you want to get fancy – use Hawaiian bread dried on the cupboard over night. Or cut the crust off the white bread and feed the crust to the birds. I use crust and all. Probably comes from the fact that my Grandma Cosgwell told me if I wasted on crust of bread in my life I would go hungry someday! Heaven forbid!

Cube 8–10 slices of dry day-old white bread. Put into an oiled 13 x 9 buttered dish, or in a buttered Dutch oven. Set aside.

In a mixer bowl, cream —

1/2 cube butter-softened

1 cup sugar


2 eggs

1 can of canned milk

Mix thoroughly, add and stir with wooden spoon:

1- 8 oz can crushed pineapple and the juice, depends on how dry your bread it..

1- 8 oz can pineapple tidbits — drain the juice off and save.

½ cup crushed walnuts or pecans

Pour the wet ingredients over the top of the dry bread. Mix slightly to distribute the fruit and nuts. Let set for half an hour on the cupboard.

Sprinkle with ¼ cup sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg.

Place in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for one hour. Test the middle with a toothpick — it should come out clean and the sides of the pudding should be browned,

While the pudding is baking make the topping.

Open another 8-oz can of crushed pineapple. Pour into a 2 cup measuring cup. Add the reserved juice from the tidbits. You should have 2 cups, add water if not.


2 tbsp sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

A pinch of salt

1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with about 2 tablespoons of water.

Bring the juice to a boil, turn off the heat and add the cornstarch. Stir, the hot liquid should thicken and become opaque.

Serve over squares of Pineapple Bread Pudding. Enjoy!

Pineapple cheesecake

This is so easy — quick, and good frozen too. This recipe reminds me of a dessert mom used to make that was similar to this. I wish I had that recipe – she always warned me not to get into the dessert, it was for supper. I liked the fact that I could have the left over’s for an after school snack. Enjoy – I sure have.

1 20-oz can of crushed pineapple

1 3.4-oz box of Jell-O Cheesecake instant pudding and pie filling

1 8-oz carton of sour cream.

Pour the crushed pineapple in a bowl; sprinkle the instant cheesecake pudding on top

Stir until well mixed and mix in the sour cream. Pour into a 9 inch graham cracker pie tin or into a mold sprayed with oil. I put mine into 3 small loaf pans and froze them. Garnish with coconut, nuts or cherries. I put crushed walnuts on top of mine. I bet it would be good with coconut and nuts mixed in.

French dip with beer or beef broth au jus

Six servings.Quick and easy using leftover or from-the-deli roast beef.

Two garlic cloves, minced

Sauté garlic in butter 1 min. in a large skillet.


1 pound thinly sliced deli roast beef

2 tbsp ketchup

4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp pepper

One bottle of dark beer OR one can beef broth

Bring to boil reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 2 min. stir frequently.

Using a slotted spoon place beef on 6 hoagie buns, split.

Serve with cooking juices. Six servings.

Strawberry trifle

Easy, quick, good! Nice light bedtime snack.

1/3 store bought angel food cake, torn in small chunks

¼ tsp cinnamon

1 cup vanilla yogurt

2 cups fresh strawberries

Place chunk of cake in four individual bowls.

Mix yogurt and cinnamon together and spoon over angel food, reserving 2 tbsp.

Top each bowl with the berries and a tablespoon of reserved yogurt. A little whipped

cream on top.

Creamy chicken fajitas

Use yogurt instead of oil for a marinade.

1 8-oz container nonfat plain yogurt

2 tbsp lime juice

1 clove garlic-minced

1 tsp cumin

¼ tsp garlic salt

¼ tsp pepper

4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves

Mix ingredients and add the chicken breast – marinate for 2 to 4 hours in refrigerator.

For the tomato salsa topping:

3 medium tomatoes chopped

2 green onions finely sliced

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp olive oil

½ tsp garlic salt

¼ tsp pepper

¼ cup chopped fresh coriander. This gives it such a good flavor – but use dry crushed if you cannot find the fresh.

8 warm tortillas

Mix the salsa ingredients and set aside.

Preheat broiler, remove chicken from marinade. Line broiler pan with foil and lay breast smooth side down on broiler rack. Broil 6 inches from heat about 4 minutes. Turn over. Spoon remaining marinade over chicken and cook another 4 minutes.

Slice chicken diagonally and place on warm tortillas, dividing equally. Top with salsa and sour cream. Wrap up and serve immediately.

Note: These can be grilled in the summer time and have each person wrap his own. Have diced onion, sliced black olives, shredded lettuce available.



5th annual Swank Street Market celebrates boutique, antique and more in Soldotna this weekend

Swank Street Market will be hosting their fifth annual flea market today, Saturday and Sunday in Soldotna.

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