Pioneer Potluck: About the canner blowing up at Mallard Park

Canning hooligan — my first attempt at canning
anything! 1969-1970



Iwas about to get my first lesson on pressure canning. Richard and I had gotten some hooligan (a small herring-like fish that comes up Cook Inlet in the spring. You catch them in a net). We went to Rig Tenders Dock very early in the morning and immediately had our net full.

We were always looking for new ways of doing things. Richard thought that we could can them in pint jars to eat in the middle of the winter, mixing them with mustard and various other hot items, similar to sardines. We took the little fishes back to the trailer park, cleaned and washed them, stuffed them in the jars. By that time of morning (5:30) it was time to open the new Texaco Service station that Richard had built and owned (now Steve’s Chevron). He gave me my fast lesson on how to put the lid on the canner, told me how to bring the pressure up to 10 pounds of pressure and let it cook for 90 minutes.

First of all I was afraid of the propane stove that was in the trailer we bought. Second of all I was deathly afraid to use a pressure cooker, that has the potential ability of blowing up like a bomb! Richard was a pressure vessel welder and later became the first Pressure Vessel Inspector in the state Alaska. He understood all the logistics of pressure and assured me that if I did everything right I would have no problems and out the door he went to open the service station. I screwed the lid on, tightened it down, and turned the propane stove on, having to light “that darn stove” as I referred to it, with a match.

What he did not tell me was, exhaust the canner for 5 minutes! I just started to bring “the bomb” up to 10 pounds of pressure. About 8 minutes into the “project” something blew and started a loud hissing. Steam started spurting out of the little hole on top of the canner. I was about 2 feet from it with my eyes glued to the pressure gauge when it blew! I jump 3 feet the air, dropped to my knees, reached up and turned off the burner, crawled to the door, open it, stood up and ran!

I ran down the dirt trailer park road, hollering for my friend Jo Anne. I seem to remember people in their trailers peeking out the windows wondering what that crazy lady, so early in the morning, was doing running down the road in her green paisley hip huggers, screaming at the top of her lungs, “Someone call Richard … someone call Richard! The canner blew up ... the canner blew up.” I hit Jo Anne’s door still screaming “The canner blew up!

She must have heard me coming, because, I think she had already called Richard, having one of the only phones in the trailer park, or someone along the way called him! Jo Anne turned me around and we ran back to my trailer to see if things were OK. We were almost to our trailer door when Richard come tearing into the park in the pickup. He had just opened the station when somebody called and said something had blown up at his house and he better get home.

He had driven in the “excess of 100 miles an hour” to get back down to the park, about 6 miles away. He skidded to a stop, creating great clouds of dust, ran up the steps, flung open the door to the trailer. There on the stove sat the canner with its lid on, in perfect condition! No big gaping holes in the ceiling, no fire and no bomb had exploded. Nothing! He walked over to the canner, looked at me and said “you did not check the soft plug — it must have not been set in right.” “What soft plug?” I said with tears running down my face. “The one that lets the steam out if something goes wrong — it must have not been seated right. (Actually he DID forget to tell me to exhaust the canner — but that is an argument I did not win!)

He undone the lid, put the soft plug back in the little hole, turned on the burner and said “Now exhaust it for 5 minutes, flip this little petcock on the pressure valve and bring it up to 10 pounds.” His stern “out of patience” voice was all it took! When he looked around at me, I was crying and shaking so badly, he walked over and put his arms around me and said “OK, OK, I’ll stay and show you — it is not going to blow up!” I said “BET me!” He stayed until is was exhausted and came up to 10 pounds and told me to watch it, keep it at 10 pounds for 90 minutes. I canned my first pressure canner full of hooligan standing in the living room, shaking like a leaf, not taking my eyes off it the through whole 90 minutes, waiting for it to explode at any time.

Later, every once in a while Richard and JoAnne would laugh and tell me how scared and funny I was. This put Jo Anne in a fit of laughter all over again. Everyone up and down the road and in the trailer park was concerned about what exploded in our house. I had to tell them that it was just a soft plug on the canner — it provided many, many laughs. I think about it to this day when I get my trusty canner out. I have canned for 45 years and never had an episode like my first canning experience.

And now it is time to go down to the dock at Rig Tenders and see if the hooligan are in — oops — cannot get to the dock anymore! Darn! The king salmon are in Homer and the hooligan will be here soon. I think I will have to find my canner! And find a place to get some hooligan!


Next week: Clam digging. It’s that time of year!



Two eggs well beaten

3 large bananas mashed

1 cup sugar

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ cup vegetable oil

1 cup chopped nuts

2 teaspoons vanilla

To the well beaten eggs, slowly add sugar. Add bananas to egg mixture. Add the oil. Mix and add flour, salt and soda. Blend well. Add vanilla and nuts. Pour into small greased loaf pans-it will take three small or a large loaf pan. Cook it 350° until tested with a toothpick-about 45 min. for small loaf pans and 60 min. for large pan. (I mixed this all by hand – not with a mixer.) Great texture and great flavor!



This tasty dish has the flavor of orange and ginger.

Prepare 4 cups of boiling water with 2 cups of white rice according to package.

1 pound of chicken thighs-boneless skinless-or chicken breast-boneless skinless, partially frozen so you can cut in thin strips.

2 large carrots cut diagonally

2 ribs celery cut diagonally

1 medium onion cut in small chunks

½ red pepper and ½ yellow or green pepper, cut in chunks

½ bag stir fry frozen vegetables.

1 small can sliced mushrooms or 1 cup of fresh sliced mushrooms.

Method: Cut and slice chicken-set aside. Slice vegetables-set aside.

Combine the sauce:

3/4 cups orange juice

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3 tablespoons soy sauce-or according to your taste.

1/4 cup corn syrup-I used honey for better flavor.

1/2 to 1 teaspoon grated ginger-or more-depends on your taste (Keep ginger in freezer and grate it frozen)

Combine and set aside

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in large skillet or wok. Add carrots and celery, stir and then add onions and peppers. Stir Fry 1 min. and add the half bag of frozen stir fry vegetables. Stir fry to desired crispy tenderness. Take out a skillet or wok-keep warm. Add 1 more tablespoon oil. Stir fry in small batches, sliced chicken until no longer pink, about 3 min. Push aside in pan and add the orange juice, ginger, and soy sauce mixture-stir quickly until sauce is cooked clear. Add the vegetables, stir in. Place in warm bowl with 1/2 cup crushed cashew pieces sprinkled on top. Serve in individual bowls over hot rice. Four large servings. NOTE: To expand this: add 1 cup pineapple chunks, drained. If you do not have orange juice, use the drained pineapple juice in the sauce.



I found this on the back of a can. I have often thought I should name a cookbook “I Found This on the Back of a Can or Box.”

Preheat oven to 350%.

1 pound ground beef-Moose, Venison or Elk – (I used to combine ground turkey-half-and-half with the wild game.)

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chunky style salsa

1 dry package taco seasoning mix

1/2 cup water

1 cup corn

1/2 cup sliced ripe olives, drained

Cook your choice of meat with the onion in a skillet until no longer pink. Drain off grease. Stir in salsa, taco seasoning, and water

Bring to boil and reduce heat. Simmer for 5 to 6 min. until thickened. Stir in corn and always. Spoon into an ungreased 8 in.8 in. baking dish.


1 box of Jiffy Corn Meal Muffin Mix

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1-4 ounce can diced green chilies - about 1/2 cup

Prepare the batter for the corn muffins according to the directions on the package. Stir in cheese and chilies. Spread over top of meat mixture. Bake uncovered in preheated oven at 350° for 30 to 40 min. until crust is golden. Top with more cheese and bake five more minutes. Cut in squares and serve with salsa, sour cream, chopped onions, and shredded lettuce. I have another recipe similar title “Enchilada Pie.” Great company-coming dish!!



I love lemon pie and this is especially good

You will need one baked pie shell – 8 inch.


1 cup white sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon of flour

1 tablespoon lemon peel

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 cup light cream-I always use canned milk

1/4 cup butter

Slowly bring to a boil on LOW heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thick and clear. You have to watch this because it burns easily. Cool to room temperature. Add 1/2 cup sour cream. Fold into lemon mixture until well blended.

For topping

1 cup Cool Whip

1/2 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons powdered sugar-fold in until well mixed

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon lemon extract. Fold in. Spread over pie and garnish with thin lemon slices. Chill 1 hour.