Grannie Annie: A story about bread

Grannie Annie: A story about bread

  • By Ann “Grannie Annie” Berg
  • Wednesday, January 30, 2019 4:12pm
  • LifeFood



We had a wonderful fun winter in 1969 on Daniels Lake. The kids made good use of the frozen lake with snow machines and skating. Of course there was a lot of sledding down the hill and onto the lake, but everyone went feetfirst after seeing how David broke his arm going down the hill headfirst. He healed and I have never forgotten that I did not believe him.

In the spring when fishing started, we fished at Bishop Creek and at Swanson River. Me and my gal friends Leatha and Jo Anne canned tons of salmon. We also canned smoked salmon that most men did because they had just a little bit better recipe than the next. All was good, but I think the best was from Gene and Betty Coulter. (My daughter, Gail, is the very best when it comes to smoked salmon. She goes to a lot of work skinning the bark off the wood and does a long cold smoke. It is wonderful!)

I learned to scale and gut and skin salmon. I also learned to cook salmon every way possible. BUT the very best recipe was the one I got from Gene and Betty Coulter, beer-battered halibut and salmon. Gene was so precise about what kind of beer — had to be Ole Beer, warm. He stirred and stirred and then let it set for hours. He finally dipped his fish chunks cut just the right size into the batter. He fried it like a professional cook and took great pride in the end result. Betty did the same when she cooked fish, except she liked Budweiser for her batter. And she added her wonderful-tasting Alaskan-grown cabbage from her garden, for slaw that she cut so thin and even. She also used the real mayonnaise. Hellmann’s!

I learned to can that spring also. Up until that time I was terrified of pressure cookers. Leatha was my teacher. Earlier that winter we made 46 DOZEN tamales from ground moose meat.

We ground moose hamburger from a homemade meat grinder. It consisted of a large meat grinder nailed to a stump and the drill from a grinder hooked to the handle. Two men would push with all their might to hold the stump down with their feet, while one more man would start the grinder. If they did not do that, the stump would take off in a circle flinging moose everywhere.

We had an assembly line of friends and we shared every bit of moose meat. The men shot and dressed the moose, then they cut it into steaks and roast, and tough pieces into hamburger. The gals would trim and wrap the different cuts of meat and put them in a pile — usually we shared with four families. When the hamburger was ground we divided up the large amount, and put it in four different piles to wrap in freezer paper. Everyone got equal amounts. We had moose and fish in the freezer at all times. Between the four families, there were 13 or 14 kids from age baby to just barely teen.

Our life was full and fun and we developed friends forever. That was 50 years ago and my memories are as clear as the day I learned all about Alaskan living. I loved it and I still do! Which brings me to the next story!


2019 January.

My grandson Arleigh and my son David are home from the North Slope. They came to visit us Sunday. Arleigh piled his two little sweetie pies on his snow machine and brought them down to visit. Braleigh age 3 1/2 and Bralyn who is 4 1/2 always have smiles to greet us while the big folks talked. David and Kyianna had arrived earlier. Braleigh crawled up on my lap and I asked her what Grandma (Gail) was doing.

She turned and looked at me like I should know — and replied, “She’s making me bread to eat.”

“Oh,” I said. “Are you going to share?”

Another look of amazement came from her cute face and looking at me like I was dumb!

“Yes –I love it! We gonna eat it when we get home.”

Turns out that they helped Grandma Gail make bread. Gail is the best bread maker around! She takes time and has the patience that I sometimes do not have. It is so very good. I bet Braleigh will grow up making bread just like Grandma!!

That put a smile on my face and I remembered the first time I ate “Grandma’s bread.”

I was probably about Braleigh’s age and I was being baby sat by Grandma and Grandpa Cosgwell. I can still remember where she kept the flour and sugar in her side-cupboard with the flour and sugar bin built in. How nice the loaves looked as they rose in the pans. And how the kerosene stove smelled as it was baking — sending out the grand aroma of home-baked bread.

Grandpa was in his wooden rocker with his pipe in his mouth, legs crossed waiting for the bread to cool so we could sit at the table and have a piece of warm bread.

It was so hard to be patient to let it cool.

Finally, Grandma would put out three small dishes and the homemade butter, cut the loaf in large slices and put each piece on our plate.

Grandpa would always wait for her to sit down and then he would pick up my piece of warm bread and put a thick slather of butter on it and lay it back in my plate.

I knew by instinct that I had better wait for them to get their bread buttered. Grandpa would take a big bite and look at Grandma — that’s the very best bread Freda, she would tell her. I had my mouth full and would agree.

She would grin and say thank you Ernest. BUT the very best bread and butter at Grandma’s was day-old bread for a snack — that had a lots of butter and then grandma would remove the sugar bowl lid and take the spoon and sprinkle large amounts of sugar on my piece of bread. My mouth waters to this day!!

It’s the little simple things that have gone from this world!!

Susan shared a memory of Grandma McClure’s bread (My Mom). While visiting in Colorado, Susan said that Grandma baked a loaf just for her. She ate the whole loaf, but not at one setting. She did slurp up every bit of it though!

Oh great memories I have of Mom’s bread too — homemade butter that I got to churn in a big gallon jar by rolling it on the cupboard until it turned to butter, then we got to drink the buttermilk. We had homemade bread or biscuits at almost every meal while I was growing up

Mom made our sandwiches out of her bread to take in our school lunches. Now that was extra good! Lots of mayonnaise and lunch meat with lettuce while we were in high school Mom discovered white sandwich bread from the grocery store. It must have been a wonderful time-saver for her! Her sandwiches were just as good!

Bob tells me he remembers his mom’s bread-baking by the great smell of homemade bread. He also says he made his kids BS sandwiches to take to school. When the teacher asked one day what kind of sandwiches they ate, they replied quite innocently, “BS Sandwiches.” The teacher called the dad (Bob) and asked what he was teaching his kid? She said they were eating BS sandwiches!! Bob said, “Well, have you never heard of butter and sugar sandwiches?”

No more was said abut his kids’ BS sandwiches.

So here I have filled this page with memories of homemade bread. Now I guess I had better bake some bread and make Bob a BS sandwich. !!

Oh dear, one more story!!

Helen Forshay lived on a dry-land farm in Colorado — not to far from Dad’s farm — in the 1940s during WWII. Dad hired Helen to babysit me, Brother Sonny and Sister Ginger, while Mom worked in the fields on a tractor. Helen always brought homemade bread for everyone to eat.

Dad went to take Helen something one day. She lived with her Mom and son in the middle of a fenced-in yard that was dusty and dirty with cows, hogs, chicken, geese and goats that wandered in and out of the house. Helen was kneading bread on the table when a chicken flew up on the chair back and watcher her knead bread.

Dad would tell this story many times and he would say she brought it down to us and WE ATE IT!!


This recipe first appeared in “Grannie Annie’s Cookin’ at the Homestead” and also published by Quail Ridge Press In “The Best of the Best of Alaska” soon to be republished in color. It is my most requested recipe. I am proud to say I invented this most popular version of Enchiladas.

1 or 2 pounds of ground moose burger, hamburger or chicken breasts (cubed)

1/2 onion chopped fine

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 cans cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup

1 can stewed diced tomatoes

1/2 cup sour cream

1- 8 ounce can chopped green chilies — do not drain

1 cup cubed Mexican Velveeta

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

6 to 8 corn tortillas — divided

Mozzarella cheese

Additional garlic salt and black pepper


Brown meat (moose or chicken) onion and garlic in saucepan. In a large bowl, place soup, tomatoes, sour cream, green chilies and Velveeta. When meat is almost cooked through add garlic salt and black pepper and cumin. Add meat mixture to soup mixture and stir until well blended. Taste for more salt.

Soften tortillas in the small amount of hot vegetable oil in cast iron skillet and drain on paper towel. Place 3 1/2 or 4 tortillas in oblong casserole dish. Spoon one half mixture onto the tortillas. Place the rest of the tortillas over mixture and spoon remaining mixture on top. Top with shredded Mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle top with garlic salt and pepper and Rica. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour till bubbly and brown on top. Let set 15 minutes before serving with a nice green salad and a tall glass of cold limeade. Lime sherbet for dessert or key lime pie.


This was in my “Grannie Annie’s Cooking on the Wood Stove” cookbook and also appears in “The Best of the Best of Alaska” published by Quail Ridge Press.

Moose balls:

1 1/2 pounds round moose meat or hamburger

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 small onion chopped fine

Mix breadcrumbs, salt, ground meat, egg, thyme and onion until well blended. Shape into 1 inch balls. Place in a Dutch oven and brown. Remove and drain.


1 onion chopped

3/4 cups sliced fresh mushrooms or one small can

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cans beef broth

1 can stewed tomatoes diced

5 red potatoes with skins on, cubed

In the same pan used for meatballs, sauté onion and mushrooms in olive oil. Add beef broth, stewed tomatoes and potatoes. Bring to a simmer and add the ground moose balls. Simmer until potatoes are done 30 to 40 minutes or if you are doing this on the wood stove or in a crock pot, simmer all day on low until you have the snow shoveled and the wood chopped.


First published in “Grannie Annie’s Cooking on the Wood Stove” and on page 250 of the “Best of the Best of Alaska” cookbook.

As you know I collect bread pudding recipes. This is a delightful dessert for this time of year.

1 cup butter softened

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 can evaporated milk

1-20 ounce can crushed pineapple and juice

1-8 ounce can pineapple chunks — drained; reserve juice for sauce

8 or 9 slices of day-old bread, cubed.

In a mixer bowl cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs, milk. Mix well and stir in crushed pineapple with juice and the drained pineapple chunks. Pour into a large bowl with bread cubes. Mix well until moisture is absorbed. Let stand 15 minutes. Pour into a well-oiled cast-iron Dutch oven. Cover with lid. Put in 300-degree oven for 2 to 3 hours. After 1 1/2 hours, take lid off and allow moisture to escape. Replace lid and bake until tested with knife comes out clean — usually another 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

OPTIONS: Place in well-oiled crock pot on low for 2 to 3 hours, takeing lid off for steam to escape and replace lid. Bake until tested with a knife. OR in a casserole dish with lid, in oven for one hour, take off lid to let steam escape and replace for an hour until test with knife comes out clean.


1- 8 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained and reserved pineapple juice

1 teaspoon lemon juice

A pinch of salt

1 teaspoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

Pour crushed pineapple into a small saucepan and add the reserved pineapple juice from the pineapple chunks in bread pudding.

Add lemon juice and a pinch of salt, mix cornstarch with water and when mixture comes to a boil turn down heat and add the cornstarch. Cook until clear. Ladle on individual plate.


Quick to prepare — creamy, rich and very good

1 cup of crab meat or imitation crab — cooked

1 cup of tiny shrimp, usually called salad shrimp — cooked

1 cup of halibut chunks — cooked, diced

Combine seafood and set aside.

1 carrot — diced

1 stalk of celery — diced

1 small onion — diced

In a large saucepan (I have a glass Dutch Oven I use), melt:

3 tablespoons butter and add the diced vegetables. Sauté a few minutes.


2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup of white wine (or 2 1/2 cups of broth, omitting the wine)

Bring to boil, reduce and simmer 3 minutes.

Stir in 1 tablesppon tomato paste

2 cans canned milk

1 cup of regular milk (This called for half and half, 3 cups. That’s too rich for us).

In a small bowl: Melt 3 tablespoons of butter and stir in 1/2 cup flour. Stir this into the hot soup. Add salt and pepper. Simmer until thick and creamy — do not boil. This will take about 30 minutes; you will have to stir it constantly. Add the 3 cups of seafood. Simmer 5 minutes. Serve in hot bowls with 1/2 teaspoon butter on top. Sprinkle with pepper. Pass the Oyster crackers. Call the King and Queen, they will love it.


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