Ann Berg

Ann Berg

How Pioneer Potluck got started

Recipes for tomato salsa, crockpot moose roast and curried seafood salad

  • Tuesday, December 3, 2019 10:19pm
  • Life

This was written by my friend Florence Bommarito-Strumpler, who was the food editor of the Clarion in 2011. She is the one I thank for getting my articles in the paper!

And myself.

I have been asked numerous times how I got my start at writing cookbooks, so this is a little history of the beginning of the articles that appeared in the Peninsula Clarion almost eight years ago. I have not missed a week for eight years! I have now been here for 52 years and would not live anywhere else.

By Florence Bommarito-Strumpler

March 16, 2011

Peninsula Clarion takes pleasure in welcoming Grannie Annie (author of the Alaskan Cookbook series).

The series is written by a 44-year resident of Alaska, Ann Berg of Nikiski, Alaska. 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, Loretta McClure, a self-taught wonderful cook.

And her Grandmother Freda Cogswell. Intermingled with the recipes are stories that are told, Alaskan style, full of humor, sometimes tragic, sometimes entertaining. Ann gets her love of telling stories and her style of telling stories from her Irish father, John McClure. She is the oldest of five, learning early in life to help her mother in the farmhouse kitchen. After each meal, her father told stories of the day.

Sunday was a day for company, wonderful dinners of fried chicken in the summer and chicken noodles in the winter, followed by her father telling one of his numerous stories, laughing just as hard telling them the fifth time he told them as the first time. He loved to tell stories as much as Ann’s mother loved to cook.

You will find a variety of recipes, using common ingredients, Alaskan-grown produce, moose and fish. The desserts use rhubarb, strawberry and other Alaskan-grown berries. She feels she is a food artist and reads cookbooks as though they were novels. Her collection is extensive and varied. She also thinks that food has a history that should be told.

Her oldest cookbook is one giving to her by her Home Ec teacher Mrs. Burke when she graduated in 1955 from Timnath, Colorado High School. The name of the cookbook, published and copyrighted 1815 and 1897 is: “Schammell’s Cyclopedia of Valuable Receipts. Profusely Illustrated. A treasure-house of useful knowledge. For every-day wants of life. Compiled and edited by Henry B. Scammell, Assisted by Experts in Every Department. 2000 Illustrations. St. Louise, Mo USA Planet Publishing Company.”

This old cookbook has wonderful old “receipts” of diseases and the cures, to culinary and receipts cooking and eating, which tells how to measure by pints, handfuls and pinches and pounds. From how to make perfume to keeping bees to sewing your wardrobe to building barns to breeding and feeding animals. I treasure it as it is well-worn and tattered. The last page of 1,204 pages had a library sticker that says, “This book maybe kept 14 days and will be fined 2 cents for each day this book is kept over time.”

The cottage where Ann creates cookbooks, makes quilts and wall hangings is separate from the main house, also built by Bob.

She learned to use the computer after she retired at 62. She has been a “grandma quilter” for a long time, learning that art from her grandma, who had a quilt frame hanging from the ceiling in her kitchen.

When a big holiday meal was over and the dishes washed and dried by hand and put away, the quilt frame would come down, aunts, nieces and grandchildren were given a needle with white thread in it. They would quilt, even 5-year-old Ann. The gossip and the stories were of great interest also.

Working most of her adult life, she is now retired and doing the things that she longed to do and never had the time. Her collection of material is almost as extensive as her large cookbook collection.

She hopes you enjoy the recipes and that the stories will bring a smile to your day.


This is my recipe for tomato salsa. I made big batches of this to be sold when I worked at M&M for Curt Morris. He was the BEST boss and we miss him. I had frequent requests for this after I retired.

This can be used as fresh or put in a crock pot and cook slowly for 6 to 8 hours, put in pint jars then hot water bath to seal the jars. Share with all your friends.

In a large bowl:

Chop 6 to 12 ripe or overripe tomatoes. Put in colander to drain the clear liquid. Transfer back to large bowl. Add the following:

1 large onion diced fine

1 large green bell pepper diced fine

2 stalks of celery finely chopped

1 carrot grated

2 jalapenos chopped — either fresh of canned

2 cans (16 ounces) tomato sauce

1 small can tomato paste

1 tomato paste can of water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon or lime juice

1 teaspoon garlic salt — may take more — depends on the saltiness of the tomato sauce

1 teaspoon black pepper

1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons each basil and parsley or cilantro

1 teaspoon each oregano and Italian seasoning

2 teaspoons garlic minced

1 teaspoon sugar

*NOTE: 2 to 4 cans of diced tomatoes work well with this when tomatoes are not plentiful.

Stir and let chill in refrigerator for 2 hours.

Serve in bowls with corn chips and watch for a big smile.


3 to 4 pounds moose rump or beef roast

1 large onion thickly sliced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons butter

3 carrots, thickly sliced

3 ribs celery, large slices

3 potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 bay leaves

2 envelopes of onion soup mix

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Brown meat in the oil and butter on all sides. Transfer to hot crock pot. Add the onions, celery and carrots to the hot oil. Stirfry for 2 minutes. Transfer to crockpot, making sure some vegetables are on the bottom of pot as well as covering the top. Add the potatoes. Sprinkle the onion soup mix over top. Cover and cook on high about 4 hours. Remove roast and vegetables. Stir the liquid in the crockpot and add enough water to make about 2 cups. Stir in the cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water. Stir until smooth and thick. Slice roast and serve with the vegetables on a warm platter with gravy spooned over top.

Variations: Sometimes if it is a tough piece of moose roast I add one can of beer to the beginning of the pot. Another liquid that I have added to the pot is a can of cola. Older Alaskans added 1 cup of leftover strong coffee to the pot and cooked it all day long on a wood-heating stove in the trusty old cast iron Dutch oven.


¾ pound shrimp in shells or buy ½ pound cooked shelled shrimp

½ cup tarragon vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 ½ teaspoons curry powder

1⁄3 cup vegetable oil

5 cups torn lettuce

3 cups torn spinach

1 cup celery, sliced

½ cucumber, sliced

8 oz crabmeat

¼ cup toasted coconut

¼ cup slivered almonds toasted

¼ cup raisins (optional)

Cook shrimp in lightly salted boiling water until pink. One to 2 minutes. Drain and cool. Carefully remove shells and de-vein. For dressing: in a blender, combine vinegar, honey and curry. Cover and blend 5 seconds. Through opening in lid, with blender on slow, gradually add oil in thin stream. Stop blender to scrape sides and mix. Cover and chill.

On a large serving platter, combine lettuce, spinach, celery, cucumber, shrimp and crabmeat. Pour dressing over mixture. Garnish with coconut and almonds and raisins (optional). Serves 6.

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