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Pioneer Potluck: About bears and more bears

Mexicali goulash, Mexican hot dish, Southwestern potato pepper jack cheese soup, Mexican moose steak

  • Tuesday, May 21, 2019 11:20pm
  • Life

We have been on alert if we go outdoors all this last week.

Our visitor at the Ricks Ranch was a 2- 0r 3-yea- old medium-sized black bear. The first one we have had in about 10 years. Our other alert system is our five cats that perk up their ears and start to growl before they take cover in every hidey-hole place in the house.

This bear is a bold one! He bit into the locked garbage can several times but did not get it open so he climbed into the back of the pickup, scratching it up and looked for something to eat among the things we were going to haul to the dump from the yard cleanup.

That same night he helped himself to the clover on the hill going to the lake then took a nap. He was still there at 11:30 p.m. when I decided to go back to bed.

Sunday he was back. We had lots of activity in the yard all day and I went inside to make super. I wanted to talk to Bob in his Cave for a minute, so I headed out the kitchen door and there was our friend the black bear at the closed sunroom door looking at me!

I was so startled I just stood there! Then I stomped my feet and screamed at him, “You get out of here!” several times.

He jumped off the deck and I opened to door screaming, ”GO GO get out of here!” loudly because I wanted Bob to hear me in the Cave! I waved my arms and tried to get Bob’s attention, which the bear mistook for more of the old crazy lady chasing him. He took off up the hill through the trees and disappeared. I had to tell my bear story to Bob because he did not hear or see me!! We have not seen him since! This does not mean he will not be back though!!

So I am on alert and don’t just go wandering around the yard looking at all the beautiful plants waking up from a long winter’s nap unless I scan the premises. But on the other hand, the bear may have discovered he can go fishing for salmon in Cook Inlet about 500 feet from us! Let’s hope so!

We have lived here 32 years and have had several black bear encounters. The first one was a momma blackie and her two cubs that tore our greenhouse completely apart. Then I guess they did not find anything in there so they tore our planters with flowers apart. They moved on and we never saw them again.

Several years after that, after a shopping trip to Kenai, we wondered why there were little kids’ fingerprints all over our big, big sunroom window and on the sliding glass door to the sunroom. I put the groceries away and got out the Windex and started to clean off those pesky little kids’ finger prints, wondering who in the world has little kids that we knew.

I squirted Windex on the door and looked closer, those were not little kid’s prints they were little bear paw prints!! They had pushed the door open and shut several times I guess, not figuring out how to get in!! The hair on my head went up and I started scanning the yard from the safety of our sunroom!

We went on bear alert — being careful how we went out the door. A couple days later Bob and I went to visit our friends. Coming home in the late afternoon, as we drove in the yard, we saw a garbage sack that we had earlier, so complacently, placed into a locking garbage can. It was torn apart and contents strewn all over the yard. We parked the car and I headed for the house and Bob began to pick up the sack and contents.

I looked back to tell him something and saw FOUR BEARS about 25 feet from him! I scream BBBBEEEAARS!! Three little cubs ran up a tree and Momma bear stood up and made a step forward. Bob swung around to look, turned around and marched in place with his elbows flapping and emitting a “YOOF YOOF” sound out of his terrified face! It scared him so badly he could not run!! I screamed RUN and he unlocked himself and ran for the house, high stepping like he was walking on eggs. The scene is so very funny now but at the time I wondered what was wrong with him. He said he was so terrified he could not move!! We laugh about it now — well, I laugh about it anyway!!

The other bear encounter was not in our yard but in the yard next door where my daughter Gail was living. It was the year of the second Swanson River fire and lots of critters were in our area. She heard a noise at the kitchen door of the trailer, a bear-proof steal door. It flew open and Gail had enough presence of mind to run full force and body slam the door shut. Her son Grey was about 7 then and he said it took him several days to get his hair to lie down.

Going out the back door of the trailer Gail found that the bear had been trying to get in as it was all scratched and the screen was torn. Scanning the yard, she saw three large cubs run up two trees and the Momma bear watching closely. Gail called Bob and me and called the Fish and Game. The bears were being taught to roam the neighborhood that had playing kids. Sadly it was decided that they had to be put down.

That is the end of my bear stories — except my encounter with a big grizzly in the safety of my car. I was coming back from Anchorage in my old Thunderbird. I had my window rolled down and the radio blaring a Merle Haggard tune. Looking up at a spot before the “Y” — one road to Seward and the other to Kenai — where there’s always been a beautiful slope of autumns flowers. I slowed almost to a stop to take a long look and up popped a big, big grizzly in the middle of the flowers! I took off in my car, hurriedly rolling up my window and saying to myself, “That big guy really scared the daylights out of me!”

Then I laughed, thinking, “I wonder what that grizzly thought?”

“There goes a crazy scared-out-of-her-mind old lady thinking I was going to eat her!”

First, he had to catch Me!

OH yes, the brown bear in my blueberry patch!!

We live about half block from a very nice blueberry patch. I referred to it as MY blueberry patch for a long time. It was about time to go see if they were ripe. I got in my old green Thunderbird, went up the road and turned around and parked on the shoulder of the road, leaving the door open and the car idling. I walked in front of the car and down the berm into the blueberry patch. Looking closely at the ground, something caught my eye and I looked up at a BIG grizzly about 20 feet from me, standing up looking me right in the eye!

I stood paralyzed just for a half second, and began backing up very slowly, backing up the side of the berm, feeling the car fender. I backed all the way around the car door, jumped in and slammed the door! Then I realized I had left my door open.

WHAT IF A BEAR JUMPED IN THE BACK SEAT??!!

I swung my head around to see if there was a bear in the back seat! Then I laughed at my silly thoughts, all the way home to tell Bob! I have not picked one blueberry from that patch since. The big brown bear can have the blueberry patch all to himself!!

Always be aware of surroundings in Alaska. Because you can see some amazing beautiful things!

MEXICALI GOULASH

Who doesn’t like goulash? This should be called Tin-can goulash. Polish up your can opener!!

1 medium onion, chopped

1 green or red bell peppers, or half of both, chopped

2 pounds ground beef

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 can corn, drained (Mexi-corn is a treat)

2 large cans chili beans

2 cups uncooked macaroni, cooked according to directions

8 ounce canned mushrooms, drained

1 jar green chili salsa or red salsa will do

1 can black olives sliced in half

2 cans diced stewed tomatoes

12-ounce can tomato sauce

1 pound shredded cheddar cheese

Brown the beef with onion and pepper, season with garlic salt. Add remaining ingredients and put in a 9-inch by 13-inch well-buttered baking dish. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake at 325 degrees until hot and bubbly — about 30 to 35 minutes. Sometimes in our house this does not get baked and is served right from the electric skillet that I prepare it in.

MEXICAN HOT DISH

Use left over chicken, pork or beef roast.

Quick, simple and tasty!

On a cast iron skillet sauté:

2 tablespoons butter or oil

1/2 each green and red bell pepper chopped

1 onion chopped

1/2 cup celery diced

1 large fresh jalapeno seeded and chopped OR

2 tablespoons canned jalapenos, add more for desired hotness

1/2 cup chopped green chilies

In a bowl combine the following:

2 cans of cream of chicken soup-undiluted

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup of milk

1 small can sliced black olives, drained

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 cup kidney beans or black beans, drain well

3 to 4 cups of cooked chicken, pork or beef cubed

3 to 4 cups of cooked rice, not instant

Mix together with the sautéed vegetables and transfer to an oiled 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish.

Sprinkle over top 1 1/2 cups of Monterey Jack-pepper jack or cheddar cheese shredded. Place dish on cookie sheet to catch the drips. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until bubbles and cheese is melted. Take out of oven and let stand for 15 minutes. Cut in large squares. Serve with toppings of sour cream, chopped green onion, sliced lettuce and salsa.

NOTE: If using cooked beef, use 2 cans cream of mushroom soup, undiluted, in place of the cream of chicken soup and add 1 small can sliced mushrooms.

MOOSE STEAK MEXICAN STYLE

Some moose steaks are tough — so this is what you do with it!

Combine in a bag:

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1/8 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 pound of moose round steak cut in 1-inch cubes

Shake meat in bag and brown in iron skillet with 1 tablespoon oil

Add:

3/4 cup sliced celery

1 medium onion chopped

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup salsa or chili sauce

1 carrot large sliced

1/2 each green and red pepper, cut in strips

1/4 tea garlic minced

Simmer for 30 minutes — or put all ingredients in crock pot for 4 hours on low.

Add:

1 can pinto beans or kidney beans rinsed

Simmer 20 minutes and serve over hot rice.

SOUTHWESTERN POTATO AND PEPPER JACK CHEESE SOUP

This is so very good. I thank Ronnie Childers for this wonderful tasty recipe!

Makes about 10 cups of soup.

2 tablespoon butter

2 cups minced white onions

1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic

2 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons ground cumin

6 cups cooked russet potatoes (I small-diced mine) but recipe says crushed

4 cups low sodium vegetable broth — I used low-sodium chicken broth

4 cups shredded pepper Jack cheese

2 cups whole milk — I used 2 cans canned milk, undiluted

1/2 cup minced cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, sweat partially covered until onions soften about 10 minutes

Stir in flour and cumin. Cook 2 minutes. Stir in potatoes and broth, bring to boils over medium heat, then low and simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in pepper Jack and milk until cheese melts. Stir in cilantro and seasoned soup with salt and pepper.

Ronnie added that she used cubed hickory boneless ham and used smoked bacon.

When you live in Nikiski at the end of the road and 30 miles from town, you use what you have on hand, thus the substitutions. It is a delicious soup!


• By ANN “GRANNIE ANNIE” BERG, For the Peninsula Clarion


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