Pioneer Potluck: About Ben’s boat and clam digging

Pioneer Potluck: About Ben’s boat and clam digging

Clam fritters, Easter bunny bread pudding, lemon hard sauce, hamburger stroganoff

  • By ANN “GRANNIE ANNIE” BERG Pioneer Potluck
  • Tuesday, April 16, 2019 10:30pm
  • Life

Bobs Birthday today, April 17, 2019

I want to wish Bob a very Happy Birthday today! He continues to work at M&M as a meat cutter at 78 years young. We have lived here in one place that the house that Bob Built for 31 years. He has added a sewing/computer room separate from the house for me. And added a Cave-shop for his tools and a TV.

We seem to have survived this winter again. The mud and muck is just as bad or worse than last year at this time. Bob has hauled in many, many loads of gravel in here with his pickup after a full eight hours of carpenter work at Unocal in earlier years, because we could not afford a big load of gravel hauled in by dump truck. Every year it disappeared and he would once again fill his pickup with gravel on his way home from work and spread it over the mud. He did this for years! It was a daily chore after work and he never complained! Then we would both grab a rake and rake it into the pot holes and “pud muddles.”

Well, it has not changed — I hesitate to guess how many tons of gravel has been hauled in here — both by Bob and by big dump trucks. YES, we have TYPAR-mat on the top of the volcanic dirt-dust that seems to be on this side of the lake. The gravel shows up after all the water and mud disappears and then we have wonderful green grass, weeds and flowers poking up, smiling at the sun.

I seem to forget every year that it really had not changed much from last year — and years before. The only difference is we had tons of snow and I was sure we would have snowbanks behind the house until August. Since we have had warm rain and lots of sun it has melted most of it. I am grateful! Spring is here, even though we will have mud in the yard for another two weeks. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BOB AND HAPPY SPRING, EVERYONE.

1971, Homer: Chapter one

Clam digging is coming up soon, so this story is reminiscent of our clam digging days.

“Hey ya’ all. This is Ben. You guys wanna’ go clam diggin’ in Homer tomorrow?”

“Sure, we will meet you at Eagle River.”

I was married to Richard Berg and we lived in Eagle River. We piled our clam digging stuff in our motor home and met Ben and Nadene. They were pulling Ben’s flat-bottom river boat with the big old, old yellow school bus, equipped with the necessary comforts of living away from home. Ben made aluminum flat-bottom river boats and sold them. They were wonderful and roomy with inboard jet motors.

We made several stops on our way to Homer, just goofing off. It was late when we got to Homer and we parked, as you could do in those days, on the beach across from the Salty Dog Saloon on the Homer Spit. We made plans that night for clam digging across the bay, around a big campfire, telling stories until the wee hours.

Next morning, not so early, we launched the river boat from the marina on the other side of the Salty Dog. It was a glorious warm day, glassy water, not a breeze. We reached the area we had planned to dig clams. We dug and we dug. We stopped and had a picnic. Ben’s idea of a picnic was “what-bread” two pieces of “blonee” and big thick slice of onion with lots of “man-naice.”

Then we dug and dug some more. We had only three buckets with us, and in those days we were allowed 60 razor clams each. I think there was no limit on the butter clams or any type of other clams or muscles. We hit the jackpot and each got our limit of razor clams, plus a big variety of other clams.

We did not have a place to put all the clams, so Ben turned the cover of the inboard motor over and made a big holding area for all the clams. One side of the cover was open. We piled them in, heaping them to the back side of the cover behind the two back seats. Time came to head home.

We were tired and sun burnt and hungry for a big clam feed around another big campfire on the beach next to the water where the yellow bus was parked. We made our way across the beautiful glassy water, singing songs and enjoying every bit of what was left of the day.

Coming across the water, Ben in all his “wisdom” spotted his old yellow bus. He decided he could beach the boat on the beach close to the bus, instead of at the marina, and then we would not have to carry all those clams up the steep steps of the marina and across the parking lots, across the Spit road, to the old yellow bus.

He pushed the throttle into full forward and we took off faster and faster. He thinks he can land the boat right down from the yellow bus. Richard, “in all his wisdom,” sees what Ben is about to do, puts his arm across me and tells, me: “Brace yourself and HANG on!” Nadene in the front next to Ben was saying, “Whee-Whee!” She loved to go fast in anything!

We hit the beach at full throttle and we STOPPED! No sliding, no gliding. We stopped like a huge suction cup was attached to the bottom of the boat. We were forced forward, and ended up hanging over the tops of the front seat. My husband had his arms over Ben’s shoulders and my hands were in the seat where Nadene WAS! She had been shoved under the dashboard in the bow of the boat and was sitting cross legged and stooped over, peeking out, wondering what in the world happened.

Just as fast as we hit the beach, we started getting pelted with clams, gunk from the inlet water, mud and sand that was in the bottom of the motor cover. It was raining clams!!

We pushed ourselves back into our seats. Nadene crawled out from under her little home under the dash board and Ben, with the steering wheel in his hand, turned, steering wheel STILL in his hands, it had broken off, yelled, “Is anyone hurt? Is anyone hurt?”

He did not fully comprehend that he was turning around and looking to see if anyone was hurt with the steering wheel still held in a driving position.

Nadene crawling back up on the seat full of clam gunk, muddy water and bits and pieces of clam shells hanging off her. She turned and attacked Ben with her open hand, creaming in her Texas accent. “Lookee! LOOKee wat’ ya’ don! Ben! Lookee lookee!” She kept beating on him.

We all looked at each other, Ben still with his broken steering wheel in his hands, gunk dripping off everyone, and we started to laugh. We laughed uncontrollably! We laughed so hard that Nadene stopped beating on Ben and seeing the humor, pointing at us and started laughing. Ben was still in total shock still had a death grip on the steering wheel.



This is a combination of several bread pudding recipes. I hope everyone has a Happy Easter.

1 1/2 large loaves of white day old bread, slightly dry and cut in 1-inch cubes

2 cans evaporated milk

2 cups regular milk

1 cup packed brown sugar

4 eggs slightly beat into the milk and sugar

1/2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

In a large bowl that you can pour out of, mix milk, eggs, salt, sugar, spices and vanilla. Stir, until well mixed, into the milk. Place cubed bread and greased or buttered lasagna pan. It needs to be deep and large. Sprinkle with raisins (and nuts).

Gradually pour milk mixture over bread. Cover and refrigerate at least 5 to 6 hours and preferably overnight. Uncover and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Put in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for at least 1 hour — it may be 1 1/2 hours — until knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cover bread pudding after 1 hour to continue baking serve with the following sauce.


1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon of salt

A pinch of nutmeg bag

2 cups of boiling water

4 tablespoons of butter

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Mix sugar, cornstarch, salt and nutmeg. Gradually add water and cook stirring constantly until thickened and clear. Add butter and lemon juice and blend thoroughly after taking off the heat. Serve warm over bread pudding.

Note: My Mom made wonderful bread pudding out of homemade bread, of course. We always poured thick cream over ours and a spoon of sugar on top. It was always good hot, but it certainly was very good cold.

Another note: Fry leftover sliced bread pudding in a small amount of butter for breakfast. Serve with maple syrup or the hard sauce. Get fancy and top with whipped cream.


I wish I could count the times I have used this recipe when the kids were little in Colorado and while they were growing up in Alaska. I used moose burger. Never gets old. It’s always good.

1 pound lean hamburger, or, if you’re lucky enough to have it, moose burger

2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms or a can of sliced mushrooms, drained

1 medium onion chopped

1 stalk celery finely chopped

2 tablespoons of flour

2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules, optional

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup sour cream, or buttermilk or plain yogurt or 1 can mushroom soup.

2 teaspoons parsley

8 ounces of cooked noodles or screwdooles or mashed potatoes

Cook beef or moose until done. Drain if necessary. Add mushrooms, onions and celery. Stir in flour, bouillon, salt, mustard, pepper and 1 cup of water. You may have to add a small amount of additional water. Cook until thick about 2 min. Stir in sour cream or buttermilk or one can of mushroom soup. (Add 1/2 can milk if using soup). Bring back to hot temperature but DO NOT BOIL!. Serve on noodles or mashed potatoes. My kids loved this on mashed potatoes.

To expand this recipe I use both the sour cream and the mushroom soup, 1/4 cup milk and mix into the meat. Good with corn or green beans.


Mix together the following:

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs well beaten

1 cup fine breadcrumbs or finely crushed saltine crackers

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 teaspoons pepper

2 cups minced clams, juice and all

Mix ingredients together, and fold in:

2 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Oil for frying

Drop batter by tablespoons full into hot oil, frying on one side and turning once.

Serve with tartar sauce or ketchup mixed with horseradish.

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