Pioneer Potluck: About big bodies of water and whales

Monkey bars, carrot raisin oatmeal cookies, lemon sugar cookies, salted peanut peanut butter bars

  • Tuesday, May 7, 2019 11:11pm
  • Life


Because the belugas and hooligan are in Cook Inlet now I thought this story was very appropriate!

Year 1967, North Kenai, now Nikiski

I arrived in Alaska in 1967 with three little kids and three suit cases. It was my first ride on an airplane and about my first time out of the State of Colorado.

Never in my 29 years had I seen a large body of water or the ocean or big river, until I came to Alaska. I thought Cook Inlet, with its muddy glacier silt and strong riptides, was absolutely beautiful. I still do. I never get tired of going down to Arness dock and looking out over the water and marveling at the ever-changing beauty.

It has changed through the years. The sunken landing craft for a dock is gone and a wonderful large dock in its place. The oil rigs in the inlet have multiplied, produced oil and some are shut down now. I still get great joy in showing newcomers and our visitors Arness dock, or as they call it now – OSK.

I kid people and tell them I was born in Colorado on a mountaintop and the biggest body of water was a rain puddle. Only half true. I was born and raised on a farm in Northern Colorado and the biggest body of water was mud puddles we played in and the largest stream of water was an irrigation ditch. Black Hollow Lake held irrigation water. The swift waters of the Poudre Canyon and Big Thompson Canyon required days of planning and a few chickens to kill, pluck and fry so we could enjoy a picnic in the mountains.

So when I saw all the ponds, lakes, streams, Kenai River, Cook Inlet and the ocean out of Homer, I was both fascinated and terrified. I cannot swim a lick and do not like water in my face and I am not terribly fond of boats. I do not particularly like to fish, but love to watch other people fish. The beef I loved to eat in Colorado was replaced by salmon, halibut, shrimp, crab. I never get tired of eating Alaska’s bounty!

After we arrived in Alaska I had to find a job in a hurry. I was offered a bookkeeping position at Offshore Fabricators, located at Arness Dock. After the interview, I went back to get my kids being babysat by my new friend Helen McGahan. I wanted the kids to see how beautiful Cook Inlet was. Besides, said my new boss, “The belugas are in.”

“What are they?” I asked.

“Big White whales,” he said. “Go down to the dock and walk out on the ship (a sunken liberty ship poured full of concrete to make a dock) and you can see them jump out of the water.”

Wanting my kids to see everything, I hurried up the hill in my old Willis Jeep, put the kids in the Jeep and thanked Helen for taking care of them.

I drove back down to the dock and parked where the sign said “No Parking” and walked with my kids in tow, onto the big World War II Landing Craft. That was my first time I had ever been on a boat, sunk with cement or other wise. We walked the long expanse of the deck sticking high out of the water and walked up to the bow, leaned over the railing with the other onlookers and started looking for belugas.

ALL OF THE SUDDEN this BIG creature leaps high out of the water!! My heart jumped out of my throat and I took off running. I stopped when I got to the edge of the dock, realizing then, I had left my kids standing out there!! The kids shouted, “MOM,” their eyes wide with shock. I hollered, “What was that?”

A bystander, who later became my good friend said, “That’s a beluga.”

Stifled giggles were heard all around me.

I had to walk all the way back out to the bow of the boat, while everyone was giving me sideways glances, to retrieve my kids. They wanted to stay and watch for more belugas and I had to act like I was brave enough to stay.

My boss and all the welders in Offshore Fabricators Shop were looking out the big wide doors and saw my swift getaway. They were impressed at how fast I could run. They eventually became my good friends and I was always teased about the first time I saw a beluga and my running abilities.

My kids reminded me when I went to get them in the old green Jeep that I parked very close to the No Parking sign, just in case we had to leave in a hurry. They think I thought belugas were as big as Jonah’s Whale. The kids knew how scared I was of water, boats and a ship in this case. They also knew that I wanted them to see everything in the great state of Alaska. They tell me that I made them hold hands and walk down the middle of the sunken ship with its concrete deck, so we would not fall off or be thrown overboard.

When we got to the bow of the ship. I instructed them to hang on tight to the railing: don’t climb on it, don’t move around, just stand still and watch. The next thing they remember is the beluga jumping out of the water, me screaming and taking off down the middle of the ship without them. In there utter disbelief — Mom was running away from them and leaving them stranded. After all I had told them NOT to move.

My oldest daughter, Gail, says that when I walked back to retrieve them, down the middle of the ship I was shaking like a leaf and barely could talk. I must have been quite a sight! A tugboat tied to the dock and all those guys in the fabrication shop saw this lady who had lost her mind, running down the middle of the deck screaming at a beluga jumping out of the water. And that is how I made my mark and my beginning in Alaska. All those giggling, laughing people became my very good friends in years to come.


I made all the following cookies for the Fireweed Greenhouse Open House last week. They were a hit and many came back for a second cookie and some ladies asked for the recipes. Monkey Bars is my sister Elaine’s recipe. She made them for the annual Bob and Ann’s 2010 picnic while she and Ted were visiting Alaska. Come Back Ted and Elaine!

1 2/3 cup mashed ripe bananas — about 5

3/4 cups brown sugar

1/4 cups oil

1/4 cups milk

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups flour

1 cup mini chocolate chips — Elaine put half in the batter and half on top!

Mash banana, sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in in large bowl. Mix thoroughly. (I used my mixer for this). Stir in flour until just blended and stir in the 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Spread batter into a 15- by 10-inch pan-type cookie sheet and sprinkle rest of chocolate chips over top. Bake 15 to 20 minutes but test with toothpick to see if middle is done. Cool on rack and cut lengthwise into 4 strips and then cut each strip into 10 pieces. THANK YOU ELAINE!


This makes a lot and cookies are very good for breakfast!

1 cup butter

1 cup butter flavored shortening

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup brown sugar

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups shredded carrots

4 cups of old fashioned oatmeal

3 1/2 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoon salt

1 cup raisin or craisins

1 cup walnuts chopped

Optional: 1 cup miniature chocolate chips — I do not use

In a large mixing bowl or in your mixing machine bowl, cream butter, shortening and sugars. Beat in each egg. Add carrots and mix well. Add oats, flour, baking soda and salt and mix. (I used the dough hook). Mix well. Stir in the chopped walnuts and chocolate chips if using. Cover for 4 hours. Drop by tablespoonful 3 inches apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 13 minutes. Cool and they store in ziplocs in the freezer for 3 months.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Oil cookie sheet.

In a small bowl combine with a fork:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

In a mixer bowl cream:

1/2 cup butter — butter only!

1/2 cup white sugar

Beat in:

1 egg

6 tablespoons frozen concentrated lemonade — do not dilute!

Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Drop by teaspoonpoonful 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar and yellow sprinkles. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. They should be lightly brown around the edges. Enjoy!


Set oven to 350 degrees and prepare at 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking sheet

Stir in a small bowl:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Beat in mixer bowl:

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup butter at room temperature

1/4 cup peanut butter

Mix until smooth


2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir in flour and add 1/2 cup salted peanuts. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan and frost with:

1/4 cup chocolate chips or butterscotch chips

1/2 teaspoon butter

1/2 teaspoon peanut butter

Melt in microwave about 1 minute and stir until all chips are dissolved. Drizzle over bars. Let completely cool. Very, very good.

I hope you enjoy the cookies as much as I enjoyed making them.

• By Ann “Grannie Annie” Berg, Pioneer Potluck for the Peninsula Clarion

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