Ann “Grannie Annie” Berg

Ann “Grannie Annie” Berg

Pioneer Potluck: Remembering Saturday cleaning days on the farm

  • Wednesday, February 5, 2020 1:30am
  • News

My daughter Susan suggested I should tell about the farm I grew up on over 50 years ago.

If we wanted ice cream we had to make it. We had to go to the barn to get the ice cream maker, which was a wooden or tin bucket, with a pale in the middle that held the cream mixture that Mom made, and which she called custard.

After you filled the bucket with crushed ice that you got from the lake — or, in our case, the horse tank that froze over in the winter — you would put the lid on, push the crank through the top and crank away.

It served two purposes — water the animals and when it froze we got ice cream! Dad always got the first bite.

During the summer we had an Ice Man, who delivered blocks of ice to us to put in the refrigerator top. We loved to see him come because we all got a chunk of ice to suck on. Does anyone have an ice pick anymore? It was an essential item in our house and the rule was, “You better put it back where you got it!”

Susan also suggested I share about old books that we read that had a special place on the book shelf: “The Egg and I,” Tom Sawyer and his cohort Huckleberry Finn, the encyclopedias that were well-worn during school times, and we had a special place for the well-read Bible.

Saturday on the farm was clean house day. Carpet cleaners were run over all the rugs. Windows were washed with warm water and vinegar and polished with crumpled newspaper. EVERY SATURDAY! I remember when mom bought the latest thing — a Hoover vacuum cleaner! It was like pushing a bus around the house! But it did get the rugs clean!

Mom would get out the scrub bucket and fill it with hot soapy water. She would dunk the rag mop in the bucket, ringing it out by hand over the bucket and then would swish away over the worn-out linoleum. She would let it dry and then got on her hands and knees and polish with floor polish and a rag.

Then it was time to let it dry. She would get back down on her knees and push a clean rag over the linoleum to polish and shine it. EVERY SATURDAY!

Polishing the furniture every Saturday was so important to mom. My little sister Elaine called it “tarnishing” it. She loved to help, but I had to go over where she missed and THEN Mom would look over where I may have missed and polished those places. It had to be perfect!

Susan goes on to suggest that when Bob and I built our house in Alaska, 35 years ago, sawing down trees, chopping and splitting wood was the priority for the winter.

At one point, we had a big pile in our front yard that everyone helped stack. Even grandkids helped. A helpful neighbor, who usually came to borrow something from Bob’s vast stash of parts — nuts, bolts, parts for toilets, cars, trucks, houses, electrical and anything else he thought someone might want someday from his work shop — came to help. It ended up with the neighbor and the grandkids sitting around in that old shop with Bob telling a few of his stories.

In the summer we had herds of kids swimming in our lake. In the early spring grandkids Andria and Jake would be on the dock and in the water swimming around with ice still floating in the middle of the lake!

They are great swimmers and spent the summer swimming. I made tons of sandwiches and cookies and always had a stack of towels to wash in my ringer washer that sat on a pallet in the yard in the summertime. I filled it with water from the lake using a generator hooked to a pump that had a big hose coming up from the lake. I had a makeshift clothesline and still do.

We had to fill our lanterns with kerosene because we did not have electricity yet. Then Bob read to me while I got supper on the woodstove. Entertainment — if we were not fast asleep — was putting puzzles together in the lantern light or Bob reading me another segment of Patrick McManus antics, or the wonders of Sam McGee in his well-worn book, “The Best of Robert Service.”

We have come a long way to modernization! We now have a nice new Rinnia propane heater in the house next to the old woodstove that gathers dust and other things that do not have a home. We have a water well. We have running water. We have a bathroom and a laundry room. No more trips to the outhouse in the winter! I actually did not mind it in the summer. I always had company with a trail of cats or the dog or all of them! Bob shoveled his share of snow to make a path to the outhouse. I am sure he does not miss that at all! (Cats and dog stayed in the house in the winter!)

I appreciate all the modern conveniences — except for the digital technology and the reliance on computers, as they assume we are as smart as the person who built the page for you to go paperless! I do like to reminisce about olden days and the much slower pace of life. It also produced memories which I cherish!

SURPRISE PECAN PIES

The pie makes its own crust!

Place ingredients in a blender. If blender does not contain the entire mixture, reserve some milk to add later.

1 cup sugar

2 cups milk

4 eggs

½ cup flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup melted butter

1 cup chopped pecans

Place all ingredients in a blender. If the blender will not hold entire amount, reserve some milk and mix in later. Pour mixture into miniature pie pans of muffin times or into a 10-inch pie pan. Bake 1 hour at 300 F until set. The pie makes its own crust. Cool and serve.

SUNSHINE COOKIES

I renamed these delicious cookies, because they contain pineapple, coconut and walnuts.

We could use a little sunshine in our cold part of the country right now. So why not bake it!

In a large bowl beat until fluffy:

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup of butter, room temperature — not margarine

Add:

2 eggs

Beat until fluffy again

Add:

2 teaspoons of vanilla and if you have it, 1 teaspoon of coconut extract

1 cup of well-drained crushed pineapple, mix well

In a smaller bowl combine:

4 cups of flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

Add flour mixture by the 2 cups until the batter is well mixed with all ingredients. You may have to stir in the last portions of the flour with a spoon. The dough should be soft.

Fold in:

1 cup of coconut

1 cup of crushed walnuts, or more

If you wish add a cup of Craisins, raisins or chocolate chips. (optional)

Drop by large teaspoons full onto a foil-lined, well-greased cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 14 minutes in a 350 F oven. They need to be slightly brown on top. Makes about 4 dozen. I froze 3 dozen, as they are soft and to keep over a day or so they need to be frozen. ENJOY AS MUCH AS BOB DID!

STRAWBERRY POKE CAKE

Easy and fun to serve to kids. Big kids liked it too!

One box of white or yellow cake mix prepared according to directions

1 large box o strawberry Jell-O prepared with 3 cups of water NOT 4

1-2 cups of fresh strawberries, crushed

1 large package of Instant Chocolate Pudding, mix as directed.

1 8-ounce container of Cool Whip

Bake the cake in a 13 x 9 pan. Bake as directed. Prepared the Jell-O with hot water as directed, only using the 3 cups of water just before taking cake out of oven.

Immediately after taking out of oven, poke holes in the cake with a handle of a wooden spoon. Pour the hot Jell-O over the cake and cool for about 20 minutes. Place the strawberries over top. Put in refrigerator at least 6 hours or overnight. Prepare the chocolate pudding and spread over the cold Jell-O cake, pressing into the holes. Refrigerate until serving. Spread softened Cool Whip over top. Serve.

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