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									                THE GREAT
 This will be an exercise in unraveling why some foods taste great while
others are just tasted and then set aside. I closely watched my Mother
in the kitchens of many houses and came away with an understanding
there is always that special touch, often impulsive, which makes
something good into something great.

                      Steven A. Knutson

 I am not a chef, but, I can cook. My foray into cooking started way
back in 1966 when I was hired as Third Cook on the Northern Pacific
Vista Dome or Mainstreeter. Third Cook was the flunky who stepped-
n-fetched-it for the First and Second Cooks in the Dining Car. They
were twenty plus hour days running from Minneapolis/St. Paul to “up
river” locations as far as Tacoma, Washington or the dreaded “down
river” runs which required an over night stay in hotels near downtown
Chicago with bars welded to the windows and dressers with one drawer
and two or three others painted on.

 Didn‟t suit a country boy like me, but, it was a job and the pay was a
bit over a hundred bucks a day. Not bad other than that “day” started
at about 2AM and ended when I had the Galley, pots and pans, dishes
and storage lockers spotless. I usually rolled into bed about 11:30PM.

 So now you know all about my professional cooking experience or the
fact I really don‟t have any. That is not what this book is about. It
covers the venerable SWAG and the “what If” I have discovered which
make standard fare something you would stand in line for.
                 TOOLS OF THE TRADE

 I use a variety of kitchen appliances, which are all very inexpensive
and have slugged it out for years very reliably in this kitchen in Kenai,
Alaska as well as Delta Junction, Ketchikan and Anchorage, and I‟m
tough on equipment.

 Some you may consider purchasing are: A Krupps Slicer. Produces
very uniform thickness slices of anything you run through it. I use it for
everything from turning left over baked Ham into sandwich thin slices.
I use it to slice uniform slabs of green tomato I bread and fry for my

 It is used to slice still frozen lean Moose Roasts into thin strips I
marinate in my special concoction to produce the finest Jerky you have
ever tasted. Be prepared, I use a generous amount of Crushed Red
Peppers. That brings up the Smoker. I have a commercial Big Chief
Smoker, but a person handy with hand tools can make one using a hot
plate and small pan to hold the chips. Just remember to insulate it from
a wood deck. I use four patio home made cast concrete blocks to raise
mine and never had a problem.

 Krupps has many uses. It will uniformly slice a loaf of my home made
breads, White, Cracked Wheat and Hamburger Buns. I haven‟t bought
a loaf of bread in over three years. I have swedgd aluminum baking
pans (cheesy throw away after use) into Hot Dog bun bakers and my
chest freezer is loaded with sliced hot dog buns. I let them freeze to a
degree and then vacuum pack them with my Food Saver.

 I use an Espresso Coffee Grinder for many spices and salts. I have
quit using Table Salt as I find it will overpower a food if you guess
wrong and it is bad for your Blood Pressure. I use a variety of salts
from the spice rack in the store. They are all coarse grained Sea Salt. I
use a plier and pull the grinding head then dump the jar in the Coffee
 I use the grinder to grind Pepper Corns when I need a fresh blast of
pepper in a recipe. Many recipes call for a Bay Leaf or two and after
cooking they are removed. I use the grinder to turn a Bay Leaf to dust
then make a Coffee Filter into a impromptu Tea Bag with one staple to
close and secure the retrieval cotton string.

 It works well making Great Northern Bean Soup as I‟ve found about a
quarter of the beans should be pureed. Instead I load the dry beans in
the Coffee Grinder and turn them to dust and add to the cooking pot.

 I love that little Espresso Grinder for turning coarse ground
commercial spices into flavor releasing powder.

 I‟ll even admit I use it to grind dried Veggies from the local feed store.
I‟ll buy five or ten pounds of ANIMAL FEED dried corn, wheat, millet,
peas and an occasional bag of Hemp Seeds. The Hemp Seed has been
boiled to remove the THC, but, the flavor it adds to some foods cannot
be replicated. I grind the corn, after washed and dries, to make corn
meal used for all sorts of things including Corn Bread, the wheat and
millet to add to the white flour I use to make home made bread and the
peas to make soups, seasonings and flavor enhancers.

 The small Food Processor I have, I have no idea how old it is, but, it
keeps on plugging right along. I know I have sharpened the chopping
blades on more than a few occasions. If it ever turns to Dumpster
Fodder, I‟ll find another at a Garage Sale for a buck or two.

 Slicer/Chopper/Schredders. I THINK I have four. One, I know, came
with the small Food Processor, but, I have never attempted to use it.
Looks as though it would do anything I needed done, but, I prefer a
more hands on approach with one of the other three manual crank rigs
I have.

 The one I use now will shred about half a medium potato before a
reload is necessary. I generally use it for making the finest Hash
Browns money can‟t buy. The very simple recipe is in the book and
cannot be screwed up. I use the Slicer Blade to start the process of
chunking up Yellow Sweet Onions for those Hash Browns or other
dishes I prepare.
  I use the fine Shred disc to shred the most misunderstood vegetable of
all time, the Carrot. The Carrot has a flavor enhancer that is only
partially released if peeled and sliced into “roast” sized chunks. I
finally discovered the secret of the Carrot in a little Yukon River village
named Anvik. Long story so I‟ll shorten it up.

 I was tasked with preparing Supper for a flock of hungry folks set to
descend on our Cabin from far upriver. The only side vegetable dish I
had was a bunch of Carrots I had traded for with a Native Woman she
had grown in her tiny Garden Patch.

 I was wondering how to prepare them when I decided to just use the
peeler and peel slabs of Carrot into the pot. I drained the pot and sliced
the Carrot strips into about three inch lengths. Covered with water and
as an after thought added about a tablespoon of sugar.

 When all was cooked and served, I received many comments about the
Carrots, they all liked them and there were no leftovers. Sugar is not
necessary in a finely shredded Carrot as they tend to release their own
sweet flavor when cooking.

 So, let‟s get started.

 A great tasting soup sets the pallet up for the main course. Some soups
I suppose could be the main course all by themselves. That is for you to
decide. I will list several I tend to enjoy and trust you will enjoy them as

 Lentil Soup. Variations of this soup are nearly endless, but, the
variation I really enjoy requires:

 One 16 ounce bag of dried Lentils.
 One half pound of thick sliced Bacon.
 Two finely shredded medium Carrots.
 One large Yellow Sweet Onion chopped fine in a food processor..
 One Tablespoon of finely ground Pepper Corns.
 Four Tablespoons of finely ground Sea Salt.
 Three Tablespoons Garlic Paste. (product carried in Spermarkets).
 One Tablespoon dried Thyme leaves run through the Coffee Grinder.
 Three medium center sticks of Celery (the light colored ones).
 Two peeled, diced medium potatoes.
 4 cups of water
 3 cups of prepared Chicken Broth.
 Two Tablespoons Olive Oil.

 In a large saucepan bring the water and broth to a boil. Add Sea Salt,
Pepper, Thyme and Garlic Paste. Turn mixture to low heat setting and
simmer, covered.

 Sort the Lentils removing rocks, jewelry, GI Joe boots, Match Box cars
and any other non Lentil objects that may have been dropped in the bag
before sealing. I rarely find anything, but, I feel better for having
looked. I still have my original eight teeth and hope to keep them.

 After sorting, wash them in a small strainer under cold water then
dump them in the simmering pot. Add the chopped Onion and
shredded Carrots. The Celery sticks are diced like the two medium
peeled potatoes, into quarter to half inch chunks and added to the pot.

  The Bacon is fried to nearly crisp then run through the food processor
to chop it a bit coarse. Add the Bacon to the pot and if you have any
liquid commercial “smoke” flavoring, a Tablespoon would be good to
add now. Cover and simmer.

 Cooking time is determined by the Lentils. When they are soft and
coming apart, the soup can be served. If the mixture becomes thicker
than you‟d like, add one cup of both broth and water. My Bride gets
some tomorrow.

 One word of caution, in spite of the salt added (Sea Salt) during
cooking, you may wish to lightly sprinkle a bit of Table Salt per serving.
It makes a wonderful soup as an entree or main dish, your choice.

 Beef, Barley and Bean Soup.


 One half pound of lean stew meat.
 Half cup of bagged soup Barley.
 Two cups of dried, bagged Navy Beans.
 Two stalks of center bunch Celery (the light colored ones).
 Two peeled and finely shredded Carrots.
 One Tablespoon Garlic Paste (commercial product found in stores)
 One Tablespoon Steak Rub.
 One medium peeled and diced potato, quarter to half inch cubes.
 Two Tablespoons McCormick Beef Stew seasoning.
 Four Tablespoons dusted Sea Salt.
 One Tablespoon dusted Black Pepper.
 One cup of fresh Green or Wax Beans. Fresh, not canned.
 Two diced Leeks, just the light colored pieces.
 Six cups of water to start.
 Bring the water to a rolling boil then add Steak Rub, Sea Salt, Pepper,
Garlic Paste and the Soup Barley. Cover, lower heat to simmer and
press on.

 Carefully slice the Stew Meat into small chunks then chop them coarse
in the Food Processor. Add them to the simmering pot.

 Grind to dust ¼ cup of the Navy Beans in the Coffee Grinder and add
them to the simmering pot along with the whole Navy Beans not

 Dice the light colored Leek portioned to nearly a minced state then add
to simmering pot. Chop the fresh beans into quarter inch lengths and
add them to the simmering pot. Center bunch Celery stalks in the same
manner, including the leaves and upper stems and add to the simmering

 I use caution when dicing the potato, either peeled or scrubbed and un
peeled. I generally use the Krupps Slicer to get uniform potato pieces
and then add them to the simmering pot. Final touch is adding the
McCormick‟s Stew Seasoning. Stir and cook for about an hour and a
half on very low heat, covered. Soup is done when whole Navy Beans
are soft. Another word of caution, if the soup thickens beyond your
expectations, add one cup of water at a time then continue to cook and
check again later.

 This Vegetable Beef Soup will cater to many tastes so other spices
should be considered by the Kook who prepares the basic. If you think
a spice may work, mix it with a small portion of the simmering soup in a
small dish and judge for your self.

Split Pea Soup to the Nines

This is a soup I would easily consider for standing on its own as a main
course. It is taste bud bursting outstanding. My soup ingredients are:

 One 16 ounce bag of split peas.
 Eight cups hot water.
 Ten Strips of thick Sliced lean Bacon cut to one inch strips..
 Two Tablespoons Garlic Paste (commercial product found in stores).
 One medium to large Yellow Sweet Onion, choice is yours.
 Two center stalks Celery and tops with leaves.
 Four Tablespoons dusted Sea Salt.
 One Tablespoon dusted Pepper.

 The “dusted” salt and pepper ingredients are those I grind in the little
Espresso Coffee Grinder into dust sized particles easily absorbed and
cooked with. They are powder, not grains.

 Peas are sorted and washed in a strainer to assure rocks and non Pea
gook is removed. Peas are then dumped into the hot water in the pan.
Water and Peas are brought to a rolling boil, reduced to a simmer and
covered along with the Sea Salt, Pepper and Garlic Paste.

 The thick sliced Bacon is used instead of Ham or Ham Hocks because I
will use an 8th cup of the renderings in the Pea Soup. I fry the Bacon to
nearly crisp and put the broken up pieces in the Food Processor and
chop them fine and add them to the simmering pot.

 The Yellow Sweet Onion is peeled and chunked up to fit in the Food
Processor. I chop it coarse and add to the simmering pot. As a Sweet
Yellow Onion cooks, it vanishes into the soup except for adding a bit of
thickness similar to Corn Starch.

 Last ingredient will be the center stalks of Celery. I slice them into all
pieces as well as the leaves. Quarter inch is about the largest and I put
them in the simmering pot.

 Cooking time is about an hour and a half. Stir occasionally to keep the
ingredients from sticking to the pot. You will know when the soup is
done when the Split Peas have nearly disintegrated.

 This Split Pea soup is outrageous! I have never had better.
 Little Neck Steamer Clam Chowder, New England Style


 20 to 25 prepared Steamers.

 To properly prepare the Steamer Clams, timing at boil and spices are
very important. I get them five or ten pounds at a time, sort out the
small ones for tenderness when cooked and start with them. If there are
fewer than three pounds of small Clams I first rinse them in cool water
to wash off the inevitable sand then pour hot water into the cooking pot
to a level when the Clams are added, it will cover them. Bring the water
to a rolling boil and add Sea Salt and Garlic Paste. About three
Tablespoons of each. Carefully add the Clams to the boil to avoid
breaking shells. Cover and cook for seven minutes when the water
starts boiling again. At seven minutes remove the pot from the heat and
pull out the Chowder Clams to cool a bit in a bowl.

 Once cool enough to grab, shell the meat and place it in the Food
Processor. Chop a bit coarse and set aside.

 Three peeled and finely shredded Carrots.
 Two peeled and diced potatoes about quarter inch pieces.
 One small Yellow Sweet Onion diced about the same as the potato.
 Three cups of milk
 Four Tablespoons of Corn Starch mixed in with a bit of cold water.

 Place the veggies in a medium sauce pan and cover, just barely, with
water and turn heat to low to bring the pot to a slow boil. Boil veggies
for about ten minutes. Add the chopped Steamers. Bring pot back to
boil, add milk slowly and turn up the heat.

 When pot starts to boil, a good indicator when the soup can be
thickened with the Corn Starch is when tasting a potato chunk and if
soft, add the thoroughly dissolved Corn Starch a bit at a time while
stirring the soup. When you are satisfied with the soup‟s thickness stop
adding the Corn Starch.
 Set the pot aside to cool and try a small bowel for taste and possible
addition of salt, but, be careful with the salt.

 Prepared Muscles can be used to make this soup as well. They are
commonly sold in Super Markets in the frozen sea food section. I have
tried them and they are very good and come in boxes about the right
size/quantity for making the chowder.

 Cream of Potato Soup


 Two medium potatoes peeled and diced to small quarter to half inch
 One slab of Ham or Ham Sandwich Meat cut to fit in the Food
Processor. Chop fine.
 One cup water.
 One small Yellow Sweet Onion chopped to small pieces.
 Four Tablespoons of Corn Starch dissolved in a bit of cold water.
 Three cups of milk.

 Fry the Ham and Onion until Onion starts to turn clear and Ham is
slightly brown from the cooking.

 In a medium sauce pan add the potatoes and water and bring to a low
boil. Cover and cook for about five minutes. When Potato chunks start
to get soft add the fried Ham and Onion and milk. Bring back to a low
boil and cover. The soup is ready to thicken with the dissolved Corn
Starch when the potato chunks are soft. Carefully stir in the Corn
Starch and when the still boiling soup is thick to your satisfaction, stop
pouring the Corn Starch and remove soup from the heat.

 This is a good soup on cool or cold days and I like a sandwich along
with it.
Cream of Mushroom Soup


 About 15 Button Mushrooms, depending on size. Blanch them for
about four minutes in a rolling boil. Drain and set aside to cool a bit.
 Two cubes of lean Stew Meat about three inch cubes. Slice the meat in
small cubes and set aside.
 One cup of water.
 Two and a half cups milk.
 Four Tablespoons of Corn Starch dissolved in about an 8th cup of cold
 Two Tablespoons of Mrs. Dash Table Blend salt substitute.
 Two Tablespoons unsalted butter.

 In a medium sauce pan add the water and meat. Bring to a low boil
and check the meat when stirring to see that it is browning up a bit.
When it browns to your satisfaction add the Mrs. Dash and butter. Add
half the milk and bring to a boil and then add the Mushrooms. I cut
them in fourths after cutting off the short stems. The stems and
quarters are added to the soup.

 When the mushroom pieces are soft and obviously cooked the
remainder of the milk is added and again brought to boil then turn the
heat down to a simmering boil. Now is the time to carefully stir in the
dissolved Corn Starch to your satisfaction of soup thickness. Once there
stop with the Corn Starch and remove the soup from the heat. I like
this one as a side dish for Pinwheels, Wax Beans and a thick slice of my
home made Cracked Wheat bread with salted real butter.

 I don‟t buy much Margarine as I really like the taste imparted to foods
with careful selection of the correct butter.
Canned Salmon Soup


 Depending on the number you intend to serve, you must take your best
SWAG. For two servings you will need:
 One can of Pink Salmon.
 One medium Yellow Sweet Onion, chopped coarse.
 One small can of Stewed Tomatoes.
 One Tablespoon of Garlic Paste.
 Two Tablespoons Virgin Olive Oil.
 One or two New Potatoes diced small.
 Two cups milk.
 Two Tablespoons of dusted Sea Salt.
 One Tablespoon of dusted Pepper Corns.

 Canned Pink Salmon are the cheapest of the lot in Alaska. Seiners and
Gill Netters are paid very low price per pound on any given year. The
marketability of the Pink is difficult, so the majority are canned. Profit
margins are dictated by the labor involved in the canning process. All
that to this. A can of Pinks will generally contain bone structure from
the fish, therefore I suggest the can be dumped in a bowl to closely
inspect for those bones. The small “Y” bones are cooked soft in the
canning process and not a bother.

 In spite of the bone removal at cooking time, the soup is still very
delicious, so don‟t let that put you off.

 Cut the Stewed Tomatoes in small chunks and drain the can of juices
into the Sauce Pan.
 Put the chopped Onion in the sauce pan and turn to low heat until you
get a very low boil. Stir and watch the onion and as it gets about right it
will start to turn clear.
 At that point add the Olive Oil, Sea Salt, Pepper and Garlic Paste and
continue on low heat stirring frequently.
 Add half the milk and turn the heat up slightly until a low boil is
 Add the Salmon and chunked up Stewed Tomatoes and diced New
 The last cup of milk is added for the last 10 minutes of boil at a slightly
turned up heat. Makes a very good soup with no overpowering tastes.

 Pinto Bean Soup

  This one is flexible enough to turn it into a Main Dish depending on
your choice of meat to cook it with. We will start with the soup and
finish with the main dish differences.

 Soup ingredients:

 One pound bag of dried Pinto Beans.
 One large Yellow Sweet Onion.
 Half pound of thick sliced lean Bacon.
 Three Tablespoons Garlic Paste.
 Two Tablespoons Onion Salt.
 Two Tablespoons dusted Pepper Corns.

  Sort the Pintos to remove rocks as there seem to always be a small rock
or two in a bag. Place them in a medium Sauce Pan and cover with
  Slice the Bacon to one inch strips and fry „till nearly crisp. Drain the
renderings into the soaking beans. Then place the Bacon in a Food
Processor and chop coarse and add to the pot.
  Chop the Yellow Sweet Onion in the Processor to coarse and add to the
  Add the Onion Salt, dusted Pepper Corns and Garlic Paste.
  Turn up the heat and bring to a rolling boil then turn the heat down to
maintain a low boil. Stir often as this is the step used to boil off the
water. When the water level gets low, add about two cups of additional
water and continue to boil. This process infuses the ingredients with the
flavor of all components and assures the hard bean is cooked soft.
  At the second boil down (about an hour each) add more water, bring to
a rolling boil for five minutes, remove from heat and serve.

 To make this a good hearty main dish all you must do is substitute the
Bacon for Ham and use Virgin Olive Oil instead of the Bacon
renderings. I use four slabs of Ham cut and chopped in the Food
Processor to small pieces.
 On the second boil off of water I add no more and remove from heat. I
have baked a dozen Corn Bread Muffins and split and butter some on a
plate. I top the muffins with chopped onion and ladle the beans over the
top. Beans and Cornbread, wonderful taste combination.

 I have blabbed on about soups and how I do it. Soup variations are
countless and often made by necessity such as “I ain‟t got no onions,
let‟s try a couple of these Leeks.” Point is, use your imagination, it
generally will serve you well.

 Side Dishes
 You really exercise your imagination with these bad boys. I consider a
protein as a main dish and anything you add to the protein a garnish
side dish.

 There are some things that are “no brainers” and should be left
completely alone as they cook.

 One is the Hash Brown. I shred at least one potato and dice a small
Yellow Sweet Onion for these. Pam the pan and add half a stick of
unsalted sweet butter and melt on low heat.

 Shredded potato and chopped onion are added. You can either cut
your Salt intake and use Mrs. Dash or go for broke and use Sea Salt. I
shy away from pepper as it can be added if the need exists when all is

 I then scramble three eggs. I douse them pretty good with Mrs. Dash.
I use the spatula to stir them up good. The heat is very low. The eggs
cook slow and the Hash Browns are placed on a plate with the spatula.

 The eggs are scrambled a bit raw as that imparts a special taste, trust
me. I use the spatula to put the eggs next to the Hash Browns.

There is no finer Breakfast.
 Corn on the Cob.

  Something about Corn on the Cob is it can be found in Supermarkets
trimmed, partially husked and sealed in plastic wrap. That tells me the
Corn is not as good as whole husked early yellow or white Corn on the
Cob. Plastic wrapped corn is one step away from being frozen and sold
during the dead of winter, good, but, not great.

  Early yellow or white corn is the pick of the litter. I select the skinny
long ears as they are not approaching maturity and consequently
sweeter in taste. To add to the sweetness I use a quarter cup of sugar
perEar of corn and it really brings the flavor out. When served I melt a
third cup of unsalted real butter and pour it on the corn. I use no salt to
flavor it and enjoy as a buttered side dish.


 It is a difficult plant to start in Alaska as from root set the first year it
takes three years for the Asparagus to develop into a harvestable plant.

 First year produces a thin fern like growth that should be cut before
thr first good freeze. Second year is much the same except with thicker
stems. It has an insatiable taste for water. Cut the second year growth
and cover the butts with several inches of straw.

During the spring thaw soak the straw and protect from freezing. This
third year should produce Asaparagus of edible dimensions. Alternate
methods are large, heated Green Houses for this Lattitude.

 Asparagus is common wild stock in areas using irrigation ditches like
Montana, North Dakota, Idaho and Washington. I‟d wait „til a three or
four inch stalk crop would appear and harvest bagfuls for my mother.
Anything longer than that and you harvested the woody structure of the
lower stalk I was told when trimmed it was good for a soup stalk, but,
never tried it.
 Blanched Mushrooms

 I buy these bad boys about five pounds at a whack from the Button
Mushroom bulk rack. I carefully select the small ones, cutting the short
stems and quartering the tops. Stems and tops are set aside.

 I bring water to cover and add three Tablespoons of White Vinegar to
a rolling Boil then add the chopped up Mushrooms. Once back to a
rolling boil I Blanch them for four minutes and remove from heat and

 I choose the zestiest Italian Salad Dressing I can find and dump the
Mushrooms into a suitable sized Plastic Juice container or Tupperware
container. I then add the Italian Salad Dressing and place it all in the
refer for an overnight soak. They are wonderful.

 A word about the Morel Mushroom.

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