Summer fun includes the river, but give it the respect it deserves

Thursday, August 16, 2018
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Cooking in the West

Floating the Yellowstone River this time of year is always a fun family outing, but the river demands respect as every year it claims lives. This is a tale of a floating incident that had a happy ending, but it underscores how quickly river accidents can happen. Remember, it is cool to wear your life jacket!

After his appearance in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, Michael Phelps became a household word. He has inspired children around the world to hit the pool, but apparently his medal quest was inspirational to adults also. Back in August of 2008, our neighbor Doug Mothershead, who has since passed away, apparently had secret gold medal aspirations. When we took him floating on my son’s Redneck Yacht, we had no idea he aspired to become the senior citizen version of Michael Phelps of Deer Creek!

The Redneck Yacht is a river craft made of a welded frame, some motorcycle straps, and eight 55 gallon plastic barrels. It cost about $100.00 to build, $120.00 for oars, $120.00 for life jackets, and $85.00 for a ticket for failing to purchase one more life jacket. Thank you fish cop! (Just joking if you are a fish cop reading this!)

However, when you get on the river in the unconventional yacht, the Huck Finn lifestyle and therefore the value of the yacht is priceless! One beautiful afternoon, we talked our neighbors on the other creek, Joe Kemph and Doug Mothershead, into taking the yacht fishing on a stretch of the Yellowstone between Greycliff and Reed Point with us. We gave Doug the seat of honor up front.

Now, the seats of the yacht are a bit precarious, because they are just plastic chairs off our porch. The captain’s chair is screwed to the floor of the yacht, but the others are not. Everyone is instructed during the prerapids safety talk to hold on to the yacht frame when the rapids come along. Unfortunately, Doug is a bit hard of hearing, so he completely missed the 5 second pre-rapids safety warning, which is when Remi, the boat’s captain, said, “You might want to hold on, we are going into some rapids now.”

Doug was happily fishing away when the yacht bobbed into the first big set of rapids. I will never forget the look of complete surprise on Doug’s face as he and his chair rolled right over the side of the yacht into the river into some pretty big rapids.

He sank under the white caps. I screamed, “Doug’s in the water!” My new hero, Joe, took a few seconds to assimilate this information. Since he was fishing off the back of the boat and facing upstream, he hadn’t seen Doug vanish off the yacht.

He asked, “Doug is in the water?”

I screamed, “Right there!” Joe threw his glasses on the deck, grabbed a life jacket, and was overboard in a flash. He hadn’t bothered to reel in his lure, which miraculously became hooked in the fly of his cut-offs. Attached to the yacht with a four-pound test lifeline, Joe quickly reached Doug. Fortunately Doug had done a stint in the Navy about 50 years ago. Apparently they had taught him how to swim really well in cowboy boots and jeans. He did lose his fishing pole, but he came to the surface with his hat, his glasses, and his wallet still on his person.

Poor Doug had survived possible drowning in the Yellowstone only to be subjected to intense ribbing after we determined that he had suffered no ill effects from his spontaneous swim. The poor man was chastised for scaring the fish, admonished for forgetting his fish finder at home and attempting to serve as a human substitute, and ridiculed for his lack of form in the 20 yard rapids freestyle. I don’t know for sure what his wife Peggy said when he returned home still soaked to the skin and pouring water out of his boots, but it is rumored that she said, “Who did you think you were – Michael Phelps?”

I have more fun summer recipes for you this week from my personal stash! I would love it if you would recipes to me at or you can post them on my Facebook page “Cooking with Susan Metcalf.”

4th of July Slaw

16 oz. bag cole slaw

1 C. sunflower seeds

1 bag slivered almonds, toasted

2 pkgs. chicken Ramen noodles, crushed (save seasoning packet)

1 bunch green onions, chopped

Mix above ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Combine following ingredients for dressing:

1 C. vegetable oil

1/3 C. garlic wine vinegar or red wine vinegar

2 packets chicken Ramen noodle seasoning

1/2 C. sugar

Mix and pour over slaw mixture just before serving.

Summer Fruit Cobbler

Mix together:

1 C. flour

2 t. baking powder

1 C. sugar, or to taste

1 C. milk

Melt 2 tablespoons butter or margarine in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Pour dough over butter. Cover with 4 C. fresh pie cherries or other fresh fruits may be used. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, until dough, which rises to the top, is done.

Sausage-stuffed Jalapenos

1 lb. bulk pork sausage

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

4 oz. grated Parmesan cheese

22 large Jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded (Caution: Use rubber or plastic gloves and do NOT touch your eyes or face.) Note: other sweet peppers work well for this recipe also.

Ranch dressing, optional

Brown sausage over medium heat. Drain. Combine cream cheese and Parmesan. Then fold in the sausage. Spoon about 1 T. into each Jalapeno half. Place into 2 ungreased 9 x 13 baking dishes and bake uncovered at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly. Serve with ranch dressing if desired.