I really love to cook and bake, but decided I want to spend as much time as possible outside this summer. I feel like I lost two years of my life because of the pandemic isolation. I have been perusing the calendar of events that the area is offering this summer, and I am extremely excited about participating in as much as I can. More boating is at the top of my list. I have been navigating the Iowa Great Lakes for the past twenty-eight years with smaller boats. Easier to maneuver, small parking spots on docks are more available, and less gas which will be on everyone’s radar this summer.
Pickle Pops came from my friend, Jeanine Hough, of Graettinger, Iowa. She was telling me about her grandchildren’s cravings for Pickle Pops from the ball game concession stand. It piqued my interest as the first time I had seen anyone drinking pickle juice was during my tenure on RAGBRAI. The riders in our group, “Team Checker” swore that the juice prevented leg cramps. Two of my grandchildren were my taste tasters and gave them a big thumbs up. Pickle Pops would also be great to put in a beer or in a Bloody Mary.
The Ham/Turkey Rallys are an enhanced ham/turkey roll-up with avocado or dressings to give it that edge. The carnivores in your group will be loving these.
I have not forgotten the heathy eaters. Quick Crunchy Salad is a combination of chopped salad greens, vegetables, with a tomato and cheese edge. The salad is portioned ahead of time in clear plastic cups with lids to avoid spillage in the boat. Dressings and toppings are available when served.
It just wouldn’t be summer without “Boat Mix.” I first posted this recipe in Lake Life in July of 2016. It has been my most requested recipe. It is so simple and can be made a month or more ahead of time and personalized to one’s taste. It makes a big batch, but it won’t last long.
12 Slices thin turkey or ham
12-18 Butter Lettuce Leaves, washed and dried with a paper towel
1-2 Tomatoes, thinly sliced
6 Slices pre-cooked bacon
Salt and Pepper to taste
Choice of one of the following: smashed avocado, Italian dressing or aioli sauce.
- Stack 2 slices of turkey or ham on a cutting board.
- Layer 2-3 pieces of lettuce on top of meat followed by a thin slice of tomato and bacon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Choose some mashed avocado, a sprinkle of Italian dressing, or aioli sauce for the topping.
- Roll from one end lengthwise to the other to form a roll-up. Repeat the process for the remaining ingredients.
- Store in an lidded plastic airtight container and place in cooler just before heading out to the boat.
Dill Pickle Pops
1 C Dill Pickle Juice (From a jar of pickles or organic juice)
12 Clear plastic soufflé 1oz cups with lids*
- Place cups on small flat tray that fits flat in your freezer.
- Pour juice 1/4” from the top of the cup. Using a small measuring cup with a spout works nicely. Place tray of pickle juice cups into the freezer for at least 4 hours. Remember: Overnight is best. Snap lids on cups.
- Store Dill Pickle Pops in a plastic container or quart plastic bag. Store covered in ice in your boat cooler. Lick the inside of the cup to taste the juice or pop them out and put the entire pickle pop into your mouth. Children and adults love these sour treats.
- Freeze at least 4 hours. Overnight is best.
*I purchased my soufflé cups and lids at Maxwell’s Restaurant Supply in Spencer, Iowa.
Quick Crunchy Salad
3 Plastic Cups with Lids
9.5oz Dole Chopped Sunflower Crunch Kit
Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
Assorted Sliced String Cheese
- Fill plastic cups 2/3 full of lettuce/cabbage/kale mix.
- Arrange tomatoes around the perimeter of the cup.
- Slice assorted string cheese horizontally, and arrange around the perimeter of the cup. Cover with clear plastic lids.
- Store salads in the least cold part of your boat cooler to prevent freezing. Just prior to serving on the boat, sprinkle the salads with the sunflower seeds and sweet onion and citrus dressing.
I selected the Chopped Sunflower Crunch kit because it’s ratio of lettuce to cabbage is less. Lettuce has more of a tendency to be more fragile to colder temperatures and often wilts.
Boat Snack Mix
2 Cheetos (17.5 oz)
1 Goldfish Cheddar Crackers (6.6 oz)
2 Goldfish Pretzels (6.6 oz)
2 Ritz Bits Cheese Crackers (8.8 oz)
1 Club Minis Crackers (11 oz)
2 Cheez-IT Crackers (12.4 oz)
2 Snyder's Sourdough Nibblers (16 oz)
1 Orville Redenbacher's Popcorn Popping & Topping Oil (16 oz)
1T Onion Powder (NOT SALT)
1T Garlic Powder (NOT SALT)
2 Whole Cashews (30 oz) optional
1 UNSCENTED Garbage Bag, Large
- Pour the Cheetos, crackers, pretzels and cashews into the garbage bag. Takes about 2 minutes.
- Drizzle the entire bottle of popcorn oil over the mixture. 15 Seconds or less.
- Sprinkle garlic powder and onion powder over the mixture. About 15 Seconds.
- Gently stir the mixture by lifting up the sides of bag for 30 Seconds.
- Close up bag. Let it set on the counter for several hours or overnight.
- Package the mix in quart or gallon size plastic zip bags. Use within two weeks or freeze the extra up to three months. Makes a very large batch but freezes well so you only need to make this once and have plenty for the entire summer. Most of the time I make three to four batches a summer to take with me boating, to the pool, the beach, all the free summer concerts at Arnolds Park Green Space and Boji Bay, for Happy Hour, or while I’m watching those fabulous sunsets at the Iowa Great Lakes.
I had sampled a variation of this mix more than 10 years ago and have developed my own version over the years based on my family's favorites. You can easily substitute the types of snacks used based on your own preferences. Just remember the overall amount of snack ounces should total around 138 ounces.
The name “Boat Mix” came from childhood memories of my dad. My father was a recycler long before it was in vogue. He and a friend built a pontoon boat out of used oil barrels, scrap 2 x 4s, plywood, wire fencing, and metal siding. It had a roof and bench seats on each side that doubled as storage for the infamous orange life jackets. The motor rarely worked and often my sister and I were recruited to pull the boat to shore by swimming with ropes around our waists. As usual, no adults on board could swim, including my dad. We spent many a hot summer day at Twin Lakes, north of Rockwell City, Iowa. He only had the boat for three years before selling it. It was the best times of my childhood, and I never forgot it. My dream was to someday live on a lake, and I fulfilled that dream in the winter of 1993 when I moved to Okoboji. Every day I wake up here and am so grateful to think I am the luckiest “little big girl”.