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Digging into the holiday meal alternatives 


December 04, 2022

Ketchikan, Alaska - This is the time of the year when people start publishing helpful hints about how to make do when your store is out of key items for your favorite holiday repast.


Speaking of which, why do they call it "repast?" Shouldn't it be "refuture?" I mean, it is something you are going to make to eat in the future not in the past. The past has already been digested. Or at least, to misquote Faulkner, it is still being digested. Festering away in some bowel fold.

But I digress.

Or maybe we call it "repast" because 99.9999 percent of all holiday meals are something that we have been eating for 50 years now and no one can remember why?

You know, like Aunty Grime's Low Fat Venison Pot Stickers. Or Cousin Freebird's Devil's Club Cheesecake.

Or Yams. Does anyone really eat yams any other time of the year?

I can't imagine why.

But I digress again.

Anyway, this is the time of the year where people are at least "trying" to be helpful when it comes to menu planning.

For example, is the store out of canned pumpkin? You know one of your neighbors still has a couple of "fresh" jack-o-lanterns still festering away on the porch!

Didn't say it was a good option, just an option.

I suspect that the idea of a store being out of something - other than toilet paper - is foreign to most people. I mean, in the real world Outside the friendly confines of Our Fair Salmon City there are grocery stores on pretty much every block.

Big ones, superstores even.

Your local bodega runs out of something, it's guaranteed that then big-box El Grande Calorie Loco has 25 different brands of that same item.

Of course, hereabouts, that ain't the case.

We can't just drive until we reach another option. The road actually ends here.

Now, there's tourism slogan. Ketchikan: Where the Road Ends. Ninety Miles Away.

Plus, it seems like the recent inability of local grocery stores to order the correct amount of food for the 14,000 people who live here has left us with the prices of Kotzebue and the selection of East Berlin. I've been to both places. The local grocery purveyors bear a clear resemblance to those historic food deserts.

Hey, there's another slogan. Ketchikan: Resemblance of Grocery Famines Past.

Anyhow, the point is that sometimes you go to the store here and they just don't have what you need.

What to do, what to do?

Well, you could try cooking something else. I mean, sometimes you just have to improvise. Like that time you needed stuffing and all the bread at the store was staler than a column about food at Thanksgiving.

Have you tried particle board?

Okay, not a great solution, but in a pinch it would work.

Besides, the only person who really demands stuffing at the holiday table is Uncle Cretin. And he has smoked soooo many Chesterfields he wouldn't know the difference in taste anyway.

This time of year, everyone seems obsessed with baking. Even the people who don't notice their kitchen has an oven the other 11 months of the year. And with baking comes the need for sugar, so supplies run low.

Heading to the store and finding an empty shelf where the sugar usually lives is as much a seasonal staple as Bing Crosby and David Bowie duets, or discussions about the dangers of the Red Ryder Carbine Action 200 shot Range Model bb gun.

Have you considered anti-freeze instead of sugar?

Hear me out, here.

Generations of dogs and cats have found it a suitable substitute for "sticky sweet."  Maybe it's something we should consider. Sure, ethylene glycol has its downside, but SO DOES SUGAR. Just sayin'.

Finally, what do you do when you go to the store to get the ingredients for the cranberry Jello salad that has been gracing your table since 1622 and the store is out?

Ha ha! Trick question.

The store is never out of cranberry Jello salad fixins because, well, no one else wants it.

It's like how the freezer sections have been empty for months, except for the soy protein meat substitutes which don't appear have moved since 1994.

Natch, you don't have to substitute for cranberry Jello salad because, well, you just don't.

But maybe you should?

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Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.

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