Food and Drink

How Alaska eats: Approach these fraught times with a plum (cake)

Plum cornmeal cake

Newsletter #58: Why so glum, sugar plum?

What do you do when the ferries aren’t running, the local grown produce program is in jeopardy, Anchorage is in a state of civil emergency and the whole state is mired up in one of the biggest political dramas in memory? You turn off your brain for a little while and head to the kitchen to make a cake. Cake is bipartisan and gentle. One of my most favorite summer cake recipes ever is a plum torte from the New York Times. Kim Sunée has a cornmeal version this week. (If you are GF, you can sub in Cup4Cup or King Arthur gluten free flour and it will work great. I’ve made it many a time.)

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The plums are looking pretty affordable and plentiful at Costco, as are the nectarines. Should you be shopping there in the near future, you can also find just about all the ingredients you need for Maya Wilson’s nectarine-prosciutto bruschetta, which, with a little wine, makes a great weeknight meal.

maya wilson bruschetta

Oh, I saw the first of the back-to-school circulars in the newspaper. I know what it means. I’m exhausted and the grass is dry, but it made me want to hold on to Saturday mornings drinking coffee in the yard. I’ve vowed to make Maya Wilson’s buttermilk waffles for the kids at least one more time before school starts.

[Read previous newsletters here. Find more Alaska recipes here.]

In food adventures, my dear neighbors let me pick cherries from their most extraordinary cherry tree this week. Then my friend Kate, who is wiser than me about all food things, came over to deliver a cherry pitter on the condition that I also relieve her of a large zucchini. Should you also need to be relieved of zucchini, here’s one of our most popular recipes for zucchini brownies.

maya wilson zucchini brownies

Steve Edwards has all the news in the world of direct-order sockeye, food preservation classes and farmers market hot buys. And if you don’t already, support local news and local food, and subscribe to ADN.

Here’s hoping you’d still leave anonymous zucchini on your neighbor’s porch, no matter what their politics are.


Julia O'Malley

Anchorage-based Julia O'Malley is a former ADN reporter, columnist and editor. She received a James Beard national food writing award in 2018, and a collection of her work, "The Whale and the Cupcake: Stories of Subsistence, Longing, and Community in Alaska," was published in 2019. She's currently writer in residence at the Anchorage Museum.