There is no place like home(r)!

It is wonderful to be back in our home and Homer, surrounded by the life we’ve made here. I spent the winter in Juneau working for the Legislature. I missed the Other Fisherman, our black labs and all of you so much. In January I said so long to grilling on the party deck, skiing on the McNeil Canyon trail and cooking for dinner parties in my kitchen.  

What a change in lifestyle for this married lady of 35 years who never lived with roommates in an apartment far away from her family. Our apartment was located within walking distance of the Capitol above a seasonal jewelry shop on Gastineau Channel. My room had big windows and a picturesque view, especially on snowy winter nights with the lights of the community of Douglas Island twinkling across the water. Being on the water with all the seabirds and ocean life right out my window was amazing and made me miss my Kachemak Bay view a little less. 

Juneau is a beautiful place, surrounded by close-up mountains, moss-draped spruce trees of the rain forest,  and miles of coast line, beaches and Alaska history. It’s home to friendly residents and charming shops, cafes and restaurants with delicious specialties.

Juneau has plenty of artistic talent, a vibrant social scene and hosts plenty of community events. Downhill skiing and cross country skiing are only 25 minutes away from downtown, as are plenty of walking and hiking opportunities. The only thing missing were all of you.

 I indulged in savories from a little hole-in-the-wall place that sold only Russian pelmeni — delicious little steamed meat or potato dumplings. They came nestled in a Styrofoam container bathed in a buttery, savory broth and sprinkled with curry with a final accompaniment of thinned sriracha sauce, with a small container of sour cream on the side. Odd combination of flavors, but it was pretty tasty. There are enough for two to feast upon for the whooping sum of $6. This is the kind of place you can visit for lunch or stop in at one in the morning. Next door was a pizzeria where you could enjoy a delicious pizza, and the atmosphere was cozy and warm. There is a scenic mural on the wall in the upper dining area of downtown Juneau and sitting up there sipping on a glass of wine reminded me of a pizzeria in Venice I visited. I know, a bit of a stretch of the imagination, but the atmosphere was nice.

Now I’m back in Homer and doing the usual tasks I enjoy, like shopping and seeing your familiar faces. I walked into the store Saturday and the fragrance of ripe strawberries was in the air. Berries were on sale and everywhere you looked. Strawberries signify springtime even if Alaska still experiences an occasional snowfall. I bought a container of those gorgeous berries and they inspired me to bake.

Thank you all for the wonderful welcome home. Juneau was gorgeous, but there’s no place like Homer.


Cream Cheese Pound Cake

This pound cake is so good you might not even get around to slicing the berries to garnish it with. It has a perfect crumb, sweetness and is so good, in addition to being quick and easy to mix up.

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon fine salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

One 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature

3 cups sugar

6 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan or two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans. (I also lined my pans with parchment and sprayed it with cooking spray because it makes the cakes easy to remove.)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and cream cheese, and beat on medium speed until soft and fluffy. Add the sugar, and continue to beat for about 2 minutes more, stopping once to scrape down the sides. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the flour mixture in three doses, beating only until the flour is absorbed and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan or pans.

Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes (for a tube pan) or 55 to 60 minutes (for loaf pans), or until the cake is golden brown, pulling away from the sides of the pan, and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a wire rack, and cool completely before loosening the sides with a thin knife and removing the cake from the pan.


Strawberry Daiquiri Pie

The flavors of the sorbet and rum and creaminess of the yogurt make it a perfect spring dessert.

1 refrigerated pie crust, softened as
directed on box or your favorite
single pie crust recipe

2 cups strawberry sorbet, softened

2 containers (6 oz each) 99%
fat free strawberry yogurt

1 cup frozen strawberries, thawed, chopped  or 1½ cups fresh strawberries with a little added sugar if needed

¼ cup rum

½ cup fresh strawberries

¼ cup sugar

Heat oven to 450°F. Place pie crust in ungreased 9-inch pie plate. Press crust firmly against side and bottom; flute.
Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until light brown. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Mix sorbet, yogurt, chopped strawberries and rum until blended. Spoon into crust. Freeze uncovered until firm, about 3 hours.

Let pie  stand at room temperature 10 minutes before cutting. 

Roll moistened fresh strawberries in sugar; garnish each slice of pie with sugared strawberries.

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