REVIEW - Alaska Homegrown Cookbook

Editors, Alaska Northwest Books, Alaska Homegrown Cookbook: the Best Recipes from the Last Frontier. Introduction by Kirsten Dixon. Alaska Northwest Books. Softbound. 210 pages plus index. $15.95.

This is a compilation of recipes from other cookbooks aimed at Alaskans and people who long to cook like Alaskans. If the first thing that comes to your mind is cooking on a two-burner propane campstove or putting more wood in the cookstove, the editors do not have you in mind. Most of these recipes are definitely from the gourmet section of your kitchen; you know, the place where the somen noodles, the freshly squeezed limes, the cilantro, the fresh ginger and horseradish line the shelves. Oh, and don't forget the heavy cream in the refrigerator; lots of cream.

Okay, let's be fair. There are also many tasty recipes with non-exotic ingredients, and with today's selection in most of Alaska's groceries, even the fancier ones can be obtained, sometimes. Besides, who wants the standard cooking of Alaska's foods? There's the rule of cooking berries. If you don't have many, put them in pancakes or muffins. If you have picked lots, make a cobbler. If you have collected huge amounts on a sunny day when the bushes are laden, make jam and jelly.

Salmon can be cut into steaks and fried in a butter and oil mixture, or, more likely, baked in a 350-degree oven with the standard rule of "12 minutes per vertical inch, measured at the widest part". Delicious, especially if you have some crab meat to add to a basic bread stuffing recipe, omitting the sage, and allow about 25 minutes more of baking.

Halibut is an old stand-by, of course, on the coast. It is incredibly versatile, as this cookbook demonstrates, although usually with more common ingredients.

However, it is also true that good cooks love to experiment, and there are some grand recipes for those who can hit a gourmet shop or order fresh spices and greens on-line. In that case, the reader can get hungry just perusing. Bon appetit! Or, as we say in Alaska, "Dig in!"

D. L.