Sweets for the sweet

Dessert auction features some of Juneau's best baking talent

Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2003

In an edible version of Shakespeare's "sweets for the sweet," the Tongass Alaska Girl Scout Council has scheduled a dessert auction as one of the attractions accompanying its fund-raising salmon bake on Aug. 30. Local homemakers, experienced amateur bakers, and professional chefs are all contributing to the event in a veritable sugar extravaganza.

The all-you-can-eat salmon, chicken and barbecued pork dinner will be held at the Gold Creek Salmon Bake, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Aug. 30. Door prizes including boxes of Girl Scout cookies will be part of the fun.

Pastry chef Jan Nina Andes of the Prospector Hotel will be among the professionals baking goodies for the auction. "We like to help out," said Lisa Castro, restaurant manager of the Prospector. "Jan Nina has worked for us for two years," Castro said. Andes captured her position without attending a culinary academy. "She job shadowed here through high school; Barney Smith, our chef, taught her. It works!" Castro said. Andes will probably donate one of her succulent cheesecakes.

A permanent Juneau resident since 1976, Gregg Erickson is an economist and editor of the Alaska Budget Report. He is producing one of his famous lemon meringue pies for the Girl Scout's dessert auction.

"I grew up in Anchorage, and my mother made wonderful lemon pies," he reminisces. "I kept pestering her to make them. Finally when I was about 10 years of age, she said, 'No, you can make it yourself.' I said, 'Never mind.' I would complain and whine. Eventually she said, 'You can make a lemon pie - and you are going to.'

"I probably make six lemon pies a year and three to six other pies. I make rhubarb from our own rhubarb and cherry pie with cherries from our tree."

He particularly likes the combination of rhubarb and raspberries in a pie, finding strawberries "too bland" in that combination. For local cooks using wild blueberries, pick them early in the season to avoid wormy ones, Erickson says, and "use lots of sugar." The following recipe started with Joy of Cooking, but has been modified by Erickson.

"My mother, Helen Erickson, made her pie with milk, but some time about 30 years ago I decided I like the more transparent custard obtained with water. Helen is now 91, and the last time she spoke on the matter she suggested that using water was silly: 'When did you last use lemon pie filling for a window?'

"But she agreed with me that this pie contains in one food all the elements we expect in a breakfast: eggs, citrus juice and pastry. Just add coffee."

When separating the egg yolks, don't let the slightest bit of yolk get into the white, Erickson said. "Even a small amount will keep the meringue from fluffing up properly."

Joan Deering, a former Portland culinary school teacher, has owned downtown's popular Paradise Bakery and Lunch since January. Deering will donate Killer Ginger Cookies to the auction. "We sell out of these here before we sell out of anything else," Deering said. "The recipe originally came from Buzz Ritter. We have a customer who comes in for one ginger cookie every day. He likes to top it with a mixture of cream cheese, sugar and lemon." Deering thinks it's "the fresh ginger" that makes the cookies so addictive.

Joe Solano, chef at the Goldbelt Hotel Juneau's Confetti restaurant, is originally from Amarillo, Texas. He and his wife first saw Alaska in 1994. They returned in 1999 when Joe went to work as dinner line cook for a year. "Then I had an opportunity to work at the Travel Lodge as a sous chef in January 2000," he says. "The executive chef left four months later so I took his position. Then I had the opportunity to become executive chef at the Goldbelt."

One of Solano's specialties is Tiramisu, a coffee-flavored dessert with layers of lady fingers. These delicate cookies are available at Alaskan & Proud supermarket. "You can use two or three layers of the lady fingers," Solano advises. "I like the recipe because I can double it or cut it in half."

"Our goal is to have 25 to 30 desserts," said Gail Ford, president of the Girl Scout Council's board since 2002. "It will be a silent auction; whoever bids the highest, gets it." She is making a mouth-wateringly rich brownie recipe that includes a middle layer of Girl Scout Samoa cookies, and will probably also bake a rhubarb pie from her Mother's recipe. "Proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward general operating expenses as well as toward day camp and resident camp. The board has to raise over $50,000 this year. Our goal for the dinner is $2,000, and for the dessert auction, $1,000 more."

Ford has served on the board for 10 years. In the early 1990s she was Executive Director of the Tongass Alaska Girl Scout Council for two years, a job she "absolutely loved," she said. "I feel strongly that Girl Scouting helps girls develop qualities that will serve them all their lives: leadership skills, strong values, social skills and positive convictions about their own potential and self-worth," Ford added.

Entertainment during the event will feature the Tongass Camp Crooners (Girl Scouts who attended resident camp) and the Little Brownie Singers (Brownie Girl Scouts who attended day camp). Song sheets for singing along should delight Girl Scout alumni, as should a fire for roasting marshmallows. Fixings for s'mores will be on sale.

The fundraiser is sponsored by Alaska Travel Adventures. Tickets are available at the door, or in advance by calling coordinator Chrystal Smith at 465-6641 (work) or 463-5175 (evenings), or from board members including Susan Cox, Candy Brower, Susan Sutton and Marylou Elton. Tickets are $25 for adults; $15 for children 12 and under. Tickets are also available at the Tongass Alaska Girl Scout Council's office, 1000 Harbor Way; 586-1710. Gold Creek Salmon Bake is located at 1061 Salmon Lane; 586-1424.

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