Anyone in the central Kenai Peninsula who has read one of Ann Berg's cookbooks knows she has a knack for whipping up creative, authentic Alaska cuisine. After today, the rest of the country will know as well.
Berg, of Nikiski, known as "Grannie Annie" to her friends, family and readers will have one of her recipes prepared on the QVC channel's show, "Local Flavors," airing today from noon to 2 p.m.
"Local Flavors" is a cooking show that focuses on different regions of the country in each episode. Today's show will be about Alaska cuisine and will include recipes from the "Best of the Best from Alaska Cookbook: Selected Recipes from Alaska's Favorite Cookbooks," which Berg has several recipes in.
Berg has written four cookbooks. The first, "Grannie Annie's Cookin' on the Wood Stove," is a collection of older recipes from Berg's mother, grandmother and friends that Berg wanted to preserve, like "Beer Stew on the Wood Stove" and "One-Pot Dinner." Her second book is "Grannie Annie's Cookin' at the Homestead," and is a more general cookbook, including recipes for everything from main dishes to desserts. Her third book, "Grannie Annie's Cookin' Fish from Cold Alaskan Waters" was released last summer and will be followed by another fish cookbook. She recently finished another cookbook for the Pioneers of Alaska group, that will be released in July.
The "Best of the Best from Alaska Cookbook" is part of a series of state-themed cookbooks published by Quail Ridge Press. The editors of the series, Gwen McKee and Barbara Moseley, started gathering recipes for inclusion in their Alaska cookbook two years ago. When they came across Berg's three cookbooks during a recipe-gathering trip to the state last year, they decided the books were so good that they would include about 35 recipes from her books in their "Best of the Best" cookbook.
"They read the cookbooks and called me and wanted to know if they could use the recipes from my cookbooks in their cookbook, and I said certainly,'" Berg said. "It's a real nicely illustrated, real pretty book."
Berg has been doing homestyle, from-scratch cooking since she was a child growing up on her family's farm in Colorado. She moved to Alaska in 1967 and started putting together her cookbooks in 2000. She began her writing endeavors with the modest goals of wanting to preserve her family's recipes, sharing recipes with her friends and getting her unorganized stash of loose recipes compiled.
"I had boxes and boxes of loose recipes that I no longer could hang on to without stumbling over and I thought if I put them in book form I could throw the papers away and share my recipes I've gathered through the years with friends and relatives," she said.
Getting her recipes included in a nationally marketed cookbook was a thrill for Berg. On Monday, the "Best of the Best" editors called her and gave her some more exciting news that the "Best of the Best" Alaska cookbook would be featured on the "Local Flavors" QVC show, and that her recipe for "Alaskaladas (Alaska enchiladas) would be prepared during the show. Berg gets full credit for her recipes in the "Best of the Best" book, and will be recognized as the author of the recipe in today's show.
"I was speechless," Berg said. "They're such nice ladies. They call me quite regularly and tell me different things and this was just amazing. They said they had made the recipe one other time and were really impressed with it and were going to do it on the show."
Berg said her friends and family are going to try and watch the show today. She said she will be busy working at Fireweed Herb Garden and Gifts in Kenai when the show airs, so she'll tape it and watch it later.
If anyone is interested in cooking along with the show today, see Berg's recipe for "Alaskaladas," this page. Anyone wanting to try Grannie Annie's recipes on their own can get her books at Fireweed Herb Garden and Gifts or by e-mailing her at email@example.com. The "Best of the Best from Alaska Cookbook" is available at book stores, kitchen and gift shops, online at www.quailridge.com, by calling (800) 343-1583 and will be sold today on QVC.
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