Chance Encounters (and Baked Alaska)

I’ve mentioned this before, but I am a firm believer that every one you meet is placed in your life at that point for a very specific reason. We may never know what that reason is, but even those chance encounters… a small conversation with someone while waiting in line at the grocery store, a chat with a mom at a local park, your labor and delivery nurse in the hospital… each of those people had a purpose for being placed in your life.

In November of 1999, my husband and I met two couples who ended up impacting our lives forever. We were on our honeymoon cruise, evening two. When we went into the dining room to sit down, we were led to a table with four other couples. Who knows why we all hit it off so well, but we did and for the most part ended up spending a great deal of time together on the rest of our vacation. Lots of great memories were made, some “could be used as blackmail” videos were taken, photographs were shared, and strong friendships were formed. We have managed to stay in touch with two of those couples over the years… Stacy, Bryon, Jan and Rob.

Over the past 9 1/2 years, we have gone on several other vacations together. Vegas, The Outer Banks of North Carolina, Arizona, Ohio and Kansas City. Four years ago this week, we were all sipping margaritas on the topless deck of a cruise ship, headed to Cabo San Lucas. (And no, we weren’t topless… just a little hint… people rarely use the topless deck, so if you are looking for a quiet and sunny place to hang out, head upstairs).

Things have changed a lot for us over the years. Children have been had, major geographical moves have been made, jobs have changed, family members have been lost, marriages have had their ups and downs, kids have been injured, tears have been shed and happiness has reigned. One thing that I do know is that when I think about who some of the dearest people are in our lives, these two couples top the list.

So, to the Rethakes and Taylors, who we are so grateful to have met those many years ago, know that we love you and appreciate your friendship a great deal. We will always have so many memories together… “Alcatraz”, “Cherries Jubilee!!”, “Surprise Me”, “The Cotton Eyed Joe”, “We’re going on a pub crawl…”, “Sting”, “Pedro the Dog”, “M&M Poker”, “Phase 10”, “Vladamir”, “Go Mustard!”… and so much more. I personally can’t wait until we can all “Meet in the Nook” again!

As a little tribute to our past cruise vacations, I made a very simple version of Baked Alaska from a newspaper insert called Relish Magazine. Baked Alaska was a popular final day at sea dessert on the cruise ship, always followed by the crew of mostly non-Americans singing The National Anthem. I always found that a bit funny! I hope you enjoy it.

Baked Alaska (from Relish Magazine)


1 (11-ounce) pound cake
1 pint vanilla ice cream  (I actually used Edy’s Slow Churned Strawberry Cheesecake)
½ cup sugar
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions 1. Cut pound cake lengthwise to make 1⁄2-inch thick slices. Cut 8 circles from slices using a 3-inch round cookie cutter. Place a scoop of ice cream on 4 rounds. Top each scoop of ice cream with the remaining rounds of cake. Press down lightly and, using a knife, smooth away any ice cream that has pressed out the sides. Place on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Freeze at least 15 minutes.
2. Fill a large saucepan with 1-inch of water. Bring to a simmer. In a double boiler or a metal bowl that will fit over the saucepan, place sugar, egg whites, water and cream of tartar. Set bowl over simmering water and beat with a handheld mixer at low speed, 3 to 5 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer registers 140F.
3. Increase speed to high and continue beating 3 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and beat until cool, about 4 minutes. When peaks form, beat in vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 15 minutes.
4. When ready to assemble, preheat the boiler. Remove cakes from freezer, and quickly spread with meringue, swirling to make peaks. Place cakes under broiler, as close to the flame as possible, to brown the meringue tips, about 1 minute. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

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  1. says

    Baked Alaska is always so festive! Some other suggestions for browning the top:
    Ignite a ladleful of cognac and pour over the meringue. Perhaps less dramatic, but more effective, you could also use a blow torch (I think I recall you have one for creme brulee??).

    Julias last blog post..Celebration! (and Give-Away)

  2. says

    What a great story! There’s nothing like great friends, is there? The couples we spend time with were met through my work,but we’ve not been on a cruise together. Sounds like fun. And the Baked Alaska? Yummy and quite beautiful. I used to covet the version in my mother’s old Betty Crocker cookbook.

    kellypeas last blog post..Jambalaya with Andouille Shrimp and Chicken

  3. stacy says

    The story brought a tear to my eye and made me giggle when I read the quote sheet. I am thankful for many things in our life one of them was the chance to meet some wonderful friends on a silly cruise ship. Thank you for the tribute and the memories! I will be DARNED if another 2-years go by before our next meeting. Birthday wishes to that special someone who never made it to all the formal night meals :) Your Alaska looks wonderful!

  4. Jan says

    Thank you so much for the tribute to our friendship. I am so grateful that we all met on that cruise at that time. As we look back over the last 9 1/2 years we have had many life changes but one thing that has not changed is our friendship with each other. So again thank you for your love and friendship over the years and for many more to come.

  5. says

    I have been intrigued by baked alaska since I first heard of it. I will make it eventually!

    And I am a big believer in meeting people for a reason. What a great story and friendship you have shared.

  6. says

    What a sweet story! I too believe that person we meet comes into our lives for a reason. A few years ago, we were on a family cruise. When I arrived at our dinner table the first night, there was a nice couple sitting there with my parents. The woman looked a lot like an old college roommate that I hadn’t had contact with in over 20 years. I mentioned the resemblance and it turned out to actually be her! We renewed our friendship and have kept in touch ever since!

    BTW, your Baked Alaska looks dreamy!

    Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewys last blog post..Flavor of the Month: Toasted Coconut-Sesame Brittle Ice Cream


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