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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. Thanks for the shortcut baked Alaska. Now we can try this out without fear!

    The Duo Dishess last blog post..Blame It on Global Warming

  2. That’s a fantastic recipe. Although I disagree with you, I don’t think that everyone we meet has a purpose in our life. None is written.

    Learn English Onlines last blog post..English Grammar Secrets

  3. I love your story and the picture of Baked Alaska. That’s something I’ve not tried to do and yours looks beautiful!

    Lyndas last blog post..Quesadillas

  4. That looks good! Great job on the meringue topping!

  5. You know, I’ve never made baked Alaska but it would be SO cool to do. Yours looks wonderful. Glad you have such good and unexpected friends.

    Claires last blog post..Rolling Along

  6. Though we’ve made acquaintances as such, we’ve never kept up with them like you. That is completely wonderful and heart-warming.

    Shalees last blog post..It’s All In How You Wear Them

  7. I love the cake and the story is entirely charming. It reads like one of those novels you can’t put down and feel so good about.

    gizs last blog post..Cajun Chicken Breasts

  8. I love baked alaska, but I’ve never tried making my own. I might have to try this recipe soon. Your photo is beautiful by the way!

    bensbaby116s last blog post..Chicken BBQ Pizza, Hawaiian Style

  9. Baked Alaska is one of those classic desserts from the past. I haven’t had it in so long. In fact, I think I forgot it existed! Thanks for the reminder :)

  10. I loved this recipe so much I’ve included it on my blogs weekly baking round-up. Next step is to actually make it!

    Natalies last blog post..ANZAC Biscuits

  11. Nice story and a great looking baked Alaska!

    Dana McCauleys last blog post..Change Family Day to Pie Day

  12. Nice story. I’ve always wondered whether being seated at tables with strangers on a cruise would be awkward. I guess sometimes it works out really well.

    The baked alaska looks amazingly delicious.

    Psychgrads last blog post..Tried, Tested and True 3: Wedding Edition

  13. That looks amazing. It hit my sweet tooth :)

    Gennaros last blog post..A Travel Picnic To Die For

  14. Isn’t it amazing how chance meetings work out? Met a young man at the airport on the way to D.C. and kept in touch. He became fast friends with my daughter. He gave us a tour of the beach when we made it to his hometown in Australia…half a world and years away from where we met.
    The baked alaska is lovely…the meringue is like Swiss meringue so I guess it is already cooked and just needs a bit of browning. Lots better than the usual full baked version. Yum!

    Elles last blog post..Everything Thats the Kitchen Sink

  15. It is so wonderful to have great friends through good times and bad. It makes everything a little easier, I think. The recipe looks fantastic, Kristen. :)

    LyBs last blog post..TWD – Fresh Ginger And Chocolate Gingerbread

  16. Wow, that looks good! I’ve never made a Baked Alaska but might have to try this one. Thanks!

    Olivias last blog post..Caramel Pecan Brownies


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