Story last updated at 1:30 PM on Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Alaska-themed children's cookbook encourages kids to 'eat responsibly'

By Aaron Selbig
Staff Writer


Photo by Aaron Selbig, Homer New

Author Donna Maltz signs copies of her book, Yummy Recipes, Wilderness Wonders, every afternoon at 2:00 p.m. in the Fresh Sourdough Express Bakery and Cafe'

How do you teach children about the high-minded concepts of environmental protection, wildlife preservation and sustainable living? According to Donna Maltz, co-owner of Homer's Fresh Sourdough Express Bakery and Cafe and author of "Yummy Recipes, Wilderness Wonders", the answer is to make it fun.

"Yummy Recipes, Wilderness Wonders", first published as "Ah!mazing Recipes For Kids and Adults" in 1993 and recently re-released with a new design and updated information, is an Alaska-themed children's cookbook that encourages its young readers to "eat responsibly" while they prepare the recipes inside. Its 32 pages are filled with kid-friendly kitchen instruction, facts about Alaska wildlife, original illustrations by Arturo Moreno and a new cover by Homer artist Dan Coe.

"This is timeless information. It's an ageless book with an ageless message," said Maltz.

That message is to think about things like gardening, farming and shipping methods when you prepare to eat a meal. The book explains it to kids this way:

"Try to imagine what our planet was like before humans came along. What changes have happened since your great-grandparents were your age? Did they grow their own food? What kind of food did they eat and why? What kind of grocery stores did they shop in? Can you imagine what our planet will be like in 50 years? Maybe your mom and dad can help you answer these questions."

Maltz, who first arrived in Homer 26 years ago in a green 1972 bread wagon that still sits in front of the Fresh Sourdough Express Bakery and Cafe on Lake St., has always been passionate about organic food and sustainable food preparation. Her restaurant, which she runs with her husband Kevin, was the first restaurant in Alaska to be certified "green" by the Green Restaurant Association and the menu there features organic food that is Alaska grown.

"The whole point of the restaurant is to get the 'from the soil to the table' message across. We really need to think about our dependence on food to preserve our existence as humans," said Maltz.

Shortly after "Yummy Recipes, Wilderness Wonders" was first published 15 years ago, Maltz continued her effort to spread the word about responsible eating by forming the Ah!laska company, which distributed the book around the state.

In just a few years after initial publication, the book had sold more than 10,000 copies statewide and Maltz expanded Ah!laska to produce organic cocoa mix, brownie mix, chocolate syrup and a variety of other cooking aids. She has since sold the company to United Natural Foods, which still distributes her food products nationwide.

The updated version of "Yummy Recipes, Wilderness Wonders" was released last month and is being distributed across Alaska by Anchorage-based Todd Communications. The book is also available locally at the Fresh Sourdough Express Bakery and Cafe for $7.95. Maltz is available to sign copies of the book weekdays at 2:00 p.m.

Maltz said that the book is selling well and some folks are snatching up four or five copies to give as Christmas presents to their nieces and nephews. She has a website in the works to help advance the book's message and hopes to someday be able to turn it into a series.

"It would thrill my heart to know that this book affected someone's life and brought a family together to cook," said Maltz.

Aaron Selbig can be reached at