For Edible Alaska: Solace in the kitchen


Photographer Ash Adams and I collaborated for this Edible Alaska profile of Maya Wilson, the self-made cook and writer behind the popular blog, Alaska from Scratch. She came here with her husband to be a pastor for a church in Nikiski, but as her hobby blog exploded, her personal life took a number of difficult, unexpected turns. Always, cooking remained a constant.

Here’s how the story starts:

I texted Maya Wilson to tell her that I was bringing a dozen extra-ripe nectarines from Anchorage, and by the time I arrived at her little log house in Kenai she had a recipe in mind. It was a rainy summer afternoon. Her three kids – Brady, 13, Connor, 11, and Kelty, 8 – lounged in front of the television. Wilson put a cast iron pan on the heat. Soon I smelled bacon.

Wilson, who is 36, started the food blog Alaska from Scratch five years ago. At the time, she’d just moved from Bakersfield, California, to Nikiski with her husband, where they both became pastors at an evangelical Christian church. The grocery store was 40 minutes away. Food prices were much higher than she was used to. It seemed practical to make things from scratch. She began with a post about sourdough starter and continued posting recipes three times a week. Within months, blog traffic exploded. Strangers began recognizing her at Fred Meyer.

“I was surprised at how fast it took off,” she said. “I was just putting something out there that was true and real and, for whatever reason, people gravitated to it.”

Today Wilson is one of the most recognizable voices in Alaska’s food world, with readers all over the globe. Her blog averages more than 2 million views a year, she said. Her Instagram account has almost 57,000 followers. She has a regular recipe column in the Alaska Dispatch News, she’s shopping a cookbook proposal, and has been approached about a television show.

I watched her cut the nectarines and set them cut-side down in the hot pan, bacon grease sizzling. The blog began as a hobby, she told me, but it has become a life.

Read the rest here.

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Julia O’Malley is a journalist who lives in Anchorage. She writes about culture, family, home, the environment and food in Alaska.

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