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Hi, I'm Pam Mehnert

As Outpost's general manager, Pam's work keeps her at the office, in meetings, or in front of her computer more than a simple 40 hours each week. However, her passion as a foodie has driven her to take on this challenge for the culinary experience of...
Pam Mehnert

Weeks 14 & 15 - I'm Not Turning Back Now

A Year of Inconvenience
For one year, I'm making everything from scratch and forgoing convenience foods. Join me on my journey! By Pam Mehnert on August 6, 2010
Well I feel I’ve reached a turning point in my adventure - a shot in the arm perhaps where I think I actually got a little burnt out on “convenience foods” during my vacation. Okay so my traveling companions may be thinking, “I never heard her complain while eating that bag of potato chips”, but I have to honestly tell you there were some things I missed about my own scratch cooking.

First, let me tell you about my vacation food adventure along the rocky coast of Maine. We’re talking seafood my friends, some of the best and freshest catches you can imagine. We did a lot of cooking at our house rental, even though not all meals were completely from scratch, and I ate primarily as a pescetarian that week since that’s how our Vermont friends eat. We had Maine shrimp (small and sweet), haddock (fried, broiled, and baked with a cilantro pesto sauce), Maine sweet crab, and lobster, lobster, lobster. NO – not a millionaire yet, but at about $4.99 lb. from a street side fish vendor it was pretty difficult to ignore.

We made some pretty fabulous meals during our stay, and didn’t even cheat by buying dessert, when fresh wild Maine blueberries were so easily available. Lisa made a delicious blueberry crisp in which she threw in some pretty fabulous local peaches (also a great breakfast start topped with plain yogurt). We (should I say “I”) did cheat our last night at the house by stopping by our favorite Portuguese pizza shop and ordering a spinach and olive pizza – which we topped with local chanterelle mushrooms (sautéed in white wine and butter) – purchased that day from the Brooklyn Farmer’s Market. I also found this great recipe for haddock in Charmoula Sauce on Epicurious which by the way turned out to be one of our favorite dinners (besides the steamed lobster that is.) The photo I took made the sauce look like green mold, so I’ll spare you what I thought would have been a good example of a made from scratch meal even while traveling. Trust me, that sauce is wonderful.

So what food do you think I missed that I’m now regularly making from scratch each week? It certainly wasn’t the fresh-baked sourdough bread from the local Borealis Bakery.  Man that is great bread – especially smothered in Kate’s butter, another fine local Maine business.  It certainly wasn’t my homemade sandwiches at lunch time that I missed, when lobster rolls or crab cakes accompanied by tortilla chips and local salsa was an option.  I unfortunately forgot about that salsa until the day before we left, or I would have likely purchased it several times that week.

No my friends, what I actually missed about my own from scratch cooking that left me pining for the jar left in my pantry, was my granola. Buying granola while traveling is really a crapshoot unless you have a specific brand you like (packaged not bulk that is). My recipe started out as “Brooke’s Granola” when given to me by our co-worker Diana. I’ve been playing with the original recipe a bit by changing out the sweeteners and adding one of my favorite spices, cardamom, to the flavor mix. It is now officially my “no turning back” favorite. I truly don’t believe I’ll go back to buying granola again since this is so easy to make and gets the entire house smelling just like a bakery. Thank you Brooke!

My No Turning Back Granola

2 1/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup pecans, slightly chopped
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cardamom
¼ teaspoon salt

  1. 1.Preheat your oven to 325°
  2. 2.In a large bow, mix together the rolled oats, pecans, cinnamon and cardamom
  3. 3.Meanwhile, combine the canola oil, maple syrup, brown sugar and salt in a small pan over medium heat until the brown sugar dissolves into the liquid and all seem well combined
  4. 4.Add vanilla to hot liquids and combine with dry ingredients, mixing well
  5. 5.Spread mixture out on large lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes stir granola and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Stir one more time and bake for an additional 5 minutes until golden brown, not dark.
  6. 6.Cook and enjoy. Makes about one pound of granola.


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