Pamela Pelletier recalls many days as a child in the kitchen with her mother. “I can remember standing by the stove stirring whatever pasta was cooking so that it would not stick. My mom is an excellent cook; she always had great meals prepared for us when we were growing up.”

Today, Pamela and her mother continue their cooking traditions.

“She is now teaching me canning: strawberry jam, pickles and beets.” Finding recipes is something that mother and daughter enjoy doing together. “Since my dad became a vegetarian about 10 years ago, everyone has learned new recipes.”

Some of Pamela’s favorite recipes, though, are family treasures handed down from “my Great-Aunt Lil, born in Italy, or Grammy (my mother’s mom), born in Armenia.”

Time is always a challenge for a busy mom like Pamela. “Between soccer, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, gymnastics and help with homework, there is never enough time in the day!” However, time doesn’t seem to affect Pamela’s talent in the kitchen. “My kids tell me I am the best cook ever – next to Hippie. That’s what they call my mom.”

Every cook has a few “must haves” for the kitchen. Pamela says that red wine vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil and oregano are staples in her house. “My kids love the red wine vinegar on broccoli!” The oregano comes in handy while she prepares some of her favorite Italian dishes.

Pamela advises newcomers not to get frustrated when starting out. “Don’t get frustrated if something doesn’t go right the first time. When I was younger, the directions on a boxed cake said mix by hand. So I did, literally! Also, I once cooked a chicken with the bag of ‘insides’ still inside. Learn from your mistakes.”

Pamela lives in Minot with her husband, Bert. Their three children are Emma, age 11, Joey, 7, and Sadie, 6. Pamela is a customer service representative at L.L. Bean. In her free time, she “loves helping out at the school.” A sports mom at heart, Pamela coached Sadie in T-ball last season. She’s currently coaching soccer for kindergarten and first-grade players for a second year.

Banana bread
3 large bananas

1/3 cup melted butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

1½ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch of salt
¾ cup chopped nuts (optional)
Sift flour with salt. Mash bananas with fork, then add butter, sugar, egg, flour and salt, baking soda, vanilla and nuts.

Grease a loaf pan. Bake one hour at 350 degrees.
Pasta fagioli (fa-zool)
3 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup finely chopped onion

¼ cup finely chopped celery

¼ cup finely chopped carrot

15- or 16-ounce can tomatoes with juice

1 19-ounce can cannellini beans

4 cups chicken stock or broth

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper
1¼ cups ditalini pasta or small elbow macaroni
In a large pot, over medium heat, combine olive oil, onion, celery and carrot.

Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to brown. Add the tomatoes and cook uncovered, stirring over high heat until reduced in volume and slightly darkened, about eight minutes.

Add the beans, the stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn right back to a simmer.

Cook for five minutes.

With the back of a spoon, mash some of the beans to thicken the soup slightly.

Add the pasta.

Bring back to a boil, cook for five minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Pam’s note:
If not served as soon as it is cooked, prepare up to the point where the beans are mashed and set aside. Proceed with the rest of the recipe when about to serve.
Pumpkin whoopie pies
Cake Ingredients:
15-ounce can pumpkin

3 cups flour

1 cup oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine sugar, oil, egg and pumpkin in one bowl. Combine remaining dry ingredients in another bowl.

Add dry ingredients to wet.

Drop by tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees.

Filling Ingredients:
4 cups powered sugar

4 egg whites

2 teaspoons vanilla

1½ cups Crisco
¼ teaspoon salt
Beat all together.

Frost whoopie pie halves when cooled and sandwich together.
Pam’s note:
I like to keep mine in the fridge.

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