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Detroit, MI, 48207
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Cooking Matters Michigan

Empowering families with the skills, confidence and knowledge to prepare healthy and affordable meals

Volunteer Spotlight: Pam Porter

Rebecca Blauw

Pam Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I retired from AAA, where I had worked for many years as the employee relations and diversity manager, in January.  We were presented with an early retirement offer and almost 500 people retired at once, which was pretty incredible.  I decided to enroll in culinary school at Oakland Community College with my free time.  I have two grown daughters.  In our family, we are all Wolverines.  We all graduated from the University of Michigan.

What made you decide to enter the culinary program?

I’ve always enjoyed cooking.  It’s always been my favorite hobby.  If I’m bored, I’ll make something.  When I have a lot of spare time, I cook too much.  It has been interesting learning with a wide range of people in class, especially since a lot of them are younger than my children.  Most people in the program want to work in restaurants, but I am mostly doing it for myself.  I may go into catering or cottage food business.  My first class was actually a nutrition class.

How did you first find out about Cooking Matters?

If there’s ever a channel on at my house it’s Food Network. That’s how I found out about Cooking Matters.  Once I had a lot of time on my hands, I started fishing around online and found more information on the website.  I was already familiar with Gleaners because AAA always did a can drive each year.  Cooking matters is the best kept secret in the world; more people need to know about it!

What do you enjoy most about volunteering with our program?

I love working with kids.  It’s just a blast!  They’re so curious and open minded.  Sometimes you don’t have their full attention, but they’ll try anything in a group like that.  This summer, I worked with special needs youth at the Jerry L. White Center.  It was a super group of kids.

What is your favorite food to cook at home?

I’m known for my chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling and bittersweet ganache frosting – it’s just known as "the cake".

Do you have any tips for saving money while grocery shopping?

Don’t go to the store hungry!  If you do, you’ll end up in the prepared foods section thinking "I’ll get this, and I’ll get this, and I’ll get this!"  Also, stick to what’s in season.  That can be a big money saver.

Would you like to share a healthy recipe?

I had a big garden this year, although the squirrels gave my tomatoes a tough time.  One of the things I make with the kale I grow is kale chips:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

Wash and thoroughly dry 1 bunch of kale.  If the kale is wet, the chips will not get crisp.

Remove the kale leaves from the tough stems.   Discard the stems.

Tear the leaves into small pieces.

Rub the leaves with about 1-2 teaspoons olive oil. Place the leaves in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes until the edges are barely brown.

Let the kale chips cool on the cookie sheet.  They will get more crisp as they cool.