My Story

My Story page: Pam Spettel of 101-Mile Kitchen photographing a view of the Southern Willamette Valley from her house.

Imagine this . . .

Drop a compass point right where you are, and draw an imaginary 101-mile circle around it. Now picture yourself using the brilliant, fresh ingredients found within your circle as the medium you use to increase your home cooking instincts and confidence.

Welcome to our country home in Oregon’s southern Willamette Valley, known for its vibrant food culture, farms, vineyards, wineries, and breweries– a breathtaking playground for food lovers. Here is where we lavish friends and family with interesting seasonal meals made with ingredients from nearby farms and producers. Intriguing local wines are on our table. Our guests leave feeling light and refreshed. And it’s all done with ease. You can do it, too.

I’m Pam Spettel, home cooking expert, recipe developer, writer, and wishful photographer. Whether you are a seasoned cook or just starting out, let’s keep gaining skills, instincts, and confidence together.

You’re in the right place!

My Cooking Story

At the age of three, one predawn morning my parents found me downstairs, sitting on the kitchen countertop next to the stove, with a cracked egg that almost made it into the pan. I wanted to cook.

Four years later, a local utility sponsored a summer cooking TV show for kids. At the beginning of the summer I sent away for a little cookbook, then followed along with Gretchen and Rhonda on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. My friends went in from playing at 3:30 to watch Dark Shadows– I went in to learn to cook.

The first humble dinner I prepared for my family was a recipe from that first little cookbook– Pickle in a Poke Steak. “Oh, Pammy,” my dad said. “This is good!” I was hooked for life. Being in the kitchen working with food is where I have always wanted to be.

More than five decades of study, experimentation, trial and error, flops, successes, and culinary memory-making are under my belt. My night table reading is most often a cookbook, or the writings of or about M.F.K. Fischer, Julia Child (I love later bloomers!) Ruth Reichl, Alice Waters, James Beard, Anthony Bourdain, Michael Pollan, and on and on. It is not famous chefs I idolize, though, but everyday people who feed themselves and their beloveds with care, compassion, and a wee bit of fuss. People who carve the time and resources out to create memorable experiences through well prepared food delivered with massive doses of love.

I come from a long line of craftspeople and bring that idealism to cooking. It should be done with the best ingredients you can afford and access; it should be made with great care, heart, and soul; something uniquely you should be left in the dishes you make.

From 2009 to 2012 I blogged as Sticks Forks Fingers.

Raspberries, baguette, food served in bowls, and unassuming cakes are my favorites foods. Sitting at a table eating with people is my most cherished thing to do.

FAQs

Why 101-miles?
101-miles is a metaphor for sourcing ingredients as close to home as possible. Using local products keeps friends and neighbors in business, lowers environmental impact, and ensures you of the freshest, ripest, highest-quality ingredients possible. One extra mile added to a 100-mile radius implies there is room for things that don’t come from your area. Who could possibly live without coffee, tea, spices, sugar, or French wine?



What’s your cooking philosophy?
Learn the science, and the art will follow. Experiment. Stand back and let the ingredients shine. Most recipes are just guidelines, so be confident to make changes to a recipe to make it your own.

How can we work together?
I value collaboration and promoting organizations, people, and products I believe in. For partnership opportunities, please reach out at pam@101milekitchen.com.

page from a child's cookbook
Pickle in a Poke Steak recipe, from my first cookbook. I’ve come a long way!

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