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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

Week 2 into 3 - A Prisoner of Convenience

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 May 11, 2010
I had this vacation planned for a while now. My nephew was getting married out in the San Francisco Bay area, which made it a good opporunity to tack on a week and stay for some vacation time with my partner and friends. Since I planned this trip before I started my inconvenient year, I knew I’d need a somewhat different set of rules for time away from my kitchen.

For those of you who know me, I’m a pretty well-intentioned person. I set out to accomplish something – I’m going to give it my best shot. So packing for my trip included taking along some food to ward off the typical airport and travel temptations, and at least try to make it through the first day sticking to my own set of rules. I naturally passed through the security checkpoint without any problems, but as I glanced back to find my backpack coming through the scanner, I saw the security agent “flag my bag.” Holding my backpack high into the air, the TSA agent announced, “whose bag is this?” Timidly I admitted to own it, as I knew I’d go hungry without it. “Do you have anything sharp in your bag” she asked? “No – I packed my ‘wit’ in my coat pocket” I responded. (Yea, I didn’t actually say that.) She reached carefully into my bag and with a look of curiosity in her eye she exclaimed, “oh… it’s food.” You see I had packed approximately twelve 2″ homemade granola bars, two apples, three pieces of string cheese, a ziplock baggie with six or eight fresh strawberries, and a large baggie of almonds. I can only imagine how threatening that all looked through the x-ray scanner.

Traveling in and of itself is inconvenient if you don’t want to rely on convenience items. You are truly a prisoner of the system, with every nook and cranny of your travel packed with chain restaurants, snacks, chips, candy, packaged sandwiches, and beverages galore. I allowed myself a bottle of water from the shop at the airport, and a cup of coffee on the airplane. I knew my own convenience items were not going to make a up meal on their own, but I had hoped they would get me to my destination where I could then seek out a local restaurant for a real meal.

Eight hours of traveling later and I ended up at a PF Chang’s chain restaurant in Pleasanton, CA – desperately hungry and somewhat “lost” in this Seahaven of a “town” (and I use the air quotes correctly in this case) – straight from the movie, the Truman Show. That was it – I felt like I had failed my own challenge just twelve days into it.

I don’t know about you, but for me vacations away from home should consist of great food experiences. I typically want to immerse myself into the local culture of wherever I go and eat at local restaurants and when possible. I usually plan the time away at accommodations where I can cook. That just wasn’t going to happen it a hotel in Pleasanton, CA for the first three days of my trip. However, I was pleasantly surprised in Pleasanton, when the wedding celebrations kicked off that evening with an authentic Hawaiian luau. More on that in my next post. Now that I’m home I’m back to cooking and baking each day.


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