giving back

Cooking: Pam Anderson Feeds and Uplifts With Food

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Support—For some, food is a means of sustenance. For others, it is a means of livelihood. And for yet others, those who possess more than a modicum of skill in preparing it, it is a medium for building and making friends. For Pam Anderson, it is all of these things. In her deft hands, in fact, food has been the thing around which her family has grown, the subject of her seven cookbooks, the basis of her career, and the subject of her blog ThreeManyCooks.

"I've been in the food publishing industry since 1987," Pam says, "and my cookbooks follow my culinary wanderings.” Her food journey began in college, when she attempted a Home Economics major, but quickly realized that she was "hopeless at everything but the cooking part." After graduation, she took an office day job, but came home and cooked until late, relaxing with recipes. Cooking a lot necessitated entertaining a lot, which caused a lot of deficits in her meager budget. So she became a caterer. Pam says that then "'my habit went from budget breaker to profit maker, and that’s the way it’s gone ever since. I keep finding ways to get people to pay me to learn."

Those "ways," after catering, included being a test cook for Cook's Magazine, then food editor, and in 1996, a writer of her own cookbooks. At the beginning of her "culinary wanderings," she sought perfect recipes and perfect cooking. Thus, her first cookbook was called Perfect Recipes. If you’re familiar at all with Cook’s Magazine or America’s Test Kitchen, whose mission is to provide “fool-proof,” detailed recipes, this influence is not surprising. Her second, How to Cook Without a Book, moved to showing the handful of staple techniques and strategies that make any recipe a success, no matter the ingredients. Cookbooks three through six took readers along on her journey through finding the best recipes with which to entertain, to lose weight, and to save time by using one dish. Her seventh cookbook, about making meatless meals, comes out in October.

Pam’s food journey developed another branch a couple of years ago when she and her two daughters, who also love cooking, decided during a family vacation to start a blog. While it has been said that “too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth,” it looks like ThreeManyCooks makes for a lively conversation. As daughter Sharon talks from a “local-vore” perspective, daughter Maggy talks from a dessert/fun foods perspective, and mom Pam talks from the veteran’s perspective.

On their blog, food is featured not only as an end in itself, but also as a medium for conversation, and that conversation is a means of lifting others. Their involvement in the blogging community has of course opened them up to new friends, and because these new friends have experienced hard times, like houses burning down and husbands dying, Maggy and a friend started a nonprofit called Bloggers Without Borders. With them, ThreeManyCooks is raising money for a recent young widow. Working together, they seek to “harness the strength and good will of the blogging community,” by raising money for various individuals or causes and providing stories and progress reports on their site.

So, on Pam Anderson’s food journey, food is not only sustenance and livelihood, but also something through which she supports and lifts those around her. It is truly a marvelous thing.

How do you use food to feed and uplift others? What recipes do you love to cook for family and friends?

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