SERGEANT BLUFF, Iowa (KCAU) — Like many people, Pam Mickelson stays in touch with family members online.
“I see you, hey sis,” Pam says to her sister, Paula. “Glad you’re here.”
Her connections with her sister Paula are more than just talk.
“So, today we’re making Rueben’s in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, and you’re making a Pistachio dessert,” Pam said.
For more than a year, these 60-something Irish twins have been connecting on Instagram from their kitchens in Sergeant Bluff, and Neelyville, Missouri spending a half hour each Friday sharing a recipe from family cookbooks.
“My sister and I get along so well, so cooking together at a level is what’s really fun,” Pam said. “It’s nice to have the memories of food and the stories to go with it and to do it with my sister. I love it.”
“We have the family cookbook that we cook out of and most of our recipes are from aunts and uncles, cousins with a story,” added sister Paula.
Just like with those more familiar cooking shows, “Cookin’ with Pam and Paula” started by sharing a screen out of necessity.
“Let me show you the ingredients. You want some great thinly sliced corn beef. We surely enjoy doing this with each other because it was our way of communicating during the pandemic,” Paula said.
“I didn’t even know if we could last a year. Were we going to have enough recipes to last?” Pam said.
“Swiss cheese doesn’t have a lot of taste, but it melts really good. I’m cooking with the iron skillet. I just love cooking with it. It doesn’t always love me,” Pam said.
Pam added, “The pandemic left a hole for me. We did enough facetime. That was all we could do, but cooking together brought that soul piece for me that was really nice.”
Only a dozen or so usually join the pair live for their cooking demo, but some archived shows have attracted several hundred foodies looking for something simple to try.
“We didn’t even know who’s going to show up. We hope somebody’s going to show up,” said Pam.
“And the cheese is going on both sides. If you miss both sides, you’re missing those calories and you need the flavor. When you bite into a good Rueben you want something crispy, something gooey on the inside with a lot of flavors and then you get the kraut kick. It’s your turn, I’ve got to take this off before it burns,” said Pam.
“Okay, go Paula. I started with the Pistachio, and it takes two cups,” said Paula.
Cooking comes naturally for these one-time educators.
“Teachers entertain and I have a knack for talking way too much, just like teaching you have to have a lesson plan to do,” said Paula.
When it came to the technology behind the online engagement, the pair was more student than teacher.
“Helping them navigate this new learning curve was very cool to take part in and very cool to witness,” Pam’s daughter Martha said.
From her home in Seattle, Washington, Pam’s daughter Martha provides technical and creative support.
“The first year, every time we got online, Martha would have to come on and say, ‘Aunt Paula this is how you do it’. She was instrumental in getting us started,” Paula said.
Getting started was the biggest challenge for the siblings.
“I didn’t know anyone on Instagram so I was confident that nobody would know me, so what could I lose? Whereas on Facebook it’s all the people you know so I’m still hesitant on the Facebook part of it,” Paula said.
“We wanted to have a presentable show in a certain amount of time. There’s no crew here, we’re using a phone and upgraded to a ring light,” said Pam.
“Store-bought angel food cake and I’m going to put pieces in. I’ve got it all ready, you can see the green is perfect for today,” said Paula.
“Now that looks like a sundae doesn’t it. Get that up close to the camera,” Pam said.
From the close-ups to the viewer comments. “They’ll see there’s a comment and have glasses on to read down to see what’s going on. It’s part of the charm. They’re using recipes that women in my family have used to show love for decades. They always have stories of their mom or family members making it for them and it adds historic context to the recipes,” Marth said.
The pair has cooked up about 70 heart-filled and soul-supporting online offerings. As this twosome of taste testers near their 70th birthdays, it’s evidence the most important ingredient is staying connected.
“Sisters are very special and we know we have that in each other so having that in our 60s and 70, I just hope it continues,” Pam said.
“It’s good to know that people you touched in your life are still part of your life,” added Paula.
“So how do you think the show went today? I thought it was great,” Martha said.
“I didn’t burn anything so that’s good,” Pam said. “Happy St. Partick’s Day everyone. I love you sister, love you more. See you next week.
“Okay, bye-bye,” Paula replied.