Everyone loves Thanksgiving! It’s all about food, friends and giving thanks for the wonderful things in our lives. We plan, prepare and cook to our heart’s content. So this year, while you plan your #OptOutside adventures, you might consider getting a jump on nature by having Thanksgiving dinner outside as well!
Thanksgiving outside might sound daunting but it doesn’t have to be. Stick with the basics, focus on friends and success is inevitable. Here’s a menu that is a sure winner and best of all, most of the ingredients can be picked up at the grocery on your way out to the great outdoors.
CAMPFIRE THANKSGIVING DINNER FOR SIX
- Applewood Smoked Turkey Breast
- Dutch Oven Stuffing with Sausage and Sage
- Smashed Sweet Potatoes
- Cranberry Sauce with Ginger and Orange
- Green Bean and Pea Casserole
- Tarte Tatin (Upside-Down Apple Pie!)
- 4 cups applewood chips
- 1 boneless turkey breast
- 36 tablespoons butter (about 5 sticks)
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 4 tablespoons thyme
- 1/2 pound of sweet sausage
- 2 onions
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 cup (diced) celery
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh sage
- 14-ounces dried bread stuffing
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 5-6 small sweet potatoes
- 1/2 cup heavy cream or half & half
- 3/4 cup of half & half
- 1 can cranberry sauce
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 8 ounces mushrooms
- 1 pound frozen cut green beans
- 1 pound frozen sweet peas
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup apple cider
- 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 6 honeycrisp apples
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking a whole turkey, over a fire, can be a lot work and also time consuming. (We’re sure you’d rather spend your time on the trails.) But smoking a turkey breast is just delicious, quick, and surprisingly easy. There’s no need for a fancy smoker—with a little imagination, a smoker can be made out of a myriad of kitchen pots and pans. A traditional New England steamer, used for steaming open soft shell clams can easily be transformed into a smoker. Once the spigot is removed, you have a smoker that can sit over an open fire and slowly cook a turkey breast.
The trick to “open-fire” cooking is heat, used judiciously. A fire pit, covered with a strong grate (an oven rack works well) is your best option for cooking. First, make a generous fire using good-sized logs. The goal is to gain enough heat in the ring while burning down the logs to smoldering coals. Place the “smoker” on the grate with the hot coals six inches below. The chips will begin to smoke after 15 minutes or so. If they don’t, stoke the fire and add more wood to get it hotter. It’s ok if there are some flames, but don’t let the fire engulf the smoker. The internal temperature of the smoker should be between 375F and 425F. This can be monitored with the help of an oven thermometer inside the main chamber.
APPLEWOOD SMOKED TURKEY BREAST
Cook time: 120 minutes
Place four cups of applewood chips, soaked in water overnight, in the bottom of the steamer while the breast cooks in the main chamber. (Remember to cover the pot to keep the smoke inside!) The boneless breast is best prepared by rubbing with butter, lemon zest, chopped thyme, salt, and pepper. Make a make-shift pan out of foil, turning up the edges so to hold the juices from the breast. It should be slightly larger than the breast itself. Set this into the main chamber. Depending on the size of the breast, it will take around two hours to cook.
DUTCH OVEN STUFFING WITH SAUSAGE AND SAGE
Cook time: 50-70 minutes
While the turkey is smoking, you can prepare and cook the rest of your dinner. The stuffing is best prepared in a four-quart cast iron Dutch oven. Place the Dutch oven on the grate to pre-heat. Once hot, add one-half pound of sweet sausage meat, mixing it to cook evenly. Add one diced onion, cooking until soft. Toss in two minced garlic cloves, one cup of diced celery, one-third cup of fresh chopped sage, two tablespoons of fresh chopped thyme, and eight tablespoons of butter. Cook for a few minutes, then add one 14-ounce bag of dried bread stuffing, one-and-a-half cups of chicken stock, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Top with four tablespoons of butter. Cover the Dutch oven and keep it close to the hot coals, approximately six inches. Turn the Dutch oven every 15 minutes to heat it evenly. It will heat throughout and get crispy and crunchy on the top and sides in about 45 minutes to an hour.
SMASHED SWEET POTATOES
Cook time: 20-30 minutes
In a two-quart pot, place five or six small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into one-inch cubes. Cover the potatoes with water and season with salt. Place it on the grate and bring the water to a boil. Simmer until the potatoes are soft. Hold a spoon or whisk on the edge of the pot and pour off all of the water. Using a potato masher or a firm whisk, smash the potatoes. Add one-half a cup of heavy cream or half & half and one stick (eight tablespoons) of butter. Season with salt and pepper and whip together. Cover the potatoes and set them to the side to keep them warm.
CRANBERRY SAUCE WITH GINGER AND ORANGE
Cook time: 0 minutes
With some slight doctoring, it’s easy to create an improved version of canned cranberry sauce. Take the sauce, mix in one tablespoon of grated fresh ginger, two teaspoons of orange zest, and one-fourth a cup of fresh orange juice. That’s it! Fast and delicious.
GREEN BEAN AND PEA CASSEROLE
Cook time: 25-35 minutes
The last savory dish is a stove top rendition of a classic green bean casserole. In a four-quart pot, melt one stick of butter (eight tablespoons). Add one medium onion, cut into one-fourth-inch matchsticks. Sweat the onions until soft. Add eight ounces of sliced mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook through. Add one pound of frozen cut green beans and one pound of frozen sweet peas. Add three-quarters of a cup of half & half and cook down by half. Season with salt and pepper. Once thickened and hot, it’s ready to go.
TARTE TATIN (UPSIDE-DOWN APPLE PIE)
Cook time: 50-55 minutes
The dessert can also be made right on the open fire using a 12-inch cast iron pan. Add three-quarters of a cup of brown sugar, one-fourth a cup of apple cider, juice from one squeezed lemon, a pinch of salt, and a teaspoon of cinnamon to the pan. Place on the grate over the fire and cook for five to ten minutes. This will bubble but do not let it burn or over brown. Add six tablespoons of butter, one tablespoon at a time, incorporating it into the glaze with each addition. Decoratively arrange six apples (I recommend honeycrisp) into the glaze, rounded side down. The apples should be peeled, quartered, and cored. Cook for 20 more minutes. Lastly, place a sheet of puff pastry—cut into a round shape the same size diameter of the pan—over the apples, tucking the sides down into the pan. Cover the cast iron pan with another 12-inch cast iron pan. Place the pan six inches above the hot coals and spoon hot coals onto the top of the cast iron pan. Bake it like this for 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden, puffed, and done. Pull the pan from the heat and let it cool for 20 minutes. Cover the pan again with the other 12-inch cast iron pan and flip the it over, inverting the tarte.
And there you have it… Thanksgiving! Enjoy your dinner and your beautiful surroundings.
This post was created in collaboration with REI’s Adventure Project
What do you get when you mix a 4 star wielding, Iron Chef beating, New York based chef with a outdoor loving, adventure seeking husband and counterpart? Good To-Go dehydrated meals. This Maine-based company believes that not all dehydrated meals are created equal. Good To-Go has one pointed goal, “to elevate your expectations of what trail food can taste like”. I mean, wouldn’t it be nice to be excited for your meal at the end of a long days’ worth of exploring? We think so and are here to see if Good To-Go is the company that can make us say “wow” after eating a dehydrated meal.
Currently, Good To-Go makes four varieties of meals in both single and double portions. The meals include;
- Thai Curry
- Classic Marinara With Penne
- Smoked Three Bean Chili
- Herbed Mushroom Risotto
- Four meal varieties
- All meals are gluten free
- All meals are vegetarian (Thai Curry is pescatarian)
- Thai Curry won the “2014 Editors’ Choice Snow Award” from Backpacker Mag as well as Gear Junkies “Top 2014 Picks”
- Ingredients you can pronounce
- No preservatives or additives
My wife and I took these Good To-Go meals with us on a little desert excursion last week and had a great time reviewing and testing the product. We left for the outdoors after finishing up our afternoon workouts and did some hiking on some pretty empty (and hungry) bellies. We hiked for a while and then decided at sunset to make our meals.
The directions were super easy to follow and are clearly labeled on the back of the package. The only real difference from other backpacking meals I’ve tried was the 20 minute wait to re-hydrate the food, which I thought was a little long (but ultimately worth it).
My wife chose the Herbed Mushroom Risotto while I had to find out if the Thai Curry lived up to its award winning status. After the meals were prepared and ready we dug right in and let me tell you the Thai Curry was the best tasting dehydrated meal I’ve ever had… period. I literally said “wow” after my first bite and I barely left enough for my wife to taste test. I was quite shocked at not only the taste but also the fragrance, the texture, and the perfect amount of spices used. I was more than satisfied with my meal choice.
Casi and I both, on the other hand, felt like the Risotto left something to be desired. It was a little bland and tasted more like a traditional re-hydrated meal rather than something cooked from scratch at home.
At an average of about 375 calories, all the meals were filling, although I could have probably eaten a double serving of the Thai Curry because it was just that good! My wife was full after her meal and felt like the single serving was the right portion size for her.
WHAT I LIKED
- The Taste: The overall deliciousness of the meals were far superior than other meals I have tried. The Thai Curry surpassed my expectations and really does live up to its “2014 Editor’s Choice Snow Award” and Gear Junkies “Top 2014 Picks”. The Three Bean Chili was probably my second favorite. Only one of the meals (the Herbed Mushroom Risotto) was “blah”.
- The Texture: Most of the time dehydrated or freeze dried meals are little broken up pieces of who knows what and one can hardly determine the contents inside the pouch. Not with Good To-Go. You can actually see large dehydrated broccoli pieces, mushrooms, cauliflower, and more.
- No Added Preservatives: Good To-Go uses no added preservatives which is awesome! The dehydration process alone is enough to give the meals a two year shelf life.
- Gluten Free: My wife has a thyroid disease that prevents her from eating gluten. Finding a backpacking product like this is a game changer for her. Nice work Good To-Go!
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
- The Time: 20 minutes to re-hydrate a meal is quite long. Although my meal was nice and hot at the end of the 20 minute wait, I fear that if I was backpacking in harsher conditions (snow or low temperatures) the meal could get cold before it’s ready to serve.
- The Price: I know, I know, you get what you pay for but at $6.75 for single portions and $11.50 for double portions it is a tad on the pricey side. Good To-Go uses only the best ingredients so naturally the meals will be more expensive but I would have a hard time spending the $11.50 for the double portion of a meal just for myself ($6.75 for a single which wasn’t quite enough for me).
- Wheres The Beef?: Currently, Good To-Go only offers vegetarian or pescatarian choices. I did read, however, that the company will start producing a new line of meals with meat options (cross your fingers)!
I only had to ask myself one question when reviewing this product; Would I buy these meals? My answer is a resounding YES…but only as a reward for a really long day of hiking/climbing/biking. The meals are tasty enough to splurge on for a special occasion, however, I don’t think I could justify spending $7-11 dollars on one meal every time I go backpacking. With that being said, I could eat that Thai Curry every meal for a week and not get tired of it!
This company is filling a much needed gap in the backpacking meals space with these high quality meals. If you are looking for a superior tasting meal with quality ingredients than Good To-Go meals are a no-brainer. You can purchase them straight from their website and get free shipping on orders over $75!
Check out Arizona Hiker’s Guide for more great gear reviews.
Jason and Ty are two old friends I made through cycling: Ty and I met on BMX bikes c.1999, and Jason got me in Lycra and on a road bike in 2005.
The three of us hadn’t ridden together since 2008. Jason moved back home to Michigan and started Einstein Cycles, while Ty opened Golden Saddle Cyclery in Los Angeles. I’d done a few things here and there, too, and after spending all of 2013 on the road living in a camper, I was determined to never have a real job again. Fun has become my ultimate priority.
A winter bicycle tour of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula seemed like a fine reunion. Flights were booked, and thus began two months of careful deliberation and planning, which eventually amounted to: (1) riding our bicycles on snowmobile trails, and (2) stopping at bars along the way. We named the get together “Chet’s Leisure Ride,” a nod to Chet Bearclaw, the owner of Team Bearclaw, who the three of us had raced for in ’07 and ’08. When we told Chet about our ride, he responded that it “sounded leisurely.” He wasn’t being facetious, either.
Planned mileage and route were all up for discussion– we’d figure it out. Sleeping arrangements? Not sure, but we packed a tent and sleeping bags, so we weren’t concerned. As long as we found our way to the local bars for food and beverages, we’d be fine.
We left St. Ignace and watched the sunrise over Lake Huron.
Within 20 minutes of pedaling, we turned on to the first snowmobile trail. Until this point, trail conditions had remained a mystery to us – we were happy to find our path well groomed and hard-packed. Excellent conditions meant we’d be able to cruise at 6 to 7 miles per hour, whereas poor conditions would have left us stranded at the first bar we’d found. While none of us are above spending 4 days at a local watering hole, all of us were thrilled to be riding on good snow. We pedaled 35 miles of snowmobile trail to our first stop: Trout Lake Tavern.
We enjoyed a long layover at the Tavern, where we sampled burgers, nachos, and Jameson Irish Whiskey. The wind was had increased in intensity, and I watched snow spindrifts blow down the highway while Jason talked to a local snowmobiler about our intended route. Fortunately for us, the kind local informed us that the mileage on our map was incorrect, and what our map showed to be 35 miles was actually 70.
At 6mph, this discrepancy was not inconsequential, especially with nighttime temperatures forecasted to be 20 below zero. Jason reworked the route – we’d be at our next stop in about 25 miles. We thanked the local for his information, had another round of Jameson, and headed down the highway.
Daylight disappeared soon after, and temperatures quickly dropped to –10. We had heard rumors of a bar about 25 miles down the road. We were happy when, 4 hours later, we found the Silver Creek Bar and Lodge.
The bar was empty – which was to be expected on a Monday night – and the bartender, Sarah, seemed confused by three guys showing up on bicycles. We assured her that we were not as dumb as we appeared, and had a great time talking with her about life in Michigan’s U.P.
We also had some time to catch up with each other. A lot had changed in our lives over the last 6 years: Jason was married with two beautiful children, and Ty had recently gotten married, too. I was newly engaged to a wonderful girl who, somehow, I’ve convinced (conned?) to marry me.
Time does different things to different friendships: It was great to find that the three of us picked up where we had left off, and despite all of life’s changes, none of us had started taking life – our ourselves – too seriously.
We also got in touch with the owner of the Silver Creek Lodge, which was a convenient 150 feet from the bar, who informed us that the cabin was vacant, and that we were welcome to stay the night. We made our way to the cabin, oriented our boots directly in front of the heater, and got comfortable. We were up until well after midnight.
The three of us were out of bed around 10:00am, and temperatures were still barely above zero. None of us were terribly anxious to leave the warmth of our climate-controlled cabin. We finally mustered up some motivation, and were the roads heading to Tahquamenon Falls State Park by noon. While a noon start hardly constitutes motivation in the eyes of, well, anyone – we were perfectly content with our midday start.
The trails to Tahquamenon wound their way through a dense forest of snow-covered trees. I spent the day in awe of our surroundings, and thoroughly enjoying the novelty of pedaling a bicycle on fresh snow.
The trail, quite conveniently, brought us directly to Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub, and we felt obliged to stop. Because of our late start, daylight was limited, and in the interest of making camp before dark, we limited ourselves to an hour at the pub. We all ate pasties – a local delicacy – and I enjoyed a Black Bear Stout.
From the beginning of our trip, Jason was determined to have a campfire. While I maintained a healthy dose of skepticism, he was determined, and before leaving the bar, had convinced the bartender to sell us some of their firewood. We strapped the bundle of firewood to my bike’s rear rack, and headed out to find a campsite. It wasn’t long before we found a suitable clearing amongst the trees, and got to work on setting up camp.
Ty and I began stomping out a spot for the tent while Jason began gathering dead branches for a fire. Our tent was up before dark, and Jason – despite my skepticism – had gotten an excellent fire started. I got the stove fired up and started boiling water for our whiskey-ciders, an ultra-critical component of snow camping. After we’d been sufficiently warmed by the fire and cider, we ate.
Fortunately for me, the stars were aligning: not only were the temperatures in the low 20’s (which felt remarkably warm), I was enjoying good food. Somehow, the folks and Good To-Go in Maine had figured out how to make delicious dehydrated food (previously a misnomer), and I was grateful for their efforts. I ate Thai Curry AND Risotto around a now roaring fire (Jason and Ty, while I was boiling water, went into wood-hoarding overdrive and collected a surplus of dead branches) while drinking delicious whiskey.
I feel like I’ve spent enough days in the backcountry eating dehydrated food to understand that, yes, things do taste better after a difficult day on the trail, but the food from Good To-Go is different. So different, in fact, that I’ve eaten it at home on several occasions. It was a solid treat. We spent the night around Jason’s fire; drinking, yelling, and indulging in conversation only appropriate for the back woods of Michigan.
Fresh snow had fallen overnight, and after getting out of our bags, we took some time to appreciate our campsite. It was an excellent spot that we were sad to leave, but we reluctantly packed up and got on our bikes. We pedaled up the trail to Upper Tahquamenon Falls, and spent some time enjoying the view.
The trails were just as beautiful as the previous day, and even had some small climbs. We pedaled until we stumbled upon a small hill that made for a perfect landing. Ty kicked some snow into place for a lip, and thus began Ty and Jason’s 30 minute “Backwoods Big-Air Exhibition.” We considered this stop a big success, and decided that – along with skids – we needed to find more spots to catch air.
We continued riding, talking frequently and stopping occasionally. Sometimes Jason would find a small rock drop he’d want to ride off of. Other times, Ty would find a snow bank he felt needed some roosting. This resulted in hundreds of pictures of Jason crashing. The snowmobile trail eventually stopped twisting and turning, and the miles, which became a bit more monotonous, wore on well into the night. We eventually made it to a small town and a bar.
Burgers, beer, and whiskey were followed by a ride to the nearest motel. BMX-inspired riding down the sidewalks led to nearly a dozen crashes, but we arrived at the motel none-the-worse, and were happy to be out of our cycling boots and into a shared twin bed.
We were 80 miles from home, and our average speed the previous days had been about 6 mph. We decided to skip the snowmobile trails and spend our final day riding county roads, which turned out to be a wonderful idea. The roads were desolate and shockingly beautiful. At times, a tailwind would pick up the thin layer of snow on the roads and blow it along side us, which gave the impression of hovering along on a moving highway. We saw almost no cars on these county roads – a real treat for any cyclist.
We did wheelies, stopped at another bar, attempted front tire skids, and watched the sun set over the great lakes. As is typical on the last day of any outing, sentimentality took hold, and we began reminiscing for hours while riding. I got the feeling that life was treating all of us well, and that my friends (along with myself) were generally content and happy. We all agreed that, one way or another, we needed to make trips like this happen more often.
After almost 200 miles in the cold, we were happy to be back in St. Ignace, but sad to see our reunion coming to an end. In the spirit of our trip, we spent our last night at a bar in Traverse City, eating food and drinking cocktails. Serious matters were up for discussion: How much would we exaggerate our trips mileage? After all, something like “386” sounds a whole lot more impressive than “almost 200.” And what about photos? How much photoshopping would be necessary to improve our physiques, facial hair, etc? All of this needed to be settled, and we deliberated deep into the night.
And about that next trip we all agreed needed to happen soon? Tickets have been booked for “Buck Macho’s Texas Stroll” in May, when Chet Bearclaw’s close friend, Buck Macho, has organized 6 days of riding of central Texas’ Hill Country.
Until then, sayonara: We’ll see you in Texas.
Written by: Jesse Scarantino
Photos by: Ty Hathaway
The scene is a gas station somewhere in Illinois or Indiana. It’s 2012, I’m 21 years old and Macky and I are driving his beat up Subaru Legacy across the country. (To read my three part treatise on the Subaru’s demise, click here, here and here.) It’s August. It’s hot. And I’m hungry. No, that’s not accurate: I’m far, far past hungry. Somehow I have forgotten to eat to the point where I’m dizzy, angry and irrational. I’m sitting on the gasoline-stained pavement moaning. Macky is making me a sandwich and I am resolutely explaining to him why I plan on refusing to eat it. I hate bread. The cheese smells funny. We should have brought a cooler. The air conditioning in his car sucks. Everything sucks.
The sad part is that this was not an isolated incident. This happened all the time. Sometimes it was Macky, but usually it was me, flopped in an odd position on a surface of questionable hygiene, bemoaning the world and refusing to do the one thing that was guaranteed to make me feel better — eat. Why did I refuse to eat when I knew I was hungry? Usually it was because, in my hangry-induced stupor, I felt like I had stumbled upon an essential truth. I had figured out what was wrong with me. I was wronged by the world. And if I were to eat something, I would likely forget about the problem (me being wrong by the world) and therefore fail to deal with it (most likely because the problem didn’t really exist, but try telling me that when I’m hungry).
You can probably guess how this story ends. I eat the sandwich and I am able, once again, to view the world through my customary rose-tinted glasses. Shocker. But like I said, that didn’t stop the scenario from repeating itself, over and over again. It still happens, although somewhat less frequently. To every person who says they’re jealous of my metabolism — well, obviously you’ve never seen me when I’m hangry.
In the past year I’ve gotten a lot better at this whole remembering-to-eat thing, and there have only been a few crises. In this period, Macky and I have driven the length of New Zealand twice, from Colorado to British Columbia and back, and just now, all the way across the US and back. So, if there’s one thing I’m an expert on, it’s the extended road trip. And if there’s one aspect of the road trip that I particularly feel like I now excel at, it’s eating. Eating a lot.
When Macky and I drove from Taos, NM to Athens, OH in late October, we fulfilled our goal of NOT BUYING ANY CRAPPY ROAD FOOD. Win. And also, not murdering eachother. Double win. I spent $1.85 on coffee one morning, but other than that, we ate all our own provisions. Here is what we packed to make that possible:
8 breakfast burritos
10 homemade pita breads
4 baked potatoes
8 hardboiled eggs
1 block of cheese
1 lb of turkey
1 container of hummus
12 homemade banana bread muffins
4 dehydrated meals from Good To-Go Foods.
So, like, um, way more than you ever would think necessary to sustain two people for less than two days. But, as will be totally unsurprising to everyone who knows us, we ate it all. And we were pretty much the happiest roadtrippers ever.
The dehydrated food was specifically awesome because instead of buying shitty roadside food and having to be grumpy about spending money on shitty things, we just pulled over at a rest stop and heated up some water in our Jetboil. Which, admittedly, felt a bit dirtbaggy, since we were doing this in the middle of the night in the lobby of public restroom, but, hey, it was cold outside. And while I usually wouldn’t touch dehydrated food with a ten-foot selfie stick, Good To-Go is actually real food crafted by a gourmet chef, so it’s pretty delicious. The Thai green curry is on point and there is something especially awesome about buzzing down the highway, stuffing your face with gourmet curry. Feels a little bit like tricking the system. Suck it, soggy Subway sandwiches, we never liked you anyway.
So how have I managed to [almost] vanquish the hangries? If it boils down to one thing, it’s this: by being prepared. Extremely, fucking prepared. If I’m going on a short bike ride, I just pretend I’m going on a four-day backcountry venture through Antarctica and that’s how much food I bring. Problem solved. Six hour roadtrip? At least three full meals, let’s be real.
Because we eat like professional athletes but have the financial means of professional dirtbags (oh wait…), Macky and I have figured out how to mass produce cheap, delicious real food. We make our own pita bread, our own hummus and, obviously, our own burritos. We rarely buy processed foods and we almost never go out to eat. We are lucky, however, to work with some awesome companies likes Justin’s Nut Butter and Taos Mountain Energy Bars, that help us fend off the hangries with snacks made out of high quality, real food ingredients. Having a stash of Caramel Pecan TME bars and single serving peanut butters makes staying on top of our metabolisms so much easier (and so much more delicious). It’s still a learning process, however, and some days the hangries just creep up, unannounced and completely unwarranted (like, I just ate two burritos, HOW AM I POSSIBLY HUNGRY AGAIN GO AWAY FEELINGS). But it’s been awhile since I had a true, proper hunger-related meltdown, so I guess you could say I’m growing up.
If you have any advice or suggestions for managing hanger on the road, put them in the comments below. I’m open to pretty much everything short of eating doritos or sewing protein bars into my clothing. In the meantime, happy (well-fed) travels!
Learn more about our brand ambassador Syd Shultz (aka Nomadically Inclined) here: http://www.freewheellifeblog.com/mountain-biking/vanquishing-travel-hangries
As Good To-Go wraps up it’s first year in business, I find the need for a reality check. Sometimes you have to just stop and remember where you are and how far you’ve come. David and I have been plugging along with Good To-Go for many, many months now. We first got into stores in April of this year and are now in over 100 stores nationwide. I giggle every time I think back to David’s hyper vigilante rant this past June, “Jen, we need to get more exposure. We need people to be able to find us. You need to up production.” I laughed at him, as only a wife can do. “Seriously, David? We’ve been in the market for a month and are already in over 2 dozen stores. You need to dial it down a bit dear.”
The one thing David did harp on was staff. “Jen, you need to hire more staff.” Not that I didn’t want help but as a small business I was cautious about hiring. Although he was right, we needed all hands on deck and our four hands weren’t quite cutting it. David needed assistance with the ever-increasing demands of marketing and sales. I was busy in the kitchen 15 hours a day with no extra time to devote to the other demands of an upstart like bookkeeping, shipping or even just answering the phone. Then as luck would have it, fate dropped four amazing people on our doorstep.
Amanda Arloro answered my “Help Wanted” ad for a Chef’s Assistant. She was perfect from first inspection on paper and even better when we met. Amanda graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the prestigious culinary school, Johnson & Wales University in Providence Rhode Island. She spent time as a trucker for the American Mountain Club, stocking their huts and as the store-house keeper. I hired her away from the Kennebunk School System, where she was managing the kitchen, serving 500 students a day. She’s entered our kitchens with absolute confidence and has enabled us to double our production. Amanda is wonderfully upbeat and greets everyone with a smile and an interesting story. During her free time she enjoys baking, playing with her two dogs Libby and Wolfie, and working on outdoor projects with her partner Dan. Amanda’s son Greg is 18 and just about to enter college.
While I was busy trying to find help in the kitchen, Emilie Chatelain came knocking on David Koorits’ door. Emilie was working at EMS’s South Portland Maine store and had sold our products, tried our meals and really loved Good To-Go when David held a staff clinic to give them more detail of our Good To-Go story. Emilie had been working for years in outdoor retail, focusing her creative energies on visual merchandising. For over 7 years she was the visual team leader for dozens of REI new store openings and remodels. Her efforts spearheaded increased sales and customer interaction with the products. We were thrilled when Emilie wanted to join our tiny crew, focusing her skills on sales and marketing. Emilie has also been busy maintaining all our social media and will begin blogging on our website as well. When not at work, Emilie is an avid climber with many ascents under her harness belt. After relocating from the West coast, Emilie has taken up climbing in our local White Mountains but still misses the beauty and ascents of Joshua Tree National Park and Bend, Oregon’s Smith Rock. Emilie lives in Portland with her friend Caitlin and little dog Annie.
With our increase in production and sales we needed help actually getting our product packed up and out the door. This is when we decided to search for just the right person to head our shipping department. A task of this nature takes a person whose attention to detail, brut strength and lovely hand writing skill is paramount. We found all of this in Kate Newport, a recent transplant to the Seacoast area from Philly. I will admit, as we began Good To-Go, shipping was not a high priority for me. Well, after juggling even 10 orders at once I marvel at Kate’s ability. She can make a morning of 35 outgoing orders look like a walk in the park. On one recent day when Kate was off, David and I tripped and stumbled over each other to get out the day’s orders. I’m grateful everyday she’s here, not only is she efficient and always willing to help, Kate is absolutely hilarious, her one liners make even a stressful moment more bearable. Most days when Kate leaves the shop she heads for the ocean, surfboard in hand. She’s vowed to continue through the New England winter, I think she’s nuts, but perhaps that has nothing to do with surfing. Kate lives in Portsmouth, NH with her nuclear engineer husband, Chris and their black lady lab, Tank.
We very quickly realized with all this action going on someone had to jump on board to help us with numbers, projections and the millions of slips of paper that began to accumulate. That’s when Jean Rowe walked in our door. Wehad hoped to findsomeone who could help with bookkeeping, at best, someone with a little experience, Jean was a dream come true. A Bentley College Graduate in Accounting, Jean had kept the books for close to 15 years for the New England Carpenters Pension Fund. Jean had recently retired and was working part time close to Good To-Go’s World Head Quarters in Kittery when a friend had mentioned her interest in possibly working part time as a bookkeeper. We hired her on the spot. She’s been instrumental in reorganizing our accounting system and has already taught this 14 year veteran of QuickBooks more tricks and memorized reports than I ever knew existed before. Jean lives in York, Maine with her husband Jay. The two have 3 children, 12 grand children and 11 great-grand children. None of us here at Good To-Go understand how that’s possible since Jean looks about 50 years old!
Both David and I wanted to take a moment to thank these four lovely ladies for all their help, understanding and wisdom. It takes many hands to make light work or to bring a bowl of hot Thai Curry to a mountaintop. Thank you so very much and Happy Holidays everyone for all your support.