Monday, December 19, 2011

Michigander Monday: Sarah Kallio

I'm pleased to welcome Sarah Kallio to Michigander Monday!  Sarah is co-author of The Stocked Kitchen: One Grocery List, Endless Recipes.

Debbie:  Sarah, tell us a little about yourself.

Sarah:  I was born and raised in Michigan.  I have migrated West across the State from Essexville, to Mt. Pleasant, to Grand Rapids, to Grand Haven.  I briefly lived in North Carolina and Illinois after college, and missed the mitten.  (More accurately, I missed my boyfriend who is now my husband, and has been for 12 years.)  I graduated from Mt. Pleasant High School and went on to receive a BS from the College of Engineering at Michigan State University.  I married my Larry and we have 2 of the most gorgeous, funny, and lovely daughters a mom could ask for.  The are now 5 and 9, going on 15 and 25.  (I allowed my youngest to wear just a bit of eye shadow for Halloween and she asked if I would give her a "smoky eye."  Lord help us!)   I worked in industry and manufacturing for years, but never felt like I was exactly in the right spot.  I now know that I need to have an more creative outlet.  I have a huge mound of kinky red hair, which I no longer attempt to straighten.  I love to read and to watch Merchant Ivory films (my husband argues that making him watch them with me is not in accordance with the Geneva Convention and is a crime against humanity.)  My favorite Sunday afternoon is when I put on an apron and set Slacker Radio to Edith Piaf and bake.  I like to always be wearing a bit of leopard skin pattern, and all I need to know I learned from Fran Drescher on The Nanny.  I love hard and hurt hard too.  I think it has something to do with a redheads mutation in the MC1R gene.  I am constantly curious and my feet rarely stop fidgeting.

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your book!

SarahThe Stocked Kitchen was basically formed out of necessity.  My friend Stacey Krastins and I wanted to find an easier way to cook and entertain.  We loved to do it, but when we had our babies, the process became a lot more complicated.  Getting to the store for milk was a chore, so we for sure didn't want to have to go every time we made a new recipes.  We figured out that convenience to us didn't mean little seasoned rice packets packets or frozen dinners.  The convenience we were looking for was having what ingredients we needed on hand when we needed them.  We decided that by limiting the ingredients that we use and having what we needed on hand all the time was the solution we were looking for.  We created one single grocery list and wrote a whole bunch of recipes that only used the ingredients on that list.  We self-published our first book and won the Gold Medal for Cookbooks from the 2010 Independent Publisher Book Awards.  From there we signed with an agent and received a book deal from Atria, a division of Simon and Schuster.  They launched The Stocked Kitchen nationally this last July!  This book has changed the way we operate in the kitchen, all for the better.  We spend less, stress less, waste less, and enjoy cooking more!

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Sarah:  We are currently in talks with Atria for more books.  We would love to see a series of books that all use the same grocery list, but focus on different themes, such as holidays, healthy, special occasions, etc.  I love the fact that our book is so versatile that you can use it for just about and cooking or entertaining situation that you find yourself in.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Sarah:  Check out our calendar at

Debbie:  Do you have favorite Michigan bookstore?

SarahThe Bookman in Grand Haven, Michigan is such a great store for our community and our local authors.  Small, independent book shops with knowledgeable staff can change the way people see the world!  (I also tend to be a bit dramatic.)

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Sarah:  Lake Michigan in general, however we stumbled on this little cottage to rent in Charlevoix, MI a couple of years ago, that is right on Lake Michigan.  We live in a beach town, but there is something so perfect about having Lake Michigan waves lull you to sleep.  It barely sleeps four, so I especially love that when we are there, it is just me, Larry, and the girls.  Just family time.

Debbie:  Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Sarah:  I absolutely love Muskegon's Irish Music Festival, of course Grand Haven's Coast Guard Fest, and we had a ball last year at Charlevoix's Venetian Festival.  Fall tours of apple orchards and pumpkin patches are a must.  My girls and I go every year to the Nutcracker in Grand Rapids, which is such a treat.  I am trying to like winter, and we are going to be skiing more with our girls this year.  (I may or may not make it off the bunny hill.  My oldest finally said "buck up Mommy" last year, after I stood on the bottom of the hill freaking out.)  Spring will come though and we will be reminded why we live in "Grand Heaven" where the beach is a constant part of our lives all summer long, as is evident by the trails of sand though out our home.  My favorite thing to do, though, is just to go and explore.  On those rare occasions that we have a free weekend, my husband and I will choose a nearby city and I will look on the local events webpages, "family friendly" activities webpages, travel guides etc.  I absolutely love stumbling on little local festivals.  Exploring and playing it by ear is such a treat, especially now that the kids are old enough to enjoy it too. 

Debbie:  A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Sarah:  I have to say that Sue Beecham of Sue Beecham Photography is so talented and has been such an amazing friend to The Stocked Kitchen.  She did all the photography in our book and continues to take amazing pictures of my kids, and is a very dear friend of mine. In general, when we were first  starting out, there were so many people that were gracious and helpful to us.  Some of our biggest advocates were independent store owners that gave us a chance.  A few are Santo Stefano Del Lago and The Bookman, Grand Haven, MI, Rykes Bakery, Muskegon, MI, The Seasoned Home, Holland, MI, The Ideal Kitchen, Manistee, MI.  These small independent stores are so important to our communities because they often help foster success for local small businesses.  Remember your small independent stores this holiday season.  I have to say in general, I am amazed by the resilience and innovative spirits of Michiganders (spoiler alert for the question 10). 

Debbie:  Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?

Sarah:  Michigan is stronger than we appear.  That is what I would like people to know.  We are strong, innovative, and exceptionally good at making things.  We used to be known for our manufacturing.  I think we are still made of that stuff.  Maybe we just forgot that a bit.  We are this unique mixture of Countrytime Lemonade commercial aesthetic and industrial grit.  A goodness and realness mixed with logic and resilience.  All this and an amazingly diverse and gorgeous landscape backdrop.  I think we need to worry less about reinventing our State and more about remembering what qualities made us great in the first place.
Debbie:  Well said!  Last question:  Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?

Sarah:  I don't think there is a debate, I just think Michigander is correct.  Michiganian sounds crazy! :)

Debbie:  Sarah, we'll add you to the Michigander column!  Thank you so much for being here today!

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