Cooking on Vacation

Cooking on Vacation by Sarah McColl

Sarah McColl

This is part of a series of Q&A’s about cooking on vacation. The complete list of posts in this series is available here.

Sarah McColl is a senior editor at Yahoo! Shine and the very lovable writer behind Pink of Perfection, a lifestyle blog on which the Dallasite-turned-Brooklynite discusses everything a girl needs to feast, delight and flourish. She does so with a gracious and insightful touch that makes readers feel she and they could be the best of friends, and a visit to her site always leaves me refreshed and nurtured. Also, wouldn’t she be perfect to play Joan Holloway‘s younger sister?

Here she tells us about cocktail hour on the deck, barbecued rattlesnake, and cold-press coffee.

Are you taking a vacation this summer? Will you have a chance to cook while there?

We have been looking forward all summer to our vacation in Washington’s San Juan Islands, but it’s our first vacation where we will be staying in a rented house and cooking most of our own meals. Right now my vision is to keep things really simple: putting my husband to work on the grill, sandwiches, roast chicken on cool nights, cheese and crackers, simple salads. It will be an experiment and adventure!

In what way do you feel your vacation cooking style differs from your everyday cooking style?

I think I expect my everyday cooking to do a lot more than sate my hunger. I want it to be pleasurable, to set me right again after the indignities of the workday. The cooking quiets me and the eating brings our family together. But it’s a lot to demand from a meal! I think there are fewer expectations on vacation. When you’ve been lucky enough to spend the day reading in a hammock or swimming in a lake, dinner doesn’t need to be the highlight of the day in the same way.

The entire vibe of this vacation is going to be low-key and relaxed, so I can see us picking up a few things at a farmer’s market, packing sandwiches for picnics or making dinner an extended cocktail hour: put out some cheese and crackers, pour a glass of wine and call it a day. On the other hand, once we’ve had a few days to relax, we might feel like getting ambitious again. We’ll see!

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Cooking on Vacation by Tara Austen Weaver

Tara Austen Weaver

This is part of a series of Q&A’s about cooking on vacation. The complete list of posts in this series is available here.

Tara Austen Weaver, a.k.a. Tea, is the Seattle-based author of the blog Tea & Cookies, on which she discusses cooking, gardening, traveling, reading, and writing, weaving stories into it all with a gentleness and honesty that set her apart. She is the author of the memoir The Butcher and the Vegetarian, and she has just released an e-book of stories and recipes from Japan as a fundraiser for disaster relief.

Here she tells us about food so fresh you don’t want to do much to it, her traveling tool kit, and her special “berry pot.”

Are you taking a vacation this summer? Will you have a chance to cook while there?

I try to get away a couple of times during the summer. Hopefully there is a camping or backpacking trip at some point. This year I am going to a farm for a few days to learn how to make goat cheese. And I almost always spend part of August at my family’s cabin on a small island off the coast of Canada. There are great farms on the island and the produce is gorgeous, but the kitchen is very basic. I’m usually improvising and making do. I think of it as “adventure cooking.”

In what way do you feel your vacation cooking style differs from your everyday cooking style?

Vacation cooking takes my summer cooking philosophy to the extreme. Usually the food is so fresh and lovely that I don’t do much to it. Tomatoes get a little roasting to bring out their flavor. Salads or noodles get handfuls of fresh herbs. Flavors are bright and fresh, without fussy elements that take time. Who wants to spend all day in the kitchen when the beach is calling?

Also, conditions may not support fancy cooking. Camping certainly does not, and kitchens in cabins or rental vacation houses may be basic. Though I sometimes tackle larger cooking projects while on vacation (baking something fun, or making jam or ice cream), for the most part I go for simple, easy, fresh, delicious.

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Cooking on Vacation by Chika Yoshizaki

Photography by Chika Yoshizaki.

Photography by Chika Yoshizaki.

This is part of a series of Q&A’s about cooking on vacation. The complete list of posts in this series is available here.

Chika Yoshizaki is the Japanese writer, photographer, and translator behind the blog She who eats, where her luminous photography allows us a glimpse into the kind of foods she cooks and eats in Tokyo, and wherever her frequent travels take her.

Here she tells us about traveling with a bottle of soy sauce, listening to rice as it cooks on an open fire, and drinking dry French cider with her aunt.

Did you take a vacation this summer, and did you have a chance to cook while there?

I went on a two-week trip to Europe from June to July, but I didn’t cook there — unless you count throwing a bunch of fresh berries into a tub of plain yogurt in my small hotel room as “cooking” (guess not). Other than that, I don’t have a plan to go on a vacation this summer. Although, being holed up deep in the countryside in the mountainous prefecture of Nagano where I am spending the whole summer in a small family cottage, I suppose you could argue I am indeed on vacation. Sort of. And I have been cooking/baking a lot here, taking advantage of an abundant selection of fresh local produce that Nagano’s nature offers.

In what way do you feel your vacation cooking style differs from your everyday cooking style?

I don’t think my cooking style would be very different whether I am cooking at home or elsewhere on vacation. It’s mostly about seasonal ingredients simply cooked, with occasional experimenting with ingredients that are new to me and/or cooking methods that may be more complicated than what I’d normally do. But I do tend to be (even) more local ingredient-driven when I’m cooking away from home; I like to try what locals eat, or cook with something I wouldn’t find back home.

Are there utensils or ingredients you always take with you when you go on vacation? If so, what are they? If not, what do you unfailingly regret not taking?

I think it would depend. For a camping trip, we’d naturally take quite a lot of stuff with us because we wouldn’t find pots or pans for us to use at a remote campsite. Otherwise, I don’t normally bring anything from home, whether I am staying at family’s or friend’s place or an apartment hotel; they’d often have more than just the basics, and I can usually whip up something with whatever I find on the spot.

That said, I must say good salt and pepper do help a lot when you are preparing something simple (which is often the case with cooking on vacation); a few sprinkles of good flaky sea salt or generous grinds of black pepper are things I’d miss when all I can find is table salt and pre-ground pepper.

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Cooking on Vacation by Gena Hamshaw

Gena Hamshaw

Gena Hamshaw

This is part of a series of Q&A’s about cooking on vacation. The complete list of posts in this series is available here.

Gena Hamshaw is the author of The Full Helping, a blog that showcases high-raw, vegan foods. I have long been curious about “alternative” diets and their effects on our health and our planet, and I enjoy the accessible, relatable way Gena writes about hers, with nuggets of wisdom and level-headed advice drawn from her experience as a certified clinical nutritionist. She is currently a pre-med student at Georgetown University, and will begin medical school in 2013. In her own words, she “plans on bringing her passion for plant-based nutrition and compassionate living to the medical community.”

Here she tells us about portable blenders, a traumatizing ceviche, and how to be an easy houseguest.

Are you taking a vacation this summer, and will you have a chance to cook while there?

My vacation is a week at home, in New York, at my Mom’s apartment. I am so excited for it, I could cry. Food will indeed be a focus while I’m there, since my Mom is new to plant-based cooking and loves when I share my lifestyle with her. I expect lots of cozy dinners at home, with movie rentals and long conversations.

I’ll also be eating out often, as I miss the cornucopia of choice that is vegan dining in NYC!

Are there utensils or ingredients you always take with you when you go on vacation? If so, what are they? If not, what do you unfailingly regret not taking?

I always bring hemp seeds, vegan protein powder, chia seeds, nut butter packets, Vega bars (a wonderful vegan snack bar line), homemade trail mix, chlorella tablets, and wheatgrass powder. I almost always bring a portable Tribest blender, and whenever I choose not to, I regret it.

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Cooking on Vacation by Lucy Vanel

Photography by Lucy Vanel.

Photography by Lucy Vanel.

This is part of a series of Q&A’s about cooking on vacation. The complete list of posts in this series is available here.

Lucy Vanel is an American writer and photographer who lives in Lyon, and writes beautifully about food on her blog Lucy’s Kitchen Notebook. She has a particular talent for capturing minute moments, holding them up in her hand for us to see before they vanish, and I always leave her blog feeling like the strings of my heart have been tugged a little. In Lyon she organizes herb workshops and personalized classes and tours, and she is currently working on renovating and equipping a teaching kitchen in Lyon’s first arrondissement, set to open in early 2012.

Here she tells us about the transformative experience of cooking on a wood stove, eating soggy things on a boat, and what to do when you accidentally break off green tomatoes from your plant.

Are you taking a vacation this summer, and will you have a chance to cook?

We take a vacation every summer. Three years ago, we bought a little tiny house in the Alps. During the month of August, we always spend at least two uninterrupted weeks there. When we first began to fix up the old house, I found a Mother Jones article on restoring wood stoves and decided to restore the old Godin in the kitchen. While at first it was just for fun, we realized It was a really great cooking stove in addition to heating the entire house. My vacation cooking is all about that stove.

I was browsing through an old French cookbook, and realized that it was really a chapter and verse maintenance guide for my old stove. These stoves were used in many households of rural France until relatively recently. Contemporary updated recipes give exact temperatures, times, etc. but the old ones give descriptives that fall right in line with wood stove cooking. Cooking this way has helped me come to a closer understanding of the techniques that I learned to execute with my modern equipment. Things are more instinctive with this kind of stove. You know when it is logical and necessary to use a bain marie, for instance, and come to a better understanding of what kind of heat is best for braising. The big cast iron cooktop’s natural heat zones gives just as much control as any contemporary piece of equipment.

Photography by Lucy Vanel.

Photography by Lucy Vanel.

In what way do you feel your vacation cooking style differs from your everyday cooking style?

Vacations in the mountains entail fires that are lit in the morning and burn all day, which is not the case at home in the city. When we leave to go walking and foraging, we close down the vents to keep the fire going while we’re gone, and then stoke it up good and hot when we get back. Often I’ll leave a pot simmering, things pulled to the edge of the stove to cook slowly, or put a loaf of bread or a cake in and leave it to cook from the residual heat, so that when we get back we’ve got warm bread or a cake waiting. When we’re on vacation, I can easily cook dishes that take several days to do, because the steps involved in these kinds of dishes roll out naturally. There is always something cooking when we’re in the mountains.

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