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Cooking While on Vacation

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Later this year my family (4 adults, 2 children) will be spending a week in Orlando at a vacation rental home complete with full kitchen. For the sake of both frugality and convenience we'd like to prepare as many of our meals as possible at the house. We've never done this before so I don't know what to expect, but I'll assume the kitchen is bare bones with minimal equipment and no pantry items. We'll be flying in so bringing lots of bulky items with me will be out of the question. However, I should be able to carry along a few small things such as spices.

Any menu suggestions? For breakfast we'll probably just go with cold cereal and fruit, but I'd like to prepare at least half the lunches and dinners. Generally we're not too finicky and have no particular dietary restrictions.

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Here are a few pics of what was in my Cape Cod timeshare...most of it was different the next year..IE bigger pots, better knives.

Somewhere in the thread was also a suggestion to check with the office for any gear they may have stored away

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=108976

tracey


The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

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Pack your own knives (not in carry-on, of course). This is the single most important thing.

We've been known to bring good bread with us, and freeze some of it for later in the week. Something about not having good bread (admittedly, this may not be a priority for everyone) makes it less of a vacation. And cheese, too.

I don't worry about too much, though, since we tend to cook simply (though well) on vacation.

You might get on the Florida board and see what Orlando offers in the way of decent sources for produce, meat fish etc. are. Might be worth it to drop the kids off at Disney's front gate and spend a day doing a serious food round-up. A nice break from the challenges of children and amusement parks.


Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Later this year my family (4 adults, 2 children) will be spending a week in Orlando at a vacation rental home complete with full kitchen. For the sake of both frugality and convenience we'd like to prepare as many of our meals as possible at the house. We've never done this before so I don't know what to expect, but I'll assume the kitchen is bare bones with minimal equipment and no pantry items. We'll be flying in so bringing lots of bulky items with me will be out of the question. However, I should be able to carry along a few small things such as spices.

Any menu suggestions? For breakfast we'll probably just go with cold cereal and fruit, but I'd like to prepare at least half the lunches and dinners. Generally we're  not too finicky and have no particular dietary restrictions.

Since you're going to Orlando you have a big advantage. There are several sources locally that will actually deliver your pantry items and staples when you arrive say don't have to worry about that. I forget the exact names you can look them up at: http://www.disboards.com/

As far as what to cook we always finds that the simpler the better is a good motto so you can enjoy your vacation also. Something as simple as boiled shrimp, some good crusty bread and a bottle of wine (grape juice for children) is always very yummy and can be prepared very quickly. Another option could be lasagna, you could actually prepare it the evening before you intended to eat it, then when you get back from the Parks you could just slide it into the oven and relax while it cooks.


I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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Pack your own knives (not in carry-on, of course). This is the single most important thing.

If they don't have a wood cutting board buy a cheap one and either take it home or leave it there. I often travel with a knife and hate finding a crappy plastic board in the kitchen but these are all too common since they are stuck in the dishwasher with the dishes during the clean up for the next arrival.

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I second the motion to call the office and find out if there is stuff in the kitchen. Is there a grill? Keep the meals as simple as possible -- lasagna seems ditzy and would dirty too many dishes. If there is a grill -- fish, chicken, burgers, etc. along with a salad. If not, saute/roast said items. I've been known to roast things in the broiler pan in unfamiliar places.

Four of us college friends go to a posh condo resort every year, so we know what's there. The knives are good knives, but always dull, so instead of bringing our own knives, we bring a knife sharpener -- and hope that the other folks who stay after us appreciate what we do for them!


Edited by snowangel (log)

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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I have a travel knife case that has a Forstner chef knife, boning knife, paring knife, and steel. I also take my Bradley propane smoker for at least one smoked brisket to look like a hero.

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-- lasagna seems ditzy and would dirty too many dishes. 

Lasagna can be made within very minimum amount of dishes. You need a frying pan to brown you meat and the pan to cook the lasagne in. You can use the noodles that don't require cooking, pre-made sauce (some of it is pretty good), some fresh herbs and cheeses and away you go. You can put it together in about 20 minutes! Not quite how you'd probably make it at home but very good, filling and simple, all the things you want if you're cooking on vacation.


I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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Here's my number one tip for cooking while on vacation. I'm always the only one doing the cooking and cleanup, so if that's not your situation, this might not be so important, but the first thing I do after figuring out what I'm going to make is to make a list of cooking/serving dishes and go to the store and buy disposable ones. I've made lasagna and roast meats etc., and being able to toss that aluminum pan rather than scrubbing it puts a big smile on my face.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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We usually do a lot of grilling and salads and such. One thing I would bring is a stash of seasonings and spices. Those things add up when you're shopping out of town, but you can put them in little baggies and bring enough from home without taking up much room in your luggage.

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I'm not sure what the grocery situation is in Orlando, but I'd plan on more "spreads" rather than "dishes." Salads, fruit, cold cuts, cheese, dips, veggies all can be purchased and prepared with minimal equipment.

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Publix is the dominant local supermarket. They tend to be geared towards the upper middle income demographic, so most of them are quite nice and they should have just about everything you'll need. Whole Foods has a presence as well, with one store not far from Universal.

Also, are you really staying in Orlando or are you down by the Mouse? Kissimmee tends to be a bit skankier than Orlando proper so your pickings might be a little more scarce down in that area.

As for keeping in simple, buy a bottle of Mojo Criollo (I prefer La Lecheronera - its available danm near everywhere) and what ever meat product you want. Marinate over night, or a day or two, and then grill it. This stuff is very versatile and matches well with almost anything.

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Budget considerations aside, the fun of cooking on vacation is to seek out local products that you can't get at home. I'd be asking people where to buy great local seafood or other products. Then keep it simple with whatever equipment you have.

I don't pretend to know Florida well, but the highlights of past trips include stone crab claws and grouper. Maybe the regional dining/cooking thread has some ideas.



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I have to agree with keeping it simple. My experience with the homes we've rented is that the owners must bring their stuff with them, cause the stuff we're left with is crap. I don't expect much from any of them, and I've rented many. My biggest bitch is the crappy aluminum cookware that's only good for boiling something. I'm lucky to be able to drive in any direction on the gulf coast, and now I bring 2 pots....1 big steamer/boiler, and a small (if you call 2 qt. small, I do) lequeset pot, for anything that requires that it not be scortched. if flying...buy a pan you can use at home and ship it back. seriously, unless you grill, you're not in a foodopia kinda place. just the back end of renting...

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I appreciate everyone's advice. Seems like my best bet is to avoid doing as much *real* cooking as possible. Definitely like the "spreads" idea for quick lunches., and for dinner maybe something ultra-simple like a ham or pork picnic roast along with sides purchased at the supermarket deli. There's a Publix a mile away so we'll shouldn't have problems finding anything.

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We rented a house for an Orlando vacation a couple of years ago. I agree with the suggestion of doing up a spread for the lunches. I bought a variety of deli meats, cheeses, lettuce and tomatoes for making sandwiches to have with veggies and dip and some fruit. I think grilling up some meat one night, along with a tossed salad and making a large amount of pasta salad would be good for dinner one night. Then you could have the pasta salad availble for one of the lunches. When we came back from the parks around lunch time, the kids and hubby would go for a swim in the pool in the back of the house while I put together a quick lunch. As for breakfasts, our typical breakfast was cereal, toast or oatmeal with some juice or a glass of milk. Having yoghurt and fruit on hand was great for snacking on too. I picked one morning to make up a big breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and toast and did it on an off day from the park when we werern't hurried to get anywhere.

As for dinners, I did tacos one night, grilled some steak and potatoes on the BBQ another to have with salad and picked up one of the frozen lasagnas (big mistake, was awful). I agree, simple is best and think that doing up a list of menu ideas before you go is smart so that you are able to pack any spices that you may need in your suitcase in little baggies. I remember when I was researching vacation homes, most seemed to have a grill so I would definitely check to see if one is available. BBQ burgers, kebabs are all good options for a quick dinner. Corn on cob (depending on when you are going) and a salad and you are good to go. Pasta with garlic bread and a caesar salad is another idea for a dinner.

We are looking at heading back next year so I'll be following this thread too for any other ideas. Have fun!


A truly destitute man is not one without riches, but the poor wretch who has never partaken of lobster. - anonymous

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I vacation every year at Orange Beach, AL, in the same condo complex. I drive, so equipment is not so much a problem; I do always take (a) my coffee grinder, (b) my French press, © assorted spices including shrimp boil seasoning, and (d) my big stockpot for boiling shrimp. (I have learned I can pack the grinder, the French press, and a baggie of coffee beans all down inside the stockpot. Rubber bands looped around the handles on the pot and the handle on top of the lid holds it all together. If flying, you could put it all in a box and either check it or carry it on (probably carry-on given they charge you $15 a pop for checked bags now, the dogs, and how many clothes do you need at the beach anyway?). I stop on my way to the condo and buy groceries -- granola, berries and vanilla yogurt with a loaf of decent bread is good enough for breakfast. (If it's several of us, I get bacon and eggs and cook a big breakfast one morning.) Deli meats, cheese, crackers, fresh veggies, dips, chps, fruit, etc. for lunch. A bag of rice. Corn and potatos and andouille sausage for the shrimp boil.

Dinner is always fresh seafood, because it's so good; I generally do a shrimp boil at least a couple of nights, with extra shrimp (though it's hard to have extra shrimp when you love them as much as my crowd and I do). I'll use the extra shrimp chopped up in a curry sauce (you can get good curry sauce at a lot of delis now) over grouper, or just marinated in lime and cilantro as an "add" to lunch. Many fresh seafood markets will also have prepared gumbo that's a good "add" to broiled grouper. You can jury-rig a steamer in your stock pot and cook lots of other fresh seafood, and sauces as simple as butter or olive oil, lime and cilantro are the only accompaniment it needs.

Oh, and beer. Lots of very cold beer. Beer and a shopping bag of books and a week of sun. I'm going April 27. Can't wait.


Don't ask. Eat it.

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I just want to bump this up a bit because we're leaving for a 2 week break at a holiday cottage next month and I'm trying to come up with a general plan of attack for equipment and meals.

It's the height of (40 degrees celsius) summer here, so minimal cooking/time spent indoors in front of a hot stove are prime goals!

My equipment list so far(some of which have been mentioned above):

Stick blender/mini processor thing (herb pastes for grilled meats, hummous, mayo)

Microplane

Grater

Knives (of course!)

Frying pan

Cutting board

Mixing bowl

Any other suggestions? I'm also keen to hear some meal inspirations for hot weather using minimal ingredients. My feeling is we will be doing a lot of grilling (fine by me!). Time consuming is probably fine, because we're not doing much but relaxing and taking a few day trips.

We will be 40 minutes from the nearest grocery store/restaurant/takeaway, so daily trips are out, but we will be going through town every couple of days. From a previous stay at a different holiday house we know that the grocery stores are actually quite decent (in fact better than some of what I see out here in Western Sydney!).

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If there is space in the bags, and if the holiday cottage is new to me, I like to pack 2 glasses, and 2 coffee mugs. Somehow, drinking out of a plastic cup seems less "holiday" :raz: We have stayed in many cottages where the dishes are the non-breakable plastic sort. Ugh.

I also pack coffee and some paper filters, an assortment of reusable heavy plastic baggies, and (again, if there's room), some cold-packs and an insulated lunch bag for day trips, or shopping.

As for menus, I like the grilled meats and salad combo. And left-over bits can be lunch the next day in a grilled sandwich.


Karen Dar Woon

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I like to pack 2 glasses, and 2 coffee mugs. Somehow, drinking out of a plastic cup seems less "holiday" :raz: We have stayed in many cottages where the dishes are the non-breakable plastic sort. Ugh.

That's a very good idea (although they would never have survived the jawbreaking trip we had to the last place we rented for a long weekend). Drinking out of melamine or plastic reminds me of being in hospital drinking coffee that a baby would reject as too cold.

I also pack coffee and some paper filters, an assortment of reusable heavy plastic baggies, and (again, if there's room), some cold-packs and an insulated lunch bag for day trips, or shopping.

Actually, cold packs and insulated bags are practically mandatory for us on a summer roadtrip. Last year it topped 43C = 109F on the day we drove home from holidays (hotter than hospital coffee!), but baggies would be really useful for snacks on daytrips and storage while we're there.

I am seriously considering building a 'holiday home' kit box to go in the back of the car with dedicated slots for things like knives, cutting boards, tea towels, spice caddy, etc! We're also going to print out a short cookbook with a few recipe/meal ideas for when we get tired of plain grilled meats and salads, and desserts, of course!

Snadra

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A lot depends on your destination. In the Keys I'm cooking all seafood for me and wifey. The non fish eater kid will be getting hamburgers and steak. If driving I always take my own knives/cutting board and at least a large cast iron skillet. Can do just about anything in that. Things I would use a lot like EVOO I might bring or just buy there assuming I will use most of it up while there. Certain spices I may bring or vinegars. Just depends. You can usually find what you need in the stores at your destination and bring back what you don't use. I always bring fresh roasted coffee, grinder and a compact method to brew it like an Aeropress. Most places will have a drip machine but you never know what kind of dreck you may find in a vacation condo. Either way I'm starting my day with fresh beans.

When flying to a destination I will pack one multipupose knife plus a paring knife in my check in bag. I ended up having to buy a cutting board at the last place we went to in Beaver Creek since all they had was hard plastic cutting boards. I left it there should I return.

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Any menu suggestions? For breakfast we'll probably just go with cold cereal and fruit, but I'd like to prepare at least half the lunches and dinners. Generally we're not too finicky and have no particular dietary restrictions.

Orlando's markets are adequate. The ethic groceries are, as always, your best bet.

Your condo/timeshare will have non-stick pans where all the teflon has been scraped off and/or burned off. Buy a $10 teflon pan at Marshall's/Ross/etc when you arrive and leave it for the maid with the tip money inside. That's what I always do.

Here's a thread on a timeshare forum you might enjoy:

http://www.tugbbs.com/forums/showpost.php?p=723655&postcount=4


Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I like to bring some custom spice blends for quick flavor boosts. Last time, I brought some curry powder, some five spice powder & some vanilla extract & it was a lot of help.


PS: I am a guy.

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After a few experiences of cooking with vacation condo cookware and my pocket knife, I now tend to bring a board, a couple of good knives, a large skillet with a cover, and with that and whatever's around I can make pretty much anything I'd want to make. I may bring a few other ingredients like spices, olive oil, and such, just to avoid having to buy them if it's a short trip.

From there I like to cook local as much as possible, go to farmers' markets, see who's selling locally caught seafood when we're near the water, and find local meats if it's that kind of region. Since I don't get to grill much in New York, I try to grill a lot on vacation. Part of the enjoyment of travel for me is making things I can't or don't tend to make at home.

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When you first get there, buy a large slice-and-serve ham. You can have it to snack on with cheese and crackers, fry slices for breakfast, make ham sandwiches anytime to either eat there or take with, or serve as a main course for dinner. When folks get hungry and want "a little something," it's always a treat to open up the fridge and see a ham sitting there.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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