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How-To

Cooking Away

Renting a vacation home? Pack these tips and recipes for lively, relaxing meals.

Fine Cooking Issue 124
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For vacations lasting longer than a couple of days, my family almost always rents a house, condo, or cottage. We get much more space that way, and there’s usually a washer and dryer, which means I don’t have to do as much math when packing underwear and socks. But most important to me, there is a kitchen.

I love to cook, even while away. When we rent a place with friends, my favorite part of the day is relaxing around the table after a day of sightseeing or hiking or body surfing at the beach. I also like access to a kitchen because I get tired of eating every meal out and because I can cook with local specialties, like lobster in Maine or Dungeness crab in California.

Cooking on vacation can be a challenge, though. For starters, you don’t have your pantry. Things like ground cumin and maple syrup, always on hand at home, have to be packed or purchased. And after years of renting vacation houses, both here and abroad, expensive or not, I’ve come to realize they all have one thing in common: lousy kitchen tools.

But by keeping the food simple, using fresh ingredients, and packing a few essential tools, cooking on vacation can be truly relaxing and fun—so long as someone else does the dishes.

Wondering what to make on vacation?View the slideshow for a collection of recipes that are perfect for vacation cooking.


There seems to be some secret pact among vacation rental owners that every kitchen must have a crock of those cheap black plastic utensils, including a spatula that melts at the mere suggestion of heat. This is why I always pack a few must-have tools that can easily fit in a suitcase and if left behind won’t cause heartbreak.

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