amy chaplin

celebrating the art of eating well

Summer vacation~ what to pack

POSTED ON August 14, 2015

what to pack*

Last summer when I packed up my kitchen essentials to head to the beach for a couple of weeks, I thought about writing this post. So, this year I decided to photograph what I packed to share what I take when heading to a summer rental.

I’m not sure about you, but for me when I’m away and in a place surrounded by nature I want to cook with a relaxed approach, which means having basic ingredients on hand. My loose rule of thumb is to keep shopping to a minimum and limited to visiting farm stands for daily vegetables. If you are visiting a place with great food provisioning options, then you won’t need to be so organized and it can be fun to explore what they have to offer.

When planning for vacation, no matter what I always bring something to have the first evening for dinner since we usually get in late and want something fast, simple and satisfying. For this meal I packed pasta (this one is gluten free), good olive oil, garlic, hot pepper flakes and Parmesan (or you can use aged goat cheese). I can usually find parsley on the way – and this becomes dinner.

Another favorite summer (or anytime) takeaway is granola. I prepare a big batch, which usually means I can clean out the kitchen cupboards at the same time and use up extra nuts, seeds and any rolled grains I have lying around. I always loosely base it on the recipe in my book and also the one here. Since I plan to eat granola for breakfast most days, I leave out the maple and even reduce the rice syrup so it’s more nutritious and less of a sweet start to the day. Once the granola cools, I stir in chia seeds, hemps seeds and ground flax, which means I don’t need to bring any of these items separately. In the photo above you can see raw almonds and vanilla for making almond milk. (Yes, I do tuck my Vitamix into our luggage!)

I pack a few basic spices in small containers: beside the hot pepper flakes, I bring sea salt, turmeric and cinnamon and also a few umeboshi plums. If you’ve been reading here for a while, you’ll know how much I adore fresh cooked corn smeared with umeboshi Sweet corn is in abundance and this simple addition takes it beyond delicious. (Umeboshi is also a great cure for nausea, sore throat and mouth ulcers, so its handy to have around) In the middle at the bottom of the photo, I have a little jar of miso, which I take to make “instant miso soup” for when I’m feeling under the weather and for adding to dressings and sauces. If you haven’t yet tried the miso mayonnaise from my book don;t wait too long it’s delicious on tomato sandwiches!

I use being away from my own kitchen as a time to try recipes that I’ve been meaning to make from other cookbooks or food blogs. Since I don’t have every ingredient at my fingertips, I am less inclined to create new recipes unless they are super simple. Last year I packed the dry ingredients for Sarah’s famous “life changing loaf of bread” and haven’t looked back. I left out the hazelnuts this time and made a hazelnut butter (top middle right in photo above). Follow the recipe in my book for almond butter but use toasted hazelnuts instead. On cozy, foggy days at the beach, it’s nice to be able to bake. And since I won’t be buying sacks of flour or tins of baking powder , I bag up the dry ingredients so the mix is ready to go when ever I’m in the mood. You could also do this for pancakes if that’s your thing. This year I brought ingredients for an almond cake I’m working on (which you may have seen on instagram yesterday) and also the mix for vegan and gluten free scones from Green Kitchen Travels. The jar of coconut oil will be used in the baking and can also double as an after sun moisturizer. Honestly, I’m not sure why I packed that much ginger. I think because it looked so good and I feel like experimenting with refreshing drinks. Before I left the city, I grabbed some organic lemons, a handful of hard avocados and a loaf of rye bread.


what to pack* 1

No matter where I am, tea is a big part of my daily routine. Above are my current favorites. Clockwise from top left: Mulberry leaf tea from Bellocq, Turkish rose buds, tea infusers (perfect for brewing loose-leaf tea in any cup. Chinatown is the best place to get them), dried nettle tea (I buy in bulk from Flower Power), kukicha tea bags (Eden), rooibos, sencha, matcha tea and bamboo whisk. (Last 3 teas from Rishi Tea)

what to pack* 3

No matter how “equipped” a beach house may be, I always bring these basic things.

Small cutting board, knives, julienne peeler for making this, nut milk bag for almond milk. A microplane zester for grating garlic, ginger or Parmesan and tea towels because I go through so many!

If you know there are good pots then you can stop here, but since where I stay is pretty basic, I also pack a skillet, small 2qt pot for cooking grains and my pressure cooker, which doubles as a pot for pasta and means you can create luscious bean salads or soups if it gets chilly.

what to pack* 2

And lastly I pack my favorite basic grains blends and a few different beans. I bag my sweet and brown rice mixture (recipe in my book and also here), so it’s ready to soak and cook. I also pack a cup of quinoa and red and French lentils for simple quick dips or spreads. Chickpeas and some heirloom beans also come and I use these for chickpea mash and simple marinated salads. The empty zip lock bags come in handy for storing leftovers or farm stand herbs.

Wishing everyone (in the northern hemisphere) a wonderful last weeks of summer!

Stay warm if you’re down under.

Amy xo

If you happen to be in Nantucket on Wednesday August 26th I will be signing copies of my book at Mitchell’s Book Corner 10:30 to 12 noon and would love to meet you.
Mitchell’s Book Corner
54 Main street
Nantucket, MA
508 228 1080
Hope to see you there!

POSTED IN pantry, travel

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  • Amy – I love this post. I’m actually reading it and eating that Anita’s yogurt you recommended. You don’t bring all this on plane trips do you? When you travel by plane do you bring food? I worry a bit about the x-ray scanners and then eating that food. Please let me know your thoughts! I will be in Barbadoes for 2 weeks in a house on the beach with a kitchen! I will be cooking everyday.
    Thank you!

  • I really appreciate seeing your travel staples and hearing how you think about cooking on vacation. I laughed at the ginger being as big as the olive oil container. Priorities here. 😉 And I’ll have to try sweet corn smeared with umeboshi. Delicious idea!

  • Robert Sutherland says:

    Hi Amy and Jacqui we won’t make it to the book launch but have a wonderful holiday and have a couple of oyster for me , Love Robert and Pamela

  • Laurie says:

    Thank you for this. It’s very helpful. I have a question related to the granola you bring. Do you soak and dry/dehydrate the nuts before you add them to the mix? In your book it doesn’t say to do that but you have several pages discussing the importance of soaking. Would any mention of nuts in any of your recipes imply they have been soaked and dried/dehydrated?

    I am working my way through your wonderful cookbook which is the next best thing for those of us not in New York. What a treat. Thank you for sharing!

    • Amy Chaplin says:

      Hi Laurie,

      So about the delay in replying. No I don’t soak and dehydrate although that would be delicious. I soak nuts and seeds when making nut milks or adding to certain things but since I don;t have a dehydrator I toast them instead. Toasting reduces phytic acid but isn’t nearly as effective as soaking of course. If you have a dehydrator then any of the toasted nuts in the recipes in my book can be replaced with activated nuts. I’m so happy to hear you;re enjoying my book! Thank you!

      Amy x

  • I love this post! My partner thinks I am nuts for packing so many things when we go away but he eats his words when we don’t have to rely on restaurant food. I shamelessly take take-out sauce containers from my job (don’t tell!) and fill them with spices to bring with me. What if my avocado toast needs a little za’atar in the mornings??

  • Kay says:

    Hi Amy,
    Great post, just loved it, by the way way brand and length is your knife?
    Thanks Kay

  • Nice says:

    Nothing better than our own recipes. I loved the kit and the knife as well.

  • Gabriela says:

    I loved = D
    GREAT article

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