Summer House Kitchen Rules
Summer is here and many of us will soon find ourselves facing the challenges of cooking in unfamiliar cottage kitchens. There can be lots of surprises: mismatched pans and lids, no corkscrew, a ragtag collection of utensils, limited counter space.
Stay ahead of the game by anticipating a kitchen that’s less than perfect and bringing along tools and foods you can’t do without. Pack them ahead of time into a plastic tote box. Then you can supplement what you need with just a few quick trips to town. (Make a list of what you bring so you remember to take important things home.)
Plan! Draw up a menu and recipes in advance, relying on easy preparations and quantities that can feed a gang or give you plenty of leftovers – chili, curries, quick stir fries that do double duty as fillings for wraps. Focus on recipes you can make in one big pan.
Buy key ingredients at home. Shop ahead for canned beans, canned tuna, canned tomatoes, olives, olive oil, vinegar, nuts, peanut butter, dried fruit, maple syrup, mustard and other condiments, coffee, tea, oatmeal, pasta, and whole grains such as quinoa and brown rice.
Bring your own baking supplies. If you like to bake, pack flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and maple syrup. Mix up dry pancake ingredients at home and put in zip-lock bags so all you need to add are the liquid ingredients.
Don’t forget the spices. Bring your favorites. Buy a plastic one-week pillbox and fill the compartments, using up spices you already have on hand at home. Look for salt and pepper sold in plastic grinders with tight fitting tops.
Always bring knives. Pack a paring knife and a chef’s knife.
And… It’s always a good idea to bring your own vegetable peeler, a can opener you love, and a corkscrew. If you’re finicky about cookware, bring your favorite big frying pan, too.
Think about food storage. It’s always handy to have some plastic containers with lids, plus quart and gallon-size zip-lock bags, aluminum foil, and plastic wrap. Leftovers make great picnic foods.
Tuck in some linens. Bring your own dishtowels, dish cloths, and paper or cloth napkins. If you’re feeding lots of people, bring paper plates. And candles!
Look for farm stands. Ask in town if there’s a local farmer’s market. Buy fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruits whenever you can.
Here’s a wonderfully easy summer house meal.
Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes
Salting the tomatoes ahead of time releases flavor compounds and creates a rich “sauce.” Once you allow time for the juices to accumulate, you can then make this easy recipe in less than 15 minutes. Double the recipe if you wish. And add a handful of chopped fresh basil at the end for extra flavor.
1 pound cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cut the tomatoes into halves and put them in a glass or stainless steel bowl. Add the olive oil and the salt. Toss, cover, and leave at room temperature for several hours, tossing once or twice.
When you’re ready to eat, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook according to the package directions. Drain and return the hot pasta to the pan along with the tomatoes and their juice. Toss. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot or at room temperature.