I am writing this whilst on holiday. Yes, that’s right: H-O-L-I-D-A-Y. Unbelievable, isn’t it? For the first time in two years, except a five-minutes-to-pandemic winter dash in 2020, I have gone properly AWAY, with overnight stay and further from home than Aylesbury. My head is still spinning.
I’d forgotten what my clothes which aren’t tracksuits looked like. I’d forgotten where my suitcase was, let alone how to pack it. I couldn’t remember whether you needed travel adaptors for Cornwall and how to programme the satnav. Plus, of course, being on hols is different now.
The masks, the necessity to book a table in the pub even for one pint, restaurants booked up to the rafters which means it’s not entirely a holiday from cooking. So far in the past a self-catering stay meant occasionally preparing my own breakfast, because lunch and dinner was eaten out, but it’s not quite the case this summer. So, what to cook on hols in your rented cottage or your caravan?
First, a word to the wise: if at all possible, take your kitchen knives with you, as Jay Rayner smartly advised even pre-pandemic. No matter how swish your rental property, they will not have provided good knives. A small measuring cup and the favourite porridge pan – or whatever your equivalents of absolute kitchen necessities are. A set of wooden disposable cutlery will be handy for the fish and chips on the beach.
A supermarket in a small resort during peak season will get rammed with potentially unmasked people so I have brought my own non-perishables like washing up liquid and a few washing machine tablets, plus a small salt pot and an oil spray. The latter two mean you don’t have to buy a huge packet of something you’ll use a small quantity of.
I know I sound a little like those Brits who’d drive a carload of Asda groceries to their second home in Brittany but this is common sense not chauvinism.
Finally, to the point: cook simple and quick stuff, you’re on holiday. Even better, have a cooking rota. So what if you’re offered burnt sausages every couple of days? They’ll taste better away from home anyway.
Skewer what you can and barbecue it, if there are facilities (a couple of disposable BBQs might be added to the list above; they’re bound to be out of stock in the local Tesco). Apart from barbecues (the weather won’t be as good as in Provence I assure you), you can make huge pots of ratatouille and massive tray bakes.
Chilli con carne or chilli con corn? Halloumi burgers or hasselback sausage? There’s pasta with fresh tomatoes and potsticker style tortellini. Tacos with cooked prawns and all-day breakfast quesadillas. And wrap some salmon fillets in foil with a chunk of local blue cheese and bake them. Green salad to go with any of the above, or crunchy cabbage salad if you can delegate the shredding.
Hope you can get away this summer too, somewhere in the UK to be prudent and quarantine hassle-free, and hope you find my ramblings a little useful. Take care and enjoy yourselves!