Many people think of vacation as a time to eat out, take a break from cooking, or let someone else cook for them. I'm the opposite. I love vacation because I finally have time to check out the local shops and farmer's markets, plan a menu, and spend some time cooking (vs. the week-night mad rush to get dinner on the table before running off to baseball, football, basketball, a concert, meeting, etc.).
In advance of a vacation I like to think about where I am going and what might be good and local from the area. I also think about dishes that are more complicated that I wasn't able to cook during the school year that I wanted to try. And I always include the family summer dishes that I must have before summer is over (teriyaki chicken, flank steak, burgers, sirloin steak and baked potatoes, shish-ka-bobs, etc.). I pack a few favorite cookbooks that might help in whatever I decide to make and hit the road.
Summer possibilities might include:
make your own grilled tortillas
vegetable pasta with cheese (mozzerella, feta, goat or blue)
chicken cobb sandwiches (or salad)
ribs, corn, red skinned potatoes
turkey burgers (with ginger, spinach, feta, mint, grilled onions)
salmon (medditeranian, blackened, or with a verde sauce)
stuffed/grilled pork tenderloin
pesto pasta (arugula or basil?)
Once I have a few ideas, I see what is local and then make a plan.
what is my fruit? is it with dinner or dessert?
what are my veggies and starches?
what is the meat/main course?
do I need an appetizer?
Then I think about lunch. If I'm grilling, can I toss some veggies on the grill so I can add them to a sandwich tomorrow? Can I pre-grill brats tonight to go with leftover pasta tomorrow? Or, do I want to grill again tomorrow (check out the weather)?
Food is an adventure and an experience, for me it makes a vacation go from great to memorable.
And the best thing yet, get your friends around the table. Nothing is better than making a big delicious local dinner and eating it with your friends.