On Vacation in the Kitchen: Making Do with What I Have

published Jun 12, 2013
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Our home is a five minute walk or drive from Whole Foods, our favorite local market, Piggly Wiggly, Publix and a host of other specialty food shops. I can have almost any ingredient I want within minutes. On Edisto Island, on the other hand, my options are limited and I have to make do with what I can find, like MacGyver.

There is a Piggly Wiggly here, one my sister refers to as “The Soviet Pig,” because they have plenty of things you don’t want, including shelves of canned meat products and dusty packs of diapers, and very limited quantities of things you need, like eggs. Unless you go on the right day — and there will be no warning — in which case you might find more eggs than you could eat all year. 

And there is always a line, at every cash register. The service is friendly though, and the experience reminds me to get over myself, because I really don’t need everything I think I do.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Crab cakes made with Utz crab potato chips, turned to crumbs in the ancient blender, are just as good as the ones I make at home with organic breadcrumbs whirled in my Cuisinart. They might even be better, because the crab is fresher on the island and, if I’m totally honest, I could add a little more salt to my recipe at home. Potato chips more than take care of that salt situation. 

I’ve also used crushed corn chips in my beer battered, pimento cheese stuffed squash blossoms and I have my eye on some Cheez-Its for my tomato pie crust. (Oddly enough, the Soviet Pig has every single flavor of Cheez-Its. I’m thinking pepper jack for the win.)

Having a relaxed attitude about last minute substitutions in the vacation kitchen reminds me to chill out and enjoy myself. Already plowed through that mixed case of dry rose and Avinyó I brought from home? Bandit’s pinot grigio is economical and tastes fine. When the liquor store, the one that stocks every flavor from the TGI Friday’s line, doesn’t have Aperol, I’m not going to let it ruin my vacation. Can’t find my favorite locally sourced sausage? Flowers Seafood Company sells a packaged sausage that’s good enough for their Frogmore Stew, so it’s good enough for mine. And that canned meat aisle? Well, I do have my limits.

How do you make do on vacation? Do your cooking habits change based on availability?

(Images: Anne Postic)