What essentials (ingredients, equipment) to take to a beach rental?
We're renting a place at the beach with another family. I've been burned before in this situation - like pots so beaten up that they didn't sit properly on the stove. I plan to bring the pancake griddle and probably my immersion blender in case I make gazpacho or hummus. I picked up a little charcoal grill, since I haven't heard confirmation of a grill on site. For ingredients, some olive oil and good balsamic, a good knife or two, and my spice boxes (watchmakers cases from Lee Valley Tools - should travel well!).
What have you missed in such a situation, or been glad to have along?
I'm a long tine beach house renter, so I heartily second all the excellent suggestions made so far. At the risk of sounding ecologically unfriendly, you might want to pack a ton of paper goods -- plates, cups etc. Why spend valuable beach time doing dishes? And you will be amazed at how much eating happens over the course of a beach vacation day -- in our family it starts to feel like we're all just constantly grazing, and before we switched to paper plates either my sister or I would spend half the day in the kitchen washing plates and cups and feeling resentful!
I always bring a lot of pasta, couscous, canned beans, tuna and other things with which to toss together pasta and grain salads, supplememnted by whatever's good at the farm stand or fish pier that day.
Heavy duty foil
A new pack of sponges (the previous renters always seem to think you'll want to use their nasty leftovers...)
Anti bacterial counter wipes
If kids are along, it's worth packing lots of individually packaged items you might not normally buy -- juice boxes, fruit snacks, cheese and cracker packs -- that way they can take care of feeding themselves without rousting you from the deck chair...
We rent a beachhouse for a week each summer. It's not always the same house, so you get mixed results. This is what we take from home. We go with three other families:
-Crockpot(one night we whip make spaghetti & meatballs, and we buy the meatballs from Costco. They taste best when slow cooked w/sauce)
-A couple of good knives (rentals always have crap knives)
-Disposable baking dishes (we like to make brownies for the kids)
-Blender(another iffy item at a rental..and let's not even discuss the cleanliness of some of the blenders I've seen EWW!)
-Whisk (for baking and pancakes)
-Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder (who knows how old the stuff
-Cutting Board (I've seen one too many wood blocks..who knows how clean the previous renters were)
-Coffee grinder and your own maker/Tea
-I don't know where you're going, but here in the west sun tea is huge. So we take a sun tea jar.
We have the added challenge in that we rent on a Mexican beach. So we have to truck a lot of our own food/supplies with us. You take things like aluminum foil and saran wrap for granted here in the u.s.
Gotta agree with a couple of good knives, salad spinner a must have and you can always use the bottom as a salad bowl too) and I have found a large 6 quart pot to come in pretty handy. Its always interesting to see what other people leave/cook with too. Sorta on topic is a funny story in the Gourmet supplement re a trip to a rental cottage on Swan Island in Maine. What was she thinking?
At a sporting goods store, you can find a set of stacked plastic boxes - they're round, and each one screws into the one below it, making a cylinder about 4 inches high. Fishermen use these for small hooks, weights, and other kinds of tackle. Ours is filled with dried herbs - basil, thyme, bay leaves and oregano, and curry powder and chile powder. Of course, you'll add whatever your favorites are. It's part of our vacation cooking kit - comes with us whenever we go to a rental house or condo. It's been a life-saver for years.
I've been using them for three or more years - it was a tip in Real Simple, of all places - and no problems with corrosion. The size I have doesn't hold much for the spices I use often - like cumin or chili powder - but for most others, it's perfect. And, when I'm out, I just take them to the local health food store, have them weigh one for the tare, and fill up, jotting down prices. So convenient, and so much easier than searching through a cabinet full of falling down spices. (I've always meant to organize the three cases in some logical manner, like sweet / savory / spicy, but never have, so I usually just pull them all out.
This looks like a great idea. I'm going to a beach cabin late August and have just started thinking along these lines. I like judybird's idea too. Hey I like going to fishing stores.
This has been an informative string for me. Pot's and pans, knives ... etc... Thanks for getting it started.
Spices and seasonings can be a REAL challenge at a beach place...in case you are missing any spices from the kit you are bringing, one or two of these can come in handy. A product that I recently found at my local Asian grocer is Asian Home Gourmet spice pastes which come in packets..seems they would be a God send for anyone on a trip who still loves their curries, etc. I've used them 3 times on nights when I know I have meetings after work or whatever and still want a spicy or flavorful meal at home with grown son. They use no artificial ingredients or chemical flavor enhancers. I'll post the link to their website so you can look it over, though with another family along, not sure what their tastes are and if you'll all be taking turns cooking, etc. Just thought I'd offer this idea; they offer Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian spice pastes with recipes on the packet and are marked as to whether they are hot or not.
I was fortunate enough to be at a cottage about a mile's pleasant walk away from a cookery shop on Hwy 6 in Brewster, so I was able to pick up good cocoa and a meat thermometer to leave at the cottage on my last visit.
Once I had Peet's coffee, tea, and cocoa delivered at the beginning of our vacation, which rocked.