Ideal Travel Spice Kit???
I'm travelling to Hawai'i in 10 days, and want too put together a travel herb and spice kit so I can avoid stocking my rental condo with completely new stock. I'll be mostly cooking fresh local fish, maybe some steaks, veggies as catch can.
I'm thinking heavy 1/2-size ziplocks for most things, but am open to old 35mm film cannisters.
What all would you take and in what?
I have no idea what size spice jars you use at home, but very few of mine are super large economy size so if I were in your situation I would just go through my spices, pick out the ones I use most often and take them with me. The jars aren't that big, I know they won't spill, and I will be bringing them back home with me so there will be absolutely no waste. I'd worry a lot more about what kind of pots and pans I'll have to use when I get there!
There are some places like Whole Foods and camping stores that sell some fairly nice dry vegetables and fruits. Aside from the expense issue, I always take some spices and herbs, dry veggies and fruits along with oatmeal and rice when we travel. Nice for a quick snack in our room, a little stew, or a fast hot breakfast of oatmeal.
Pack the things you normally use on a regular basis at home; you can buy very small zip top bags in some party supply or other similar stores or order here: http://www.gtzip.com/. They are less bulky than film containers.
If it were me, I'd pack Italian seasoning blend, Jerk seasoning blend, some type of fish seasoning/Old Bay, a couple of different dried chiles, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, kosher salt, black pepper, thyme, grated & dried lemon rind (I make mine fresh) and or/dried citrus peels (again, I just peel the skins and allow to air dry). These are great stuffed in a fish to roast or ground into a marinade for seafood, chicken, pork & veggies. If you have access to a food dehydrater, consider drying thin pieces of garlic, ginger, scallions, onions, tomatoes and other veggies that you might want to take.
I'm not sure if you realize, but food prices in Hawaii are expensive so I'd suggest taking as much pantry items as you could; olive oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar wrapped really well will not take up much space in your checked luggage and even if you do have to pay for an extra piece of luggage, it will be less expensive to bring the things you can than to pay nearly double in the market once you got there. JMO....And, you'll have a bag to bring home souvenirs. Have a great trip!
Personally, I'd pack cumin, thyme, rosemary, chili flakes, dill, mustard powder, pepper and salt as the first set (all ground for convenience). If you like Indian food, then I'd add cumin and coriander. Basically, concentrating on seasonings with strong, distinct flavours, that are pretty versatile to use. Then when I got there, I'd buy fresh lemon, green onions, garlic, fresh ginger, some butter, a small bottle of olive oil, and a small bottle of soy sauce, and a small bottle of red wine vinegar.
From there you could do steak with a chili-cumin-pepper-mustard rub, or marinated with crushed garlic and olive oil. Or fry onions and mushrooms, and deglaze the pan with wine. Or buy yoghurt, and cook with Indian spices, onion and garlic for a nice curry.
For fish, you could do it very simply with butter and lemon, or browned butter, or thyme or dill as flavourings. Or take a whole fish, dice green pepper and onions, and rub all over with the veggies, olive oil, chili flakes, salt and fresh lemon juice, and bake. Or bake in foil with ginger, green onions and a bit of soy. Or buy some coconut milk and go for a nice south Indian curry.
For veggies, dill, rosemary and thyme go well with a variety. You can get fresh basil at the store, and do sauteed beef and zucchini with onions and basil. Or a stirfry with garlic and ginger.
Plus, with olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard powder, garlic and thyme, you've got a very nice vinaigrette for salads.
Go down to the local drugstore or Walmart and buy yourself one of two of the biggest pillminders you can find in the pharmacy department. You know, the ones they use to help seniors keep track of what pills to take on what day. It should be about a dollar each.
You now have a lightweight plastic box with 7 (or 14, 21, or 28) compartments that open individually, and hold somewhere around a tablespoon of dry ingredients --IME, more than enough for a week of cooking -- take two if you're in doubt..
Put a different spice in each compartment, then lay a piece of plastic wrap over the open segments, then close the lids over the top of the plastic wrap (this is important, unless you like cinnamon-garlic blend. Not that that happened to me or anything).
Then wrap the whole thing in another layer of plastic wrap or pop it in a big ziploc.
You have all your common herbs and spices with you, in a container that's cheap enough to throw away if you need the weight or space, but doesn't take up a lot of room or weight.