20 Jul fabulous find friday: spices to go – cooking for your family on the road
Obviously we can’t bring our entire spice rack from home everywhere we go on vacation – wouldn’t that be awesome! So when our family goes camping, backpacking or rents vacation houses, I use this travel hack to pack spices. Buy one or two dollar store pill organizers to use for storing your favorite spices and salts to use in your kitchen away from home. For the small number of meals, you can pack a punch of flavor without having to buy new bottles and save on luggage space.
My husband ALWAYS likes to comment on how much I pack, especially when camping. But who doesn’t need the reclining chairs, camp coffee maker and platform air bed? A girls needs her comfort right?!? The one thing I can rely on to save space though, are these awesome and inexpensive containers that work perfectly for organizing spices for any meal of your liking. You can label the compartments with a sharpie to keep track. You wouldn’t want to dump in the paprika and later realize it was cayenne!
When going on vacation, we usually rent homes or condos that have a kitchen. With kids especially, it’s not all that fun to eat out all the time, watching them always go for the kids menu – even when they are semi-adventurous eaters at home. Not to mention the cost associated with restaurant or fast food meals. I’d rather save the money on meals, and use that towards nicer accommodations. Using this hack to pack spices, I can skip buying expensive bottles that I won’t use all of and the hassle of packing spice jars.
What Spices to Pack for Vacation
With your destination in mind, it’s time to get creative. Is a beach-side grill and fresh fish in your future? Burgers over coals? An unknown kitchen? Based on where your going and the foods you think you’ll be cooking, think of the most useful spices you can bring.
Don’t Forget the Salt!
You can make anything taste better with salt. So remember it! If you’re picky about salt like I am, and only use table salt as a last resort, remember to pack your favorite kind. When I was recently in Utah I learned about a sea salt that was mined from an ancient seabed which is now underground and protected from modern pollutants. It’s similar to Himalayan and Hawaiian and completely addictive. I did a salt tasting comparing it to a bunch of other ones, including Diamond Kosher Flakes which I use regularly, and this ‘Real Salt’ won my vote for favorite.
Another way I maximize the usefulness of my travel spice rack, is to create spice blends. For burger and steak seasonings, I mix up a small batch at home and fill it in these containers. It takes out all of the guess work, which can he helpful when the chef might have enjoyed a beer or two before cooking. I have yet to post my recipes, but if you don’t have a favorite, there’s lots on the interwebs, like this one from Christina at It’s a Keeper. Generally, these seasoning recipes call for 1 tablespoon for dish, which is perfect because the containers fit just over a tablespoon.
Eat Your Veggies
I love ranch style dressing for my salads and to dip veggies. I make my own copy cat dill-garlic one with greek yogurt which is based on a wing restaurant in Toronto that I’d frequent regularly (St. Louis Wings) because I miss it so much.
Salad dressing and dip seasonings also usually call for one tablespoon per batch, so they pack nicely in your travel spice rack. If you need to save time, transfer store bought mixes into your spice rack. There’s a huge variety of recipes available for ranch dressing online like this one from Hayley at Health Starts in the Kitchen.
If you know me, you know my favorite drink of all time is a Bloody Caesar. While many Americans might not be familiar with it, it’s the Canadian equivalent of a Bloody Mary, and far superior I might add in terms of flavor and texture (less gritty and thick than a Bloody Mary and more umami). Like a Bloody Mary, a Caesar is traditionally rimmed with celery salt, though can be spiced up with the Mexican Spice Tajin or Japanese Togarashi. Either way, I don’t leave home without it, and has a permanent residence in my travel spice rack. I have also been known to just take one of the top container of this pill organizer on the plane with me to dress up my Bloody Mary while in the air (along with a miniature bottle of tabasco of course – those drinks on the plane are never as spicy as I need :). If you’re curious, check out Dara’s recipe from Cooking Canuck. You can find Clamato in most U.S. Grocery Stores – I like the Spicy version.
Even if you’re not into Bloodies, cinnamon can be a great addition to coffee, hot chocolate or other drinks, and a welcome addition to travel spice rack.
Hopefully now the spice rack of your mind is full of ideas of the endless combinations you can bring along on your next camping trip or vacation to another kitchen. The next time you’re at the dollar store checkout, why not pick up one of these and see what you can create in the kitchen away from home with this cool travel spice rack? Let me know what you think, or what your meal ideas are in the comments below.