Tara Austen Weaver, a.k.a. Tea, is the Seattle-based author of the blog Tea & Cookies, on which she discusses cooking, gardening, traveling, reading, and writing, weaving stories into it all with a gentleness and honesty that set her apart. She is the author of the memoir The Butcher and the Vegetarian, and she has just released an e-book of stories and recipes from Japan as a fundraiser for disaster relief.
Here she tells us about food so fresh you don’t want to do much to it, her traveling tool kit, and her special “berry pot.”
Are you taking a vacation this summer? Will you have a chance to cook while there?
I try to get away a couple of times during the summer. Hopefully there is a camping or backpacking trip at some point. This year I am going to a farm for a few days to learn how to make goat cheese. And I almost always spend part of August at my family’s cabin on a small island off the coast of Canada. There are great farms on the island and the produce is gorgeous, but the kitchen is very basic. I’m usually improvising and making do. I think of it as “adventure cooking.”
In what way do you feel your vacation cooking style differs from your everyday cooking style?
Vacation cooking takes my summer cooking philosophy to the extreme. Usually the food is so fresh and lovely that I don’t do much to it. Tomatoes get a little roasting to bring out their flavor. Salads or noodles get handfuls of fresh herbs. Flavors are bright and fresh, without fussy elements that take time. Who wants to spend all day in the kitchen when the beach is calling?
Also, conditions may not support fancy cooking. Camping certainly does not, and kitchens in cabins or rental vacation houses may be basic. Though I sometimes tackle larger cooking projects while on vacation (baking something fun, or making jam or ice cream), for the most part I go for simple, easy, fresh, delicious.