Cooking on Vacation by Sarah McColl

This is part of a series of Q&A’s about cooking on vacation. The complete list of posts in this series is available here.

Sarah McColl is a senior editor at Yahoo! Shine and the very lovable writer behind Pink of Perfection, a lifestyle blog on which the Dallasite-turned-Brooklynite discusses everything a girl needs to feast, delight and flourish. She does so with a gracious and insightful touch that makes readers feel she and they could be the best of friends, and a visit to her site always leaves me refreshed and nurtured. Also, wouldn’t she be perfect to play Joan Holloway‘s younger sister?

Here she tells us about cocktail hour on the deck, barbecued rattlesnake, and cold-press coffee.

Are you taking a vacation this summer? Will you have a chance to cook while there?

We have been looking forward all summer to our vacation in Washington’s San Juan Islands, but it’s our first vacation where we will be staying in a rented house and cooking most of our own meals. Right now my vision is to keep things really simple: putting my husband to work on the grill, sandwiches, roast chicken on cool nights, cheese and crackers, simple salads. It will be an experiment and adventure!

In what way do you feel your vacation cooking style differs from your everyday cooking style?

I think I expect my everyday cooking to do a lot more than sate my hunger. I want it to be pleasurable, to set me right again after the indignities of the workday. The cooking quiets me and the eating brings our family together. But it’s a lot to demand from a meal! I think there are fewer expectations on vacation. When you’ve been lucky enough to spend the day reading in a hammock or swimming in a lake, dinner doesn’t need to be the highlight of the day in the same way.

The entire vibe of this vacation is going to be low-key and relaxed, so I can see us picking up a few things at a farmer’s market, packing sandwiches for picnics or making dinner an extended cocktail hour: put out some cheese and crackers, pour a glass of wine and call it a day. On the other hand, once we’ve had a few days to relax, we might feel like getting ambitious again. We’ll see!

Are there utensils or ingredients you always take with you when you go on vacation? If so, what are they? If not, what do you unfailingly regret not taking?

Here’s why I’m grateful for this Q&A: I’m not sure it would have occurred to me to bring anything! I think this vacation will probably help me learn what to bring next time. That said, a friend of mine travels with his own knives, which I found sort of diva-ish at first, but seems like a good idea. Would it be insane to bring a travel size bottle of St. Germain for cocktail hour on the deck?

What is your best vacation cooking memory, as a child or an adult? And your worst?

Few thing are as appealing to me as the hungry, exhausted feeling after a day of swimming. Everything tastes delicious then. When I was little, my mom would pack simple picnics that we’d eat on the deck of the municipal pool to the sounds of splashing and the spring of the diving board. And at my grandmother’s house in Massachusetts, a neighbor farmer used to roar up the driveway in his pickup in the late afternoon to deliver plastic grocery sacks filled with just-picked corn. They’d go straight into the pot of boiling water for a couple minutes, and we’d eat them on the front lawn with butter and salt and pepper.

Worst memory? During a weekend in the Poconos, my husband went to pick up steaks from a butcher shop and came home with rattlesnake. Like, just a big ole rattlesnake to saute. Thankfully, when the rattlesnake was a gristly bust, he pulled out a couple of rib eyes.

Do you have a tip or saving-grace recipe that makes your kitchen life easier while on vacation?

I think it’s going to be all about the cold-press coffee while we’re on vacation. I’m a little particular about my morning coffee, but this method can be pulled off with no specialty equipment and the cheapest grocery store coffee and still somehow manages to produce exquisite, chocolatey results. It’s like magic.

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