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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Frugal Kitchens 101 - The Adventurous Vacation Cook

Frugal Kitchens 101

I have been focusing on vacation kitchens for the past couple of Frugal Kitchens 101.  The Victoria Weekend aka May 24 weekend signifies two things here.  First, home gardeners strive to get their gardens planted.  Second, it is the official beginning of the camping and cottage season.  Across Canada many home cooks will be adapting to cooking outdoors possibly on an open fire or in the cramped confines of an RV or in a small cottage kitchen.  The common theme with all of these is using equipment you don't normally use.  More than likely it will involve cast-offs from your main kitchen and quite frankly this equipment is cast-off for a reason.  If you liked it, it would not be going to the cottage or camping kitchen.   This week's Frugal Kitchens 101 addresses an entirely different aspect of the vacation kitchen though.  Vacations are the perfect opportunity to take advantage of local produce, local foods and local customs.  When on vacation look for:

  • local roadside stands - Don't think just produce when checking for local farm stands.  Where we camped near Tobermory, Ontario there were several small roadside stands and homes selling locally caught whitefish.  Some sell local wild blueberries, honey and others local delicacies.  Meanwhile others sell local artwork and crafts with friendly folk that will gladly tell you where to get the best local produce.
  • local flea markets - Flea markets tend to be located in tourist type areas.  Not only do they offer great bargains on new and used items, virtually all of them have some type of bakery and produce section.  My experience has been that both selections tend to be less expensive than the local grocery stores.
  • local specialty shops - On one of our adventures we discovered the most amazing artisan bread baked in an outdoor over.  The sign was small enough to have missed it.  The bread was some of the best we have ever had and it was cheaper than store bought!  You may even find cheese factories and abattoirs in smaller towns and outlying areas.
  • local ethnic shops - There is a larger Latino population where our vacation home is which translates into savings for Latino foods.  Ethnic shops by default tend to be less expensive than grocery stores providing the perfect stocking up foods if you are able to transport them home as well.
  • factory outlets - Factory outlets are not advertised and in many cases the only way you will find them is talking to the locals.  They are well worth the stop though.  We always stop at the Dare and McCormick factory outlets when in the area.  The savings are substantial, often a third or less of what you would pay in the grocery stores.
  • know what the area is known for - Knowing what the area is known for will give you a clue as to what the cheapest food will be.  For example when we are in Wisconsin, the cheapest foods are dairy especially cheeses and milk.  When we are in Florida we get great deals on melons and citrus.  In Digby, Nova Scotia the food of choice is scallops.  These foods will be less expensive.
  • regional foods - Some foods are very much regional and that region can be quite narrow so take advantage of enjoying these foods when you can.  For example, peameal bacon is a southern Ontario delicacy not really found much anywhere else.  Boiled peanuts is very much a Georgian delicacy spanning down into northern Florida.  If you can stock up on some of these foods to bring home. Regional foods are what makes the vacation.  They may not be less expensive but if you save on your other food purchases they are well worth the expenditure buying to bring extra home. 

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