Ask A Chef: Stock up for your vacay rental

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Some friends and I are renting a house on the Cape for 2 weeks in August. We’ve only seen the house online and they say the kitchen is fully stocked with a grill, lobster pot, plates, glasses, etc., but what other cooking equipment do you think we should bring? – Kellyanne, Boston

I’ve been in your shoes Kellyanne. We rented a house that said they were “fully stocked,” and they were. They had a grill, a good selection of pots and pans, and they also had flimsy plastic utensils that had the potential to melt with one gust of hot morning breath.

Tools – I assure my culinary students that you can prepare and cook anything with a sharp knife, metal tongs, and a large saute pan. Tongs are my favorite kitchen tool by far. They grab food items – yes – but they can also act as a citrus reamer if you hold them closed and twist them into a halved lemon; they work just fine as a stirring spoon, or even as a makeshift claw to grasp and steady a saute or sheet pan when you can only find one oven mitt or dry towel.

Chef's Knife & Cutting Board

I also suggest you bring: measuring spoons and cups, if you plan to bake; a thermometer to check internal temperatures of proteins on the grill, two large serving spoons, and a sturdy whisk. Be sure to make a checklist of the tools you travelled with. This will make collecting inventory much easier upon departure.

Thermometers

Spices – A shower of Kosher salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper allow natural flavors to shine, but occasionally you crave a prod of spice. There’s a strong possibility that a rental home’s spice cabinet was stocked with care in 1983, and the jars of tasteless powders are deemed useless. Cumin and coriander are two of the most versatile spices. They’re common flavorings in Spanish, Mexican, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisines, and also contribute to a great American barbecue rub. Try seasoning a piece of tuna with salt and coriander before searing the edges – it adds a great citrus scent to the meaty fish. Or lightly brush a combination of cumin and olive oil on corn before grilling for a smoky bite that pairs really well with the sweet vegetable.

Have a wonderful vacation and I hope this helps.