As the mother of seven and the grandmother of eleven I think I’ve heard the phrase, “What’s for dinner?” at least a million times. Yet, it’s the last thing I want to hear during a trip to Oceanside, California. Most people go on vacation to get away from the day-in-and-day-out drudgery of their lives. Moms need that break too. When I’m spending time at our beach house I don’t want to be tied to the kitchen but I also love my family and really want to make them happy. Porters love to eat. It’s a big part of all our social events. We love to sit around a big table with lots of good food, visiting, talking and sharing the goodies. I’ve had to learn, over time, how to compromise between my desire for a vacation and my family’s desire to have great food.
This is how I do it:
I MAKE BREAKFAST. Anyway everyone thinks I make breakfast. What I really do is prepare all the fixings and then I let my family make their own breakfast. For example: We love waffles. Not just ordinary waffles. We love waffles with every kind of topping you can think of. We call it a Waffle Bar. What I do is make the batter. I also set out all the toppings my family likes. It is usually the grandchildren that come down first. My children know that this is ok with me so they like to have a “sleep in” and send their children down to eat with Nana & Papa. When a young child arrives I just say with a happy face, “Would you like to make yourself a waffle?” I hand them a paper cup full of waffle batter and they add spoonfuls of toppings, like nuts, bacon bits, chocolate chips, blueberries, marshmallows or shredded coconut. Papa helps them pour it all into our double waffle iron. Two at a time watch excitedly until the blue light comes on to tell them their waffle is done. Papa helps them carry it to the table where again they find more toppings like butter, syrup, whipping cream, strawberries, etc. Some like it loaded up and some like it simple but everyone enjoys. It doesn’t matter what time people come down to breakfast they will find a happy face offering them some waffle batter. Then I clean it all up and go for a walk on the BEACH. I repeat this same pattern each day with a different breakfast menu. Some other ideal vacation “Breakfast Bar” ideas are Omelette Bars, Oatmeal Bars, Yogurt, Granola & Fruit Bars, Bagels & Cream Cheese Bars. Don’t worry about left over toppings. It is amazing how Waffle toppings can turn into Oatmeal toppings the next day.
I DO NOT MAKE LUNCH. Our beach house is surrounded by lots of quaint Mom & Pop style restaurants within walking distance. What is a vacation anyway without eating some of the local foods. I always leave lunch open for this purpose. I do keep sandwich materials and a few frozen pizzas in the house for a quick lunch on the beach.
SNACK ARE A MUST!!! We try to always keep easy snacks available: Fruit, microwave popcorn, yogurt push-ups, pop cycles, fishy crackers, etc. If it’s not in the house there’s always PAPPY’S, our local convenience market just one block away or the grandchildren’s favorite THE RED CUP, a local frozen yogurt shop. Craving ice cream? Stop in at the DAIRY QUEEN or get an amazing shake or malt at the end of the Oceanside Pier in RUBY’S.
DINNER IS A GROUP EFFORT. I’m a very lucky woman because I’m married to a man that likes to cook. He has set this example so my children, all adults now, and their spouses have the ability to cook. For dinner we all make the meal together. Clean up is done the same way. No one is upset if someone goes out to dinner. We always try to remember we are on vacation by keeping things simple and remembering that nothing has to be set in stone. The purpose of a family vacation is to have a good time together. I usually try to reward them by doing a little babysitting so they can head out to the movies at the Royal Theaters just a short walk away.
I have just one last suggestion for the Oceanside vacationing Mom. Close the Kitchen on Thursdays and have everyone eat at the two local Farmers Markets. For times and details visit http://mainstreetoceanside.com/Events/FarmersMarket/FarmersMarket.html and http://www.localharvest.org/oceanside-sunset-market-M19313 . ENJOY!