I hate gas grills and other things I learned on vacation.

Joined Aug 9, 2010
Just got back from the OBX, and luckily missed the hurricaine, weather was perfect. Not that anyone cares but here are some things I learned while cooking away from home-

1- I hate gas grills. The rental house we stayed in had a gas grill- It was horrible. Besides the fact that the grease trap hadn't been emptied in uh ever, it just didn't get hot enough. And the food just lacked the smokey flavor one gets  from charcoal. Probably should have picked up one of those smoke boxes for wood chips, but it is what it was.

2- Crab cakes rock, but the corn was a bad Idea. Made some crab cakes, didn't have much green pepper, so added some corn. Flavor was good, but apparently if one fries corn in oil it pops shooting hot oil at one.

3- As much as I hate gas grills I hate dull knives more.The knives at the rental house were about as sharp as the side of a fork. After sharpening them using the can opener (i'm not kidding, stop laughing) I was able to actually cut stuff instead of crush it, kinda.

4- I have no Idea why I live in upstate NY, seriously it was 80 degrees in September.

5- I dislike electric ranges- I missed my gas stove.

6- Good results are easier with superior components. Fresh seafood is the greatest medium, well except maybe lamb, depends on the mood.

7- Sharks are scary looking, unless they're cut into steaks.

8- Crabs are way more fun to catch than fish (subjective opinion)

9- Clams dig into sand at  much higher rate than I thought possible.
Joined Aug 21, 2009
I'm with you on hating gas grills.  I'm used to charcoal and nothing beats the flavour that comes from cooking over coals. 

I have one of those can openers that has the knife sharpener thing on the back.  I didn't buy it.. I inherited it from my mom's kitchen.   I've never used the sharpener function though so I can't say how good or bad a job it does.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
TBN, if you think about it, what you hate are vacation rental properties. All your enumerated points can be summed up that way. Especially when you're there at the end of the season.

I sympathize. But it's also why I have a travel kit that includes my own cutlery and other cooking tools.

As somebody new to gas grills, I have to play devil's advocate. I used to swear I'd never have one, that they were no different than cooking in the house, etc. etc. After using one this whole summer, I've been forced to change my mind.

No, they are not the same as cooking on charcoal. But they're not the same as cooking on the indoor stove, either. Both charcoal and gas have benefits and disadvantages, and, once you learn which makes the most sense in any particular application, you get the best of both worlds.

BTW, in my experience so far, one of those wood-chip containers wouldn't have mattered. They do not, on a gas grill, produce enough smoke to make any difference in the flavor of the food. Alas.

And, as to temperature, that really is a function of the make and model. Mine has no trouble reaching 450F on its built-in thermometer.

Anyway, sounds like you had a good time. Of course, it's hard not to on the Banks.


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Next time you are out of a knife sharpener flip over a plate and use the rough ceramic edge on the base.
Joined Aug 26, 2010
Did you get to watch a clam dig into the sand, or did you only get to see the results?  I figure I could sit and watch one for hours if it actually did anything worth watching (like digging). 

Sharks are only scary when they're alive.

Oh, yeah, um, thanks for the invite on the awesome vacation.  /img/vbsmilies/smilies//frown.gif
Joined Feb 1, 2007
OK, in no particular order, a couple of thoughts:

8- Crabs are way more fun to catch than fish (subjective opinion). They sure can be. On our last OBX trip we fished seriously all of one day (surf casting right outside the door doesn't count as serious). Reason: Friend Wife discovered the joys of crabbing, so that's how we spent a lot of our time. The upside: She also discovered that she likes picking crab. So, yeah, it was a win-win situation---even though the Spanish were running. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/frown.gif

4- I have no Idea why I live in upstate NY, seriously it was 80 degrees in September. The grass is always greener. Most of us who have been living with it are rather tired of summer. 87F yesterday, predicted 84F today. Enough already.

6- Good results are easier with superior components. Fresh seafood is the greatest medium. Ain't that the God's own truth! Did you ever find that seafood place I told you about?

7- Sharks are scary looking, unless they're cut into steaks. I'd have to disagree. I think sharks are the ultimate in design, with form following function in the most efficient and aesthetically pleasing way. Did you get to see any porpoise while there? They're almost always around, often mere feet off shore.

9- Clams dig into sand at  much higher rate than I thought possible. Run, run, run as fast as you can....... Did you try and catch any of those tiny sand crabs? Talk about fast!
Joined Aug 9, 2010

It wasn't so much the rental property (which was mostly very nice) but rather the kitchen that came with it. It did have 2 dishwashers, which originally seemed overkill, but cooking for 7 people, was kinda nice. The travel kit is a good idea. I packed all the spices, but didn't think to bring knives, spatulas etc. Course all the pans are Teflon so my metal spatulas wouldn't be usable anyway.

As to the seafood market, we stayed in Salvo which is a ways down Hatteras. Unfortunately when we were driving in it was 8pm and everything was closed. Well except Harris Teeter- which you are right is very nice. We ended up hitting a fish market on the way back from a day-trip to Okrakoke in the town of Hatteras. We took a card but seem to have lost it, but it is a family business and mom sells the seafood the boys caught. Very helpful and knowledgeable. Plus they had a bumper sticker that said "friends don't let friends eat imported shrimp."

Those sand crabs are cool to watch. Kids tried to catch em, never got close.

I don't disagree on the shark thing, but that doesn't change the fact that if I had to design a demon for a horror movie I would start with sandbar shark eyes. Straight up razor blades with gills.

As far as the too much summer thing, don't make me come over there...


We actually dug some clams up and then watched one burrow into the sand, and surprisingly fast.
Joined Sep 5, 2008
Originally Posted by the-boy-nurse  ../../../img/forum/go_quote.gif
apparently if one fries corn in oil it pops shooting hot oil at one.
Could it be that it depends on the temp of the oil? I've made some corn fritters in the past and never had that problem.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
The thing about vacation rentals is that no matter how nice they may otherwise be, the kitchen is second rate. Two main reasons for that.  First, most people on vacation in places like OBX eat out more than they cook. Second, given that, kitchens are stocked with a minimal of gear, usually of the cheapest kind. Oh, and a third thing: Count on the place having an electric stove rather than gas. But, again, catering to their market, they usually have great microwaves.

So, anyone who intends doing serious cooking needs to plan on bringing their own gear. I have a tool box that permanently holds my on-the-road untensils and some cutlery. These are dedicated tools that never leave the box. I then supplement with additional stuff I think I'll need, including knives. I would love to have a complete set of cutlery dedicated to travel, but economically cannot justify it. So I'll grab at least one chef's knife, a slicer, and a couple of paring and utility knives. Plus, almost always, a filet knife.

Knowing I can depend on the rental unit to have inexpensive, non-stick aluminum cookware, I always pack a couple of skillets at a minimum (one stainless and one carbon or cast iron), and whatever pots I think I'll need. For places like OBX and Maryland's Eastern Shore, where I know crabs will be on the menu for sure, I bring a stock pot for cooking them.

Depending on when, where, and for how long, we might pack a portable charcoal grill as well.

It should go without saying that a basic selection of herbs and spices is carried with us.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
In case anyone can benefit from it, here is the list of goodies that permanently reside in my travel kit.


Obviously, while many of these items will be essential to any traveling cook (do not, repeat not, forget the can opener), others are important to me but may not meet your needs. But this can give you an idea of directions to go if you decide to assemble your own kit.


Everything in my travel kit fits nicely in a Plano tool box with a single lift-out tray and large main compartment. If you're more obsessed about organization, check out some of the larger fishing tackle boxes and their adjust-a-size compartments.

  1. Knife sleeves. One for every knife I’m likely to take. Although not all the knives would go on every trip, this is a convenient place to store the sleeves.
  2. Bamboo skewers, in two sizes. Why carry them? Because, although skewers are available everywhere, they never seem to be available when you need them.
  3. Seafood picks.
  4. Seafood mallets.
  5. Lobster cracker.
  6. Oyster knives.
  7. Filet knife.
  8. Fish scaler.
  9. Non-slip gloves.

A note on #3-9. Most of our vacation trips are oriented around seafood, one way or another. Often enough this means we are fishing, crabbing, or otherwise gathering our own. So we are, obviously, heavy on seafood prep needs.

  1. Meat mallet
  2. Bench scraper
  3. Vegetable scrub brush.
  4. Can opener
  5. Full set of measuring cups.
  6. Full set of measuring spoons.
  7. Set of tongs.
  8. Vegetable peeler
  9. Corkscrew.
  10. Marinade injector
  11. Small ball of butcher’s twine
  12. Small jar of Bar Keeper’s Friend.
  13. Assorted ring molds.
  14. Large mixing/serving spoons (2).
  15. Slotted spoon.
  16. Ladles (2 sizes).
  17. Metal spatulas (2)
  18. Silicon spatulas (2)
  19. Knife sharpener.
  20. Matches.
  21. Kitchen shears.
  22. Micro-plane grater.
  23. Melon baller.

justin abare hoyt


A Japanese mandolin might be a nice addition to that kit. I bring mine everywhere and always find a way to use it. Great tool.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
Absolutety, Justin.

I don't claim mine is an all-inclusive list; not by a long shot. It's just the dedicated stuff that lives in the tool box all the time. I add to it, as necessary, for any particular trip. For instance, if I think I'll be doing large cuts of meat or birds, I might toss-in a pair of those lifting forks.

There are tools, too, that I like to have but which don't fit in the box I'm using. A mandoline would be one of them. I also have a self-standing, multi-sided micro-plane grater that's in the same category.

The whole point, of course, is to put together a travel box with the tools you think you'll need, keeping in mind that it's not just for vacations. I grab mine anytime I'll be cooking someplace else.
Joined Apr 3, 2010
Reason there were 2 dishwashers in because that part of NY vacation land(Upper Sullivan and Albany county ) attract many people of the Jewish faith who bring their own dishes and silver and wash dairy and meat meals seperatly.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
I reckon you're a little confused, Ed. The OP is from that part of New York, but was vacationing on the Outer Banks of North Carolina (OBX).

Reason there were two dishwashers, in this case, is because these are large rental units, often taken by groups of ten, 12, or more adults. Or two or three families. So they need enough cleaning ability to handle the crowd, or they'd run out of dishes pretty quick.  
Joined Aug 21, 2009
Thanks for posting your toolbox list, KYH.  We go to Woodstock often to visit my inlaws and more than once I've found myself cooking in someone else's kitchen and was wishing their kitchen had the tools mine does!  I never thought of bringing a toolbox along just because I don't want to offend them (what.. their stuff isn't good enough for me?) it would make sense especially when I find out after I get there that oh... they need me to make XYZ sorry they forgot to include me in that discussion so I have to make due with whatever they have for equipment and well ... let's just say that most of them do not cook. They heat up stuff.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
and more than once I've found myself cooking in someone else's kitchen and was wishing their kitchen had the tools mine does! 

Been there, done that, on more than one occasion, Leeniek. The fact is, though, that most home kitchens are woefully under supplied when it comes to basic tools and cookware. Knives, in the typical North American household, will cut butter on any August day. So I bring my own. If I'm going to do a good job, I need the right tools.

I don't worry about hurting their feelings, though. If they expect me to cook, and then get their noses out of joint because I brought my own tools, there's something wrong with them.

If that ever happens, ask them if they get upset when the plumber, who came to fix the leak, brings his own tools. If they really push it, and actually ask, "what's the matter, my stuff not good enough," I'd smile sweetly and respond, "you betcha!"
Joined Aug 21, 2009
Oh KYH that would be my inlaws... there is alot of rivalry between the H kids and the K kids (mother in law lost her first husband very young and remarried and had hubby and his younger brother) and alot of the H kids are of the feeling that new is better.  Hubby is a K kid.   They can't get their heads around the fact that hubby and I love our 130+ year old house and will not trade it for their spanking new crapshacks  that they're already having troubles with.   They also don't get it when they are complaining that their stainless steel frypan sticks so i tell them to season it and it will be fine (and yes I do a step by step seasoning info thing) and still they want freaking tfal teflon for everything.  They don't get food and i doubt they ever will.. shoot me now..
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