When we travel, we’re becoming more likely to do cooking for ourselves rather than eat all our meals out. Generally, our meals are pretty simple with a minimum of ingredients. I thought I’d share a few of our basic recipes here.

Grilled Asparagus

This recipe can either be done on your grill or in your oven.

Prepare your asparagus by breaking off the hard ends and rinsing.

In the oven: Set your oven to broil. Place a single layer of asparagus on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Don’t over salt and don’t use table salt. Broil for about 7 minutes, turning the asparagus about halfway through the cooking time.

On the grill: Put the asparagus on a sheet of tinfoil big enough that you will be able to totally seal the asparagus inside. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Don’t over salt and don’t use table salt. Fold the tinfoil around the asparagus to make a sealed packet. Place on the grill on a medium-low heat. Grill until fork tender.

Lisa’s Guacamole

This is my sister-in-law’s basic guide to making guacamole. Adjust as necessary for your tastes.

3 ripe avocados
1/8 cup chopped onions
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
½ plum tomato chopped
Juice from 2 limes
1 clove garlic minced
Hot sauce or chopped pepper to taste
Salt & pepper to taste

Scoop the insides out of the avocados and mash with a fork. Add other ingredients and chill. To keep from discolouring, lay plastic wrap on the top of the guacamole and press onto the top so there is no air able to get between the plastic and the guacamole. Serve with tortilla chips.

Melba’s Meatloaf

My sister and her husband lived with us for a few months after a fire destroyed their home. During that time, Melba experimented on us until she came up with the “perfect” meatloaf. This recipe is hers but I’m sure she won’t mind me sharing.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix together 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef, 3/4 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup bread crumbs or panko, 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce* and 2 beaten eggs. Using your hands, blend together all the ingredients to form a loaf. If it’s not sticking together, you can add more bread crumbs but don’t add too many or your meatloaf will end up dry. Place our loaf into a loaf pan. At home, I have a pan specifically for meatloaf that allows the grease to drip out but it’s not something I travel with.

For the sauce, you have two options. #1: Combine 4 tablespoons brown sugar with 3/4 cup ketchup until smooth. #2: Combine 4 tablespoons brown sugar with 3/4 bottle chili sauce until smooth. Spread this mixture over the loaf.

Bake in the 350F oven for approximately 75 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before draining any excess fat from the pan and slicing the the loaf.

*I know you may not be travelling with Worcestershire Sauce but I do. I need it for my Caesars!

Pork Ribs

Take your ribs and remove the silver from the back. You can cut into individual ribs if that helps for handling later. Coat with your favourite rub. We usually use Ted Reader’s Bone Dust if we are at home. It’s just an easy mix of about 14 spices.

Put the ribs into a large roast pan and cover with a combination of beer and water (60/40 or 70/30). Add slices of orange, garlic and onions layered Let soak for the day in a cool spot.

Bake in liquid in the oven for about an hour or until the ribs are pretty much done. Remove from oven and finish on BBQ. Adding your favourite BBQ sauce.

Potato Packets

Basically, you are going to layer sliced potatoes, onions and chopped garlic into a foil pan. If you don’t have a foil pan, you can make a packet with tinfoil. When you have your layers of vegetables complete, add whatever seasoning you have handy on top. My commonly used seasonings are salt, pepper, Montreal steak spice or fresh herbs. Add a tablespoon or two of butter. Seal up your packet with tinfoil. BBQ until tender.

Spicy Pasta Sauce

In a large frying pan, heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add 4 minced cloves of garlic and some red pepper flakes (I find 1/2 teaspoon is about right but you can add more/less) — do not brown. Stir in a 28 ounce can of chopped Italian tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Reduce heat and cook for 15 to 30 minutes until the sauce is the thickness you like. Serve over our favourite pasta. Of course, it’s even better if you have fresh Parmesan cheese to top your dish with.