Google+ Allergy-Free Vintage Cookery: Vintage Vacation


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Vintage Vacation

Old-fashioned vacation fun at a roadside farm stand.

My memories of summer vacation as a child include lots of sandy feet, sunny waves, games of Scrabble  and food!  These days, we still visit the same wonderful places I remember as a kid, but because of our food allergies we can't punctuate them with the special "vacation foods" of my childhood.  Summer used to mean ice cream cones after the beach, and lots of lobster with corn on the cob, but no longer.  Perhaps you also find you're prohibited from enjoying fried clams (gluten), the local pizza (dairy), or those popsicles from the ice cream truck (corn syrup)??

Today I'd like to share some of our strategies for making vacation special, even with food allergies.  To me, the best part of raising my kids is sharing the memories I love with them.  As you can probably tell, I'm a big fan of vintage things, and vintage vacations are right at the top of my list!  I try to make our weeks at the beach as old-fashioned as possible, with lots of outdoor play, walks into town, bike rides to the store, playing with neighbors, card games at night on the deck, and sleeping with the windows open.  If I could fit into vintage 1950's bermuda shorts and sleeveless cotton tops, I would dress the part as well! ;)

These locations are all on Cape Cod, but the lessons here can be adapted to any special vacation spot.  Our five favorite "must-do" stops on the Cape are the beach, the bike path, a Cape Cod baseball league game, the Brewster General Store, and the Wellfleet Drive-In theater.  Of course, the locations themselves are wonderful alone, but as you well know, food is the lynchpin of socializing, and not-so-healthy food is everywhere.  Here's what we do -- please share your strategies in the comments!

The Beach

We are lucky to be able to walk to the beach in about three minutes from our cottage, so it's easy to pack a picnic and carry it right down.  Instead of the usual sandwiches (gluten) and potato salad (ugh, hot mayo!), we like to bring a buffet of fun allergy-free foods instead.

Wyndemere Beach, Harwich MA

We start with gluten-free, egg-free quick breads, like this Raspberry Banana Bread and this Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread.  Then (for protein) we make a simple trail mix featuring the kinds of nuts and seeds we can eat, but no chocolate (too messy).  One of our favorites is a blend of almonds, pistachio nuts and dried cherries!

Watermelon Salad from the farm stand

We also make sure we have lots of fruit, but instead of just plain cut fruit, we try different fun fruit salads.  The recipe pictured above comes from the Satucket Farms fruit/veggie stand in Brewster.  It's basically watermelon and blueberries, tossed with a little sugar syrup and fresh mint.  Yum!

Satucket Farms, Brewster, MA

I recently saw a similar recipe featuring peaches, blackberries, grapes and mint sugar.  Nice idea for a hot day!  Our light buffet, combined with lots of cold lemonade, is just enough to stave off seaside hunger in between building sand castles, without getting too hot and full.

Cape Rail Trail

On Cape Cod, there is a long network of old railroads that have been paved over to become wonderful bike paths.  They're smooth and flat and go for miles through gorgeous scenery including scrub pine forests, mysterious marshes, and even beach dunes.

Cape Cod Rail Trail
We are by no means professional bikers, and with young children we find we need to have a goal at the end of our bike ride to head off any complaints about the length of our ride.  One of our favorite goals is a stop at the Pleasant Lake General Store.

Pleasant Lake General Store
This charming, but tiny outpost features lots of typical snacks, but instead of rewarding ourselves with food, we each choose a special cold drink from Nantucket Nectars.  Yes, they're sugary, but it's not corn syrup that sweetens these thirst-quenchers, the flavors are fun and widely varied, and we don't get these at home so they're a real treat.  Plus, after a long bike ride in the summer, who has room for food anyway?  A cold drink is so satisfying!

Our biking treat: Nantucket Nectars!

Cape Baseball

The Cape Cod Baseball League is a summer league that features promising young college players who aspire to make it to the big leagues after graduation.  Ten teams face off daily all throughout the summer, making for excellent entertainment for vacationing baseball fans. 

Typically, baseball fans subsist on ballpark hot dogs and popcorn, but after a thorough scan of all the available food items at the summer games, we've come up with one excellent non-allergenic option.  Cape Cod potato chips!  Yes, it's just one thing to eat, but we usually go to evening games after we've already had dinner, so it's not so important to fill up (or eat something healthy!) 

A Harwich Mariner catches a low ball

Cape Cod chips are really delicious, and include only potatoes, canola oil and salt.  They do come in different flavors, which might work depending on your particular allergies and feelings about additives, but the plain ones are just right for us.  The fact that they feature "Cape Cod" in the name makes them feel more special than just any old chip!

It's a beautiful evening at the game!

Brewster General Store

A fixture in the charming town of Brewster since 1866, the Brewster Store features penny candy, souvenirs, jellies, kitchen gadgets, clothing, books, vintage metal lunch boxes, antiques, and even a real barrel of pickles!

The Brewster Store

Unfortunately, the penny candy that was once our target (even the old-fashioned brands) is now made with corn syrup instead of sugar, which puts in on the "no" list for our corn-allergic family.  

Vintage shelves and modern kitchenware

Instead, we head toward the "penny" toy aisle (which is really the dollar toy aisle) and everyone gets to pick out a little something to keep busy at the cottage.  Sure, we don't really *need* any more plastic green soldiers, but there's something about having a special summer toy that turns these minor items into the kids' best friends.  We don't have many toys at the cottage anyway, so a couple of little cars will actually get used, and used a lot, in our little space.  

It's the toys we're here for!

Wellfleet Drive-In

One of the last drive-in theaters left is in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.  Featuring the original 1950's car speakers, two movies every night, and a spiffy old-fashioned snack bar, the drive-in is the epitome of the vintage vacation.

Wellfleet Drive-In Theater
 Much to our disappointment, the snack bar is generally filled with popcorn (we can't eat corn), ice cream (can't eat dairy) and candy (there's that corn syrup again), but we always look for our saving grace....

Remember these?
 Sorbet!  As you probably know, sherbet is made with dairy, but sorbet is just fruit and sugar, so when we're lucky, we can find some deep in a refrigerated case :)

Waiting for the sun to go down

Vacations are wonderful, and vintage vacations can be even more so because they're so opposite of our daily lives -- no computers, no cell phones ringing all the time, no video games.  Just good old-fashioned fun!  We hope our tips and tricks are helpful as you plan your summer vacations ... please tell us about your strategies for allergy-free fun in the comments!

Shared with Allergy Free Wednesday at The Tasty Alternative and Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist and Hearth and Soul Hop at Premeditated Leftovers and Gluten Free Wednesday at the Gluten Free Homemaker and Allergy Friendly Friday with Cybele Pascal. 


  1. how fun!! it looks like a stellar vacation! i love drive in movies:)

  2. Thanks for sharing with Hearth and Soul! I love all of the different ideas for vacationing. And great pics!

  3. Suggestion for Cape Cod eats:

    Chatham Fish & Lobster - their fried seafood is all gluten-free! Only one in all of New England, that I know of. I've been there twice, haven't gotten sick. I'm CF and egg free as well, and I have had nothing but good experiences there. Lots of GF snacks and HFCS-free bevvys there too.

  4. How much water do I use for the watermelon salad?