If I had my way, we’d spend every summer in Hawaii. There’s something about the breathtaking beauty, pristine beaches and generally laid-back attitude that, to me, screams vacation.

Like any family though, one person doesn’t always get her way all the time and, for reasons I do not comprehend, not everyone feels the same way I do about our summer destinations. One son wants to camp, the other prefers a more city-oriented trip and the third one wavers between the two options. That’s not even counting my husband’s preferences.

For that reason, as well as the obvious economic hurdles that always exist when you try to take a family of five anywhere, Hawaii is seldom a realistic option. Sometimes finding the time to take any vacation at all, when all five of us have busy lives, isn’t in the cards.

When that’s the case, I opt for a kitchen vacation. I know, many of you are rolling your eyes right now, but cooking a meal that transports you to another place can be a great escape, even if it’s just for a bit, from your everyday routine.

The fun of these kinds of “staycations” is that you can get the whole family involved in the planning. First, you need to decide where you’re going, in a culinary sense. Once you’ve come to a consensus, have the kids help research the menu.

If the menu includes some exotic ingredients that require a trip to an ethnic market, that’s even better. Then you get both a “staycation” and a field trip!

Taking the kids along for the ride has a multitude of benefits:

• It lets them enjoy the getaway experience, too.

• The research process will no doubt help them learn something about your chosen culinary destination.

• Getting the kids in on the action from the beginning will help get them onboard in terms of trying the new foods you’re making.

Of course, you can have your vacation and your “staycation,” too. You don’t have to be housebound all summer to have a dinnertime adventure. If you’re looking for a quick escape to the Aloha state, try this Pineapple Teriyaki Beef. You’ll be on the shores of Waikiki the minute you smell the pineapple, soy and ginger marinated beef strips sizzling on the grill.


Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at meredith@meredithdeeds.com.