When my boyfriend and his daughter invited me to Florida to meet his parents, I got anxious--but not for the usual reasons. I dreaded the thought of eating my body weight in country-club buffets, 5 P.M. dinners and Chinese takeout.

So I came up with a plan. I packed a bottle of just-pressed Tuscan olive oil, a pouch of sea salt and my favorite vinegar, a balsamic made from apple-cider syrup (from California's Apple Farm; 707-895-2461). Mixed with chopped shallots, the ingredients make an amazing vinaigrette to pour over greens topped with Parmesan. We ate salad all weekend. The trip was a success.

Until we got to the airport. "What's this?" a security officer asked, eyeing my condiments. "No opened bottles," she ruled. "But," I pleaded, "this is the world's best vinegar and olive oil." She stood firm. Not wanting to cause trouble, I offered them to her to take home. When she told me she wouldn't know how to use them, I recited my vinaigrette recipe.

By now my companions were pretending not to know me. At last a supervisor came over. "Take a sip out of each bottle," she commanded. I swallowed a mouthful. Onlookers giggled, but on the plane, when the pathetic salad arrived with a thimbleful of neon-orange dressing, I knew the other passengers would have given anything for a few drops of my vinaigrette.