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July 06, 2008

Summer's a Picnic!

Summer's a Picnic

by Michele               

As I write this, I'm preparing for that most sublime of all summer outings, the Fourth of July picnic.  Three families are going to spread blankets on the town green in the most adorable little New England village and watch the fireworks.  That definitely calls for good food.

  A successful picnic involving kids and grown-ups is more complicated than it looks at first glance.  Food has to be portable, easily eaten with the hands, and not likely to wilt in the summer heat.  It has to be enticing for grown-ups but not completely alienate the kiddies.  (Or, heck, toss in a few PB&J's if they won't eat cilantro!)

We've decided to do cocktails, sandwiches, side dishes and desserts.  I volunteered for sandwich duty. Right now, I'm thinking three varieties, cut into halves or quarters, toothpicked and put on a plastic catering platter I have left over from some event.  Or no -- I'll bring the sandwiches on a wicker tray.  Much prettier!  How about this for the assortment?  Pulled pork on onion rolls, dilled egg salad on seven grain, and chicken with roasted peppers and pesto on -- hmm, ciabatta?  Then again, there are some awfully tempting ideas in this great list of picnic treats from the Times.

What do we need in addition to the food?  Blankets to sit on, or folding chairs if we're being ambitious.  Paper goods, or real plates if we're trying to be green (or just elegant).  A few balls and frisbees for the kids to toss around. Insect repellent.  And good weather!

What are your favorite things to bring to a picnic?


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Home-made pizza rolls stuffed with pepperoni and Italian sausage are always a big hit. And a "Harvey Wallbanger" cake for dessert is usually specifically requested....

We're becoming big fans of cupcakes in our family. Single servings (or seconds!) with no silverware needed. Plus you can make different varieties to please all palates with just one Duncan Hines box if you fill some with cream (we mixed lemon curd with whipped cream---oh, wow!) and make different flavors of frostings. Plus, if you go to your grocery store's bakery department, they have different assortments of sprinkles that aren't for sale in the baking aisle. This week, we bought a few tablespoons of red, white and blue stars for 40 cents! They looked great on chocolate cupcakes with white cream cheese frosting.

Hmm....maybe I should have a leftover cupcake for breakfast?

Okay, since Nancy stole my cupcake comment, I'm going for the cookies. The ultimate transportable, won't-go-bad-cuz-there's-no-mayo-in-them food.

I'm also fond of granola and all those energy-type bars that are high calorie, yummy, and pretend to be "hiking food."

Italian cole slaw. As Harley said, no killer mayo, and it stays crunchy.

Paula Deen's individual cheesecakes are fairly sturdy and extremely yummy.

Have fun! Fab weather for al fresco dining, if a bit muggy. At least in my picturesque corner of NH! Enjoy those fireworks.

Just back from a family reunion - what a blast!

We got glow-in-the-dark necklaces for the 4th - you can't eat them, but they're festive and you can keep track of all the kids in the dark.

Nuts are a good, portable snack. So are those Terra veggie chips - they have different seasonings now!

As far as drinks go - we are trying to be greener, so we're buying drinks in cans and bottles, which are much more easily recycled than plastic.

Definitely lawn chairs (with back support)!
The older I get, the less flexibility I have for getting up & down on blankets.
Some of the grocery stores now have cooked/ pre-slit crab claws, yum!
Baby wipes for clean ups.
And aren't coolers with wheels a great invention?

Definitely lawn chairs (with back support)!
The older I get, the less flexibility I have for getting up & down on blankets.
Some of the grocery stores now have cooked/ pre-slit crab claws, yum!
Baby wipes for clean ups.
And aren't coolers with wheels a great invention?

Mr. Typepad has the hiccups this morning?

First, a relevant cartoon --
Then, in defense of mayo -- in my "public health" class we were told it's not actually the mayo, but the other, spoilage-prone ingredients like eggs, fish, meat, etc. that cause the problem. Regardless, coolers are crucial, and throw out anything that sits out and gets warm.
I haven't picnicked in a long while, but I liked to make Tabooleh salad, cracked wheat, mint, lemon -- stayed safe for a long while. Once or twice I made Baklavah as well, but that's a BIG job.

Thanks for all the great suggestions. We had martinis, sandwiches, really great potato salad, Lays potato chips with onion dip, cupcakes and brownies. Plus lawn chairs and blankets, a frisbee, a football, and we envied the smart people who thought of the glow in the dark necklaces b/c their kids loved them! I think that pretty much covers everybody's greatest hits, except . . . what the heck is Harvery Wallbanger cake??

I Googled a recipe. I haven't made it in years, but I have fond memories of it, and of the drink, and of a variation made with sloe gin, called (if I recall correctly) "sloe screw up against a wall).

Baked beans. Mine are usually tangy and sweet.

I also love to bring cupcakes, for exactly the reasons Nancy mentioned.

Now you guys have me starving... and I have to go to the doctor and weight in in the morning! Let me go grab another glass of water :))


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