Monday, August 24, 2009

Organize a Picnic

I love picnics—not the kind that you plan for weeks for a hundred people, but the intimate impromptu kind. When my children were small, I kept an insulated bag with plates, napkins, utensils and wet wipes on a shelf. When the weather was good and the kids were antsy, I just had to whip up some food and find some drinks. A ride to a nearby park gave us all a break from the routine. If the weather turned suddenly bad, we would spread a blanket on the floor and picnic in the house.

My favorite adult picnic is crusty bread, cheese, wine and fruit, an easy combo to pull together. I sometimes do this one by myself sitting in a scenic spot and enjoying the fresh air. My grandmother’s picnic lunch was a different story. There was always fried chicken and sometimes ham biscuits, accompanied by potato salad, a green salad and homemade chocolate cake. I think my husband’s early interest in me was sustained by Grandma’s picnic baskets that accompanied us on excursions to the beach.

Whatever you choose for culinary fare, here are some hints for quickly organizing a picnic.

Have a picnic spot in mind before you pack the food and supplies. Determine if you will have to bring along something to sit on or if picnic benches are provided.

A picnic is not a barbecue. Choose finger foods that do not have to be cooked. According to WikiPedia the favorite picnic foods are peanut butter and jelly and ham and cheese sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies, chips and soda. Healthy alternatives include vegetable sticks, string cheese and juice. Include plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Remember non-food supplies. You can count on needing napkins and/or wipes to clean up. Plates and utensils are nice and plastic bags are good for storing items to bring home. You may also need a bottle opener and knife to slice fruit or bread. A trash bag is convenient for quick clean up and disposal.

Protect yourself from nature. Include bug repellant, sunscreen and a lined cloth if you are eating on the ground. Make sure foods stay fresh and do not form bacteria by keeping them cold. Purchase a small cooler on wheels to make the hike to your favorite spot easier.

Treat yourself and those you love to a picnic before the summer ends. A picnic doesn’t have to be fancy to be fun.

Beverly & Kristen

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