Quick Recipes and Easy

Picnics: A Great Way To Explore New Food Ideas

Picnics combine two of the most enjoyable things in life – spending time with friends and loved ones, and having mouthwatering snacks to munch on. Recall for a moment the best picnics you’ve had, and inevitably the food you had comes to mind. Ensuring that, when plotting a picnic, you take something to eat with that will make the occasion memorable.

Remember to take these with!

We’ve all forgotten the bottle opener at one or other picnic, so here’s a list of don’t-forgets:
• Cloth or blanket to sit on
• Paper napkins
• Wet-wipes or a damp dish cloth, for those sticky hands and occasional spills
• Can opener, corkscrew and bottle opener.
• Salt and pepper shakers
• Any seasoning herbs or other condiments you delight in with salad
• Plastic bags to collect trash and clean up afterwards
• Sharp knife for cheese, fruit, and vegetables that need slicing.

If you haven’t done so already, invest in a custom made, quality picnic bag or basket that has cutlery, plates and glasses fitted in. Many of them come with a variety of handy items including bread boards and knives, napkins, and bottle openers. Some versions also include a basic insulated cooler pouch for cold drinks and other items. Not only do they make carrying all your picnic requirements simpler, but they make packing for a picnic a breeze, and last but not least, you’re less likely to forgot essential items, leaving you more time to plot and prepare the food!

Most picnic containers come in the form of either a backpack or a whicker basket. The choice is really up to you, if you require comfort (perhaps getting to the picnic spot is some distance away and requires a longish walk to reach) a backpack is better suited. If you’re a family of four or more but a whicker basket may be better, since they come in a variety of sizes and have more packing space than backpacks.

So what foods are excellent for picnics?

• Foods that you can eat with your hands, especially if you wont’ be sitting at tables.
• Patés, olives, an assortment of cheeses, potato chips, and salami. If you want to really steal the show, prepare your own home made dips.
• French and Italian bread, or focaccia. If you’re a connoisseur, pack a small bottle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip the bread in. Remember taste is everything, so avoid ‘standard’ bread loaves. You can also vary it with salty snack crackers.
• Fresh in-season fruit, but not ones that are messy. The best to take with are small ones such as berries, grapes, apricots, and plums. You can also vary it with small juicy vegetables such as plum tomatoes.
• Brownies, biscotti, or other tasty biscuits.
• A bottle of wine. The best wines for picnics are semi-sweet Chardonnays and Rieslings, but that of course is open to individual taste. For tee-totallers, squeeze some fresh orange juice and chill well before going. Keep chilled with ice packs.

In addition, prepare one or two tasty snacks that you can show off as your trade mark. The real art is having a flavoursome and particularly tasteful dressing, vinaigrette or marinade that spices up the taste buds. Dishes that work well include pasta salads, paté sandwiches, vegetable chips, and filled tortillas.

Give special attention to packing your food and accessories. It’s a excellent thought to pack food items separately in zip lock plastic bags, especially damp items. Pack items you don’t want to dry out or become stale in foil. Wrap breakable items such as wine glasses in a drying cloth for protection.

Charl Durand is owner of cooking-lessons-unlimited.com cooking-lessons-unlimited.com, a culinary portal website.

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