Wednesday, May 22, 2013
So you wanna have a picnic?
If you've been visiting this blog for awhile now, you know that I'm a fan of a good picnic. Nothing says summertime more to me than setting up our own little island in a secluded spot outside, eating picnic food on patchwork while our bare toes skim the soft sea of green around us. I've always loved picnics and remember them as a child. Sometimes, they involved nothing more than a peanut butter sandwich in the loft of our custom swing set in the backyard, and other times, they included trips to meet Dad on his lunch break, bringing Happy Meals for us and leftover bread for the ducks by the river.
I love picnics of all kinds – quick, unplanned, easy prep picnics of sandwiches and juice boxes packed in the back of our bike trailer, post-pool picnics of pizza, hot dogs, or Tropical Sno on the swings, and sometimes, elaborate picnics with homemade summertime food and drinks. There’s something very summery and carefree about setting a picnic table, eating food out of mason jars, and reading stories outside. It makes the normal routine of mealtime a little more exciting by changing the scenery and getting away from the kitchen.
Over the course of a few summers, I've discovered I'm getting better at planning and prepping for these sorts of things and no matter what kind of picnic you have planned, there are a few go-tos I'm always sure to have on hand.
1. a good quilt. Not too big so that it's a pain to lug around, but long enough to lay on and not get itchy from the grass. The one that you see in all my pictures is from Etsy; however, I've seen beautiful quilts purchased for pennies on Ebay or from thrift stores. J.J. Cole also has picnic blankets that fold into a bag for easy transport on the go.
2. a picnic basket. I'm also eying all the cute insulated totes they now make for picnics since it seems I'm always packing my basket and a cooler.
3. fun, fancy drinks. An easy way to class up a picnic is with unique and refreshing summer cocktails. Dress up a jug of water with lemon slices, blueberries, or mint leaves, buy a cool beer, or try San Pellegrino's Limonata or Blood Orange sparkling soda. Just don't forget a bottle opener!
4. a plastic bag for your trash - in case your local park asks that you take it home with you.
5. wet wipes. A must, especially with little people.
6. sandwiches on baguettes. I like to hollow out one side of a French baguette and use that instead of regular sandwich bread. It's thicker, tastier, and won't get soggy. Last weekend, I made a pesto caprese sandwich. It was delicious and incredibly easy. Just hollow out one side of the baguette, spread some pesto on one side, then layer with sliced roma tomatoes, sliced fresh mozzarella, and basil leaves. Cut the sandwich in half or thirds, wrap tightly in parchment paper, and tie with a string to secure it in place.
7. finger foods for the littles to eat. I like to bring along fruit, trial mix, or dry cereal for Cruz, along with something for him to do so we don't eat and leave as soon as dinner is over. His Cheerios book, some bubbles, or a lift-the-flap board book work great for us.
8. Finally, I like anything that comes in a jar! I want to try these cherry crisps in a jar and love all the jar ideas in this beach picnic.
Happy Picnic'ing this summer! I would love to hear your own go-to picnic recipes and tips. And remember, when all else fails, a $5 box of pizza and some plastic dinnerware can be just as fun!