Posts tagged picnics

A more comfortable picnic

Eating al fresco and generally sans table can be imposing.  Balancing a cup, plate, napkin and cutlery while trying to keep the food on your plate or in your mouth and off your person is quite the task at times.  To alleviate the balancing act and create a relaxed event for all involved, here are some tips:

Ditch the disposable plates, cutlery and cups

  • Not only is it better for the environment, sturdy plastic, acrylic, Corelle or even cheap thrift store china is better than the disposable stuff.  You can go to your local thrift store and pick up plates, cups, drinkware and silverware for pennies…literally. Because it’s so cheap and probably doesn’t match, it won’t matter if a plate gets chipped or a spoon gets buried in the sand at the beach.  Worried about clean up?  Bring a wet dishrag in a ziplock bag and wipe away most of the food from the plates before you leave your picnic area and finish the cleaning process once you get home.
  • Wine glasses are easier to balance on a plate.  With one hand you can set the wine glass on your plate and pinch the foot of the wine glass against the plate.  A good trick for cocktail parties and picnics alike!
  • I am explicitly on Team Cloth Napkin.  Buy some.  They don’t have to be expensive and you can use them in your house too.  I won’t tell.

Food should be in small pieces

  • Bite size hors d’oeuvre and “finger” foods are perfect picnic foods
  • Meat should be sliced into fork size pieces
  • There should be no need for knives at a picnic other than a knife to cut cake/cheese/fruit for communal use

Keep saucy or soggy  foods to a minimum

  • Dress and toss salads with dressing so it is evenly distributed throughout the greens
  • Try coleslaws and pasta salads with fewer wet ingredients

Really big blankets

  • The more real estate you cover with your blankets the better.  Who knows how many people might need a nap after lunch.
  • If the ground is a little soggy, grab your trusty blue tarp and then put your pretty blanket over top.
  • If you and your friends are prone to naps or have problems sitting on the ground for long periods of time, it might be useful to invest in some outdoor only throw pillows.

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A Few Thoughts on Outdoor Dining

Why is it that eating outdoors makes food taste better?

Is it the scenery, menu or the relaxed attitude that makes it more enjoyable than a high-end restaurant?

Over the past few years I have thought deeply on this quandary.  One week I will be convinced that it is the return to the earth that makes open air eating worthwhile – sand between the toes and chirping of birds add to the experience.  Other times I am certain that the mixture of sun, air and breeze adds a flavor to the food consumed.  A feast of the senses – a grand vista laid forth by God, the song of the wilderness, smell of the earth, colors of the meal, the texture of each morsel add up to a complete experience.

Other times it is the relaxed nature inherent in picnicking and the removal of artificial customs that makes dining al fresco the most enjoyable.  There are no waiters to tip, no elbows to keep off the table, and if you happen to fall asleep on the picnic blanket after the meal, just be sure not to snore too loudly.

Finally, there is something primal about breaking bread with friends and family on a blanket under the sky.  Class differences are stripped – the picnic can be an elaborate multi-course affair served with silver on china and crystal or a simple potluck brought by friends.  The occasion can be fancy – a concert at Glyndebourne with a picnic eaten in a tuxedo or a casual gathering in the nearest park enjoyed in jeans.  Nevertheless, a picnic will be memorable, whatever the menu, whatever the scenery.

Picnicking has become a passion of mine.  Here at Grazing in the Grass, I will bring you a menu a week most often derived from a theme, delivered each Thursday for a Saturday picnic and ideally much more.  I hope you enjoy the blog and  check back frequently.

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