Blankets, baskets and bugs are to picnics what sauce and freshly-grated cheese are to spaghetti; synonymous. They just go together. Picnics require accessories; in other words, "stuff." I got me some picnic "stuff." I have vintage picnic baskets, wicker market baskets from Europe and fancy picnic backpacks too. I even have a picnic table with an attached bench. I am telling you. I got STUFF! That said, where is my stuff? Until recently, when I pulled out my stuff and used it decorate WFMZ Channel 69's kitchen for a recent appearance I made, it was shoved in a closet. Why? because like any red-blooded American I like stuff but I don't want to go to the trouble of using it. Simply put. I am lazy.
Usually, when preparing for a picnic, I store my food in plastic and (dah) disposable containers, place them in a banged-up, old, unattractive ice chest and put the extra yummies (chips, candy, crackers, chips) into plastic grocery bags and head out to battle the bugs and the elements. We bring games, maybe a frisbee or a ball and mitts along with something to keep our dog, Lollipop, safe such as food and water bowls, a dog stake and her leash. (I do my best to remember sunscreen and bug spray.) Possibly an umbrella is involved... NO MORE being lazy for me! I WILL dress up my table with a cloth and flowers! I will pack pretty, albeit, disposable tableware and light candles too. I tell you, I will! Phew! That was cathartic!
Dressing a table and making it inviting show people you care and makes them feel special. Arranging pretty food in an attractive way does not take much extra effort... Instead of just tossing food into containers, place it. When you slice your grilled chicken, think about how you are slicing it and then pack it so its integrity remains. You spent the time to prepare the food so display it in a way that shows it off. If you don't have flowers growing at your home, send your guests and the kids out to gather up some elements from the picnic space and use those to decorate the table. In the Fall for example, fallen leaves and branches are colorful and free. If the weather is bad, have a carpet picnic. Family and friends matter. Moments matter. Don't waste an opportunity to make a moment and thus a memory.
For some fun and easy picnic recipes you can do ahead, visit my Recipes Page.
Avid home cook and passionate instructor