Monday, June 13, 2011

SweetMakes: Beautiful Picnic in the Err.. rest stop.

There's just something about a picnic that really excites me. When I was in college I used to grab old copies of The Times fashion section, stop by a local grocer for cold sesame noodles and a Jamaican lemonade and sit in the park. As I've gotten older I think I have darn near perfected the picnic. 

About a week ago I planned a special picnic for our family on the Boston greenway as my son and I were going to see the Edward Gorey exhibit. I had heard threats of rain but decided to head to the city anyway. Little did I know the warnings of rain were more warnings of a tornado. We decided to head towards home but were stopped by serious warnings and camped out for our picnic at a rest stop.  A few hours later western mass was in a shambles after a vicious tornado. Luckily, we were safe and our home was entact when we returned but many west of us lost it all. If you are interested helping those affected by the tornado please click here

Despite the rest stop picnic I have pulled together some top tips for picnicking on a budget:

Building a lovely cheese sandwich 
Our rest stop picnic! 

  • Do scout your picnic spot prior to picnicking. ( Think: do they have restrooms, are there interesting things to look at ( birds, wildlife, people etc.)  Your back yard can offer a wonderful picnic space! ( best of all it's close to your kitchen) 
  • Don't spend money on a picnic basket. Head over to your local thrift store and look for the biggest sturdiest basket you can find. It'll do nicely! Place your picnic blanket over the top to protect your food, linens and flatware. 
  • Don't be afraid to be overly decadent. Remember china can be used outside! Think chocolate cake on pretty plates with a real fork.

  • Pack extra baggies for dirty flatware. Wrap dirty plates in cloth napkins and place in a bag. 
  • When picnicking with a toddler plan accordingly- pack their space saver highchair to keep them in one place while eating. Be sure to pack them some yummy food too if you are making more of an adult menu. Bring a ball for exercise after dessert! 
  • On a budget? Try making some ice tea. You can spice up regular old orange pekoe tea with a little fruit and lemon. Add honey or agave for a sweet treat. Pack it in a mason jar for a rustic look.  
  • When planning your menu look through your shelves and fridge before heading to the store then pick one thing you want as a treat.  For our picnic I purchased a demi baguette to make our sandwiches extra special. Cost: 99 cents! 
  • Use interesting mustards, spices and fresh herbs to dress up the boring cheese sandwich. I am in love with sweet pepper relish on cheese sandwiches. 
  • Slip veggies in your sandwich like cukes, banana peppers, even pickles! 
  • Two words: Cloth napkins. 
  • And lastly: If things don't go your way i.e. the weather  conks out, don't fret, there is always another beautiful day around the corner for a picnic. 

Yummy pasta salad, cheese on baguette, pepper chips 
A happy toddler

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