Comprised from The Prepared Pantry Magazine “Country Home Kitchen.” To sign up for a free subscription to the magazine click here
It’s a beautiful summer evening; perfect for a picnic. But after a challenging day at the office, you just don’t have the energy to pull it off. There’s an easier way.
In the summertime, we keep two large plastic tubs with everything (non-perishable) that you might need on a picnic-from paper supplies, to a first aid kit, to matches, to seasonings. Grab your checklist (there is one to the right to get you started) and check off everything that is not perishable that you might use. Stick it all in a plastic tub or two. Now all you have to do after that hectic day at the office is grab the perishables from the refrigerator and you’re ready to go.
Our daughter and son-in-law go one step further. They keep a small barbeque grill in the back of their pickup. They also have binoculars for watching game or birds. Be sure to have jackets stashed somewhere for those evenings when the weather changes or cools off unexpectedly.
We also suggest keeping picnic and camping items in large containers in the corner of your garage where you can grab them in a moment and be ready for an outing.
Top tips for a great picnic
- Everyone likes to lounge on a picnic blanket but sometimes the ground is wet. Bring along a plastic tarp to put underneath the blanket. The tarp will last many years if kept out of the sunlight and can be hosed clean at home if needed.
- Pick your picnic spot strategically. If mosquitoes are a problem, choose a higher, drier spot that is in full sun and exposed to a breezemosquitoes have trouble in the wind and don’t like heat. On the other hand, if staying warm is a problem, choose a spot exposed to the sun and protected from cool breezes. If it’s hot, pick a spot that will be in the cool of the shade in the hottest part of the afternoon.
- Think safety. If you have kids along, make sure there are no hazards nearby: busy roads, deep water, or cliffs.
- Don’t forget the tablecloth. Inexpensive plastic coated ones make great picnic equipment, especially with kids.
- Speaking of kids, don’t forget paper towels for those spills and cleaning wipes to cleanse dirty hands and faces. Put a dry towel and a wet washcloth on your list. Stick the wet washcloth in zip-lock bag.
- Bring plenty of liquids. Active kids playing in the hot sun need to be reminded to drink. Water is the best hydrator but consider juices and slushes. Try mixing soda pop with juicehalf juice and half soda- or try freezing punches or juices to a slush to take along in the cooler.
- Include fruit in your picnic basket. It keeps well, it’s nourishing, and it’s refreshing. Often fruit satisfies a craving for something sweeter. Add fruits and fruit pieces to green salads and turkey or chicken salads.
- Bring along a cutting board and a couple good knives. You’ll be surprised at how often you will use them. Cutting boards are especially useful if you are without a picnic table. The hard plastic types are great for picnics. For cleanup, just stick the cutting board in the dishwasher when you get home.
- Perishable foods must be kept cold. Bacteria grow best above forty degrees and it takes plenty of ice in a cooler to keep foods below forty degrees. Perishable foods should only be allowed to remain above forty degrees for a couple hours.
- Stick a first aid kit in the car and leave it there all summer. If you have kids, chances are you will need it. Likewise, keep sunscreen and calamine lotion in the car.
- In the heat of the summer, be prepared for a summer thunderstorm. Know the rules of lightning safety. Be prepared to retreat to a place of shelter. Waiting out a summer storm is much more pleasant with a few good books or a game the family enjoys.
- If you are going into the mountains or woodsoff the beaten trackbe sure that someone you trust knows where you are going and when you plan to return. Remember that you may not be able to use your cell phone in more remote areas or in the mountains.
- Consider adding folding camp stools to your arsenal. They are comfortable, inexpensive, and compact. With these, you can stop anywhere and have a comfortable picnic and even in the best park, these beat a picnic bench.
- Include games and books. Frisbees and balls work for the kids. A badminton set works for adults. And it’s nice to have a couple interesting books along that you never find time to read at home.
Turkey Salad Sandwiches
If you like chicken salad sandwiches, youll like this recipe for turkey salad sandwiches.
The filling has flavor and color with the addition of dried cranberries.
We used American Harvest Multi-Grain Bread and the sandwiches were terrific.
Makes 2-3 sandwiches.
1 cup cooked turkey, cubed
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon onion salt
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Mix all the ingredients together. Use this as a filling for bread or pita sandwiches.
Old Country Bratwurst Roasted Potato Salad
This baked potato salad is made with a creamy dressing. You can bake your potato salad on the grill, which makes it a great salad for summer.
Makes 4 servings.
2 pounds russet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups cooked sausage such as bratwurst sliced or diced
1 1/2 cup broccoli florets
1 bell red pepper cut into slices
olive oil for misting
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 Tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
1.Spray a baking sheet or pizza crisper with cooking oil using a mister. Place the potatoes on the sheet. With the mister, spray the potatoes with olive oil until covered. Salt and pepper to taste.
2.Bake for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are no longer hard but not completely baked. Add the broccoli and red peppers and continue baking until done. Remove to a bowl.
3.Make the dressing by mixing the green onions, mustard, sour cream, and mayonnaise together. Toss the potatoes in the dressing and sprinkle with cheese. Serve chilled.
Bakers Note: If you choose to make this salad on your grill turn the heat down low. Place your baking sheet on the highest shelf if there is more than one shelf to your grill. Close the lid and bake as if in the oven. If your grill does not have a lid, you can improvise by placing a large tub over the baking sheet.
Many grills bake at a higher temperature than desired. Since the heat comes from the bottom, raise your baking sheet. Four empty tin cans make good stanchions to raise your sheet. If it is still baking too hot, place an old baking sheet on the grill and the stanchions on the sheet. The lower sheet will deflect heat away from the upper sheet.
Light Waldorf Salad
There are many Waldorf salad recipes. Most are made with mayonnaise. This one is a little different, made lighter with whipped cream and grapes instead of raisins. (Of course, you can substitute commercial whipped topping for the whipped cream.)
We dont know that you can call this Waldorf salad “light” like in reduced fat but it is light on the palette, delightfully refreshing. We suppose that if you use a light whipped topping, it would be. Fresh grapes instead of the traditional raisins help.
We think of Waldorf salad as a harvest-time salad but all that is really required are good, crisp apples. You can usually get good apples year round but if you dont have good apples, dont bother making a Waldorf salad.
Makes 6 servings.
3 cups coarsely chopped apples, about 3 medium apples
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup grapes, cut in half
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup mayonnaise, or to taste
1/3 heavy cream, whipped
salad greens or lettuce
Toss the apples with the lemon juice, sugar, and salt to coat (the lemon juice will help keep the apples from turning dark. If you were making a Waldorf salad with mayonnaise only, the acidity in the mayonnaise would do the trick). Add the grapes, celery, and nuts.
2.Fold the mayonnaise into the whipped cream. Fold the apple mixture into the whipped cream mixture. Serve on greens.
We like the ease of oven fried chicken. But when we cook it in a baking dish, the drippings collect in the pan and make the chicken soggy and greasy.
This way, the chicken is still moist but not greasy and the coating stays crispy on both sides. We think youll love fixing chicken this easy way.
Makes 6 servings.
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 pounds chicken thighs or drumsticks
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
1.Place an oven-proof cooling rack on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. This method will work best if the rack sits an inch or so off the pan to allow air to circulate under the rack and cook the meat from below.
2.Stir together the flour, baking powder, paprika, salt and pepper.
The Ultimate Picnic Checklist
- Ice for cooler (we prefer those “blue ice” blocks that can be frozen in the freezer and reused)
- Eating and serving utensils
- Tablecloth or picnic blanket
- Cutting board and two sharp knivesa serrated knife for bread and a paring knife to cut vegetables and other foods
- Napkins and paper towels
- Cleaning wipes
- Moist washcloth in a zipper-type plastic bag
- Hand towel
- Seasonings (we keep a small plastic tub filled with seasonings plus salt and pepper)
- Vegetable oil for cooking
- Grill and propane or charcoal and fire starter
- Cooking pans and utensils
- Camping stove if you use one
- Drinking water
- A good book and family games with which to wait out a summer storm
- Repair kit (we keep a tiny repair kit with a strip of duct tape, a sewing kit, a small pocket knife, and a length of pliable wire)
- Can opener
- Insect repellant
- Calamine lotion
- First aid kit
- Roll of aluminum foil
- Trash bags for refuge
- Bathing suit
- Folding chairs
Top of FormDennis Weaver has burnt food from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Miami, Florida. He is the founder of The Prepared Pantry in Rigby, Idaho and the author of How to Bake: The Art and Science of Baking, available free in an e-book or as a Kindle book on Amazon for $10.
He loves to help people bake and is giving away Free Digital Cookbooks and Magazines. There is no cost or obligation. To sign up for the FREE subscription of “Country Home Kitchen” and other great E-books and giveaways, click here.
Dennis lives in Rigby, Idaho, with his wife, Merri Ann. They have five wonderful children.