Being outdoors, even just barely out the door, changes the experience of the meal. Spirits are lifted, birdsong and lawnmowers are part of the vibe, conversation shifts.
The front steps beckon, the balcony, backyard, a nearby park or beach. It’s summertime. Whatever you’re eating, pack it up and go. Last minute, I’ve been known to scoop three or four helpings of whatever’s for supper into containers, head for the beach with a beverage, a few napkins and forks. Unplanned means that sometimes food is eaten lukewarm or in a slightly different state than intended, but being outdoors makes up for it.
A few ideas, and a couple of recipes.
Smoked salmon, crackers and fresh fruit. Honestly. This picnic happened in about two minutes, out the door to sunshine and beach. Happy. The point is to get out the door. If you’re still hungry graze a little more when you get home.
Take the camp cook stove along. When camping, or picnicking, you want simple, but appealing meals. Camp meals were featured on a post a couple of years ago. With A Cooler & A Colman Stove.
Recently we took our camp stove to a beach, spread a tablecloth on a big piece of driftwood, set up camp chairs, cooked Bratwurst, warmed sauerkraut in the same pan and then the buns. Mustard, fresh veggies and fruit, skipping rocks, sunset. Happy campers.
Order pizza, pick it up and head for the beach. Take along salad and beverages, a beach blanket . . .
If you want fancy schmancy seasonal, make the components for Julia Child’s Salad Niçois, assemble on a large platter once you arrive, drizzle with dressing and have yourself an oh-so-French evening. Pinky finger’s happy.
Take alongs: beverages, plates, napkins, knives/forks, bottle opener, cups, a few paper towels, plastic bag for garbage, tablecloth, beach towels or blankets, folding chairs optional, small ice chest for cold drinks and whipped cream. Oh yes, the whipped cream. Read on.
Fresh Corn Salsa Recipe
Put fresh corn salsa on a picnic table and it’ll find its way into or on to something.
Ingredients: 3 ears of corn, kernels removed/ 1/4 C finely diced red onion/ 1/2 C parsley or cilantro or both/ 1 t finely chopped jalapeno/ 1/4 t chipotle chili powder/ juice of 1 lime, or 2 – 3 T/ 1 T olive oil/ 1/2 t salt/ Pepper. 1/2 C drained black beans, optional.
Directions: Place all ingredients in an ample bowl. Stir to mix thoroughly. Taste, adjust as needed. Dust with a little more chipotle powder.
Variations: It was a different version last summer and different the summer before that – change it up as you like. Add one or two sliced avocados and have a corn/avocado salad; add tomatoes and fresh dill, diced red pepper, cucumber and it’s a corn salad – as our friend Lynn did the other night. Spread all of that over greens and it’s something else again. Dot with bites of fresh mozarella and again it’s transformed.
Corn salsa with lime sour cream along side bits of chicken or fish in a tortilla; with a bowl full of just avocados and very thinly sliced Walla Walla sweet onions dressed with lime juice. That and some hummus, feta or goat cheese with pita bread – it’s a picnic.
Crostata with Pluots
So. It’s possible that a fabulous dessert might carry the meal. Keep the meal simple and finish with a flourish. That’s what I was thinking when I spotted this in Sunset magazine the other day. Made it, ate it outdoors, delish.
Make it ahead of time, it needs plenty of time to cool.
Recipe from Sunset magazine, June 2013. I followed this recipe, reduced the sugar, otherwise exactly the same. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Mine stuck to the pan and was a hassle to serve. Next time, butter the pan or use a non-stick.
Eating outside the box. Picnic on.