There is just something about warm weather and picnics that brings out the child in me.
I want to spread a cloth on a velvety, green lawn, pour a glass of something pink and bubbly and watch the world go by.
When I was a child, my mother would pack up our picnic basket on hot summer evenings (we didn’t have air-conditioning) and we would go to the cemetery, of all places, for a picnic supper. This was in small-town, USA, and the cemeteries are relatively new, as compared to European cemeteries, with lots of lush green grass awaiting future occupants. Perfect for picnics.
I became a picnic addict.
When I was away in school, my first choice for summer dates was a picnic. In those days it usually involved hauling small barbecues, charcoal and food to cook. It was fun, and the guys got to play with fire, but for me it defeated the purpose of a picnic.
A proper picnic should have all the work done ahead of time so one can lounge about doing nothing but sipping and nibbling for the duration.
One of my fondest memories is a picnic for two we indulged in during the summer before we left the U.S. to move to this side of the pond. It was on the 4th of July, aka Independence Day, and the big summer holiday for the U.S.. Our neighbor was out of town and suggested we borrow his little 2-seater sports car for the day.
I found an old hamper tucked away that still had the picnic dishes, cutlery and cloth. We packed it full of fresh, bakery breads, stinky cheeses, paté, sausages, biscuits and wine. We left mid-morning, drove to a big park, found a private, shady spot by a stream and spent the entire day – nibbling, sipping, reading, napping, walking about…. It was a Perfect Picnic – not even mosquitoes bothered us!
On this side of the pond, the French are picnic experts.
All across the country, at 1:00pm, you will see cars pulling off to the side of the road. Small, folding tables and chairs are set up wherever space allows. The basket comes out, food is unpacked, wine opened and they sit, ignoring the traffic and the rest of the world while they enjoy their lunch.
For me. there are 2 things critical for a good picnic:
A picnic hamper like this one from Hampergifts with everything you need for the picnic neatly tucked inside:
And easy picnic food, some from the store (I did say easy) and some home-made (the day before, of course) like these Mushroom, Chard and Cheddar Bars
Mushroom, Chard and Cheese Bars
Total time: 50 minutes
- 5 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- 5oz mushrooms, sliced
- 8oz chard, sliced, stems and leaves separate
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 tbs fresh basil
- 2 tbs fresh oregano
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil, paprika and sauté briefly.
- Add mushrooms and sauté until starting to brown.
- Add chard stems and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes longer.
- Add chard leaves and heat until just starting to wilt.
- Whisk eggs, milk and Worcestershire sauce.
- Put chard and mushrooms into an 8″ square glass baking dish.
- Top with the herbs and cheese.
- Pour the eggs over all and bake, 400F (200C) for 30 minutes or until light brown and done in the center.
- Remove and let cool. Cut into squares.
And don’t forget the bubbly!
This post was written in association with Hampergifts.