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Monday, August 22, 2011

What's summer without... a picnic?

THAT gorgeous Berry Yoghurt cake- perfect for summer sharing!  Recipe here.
As a little girl I was blessed with parents who loved the outdoors.  We'd often, in the Great Aussie way, have a barbie on summer afternoons after Dad had mowed the lawn.  Fresh cut grass and the smell of sizzling beer on a hot plate (it's the best cleaner, you know), take me right back to age 7.

When I was in uni at Sydney my sophisticated boyfriend and I would buy a kilo of king or tiger prawns from the fish market in Pyrmont on our special occasions and take them back to Manly Head, where we'd set up a lavish lawn picnic in the national park.  We'd bring our champagne buckets filled with ice, too many bottle of NZ sauvignon blanc and perhaps a salad and fresh baguette.  But it was really about the gorgeous fresh pink prawns and afterwards, daydreaming on a white sheet under the impossibly wide blue sky.

I like to think I've picnicked my way round the world ever since, and given a sunny day, my catering thoughts immediately turn al fresco.
More memorable picnics include: in Central park, NYC, where I saw my first fire-flies... high on a mountain in Austria, eating packed-cheese sandwiches and fresh picked blueberries from beneath our feet... 

And here on the Isle of Man, where the weather is so tumultuous, where a mornings sunbathing can be followed by an afternoon of freezing fog.  Picnic style changes due to location, doesn't it?  Here I've learned it's not about the equipment, the style, the setting.  We go where the sun is strong and people few.  We're off on one now (it's been sunny for a few hours, late august, and the sky is that funny pale blue colour where it's impossible to tell if there's clouds or not... sun's hot though; we'll chance it.

What to eat?
In thinking how much I wanted to share the joy of picnicking with you, because, to alot of the friends I've dragged along with me, they don't understand the point of :- preparing.packing.unpacking.eating/spills/forgotten items/weather changes/bugs/location variables/packing.unpacking cleaning (to which I say whatwouldyoulike.pop it in there.anything else you need/what would make it super special.i know where we're going, it's a surprise. right, just here is fine. yum/yum/oh look at that/oh that makes me remember/would you ever like to/wouldn't it be nice if/i've always wanted to.time to go. wasn't that's good to be home.), I had in my mind to pop here a picnic menu of simple yummies that make alfresco just so good.

Happily- so happily- I had unexpected help because just when one is in the middle of a great blogpost and one's attention invariably switches to facebook, what should appear but my talented friend Lisa Miller's article in nourish magazine suggesting How to tempt picky eaters.  She suggests a selection of healthy goodies, and so many of these are perfect picnic fodder too!

When you're lured by the promise of fun and relaxation alfresco, here are some wonderful ideas for your menu. *means they're going in my backpack for our jaunt right now! 

Healthy tortilla chips, home-made veggie crisps, home-popped corn
Dips: hommus, tzatiki*, peanut butter, minted yoghurt, salsa
Vegetable crudites*, celery, cucumber, carrot, sliced peppers, baby beets, broccolini, asparagus, apple
Hard boiled eggs, peel them once sitting down

The main event:
Chicken- organic, pre-roasted and cut into portions (a british thing?) 
Turkey salad rolls* -recipe to come!- a wonderful portable gluten free lunch for energy
Nori rolls filled with avocado, chopped cabbage and toasted sesame seeds 
Pre-grilled sausages, gluten free*
Prawn, calamari, or crayfish tail dressed in garlic chilli and olive oil
Salads:  Quinoa with peanuts and shallots*; Wild rice with pineapple or apricot; Mixed leaves with green beans; Caprese (tomato, basil and mozzarella stacks)

Local organic cheeses, rye crackers
Greens organic chocolates
Home-made cake or health bars* the Berry Yoghurt cake pictured above's recipe, here!

Beverages:   Sparkling water, elderflower cordial, wine or champagne* if you are this way inclined; a martini shaker, ice, vodka, orange segments and cranberry juice.

Enjoy these beautiful days alfresco whilst you can, beautifuls!

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