We owe the French for the name "picnic," derived from pique-nique, a fashionable social affair where all guests brought something to the meal—an earlier, swankier version of the potluck. We all know what they are nowadays—family, friends, food and fun. And, we hope, a less hectic and more natural environment that invites a new way of looking at things.
Keep Your Cool
Pre-chill your cooler by placing ice bags or cold packs inside 30 minutes before packing it. When the food goes in, place the containers of food so there is ice between, rather than just setting the containers on top. To maintain the cold during the trip, carry the cooler inside the car rather than in the hot trunk. And finally, keep the cooler in the shade, rather than out in the sun, after you arrive at your picnic site.
Here are some tips for keeping your food safe while picniking.
Twice As Cool
It's actually a good idea to bring two coolers—one for drinks and one for foods. (Check out our tips for iced tea and other cool drinks.) Your family will trek to the drink cooler all day like a trail of ants, and every time the lid is opened, cool escapes. By packing a separate cooler for the food, you’ll be better able to maintain a cold temperature for your perishable items. And, about that drink cooler—remember to pack plenty of water. It does a far superior job of quenching your thirst and keeping your body hydrated than alcohol or caffeinated sodas, which are actually dehydrating.
Make and Take
If you're looking for a complete getaway with maximum time to relax and rejuvenate, you'll want to prepare your picnic fare in advance. Here are links to a couple of substantial salads that fit the bill:
Fruit Salad with Honey-Poppy Seed Dressing: This bright, sweet salad features melon, pineapple, and strawberries deliciously tossed with a sour cream/mayo, honey, ginger and poppy seed dressing.
Fusilli Fanfare: A good dose of spices enlivens pasta, beans, and broccoli in this substantial — and attractive — pasta salad.
Either of these delicious salads—perhaps accompanied by a loaf of your favorite bread and some cheese or fruit—would make perfect picnic fare.
Snacks are always good to have on hand, too. Try dipping your favorite tortilla chips in Fresh Mango Salsa for a real summertime treat. A bag of Chili Bean Snack Mix is another tasty idea for snacking throughout the day, or to take along on the hiking trail.
If your picnic spot has a grill, cooking your food can be part of the fun. Here are a few grilling tips and some well-seasoned recipes you might want to try.
Start early and take your time—a leisurely pace will give you better tasting food and make your picnic more enjoyable.
Get your fire going at least half an hour ahead of time to let the flames burn out, and then grill over the coals. (A spray bottle of water will control any late flare-ups.)
Make sure you use enough charcoal to extend well beyond the grilling area.
Pile the coals up in different concentrations to create a variety of "heat zones" to simultaneously cook items with various heat requirements. (Hold your hand six inches from the coals—if the heat forces you to move it in less than four seconds, you have "high" heat, if you can hold it there for more than six seconds, the heat is "low.")
Use Simply Organic Grilling Seasonings & Marinades to add delicious organic flavor to your grilled picnic fare. The best picnics center around great tasting, healthy food.
For complete information on grilling, visit our Summer Grilling Guide.
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