Friday, June 22, 2012

We're going on a Picnic...

...we're going to have a great one.  What a beautiful day!  We're so glad!  Uh-oh.  The Menu.  What do we put on the menu?

Those words are a play off of the delightful children's book "We're going on a Bear Hunt" (Michael Rosen/Helen Oxenbury).  The lyrical and flowing words and the captivating illustrations of four young children and their father draw the listener (and reader!) in on a delightful hunt; through grass, oozing mud, swirling snowstorm, searching, searching, searching to find a bear.  After surmounting very random odds, the young adventurers find a cave.  Pickle still jumps every time we get to that part of the story.  And then we read it again.

For our family, a picnic isn't so much about spending hours preparing extravagant food as it is about simply enjoying being in a different surrounding; observing, slowing down, refreshing, and enjoying each others company.  Maybe even hunting bears.  Enjoy the moment, and still enjoy good natural food that isn't difficult to prepare.

For example, here is how I packed our cooler when we went to the zoo:

Hard-Boiled Eggs (already peeled)
Ham Cubes
Potato Chips
Snacks: baggies of nuts and raisins, real fruit leather, granola bars, or more of the above!

An easy way to still have a simple, yet a little more frilly picnic menu is to make ahead chilled salads.  I can prepare all the food the night before (or throughout the day prior, when I have snippets of time) and keep it chilling in the fridge.  When we are ready to go, I pack our cooler with lots of ice to keep the food exceptionally cold, and we're off! 

Here's a picnic menu we enjoyed a few weeks ago:

Black-eyed Pea Salad
Dilled Olive Salad (sans mozzarella)
Deviled Eggs

I grabbed a handful of spoons, a stack of plates and napkins, and we enjoyed a delightfully easy, filling, no-fuss, lovely picnic lunch.

I won't give away the end of the "We're going on a Bear Hunt," but I will say that our picnicking excursions, like the bear hunt, are something that we eagerly anticipate and want to enjoy without worrying about the menu.  And though we may be exhausted from our adventures, we are not worn out by the "what do we eat?" question.  Picnic-packing and bear hunts can have a happy endings.

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