Picnics, cookouts, lake and beach vacations, family dinners ...
...the lazy, hazy days of summer. Living in the South, where the humidity and temperature are usually one in the same, mandates a slower, more laid back pace. What a great time for a picnic! Whether you eat inside or outside, picnics can be as casual or as fancy as you want them to be. I have a deep, wooden picnic basket that my mother bought back in the 1950’s, and I love using it. I always pack a real tablecloth, though, no matter where the destination is. It lends just a little touch of class.
The menu varies, depending on where our destination is and what the theme of the day will be. I’ve done the “Wine Trail Picnic”, where I pack a few bottles of wine, a good loaf of bread, some great cheeses, grapes, homemade chicken salad or roasted chicken, olives and a dark chocolate dessert. A must - always cloth napkins and real wine glasses!! If the mood is a little more casual, my “Southern Belle” picnic is a great one. Fried chicken, rolls, homemade potato salad, haricot verts ala Twinkle style, celery stuffed with pimento cheese, and a dessert – either pound cake or brownies. Pack plenty of baby wipes, cloth napkins, sweet tea (along with your adult beverage of choice) and you have a little bit of heaven in our sweet humid South. On Father’s Day this year, my precious daddy was in a rehabilitation facility to recover after a bout with pneumonia, and I took the “Southern Belle” picnic for all of us to celebrate with him. It was a real treat for all of us, and worth every bit of preparation!
One of my favorite picnic foods is Potato Salad. Make it a day ahead so the flavors can mingle, and it’s cold and ready to go when you are. Here’s my version:
T’s Potato Salad
About 6-8 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled, and cut into chunks
1 ½ cups celery, chopped
About ¼ cup finely chopped Vidalia onion
½ cup sweet pickle relish
1 to 1 ½ cups good mayonnaise, such as Duke’s or Hellmann’s
About ¼ cup good mustard
Salt and pepper, lots
Boil potatoes, cool, peel and cut into chunks. In large mixing bowl add celery, onion, pickle relish and mix gently. Add mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper, mix. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Chill, and enjoy!
Some people like to put green peppers and boiled eggs in their potato salad, but I'm always leery of boiled eggs going bad quickly, so I don't. It's a matter of taste!
Until next time, be kinder than necessary, especially to senior citizens. We’ll all be there some day!