Picnic picksA little menu planning can go a long way
How hard do you think it is to plan a picnic? Not very. You just figure out what you’re going to eat and how many people you will be serving.
By: Jeff Tiedeman, Grand Forks Herald
How hard do you think it is to plan a picnic?
Not very. You just figure out what you’re going to eat and how many people you will be serving.
The reason I know this is because we recently hosted a picnic at a beautiful Greenway site along River Road in East Grand Forks, when members of our family from Cincinnati were in town for a visit.
About 40 to 50 people attended the get-together, and while food was the centerpiece of the event, we also had a couple of games as well as a scavenger hunt and a water balloon-tossing contest. (If you have games such as these, make sure to pick up after you’ve finished — leaving the area as you found it — which is proper picnic etiquette.)
Aside from the food, I’d have to say the scavenger hunt was the most popular part of the picnic. Therese and my grandson, Rakeem, decided what items would be part of the hunt.
And what a list they put together: feathers, pine cones, mushrooms, sticker plants, clover, dandelions, bones (chicken), pennies (black on one side), litter, golf balls, mosquitoes and moths. One team actually found all of the items.
But, as I said, food was the main attraction. And when you’re deciding what food to serve at a picnic, there are several considerations you should take into account.
n The food shouldn’t be messy or drippy to eat. You should avoid things such as pickled beets and juicy sandwiches that will stain clothing if dropped.
n Food should be easy to easy to eat and not require much in the way of utensils.
n Prepare as much of the food as you can ahead of time, so the cook can enjoy the meal and the your guests.
With those thoughts in mind, the menu we came up included:
n Sloppy Joes (my late Auntie Helen’s barbecue recipe), hot dogs and brats, all of which were kept warm in crockpots. (You don’t want to be stuck grilling while everyone else is enjoying themselves). These were a very big hit, just as they were at our school hot lunch when I was a kid.
n A pasta salad, which contained tri-colored rotini with chopped up red and green bell peppers, celery and Italian dressing. (It would have been better with black olives, some sliced pepperoni and artichoke hearts, but we wanted to keep expenses down since we were looking at making quite a large salad.) This was the only food that require a utensil (fork).
We had thought about potato salad but decided against it since foods with mayonnaise need to be kept cold.
n The usual condiments — ketchup, mustard, pickles, pop and water.
n Banana bread and peanut butter cookies. (Keep desserts simple. Brownies and cupcakes are two more items that would work well, since they can be made earlier and frozen until it’s time to party.)
Looking back, there were numerous other foods we could have served that would have nicely fit the aforementioned criteria, including cut-up fresh fruit and veggies with an assortment of dips.
With our family picnic now in the books, I have yet another to look forward to attending. Chad Gerloff and Donna Bonderud of the Grand Forks Gun Club have asked for my help in planning the menu for the Park Board’s youth trapshooting league’s fun shoot and party Tuesday.
I’ve passed on the info about our picnic, suggesting we serve some of the same things.
In a way, planning a picnic is a little like trap. There’s no shooting from the hip.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.