That Time We Went On A Picnic

That Time We Went On A Picnic
Kale salad and wraps in Halifax Public Gardens, late May. In Nova Scotia, we even picnic in wool sweaters.

Kale salad and wraps in Halifax Public Gardens, late May. In Nova Scotia, we even picnic in wool sweaters.

Picnics are as easy as packing a lunch and throwing a few serving containers/plates into your stroller, backpack or trunk. I've found several lovely non-breakable, non-plastic items over the years that I use regularly on picnics, like wooden plates and bowls and tin bowls with flat bottoms. 

Pack it up, pack it out: our picnic gear.

Pack it up, pack it out: our picnic gear.

Summer cooking implies a sense of immediacy, a capacity to capture the essence of the fleeting moment.
— Elizabeth David

I LOVE picnics. It's probably my favourite way to eat a meal: Outside. On a blanket (or old sheet, see the strawberries above). Lots of little containers with tasty stuff. The kids and I picnic a lot when the weather gets warm enough. Parks, beaches, and backyards, here we come! 

Chickpeas, olives, radishes, strawberries, eggs, salad, leftover pizza. I think Cash (top L) is eating smoked mackerel.

Chickpeas, olives, radishes, strawberries, eggs, salad, leftover pizza. I think Cash (top L) is eating smoked mackerel.

Of course, the most important bit is the food. I keep it super simple, and focus on whole foods, just as I do for our other family meals. General guidelines for kids are bite-sized, eat-with-your-hands, non-drippy, good at room temperature. Foods I regularly bring on any kind of picnic are: olives; whole-wheat wraps with nut butter and honey/ham and cheese/cream cheese and jam; berries or cut-up fruit; cut-up cheese; hand-held nutritionally-dense baked goods like banana-oat cookies (see title photo)/almond-date bars/muffins; cut-up veggies like carrots, green peppers, or celery; hard-boiled eggs; and plain chickpeas. Like most days, I do my best to limit the sweets. For adults, I'd throw in a salad (dressing and toasted nuts on the side), and a (possibly drippy!) sandwich - I'm really into pan bagnat for summer beach picnics. Pan Bagnat (which translates as 'bathed bread') is really just a dressed up, more Eurpoean take on tuna salad. I'd take a can of olive-oil-packed tuna and crumble it up with more olive oil, capers, chopped pickles, chopped pitted olives, fresh herbs, lemon juice, and maybe some arugula or crunchy romaine. Butter a baguette and stuff the salad into it! I take a water bottle for each kid and a flask of coffee for me (#essentials).

 

I think for me, picnicking is a true lifelong love. Here I am with my sister when I was about 8, in our Halifax backyard.

1990: checked tablecloth, basket and all! 

1990: checked tablecloth, basket and all! 

By the way, if you ever find a way to bring ice cream cones on a beach picnic, let me know. Isn't it always the best way to end a beach day?