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May 2002 Issue
Eating Outdoors
by Ronda L. Halpin
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May brings spring flowers, warm sunshine and days that beg for picnics. Before you hop in the car and locate that perfect picnic spot, take advantage of these great picnic tips:
  • Stay away from any recipes that require the use of raw eggs.
  • Freeze drinks the night before. Not only will your drinks stay cold the next day, they'll help keep your food chilled.
  • Keep hot dishes hot by wrapping them in several layers of newspaper, securing with tape, and placing in a plastic bag for transport.
  • Food spoils quickly in hot weather. Be sure to tote your munchies in an ice-filled cooler, and if you're driving, transport your cooler in the air-conditioned car instead of the stuffy trunk.
  • Throw away any food that's been out of the cooler for more than an hour.
  • Set up your picnic in the shade.
  • Keep the wind at bay by securing paper plates and napkins to wooden picnic tables with thumbtacks.
  • To keep bugs off the picnic table, place table legs in cans filled with water (coffee cans work well).

Once you've got these basics down, it's time to think about what to eat! Foods that travel well are natural choices. However, you don't have to limit yourself to sandwiches and chips. Pasta or rice-based dishes with simple ingredients, creative salads and even unique baked goods can all play a special part in your outdoor dining plans. Make sure that you bring foods that can be enjoyed throughout the day as well. You never know when you'll need a little pick-me-up after a refreshing swim or long hike. Below are a few recipes that can add a special twist to any picnic menu:

 

Orange Glazed Nuts

These tasty glazed nuts make a perfect trail snack for nibbling on while you enjoy the great outdoors.
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. orange juice
  • 1 T. grated orange peel
  • 4 c. mixed nuts (pecans, walnuts and almonds make a nice mix)
Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper.

Bring the sugar, orange juice and orange peel to boil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 30 seconds.

Stir in the nuts, and remove the pan from the heat.

Spread the nuts on the waxpaper-lined cookie sheet, and cool completely. Separate the nuts if necessary.

  • Yields: about 1 pound nuts
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes, plus cooling time
 

 

Grilled Peach Salad

If you aren't going to be grilling at your picnic site, you can grill and slice the peaches for this salad in advance. Simply pack the peaches, cheese, nuts and dressing in one container and the greens in another and combine them when you're ready to eat.
  • 4 peaches
  • Walnut oil
  • 4 c. arugula
  • 4 oz. blue cheese
  • 2 T. coarsely chopped pecans
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
Halve the peaches and coat them in walnut oil (olive oil will also work).

Grill the peaches on a medium-low fire about five minutes per side. Remove the skins, cut them into slices and arrange over the arugula.

Crumble the blue cheese and sprinkle the pecans on top and dress with good a olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes
 

 

Pesto Potato Salad

This tasty potato salad rids you of the ingredient that makes most potato salads a safety hazard: mayonnaise.
  • 1/2 lb. baby red potatoes
  • 2 T. finely chopped red onion
  • 2 c. fresh spinach
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c. toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 c. prepared pesto
Boil the potatoes without removing the skins until tender -- about 10 minutes. Drain and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the onion, spinach, garlic and walnuts in a medium bowl. Add the potatoes and pesto and toss to evenly coat. Serve warm or cold.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes
 

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