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The Enjoyment Of Picnic Time

By Mary Emma Allen


Whether you're traveling on a lengthy trip or simply going out for the day, summertime means picnic time when we enjoy eating out-of-doors. This may be a backyard barbecue at Uncle Don and Aunt Susie's, a basket lunch at the lake, or an outdoor meal when hiking or traveling. Often children simply like to eat out on the deck or in the yard and pretend they're on a journey.

During my childhood, the school and church picnics were annual events each June and July. Usually held at a nearby lake so we could go swimming, but sometimes in a backyard or meadow, they were a tradition in the small towns of America.

My dad and mom recall them from their childhoods, too. Father even wrote about them when I asked him to jot down his memories.

Sunday Travels & Picnics

During my childhood, we often went for a Sunday drive after church and before we had to be home for the evening milking. We took along a picnic lunch. It might be fried chicken Mother had prepared the day before. Or it could be simply sandwiches, cookies and fruit.

No matter which it was, we found the outing fun. Sometimes we found a vacant school yard. In those days, no one minded if we ate on a blanket or picnic table and played on the slides and swings at that location.

A special occasion was spreading out blankets and lawn chairs in a small park overlooking the Hudson River. We watched the boats going up and down the river and the trains crossing the bridge over the river near Poughkeepsie. Jim and I have had picnics as we've traveled across the United States. We pick up lunch fare at supermarket or deli and dine at various locations...a park overlooking a river, a roadside rest with scenic view, a historic site with picnic tables, etc.

Traditional Picnic - Although the classic American picnic menu often consists of fried chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs, pickles, rolls, chocolate cake, and lemonade, enjoyable meals can be prepared on the spot. Simply take along bread, sandwich makings, potato chips, pickles, cookies, fruit, and beverage.

Take Along Picnic - Just pack everything into a hamper and cooler and let each person make the meal of his choice when you arrive at your picnic spot. Also, this way your sandwiches won-t get soggy, and you don-t have them leftover or wasted.

Backyard Picnic Entertaining - For picnics in the backyard when you want to entertain informally in an outdoor setting, you may want to serve somewhat fancier fare. But this can be easy on the cook and leave her cool and calm for enjoying her guests if she prepares many of the items beforehand.

Barbecues - These have become popular American outings and involve a variety of meats, vegetables, and even fruit cooked over the charcoal or gas grill.

From the simple hot dog and hamburger fare first common at barbecues, this type of meal now encompasses steak, pork chops, chicken, and fish, skewers of meat and veggies, as well as rotisserie meats

PISTACHIO - PINEAPPLE SALAD can be a meal accompaniment or dessert. It's refreshing in summer.

Mix together one 20-oz. can crushed pineapple, one 8-oz. container whipped topping (thawed), one 3-oz. package instant pistachio pudding (use dry), 1/4 cup chopped nuts, 1/4 cup halved maraschino cherries, and/or 1/2 cup miniature marshmallows. (I prefer without the marshmallows, but others in our family enjoy them.)

You can add more nuts and cherries, and vary the amount of marshmallows, as desired.

Stir lightly until all ingredients are combined; chill before serving. For something fancy, you can put the mixture into a pie shell or individual tart shells before chilling.

(c)Mary Emma Allen (Mary Emma Allen writes from her home in the woods, where she enjoys birdsong in summer when the doors are open. She writes for children and adults and gives workshops in writing and art. E -mail: .)


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