Plan Yourself A Sweet Picnic


Picnic baskets make me swoon. Those little wicker wonders transport me to a time where quilts were placed in a perfect spot under the weeping willow so that lovers could soak in the sun, enjoy a sweet breeze and read poetry to one another.

Or maybe I've just seen Pretty Woman too many times.

The reality of picnic baskets is something else. Properly packed with silver, linen, china, not to mention food and drink, these containers are heavy, and not at all sexy to schlep.

For me, the perfect picnic is one that's carefree from start to finish, one that can be prepared with little fore- or afterthought, a simple pleasure.

If you want to pack plates and glasses, the most practical way to do it is with a backpack designed for this purpose. Leave that darling picnic basket in the garage, and order a picnic backpack from AmazonAMZN or TargetTGT. Remember, you're still going to have to do those dishes.

Alternatively, opt for a picnic that offers food but no plates, wine but no glasses, Purell and no linens. One that (dare I say) uses disposable containers. To satisfy your inner green, consider this as an opportunity to reuse your takeout containers one last time.

Our Civil War-era ancestors, who were so fond of their picnicking, used to take out summer quilts and pop-a-squat. That's lovely, but cumbersome.

In these modern times, hike down to REI and pick up one of their double-sided picnic blankets, water-resistant on one side, and fuzzy-cozy on the other. Visually, it's more Sasquatch than Scarlett, but what do you expect for a $30 synthetic blend that folds to less than a square foot? Or, try a Seagrass mat from Pier 1.

Finally: food. This is why God invented gourmet-to-go. Visit your nearest Whole FoodsWFMI or upscale grocery, buy whatever delicious items you find, lock them in a clamshell container and you're ready for that blanket. Grab a cup or two while you're at it; even I have to draw the line at swigging wine directly from the bottle.

If you want to prepare your own food, stick with foods that were meant for picnicking. No salads with dressing, no funky brie cheese, no messy or fussy foods.

For uncomplicated luxury, try lobster rolls (recipe below). Bring the buns and lobster salad separately; assemble when you're ready to eat. Bring cut up fruit (blueberries, melon, pineapple) and toothpicks, or vegetable crudite with hummus. Want some dessert? Forage for a fresh, local and seasonal treat: Find an ice cream vendor.

Less muss, no fuss and there's still room in your picnic sack for a book of poetry. Remember, an activity that takes longer to plan than enjoy will rarely be enjoyed as planned. Make it easy on yourself, and have fun.

Lobster Rolls
Serves two

1 1/2 cups loosely packed lobster meat
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 top-split hot dog potato rolls, toasted if you can
Your favorite potato chips, for serving

1. In a medium bowl, combine lobster meat, mayonnaise, celery, chives and mustard. Toss lightly to combine; avoid breaking up the lobster meat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Divide the lobster salad among buns; serve with your favorite potato chips

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