Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Bring back Picnics

It finally warmed up last week and once the rainy April finishes up, I want to organize picnics in the parks!

Maybe I was inspired by the elaborate picnic setups I saw last year in Central Park when the NY Philharmonic was playing a concert, but I really want to spread out a checkered tablecloth and eat sandwiches under a huge tree. 

I read this book called:
Picnics by Hilary Hemingway and Alex Hemingway.
Unlike most picnic books that give you a list of sandwiches/soups/desserts recipes, this book wrote about picnics as an essential part of living. There's a picnic for every occassion: solitary outing, picnic for two, picnic for horseriding, picnic for hiking, picnic for groups, picnic for a rainy day, even picnic for the winter. 

It's unfortunate that a lof of people tend prefer indoors due to severe allergies or just cannot live without climate control, but I rather enjoy the sunny outdoors and flowers and trees. So maybe I'll take the book's advice and trek out on my own. 

The book also includes amazing picnic baskets/dishes and scenic photos, almost like a scrapbook of all of their picnic adventures. While it has a "menu" suggestion for each occassion, it does not include recipes for all the menu items, just one or two on the list, enough to get you started. Various quotes and poems are interspersed throughout the pages. I like this one:
"Tea to the English is really a picnic indoors" - Alice Walker
Kind of makes sense after I thought about it, because there's tea and finger sandwiches involved, and it's about connecting and catching up with your friends, not about rushing or gulping down food. and I do really enjoy teatime (luckily the city has a few spots that cater to that need).

I made a tuna salad sandwich according to a recipe in the book and I'll share it here. Wanted to try it out before I take it with me on a picnic.

Tuna Salad Sandwich (single serving)

-white albacore tuna (I used one 2 oz. can for one sandwich)
-bread (I just used regular wheat sliced bread, the book suggested Le Pain Quotidien)
-mayo (I used a tablespoon to taste, book suggests to keep it light, don't drown the tuna)
-lemon juice (tablespoon or so, to taste)
-scallions (chopped, I used a handful)
-celery (chopped, I used half a stalk maybe)
-capers (didn't have this so I left it out)
-Italian parsley (chopped, left this out because I didn't have it)
-ground pepper to taste
-optional stuff for sandwich (romaine lettuce, watercress, thin slices of dill pickle or tomato)

1. drain tuna 
2. add all ingredients into a bowl, mix together.
3. if taking to picnic, store mix in airtight container and prepare sandwich onsite. otherwise your bread will get soggy
4. book suggests that sandwich can also use lettuce (which I did) and some other ingredients (see optional stuff listed above).

//I toasted the bread slices, then spooned the salad mixture onto one slice, added two layers of lettuce, closed sandwich with another bread slice, then cut sandwiches into two parts, and ate them with a side of fuji apples slices (squeeze lemon juice on them to prevent browning). delicious! I especially like the crunchy celery bits. Not sure I tasted that much scallion, may use more next time. Parsley and capers would make it better too. and maybe jalapenos (yes, I like it in almost everything...)

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