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How to Pack a Picnic

I first fell in love with picnics 20 years ago when I would join friends in Hyde Park to meander an afternoon away, one bite of bread and sip of wine at a time.  Soon my picnics with friends transformed into picnics with my new husband, to picnics with our growing toddlers, to full blown neighborhood affairs. It is safe to safe that for every chapter in my life, there has been a picnic packed that both looks all-together different but also much the same.

There is something magical about tossing a much-loved blanket into the air and watching it fall into place, setting the stage for the afternoon to come.  Where laughter mingles with a summer soundtrack, where sharp cheese is washed down with a sweet tipple, and fresh bread is slathered with an aged spread. Picnics are where shade is coveted and sunshine is chased; where laughter mingles with a summer sound track, and stories are told to a background of birds chirping. Despite a stage set full with such potential for a fabulous day, it is the picnic itself, or rather, the contents of the picnic, that really decided the turn out of the day.

Too often baskets are over packed, making the march to the perfect spot bothersome and weighed down. Instead of packing everything that you might need, pack what you will need and go from there.  Whether you are using a backpack, a wicker basket, or an insulated tote bag, pack what your bag can hold, and no more. And if the walk to your picnic spot is more than a 15- minute walk, limit your bags to one bag per person, or invest in an outdoor wagon to do the heavy lifting for you.

When it comes to planning your menu, whether you’re running to the grocer to pick up olives and cheese, or you plan on cooking a set menu, it is important to remember the foods you pick should be simple, and be able to survive sitting outdoors for at least an hour before they are eaten. Despite this constraint, my favorite picnic hacks include these:  packing a chilled summer soup in a thermos; keeping sandwiches and wraps fresh by packing the ingredients and making them at the picnic; packing frozen yogurt pots for fruit dips; using small jars for salad dressing pots to keep your salads fresh; and freezing fresh grapes, berries and melon for a cool snack.

From rolling pastures to lake fronts, there are so many stunning picnic spots in and around Round Top.  Once you’ve picked your spot and planned your menu, remember these tips for planning your summer picnic.

1. Pack a lined blanket to keep the damp off your picnic spot.

2. Replace bags of ice with frozen bottles of water. They stay cooler for longer and won’t soak your food..

3. Create a picnic playlist and pack a portable speaker to keep the mood festive.

4. Give your presentation a sustainable make-over with bamboo plates and cutlery, Beeswrap and Weck Jars for storage.

5. Pack a few trash bags and kitchen wipes for easy clean up.

6. Citronella candles create atmosphere and keep those pesky mosquitoes from joining the party.

7. Bring along a few travel games to keep everyone entertained.

8. Sprinkle baby powder or corn starch a few inches from your picnic to ward off ants.

9. If you are feeling romantic, pack a vintage vase to hold wild flowers you collect along the way to your picnic spot.

10. Wear sunscreen.

Coryanne’s favorite summer picnic dressing

1 Ripe Avocado

1 Tablespoon of fresh lime juice

1 Tablespoon of Adobo sauce

Pinch of salt

1 Garlic clove, roasted

4 Tablespoons of Pecan oil

1 Tablespoons of water

1 Tablespoon of white wine vinegar

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by Coryanne Ettiene

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