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A Perfect Summer Picnic

 

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Nothing says summer like a picnic at the park or at the beach. Grab a basket and pack up some of these delicious light recipes!

I remember my very first beach picnic.  The gorgeous weather and clear sky provided the perfect backdrop for our blanket filled with delicious sandwiches, salads, and other treats. My friend and I high-fived one another; surely, this was a picnic that would go down in history.  But no sooner had the rest of our friends arrived, that we watched in horror as half of our spread disappeared into a huge, errant wave and was dragged out to sea. What remained got ravaged by a gust of briny wind.  We stood by in disbelief as these events unfolded in rapid succession, in the span of only a few minutes.

Thankfully, over the years, I finally wised up. Here are a few things I learned:

Picnic Essentials – Aside from the standards like sunblock and beach towels, there are a few extra things that make picnics on the beach much more pleasant.

Baby Powder – Chances are, you have a small shaker bottle of baby powder hidden somewhere in the recesses of your medicine cabinet, and don’t quite know what to do with it. In addition to keeping your wooden floors from squeaking, this common household item works amazingly well as a sand remover from skin. Apply liberally to hands or other body parts, rub in, and watch the sand fall away.
Hand Sanitizer – Sure, you can wash your hands with the ocean water, but let’s face it, the sticky residue that remains leaves something
to be desired. Once you’ve dusted your hands with baby powder, apply hand sanitizer to keep your hands feeling clean and fresh.
Sport Top Water Bottles – Whether you purchase bottled water with sport tops, or go the green route and use reusable bottles, the pop
up tops work best in a beach scene. Not only do they keep the sand out better than bottles with caps (which, incidentally, are easily lost), but they provide a very useful stream of water when squeezed to wash off fruits, vegetables, or even skin abrasions.
Cooler – According to Dr. Angela Frasier at the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, there are a myriad of foods that must remain cold in order to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria such as salmonella. Proper use of a cooler cuts the risks of contracting a food-borne
illness dramatically.
Insulated Beverage Urn With Dispenser – Staying hydrated in hot weather is very important, and keeping a ready supply of water close by (rather than taking a long walk to the public restroom) encourages everyone to keep those water bottles filled. Bring along a second urn to offer an alternate beverage for variety, such as lemonade or iced tea.
Gel Packs – Throwing a few gel packs into your cooler will not only help keep your food cold, but also serve as a cold compress, if needed.
First Aid Kit – Probably a good thing to keep in your car in general.  Safety first!

Although we recognize sandwiches as the ultimate picnic food, they often become sand magnets on the beach.  Making your favorite sandwiches into wraps by using flat breads such as laffa or tortillas solves the problem beautifully, besides, it keeps the fillings contained. Try wrapping your wraps in a piece of wax or parchment paper, which your guests can peel off as they eat. Try out these delicious wraps for something new:

The Sunburnt Tuna  and The Chill Cheese Wrap

The most successful beach foods tend to be foods that don’t attract sand, and, unless your beach allows bonfires or barbecues, things that are
good eaten cold. Try some of these tried and true favorites, or take some of your own!
Roasted or Fried Chicken – A Southern favorite, chicken drumsticks feature a built-in handle that makes grabbing and eating easy. Chicken breasts work great in chicken salad.  Tip: Try substituting up to half of the flour in your fried chicken recipe for corn starch for a longer lasting crunch.
Grapes and Watermelon – Not only are they delicious and fun to eat, high fiber fruits such as these deliver much needed hydration to your body without needing a bathroom close by.
Carrots, Celery Sticks and Bell Peppers – Sliced fresh vegetables are nutritious and lend a welcome textural change to otherwise soft or mushy picnic food, and are much healthier than chips.
Granola Bars – These hearty snacks are full of B vitamins and fiber to help provide an extra boost of much needed energy after a long day
of frolicking in the waves.
Cookies -Although many enjoy brownies or cupcakes on a beach picnic, cookies are probably the most successful because they lack the nooks,
crannies, and moisture that sand needs to stick. Of course, nothing beats a fresh s’more roasted over a bonfire, but if your beach doesn’t allow an open flame, these s’more cookies are a treat you can bring from home.

S’more Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars (For this recipe and more subscribe to Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine)

My first beach picnic wasn’t a complete disaster. It ended with hot dogs skewered on sticks, roasting over a bonfire, and s’mores for dessert. Some friends even brought a guitar and some bongo drums.  There’s a Chinese saying about meeting obstacles:  “Be like water.” When you encounter a problem, go over, under, or around it, rather than try and push it out of the way. In other words, just go with it. Sometimes, the most perfect beach days are the ones that happen spontaneously and purely by accident, despite all our good planning. It also helps to check the tide schedule.

As seen in Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine – (Bitayavon Summer 2012) – Subscribe Now.

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About Allaya Fleischer

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Born in Bangkok, Thailand, Allaya is a kosher chef and food writer specializing in Pan-Asian, and Asian fusion cuisines, who draws from her experiences living and traveling internationally, as well as the diverse friendships she's made throughout the years.  She is also an avid baker of artisan-style bread from around the world. Read Allaya's blog - I speak food  Allaya is a frequent contributer to Bitayavon Magazine, as well as other printed and electronic publications.

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