Hi everyone, I’m Lucy from Her Country Living and to celebrate International Picnic day on the 18th of June I have been asked by the lovely Pentlebay team to share my top tips on planning the perfect picnic!
Living in the countryside like I do, it’s always important for me to try and use local ingredients and reach out to nature for some incredible flavours and foods; so if you’ve got time to think ahead, these are some of the yummy foraging foods and flavours you can look out for on your walks (and freeze ahead of time):
> Blackberries – an absolute favourite of mine and an easy to gather treat, if you don’t mind a few brambles! These are perfect little treats for making tarts, pies and jams for you to take on your summertime picnics! You can find them in hedgerows around the end of August to start of September.
> Elderflowers – These beautiful floral flowers are in abundance at the end of May and into June. If you’re lucky you might find some even now in your local woodland where they’ve been able to shade from the weather. This year I made some elderflower champagne which we’re going to have for a picnic in a few weeks time, but you can use these flowers to flavour cakes and all sorts!
> Wild Garlic – This is mostly over now but if you’re lucky you might find some lurking in the woodlands. It tends to be mainly in abundance between March and April and is an excellent addition to any picnic once blended into a pesto! This tasty treat can be tossed in cold pasta or added as a garnish to sandwiches, cheese and crackers – all sorts!
As well as nature’s fruits and labour, and time is short for international picnic day, I suggest you pop to the local farm shop and supermarket to pick up some essentials you’ll be needing for your perfect picnic! Everyone’s a little different about what they like and don’t like, and since I am vegetarian I try to ensure I cater for everyone’s needs, be they gluten free or vegan!
Some perfect additions to a picnic and things you’ll want to think about having at a picnic are:
- Sandwiches – cucumber / hummus and red pepper / sausage (veggie or otherwise) / Egg and cress and then finally cherry blossom jam (you can make this if you have time and plan ahead).
- Cakes – What picnic is complete without a scrummy cake? I like to make a few types but think cupcakes and traybakes are the best, that way they’re pre-cut into cubes or baked in cases making it easy finger food for your guests!
- Salads – A nice warm salad is a welcome treat. You can make this in advance and give it some warmth by adding baked butternut squash tossed with paprika. Another thing I like to add to my salads is radish if they’re in season! At the moment my garden is flooding with radish and they add a lovely crisp taste to the salad and a pop of pink!
- Nibbles – Everyone loves their nibbles and my go to are olives! I love to get a variety of these and tend to go to my local farm shop for them as they’ve got huge bowls filled with anti-pasti, (that contain gherkins and garlic), as well as stuffed olives and sundried tomatoes. You’ll also want to consider adding in some cheese and biscuits here. A firm favourite for most!
- Drinks – If you had time to make elderflower champagne, then this is one to ‘wow’ your guests with when you pop it out! If not, then can I suggest a simple bubbly will do alongside some non-alcoholic drinks like squash and fizzy fruity drinks. Always ensure you have a nice cold jug of water, (or bottle if walking), on hand too. Your guest will notice if not!
My Picnic Shopping List:
- Malfada pasta – to mix with my homemade garlic pesto h
- Vegan sausage meat
- Bread flour (gluten free if needed)
- Flour for baking and other baking essentials
- Vegetables – tomatoes / cucumber, lettuce etc…
- Olives and nibbles (breadsticks / crisps etc…)
- Cheese (vegan if desired)
- Fruit juice
Now for the extras to take with your food! If you don’t have the following items, then just go with what you have that matches the closest…
- A blanket to sit on – you can get some great foldaway ones that are perfect
- A rucksack – I always find rucksacks more practical, meaning you can walk for longer distances if you’re intending on going somewhere in particular. If at home then simply a beautiful basket will do – I use my Grandma’s basket she used to use!
- Outdoor candles – these are great at keeping away unwanted visitors (flies / wasps)
- A garden umbrella – or if you’re lucky enough to have one in your garden, a large tree to shade under. There is nothing worse than warm drinks and burnt noses!
- If at home I suggest giant cushions. I got mine online for a couple of pounds a few years ago. They’re excellent for keeping comfortable outside.
- The right cutlery – for me I like to use bamboo cutlery and plates, easily washed and reused and a great addition to china that can get broken oh so easily!
- Bamboo glasses / cups or chunky recycled glass glasses – again reusable and less breakable whilst still remaining beautiful.
Now you’ve got all your bits and bobs sorted and have an idea of what you’re going to be making, you’re well on your way to creating the perfect picnic! I hope you’ve found this little blog helpful and useful and given you a great basis to start planning for your perfect country picnic!
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