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A picnic in the park

Updated: Oct 10, 2021

It's been awhile coming, but seeing families out and about on a sunny day is a welcome sight for sore eyes.

As I walk past them at my local parks, I'm getting as much enjoyment from hearing their laughter, seeing their smiles and observing them eating and playing ball together as they are.

Boy how we've missed seeing and feeling human interaction!

I'm trying to recall when my own family got together, which was quite some time ago. Back in February 2021 in fact. At my mother's house for one of her traditional Sunday family lunches. A huge table laiden with about 14 different yummy things to eat. First with our eyes and then with our mouths!!

By this I mean of course, that the way the food is laid out and presented is an important part of the process. Whilst we can eat some bread and cheese straight from the pantry and fridge, or bought from a shop, it won't taste anywhere near as good as when there's a platter of cheeses, olives, salami and crunchy bread all laid out in front of you. Shared with your loved ones is the icing on top.

It's a bit like a buffet breakfast at a good hotel. I remember breakfast was THE highlight of the day. Walking over to the buffet section to see brightly coloured fruits of all sorts beautifully displayed meant I would be piling my plate high with at least five of them. I'd always think "why don't I do this at home?" as the fruit in the fridge would sit there for weeks before I begrudgingly ate it.

Of course, woman cannot live on fruit alone. So the next plate would be piled high with those delicious looking pastries, a glass of orange juice (never would I do this at home) and a mug of latté. Not a cup but a mug. Followed by a second one. Sure, I'd regret it later in the day, but that would not stop me from doing it all again the following day ...

So I've been thinking how to get some of our yummy foods out there for families to try at their next picnic. We were fortunate to have an abundance of olives over the past couple of years, from the olive trees my Dad planted in his front yard about 40 years ago. And whilst I can eat olives til the cows come home, and they are super good for you, there is a limit (unlike my hotel breakfast buffet habits of old).

There's quite a process involved in getting olives from the tree to the table. But I'll go into that another time. This year I decided to have a go at making olive tapenade. I gotta say, I wish I'd done this years ago.

It would have meant zero waste and lots more variety in my gift giving! And did I mention how D E L I C I O U S it tastes? Give me a piece of crunchy bread and a jar of this, and I'm set.

So, what do you take on a picnic? Well, the best part is you will probably have most items in your pantry. A range of non perishables like sun dried tomatoes, cocktail onions or gherkins and a spread or two is a good start. You'll want a selection of cheeses, bread and possibly cold meats. And a cold potato or pasta salad that is quick and easy to prepare is usually a favourite. Don't forget a few picnic rugs, some fold out chairs for those of us who aren't as flexible as we think. Your hat, the sunnies and definitely a ball or the bocce set.

Now, when it comes to what to serve the food on, here's a great tip I picked up from my sister. She brings a tupperware container and lid for everyone. That way, each person not only serves themselves (less work for Mum), but they can put the lid on when they're done and take it home. This means less clean up at the park, less wastage and definitely a better option than throw away plates and cutlery. I love it! If I can throw in a lesson on conservation at a moment's notice, I'll do it. You can never have too much of it, I say :)

Here's some of my suggestions to take along to your next picnic:

Olives or olive tapenade (or both!).

Salami – if you can find some that is home made, you won't know yourself.

Pesto – I make some with homegrown basil or parsley or oregano, without nuts.

Roasted capsicum

Cheese selection – have you tried baby Boccocini? Just pop them in your mouth.

Sun ripened tomatoes – again, home grown is the best if you know a neighbour who grows their own.

Bread, bread sticks, focaccia bread and Lebanese bread.

Arancini – personally I love the meat and pea version, which I make in bite size. But the vegetarian options are good too.

Baked Zucchini or eggplant treat – these are a must hot or cold.

A good bottle or two of wine of course!

Notice I have not included fruit anywhere – that's just me. I got my share at those hotels years ago :)

Depending on where you choose to have your picnic, my suggestion is to help a local cafe by ending your day with a good coffee bought from them. It will be hot and it gives you a good excuse to stretch your legs. And buy the kids a gelato or treat whilst you're there :)

NB: Cost details will be on our website soon but in the meantime you can order any of the items from us by emailing me with details of quantities and date. Two week lead time required. For orders within the Sydney metro area and Katoomba Blue Mountains. Pick up and delivery available.

Photos: top photo by M Gallace showing all home made foods; bottom photo is my homemade olive tapenade before I ate it. Although I did share it with my family ...

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