While our children were growing up, we set aside time every year to go apple picking. It started years ago, when another family invited us to join them and suggested we each bring a picnic.
That year I took packaged lunch meat, canned potato chips and a bag of cookies. She packed homemade chicken salad, homemade cookies, and trendy chips, plus a tablecloth and enough paper plates to share. By the next year, I had my full court press: a picnic basket; a cooler on wheels; fresh chicken salad with almonds on croissants; homemade chocolate cookies; designer napkins and matching tablecloth.
To my friend’s credit, it did not become a game of one-up-man-ship. We continued our picnics every year while the kids were growing up, sharing food out of plastic bags and introducing each other to chips without trans fats and gourmet cookies that you didn’t have to bake. We solved the problems of the world while munching on freshly picked apples and drinking fresh-pressed apple cider, along with the contents of our aging picnic baskets. Our children have fabulous memories of those picnics, and of sharing food and friendship in the open air.
From romantic trysts with cheese and French bread, to a church potluck, who among us hasn’t experienced a picnic of some sort? While picnics have always been popular summertime activities, it seems they have come into their own.
Enter a cookbook from Chronicle Books. It’s not new (2004), but it is well done. It’s one of those cookbooks that you pick up to read as fantasy, and get so drawn into the story that you begin to think the heroine is you. Sure, I’d pair ricotta cheese with blueberries and serve it with French bread. Of course I would think of a Spanish-Style tortilla with Potatoes and Spinach to pack in my picnic basket. A Nectarine Tart? Piece of cake.
The recipes by Sara Deseran and the photography by Jonelle Weaver make for a visually interesting cookbook that is straightforward and uncluttered. It’s a usable cookbook that is decorative with a purpose. It is laid out in divisions that make sense and includes a nice selection of sample menus, plus directions for the novice on packing for a picnic.
Consider this a nice addition to a collection of themed cookbooks, or a great book to slip into a wicker picnic basket and give as a shower or housewarming gift.