Sunday, August 1, 2010

Which came first? The picnic or the pie?

"You have to do something bad when Mommy's out of town. It's the law. You're seen Risky Business, right?" -Lorelei Gilmore, Gilmore Girls

I suppose that if Lorelei is right, my sister and I are just law breakers. This weekend, we had other plans instead of parties and late nights and "inviting hundreds of bikers and lowlifes who are gonna trash the place" as the Gilmore girl would have suggested. What did we do instead? Plan a menu and cook! We decided to have a picnic with some friends as a chance to soak up the last drops of summer and cook classic picnic food. We spent the first day planning a menu. We debated what types of food to make and what should go in them, browsing online for ideas but mainly making up recipes. Both of us have a strong affinity for lists, so we started to write down all the ingredients. Realizing that the task of organizing this menu was too complicated for old-school paper and pencil, we used Google Wave to write out the menu with every ingredient for each dish, put a list of tasks to accomplish in time order, and write out two shopping lists, one for the farmer's market and one for the grocery store.

Saturday the shopping started. We woke up early to head to the farmer's market. It was raining quite strongly and we didn't know if the market would still be happening in the rain. We hoped for the best though, and grabbed reusable bags for veggies (one with my double zip-locked wallet and grocery list in it). We were pleased to find the market thoroughly drenched but fully functioning. We trudged around in our rain boots and bought zucchini, peaches, tomatoes, corn, blueberries, and a great, big, heavy watermelon. Due to the lack of beautiful fresh green beans, they were cut from the menu. By the time we had driven home the rain had moved on. We unpacked the produce and headed to Payless for more groceries.

I love cooking with my sister. Over Saturday and Sunday, we spent hours together cooking and baking and doing endless dishes. When we cook together, we listen to music. We both love almost any type of music, so we listened to an extremely eclectic bunch of cds. We listened to entire albums of Keb Mo, Carole King, Jackson 5, Edwin Hawkins Singers (gospel), Glee, and Spice Girls. All amazing, but all very different.

Not long after noon, our preparations were complete. We were showered and dressed and ready for some serious picnicing. We packed the car and headed to the park. With the help of our friends, we unloaded the car and spread out blankets under a tree. In a few minutes, the eating began.

Alright, alright, this is eating, not drinking, I know. But still. Jones soda is an important addition to a menu, not to be glossed over. This particular Jones soda was root beer, an American classic and one of my personal favorite drinks.

First out was chips and salsa. My sister was the head honcho on this one. It was a peach and tomato salsa with lime juice and parsley. Mmm it was perfect! Sweet and summery and oh so easy to make.

Deviled eggs are one of my favorite things to make and my favorite things to eat. These were nothing fancy with mayo and mustard with paprika on top. I did enjoy a lovely revelation in regards to the tin foil functioning as a deviled egg plate (many thanks to Ben).

Our main dish was a big tortellini dish. We mixed tortellini with sautéed onion, eggplant, zucchini (both green and a beautiful yellow and green), bell peppers (one green, one purple, and one white), and tomatoes (both yellow and red). With some basil and plenty of parmesan it was substantial, but not too heavy for a picnic.

We're all about veggies, so we made gorgeous carrot salad. The bright carrots were studded with blueberries (the ultimate salad duo). We added green apples for some additional sweet-tart crunch and toasted walnuts because nothing is complete without toasted walnuts. Dressing was simple lemon juice, olive oil, and mustard. Perfection.

My sister didn't even want a watermelon, but I insisted when I saw the perfect creatures at the market. There is nothing that so obviously belongs at a picnic than a red, juicy melon. I wanted one with seeds to spit, but we can't have our cake and eat it too.

We can have our pie and eat it too, though.

And in this case, it is my key lime pie. Key lime pie might just be my favorite pie ever. It is so amazingly easy to make and it always comes out perfectly. I like sour, so my pie is very limey. That's all right though, because I believe that the proper way to eat a key lime pie is equal parts pie and sweet whipped cream.

In truth, one of the main causes of my desperate desire to have a picnic was a sudden realization from a few days ago. It occurred to me that it had been almost a year since the last time I made my famous key lime pie. How did that manage to happen? A summer without a key lime pie would be criminal. So, I whipped up a pie for a Sunday afternoon picnic. Or maybe whipped up a Sunday afternoon picnic to go with my pie? Who knows.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great picnic. Wish I had been there--but then maybe there would not have been a picnic? At least I got leftovers for dinner tonight.