It’s silly to cook much when the weather is warm. Picnics don’t have to be big, planned things. If you keep a few basic picnic foods around the house, you can grab them and go to Palmer Park or Belle Isle anytime.
I think that food in warm weather should be kept whole and simple. Summer fruits and vegetables don’t need much preparation. It is easy to keep green onions, radishes, tomatoes and cucumbers cleaned and in a plastic bag. Throw a few ice cubes in the bag and everything will stay crisp and cold, even in a picnic basket.
Rather than lugging charcoal and all the other equipment, keep the food down to cheese and some good bread or pre-cooked meat.
My latest discovery has been the frozen food department, since I now have a refrigerator with a sizable freezer. I got a good buy on 1/4 of a turkey (about 4 lbs. for $1.18) at Farmer Jack’s. All it takes is a few hours in the oven, covered in tin foil, and I have cold turkey for a week. Take it along on a picnic and use the rest for turkey salad.
Potato salad is hardly new or exciting but everyone likes it and it is easy to make:
Boil a lot of potatoes. Use more than you think is necessary, because by the time you get them cut up, you realize that you should have cooked more. I boil them with the skins on because they are easier to peel after they are boiled. Throw in a few eggs to boil the last five minutes with the potatoes.
While the potatoes and eggs are cooling, chop up some green onions, celery, and radishes. Dice the potatoes and eggs and mix everything together. Add a few heaping tablespoons sweet relish and some juice from regular sweet pickles. Add some seasoning; salt, pepper, parsley, a dash of garlic salt, and then put in equal parts mayonnaise and sour cream. My trick here is the pickle juice and sour cream. Most people like potato salad good and moist but it ends up too mayonnaisey. The pickle juice keeps it wet and flavorable while the sour cream makes the mayonnaise more spreadable.
I must throw in a plug for Maxim coffee. My friends say I sound just like the commercial, but really, after drinking Maxim, the only time I make a pot of real coffee is when a lot of people are over. Maxim is freeze-dried and honestly tastes like freshly brewed coffee.