Picnic theme inspiration can come from so many places, and one of the best is a great tablecloth! Recently I was perusing one of my favorite blogs, Happier Than a Pig in Mud, and saw Lynn’s cute tablecloth with a map of the US and very fun graphics. Of course I had to go hunting online for one, and I found this! I knew it would be perfect for a red, white and blue picnic, so into my basket it jumped and a few days later I was exploring our great country!
There are so many places I haven’t yet visited, and it was so entertaining to see what attractions were highlighted. Double click on the tablecloth map to see your own area and tell me: is it accurate? Would you highlight something different? Looking at New England, I can see a cod fish above Cape Cod.
The VT maple syrup, fishing in ME and NH, and the Minute Man in Boston are all recognizable. But poor little Rhode Island has been left out altogether, and there isn’t anything from my own CT. So I’ll have to take you on another site seeing trip and an All-American picnic.
One of our oldest state parks, Putnam Memorial is known as Connecticut’s Valley Forge, where some of Washington’s forces spent the horrible winter of 1778-79. They were under the command of General Israel Putnam, a gruff man credited by some with the famous cry “Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes!” This may or may not be true, but one thing is for certain, General Putnam was a very tough man who referred to the enemy officers as “varmints” and escaped being a prize catch of the British by running his horse down the stone steps in Greenwich, a feat memorialized by this statue at the entrance to the park.
After seeing these sites it was with a very thankful and appreciative heart that I found a table on which to spread the US map tablecloth and my blue and white star quilt. I have many baskets, but one of my very favorites is my picnic tin which I won from Mary long ago! I still love it and I’ve been collecting dishes to use with it. (joy, oh joy for an excuse to collect dishes!) 🙂
I wanted to serve an All-American picnic lunch, and strangely enough I found inspiration in one of our cookbooks from a British cook. We had two British cookbooks this week, and both had picnic ideas for carrying roasts to the picnic site where it seemed the picnickers would rip into it with their hands. Well. I’m not fussy about table manners outdoors, but that seemed a little barbaric, even for these uncivilized colonists, so instead of a roast I chose to bring sliced, rare roast beef and all the fixins for us to assemble our own sandwiches. What could be more American than a nice, juicy, rare roast beef? In The Picnic Cookbook I found a delicious and easy recipe for an aioli made from sour cream, garlic, lemon juice and sea salt, topped with cayenne pepper to add a little zing. And look at those native beefsteak tomatoes! So good!!
I knew the garlic and cayenne combo would require a little cooling down, and this salad of seemingly odd ingredients was amazing. Just watermelon, cukes, lime juice and sea salt! The watermelon was sweet and juicy, the cukes cool and crispy, and of course if a dish has lime juice I’ll take it! (add the lime juice right before serving so it doesn’t get mushy)
I figured that with the roast beef, tomatoes and watermelon I was well on my way to a nice American style picnic.
So what to do about beverages? Well, of course, Poland Spring mineral water, “coming to ya straight from Maine!” (as the song used to go!)
And tucked away in my fridge I have my hoard, uh, I meant to say, my supply-to-be-shared-with-all, (okay, let’s go with that) of Colonial Williamsburg Ginger Ale and Root Beer, which I gathered on a recent trip south. If you go you should try it! I’m not a soda drinker and I don’t just love going to CW to get root beer, but if I’m there I always bring home a few boxes. And the labels are great too — clearly another piece for my American picnic!
Fresh air and hiking and a good lunch always needs something sweet for the finishing touch, and in the same (British!) cookbook I found a refrigerator cake. I had never made a refrigerator cake before and was intrigued, especially when I read the ingredient “golden syrup” and wondered if I could get it here. Well, yes! Bittersweet chocolate, real butter, raisins, candied cherries (which, it turns out, are not available anywhere in the summertime, so I substituted maraschino), and graham crackers all mushed together and put in the fridge for a few hours looked like this:
These truly bite-sized super sweet pieces were all we could stand at once, but my creative team thought of using the pieces later as a topping for vanilla ice cream.
I wish you could join us at our picnic table!
We could have some fun exploring this tablecloth and assembling our lunch!
You can snooze while I have a little more camera practice.
And we’ll have a moment of thanksgiving for those who made our wonderful country possible.
These no-cook meals are really my style. Go ahead and take a bite! It’s delicious!
tell me about your area on the tablecloth,
then find more inspiration from the real bakers