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Picnic perfection

Caramie SchnellVail, CO, Colorado
AE Picnic Backpack DT 6-26-07
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Forget sticky, smushed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a Juicy Juice box a picnic doesnt have to mean unappetizing food, local chef Rick Kangas said.A picnic is a pretty special thing for most people, why not make it more special by putting together something thats unusual or special as well? Kangas said.Between Fourth of July celebrations, Bravo! and Dance Festival performances at the Ford Amphitheater, Tuesday night Streetbeat concerts in Vail and Eagles ShowDown Town concert series Thursday, there are plenty of picnic-worthy occasions to choose from. Pick your performance pleasure and then dust off the old wicker basket (or new in vogue backpack basket) and prepare to pack it with some yummy food.

Rather than just throwing old reliable a baguette, a block of cheese and an apple in your backpack to shuttle to one of the many free concerts or events in the valley this summer, Kangas recommends taking the blanketside meal one (or three or four) step further. That might be where to start, but have something unique to go with it maybe curry chicken on a stick with a peanut sauce or steamed shrimp with a lemon dill rub.Even a sandwich stepped up from the turkey and swiss or PB&J staple is a reliable, appetizing main course for your menu. Try an Italian creation with Provolone cheese, salami, black forest ham, roasted red peppers and pepperoncini (hot peppers) on a cibatta role. If kids are involved, leave the peppers and salami off one side of the crusty sammy.

For a side dish, Kangas recommends a cold soup, especially good for a picnic as it travels well and is refreshing on a hot summer day A chilled cucumber soup or a watermelon gazpacho would be nice, he said. Put the soup in a thermos and keep it near an ice pack so it stays chilled. Kangas finds most of his recipes on recipezaar.com, he said. Its the best (Web site) Ive found. They rate the recipes too if people make it, they can come back and write a review about it, he said.And dont forget dessert chocolate brownies or raspberry or lemon fruit bars will likely go over well with picnic goers, Kangas said. And theyre good straight out of the Tupperware container no preparation necessary.Caramie Schnell can be reached for comment at cschnell@vaildaily.com.

If your grandmas old wicker picnic basket is a little unweildly at times, check out the Santa Barbara Picnic Basket for two that Kitchen Collage carries. For $79.99 you get the insulated backpack, which features a wine holder compartment on the outside. On the inside are two plastic wine glasses, a set of silverware for two, two plastic plates, cloth napkins, a corkscrew, a wine stopper, a cheese board and spreader, and a set of salt and pepper shakers.Here are some picnic accessories to bring: A picnic basket, hamper or tote bag for carrying food and equipment Food chests to keep food hot or cold Frozen blue ice for chilled foods Ice cubes for drinks A tablecloth, quilt, sheet or any other cover if you plan to eat on the ground. Oilcloth table covers work wellbecause you can wipe spills off with a paper towel. Check out oilcloth.com and check out the vintage patterns. Large cloth or paper napkins Wicker holders for paper plates Plates and flatware (dont forget bowls if youre serving a chilled soup) water and wineglasses Bottle opener, corkscrew and can opener Paper towels Plastic bags or plastic wrap for leftovers Large plastic bag for trash Large plastic bag for used dishes and utensils Small cutting board and knife Condiments: salt, pepper, mustard, relish, etc. Soft drinks, sparkling or bottled water, beer or wine. Remember, while picnics and sealed bottled drinks are allowed at the Ford Amphitheater, alcohol isnt. Beer and wine are sold at the concessions stand inside.

Pack the foods to be eaten last at the bottom of the bag or chest and the first on top, so that you dont have to unpack everything at once. Use vacuum-packed containers to avoid leaks and soggy bags; seal the containers in Ziploc plastic bags. Pack soft foods like deviled eggs, tomatoes or fruit in hard plastic containers or egg cartons. If you are serving a hot soup, preheat the thermos with boiling water. For a cold soup, chill the thermos with ice water for several minutes. Divide or cut the portions in your kitchen. Its much easier to serve pieces or slices of grilled chicken or duck than to carve them on the ground. Pack garnishes in Ziploc plastic bags. Parsley, basil, mint and herb flowers should be sprinkled with water before packing. Keep them in the cooler. source: ivillage.com

Mikes herb and onion dipPrinted on the back of one of the RIcks Rubs seasoning containers is this dip recipe, named after Mike Hernandez, the co-owner of Moes BBQ, Chef Rick Kangas said. You can find the rubs, along with Ricks Chips and crackers, at The Lift Cafe in Minturn and The Kitchen Collage and Village Market, both in Edwards.Ingredients:1/2 cup red onion, minced1/2 cup cream cheese, softened1/2 cup sour cream1 tablespoon of Herbs Herbs (one variety of Ricks Rubs seasonings)Mix all ingredients together. If the dip is too thick, thin it with a little water or milk. Chef Rick Kangas recommends serving this dip with potato chips or root vegetable chips or cut fresh vegetables like cucumbers, celery, carrots, red pepper broccolli, cauliflower, mushrooms and jicama.BLT with avocado spreadThis sandwich ups the healthy ante by trading white bread for wheat and full fat bacon for the leaner turkey variety. Instead of mayonaise, try the healthier and more heat-friendly avocado spread.Makes 4 servings.Ingredients:Spread1 extra ripe avocado2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice1/2 teaspoon salt1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepperSandwich8 slices turkey bacon8 slices whole-wheat bread8 leaves romaine lettuce2 medium tomatoes, cut into 12 slices1 small red onion, thinly slicedpreparationCombine spread ingredients in a bowl. Mash until smooth and set aside. Prepare bacon as directed on package; drain thoroughly on paper towels. Toast bread. Place 4 slices on 4 plates. Spread an equal amount of avocado spread on each slice. Top each with 1/4 of the bacon, lettuce, tomato, and onion. Cover each with another slice of toast. Cut sandwiches in half and serve immediately.(SELF, July 2007) Source: epicurious.com.Corn, tomato and scallion saladMakes 8 servings.Ingredients:4 ears fresh corn, shucked2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil2 garlic cloves, minced1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar1 lb cherry tomatoes, halved1/2 cup coarsely chopped scallion greenspreparationCut corn kernels from ears, discarding cobs. Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then saut corn with salt and pepper to taste, stirring, until tender, about 4 minutes.Add garlic and saut, stirring, 1 minute. Add vinegar and cook, stirring, until most is evaporated, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook, gently stirring, 1 minute.Remove skillet from heat and stir in scallions.Transfer vegetables to a large plate to cool and season with salt and pepper.Cooks note: Salad can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.(Gourmet, July 2000) Source: epicurious.com.


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