Allspice Chronicles

Entertain like a Queen, Think Lean and Live Green! A personal collection of recipes,anecdotes,and good old fashioned advice…

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Nifty Napkin Folds: The Pyramid Fold

by Danica Waters

Ok folks.  The arrival of mid-October means only one thing besides Halloween:

The. Holiday. Season. Is. Upon. Us.

Face it.  We’ve got about a month until the nostalgic refrains of Christmas carols, sparkly-twinkly lights and the heavy, inescapable scent of cinnamon pinecones inundate every venue in the northern hemisphere and beyond.  Brings tears to my eyes.  (Not the holidays; the cinnamon pineconesACK!!) 

 

Since we published ideas and etiquette tips on The Great Buffet, the Allspice Chronicles had countless requests for instructions and ideas on napkin folds.  Given that there’s no time like holiday time to practice and perfect the timeless art of “napkin origami”, every Monday from now until the end of the year we will happily feature a new napkin fold, from fancy-schmancy to buffet-roll basics.  Add them to your entertainment arsenal and perfect your party-making prowess; and for heaven’s sake, teach them to the kids!  Napkin folding is a great way to keep older children occupied and feeling productive while you’re doing everything else.

Today we’ll start with something on the simple side.

Enjoy!

 

The Pyramid Fold

 

This fold is relatively easy to achieve with almost any sort of cloth.  While all napkin folds will work best with a medium weight cloth, most or all of them can be achieved even on flimsy, lightweight material if you use a bit of spray starch and an iron.

 

Step 1:

Lay the napkin face down in front of you, seams facing upwards.

Step 2:

Fold the napkin in half diagonally.

 

Step 3:

Rotate the napkin so the corners on the open end face away from you.  Fold the right corner up to meet the top corner, making sure that the new fold cuts directly down the center.

Step 4:

Fold up the left side just as you did the right; pat well to reinforce the seam that runs down the center.

Step 5:

Carefully lift the napkin and turn it over, keeping the open end facing away from you.

Step 6:

Fold the top, open section of the napkin down towards you and make the two points meet at the point nearest to you.

Step 7:

Flip the napkin over, keeping the open end towards you.  Fold the napkin in half along the center seam and stand up.

Voila!

 

Posted October 17th, 2011.

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Marbled Blackberry Pound Cake

by Danica Waters

 

Having grown up under the influence of heavy-duty Southern Sensibilities and then steeped in the sweet civility of British living once or twice, I must admit that I have come to truly appreciate the merits of a good pound cake.  While most folks shudder at the thought of what a pound cake can do to a diet, I personally feel better if I’ve got three or four of them tucked away in my freezer for gift giving and emergencies.  And tea.

My Nana was famous for handing out pound cakes to visitors.  It was just what she did.  The mailman came with packages during the summer and received pound cake and lemonade to go.  Mothers would come to pick up their kids after a play date, and they, too, received some version of a delectable pound cake.   A cake walk or a bake sale at the school?  Yep.  Pound cake.  She always spoke to the fact that a good pound cake went with everything, was admired by everyone,  remained virtually indestructible during transport, and always showed up looking good at a party.  While that sounds more like a great travel garment than something you’d eat, go figure; I now find myself collecting great pound cake recipes, baking them in wee tiny pans and putting them away for gift giving, emergencies, and yes, afternoon tea.

This is a lighter version of a pound cake I found on Martha Stewart’s website.  It could easily be made with any type of jam, but is completely smashing with a  fresh blackberry swirl.  As a footnote, I chose to leave my blackberries crushed but not pureed, and the result was fantastic.  Super easy to make ahead and freeze, this is a great way to get a head-start on the holiday season.

Enjoy!

 

Marbled Blackberry Pound Cake

(Martha Stewart)

 

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan

6 ounces blackberries (1 1/3 cups)

1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 5-by-9-inch loaf pan and line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; butter parchment. In a food processor, puree blackberries with 2 tablespoons sugar. (Or, for a more rustic texture, simply crush blackberries and combine with sugar.)  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Transfer half the batter to pan and dot with 1/2 cup blackberry puree. Repeat with remaining batter and puree. With a skewer or thin-bladed knife, swirl batter and puree together. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 30 minutes. Lift cake out of pan and place on a serving plate; let cool completely before slicing.

 

Posted October 11th, 2011.

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Creamy Chocolate Cupcakes

by Danica Waters / nature photos courtesy of www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm

 

I first discovered this recipe about ten years ago, in the back of an issue of Taste of Home magazine.  It was October, the aspen were ablaze in the Colorado high country and I was excitedly planning an annual autumn picnic for a large group of friends and family.  Although our family made frequent pilgrimages to the mountains throughout the year, our October excursion was special in a spiritual sort of way.

 

In the lush valleys of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, October heralds the return of the giant elk as they descend from higher elevations to mate and prepare for the onset of winter.  It is a humbling, transfixing ritual to observe, as old as time and as beautifully executed as a waltz in a king’s court.

 

On this particular October excursion, we arrived with enough time to spend the day hiking, and, of course, daring each other to dip our toes in the ice-cold burbling streams.   Finally, as the late afternoon chill set in, we returned to the small parking lot on the far side of the meadows. Wet, shivering children got tucked into clean, dry socks and loads of blankets; hearty picnic dinner offerings were devoured and steaming cups of hot cocoa were passed around as we, and the many other nature-lovers around us, waited for the elk to appear.

 

Venus twinkled over Long’s Peak, shining like a  diamond in the deepening periwinkle sky; then, as if by magic, the soft sounds of laughter and conversation suddenly gave way to reverent silence with the first sighting of a bull elk. He appeared from the shadowy depths of the forest and walked slowly and deliberately into the meadow, completely aware of and unfazed by our presence; we were mere courtiers in the presence of a King.

 

He assumed his position center stage in the tall grasses and stood magnificently still, waiting.  Then, on an impulse, he thrust his head back and let out a haunting, lonely cry that reverberated all the way through the valley.  The ensuing silence was nothing short of deafening; it was as though every molecule of every being in the entire valley had been suspended in time.

 

Ever-so-slowly, from the forest shadows appeared the does.  With almost-choreographed precision, they made their way, one by one, in front of the group of onlookers and then past the King, only to disappear back into the trees on the opposite side of the meadow.  After the last doe had made her appearance, the King turned and followed them, swallowed by the shadows of nightfall.

 

The whole experience was like a dream; we had to sit a minute to digest what we’d just seen.  Kids being kids, they decided this was the perfect opportunity to remind me that we hadn’t yet served dessert.  I absentmindedly broke out these little cupcakes, and suddenly realized I was experiencing another kind of dream, because that same sudden, magical hush fell over everyone in our group as they took their first bite.  Even the kids were quiet.  No joke.

 

Need some magic?  Try these.   Creamy Chocolate Cupcakes are the best cupcakes in the WORLD.  They have no frosting.  Instead, they have chunks of chocolate and walnuts baked into a peek-a-boo cream cheese center. Not too sweet, modestly decadent, easily transportable, and visually stunning; this is the perfect cupcake to make for every occasion.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Creamy Chocolate Cupcakes

Taste of Home August/September 1994

1-1/2 C all-purpose flour

1 C sugar

¼ C baking cocoa

½ tsp salt

2 eggs lightly beaten

¾ C water

1/3 C vegetable oil

1 Tbsp vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Filling:

 

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

1/3 C sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/8 tsp salt

1 C semisweet chocolate chips

1 C chopped walnuts

 

In large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Add the eggs, water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla; mix well.  Pour into 18 greased or paper lined muffin cups.  For filling, beat cream cheese and sugar in another mixing bowl.  Add egg and salt; mix well.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Drop by tablespoonfuls into center of each cupcake.  Sprinkle with nuts.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Makes 1-1/2 dozen.

 

Posted October 7th, 2011.

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Zucchini: Grilled and Stuffed Southwestern-Style

by Danica Waters

After spending a happy, busy weekend experimenting with different variations of stuffed grilled zucchini (so far I’ve done it Italian-style, Asian-style, and with green chiles and Parmesan cheese – yum!), this variation nearly got me a standing ovation.  Folks were placing dibs on leftovers for lunch the next day.

 

The secret ingredient is the tequila in the marinade.  It gets ‘em every time; it deepens the flavors and mingles well with all things grilled.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Zucchini:  Grilled and Stuffed Southwestern-Style

 

4 medium-sized Zucchini

 

Marinade:

¼ C extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp chili powder

Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp tequila

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

 

 

Filling:

1 – 15 oz can black beans

½ red bell pepper, seeds removed, cut to ¼” dice

2-3 diced green onions

1 ear fresh corn, kernels removed from the cob

½ C cold cooked jasmine rice

4 oz cream cheese, softened

1 tsp whole cumin seed

2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

½ C shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

1 fresh jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, finely minced

 

 

 

 

 

Trim ends from each zucchini; cut in half on the bias (crosswise).  Cut each zucchini section in half lengthwise.  Using a teaspoon, scrape seeds and pulp from the center of each zucchini section, leaving about a quarter-inch border on all sides.  Marinate zucchini in tequila mixture; set aside.

 

Heat grill to medium.

 

In a small sauté pan, sauté minced jalapeno with diced red pepper in a bit of olive oil until soft.  Add cumin seed, allow to cook for a minute to release the flavor of the cumin, and remove from the heat.

 

In a medium bowl, combine filling ingredients with peppers and cumin and mix well.  Fill zucchini sections; drizzle any remaining marinade over each stuffed zucchini section.  Grill zucchini 3-5 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly charred and cheeses are thoroughly melted; remove from grill and arrange on serving platter.

 

Allow zucchini to rest another five minutes before serving.

 

Enjoy!

Posted September 1st, 2011.

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Zucchini: Stuffed & Grilled Italian-Style

by Danica Waters (photo courtesy of www.buckcooks.com)

The end of summer quickly approaches, and gardeners across the Northern Hemisphere are getting the first tastes of their soon-to-be-overly-prolific zucchini vines. 

 

While this versatile garden favorite is an old stand-by in stir-fry dishes, minestrone soups, and of course, sweetbread, I must admit I have discovered a new all-time favorite way to adore zucchini: 

Grilled and Stuffed. 

I have recently discovered that zucchini, filled with fresh, flavorful ingredients and ever-so-slightly charred, takes on an entirely different persona;  it is smoky, delicious, and wonderful warm or cold. 

 

This week The Allspice Chronicles will happily feature four variations of Grilled Stuffed Zucchini.  They’re terrific for buffet tables and lunchboxes alike; I hope you find them as addictive as I do.

 

Enjoy!

 

Zucchini:  Grilled and Stuffed Italian-Style

 

6 medium-sized Zucchini

Italian dressing or olive oil and salt and pepper to marinate zucchini

 

½ C dry bread crumbs (substitute gluten free bread crumbs if desired)

2-3 fresh Roma tomatoes, seeds removed and diced to ¼ inch.

2-3 diced green onions

1 Tbsp fresh minced parsley

2 tsp fresh minced oregano

1/3 C shredded Parmesan

1/3 C shredded mozzarella

Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Olive Oil to bind mixture

 

(Note:  To make a heartier version of this little gem, add some cooked Italian Sausage or Italian-seasoned Vegetarian Crumbles to the filling mixture.)

 

 

Trim ends from each zucchini; cut in half on the bias (crosswise).  Cut each zucchini section in half lengthwise.  Using a teaspoon, scrape seeds and pulp from the center of each zucchini section, leaving about a quarter-inch border on all sides.  Marinate zucchini with your favorite Italian dressing or simply coat with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper; set aside.

 

Heat grill to medium.

 

In a medium bowl, combine diced tomato, diced green onion, oregano, parsley, bread crumbs, shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, and olive oil.  Fill the cavity of each zucchini with bread crumb mixture.  Drizzle any remaining marinade over each stuffed zucchini section.  Grill zucchini 3-5 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly charred and cheeses are thoroughly melted; remove from grill and arrange on serving platter.

 

Allow zucchini to rest another five minutes before serving.

 

Enjoy!

Posted August 29th, 2011.

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The Basic Crepe

by Danica Waters

I used to regard crepes as delicious somethings reserved for fancy-schmancy breakfasts on special occasions.  But then out of sheer crazy coincidence, on one of those mornings when alarm clocks don’t sound and shoes go missing and homework is seemingly scattered to the four winds, I discovered that leftover crepes are actually very practical, transportable friends to frantic moms.  They can be filled with whatever you happen to have around:  fresh fruit and cottage cheese, a smear of cream cheese with a bit of jam, or rolled up with a slice of turkey ham and a bit of cheese… Rolled up burrito-style, crepes can be easily eaten in the car with minimal mess, which makes them an even more attractive early morning solution.

 

When you take the time to make them (and they do take time), make a triple batch.  They freeze beautifully; just be sure to wrap each batch well in waxed paper and foil.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

The Basic Crepe

 

¾ C all-purpose flour, sifted

½ tsp salt

1 tsp double-acting baking powder

2 Tbsp confectioner’s sugar

 

Sift all dry ingredients together.  In separate bowl, combine:

 

2 beaten eggs

2/3 C milk

1/3 C water

¼ tsp vanilla

Zest of ½ lemon

 

Add moist ingredients to dry ingredients, and with a few strokes, mix the ingredients together.  Do not overbeat the batter – lumps will take care of themselves.  Optimally, allow the batter to rest overnight in the refrigerator.

 

Heat a small frying pan or crepe pan over medium heat;  the pan will be ready when a drop of water sizzles and dances on the surface of the pan.

 

Dip a section of paper towel in cooking oil and quickly sweep it over the hot pan.  Using a small measuring cup (about 1/3 C or ¼ C will usually turn out the perfect crepe), measure batter into the center of the pan; swirl batter until it coats the bottom of the pan evenly.  Cook until crepe starts to pull away or can be released from the sides of the pan.  Flip crepe and cook for a few seconds to set any uncooked batter; remove from pan and keep warm.

 

 

Posted August 26th, 2011.

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A Most Delicious Vodka Mojito

by Danica Waters

 

For her 23rd birthday celebration, my eldest daughter suggested we try Mojitos as an accompaniment for her all-time-favorite Southwestern Chicken and Pasta Salad.  Rather than use the traditional rum in our Mojitos, we tried vodka.  To everyone’s delight, the substitution was magical!  The transparency and lightness of the vodka allowed the full flavor of the lime and mint to fully shine through.  Topping it off with generous splash of a lime-flavored sparkling water in place of the traditional club soda only served to amplify the yumminess.  The best part?   Because the mojito is enhanced with sparkling water, it’s big on flavor but lighter on calories than most alcoholic beverages.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Vodka Mojito

 

1-1/2 oz vodka

½ tsp sugar

3 mint leaves

¼ lime

Lime-flavored sparkling water to taste

Lots of ice – enhance with crushed mint leaves and lime juice for maximum flavor

 

 

In a cocktail glass, place several slightly crushed mint leaves and fill with ice.

 

In a cocktail shaker, muddle ¼ of a lime and three mint leaves with ½ tsp of sugar and a splash of sparkling water.  Add ice; pour vodka over the top.  Shake well; strain and pour into prepared cocktail glass.  Top off with lime-flavored sparkling water to taste.

 

Makes 1 delicious mojito.

Posted August 16th, 2011.

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Icebox Banana Cake With Chocolate Cream

by Danica Waters

My youngest daughter has loved to be in the kitchen since she was, well, born.  She never wanted to be far from me; her favorite place as a little baby was in her bouncy-chair on the kitchen counter, and she always reminded me of a little alien because of how intently she would watch and listen while I told her about everything I did.

 

She learned about fractions by using our measuring cups.

 

She learned about spices by tasting each and every one individually (cardamoms were complex and fascinating, cayenne pepper, not so much).

 

And by her early teens, she knew how to pick out a great recipe simply by eyeing the list of ingredients.

 

Now she’s 18 (sniff!) and this cake happens to be her most recent culinary success.  While the original recipe called for a whipped-cream frosting, she modified it to a cream-cheese base.  Not too sweet but just enough, this cake looks impressive, freezes beautifully and is terrific to serve on a hot summer evening.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Icebox Banana Cake with Chocolate Cream

(adapted from Land O Lakes Treasury of Country Recipes)

 

Cake

 

1 C sugar

2/3 C butter, softened

2 tsp vanilla (Madagascar bourbon vanilla is best)

2 eggs

1 C mashed ripe banana

¼ C dairy sour cream

1-1/2 C all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

 

Chocolate Cream

 

¾ C heavy whipping cream

8 oz cream cheese, softened

3 Tbsp powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

½ C chocolate chips, melted

 

2 bananas

2 Tbsp chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts are delicious)

 

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  In large mixer bowl combine sugar, butter and vanilla.  Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until light and fluffy (1 to 2 minutes).  Continue beating, adding eggs one at a time, until creamy (1 to 2 minutes).  By hand, stir in 1 C mashed bananas and sour cream.  Fold in flour and baking soda.  Pour into two greased and floured 8” round cake pans.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 5 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely.

 

In chilled small mixer bowl, beat chilled whipping cream at high speed, scraping bowl often, until soft peaks form.  Gradually add sugar and vanilla, continue beating until stiff peaks form (1 to 2 minutes).  Add softened cream cheese and melted chocolate; continue beating until well-mixed (about a minute – do not overbeat).

 

On a serving plate, place 1 cake layer.  Spread with half the chocolate cream.  Slice 1 banana and lay slices on top of chocolate cream.  Top with remaining cake layer, and frost with remaining chocolate cream.

 

If serving that same day: 

Place frosted cake in refrigerator for two hours.  Just prior to serving, slice remaining banana and arrange slices on top of cake.  Sprinkle with chopped nuts.

 

If planning to freeze:

Slice remaining banana, arrange slices on top of cake, and sprinkle with chopped nuts.  Freeze immediately to prevent banana slices from turning brown.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Posted July 22nd, 2011.

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Mom’s Old-Fashioned Oatmeal-Spice Cookies

by Danica Waters

My mother is a woman way ahead of her time.  Always into “health food” and organic nutrition,  she steered us far away from the bologna-and-American-cheese-on-white-bread-with-Pringles-and-Kool Aid that all the other kids in the world seemed to be eating.  Indeed, while other kids were smacking away on Twinkies and Ding-Dongs, at lunchtime I would without fail have to explain to a crowd of skeptical peers what a bean sprout was, and why on earth I was eating it with my tuna fish on wheat bread.  (Sigh.)

But my mom made up for it with her Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Spice Cookies.  They’re not too  “sweet”, they’re perfectly spiced and packed with dried fruit and nuts, and they are awesome with a glass of cold milk.  They are my son’s favorite cookie, and they’ve been part of nearly every picnic and every hike I can remember.

Enjoy!

 

Mom’s Old- Fashioned Oatmeal-Spice Cookies

In large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together:

1/2 C butter

1/2 C shortening or vegetable oil (use oil if you prefer a softer cookie)

1 c sugar

 

Add:

2 eggs slightly beaten

 

In separate bowl, sift together:

2 C flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cloves

1 tsp nutmeg

 

Reduce your mixer speed to low, and slowly add dry ingredients to creamed mixture.  Then fold in:

2 C old-fashioned oats

1 C raisins, craisins, or other dried fruit

1 C chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

 

Drop by rounded spoonfuls on to an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 3-5 minutes if baking a teaspoon-sized cookie, 8-10 minutes if baking a Tablespoon-sized cookie.

 

Posted July 14th, 2011.

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Keep It Classy – The 101 On Picnic Etiquette

by Danica Waters

There’s something about Nature that inspires people – in all sorts of odd ways.  We’ve all seen it:

There’s the co-worker who, because it’s a hot summer day, decides to sport his Speedo at the company picnic;

There’s the beer-swilling bunch at the next picnic table who decides everyone  for miles around should know and respect their speed metal screamo mixtape…

…of course this same bunch believes that empty beer cans are best left strewn on the ground and that swearing loudly in front of your children is an undeniable sign of manliness;

There’s the couple who insists on sharing their undying passion for each other with the rest of the world by publicly swapping spit for hours on end;

Oh, and of course there’s the family of ten who, after having RSVP’d to your invitation and volunteering to bring chips and sodas, shows up with a single bag of Lays and a six-pack and then makes sure their herd is the first to the trough;

There’s the folks who decide that, since the great outdoors is free space and open to everyone, they are free to invite their friends to your event with no notice whatsoever;

There’s the parents who figure they’re due a good time like everybody else and therefore they rely on everyone else at the gathering to watch their uncontrollable kids;

There’s those that systematically show up late and then leave early – being sure to meticulously hunt down and take all their leftovers in the process, and never ever helping to clean up one tiny little bit;

There’s the folks who think it’s ok to leave a picnic table covered in food smears and spills because it’s no longer their problem;

There’s those darn people who insist on setting up their tag football game right next to your picnic spot, clearly not caring who or what they trample in their wake…

 

Eeeeesh.  The list goes on and on.

Here’s some friendly tips on how to behave when you’re dining in the Great Outdoors:

 

Shared space is exactly that:  shared space. 

You don’t own it.  It shows well to behave appropriately and with extreme consideration for others.

Unless it’s a crowded park or beach area, as a rule most people prefer lots of space between you and them.  It’s best to be respectful and keep your distance when at all possible.  After all, the wild blue yonder is deep and wide; there’s plenty of room for everyone.

Gauge your activities, behavior, conversation and tone of voice on the following:

 

Are there people close by?

Everyone might have a better time and feel a little more free to be themselves if you choose a site away from others.

 

Are they in earshot of your conversation?

Consider the words you choose, your tone of voice, the volume of your laughter, the subject of conversation, etc. accordingly.

No matter how public a space might be, it’s just plain rude and ignorant to subject strangers to your personal conversations, no matter what the topic happens to be.   Off-color jokes, topics, and foul language should be treated with even more care.  If you think your party will end up heading in this direction, simply choose a site away from everyone else, be yourselves, and have fun!

As a general rule, most people come to enjoy the peace and quiet of the outdoors.  It’s best to enjoy your music at home.

 

Can you see them?  Can they see YOU?

Curtail any rude gestures or questionable body language if someone outside your immediate party can see you.

While everyone in your party might be accustomed  to seeing your sweaty beer belly at friendly family functions, rest assured the folks at the next picnic table are best left unexposed to your “endowments”.  Please keep your shirt on.

You might be experiencing the most romantic picnic the world has ever seen. If that’s the case, well, good for you!  But please, if you simply cannot control yourself and feel you have no choice but to demonstrate your overwhelming passion for eachother, do it in a place where no one else has to watch.  (Ahem!  Get a room!)   Here’s a different way of thinking about it:  If you happen to find yourselves in the company of strangers who appear to be enjoying watching you and your loved one “get it on”, you’d be smart to be concerned.  Be very concerned.

Set up any games away from others’ space.  Sorry, but badminton birdies and potato salad just don’t get along.  And be extra-aware of any small children who might have wandered into your game – nothing will spoil a good time faster than an injury.

 

If you’ve been invited to a picnic:

RSVP promptly

Ask what is going to be served and what you can bring to help out.  It’s a good idea to ask how many others will be coming so you can plan to bring enough.

If you’re a vegetarian and the main course is to be hamburgers and hot dogs, ask the host/ess  if  he/she  minds if you bring a vegetarian option to supplement.  It’s highly unlikely you’ll get an objection, and you just might have helped your host/ess  avoid a potentially embarrassing situation.  The same principle applies to folks with food allergies.  Even if you’re darn sure you’re the only vegetarian/allergic person in the bunch, bringing only enough of something for yourself looks stingy.  Be sure to bring enough for others to sample, as well.

It’s best to at least offer to come early to assist with setup; it’s always a good idea to stay to clean up, as well.

Be sure to label the bottom of any food container or serving platter with your name; in the event you leave the dish in its container for others to enjoy, it will make it far easier for the host/ess to get it back to you.

If you’re bringing a dish that requires a serving utensil, be sure to provide the required utensil.

NEVER bring others who are uninvited to any gathering without asking the host/ess well in advance.

Even if your host/ess assures you that everything’s covered, never show up empty-handed.  At the very least, bring some extra water bottles or a box of chocolates to share.

Remember to leave your picnic site better than you found it; you’ll make someone else’s day by leaving a super-clean table and picture-perfect site.

Keep It Classy! 

Feel free to submit any additional tips or rules of picnic etiquette through the “Contact Us” form here.

Posted July 12th, 2011.

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