Someone mentioned picnics, and I suddenly thought, that it’s been an age since we went on a picnic! We seemed to go picnicking a lot when I was a child, although my dad hated eating outside. I think many men of his age did, with memories of the war and eating outside in ghastly places with vermin, insects and what he described as ‘shite-birds’ which would snatch whatever they could from the unwary.
Ruth Drew who wrote ‘The Happy Housewife’, was a great camper, picnicker, and enthusiast for the out-doors. I’ve written about her delightful idea, and now fashionable sixty odd years after she wrote it, for picnics in jam jars. As for what to pack into a jar for out-of-doors food… well, the range is as wide as your imagination, she says. Mind you, I don’t think these days we would necessarily choose some of her favourites, cold scrambled egg for example…
Not content with a first course, Ruth suggests a second: fruit purées are splendid on a picnic – apple purée for example – or lovely cool slippery gooseberry fool, with a few sponge fingers to eat with it’. I know i’m fussy, but the idea of slippery food doesn’t really attract me – but I get the idea! A jam jar of trifle, sounds ok, and Ruth does go on to suggest fruit salad, which would be very nice and refreshing. As for drinks, well a dedicated picnicker like Ruth would be out in all weathers, so a flask of soup – ‘many’s the slightly chilly feast which has been pulled together by a mugful of steaming broth’. Hot drinks – tea or coffee, cold drinks, iced tea – which again is very popular now; Ruth suggests China tea with mint and lemon. The for cold drinks, no coke or fizzy stuff, no cans, but squash especially for the younger generation!
Last of all, cake – even the smallest most meagre picnic should have cake. Ruth in her wisdom adds that whatever you bring you should plump for something unsquelchy – in the days before wet-wipes I can see the sense, but on the other hand… there are some tremendously yum squelchy things to be had!!
And finally, as Ruth says:
Let’s hope that when you have your picnic the birds will sing and the sun will shine for you!
My featured image is of a family picnic with us, my mum’s two sisters and brother, and my cousins.