This post comes to us from our good friend and bike foodie, Anna Brones (@annabrones). Author of both The Culinary Cyclist and Fika, Anna gives us her 10 rules for picnics by bike this summer! (You can win a bundle of items in this photo shoot this week too! Check out our Instagram contest for more info.)
Summer means a later sunset, which means that, if you’re like me and trying to eat outside at every possible moment of your existence (no, really), you can take a little more time when it comes to your picnic planning.
It was a regular Wednesday evening…middle of the week, the air a little balmy, and being tired from a few too many things on the to-do list meant that there was only one dinner option: climb to the top of a hill on a bicycle and have a picnic. I believe in the culinary cyclist rules after all, and fresh air and dinner al fresco is a good solution to any mid-week lull.
The beauty of the impromptu picnic is that it’s just that: unplanned and spontaneous. Of course, more elaborate picnics are always worth the effort. Just ask the Portland Picnic Society – yes, that is really a thing – who organize monthly picnic extravaganzas, complete with location scouting and deviled eggs.
“But Anna…” you say, “Summer is just getting started! Where do we start?!”
Yes, yes it is. And these 10 rules will make it the best yet!
Picnics are a summer institution. As such, there are some key rules for impromptu picnicking. Consider this your guide to summer enjoyment.
- Serve Real Food
We have already discussed the delights of eating outdoors, and how if you are outdoors, there’s no excuse not to eat real food. Ok, ok, you may buy a bag of sweet potato chips, but for the love of God, make your own tapenade (pssst, there’s a cookie recipe at the bottom to get you started).
- If You Are Serving Real Food, Bring Real Plates
Even if you are biking to your picnic destination, bring plates. Hint: there is no better protection than being wrapped in a picnic blanket.
- Serve a Special Drink
Bubbles, homemade kombucha, or an infused cocktail; whatever it is, just make sure you bring it.
- Designate a “Picnic Tablecloth”
It doesn’t have to be an actual tablecloth, a tea towel will work, but you and your bread crumbs will be happy you have it.
- Invest in a Swiss Army Knife
Seriously, you should never be eating outside without one.
- Have a Small Wooden Cutting Board
Whether you are serving cheese or slicing something, a small wooden board comes in very handy and it packs well.
- Always Bring Dark Chocolate
Actually, this is just a good life policy in general. And if you accidentally let your chocolate sit in the sun for too long and it melts, use it as a spread on crackers or cookies (trust me, speaking from life experience here).
- Remember the Trash Bag
The most often forgotten item and the most appreciated, post-picnic mess.
That salad would be better put together at home, trust me. Unless of course you’re just adding a sprinkling of herbs for a final touch. But seriously, keep your outdoor eating low hassle.
- Invite Your Friends
Everyone likes going to a picnic, whether it’s on a late summer evening or on a snowy winter hike. Eating outdoors is for any season, so have at it.
A special treat for you, from Anna, her Peanut Butter cookie recipe from The Culinary Cyclist cookbook. Enjoy!
Peanut Butter Cookies from ‘The Culinary Cyclist’
1 cup crunchy, salted peanut butter
1/3 cup organic turbinado sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup chocolate chips
In a bowl, combine egg, sugar and vanilla extract. Add in peanut butter and chocolate chips and stir together.
Scoop out about a tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball. Place on greased baking sheet and flatten carefully with a fork.
Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 12-16 minutes.
Let sit for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
This recipe is really easy to make as a vegan version as well: just switch out the egg for 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons of warm water (let it sit for a bit and congeal before you add it to the rest of the ingredients). You can also try it with almond butter. You can add raisins, you can add sunflower seeds, you can add dried figs. Really you can use this recipe as a base for so many other things, and that’s why I love it.