Friday, May 8, 2009

A Perfect Picnic

A crisp breeze in the air. Sun rays pressing down on your skin. The fresh, welcome scent that comes with the change of the seasons. It's springtime, and it's time to enjoy the outdoors. There is no better way to get out and have a good time than to go on a picnic expedition. Whether you're with a group of friends or on a romantic tryst, a picnic is a relaxing experience that can slow down an otherwise hectic life.

There are plenty of picnic options convenient to the University of Pennsylvania. If you're looking for an impromptu getaway, Clark Park is close to campus and easy to get to. Another great place to try is Rittenhouse Square. Though it may not be the first place that comes to mind for a picnic, its lively setting and relatively close proximity make it a nice place to escape for an afternoon. If you are looking for a full-day activity, Fairmount Park is the place to go. There are a myriad number of places to explore, and a picnic is a great way to get off campus and try something new. It will take a little extra work – a car is a plus! – but it is definitely worth the work.

Preparing the perfect picnic involves creativity and inspiration. Fresh fruit and cheese are always great as starters.. Try to get fruits in season if possible. A starter should be light, so other options include salads or veggies and dip. If you decide to go with a messier offering, make sure to bring wipes - sticky hands will be with you all day!

The sandwich is the part of the meal where you can be creative. Sandwiches are easy to create and eat, and they travel well, making them a great picnic food. Don’t just settle for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich– go big! Bread can be the most important part of a sandwich, so make sure you don’t ruin an otherwise great one with Wonderbread. Also – try to reach beyond the cold cuts and take the time to prepare a unique and flavorful sandwich. Try out new combinations and flavors. It’s easy!

Dessert is a bit tougher. You want something sweet and refreshing on a hot day, all while making sure that it will endure the trip. A pie is always a solid choice. Though not the easiest to eat, it is definitely a refreshing and fitting choice for a picnic. Homemade granola is also great to snack on. You can eat it throughout the day, and it’s a delicious and healthy treat that’s easy to make.

-Sliced Pear and Jarlsberg Cheese
-Grilled Chicken, Sharp Cheddar, and Romaine with Balsamic Vinaigrette on a Crunchy Ciabatta or Foccacia Bread
-Homemade Granola
Base: Oats, Brown Sugar, Oil – Preferably Canola Oil
Add-ins: Dried cranberries, raisins, honey, coconut, vanilla, nuts, cinnamon, or anything else you can think of!
Mix all ingredients and spread evenly on a greased baking sheet
Bake at 400 degrees for between 20-30 minutes, depending on your taste.

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