Summer is a time of celebration. From national celebrations to family barbecues to picnics in the park, it’s a time to sit back and enjoy your family and some delicious food. But summer picnics don’t need to be all chips, dip, and burgers. They can be healthy and inexpensive, and they can come from your home and garden. While it’s easy to spend hours preparing a family meal, all of these suggestions require minimal fuss, and together they create a homegrown summer picnic.
What to drink at a summer picnic? There are all sorts of prepared drinks that you can buy, but if you want to go a little more homegrown and natural, try infusing water with fresh peppermint leaves or sliced fruit from the garden. Another favorite in my family right now is water that’s infused with hibiscus flowers and sweetened with stevia. Stevia is an easy care leafy plant with incredibly sweet leaves, so if you want to grow your own sweetener this provides the most sweetener in a tiny space.
I’m particularly fond of the recipes in Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. You make the dough once a week and keep it in the fridge, removing a little bit every morning. This bread recipe is also incredibly simple to make and requires just a few ingredients: flour, water, salt, and yeast. Bring some cheese or sausage to go with your bread, or if you’re vegetarian, make a smooth nut butter.
And Now, The Toppings
To go with your bread, try making butter! Don’t bother making it beforehand. This is a great activity for your picnic. Get a mason jar with a secure lid and place whipping cream into the jar. The kids will have great fun shaking it and rolling it until butter forms. Speaking of bread toppings, how about some easy freezer jam? With some berries, freezer pectin, and sugar and a bit of time smashing and squashing, you’ll have jam without the fuss of cooking and canning.
Only have a little space? You can still have a garden for fresh picnic foods. Here’s a book to get you started:
Eat Your Greens
How about a summer salad? Well, that’s easy. Get a package of mesclun seeds and sprinkle it into a container or two, either outside if it’s still cool or indoors on a sunny windowsill. If you’re feeling a little more ambitious, grow microgreens like sunflower seeds or mustard greens on that sunny windowsill instead. Windowsills are a great place to grow your salad, and you can do this even in the hottest days of summer, when greens grown outside would wilt and bolt. To go with your homegrown salad, make your own dressing with buttermilk, sour cream, and herbs from the garden.
Of course, you can go fancy in your homegrown style as well: making your own cheese and sausage, growing your own potatoes, even raising your own chickens to get your boiled eggs! The suggestions above are a simple beginning, easy for even the new or urban homesteader.
Do you have a simple addition to a summer picnic? Please share!