By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; Jan. 1977, p. 31).
2 cups hot water or potato water
3 TB salad oil
1½ TB sugar
Pinch of saffron, if desired
2 yeast, cake or dry [pkg.]
7-8 cups flour
1½ tsp salt
3 eggs, beaten
1 egg yolk
1 TB water
Combine hot water, salad oil, and sugar; plus, a pinch of saffron, if desired. Cool to lukewarm. Add yeast to dissolve. Sift flour with salt and put half into large bowl. Add yeast mixture. [Mix well.] Slowly add more flour until dough leaves sides of bowl.
Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Add eggs and knead for 10 minutes. Put in greased bowl and turn to coat surfaces. Let rise until doubled [in size]. Knead 5 minutes. Divide into 3 sections and pat each into a long strip. Braid strips [together].
Tuck ends under and put on greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled [in size]. Brush with egg yolk and water [mixed together] and sprinkle with [poppy] seeds. Bake at 375°F until brown and crusty. Makes 1 loaf.
Don’t ask me why I accepted the challenge – and it wasn’t even the Pepsi challenge, mind you – but, it seems, most every radio show I have done [1976 to 1983] always brings the same question: “What recipe CAN’T you crack?” [The response] was always, “Cool Whip and Coca-Cola!” Finally, one day, I decided to see just how difficult it would be. 45 days and over 100 tests later, this is as close as I could come… Thus, calling it “Close-A-Cola”.
¼ cup cold black coffee
2 teaspoons Lipton instant lemon-tea powder
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 level teaspoon sugar
a few grains of pepper
2-3 ounces club soda
For 1 drink, mix well, the coffee, tea powder, vanilla extract, sugar, and pepper. Add in equal parts with club soda. Pour over ice and enjoy!
By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… The Second Helping Of Secret Recipes, Revised (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1978, p. 17).
Julius Caesar was a great warrior. He conquered all the part of Europe that is now France. He even marched his armies into [Great] Britain. He also took them to the east and conquered part of Asia. Brutus, Marcus Junius, 85-42 B.C., [was a] Roman political leader and one of the men that assassinated Caesar.
One of the worst experiences and also the most frightening since I have been trying to duplicate famous dishes, was with a law firm whose client produces a beverage product, containing a ‘mysterious white powder’ and orange juice. A Chicago newspaper quoted me incorrectly and denied the error that claimed I had a recipe for the famous drink.
The lawyers insisted (no… ‘demanded’ …and I have it in writing from them) that I send them a copy of my book. Many months later, when I asked them, for the third or fourth time, to please pay for the book, they wrote me a letter, calling me ‘impertinent’ for asking for payment and threatened legal action against me that would have destroyed our entire family – not to mention that the threat alone put me under a doctor’s care for months, just worrying about it.
Funny thing was… the recipe was one that my mother had been making since I was in diapers. With a few updated revisions, I found it was, ‘in my opinion’, identical to the famous product. I guess I came close that time.
ORANGE BRUTUS [After School Shake]…
My mother was always creating something in the kitchen that was angelically good and her best effort was an after-school shake that consisted of blending together a quart of orange juice, an egg white, a dash of lemon juice, a few drops of vanilla, and a [small (4-serving size) box of ‘Cook & Serve’ style] vanilla pudding…
I later altered it by [combining] an envelope of Dream Whip powder and a quart of orange juice in my blender for a minute or two.
STRAWBERRY BRUTUS [After School Shake]…
10-oz pkg. frozen strawberries, thawed
3¾-oz pkg. instant vanilla pudding powder
1 egg white
2 cups milk
Place all ingredients [as listed] in blender. Using on/off [agitating] speed, blend 1 or 2 minutes, until smooth. Pour over crushed ice. Makes 4 servings.
There was a time when the best deli-style macaroni salad was from The Colonel’s KFC, but over the years that recipe changed. This is my own favorite version from the one they used in the 60’s.
Dressing mixture [base]:
½ cup sour cream
½ cup Miracle Whip
1 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon onion salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons dry, chopped onion
2/3 cup celery, chopped
2/3 cup sweet midget pickles, chopped (don’t substitute with relish – it’s too juicy)
2 tablespoons pimiento, chopped (or half of a small tomato, seeded & chopped)
8 cups (cooked, drained and chilled) elbow noodles (3 cups, uncooked) – or cubed potatoes
Combine dressing mixture [base – the first 7 ingredients] in an accommodating bowl, as listed (above), and set aside. In a larger bowl. Combine the [chopped vegetables]. Add the dressing mixture to this. Mix well and use to coat… elbow noodles… or cubed potatoes. Cover tightly and refrigerate for an hour before serving. Serves 8 adequately (or 14 weight-watchers)!
By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Secret Fast Food Recipes, Special Edition (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Dec. 1999, p. 28).
1-lb can mandarin orange sections, drained
1-lb can pineapple chunks, drained
4 cups cooked [and cooled] chicken, cubed
½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup diced celery (*optional)
½ cup sliced grapes (*optional)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup sweet orange marmalade
1/8 tsp ground poultry seasoning
Combine [first 4 to 6 ingredients, as listed]. Set aside. Mix [last 4 ingredients as listed]. Pour over chicken mixture [and stir well to incorporate everything]. Cover and chill 24 hours before serving.
By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986)
3-oz pkg. cream cheese
2 tsp grated orange peel
1 TB chopped walnuts
¼ cup flaked coconut
Beat cream cheese with mixer on medium speed, using small mixing bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese is creamy and smooth. Beat in peel and nuts. Use ½ teaspoon to measure and shape each spoonful into a ball. Roll balls in coconut. Chill in covered container. Makes 20 tiny candies.
[NOTE: Recipe may be doubled and you can use a teaspoon (instead of ½ tsp) to measure out mixture to shape into balls. You can also spread coconut on ungreased jelly roll pan and toast it about 6” from broiler heat, about 2 minutes – or until golden brown.]
Summertime is the best time for picnics, road trips, and going camping! A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I have a camping checklist, part of which I use for my picnic “basket”. Nowadays, my camping checklist is quite extensive. It’s grown and shrunk and re-grown over the years. I find that the older I get, the more conveniences I like to bring.
Worth repeating: “It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!” My husband and I have not yet advanced to a camper or motor home. I call our style of camping “Comfort-Camping-Without-A-Camper”. Motorhome or camper style “camping” is often referred to as “glamping”, particularly by those who camp in tents.
There was a 5-year span when we had a van, in which we slept, while using our dome tent as a “shed” for our “stuff”, instead. Now, we have a mid-size sedan, in which we pack everything we need and want – including a large, octagon tent AND 10’ x 10’ gazebo. Organization is key!
When I was young, our family always stayed in motels when on vacations. We never camped. “Roughing it” was when the power went out for a week (at home, in Algonac), during a winter/spring ice storm. We had to use candles for light and the fireplace for heat and a “stove”.
Mom and Dad started “camping” AFTER becoming empty-nesters. They invested in a motorhome and joined the Good Sam [RV] Club. They first learned about “RV-ing” and Good Sam from Mom’s older sister, Hazel, and her husband, Chris, who were members of Good Sam’s California chapter. Mom and Dad joined the Michigan AND Ohio chapters.
While on the road, Mom and Dad usually ate in local restaurants. Mom never stopped looking for different dishes to try and imitate when she returned home. Their camping friends often kidded Mom, about being the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM and never using the oven in their motorhome. She did do some microwave cooking, on occasion.
I learned about camping (in a tent) from some friends decades ago when my children were very young. It was an inexpensive way to vacation with kids. Through experience, came more knowledge. I often learned cool camping hacks from other campers whenever we went camping with a group. Camping with friends is so fun!
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 43)
YOU’VE MADE A FRIEND
A SMILE IS THE universal, unspoken language between us. Some people smile more easily than others, but a smile is as good as a hug. I just LOVE people who smile a lot! Even when I’m shopping or [when Paul and I are] walking around the campgrounds on one of our abbreviated ‘get-aways’ with our motorhome, I find myself smiling at people I have never seen before, and they smile back. It’s contagious!
People don’t smile as much as they should! I’ve noticed lately how seldom strangers smile at each other in shopping centers and restaurants and other places where average folks mingle or pass. It occurred to me that there was nothing to lose by smiling and nodding at people as I shopped or glanced across a restaurant to other tables.
A surprising thing happened! Grim looking faces spontaneously responded with smiles and nods, as if they were trying to place me or recall where we might have met before. It was just wonderful!
Joining the Good Sam [RV] Club was among Mom and Dad’s most favorite experiences. It was a huge source of wonderful friendships and memories for them. Mom kept many scrap books full of photos and special keepsakes from their many trips with the Michigan and Ohio chapters of Good Sam.
Mom often wrote about those trips in her summer newsletter issues – from the new restaurant dishes they tried as they traveled (of which Mom imitated when they went home) to all of the great people they met everywhere they went.
Mom and Dad especially looked forward to Good Sam’s big “Samboree” events! Mom would sometimes give lectures at these events, regarding her copycat and short-cut cookery concepts, such as those published in her Mostly 4-Ingredients cookbook (and the recipe I’m sharing today is from that book).
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Jan-Feb. 1988, p. 1)
GOOD SAM, GOOD EXAMPLE
ONE THING AMONG MANY that I have learned from Good Sam, the national RV organization, to which Paul and I have belonged for three years now [since 1985]; is that you should never ever withhold your enthusiasm for caring about others.
Never regret anything you do or say on behalf of the good it might bring to those [about whom] you care – for, if your motives are unselfish, and your intentions are to encourage or enrich or benefit others, you can’t lose.
You should jump right in, adding enthusiasm to whatever it is that you are doing that might appear to be just a passive condition when enthusiasm is needed. Try a little enthusiasm!
…Enthusiasm and optimism go hand-in-hand with happiness. These provide us with an emotional springboard from which we can dive quite smoothly, into deep and troubled waters, and still surface refreshed and invigorated.
During Michigan’s unofficial summertime [Memorial Day through Labor Day], tourism is on the rise. There’s so much to do in Michigan’sgreat outdoors! May through October is the best time for Michigan camping getaways. There are 1,190 licensed campgrounds in the state.
[Pictured below is my extensive camping check list, all of which fits in our Pontiac sedan (as pictured above). I am not paid to advertise for any companies but I am brand specific on a few things because, from my personal experience, they work the best – Dawn dish soap, SOS (soap filled steel pads), and Kingsford Matchlite charcoal.]
If you’re planning to go swimming or doing any water sports or activities along the shoreline surrounding most of the state, the warmest lake water temperatures are generally found July through September, depending on where you go. As beautiful as the Memorial Day weekend was, it was too cold to swim in Lake Huron – I know – I was there.
I’ve mentioned at least a few times, in previous blog posts, that Michigan holds the record for the longest fresh water shoreline in the United States, coming in at 3,288 miles. In fact, regardless of water type (sea or fresh), Michigan is only second to Alaska, in total length of coastline.
Over the next couple of weeks, kids will be getting out of school for their big summer break. Many families are planning their vacation times, now. Summertime in Michigan is also a popular time in which to plan events like company picnics, graduation parties, class/family reunions, and outdoor weddings.
There’s always something special to see and do in Michigan! Summer’s also the best season for car shows and cruises; outdoor concerts and music festivals; art, 4-H and county fairs; plus, other carnivals. Speaking of which, I love the hit Canadian show, Carnival Eats, with Noah Cappe! The food is always the best part of any special event.
Activities and entertainment venues vary slightly, by region – but usually, throughout the summer, you can often find, somewhere nearby, a botanical garden, flea market, farmer’s market, petting zoo, classic car shows; as well as thespian renaissance, art, craft, and/or music festivals.
Pools, beaches and water parks are now open for the summer season. Even though the big lakes’ temperatures are still a bit cold for swimming, Michiganders can’t wait to dip their toes in, at least. Additionally, you’ll find seasonal amusement parks, small-town carnivals, and big county fairs all over the state and nearby.
Some of the outdoor, summer sports and other such activities that Michiganders enjoy include baseball, softball, soccer, track, golf, disc golf, putt-putt golf, tennis, volleyball, and horseshoes (the game). Then there’s the backyard games like cornhole, ladder toss, washer toss, and so on.
Many table-top games have been made into large lawn versions for people’s backyard enjoyment (or to take them to a park or when camping). Many in-land summer activities include picnicking, camping, hiking, biking, motor sport racing, motorcycling, motocross, dirt biking, “4-wheeling”, “mudding”, dune buggy riding, horseback riding, and more.
Popular water sports and other such activities include kayaking, canoeing, sailing, boating, jet skiing, water skiing, parasailing, swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing – even building sand castles on the beach. Sand sculpting can be quite amazing!
Here, again, are four basic tips for planning road trips that I’ve shared a couple of times, previously…
Always bring a hard copy roadmap, as there are places that may not have cell or wi-fi service for miles.
Allow extra time and gas (or electric charge – whatever the case may be) for spontaneity. In case you decide to take a detour or two to other map dots along the way!
Stop frequently and take breaks – “smell the roses”, photograph the memories, and talk to the locals.
Pack a cooler with some drinks and snacks, even if you plan to eat at restaurants along the way. You know what they say about the best laid plans…
In honor of June, being National Candy Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Coconut Confections; as seen in her self-published cookbook… Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986, p. 6).
By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 235) [A revised reprint of… Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)]
¼-lb. butter or margarine
½ cup light corn syrup
Dash of salt
1-lb. powdered sugar
12-oz pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla [extract]
In a 1 ½-quart sauce pan, bring the butter and corn syrup to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute; then, immediately, turn heat down to lowest point. Beat in the salt and HALF of the powdered sugar. It will lump a bit, but the electric mixer will smooth it out as you continue beating.
Add rest of sugar and raise the heat for 1 or 2 minutes until it shows the 1st bubble of a boil again. Quickly remove from the heat and beat in the rest of the powdered sugar, then the chips until melted and smooth. Next, beat in the vanilla. Pour into a buttered 8- or 9-inch, square pan. Chill 1 hour. Cut into squares.
Makes about 2 pounds. To achieve the “Mackinac loaf-style”, pack the fudge into a buttered 9-inch bread loaf pan. Chill it several hours, or overnight, and remove it from the pan to slice it as you would bread. You can change the flavor of the fudge by changing the flavors of the baking chips and extract.
Summer has unofficially started and I’m so looking forward to summertime road trips and picnics like I wrote about last week. I’m also looking forward to going camping, again! June is just a few days away and it celebrates, among other things, National Camping Month and National Great Outdoors Month! I’ll be writing more about that next week.
Today, I want to write about pen pals, as Thursday is not only the start of June, but also National Pen Pal Day! Handwriting and letter writing are becoming things of the past – nostalgia keeps it hanging on by a thread, though.
Have you ever been a pen pal? Many young pen pal relationships start from a brief friendship at summer camp or as strangers that never met, such as through a school writing program or magazine ad. Nowadays, you can get pen pals online.
My first time, as a pen pal, was when I was in 5th grade and “assigned” a pen pal who was also in 5th grade, in another state. That was through a national school writing program. We only corresponded for one semester.
We learned about each other’s likes and dislikes, families and friends, as well as school and community events. I loved being and having a pen pal. I wrote to several others, over the following years, most of whom I found through ads in various teen magazines.
It was wonderful, getting mail addressed to me and reading about my new friend’s life in another state. And the reciprocation was just as special. Eventually, most stopped writing, as they got older and busier, which happens often. Very seldom do people ever maintain friendships from childhood into their teen years, let alone into adulthood.
However, I’ve remained friends with one pen pal for over 46 years, now! Although, nowadays, other than some notes on our annual Christmas cards, we don’t physically write letters to each other anymore because we often keep in touch on Facebook. We’ve still never met in person, though.
Sometimes pen pal relationships last less than a year. However, most pen pals remain friends for many years – some for a lifetime. The best pen pals are usually those with common interests or who are open-minded to learning about other people, cultures, and languages. Pen pals generally want to connect with the world outside their own borders.
Pen pals can be people who already know each other but live far apart. Most often, pen pals are strangers that never meet in person. Through an exchange of letters, they share mutual interests and teach each other about their different backgrounds, religions, and lifestyles.
Mom was pen pals, for her entire adult life, with one of her classmates that had moved to New York. She also offered a monthly pen pal exchange in her newsletter, during its first year of publication, in 1974. Mom always encouraged my own pen pal friendships when I was young.
I ALWAYS TRY TO BE brief in my messages of importance to someone on whom I wish to make an impression. As often the importance of what you want to say is lost in too many words. Another writer [Robert Southey, English Poet (1774-1843)] put it best: ‘Be brief, for words are like sunbeams – the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn!’– Gloria Pitzer, This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 62)
According to Wikipedia.org, pen pals “are people who regularly write to each other, particularly via postal mail [aka: snail mail]. Pen pals are usually strangers whose relationship is based primarily, or even solely, on their exchange of letters.”
The term, “pen pals” (which began as “pen friends” in the 1920s), has steadily been around since the 1930s; thanks to the Student Letter Exchange society, formed in 1936, to help people find suitable pen pals. It also helped students from different countries connect through letters and learn about each other’s cultures, while improving reading and writing skills.
98five.com’s The World’s Oldest Pen Pals Have Turned 100 Years Old [author unknown (Jan. 9, 2023)] is a really interesting and inspiring 2-minute read about a British man and American woman who’ve been pen pals since 1938, when they were both 16 years old. They both recently turned 100 years old and still correspond (with some help). Check it out!
At MarthaStewart.com, How to Find a Modern-Day Pen Pal, by Alexandra Lim-Chua Wee (April 16, 2019), is a great source from which to start, if you’re feeling nostalgic and want to establish a pen pal relationship – with a peer, an active military member or a veteran, a senior citizen, a “shut-in”, or someone from another country just to name some examples.
Nowadays, we mostly use email and social media platforms, for corresponding. But some of us “older folk” still prefer the old-fashion way – handwritten, with pen and paper (maybe even fancy stationary), an envelope and stamp, a walk to the mailbox, and don’t forget to put the flag up so your postal carrier knows there’s mail waiting to go out!
It’s the simple things in life – like getting or sending a personal letter or card in the postal mail (aka: snail mail) – that still thrill some of us and make us smile, with happy memories of days gone by.
If you’ve never been a pen pal, you may be wondering: “What should I write in my first letter?” I suggest that you first write about where you found their details. Then begin your initial introduction – the basics of who you are – such as name, age, occupation (or grade, if a student), where you’re from, a little about your family/pets (if any).
Next, share your common interests and other details about yourself – hobbies and interests, likes and dislikes. You can also write about what your typical day is like. Keep it personalized but don’t overdo it. Ask your pen pal some questions about their life but, again, don’t overdo it. Save some for the next letter, too.
“I asked people to send us letters; real letters, written by hand and sent through the post. I sat in the office with my student assistants and waited for the letters to arrive. There was something exciting about sorting through the pile, letters from Canada and the US, from Spain and Germany and France, from Donegal and Dublin and Brighton and Tring. We set to work with the letter knives and started to read. I was hoping that they would, while still being framed as letters, take the form of stories, essays, poems, memoir, criticism. What actually happened was that almost everyone wrote about the nostalgic and rare pleasure of sitting down to write a letter at all.”
Reading and writing have many benefits – physically, mentally, and emotionally. They’re great, simple “workouts” that stimulate brain function. Writing is a wonderful way for seniors to exercise their minds and hands. Pen pals often write about their day’s events or current affairs, which helps keep one’s mind sharp.
Therefore, writing is also known to help with memory and putting your life events in perspective with how people in other parts of the world live, too. Writing also improves communication skills, productivity, and overall happiness; while decreasing stress and anxiety.
Handwriting is becoming a thing of the past. Everything is written electronically these days – school papers, emails, texts, even notes. In the unending, human quest for making life easier, the latest contributor to the dying practice of writing, is AI – Artificial Intelligence. Personally, I think it’s a scary thing.
In general, writing anything by hand is becoming a lost practice. I’ve heard that cursive writing (penmanship) isn’t even taught in school anymore. Although “handwriting” and “penmanship” are often used interchangeably, they’re really not the same. “Handwriting” is self-described – the act of writing by hand. “Penmanship” is the ability to write legibly.
Remember when we all used to send and receive handwritten holiday, birthday, and anniversary cards, as well as “Thinking of You” and “Thank You” notes? They are all becoming dying traditions.
Thankfulness is an emotion. Gratitude is an attitude – that of appreciation under any circumstance. Gratitude involves being thankful, but it’s more than just that. Gratitude means being thankful and appreciative of life every day – even when it’s a bad day or nothing special is happening.
IN THE MEANTIME, we open letters every day from people all over the world, saying ‘thank you for writing your books’ – ‘I feel as if I know you just from reading your books’ – ‘I don’t know whether to keep up on reading or run to the kitchen and bake something’ – and then I know [nothing can] keep me from continuing with this work. – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Mixed Blessings – Recipes & Remedies (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; March 1984, p. xv)
In honor of TODAY, still being May and National Salad Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Chicken Salad Like Hudson’s; as seen in her self-published cookbook, Secret Fast Food Recipes – Revised (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Oct. 1998, 20th printing, p. 28).
I also gave this recipe out a couple of years ago, on Kathy Keene’s ‘Good Neighbor’ radio show, on WHBY (Appleton, WI). Kathy has since retired. The show was discontinued and, unfortunately, my link to the recorded audio doesn’t work anymore.
When my parents were empty-nesters and needed a break from their long work week, they’d often go on a road trip somewhere – for the day or the weekend. It didn’t matter if it was a planned trip or a “new scenic route” (when Dad got lost), because they were together, exploring, and enjoying Michigan’s beautiful scenery.
Did you know that Michigan has 3,288 miles of coastline that borders four of the five Great Lakes? It’s the longest freshwater coastline in the U.S. In fact, regardless of water type (sea or fresh), Michigan is only in second place, to Alaska, in total length of coastline.
Sometimes, however, “work” would manage to creep back in, because whenever they stopped for a bite to eat, Mom always managed to find someone’s [restaurant] “house special” that she wanted to analyze and duplicate when she got home.
Whenever possible, my husband and I LOVE to go on road trips to different areas in our scenic state of Michigan, just like my parents used to do. We really enjoy exploring the sparkling, blue water shorelines of the Great Lakes, surrounding most of our state; as well as the in-land lakes, small towns, rivers, forests, farmlands, and parks.
Additionally, Sunday is celebrating National Beef Burger Day and National Hamburger Day, all of which adds up to more great reasons for a road trip and picnic (or a backyard barbecue) this weekend to celebrate the unofficial start of summer!
What are your favorite go-to picnic or backyard barbecue foods? Among classic picnic treats, the finger foods that travel well and won’t spoil on a warm day include sandwiches/wraps, fried chicken, fresh vegetables and fruit. Remember – if anything has mayo in it, keep it chilled!
Aside from the “main dish”, popular picnic foods include appetizers like deviled eggs, pigs-in-a-blanket, and stuffed mushrooms; sides like mac-n-cheese or baked beans; coleslaw and salads like pasta, potato, veggie, and fruit; desserts like pies, brownies, bars, and cookies; plus, snacks like string cheese, meat sticks, chips, pretzels, and trail mix.
Just as in any celebration, throughout the year, a very important part of picnic activities, besides socializing, getting fresh air, and making memories, is eating the food! Therefore, I’m including, here, a list (based on a Google search consensus) for 10 popular food choices to take on a picnic.
10 Popular Picnic Food Picks:
Things to do on a picnic outing (besides eating) include playing music, singing/dancing, walking, playing table/yard games, bird watching, people watching, sun bathing; plus, if you’re at a beach, you can add in searching for skipping stones or sea shells, swimming, fishing, and building sand castles.
NEEDLESS TO SAY, I can’t wait until we can begin our ‘motor-home camping’ again with our Good Samfriends. It’s our weekend vacation pleasure, May through October. Becoming part of the Good Sam organization is the best thing that has ever happened to us, where we could both enjoy mutual friendships and activities. Wonderful, caring people, who constantly remind us that ‘there are no strangers in Good Sam – only friends we haven’t met, yet!’ – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… “GOOD SAM – CARING AND CAMPING”, from Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-June 1987, 126th issue, p. 3)]
You don’t need to go on an expensive, fancy vacation or plan an extravagant party to reconnect with family and friends over the Memorial Day weekend. A simple picnic is a fun and relaxing way to gather and make memories. But if you want to have MORE than a “simple” picnic…
Have you ever heard of a mystery picnic? I recently discovered this fun twist on our iconic, seasonal tradition at CuriousCampers.com, out of Australia. I can’t wait to create and host my own scavenger hunt style picnic for a special summer gathering with friends and family!
According to the website, “mystery picnics” combine travel, food, and fun; while solving a series of clues that take you to various places, where you collect things to add to the “picnic basket” at the final destination. It’s a fun idea to explore the area, as you collect “picnic basket items”, and then gather with the other guests to share your collection and adventures.
The difference between a treasure hunt and scavenger hunt is slight. A treasure hunt has only one thing for which to hunt (aka: the treasure) – the first one to find it wins. Once “the treasure” is found the hunt is done for everyone. A scavenger hunt offers each guest a list or variety of things to find/collect.
Both hunts use riddles and clues to send participants from one place to another. Usually, participants can work in pairs or in teams or individually. A scavenger hunt is typically played in an extensive outdoor area but it can also be scaled down to play at home, like a treasure hunt.
The host typically creates a “trail”, so that the answer to one clue reveals the next one. You can either write them on pieces of paper hidden at the chosen locations or put them in an “online” forum (like an “event” or “group” page on Facebook) that gives clues to the answers, as well.
The first riddle should be included in the initial invitation. Guests have to figure it out before they start, so they know where to go first and collect something for the picnic, along with a clue to the next destination. Repeat as often as necessary, before getting to the final destination – the “mystery picnic” spot.
A checklist comes in handy, when packing for anything. I use part of my camping checklist for my picnic “basket”, which is actually a plastic tote. It’s always on the ready so I can easily throw it in the trunk of our car, along with a food bag and cooler, whenever my husband and I want to go on a spontaneous, all-day Road Trip.
It may seem like a lot of stuff but it actually packs up fairly small and compact. As a Mom of three, I learned from my own mom, over the years, (as she used to have to pack for a family of seven) how to pack 10 pounds of stuff in a 5-pound bag. I found organization is key. As the old adage says: “It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!”
I also gave this recipe out a couple of years ago, on Kathy Keene’s ‘Good Neighbor’ radio show, on WHBY (Appleton, WI). Kathy has since retired. The show was discontinued and, unfortunately, my link to the recorded audio doesn’t work anymore.