Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Picnic Cookbook - Laura Mason

There's still time for it to turn around, but thus far this week is turning into one of those crappy ones where I find I've forgotten my umbrella when it rains, where it rains when we wanted to do something outside, when the bus home is unusually late, when I seem to drop half the things I pick up, and when plans just do not come together. And my wellies have split.

To cheer myself up, and keep out of the rain, I traded in Waterstones loyalty points for Laura Mason's 'The Picnic Cookbook' - it seemed like the perfect way to dream about dry days to come. My local family isn't always great at picnics - D likes starched tablecloths whenever possible, my sisters opinion of picnics generally is unprintable, mum's dog loves a picnic but isn't the most relaxing companion, and so it's become something we mean to do rather than ever get round too. (My father and stepmother are rather better on the picnic front, maybe it's living by the sea that does it). I still love the idea though, and picnic food doesn't have to leave the house...

Half of the appeal of this book is in its presentation and packing ideas - sandwiches kept in a hollowed out loaf of bread, or in the centre of a lettuce, coleslaw served inside a hollowed out cabbage, and I'm currently looking at a recipe for magic puddings baked in orange skins in the 'Around The Campfire' chapter. If camping had been like that when I was a girl I might be more willing to consider doing it now. It's also undeniably sensible to pack food in things that can be thrown away in an environmentally friendly fashion - if you don't eat them.

It's not so much that any of the recipes are groundbreaking - though they're a world away from the cheese sandwiches and orange segments that picnic meant in my seventies childhood (not that those were bad picnics, just that they were short on grilled quail or prosciutto wrapped scallops. Come to think of it my diet is still short on grilled quail and scallops wapped in prosciutto- or otherwise.)

For those who picnic and barbecue a lot it's probably all perfectly obvious, and whilst in truth my occasional picnic opportunities will probably continue to be catered for by the nearest M&S food hall (that's not the worst thing about living in a city) the idea of food that doesn't come wrapped in plastic has a certain romantic appeal. This is a national trust book so there's a few suggestions of trust properties considered especially good for picnics, and as you might expect from any great British institution- lots of lists of useful things to pack and have handy. In short it's a book full of nice things and good ideas which perfectly facilitates dreams of the perfect picnic - even whilst the wind howls outside and the rain turns to sleet. 


  1. I adore picnics, and this book does sound like fun. I suspect we'll stick to the baguettes, cheese and tomatoes, though.

    1. That sounds like a pretty damn good picnic though. I must admit I like the idea of organising something special, but the British weather isn't the best for that. Of course it'll rain if I've planned something elaborate with gazpacho shots... Still, it's nice to dream.

  2. Although I read somewhere recently it takes an orange peel two years to biodegrade fully ... I once made one of those sandwich loaves, where you hollow out the loaf and fill, chill and slice. It really was extremely good, and well worth the effort!

  3. I know that you're not meant to put citrus peel in compost because it takes to long to break down, I just like the idea of anything that isn't plastic or indistructable. The sandwich idea sounds much more appealing, though I'm perhaps a bit to slapdash to really make it look pretty :(