How to Plan a Memorial Day Picnic
by Logan Saaaachon
Note from Jeanie: Oh, hello there. Jeanie here. I’m here to show you how to stress less and party more. I tried the whole perfection thing and frankly, I’m over it. Over the coming weeks I’ll be introducing some of my favorite bloggers from around the web to give you quick, easy ways to entertain for every occasion. Next up in our amazing Guides to Entertaining for Various Occasions series: Logan Sachon from TheBillfold.com. Logan will give you some real talk (and real recipes) for creating the not-quite-perfect-but-very-excellent Memorial Day get together. Okay, start reading and get yourself some knowledge!
Memorial Day is: a day to honor fallen heroes; the beginning of summer; a good time to buy large appliances; a very nice time to have a picnic.
DECORATION DAY DECOR
I love a picnic. It’s the only entertaining I do, really, indoor and outdoor picnics. A spread of purchased food, looking sort of nice, definitely like you tried a tiny bit but not too hard, a few good friends, some flowers — perfect.
Bring a blanket. A floral quilt would look nice against the grass, wouldn’t it? But goodness, don’t go out and buy one, a white sheet is just fine. So is a purple one. If you’re having more than a few people, bring two. No need to leave anyone alone on the grass.
You won’t be bringing that many things with you to the park, but may I suggest putting some of them in a basket or a crate? One made of wood would be nice, or a basket with a boxy shape. Picture it: A tote bag over your shoulder filled with little Aladdin mason jars, a baguette sticking out, you carrying a wood crate filled with cups, tea towels for napkins, cutting boards for cheese and bread and apples, a small flower arrangement.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
WHY MAKE FOOD WHEN YOU CAN BUY FOOD?
It is entirely possible to have a picnic where you make homemade pasta salad and veggie burgers and roasted potatoes and whatever the heck and bring them in warming trays and sit down and have a proper meal in the grass. But I’m not interested in that kind of picnic. Sounds stressful! You know what’s not stressful? Going to the grocery store and picking out every condiment you’ve ever wanted to later eat in the grass with your friends. In fact, that’s not stressful, that’s heaven.
This is the stuff that makes your picnic elegant and fancy. I recommend:
• Dilly beans
• Olives (from the olive bar, if there is one)
• Roasted red peppers
• Some kind of tapenade, maybe
• Some kind of bruschetta spread, definitely
• A fancy mustard
• A pepper jelly
And now for the stuff that makes your picnic fill stomachs:
• Baguettes (I recommend a half a baguette for each person, but maybe I’m crazy) (Ha I’m probably crazy) (Quarter baguette?)
• Three kinds of cheeses (a goat, a gouda, and a cheddar, can’t go wrong, orrrr one of those little cheese trays of precut cheese, transfer to a cutting board and no one will ever knowwww/care)
• Some kind of cured meat (salami or soppresatta are great)
• Apples and pears, sliced thin and arranged prettily
THE MOST IMPORTANT PART
Drinks, duh. People didn’t come JUST to eat your condiments (though they will loooooovvveee them), they came to see what kind of booze you got. Here’s what makes your picnic great: pre-made vodka lemondade in a stylish Aladdin mason jar dispenser.
This is the one thing you’re going to prepare and not buy and it’s going to get your kitchen sticky. But it’s going to be worth it because your friends are going to be like, “omg you MADE THIS?” and you’re going to be like, “yep.”
All you have to do is make this delicious simple syrup, add it to some water and lemon juice and vodka and — that’s it.
Recipe for Simple Syrup
• 2 cups sugar
• 2 cups water
• A handful of some herb, like rosemary or thyme or lavender
FIRST: Stir together the first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil 1 minute or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and let stand 30 minutes. Pour liquid through a wire-mesh strainer into a cruet or airtight container, discarding rosemary sprigs. Cover and chill 4 hours. Garnish, if desired. Syrup may be stored in refrigerator up to 1 month.
THEN: Put some simple syrup in your glass container, add some lemon juice, and then some seltzer, and then some vodka. And then keep adding those things like a mad scientist until your glass container is filled up and your concoction tastes exactly correct. (You cannot mess this up.) Add ice if you can.
THE ICING ON THE CAKE
Skip the cake. Then you need plates and forks what, this is not that kind of party. Get some cookies instead. From a bakery, maybe. Or get Oreos and Chips Ahoy. Everyone loves those. Some people might say, I won’t eat that poison, away. But then, later, you will see they have Oreo crumbs on the edges of their mouths, and you can smile and say, I did that.
BUT WHAT IF IT RAINS?
Your blanket goes on the floor of your living room and your friends come to your house and the show that is your picnic goes on.
WHAT ABOUT MUSIC?
The wind, the rustle of the trees, the signing of birds.
WHAT ABOUT ACTIVITIES?
Eating is the activity. Talking to each other is the activity. Sitting in the grass is the activity.
Bag of lemons
Thing of rosemary, thyme, or lavender
Roasted red peppers
Apples or strawberries
Aladdin mason jar dispenser or bottles for drinks
Cutting board to make cheese and meat and fruit spread and to put your jars of condiments on
Sharp knife for cutting cheeses and apples
Spoons and forks for spreading things
Aladdin mason tumblers
Tea towels for napkins, or napkins
Wooden crate or basket to put all this stuff in