I have always loved picnics. There is just something that cannot be beat about dining outdoors. This is probably why I am such a huge fan of camping—picnics, three meals a day! As we traveled on our family vacation last week, we were very lucky to visit what is probably one of the most beautiful picnic destinations in the world, Shackleford Banks, NC. This quaint barrier island in North Carolina is accessible only by boat, but during good weather, hundreds of people—like us—travel there to enjoy the water, sand, sun, and wild ponies.
The “ponies” that roam the island came to live there about 400 years ago from the shipwrecks of Spanish explorers. They occupy the small island between the sound and ocean, wandering the dunes and doing their best to ignore the intruders. Sometimes you have to go looking for them, but we were lucky to have a pair wander near our picnic spot.
Of course, no trip to a deserted island is complete without nourishment. The lack of provisions on the island made it necessary that the picnic include the essentials and be relatively mess free. (There are no buildings on the island, not to mention electricity, running water, or even garbage receptacles. This is truly a place where you must bring all that you need and leave no trace when you go. Our group was rather large—9 hungry boaters—so we packed generously for the adventure. Here are a few tips that were helpful when I packed our lunch. I hope they are helpful for you too!
1. Instead of a bunch of smaller sandwiches make one big one! I like to buy dinner rolls that are attached (Hawaiian rolls are our favorite, but any large, flat bread will do). Instead of separating, cutting in half, assembling and wrapping the sandwiches individually, cut the whole loaf in half then add fillings, re-assemble, place on the tray the bread came packed in, then carefully cut into individual sandwiches. Use toothpicks, if needed, to hold it all together. This one giant sandwich is easier to pack in your cooler and eliminates wasting any packaging since you can use the same tray and bag your bread came in.
2. For fillers, avoid things that can make your sandwich soggy, like tomatoes and pickles. Instead, try serving the sandwiches with a side pick that has a chunk of cheese, cherry tomato, sweet gherkin pickle and olive of your choice. These are quick and easy to make, can be changed to suit your preference, and diners can easily grab one to eat what they like with their sandwich.
3. And finally, spread them all the same. Instead of asking who likes what, I prefer to keep it simple and only offer one option. It is, however, a happy compromise: a tsp of sweet pickle relish, a tablespoon of yellow mustard, a tablespoon of ketchup, and 1/4 cup mayonnaise. Mix it all together and spread as needed on your bread, then add toppings. For this picnic, we enjoyed spiral sliced ham and baby field greens with this topping; and for the Action News Morning Show today, I used a different meat—honey baked ham and turkey.