Beginner’s Choice: Picnic and breakfast treats

Ferninda asked if I had suggestions for picnics a few weeks back. I gave it some thought. A picnic is “an occasion when a packed meal is eaten outdoors, especially during an outing to the countryside”.  I remember going on a picnic in the Philippines. The packed meal was practically a normal homecooked meal taken out in the pots they were cooked in, along with a pot of cooked rice. It was almost like taking half of the kitchen to the countryside, but the food was really good.

Bread and picnics

Many people associate bread, cheese and cold cuts with picnics, as they are easy to pack. Many years ago I organised a fund-raising lunch in the office to help someone in need. My colleagues and I set up a sandwich bar. The most popular sandwich was roast chicken sandwich, which Belinda, my former publisher, still remembers. Everyone joined the lunch to help a good cause, but I discovered that most of my colleagues found it hard to have bread for lunch. They told me “In Singapore, bread is only for breakfast”. I really appreciated their sacrifice to help a needy cause.

Traditional bread picnic except for the pandan croissants

Picnic rice

The most original picnic idea I came across was Siew Fong’s tuna rice. We went to Desaru Beach (in Malaysia) with:

  • a pot of cooked rice,
  • a tin of tuna flakes in olive oil,
  • chopped cucumber,
  • chopped tomatoes, and
  • a packet of potato crisps

When it was lunch time, Siew Fong opened the tin of tuna flakes and mixed it into rice with a big plastic spoon for scooping rice. Then she added the chopped cucumber and tomatoes, and seasoned the rice with salt and pepper and topped it with the potato crisps. It was amazingly simple and surprisingly good.

Pasta and meatloaf for picnic

Pasta for picnic is a nice treat, like Carmen’s shrimp and mushroom pasta and salad. Meat loaf and mixed vegetables are also good for picnics. Meat loaf goes well with bread and with rice.

Picnic desserts

A dessert for a picnic has to be easy to pack and carry, like almond jelly with grapes and kiwi and mango pudding. Cut fruits are also good.

Proper coordination

If you are going on a pot-luck picnic, it’s good to check what each one is bringing. Once I heard of a group that ended up with chicken curry and cake for lunch. No one brought bread or rice, so they ate the chicken curry with cake.

Hearty breakfast

It is a good idea to have a hearty breakfast before a picnic lunch, so that you won’t have to pack so much food. You can also bring some leftover breakfast with you, like muffins and cinnamon rolls.

Picnic drinks

There is more picnic culture in countries with cooler weather. I was surprised when my friends brought out wine glasses and a bottle of wine at a picnic on Cradle Mountain (Tasmania). Picnics can be elegant occasions with proper picnicware, so I discovered.

Cool drinks

Drinks are important for picnics, so it’s good to make sure that you have enough to go around on a warm day. This week I went to a Chinese medicine shop to get some barley, rock sugar, candied melon, candied ginger and dried chrysanthemum to brew some drinks. I boiled barley with rock sugar and added some candied melon strips, then I brewed some chrysanthemum tea.

I was feeling adventurous so I added candied ginger to some of the barley water to make a ginger barley drink. It was actually quite nice.

I was thinking of friends who were recovering from one illness or another, so I bottled the drinks to give away. They made a nice get-well-soon gift.

These bottled brews are also great for picnics.

Enjoy the rest of the long weekend.

By Chayo, HomSkil Editor 1,10 July 2022

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