Foodie: January 15 Winter Picnic

The Foodie Column for January 15th

By T. Myers

Where is the snow? We have snowmobilers from all over Oregon in our town and there is very little to play on! The La Pine Lodge Pole Dodgers organized the statewide event and as we go to press, with the help of COVA, the local club, the park district and the La Pine Chamber we welcomed our visitors to La Pine and before we knew it, the event was over and they were on their way home. During their visit, there were planned tours in the snow country and a convention that took place.

The entire thing made me think of what is great to take out into the wilds in a winter adventure and I came up with a few favorites from my more adventurous years as an outdoor adventurer living at Mount Hood (literally at the foot of the mountain down in the snow line area of Brightwood)

A winter adventure takes a little planning, some good thermos containers and a finger food menu that everyone can grab when they are hungry. And, of course, there are the beverages, warm and comforting and delicious on a cold afternoon.

So let’s plan!

I purchased various hampers and such years ago and several people have gifted me with insulated carry bags that are handy to use in winter or summer so all I have to do is grab the things that I need and lay them out to pack up! With food containers ready to fill putting together a picnic for anytime of the year is lots easier.

When it comes to the foods, everyone always thinks about grilling. I am not a fan of grilling so putting together substantial menu options that will satisfy like a burnt piece of flesh is important. 

Think about serving a cheese based spread or dip with slices of good bread or whole grain crackers as one option. I love pimento cheese made from 8 oz. cream cheese; 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar, 1 small (2 OZ.) jar of drained and diced pimentos and 1/2 cup of mayonnaise. Mix up a day or two before the outing for best flavor. I add a little black pepper and a touch of garlic powder for more flavor.

A meaty pasta salad that is well seasoned with various veggies and sliced meat is always a winner and easy to serve in individual containers on the trail.  I love Gemelli or Bow Tie pasta, cooked and drained, and then I use grape or cherry tomatoes- that are left whole, chunks of salami, pepperoni slices, ham slices or other deli meats, chunks of good parmesan cheese or feta if you like the saltiness, slices of sautéed mushrooms and sweet onions that are cooked and cooled, broccoli flowerets to make the red white and green Italian color scape. Dress it with good Italian dressing and smooth it all out with sour cream to make it moist and creamy. Make this early and spoon it into the serving dishes and put in the fridge.

Bake up some good soft and chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies: 3 cups flour, 1 teas salt, 1 teaspoon soda mixed with ¼ cup warm water to add when dry ingredients are added to the wet. 1 cup of brown and 1 cup of white sugar, 1-1/2 cup butter, 3 eggs creamed together. Add the soda mixture and add the flour mixture with 12 oz. chocolate chips and 1 cup of chopped walnuts. The final ingredient is 2 Teaspoons vanilla mixed in right before scooping them onto baking sheets. I use a 4 oz. scoop for big cookies and bake at 325 degrees for almost 18-20 minutes until slightly browned across the top. Let cool and pack in Wax bags. Plan on two per person.

I have several thermoses and I love to take hot chocolate along, good coffee in another and some kind of punch with punch if you know what I mean! I always add bottles of water for everyone and top off the basket with packets of handi-wipes, napkins, the cups and silverware I need and  large drop cloth to spread out over the snow for a buffet presentation. When there are no chairs or picnic tables available those old fashioned Girl Scout Sit-upons come in handy to keep your bottom from getting cold when you hunker around the feast. Everyone can carry their own in and remember to carry out your trash to dispose of at home or in a garbage receptacle.

Snow picnics can be some of the best times ever. Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

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