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Gourmet picnics start at your library

Summer! It’s that special time of year in Oregon when the days are long, the weather is warm and sunny, and the Great Outdoors beckons us out from behind our desks.

Just because you’re spending more time outside, though, doesn’t mean you have to subsist on protein bars and trail mix. The good weather and bounty of summer produce make this the perfect time of year to eat well when you’re camping, hiking, boating or just spending time outdoors. You can prepare a picnic at home then pack it up in a cooler to take to your destination. If you’re camping out there are a surprisingly diverse array of options available to you.

Picnics can be so much more than sandwiches and potato salad. “Country Living Eating Outdoors” has picnic recipes for appetizers, salads, main dishes and more. There’s a little bit of everything here. Try the grilled vegetables with rosemary goat cheese polenta, grilled chicken kabobs with citrus sauce, or the fire-roasted red pepper salad. There are also recipes for delicious drinks such as the pineapple cooler, and mouth-watering desserts such as the fresh summer berry tart.

Summer is a great time for grilling, but you don’t have to stick with the same old burgers, steaks, and hot dogs. “World Grilling” by Denis Kelly has more than 130 international recipes that will help you diversify your grilling repertoire. Grill up some eggplant for the Japanese eggplant salad. Throw some vegetables on the grill for summer vegetable skewers. Plus, did you know you could grill pizza?

“Campground Cookery” by Brenda K. Kulibert is a great resource if you like to eat well when you’re camping. The author describes different kinds of camp cooking such as grilling, foil cooking, Dutch oven cooking, and reflector oven cooking.

She has recipes for everything from breadsticks to steak and eggs to fish chowder. If you want to get really fancy you can try grilled lobster or barbecue ribs. Don’t forget dessert! Banana boats, fruit cobbler or baked caramel apples. Yum!

If you like to get away from it all, check out “The Complete Trail Food Cookbook” by Jennifer MacKenzie, Jay Nutt, and Don Mercer. The recipes spell out which steps you should do at home and which steps should be done at your backcountry camp. You can go with something as simple as Moroccan braised beans and lentils or get a little more fancy and cook pan-seared chicken with a side of stuffing.

Whatever you cook and wherever you eat it, bon appetit!



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