Electric picnic

Do you know what makes me really happy? Having a picnic. There, I've said it. I can practically hear you all muttering from behind your Sunday papers, 'that Rachel Allen one needs to go and get a life'. And maybe I do. But come on, isn't there something just so uncomplicated and pleasurable about eating outside in the elements? Everything tastes better, for a start. There's minimal cleaning up to do afterwards and, unless you eat outdoors all the time - which, as we are in Ireland, I doubt - there is a certain novelty factor to picnicking that I just adore.
A picnic doesn't have to be a palaver. If you don't have time to whip up a 'chest' of sandwiches (I'm enjoying these in my photo, right; and the recipe is opposite) and a sponge cake, then a basket filled with goodies from your local deli or market can be just as divine. My mother-in-law, Darina, must be the queen of picnics. She practically takes one to the shops at the end of the road. She packs sea salt and freshly ground black pepper into tiny little tubs; she has one flask for tea, one for coffee, and another for hot milk. She thinks nothing of bringing a loaf of brown bread - with a bread knife, of course; a butter dish full of butter; a whole avocado, with a little knife for cutting; and some sliced smoked salmon. If you have ever wondered what the best sandwich in the world tastes like, then try making that and eating it outside, and you'll see.
The key to a really good picnic is, as we used to say in Girl Guides: be prepared. Don't scrimp on the extra bits that make a difference. Salt and pepper, butter, mayonnaise, chutney, olive oil, salad leaves: everything that you would eat with your meal if you were at home, bring with you on your picnic. And don't forget something sweet to finish it all off. Fresh air gives one a great appetite, and besides, a slice of cake, accompanied by a cup of tea from a flask, may well be food heaven.

See My Picnic Recipes: 

Rachel's tip
If a picnic isn't a picnic for you without an egg sandwich, then can I recommend scrambling some eggs in a little butter, adding some chopped chives, and allowing this to cool before placing between buttered slices of bread? Divine.
Rachel recommends
Of course, there are times when just a flask of tea and a few biscuits thrown into a bag will suffice, but for the proper picnic purist, nothing beats a wicker basket with all the crockery and cutlery strapped down inside.
Add to that something delicious to eat, and a gorgeous blanket or three, and you have, dear readers, the perfect picnic. Avoca has a great selection of wicker picnic baskets and blankets, while at The Ballymaloe Shop, you can find brilliant picnic blankets with waterproof backing, perfect for the Irish weather, for just €29.95, as well as baskets and rugs galore.

Shaneod May 25, 2015 News