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The Picnic Basket

I found it in a stack along with other picnic baskets but I immediately knew this was the one. It’s quite rare when you go antiquing with something specific in mind and you walk out with that very thing, and for a good price, I might add. That’s when you know that purchase is meant to be.

Her woven weave is thick, not dainty. The lid closes just slightly askew, letting you know that in her day she was well-loved and frequently used. Her body is deep, leaving plenty of room for a blanket, multiple Tupperware filled with dips, spreads, cheeses, etc. and a nice bottle of wine, if one chooses. She is the color of a hearty loaf of artisan bread and already we love her.

Picnic season is a happy one around here. I am not sure if I love them most because the birds take care of the majority of the clean up or because my favorite meal is a simple one of fresh fruit, fine cheeses, a crusty loaf of bread and a crisp, clean wine.

We don’t travel far for our picnics with many of them being a few inches from out front door but the lure of dining outside remains. The squirrels and crows look on with anticipation just waiting for us to drop a taste for them. Sitting in the midst of our modest garden, I dream of the summer day when the snap peas are at their peak and we can pick our picnic food straight off the vine.

The beauty of food that can be eaten outdoors is that it often can be made well in advance. The best picnic food doesn’t require the extra load of utensils and begs to be scooped up with crackers or bread. Which is what makes this week’s featured recipe – red pepper relish – simply perfect for picnics. With the addition of cream cheese it instantly becomes a sweet and savory spread. Slathered on a tortilla and rolled up with turkey and lettuce you’ll find yourself with an irresistible wrap. Or simply scooped up on a wheaty cracker or a crispy baguette with a pillow-like interior. Without the cream cheese it stores in the fridge for weeks or can easily be made in bulk and then canned.

My family, including our new picnic basket, and I want to wish you all a very happy picnic season!

by Ashley Rodriguez
Chef, food blogger, and full-time mom. Read more of her writings at