Friday, September 26, 2014

Is Summers End The Time to Put Away Hot Dogs, Picnics & Barbecue? by Muriel Jensen & Roz Denny Fox








We’ve decided duo blogging isn’t easy. So after our September kickoff we will probably individually blog every other month. But since in late September we say goodbye to summer, we discussed what that really means. In some places it means goodbye to sun and to the freedom lazy days without school brings. Many people consider Labor Day the last hurrah for barbecues, picnics and serving hotdogs with potato salad.  How many of you bring summer inside during fall and winter? Do you stick a hibachi in the fireplace, or huddle around a fire pit in the snow? Who among you have picnicked in your living room?

MURIEL—With our iffy weather in Oregon, Ron and I have never barbequed very much.  We’ve picnicked a lot, and had a VW bus with the middle seat taken out so we could put in a table.  That allowed us to move the picnic inside if the weather turned on us.  The table was fairly good sized and was covered with a wipe-off map of the United States.  Kept us all occupied and gave us a lot to talk about over lunch.  When our neighbors were here last week for pizza and salad, we had such a good time that we vowed we’d be there in December in our parkas and mittens.  Sunshine isn’t essential to fun.  What do you think?

ROZ--I was blessed to have a husband who loved barbecue no matter the weather.  We also liked to picnic with friends rain or shine.  That served us well when we lived in Oregon and Washington State.  When it came to picnics it got to be a huge laugh.  Every time we planned a picnic with 2 particular sets of friends, we’d arrive at our chosen spot, only to have a storm blow up.  It got to the point we didn’t say the word, picnic.  One would call and say, “What do you have that you could toss together for a lunch?” And then if you said: “hot dogs and salad”, the other would say, “Meet you in an hour at X park.  I can’t you how many photos I have of us hunkered down at a rain-swept picnic table.  But what fun!

MURIEL--When I was a child on the coast of Massachusetts, the favorite summer event was a clambake on the beach.  My father and his friends would dig a large hole, line it with stones, pile wood on top and let it burn until the stones were red hot.  They’d place a cinder block on each corner to anchor the barbecue grate.  Then they’d pile on the food – a layer of seaweed first, then potatoes, seaweed, corn, seaweed, Portuguese sausage, seaweed, clams, and a final layer of seaweed.  They’d cover the hole with a length of burlap dipped in seawater.  It cooked about an hour until the clam shells opened and the potatoes were done.  I can’t tell you what that tasted like when you were sitting in the sand, watching the waved break, surrounded by friends.  It was magic.  In the winter, we cooked the same ingredients in a pot on the stove.  What it lacked in atmosphere was made up for with friendship and laughter.

ROZ—A clambake sounds like such fun. Something you could enjoy in sunshine or the misty seaside weather when fall creeps in. Muriel’s note made me remember one of our most fun picnics. Four of us took wine and bread and cheese into the mountains beyond Bend, Oregon on snowmobiles. When we stopped for lunch the sky was blue, the air so cold you could see every breath. The wine and laughs with good company warmed us.

Let’s hear some of your most memorable summer, fall, or winter barbecues or picnics.

58 comments:

  1. When I was growing up we had frequent family picnics with cousins, aunts and uncles. It was great fun from the hamburgers to the watermelon. But you've never really lived until you've had mexican beans, chorizo and a pinata at the family get together....those are good memories to have.

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    1. Rose, family traditions are what makes a get-together so fun. We used to do some different things for my daughter's birthday that's near Christmas. We got a piñata once and the kids, for whom it was something brand new, loved it.

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    2. Love pinatas. Also love chorizo - our favorite cafe uses it in an egg scramble. Best thing you ever tasted! Family memories are the best!

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  2. My husband loves to barbecue, too, irrespective of the weather. We have a property near the south-west tip of Algonquin Park in Ontario. We enjoy having friends join us for barbecues during the summer and fall, whether eating outside or in, depending on the weather.

    I have never been to a clam bake, but Muriel's final comment makes me want to experience one.

    Thank you for sharing, ladies!

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    1. Kate, hang onto your husband who loves to barbecue. You will have so much more time to write. LOL Thanks for dropping by.

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    2. Someday all the HH sisters and readers will get together and have a clambake on the beach! Maybe if I think on that hard enough I can make it happen!

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  3. I love the idea of picnicking in a gazebo, or a mini-van with the middle seat removed. When I was growing up, we'd spread one of my grandmother's quilts on the lawn and eat our normal lunchtime sandwiches there instead of inside at the kitchen table.

    Looking back, I realize that must've been during the winter because there's no way to enjoy eating outside in Tucson in the summer

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    1. Sorry, Roz. Don't know how I got in here first when you replied first. Just wanted to say I also love the gazebo idea. Just like the one on Jen's cover. Good idea, Laurie.

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  4. Laurie, it's hard to find picnicking time in AZ if you want to go outdoors. But a lot of people go to the parks around here in spring and fall I know. Love the idea of a gazebo. I've always wanted one of those.

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  5. some
    Mike and I picnic at the park and then he goes skateboarding. . Someday he'll say, "Mom, I can't be seen here with you..." LOL

    The only picnics I did growing up were church picnics, but they were great fun

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    1. Hi, Pam. Any kind of picnic is fun. Yeah, brace yourself for that day with Mike. Or. maybe, since you've got the food, you'll always be acceptable company. Just come hang out with us if that day comes.

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    2. Pam, once you start including his buddies in the eating part they'll stay with you through college and then bring their children back which is the great thing about the cycle of life.

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  6. My husband loves his smoker and last night he made pulled pork, spare ribs, smoked baked beans, corn on the cob, coleslaw, corn bread and potato salad. Summer isn't over yet :)

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    1. Can you send him west? Ron would love all those things. It's overcast and cool here, but the weekend is supposed to bring warmer weather one last time. Is Michelle going away to school this year, or is that next year?

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    2. Yum, Karen. I am ready for picnicking and it's early morning.

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  7. My husband is a white-collar guy so he's not great with outdoor stuff like barbecuing, but we have gathered with friends at their homes for barbecue. I love the food, but I think I enjoy the good association with friends even more. I actually love picnics with just myself and my husband best of all. There's a beautiful mansion here nearby that will provide a picnic basket for you and allow you to use their beautiful lawn and garden to have your own private little picnic area. My goal was to picnic on the Biltmore Estate grounds because it's so extraordinarily beautiful there, but not sure if we'll get back before the weather turns too cold. I think picnics for two are so romantic!!

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    1. Laurie, love your idea of romantic picnics for two. Is that the Biltmore Estates that has the Christmas extravaganza, and a winery? If so, I'd picnic there with anyone it's such a great place.

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    2. That's the one!! We've been there three times and can't wait to go again!!

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    3. Leave room for me. Sounds like a wonderful place to picnic.

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  8. This post makes me so jealous! Growing up in San Francisco, BBQ or even picnics weren't on the agenda much, LOL...and I don't remember taking any trips that allowed for the activity either, but now I"m thinking I might have to start a new summer tradition and get myself a grill! What wonderful memories you both must have of these very special times with loved ones and friends. Thanks so much for posting, ladies! Here's to next summer and a truckload of BBQs.

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    1. Anna, I remember picnicking in a park near S.F. Is there a Golden Gate Park maybe? We had the whole family and flew kites after picnicking and doing paddle boats. I haven't thought about that in a long time.

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    2. Never too early to start planning, Anna! I guess S.F. is more serious urban living - that can be great, too. I lived in the heart of a fairly big city and we kids played in an alley between two tenements. (I'm repeating myself, so I apologize, but it seems appropriate here.) My mother would lower a picnic basket on a rope from our second story apartment so we kids could stay outside. (And, probably, so she could have her own more peaceful lunch!) We loved that!

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  9. My favorite "events" are the ones--regardless of season--when Duane & I think we're going to have a quiet afternoon and end up with a house full of noisy kids and grandkids, eating whatever we find that will feed the horde or whatever we run to town and buy. There's no planning angst, no pre-event overdoing it, and no cleanup (the kids were well brought up ). And it's always, always fun.

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    1. Right! Nothing like the surprise of warm, loving feelings gathered together in the home that fostered it all. My kids are all a little distance away, but our neighbors gather all the time because we're our own little urban tribe. Love is everything.

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    2. So true about the fun of impromptu gatherings.

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  10. You guys brought back so many fun memories for me! Love picnics. Love BBQ. I grew up in a family that grills pretty much everything that is edible. My dad would just put on his rain jacket and tuck the grill under the eaves... My parents had vacation "camp-out" property on Hood's Canal (Puget Sound) when I was a kid. We would camp there and eat tons of fresh caught seafood--grilled of course. We had a picnic table under a covered area because it rains a lot up there. Muriel--count me in on that clam bake!

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    1. Love our hearty Northwesterners! Your place on the Sound makes a great mental picture. I can see your father - probably with his hood up. Can't drown all those good feelings. I love vegetables on the grill! Our friends used to have a sort of basket thingie that we put veggies in over the coals and they were so delicious!

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    2. Oh boy, do I remember barbecues in the rain. Carol, I love the Hood's Canal area. So beautiful. And Muriel, veggie kabobs are the best.

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  11. Our family always picnics rain or shine. Fun winter picnics: One with family when we went cross country skiing. We put the wine bottle through the hole in the blanket to keep it chilled in the snow. Another time, Mom and I went on a picnic at a Lake Tahoe park. Had to brush snow off the table. We played the fastest game of scrabble (using three letter words only) because it was COLD sitting there. LOL

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    1. Aren't we resourceful at making fun under any conditions? I have to remember the three-word Scrabble trick. I've never picnicked in the winter, but my husband did as a Boy Scout - they were earning some wilderness badge, or something. He says the lettuce froze on his baloney sandwich.

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    2. Sandra, Yes, you make those winter picnics shorter. But they're such fun. When we sat on the log after snowmobiling to eat our cheese, bread and drink our wine, it started misting and we froze to the log.

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  12. My grandparents were big fans of a Sunday drive. I loved when they showed up and asked if my mom and brothers and I wanted to head into the mountains with them. My grandma always made a ham, and we'd stop somewhere in the Smokies beside one of those cold, dark streams that rush over the mossy rocks. (Beautiful accompaniment to any meal!) I'd always have a piece of ham between two plain slices of bread, and no sandwich has ever tasted better. I miss those Sunday drives!

    Muriel, we used to do the same kind of bake in Maine, except we had lobster instead of clams. Delish! :-) Wouldn't it be lovely if we could all get together on a beach to talk books and good food and friendship?

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    1. Anna - an eventual get-together of all of us has lived in my brain since the first eight or ten of us got together on this blog. Now, as our numbers increase, I reallllly want to do it. Everyone tuck the thought away in your mind so we can make it materialize. Books, food, and friendship. Doesn't get any better than that.

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    2. Anna and Muriel, we need to visualize this happening. Astoria would be a great place for a clambake, and we could all meet and talk books like Anna said.

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  13. Nice post ladies! Growing up in Newfoundland, we could never count on good weather no matter what the season lol, so my favorite picnics were the ones in the middle of winter. My mom would call from work to tell my brother and I to get dressed up warm and to put together a picnic dinner, then she would pick us up and we would go sledding in the park and eat our picnic at the top of the snowhill. It would get dark almost right away, but the park had flood lights over the hill. Hot chocolate and sandwiches and cookies:) Awesome memories!

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    1. What a great mom! She was probably pooped at the end of her day, but still wanted to make fun for the two of you. No wonder you love her so much, Jen!
      The picnic spot sounds lovely.

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    2. Jen, we all have such wonderful memories. I'm convinced they help us create the family oriented books we all like to write.

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  14. A clam bake sounds amazing! The first time I heard of it was in Sabrina with Harrison Ford. It just sounded so romantic.
    I grew up on the San Francisco peninsula. We had picnics and BBQs at least once a week. Yes, Roz...Golden Gate Park is marvelous for picnicking. The Marina Green is also a great spot and there are loads of little neighborhood parks, many with picnic tables and some with BBQs. We were really close to Napa, so often stopped at one of the little markets and got sliced meats, olives, cheese, and fresh baguettes, (and when I was old enough, wine.) Many wineries let you picnic on their grounds.
    Every year my grandparents and their siblings and all of the kids, grandkids and eventually great grand kids would have an all day bash at a place called Huddard Park in Woodside, CA. I have such fond memories of those picnics. Every once in a while, I'll catch the smell of the combination of trees and brush in that park and it takes me right back there.
    But the places we BBQed and picnicked the most was the beach. My grandparents had a little Hibatchi (called a Son-of-a-Hibatchi, lol)
    And we would just pop in at one of the beach parks and make a day of it.
    The weather is pretty great year round, so unless it was storming, we were often outside.

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    1. What a great food-and-family history, Shannon. Makes me want to go to Huddard Park and swipe someone's Son-of-a-Hibatchi! Aren't we all so lucky to have memories of such rich times?

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    2. Shannon, thanks for letting me know my memory isn't faulty about Golden Gate Park. And I remember Denny and I grabbing a picnic lunch at wineries in Napa. In fact, when RWA was in S.F. Brenda Novak, Ken Casper, and I bid on a limo wine tour offered by Allison Brennan at Brenda's auction. We won and some of the editors joined us. We bought stuff at one of the winery stores and ate at their picnic tables under fabulous big, old oak trees. Fun times. Keep them rolling.

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  15. Hi, All! Just wanted to mention that even though Roz put my name first on this post, the subject was her idea. She started it, then sent the word document on to me and we passed it back and forth (some hilarity involved with dubious techno skills on my end) then she figured out how to get artwork on it - I think, with some help from the smarty-pants members of our group. Anyway - just wanted you to know that all the intensive labor was hers.

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    1. It was collaborative effort and we did send stuff back and forth a lot.

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  16. This is a great post! Loved the back and forth. We are finally feeling like fall in northern California, but we BBQ year round (never really picnic). When we visit our kids in Oregon we BBQ on the covered patio. It's nice to sit outside protected from the rain or strong sunshine, talk, and smell that great BBQ.

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  17. Melinda, it is nice to barbecue when it's raining. The rain clears the air and the barbecue smells so good. I'll bet neighbors are envious, because I think not everyone does cook outside year around.

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  18. We tend to keep some things seasonal. That way we enjoy food we don't eat year-round, such as special desserts and the famous green bean casserole on holidays.

    Now you have me hungry!

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    1. Barbara - we love the green bean casserole, too. It reminds me to use those yummy crunch onion strings on other things.

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  19. Muriel - love those fried onions, too. I used to work with someone who ate them straight from the can, like potato chips. But that would be a bit much for me! They're so yummy but probably not the healthiest choice.

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    1. Barbara and Muriel, you're right that some items need a special season. Good to point that out.

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  20. We had wonderful picnics every summer with family and friends when we lived in New Jersey. Times I’ll always treasure. And at one time we had a 1967 Volkswagen bus and I remember rearranging the seats so we could eat inside. Our table didn’t have a map on it, however.

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    1. Marion---this is why I love the songs about "the good old days". Don't Naomi and Wy Judd sing one named that? Sometimes it's hard to hang onto what we liked growing up because so much has changed in the cities, states and world.

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    2. You're right, Roz. I always wonder if my children's memories are as rich to them as mine are to me. The world has so changed, but then, they didn't know the world we knew, so maybe this is all good. Loved our old VW bus, Marion. I think it was a '72 - after the split windshield.

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  21. I remember going fishing with my parents. We always took hotdogs and marshmallows along. Dad would build a big fire and we'd have a delicious supper. I'm trying to do the same with my kids.

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  22. Gail, good for you, carrying on a tradition you loved growing up. I'm guessing your children love to get out in the wilderness and cook over a campfire. And they will pass it on when they have children.

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  23. None of us was ever quiet enough to go fishing, but the hot dogs and marshmallows sound wonderful. A campfire on the beach is so intimate and peaceful. What a lovely memory for your children.

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  24. I've always wanted to go to a clambake!

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  25. If Anna A gets her wish and we all get together - and we can do it in Astoria - I promise you a clambake!

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  26. I'm lucky--David likes to barbeque and is good at it. All the rains and dust storms did put a crimp in his outdoor cooking, though!

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