|Rula's family picnic at Harper's Ferry|
CATHERINE: I’ve always thought that one of the most romantic scenes in a book is the summer picnic. Doesn’t matter to me if the book is a Regency Romance, a Manhattan holiday in Central Park or a beach picnic with kids running around and sharks in the water. Once summer hits, I want to read about my hero and heroine packing up a lunch and having nothing else on their minds except each other and possibly, what’s in that picnic basket?
The quintessential wicker picnic basket filled with wine, cheese, bread and homemade fried chicken, alas, has been replaced with Styrofoam coolers, Igloos and let’s face it, plain old plastic bags from the grocery. Most of us modern heroines are so over-worked, over-scheduled and busy that when the weekend holiday or picnic mini-vacation comes around, we dash to the store, buy deli potato salad, cole slaw and a bucket of chicken. But there’s something about the lure of that picnic basket, a “jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou,” that motivates the heart to seek that illusive and idyllic place in nature where for a few hours we can forget our world and worries and live in the moment. It is tranquility we seek when we think of picnics.
|Frenchie waiting patiently for a yummy morsel to fall off of Catherine's picnic table.|
I’ll grant that some of us are throw-backs to these romantic times and we do our best to resurrect some of the traditions our mothers or grandmothers taught us. We make homemade brownies and cornbread ourselves. Maybe we even pre-boil the baby back ribs so our hero can throw them on the charcoal grill at the beach and take credit for that yummy honey and brown sugar barbeque sauce they’ve been marinating in for four hours. (Our heroine in the novel would do that. Or maybe not.)
|Catherine's family backyard picnic|
The thing is, when it comes to summer and picnic fun outdoors after being house-bound all winter, we all get pretty inventive. I’ve always tried to put some romance or at least some “tablescaping” into my picnics. I think Rula will agree with me. We both love to garden and if we were packing up THE picnic basket to please Romeo (and the family) we’d probably both toss in a cache of flowers from the garden. Why not? They’re a pleasant surprise and put a smile on everyone’s face.
RULA: I’m with you, Catherine! I know that picnics are supposed to be about the people involved…family, kids or romantic couple…but no one can deny that the setting (just like in a book!) is such an important element. If we were to play a word association game, if I got the word ‘picnic’, the first thing that would come to mind is ‘nature’. And I totally agree that, with our plugged-in, busy lives, there’s nothing more relaxing and grounding than…well, than sitting on the ground in an idyllic, natural setting and sharing food. As a kid living in North Africa, we used to picnic a lot…usually somewhere in the Atlas mountains or in the Sahara desert or on the beach. And yes, there were sharks and I’d just seen the movie ‘Jaws’, so no, I did not wade in lol.
I do a lot of homemade cooking, so I’d go the old fashioned route on my picnic basket. To me, fruit is a must. What’s a picnic without grapes or watermelon? I also usually make sandwiches and hard boiled eggs (hey, they’re a natural protein bar). Oh, and I wouldn’t forget desserts like brownies or cookies.
|Rula's Harper's Ferry picnic views|
|Another of Rula's Harper's Ferry views...so much like the areas she enjoyed family picnics in the Atlas Mts.|
CATHERINE: I’ve invented some very fun sandwiches and wraps over the years and tried to ramp up the old standby of potato salad by making German potato salad with plenty of bacon. (A guy pleaser, young and old.) Hot dogs? Go for the Chicago Dog for a adults complete with the hot peppers and a big dill pickle and poppy seed bun. The kids will still want the plain dogs, but that leaves more for the adults.
Even when there’s no beach nearby, the backyard picnic or barbeque can be as much or more fun. The good thing about staying close to home is that if the weather turns, the mosquitoes swarm in clouds over your strawberry glaze pie and your sweetheart’s face, you can dash to the indoors.
So everyone reading this…Do you pack a picnic basket? Or do you Igloo the meal? Where do you go? Beach? Park? A secret escape place? Or do you prefer your own backyard? The screened-in porch? What entertainment is a must?
What’s your favorite picnic food? Is there something that you simply must include every year?
GIVEAWAY: For everyone who responds to our little “survey” here, we’ll take your names and have a drawing. The winner will get a copy of one of Rula’s books, “From Kenya With Love” series (print or epub---your choice) and one of Catherine’s books from “The Shores of Indian Lake” series (print or epub---your choice.)
And don’t forget to pop by our upcoming virtual book tours for more fun and giveaways! For Rula's tour that kicked off this past weekend, click HERE. For Catherine's upcoming tour, click HERE.
And check out the spectacular summer giveaway by the July Heartwarming authors! Details HERE!