please welcome my Guest Blogger
Cooking since the age of ten, Joy has accumulated half a lifetime of experience in American, French, Chinese & Middle Eastern cooking. Her blog is an amazing resource.
We found that we had someting in common today: 10th August is as you know the anniversay of my heart surgery & it is Joy’s birthday.
Now let’s hear from Joy…
PICNICS IN PARKS: New York Style
WATER & GREENERY
New York City is full of parks of diverse environmental styles. Small parks, mediumsized parks, large parks and, of course, that one gigantic park right in the center.Some parks are filled with northeastern greenery, footpaths meandering, leading through carpeted meadows and past huge boulders suitable for sunning beside still ponds. Fountains provide visual hydration, giving cooling comfort to the overheated, grateful for cool the breezes coming their way. Distinctly urban settings like Paley Park are cut from the harder surfaces of the earth, relief cascading down walls of stone. Found in unexpected places, one is likely to stumble upon them with startling suddenness. Hurrying along crowded sidewalks, the sound of rushing water seems to be lurking behind buildings, as we head towards less heavenly destinations. Rushing water? One’s pace doesn’t slow because of what one can’t visually confirm, certainly there’s a mistake in perception. And then you see it and it is indeed a waterfall in the middle of Manhattan. Sandwiched in between tall office buildings looming over a glen of summery respite that is unexpected and exactly what is, often desperately, needed to cool your jets sputtering with the last remnants of summer
JUST ADD FOOD
What I most like about picnics is that you can bring any kind of food imaginable. Hauling all manner of grilling accoutrements is not only not recommended, it is discouraged because it is more often than not a hindrance to the real task. There are many reasons for not having a picnic: no time to plan, no time to shop, no time to prepare, and certainly no time to schlep, set-up, clean-up and beat it back home for whatever is pressing against the minutes of your day. Who needs to effort a picnic when life is already hectic? That’s not the picnic I envision. Start with the basics, and stop when you reach sufficiency. Whether joining friends for a weekend afternoon of pastoral leisure or
winding down after work with an hour’s worth of solitude, I define a picnic as eating and relaxing outdoors. Can be more than just a simple meal but doesn’t have to. For busy people, simplicity rules. To pack too much is to defeat the purpose of picnicking in the park. Make it easy on yourself. Less is more. If involving multiple people, let everyone bring something. It’s not a picnic if you’ve forgotten the relaxation. Here are some of my favorites. Feel free to improvise, substituting as it suits.
• Bread, cheese, soppresetta and fruit is a stellar combination that is particularly suited to dining outdoors. If you don’t care for salami, choose prosciutto — or any meat sliced thinly — to complement a fresh whole grain loaf from the bakery or whole grain crackers. From the deli or the cheese shop, select two or three types of cheese. Add some apples, grapes and figs, and a handful of olives to round out this al fresco feast.
• A favorite Thai or Chinese restaurant may the the easiest way to beat it over to the park, chopsticks at the ready, to dive into a cold noodle dish, or even fried rice, the best fast food on the planet. Take-out makes it quick; a blanket spread out on the grass and kicking your shoes off makes it a picnic.
• The prepared food counter at the grocery is another place to shop for spur-of=the- moment picnics. Select individual portions so leftovers don’t need a ride home. Three or four different salads and dishes allow everyone to try new foods, suppling plastic utensils and napkins to go.
• Sushi rocks picnics. Use the lid as a little side dish for some fresh, cilantro and sesame seeds. With chopsticks, spread the rice with wasabi and layer on sliced ginger (all included), cilantro leaves, then replace the salmon on top. A ripe avocado sliced in half, and a spoon is all that is needed to enjoy them right in their tough little shells as cups of green softness that blend with the sushi right in your mouth. Dip the rice into the sesame seeds (the black ones are
best!) and join me in seafood heaven. So what else? For a workday lunch, iced tea spells summer. If you’ve brought
Vietnamese take-out, as for lemonade. A chilled bottle of white wine is always a nice way to round out a dinner, but a cold beer requires less thinking. Fresh peaches and blueberries or other fruit from the sidewalk vendor completes any summertime refresher course in the middle of the afternoon or after work before the sun goes down.
Bryant Park, with views of important architectural landmarks has outdoor movies, and what better way to enjoy the cool breezes of a late summer evening rustling the canopy of trees overhead than with fresh food you love, a few gatherings from the garden and your social circle? The ideal companion to a solo picnic is a good book to complete
the whiling away a little time, away from the busy people, bustling about on the other side of the waterfall.
thanks Joy, some great ideas for us to try.Roll on spring & summer!