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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Picnic!

Fact: It takes the average Vancouverite 12 hours of sunshine to forget that it rains 9 months of the year here. When I heard that it was supposed to be sunny and 26 this Saturday, I almost peed. So in honour of the fact that it's only probably going to last about 6 minutes I decided to make a huge, indulgent, classic picnic while the getting is good. Of course, you need chicken. I'm not a huge chicken person, the raw cutlets freak me out and remind me of breast implants. Handling them is even grosser. But you need baked or fried chicken for a picnic. And you need potato salad. And watermelon. And some greens. This is what I came up with:

Oven Baked Picnic Chicken
1-2 packages of skinned chicken pieces
3/4 cup Greek yoghurt
2-3 tbsp milk
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 tsp Cajun seasoning

Breading:
2 1/2 cups panko breading
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Note: Use Jessica's Awesomesauce as the Cajun seasoning.

In a large Ziplock that actually has that little knobby white outside zipper so you can make sure the fucking thing is actually closed, combine the yoghurt, milk, mustard, Tabasco, and Awesomesauce. Add the chicken pieces and mash with your hands like you're giving a really good massage. Place in a bowl and marinate in the fridge overnight.

Prepare the breading and preheat the oven to 400. Remove each chicken piece from the marinade and let the excess drip off for a minute, then roll chicken in breading. A large, flattish soupbowl works best, if you happen to have one. A plate will do nicely too. Place each breaded piece of chicken on a cookie sheet lined with foil. With your thumb on the spout, drizzle olive oil on the top of each piece.


Bake about 45 mins, depending on the thickness of the chicken pieces. Serve hot or room temp.

These are great for a picnic because you can take them off the tray (once they've cooled) and stick them in a container and off you go to the beach. I get paranoid about chicken so I put my container on top of an icepack. Sunshine goes nicely with many things, but salmonella isn't one of them.

Of course, you can't just have a big pile of meat on a picnic, you need greens:

Spinach Salad with Honey Bacon dressing
1/2 bunch baby spinach
1 cup sliced white or crimini mushrooms, depending on taste
3 green onions
2 large hard boiled eggs
parmesan cheese to taste
8 slices bacon

Dressing:
1/4 cup honey
1/4 apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp dijon or spicy mustard, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp lemon juice

Assemble the salad by chopping all ingredients as you prefer. Add 3/4 of the bacon crumbles. Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing, adding the remaining crumbled bacon last. Put the dressing in a small container and put this in a Ziplock, because it will likely leak. Transport salad separately and add dressing when you serve.


This dressing makes the salad. I kind of find spinach disheartening although I couldn't really tell you why. I think it's just a lot of spinach to have if you have a whole salad made of it. But this is terrific. I also made:

West Coast Potato Salad
1/2 bag baby or new potatoes
2 roma tomatoes
1 avocado
1/2 red onion
6 leaves fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil to taste
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Boil potatoes until a fork slides out of them easily. Drain and wait until they cool, cut in half. Place in a bowl. Add chopped tomatoes, avocado, onion, basil. Add vinegar and oil, salt and pepper, mix thoroughly. Serve immediately or refrigerate.


I ate this picnic meal like it was the last thing I had to do on this earth:


Ahhh, spring. The season of new beginnings. Not to get corny, but it inspires everyone to do something good for themselves, like spring cleaning. Which might explain why on my way to work on I passed a dumpster, next to which was a box of pants-shittingly terrifying papier mache alien embryos:


What is this I don’t even. I think there’s a horse head and some kind of serpent in there too. There was also a massive head of some kind of sea god a few feet away that had been painted a shocking blue colour and had a crown. I didn’t get a photo though. I was too busy being freaked right the fuck out and scuttling away from this effed-up menagerie as fast as I could.

Incidentally Stella thought she looked much better in the picnic basket than food:


Oh, Stellie. We might have sun for 5 more minutes so get out there!

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