One of my favorite wedding gifts was a picnic basket. Lined with pretty gingham fabric, stocked with plates, silverware and wine glasses, I pictured it carrying surprise, romantic meals out to My Farmer working late in the field. Ahhh . . . the ideal dreams of a new bride.
Very quickly, I learned this was no farm-grade picnic basket. The cute faux-leather hinges snapped after a few uses. The fabric, obviously, didn’t stand up to field dust. And the included tableware? I had more than enough dishes waiting for me upon returning home from meal delivery.
My grandma June carried a farm-grade picnic basket for as long as I can remember. It is now one of my most prized possessions. No top. No fabric. No table service included. It is a sturdy woven basket that can be lined with newspaper to carry a steaming pot of chili, cradle a chocolate pie or serve as the picnic catchall. It has endured rain, sleet, spilled beans, an exploded catch-up bottle, and dirty dishes. It can be washed, rinsed and dried in time to deliver a meal the very next day.
Every time I pack the basket, I feel Grandma’s presence. She was strong and sturdy, and delivered her love in the food she served her family. Just like this picnic basket.
Menu 7: Burgers, Calico Beans, Corn, Brunch Fruit, Pumpkin Squares
Pretty standard. I use ground beef and add something new each time. Tonight was a packet of Italian dressing mix. Other times, I’ve added ranch seasoning or bar-b-que sauce. Be creative!
Calico Beans (from my Great Aunt Carol, Grandma June’s sister)
- 4 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 lb. hamburger, browned
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
Cook all together and simmer.
Add 1 can lima beans, kidney beans and butter beans (all drained) and 1 large can pork and beans. Simmer all. You can do this without the burger as well.
Corn (from our sweet corn patch, frozen this summer during our annual family tradition of “Doing Corn“)
Pumpkin Squares (from my mom)
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 beaten eggs
- 2 cups pumpkin
- 1 cup oil
Mix all of the above and pour into greased jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. For frosting, blend the following and add 1 3/4 cups of powdered sugar.
- 3 oz. cream cheese (I usually put in the whole 8 oz. package. This recipe isn’t hoping to be healthy pumpkin squares.)
- 3/4 stick margarine
- 1 teaspoon milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Substitute Betty Crocker vanilla frosting for a dairy-free dessert!
Brunch Fruit (from family friend Francie Wilcox)
- 2 large cans pineapple chunks, drained
- 2 large cans mandarin oranges, drained
- 2 cans peach pie filling
- 1 cup fresh strawberries or blueberries (or both!)
- Add 2 bananas, sliced just before serving