On Eating Out And Pie

Spring hobbled in hesitantly this year with so  much huffing and puffing it sounded like it would blow the house down! The weather kept throwing cold spells at us with only a sprinkling of mature warmth. But finally. At the very end of May- Yay!!! Yay for bright sunshine, blue skies, the scent of fresh cut grass and pleasing temperatures! And its an all time triple yay for NO wind!! I’m confident its been worse this year. I don’t want to complain, but can I squeak out one negative comment? I promise to also include positivity. I love fresh air but I only wish it wouldn’t move at such an energetic speed!  When we have a day with sunshine and zero wind, it’s in order to pause and meditate on the fact. And for sure, thank the Creator of the wind that there’s no wind! 

With the arrival of Summer, we must eat out. At least, if you ask my children. And I doubt yours are much different than mine.  Eating out, but not in town. Eat in the country. In Nature. In the shade. In the grass. My children absolutely love to eat outside and I do too. It’s simply enjoyable to eat food outdoors plus it cuts down on tableside crumbs, which makes it a win win! It’s my belief that it takes minimal effort to take the food and accessories outdoors.

Here’s the method I use: First off, just cook whatever you have on your menu. You don’t have to grill or have picnic foods. A casserole or pan of pizza is fine and often more simple than grilled hot dogs or hamburgers with all the toppings.

I keep a beautiful Hearth & Hand magnolia tray that’s extra large, within easy reach. This was a Mother’s Day gift from my husband one year and I love and use it so much! On this tray I pile our food, utensils, plates, cups etc. Utilize every possible space. On top of the plates I’ll set the casserole dish or a bowl of food. Stack the cups together.  On the very top I throw on the tablecloth. There might be a pitcher of tea and maybe one or two other items to carry separately but my big tray holds 90% of things. 

This tray comes from Target
We ate meatballs, fried potatoes and broccoli cauliflower salad this time

  Then you just haul it outside. You’ll need the tablecloth first so that’s why you place it on top of everything else. Throw that on the picnic table (or grass), then set out the plates and food and voila! You’ve got an outdoor meal without making a dozen trips back and forth!

We love our grain bin gazebo Jerald built last Fall! If you’d like info on how to construct one yourself, you can read about it here

This tray method may not work as well if you have a large family.  But you could still use the same idea except you’ll need to solicit help to carry out the serving bowls of food, because obviously it won’t all fit on one tray.

Sometimes even for lunch, I’ll fix the children’s plates with leftovers then pile that along with their water cups on a cookie sheet and take it out to where they’re playing.  It’s fun for them besides it helps keep the kitchen neat! On a rainy day recently we even had an indoor picnic in their tent under the bunk bed.

When it’s only our family, there’s several reasons I prefer using real dishes and utensils for picnic eating above disposable. 1) It doesn’t blow away in the energetic air. 2) Especially for children who need stability in more ways than one, real plates are much more practical to eat off of. I use a malmac type. 3) The heavier dishes help hold down the tablecloth in the energetic air.

When I’m hosting large groups of people I do like disposables for easy cleanup.  But I’d still recommend having a couple malmac bowls if you have small children in attendance.  But if you don’t live in Nebraska this may not be necessary. 

Now I’m coming at you with that piece of pie-  a refreshing orange pie which tastes like Summer in one bite. Not hard to make. Perfect for eating out.

Mandarin Orange Pie

1 ¹/² c water- heat to boiling

5 T. Clear jel

1/2 c water

3/4 c sugar

1 pkg. orange koolaid

2 15 oz. cans Mandarin Oranges, drained.

While water heats, whisk together clear jel and half cup water. Then stir in the sugar and kool-aid. Pour this mixture into the boiling water and cook until thick. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Stir in the oranges. Chill.

White filling: Beat together 4 oz softened creamcheese & 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Last beat in about 3/4 of an 8 oz cool whip.

In a baked pie shell or graham cracker crust, spread a layer of the white filling then top with the orange pie filling. Last, spread with remaining cool whip. Garnish as desired. This can be served immediately or chilled for a few hours. This will make one large pie.

This week, take time to eat outside. That is, if the air isn’t too energetic.

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