Picnic Success
Shop Local, Prep Simple and Have a Blast - Photography by choochoocachew.com

Avoid a picnic let-down with semi-warm potato salad on flimsy plates. If you stick to the necessities, picnic success is closer   than you think

The key ingredients

It’s easier than you think to create an  Instagram-worthy picnic spread with these  key ingredients:

  • Easy food
  • Good friends
  • A great location

The Rochester area has endless options for prime picnic locations: Oxbow Park in Byron, The History Center of Olmsted  County, St. Mary’s Park, Chester Woods or the Plummer House Gardens all offer picture-perfect scenery.

Local delights

Once you’ve set the location, turn to everyone’s favorite (and most important)  part–the food. My philosophy is to highlight locally raised food with simple preparation.

Choosing seasonal produce from local farmers is the ultimate starting point. To create a spread that all your friends will love,  hit the Rochester Farmers Market and choose the offerings that look tasty that weekend.

Cut things into shapes and sizes that are easy to grab with no utensils needed. For variety, I like to leave some things raw (think carrots, tomatoes, radishes) and grill others  (zucchini, asparagus, potatoes). Don’t miss the jars of different pickled veggies (The Old  Fashioned Dill Pickles from Moses Farms in Chatfield are top notch) and homemade spreads to jazz things up. Since these items don’t require immediate refrigeration, your picnic can last for hours without worry.

To accompany all of your fresh finds,  you can’t beat the cheeses from The  CannonBelles in Cannon Falls. Choose a variety of hard and soft (although if the weather is warm, you may wish to stick with harder cheeses), mild and pungent. Arrange them simply on a board surrounded by apples or grapes and crackers or bread, and go wild.

For a heartier snack, nothing beats a  galette in my book. Flaky pastry filled with whatever your heart desires AND you can eat it with your hands? Sign me up!  Take the shortcut and use store-bought pie crust or make your own. Do whatever works for you. The internet is chock-full of flavor combinations, but my personal favorites include a layer of the Smoked  Tomato and Rosemary Jam from southeast  Minnesota’s Flavour In a Jar with super  ripe tomatoes and balsamic glaze, zucchini and ricotta (with lots of flaky sea salt), or fig jam and goat cheese. You can certainly take these the sweet route too! Pile up some local berries and bake until bubbly– you will not be disappointed.

Betting on the right beverage

Whatever tasty beverage you choose to accompany your killer spread, the best vessel is a mason jar. They’re great whether you’re whipping up a drink at home and need to transport it, or if you’re uncorking a bottle of wine once you’ve arrived at your perfect picnic spot. Simply replace the lid to avoid any spills on the uneven ground.

My top choice: Make a fruit-filled Sangria while prepping your picnic, pour into individual mason jars so they are perfect by the time you reach your destination!  Looking for a zero-proof option? Shake things up with a lemon-limeade instead!

Topping it off

Don’t forget a sweet treat to top off your perfect picnic. Bake ‘em fresh or stock up from a local bakery or cottage food producer! Might I suggest a cake cup from  Bites By Kara (bitesbykara.com)?

With these tips, you are sure to have picnic success. Make some yummy snacks,  gather some friends and settle in at a  peaceful spot. Snap a pic to share the fruits of your labor, then kick back and enjoy the company in front of you!

get connected 

Want someone else to do the work for you? Check out picnicmojo.com and  have everything, including a gorgeous  set-up, done for you

About Author

Avatar photo

Kara Timmel is a Spanish teacher and the baker behind Bites By Kara. She lives in Rochester with her life partner, Noah, and their inquisitive cat, Zena. When not teaching Spanish or covered in flour, Kara can be found walking the trails or eating cauliflower tacos at Taco Jed.

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