Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Message in a Bottle: A Fall Picnic (Sailboat Optional)

Background: Theresa Osborne is a newspaper columnist living in Boston. One morning as she's jogging on the beach in Cape Cod, she happens upon a bottle in the sand. Upon closer examination she discovers a note inside, a sad love letter from "Garrett" to "Catherine." She decides to print the letter in her column, and learns that other people have found similar letters in bottles to Catherine from Garrett. After doing some digging she tracks him down to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina and decides to travel there to meet him. After all, she's been divorced for three years, she's a little lonely, and who knows? From his letters Garrett Blake seems to be a sensitive and caring person, and he might be available. When they finally meet, Garrett and Theresa hit it off right away and Garrett invites Theresa to go sailing with him that evening on Happenstance, the boat that he and his deceased wife restored together. What does this have to do with food, you ask? Well, Theresa accepts Garrett's invitation, and volunteers to bring a picnic supper--sandwiches, coleslaw, and potato salad. Now, Theresa was only in town for a visit, and staying in a motel nearby, so she probably went to the local Food Lion and picked up dinner at the deli. This wouldn't be much of a blog if I did the same thing, so I decided to pack a picnic lunch like the one Theresa brought, except I made everything myself. We took our picnic to a local park. Of course, I had some help--from Rachael Ray, Fine Cooking Magazine, and my mother-in-law.

Rachael Ray's Italian Sandwiches:

Ciabatta bread, sliced
1 container store-bought pesto
1/4 pound sliced salami
1/4 pound sliced provolone
1/4 pound sliced turkey
1/4 pound sliced mortadella
Iceberg lettuce, torn into leaves
Plum tomato, sliced

Slather bread slices with the pesto. Build your sammie by placing a couple slices each of salami, provolone, turkey and mortadella. Top with lettuce leaves, sliced tomato and another slice of bread. Cut diagonally across sandwich to make 2 triangles. (source)

We can still get fresh local tomatoes--I don't usually see the plum variety, but last Saturday they must have been put there just for me!

Our local artisan baker had run out of ciabatta, so I got a nice sourdough instead.

I'd never heard of mortadella before I found this recipe. It's kind of like bologna with stuff in it--like olive loaf, only better. The one I found at the deli had pistachios.

Classic Potato Salad (courtesy of my favorite magazine, Fine Cooking)

For the dressing

1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbs. Champagne vinegar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

For the salad

1/4 cup plain rice vinegar
Kosher salt
3-1/2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed clean
3 large hard-boiled eggs, diced
1-1/2 cups thinly sliced celery (include the leaves, roughly chopped)
1 cup small-diced sweet onion
3 Tbs. capers

Make the dressing

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.

Make the salad

Combine the rice vinegar and 2 tsp. salt in a large bowl. Let sit to dissolve the salt. Put the potatoes and 2 Tbs. salt in a 6-quart pot and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook the potatoes until barely tender when poked with a fork or skewer, 20 to 25 minutes. If the potatoes aren't all the same size, remove them as they are cooked. Gently drain the potatoes in a colander and set aside until just cool enough to handle. Using a paring knife, peel the potatoes by scraping off the skin. Cut the potatoes into 3/4-inch chunks. Add the potatoes to the bowl with the vinegar and gently stir with a spatula to coat. With your fingers, pull apart any pieces that are stuck together. When the potatoes have completely cooled, gently fold the eggs, celery, onion, and capers into the potatoes. Fold in enough dressing to generously coat the potatoes (you may not need all of the dressing). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until cool. (source)

My mother-in-law, or "Grandma B" as we like to call her, makes a delicious coleslaw, and she doesn't use any mayo or Miracle Whip or anything like that. In fact, when we've come to their house for a visit, our oldest has been known to request it. Now, Grandma B has a few family recipes that she has shared with me and my sister-in-law that we've been instructed NEVER to give to ANYONE, but luckily she got her coleslaw recipe years ago from a co-worker.


3 cps sugar

1½ cups vinegar

1½ cups water

1 large spoon prepared mustard

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon oregano

¼ cup salad oil

½ teaspoon whole celery seed

Mix well place in sealed container and refrigerate at least 24 hours before using.

I shredded the cabbage and made the dressing the night before (and halved the recipe), and put the slaw together right before the picnic. It wasn't as yummy as hers, but it was still good. And Moe, who has food allergies and normally can't eat coleslaw, can eat this one. Not that he would, mind you; we encouraged him to try just one bite, but he wasn't interested.

Garrett provided the Coke and 7up for the picnic. Of course, he had no idea that Theresa had found his letter to Catherine or that she had come to North Carolina specifically to meet him. They had a lovely evening together, and thus began their romance.

We didn't go sailing, but we did take a walk through the park to this lovely little creek,

and the kids pushed each other on the tire swing. Right after they ate. No one got sick, thank goodness.

Up next: Garrett Blake's Grilled Steak.

No comments:

Post a Comment