The Picnic

The Picnic

Even in the mountains, there’s no escaping the heat. Nights have barely broken 78 degrees and the daytime temps here at Turtle Creek are a consistent, sweltering, egg frying on the pavement – 98 degrees. It’s almost enough to make a person lose their religion.

But this morning, we woke to an amazing thing, 68 degrees… in August! the air was down right cool and breezy. It felt like a day to to relax and… do…  absolutely... nothing. I just wanted to get out, drive and bask in the near spring weather. I decided to get myself and mom out of our convalescing rut, go on a picnic and enjoy the brief repast from the insufferable heat.

Actually, I just roasted a fresh hen yesterday, and cooked up a passel of homeless vegetables that showed up on our doorstep. (Neighbors and friends have begun the Cob and Run Marathon – leaving their excess garden produce on your porch when you aren’t home)… So the picnic wasn’t a huge undertaking to get things ready.

So I packed up my ward, a tasty basket of goodies and headed out East…

To Germany… kind of…

Okay (sigh) to Helen, Georgia and Unicoi State Park. I hadn’t been to the park in years and was still expecting the ramshackle parking area and a treacherous walk up to the falls from my youth. So much has changed in 30 years…. 35…. hmm, 40 years.

The park system has taken great pains to establish well-maintained paths, biking trails, of course..the falls, and some great picnic areas with truly commanding views of the streams and nature trails. I found us a nifty little place near the bubbling stream and laid out the spread.

Fresh Roasted Hen with Green Garlic, Yuzu and White Wine
Crispy Cornmeal Crusted Okra
Fried Green Tomatoes with Cornmeal Breading and Yuzu Mayonnaise
Haricort Verts with French Vinaigrette
Mustard Potato Salad
Fresh Blueberries and Sour Cream

Picnic Roasted Hen
Serves 4 to 6
1 – 4 to 5 pound Hen
3 Stalks Green Garlic (I happen to be growing my own garlic this year, so I had it handy. If you aren’t growing your own – Substitute Ramps  – if that’s your area…. or 2 Cloves Garlic and 4 Whole Green Onions )
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon Salt Substitute – or Sea Salt
1 Tablespoon Coarse Black Pepper
1/2 Cup Yuzu Juice (See, I told you it was going to come in handy)
1/2 Cup White Wine
Medium Roaster with Lid and Rack
Preheat oven to 350
Remove and store the giblets for later use
Pat the bird dry and rub the cumin, salt and pepper into the skin and inner cavity
Stuff the garlic into the cavity
Place the bird on the rack in the roaster and pour the liquids into the bottom of the pan
Roast covered for 1 hour – remove the lid and cook for another 15 minutes to brown up the skin (make sure the interior temp is at 180 degrees)

Crispy Fried Okra
I know, it sounds odd to be serving
fried okra cold… and at a picnic – but trust me, 
those crispy little nuggets make the perfect alternative
for  chips.
Mustard Potato Salad
A classic for any picnic – how could I not have it?

Fried Green Tomatoes 
with Yuzu Mayonnaise
Serves 4 to 6
4 Large Green Tomatoes
2/3 Cup Self Rising Corn Meal Mix (I like White Lily)
2 Tablespoons Season Salt
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 Cup Canola Oil – or Olive / Canola Blend
1 Large Skillet
1 Large Mixing Bowl
Yuzu Mayonnaise (Grab the Recipe Here)

  • Peel (very important) and slice the tomatoes into 1/2 to 3/4″ slices
  • Place the skillet on medium high heat and add the oil
  • In the bowl, mix the meal, season salt and pepper
  • Drop in all the tomato slices and pack the meal mix into them – you want to make sure all sides are well covered, and that the mix is  pushed down into the seed cavities
  • Fry on medium high for 4 to 5 minutes (or until golden brown), turn them over and fry for another 4 to 5 minutes
  • Drain on paper towels and serve room temp – or – refrigerate overnight and serve cold

To serve:

  • Plate them up and serve with a side of Yuzu Mayonnaise for your guests to top them 

Chilled Haricort Verts
with French Vinaigrette
Serves 4
1 Pound Fresh Baby Green Beans
1 Large Zipper Bag
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Dash Garlic Powder
Bottled French Vinaigrette
Wash and Tip the beans – dry on paper towels
Add the beans to the zipper bag, seal and micro on high for 3 minutes
Immediately remove and dump the beans into ice water to chill thoroughly
Dry once more and toss them with the garlic powder, salt, pepper and oil
Serve with a full bodied french vinaigrette (I like Brianna’s French Vinaigrette)

3 thoughts on “The Picnic

  1. 🙁 The internet ate my comment. Sad. I am happy you got to enjoy the weather… I miss the mountains. Your picnic looks lovely. 🙂

  2. I am in love with the term 'cob and run'… A fabulous picnic meal indeed! The okra and the green tomatoes are on my to do list!!

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