Tips & Tricks

My Best Picnic Tips

My Best Picnic Tips

If you’re anything like me, you love the idea of ​​a picnic, but in practice, when someone throws the idea up in the air on a Friday night, in this beautifully spontaneous way people do, your Inner Grump awakens (“ugh, so much to organize, I have zero ideas, who’s going to do the shopping, we always end up eating the same thing, the kids will just stuff themselves with potato chips, and it is so uncomfortable sitting on the ground anyway”).

So for you, for me, for us, here are a few ideas I hold at the ready to alleviate my Inner Grump’s fears and turn the corners of his mouth upward: yes, we can have easy and colorful picnics this summer!

Of course, we all dream of lazing around in bed all Sunday morning, then get up to attend a picnic straight out of Pinterest. But the hard truth is this: without a minimum of forethought, it will just end up being soggy sandwiches, canned corn, a squashed roll of paper towels, and lukewarm soda.

No. What we want is ideas that feel fresh, cheerful, and a little bit unusual.

My Best Picnic Tips: Recipe Ideas

French picnics are all about the jambon-beurre sandwich — a split baguette spread with butter and filled with cooked ham — but for a nice change of pace, I like to make a banh mi of sorts, the Vietnamese sandwich I love so much. Get a slim baguette without too much crumb, fill it with meat or tofu (marinated and grilled), grated carrots and cucumber dressed in magic sauce, sliced chilli peppers, a little mayonnaise and a lot of coriander: it’s a close enough approximation and a delight.

And if we think that sandwiches are good, but still a lot of bread to eat, we can make rice or nori rolls by rolling up raw vegetables in rice paper wrappers or grilled nori sheets, maki-style, as for these cucumber and avocado nori rolls (which are one of my most popular recipes on Pinterest! See how nicely this gets tied back in).

Another option is to go for smørrebrød, the Danish sandwich. Instead of making sandwiches for everyone, provide sliced ​​black bread and a variety of simple ingredients: butter, cucumber slices, sliced ​​boiled eggs, thin slices of ​​gouda cheese, pickled herring, thin slices of roast beef, sliced spring ​​onions, fresh herbs… Arrange everything on the picnic table or in the middle of a tablecloth spread out in a pretty meadow, and have everyone compose their own open-face sandwich.

As for salads, which are always a bit awkward to eat on your lap, with the vinaigrette dripping from the side when the discussion becomes animated, I like to assemble them in jars (I use the glass containers from my yogurt maker as I have an extra set), in good-looking alternating layers. Cooked grains and/or legumes at the bottom, cooked vegetables, raw vegetables, something soft (tofu, cheese), something crunchy (toasted nuts, sprouted seeds), and dressing simply poured on top. Shake before eating.

My Best Picnic Tips

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5 Tips for Fabulous Homemade Soups

You know the feeling. This time of year, you’re simply dying for a bowl of something warm, comforting, and full of vitality. But as painful experiences may have shown you, good intentions and a throw-whatever-vegetables-you-have-into-the-pot approach doesn’t always work so well.

For a simple, clean-out-the-fridge soup, I will point you to my Everything Soup. It’s the ultimate guide to soup improv that you can tweak to your heart and fridge’s content, with recommendations for optimizing flavor profile, plus must-haves and must-nots.

Once you have these basics down, here are some more tips for fabulous homemade soups, which will turn any pot you make into a seductive winter dish that will have your spoon quivering with excitement.

Stay in season

It’s not just about the carbon footprint, the mood of the weather, or the tradition, though of course these things count. It’s also that in-season vegetables taste significantly better, and if you want a soup that shines with flavor, you gotta have good vegetables to begin with.

And as luck would have it, winter vegetables are perfect candidates, with their starchy textures and sweet, earthy notes. Can’t remember what’s in season? I have a free seasonal produce guide for you.

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10 Kitchen Resolutions for a Happy, Delicious Year

Happy new year! I’ve always loved the blank-slate feel of early January: while it’s a great time to reflect on everything you’re already doing right (you rock!), it’s also an invitation to form new and better habits to shape the year ahead and improve our lives.

So I offer you 10 kitchen resolutions, inspiring but approachable, to make you a better cook and eater this year. Please add yours in the comments below, or share on social media with the hashtag #cnzresolutions, and I will retweet and repost my favorites.

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How to Spatchcock a Chicken

If you’re ready for some adulting in the kitchen*, you have got to learn how to spatchcock (a.k.a. butterfly) a chicken.

This simple technique consists in opening the bird like a book, so that it lies flat in a roasting pan or on the grill.

In this configuration, the chicken cooks faster and more evenly — a double win — and it is much easier then to achieve the amazingly flavorful, perfectly roasted or grilled meat you are longing for.

A really fun recipe to put the technique in practice is this chicken “under a brick”, which I make often, but you can also simply marinate the chicken and roast it straight in the oven (see picture of the finished product below!).

But before you get to that, here’s a video I made with Anne to show you how to spatchcock a chicken — much simpler than it sounds:

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Juices and Smoothies: My Best Tips

I have been the proud owner of both a juicer and a blender for a while now. I’ve had a bit of a learning curve with both and I imagine I’m not alone, so let me pass along some of my best tips for juicing and smoothie-making.

If you want to report back on your own experience and share tips of your own, I would love for you to do so in the comments! I’ll be interested to compare notes with you, and other readers will benefit as well.

When is a good time to drink juices and smoothies?

My initial resistance in adopting juices and smoothies was this: I couldn’t quite see how they would fit into my daily eating habits. I wasn’t really looking to consume more food than I already was, and wasn’t too keen on trading any of my favorite eats (vegan lunch bowl, anyone?) for a tall glass of anything.

But! Those tall glasses quickly won me over and they are now most welcome, on three occasions in particular:

  • Smoothies as a standalone breakfast, which I can sip on while getting ready for work, or sitting on the couch watching my kids punch each other — mostly in good fun — with my boxing gloves. (I took up boxing, people! It’s so fun! Have you tried it?) Because I add filling elements (see below), a 7am smoothie holds me over until lunchtime, even through pretty active mornings.
  • Cold-pressed juices as a complement to my lunches. I love my weekday lunch bowls and they are typically vegetable-heavy, but some days it’s faster to make myself a quick sandwich, and round it out with a green juice.
  • A smoothie or a juice is an amazing afternoon pick-me-up. It’s energizing and refreshing, and serves the double purpose of feeding and hydrating me.

I don’t, however, make it an obligatory or daily thing. Some weeks I crave them every single morning, other times I feel like eating other things instead. Or my schedule gets busier and I can’t get my act together to prepare them. It’s all good.

Pink Smoothie

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