Would you like crackers, or dehydrated cabbage with your chutney?

While prepping the menu for the end of summer picnic I had promised myself, lots of the classic picnic essentials came to mind.

When I was a kid, "picnics" often meant stuffing the cooler with assorted sandwiches and juice boxes. If we were really lucky, boiled eggs and kettle chips were apart of the equation...

None of the above mentioned items will be discussed below. Not because I'm now a food snob who will ask "Is that bread gluten-free...or at the very least sprouted?!" at the sight of a sarny - okay, maybe.

Moving towards the point: I wanted this "let's-embrace-September-rather-than-fear-it"-themed picnic to be something really special. And what does that mean? Embracing all the delicious seasonal fruit and vegetables that this (sometimes warm, sometimes frigid) month has to offer. From my extensive 3-click Google research, that includes:

  • Pears
  • Squash
  • Plums
  • Grapes
  • Cabbage

Perfect. Lot's of purple, and a bit of green - my favourite colours.

Since there was a good chance an evening picnic in September would come with a bit of a chill, I wanted to make sure I had food that would warm. Now I'm not talking figuring out a way to bring piping hot food into the forest (thermoses I hear work for this, but I've never even owned one - I guess this officially deems me as the adventurous type). Instead, I'm referring to ingredients that come with a spice and a "kick" that will heat you up from the inside. Here's what I came up with....

  • Ceylon Cinnamon
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Mustard

A "spicy" dish was definitely required, and I've always wanted to try my hand at a chutney. I'm half British after all. Assumed it wouldn't be easy, and it wasn't. Stew some fruits, add some spice. Done.

Of course, chutney is only as good as what you pair it with, so figuring out what to spread it on was the next logical step. Sure - if this was back in good old simple childhood days, crackers would have sufficed. But crackers don't exactly = epic. And if you recall, I wanted this to be something truly special.

Time to get creative. Initially, I wanted to do roasted purple cauliflower steaks. There's something so eerie about the way the colours on one of those beautiful things transitions into a deep purple - like blood rushing through it's "veins". 

Reality check: several grocery stores and farmers markets later - couldn't get my hands on a purple cauliflower. 

Okay, what else is kinda weird and kinda beautiful at the same time? Purple cabbage. God I love cruciferous veg.

Pulled off a few leaves, brushed them with a light coating of coconut oil, and sprinkled some turmeric and Himalayan pink salt. Popped them in the dehydrator (okay fine - oven on lowest heat) for several hours, and viola! A creation much more insta-worthy vs. crackers is born.

The ideal edible holder for my precious and embarrassingly easy-to-make chutney...

Last but not least, a picnic wouldn't be a picnic without indulging in some fresh fruit.

I went with in-season grapes and plums - to stick with the magenta theme. To put some effort in, I assembled them along skewers, for easy and picturesque access.

And there you have it. Throw in some candles, chaga tea, and a straw basket for good measure - and you're officially set for an end-of-summer picnic to remember. 

Kiki AthanassouliasComment