Summer's Last Picnic

by Kiki Athanassoulias

We all get it: that dreaded “I didn’t savor summer for all it’s worth” feeling that swoops in come September, and by the time it hits, it’s already too late the moment has passed.

Well, summer’s bitter end might be near, but there’s still time to fit in one last picnic, and an evening one at that – assuming you know how to pack appropriately. Breezy, dare I say – mildly frigid – September nights call for picnic baskets filled with foods that will warm you up from the inside. That means spices like turmeric, an anti-inflammatory known to improve blood circulation, and cinnamon, a flavor enhancer loaded with antioxidants that also boasts a powerful anti-diabetic effect, deserve a feature role. 

It’s also important to remember to take advantage of the beautiful, rich – often divinely purple – in-season produce available, as the humid weather turns cold. Time to trade in those July strawberries for juicy September grapes. Say goodbye to blueberries and hello to blue plums. 

My own favorite gift from the earth this time of the year? Red cabbage. Go ahead: dig into it, and strip away each uniquely gorgeous leaf at a time. You’ll soon become lost in a mysteriously eerie purple paradise.

I decided to make each fascinating leaf into a cracker (lathered up with coconut oil, sprinkled with turmeric, and dehydrated). I also indulged in the creation of a spicy pear, plum & squash chutney, to dollop generously on top of each masterful leaf (…or rather, cracker). If the idea of chutney itself isn’t enough to warm your heart, the ginger root and Dijon mustard in it will.

Dessert was kept simple - yet still fun - with plum-grape kebabs. Back-up pears and plums were also brought along, incase festivities ran late and peckish feelings arose once again. Sprouted pecans (soaked and dehydrated – to increase digestibility…but mainly deliciousness) acted as a complimentary snack. 

As for non-food picnic basket essentials: a candle to light the mood, and of course a patterned throw that perfectly matches the color theme of the edibles.

So go ahead – treat yourself to one last picnic of the year.

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Kiki Athanassoulias Rotman Commerce graduate from Toronto, and a current fellow in the entrepreneurial non-profit organization, Venture for Canada. She is the Marketing Director at Meal Garden . Between writing her blog and working, she has also set up a homemade Kimchi startup called"Waeguk Kimchi" that caters to local foodies. 

Photographs : Andrew Roniksov