It’s picnic season: What’s in your basket?

The nights are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer. We don’t have fireflies here, but gnats and mosquitoes are staring to appear.

Add some ants, and it sounds like perfect picnic weather.

I’ve had some less-than-perfect al fresco occasions. Wind and drenching rain are a perennial risk. And there was the time when my dog got the bright idea to chase a skunk. But it never dissuades me from romanticizing a bucolic picnic in the park.

The next time you spread a blanket, here are some ideas for what to put in the hamper. I’ll start with dessert and work my way backward.

BETTER THAN OREOS: Black Carriage Furniture, 2580 U.S. Highway 6&50, has a small selection of foodstuffs from Pennsylvania Dutch country, including one item called Amish peanut butter.

Sometimes called “church spread,” it’s a creamy combo of peanut butter and marshmallow creme. It’s really good sandwiched in between ginger snaps or other cookies.

EASY FREEZY: Take a Thermos to Gelato Junction, 449 Main St., or the recently opened Red Mango, 2356 Rimrock Ave., and fill it with something cold.

The customer favorite at Gelato Junction is lemon gelato, followed closely by peach.

New flavors at Red Mango are pineapple, lemon spritzer, black cherry and dulce de leche.

If you put it in a Thermos, it will be a delightful, slushy consistency after a few hours in the sun.

MELON WITH KICK: Spike a watermelon with something bubbly, such as sparkling wine, or sweet and summery such as Gewürztraminer.

I haven’t had a spiked watermelon since I spent a spring break in Daytona Beach, but those small round melons would be perfect to take along on a picnic.

WHET YOUR WHISTLE: Peach Street Distillers in Palisade stocks an array of wonderful all-natural sodas made by Rocky Mountain Soda Co. Brewed in Colorado using beet sugar, some of the flavors are: ginger beer, elderberry, root beer, grape, lemon-lime, cola and prickly pear.

SPREADABLE: To make an easy spread that will keep in the fridge for awhile, wedge a square of goat or other soft cheese in a jar and cover with olive oil. Toss in some rosemary or lemon zest and you’re done.

Also in the appetizer department, salsa and avocado pair well because the acid in the salsa prevents the avocado from turning brown.

STUFF OF LIFE: You’ll need something to put those spreads on, and Main Street Bagels, 504 Main St., makes good artisan bread.

I stopped by the other day and saw Navajo, challah, ciabatta, sourdough and walnut and cranberry breads.

Great Harvest Bread Co., 2646 U.S. Highway 6&50, has great cheese bread, including spinach feta, asagio and Parmesan with roasted peppers.

COLD SOUP: Take advantage of all the fresh summer produce and make your own gazpacho. Those made with some chicken stock add another layer of taste and balance with all the tomatoes and onions. Keep in a Thermos so it’s nice and chilled.

FINGER FOOD: Put prosciutto and fresh basil leaves on a slice of provolone and roll it up. You’ll need more than one of these.

GOURMET: Check out some of the gourmet options at The Artisan Cheese Shop at Crossroads Wine & Spirits, 2546 Rimrock Ave.

They have an excellent website,, listing what they stock in the way of fine cheeses, salamis, pates and olives oils from all over the world.

EARL OF SANDWICH: Don’t worrying about mayonnaise going bad on your sandwiches. Instead, spread whipped cream cheese or a combo of blue cheese and prepared horseradish. It’s great with roast beef on crusty French bread and stands up to tomatoes or other drippy fillings without getting soggy.

JUST FOR FUN: Bring a Frisbee and enjoy your picnic.

QUOTE: “When the waitress asked if I wanted my pizza cut into four or eight slices, I said, ‘Four. I don’t think I can eat eight.’ ” — Yogi Berra

Send tips and ideas to Tess.Furey@


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