Every two years, we get together with my dad’s maternal side of the family for a picnic at my parents’ house. It’s always wonderful to spend time with relatives who are more like friends. After our gatherings, I always lament that distance prevents more frequent assemblies—as of right now, we are spread across Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, California, Indiana, and Germany. This year was particularly special, as the children in the family are now old enough to play and interact with each other. They are truly kindred spirits and had so much fun together.
We began this tradition four years ago, just a few weeks after the birth of my son. Due to the insanity produced by a newborn, my mum decided to forego the stress of food preparation and have it catered by one of our favorite local restaurants, the Pines Tavern. What a fabulous way to go! The food was outstanding and we were free to enjoy the party. Subsequently, we are opting to use the Pines to cater all future family picnics.
In addition to the delicious food, we provided a variety of craft beers and I made Peach Sangria. Our guests also participated by bringing lots of wine and beer (we like to drink, what can I say?).
Prior to this year’s event, my mom came down with a horrific cold and was so under the weather that she didn’t feel up to making centerpieces for the tables as she usually does. At the last-minute, we decided to make centerpieces out of food we had in the kitchen. For the “kids” table (kids is loose term used to describe my generation and our offspring), I assembled a basket of vegetables which had been picked fresh from our neighbor’s garden. The basket had been purchased over a decade ago from a vendor in the Strip District in Pittsburgh. The vegetables included cucumber, japanese eggplant, bottleneck squash, patty pan squash, green beans, and a tomato (yeah, yeah, yeah…tomatoes are fruit…leave me alone). For the “grownups” table, we put fresh cherries in a crystal bowl and added sprigs of mint from my parents’ mint patch for a pop of greenery. Both centerpieces turned out nicely—one more formal, the other laid back.
Petite Crab Cake Sliders with Chef’s Tartar & Pickled Onions
Tavern Chips with Caramelized Onion Dip
Crudités Platter with Roasted Red Pepper Ranch Dip
Assorted Deviled Eggs
Herb Marinated Sliced Shoulder Tenderloin of Beef with Zinfandel Demi Glace
Pan Seared Chicken Breast with Honey-Thyme-Lemon-Artichoke Sauce
Watermelon Salad with Fresh Mozzarella Pearls, Basil & Grilled Shrimp
Fresh Mixed Greens with Blackberries, Toasted Pecans, Heirloom Tomatoes, Smoked Cheddar, Cornbread Croutons, Crisp Bacon & Roasted Peach Dressing
Dinner Rolls & Butter
Iced Chocolate Brownie Bites
Fresh Berry Crisp Shooters
Assorted Craft Beers
Assorted Wines (Red, White & Rose)
🍍 If you live in the Pittsburgh area, please check out the Pines Tavern. It is a wonderful little restaurant, located in the Pine-Richland area, which uses local produce (often from their own gardens) and meats. The food is excellent and it’s reasonably priced. In the warmer months, they have a beautiful garden and terrace where you can enjoy your food al fresco. Not only have we had them cater our family picnics, but I also hosted my Bridesmaids’ Luncheon and my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party at their venue. It’s become a personal favorite!