This is the last article in June of the School for Housewives 1907 series published on June 9, 1907, and is a fun little article on picnic and the Fourth of July.
Transcribed from the Sunday edition of The Washington Times.
Preparing for a Fourth of July Picnic
IMPRIMIS: A box party at theater or opera conveys the impression of luxury and especially privileges to a favored foe; a box picnic is but a variation of the basket picnic, well known as the simplest form of the summer all-day outing. It is particularly adapted to the Fourth of July outings, which are becoming each year a more favored method of pawing our national holiday.
The box has sundry advantages over the hamper as a means of transporting provisions for the merry excursionists. For weeks in advance of the holiday, there should be a hoarding up of the paper boxes that drift into the house from grocer, florist, shoe merchant, and haberdasher. Select those of medium size, and apportion to each the contents suited to dimensions and shape.
Provide yourself with plenty of tissue paper, also the waxed paper used by confectioners and bakers for wrapping dainties that may ooze or grease. Lay in a stock of light, strong wrapping paper, twine, and the wooden handles that make the carriage of parcels less awkward business than when they are merely tied up with a string.
Boxes Better Than Baskets.
A box is less unwieldy because more compact than a basket; the sight of a party thus laden attracts less attention on train or boat than if every man, woman, and child bore a hamper—a walking advertisement of the day’s business. The box is light and easily tucked under the seat or bestowed in the rack overhead while the passengers are in the train. If they do not wish to be cumbered with empty boxes on the return trip, a bonfire on the camping ground disposes of impedimenta, including wrapping paper, Japanese napkins and the wooden plates, which have saved the picnickers the burden of china platters and plates.
A procession of tired excursionists, bearing disheveled hampers, emptied of edibles, yet which must be carried carefully lest the crockery within jingles itself to pieces, is a dispiriting feature of the return townward when the day’s fun is clean over.
In buying napkins have the thought of “the day we celebrate” in mind. If you can find those that are stamped with the Stars and Stripes or other national emblems get them. Lay in an abundance of narrow ribbons, striped with red, white and blue, for tying up sandwiches and rolls. These and other simple devices for lending a patriotic flavor to the festivities are well worth the exercise of ingenuity and expenditure of time.
Use Wooden Plates.
You may buy wooden plates, such as we used by grocers for sending butter to customers, at an absurdly low price. Also deeper and smaller wooden trenchers, which you will find useful in bestowing your goods in the boxes. All are so cheap that you will not grudge cremating them when they have had their day.
Set aside the largest boxes for sandwiches rolls, and biscuits. The next size should be appropriated by cakes and fruit. Have separate compartments for each. Sandwiches impart odors to plain bread and butter, and cake lends fragrance to its neighbors.
Cut fresh bread as thin as a sharp knife will shave it—having buttered it on the loaf, and roll each slice up neatly, tying it with narrow ribbon. This is “nice” work, requiring deft fingers and a keen blade. Warm the butter slightly for spreading bread. Sandwiches are clumsy when butter is laid on the slices in lumps. Pare the crust from the bread to be rolled or used for sandwiches. When the rolled bread is ready, envelope each ribbon-bound parcel in waxed paper and pack them in the box already lined with tissue paper. If this be done at once, the bread will be soft when the box is opened.
Open long French rolls on one side and scrape out two-thirds of the crumb. Fill the cavities with minced tongue, ham or chicken; close the roll and bind into place with narrow ribbon. Pack the several kinds in separate boxes, marking them “ham,” or “tongue” or “chicken.” It will save confusion in unpacking and serving. Oblong sandwiches are more easily handled in eating than square or triangular. They also pack to better advantage. Wrap each in waxed paper as soon as it is tied up, and lay in the box. Pack securely, but do not crush.
Packing Loaf Cakes.
Cut loaf cakes and lay the slices closely together in the paper-lined box. When it is full, cover by folding the waxed paper about it to exclude the air. Do not wrap the slices separately. Put up cookies, etc., in like manner.
Salads should be prepared at home, and made quite ready for the dressing. If you have a tin biscuit box, line it with several thicknesses of waxed paper; on this lay an interlining of cheesecloth or old muslin. In the box thus prepared pack lettuce or chicken and celery cut up, but not seasoned. It will remain fresh in the hottest weather if you will sprinkle it very lightly with water before fitting on the lid. The dressing—mayonnaise or French—should be put up in a wide-mouthed bottle, securely corked and wrapped in raw cotton. Give it a small box to itself.
Bottles are ticklish articles to carry, and moreover, heavy. Yet there must be beverages at a July picnic. Cold tea and coffee, and ginger ale will add seriously to the weight of the outfit. If you must take them, distribute the bottles among the several boxes and assign them to the stronger members of the party. Pare and slice the lemons at home, and pack with sugar in fruit jars with screw tops and rubbers. Water and ice (if you can procure the latter in the neighborhood of the camping ground) may be added when you are ready to serve the lemonade. Since tumblers are another must-be, get a dozen or so of the cheapest you can find. Then no tears are shed if they come to grief.
You will be surprised when everything is put up to see how much has been packed into a few boxes. The larger cases should be done up separately, each enveloped in paper, tied with twine, and fitted up with a handle. Two or three smaller boxes may be strapped together.
When the joyous company board train or boat, they may be mistaken for town cousins who are bearing gifts to the old homestead on the holiday. They will not look like fruit, candy, and peanut peddlers, bound for a day’s business in the rural districts.
The small silver needed for the luncheon should go into the breast pocket of paterfamilias, or into “mother’s” shopping bag. A dozen teaspoons take little room. Forks and tablespoons will not be required, unless the former are needed for salad.
I append a few recipes for sandwiches that may be a welcome variation upon the stock “chicken, tongue, and ham.”
Cheese Jelly Sandwiches.
Beat the yolks of two eggs light, add a saltspoonful of salt, the same of white pepper and of French mustard. Mix well and stir into mixture a cup of hot milk, to which has been added a pinch of soda. Stir over the fire, in a double boiler, for five or until it heats throughout evenly and thickens into a custard. Have ready a tablespoonful of gelatine, which has soaked tor two hours in a cupful of cold water. Take the custard from the range and beat in the gelatine alternately with a great spoonful of cream. Set in boiling water, and, when it is hot, add a cupful (scant) of grated cheese. When you have a smooth paste, turn out to cool in a deep plate. Do this the day before it is to be used. Slice and lay between buttered slices of bread.
Cream Cheese and Nut Sandwiches.
Work the cheese to a paste with cream and butter, and mix with an equal quantity of sorted pecans, chopped fine. Butter thin slices of graham bread and spread with the mixture.
Egg and Anchovy Sandwiches.
Boil six eggs hard and throw them into cold water. Leave them there for two hours. Take out the yolks and rub to a powder with a silver spoon. Moisten with a dressing made of a tea spoonful of lemon juice rubbed to an emulsion with three tablespoonfuls of salad oil, half a teaspoonful of French mustard and a dash of salt and pepper. Make into a lumpless compound, adding, finally, two teaspoonfuls of anchovy paste.
Whole wheat bread is best for this filling.
Cream Cheese and Olive Sandwiches.
Rub a Philadelphia cream cheese to a paste with two tablespoonfuls of mayonnaise dressing. Add one-third as much chopped olives, and beat all light. This filling is especially nice when spread upon round slices of Boston brown bread.
Slice white bread thin, when you have cut off the crust and buttered the cut end of the loaf. Lay in between every two slices a leaf of crisp lettuce, dipped in mayonnaise dressing.
If you take these to the picnic, let it be in sections. Butter and pack the bread at home, take the lettuce in one box, the dressing in another, and put them together on the grounds.
Lettuce and Tomato Sandwiches.
Prepare as in the last recipe, adding to the lettuce leaf a slice of raw and peeled tomato.
Pressed Loaf Sandwiches.
A new and appetizing pressed sandwich may be made by removing the crusts from a loaf of bread, either brown or white, and cutting it in four equal-sized pieces. Spread each slice thickly with butter, red peppers sliced in lengthwise strips and plenty of cream or Neufchatel cheese. Now reshape the loaf by putting the slices together again. Wrap in a heavy dry towel, then in a wet one and put between two boards, on which three or four heavy flatirons are placed. Let the loaf remain weighted from six to ten hours; this will compress it into a sold mass three or four inches high, which may be sliced like cake. To pack, wrap whole in waxed paper and cut at the picnic.
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