Picnic at Peebles Island – not a total distaster

by Caroline Barrett on March 28, 2012

in Food Adventures

If your kids are anything like mine, they will go out and hike with you. There is a fair amount of groaning, of course. But they will do it. Last weekend, we packed up a lunch and the dog and headed over to Peebles Island. It’s not a major hike, more like a walk. I love the landscape there, with the cliffs and rushing water by our side as we wound around the edges of the island.

We made paninis before leaving and packed them into a cooler. Everyone made their own, so each were different. Elliot is a minimalist and had just cheese and pesto. Zoe chose cheese, pesto and a little tomato sauce. Lucy, Paul and I indulged in fresh mozzarella, sauteed onions (leftover from cheeseburgers the night before), fresh spinach and pesto. Elliot and Zoe definitely did not want spinach in their paninis.

The almost-disaster came when we pulled into the parking lot and it started to rain. The minor groaning about the hike turned into complaining about being out in the rain, but I was pretty determined. In this situation I turn on my cheery voice, pretend I don’t see any rain, and carry on. My kids couldn’t believe they were going to be forced into actually walking in the rain. Paul was on my side and he pretended that it wasn’t raining, too. The rain let up and disappeared a few minutes into our walk, then a magical thing happened: all three kids were outside, getting fresh air and exercise. And all were happy. No one fell. No fighting. Just three kids, two parents and one happy dog, peacefully walking.

The cool thing about Peebles Island is the cliffs. My youngest is seven and pretty cautious, so we felt safe with him exploring on his own. But you would want to hold firmly onto the hand of a toddler. The views are pretty. On the farthest side of the island, we walked down an embankment to be close to rushing waterfalls. Paul pulled out his camera and took a few beautiful pictures of the water. We are all used to him being inspired and having to wait while he tries to get the shot he wants. Really, it’s one of the things I love about him. The kids were all enthralled by the ground on the island. It’s made up of layer after layer of shale. The rock is soft and pulls apart easily. They could pick up one piece and draw with it, like a chalkboard, on another piece.

The whole walk, all the way around the island, including our stopping for photographs, took about an hour and a half. You could do it in far less time if you weren’t meandering.

Arriving back at the car and ready for our picnic, it started to rain again. So we had our picnic right in the car. It worked out just fine.

Albany Kid, Peebles State Park, Caroline Barrett, panini

Panini Recipe

Paninis are perfect picnic food; delicious and good even when cold. Bring napkins, as the outside can be a little oily. I like to lay them on paper towels before packing up.

Make Your Own Paninis
(grilled cheese prepared in a grill pan, or panini grill if you have it)

olive oil
dense whole wheat bread (we like Rock Hill Bakehouse)
prepared pesto
fresh mozzarella
fresh spinach, washed and stems trimmed
cooked chicken
sauteed onions

Build sandwiches according to individual tastes, layering the pesto on the bread. Close the sandwich and brush the outside lightly with olive oil. Heat a grill pan over a medium flame. Cook the panini, staying close, for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Flip and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave covered until cheese is melted and both sides are golden brown.

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| Caroline Barrett is the mother of three children and along with her husband Paul, the owner of Our Daily Eats. Together they make and sell roasted nuts, seeds, granola and fresh pesto. Each recipe is their own, and their products are made with care in the Hudson Valley. Caroline writes about feeding families well at her blog, www.ourdailyplate.com, for Life@Home magazine (www.timesunion.com/life@home) and for the Spotlight Newspapers. Her products can be found at www.ourdailyeats.com.

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