Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Little Picnic Party

It's officially summer. The warm weather months in Chicago may as well be in a completely different city. There's so much more to do for poor people in the summer. Who needs BYOB al fresco dining when you can easily spread your blanket and guzzle down wine like a common frenchman. If anyone has the misfortune of remembering any specific moments from The Wedding Planner, you'll know about the scene where J-lo and Matthew McAna-something are watching a movie in the park, and she's all like, blah blah free movies in the park are so quirky, and he's all like, she's so unconventional blah blah blah. As a 7th grader that part of the movie filled me with such metropolitan romanticism. For most yuppie Chicagoans, movies in the park may be the most cultured thing they'll experience during a given summer, unless you count baseball as culture, which I absolutely do not. You get to not-so-secretly drink wine and compare Whole Foods cheeses whilst watching so-so movies for free. It's a really great time, and in this issue I will be showing you my signature picnic dish. 

Pic-A-nic Basket Pasta Salad

Noodle salad is essential to picnic dining. It's easy to pack up and it pleases everyone. It's also filling and easy on the wallet. For anyone who's familiar with Smitten Kitchen, I totally mutilated her recipe for this one, with the best of intentions. This is a year-round favorite at my house. 

You Will Need the Following: 

1 box spiral pasta (Use whole wheat pasta, fatty)
1/2 lb french cut green beans
1 small log goat cheese
2 roma tomatoes (finely diced)
2 tsp olive oil
1 lemon (zested and squeeze)
2 tsp dry basil
1 clove garlic (chopped)
salt & pepper

Step 1: Dice tomatoes and combine with lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, garlic and basil. Allow to sit while noodles boil.

Step 2: Boil pasta with green beans, drain when tender. 

Step 3: In small batches, work pasta into tomato mixture with goat cheese crumbles. Mix thoroughly until all goat cheese clumps are smoothed out. Allow to cool and put into containers for later. 

Pigs in a (Picnic) Blanket

Putting something between your ass and the grass is a good rule of thumb for picnic-ing. Why spend real money on something that's only protecting you from grass stains and bugs? Make it! 

You Will Need the Following: 

1 cubic yard of fabric per person 
hot iron

Step 1: To hem, fold in 1" around on each side and iron down. 

Step 2: In long seams, sew down the fold in a straight line all the way around. It may be hard to see in this photo, my apologies.

Little Dinner Party's Movies-in-the-Park Picks

Due to budget cutbacks back in 2010, the city discontinued the Grant Park series, but other Chicago parks have started showing movies again this summer. We'll be trying to make it out to these conveniently located parks for our favorite movies this summer:

Vertigo @ Belmont Harbor (Monday, June 11th)
A League of Their Own @ Chicago History Museum (Wednesday, June 20th)
Cabaret @ Hollywood Beach Park (Friday, June 22nd)
Grease @ Chase Park (Saturday, June 30th)
The African Queen @ Oz Park (Saturday, July 7th)
E.T. @ Wicker Park (Wednesday, July 11th)
Barefoot in the Park @ Belmont Harbor (Monday, July 16th)
Chicago @ Lakeshore Park (Thursday, July 19th) 
North by Northwest @ Jonquil Park (Saturday, August 11th)
Singin' in the Rain @ Belmont Harbor (Monday, August 13th)
Hugo @ Wicker Park (Wednesday, August 22nd)
The Wizard of Oz @ Oz Park (Saturday, August 25th)

Movies start at dusk, but we always get there early to get the best seats and to get trashed before the movie. Only annoying people bring giant chairs to sit in, making it really difficult to see over. 

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