The Hippo


Jul 21, 2019








Picnic on Pack Monadnock at Miller State Park in Peterborough. Photo courtesy NH Parks and Recreation.

Picnic fried chicken

From Wellington’s Marketplace (124 N. Main St., Concord, 715-1191, Serves 6 to 8 people.
2 whole chickens
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons salt
2 heaping tablespoons fresh ground pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 tablespoons old bay seasoning
1 tablespoons dried oregano
1 32-fl. ounce container of buttermilk (regular or nonfat)
3 tablespoons hot sauce (such as Tapatio)
Vegetable oil for frying
2 large cookie sheets and cooling racks
2 large brown paper bags
Prepare and season the chicken: In a small bowl, add salt and pepper. Use this to season the chicken before dredging in flour. Discard after seasoning. Prepare chicken by cutting each chicken into two legs, two wings, two breasts, and two thighs. (Alternatively, purchase the legs, wings, breasts, and thighs packaged individually.) Season chicken with a little of the salt and pepper mixture. Place seasoned chicken on one cookie sheet and loosely cover. Place in the fridge for one hour.
Frying the chicken: Heat oil to 330 degrees. Remove chicken from the fridge and prepare flour dredge and buttermilk. In a large bowl, add flour, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, granulated garlic, old bay and dried oregano. In another large, shallow bowl, add buttermilk and hot sauce. For each piece of chicken, dredge chicken in flour, then buttermilk (let the buttermilk drain off the chicken before re-dredging), and flour again. Place chicken on cooling rack set in cookie sheet. Fry chicken in two or three batches, turning once, until golden brown and crunchy, for about 17 minutes (use a timer). Transfer chicken to a clean cooling rack set over brown paper bags. Let cool slightly or let cool completely (1 hour) before refrigerating. Recommended: leave uncovered in the fridge to keep crunch. Recipe can be done one day in advance.
What’s in your picnic basket
Go for a special meal that’s easy to assemble
Cold fried chicken or a French baguette with prosciutto and cheese
Brownies or lemon bars for dessert
Soda or wine
Angela’s sweet potato salad
From Angela’s Pasta & Cheese Shop (815 Chestnut St., Manchester, 625-9544,
1 small red onion, halved and sliced thin
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried Italian herb mix
3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 red bell pepper, diced small
½ cup frozen peas
½ cup frozen corn
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Salt and black pepper, to taste
In a small bowl, mix together red onions, red wine vinegar, and Italian herb mix. Set aside. Place diced sweet potatoes in a medium pot. Cover with water and bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for eight to 10 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Let cool about five minutes. While sweet potatoes are still warm, add red onion mixture and toss gently to combine. Let sit a couple minutes (so that the sweet potatoes can absorb some of the red wine vinegar). Add remaining ingredients and toss gently to combine. Chill well before serving.
What’s in your lunch box
Easy, quick, and mess-free
Wrap sandwich
Potato salad
Raspberries from the farmstand
A citrus or sugar cookie (chocolate will melt and get messy)
Sparkling water
Or order a to-go lunch from a local eatery
Cowboy cookies
From The Black Forest Cafe (212 Route 101, Amherst, 672-0500,
1¾ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups rolled oats
7 ounces butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon espresso powder
2 cups chocolate chunks (12 ounces)
1 cup broken salted pretzels
Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and oats in a bowl. In another bowl, either by hand or with a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars, then beat in egg, yolk, vanilla and espresso powder. Add flour mixture and just until blended, fold in chocolate and pretzels. Form cookies into balls about 1½-inch in diameter and roll in additional crushed pretzels. Place on parchment-lined or greased baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes until golden and set in the middle.
What’s in your backpack
Keep it light and full of energy
Peanut butter sandwich or trail mix with nuts, seeds and raisins
Fruit (like an apple or grapes so you don’t have to deal with any peels)
Homemade cookies
Bottles of water
What’s in your cooler
Foods that will keep well
Deli meat and cheese sandwich with mustard on a hearty bread, like rye
Crackers or a bag of chips
Fruit salad
Sealed one-serving snacks like Oreos (to keep them sand-free)
A container of lemonade or tea
White lavender lemonade
From A&E Coffee Roastery & Tea 
(135 101A, Amherst, 578-3338, )
1 ounce A&E whole leaf white lavender tea
80 ounces hot water (180 degrees)
Simple syrup, fresh squeezed lemon juice or can of lemonade concentrate as desired
Steep whole leaf white lavender tea in 80 ounces hot water (at 180 degrees) for a few minutes. Add simple syrup, fresh squeezed lemon juice or a can of lemonade concentrate (as desired). Refrigerate and enjoy.
Very berry tea
Popular tea for kids from A&E Coffee Roastery & Tea 
1 ounce A&E Very Berry tea
80 ounces hot water (200 degrees)
Add sugar, agave or honey (as desired)
Prepare by steeping Very Berry tea in hot water (at 200 degrees) for up to 10 minutes. Add sweetener like sugar, agave or honey. Refrigerate and enjoy.

Pack a perfect picnic
create a meal to fit any destination


There are a limited number of days to dine al fresco in New Hampshire, so when you do get a chance, you want to eat the best picnic foods in the best picnic places.
“If you explore a little bit and think outside the box, there are lots of options all over the state,” Stay Work Play Executive Director Kate Luczko said. “There are so many spots depending on what you’re looking for and where you’re looking to go. … In my opinion, that’s one of the ways to take advantage of the state — to get out of your comfort zone and visit some new places and really take advantage of what we have.”
Between urban green spaces, state parks, beaches and hiking trails, there are plenty of ways to picnic. No matter where you’re headed, make sure your basket (or backpack, or cooler, or lunch box) is packed with good food. The Hippo spoke with a few culinary pros for tips on what to pack, and to locals about their top park, lakeside and mountain-top picnic spots.
“In New Hampshire, in my mind, there’s limited outdoor time. We have a small window of sunny, temperate, bug-free days. Whenever you can, grab one and combine it with eating out,” said Martha Walters, co-owner of Amherst’s Black Forest Cafe. “Eating anyway is such a communal experience, and when you can do it in the great outdoors on a beautiful day with a gorgeous view, why not?”
Picnic in the park 
Whether you live in a city, a small town or rural New Hampshire, there are plenty of grassy knolls, park benches and gazebos to make the perfect picnic.
City green spaces are particularly special. After visiting downtown shops or checking out a local museum, pull up a blanket and enjoy a special meal. Manchester has quite a few parks, including Veterans Park, which has picnic tables, or, off the beaten path, Stark Park, which has a gazebo.
“Speaking personally, my go-to spot is Victory Park, because they’re across from the library and they have a number of benches in the shade, which is always a plus, especially the hotter it is,” said Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Economic Development & Advocacy Will Stewart.
Nashua’s Great American Downtown Executive Director Rebecca Dixon recommends a visit to some of the Gate City’s parks near the water.
“Bicentennial Park — which is right by the river here on Main Street — is a popular spot to sit on a bench or lay down a blanket,” Dixon said. “Probably the jewel as far as parks go in Nashua is Greeley Park. You always see people brown-bagging it, playing frisbee. It’s such a lovely maintained and wide-open space. It’s hard to resist.”
Intown Concord Operations Manager Liza Poinier recommends visiting Capital City parks that are just outside the downtown area for picnicking and recreational activities. Kiwanis Riverfront Park, for example, is located behind Everett Arena and across from the Merrimack River. White Park offers plenty of green space as well as a playground with picnic tables.
“Kiwanis Riverfront Park is a hidden gem in Concord. It’s green and shady, and you can sit at a bench or picnic table right by the river,” Poinier said. “White Park is one of Concord’s biggest and most interesting public spaces for a picnic or any sort of recreation.”
For your park picnic menu, Walters suggests planning a special meal and forgoing your everyday PB&J or turkey and cheese sandwiches. She recommends a menu like chilled gazpacho soup, a wrap, lemon bars for dessert and pressed lemonade. 
“You could make it a little more fancy. Bring a nice cloth, bring nicer plastic glasses to put your drinks in, silverware and an old-fashioned picnic basket and lay it all out,” Walters said. “Try to pick foods that are a little more special than a sandwich or a bag of chips.”
Debra Barnes, co-owner of Wellington’s Marketplace in Concord, suggests adopting a European approach to picnicking.
“If I got a big loaf of bread — say a long Italian or French bread — I would leave it in one piece and cut it up once you got there,” she said. “I’m more of a theme-type person. … So let’s say I want to go Italian, not just the sandwich, but maybe some prosciutto and cheese.”
She recommends packing olives, crackers and containers of infused olive oil or goat cheese for a real treat. 
“I put everything in Ziploc baggies. It’s not necessarily the prettiest, but it keeps bugs out and keeps water out,” Barnes said.
Love your lunch break
Why not enjoy your lunch hour outdoors? No matter where you work, there’s likely a spot outside where you can eat lunch. If you work downtown in Manchester, Nashua or Concord, there are plenty of picnic tables and green spaces.
“It’s so easy to just drill down and focus on work, but so often if you just get outside it’s a great refresher,” Luczko said. “A lot of people I end up meeting with is over lunch. … I’m always grateful on a nice day to eat outside, but I never thought about a picnic [meeting].”
“This time of year everybody loves to eat outside,” Poinier said. “It’s one of my favorite parts of downtown is to sit on the sidewalk and have a meal or a cup of coffee and people-watch.”
If you want to get a dose of history, take a lunch break picnic on the Statehouse lawn in Concord.
“It’s pretty popular,” Poinier said. “Our downtown is very vibrant at lunchtime during the week. … It really makes downtown feel like a community seeing everybody walking around.”
Poinier also recommends Bicentennial and Eagle Squares as good downtown lunch break areas. 
“People often take their lunch out to Bicentennial Square and Eagle Square because there are lots of places to sit,” Poinier said. “Both of them are easy to get to, with sun or shade depending on which you want.”
Aside from the Queen City’s many parks, Sara Beaudry, executive director of Intown Manchester, recommends Brady Sullivan Plaza and City Hall Plaza as great spots to pull up a seat and people-watch.
Also in Manchester this summer, the Manchester Chamber of Commerce hosts a Lunch in the Park series on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Veterans Park. Downtown employees and residents are encouraged to bring a homemade lunch or even order a boxed lunch from a downtown restaurant that can be delivered to the park from Door to Door Delivery (see
In Nashua, Dixon recommends Nashua City Hall Plaza’s granite benches and shady spots for a quick lunch break picnic, as well as Railroad Square. 
“I work at the Hunt Memorial Building, and there’s quite a nice lawn,” Dixon said. “I do see quite a few people sitting out on a bench with a sandwich or a salad enjoying the sunshine.”
As far as what’s in your lunchbox, Walters recommends packing something easy and delicious. 
In order to avoid a soggy or messy sandwich, Walters recommends packing a wrap.
“Soft breads just suck up the moisture, especially if you’re doing anything like a salad sandwich, tuna, chicken or egg salad,” she said. “[Wraps] are easy to eat because it’s wrapped up [and] nothing will fall out of the bottom.”
If you’d rather pick up a lunch to go, Walters recommends ordering cold foods because they’re generally ready faster, and you don’t have to worry about something hot getting cold while you’re walking to your favorite park bench.
“Usually, you can go to one place, get it to-go, sit on a bench and eat quickly,” she said. “You don’t want to have to lug a bunch of stuff back to your office.”
Take a picnic to the summit
Granite Staters love to stay active in the summer, and chances are you’re going to pack a snack or two for any outdoor activity. Why not make a picnic out of it?
“Certainly with hiking you always have a snack,” Luczko said. “It’s so nice to just sit down for a few minutes and enjoy the view and have something to eat.”
“I like the top of Pack Monadnock. I think it’s an amazing view,” Walters said. “[Food is] something to lure you up there — ‘If I do this, I can eat at the top.’”
Both Peterborough’s Pack Monadnock at Miller State Park and Rollins State Park at Mount Kearsarge in Warner offer auto roads with picnic areas. The Pack Monadnock auto road goes to the summit, and Kearsarge offers a little bit of a hike. 
“If you want to take the hike, it’s about 20 minutes [from the auto road],” said Grant Klene, marketing coordinator for the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation. “The top of Mount Kearsarge is kind of a nice bald, rocky summit. There’s a lot of area to spread out.”
A little farther out, Mount Monadnock in Jaffrey and Mount Cardigan in Alexandria are two other hikes Klene recommends for their picnic areas. Mount Cardigan takes about one to two hours to hike and is a nice family hike with a picnic spot at the base on the western side of the mountain, Klene said.
“I think it’s much more rewarding [to picnic at the summit],” Klene said. “You cherish that picnic a little bit more; the food tastes a little bit better. There’s something to be said about working for your lunch. It’s the effort you put into it, and it makes the moment special.”
If you’re not taking the auto road, you don’t want to lug a picnic basket to the summit. The key to an active outdoor picnic is packing light and including plenty of easy-to-carry, non-perishable foods with a mix of carbs and protein for energy. 
“It’s all about bringing food that has good ingredients, and not junk food. It would be really sad to carry McDonald’s to the top,” Walters said.
And, of course, plain old water is the best bet for an active lunch.
Waterfront dining
There are plenty of lake beaches and spots on the Atlantic shoreline to enjoy a picnic. Luczko’s personal recommendations include Odiorne Point State Park, Ellacoya State Park and Lake Massabesic as alternatives to Hampton Beach.
Klene recommends two historic trips for a picnic with ocean views (both sans sand), including the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion State Historic Site in Portsmouth and the Fort Stark State Historic Site in New Castle.
“There’s lush grass there [at Wentworth-Coolidge], and there’s plenty of space to spread out,” Klene said. “It’s just a beautiful picnic spot and it’s quiet; that’s what I really like in a picnic. … [At Fort Stark] there’s this little bunker built not only during revolutionary times but also rebuilt on top of it during World War II. It’s a great view.”
As far as lakes go, Klene recommends taking advantage of Catamount Pond at Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown.
“There’s a huge grassy area where a lot of people just come to toss the frisbee around. It’s a giant space, and I’ve never seen it crowded,” he said. 
Packing a cooler is a necessity for any trip to the lake or ocean.
“I think being out in the sun you tend to want more smaller snack-type foods more than a standard lunch meal,” Luczko said. “To me, beach foods ... are reminders of when I was a kid. When I was little, I used to bring cheese balls. … It was sort of my mom’s way of treating us. … I actually just went a few weeks ago and brought a nice fruit salad.”
Walters said a beach picnic “feels all-American. You want your American comfort foods.”
But you also want to keep your food sand-free, she said. Walters recommends staying away from anything that might need a plate or plastic utensil. Single-serving snack bags or ziploc bags of crackers, cookies and other snacks help keep the sand out of your meal. 
Walters also recommends staying clear of anything with mayonnaise (including salad sandwiches like tuna or egg, as well as sides like potato salad).
“If it sits in your car, and you wheel it out to the beach, even if it’s in your cooler, it’s not as fresh as it can be,” she said. 
Orzo salad (with feta, olives, capers, peppers and scallions), pita chips, hummus, olives, and a container of tabouleh or other Mediterranean snacks, Barnes said, make great additions to any beach picnic. 
As seen in the August 7, 2014 issue of the Hippo.


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