Guest Author - Lisa Babick
For many, the three-day Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to summer and is celebrated by gathering with family and friends for picnics, barbecues and other events.
Officially, Memorial Day is the day to honor those who have died while in our nation's service. It arose from the practice of decorating the graves of Confederate and Union soldiers shortly after the Civil War. In 1868, the first Memorial Day, then known as Decoration Day, was observed, not on the last Monday of May but on May 30. Today, many people still place flowers and attend to the graves of loved ones.
This Start The Summer Picnic is for a casual gathering and brings together both patriotic and summertime elements. There's not a lot of actual setup with this gathering as far as decorations and place settings are concerned. I have to thank my cousin Julie for providing me with the inspiration for the menu.
* Veggies and Dip - A simple appetizer that's easy to put together and refreshing for guests. Choose a combination of tomatoes, baby carrots, cucumbers, sliced raw sweet potatoes or celery and add your favorite pre-made dip.
* Julie's Rootbeer Chicken - Rootbeer adds a special tang to the chicken. Grill outdoors or broil inside.
* Julie's Spicy Grilled Hamburgers - You have never tasted a burger quite like this. It is deliciously spicy. Some of your guests might not like the spiciness (especially kids) so be sure to make a few plain burgers for your pickier guests.
* Jalapeno Muffins - A nice complement to the chicken and hamburgers.
* Lemon Cake with Berries and Whipped Cream - Easy to make, light and delicious and perfect for a summer day.
* Red Cabbage Cole Slaw
* Rainbow Jello - Be sure to use a clear trifle bowl for this salad as part of its appeal is it's beautiful layers.
Add flair to your picnic with colorful plastic plates and cups. You can purchase fun ones on the cheap at places like Target or Crate and Barrel. Or you might even try your local dollar store. If you purchase patriotic colors, you'll be able to use them for a 4th of July party. The same goes with patriotic decorations.
For simple decorating, cut a watermelon or a small melon in half. Place the cut side down on a plate or in a bowl and stick small flags in the upper part. If you don't like the watermelon idea, purchase a bouquet of carnations, trim stems and place in a small red, white or blue bucket.