Whether the picnic was a community affair or just a family or party picnic, the picnic basket was the all-important item for the occasion. When it was a community picnic, it was essential to bring a well-filled basket since one could usually find some friend or neighbor who was alone or who failed to bring "eats" along.
The success of a picnic depended in a great measure upon the packing. For this purpose two baskets were usually brought along — one, for the food and the other for the utensils. Sandwiches formed the standby at a picnic lunch, and there was practically no limit to the variety in which they were created. Also included was fried chicken, a beef loaf, or a cold boiled ham sliced very thin and served with dressing. Ladies’ magazines often included menus and recipes for a successful outdoor affair. Godey’s Lady’s Book offered some elaborate and delicious recipes — not your everyday fare — for their readers in 1879. You can adapt these recipes with modern ingredients for a “perfectly old-fashioned picnic.”
Ingredients—Lobster, Butter, Cayenne pepper.
Three spoonfuls of pounded crackers. Chop the meat, mix the
cracker with it, and put to it a dressing of butter the size
of an egg, melted, a little Cayenne pepper, and a little
vinegar, also braid into the butter the yolks of three
hard-boiled eggs; put this into a dish, and over the top put
a little pounded cracker and bits of butter. Bake about
twenty minutes, or till brown on top; eaten hot or cold.
Ingredients—Lobster, Two spoonfuls of flour, One of curry
powder, Cup of cream, Butter, Pepper and salt.
Take a cup of hot water, a piece of butter, the flour, curry
powder, pepper and salt, and the soft portion of the
lobster; stir this all together; add a cup of cream, and
give it one boil; put it on the lobster, which should be cut
(but not fine), and let it simmer two minutes. Can be used
cold for a picnic, or hot upon the table.
Ingredients—Chicken and ham, Four eggs, Two tablespoonfuls
of olive oil, Mustard, Vinegar.
Chop the chicken (not too fine), also add a little ham; then
braid together the yolks of the eggs (boiled very hard) with
the oil; when smooth add a little homemade mustard, vinegar:
stir this mixture well and add the meat. Have ready some
thin slices of bread, buttered, and put some of the mixture
between two slices.
Ingredients—Eight ounces of butter, Fourteen ounces of
flour, Six ounces of sifted sugar, Two eggs, Half a nutmeg,
Teaspoonful of sifted ginger, Large spoonful of caraway
Beat the butter to a cream; add the eggs, well beaten; mix
the other ingredients together and work them well into the
butter; add a tablespoonful of flavoring essence. Bake in
tin patty pans, in a moderately hot oven.
Ingredients—Two large lemons, One cup of sugar, Two eggs,
Butter size of an egg.
Grate the peel from the lemon, and press the juice over the
sugar; beat the ingredients together, and let them simmer a
few moments on the fire. Have ready puff paste, made as
tarts, and when the mixture begins to cool, fill the tarts
Ingredients—One grated coconut, One pound of sugar, Half
pound of flour, Quarter pound of butter, Four eggs, Teacup
of milk, Half teaspoonful of salt, Teaspoonful of soda.
Mix these ingredients (except coconut) thoroughly together,
then add the coconut; line your patty pans or any small
dishes with a nice paste; fill with the mixture, and bake coconut cake a
Ingredients—Two crackers, One cup of boiling water, One cup
of sugar, Juice and rind of one lemon, One cup of chopped
Mix these ingredients together, and bake them in a rich puff
paste, like covered tarts. Bake a delicate brown, in a
Ingredients.—One cup of butter, Two cups of sugar, Four
eggs, Five cups of flour, One cup of sour milk, Half cup of
yellow ginger, Half teaspoonful soda.
Beat the butter and sugar to a cream; add the eggs well
beaten, then milk with the soda dissolved in it, ginger and
then flour. Bake Gingerbread in shallow pans about half an hour.
Ingredients—One pound of flour, Half pound of butter, Half
pound of sugar, Four eggs, Six tablespoonfuls of cream,
Flavor with almond.
Beat the butter and sugar to a cream; add the eggs, cream and
flour; beat all well, and drop from a spoon onto a floured
tin; sift sugar over them, and bake quickly for great Queen Cake.
Ingredients—One pint of molasses, Half pound of butter, Two
tablespoonfuls of cold water, Two tablespoonfuls of
dissolved soda, Flour, Ginger.
Put the molasses and butter together; set them on the fire to
warm slowly; add the water and soda, ginger to taste; then
flour enough to roll out thin. Bake quickly in a moderate
Ingredients— Raspberries, Vinegar, Sugar.
Red raspberries, any quantity or sufficient to fill a stone
jar nearly full, then pour upon them sufficient vinegar to
cover them; cover the jar closely, and set it aside for
eight or ten days; then strain through flannel or muslin,
and add to the clear liquor one and a half pounds sugar to
each pint, place over a fire and boil for a few minutes,
allow it to cool, and then bottle for use. This makes, when
mixed with water, a delightful summer drink.