Eat, Drink & Be Merry: A Tisket, a Tasket, a Delicious Picnic in a Basket


By Miss Daisy King

The May flowers are blooming! Though not officially, May is the month that spring transitions into summer, ending with Memorial Day, which to most people marks summer’s commencement.

Today Memorial Day is looked forward to as the opening of swimming pools and boats hitting the water, but it started out with a solemn purpose. It began after the Civil War as “Decoration Day,” which it is still called in some quarter; an occasion to honor and mark the graves of those who died in war. It ultimately came to memorialize all who’ve passed on. As such, it came to be a day families come together to honor those they’ve lost, and to celebrate the bonds of familial love between those still here.

I know firsthand the balance between love and loss. I lost my own parents as a child, and my grandparents by the age of twenty. To be open to love means risking the pain of missing someone, but that is a risk well worth it, for that love transcends even death and is what makes life worth living. Thus, enjoying with your family, a day meant to celebrate those who have passed is not ironic but ideal.

Circle May 29th – Memorial Day – on your calendar as a date to take your family out and enjoy the wonderful weather we are usually blessed with for that holiday in Williamson County. Not everyone has access to a boat, of course, but there are many scenic places in our area we can picnic, amid history that will allow us to remember our heroic ancestors in keeping with the original purpose of the day.

The Park on Winstead Hill, located on Columbia Avenue just south of Franklin, and Bicentennial Park are two open spaces with lovely views for outside dining. Carnton Plantation resides on a beautiful landscape for family gatherings, at one of their summer concerts. In Percy Warner Park, which straddles the Williamson County line on its northeast side, you can picnic looking down Belle Meade Boulevard, which is lined with some of the Nashville areas most beautiful and elegant homes, but also remember that neighborhood’s co-founder, Colonel Luke Lea, was a hero of World War I from Williamson County.

Stop by Miss Daisy’s Kitchen at Grassland Market before heading out for your Memorial Day picnic or supper and stock your basket with the Chicken Marbella, delicious hot or cold, Artichoke-Rice Salad or my famous Five Flavor Pound Cake, which was my Grandmother’s recipe. She taught me to prepare this recipe when I was six years old.

No one is really gone as long as they are remembered. Life is short and time goes by quickly. My hope for you is that this Memorial Day you will keep those past alive, while making new memories, and that you’ll be mindful that the best memories are made with good food.

Artichoke-Rice Salad

2 cups uncooked long grain white rice
5 cups chicken broth
5 green onions, chopped
1 4-ounce jar chopped pimientos
Stuffed olives, sliced (optional)
1 large green pepper, diced
3 large ribs celery, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Reserved artichoke marinade
2 cups mayonnaise
1 teaspoon curry powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Assemble ingredients and utensils. Cook rice in chicken broth for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Cool. Drain artichokes, reserving marinade and chop. Add to artichokes to rice along with onions, pimientos, olives, pepper, celery and parsley. Combine, reserved marinade with mayonnaise, curry powder, salt and pepper. Toss with rice and mix thoroughly.
Yield: 6 servings.

Chicken Marbella

2 chickens, 2 1/2 pounds each, quartered
1/2 garlic bulb, peeled and pureed
2 Tablespoons dried oregano
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pitted prunes
1/4 cup pitted Spanish green olives
1/4 cup capers
1/8 teaspoon of juice
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup Italian parsley or fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Assemble ingredients and utensils. In a large bowl, combine chicken quarters with the next nine ingredients. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated overnight. Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange chicken in a single layer in a large shallow pan and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle with brown sugar and white wine around them. Bake for 50-60 minutes, basting frequently with the pan juices. Chicken is done when the juice of chicken comes out yellow. With a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving dish. Moisten with spoonfuls of the juices. Garnish with parsley and cilantro. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve cold for your outdoor dining.
Yield: about 8 pieces.

Miss Daisy’s Five Flavor Pound Cake

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups sugar
6 eggs, well beaten
3 cups all-purpose with flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon each – coconut, butter, lemon, rum and vanilla extracts

Assemble ingredients and utensils. In a large bowl of a mixer, combine butter, shortening and sugar, beat until fluffy.
Mix in eggs. Combine flour and baking powder. Add to cream mixture, alternately with milk. Stir in extracts. Spoon batter into a greased 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 325°F for 1 1/2 hours until cake tests done. Add glaze and cool in pan about 20 minutes before turning out.
Yield: 14-16 slices.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon each – coconut, butter, lemon, rum and vanilla extracts
In a saucepan, combine all ingredients and gently bring to a boil. Pour over cake in pan. Let cake remain in pan until cool.


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