What could be better than a picnic at the beach for a family dinner outing? Sand in your toes, the roar of the ocean a walk on the beach, and a roaring fire to gather around. If you aren’t lucky enough to live near the ocean, a lake, pond, creek or fountain will do. Or simply put blankets down in the back yard. A few easy dinner recipes for a picnic at the beach then later when it gets dark you can do some star gazing.
What you need:
1) A place to go. Choose a local beach, preferably with fire pits or BBQs. One with a bit of shelter from the wind is ideal. It will keep the sand out of your food later.
2) Fire – a fire ring, BBQ, or create your own. You can bring a small portable BBQ or dig a pit and line it with stones. If you are making your own fire pit it is great to involve the whole faily in the digging, the hunt for stones and the search for firewood. It is a good idea to bring a grill to set on top of stones on your firepit. And i always bring some backup firewood in case the search for wood turns up less than an adequate supply.
3) Seating – a picnic bench, folding chairs or a huge old quilt or blanket are wonderful to sit on fireside. Bring several so as the day gets cooler you can all be near the fire and you can switch side s as the wind direction changes to avoid getting smoke on your eyes.
4) Games – It is a great idea to bring some games or toys to occupy the troops until dinner time. A bucket and shovel are classic beach toys and the basis of any good sand castle. It’s really amazing how the sand itself is entertaining for kids to play with. It’s like at Christmas when all the little kids love to play in the boxes and wrapping; take them to the beach and they love the sand. Of course later they’ll have it in every crevice, but that’s a price well worth paying for a good afternoon at the beach. Beach balls are another good choice as are Frisbees. Bring another bucket if you’ve got a shell collector. They’ll spend hours combing the beach for treasures. You can make a game of collecting sea shells and sea glass and have a craft day later where you turn your treasures into a craft such as decorated picture frames.
5) Camera – Since we may be making some decorated picture frames later with our collected shells, we may as well bring the camera and capture some sun and sand logged goofiness on film. I love a shot from the end of the day when everyone ir pink and sandy, tired and happy.
6) Safety – Be sure to have the safety discussion with kids early on. Depending on how many you have with you and what their ages are, there rules may vary, but each child should clearly know whether they are allowed in the water, and if so how deep. (To the knees? To the Belly button?) And if we are wandering the beach looking for shells, lets choose marker to show how far it is safe to go and whether you need to have someone come with you.
7) Drying off – Bring loads of towels, preferably big beach towels. Bring more than you think you’ll need because someone always gets cold and wet when it is later in the day and beginning to get chilly.
8) Warm clothes – be sure to bring jackets for every one. Once the day turns cooler it is easy to get chilled. Bring something soft in case we’re gotten any sunburn.
9) Sunscreen – I hate to have to cut a great outing short because we didn’t plan well enough for sun exposure. Be sure it is water proof, plentiful and it is reapplied as needed.
10) Drinks! Be sure to have plenty of bottles of water on hand and well as fruit drinks for the kids and whatever the adults would like. Why not go with a beach theme and have some mai tais on the beach. They needn’t even be alcoholic to taste good, although a little rum add good flaover. Buy mai tai mix, orange juice, mango juice, pineapple juice and rum if desired and go to town. It’s extra point if you bring cute glasses (non breakable of course) and super extra credit for those little umbrellas.
11) Food! I bet you thought we never get there, but you know the food is the highlight of the day. Today we’re doing shrimp boil in foil; succulent tender shrimp, sweet summer corn and spicy sausage all grilled together in a foil packet. The are make ahead and kept in the cooler to pop on the fire when we’re ready. Also bring a loaf or garlic bread, all buttered and sliced and wrapped in foil to warm on the grill. For appetizers I like to do little smokey sausage links. Give everyone a weiner roasting stick or fashion them yourselves from coat hangers, spear a little smoky sausage and heat over the fire until sizzling. Careful though, they’re hot! Bring more than you think you’ll need because appetites get big with all that sun and activity. I’m convinced it makes the food taste better too! For dessert, it’s got to be s’mores. Bring marshmallows, roasting sticks, chocolate bars and graham crackers. Again bring more than you think you need to account marshmallows dropped in the sand, burnt like torches and hearty appetites!
Grilled Shrimp “Boil” in Foil
A shrimp boil is a traditional southern dish where shrimp, shellfish, sausage and corn are boiled together with Old Bay seasoning. This has all the good flavor, but is faster and easier to prepare in foil packets.
1 1/2 lb Shrimp – medium – peeled and deveined
1 lb Mussels
1 lb Clams
1/2 lb Kielbasa, sliced
2 Cobs of of corn, shucked
2 Tb Butter
1/4 C Water
1/4 C White wine
1 Tsp Old Bay seasoning
Preheat grill to medium high heat. Cut the corn into 1 inch rounds. Tear off 4 large sheets of foil and fold in half to double. Divide seafood, corn and sausage evenly among the packets, dot with butter, sprinkle on Old Bay, and 1 TB of both wine and water. Fold up with double folds to secure well. Grill packets about 10 minutes turning once until puffed. Empty each packet carefully into a bowl to serve.