The weather at the moment might be a little hit and miss - like love sometimes - but don't let that stop you organising a picnic outing with someone special. Pack a big rug or flax mat - this is imperative to stake your territory - take along a few comfy cushions to add a sense of luxury, stock up the basket with plenty of delicious food and wine, then find yourselves a shady spot under a tree somewhere and prepare to go nowhere all afternoon.
Instead of taking disposable paper plates and cutlery which end up in the bin, I recommend using china plates and good cutlery, which can simply be put back in the basket afterwards and taken home to be washed. Not only is this better for the environment, but it also adds an extra elegance to the proceedings.
Picnic food is best kept simple and easy to eat. The three recipes today are straightforward but tasty examples of classic picnic food.
The chicken pie mix can be made three days in advance or even frozen. I use chicken thigh meat for more flavour and tenderness.
A combination of fresh herbs such as parsley, thyme and basil work well, or you can try oregano, tarragon or sage. The flavour will vary depending on what herbs you opt for so this is a recipe where it pays to taste as you go and alter accordingly. I have combined a little diced carrot, courgette, onion and garlic to create a tasty flavour base. Finish off with chicken stock and cream. If you have time to make pastry yourself all the better but if not, look out for butter pastry at specialised food stores and supermarkets.
Meanwhile, jersey benne potatoes are the pride of Oamaru - delicious wee nuggets of tender tasty potato. Wrap them in mayo with crispy bacon, capers, lemon and dill - I can't think of a better potato salad.
Muffins can often taste tired and uninspired but if you make them properly with tasty ingredients they are a delicious sweet picnic food, and easy to eat.
Nectarines are at their best now so try using them - or peaches - in a traditional recipe with half and half ground almonds and flour for a lighter and more flavoursome result.
No picnic is complete without an old-fashioned thermos. There's nothing more satisfying than including a hot cup of tea in your picnic proceedings. Or, use the thermos for a cooler option such as iced tea or a smoothie.
What are your favourite picnic snacks? Any tips for adding to the romance?