Joni Woolf: Picnic foods for summertime events

Published 1:37 pm Saturday, June 8, 2019

This Sunday at Calvary Episcopal Church we celebrate Pentecost in worship, then with a celebratory meal afterwards that we call The Holy Ghost Wiener Roast (with apologies to the Holy Spirit). Men of the parish prepare hot dogs of several kinds and hamburgers; others provide salads, casseroles, and desserts to complete the feast.  In 95-degree weather, most of us are not in the mood to spend hours over the stove, so we’re looking for simple recipes to accompany any main dish, at any occasion.

I wrote about fresh corn recently, featuring a recipe for corn salad. I had purchased some corn at Chase Farm Market, so last night I decided to invent my own corn salad recipe. It was very good, and I’ll make it again. It was easy, too; you can make it in half an hour. Here’s how:


Corn Salad

5 or 6 ears of corn, cooked, in husks, in microwave 5 or 6 minutes

1 large tomato, diced

5 strips bacon, cooked till crisp, then cut in ½ inch pieces

½ large purple onion, chopped fine

Basil leaves (10 or 12) chopped in half

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil (more to taste)

Fresh black pepper (to taste)

Salt (to taste)

While corn is cooking in microwave, cook bacon till crisp. Drain, then cut in ½-inch pieces. Shuck the corn, remove the silks and cut off cob with sharp knife. Place corn and chopped bacon in large bowl. Add diced onion, chopped tomato, basil, then toss with vinegar and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, and you have a delicious salad. Avocado and/or blue cheese could be added to this to great advantage; I was cooking with what was on hand.


A Macon friend, Mary Wilder recently gave me this baked bean recipe and said it was the best she had eaten. It sounds very simple, so I’m cooking it this Sunday for the picnic. Will report how it turns out.


Baked Beans for a Picnic

8 slices bacon

2 16-ounce cans baked beans (I will use pork and beans)

1 onion, diced

¼ cup yellow mustard

¾ cup ketchup

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook bacon in large skillet until much of the grease has been released but the bacon is still flexible. Drain on paper towels and set aside. In a 9-inch square baking dish, stir together the beans, onion, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, and apple. Top with slices of bacon. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes, until bacon is crisp and beans are bubbling. (Note: I think this will work just as well with half as much sugar as recipe calls for.)


Black Bean Salsa, Revisited

When this recipe was first introduced by Southern Living many years ago, it called for canned corn. We’re updating it now to use fresh corn — so much better.

2 15-oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained

3 ears fresh corn, roasted 5 minutes in microwave, in husks

2 large tomatoes, chopped

1 large avocado, peeled and chopped

1 purple onion, chopped

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 to 4 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

Remove husks and silk from corn, and using a sharp knife, remove kernels from cob. Mix corn with all other ingredients in a bowl. Cover and chill. Garnish, if desired, with avocado slices. This salsa recipe has been a mainstay in our entertaining for more years than I can remember. It is good alone, or with large tortilla chips. And of course, you need a cool drink to accompany all these foods.


Stay out of the heat, and the kitchen, taking advantage of fresh vegetables that need little cooking. Share a meal with someone. Food nourishes more than our bodies; when shared, it nourishes our souls.


Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at