Ahhh… the Canada Day picnic. What could be better than lying on a blanket under a shady tree enjoying delicious food with friends? Sitting there in your perfect summer frock, drinking wine before noon, listening to birds sing….
That was not our picnic.
I spent most of our picnic trying to get the baby to stop shoving giant chucks of watermelon down her gullet. And within 5 minutes, my silk shorts wrinkled so badly I looked like a hobo who lived his life on trains, drinking moonshine. Okay, so there probably aren’t a lot of hobos wearing silk shorts – but they looked bad, people!
(She’s running because she thinks I’m a hobo who’s going to make her live a life of trains and moonshine.)
Finally, the dog decided he would pee on everyone’s belongings. Nothing was spared: bikes, picnic baskets and sweatshirts. I swear he would have peed on the children had they sat still for more than 60 seconds.
Despite this, all our friends claimed they had a lovely time and assured us the urine would come out in the wash. Not something normally said at the end of our gatherings, but perhaps when we’re in our 90s that statement will become more common.
We ended the day by taking the little ones over to the public “splash pad” in the park. Let me explain to you the “Splash- Pad Lifestyle.” In Toronto during the summer, many public parks have a circular area filled with about 9 inches of water. At any point in time, this mere 10 ft. circular “pad” can contain up to 50 children, ranging in age from 6 mo. to 10 years. It’s basically a giant bowl of hot pee and sunbathing bacteria. What could be more refreshing! While my husband and daughter were splashing around, the lifeguard suddenly shouted, “Everybody out of the pool! I have to add chlorine.” Now my initial thought was, “Thank God ‘cause I could tell by the faces of at least 3 kids, that they were totally peeing at that exact moment.” But my relief turned to horror as the lifeguard casually donned a full hazmat suit including mask, gloves, and tall rubber boots. She waded into the water and poured her bucket of freshly brewed chlorine into the piss pad… I mean splash pad. She looked like the guys that almost killed ET, or someone form the cast of “Outbreak.” It was just children and urine… Wasn’t it? At this point I turned to my daughter and casually said “You know what? The pool is broken.” I was met with her disbelieving furrowed toddler brow. “It’s true. They broke the pool so we can’t go in anymore. Sorry sweetheart.”
So it was a day of urine and lies, but mostly it was fun and we made a very tasty sweet potato salad for the picnic! Here’s the recipe. Hope you all had a wonderful Canada Day and/or Fourth of July!
4 medium sweet potatoes – chopped into small cubes (peeled if desired)
1 cup arugula – roughly chopped
A handful of fresh dill, chopped
8 slices of Serrano Ham or
Prosciutto Dressing (adjust ingredients to suit your personal preferences):
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 shallot or 2 scallions – finely chopped
A dash of hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste
As with any dressing, feel free to taste and tweak it as you go.
– Arrange slices of Serrano Ham or Prosciutto in a roasting pan or large baking sheet and cook at 375F until crispy (about 10min, turning them over once.) You may have to do this in 2 batches depending on the size of your roasting pan/baking sheet
-When cooked, remove the crisp ham from roasting pan and set aside to cool. When cool, break it into to small pieces.
-Chop sweet potatoes into cube-like chunks and put them in the same roasting pan the ham was in.
-Toss in some olive oil and salt and roast for 30 mins or so at the same heat, until slightly browned.
-Remove and set aside in a large bowl to cool
-In the meantime, make the dressing: chop up the shallot (or scallions), and add the other ingredients to form the dressing mixture in a bowl. Add the olive oil last and whisk it in until emulsified.
-When the roasted sweet potatoes are still slightly warm, add the fresh dill and chopped arugula, the crisp ham, and the vinaigrette. Mix everything together thoroughly.
-let it cool and marinade in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. It’s even great the next day.