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I'm Going On a Picnic and Bringing...

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If you didn't spend the entire weekend outside, you are doing it wrong. I spent my Sunday at Hermann Park with a good book and a picnic for some cheap, outdoorsy fun. When picnicking, I usually make my own sandwiches because I'm oddly picky about toppings and hate an overloaded sandwich. And I keep it simple with with honey maple turkey, cheddar, a grainy mustard and lettuce on HEB's delightful "seedlicious" bread. While I prefer to make my own, I don't usually mess around with sides. Here are my best supporting-role picks:

1. Pop Chips

These chips are popped, not fried like traditional potato chips, reducing all the bad stuff but keeping the flavor. I used to live on these while interning in New York and was devastated when I could not find them at my local grocery store here. Then, one fateful day at Central Market, I was reunited with my long, lost love, and all became right with the world again. I also recently found the individual portion bags at the Kroger on West Gray. They come in a variety of flavors, including original (my favorite), sour cream and onion, salt and pepper, sea salt and vinegar, cheddar, barbeque and parmesan garlic (I haven't seen this flavor in stores).

2. Zoe's Kitchen Potato Salad

This is one of my favorite potato salads. Made with new potatoes, scallions and Zoe's special dressing, the flavors are clean, simple and delicious. I especially love how the potato salad comes hidden underneath Zoe's Greek salad so I can mix the feta cheese in with the potatoes. It is a delicious, but not overpowering, addition to nearly any sandwich.

3. Tiny Boxwood's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Katharine Shilcutt may have recently had a disastrous brunch there, but had she ordered one of their soft and delicious chocolate chip cookies it may have at least ended on a high note. These cookies have the perfect texture with a good distribution of chocolate chips and a soft chewiness without falling apart. Just thinking about how much butter probably goes into these threatens a heart attack. Believe the hype: They really are that good, especially when you catch them fresh from the oven.

4. Barnaby's Lemonade

It's no secret that Barnaby's has insanely good lemonade: It won a Best of Houston award back in 2000 and doesn't seem to have changed at all. The good folks over at Barnaby's freshly squeeze lemons every morning and mix with sugar, water and probably magic to produce this perfect balance of sweet and sour. It always makes me a little sad to order it to go because for dine-in customers the lemonade is served in giant old-fashioned glass bottles, but even in a cup this lemonade will add a bright spot to your picnic.

What are your favorite picnic picks?


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