Chicken Salads: Traditional and Curry

Wintertime picnics

The weather has been so great for over a week that it makes me think of picnic outings and eating al fresco. We should make the best of the weather while we can and just hope for rain later. Thank heavens we’re not in Minnesota where it’s -40 degrees and your lunch would freeze before you got it to your mouth.

I’ve always been a big fan of a certain brand of moveable feast – hiking, backpacking, motorcycle picnics. . . I still have a lot of my old camping gear and picnic stuff, even though today it would probably be called antique. We used to go away for days on a solo motorcycle and were able to carry everything we needed in the saddlebags, including a small stove and a two-cup coffee pot, a pop-up tent, two sleeping bags and air mattresses and clean clothes. Nowadays, we take that much on an outing to the grocery store.

Once when she was still trying to prove to me how talented she was, Marge Ann took me to the drive-in movie and packed dinner – grilled steak which she kept hot in a small container, garlic bread and a soup Thermos full of broccoli. Actually, it worked pretty well so I kept her around for another 30 years.

This week I have a couple of chicken salads to tell you about. Seeing as how there’s only the two of us anymore, we always have leftover chicken when I buy a whole chicken and cook it. But old habits die hard, and I just can’t make myself buy only a couple of pieces of chicken when I can get the whole bird for less than half the price per pound.

We like to put chicken salad in sandwich rolls rather than bread if we’re packing a lunch because Marge Ann doesn’t like soggy bread. She says chicken salad doesn’t make a sandwich roll mushy. We also like both of these recipes on a tossed salad.

Curry Chicken Salad
2 chopped, cooked, chicken breast halves
½ cup chopped celery
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup raisins
3 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 teaspoons curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, stir together all of the ingredients. Couldn’t get any easier.

This next recipe reminds me of a picnic we had in South Africa when we were there on a photograph safari. We’d packed chicken sandwiches, apples and potato chips in our bags and we stopped at a roadside rest to eat them. There was a gravel area (at least we thought it was gravel) with picnic tables and a huge thatched roof on poles. When we got closer, we discovered that the gravel was really macadamia nut hulls.

There were signs all over telling us not to feed the monkeys. Well, I had no intention of sharing my lunch so that was not going to be a problem. I finished the sandwich and the chips, and was drinking a beer and waving my apple around as I told a story, when a nasty little monkey dropped right out of the thatched roof, snatched my apple, and was gone in a flash. He sat up out of my reach on a beam and chortled at me as he ate the rest of my lunch.

Chicken salad with Walnuts and Apple
Chicken Ingredients:
3 chicken breast halves, cooked and chopped
2 Granny Smith apples
2/3 c. chopped pitted dates
1 c. finely chopped celery
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
½ c. chopped walnuts

Dressing:
1/3 c. sour cream
1/3 c. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Core, peel, and slice the apples and toss them with 2 Tbsp. of the lemon juice. Add the chicken, dates and celery and toss.
In a separate bowl, mix the sour cream, mayonnaise and two tablespoons of the lemon juice. Mix well, then add it to the chicken mixture and mix well to completely coat all the chicken mixture with the dressing. Salt and pepper to taste and chill Add the walnuts just before spreading on the rolls.

Whatever picnic you choose, just remember that if you pack it in, you should also pack it out. And don’t feed the monkeys.

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