This beach-ready buttermilk fried chicken was fun to make and completely delicious.
Usually I’m not preachy, but watching this video of three generations talking about summer ‘fun’ filmed by Nature Valley jarred me to my roots. Our relationship to nature is changing and with technology at our fingertips, it’s easy to forget about what’s important, like being outside and enjoying nature. With each passing generation, children seem to be playing outside less and less.
What if our connection to nature is lost for good? I want my grandchildren to develop skills and knowledge that can be acquired only in nature. Learning to fish, to camp, swim, built forts and plant seeds are part of childhood – play is necessary for development. Not only are motor skills developed, but creativity, reasoning, logic and life skills are honed. Can you imagine having no access to food other than fish, but the only time you’ve held a rod was during a fishing video game? So let’s make a pact to get the kids outside this summer, K?
The time is now to rediscover the joy of nature.
The kids and I have completed our ‘Summer Bucket List’ and pasted it to the fridge, where we can check off the items as we complete them. I’m giddy. Too often the summer slips away from us and I regret not having slept in a tent or taking the kayak out. This will be the best summer ever.
I challenge you to complete your own Bucket List (click to get your own printable)! I’d also love to hear your ideas in the comments below. Happy summer!
When you meet Anne Parks the first thing you notice is the sparkle in her eyes. Easy-going and in love with life, she infects you with curiosity. And then she talks about her vegetable gardens and beekeeping, her gourmet cooking and passion for finding new food trends when she travels. You would never guess that this vibrant, youthful woman with a phenomenal mane of blond hair has worked with McDonald’s Restaurants for 34 years and is now the Director of Menu Management for McDonald’s Canada. But then again, every executive I’ve met with at the company has been there for at least 30 years. Listening to Anne talk at the Vancouver picnic-style launch of the newly developed Signature McWrap® gave us all a window into her passion and the reasons why McDonald’s Canada retains the great people who work there.
UrbanMommies ran a contest inviting readers to share their favourite must-have picnic items, and ten lucky parents attended the special lunch. We learned so much from Anne about what goes into the process for choosing menu items and we were intrigued to hear about the Canadian palate. In coming up with flavours for the new grilled or crispy chicken McWrap, she took into account Canadians’ penchant for spicier foods, and also our love of different textures within each bite. (Think: crunch with a bit of bite and smoothness in the same mouthful). The sandwiches also come with a whole wheat wrap – a first for McDonald’s globally and only the second whole wheat item apart from the bun of the Premium Chicken Sandwich.
Anne Parks and her team travel to different parts of the world to explore fresh street markets, flavours and trends, and then bring their findings back to the McDonald’s test kitchen. Working with dietitians and specialists in areas of pastry and baking, the team comes up with items that are tested for taste, quality, nutrition and consistency. With the Signature McWrap, I loved the diversity that made me feel as if I were travelling. I get in different ‘food moods’ so being able to pick Asian, Mexican or North American-themed flavours is a bonus. The Signature McWrap comes in three flavours Fiesta, Sweet Chili, and Chicken and Bacon.
The luncheon was special in that guests got to ask very specific questions, and Anne was incredibly receptive to suggestions. Comments about lower-sodium ketchup and options for healthy Happy Meal side dishes started to flow, and the lunch whizzed by. We drank frozen Chai Iced Frappés and Iced Frappes that were also developed by Parks.
In an interview about her job and life, Parks clearly shows her love of food, people, and bees!
So for our picnic-loving readers, the contest was an incredible opportunity to gather and curate a ton of ideas about summer lunches. We have compiled the ideas to help you plan your own picnic basket and make beautiful memories with your kids. As much as I love making sandwiches, though, I’m personally counting on picking up a bagful of the grilled chicken Sweet Chili Signature McWraps, as they are certainly better than anything I can produce at home. Thanks Anne!
20 Picnic Basket Essentials
1. Baby Wipes (almost everyone included this!)
2. A game like ‘Spot it!’
3. Celery sticks in a lidded jar with peanut butter or cream cheese at the bottom
4. Cloth napkins in fun colours cut with pinking shears – fun and great for the planet
5. Extra bags and ziplocks for treasures the kids find during the picnic
6. A blow-up ball. It’s lightweight and great for encouraging activity
7. Afterbite, bug spray and a first aid kit
8. Old quilts and soft sheets
9. A small vase for found flowers
10. A jambox to connect to your smartphone for music
11. Microwave popcorn cooked still in the sealed bag
12. A blank book and pen for the family to write memories and share ideas
13. Lemons and limes already cut up with ice water (we use frozen water bottles that you can drink as they melt)
14. A scavenger hunt printable (we found one HERE).
15. Tin dishes. You can often find them at yard sales or camping supply stores
16. Old-fashioned games (think: etch-a-sketch, cards, cat’s cradle)
17. A trash bag
18. Loveys for the kids in case the picnic sneaks into nap time
19. Vintage mismatched silver plate cutlery
20. Candles in tall jars
We’re looking forward to hearing picnic tales throughout the summer and having photos sent to us too! Enjoy the memories and make sure that your meals have some crunch and some spice!
We love lazy summer picnics filled with giggles, soft blankets and sandwiches with crusts cut off. SO we’ve come up with a few inspired summer picnic tips to enchant your family as you lead them into the lazy days of summer.
1. Head to a fabric store and use pinking shears to make cloth napkins so the edges won’t fray. It’s great for the environment and you can design themed, beautiful picnics at a low cost.
2. Use individual jars for salad and dressings so you can shake and serve.
3. Don’t forget baby wipes and hand sanitizer.
4. We have lots of printables on our pinterest pages so you can do nature walks and scavenger hunts.
5. Bamboo plates always look stunning and are earth friendly.
6. Ditch the tech and opt for old-fashioned entertainment like cards, etch-a-sketch and throwing a ball.
7. Make a picnic playlist for every summer and your kids will have years of happy memories associated with the songs.
8. If you have little ones, include a few favourite dolls or stuffies with tiny dishes. Enchanted.
9. To help teach responsibility and respect, throw a garbage bag and some plastic gloves in the basket and do a mini garbage cleanup of the site when you are done. Picking up litter of others will instill many lessinons in your children.
10. Opt for tealights in mason jars for twilight picnics. It will be both safe and beautiful!
Enjoy – and don’t forget the bug spray! Add your ideas below!
Now that the warmer weather is upon us, the kids are begging for beach balls and popsicles every time we hit the grocery store. I have romantic visions of old-fashioned ice-cream socials, but they are a bit more interested in tree climbing and cowboy games. Being the mother of two boys sometimes necessitates getting a tad creative (read: wiley). This is where the concept for ‘Daddy’s Ice Cream Bar’ came about. We dressed in costumes (any excuse to wear the Little-House-on-the-Prairie outfit of course). After setting up tables with flowing cloths in the garden, I started the creation of the bar. Three flavours of ice cream set in crushed ice and antique vessels to hold toppings. Long spoons. Dainty napkins. (I can’t believe I actually just used that word). And edible flowers to add the final touches. Despite my creativity, the kids and Daddy decided that the toppings pretty much made the whole event.
The trick with sundaes is the sticky substance that binds sprinkles and fruit to the ice cream. (Or multiple substances – ahem.) Nestled in with the ice creams was the perfect segway from frozen to sauce – COOL WHIP. You just can’t get the texture, frostiness and flavor with plain whipping cream. And what a coup for Daddy’s ice cream bar! The chocolate sauce slides to the side and the candy, fruit, nuts and flowers adorn the top. The juxtaposition between ice cream and COOL WHIP is almost a mystery – a game that the kids enjoyed as they tried to differentiate. Eating my own creation, I am in heaven… And I didn’t even know what else could be done with this miracle ingredient.
As I discovered this ‘cool’ new topping, I turned to my beloved Pinterest. Wow. Who knew?! Frozen COOL WHIP hearts floating in hot chocolate, or smeared on the inside of a croissant (aaagh), or as a surprise pancake topping. Wow. That sure beats my icing sugar.
And as for Daddy’s Ice Cream Bar? The tablecloths and fancy outfits may have not be so smart. Perhaps next time we’ll wear wear overalls.
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