A food lovers' picnic

Neighbors rise above the hectic times to meet ― every week ― over strategically simple potluck fare

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Potluck picnic savvy

Choose dishes that can be either made ahead or assembled at the last minute, and that taste good at room temperature.

Supplement with buy-and-serve items like breads, cheeses, olives, pickled vegetables, fruit, deli salads, or selections from a market's salad bar.

Keep a picnic bag, basket, or box packed with basic supplies: plates, cutlery, cups, napkins, tablecloth, bottled water or other beverages, salt, pepper, sugar, paper towels, moist wipes, and trash bags. Include a thermos and insulated bags for hot and cold items. Store a supply of frozen gel packs in the freezer to keep foods cold for transport; return the packs to the freezer when you get home.

Foods that are transported cold or hot can stand on the table up to two hours.

To serve eight, you'll need one appetizer, one salad, one entrée, and one dessert. For 16: two of each item. For 24: three of each.

Allow one bottle of wine for three or four adults. (Barry Snyder sets a $10-per-bottle limit to encourage lighthearted experimentation in the spirit of the picnic.) Have a couple of bottled soft drinks each for kids and adults not drinking wine.

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