The East Valley is full of picnicking opportunities - East Valley Tribune: News

The East Valley is full of picnicking opportunities

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Friday, May 6, 2005 12:03 pm | Updated: 8:52 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Lauryn Hoffman twists her body, looking for any unwelcome guests at her family’s Saturday afternoon picnic. "Are there any bees?" the 4-year-old asks her mother.

Things to do this weekend

"No, there are no bees, and flies don’t bite, so eat your fruit," Cindy Hoffman says.

The Hoffman family is taking advantage of one of the last weekends remaining in the East Valley’s picnic season before triple-digit temperatures arrive. But the heat doesn’t have to put a moratorium on eating outdoors.

"You can find places with misters or do breakfast and dinner picnics instead," says Robin Vitetta-Miller, a Scottsdale mother of two and the author of "Picnics: Easy Recipes for the Best Alfresco Foods" (Crown Publishing, $14.95).

The Tribune asked readers where they like to picnic. A few of their favorite spots:

DESERT BREEZE PARK

Details: Large ramadas require reservations, but smaller ramadas by the lake are firstcome, first-served.

Amenities: Grills, ballfields, lake, walking trail, picnic pavilions, playground, tennis and volleyball courts and spray pads to help the kids stay cool. There’s also a miniature train and a carousel. Cost: Large ramadas are $40 for Chandler residents, $50 for nonresidents. Information: 660 N. Desert Breeze Blvd., Chandler, (480) 893-6652 or (480) 782-2727.

DESERT MOUNTAIN PARK

Details: Ramadas are on a firstcome, first-served basis. Reservations are optional, but there’s a fee.

Amenities: This park opened last month, so the equipment is still new. Picnickers have a view of the San Tan Mountains, and the Queen Creek Wash borders the park’s northeast corner. There’s also a botanical garden walk and ballfields.

Cost: Queen Creek residents pay $7 per hour for ramadas; nonresidents pay $14 per hour plus a $25 cash deposit.

Information: Southeast corner of Ocotillo and Hawes roads, Queen Creek, (480) 987-0497.

FREESTONE PARK

Details: Picnic tables are on a first-come, first-served basis. Ramadas require reservations and a fee.

Amenities: Miniature train rides, playground equipment, lake, sand volleyball pits and basketball courts.

Cost: Ramadas are $10 to $100 per hour for Gilbert residents, $20 to $200 for nonresidents. Information: 1045 E. Juniper Road, Gilbert, (480) 503-6200 or www.ci.gilbert.az.us/parks.

KIERLAND COMMONS

Details: Although the fountain and grassy plaza don’t offer formal picnic amenities except for a few benches, it’s a popular place to snack and take a break while shopping. Misters on the sidewalks help impromptu picnickers stay cool.

Amenities: The plaza is near Starbucks and Cold Stone Creamery. The Kierland Commons Summer Concert Series — a mix of jazz, reggae, funk and rock — will begin 7 p.m. June 4 and run Saturdays through Sept. 3.

Cost: Free.

Information: Northwest corner of Scottsdale Road and Greenway Parkway, Phoenix, (480) 348-1577 or www.kierlandcommons.com.

KIWANIS PARK

Details: Movies in the Park features films 7 p.m. Fridays through June 10. Tonight’s movie is "FairyTale: A True Story." Free. (480) 350-5200. Amenities: Reservations are required for the ramadas, which have grills, around the lake. Other activities that cost extra include batting cages, concessions, outdoor volleyball court and indoor pool and slide.

Cost: $8 per ramada.

Information: 6111 S. All-America Way, Tempe, (480) 350-5200 or www.tempe.gov/pkrec.

MCCORMICK-STILLMAN RAILROAD PARK

Details: During hotter months, the staff carries mini squirt bottles to help young picnickers keep cool.

Amenities: Picnic tables available on a first-come, firstserved basis; ramadas require a reservation and fee. Rides on the Paradise and Pacific Railroad and the Scottsdale Charro Carousel are available 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily through May but change in June.

Cost: Ramadas are $25 to $75 for Scottsdale residents, $50 to $150 for nonresidents. Rides are $1.

Information: Scottsdale and Indian Bend roads, Scottsdale, (480) 312-2312 or www.therail roadpark.com.

USERY PARK

Details: The day-use picnic area is available on a firstcome, first-served basis. Sunrise picnics are a favorite at this park.

Amenities: Picnic tables, grills, drinking water and restrooms. Larger picnic areas are available for a fee. Reservations required.

Cost: $20 to $80 for four hours, plus $5 entrance fee.

Information: 3939 N. Usery Pass Road, Mesa, (480) 984-0032 or www.maricopa.gov/ parks/usery.

BOYCE THOMPSON ARBORETUM

Details: Sycamore, eucalyptus, mesquite and pine trees shade the picnic area. The temperature at the arboretum is 5 to 10 degrees cooler than in the Valley. And the Demonstration Garden, which reaches peak colors in May, is nearby. Amenities: Picnic tables and grills. Cost: $7.50 adults, $3 children age 5 to 12. Information: 37615 U.S. 60, near Superior, (520) 689-2723 or http://arboretum.ag.arizona.edu.

CUMIN-DUSTED PITA WEDGES

Yield: 32 wedges

Cooking spray 8 pita pockets 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Procedure: 1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Cut each pita into four wedges. Transfer wedges to prepared baking sheet and spray the surface with cooking spray. 2. Sprinkle cumin, salt and pepper over each pita wedge. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely before packing.

Source: "Picnics: Easy Recipes for the Best Alfresco Foods"

TOFFEE-CHOCOLATE BARS WITH CASHEWS

Yield: 24 bars

Cooking spray 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 1 cup (packed) light brown sugar 1 large egg yolk 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 12 ounces milk chocolate chips 1 cup chopped dry roasted, salted cashews

Procedure: 1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-12-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Combine butter and sugar and beat until creamy. Beat in egg yolk. 2. Mixing on low speed, beat in flour and vanilla. Pour batter into a prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake for 25 minutes. 3. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the dough and bake 3 to 4 more minutes, until chocolate melts. Using the back of a spoon, smooth melted chocolate evenly over surface of dough. Sprinkle cashews over top. 4. Cool in pan, on a wire rack, before packing.

Source: "Picnics: Easy Recipes for the Best Alfresco Foods" Alfresco picnic Picnicking is a way of life in Robin Vitetta-Miller’s home.

"I just love to prepare food, pack it up and take it out of the house," the Scottsdale mother of two boys says.

Vitetta-Miller parlayed her adoration for dining outdoors into a book: "Picnics: Easy Recipes for the Best Alfresco Foods" (Crown Publishing, $14.95) is a collection of themed menus and tips the author amassed after years of picnicking with her children.

"My toddler used to be a horrible eater," Vitetta-Miller says. "Packing (the picnic) and talking about it in the car made him more interested in the food."

One of Vitetta-Miller’s favorite picnic menus:

HONEY HAM WRAPS WITH GRUYÈRE, ENDIVE AND COARSE MUSTARD

Yield: 4 servings

2 tablespoons coarse mustard

1 tablespoon honey

4 (8-inch) whole wheat or flour tortillas

12 ounces thinly sliced baked ham

8 ounces thinly sliced Gruyère cheese

8 cups fresh endive leaves

Procedure:

1. In a small bowl, whisk together mustard and honey. Spread mixture on one side of each tortilla to within inch of the edges.

2. Top with ham, Gruyère cheese and endive leaves. Roll up tightly.

3. Individually wrap each wrap in plastic and refrigerate until ready to pack into a cold cooler.

Source: “Picnics: Easy Recipes for the Best Alfresco Foods”

CUMIN-DUSTED PITA WEDGES

Yield: 32 wedges

Cooking spray

8 pita pockets

1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Procedure:

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Cut each pita into four wedges. Transfer wedges to prepared baking sheet and spray the surface with cooking spray.

2. Sprinkle cumin, salt and pepper over each pita wedge. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely before packing.

Source: “Picnics: Easy Recipes for the Best Alfresco Foods”

TOFFEE-CHOCOLATE BARS WITH CASHEWS

Yield: 24 bars

Cooking spray

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1 large egg yolk

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

12 ounces milk chocolate chips

1 cup chopped dry roasted, salted cashews

Procedure:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-12-inch9x12-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Combine butter and sugar and beat until creamy. Beat in egg yolk.

2. Mixing on low speed, beat in flour and vanilla. Pour batter into a prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake for 25 minutes.

3. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the dough and bake 3 to 4 more minutes, until chocolate melts. Using the back of a spoon, smooth melted chocolate evenly over surface of dough. Sprinkle cashews over top.

4. Cool in pan, on a wire rack, before packing. Source: “Picnics: Easy Recipes for the Best Alfresco Foods”

  • Discuss

Facebook

EastValleyTribune.com on Facebook

Twitter

EastValleyTribune.com on Twitter

Google+

EastValleyTribune.com on Google+

RSS

Subscribe to EastValleyTribune.com via RSS

RSS Feeds

Spacer4px
Your Az Jobs