National Picnic Week, 1916-style


We’ve had some mixed weather for this year’s National Picnic Week.

Yesterday was almost too hot to venture outside, yet as I write this, the skies are grey and the rain is coming down vertically outside the window, almost obscuring my view of the trees.

Over a hundred years ago this week, Kitty, the “Friend” Cookery Editor, also had picnics in mind.

From the “Friend”, June 19, 1916

“My dear sisters,” Kitty wrote. “The recipes for the pic-nic fare I’m giving you this week were given me by a friend of mine quite recently, and when I tell you just how I came by them I know you’ll want to try them next time you give the children a day’s outing.

“I was spending the afternoon with a friend of mine the other day, and during my stay her two dear little children – a boy and girl – came, and begged me to come and help them plan out how they would enjoy the days when their three young cousins came to pay a return holiday visit to them. They were expected in a few days’ time.

“‘One thing we must have any way is a jolly pic-nic all together,’ exclaimed Edna.

“Of course her brother Roy heartily agreed to this, and enthusiastically declared it must be just like the ripping one their aunt gave them when they stayed with their cousins lately.

“‘She made such lovely sandwiches, mother” Just scrumptious ones.’

“But his mother had already heard much about these and other dainties her sister had provided for this pic-nic, for Edna had insisted on her aunt giving her a few of the recipes to take home to her mother. Of course no better guarantee of their goodness could have been given.

“I was willingly given a copy of the recipes too, and these are a few of them I’m passing on to you. – Yours ever, KITTY”

The recipes

There isn’t space for all of Kitty’s recipes from that day, but here are a few for you to see.

Rolled sandwiches

REQUIRED:- Potted meat, brown bread, and butter.

  1. Cream the butter on a plate with an equal quantity of some tasty potted meat. If a highly flavoured paste is used, such as anchovy, a smaller proportion will be sufficient. The mixture must be delicate in flavour, and of a nice smooth consistency.
  2. Spread this on thin slices of brown bread from which the crust has been removed, and then roll up the pieces. If white bread is preferred, the round sandwich loaf makes a very pretty shape.

Tomato sandwiches

TAKE one or two ripe tomatoes, one gherkin, seasoning, and bread and butter.

  1. Skin the tomatoes, and cut them in very thin slices. Put the slices on a plate, and season with pepper, salt, cayenne, and a few drops of oil and lemon juice.
  2. Arrange the tomato on the top of some thin bread and butter and put another piece of bread and butter on the top. Trim and cut in shape.

Savoury Sandwich

  1. BOIL and skin one cupful of butter beans, and add half a pound of minced pork.
  2. Season with pepper, salt and parsley if liked. Pound all well and mix.
  3. Roll out some pastry thin, grease with fat, sprinkle with fine crumbs.
  4. Now cover with a layer of the savour mixture. Cover with thin pastry, bake a nice brown; leave on baking tin till cold, then cut into sandwiches.

Currant scones

  1. Mix 1 lb of flour in a basin with a pinch of salt, a teaspoonful of baking soda, and a teaspoonful of cream of tartar with the lumps pressed out.
  2. Next add 2 tablespoonfuls of currants which have been previously washed, dried and picked.
  3. Mix a dessertspoonful of syrup with a breakfastcupful of soured milk, and with these moisten the ingredients to a soft dough. Quickly turn out, and, after rolling out, cut into squares or rounds. Bake on a hot girdle*.

*Note from today: that’s not a typo, readers! “Girdle” is a Scots word for a circular iron plate people once used for baking bread and cakes on a fire.

No wonder the children enjoyed their feast!

And that’s only some of the recipes from that day. I can see why Roy thought it was “ripping”. (Wonder if there was lashings of ginger beer, too?)

And today . . .



Now, in National Picnic Week 2020, the birds are singing again, it’s brightened up, and the sun is just appearing from behind the clouds.

Perhaps there will be a chance for a picnic before the weekend’s out after all!

If you try any our our 1916 recipes for your picnics (or pic-nics) do let us know. And send us your pic-tures!

For more from our Archives, click the tag below.

Click here to browse some of our slightly more modern recipes.

Marion McGivern

As editor of the cookery, money, pets and eco pages, Marion covers a wide range of regular Features content. Along with the rest of the Team, she enjoys finding interesting features for both the weekly and Special issues that readers will love. Having so much variety every day means that over ten years with the “Friend” has just flown by!