It's the season for picnics, berries and barbecues

When the weather is fine, almost any excuse will do for a picnic, and almost any location, but preferably beach, roadside, the apartment terrace, or poolside. If you have no definite destination in mind, you can drive until you find a pretty and suitable spot, and remember the places you see and file for future reference when you haven't packed a picnic basket and are on the way somewhere else.

This particular picnic hamper is filled with foods which our grandmothers called "just a cold collation." E. X. Ferrars in one of her novels said: "Isn't that a lovely phrase, a cold collation? It makes one think of embroidered tablecloths spread on the grass near gurgling streams, and footmen with silver buttons on their liveries, and ladies in hats, and roast pheasant. . . ."

Our picnic is not quite that ambitious, but it will be ample for six, or four when one allows for the elasticity of appetites which tend to be heartier when food is eaten in the open air.

If you wish to make your picnic more of a "fete champetre" (a rustic feast), bring your china, silver, glasses, a tablecloth, and even a centerpiece, such as a bright bunch of daffodils. Serve a variety of cheeses and pate, loaves of French bread and fresh fruit. Mushroom Gazpacho 1 16-ounce can tomatoes, undrained 2 cups peeled, chopped cucumber 1/2 cup chopped green pepper 1 clove garlic, minced, 2 tablespoons oil, olive or vegetable 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon onion powder Tabasco sauce to taste 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, cleaned 1 12-ounce can tomato juice Snipped fresh parsley

Put first 9 ingredients into blender container. Process until smooth. Coarsely chop half the mushrooms.Add to mixture in blender. Process until smooth. Pour into pitcher. Stir in tomato juice. Cover. Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours.

Coarsely chop remaining mushrooms and stir into soup. Carry fresh parsley in separate container to sprinkle on soup when it is served. Serves 6.

I first ate Scotch Eggs, a traditional British picnic favorite, while visiting my nephew in Woodstock, England. Since then, Scotch Eggs have become a favorite in this country too. Scotch Eggs 6 hard-cooked eggs, chilled 1 pound bulk sausage meat 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley 1/2 teaspoon ground sage 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1/4 cup flour 2 eggs, beaten 1/2 to 3/4 cup packaged bread crumbs Vegetable oil for frying

Peel hard-cooked eggs. Combine sausage, parsley, sage, and pepper in large bowl, mixing well. Divide meat mixture into six equal portions. Press mixture around eggs with hands, keeping the oval shape. Sprinkle eggs with flour, coating lightly on all sides. Dip into beaten egg and then roll in bread crumbs.

Heat vegetable oil in deep fryer or deep heavy saucepan to 350 degrees on deep-fat thermometer. Cook one egg at a time for about 4 or 5 minutes or until well browned. Drain on paper toweling. Cool. Refrigerate. Serves 6. Picnic Chicken Parmesan 2 fryers, cut in pieces 1/2 cup cream or evaporated milk Dry bread crumbs 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning 1/2 teaspoon paprika 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

Wash and dry fryers. Combine bread crumbs with remaining dry ingredients. Dip skin side of chicken in cream. Coat same side in crumb mixture. Place on foil-covered cookie sheet, making sure pieces do not touch. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until done. May be served hot or cold. Serves 6. Polka Dot Potato Salad 5 medium potatoes 1 cup uncooked zucchini slices 1 cup cooked, chopped carrots 1 cup cooked, cut green beans 1 cup cooked peas 1/4 cup chopped onion 2 tablespoons chopped chives 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1/8 teaspoon pepper 3/4 cup mayonnaise

Cook, peel, and slice potatoes. Combine with zucchini, carrots, beans, peas, onions, chives, and seasonings. Add mayonnaise. Mix well.Chill. Serve with additional mayonnaise, if desired, and garnish with additional zucchini slices. Serves 6 to 8.

In every picnic group there is always someone who would feel deprived if there were no chocolate dessert. These Brownie Thins are easy and fast to make.

Brownie Thins 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 cup flour 3 tablespoons butter or margarine 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate 1 egg 1 cup sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla 1/3 cup milk 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Stir baking powder into flour. Set aside. Melt butter and chocolate over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in egg, sugar, and vanilla. Add half of flour mixture. Stir, then add milk. Stir and add remaining flour mixture. Stir in nuts. Spread thinly in greased 11 by 15 -inch pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until firm. Cut while warm. Cool in pan.

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