The freshness of a lovely summer morning is never more delightful than when we break crisp rolls and sip our coffee under the trees, but the coffee must be hot. No compensation in the way of singing birds or perfume of dew-kissed roses condones a tepid cup of coffee. Neither sunshine nor fresh air will prevent the veto on breakfast out of doors if the omelet or scrambled egg is a congealed mass, sticky or tough, because it has had to be brought down a long kitchen passage and through the rose-garden, cooling as it goes.
Therefore, it is the duty of every house-wife to see to it that out - of - door meals are as well cooked and comfortably served as if they were to be eaten in the dining-room. Though al fresco meals suggest a simple and unstudied effect, the housekeeper knows that most careful planning is necessary, and that her powers of management will be taxed to the utmost if success is to crown her efforts. Much depends on the choice of the spot. It must not be too far away from kitchen and pantry, for not only will food be spoilt but tempers also. Maids, however devoted and well drilled, are very human, and the labour of carrying glass, china, and all the etceteras of the dinner-table down the garden path, in addition to the usual work, does not commend itself to them. Even if the spot is not as pretty as one farther away, a corner near the house should be chosen. Shelter is generally necessary in our variable climate, though naturally we need not consider really unfavourable weather conditions, as meals are not taken out of doors under those circumstances except by faddists, for whom our writing is not intended.
A serving-table is very necessary in the garden. The butler's tray should always be used
By using an additional length of electric light cord connected with the indoor switch it is quite easy to sling a light over a table in the garden for after-dinner bridge
A bank of shrubs as a wind-screen, the angle of the house, if a verandah does not exist, the shade of a tree such as a chestnut or Scotch fir, which are inimical to insect life - such matters lend their quota to the successful out-of-door meals.
The matter of light has also to be considered. Few people now possess oil-lamps, candles are out of the question for any but the stillest night in summer, and Japanese lanterns, though very pretty, are not practical for everyday meals.
Happily the season of out-of-door meals is the light season, so that when the darkness is upon us dinner is over, and only if we would have bridge tables out of doors does the light problem become a serious one.
Electric light cord is not very expensive, and, by having an extra half-dozen yards put on to the switch, a lamp can easily be used in the centre of the table, or slung on a wire from a branch.
Revolving breakfast-dish which makes an excellent soup tureen for dinner in the garden
We should par particularly advise those who desire to place eatable food before their family or guests not to economise in table space. A serving-table is very necessary in the garden. Why should the butler's tray not be used because we happen to prefer the sky as a roof ? On no account permit the maids to think that every meal outside is a picnic; it is the duty of the hostess to see that it is not one.
There are two points to be considered with regard to special food arrangements: the problem of keeping the food hot, and the compactness of the dishes so that no undue carrying has to be done.
With regard to the former question. It is a good plan to use the revolving bacon-dish for the soup, as it keeps much hotter in silver. Entrees may also be served in such a dish when the hot-water reservoir is filled. A small muffin-dish is large enough for a hot savoury if only four or six are dining, and such a dish of silver or plate generally has a hot-water fitment. It is useless for practical purposes to suggest the chafing-dish, or the hot-plate stand, as anything which depends on a small spirit-lamp is unsatisfactory, because with the least puff of wind the lamp is blown out.
Muffin-dish, with hot water be low, which can be used for a hot savoury or other small dish
Double entree-dish, useful for serving dinner in the garden
A very useful arrangement called a dinner-carrier is sold, which will hold enough for two or three people. It is made on the same plan as the Chinese medicine-chest - each receptacle fits into the next, which serves as a lid and helps also to keep in the heat; below all is a small fitment to hold charcoal. These carriers are made in white enamel, and have the merit of cheapness to recommend them; they are, in fact, workmen's dinner carriers. Such a one as is illustrated would hold soup in the bottom division, cutlets, peas, and potatoes in the other three. If, in addition to these items of the menu we provide cold salmon and salad, a cold sweet and savoury, we have a dinner no one need despise.
If ices are required a Ther-matot should be used, as nothing suffers more from exposure to the air, and no one wants a half-m e l t e d ice. These cylinder-shaped cases can be had in pint, quart, and larger sizes, and are made on exactly the same principle as the Thermos flask. Apart from the outdoor dinner, such a case is invaluable if the home staff is not equal to ice making. The Thermatot can be sent to a shop to be filled, and the ice-cream will keep frozen until required. This cylinder can also be used for keeping things hot, but a certain amount of dishing up is then required, as a ragoul or curry cannot be handed in it.
Thermatot case, which will keep curry or any other food very hot, or can be used for icecream mixture which has to travel far
All dishes used for out-of-door meals should have covers. Insects and wasps need careful guarding against; they are apt to come from far and near when food is served out of doors, and everything must be covered except when being handed.
When sandwiches or biscuits are brought out for the use of the bridge-players, covered dishes should be used, or inquisitive spiders and caterpillars will be found to be sampling the refreshments. A small table set with syphons, wine, or spirits, should also be set with the covered food.
Chairs of a convenient height should always be provided; so-called garden chairs are generally of the lounge description, and are unsuitable for use at a table. A carpet with boards beneath, if there is danger of dampness, is very necessary. A gravelled pathway or square should be chosen rather than grass when possible, as many a chill is contracted when people have their feet on the grass.