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Winter Picnic to Warm to Warm the Heart  
By Dian Thomas

When winter rolls around, I love to get out and really enjoy this special season. My father was a forest ranger, and as a child I went with him to the woods. We loved to snow shoe and test our skill at skiing.

When I was 12, my family moved from Monticello, Utah, to Salt Lake City. Part of my father's job was to learn to ski, because he was responsible for avalanche control over the ski areas along the Wasatch Front.

When my father learned something, the whole family also learned it. It was not long before all of us were outfitted with skis and could be found on the ski hills snow-plowing our way to the bottom. I will always remember that when lunch came we did not head for the expensive restaurants. We went to the trunk of the car, where my mother had prepared hot chili in a cardboard box with a slice of delicious cheese on fresh homemade whole wheat bread.

I will never forget these winter picnics. What I have learned when you dress for the close it is great to get out and enjoy nature. One of my favorites is that there is not any bugs and most of the people do not venture out so that is a lot of solitude when you go to the woods in the winter.

Here are some of my favorite winter foods to create memories that will last forever. Take time to get out and “Enjoy the Journey.”

Winter Picnic

You probably know the kind of appetite you can build up when sledding, skating, skiing or playing outside in the cold, so a winter picnic may be a good idea! Be sure you take along a poncho to lay over the snow. Cardboard boxes for sitting can later be used for sledding.

Hot Box or Fireless Cooker

For your winter picnic, you need to keep the hot food in a hot box. Choose a box three to four inches larger than your food container. Place a 1-inch stack of newspapers on the bottom of the box.

Line each side of the box with an additional 1-inch-thick pad of newspapers. Make sure the food and its container are very hot! A thick aluminum pot or heavy cast-iron kettle with a good lid will help the food retain heat the best.

Place the container of hot food in the newspaper-lined box. If the newspapers do not fit snugly around the container, stuff in additional newspapers so the container nests tightly and can't move. Place at least one inch of newspapers over the top of the container, then close the box tightly over the newspaper. This insulated box will help keep food hot for at least three hours.

Chili in Bread Bowls

Heat your favorite chili until very hot. Bake or buy 3- to 4-inch hard rolls. Slice off the top quarter of each roll. Carefully hollow out the center of each roll, leaving a half-inch crust to form each bowl. Place in an airtight container or plastic bag. When you are ready to serve, spoon chili into the edible bowls. Stew and thick hearty soups also taste delicious served in bread bowls.

Chili Dog on a Bun

Tie a 12-inch length of dental floss around a hot dog and heat the hot dog in a saucepan with chili. Lower the hot dog into a thermos, leaving the string hanging out of the top. Pour the chili around the hot dog and then cap the thermos. Use the end of the floss to pull the hot dog out of the thermos and into a hot dog bun. Pull the floss through the hot dog and spoon the chili onto the bun for a delicious chili dog.

Hot Chili Chips in a Bag

For this chili idea, you'll need either individual bags of corn chips or corn chips in a heavy-duty, self-sealing plastic bag. Open the bag and pour hot chili from a thermos over the chips. Use a plastic spoon to enjoy these chili chips in a bag.

Snowman in Hot Chocolate

Turn two large marshmallows into a snowman to float on your hot chocolate. For each snowman, dip the tip of a toothpick in blue food coloring. Use it to dot eyes and a nose on one marshmallow, and a vertical row of buttons on a second. Use another toothpick dipped in red food coloring to paint the mouth of the snowman. Pack the marshmallows in self-sealing bags or airtight plastic containers. Heat chocolate drink, then pour into thermos. To serve, pour hot chocolate in a cup, then float the two marshmallows together on the hot drink to form your snowman.

     
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