Picnic smart and light for the Fourth

We’re firmly in favor of summer picnics — especially for the Fourth of July, when an invite to watch the fireworks from a hillside or the back of a boat on the Potomac means BYO.

But who wants to haul around a feast that’s barely moveable? At best, you should make foods that don’t need a load of ice to keep them chilly. Optimum flavor should peak at “room temperature.” (Read: They can sit for an hour or two alfresco.) A touch of Southern might be nice, with some calories magically eliminated.

We knew right where to turn: Virginia Willis, a chef and cookbook author who knows how to celebrate her Georgia roots on a plate. Her holiday menu for Post readers is the kind of easy, enlightened Southern cooking she offers through her blog. And because she knows how to deliver on camera as well, Willis has distilled five basics into a picnic primer video. As she would say, Happy Fourth, y’all.

RECIPES:

Lightened-Up Pimento Cheese

Roasted Green Bean and Potato Salad

Individual Fruit Cobblers

Oven-Fried Chicken on a Stick

More from Food:

Five beers to drink on the Fourth

Beer: How to match it with barbecue

Bonnie S. Benwick has the job most envied among cocktail-party conversations. If they only knew . . . . Cook with her each week at Dinner in Minutes: washingtonpost.com/recipes.
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