summer picnics

Picnics are one of my favorite parts about summer. 🙂 I love being outside, chatting with friends, and enjoying some of my favorite simple foods—bread, cheese, apples, and wine. Once I even brought a baguette and chèvre on a windsurfer! My friend and I lashed our boards together and enjoyed our little picnic in the middle of a lake.

But it can be fun to do fancier picnics too—especially in unexpected places! Recently my friend R. and I got new backpacking gear, and decided a cool way to test it out would be to pack a very fancy picnic, hike some nearby bluffs, and enjoy it right at the top. 😉

51873406430__48250A27-7093-47CD-914D-ACF7021E06D6Deciding on the food to make was a bit of a challenge. I knew we’d be hiking in the hot sun, so I didn’t want to pack anything too perishable, or too fragile. But once we got to the top, I wanted our picnic to look amazing! So I decided to do a few special baked goods, packed well. You can see them here—cheese & chive buttermilk scones, spiced pear hand pies, and lemon macarons. 🙂 I also made hibiscus and mint iced tea—super refreshing, and a beautiful deep red!

Once we got to the top of the bluffs, R. and I found a perfect picnic spot. We set up on a flat rock overlooking the lake, and quickly had all our food spread out. We quite enjoyed relaxing and eating our treats after our hike, especially as all the other hikers on the trail looked more than a little jealous. 😉

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R. and I especially liked the scones and tea, and the lemon macarons and pies made a sweet treat to finish our picnic with before we got ready to hike back down. I’ll definitely include them again on slightly less silly picnic endeavors. 😉 Anyone else have favorite picnic foods?

homemade lunch!

Ever since my undergraduate, when I had to schedule back-to-back rehearsals through what felt like every single lunch, I’ve had terrible habits when it comes to eating at normal times. But with finals coming up, I figured it was time to try yet another attempt at reform—and it’s actually somewhat working! This time around I’ve been making homemade lunches the days that I’m gone through the afternoon, and it’s been rather fun. I thought I’d share with you my two most recent ones. 🙂

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It’s too much work to put together a super fancy lunch, so both are rather simple. This one is just rice, egg, stewed beans, and grated vegetable pickles. I have a rice cooker, which I love, and I just set the timer so that my rice starts cooking in the morning and is ready when I wake up. Since everything else is made before, it means that I can put this together in 10 minutes!

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And here is basically the same lunch! I’m vegetarian, and I almost never buy vegan meat substitutes, so I took advantage of having fake hotdogs around to try out one of those cute hotdog octopi. 🙂 The main filler is roasted golden and red beets in cider vinegar, and I put vinegar vegetables again on the rice. I’m slightly paranoid about food going bad at room temperature, so I try to follow good food storage practices, which includes using seasonings like vinegar. Good thing I like it a lot, I guess?

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I’m working on an embroidered bag for my lunchbox, but until then I just tie it up in a napkin. These are plaid flannel ones I made for my first apartment, and they’ve held up well!

I’m really enjoying making these lunches though. It not only gives me something to look forward to during the day, but I’ve also found that I’m far more motivated to get up in the morning if I fear my rice might go to waste. 🙂

tea sandwiches

When I’m at my parents for the summer, one of my favorite social activities is throwing fancy tea parties with my sister for our friends. I am not the best baker, but out of the two of us, I usually end up in charge of the menu and cooking. This role has greatly endeared tea sandwiches to me—after a day spent cooking fancy desserts, throwing together two or three sandwich types is a very nice respite.

The first image is of a party I made where one of the guests was gluten-free, hence the large variety of meringue-based treats. That one was especially tricky to put together!

However, while I don’t often make desserts for myself—shortbread or berries with cream is usually the extent—I find tea sandwiches a nice way to make something quick and easy that still feels like a treat. This week I made them extra special by buying some pumpernickel bread (I usually bake all my own bread).

I think tea sandwiches feel special because you can put the focus on one or two nicer ingredients and really enjoy them. I frequently cut or substitute ingredients to save money or use up leftovers, so buying something “extra” is an easy way to treat myself. For these sandwiches, for instance, I actually bought green onions, a lemon, and some nice local radishes. For the radish sandwich, I diced green onions and added them with some lemon juice to butter. For the other, I made curried egg salad. You can’t see it in the picture, but I also used the lemon to make a vinaigrette for the radish greens—instant salad!

They may be simple, but they were delicious! 🙂 Anyone have any other simple meals they enjoy making as special treats?