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?

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?