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A Woodland Picnic Feast

June 3, 2007

Brambly_hedge"It was the most beautiful morning.  The spring sunshine crept into every cottage along Brambly Hedge, and the little windows in the trees were opened wide." Spring Story

Chers Amis,

Is there anything quite as delicious as a birthday picnic of fresh cheese and buns, ripe blackberries, primrose puddings, and a huge hazelnut cake with layers of thick cream?  Perhaps, but not in one of our favorite picture books, Jill Barklem’s charming  Spring StoryThis lovely tale about a surprise birthday picnic for Wilfred, a mouse from Brambly Hedge, inspired a memorable autumn dejeuner sur l’herbe for Caddie’s eighth birthday . Since then, we have also reveled in the similarly  rich descriptions of Midsummer’s Day feasts and Fall fetes from the chronicles of Red wall  Abbey.  So when Jennifer at S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen said she was hostingCupboard the Loveliness of of Taking Meals Out of Doors, my mind returned to these woodland gatherings. 

Do you have a party coming up?   Make it a picnic! Eating  en plein air adds an indescribable pleasure to a meal.  Fresh sardines grilled over an open wood fire, succulent figs plucked from the tree, wild grapes harvested from forgotten arbors along the shore, handfuls of still warm blueberries and tart, icy lemonade – all taste better out doors.  Here a few ideas I have gleaned that might help you create a wonderful memory.

Invites: HP Home has some nice down loadable garden and flower clip art in their Growing Garden layout hat could be used to adorn a simple invitation.  Another idea would be to print out their vintage seed packet instructions as the envelope.  Mirkwood Designs has a wonderful collection of templates to make custom cards, boxes and envelopes including a butterfly card and even a barbecue apron card if you plan to grill out.  Get creative, adorn them with scanned art from your nature notebook or favorite book. In Redwallian fashion, name the season and ask your guests to come celebrate the "Spring of the Painted Trillium," the "Summer of the Climbing Rose" or the "Autumn of the Burning Leaves."  Hand write it  a la John Churchmouse and print it out on brown paper, roll it like a scroll and tie with ribbon or perhaps close the envelope with red sealing wax.

Menu:   We held Caddie’s party in our own mossy green back yard so we offered traditional grilled fare – hot dogs and hamburgers along with fresh strawberries, cheese, and crackers before a luscious cake.
For a host of Redwall  inspired specialties fit for your own woodland band, check out the Redwall Cookbook. The Penguin Teachers guide to Redwall has recipes for hotroot soup, strawberry scones, and Gonff’s cordial.  The World of Brambly Hedge website has a delectable collection of Mrs. Apple’s recipes on line including: strawberry shortcakes, apple pie, crystallized violets, crusty mushroom tart, blackberry sorbet, honey and nut biscuits, and elderflower wine. Gourmet Magazine’s website Epicurious has a special feature on picnics this month with a wonderful selection of light and zesty recipes to try too.

Crafts: Wilfred’s Playroom offers several coloring pages of popular Brambly Hedge characters as well as a nice bookmark to color in the afternoon sun. Family Fun Magazine also has a Nature T-shirt craft that would be bright and colorful for summer. At Caddie’s party we gathered ferns and flower and transfered the colors to white T-shirts by laying the flora on the shirt, covering it with newspaper and hammering with a rubber mallet.  I believe the complete instructions can be found in Nature’s Art Box by Laura C. Martin.  Daisy chains and fairy houses are always favorites as well. U Krakovianki shared several great Redwall themed birthday crafts and activities that would add fun to any outdoor adventure. 

Goody bags – We found miniature picnic baskets at a local craft store and filled them with sugared almonds tied up in gauze and ribbon, silk flowers and a tiny bird.  You might use tiny flower pots with seed packets or inexpensive bandannas/cloth napkins tied in a packet. 

While the air is warm and the sky clear and blue, why don’t you open your cupboard, pack up
your willow baskets, spread a quilt beneath the boughs, and have a woodland picnic.  Summer awaits –  it’s picnic season!

–Marjorie

 Meadow

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 5, 2007 8:31 am

    Oh Marjorie, what a beautiful post! Does this surprise me? Not a whit. My friend had an unerring eye for beauty.

    PS. I tagged you for a meme, my dear.

  2. betty permalink
    June 5, 2007 4:49 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed your Woodland Picnic Feast! Great ideas!

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