May #2: A Hikers’ Picnic

From Barnaby Summit

Another great adventure awaits with this menu!  I know this is supposed to be only one menu a month, but this menu was just calling out to me, so I thought I would give you a report.  “A Hikers’ Picnic” menu from “The Best of Gourmet: 1995” is a perfect menu for hungry hikers, I know because I was one of them!  Here is the menu:

A Hikers' Picnic

Chilled Yellow Pepper and Scallion Buttermilk Soup

Azuki Bean and Vegetable Salad in Pita Bread

Granola and Dried Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies


(Iced or Hot Tea)

I started making this the day before our hike.  This menu is quick and easy to prepare, especially with some of my updates.  It is also easy to pack and it feeds six people easily with a hearty appetite.  My daughter and I ate a couple of cookies and an apple, had a few sips of tea and started out on our 3 hour 5 1/2 mile hike.  Having eaten nothing before that snack, those cookies and apples kept us going for our whole hike.  After our hike, in which we made the summit of Mount Barnaby in Marin County, CA,

Barnaby Lookout

we headed over to the Marin French Cheese Factory to fill up on our picnic and of course buy some cheese and bread for dinner later that night.  It was the perfect ending to a beautiful day!

The Beverage

This menu in the Gourmet book does not suggest any beverage to accompany this meal.  I however, would suggest a nice hearty hot black tea.  We brought along a thermos of Mark T. Wendell Tea Company’s Scottish Breakfast.  After our hike we made short order of this big thermos of tea.  It was the perfect complement to this hearty lunch.   So, be sure to bring along a generous amount of your favorite strong tea.

The Soup

The Chilled Yellow Pepper and Scallion Buttermilk Soup sounds like it will be a flavorful complement to this menu, but I though it was a bit bland.  The soup is seen in the pictures in the camp cups.  If you do make this soup be sure to get out your immersion blender.  That makes this soup a snap to prepare.  However, a cold soup would be a great side dish to this menu, just not this recipe.  Do you have a savory cold soup that you would recommend?  I would love to know.  I don’t ever make cold soups, but I would love to try one that has been successful, after all, summer is right around the corner!

The Sandwich

Soup & Pitas

The Azuki Bean and Vegetable Salad in Pita Bread is flavorful and versatile.  Pack the filling for this pita sandwich in a Tupperware type container and stuff the pita when you are ready to eat.  My girls actually ate the mixture like a salad, but I stuffed mine into a whole wheat pita.  It was hearty, easy to eat, had a nice crunch, is vegetarian, and very delicious!  This is a great stuffing for a pita.  I used what bean I had on hand which was black-eyed peas, but I think most any bean would go very nicely in this mixture.

Besides the beans, I also made a few other changes.  The recipe calls for dicing carrots and broccoli and blanching them in boiling water.  This seemed unnecessary, so I used what I think is a little easier and more updated:  A bag of pre-shredded broccoli stems and shredded carrots.  No blanching, just dump into the bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and stir.  I also used feta rather than the provolone that is used in the recipe.  A squirt of lemon might be a nice addition, but be careful, you don’t want this salad to become too watery as it is a filling for soft bread.  Therefore, you can use your favorite bean, favorite cheese, and your favorite combination of raw shredded vegetables that do not get soggy when “dressed,” in place of the called for ingredients in this recipe.  In short, you can customize this sandwich filling while still staying true to the spirit of the recipe.

The Dessert (or snack, or in my case, breakfast)

Granola cookies, apples, and tea

Yum!  One of my daughters said that this cookie has the perfect texture.  I though these Granola and Dried Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies were a bit sweet (probably due to the type of granola I used), but excellent.  These cookies were good right out of the oven, but I thought these were even better a day later as the chewy and crunch texture really comes through.  This recipe is very much like the salad–they will come out differently with each cook.  Everyone will use a different granola, and the cranberry is only a suggestion, you can use raisins, or really any dried fruit that you want in these cookies.  Have fun and experiment with different combinations of granola, dried fruit, and baking chips (white chocolate, chocolate, butterscotch, etc.).

These cookies are hearty enough to be in my backpack and still make it out in one piece.  They go great with tea and are excellent paired with a crisp apple.   The granola cookies are a perfect beginning or end to a great hike.

Now go find a hill to hike!  Here are some wild flowers from our hike:

Blue wild flowers

A Hikers’ Picnic:  A Design Collection


Bandanas and enamelware will be awaiting the hikers at the picnic tables when they return from their hike.  This is a simple Ebay collection that combines retro with contemporary.  I love the idea of using bandanas as napkins.  Also, I appreciate the rustic charm of enamelware which can come in many colors and styles.  You can also use mess kits to serve up your picnic menu as I did in my pictures above.  Take a look at another of my Ebay collections inspired from the menu titled, “Picnic: Fishing in Scotland” from “The Best of Gourmet: 1992.”  I really love that collection and someday I look forward to making that menu.    Both of the collections have some fun ideas that will make your next picnic something to remember!

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