Into the Woods. Do those three little words strike fear into your heart with thoughts of Red Riding Hood and her wolf or Hansel and Gretel and their witch, or does your heart beat a little faster with the anticipation of fresh air, lovely sounds, and a bit of an escape from your hectic life out of the woods? I was planning to take you on a picnic in our neck of the woods and for a hike in a local Connecticut State Park.
Kent Falls is a popular, scenic destination so I don’t know why I thought I would find solitude here on a gorgeous summer day! After a quick hike to the top of the falls I decided I couldn’t haul out all my picnic gear, camera, and tripod and watch people climbing on the very, very slippery rocks so clearly marked with “Stay Off of Rocks” signs. Luckily, being a native Litchfield County girl, I knew the whereabouts of another nearby CT State Park, where the phrase “into the woods” really meant it.
Macedonia Brook State Park, favored by real outdoors people and boy scouts, hasn’t been upgraded to classy park yet, so the old (I love it) state park sign is still here. Hikes up Cobble Mountain provide the visitor with glorious views of three states — CT, MA, and NY, and if you like to fish, the brook is the place to go for fresh trout!
And the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia, runs alongside the park. Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, will either have you running into the woods directly to the AT, as we call it here, or out of them!
Macedonia was so deserted on this week day that it was even a little intimidating to me. I could hear animals and birds in the woods and feared my delicious picnic lunch would attract one or two. I know what to if a bear appears, but I couldn’t remember whether mountain lions hunted in the day or the night, and if I should yell and wave my arms or lie motionless on the ground. I opted for keeping my car door open.
It was pure serendipity that I had used my ‘fishing creel’ picnic basket!
Tucked inside were some goodies from two of my favorite of all the picnic week cookbooks: A Perfect Day for a Picnic, and Picnics and Tailgates. I have the beach cooking version of this series and it is also filled with tasty, easy recipes.
Just because I’m in the woods or on a picnic doesn’t mean I don’t have my necessities: a few good books and paper and pencils for jotting down all my grains of inspiration, or perhaps adding to my ‘to do’ list.
This old boy scout novel by Thornton W. Burgess, who found fame telling the stories of Old Mother West Wind, Jimmy the Skunk, Paddy the Beaver and their friends, was published in 1912, right after the Boy Scouts of America was founded. Living with two Eagle Scouts, Mr. Fun and Son, I know things like this.
The wood medallion is not quite as old, dating only to my college days when I worked in an outdoor education center and we gave the kids little pieces of wood and sandpaper to keep them busy during times when they would now be playing with an electronic device. As they sanded, the rings and star center of the wood became more visible. Then they earned the right to burn their name into the wood. A quick rub with oil and a beautiful keepsake was ready. I wonder if I am the only one who still has mine?
This delicious chicken recipe came from Picnics and Tailgates. Rosemary, thyme, olive oil, a dash of cayenne and a drop of soy sauce, salt, lemon and garlic. Pop the chicken into the marinade. Bake. It traveled perfectly and was juicy and delicious hot, warm and cold!
The basil, mozzarella and orzo salad with arugula, parmesan and pine nuts (yum!) was a perfect day for a picnic choice. I used fresh tomatoes instead of the suggested sun-dried. Much better I think! In case anyone is doubting that this delicious salad actually came from my kitchen, observe:
Home Made. By me. So delicious!
Lemonade from a thermos with fresh lemon and mint from my yard washed down all the garlic in the chicken and orzo salad.
Our site was so gorgeous and quiet.
When the chicken and orzo salad course was devoured we turned to the dessert: individual lemon puddings with whipped cream and raspberries. They also traveled well, with the toppings added at the picnic site.
Do you have a state park nearby? Have you been there lately?
You will find lots of finger lickin’ good inspiration with the Novel Bakers!
join me at: