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.
I found the perfect picnic table near the brook where fingerling trout were stocked.
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?
I gathered wildflowers along the road during the drive up, and added them to a jar with crystal clear water from the brook.
Well, I am straying from the point of our adventure, so let’s return to our picnic!
I love enamelware. It keeps cold food cool and hot food warm, and it’s lightweight and doesn’t break. And it’s not plastic!
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.
Deep in the woods it can get cool, even in the summer, so a thermos of hot chocolate is always a good idea. Actually, I think chocolate is always a good idea!
A bit of camera practice is a great picnic activity which gets me moving after a huge, delicious feast.
Do you have a state park nearby? Have you been there lately?
Gather up your goodies and go!
I’ll leave you with this thought:
Finger lickin’ good, and that’s okay in the woods!
You will find lots of finger lickin’ good inspiration with the Novel Bakers!
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8 thoughts on “Into the Woods”
Oh, my goodness! This lunch looks scrumptious, Linda! I do like enamelware a lot, and for the same reasons! Plastic, even the beautiful melamine dishes that you see today, just don’t appeal to me. I am determined to add more picnics to our lives. Now that we are empty-nesters, it’s a lot easier to pick up and go. I’m really enjoying picnic week! What a delightful scheme!
Linda, What a gorgeous setting your picnic in the woods by the stream is…*sigh… I have picnic basket envy with your creel shaped basket and jar envy too! Your blue enamelware is perfect for a picnic along with the setting! I love that you toted your wood medallion (and kept it!) along with your field guide and branch pencils for note taking in your journal. What a fun book and Boy Scout keepsake treasure you have. I have Thornton W. Burgess’s Flower Book for Children tucked on a shelf in my potting shed. Mini skillets of lemon, it doesn’t get any better than that for a sweet ending by a woodland stream! Thanks for transporting me this morning. Can you tag this post with “picnic week”? That’s how I have you linked and I don’t want anyone to miss your wonderful picnic!
i am SO loving your addition; free travel guide, stand up comedian, drunk photographer, avid reader, nature lover and she can set a pretty mean table deep in the forest! what a BEAUTIFUL SETTING! the vibrant blues next to the cooling stream, with the fresh flowers, can it get any better?
well, yes, it can, gorgeous food too! and your dessert is freakin adorable!
LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS! thanks soooooooo much for embracing picnic week, you are a girl that can embrace a challenge!
What a perfectly lovely spot for a perfectly lovely picnic!!
What a lovely post! I am so inspired. I must do another fall picnic! I did one for a tablescape a few years ago and hubby and I loved it. I grew up with parents who took us on picnics all the time so that we could get to know our state. Growing up in Wisconsin we usually took great cheeses, sausages and crackers – nothing near as fancy as you have done, and certainly no presentation like this!! I brought picnics to my kids too, again not nearly as fancy. We need to up our game!!
Oh Linda, I’m in love with this setting. Being in the woods has always been a favorite of mine and I thank you for taking me along. The chicken, the orzo salad both look so colorful, especially on the blue enamelware. To top it off…the lemon dessert in those cute cast iron skillets, look amazing! This is picnic food at its best!!!
I not only loved this picnic but you captured the serenity and peacefulness of this park. what a truly serene place I can see why it is one of your favorites, can I have the recipe for your lemon delish looking pudding? Susie