Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Little Bit of Heaven

"We're going on a picnic, and this is what we're going to bring..." Grandma started our nap time stories with these words and we'd fill in the blank. I usually said potato salad (but that recipe is for another post) Her technique was to get us to close our eyes and imagine this ideal picnic with wonderful food, games and family around us. Then she would tell us that is what heaven will be like.

Last month we paid a formal tribute to my Mom's life. This celebration gathered family from across the country. We cried, laughed and had wonderful times with our extended family. My oldest kids live in California and were home for an extended time after the memorial. These pictures and simple picnic food ideas are from our family picnic with all four kids home. When younger and all under one roof, we'd go to "Turtle Fountain" near the Lake Harriet Rose Garden, our favorite spot. This particular evening was glorious with picture perfect weather, lovely simple food, a dance ensemble performing in the garden, and a game of bocce ball. Dessert came later at Sebastian Joe's Ice cream, another tradition.

Picnic instructions:
Get a bag, throw in cheese, cutting board...and your favorite "hooch". Is that how you spell it? If it's in a mason jar it's legal at the park right? San Pellegrino for the young ones.

Next, get a crusty baguette from Rustica Bakery $2.50. Voted one of the 10 best bread bakeries in America (according to Bon Appetit Magazine)

Wonderful smoked ham from Clancey's Meats in Linden Hills

Plugra European Style Butter - Under the advice from my oldest son...that's all you really need. And he's right.

Check out this snazzy new teak salad bowl I found at the thrift store for 5 bucks!

That morning we all went to the Minneapolis Farmer's Market and collected fresh and locally grown buttery lettuce, radishes and asparagus. Here are a few things we created from the trip to the market.

Simple Farmer's Market Salad

Butter lettuce (or any other beautiful tender lettuce from the market or your garden)
Thinly sliced radishes

Dress with Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

1 to 2 cloves of garlic (smash with the back side of a lg knife and mash about 1/4 tsp salt in)
1 c. mayo
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 c. Flat leaf Italian parsley
Few Tbsp. snipped fresh herbs...Chives are great (whatever you like)

Buttermilk (well shaken) add enough to dressing to achieve desired consistency

Freshly ground pepper and salt
Dash of cayenne pepper or hot pepper sauce

Mix all together. Taste to get seasoning to your taste.

Blanched Asparagus
Check out this "How to video" Keep it green and crisp.

Dip it in your own homemade mustard (a chance to use another mason jar...I love them)


1/4 c Colman's Mustard
1/4 c White wine vinegar
1/3 c Dry white wine
1 tb Sugar
1/2 ts Salt
3 Egg yolks

You begin with Colman's Mustard, adding vinegar for tartness and wine for mellowness; then you cook with egg yolks to give the spread its velvety smooth texture. You can season the mildly flavored mustard as suggested, or leave if plain. For gift-giving, package the mustards in jars and identify them with decorative labels. In top of a double boiler, stir together mustard, vinegar, wine, sugar, and salt. Let stand, uncovered, for 2 hours. Beat egg yolks into mustard mixture.

Place over simmering water and cook, stirring with a wire whisk, until mixture thickens slightly (about 5 minutes). Pour into small jars and let cool. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to a month.

Makes about 1 cup.

The bubbly white flat bread in the picture is Armenian Cracker Bread...Lavash. It comes in the big rounds made by Valley Bakery. We break it up and run it under tap water quickly to soften it a bit. Great with cheese...plus it's Armenian and so is my family.


Elizabeth said...

Oh my gosh the lavash! My family is Armenian, too! I am suddenly so hungry for hummos, and fassoulia, and sarma! And that braided white cheese with the black seeds in it... yummmm... :-)

Kelli Abrahamian said...

Hi Elizabeth,
Thanks for your comments. Love Armenian food. I haven't done a post including it yet. My husband is 100% Armenian. I just checked out your blog too...it's wonderful. I'm glad you checked in.

Unknown said...

Totally what heaven will be like!

Unknown said...

Totally what heaven will be like!

Dorothy at Shockinglydelicious.com said...

I am laughing out loud about your hooch container...that is so me! Can I come on your next picnic? You are right. Simple is best.

Kelli Abrahamian said...

Hi Dorothy, I knew we had a lot in common when I read your "A Few of my Favorite Things" June edition post! http://www.shockinglydelicious.com/a-few-of-my-favorite-things-june-edition/

Kelli Abrahamian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

What a comfort to have all your kids home and on a picnic together.


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