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Friday, July 11, 2008

A Light Picnic on a Hot Day - Mixed Fresh Fruit and Chocolate Sable Shortbread Wedges

So, now that we are finally out of the house and part of the big wide world out there, what exactly have we been doing with our time? Mainly, it has involved spending as much time outside as possible. As anyone who has been around (or has hauled around) small children will tell you, this is a whole lot easier said than done.

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One of the ways that we are taking advantage of the beautiful weather is by going to our local zoo. Since they offer a zoo membership for a pretty decent price per year we have tried to purchase one every year. That way, even when money is tight, we already have admission taken care of and can still get out and do something fun. We even go in the winter too - a lot of the animals are actually more active in chillier weather so it is great to go on clear Fall and Winter days.

Right now though here in our part of Utah it is not chilly. At all. Actually, I think the lowest daytime temperature forecasted for this week was a "balmy" 92 degrees F. So, in other words, freaking hot!

This means when we do go out we definitely want something refreshing. Aidan and I go on a lot of picnics. If nothing else, the past year has taught me - when I'm not all caught up in the day to day grind of life and really focus on what is important - to not always save the "special" things (like picnics at the zoo) for a time when everything is perfect or a special occassion.

What actually reminded me of that this week was the time of year. July is a crazy, huge busy month for us. Among all the usual stuff (and some other special occassions coming up) today is the 10th anniversary of the day I met my husband. We had a short courtship (if you could call it that) and this coming December will be our 10th wedding anniversary too. All of that occurred to me when we finally took our wedding quilt that we have been saving for the "perfect" bedroom out of storage to use it. I will have to take a picture soon and show you this incredible quilt made for us by my wonderful MIL.

Anyway, we took some time this week to have a light little picnic lunch (me, Aidan Baby Cole and my friend J.) at the zoo. Even though Aidan was too excited and wound-up (as he often is) to really settle down it was still a lot of fun. I knew that I wanted to make the Gruyere Cheese Stuffed Rolls again as picnic food because I have thought of making them again almost daily since the last time I made them.

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I also wanted to do a sort of variation on the Strawberry Tart we did for TWD a while ago. I wanted to take advantage of all the fresh fruit I have in the house right now and make a light fruit salad I like to make that is really the simplest and most flexible thing in the world. While I usually use orange juice, this time I used lime since that is what I had on hand. Anyway, I decided to make chocolate sable-like cookies to go with the fruit salad as kind of lunch/dessert/treat. They ended up being perfect and absolutely fantastic.

I hope that whereever you are and what you are doing, even though our world is getting busier and busier as we all go crazy trying to keep up that you can remember to take the time toslow down, look around you and enjoy life around you - especially the small and simple things.

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Chocolate Sable Shortbread Wedges
(Adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours, by Dorie Greenspan)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 Tablespoon very cold unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk

put all the dry ingredients into a food processor amd pulse together until well combined. Add the butter, scattered over the dry ingredients, and process until almost about the sized of oatmeal flakes. Stir the yolk to break it up and add a little at a time. Process the dough until it co,es together fairly well. Dump out onto a parchment lined baking sheet and pat into a 10-inch circle, approximately 1/2-inch thick. Cut into 12 thin wedges and arrange about 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Score each wedge with a fork a few times. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake the wedges for about 15 minutes until slightly puffed and set. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheet before moving.

My Favorite Fruit Salad
2 pints mixed fruit and berries of your choice, bite size pieces - I used the following:
1 banana
1 tart green apple
strawberries (approx. 8-10)
raspberries, handful
blueberries, handful
green grapes, handful
cantaloupe (about 1/3 cup)

juice of 1 lime, squeezed over the cut apple and banana pieces (if using)

2 Tablespoons honey, warmed to liquid
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
1 teaspoon cold water
(I also like to add a little fresh mint when I have it.)

Stir the vanilla and honey together with the water. Pour over all the mixed fruit and stir gently to cover and combine. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

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See, if you don't slow down and enjoy the little things, you miss moments like your almost 5 year old "daredevil" showing off his "mad skills" by letting go of the bar of the new carousel when he goes by - for about 2 seconds anyway. And yes, the "daredevil" and "mad skills" are his terms - not mine. Hilarious!

13 comments:

Manggy said...

Aww, happy anniversary to you and your husband! I never really liked the zoo, but I guess it's important to support education and such. (The Manila Zoo is pretty much a ghost town here, despite a few revivals.)
That is one refreshing fruit salad, and so colorful too!

Zita said...

Wow, those shortbread wedges look delicious :)

dorie said...

I love the way the sables look as wedges, but it's the kids that steal the show -- just as they should!

Jenny said...

Happy Anniversary Holly! My boys and I love the zoo, we like to go at least once a week when the weather is nice. Looks like your little guy is really having a great time, what a cutie pie!

Your fresh fruit and sable wedges look beautiful!

Melanie said...

Perfect picnic lunch. I've been dreaming of your cheese-stuffed rolls, too and I need to find the "perfect" time to make them! Glad you have the zoo close and go often!

Deborah said...

I can't believe I've lived in Utah for 10 years now and have never been to Hogle Zoo. I keep begging my husband to take me, but it hasn't happened yet.

Your salad with the wedges sounds so delicious!

Steph said...

Everything looks so delicious Holly! We were just at the Hogle Zoo, and my daughter of course loved the carousel most of all! It was precious!

Jenny said...

That sounds great and is a good philosophy to live by. We were in Orem at this time last year so I can sympathize on the heat (though at least you don't have the humidity that goes with it, which we do.)
I wish there was a zoo around here we could do that at, best we have is the local Agricultural museum which gets boring quickly. Even then I still try to do little fun things with the kids - last week it was a bus trip downtown where we took pictures together and had a nice lunch in a restaurant, not fast food.

Anonymous New York said...

I love fruit salad and one of my favorite things about living in NYC is that there are fruit carts/stands on almost every street corner in the city. And the fruit is cheaper and often better than the supermarket. Mmmmm!

I love the Bronx Zoo, too. My husband took me there on one of our very first dates and on the day we got engaged!

Thanks for expressing your interest in the ice cream contest! I can't wait to get your entry!

Steph said...

Hey Holly, I gave you an award on my blog!

Prudy said...

What a gorgeous little picnic. I'd love that fruit salad for breakfast, and a cookie too if no one was looking.:)

Gabi said...

Wow busy Summer- congratulations on your lovemeet day anniversary! The sables, rolls and fruit look divine and hey I think those are "daredevil mad skills" too ;)

Gabi said...
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