She was always very meticulous and precise in the kitchen, never a hint of chaos or hectic surrounding her. The perfect hostess at the several dinner parties held at the apartment overlooking the bay. Depending on the time of the day the sea shimmered all shades of blue and green. I would often watch her looking out of the large windows far into the horizon. In the kitchen she always looked so peaceful and in her element.
My mother never seemed at ease anywhere else more than in the kitchen. It was her retreat where she shut noise and turmoil out and replaced these with serenity and order. When it came to organizing and planning parties and other social events for their large group of friends, many would depend on her to replace mayhem with her systematical and calm order.
One of the things I remember fondly are the picnics she would organize. Whether it was at the foot of the Pyramids in Cairo, the beaches of Kuwait or in a Bedouin tent in the desserts of Qatar my mother would gather her friends and families together for an amusing and delicious day.
The warm breeze of early spring would entice us outdoors to spend long and lazy days in the sun, under lush green trees, playing ball games and cards. Somewhere in the distance an old cassette player would be strumming the tunes of ABBA’s Super Trouper. A floral print blanket, spread out on the sparse grass added a splash of color and the bubbly chatter rises a notch as wicker baskets are unpacked. Out emerge the incredible home-made treats, each one carefully prepared and neatly arranged on the blanket. Flaky puff pastry spread with cream and crowned with tangy raspberries, crisp salads, wobbly puddings, light cucumber and tomato sandwiches drizzled with a mint chutney or savory bites of mini pizzas and tarts. When the picnic baskets were empty the ladies would gather their men folk and kids around the picnic blanket and as praise and flattery flowed in all directions, my dad would wink at mum appreciatively.
These tiny moments I would catch from my parents have been inscribed in my memory: my mum humming in the kitchen or gazing out into the sea finding her moment of tranquility or my dad’s silent display of affection. Now, when I am filling my own basket with picnic fare, I think back to the several picnics I enjoyed with my parents, cherishing the memories of some faintly recollected moments and other crystal clear reflections.
For me picnics are a quintessence of summer and family time together. My parents created monumental memories for me and I hope to do the same for my son. We love picnics and pack our bags or baskets whenever time and weather allows us to. I cherish these few moments more now. With Tom working in Stockholm for 10 day stretches our time together is limited. There are times when one will want to laze around, the other will want to spend outdoors - picnics always solve that problem.
One of my favorite dishes for picnics are quiches and now when summer supplies us with ample produce to create many variations, there is plenty of room for creativity.
This quiche uses crunchy, green asparagus fresh from the market, highlighted with some divine smoked cheddar cheese I brought back from the Plate to Page weekend in Somerset and a trip to Brown & Forrest smokery. A spectacular combination.
Jesse Pattison the owner of the smokery stressed the point that smoking an item to the point where it looses its flavor is not something they believe in. And indeed the sublime flavor of rich cheddar with subtle notes of smokiness works so well when paired with delicate vegetables like asparagus. It’s magnificent picnic fare, together with some clotted cream berry tarts and some spritzig elderflower lemonade, you have the settings for a grand day with family and friends .
Talking about family and friends: Being part of the food blogging community had so many rewards but the one that I love the most is the friendships you make along the way. I’ve “known” Anne of Anne’s Food and Dagmar of A Cat in the Kitchen virtually for several years now chatting via Twitter or Facebook often, but we’ve never met in person. Now it’s all changing and I am excited. I’ll be flying to Stockholm with Soeren tomorrow to spend the weekend there with Tom. Anne has invited us all over to enjoy Midsummer meal with her, her family, Dagmar and her family on Friday. This for me is the essence of blogging and it makes me smile from ear to ear. I have packed bratwurst and prosecco for the feast and look forward to meeting old-new friends.
Have a great weekend everyone!
You might like these picnic ideas from WFLH:
|Spanish Tortilla with Asparagus, Fennel & Cress||Vol-Au-Vents - Ricotta Spinach Chicken||Dimpled Mirabelle Plum Foccacia with Lemon Poppy Seed Butter|
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