It's almost summer, and I've been bitten. Not by a bee, but by the I want to have a picnic in the park bug...
It always sneaks up on me right about now, and I start dreaming of the perfect picnic, in a dreamy place full of pink and white cherry blossoms, soft green grass, a pond or waterfall, and meandering trails to spend all day exploring. With wine, cheese, berries, cookies, and other picnic foods.
Any of the lovely places pictured here will do...
Last summer, Jamie and I drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park, in pursuit of the perfect picnic spot. It's a bit of a drive from home, almost two hours, with steep winding roads thickly lined with rocks and trees once we get up into the mountains. I prefer to let him do the driving on those curving mountain roads.
We did a little hiking (well, walking, if I'm honest - we're not all that into trying to conquer all these mountains in Colorado), and drove around through various areas of the park, enjoying the sun and the warm weather, but the setting I had envisioned eluded us. There are no blooming cherry trees in the park, and the grass isn't soft, but prickly and wild. Plenty of streams and waterfalls, but too many people and picnic tables.
It sounds silly, but when we finally sat down at one of the picnic tables to eat lunch, too hungry to keep looking, a few tears sprang to my eyes that we were actually eating at a table, instead of on a blanket on the grass, with pretty petals falling all around us.
I'm sure it was one of those moments where Jamie was completely at a loss for the right thing to say, because really, what do you say to someone who would cry over an unrealized dream of a picnic? But then, I also cry at the end of Flashdance when she amazes the judges with her dancing, and when the lost little girl is rescued and the dogs and cat find their way home in Homeward Bound. I cry over Folgers and Hallmark commercials. And the pet shelter commercials with Sarah Mclachlan. Even the Chevy Sonic commercial. But he thinks that's cute, while crying over a picnic is just silly. Which, yes, it is.
Until it's warm enough, and stays warm enough for a picnic this summer (it only made it up to the 50s over the weekend), I'll content myself with arranging food on the carpet by our balcony door, where the light shines in, to photograph the things I've made, like these Lemon Blackberry Muffins. In that sense, we have a picnic right in our living room two or three times a week.
And any sort of picnic with my favorite person, no matter the setting, is already pretty perfect.
Lemon Blackberry Muffins
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 12 ounces (about 2 cups) fresh blackberries
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 2 tablespoons coarse Turbinado sugar
Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray then line the pan with 18 paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, yogurt, buttermilk, lemon zest and lemon juice until well combined. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring just until combined. Fold in the blackberries.
Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full of batter. Bake muffins for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool muffins in the pan for 5 minutes. While the muffins are warm, combine the powdered sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice and milk, then drizzle over the muffins. Sprinkle with the Turbinado sugar. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes before serving.
Yields 18 muffins.
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen