Our farm and our ranch are lovely. The farm sits at the base of the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee and the ranch resides in the Adirondack Park in the High Peaks of Upstate New York overlooking the High Peaks Mountain Range. Both are gorgeous. But, farming and ranching is a tiring pursuit. All farmers and homesteaders will tell you that exhaustion is the companion to exhilaration; particularly in July.
In my quest to ‘get away’ for the evening last Saturday with my most amazing husband, I thought an ‘adventure’ was in order. Let’s find a beautiful restaurant in the mountains and enjoy some fine food and wine, I thought. We did this and it was fabulous to step away from the farm for an evening and simply enjoy each other by candlelight.
But, after paying the bill of $145 dollars for two people ( that’s $70+ dollars per person mind you) for wonderful organic dishes plucked right out of the restaurant’s own garden, I had the brilliant idea that I am sharing with you now.
First, I chuckled at the notion of such high prices for organic foods when I too have an organic farm with insane amounts of veges, fruits, goats milk and eggs. What this restaurant did SO WELL was made very interesting dishes and finger foods out of interesting cheeses (which I make), jellies (which I make), compote (which I will now make) and honey (for which I run an apiary). So, of course the light went on to do this myself and add a scenic drive to it !! — DO PICNICS INSTEAD! I thought. I can DO THIS!
The picnic idea is of course one of the oldest ideas in the book. But honestly, I think we are all too busy in our hustle and bustle lives to stop and do this. Also, many folks lack the knowledge of such things as making lovely compote to accent simple foods like veges and cheeses. Or, frying tempura style, fresh veges for outstanding finger foods with a kick and delicious flavor. Focusing on ‘taste’ once again, to me, is a thrilling adventure.
So, I began researching. First, I ordered this magnificant picnic basket.
Second, I researched romantic drives in the Smoky Mountains. Click here to see a link on some drives that are possible in the Smokies. https://www.smokiesadventure.com/smokymountains/outdoors/scenic-drives.htm.
Then of course, I began to research what specialty items I can make with all this produce I got from my garden just yesterday.
I am going to teach myself how to make very unique lovely organic finger foods similar to what we had the other evening at the outstanding restaurant Dancing Bear Lodges’ Appalachian Bistro. See the link here of the stunning location and restaurant. https://dancingbearlodge.com/.
Additionally, we have friends who own a vineyard here specializing in fine Muscadine Wine. And, we ourselves raise muscadines and apples as two of the many fruits we have on the farm. So, in my quest to make our romantic picnic and stunning scenic drive all it can be, I will learn to make our own wine, hard cidar and mead this summer and fall.
In my research on the subject of specialty foods I myself will make for our picnics, here are a few links to our various pinterest collections on the subject.
First, pickling is a wonderful finger food for a gourmet picnic – click here to learn how to do this. https://www.pinterest.com/HiBarRanch/pickling-ideas-from-your-garden/
Also, making compote and specialty jams and jellies are wonderful to accent your cheeses, meats, crackers and breads. Click the two subjects below to learn how to do this.
- Wild Jams and Jellies https://www.pinterest.com/HiBarRanch/wild-jellies-jams/
- Compote https://www.pinterest.com/HiBarRanch/compote-recipes/
My husband and I, now recently empty nesters, have set aside every Saturday for date night. Now, we have changed our evening into a 3/4 day of ‘adventure’ and ‘exploring’, instead. This date is now one of exploring nature in a scenic drive plus mini hike. On top of that, it will allow us to have a magnificant picnic in the woods and near waterfalls versus other humans. This allows us to get away and truly relax and enjoy the splendor of nature and splendor of each other. I couldn’t love my husband more and this is going to be my way to show him — every week. I am thrilled about this. Last, it will be an exploratory journey into food at a fraction of the cost of the same idea that top gourmet restaurants apply. My husband wants to contribute too, by making specialty cutting boards and picnic accents with his portable saw mill and wood working equipment. We also have a branding iron for our ranch/farm — maybe that can be added to the wood boards? Who knows.
Our dream, which we will be starting next year is building our own ‘roadster’ together. It’s my husband’s bucket list top pick. We’ll be building an old Ford coup (top goes down) similar to this picture below. So, our new picnic theme, partnered with the ‘cruising’ idea behind our effort to build this car, is really PERFECT. And, I even ordered the picnic basket to match the car!
My first experiment in delicacy through my own invention was pepperjack cheese with my homemade blueberry jam on crackers. AMAZING!! The blueberry flavors come through at the beginning (front of the mouth) and then the pepper ends the taste (at the back of the mouth) in one of the most rounded and well balanced flavors I could imagine. I was so proud of myself.
We are so used to sit down big meals in America. Europeans have truly mastered the ‘small plate’ of ‘exquisite flavors’. But, this is indeed the quest I am on.
My husband and I are both thrilled by our big ‘ahha’ moment and we can hardly wait until next Saturday for ‘date night’, now more like ‘adventure day’.
I hope this inspires you to get into the garden or the store and create romance for you and your spouse. You don’t even need your own garden to do this. Simply establish a relationship with your local farmer to pick/purchase his/her surplus produce. Or join a CSA, go to the weekly farmer’s market or stop at local roadside farmer stands. Then, bond with others and learn how to master ‘small plate’ and ‘exquisite’ yourself. What a treat for everyone you love.
Through your own ingenuity and willingness to take time to make special foods and find stunning drives — romance comes alive.
Happy romantic travels to each of you!!
~ God Bless! L. Davis