Project Food Blog Challenge #6: Anniversary Picnic + a Recipe

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Today is my second wedding anniversary. On October 24, 2008 Steve and I were married in Millcreek Canyon near our home in Salt Lake City. The weather was perfect, the fall colors were at their peak, and it was the most beautiful day.

And it’s been two wonderful years.

For this next round of Project Food Blog we were challenged to take a meal on the road. Since it happened to coincide with our anniversary, we decided it would be fun to take a picnic up Millcreek Canyon and celebrate the occasion.

Of course, the weather two years ago was extraordinary. This year, we weren’t so lucky. The forecast called for a weekend full of rain and cold temperatures, even snow in the mountains. So we packed up some extra blankets and a big umbrella with our meal, waited for a break in the weather, and made the most of it.

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It had rained all morning, but for the moment it was lovely. Overcast and chilly, but nice enough weather for a fall picnic.

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We set out a blanket on a bed of fallen leaves, opened a bottle of champagne, and enjoyed a casual lunch together.

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We had mini quiches with spinach and bacon, roasted cream of tomato soup, pears, and raspberries from our backyard. The meal was light, delicious, and perfect for a picnic.

I baked something special for dessert. When we were in Venice last month we were given cookies at the end of dinner while dining out one evening. They were in the shape of an “S”, soft, and buttery with a hint of lemon. I thought they were amazing.

As far as I can tell they’re called Venetian Butter Cookies and they’re sort of like a cross between a sugar cookie and shortbread. But don’t let their simplicity fool you, they are very addictive. The one recipe I was able to find turned out remarkably close to the cookies we enjoyed in Venice, and they were a nice end to our casual picnic. For fun I baked the cookies in both A’s and S’s, for Annalise and Steve. It was our anniversary, after all.

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Almost on cue, while we were finishing our cookies the heavens opened up and the rain came pouring down. We quickly gathered up our picnic and rushed to the shelter of the car.

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The picnic was short, but successful nonetheless. It reminded me of our wedding day two years ago in that very place, and made me appreciate the life Steve and I share together, rain or shine.

Venetian Butter Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 2 dozen cookies

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 egg yolks
3 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla, lemon zest, and salt and beat for a minute to combine. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing after each. Add the flour 1 cup at a time, mixing until just combined after each addition.

Take a walnut sized piece of dough and roll into a ball, then use your hands or a flat surface to roll the dough into a rope about 5 inches long and 1/2 inch thick. Shape the dough into an “S” and place on the parchment lined sheet pan.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until they just start to turn golden. Cool on a wire rack.