A New Pastoral

A quarterly home cooking journal by Ann and Glenn Suokko features recipes from their kitchen and seasonal images from their home in Vermont.



The New Year may formally start on January first, but in Vermont it seems to start in early May, where and when everything outside suddenly turns from winter-worn brown to tender-fresh green—and even more green, and more variations of green, overnight each night of the month. It is a concentrated time before the weather warms up and the black flies get hungry, and when mornings are cool, middays are warm, and nights are often cold, but not freezing cold. In the meadows and woodlands, green shoots rise up from the ground everywhere, and unfurl their leaves and delicate flowers. It feels like the new year has finally begun and I swear that May sixteenth is the most beautiful day of the entire year—certainly a cause for a celebration.

Years ago, I remember reading A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh to our two young children, always caught by one particular line that Pooh said to Piglet, “Food always tastes better outside.” Pooh’s declaration inspired our daughter to head outside with a blanket and a basket filled with sandwiches, apples, and cookies, as she held her little brother’s hand and they made their way to settle in under a favorite apple tree.

As perennial children that many of us are, before and after a picnic in any remote, inspiring spot we choose to settle down, it is great fun to explore the land by taking a walk or getting down on our hands and knees to view nature close-up. In this issue, we share some of our discoveries of tender young plants, a few signs of when spring unfurls, and it is time to set out on a picnic.

A well-planned picnic is a generous and special event to prepare and organize. Savoring a cleverly orchestrated meal outside is like taking a mini-vacation where everything seems far away, and everyone feels taken care of—an uncomplicated time for family and friends to spread a blanket, relax, and eat delicious things unpacked from a nice, old, wicker basket, or a smart, new, efficient cooler. In this issue, Ann has composed a picnic menu that is compact when it comes to packing up and bountiful enough in items that may require two baskets and a few hands if you also bring a bottle of wine or beer and glassware. Regardless if you find that special spot under an oak tree or on a hill with a spectacular view, you can always make your own picnic right where you are. Just step outside. GS