Fall Picnic Essentials

If it weren’t for snow and ice, I’d have picnics all.year.round. But in the fall, especially, when my senses are already heightened and there’s an extra spring in my step, a picnic is the cherry on top.

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Dorset & Manchester, Vermont

Five years and countless return trips in, those first seasonal memories of the Green Mountain State have actually become more vivid, growing into a lifetime of adventures not yet taken. We come up frequently to our home away from home. In the green of summer, the warm glow of autumn, and the winter white blanket of snow. Each time we come we discover new adventures to be had, treats to be eaten, and sights (and sites) to be seen.

And isn’t it high time I share a few with you? Below are my all-time favorite picks for this most wonderfall time of year in the Dorset/Manchester area, just in time for peak leaf-peeping.

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Apple Cider Donuts

Autumn (n.): crisp air and the distinctly dry rustle of scarlet and golden leaves, cinnamon spiced coffee, pumpkins popping up on doorsteps, flannel and vests, long shadows and harvest moons, hay rides, apple picking and cider donuts…

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Bourbon-Ginger Pecan Pie

When I think of fall flavors, the three that immediately pop into mind are pumpkin, apple, and maple. And when I think of delicious holidays, the clear winner for me is Thanksgiving. Combine the latter two and you have the best pie I’ve ever eaten.

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As American as Strawberry Shortcake

The days are long, the weather is hot, and the fireflies are aglow. It can only mean one thing: Independence Day has nearly arrived. The Fourth has always been one of my favorite holidays, if not just because of the summer magic I associate with it. Sundresses blow in the summer breeze, watermelon slices disappear from a plate, the smell of charcoal wafts through the air. Patriotic tunes enchant parks from sea to sea, striped blankets create a patchwork quilt over large swaths of grass, and bright bursts of colorful sparks fill the night sky. It's simply the best

But what would summer be with out fresh berries bedecking every meal? Berries and cream are a must during these warmth summer months, and what better version exists than the strawberry shortcake? 

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Peanut Butter &... Ice Cream

It's National Peanut Butter Cookie Day today and I can think of no better way to celebrate it and these warm summer days than by making one of my all-time faves: the ice cream sandwich. (Eaten outside, picnic-style... What kind of frozen summer treat would it be if the ice cream weren't melting all over my fingers?)

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Roses Are Red Velvet

By the Way Bakery, a completely gluten- and dairy-free bakery recently opened its doors in Greenwich. (It turns out they already had three locations in New York, but I'm absolutely thrilled they ventured out to the 'burbs of Connecticut and opened up a local shop.) Though my diet is not dairy-free, the artisans here have definitely broadened their potential customer base as it's a common issue, especially among those who can't tolerate gluten. More importantly, I couldn't taste the difference...

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Dinner at Washington Prime

There is no shortage of great food purveyors around me as Fairfield County, Connecticut is endowed with access to the freshest ingredients, top-notch chefs, and knowledgeable and well-trained staff (a key component to the vulnerable food-intolerant guest). 

Washington Prime in South Norwalk (SoNo as it's fondly called) is one such gem. A new-American venue taking pride in steak, so there are consequently GF options available (at least if you're a beef-lover like me). They have a pretty substantial selection of gluten-free items, all clearly indicated by a nice red "GF" next to each, from apps to sides to main courses and desserts. This past weekend I was treated to a few of their tastiest GF offerings, and there was not one I wouldn't recommend.

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Prepping the Gluten-Free Pantry

I've already mentioned (maybe more than once...) that I'm quite unwilling to just give up every gluten-filled thing I previously ate simply because I'm now a gluten-free gal. Nor will I accept the notion that I must be relegated to whatever options are on the grocery store shelves. There are a ton of great options out there, but there is also a ton of room for improvement, and not as many reliable guides to steer you in the right direction (in particular, I've enjoyed America's Test Kitchen: How It Can Be Gluten Free). I still love baking (and actually being able to eat what I make), so the most surefire way to ingest those little goodies safely is by crafting them myself. Queue the necessity for a pantry full of staples I once wouldn't have given a second glance.

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