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How To Picnic In Relaxed Style + Peach Hand Pie Recipe

by Caitlin Kelch

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After a great holiday weekend, I was reminded of just how fun picnics actually are. Lounging in the grass and gazing up at fireworks and the stars, I felt like a kid again, only with whole grain bread and fancy mustard. Creating a relaxing, no-stress picnic doesn’t require a ton of thought, but taking 10 minutes to come up with a game plan can mean the difference between a comfortable outing and a stressful one.

Here are four helpful tips for a stellar picnic, plus some sweet accessories if picnicking in style and enjoying the great outdoors will become a regular occurrence for you. Also, it’s peach season — don’t miss Cheryl & Griffith Day’s Peach Hand Pie recipe after the jump, too! —Caitlin

Image above by Tinywater. Styling and design by Bash, Please.

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Tip #1: Location, Location, Location

Picking a good spot is fairly easy, since the beauty of the picnic is that it can happen anywhere! Important things to consider beyond the beauty of the location are shade, restrooms, insects, the weather forecast and permission. Once those things are covered, a soft throw blanket and a few pillows set the scene for a great outdoor meal!

Accessories: 1. Pillow from Serena & Lily | 2. Blanket from Target

Image above: Kirsten Ellis of Beaux Arts Photographie 

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Tip #2: Don’t Overthink It

If you find yourself spending way too much time finding the perfect spot, stop. Perfect doesn’t exist. Roll up your blanket or sheet and head to your own backyard or closest public green space. No menu planning, no worrying — grab whatever’s in your fridge and go, or pick up some take-out. The picnic is all about relaxing outside, not fretting about canapés.

Accessories: Backyard Hammock from Wayfair | 2. Picnic Basket from Food52

Image above: Kirsten Ellis of Beaux Arts Photographie 

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Tip #3: Don’t Forgo Essentials

There have been times when I’ve said “no” to packing glasses because my bag was full of non-essentials like three kinds of mustard. Don’t do this! While rushing out the door, you may think that sharing and swigging out of larger wine or water bottles is okay with you, but unless you’re picnicking solo don’t assume your fellow stargazers will be into that idea. Invest in some inexpensive acrylic glasses and stack them for easy transport. Also, never neglect to bring a portable sun umbrella because you think it’s too much to carry. If there’s any chance the shade could be filled in with sunlight as the day progresses, and even if you’ve packed SPF 1000 sunscreen, you don’t want to risk sunburn on any spots you missed while caught up in the revelry of the outing!

Accessories: 1. Pop Aqua Acrylic Glasses at cb2 | 2. Portable Sun Umbrella (similar) at Wayfair

Image by Tinywater. Styling and design by Bash, Please.

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Tip # 4: Atmosphere Extras

Depending on the time of day you plan to spend picnicking, it’s always nice to have some extras, like music and candlelight. A small radio (as opposed to a phone with a speaker) allows you to focus on the experience, not on incoming texts. A lantern with a battery-operated votive helps make the transition from sunset to dark with style, and can help you find your way back home without lugging a heavy flashlight or using your phone. Bonus tip: Leave the phone at home! Betcha saw that one coming!

Accessories: 1. Songbird Radio by Crosley | 2. Lantern from World Market

Image by Tinywater. Styling and design by Bash, Please.

And now for the pièce de résistance — Cheryl & Griffith Day’s perfectly portable Peach Pies! See (and make) this delicious recipe below.

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Baked (Not Fried) Peach Pies

Recipe from Cheryl & Griffith Day of Back In The Day Bakery

Peach Filling

  • 2 cups fresh peaches (about 5 peaches) peeled & chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon angostura bitters (optional but oh-so delicious)

Hand Pie Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons ice water, plus more as needed
  • 1 egg beaten plus 1 teaspoon cream, for egg wash

To make the filling:

1. Peel and coarsely chop peaches and toss them in 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.

2. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the peaches, brown sugar, bourbon, butter, cardamom, ginger and salt. Cook and stir over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved. In a tiny bowl, stir the cornstarch and 1 teaspoon of water and add it to the peaches. Cook and stir for about 10 minutes more or until the mixture has thickened and is glossy. Stir in the angostura bitters and transfer the peach mixture to a small bowl to cool.

To make the hand pie dough and assemble:

1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to mix.

2. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles course meal or peas. Work quickly so that the butter remains cool and does not melt into the flour.

3. Combine the egg yolk and 3 tablespoons of ice water and stir to mix. Add to the flour mixture and stir with a fork just until the dough clumps together and is moist enough to pat together with your hands. If the dough is dry and crumbly, add a little more ice water one tablespoon at a time, but just until the dough comes together. Do not add so much water that it becomes wet or sticky.

4. With lightly floured hands, gather the dough together, turn it onto a lightly floured work surface and form the dough into a ball. Divide the dough in half and flatten it with the palm of your hand to make two discs. Wrap each disc in plastic and put in the refrigerator to chill for at least one hour or up to 3 days.

5. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.

6. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

7. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pie dough about 1/4 inch thick. Cut eight 5-inch rounds with a cutter or a small knife. Place about 2 tablespoons of the peach filling on the right side of each round, leaving a 1/2-inch border.

8. Combine the cream and the egg in a small bowl and stir to mix. Brush the borders of the rounds with an egg wash and fold the left side of the dough over the filling so that the edges meet and enclose the filling. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Cut small slits into the top of each pie with a paring knife.

9. Place the pies on the prepared baking sheet, brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar (or one of our flavored sugars, YUM). Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.

Enjoy!

Cheryl Day is co-owner of the Back In The Day Bakery along with her husband, Griffith. In 2002, they opened their quaint shop in sunny Savannah, GA. Cheryl loves the process of kneading dough from scratch and making the crimps with her fingers. Cheryl's Chocolate Chess Pie is made with cocoa powder, vanilla and a dash of nutmeg to spice up this classic recipe.

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