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by Paige Harbison February 17, 2017

All of us look for happiness in our lives by looking backwards, replaying memories and basking in the warmth of the joy they bring us. It's one thing to look back on a time with a friend, a loved one, or in a place that we loved. But how can we bring those moments back to us, when some are so hard to recreate?

One great way to lure good feelings out of thin air, is to break your memories into pieces and find the sensory memories we can carry with us. Sometimes it's a song we play in the car that reminds us of a time we had singing along with friends. Maybe it's a whiff of perfume or cologne we catch on the wind that reminds us of somebody. And sometimes it's food. Food stimulates our minds, our vision, our olfactory senses, our sense of touch, and of course our taste.

To find happiness sometimes, we must zoom in on those memories and retrieve the pieces we can have whenever we want them.

Today, it is raining. It's gotten cold out, quite suddenly, and I have no plans for the rest of the day. I've got to be up early tomorrow, so I can't stay up too late. It's a bit of a Nothing Day, basically. Nothing to look forward to or dread, it's just a day that will not likely be remembered in my own history. But I don't want the day to go by unnoticed by me, so I'm going to make myself a nice lunch that reminds me of a day that was one of my favorites.

Months ago, in the beginning of summer, it was hot by day and sweater-chilly by night. I'd just gotten back from three days out of town and was low on money, and so was my friend. We had tickets to see a band play at an outdoor venue, and had decided to bring a picnic rather than try to get to a restaurant and sit in rush hour traffic during an even worse time.

We got to the concert later than we wanted to and our lawn seats didn't have a good view of the stage, but it didn't matter at all. We laid out our picnic blanket, pulled out the first of two bottles of wine, and settled in. I pulled out all our snacks while he took a corkscrew to our Cabernet Sauvignon.

Though we couldn't see the concert and I hadn't brought a sweatshirt, the night was perfect. For two hours, we chatted and listened to the music and each other's stories. I would talk, and he would drag a slab of creamy cheese over a torn piece of French bread. He would talk, and I'd construct a miniature meal from prosciutto, bread, honey, and a spicy fruit salsa I'd made. We never got full,we merely got to enjoy our food, the night, and each other, for the entirety of a concert.

Today, as it is cold and ugly out, and I refuse to accept anything but to find joy in the day, we had an indoor picnic. I threw a Cat Power album on the record player in the corner, lit some candles, and let the pale grey light from the rainy day pour in.

Moral of the story? Create your happiness with what you have, picnics are great inside or outside, and you must always have cheese.

Since it's getting a bit cold out, here's a packing list for the perfect indoor picnic: 

  • One baguette: Soft enough to tear, don't let it be stale, pick up the day of!
  • 1-2 creamy cheeses: brie and/or chevre
  • One hard cheese: Strong parmesan or cheddar, or your preference. Strong flavors are essential when having a picnic, since you are forming tiny, perfect bites all along the way!
  • 2-3 kinds of meats: Thinly shaven prosciutto, cured sausages
  • Honey: Honey goes wonderfully on most cheeses and meats. The floral sweetness is a nice balance, especially with a peppery meat. Many markets sell honey for cheese (lavender honey is very nice!), but a regular honey from your cabinet will work too in a pinch (local honey is always best-save the bees!).
  • Jam or chutney: Whatever you like! A pepper onion relish works nicely and adds a nice savory, fruity flavor.
  • Apples: For when you know you've had just about enough bread, but aren't finished stuffing your face and need a new vehicle.
  • Grapes: Always a nice, easy snack, and goes perfectly with cheese.
  • Wine: Unless you abstain, wine is an essential ingredient in a picnic basket to this writer. Rather than fuss with bringing along a cooler of ice, it's most convenient to bring along a red wine (which doesn't need to be refrigerated) or a mineral white wine that does well at temperatures warmer than an ice bucket. A Torrontes is a very flexible white, and actually tastes better when not ice-cold. When it gets really chilly, consider mulling a wine and packing it in a thermos!
  • The Extras: Napkins, a candle (might seem like an extravagance, but is actually easy and a nice element!), a blanket, a knife or two for spreading, and cups for wine!

If you're interested in making your own cheese, check out our cheese making kits and supplies.

Photo by jariceiii. Used under Creative Commons license.

Paige Harbison


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