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A Musical Feast: The Tanglewood Picnic and a Recipe for Whisky Sours that serves 106!

Tanglewood.Cover

As summer turns to fall, it is time to celebrate with at least one last giant picnic. If you are looking for inspiration, you will find it in The Tanglewood Picnic: Music and Outdoor Feasts in the Berkshires, a book that honors this grand tradition since its beginnings in 1937.

If anything brings people together as much as food, it is music. In Tanglewood these two traditions are intertwined. Each summer, 120,000 music lovers flock to the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer home in Lenox, Massachusetts, to picnic during concerts.   Over the years, attendees have been serenaded by some of the world’s greatest musicians including  Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copeland, Yo-Yo Ma and many popular artists including James Taylor.

In the old days, simple picnics of sandwiches, soda, and cookies from Blue Heaven Turkey Farm, Samel’s Deli, and Angelina’s Subs were the norm. Al fresco dining at Tanglewood took a gourmet turn in the 1970s and ’80s with the establishment of Nejaime’s Wine Cellars, Crosby Catering, and Guido’s Fresh Marketplace. Nowadays everything goes–from casual grab-and go-sandwiches, paper napkins, and finger foods to fancy fixings complete with lace tablecloths, candelabras, and crystal goblets. Many picnickers have their own picnic food and drink traditions—from lobster sliders to signature cocktails.

Author Gina Hyams moved to the Berkshires ten years ago and became enchanted with the grand Tanglewood picnic ritual—how it’s both fancy and populist. She loves the magic of “lying on the picnic blanket and watching the moon rise and the stars come out as music fills the air.”

Like a beloved family heirloom, the tradition of picnicking at Tanglewood is passed down through generations. While researching this book, Gina met countless people who were first introduced to Tanglewood as children and who now share the experience with their own children and grandchildren.

Gina has written 12 books, but this is the first she has published under her imprint, Muddy Puppy Media. She  wrote and published the book as a kind of “collective love-letter” to the tradition of Tanglewood picnics. The book contains 150 photographs of picnickers from the 1940s through the present from the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives and from audience members’ family scrapbooks, plus a dozen classic recipes and the ultimate picnic checklist of tips compiled from expert Tanglewood picnickers. Gina says about the book, “I hope it serves as both a tribute to past picnics and as an inspiration for future ones.”

Happy picnicking!

The Tanglewood Picnic: Music and Outdoor Feasts in the Berkshires by Gina Hyams. Published by Muddy Puppy Media 2015.

Country Curtains Tanglewood Picnic Whiskey Sour Punch

Yields approximately 106 servings

Country Curtains has held its annual employee Christmas party at Tanglewood since 1968. Company founders Jane and Jack Fitzpatrick established the “Christmas at the Pops” tradition because they thought the December holiday season was so packed with parties, Christmas in the summertime would be a treat. They decorated their Tanglewood company picnics with red and green balloons, holiday napkins, and candles—a custom that continues today. Sometimes, even Santa and Mrs. Claus join the festivities.

2 1/2 gallons water

2 (24-ounce) packages Timmy’s sweet and sour cocktail mix

3 (12-ounce) cans of Minute Maid frozen lemonade concentrate

3 (1.7-liter) bottles of Seagram’s whiskey

Garnish

About 12 oranges, cut into half-moon shaped slices

3 (16-ounce) jars of Haddon House maraschino cherries

Ice

Pour all of the ingredients into a large insulated beverage jug and stir with a long spoon. Fill a punch bowl with ice, punch, oranges, and cherries. Add additional orange slices and cherry garnishes to each serving as needed.

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Party with Pizza Dough! How to Feed a Crowd on the Cheap with The BrokeAss Gourmet

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Gabi Moskowitz (aka The BrokeAss Gourmet)  knows how to throw a party on the cheap. One of her secrets: Pizza dough. She made this discovery years ago, when she made a big batch to bring to a party and the host cancelled. What was she going to do with all that dough? It turns out, a lot. The next morning she twisted the dough with butter, cinnamon and sugar to make cinnamon rolls; that night she made naan to go with Indian curry. After that, she made bagels, calzones, empanadas, and more, the recipes for which, are captured in her wonderful new book, Pizza Dough: 100 Delicious, Unexpected Recipes.

Gabi has a lot to celebrate! In addition to her new book, the pilot for her show Young and Hungry was just picked up by ABC Family. The show, loosely based on Gabi’s life and starring Emily Osment is the story of a feisty young blogger who “not only has a true gift for cooking, she has the ability to figure out what people want to eat.”

This was certainly true of the book launch party. Gabi arrived at my house with five pounds of dough at 5pm. By the time the guests arrived at 7pm, the table was filled with pinwheels, flatbreads, and kale salad for thirty.  While the guests chatted and ate,  Gabi continued to pull pizzas (and me up after I slipped on a piece of kale). The finale: freshly fried mini-doughnuts rolled in cinnamon sugar.

Illustrated with gorgeous photographs by Frankie Frankeny, the book is both beautiful and practical and will be your go-to for delicious, easy, inexpensive entertaining.

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Published by Egg and Dart Press

Pizza Party Pinwheels 

Gabi used homemade tomato sauce, fresh basil and Provolone to make a big batch of crowd-pleasing pinwheels. But you can use any number of toppings and sauces to suit your taste. This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled and these pizzas are portable so you can bring the party with you!

Yield: Makes 20 pinwheels

Flour for baking and rolling

1 pound pizza dough (either from scratch or store-bought, brought to room temperature)

1 cup sauce (tomato, pesto, red pepper even cooked sweet potatoes pureed with spices like ground chilies or curry powder)

1 cup shredded or crumbled cheese (Provolone, goat, aged white cheddar, fresh mozzarella OR feel free to skip the cheese if you are vegan/dairy-free)

1 to 2 cups toppings  (caramelized diced red onions, spinach or fresh basil or anything you’d put on a pizza, from cooked/raw vegetables to chopped salami or ham–just make sure it’s cut into small, bite-size pieces)

Salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly flour a baking sheet and set aside.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pizza dough out into a large rectangle, about 14-by-10 inches and spread the dough with the sauce. Sprinkle the cheese and scatter the toppings over the sauced, cheesed dough (remember not to go too heavy). Top with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. Roll the dough up the long way, pinching as you go to ensure a tight seal. When you finish rolling the dough, you should have a 10-inch log.

3. Use a sharp knife to slice the log into twenty ½-inch-thick pieces. Lay each slice on the prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, 18 to 22 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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