Winter Picnic

If you are like us, you are tired of being indoors all winter. It is easy to get into a cozy routine of work, quick dinner, Netflix, repeat. To break up the Birdbox watching and Marie Kondo drawer organizing, we suggest taking your winter Hygge on a picnic! We love the outdoors all seasons of the year and winter is no exception. Winter is typically known for the snow and frigid weather, but the chilly air has so much more to offer you and is begging you to come and enjoy. 

We call Oregon home and because of that, we are spoiled with the stunning Columbia River Gorge out our back door and seeing it in the winter has its own perks. You can hike and have entire waterfalls to yourselves, The mistiness of the forest makes it incredibly quiet and the streams rush a little faster giving you the perfect backdrop for some meditation time. There is a stillness that reminds us that we can find joy and peace when things are not as expected. 

With adventure in our hearts, a few of us packed up just a few items and headed to the Gorge to reset and take some time for nature and an epic lunch! We made a trestle with foraged branches and twine and roasted up some lovely winter citrus brined game hens, while supplementing with fire roasted brie crudité and finished with pears poached in chai. See a little more below about our menu!

Open Fire Winter Picnic in Columbia River Gorge

The hang game

String roasting your protein may seem a little intimidating at first, but if you have patience and a little bit of string, you can cook your meat to a smoke scented perfection. Make sure your chickens are securely tied so they don’t slip into your fire! But string them to hang above the flame and give them a little spin to start it out. For these game hens, we marinated them in a citrus brine, stuffed them with blood oranges, rosemary and garlic and seasoned them simply with salt and pepper.

Open Fire Winter Picnic in Columbia River Gorge

Sticks and Twine

Making this roasting rack is literally as easy as that! We foraged for two longish sticks for the base and buried it into the sand and connected them together with a sturdy branch at the top and tied it all together with twine. For extra measure, we added some river rock to the base just to make sure it was secure once we hung the chickens.

Open Fire Winter Picnic in Columbia River Gorge

A Winner Every Time

I mean, you definitely cannot go wrong with warm bubbly cheese, right? This is the world’s simplest but most heart warming recipe. We used a goat’s milk brie for this outing, but you can use any soft cheese that strikes your fancy. We grilled bread and winter veggies like radishes, carrots and endive. The smoke scented melted cheese on a charred piece of endive is pretty much a perfect bite!

Open Fire Winter Picnic in Columbia River Gorge

Chai Poached Pears

Can you ever go wrong with poached pears? The ease, the perfect deep richness of flavors and a touch of smoke! Ugh our mouths are watering all over again! For this recipe, our base was made of: Chardonnay, Chai, cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean. You can set it in your pot and basically forget about it (less the basting of the pear every 20 minutes or so) We tucked these beauties in our favorite Barebones Living cast iron dutch oven and cooked them over the coals until fork tender. Then we served them with a ball of burrata and a drizzle of the glorious poaching liquid.

Open Fire Winter Picnic in Columbia River Gorge

Feast time

When it was time to eat, we wanted it to be super casual. We broke out our warm Pendleton wool blankets for the base and dipped the roasted veggies right into the bubbly cheese. The game hen was so fragrant and moist, a perfect smokey accompaniment to the charred endive and veggies.

We had wonderful conversations sitting around the fire, enjoying our meal and cherishing the moments that we can be together: learn together and grow together. Inspiring each of us to appreciate each season of the year and each season of our life more fully. 

Have a way to appreciate the winter weather? Let us know below!

Open Fire Winter Picnic in Columbia River Gorge
Open Fire Winter Picnic in Columbia River Gorge
Open Fire Winter Picnic in Columbia River Gorge
Open Fire Winter Picnic in Columbia River Gorge
Open Fire Winter Picnic in Columbia River Gorge
Open Fire Winter Picnic in Columbia River Gorge
Open Fire Winter Picnic in Columbia River Gorge
Open Fire Winter Picnic in Columbia River Gorge
Open Fire Winter Picnic in Columbia River Gorge
Open Fire Winter Picnic in Columbia River Gorge