Picnics and Pecan Shortbread Cookies

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Ever hear of The Portland Picnic Society?  The members are writers and foodies from Portland, Oregon who have taken the family picnic to a whole new level. To encourage others to give it a try, they have written the delightful new book The Picnic: Recipes and Inspiration from Basket to Blanket by Marnie Hanel, Andrea Slonecker, and Jen Stevenson, with illustrations by Emily Isabella.

What draws your eye first is the bright cover.  Emily Isabella’s illustrations throughout the book are fresh, whimsical, and pretty. They give the book a wonderful flavor and tie everything together in a way that photographs might not.

Inside you find out that the book is based on four years of hands-on picnic experience. It has organizational tips, theme ideas, lists of pratfalls to avoid, and loads of recipes to make your next outdoor get-together a rousing success.

Highlights include a dozen ways to dress up deviled eggs, imaginative salads, 10 ideas for baguette sandwiches, main courses, beverages, and even how to use dry ice to preserve fresh fruit paletas. If a list of 99 uses for a Mason jar gets your creative juices flowing, then this book for you.

Not a fan of picnics? If this book doesn’t inspire you to give it another try, you will still find plenty of ideas for your next party of any sort.


The Savory Rosemary Pecan Sandies with Marmalade on page 48 sounded yummy, but I thought I could make them less complicated by modifying a treasured recipe for almond butter shortbread cookies.


Pecan Butter Shortbread Cookies

To make the pecan “butter,”

  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 2 Tablespoons you favorite vegetable oil
  • 2-3 Tablespoons water

Finely grind the pecans in a food processor. Drizzle in the oil and water to make the consistency of paste.


For the cookies,

  • 1 cup Earth Balance®, margarine, or butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup pecan butter (or almond butter, if preferred)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour


  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Grease a cookie sheet.
  2. Melt the Earth Balance® and mix with the pecan butter and brown sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  3.  Add the flour and mix well. The batter will be stiff and crumbly, but should form into balls by hand. If it doesn’t clump, then add another Tablespoon of water.
  4. For into walnut-sized balls and then flatten into cookie shapes with hands. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake about 16 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Notes:  This easy recipe is particularly child friendly because it does not contain eggs. The children can mix and sample the dough without worry about contamination.

Also, these shortbread cookies are not overly sweet. They pair well with the marmalade, as suggested in the book, or with jams or jellies.


The Picnic is the perfect book to inspire spontaneous gatherings at a park or an intimate al fresco meal in the back yard.

Check The Portland Picnic Society blog for more information and tons of recipes.

Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Artisan (April 7, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1579656080
ISBN-13: 978-1579656089

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Be sure to visit Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads for more recipes and books.




    • admin says:


      You are amazingly quick. I hadn’t even finished writing my comment on your post when yours came through 🙂

      As for Mason jars, in addition to serving as containers for salads, pickles, beverages, and desserts, they can also be used for such diverse things as vases, cookie cutters, and protection for matches and first aid kits.

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