In a setting that might have inspired a painting by Corot, the picnickers at left are savoring the outdoor life near Front Royal, Va., at the country place owned by James Pomeroy Hendrick of Washington, Assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury. The stone house on the property, known as Willow Brook Farm, was built in 1780. Jim Hendrick and his wife Elinor bought the farm in 1942 as a weekend retreat for themselves and their three children soon after his leaving a law practice in New York to enter government service. Since then the energetic and creative couple have spent as much time as possible shaping the old place to their hearts' desire—establishing lawns and flower beds, planting trees and guiding a mile of stream into picturesque meanderings. The farm's 500 rolling acres have been stocked with polled shorthorn cattle and black-faced Suffolk sheep.
Washington friends whom the Hendricks invite frequently to Willow Brook are apt to find weekend life as active as the landscaping is romantic. The water is jumping with trout for the ready angler, and on the soft green lawns a game of bowling called cochonnet is often in play. A favorite pastime of Elinor Hendrick is shooting the rapids of the nearby Shenandoah River in an aluminum canoe. The adventurous guest who goes along can be certain of a ravenous appetite for the picnic luncheon under the willows which the Hendricks enjoy planning in fine weather.
A cloth is spread at some chosen spot along their grassy stream-bank, and delicacies are brought down in courses from the house. One of these alfresco meals on a recent weekend included cold cucumber soup, fried chicken, a green salad, homemade bread, cheese, watermelon, and coffee. Here is the recipe for the first course, an invention of Elinor Hendrick which is simple to make and delightfully refreshing on a warm summer day.
COLD CUCUMBER SOUP
(makes 1½ quarts; serves six)
Pare, seed and cut up 2 cucumbers (you need 2 cups of cucumber, finely diced). Bring to a boil in a saucepan with ½ cup water, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook gently for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, take 1 can of condensed cream of celery soup and beat into it (with rotary beater) ½ can of water and ½ can of milk. Stir in the hot cooked cucumber and add 1 can of beef consomm é. Now beat in ½ cup sour cream. Serve ice-cold with dash of paprika on top.