Country Kitchen: Family Reunion Meals

Country Kitchen: Family Reunion Meals
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Summer seems to be the usual time for family reunions, from small get-togethers for a few family members to large clan gatherings that last a weekend. One of the signs of hospitality generally seems to be the sharing of foods and recipes, from ancestorsÂ’ dishes cooked in a pioneer cabin to modern day quick ones in the microwave.
The Allen clan and related family lines gather each summer for their reunion, a one-day affair with large potluck meal. We also have smaller regional get-togethers with family members who canÂ’t travel, or who visit at a time other than the designated day. Always, we seem to gather for a meal, sharing memories, exchanging photos, and organizing games for the youngsters.

This year our reunion takes place at a cousinÂ’s farm, where the youngsters will enjoy a treasure hunt and nature trails for hiking. The usual exchange of stories, family information, and attempts to find missing ancestors will occur, too, along with fabulous food.

Planning Potluck Picnics

When our reunion began more than 20 years ago, each family brought their own food, either that which theyÂ’d prepared or wanted to cook on the grill. Gradually they contributed desserts to a sharing table. This has evolved into a potluck table as well as individual family foods.

Some reunion organizers like to designate what each family will bring so there wonÂ’t be more salads than needed, not enough desserts, and hardly any meat or protein dishes. However, weÂ’ve found there seems to be a good balance without planning.

This also enables each family to spend as much or as little time preparing. Some simply like to pick up deli meals and bring them along, eliminating cooking beforehand.

At some family reunions, they plan a catered picnic with each contributing their share toward the meal. However, this means someone has to organize and make sure they collect enough money to cover the costs.

Family Cookbook

WeÂ’ve collected favorite recipes from family members into a cookbook. Some also contributed the stories behind their recipes. These dishes might be some grandmother made, as well as those developed by todayÂ’s young brides.

Family members from various areas of the country enjoyed sharing their regional recipes. If time and facilities allow when they come for reunions, they often make these recipes to share.

THREE BEAN SALAD is a handy dish to prepare and bring to the reunion.

Using a 16-oz. can of each of the following (red kidney beans, cut wax beans, cut green beans, all drained) along with one medium pepper sliced into thing rings, one medium onion thinly sliced, layer them in a large salad bowl.

Combine ½ cup sugar, ½ cup wine vinegar, ½ cup salad oil, 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, ½ teaspoon dried tarragon and ½ teaspoon dried basil. (Some like to use less sugar.)

Drizzle these over the vegetables. Cover and chill, stirring occasionally. Before serving, stir, then drain.

Article (C) 2005 Mary Emma Allen

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About The Author

Mary Emma Allen researches and writes from her multi-generational NH home. Check out her new site, Tea Time Notes

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