Country Kitchen: Family Reunions

Country Kitchen: Family Reunions

A Time for Making Memories

By Mary Emma Allen

Summertime means Family Reunion time for many families, a tradition going back for several generations. The our family congregates each summer, usually at a family memberÂ’s home. Somehow it has fallen to Jim and me to organize the festivities and write a periodic newsletter, with the help of other relatives.

As everyone gathers to share potluck, exchange news, add to the family history notes, provide pictures for the collection, and play games, we know itÂ’s a worthwhile undertaking that will keep the many branches of the family together and create memories for future generations.

Family Reunions of Many Types

My motherÂ’s family gathered each July 4 at a cousinÂ’s home for a gathering of her paternal relatives. On Memorial Day the maternal relatives got together at her familyÂ’s farm. As a child, I looked forward to these gatherings and enjoyed visiting with relatives we might see only once a year.

I look at pictures now of those days and reminisce about those people who played a role in my childhood. These family gatherings weren't large by some reunion standards, with 25 people at the most attending. But to me they were joyful occasions with each cook making her special foods.

Huge Family Gatherings

My mother-in-law comes from a background of large gatherings with more than 100 family members attending. She has one photo of her Hayman family around 1912, a large grouping of people of all ages.

ItÂ’s enjoyable to hear her tell the stories of those reunions when she was a child and young girl. Sadly, those family lines lost touch with one another and we only know the descendants of her sister. One of the enjoyable aspects of genealogy is finding some of those distant "cousins" as you trace your family tree.

Our Family Reunion

Our family reunion began 18 years ago when my husbandÂ’s uncle became involved in genealogy as a pastime when his health caused him to retire. He traced the descendants of his great, great grandparents, found the addresses of many of their descendants, and planned the first reunion.

More than 100 people attended. It was amazing to see the family resemblances in adults and children who had never met before. Enjoyment resulted in developing friendships with relatives we didn't know existed. Potluck Table The Potluck Table, where each family contributes a favorite dish, has evolved into food enough to feed everyone, even though each family brings some more food for their own needs. We have even developed a family cookbook with recipes and food histories contributed by many members.

"Mary, you're the food columnist. You can head this project," a family member suggested. So from there the cookbook evolved with the help of others. I often turn to this cookbook when I'm looking for recipes for our meals.

COUSIN POLLYÂ’S HERMITS - Cover 2 cups raisins with cold water and boil 15 minutes. Drain and let cool.

Cream together 1/2 cup margarine and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time. Sift together: 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, 1 teaspoon nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed ones. Add the raisins and 1/2 cup chopped nuts.

Pour into greased and floured 13 x 9 -inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 30 minutes until they test done. Cut into squares when cool.

(C) 2002 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing her "Cooking Column" for newspapers and online publications for 30 years and has compiled a family cookbook. SheÂ’s currently compiling a cookbook/story book, "Tales From a Country Kitchen." Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at

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