Country Kitchen: Family Reunion Food and Fun!

Country Kitchen: Family Reunion Food and Fun!

By Mary Emma Allen

As my family and I plan for our annual family reunion, we anticipate getting together with relatives we haven't seen for a year and some who'll come that we've never met. Reunions can be joyous times when families get together, share memories, create new ones, and feast on a variety of foods.

My mother-in-law remembers reunions of her childhood in the early 1900s and tells us stories about them. We have at least one picture of the Hayman group, more than 100 people, when Mum was a toddler. We try to take pictures of our reunions, some posed and many informal. When my husband's uncle organized the first reunion, nearly 20 years ago, he had photos of each family group and compiled them into albums.


I've become involved in scrapbooking and teaching classes, so am organizing some of the family photos in decorative albums and collages to display on the family memories table. Perhaps this will give others ideas about preserving their photos for future generations. These can be an accumulation of photos of past generations. Or you can collect photos of current gatherings. There are many ways of grouping them, even having different albums for different families, generations and activities.

Family Mural

If you have a large strip of paper, spread it out over a long table, or tape it to a wall. Or you can use smaller individual sheets. Encourage family members to draw pictures of their favorite memories. Children usually are eager to do this. They don't have the reticence about their art work that adults sometimes do. If they create individual pictures, these can be attached to a mural or simply posted on a wall.

Pot Luck Table

Even though each family group brings food for themselves, they all bring something for the pot luck table, an idea that seems to be expanding each year. We began with the sharing of desserts. Now each family contributes one or more main dishes, desserts, bags of chips, relishes, fruit bowl, soda, fruit punch, etc.

Having a great time visiting, playing games, reminiscing, and exchanging pictures and family stories contribute to the enjoyment of these family get-togethers.

PISTACHIO SALAD is a favorite my daughter makes for holidays and family get-togethers. It can be served with the main meal or as a dessert. Mix together a 20-oz. can crushed pineapple, one 3-oz. package instant pistachio pudding (use dry), one 8-ounce container whipped topping, 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, and 1/4 cup chopped maraschino cherries. You may add 1/2 cup miniature marshmallows, if desired. Chill until ready to serve.

BROCCOLI-CAULIFLOWER SALAD is a "make-ahead" dish. Layer the following ingredients in a 13x9-inch pan: 1 red onion, sliced; 1 head cauliflower, broken into flowerettes; 2 cups broccoli flowerettes; 1 pound bacon, cooked and broken into small pieces. You may add 1/4 cup raisins, if desired.

Mix together 1 to 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise or salad dressing, 1 - 2 teaspoons mustard, 1 teaspoon sugar. Spread over top of vegetables and bacon. Chill overnight. Just before serving, mix the salad.

(C) 2003 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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