Lots of yummy food ideas from many reunions:
The Kauffman-Overholt Family Reunion is held every two years at the country home of Charles and Jennie Kauffman in Goshen, Indiana.
Roberta Carpenter reported that the Kauffmans roast a hog for Saturday lunch and have a weiner roast picnic in the evening. All meals, including a continental breakfast, are served on ten eight-foot long banquet tables. A small ice-filled water tank cooled canned drinks.
For the Bulek Family Reunion, Janet Bulek, Yorkville, Illinois, asks each family to bring two of their favorite recipes for the family recipe collection. After the reunion, she types, prints and distributes copies to everyone on 3″ x 5″ cards. As an incentive to bring recipes, Bulek does a recipe card drawing for a homemade basket of goodies such as homemade jam/jelly, fresh garden produce, wooden spoons and recipe cards.
Please pass the potato salad
For eleven Skinner/Mcqueen Family Reunions people were never assigned specific foods to bring. “We just let the menu happen,” reported Margurite Tibben, Buellton, California. For the 1999 family reunion, the host provided barbecued Tri-Tip beef and chicken. Everyone else showed up with potato salad. We experienced the many flavors of potato salad and will forever hold this silly memory in our hearts dearly.
Those picturesque groaning boards!
When Kentucky Living magazine visited the Dean and Creech Family Reunion, they were impressed with the vast amounts of food. The family was described as keeping “up a tradition of delectable excess. …Serving tables fairly groaned with multiple dishes of corn pudding, sliced tomatoes, green beans, fried chicken, meat loaf, lasagna, chicken and dumplings, pot roast, dressed and picked eggs, coleslaw, potato salad and 28 desserts.”
A never-fail reunion salad
The Heiser Family Reunion includes 18 members; parents, their children and grandchildren. They are spread out all over the country and want to have more than letter and phone contact to have the children know each other. Reunions every couple of years are their solution. Sarah Windsor, Seattle, Washington, describes Heiser Reunions as “just joining our lives for a week.” They all stay in one big house and enjoy the togetherness and ins and outs of everyday life.
This recipe is a Heiser Family Reunion hit! Windsor says, “I have never served anything else that every single person liked! And it makes such a large amount that you don’t have to make a 10 or 20 times recipe unless you are having a really large reunion.” Each recipe serves approximately eight – in a one dish meal.
Club Sandwich Salad
1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
3 hard cooked eggs, sliced
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and sliced in julienne strips
2 T green onions, chopped
18 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 pound bacon, fried crisp and broken into large pieces
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup grated Co/Jack, Swiss or Monterey Jack cheese
salt and pepper
Ranch dressing (optional)
In a large glass salad or serving bowl, layer half the lettuce, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, layer eggs, chicken, green onions, tomatoes, bacon and remaining lettuce. Frost top with mayonnaise. Sprinkle with cheeses. Cover loosely and refrigerate up to 2 hours.
6 slices French or homemade-type bread
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Parmesan cheese, grated
Trim bread crust and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Saute cubes in butter and oil over low heat to dry and toast until golden. Sprinkle lightly with garlic salt and/or Parmesan cheese.
To serve, sprinkle salad with cooled croutons. Serve with Ranch dressing, if desired.
submitted by Sara Windsor
Cookies are everybody’s favorites. Many families ask members to bring cookies for snacks and desserts, as well as to show off members’ baking prowess. Often grandma had some very special favorites which everyone looked forward to, so anyone who has the recipe can make lots of friends.
Concentrate on special cookies and surprises. Make sugar cookies for cutting and use cutters with the initials of your family name or names. Serve for dessert or pack in cello bags tied with bright ribbons as take-home treats or for your fundraising raffle or auction. Yum.
We thought a Cajun crab boil sounded like a lot of good sticky, messy fun for all ages, particularly when we learned that the only rules are to eat, mingle and repeat as necessary.
Cover picnic tables with newspapers and down the center of the tables, place large galvanized buckets filled with fresh blue crabs, crawfish and shrimp, dirty rice, jambalaya and gumbo (plenty of napkins and plastic bibs; www.cajungifts.com).
Here’s a suggestion for a special reunion event. For a few extra dollars, create your own newspapers, then watch the reaction when cousins scan the headlines and realize they’re reading about themselves.
Don’t forget to make the music and dancing Zydeco played on scrub boards, tin spoons, fiddles, triangles and accordions.
It really takes a lot of help
When the Buet(t)schell family met in Texas, many family members from Texas took responsibility for making sure everyone was fed. Consider this list.
Marie and Tom Holsworth of Palacios took charge of the kitchen for morning drinks and snacks and all-day desserts. Sisters Diane Caddell of Kingsbury and Donna Culton of Mentz helped in the kitchen, as did their mother, Adeline Heintschel of Columbus. Many families contributed desserts.
The wonderful food was prepared by the Brod family under the leadership of Karen and Bobbie Brod of Cat Spring. Other family members who helped included Ray and Hazel Brod Braden of Alleyton, Marvin and Frances Brod of Cat Spring, Cecil and Beverly Brod of El Campo, Bobby and Irene Brod Morgan of Katy, Kent Brod of Cat Spring, Charles Harbich of Mentz and John Buettschell of Sealy. They charged actual cost for food; labor was their contribution to the picnic.
Their generosity helped meet most of our expenses from registration fees and donations. If we had hired a caterer, the meal would have cost at least twice as much.
Reported by Arliss Treybig, Buet(t)schell Family Reunion, El Campo, Texas.
Malsam Family Reunion enjoys
We stayed in a motel in nearby South Haven, Michigan, a short 15-minute commute to the lake place of our hosts, Tom and Lavetta Kazda. The Kazdas and a sister lovingly prepared favorite family foods before the reunion: sauerkraut and dumplings, spiced beef, pork loin roast, baked pasta with meat sauce and dozens of homemade gingersnap, peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. Everyone loved the food. Perishables were stored in two refrigerators.
For two days, we ate complimentary breakfasts at our hotel and feasted on one big meal at midday. Between meals, we grabbed leftovers, which simplified food preparation and serving. On the last day, the Kazdas cooked a hearty brunch before everyone departed.
Reported by Margaret Malsam, Denver, Colorado.
Can you help?
We received this query from Kathy in Florida and wonder if you have any suggestions for her.
“I have a family reunion in Illinois coming up. Everyone who attends travels some distance. I’m looking for new food ideas that are easy to travel with and fix. I can’t count on an outdoor grill at this resort. Can you send me some ideas of food that can travel, be different and good and easy to fix?”
We responded that we had no recipes specifically that can travel other than sweets and desserts. We suggested she check into catering, carry-out and deli foods. Rather than not counting on an outdoor grill, check and tell them it’s important.
What are your ideas? Email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A sparkling reunion salad!
Marilou Robinson reports, “Our family reunion menus pay tribute to our father’s Irish and our mother’s southern heritage. Several years ago, we featured a salad bar that reflected this heritage. The idea was a success – salads ranged from meat and/or fish combinations to pastas, fruits, vegetables, with both hot and cold dishes. We offered a choice of breads, and dessert was home-churned ice cream.”
Here is one of Robinson’s salads; simple, easy to transport and delicious.
6 cups shredded red cabbage
1 cup shredded radishes
1 cup raw shredded beets
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
Garnish: Red-leaf lettuce leaves
Toss vegetables in a large bowl. Place dressing ingredients in a small jar with tight-fitting lid; shake well. Pour dressing over salad and toss. To retain crispness, add dressing just before serving. Makes 8-10 servings.
Scampagnata (picnic!) Italiana
by Prof. Philip J. DiNovo
Almost every Sunday, our Italian picnics were held at my grandparents’ truck farm. Hoards of children drank pop chilled in a tub of ice. The men played murra and bocce. The women chatted about this and that. Italian immigrants were good cooks and my aunts were the best.
My grandfather raised most of our vegetables – basil, pole beans, eggplants, tomatoes and peppers. We ate lots of vegetables, often with pasta or cunzatti – bathed with garlic browned in olive oil. As I reflect, we had good, no, delizioso, peasant food. My favorite picnic menu included charcoal veal cutlets, pasta, vegetable dishes, homemade bread, vino, fresh-picked corn, fruit, Italian cookies and ice cream.
My grandmother bought a fifty-pound sack of flour and made bread twice a week. She had to bake quite a few loaves for sixty-some family members. My grandfather made his own wine; he would press boxes of California grapes. The aging process produced a wine that was my grandfather’s delight. And though there was plenty of vino at our picnics, I never saw anyone drunk.
So fortunately, I had a rich, full life growing up; I had a loving family made even stronger by those many picnics.