Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Family reunion features foodie fest, favorite recipes, kitchen frolics***

"Food, glorious food," as the lyric from "Oliver!" goes.  The appetizers are being devoured as the main course is prepared.


The family gathers to nosh and talk and play -- here niece Aurora with her
daughter, Elliana, and at right, James, chasing Yorkie Nora.

WHEN ONE MENTIONS food and music, our family "comes big." That's the expression my grandfather used: "Come big or stay home." Everyone contributes a special dish or theatrical presentation when a family reunion is in the offing.
We grew up with violins, violas, trumpets, trombones, pianos, flutes, saxophones, clarinets, musical theater. We sang every Broadway score, from "The Sound of Music" to "The King and I," "Gypsy," "Guys and Dolls" and "South Pacific."
Breakfast time for Christena, in front,
and her second-cousin, James.
Sister Misha's "Famous Lemon Bars"  are always a hit.

We were also raised -- like many families -- with the kitchen as the center of the good times, the "first course" before the tunes.
Cookie's Famous Turkey Breast
is a family tradition, too.
FOOD AND MUSIC ARE the twin focus for all family fun. My sister Misha's lemon bars are part of every family reunion. Sometimes she sings when she serves them. (Usually the "Good Morning" song made famous in the movies by Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor.) Whether she's staying in a hotel, in a rented cottage or in one of our homes, she shops for the ingredients as soon as she and my brother-in-law David pick up her rental car. Then she prepares her delicious treats. here are never left-overs -- just crumbs.
My specialty is roast turkey -- a favorite of our late mother's and grandmum's and something no family fete is complete without.
Olivia makes a fantastic avocado pie and both sisters make superb green salads -- with berries, nuts, feta and raspberry vinaigrette.
Niece Amarylla prepares the dough for her "Famous  Bacon-maple Donuts."
I'D THOUGHT AHEAD -- arranging the paper stuff in pretty picnic baskets -- cups, glasses, silverware, napkins, plates -- again, to save time and keep our focus on visiting and enjoying one another. Keller and I hung balloons and put cloths on the tables.     
We'd also prepared several dishes ahead of time:  a huge tray of lasagna, a double-recipe of scalloped potatoes, dishes of baked beans, three jello salads, a fruit salad and a pan of brownies.We put out large coolers of iced beverages -- wine, beer, tea, sodas, lemonade, water -- ready and waiting for guests.
Great-nephew Connor readies the deep-fryer for the donuts. 
NIECE AURORA is famous for her lavish birthday cakes.  The vanilla lemon confection she made to celebrate all the Leos in the clan, was so heavy with thick Amish cream and filling that it toppled over in the frig! (We uprighted and relished it, to the last crumbs.)

 COOKING for four days for 30-plus people might have been daunting. It wasn't, because of all the help we had and because of prepping.
Everyone provided goodies -- fresh fruit, veggie trays, cheeses, appetizers, breads, cookies, "extras" -- lagniappes as they say in New Orleans. We set up the barbecue before hand, and placed borrowed tables and chairs.
While the barbecue cranks up, cousins pass paper plates
and arrange tables and chairs for the family reunion's finale.  
We provided main courses: that made-ahead lasagna, chicken, turkey, brats, hot dogs, hamburgers, turkey burgers and trout caught the morning of the first day of the reunion, by Keller and a neighbor. (Fishing license: expensive for out-of-staters.) Two of our party don't eat meat, but love fish.  Handy to have the Stillwater River near, although Keller paid nearly $80 for the license to catching a couple rainbows.

We'd put all the paper stuff in picnic baskets -- cups, glasses, silverware, napkins, plates -- again, to save time and keep our focus on visiting and enjoying one another. We hung balloons and had cloths on the tables.
Grand finale:  Famous Donuts laced with bacon bits 
and sprinkled with maple glaze, are a last,
 farewell hit at the family reunion.
      I"D MADE several dishes ahead: a huge tray of lasagna, a double-recipe of scalloped potatoes, baked beans, three jello salads, fruit salad and a pan of brownies.We'd also prepared large coolers of iced beverages -- wine, beer, tea, sodas, lemonade, water. Those were ready and waiting for guests.
                                                 WE ENJOYED several meals together, the last a morning brunch featuring my niece Amarylla's decadent donuts.  Deep-fried, they were a huge, fast disappearing hit. (We procured a deep-fryer for the occasion.  After frying, Amarylla sprinkled them with bacon bits (bacon, fried crispy and broken up) and maple syrup glaze. Talk about gilding the lily. Or as Oliver Twist asked, "Please, sir, could I have some more?"

Rain forced the talent show inside the garage, but didn't dampen spirits.
The family reunion featured nephew James on base guitar.
NEXT UP: Now, the entertainment. What happens when the family reunion invitation requests a talent contribution as part of admission?  Music, music, music.  A swing trio, a roast, a toast, a bittersweet farewell. Country songs, show tunes, jazz, classics and more. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Wednesdays and weekends at: www.whereiscookie.com

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