Whew! I made it through another one! I thought I might explode from all the carb-y goodness, but thanks to the game of H-O-R-S-E I played with the kids and a couple of short walks, I think I escaped any lasting damage.
We didn’t have a large crowd this year, which is sad. Even sadder, other than the kids, I was the youngest person there. It made me realize that as our elders leave us, we probably won’t have these gatherings anymore. People have job pressures and kids have baseball and families have vacations. When the older folks were growing up and even after they started their families, the family reunions WERE the summer vacations.
Fewer people meant less food, which was good. Unfortunately, it didn’t mean fewer calories. The menu included fried chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs (a.k.a. The Trinity of Family Reunion Foods in the South), barbecued ribs, boiled shrimp, corn (two ways), baked beans, some kind of chicken casserole things, and rolls. Oh, and one of my contributions: Belgian Salad, which I made using EVOO, apple cider vinegar, and only 1/3 cup of sugar. (You’ll have to follow the recipe link for that to make sense.) People seemed to like it, but I think when I make it again, I’ll substitute black beans for the peas. And honestly, I think it could have used just a titch more sweetener. (If you go the artificial sweetener route, I’ve also had it made with Sweet&Low at a friend’s house, and there was no aftertaste.)
Our dessert table was crowded this year: Cousin Carol’s traditional Caramel Cake(yummy!), Mississippi Mud Cake, Pecan Pie, Blonde Brownies, and my two contributions: Red Velvet Cake Balls & Pineapple Upside Down Mini-Cupcakes
And yes, one of those cake balls does have a bite missing. I did that strictly for demonstration purposes.
The cake balls were the hit of the dessert table! In fact, I had to go out to the car, get my computer, and email all my cousins the recipe right then! I’m glad they enjoyed these babies, though, because I destroyed my kitchen in making them. White chocoloate bark everywhere! I used Red Velvet cake mix, but I substituted applesauce for the oil called for on the package. It tasted fine. I doubt I’ll make these again in the Red Velvet version (I didn’t think about the red dye chemicals–duh!), but I’ve got some other variations in mind for Christmas. (Okay, I won’t make you wait–I’m thinking chocolate cake with crushed peppermint or crushed peppermint Kisses!)
The pineapple cupcake recipe was written for the full-sized cupcakes, and I tried to minimize them into 2-bite treats, which didn’t translate well using pineapple tidbits. The tidbits take up valuable cup real estate that I needed for cupcake batter. As a result, I over-filled the cups which meant they puffed up too much to sit flat. Oh well, if I make these again, I’ll switch to crushed pineapple or I’ll just make them full-sized.
One of the reasons I chose the desserts I did was because I was searching for 1-2 bite servings. Some years we have lots of desserts and some years not. In the abundant years, most folks take a sliver of several desserts. I figured I’d do the slivering for them.
I managed to sliver my way through the dessert table (skipping my own dishes since I’d tasted them waaaay too much the night before), taking a little taste of each. They were all good, but a little bite was all I wanted. (Disclosure: after the basketball game, I went back for a bite of Carol’s cake, at which time I also ate a broken corner of a brownie.)
One of my cousins asked me if I wasn’t afraid I would gain weight eating these kinds of foods. She hadn’t been there the year I skipped everything, so I explained to her how I had hurt some of the older folks’ feelings by not enjoying what they had created, and how that experience re-shaped how I view events like this. To see my 90-years-old-next-week grandmother blush with pride over everyone’s compliments on her corn and baked beans, or to see Carol do her modest oh-stop hand flip when I brag on her cake is worth every single calorie.
Plus, as I told my cousin, the gym and the turkey-tuna-chicken routine will still be there tomorrow. Which is today, which means I need to get busy.
So to sum up: good food, mostly good conversation (I’m pretty much the only liberal in the family, so I had to do quite a bit of table hopping to avoid some discussions), and memories shared. That’s the whole point, to me, of going through it. These older folks have some great stories to tell, and they deserve to tell them. And I deserve caramel cake once a year.
Hope you all had a lovely weekend! I’ll be catching up on my reader this evening!