Friends, fall will be here before you know it. This time of year, families take advantage of the tail end of summer by hosting reunions, big and small. When I was younger, it seemed like family reunions were more common than they are nowadays. From time to time, I’ll hear a friend fondly recalling how much those gatherings meant to them as a child. They usually mention wishing that their family still held reunions like in the good old days. I like to gently remind them that the responsibility for reunions today falls on the generation that enjoyed them yesterday. In other words, if you’re reading this and you have family, it’s time to plan a reunion.
The first objection I hear is that people are overwhelmed with the thought of cooking for a crowd; that’s where a little planning can go a long way. By choosing recipes that can be made ahead of time and letting your guests pitch in with potluck dishes of their own, the host is sure to enjoy it every bit as much as a guest.
This month, here are a few sure-fire recipes to help get you started. So get some paper handy, make out that grocery list, and get ready to gather the generations again.
Don’t you love those restaurants that have buckets of peanuts on the table while you wait on your food? I believe this stems from the old Southern tradition of boiling salted peanuts in a kettle over an open fire. It’s fun to greet your guests with a taste of yesterday while they get settled in. With all the kids in our family these days, and with time at a premium, I employ my Instant Pot to make perfectly boiled peanuts that taste just like they came from an old kettle. You can make boiled peanuts ahead of time, store in the fridge and microwave them when ready to serve!
Every generation has their picky eaters, so I like to make a batch of slow cooker spaghetti sauce — the perennial crowd pleaser — and a fresh batch of pasta served on the side. You can make this for a big family dinner, but if you decide on a potluck, it also fits in perfectly amid Aunt Grace’s casserole and MeeMaw’s relish tray! You can make this up to three days ahead of time and reheat or just pop it in the crock pot in the morning to have it ready by lunchtime.
Every cook wants to bring a dessert, and no reunion is complete without a table full of them! Bama Butter Cake is a scratch-made cake that is super moist, studded with pecans and drizzled with a sweet butter sauce. It practically comes with a no-crumb-left guarantee! Bama Butter Cake is actually better made a day or two ahead of time.
While you’re adding these recipes to your file, pull out some favorites from the good old days. When a family member calls and asks what they can bring, don’t be shy about asking if they’d like your great-grandmother’s recipe for a special dish that they, too, have fond memories of. The beauty of a family reunion is in treasuring memories of yesterday while making new ones.
The years are flying by. Take time to smell the roses, taste the casseroles and hug the necks of those dear to you. That, my friends, is how we live the good life.