Saturday, June 11, 2011

Cooking Away From Home

I can't think of anywhere I'd rather cook than in my own kitchen.  But when I have to be the cook away from home - I've found (by experience) some things that work well.

Over Memorial Day weekend, my family (twenty of us now) took to the mountains for our own family reunion.  This is a tradition my husband insisted I put in place just before he passed away nine years ago.  Each of my six children take their turn (oldest to youngest) and we've had a wide variety of things planned over those years.  We like to stay overnight somewhere - usually only a few nights (so we still love each other after) - and it's totally up to my kids to plan and execute it.

In the past, I've provided the food.  But the past few years I've gotten smart and turned that over to my kids.  Depending on the setting & location - each of them are in charge of at least one meal (start to finish, cleanup included!)  I pay for the rental of the place we stay - and they get themselves there, and provide meals & entertainment.  That way I get to relax and enjoy my grandkids - nice arrangement, if I say so myself!

This year we stayed at a large cabin near Solitude Resort in the beautiful Utah mountains.  We weren't quite expecting a winter wonderland.  We woke up to 12" of snow on Memorial Day - but it was beautiful.  I'm adding a few photos below (I know I'm strange for not showing my 8 grandchildren's faces - I just don't want you to be jealous!)

I'm doing something I don't often do here - asking your opinion.  Are you willing to share your favorite vacation foods, tips for cooking on the road, and your favorite "reunion" ideas?

You can do this either by leaving a comment - or by emailing me  ( with your recipes, photos, links, tips, etc...  I'll post appropriate items if you are willing to share.

On the way to Solitude through Big Cottonwood Canyon.
See why I love Utah?

The stairway leading to the cabin we stayed in.

What we woke up to on Memorial Day.

My son Kyle has a culinary secret - RANCH dressing.
He adds it to boiled, mashed red potatoes, spaghetti sauce, and more.
You have to try it - it's the great "universal ingredient".

One of many "hikes" the grandkids enjoyed.
They loved climbing the snowdrifts.

One of many meals made by my kids - hoagies were a great idea.

One of the activities planned... guessing how many
candies, cookies, etc... are in each container.

My daughter-in-law Tara - awarding the "goods"
to those who guessed closest (but not over)

S'more's were made every night -
watched over by a black bear (a hit with the grandkids)

"Hunter's Stew" - a favorite in the dutch oven (made by my son & his wife)

With so much snow outside - guess what we did with the kids?

Love their creativity!  They decked out their snowmen
with bottle caps, sticks, stones - anything they could find
that wasn't covered in snow.

They didn't last long once the sun came out - but they were fun.

I'm glad I threw in the S'mores kits...

Whitney & Randy's specialty - blueberry & chocolate chip pancakes.
Wow... they were fantastic.  Chocolate chips... who knew?

Lots of time to expend a little energy.

Puzzles are one of our favorite activities.
Lots of time to visit as you are hunched over looking for that missing piece.
(My son's "tradition" is to hide one piece and make everyone
go crazy trying to find it till the bitter end, when he miraculously "finds" it)

The best part of my reunion this year - snuggling with my newest grandchildren.

Memorial Day is an important day in our family.
We always visit Dad/Grandpa - rain, (snow), or sunshine.
We made it a point to come down the canyon to decorate his grave.

Even the cemetery is great fun when the grandkids get together.

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