Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Reunion Food (& Fun)

"A vacation is one-third pleasure, fondly remembered ~
and two-thirds aggravation, entirely forgotten."
 - Robert Brault

Spoiler alert... no actual recipes in this post (but there are links to past ones)...  Here are a few ideas for ways to have a little fun with the (usually) dull task of providing food to feed a crowd in a family reunion setting. 

There is nothing more important in my life than my family - it is as important as my religion.  The success of my family is worth any amount of effort I can make.

My husband felt strongly that it was really important that our children, their spouses, and our grandchildren have a yearly family reunion.  He actually put this in writing a few weeks before he passed away - and I've tried to follow through with that tradition these past 11 years.  It got off (quite frankly) to a rough start, but is now starting to reap rewards for our family.  The grandkids look forward to it the entire year, and we are always on the lookout for new ideas to use.

Each of my six children take a turn, in order, each year being in charge.  I give them a budget for the rental of the place we stay - and they choose, book, and arrange it with everyone's schedule about 6-8 months in advance.  (Not a small task with 12 adults and 11 grandkids = 23 people... and still growing)  Some years we have it in the winter, but most of the time during the summer months.  We take (LOTS of) pictures and make a reunion video that I burn onto a DVD for each family.  One of my daughters family watches past years' videos on the way to the NEXT reunion.

That's just the beginning of delegating though.  The one in charge assigns parts of the reunion out to their siblings & spouses.  They delegate meals, activities, games, etc...  Each meal is taken care of by one of my children and their spouse.  We love to have Minute-To-Win-It competitions - and try a few new ones each year.  We do have our favorites that are expected & looked forward to each year also.  Last year I had some trophies made and we rotate them now - so a new person has it each year.  Of course, we document it with pictures & video - so fun to look back at.

A really fun thing we've enjoyed is a friendly food competition.  We give the "Good Eats" award to the one who made a fantastic meal that everyone loved.  Then we have what we call the "$10 Challenge".  Wherever we are staying usually has a small town market.  I give each couple $10 and they have to come up with something at the market under $10 to accompany the evening meal the last night of our reunion.  We've had some pretty amazing entries.  The kitchen is really humming that last night.  (This year was easier than in the past - as everyone has a smart phone & uses Pinterest!)

I'll post the recipes if I can get them from my kids... they were really fantastic!  Here's a little tour through the Petersen Family Reunion in Heber City, Utah a few weeks ago.

Our first meal was a Pasta Bar.  My 21-year old son Chal, and I were in charge of this meal.
Red & white (& cheddar cheese for the little guys) sauces, ravioli, elbow mac, bow tie, spaghetti,
Italian sausage, meatballs, parmesan, mozzarella, baguette bread w/dipping oil, Olive Garden salad, etc...

We bought (super cheap) paper plates and placed them on the dishes from the cupboard.
Sturdy enough to hold a lot of food - but then you could throw the paper out & no dishes!

Everyone had to try several combinations.

One Minute-To-Win-It for the little ones was a minute to
put together cereal box puzzles.  They loved it!

The grandkids favorite Minute-To-Win-It is shaking ping pong balls from
empty tissue boxes tied to them.  (Pretty fun watching the adults on this one too)

Face The Cookie - moving a sandwich cookie from your forehead to your mouth
without using your hands.  Lots of sweet facial expressions - and the cookie is your reward.

My second-oldest son Kyle, and his wife Rachel were in charge of the reunion this year.
(shown after the "Paper Dragon" Minute-To-Win-It game... pretty fun)

My daughter Whitney & her husband Randy are now expected to make their signature
Blueberry, Raspberry, & Chocolate Chip Pancakes (with bacon, of course) every year.

The kids love decorating their mountains of pancakes.
(Notice that Whitney saves prep-time by bringing her pancake ingredients in
a plastic ice cream pail - then adds egg, oil, and milk last)

I loved what my little granddaughter said when she saw this.
"Grandma - there's a BABY GIRAFFE outside!"
(Long ears + little horns = giraffe, in her mind!)

My daughter Aryn brought dollar-store plastic animals, insects, etc...
and froze them in old cottage cheese & cool-whip containers in colored water....

The grandkids LOVED excavating their ice blocks!

Love that smile he flashed when he saw the shark coming loose.

A few of our future engineers using water power to blast their critters loose.

My son Tyler attached cheap plastic colanders to old bike helmets so the kids could...

Catch water balloons on their heads!
So much fun - and they were so GOOD at this.

You've seen the classic timed water balloon popping game?

We love this fresh fruit salad (made by my son Tyler & his wife Tara)
Soooo good on a hot day.  And couldn't be easier to make.

Hunter's Stew is one of our favorites - and cooks slowly in the background all day
either in the crockpot, dutch oven, or oven.
(*No time for "food staging" - or making our food camera-worthy this week)
We always have a "Petersen Derby" of some kind every year.
Last year we took eggplants (Zucchini were not in season yet) to the beach and let the kids
find all kinds of feathers, sticks, etc... to make boats to float.  This year - we had our own Ducky Derby.
All of us decorated one - some with a little help from Grandma and/or their parents.

Our evening Family Home Evening campfire / testimony meeting.
A highlight that we will remember for a long time.

My son Chal (right) demos how to properly dip an Oreo
(by inserting a plastic fork into the frosting)
He learned this from companions on his LDS mission to Seattle.
No milky fingers!  Genius...

The Make-Ahead Breakfast Croissants we make when we are in a hurry to eat in the morning.
(A lifesaver when we had to get up early for family pictures one morning)

I must say... these ducks for the derby were pretty creative!

My daughter Melyn & her husband Cam made pulled pork in the crockpot
for an easy, stress-free lunch while we played all day.
Pork loin + root beer in crockpot, then drain and add BBQ sauce.  Easy & delicious!

Since it was 104° that day, we decided to forgo going to the reservoir.
Went to the local store and bought a slip-n-slide & a small inflatable pool.
This was an easier way to race the ducks in our derby on such a HOT day.

These crazy looking vests were a LOT of fun to have a
MEGA water fight.  There is a small reservoir with a measuring gage
in the front of each vest.  When someone shoots you in the vest, the water
begins to fill.  When the orange ball reaches the top - you're out.

Pretty tough looking teams.  The kids (of all ages) went a little crazy.

Just add water.  We used our extra coolers for filling stations around the yard.

But some people have to get the advantage (the hose)...

The $10 Challenge begins.
My daughter Whitney making her Parmesan Zucchini Chips.

My daughter Aryn got creative with a zip-loc bag and some melted chocolate chips
to make these sweet stars for a garnish for her dessert.

My daughter-in-law Tara making cheese filled cucumbers with a great garnish.

My daughter Melyn gets ready to wrap her broiled asparagus with bacon...

Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus With Balsamic Glaze

Cheese Filled Cucumber Bites with Garnish

You can't forget the Deviled Eggs from the leftovers...

Parmesan Zucchini Chips

Cinnamon Chips with Strawberries, Cream, & Chocolate Stars
Nobody went away hungry tonight...
My daughter Aryn & husband Travis grilled the chicken (made from our family recipe) & potatoes...
The rest of the feast came from the $10 challenge.

The youngest grandkids started to drop like flies on the 3rd day...
Fell asleep on the front porch right before dinner.

Happy faces on the last night as we gave out trophies.

Even the adults (my oldest son Tyler) get a trophy.

My son-in-law Travis won the coveted "Big Guns" trophy
for dominating with the water guns during the water fight.

My daughter Aryn claims the "Iron Chef" award for winning the $10 Challenge.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this awesome tradition. What a blessing families are and what a great job you are doing to keep everyone connected and creating wonderful memories!