Is it family reunion time?

Summertime is family reunion time! Isn’t it fun to get together with all the folks you haven’t seen (and maybe not even corresponded with) since the last reunion?
Think about it, granny and grandpa probably have new glasses because they had cataract surgery, Auntie Jane has a new hearing aid, (she doesn’t always turn it on), Uncle Joe is walking with a cane, since he had hip replacement surgery and there are several new babies, born to various cousins, nieces and nephews, and there are a few new in-laws and outlaws, boyfriends and girlfriends!
The grandchildren have gotten taller, mamas and daddies have gained a little weight, Susie has solved her drinking problem, but Cousin Pete now has one, Aunt Gert has a new boyfriend (again), Uncle Jake is courting the lady he hopes to make wife number four, Uncle Mike if flirting with her; he and Uncle Jake will probably have an argument before the day is over, they have never really gotten along.
The under ten group is out playing baseball, football, throwing Frisbees, and if there is any concrete around, someone is probably playing with a skateboard. Some of the grown-up group have brought corn-hole games along and there seems to be a competition going on.
The teen-agers are hanging out together comparing notes on whose parents are the most strict or most lenient, or the most weird and admiring each other’s tattoos and body piercings.
The comparison going on as to whose children are making the best grades and have the best jobs, who’s in college and who isn’t, and while, the mamas/grandmas/great-grandmas have found shade trees and lawn chairs and are swapping children/grandchildren stories, the men are trading hunting and fishing stories (i.e. lies), and there are tables and tables full of lots of good things to eat.
Within the last couple of weeks, I have noticed numerous family groups that are having reunions. In my area, they usually have an article in the local paper that tells the name of the family, that it is the 20th, 30th or whatever number of the reunion, the location, what to bring and what is provided. It sounds interesting to me. We have not had a reunion in many years. At one time, the families of the children belonging to my great-grandparents took turns hosting. The children of Aunt A, and her if she was still living, got together with another family and were hosts. The next year or two years down the line someone else did it. It was a fun time and I truly miss it. At one point in time when it was time to have it here in Yoakum, we celebrated Christmas in June, as these cousins knew that they would never get to have a Christmas together. It was awesome; we had a Christmas tree, several of us had matching Christmas shirts, the door prizes were ornaments, and so it went.
And, if there’s a BBQ pit going, these hamburger patties would taste great after a while on the pit, but, they can be cooked at home on top of the stove if desired.
It has been a favorite with my family for years and it is easy to double the meat mixture if necessary. Just grill them up and put out the lettuce, tomatoes, condiments, avocados and cooked sliced bacon, you may have to sort of keep an eye on the bacon, or someone will make their hamburger just with bacon! It happens…you’ve gotta have meat to have a sandwich!
Bacon Avocado Cheeseburgers
2 pounds ground meat (we have used a venison/beef mixture, but you could probably use ground turkey or ground chicken if you desired)
1 to 1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 egg (beaten lightly, to mix together)
12 slices bacon
1 or 2 avocados
Cheese slices (any kind, including jalapeño jack)
Pickled jalapeño slices (if desired)
*8 hamburger buns
Mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatoes, onions
Mix meat with salt, pepper and egg. Shape into 8 patties*; bake, broil or grill to desired doneness. While meat is cooking, cut bacon in half and fry, allowing 3 to 4 half pieces for each burger. Slice avocados and dip in lemon juice to avoid darkening, slice tomatoes and onions, and prepare lettuce. Allow everyone to build their own burger using a patty, cheese slice, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, sliced avocados and bacon strips. *If you want larger burgers, purchase the larger size buns and make only 6 patties, rather than 8. It is good any way you decide to do it. Also, if you double the amount of meat and make more patties, you’re going to need more buns. For a crowd, I would make the smaller patties and use small buns, as this is not all they’re going to eat!
In this heat, we all look forward to salads as our main dish. The best salad I have found to make for the main dish for a meal is a chicken salad that doesn’t use mayonnaise, and this is great in hot weather. It is easy and simple to make and the chicken can be cooked in the microwave if you don’t feel like heating up the kitchen by cooking it on top of the stove. Pasta salad is another option during these hot days. It keeps well and if you want to make it into a main dish instead of a side dish, add a can or two of well-drained chunk or solid pack tuna or some diced cooked chicken.
Cinco de Mayo Chicken Salad
3 cups cooked, diced chicken
4 sliced green onions, including tops
½ cup diced green bell pepper*
1 avocado diced and tossed with lemon juice to prevent discoloration, avocado)
½ cup bottled chili sauce (Hunt’s, DelMonte)**
4 tablespoons mild picante sauce (Mild, medium or hot, the choice is yours)
½ teaspoon dry mustard,
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
Combine chicken, onions, bell pepper and avocado in mixing bowl. Combine chili sauce, picante sauce, dry mustard, black pepper and chili powder in a bowl and mix well. Pour over chicken mixture and stir until coated thoroughly. Serve with tortilla chips, for a snack or serve as a main dish with tossed salad, or corn on the cob, or anything else you desire. *Instead of all green bell pepper, you could use a combination, of bell pepper and mild fresh jalapeño peppers; this would make for a spicy dish. **This is found in the aisle with the ketchup and the store brand (if they have one) is OK also.
Pasta Salad
1 package (8-oz) elbow macaroni or Rotini pasta (the colored spirals are good for this)
½ cup finely chopped pickle or pickle relish
½ cup finely chopped celery
½ small can sliced black olives
1 or 2 finely sliced green onions (optional)
1 or 2 hard cooked eggs, if desired
Mayonnaise or salad dressing (enough to moisten all ingredients)
Cook macaroni or pasta according to package directions and rinse with cool water. Drain well. Place in bowl and add remaining ingredients, stir to mix, add mayonnaise and stir well. Chill before serving.
This spinach salad is delicious and can be prepared early in the day for serving later. The first time I had it was when I was working at the nursing home in the early ‘80s, the family of one of our residents brought it to family night and it was all eaten!
Layered Spinach Salad
1 package (10-oz) fresh spinach
1 small head lettuce shredded
1 bunch green onions, sliced, including tops
1 box frozen peas
8 (thin) slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
6 hard cooked eggs (optional)
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix®
Wash spinach and lettuce and drain well. Tear spinach into bite-size pieces and place in a large glass bowl. Shred lettuce and place on top of spinach; place sliced green onions on top of lettuce; followed by peas and eggs (if used). Mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream and dressing mix, and pour over ingredients in bowl, spreading mixture to edges of bowl to seal the ingredients. Chill thoroughly. Just before serving, top with the bacon and Parmesan cheese.
This recipe is from my sister-in-law. She served it to us last summer and I could not believe the ingredients she told me were in it. It makes 10 to 12 servings.
Jo’s Crunchy Cole Slaw
1 cup oil
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup vinegar
2 (3-oz) packages chicken flavored Ramen noodles with seasoning packets, divided usage
1 cup slivered almonds
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped or sliced
1 package (16-oz) cole slaw (shredded cabbage)
(I like the one called Angel Hair, as it is finer than the regular shredded cabbage)
1 cup roasted sunflower seeds (salted or not, your choice)
Whisk together oil, sugar, vinegar and the seasoning packets from the Ramen noodles; set aside.
Break Ramen noodles into small pieces and toss with the slivered almonds. Spread in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet and toast at 350ºF for 5 to 8 minutes (cool). Combine cole slaw and onions, stir in cooled noodle mixture, sunflower seeds and dressing; toss to coat. Serve immediately. It will still be good the next day, but it does lose its crunchiness after refrigeration.