A few weeks ago my great aunt Monie died. She was well into her nineties and recently had her house struck by lightening (which is a story for another time). She is the inspiration for this blog!
My dad's side of the family has Family Reunion every year on the second sunday in June. We would have a hall rented out for all the food and for an inside spot to do crafts or games, a pavilion rented outside with a faucet that would always lead to impromptu water balloon fights, and when my Grandpa was still alive, there would be treasure hunts and other games.
I LOVED family reunion, I couldn't wait for it every year. Now, it has definitely become smaller in size, we don't rent the hall because they raised the price and there aren't so many games or prizes. The biggest thing I miss though is the food. There would be tables and tables and more tables of food inside and going through that line and picking one of everything was heaven.
BBQ, marshmallow salads, pasta, cookies, baked beans- all delicious, yet there are three distinct items that I will never ever forget. The first is fairly insignificant, but because the prime reunion food years were when I was <13, i used to eat my weight in jello jigglers. Nothing fancy, just plain 'ol orange stars and crescent moons, yet I remember how they used to be be arranged on the plate.
The other two items hold a little more emotional reverence for me, as in I have more vivid memories about these foods than I do about a lot of interactions with relatives.
1. Chex-mix, in gallon ice cream buckets, made and baked by my Grandpa. The best snack in the world. Again, nothing fancy or really diverging from the traditional recipe, but so good. I got to help put it all into buckets (he usually made enough to fill at least 8) and I usually just claimed one all to myself once I got there. Then, after the day was over, all the extra mix would go back with us and we got to snack on it for even longer. I miss this so much. My Grandpa held together a lot of different parts of our family and once he was gone a lot changed (blog for another time). I haven't really eaten chex-mix since then.
2. The fuel for this blog: Aunt Monie's cupcakes. I would hang around inside the hall as relatives would trickle in with their dishes just to be sure I was the First person to get one of Monnie's cupcakes. She would have a tiered cupcake holder and at the very top were all these little tiny cupcakes with pink frosting, covered with sprinkles. These were mine. They were my sugar rush source throughout the whole day. I'd eat a few right as they were unveiled, some more during bingo, grab one on my way back outside from the bathroom, of course a few during lunch and then whatever was left before leaving. So Many Cupcakes!
I miss these almost as much as the Chex mix. These cupcakes were such an integral part of those get-togethers for me.
For the last few years Monie hasn't been at the reunion. Age just got the best of her and like almost all the other older relatives on my dad's side- they will never let anyone see them if they are sick (or simply going slower than they used to). Which is frustrating and understandable at the same time.
Now Monie is gone and I will just have to be satisfied with the memories of her desserts. I've thought of asking for a recipe, but I don't even know if she had one written down. Maybe I'll ask.
Appreciate your food and how it makes you feel.