That first gathering was long before there was the huge screened porch or the nice covered pavilion. We were the hosts for the first time. I set the food out on the picnic table in the yard and had everything ready when our guests arrived. My father-in-law walked up, surveyed the whole thing and declared, "This is not how we do it. The food goes over there, the drinks on this side..." He pretty much unnerved me. But dear Uncle Luke, who was a man of very few words (maybe because Aunt Myrtle did all of the talking for the both of them), looked my father-in-law straight in the eye and told him plainly, "Archie, this isn't your party." And that was the end of that.
So for years after that my inlaws came and enjoyed the food and the company, however I arranged it. And the "arrangement" has changed many times since then. All of our parents are gone now, but there are such good memories.
This year we had babies, young families moving far away in a few days, another couple who will be married in the fall and all of us "old folks" who have been around forever. This is a day to catch up on what has been happening since the last time we were together.
One thing we always look forward to the the dinner. Everyone brings something to share. One of the best things I tasted this year was a "blonde brownie" my cousin brought. There is no photo because they were eaten too quickly! But she was kind enough to send me the recipe right after she got home that afternoon. I'm going to make these soon. (Unless I can talk her into making some for me.)
Here is the email she sent...
2 sticks margarine
2 eggs beaten
2 c self-rising flour
2 t vanilla
1 box light brown sugar
(Original recipe called for 2 c chopped pecans - I use 2 c chocolate chips instead)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 by 12 pan. (Works great in a disposable one and you can take the entire pan easily to an outing or to someone - unless someone in your family samples first!)
I use my Pampered Chef Brown Microwave Bowl
Melt margarine in microwave safe bowl (appx 60 seconds)
Add flour and stir in well
Add eggs (that have been beaten)
Add box of brown sugar
Put back in microwave for appx 30 seconds
Add vanilla and chocolate drops (or nuts)
Bake 350 for 25-30 minutes
Cool and cut into squares
Super Quick to prepare and never disappointing!
Many times when I want to take a meal to neighbors or someone that has been sick, I take hotdog buns and weiners, chili (Jack's recipe), chips and these brownies. I have found people enjoy this simple meal and often it is a great change from casseroles!
Just so you know, Jack's hot dog chili and mine are pretty much the same. That recipe can be found here on the blog.
Our day ended with the best seats in the house for fireworks---our own pier. Baby Sister was just giddy with excitement as she watched the colors explode over the water. It was a terrific day together.