Summer is the time for family reunions all over the country. I came across this wonderful cookbook while browsing at Barnes and Noble, actually looking for cookbooks about family reunion cooking. This is the only one I found, and it’s a treasure! It was published in 1991 by the National Council of Negro Women which is located in Washington, DC. It was founded in 1935 with vital programs addressing women’s special concerns. The goal of the cookbook is to celebrate and preserve the values, traditions, and strengths of the African-American family. It contains more than 250 recipes from home kitchens across the country, seasoned with warm memories and love. There are also personal reminiscences from celebrities such as Patti LaBelle (who writes her own amazing cookbooks!) Natalie Cole, and Wilma Rudolph. The book offers dishes such as chicken and dumplings, sweet potato smoked turkey bisque, buttermilk hush puppies, Carter Hill barbecue ribs, classic skillet fried chicken, molasses crumb pie, sausage-rice casserole, crisp and spicy drumsticks, sweet potato bonbons, sour cherry pie, blackberry pie, and my favorite, the deep dish peach cobbler. There is also a recipe for turkey hash that I make every Thanksgiving with the leftovers. I love this cookbook.
Family reunions and the sharing of good food with our loved ones not only gives us a sense of history, but develops personal strengths from the fellowship together. When family values are strong, the health of each family member becomes strong, and the ritual of the family reunion binds us together. My husband Bill’s family is from Finland, and he just learned several months ago about the existence of many 2nd and 3rd cousins he has never met. Next year, there is going to be a huge Finnish family reunion at the homestead of Bill’s great-grandparents, in Eastern Finland. Bill and our daughters have met a few cousins, but not dozens, so we are hoping to travel to Finland next year. We are now receiving emails from one of the cousin’s whose parents still live in Bill’s great-grandparents homestead. They have been sending photos and information on family history. It’s an amazing feeling to know where you came from, and how it can change your life in so many ways. Below are some photos from Finland of the homestead and a reunion from last year.