Mom and Dad called the shots from the time we left home on Memorial Day to which cemetery we'd visit first to what flowers would be chosen for the graves to what would go in the picnic basket for that long day's lunch.
That long day's lunch got to be eaten in the same little roadside park, just one of many that dot the highways of Michigan, every year. It came to be one of the few unchangeable things in an otherwise ever changing life. The cemetery we visited may have grown larger with more inhabitants, some of the businesses where we bought flowers to adorn the graves may have gone out of business and, yes, our family even grew one short with the passing of my dad some years ago, but the picnic in that one little park remained a steady, an anchor of sorts for our family.
They will all be meeting there again this weekend with my brother and sister-in-law who will be taking care of Mom's side of the family in the Mount Rest cemetery in St Johns, Michigan, while Mom, my sister and her partner, Jill, will be washing the grave stones and planting flowers in the graves of the Hoos family in Woodland cemetery near Hastings where my father and his family lived.
Funny, during the show I forgot to ask Mom what they were going to take for the picnic. The whole point of the show Monday was about food for a picnic but I guess just talking to her and going back was all the food I needed for that moment. Here's to the annual Hoos picnic, that gathering that the little roadside park has hosted for so many years now.
I do know what they won't be packing in that picnic basket, though.
I'm so glad I have made some new friends on the Internet that have lived completely different lives than I, who live in different countries, whose experiences are totally different are unique to themselves and yet who share some of the same love for life that I do.
One such person is Deb DiMaggio who is originally from Sicily (picture it!) but who now lives in Spain. She was the first person to share what she liked to take on a picnic. I know it's got to be good because she's one classy person who loves good food.
So, without further ado, here is the recipe for Deb DiMaggio's Marinated Drumsticks:
8 chicken legs
Juice of 1 lemon plus the rind, grated
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Mix lemon juice, rind, salt and olive oil in a bowl and mix well. Massage chicken legs with mixture and let marinade in the mixture for several hours in the refrigerator.
Remove to baking pan and bake in 375F degree oven for 30 minutes or until done.
Another surprise from one of the members at Jamie Oliver Forum was the inclusion of the Cheese and Potato Pie. After one person mentioned it, everyone seemed to remember a version that would show up at picnics. This is the recipe as given to me by Mummza, one of our English forum members. She doesn't give an oven temp but I would suggest something around 400F. Other members recalled something similar made with bacon and potatoes and eggs. I suppose one could combine all of them.
Cheese and Potato Pie
Line a pie pan with short crust pastry (but leave enough for the lid)
Peel some potatoes into large bite-sized chunks and cook them in boiling salted water until almost cooked. Strain and let dry out.
Whilst the potatoes are cooking, peel and slice a pile of onions and cook them in a pan with butter and a little oil until starting to brown and caramelize.
Get some good flavored cheese that melts well and cut it into small bite sized chunks. (A strong cheddar is good.)
Fill the lined dish with still warm potatoes, the still warm fried onions and chunks of cheese, season with salt and a good grind of pepper and add a touch of herbs if you like.
Add the lid to the pie and make sure the edges are sealed. Put a couple of steam holes in the top, brush with beaten egg and bake the pie.
Once cooked, it's best cooled for a fair amount before it's cut.
Well, today is Saturday the 23rd and I've still got one recipe to fit in here. Very long week with some household disasters demanding my attention plus getting ready for a very successful and fun Strawberry Fest today!
The last recipe is one a friend of mine gave me years ago that his family from the South used to make called Bones and Beans, the bones being cut up hot dogs.
Bones and Beans
28oz baked beans (either leftover or your favorite canned)
8 oz good hot dogs
1 1/4 cups yellow corn meal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup oil
1 cup milk
1 jalapeno, minced (optional)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese(optional)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Mix beans and "bones" and pour into an 8x8-inch baking pan, cover with foil and place in oven until hot and bubbling, about 25-30 minutes.
While beans are heating up in the oven, whisk dry ingredients together. Combine wet ingredients and mix into dry with a few swift strokes just to combine. (Do not over mix)
Fold in the optional ingredients if desired.
Increase oven temp to 425F, remove foil from pan, pour batter evenly over top and return to oven baking for an additional 15 minutes or until top is brown.