First off, I want to wish my Dad a very happy 85th birthday.
I was happy to find a picture of a dad in fatigues holding hands with his child, because my Dad was in the Army, and then in the National Guard. Some of my earliest memories of him are seeing him in his fatigues (it's no wonder I wanted a G.I. Joe when I was a little girl!) when he came back from his two-week-long camp in the summer. Sometimes he missed my birthday, and he seems to feel kind of bad about that now. I've tried to tell him that I never felt anything but loved by him. Dad taught me to fish, and taught me to treat others fairly, and instilled in me a desire to make him and Mom proud of me, not just for any successes in whatever career I chose, but a desire to be a good person, one that they were proud to raise. Dad has told me that I have done that, and I believe it was the single greatest compliment I've gotten in my life. Dad is one of the best people I know. Love you, Pop. If any of you would like to wish him (his name is Ezra--isn't that a cool name?) a happy birthday, I'll be seeing him tomorrow--I'm sure he'd get a kick out of getting birthday wishes from people from all across the country!
Our family reunion is tomorrow, and I'm really looking forward to it! When talking to Mom and Dad this morning, I found out that both of my sisters are planning on coming, and I honestly can't remember the last time all three of us were able to make it! Dad seemed really excited about it and said, "I'll be sure to bring my camera!" Me, too, and maybe I'll have some pictures for you all soon. I had mentioned here the other day that it seems that family reunions are sort of dying out now. Dad said the same thing, and said that the papers used to do a write-up of reunions, but they don't anymore. I've got clippings--or at least copies--of some of those, and it's neat to read them. We also have all the ledgers of our meeting minutes, and those are pretty interesting to look through. Dad told me today that our reunion has been going on since 1947. What a time that must have been--everyone in the family home safe from the war, the economy booming, kids being born left and right...have I mentioned how many cousins I have? Ha ha!
Tonight we're meeting our friends Jillian and Neal for some drinks and some fun at our local comedy club, so I've already made the food I'm taking tomorrow. The brownies are done, and the beans are baking. I can briefly warm up the beans tomorrow, and they'll be fine sitting outside.
A couple of comments about the brownies and the beans. I actually made the brownies from scratch, can you believe that? It's been years since I did that, but thinking about the reunion made me think about my Aunt Margaret and how much I loved her homemade brownies. She's been gone for years now, but it made me want to try to make her brownies. I don't have her recipe (I bet my cousin Suzanne does), but I found one in a Ladies Home Journal cookbook from 1960 that my Mom gave me, and I think it might be close. They're cooling now, and we'll sample them later to see if they're similar to Aunt Margaret's. I made a double batch--a cup of butter, 6 ounces of chocolate, 6 eggs (one was double-yoked!)...good heavens! Even if they're not like Aunt Margaret's, I think they're going to be pretty darn good. But even my Mom said, "Heck, you could have just made 'em from a box! They're pretty good!" I know I could have, but it was kind of fun to do some "real cooking," as Emeril would say.
As for the baked beans, I just use canned baked beans and doctor them up with onion, brown sugar, etc. They're fine, but they're nothing like when my Mom makes baked beans. She uses great northern beans and uses no ketchup or anything like that--I think it's just white sugar and maybe a little vinegar (??), I'll have to ask her. I think it's a southern thing, and it's something I rarely encounter, but oh man, are they ever good! They have such a different flavor from the ones (the kind like I'm making now) that you usually encounter at potlucks, and I think I need to find out how to make them. I bet I could use canned northern beans instead of cooking them from scratch. My Dad loves it when Mom makes them that way, because that's how HIS Mom made them.
I've made it a point to try and find out how my Mom makes a lot of things (her Cukes & Onions, pickled eggs, etc.) because she learned those things from her Mom, who learned it from hers, etc., etc. I come from a long line of excellent southern cooks, as well as German on my Dad's side, and there are some things that I just don't want to lose. There's a lot to be said for tradition, especially when it comes to cooking!