Whether you call it decoration, family gathering or family reunion, this is the time of year for families to get together. It’s a tradition — one that has lasted for many years and generations.

In 1984 Congress requested and authorized President Ronald Reagan to declare the period between Mother’s Day in May and Father’s Day in June as Family Reunion month. The President issued a proclamation to raise awareness of the growing trend of runaway children.

Since President Reagan’s proclamation, other groups have designated May, June, July and August as a family reunion month, so take your pick of the months and get your family together. While all are together, start your own traditions.

Story telling can be a fascinating part of your get-together. As the storyteller bring to life tales of ancestors and their accomplishments (or misdeeds), have someone record the stories for future generations.

The meaning behind family traditions can be shared while relaying important family history and the ties that bind. This is so important, for younger generations tend to drift away.

While everyone enjoys being together, the food for the dinner is enjoyed just as much. This is the perfect time to share recipes and stories about the traditional dishes that show up every year. Therefore, make your plans now about what dishes you will take, the history behind them and also the recipes for them. Start that family recipe book this year!

3-Bean Salad

2 cans cut green beans

2 cans kidney beans

1 can English peas

4 carrots, thinly sliced

4 strips celery, cut in matchsticks

2 small onions, thinly sliced and separated into rings or cut in half-moon slivers

Combine above ingredients. Top with marinade and allow to set overnight.

Marinade:

2 cups apple cider vinegar

2 cups brown sugar, packed

1 cup orange juice

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. paprika

NOTE: Carrots, celery and onion can be chopped if preferred.

Pasta And Bean Salad

1 pkg. 3-colored pasta twists

Red, green and yellow bell peppers, chopped (about 1/4-1/2 cup of each color)

1 can sliced or whole black olives, amount and type to suit your taste

1 can whole green beans, drained

1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 small bottle Italian dressing

1/4-cup sugar, more if desired

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water to cool. Drain well. Combine Italian dressing and sugar; mix well.

Combine pasta and vegetables. Use amount of red, green and yellow peppers to suit your taste. Use sliced or whole black olives to suit your taste. Top salad with dressing and stir to coat all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Wild Rice And Pepper Salad

1 (6 oz.) package Minute Long Grain and Wild Rice

1/2 cup Miracle Whip salad dressing

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2-teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper

1/4 cup green onions, sliced

Prepare rice according to package directions; cool completely. Place in a large bowl.

Mix salad dressing, oil, black pepper and lemon peel in a bowl and whisk until well blended. Pour over rice and add remaining ingredients; stir until well mixed. Serve at room temperature or refrigerated.

Linda's Marinated Salad (Bean And Corn Salad)

1 can small early English peas, drained (I prefer LeSueur English peas)

1 can shoepeg corn, drained

1 can French cut string beans, drained

1 (4-oz.) jar diced pimento, drained

1 cup finely diced celery

1 cup finely diced sweet onion

1 cup finely diced bell pepper

NOTE:

I used to cut up celery, onion, and bell pepper by hand, but now I use the food processor. It's a lot faster!

In a saucepan mix:

1 cup sugar (or Splenda)

3/4-cup apple cider vinegar

1-teaspoon salt

1/2-teaspoon black pepper

1 tbsp. water

Combine ingredients and boil one minute. Remove from heat and pour over vegetables. Refrigerate over night. Stir occasionally. Drain before serving, reserving liquid for leftover salad. Keeps well in the refrigerator at least a week or more.

Copper Coins Salad

2 pounds carrots

1 small green bell pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 can tomato soup

1-cup sugar

1/4-cup salad oil

3/4-cup apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. prepared yellow mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook carrots in lightly salted water just until tender. Drain and blanch in ice water. (Microwave works great for this.)

Heat together soup, sugar, oil, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and mustard until sugar is dissolved.

Drain carrots. Add bell pepper and onion. Pour heated marinade over the vegetables. Keep refrigerated. It's better made 3 days ahead of time.

— Judy O’Daniel’s “Country Gourmet” column appear in the Times-Journal weekend and weekday editions.

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