This is such a fun way to serve supper … at a family reunion – which is what we did, or with a group at church, or any group really. It would also be a great dinner to serve for April Fools, or a birthday party. You can let your guests know that you will be serving a wonderful 4 course lasagna dinner, or perhaps a pot roast supper, or hamburgers and fries. The meal is no mystery, it is how the courses will present themselves on each guest’s plate that is the riot. And that part is intirely up to your guests, bless their hearts, if they only knew what they were ordering (giggle). You may want to ask in the invitations if anyone has any food allergies, so you can accommodate.
I purchased this boxed version almost 20 years ago, and have not been able to find it anywhere since, online or in any bookstore. It was published by Oslund, Sonshine Company, Anoka, MN 55303.
For our Family Reunion, we modified it slightly. My sisters, mom, and I served the meal, and we had 25 to 30 guests. Each server was responsible for a table of guests. We placed carrot and celery sticks in a relish dish at each table, and the guests were allowed to nibble on those while they waited to be served, although some who did found out later when their meal was served without a fork or spoon that a carrot or celery stick would have made a nice utensil.
Here’s what’s in the box:
8 Invitations (two sided)
8 Menus (two sided)
FRONT (fold in half)
INSIDE (fold in half)
8 Place Cards (cut apart on dotted lines)
These each fold in half and set up like little tents
16 ID Cards
Kitchen Set-up diagram sheet
and Instructions (two sided sheet)
The Instructions are too little for me to read off the scanned page so I’ve written them out for us…
Masterminding a Mystery Dinner
New Testament Theme
“A Dining Experience You Won’t Forget”
CONTENTS: 8 Menus, 8 Place Cards, 8 Invitation, 16 ID Cards, Recipes.
OBJECT: To enjoy an unforgettable, unpredictable and hilarious dining experience.
SERVING: 1 waiter for 4 dinner guests; 2 waiters for 8 dinner guests
DECODED MENU LIST:
1. Crowd Leftovers
2. Christ’s Winnowing Tool
3. John the Baptist’s Lunch
– Grasshopper Pie
4. Prodigal’s Surprise
– Roast Beef
5 Symbol of Bitter Captivity
– Lettuce Salad
6. Circumcision Instrument
7. Christ’s Frequent Prayer Place
8. Hebrew Burial Cloth
9. Communion Element
– Wine or Grape juice
10. Evil Protein
– Deviled Eggs
11. Fruit of the Cursed Tree
– Fig Bars
12. Prodigal’s Lunch with Pigs
13. God’s Shekinah
– Glorified Rice
14. Carpenter’s Splinters
15. Fruit of the Vine
16. Baptizer’s Sweet Tooth
– Honey Nuts
(All of the food items on the above list can be purchased from the grocery store, near-by deli or take-out, which would eliminate most preparation time.)
INVITATIONS: Fill out invitation and mail two weeks prior to dinner. (Dining attire suggestions: casual, formal, biblical, etc.) (If your kitchen is near where you will serve your dinner guests, it is suggested that you conceal your kitchen with hanging sheets or tablecloths over the doorways. This way your guests can’t peek!)
Several hours before guests are expected to arrive, prepare the roast beef, pie, lettuce salad, deviled eggs, date bars, peas, and glorified rice. Refrigerate or bake according to recipe directions.
On a flat surface in your kitchen, designate a space for each menu item, in order of sequence, by using on or the food identification cards. This will help the waiters as they pick items for each course for their customers.
The table can be prepared as the host or hostess prefers. Write guest names on place cards and place cards where guests are to be seated.
One-half hour before guests are scheduled to arrive, place the following items by their respective food identification card on the flat surface; olives (in juice), grapes, toothpicks, spoon, fork, knife, and napkins. (OPTIONAL: Waiters can change into dark pants and white shirts with bow ties at this time. Also, appropriate music can be played. Provide each guest with a glass of water.)
As guests arrive, they can be welcomed to the Mystery Dinner and escorted to their appropriate place at the table.
Before delivering the menus to the guests, each waiter selects which guests they will serve. It is helpful at this point to request that the guests fill out their orders in silence. This avoids confusion and everyone discussing the menu selections. (Honestly, we allowed a little table talk.)
Hand each guest a menu and a pen. Give them approximately three to five minutes to fill out their course selections
During this five minutes, you can put the following items near their appropriate food identification card on the flat surface: roast beef (covered), bread, pie, lettuce salad, wine or grape juice, deviled eggs, bars, peas and rice.
Now it is time for the waiters to collect the menus and begin selecting items for the first course for one customer. Once all four items have been picked, the plate can be served to the respective guest. Continue with remaining guests.
After the waiters have served their customers, they go back to their first customer and remove any remaining items from the first course and begin on the second course. Make sure they do not keep utensils. This process continues until all guests have been served all four courses. IT IS AS MUCH FUN TO BE THE SERVER AS IT IS TO BE SERVED! ENJOY!
When we served our dinner we used a totally different menu; one that would be impossible to figure out. This was our menu:
And these were our 16 items, shown as the set up for our Kitchen:
You can go with a theme (Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Hawaiian, Southern Comfort Foods, BBQ, Seafood, etc.) in your food, decorations, and music. If you chose a Mexican theme, you could use Mexican items as the code words on the menu (such as: sombrero, cactus, poncho, maracas, piñata, mariachis, chili peppers, serape, etc.). You could decorate with Mexican blankets and cactus centerpieces, and play Mariachi music. In place of the relish dish, you could offer chips and salsa (people could eat with a chip if they didn’t get a utensil and were desperate). Encourage your guests to snap photos of the event and share them with you afterward. Our party was before cell phone days, but I could kick myself for not setting out some disposable cameras.
If using paper plates, remember to buy plenty. You’ll need a plate for each course for each person, so four plates per person X 8 guests would be 32 paper plates total. You can use different size plates. It would add to the humorousness having a large slice of lasagna and a slice of pie, if that’s what your guest ended up with, being served on an appetizer size plate, and equally funny to have a large dinner plate with only a toothpick, vegetable, napkin, and knife taking up space.
When the last person has been served the last course and all the plates have been taken away, that’s when servers can return each person’s menu to them and let everyone try to figure out which items were which code words. All of the servers and kitchen workers should join the guests. They will talk about how much fun that was and probably want to sit around and visit for a little while.
“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” Psalm 16:11
I grew up in a small town where there wasn’t a lot for kids to do but just be kids and play in the great outdoors. That was plenty enough though, believe me. My sisters and I made dirt houses lined with pebbles, floors swept down to the hard dirt, rocks and logs for furniture, and we served each other our fancy mud pie concoctions. We played secret maze games between the sheets hanging on the line until we got hollered at to get away with our unclean hands. We climbed Tank Hill just for something to do, and then tried to RUN down it without stumbling. Sometimes we took a picnic lunch up there and ate it overlooking the town where we could watch all the goings on. One time I climbed the tank – which was a mistake. I guess I’m a little afraid of heights I found out. My grandpa had to come and rescue me, and right after he called a welder to cut off the ladder so it couldn’t ever be climbed up by a kid again. Oh dear!
We had bikes and rode them all over a whole vast network of oilfield roads, to secret places – under bridges, the old electric plant, and to the pond to catch frogs and salamanders and horny toads by the dozens, but hopefully not see any snakes – ’causeewwww, girls don’t like snakes! We all played ball or watched the games, and we all sat on the fences at the ranch rodeos and watched the cowboys do their stuff. Sometimes they even let us run the hot-shot on the steers in the shoots, and open the shoot gates for the ropers.
Our little oilfield community had the first lighted baseball field, and the first lighted football field in the whole state. We had a bowling alley, and a swimming pool, and in the winter we had a frozen pond to ice skate on. They say we even had a golf course, but it wasn’t like any golf course you’ve ever seen – just dirt and rocks and prairie, with flags stuck in holes here and there. The clubhouse was just a corregated tin outbuilding, but it was something to do for those that are into that stuff!
If there was nothing else to do it was always fun to watch dad tinker with something in his shop, or tag along with him to his work. I got to tag along once to the Blue Creek Ranch out by Kaycee, and they let me ride an old nag of horse all day long while dad fixed whatever it was they needed him to fix. And my grandpa could be found in his massive garden most all summer. It was fun to pick and eat peas while he watered and weeded. I sometimes took my matchbook cars and made trails along the rows of corn. I accidentally sat in an ant pile once though, and that wasn’t so much fun! My grandma was always in the kitchen sowing or cooking. And when me and my sisters stayed at her house, it was fun to play secretary with pens and notebooks in the garage. Sometimes we’d nap with grandpa in the afternoons on the bed they kept out there, where the cool breezes blew through.
There was always a lady in town that taught piano lessons, and occasionally someone would travel through with gymnastics or dance classes, and our families all went camping and to the lake as often as we could. My folks had a motorcycle and a scooter and we went for rides as a family, sometimes be gone all day! And everyone in town met at the sand rocks to shoot off fireworks on the 4th of July – all of the families, and we shared our snacks and our fireworks with each other. Sounds magical, doesn’t it? It was!
We had a Girl Scouts troop and a Boy Scouts troop, and even a Boy Scouts camp on the Pine Ridge. What in the world else does a kid need? It was a wonderful life!
Girl Scouts was one of my fondest childhood memories. I remember getting to go to summer camp (Camp Sacajawea) on Casper Mountain one year. I got to ride on a bus up the mountain with a whole bunch of really nice bigger girls, singing old hippy songs all the way, and coolest of all, it was an over-nighter. We made ditty bags out of bandanas and tied them to a stick (I’ve still got one of the nicer ditty bags we were given – shown in the photo below). We filled them with snacks and water, and one of the days we used the ditty bag sticks as walking sticks and hiked to a really cool waterfall that flowed over a rock that we could walk behind (just like in the movie The Last of the Mohicans). That’s the way I remember it anyway! 🙂 I remember doing crafts and selling cookies. I remember one year being really ambitious to sell those cookies! I ❤ed Girl Scouts!
This is a throw back meal from when I was a Girl Scout at Camp Sacajawea. Very easy to make and I think it is delicious! Of course we made S’mores for dessert – I’m pretty sure that was another Girl Scouts invention too! 😉
This recipe feeds 4 to 6 people.
Peel and chop several cloves of garlic. I did a whole bulb’s worth.
Wash a small bag of yellow potatoes, and a small bag of carrots, peel the carrots and then slice both into bite-size pieces (figure on about 2 small potatoes and 1 whole large carrot per person)
Peel a yellow onion, cut in half, and slice it into quarter inch slices
Place all veggies in a bowl. Salt and pepper to taste, and then drizzle generously with olive oil, toss to coat evenly, set aside
Mix 2 lbs of hamburger with 2 packages of dry onion soup mix, and a small minced jalapeno, a little salt and pepper, and mix well, then form into patties
Place a heaping ladle full of veggies into the center of a generous sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil
Lay a hamburger patty on top of veggies
Top with a spoonful of mushroom soup
Bring both ends of foil up and fold together to seal well on top, and then do the same on both sides. Repeat making foil packets until all veggies and burger patties are used up.
Preheat BBQ grill, or campfire (or 350 *F oven), and when coals are hot and gray lay the packets on a grate about 6 to 8 inches above them
Let packets cook for 15 to 20 minutes and then carefully and gently flip and rearrange the packets so they can cook evenly on the other side for another 15 to 20 minutes.
Open one packet and test the veggies for doneness
When done, remove the packets and serve one packet per person.
“Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the way of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgement. Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity.”
I love theme dinners! And Polynesian is one of those themes that has tons to offer… tons of great foods… lots of great music… and a motherlode of great activities. That’s probably why luau parties are so popular. They are great for a crowd (family reunions, company picnics, neighborhood get-togethers, graduation parties, youth group events, and so on).
That’s all well and good, but I had in mind something a little more intimate. In my younger life, I had the idea to have monthly theme dinners just for family – just to make memories for my kids. January’s theme was Chinese New Year, where we dressed up, ate Chinese foods, listened to Asian music, played some sort of Chinese games after dinner, and totally immersed ourselves in Asian culture for a night. February was Cajun foods, music, and culture. March was Irish. April was Polish or Italian. May was Mexican or Caribbean. June was Polynesian or African. July was American (which encompasses everything from BBQ to Burgers, to Hot Dogs in every variety). August was South American or Australian. September was Russian or French. October was German. November was American Indian. And December was Indian or Mediterranean. That was my plan. It was so much my plan that I wrote a whole book about it, but then I kind of lost my focus. <Sheepish shrug> Well, thankfully God has given me grandchildren, and a whole renewed interest in introducing them to the cultures and foods, and sounds, and pastimes of the world. And the great thing is … SUMMER IS COMING!!!! Which makes it a great time to introduce the kids to something fun and interesting and chase away those summer doldrums, not to mention it’s all kind of educational as well.
JUNE – Polynesian
Knickknacks, tanning mats, give a dog a fish bone. The dollar store is a great place to look for decorations. You can keep it simple (lay a bamboo tanning mat down on the table, set a tropical plant as a centerpiece, and lay out luau plates, cups, and silverware from the party store), or go hog-wild (outdoor party with mumus and sarongs, tiki lanterns, grass skirts, a limbo stick, kalua pig roasting on a spit, cold drinks in pineapples or coconuts, and a nice array of Makahiki games, Hawaiian crafts, and games). Gotta have some Island music too (may I suggest Don Ho?), and maybe even get the kids ukuleles, and teach them to play an easy song.
After dinner, you can break out the limbo stick and challenge the kids to a contest, or try some hula hooping. Then set the TV outside and gather the lawn chairs around for an outdoor movie night. How about a marathon of old Gilligan’s Island reruns? Or, for a real submersion into Hawaiian culture, make leis, learn to hula, set your back yard up with some of the Makahiki Games listed below, and watch a mesmerizing “Ha: Breath of Life” show on DVD.
Traditionally, a Hawaiian party would have deep pit roasted Kalua Pig, long rice (which is basically the same thing as Pad Thai rice noodles), some dish of sweet potatoes (purple), and Poi, or even Spam Musubi. If it is your goal to introduce your family to Hawaiian culture, go with tradition. I found some wonderful recipes HERE that I plan to try.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
– – – –
1 lb large tail-on shrimp, peeled and deveined, and patted dry on paper towels
1 7-oz pkg shredded coconut
Instructions: Place peanut oil in deep fryer and set temperature to 375 degrees. Mix flour with wine until smooth. When oil has reached temperature, dip about 5 of the shrimp, one at a time in batter and then roll in coconut. Drop into deep fryer and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until golden and curled. Drain on paper towels. Continue until all shrimp are cooked.
Melted jalapeno jelly makes a wonderful dipping sauce (remove lid from jar, warm in microwave about 1 min., stir and divide into little sauce cups). Or see the sauce recipe later down on this page. Serves 4
SPICY POLYNESIAN WRAPS
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1 inch strips
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tablespoons curry powder (hot or mild as you wish)
Place the chicken and coconut milk in a bowl, and marinate in the refrigerator 1 hour.
In a pot, bring the rice and water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix the flour, curry powder, and garlic salt. Drain the chicken, and discard marinade. Dredge chicken in the flour mixture to coat.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the coated chicken strips 5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and juices run clear. Squeeze lime juice over chicken, and discard limes.
On each tortilla, place equal amounts of rice, chicken, coconut, and green onions, and sprinkle desired amount of Serrano chilies. Wrap burrito style.
POLYNESIAN DIPPING SAUCE (for shrimp, or wraps)
13 ounces coconut milk
2 teaspoons green curry paste
1 tablespoon grated gingerroot
1 tablespoon grated lime rind
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
Place coconut milk in a skillet and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes until reduced by a quarter – it should be the consistency of heavy cream. Stir in the green curry paste, ginger, lime rind, and sugar. Cook another 5 to 6 minutes or until sauce is thickened and fragrant. Stir in mint, cilantro, and lime juice. Cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.
3 cups cooked Sushi rice
4 sheets Spring Roll Wrappers (this is a MrsH modification: I’m not a fan of Nori)
1 12-oz can Spam
6 Tbsp Soy Sauce
6 Tbsp Hawaiian BBQ sauce
I cut the end off of my Spam can with sissors to use to make my Musubi, and I used a wooden meat mallet to press the rice down. After making my musubi I have decided Nori is just too healthy tasting for my taste, so after making it with Nori, I peeled the Nori off to eat it, and next time I’m going to try making it with rice paper (Spring Roll Wrappers) instead. I also didn’t care for the Furikake (rice seasoning) because of the seaweed that was in it. The one I used was Wasabi Fumi Furikake. It had a good flavor that really does need to be there, but just warning you not to go hog wild with it if you aren’t a seaweed fan. I do like wasabi and sesame. And I added chopped green onion. Maybe there is a variety of Furikake without seaweed???
Prepare the Rice as per package instructions. Allow to cool. Meanwhile, cut the Spam into eight equal slices. Fry the Spam in a frying pan until very crispy on both sides. Mix soy sauce with BBQ sauce and pour over Spam. Stir around and flip until sauce is carmelized onto the Spam. Remove from heat.
This is the process for making the musubi: (shown using Nori seaweed)
Cut each sheet of Nori in half. Lay half a sheet down on a clean paper towel. Place Musubi press (Spam can) in the center. Add about a heaping tablespoon of rice and press down. Add a sprinkle of Furikake. Place a slice of Spam on top. Sprinkle with more Furikake and add another heaping tablespoon of rice. Press it all down firmly and hold down while lifting can off. Wrap Nori around. Cut each finished roll on the diagonal and serve. *Below is what Musubi looks like without the seaweed wrapper. I wrapped my musubi up in plastic and refrigerated them overnight. The next day I removed from fridge, peeled off the Nori, and cut them into bite-size slices. Much better!
HAWAIIAN SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE
5 medium Sweet Potatoes, baked in 350*F oven for 1 hour, until soft
2 green bananas, diced
1 cup diced and crushed fresh pineapple
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp salt
Juice of 1 lime (also the zest)
2 Tbsp Cocunut syrup (may substitute honey)
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup crushed macadamia nuts
After potatoes have cooled, peel the skins off and discard skins. Slice the potatoes into inch thick slices and lay in a single layer in a buttered oblong baking dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and drizzle with melted butter. Add a layer of pineapple and bananas. Press down with a spatula to mash the potatoes slightly. Mix lime juice with coconut syrup and pour over potatoes evenly. Sprinkle with coconut and macadamia nuts in an even layer. Cover and bake in a 300*F oven for about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15 mintues until toasted on top. You can also broil the dish for a few minutes to toast the top if you wish.
HAWAIIAN LONG RICE (MrsH’s super easy version)
Cook a box of Pad Thai rice noodles as directed on package. Drain off most of the water, but leave the noodles a little soupy. Add a can of Campbells Creamy Chicken soup to the noodles and stir to mix. Serve with chopped green onion for garnish.
ISLANDER’S COCONUT CREAM PIE
1 prepared pie crust, baked as directed for cream pies
1 package of vanilla pudding, the kind that cooks, not instant
1 package coconut flakes
1 container of Cool Whip with 1 tsp. rum mixed in
Broken, slivered almonds
Cook pudding as package directs using 1/2 cup less liquid. Add 1 cup of the flaked coconut to the pudding and stir to mix. Pour into prepared crust and spread to fill evenly. Chill until set. Spread Cool Whip over pudding in piecrust. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flaked coconut and then almonds over the top. Chill to set.
HAWAIIAN PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE
1 8-oz can Dole pineapple slices, drained (reserve juice for serving)
1 stick butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
6 maraschino cherries, halved
In an large oblong cake pan melt butter and stir in brown sugar. Arrange pineapple slices next to each other in three rows of four. Place a half of a cherry in the center of each pineapple.
2 ½ cups All-Purpose flour
3 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 stick butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
1 ½ cups milk (or substitute Coconut Milk)
Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Beat softened butter with sugar and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time beating after each. Stir in dry ingredients and milk. Beat with a mixer until thick and creamy. Pour over pineapple slices in large baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool 5 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate. Serve warm. If you desire your cake a little more moist, drizzle with reserved pineapple juice.
Iced Thai Tea, my latest addiction!!!!!
1 pkg Thai Black Tea bags (available at World Market)
Sweetener (sugar, agave nectar, honey, Stevia, as you prefer)
Half & Half
Place 8 teabags and 8 cups of water in a saucepot and bring just to the steaming point on high heat on the stovetop, and then remove from heat. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes. The tea will become dark orange colored. Add whatever choice of sweetener to taste, I like this tea a little on the sweet side. When the tea has cooled, pour it into a pitcher and chill in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
To serve: Pour tea over ice in a tall glass. Gently add Half & Half by the Tablespoonfuls until the top 1/4 of the glass is filled. Add a straw and serve. Let guests stir the cream into the tea before drinking.
1/2 ripe mango (peeled and seeded)
1/2 ripe papaya (peeled and seeded)
1 ripe banana
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup Cream of Coconut
1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1 tsp. honey
2 cups ice
In a blender, mix mango, papaya, banana, orange juice, coconut cream, yogurt, honey, and ice. Blend until velvety. Serve in martini glasses and garnish with mini skewers of pineapple chunks.
Other Adult Beverage options:
Fire Rock Pale Ale (beer) or Spearhead Pale Ale
FROZEN MAI TAI
1 cup of ice
1 oz. light rum
1/2 oz. dark rum
1/2 oz. Apricot Brandy
1/2 cup fresh or canned pineapple
Splash of sour mix & Splash of orange juice
Blend all ingredients in a blender for 4 seconds on low speed. Garnish with lime and orange slices, and a little paper umbrella. I f you want to make it non-alcoholic just use 1/2 tsp of brandy flavoring and 1 1/2 tsp of rum flavoring in a half a cup of soda water with the other ingredients.
CAPTAIN MORGAN’S Piña COLADA
1/2 cup ice
2 oz. light rum
2 Tablespoons Cream of Coconut
1/2 fresh or canned pineapple
1 Tablespoon vanilla ice cream
Pineapple chunks, cherries, umbrellas for garnish
In blender blend until smooth. If too thick add fruit or juice. If too thin add ice or ice cream. Garnish with Pineapple and Cherry, and a little paper umbrella. You can use a mix to make these if you would rather… and you can make them non-alcoholic by substituting rum flavoring and soda water.
Traditional Island games
Walk on Hot Coals
Dig a shallow pit about three feet wide by six feet long and fill it with charcoals. Add starter fluid to get the charcoals burning. Cover them completely with medium-sized smooth rocks and let the rocks get hot. Any guests who are brave or foolish enough may hop across the rocks with their bare feet.
‘O‘O Ihe(Spear Throwing)
Spear throwing contests were held to display strength and skill for fighting and food gathering. A target, sometimes the stalk of a banana plant, is set up and contestants stand some 15 feet away and attempt to stick a lightweight wooden spear in it. Watch the video below, which features spear throwing and other traditional games.
A great alternative for the littler ones would be the inflatable Fish Spearing Game at Party America.com or Party City.com, if they still carry it as of the time of this writing. If not, this is what it looks like and you can make your own version out of a an old toilet seat (padded and decorated) and a bamboo stick. Hang it in a tree in the corner of the yard.
‘Ulu Maika’ (Rolling Stones)
Based on ancient Hawaiian Makahiki games, this game is played similar to horseshoes. Stones somewhat resembling modern hockey pucks were rolled between stakes on specially prepared courses to test a player’s skills, or rolled down long courses to show strength. One of the best of the remaining ‘ulu maika courses, approximately 500 feet long, is located on the island of Moloka’i.
Moa Pahe‘e (Dart Sliding)
Using a wooden dart, which resembles a very small bat without the little grip stop on the end (maybe 8” long) with the skinny end and the fat end, you grasp the skinny end and toss the dart like a bowling ball between two stakes.
Blowing a conch shell takes skill: you have to know how to purse your lips, where to place them for the best sound, and how hard to blow. (The sounds made by a novice are hilarious!)
Ancient Hawaiians used to hold foot races to see which warrior was the fastest. You can hold single person races, three legged races, and backwards running races. Watch the first video above, under spear throwing, for an example.
Type of Hawaiian Luau fighting. The contestants do not use their hands, and can only stand on one foot, and try to knock their opponent out of the ring.
Tug O’ War
To play this game you will need a 20’ length of rope, a 6’ length of rope, and a bandana.
Divide your guests into two equal teams. Choose a large grassy or sandy area to play. Place the 6’ rope on the ground in the middle of the chosen area. This marks the centerline. Have teams line up in single file on either side of the centerline, arms length apart. Tie the bandana in the center of the 20’ rope and place over the centerline. Each player grabs the tugging rope and at the signal tries to pull the first member of the other team over the centerline.
This is a card game played with special Hana Fuda cards. I was introduced to it by a friend whose mother was Japanese. She gave me a set of these cards many, many years ago. I’ve even forgotten how to play it has been so long. So I went online to see if I could find the rules. How thrilling to find that this game is played by native Hawaiians under a different name. The cards do not have numbers on them, only beautiful pictures, but they have point values. Along with the rules I found some vendors who sell the cards.
There are only 13 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet: A, E, H, I K, L, M, N, O, P, U and W. The consonants H, K, L, M, N, P, and W are pronounced exactly as in English. If a name ends in a consonant, add a vowel. Always place a vowel between consonants. The following conversion table can be helpful in translating names:
Add some true Island spice to your dinner with genuine Island customs:
Placing a lei over someone’s head is the customary way to welcome or congratulate them. If the person is close in relationship to you, you would give them a honihoni (kiss) also. Leis are usually made of flowers, but can also be made of candies or other decorative items. And when your lei starts to fade and die, don’t toss it in the trash. It is bad luck to throw a lei away. A lei is love and you would never throw love away. Rather cut the string and cast the flowers into the sea or hang the lei outside until it is gone.
I love that it is the custom in Hawaii for young ones to refer to older people as “auntie” or “uncle” when they are old family friends or neighbors of the parents. That is how we raised our kids to do. In Hawaii it is appropriate even to address a stranger as “auntie” or “uncle.” It is friendly yet respectful.
You would never walk into someone’s home in the islands with shoes on. And it is good manners to bring a small gift with you, possibly a dessert, when visiting someone’s home. There is a pidgin phrase, “Make Plate” or “Take Plate” that also shows good guest manners. When you have been invited to share a meal at someone’s home it is customary that you make a plate of food of the leftovers to take home, even if you don’t intend to eat it. By doing this you are being a good guest and not leaving the mess for the host to clean up and put away. Many times all the leftovers are packaged up and taken to the homeless.
Unless you are at a sporting event, it is considered rude to talk loudly, or to act like you are entitled to special treatment. Politeness and reserve are considered a show of good breeding.
Dress is casual, aloha shirts and slacks are worn in place of suits and ties in business, and it is considered rude to stare or look someone in the eye for too long in public places. And when you go away on a trip it is considered thoughtful to bring back gifts “makana” from your journey. Most prized are special foods that are unavailable at home.
I’m so happy you stopped by, and I pray your family supper night is such a huge hit that it becomes a favorite monthly tradition. God bless!
“Let love be without hypocrisy…be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another…distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13
While the rest of my fellow “gringos” are having “Ugly Sweater” parties, Cookie Exchanges, and Gift Wrapping/Mulled-Wine drinking parties for Christmas wouldn’t it be fun to host a TAMALADA just to be different?
I recently tried my hand at making Tamales, and to my delight they turned out, and were actually delicious (thank God), but boy howdy were they a ton of work. Took me ALL DAY! I’m absolutely addicted to tamales at Christmas, but I’m thinking if I ever decide to make them again I will want to make a party out of it, because many hands make light work. So here’s what I’m thinking…
Who to invite? Hmmm, well they’ll need to be reliable guests, who promise to make their dish and show up for the assembly process.
I could send them each a recipe card, after they RSVP and volunteer for a portion of the tamale-making they want to do. The host (which will be me, if I manage to muster the courage to actually do this) will provide snacks, and beverages – I’m thinking some fun drink choices would be Sangria; a Hot-Mexican-Chocolate Bar; Horchata Smoothies; and blended Margaritas. I’ll need to remember to find a good Latino Christmas Album or two or three to play for ambiance during the party, and also dig out an entertaining game to go with the party, that we can play while we’re waiting for the first batch of tamales to come out of the steamers. A couple of my favorites are Mexican Train (dominoes) and Canasta (cards)!
Or, if my family/friends want to bring their Christmas cards, stamps, address labels, and stationery we could get our Christmas cards ready to mail out while we wait for tamales, and we can snack and visit while we write and fold and lick and stamp! Make it kind of a working Tamale party! I can offer this on the invitations, and then discuss it with everybody when they RSVP.
Here’s how I’m thinking we can split up the cooking…
Guests #1, 2, & 3 could each make a 3-lb pork roast (half of the recipe listed below) and shred it, discarding any bone or cartilage, and reserving and bringing the strained pork broth to the party.
Printable Recipe Card
Guest #4 could make the Chili sauce up to the point of adding the broth and blending it, and bring the cooked chilies with them to the party.
Printable Recipe Card
HOST: could prepare corn husks
Guest #5 could make the Masa, up to the point of adding the broth and mixing, and bring it to the party
So, I know from experience that it’s going to take at least 4 hours to make the finishing touches on the meat and masa, then assemble, and steam the tamales. So I’ll plan my party accordingly when filling out the details on the invitation. Maybe I should have it on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon?
Once my guests have RSVP’d and volunteered for the dish they want to make, I’ll send them out the recipe card for their items (shown above, in case you missed them).
Buy whatever groceries and beverages I’ll need and give myself time to prepare them before the party.
Set up a station for the final masa preparation. I will need counter space, a large bowl, a mixer, and a cup of warm water to test the masa in.
Set up a work station for the final preparation of the red sauce. I will need a large sauce pot for the stove, and a blender or food processor. Someone will be making a roux in the sauce pot, and another person will be blending the red sauce (softened chilies and broth from pork). The pork and the red sauce will be added to the roux.
I’ll set up a large table for assembly. Place the ingredients down the center of my table, the husks next to the masa, the masa next to the meat, and finally a cookie sheet at the end to pile the tamales on. I’ll put a person at each ingredient and we’ll pass each tamal along. They’ll go together pretty quick. I will need some clean kitchen towels and possibly a roll of paper towels, also a masa spreader or spatula, a spoon to measure the masa, a spoon to measure the meat, and a large cookie sheet. And afterward some tin foil to wrap the tamales in for sending home or freezing.
Make room in my refrigerator for whatever uncooked tamales, and whatever else needs refrigerated.
Set up the steamer pots (illustrated below). I will need two large canner size pots with lids and a steamer basket for each inside. I will also need two clean kitchen towels and water for those.
Set up a beverage station with various beverages as mentioned earlier. I can set up a hot cocoa bar, I can also set out a large thermos of blended Margaritas, and a pitcher of Sangria. I might also want to set out some iced tea and water and a cooler of ice, and a variety of glasses and mugs.
Set up an appetizer/snack table where guests can nibble as we wait for the tamales to cook. Decide what appetizers I will serve at my party, and have them ready when guests arrive. I will need serving plates, bowls, spoons, etc. I might want to have a pretty tablecloth for this table, and some festive table decorations.
Set up the music that I will have playing in the background of my party.
Set out a couple of game choices (mentioned earlier), so that once the tamales are all assembled, and the table has been cleared, we can start having some fun. Or if we all prefer doing Christmas cards, I will need to *be sure to note this in my party reminder call, so my guests will know to bring their supplies!
Of course I’ll want a clean house, a spotless kitchen, and a tidy bathroom at least. Ugh! Sometimes this keeps me from throwing parties! My house is truly never clean enough. Oh suck it up girl, get to scrubbin’ it’s gonna be fun!!!!!!!!!
A day or two before the party I can send a reminder via Text/eMail/Phonecall, so my guests will know if we’ll be doing Christmas cards during the party, or just playing games and eating. They might need the prodding for the dish they are making too!
Day of the party designate various ASSEMBLY LINE jobs:
Someone to wash all the dirty dishes and clean counters (my least fav job)
Someone to make the roux, and mix the meat with the sauce
Someone to finish making the red sauce
Someone to finish making the masa
Assembly line Husk Person, who will dry and pass the husks
Assembly line Masa Spreader person
Assembly line Meat person, who will also wrap tamales
Tamale tie person, who will tear off strips of husk to tie around tamales and stack them on a cookie sheet
And finally someone to set up and load steamers, and babysit them with water
Pork for Tamales
2 3-lb pkgs Pork Carnitas or a shoulder roast
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, broken in pieces
3 jalapenos, chopped
1 Tbsp salt
Enough water to cover
DO AT HOME: Place pork roast, onion, garlic, and salt in a large pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer over medium heat until pork is very tender, about 3 hours. Remove pork from water and shred. Store in a Ziploc bag and keep in refrigerator for up to a day, until ready to use. Strain liquid and reserve for use in making the red sauce and the masa. Place in sealed jars in refrigerator for up to a day. Skim the fat off the broth and place it in a separate ziploc bag to use for the roux. Bring the pork, broth, and skimmed fat to the party.
DO AT THE PARTY: Once at the party someone will need to make a roux (see recipe below) and then the pulled pork can be combined with the roux and the red sauce.
4 ounces California (or Cascavel) chile pods, seeds and stems removed
4 ounces New Mexico chile pods, seeds and stems removed
1 1/4 cup reserved pork broth
1 1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp salt
3 cloves garlic, broken in pieces
1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin seeds
DO AT HOME: Toast chilies in a hot skillet over medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant. Rinse chile pods. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add rinsed chile pods and cook until chile pods are softened, about 15 minutes. Drain water off chilies and discard the water. Add salt, garlic, and ground cumin. Seal in a plastic bag until ready to blend at the party. This can be done up to a day ahead.
DO AT THE PARTY: Pour chilies, broth, and water into a blender and blend until smooth. Place in large kettle until ready to mix with the pork.
Roux: Someone will need to make a roux using ½ cup lard, reserved from roast, and ½ cup flour. Cook on the stove, stirring continually until peanut butter colored. Toss in the pork and red sauce and mix well. I also like to chop another jalapeno or two to add to the meat. Cover and refrigerate, or if near to being ready to assemble, place on the assembly line.
2 pounds Manteca lard, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder, divided
2 tablespoons salt, divided
5 pounds ground masa harina, divided
2 to 3 cups broth reserved from cooked pork roast (or chicken broth), divided
½ bunch Cilantro, finely minced
Small white onion, very finely minced
½ cup Tomatillo Salsa, or Salsa Verde
Reserved pork broth with skimmed fat
DO AT HOME: Place 1 pound of lard in a KitchenAid® Stand Mixer and mix until fluffy, scraping sides so the lard stays in the center of the mixing bowl. (The flat beater is the ideal accessory for mixing.) Add half the baking powder and half the salt to the lard and mix together. Add half the masa harina and mix together. Seal in a ziploc bag in the fridge.
Now do the other half of the same ingredients, and store in the fridge in a ziploc bag for up to a day. Please bring to room temp before bringing to the party.
DO AT THE PARTY: Place one room temperature batch of the masa in a large bowl. Slowly add half the broth, half the onion and cilantro, and half the salsa verde, to and mix until combined. The mixture should be about the consistency of smooth peanut butter. If not, add more broth as necessary. Test the masa by taking a small piece (1/2 teaspoon) and dropping it into a cup of warm water. If it floats it is ready; if it sinks, add a little more lard, beat for another minute and test it again. Repeat this process until the masa floats. Cover and set on the assembly table.
Repeat the process with the remaining batch of masa.
DO AT HOME: Take husks from package and rinse well in the sink, removing any silks or debris. Fill a large stock pot with water and press the clean husks down to submerge them. Bring water to a boil and soak husks in gently boiling water for about 1 hour. You may need to flip the stack occasionally so the top ones get pliable. Drain water from husks but keep husks in the kettle with the lid on.
DO AT THE PARTY: Set warm, soaked husks, in covered pot on the assembly table. Keep a clean kitchen towel nearby to dry the husks just before spreading them with masa, otherwise the masa won’t stick.
Place the husks, masa, meat, and cookie sheet down the center of a table, and seat my guests all around it, except the guest who volunteered to do the mountain of dirty dishes. Assembly will start with corn husks being dried off and passed to the masa person next to them, that person will spread it with masa and pass it to the meat person next to them; that person will top it with meat and wrap it and hand it across to the tie person; that person will tear off a little strip from a boiled husk and use it to tie around the tamal and lay on the cookie sheet. Once the cookie sheet is full and heaping, the last person (ME) will pack the tamales vertically in the steamer with the open end up and start them steaming.
SPREADING THE MASA: Place the wide end of the husk on the palm of your hand (or on the flat work surface), narrow end is at the top. Starting at the middle of the husk spread 2 tablespoons of the masa with a spatula or masa spreader in a rectangle shape, using a downward motion towards the wide-bottom edge. Do not spread the masa to the ends; leave about a 2-inch border on the left and right sides of the husk. Pass to the person with the meat (or other) filling. There is too wide of a swath of masa on this husk shown below, and also it’s not quite thick enough. You only need enough masa to wrap around the meat and a little extra to hold the husk closed.
ADDING THE MEAT: Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons of your chosen filling down the center of the masa. (When I ran out of meat filling and still had masa, I started making Pepper Jack Cheese and Jalapeno filling. Fold both sides of hust to the center over the top of the meat; finish off by bringing the pointed end of the husk toward the filled end. Pass tamale to the person who will tie the tamales closed.
TAMALE TIE PERSON: Make sure each tamal is snuggly closed and will not open during steaming. You can secure by tying a thin strip of corn husk around each tamal. This will keep the tamal from unwrapping during the steaming process, especially if the husk is too thick and will not stay folded. Stack wrapped tamales on a cookie sheet.
HOST: Prepare the steamer pots… (You will also load the steamer pots)
This is my tamale steamer. I can only fill water up to the little rack, but not above it, and start it simmering on the stove. The steamer pot needs to be tall enough for our tamales to sit up vertically above the water and still fit the lid on. (If you don’t have a double boiler, you can improvise like I have. All mine is, is a round cooling rack setting on top of a brick, which I’ve washed several times in the dishwasher, or I could also use a small colander placed down into the bottom of my soup kettle and my rack on top. This set up works perfectly. Each steamer will need to have a clean kitchen towel and a lid.
When a cookie sheet of tamales is piled up high, they can be loaded in the steamer…
Fill the top part of the steamer with tamales. Stand the tamales up vertically, open ends up and folded ends at the bottom, and make sure the folded part is either tied up, or held in place with another tamal. Pack the tamales snug enough so that they won’t fall over during cooking, but not so tight that the steam can’t get in around them. In other words, don’t cram and squish them as tight as they will go, but let there be too much space or they will collapse and mush over. If there are not enough tamales to fill the steamer, use canning jars to take up the spaces so the tamales don’t fall over.
Turn heat up on the water until it boils. Cover the tamales with a clean kitchen towel and then the lid of the pot. Turn the heat down to medium so that it stays gently boiling, but not raging boiling. Set timer for 2 hours. Check every 20 to 30 minutes or so to make sure the water is not boiling dry, and add boiling water as necessary. Make sure the tamales are above the water line and that the bottoms are not siting in water at all.
Tamales will need to steam for 2 hours or more. After 2 hours we can test for doneness. Remove one tamale and check if the masa holds together and slips easily off the husk. If so, it is done, if not it needs to steam some more. Check again in 15 minutes when I check the water level.
When a batch of tamales is done they can be eaten right away, or wrapped in foil (1 dozen at a time) and refrigerated or frozen for later.
Divide the wrapped dozens of tamales among the guests. There should be about 1-2 dozen per guest.
You will want to eat some at the party!!!! There are lots of ways to eat tamales. Some like them topped with just a little of the red sauce, which you can make another batch of while the tamales are steaming. I like mine all different ways. Straight out of the steamer and burning my fingers and tongue as I shove them into my mouth, or if I have all the toppings on hand for Tortilla Soup or Carnitas tacos, I like all of those (minus the tortilla strips) on top of my tamales. I also like them with salsa verde, chopped onions, cilantro, and jalapenos, and a little dallop of sour cream (as pictured below). And I also like them loaded up with red sauce, pepper-jack cheese, black olives, corn and black bean salsa, shredded lettuce and pico de gallo. There is just about no wrong way to eat a tamale.
So there you have it. Sound like fun to you? I’m pretty sure all my Mexican friends reading this are laughing at my gringo-ness; all having hosted and attended a hundred Tamaladas, so hopefully one of you will take pity on me and invite me to your next one, to show me how it’s done! My hat’s off to whoever invented tamales, for passing on this wonderful food, and to my friends south of the border for keeping going this fun tradition. Feliz Navidad!
“The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; a banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine.” Isaiah 25:6
Originally featured in my book, Come for Supper, the memoirs of a reluctant hostess, this is one of my very favorite meals. Not because it is top shelf gourmet, for in fact it is probably closer to just being sustenance on that scale; mostly made with government commodities, or what can be scavenged in the wild, using few and extremely inexpensive ingredients. Not to say these aren’t all very yummy dishes though, don’t be scared, just probably not cheffy food, if that’s what you were looking for. The beauty of this meal for me is in savoring the foods of another people. Cultural differences can sometimes separate us, but I am enchanted by the brotherhood of the table and the fellowship of food. Eating modest foods also makes me very thankful for the things that I have, and the extravagant meals I have been blessed to enjoy. In a world where some have the luxury of living-to-eat, this is a great reminder that many many people on this planet eat-to-live, and even with the little that they have, are incredibly generous.
I am drawn to and have a deep affection for the American Indians. I think we all do. Most of us played cowboys and Indians when we were kids. Many of our grandparents told tall tales about having native blood in our lineage. It is the raw deal, and unfair treatment of our native people by our government, that gives us (me, at least) a huge mistrust of the federal government. And although they’ve been tucked away, they have never been forgotten. We admire their courage and bravery, so much so that many of our sports teams have been given names like, “Chiefs” “Braves” “Redskins” and “Indians.” Many towns (and counties) in my native state have Indian names: Sundance, Shoshoni, Meeteetse, Ten Sleep, Crowheart, Chugwater, Arapahoe, Wapiti, Cheyenne, Osage, etc. Movies like Dances With Wolves, Son of the Morning, and Windtalkers reinforce the love affair. Even so, how many of us truly know our native brethren? Or, know anything about what their life is like today (myself included)? Most likely the closest we ever come is visiting a local gambling casino, or reading about some misfortune in the newspaper. By bringing us to a table to celebrate some of their best dishes, I hope to change that a little. This is an interesting articlethat I really wanted to save for myself, and share with you, as we consider honoring these interesting people with a Native fall feast for our family and friends.
1 lb Commodity flour (about 3 cups of all-purpose flour)
Powdered milk and water to equal about 2/3 cup liquid
1 Tbsp Vegetable shortening
1 tsp Baking soda
1 tsp Salt
Mix all ingredients except powdered milk together. Add milk to other ingredients to form a dough and beat it up. If the dough is too sticky to roll out, add a little more flour. Roll it very thin on a flour dusted cutting surface, cut it into pieces with a pizza cutter, lay the pieces on a parchment lined cookie sheet, prick each piece with a fork, and bake it quickly in a 350 degree oven until toasted golden. Try these crackers the traditional way first, but the next time you make them you might wish to substitute fresh whole milk for the powdered milk, 2 Tbsp butter for the shortening and a splash of olive oil, and perhaps sprinkle the dough with a mixture of seeds, or some parmesan cheese, or some finely chopped italian herbs before cutting and baking. These are also nice served with an assortment of cheeses.
THREE SISTERS SOUP (the 3 sisters are beans, corn, and squash)
1 lb beef stew meat
8 cups water
3 spring onions with tops
1 tsp minced garlic
1 can kidney beans and liquid
Half gallon size bag of fresh green beans, sliced (may substitute frozen or canned)
3 ears fresh corn (may substitute frozen or canned)
3 summer squash, cubed
½ tsp oregano (or 3 mint leaves)
2 tsp salt
5 lg squash blossoms
Cook the stew meat in water until tender. Cut corn from cob, chop spring onions, and add all vegetables to water and simmer until tender. Add seasonings, and squash blossoms; simmer 15 minutes. (For vegetarian version omit meat).
This is a mostly authentic recipe, and doesn’t have much flavor, especially if canned vegetables are used, which are most likely. The next time you make it you will want to use beef broth in place of the water, and leftover beef roast, pulled apart. I always prefer fresh vegetables. I also added 1 packet of beef gravy mix and 1 packet of Lipton Onion Soup Mix to my pot. I also added a small can of Rotel Tomatoes, 1 large potato diced, 1 large carrot chopped, a handful of frozen peas, 2 tsp. minced garlic, to the other vegetables, and about a ¼ tsp. of Cayenne powder. Salt and pepper to taste. Delish!
WILD GREENS AND FLOWERS SALAD
Serves 4 to 6
Salads were much liked in the spring when new, tender greens appeared. A great variety of mixtures was used. Since salt was uncommon or not used at all, salads were flavored by herbs, oil pressed from seeds, and especially with vinegar made from fermented, evaporated, uncooked maple sap (which we can’t make or get). So this is an approximation of the spring tonic salads beloved by all woodland people after the long winters.
1 cup watercress leaves and (only) tender stems
1 cup lamb’s ears, quarter new leaves (or use small spinach leaves)
1 cup arugula lettuce torn (not cut) to bite-size pieces;
can also use Bibb or less expensive leafy (not iceberg) lettuces
1 cup Dandelion leaves
1/2 cup tender nasturtium and violet leaves torn up
1/2 cup nasturtium and violet flowers (in season)
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup salad oil
As much tender mint leaves as you like in the salad
2 tsp fresh mint chopped fine and bruised
2 tsp chopped tarragon (fresh) or 1 tsp dried if necessary
optional: salt and pepper to taste
Combine honey and vinegar, whisk in oil and crushed mint. Season to taste with small amount of salt. Pour over greens and flowers in large bowl, and toss for about 3 minutes to coat everything with dressing. Serve immediately.
If you cannot find the greens and flowers listed, you can use a “spring mix” salad from the produce department and add to that whatever edible flowers and greens that you can find, perhaps look at your local garden center, nursery, or fresh herb store.
SQUASH OR PUMPKIN BLOSSOM FRITTERS (Pueblo style)
serves 4 – 6
2 dozen large squash blossoms
(4 dozen of the smaller pumpkin blossoms)
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin powder
2 – 3 cups finely ground cornmeal (masa harina)
Oil for deep frying
If you’re a gardener or truck farmer, you can make this dish easy; otherwise you’ll need to visit with a farmer at a Farmer’s Market about getting some blossoms. During the growing season farmers thin the blossoms of their vines, because the vine can’t support but only a couple of pumpkins or a few squash. At season’s end there will be an abundance of flowers, as the fruit will not have time to finish before winter.
Rinse and pat blossoms dry. In a shallow bowl, beat eggs with milk, chili, salt, and cumin. Dip blossoms in egg mix, and then roll gentle in cornmeal. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes to set coating. Heat 2 inches of oil in a deep saucepan to about 375°, hot but not smoking. Fry blossoms a few at a time until golden, drain on paper towels. Keep warm in 250° oven until ready to serve.
Only in the southwest are the blossoms of squash and pumpkin important as a religious symbol, as well as food. They appear as sacred symbols in many Pueblo ceremonies, and gave rise to a popular design worked in silver.
There is a Hopi Squash Kachina (Patung). He is Chief Kachina (wuya) for the Hopi Pumpkin Clan. He runs with men of a village in spring ceremonial dances to attract rain clouds.
The Hopis and Pueblo farmers gather large quantities of squash and pumpkin flowers at the end of the growing season, when these flowers cannot make fruit; that’s the time white farmers harvest their curcurbitae and pull up or plow under the still-flowering vines.
OR, you may like to try this stuffed blossom recipe….
STUFFED SQUASH BLOSSOMS
2 doz. squash blossoms
8 oz. block cream cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
1 Tbsp chopped green onion
1½ c. flour
½ tsp salt
¾ to 1 cup dry white wine
cooking oil for frying
The authentic way is not to stuff the blossoms, but simply to batter and fry them, or just fry them naked in melted shortening. This is a recipe I stumbled across recently and enjoyed. Pick large squash blossoms in early morning just before they open. (I used my garden zucchini blossoms that had opened already and they turned out okay). Heat 1-2” oil in heavy Dutch oven. Meanwhile, stuff blossoms with a tablespoon of filling. Smooth peddles over filling, and make batter. When oil is ready (pops and crackles when a drop of water is added), drop each blossom into batter, turning to coat evenly, and then immediately into hot oil. Turn while frying to cook evenly on all sides, and remove with a slotted spoon when they have turned golden-brown. Drain on paper towels, and serve hot as an accompaniment for soup. Or, they also make a great appetizer with a spicy marinara sauce to dip them in.
This recipe makes 8-10 small ones or 5 big flat ones
2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
Deep hot fat in fry pan or fryer
Sift dry ingredients. Lightly stir in milk. Add more flour as necessary to make a dough you can handle. Kneed and work the dough on a floured board with floured hands until smooth. Pinch off fist-sized lumps and shape into slightly twisted ropes — everyone has their own characteristic shapes.(Shape affects the taste, by the way because of how it fries). For Indian tacos, shape dough into a rather flat disk shape, with a depression — almost a hole — in the center of both sides. Make it that way if the fry bread is going to have some sauce over it. Smaller, round ones are made to put on a plate. Fry in deep fat (about 375°) until golden and done on both sides, about 5 minutes. Drain on absorbent paper. (My grandmother made what she called, “Squaw Bread” at least once a month when I was growing up. Her’s was made from regular yeast dough. It was one of my favorite things on earth!!!!)
Wojape (Wo-zha-pee), a pudding, a dessert. Wojape is traditional to the Sioux and other Northern Plains Nations and predates most of us living now. This is a berry pudding to eat with fry bread. It was made with fresh wild berries collected during that season and also dried berries, preserved for use through the winter. The berries were mixed with sugar when it became available, and also flour for thickener. Today is a different time and Wojape, like many other things, has adapted to the easy access of ingredients. However, it is just as delicious. It can be eaten after a meal as a dessert or as many “out there” know, as a main course maybe with a hot cup of coffee. She calls it modern because of using any kind of frozen berries, “We moderns often use government commodities gallon cans.” This recipe makes enough for about 20-30 people who have 1-2 fry breads.
Many thanks for this recipe go to: Ms. Stacy Winter of Crow Creek, Rapid City, South Dakota.
1 Bag (5 lb) frozen berries (blueberry, raspberry, cherry or a mix)
8 cup Water
2 cup Sugar
Cornstarch or Arrowroot
To a 5 quart pot (enamel or stainless steel) add all the berries and smash them with a potato masher. (If you are fortunate enough to have a food processor this would work fine also. However, stop just short of puree, you want fine pieces throughout.) To the smashed berries add the water and sugar. Boil (lightly) this mixture (Approximately 15 to 20 minutes) until everything is cooked. Thicken to desired thickness with cornstarch that has been dissolved in cold water. Serve warm and eat with Indian Fry Bread. Dip the bread into the Wojape and eat in this manner.
Wojape is also outstanding on French Toast, Pancakes, plain Cheesecake, over ice cream, and is excellent served over Angel Food Cake with a dallop of whipped cream.
INDIAN FRYBREAD TACOS
Frybread tacos are very much like the Elephant Ear tacos that we used to get at the carnival when the rodeo was in town. Very easy and one of my favorite things to eat. If I have leftover homemade chili I use it in place of the meat recipe here. And when I can’t find Anasazi beans, and I’m in a hurry, I just substitute canned pintos.
6 pieces Indian Frybread — about 6” in diameter
1 lb hamburger
1 large onion minced
2 small cans tomato paste
1 big can tomatoes
1/2 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp chile powder
salt, pepper to taste
Fry onion and hamburger broken up loose. Sprinkle some salt and chile powder over it. Add tomato paste and 4 cans of water and the canned tomatoes and their juice — break up tomatoes and stir it around. Add basil and oregano. Taste for seasoning. If you want, you can use a taco seasoning packet in place of seasonings, and a mild tomato salsa in place of tomato paste and tomatoes. Simmer till meat and onions are done and sauce is thick, 30 – 40 minutes.
1/2 lb cheese grated coarse
1 1/2 c Dried anasazi beans, cooked
1 1/2 c Mache or arugula, washed & stemmed (I’ve often substituted Cilantro, chopped)
1 lg Red ripe tomato, sliced
2 ea Ripe avocados, halved & sliced
1 ea Red onion, thinly sliced
1 ea Bunch red radishes, sliced
24 ea Golden yellow plum tomatoes halved
6 ea Green Anaheim (New Mexico) chiles, prepared (I’ve sometimes substituted Poblanos when Anaheims are out of season or unavailable)
1 lg Red bell pepper
To prepare the anasazi beans, soak overnight in water to cover. The next day, drain the beans and place them in a saucepan with fresh water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and let the beans simmer until the skins break, about 3 hours. It may be necessary to add water as the beans cook to prevent them from burning and sticking. After the beans are cooked, remove from the heat and set aside. You should have about 3 cups cooked beans. While the beans are cooking, roast, seed, and de-vein the chiles and the bell pepper. Leave chiles whole; slice pepper lengthwise into six strips.
To Assemble the tacos, place a layer of meat mixture, cheese, and 1/2 cup cooked beans on each piece of frybread. Add 1/4 cup greens per taco, followed by a red tomato slice. Add slices avocado and 1 thin slice red onion, separated into rings. Follow with radishes and 4 golden yellow plum tomatoes per taco, and top with 1 roasted green chile and 2 slices roasted red pepper. You can vary the toppings and the order in which the taco is built, and for a vegetarian version omit the meat sauce and cheese.
You may also wish to offer Sour Cream (I like the Mexican Crema) and salsa (favorite jarred, or refrigerated varieties).
1 lb Pork
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1 lg Onion, diced
3 c Water
2 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 lg can stewed tomatoes
1 lb Green cactus, peeled & diced
1/4 t. Cumin
Cube the pork; fry in a skillet with onion and garlic. In a large Dutch oven, add all ingredients, salt and pepper to taste and 1/4 tsp. cumin and seasoned salt. Cook until meat is tender. You might like to season this with an assortment of dried ground up chili peppers, like New Mexico red chilies, green chilies, chipotle chilies, and little chili pequine, to make it like a Chili Colorado. Very good with corn cakes, or the pinion squash bread featured below!
Cactus (fresh, small, thick pads): Remove spines with knife and peel, or purchase at market in a jar, diced and packed in its own juices. You can usually find it at Mexican markets; the cactus referred to is generally prickly-pear cactus. The juice from the prickly pear cactus is also useful in Native American craftwork, specifically painting with earth paints.
PUEBLO PUMPKIN/SQUASH PIÑON NUT SWEETBREAD
Makes One loaf, serves 6 – 8
Rio Grande Pueblo peoples traditionally served a variant of this sweetbread to parties of nut-pickers in September when piñon nuts were being picked from the mountain slope trees. Families would (and some still do) camp for many weeks in traditional areas reserved to clans. In the recipe you can use either cooking-type pumpkin (these have necks and thick, meaty bodies, not like jack o’ lantern pumpkins) or a sweet bright orange squash, like butternut.
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup finely mashed or pureed pumpkin/squash
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
2 eggs beaten foamy
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup pine nuts
Preheat oven to 350. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, spices. Stir in pumpkin, eggs, butter. Stir pine nuts into thick batter. Scrape into a greased 6 x 9 loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour or until knife inserted in bread comes out clean.
This sweetish, spicy bread goes well with soups, stews, and can also be a dessert, especially if you cut it apart and put yogurt or applesauce over it.
OR, this is a sweeter, less cinnamony version that lets the pumpkin shine through…
PUMPKIN PINE-NUT BREAD
Makes 2 loaves
2 c Flour
1/2 c Oil
3 Eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c Sugar
1 teaspoons Baking soda
1 teaspoons Vanilla
3/4 c Milk
2 c Cooked pumpkin
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 c Pine nuts, roasted
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a medium size bowl, mix eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Mix well, then add pumpkin. Mix well and folk into dry ingredients. Add pine nuts. Pour batter into 2 greased 5×9-inch loaf pans and bake for 45 minutes.
The pine nuts generally taste better if, before they’re added to the mix, you put them on an ungreased cookie sheet in the oven for about 10 minutes at about 350-400 degrees. It roasts them a little. But watch them carefully to make sure they don’t burn.
1 Graham cracker crust in 8″ spring form pie pan
1 lb low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (or 1 can)
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Preheat oven to 325°. Put all ingredients into blender, a little at a time, alternating wet and dry. Process until smooth, then pour into crust and spread evenly. Bake for about 50 minutes. Let cool before serving. May be topped with yogurt, flavored with 2 Tbsp maple syrup. Take it up a notch drizzled over with caramel sauce, and sprinkled with chopped pecans.
A TASTE OF CULTURE…
If you have kiddos, you can make this supper a lot of fun for them. This is also a great get-together for church, or a Senior Center, or a classroom if you are a teacher, or homeschooler? Below are the cornucopia of ideas I’ve collected over the years for either a dinner party, or you can use them as activities during a weekend or weeklong festival.
Background Music: Tribal Winds, Music from Native American Flutes; also cd Good Medicine by John Two-Hawks – American Indian Lakota flute player & musician. I actually have several CD’s that I love, shown below. (Not shown: Gathering of Shamen – Native Flute Ensemble, Medicine Man – Pete “Wyoming” Bender, The Stories of Red Feather Woman – also featuring the music of Andrew Vasquez, with special guest Rodney Grant – Windriver).
Host a Pow-Wow: American Indians, at least those I am familiar with (Northern Arapaho, Eastern Shoshoni, Lakota Sioux, and Utah Navajo ) have an annual party called a Pow-Wow. They set up teepees, do dances, trade and sell craft items, share food, pray, play games, pass the peace pipe, and tell stories. Thermopolis Wyoming is home to the annual Pow-wow of the Windriver tribes, the Gift of the Waters Pageant, and they tell the history/stories of the giving of the healing waters (see clip on Facebook).
Here’s a fun idea: ask your guests to bring “trade items” (things they have outgrown, don’t use, or don’t want any more) to trade with each other. All unwanted items can be donated to a local charity thrift store after the get-together.
Hoop and Pole Game
Natives of different groups have their own special ways to play the Hoop and Pole game, but in all the games a person tosses a long dart of some kind at a circular hoop. In this version of the game the hoop is rolled along the ground, set into motion by a third player, while the two other players throw their pole as the hoop rolls in front of them. The score depends on how or if the pole falls on or through the hoop. Netted hoops are made by the Arapaho of Wyoming and other tribes.
Navajo tribes play a stick and dice game, and also a shoe game. Google them to see how they are played.
The Sun Dance, usually conducted once a year, is a custom of the Arapaho people. The Sun Dance is a sort of prayer ceremony. See more about it here.
Navajo Blanket (given to me by my father-in-law) collage
As the sun sets, gather everyone around to sit “Indian style” in a circle in the center of the yard around a fire pit. Pass around a “peace pipe” with imaginary tobacco in it and let everyone take a puff. This ritual in Arapaho belief is supposed to bond friendships. Encourage the oldest men of the group to pass on some of their wisdom to the younger by telling interesting stories of their boyhood, what games they played, things they did with their parents, faith experiences, etc. Some can share lessons they learned from mistakes they made. Maybe dad or grandpa or Uncle Jerry has a “vision” for the family (or church, or group) or a weird dream that they had that they would like to share.
Make Bead Chokers
Make a loom and weave pot holders
Make Beaded Moccasins
Make a Dream Catcher
The following are items I made for my granddaughter’s teacher to use for a center in her Kindergarten classroom this year.
Make a “Pretend Garden” using an old wooden box covered in burlap, pantyhose filled with black beans for the rows of soil, and hand-stitched felt veggies. Let the littles enjoy hours of play planting and replanting veggies.
Dollar Store bows, with homemade quivers for the arrows, plastic Bowie knives in homemade sheaths, and and assortment of primative instruments – they look cooler with feathers tied to them! Set up deer silhouettes and various parts of the yard and let the littles go hunting for food. Also let them make music for dancing.
Homemade Bamboo “Cane Poles” with string and child-safe hooks, and little fishes that they can catch with them. Make a “pretend pond” and let the littles catch fish for supper.
When you were born, you cried
and the world rejoiced.
Live your life
so that when you die,
the world cries and you rejoice. — White Elk
We do not want schools…. they will teach us to have churches. We do not want churches…. they will teach us to quarrel about God. We do not want to learn that. We may quarrel with men sometimes about things on this earth, but we never quarrel about God. We do not want to learn that.
My husband and I discovered a little burger joint soon after moving to south Texas. It’s not a fancy place. In fact it’s kind of grimey looking on the outside. A regular person might even drive right past it and not think twice about it. It’s just a little dive of a place really, along the side of the road in Hondo, TX, but one day the old man and I cowboyed up and gave it a try … and I tell you … we absolutely fell in love with the Santa Fe burger that we ordered that first day. We love it so much it’s all we can ever think about when we drive by. We stop in regularly, on our way through town, just to indulge in its deliciousness. We love it so much we haven’t even ever tried anything else on the menu. You ever find a restaurant like that? They are real sweet about adding a few extra things to our burgers, which is what puts the Santa Fe right over the top. The next thing we know we’ve got it dripping down our arms, not saying a word, chewing as fast as we can to make our nagging tongues happy.
So, because of the couple of little extras I always ask for, I feel like its okay to give you my take on Billy Bobs lovely little sandwich of deliciousness. My version by no means replaces theirs, but it’s a nice little appetizer between trips. I’ll warn you up front that It’s a little bit of work to make, but baby it’s worth it!!!! At least in my book.
Prepare the Green Chilies
For this recipe you’ll need about two green chilies per person, so about eight should do. I pick out the biggest and most firm Anaheim (Hatch, Fresno, New Mexico) green chilies available at the market (I also grow them in my garden).
Wash them and dry them off, and then lay them out on a cookie sheet.
Raise one of the oven racks to its highest position in the oven and turn the oven on to BROIL. Allow the oven to warm up, and then put the cookie sheet of chilies in, just under the top heating element.
I usually prop a wooden spoon in the door to hold it open a tad, so I can hear the chilies popping and crackling.
I keep an eye on them, as it doesn’t take long. When I see that they are pretty popped and blistered, and burned on that top side, I open the oven, slide the rack out, and use tongs to turn the chilies a quarter of a turn, and then put them back under the heat. I continue broiling and turning until the chilies are popped and blistered, and charred on all sides.
Quickly remove the chilies from the oven with tongs and immediately place them into a plastic Ziploc freezer back. As soon as all the chilies are inside the bag, zip it up, and then let them sit and steam for several minutes, while you work on the rest of your meal.
Back in Wyoming there was a certain time in the summer when the green chile trucks would show up in parking lots around town with heaping baskets full of green chilies and a barrel-type roaster that rotated over an open fire. We could buy the amount of chilies we wanted and they would roast them, and then package them up for us to take home. I often bought large amounts of those chilies, took them home and repackaged them (about six chilies to a bag) into plastic zip bags, with their blistered skins left on, but all the air squeezed out, and put them straight into my freezer. Whenever I wanted to make something with green chilies I’d grab a bag and let it thaw for a little bit on the kitchen counter, peel the skins off in the sink, and sometimes remove the seeds and stems (depending upon what I was making), and either use them whole or chop them into pieces for whatever recipe I was doing. SOooooo many ways to use green chilies!!!!
Its unfortunate, but we don’t get those trucks in the little Texas town where I live now, and perhaps not where you live either. The BBQ grill works, but I’m not a fan of standing over a hot grill to babysit chilies on a hot south Texas day. But, in this instance, you’ll be grilling burgers out there anyways, so you may prefer just to do it all on the grill. And maybe you have a hubby who is all about the grill and happy to do them for you! Knuckle bump!!!!
UPDATE: Since first posting this blog I got myself a neat little propane weed burner torch for burning those dadgum, infernal sticker burr weeds that grow up in the lawn down here in south Texas around labor day and Valentine’s Day, and I tell you what, it works pretty darn good for that, but it works slicker than snot for roasting chilies outside on the patio firepit on a gorgeous fall afternoon.
The Beef Patties
1 (1-pound) pkg of high quality ground beef plus 1 (1-pound) pkg of ground bison
1 jalapeno, stem removed, seeds and flesh chopped finely
1/2 of a small red onion, chopped finely
1 tsp Salt Lick dry rub seasoning (this is mostly just cayenne and ground black pepper)
Sliced Pepper Jack cheese – to be placed on burgers at the end of grilling
Hamburger buns of choice (Sometimes all I can find are the regular, sesame seed buns, but when I can find a good, soft, ciabatta-type bun, I use that).
Mix together gently and form into four or five good-sized patties. Set aside while you prepare the following ingredients, and then grill the burgers over hot coals on the BBQ. Add the cheese during the last minute or so of grilling.
Bacon (2 slices per burger), the best is the thicker sliced applewood bacon, fried crispy…
(but if I’m in a hurry and don’t have leftover bacon from breakfast, I’ll use the precooked bacon available at the grocery store and go with 3 or 4 slices per burger)
Peel the skins off the green chilies, and remove seeds and stems, but leave whole
Sliced red onion
Sliced heirloom tomatoes
Romaine lettuce leaves, washed and dried
Dill pickle slices
Garlic Mayonaise (mash 1 clove of garlic and mix into 2/3 cup of mayo, I often add a sprinkle of chili powder and a squeeze of lime, and sometimes some minced cilantro)
To Assemble the Burger
Some like their buns toasted
Spread some mayo over the bun halves
Squirt on some mustard
Lay a whole slice of red onion down
Place a few slices of jalapeno on top of the onion
Then a freshly cooked beef pattie with melted cheese
Layer on two Green Chilies, two slices of cooked bacon, a slice of tomato, a folded leaf of lettuce, (and a couple slices of dill pickle if desired)
Place the top of bun in place
Mash down so you can fit it in your mouth and ENJOY!!!!!
6 large red potatoes cooked until tender and cubed, skins on or off as preferred
4 hard boiled eggs, cooled and chopped
1/2 large red onion diced
3 stalks of celery chopped
2 Tbsp sweet pickle relish
1 small sprig of dill weed, chopped
1 bunch of green onions chopped
1 or 2 large jalapenos, seeds and stems removed, diced
1 cups Mayonnaise (plus more or less, as you like it)
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Sea Salt (plus more as desired)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground pepper
Put first eight ingredients in a very large bowl. Mix up sauce ingredients and pour over the ingredients in the bowl. Toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Add a half-cup of blue cheese crumbles and a quarter cup of crispy crumbled bacon as a garnish on top of potato salad.
Colleen’s Mexican Street Corn
8 ears fresh sweet corn (leave the husks and stems on)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Mexican crema (my grocer carries two types, a sweet cream type,which tastes like heavy whipping cream, and a sour cream kind. Both have a slightly thicker consistency than whipping cream)
1/2 cup finely crumbled cotija or Queso Fresco cheese
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I make my own blend, see recipe below)
1 medium clove garlic, mashed and finely minced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
4 or 5 limes, cut into wedges
I grilled my corn in the husks on the grill, turning about every 5 minutes until charred on all sides, and then I pulled the husks down over the stems (using oven mitt to protect my hands from burning) and returned the corn to the grill for a short time (about 3 minutes) to give the kernels that charred effect. What works even better though is that nifty little propane torch I told you about above. I left the husks attached for a decorative effect, but now as I look at these photos I’m thinking they might have been even cuter if I had tied something around each husk, like a piece of raffia or something, to bundle them together and anchor them to the stems, turning them into decorative “handles.” NOTE: The corn can also be shucked and “grilled” in the oven at 425 degrees F, turning about every 7 minutes or so until cooked all the way around. Once it is cooked on all sides and has some charred spots it’s time to dress it up.
While the corn is grilling, mix together the mayo (please don’t use the fat-free stuff. I know it may be healthier for you, but really, you must live a little!!! At this just this one meal in your lifetime!), crema, garlic, and add about 1/4 tsp of the chili powder. Juice and zest a couple of the limes and then add the juice and zest to the mayo mixture. Toss in about half of the crumbled cotija (Queso Fresco). Mix well and keep in fridge until ready to use. Cut the remaining limes into wedges and save for serving.
As soon as the corn is grilled, spread each cob with a generous amount of the mayo mix on all sides. Don’t be chincy. Follow with a sprinkling all around of chili powder, and then cheese crumbles. Sprinkle some cilantro on top, and a few extra sprinkles of the cheese. Serve immediately with a wedge of lime for each cob!
You’ve died and gone to heaven, right? I’m there with ya!!!!!!
Colleen’s Homemade Chili Powder
3 Ancho Chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and sliced
3 Cascabel/Guajillo chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and sliced
4 Arbol/Cayenne chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and sliced
2 Pasilla chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and sliced
2 New Mexico Red chiles (dried), stemmed, seeded, and sliced
1 Tablespoon Cumin seeds
1 Tablespoon dried Mexican Oregano
1 Tablespoon hot Paprika
Chili Pequin to taste (I sometimes crush these little guys separately and only add it to single portions, as it really brings the heat)
Place the chiles and cumin seeds in a saute pan or cast iron skillet and toast over medium heat about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and place in a glass bowl to cool completely. Once cool, place in a blender, along with the other ingredients and process until a fine powder. Allow the powder to settle for several minutes before lifting the lid. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Use for making chili, to season corn, or in BBQ sauces and dry rubs.
“Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, [and] anoint the shield…” Isaiah 21:5
I’m a little late posting this for THIS year, or maybe I’m just waaaay early for next year? Ha. But, here are some ways I thought would be nice to celebrate Grandparent’s Day. But, in all honesty, please don’t save them up for that one special day a year. If you have grandparents living close, do some of these with them as soon and as often as you can. Time passes so quickly. Memories fade. The breath of life evaporates before we know it. Don’t let it get away from you. Our elders are a special treasure!
“Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.” – Psalms 71:9
If your family doesn’t already have one, let the kids start a family pedigree chart with their grandparent. Let them do as much of the investigative work as they can to fill it in. First let them fill in their name in the center bottom space, and then just above it let them fill in the names of their dad and mom. Above those spaces are spaces for grandparents on the paternal and maternal sides. Spend a day or at least an afternoon with grandparents collecting information: names, birthplaces, careers, military, where family died and are buried. Ask for obituaries, photographs, family Bible notes, newspaper clippings and stories. It’s actually a lot of fun seeing where your family came from, not just ethnicity, but travels, both foreign and domestic. It’s also a great way to learn history. It means so much more and is so much more interesting when you find out you had actual family living in those times and places and events.
If you would like the electronic file for this chart so that you can print one for your personal use, please send your request to email@example.com, and write “Pedigree Poster” in the subject line.
This is a Pedigree chart I created as a Christmas gift to my family last year. I took the digital file of the pedigree chart above to my local print shop (also Staples, Copy Max, Walgreens, and even Walmart can print them) and had it printed on poster-size paper. I printed mine in color on plain paper, but they can also be printed on photo paper, and then framed in poster size frames.
“Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.” – Proverbs 17:6
Beside the pedigree poster hanging on my wall I have a decorative tree with photos of hubby & me, our parents, and our grandparents, three generations.
On one of our visits to my husband’s folks’ house, we were blessed to have his uncle stop by for a visit. He was in town to speak at a local high school about his experiences as a soldier in WWII (Europe). He was often asked to speak at schools about his personal experiences, because he was such a gifted story-teller. He wrote a book as well, which we treasure having a copy of. We of course were very interested to hear his stories and so asked if he would share some with us, which he happily did. We all sat around in the living room listening intently as he told of being on the boat and being soooo sea sick and all the other men being soooo very sea sick also, and then being dropped on the battlefield, and of his experiences as a Forward Observer, which was very dangerous. I could kick myself a thousand times that we didn’t get video of that visit (which is why I make the suggestion to you now). It is just so moving to hear a personal relative tell of historical events from their own personal experience, and see their facial expressions, and watch their body language. It is just so much more captivating than a book in history class. So I encourage you, if you have a grandparent, ask them to tell you a story about some important time in their life and video tape it.
“Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.” – Leviticus 19:32
Something our family DOES have, and I can tell you is an enormous treasure, is a compilation of my husband’s folks old home movies that they took on an old 8mm recorder. They had the movies transferred to VHS when that was the most modern thing, and gave us a copy. But as hubby and I were watching these silent movies, we realized that much of those people and places were unknown to us. So the next time his parents visited us we asked them to sit down and watch it with us and tell us where all those places were and who the people are. I set up a cassette recorder to record their narration. Many years later I took the old silent VHS and the narration on the cassettes and put them together on DVD. Then I made several copies and gave them as Christmas gifts for our family. It was the very next Christmas after grandpa had died and you can’t image what a treasure it was to the whole family to get to hear grandpa’s voice again, and laugh at his sense of humor, especially since the family had no idea we’d ever gotten that sound tract.
Also, if you have been to a funeral recently, most funeral homes ask the family to bring them old photos for a video slide show, set to music, to play during the service. Why wait until a person dies for this? Ask your grandparents now if you can borrow their old photographs, and then scan them into digital form and make a slide show of their lives from birth to old age. You can add captions to the photos that say where the photos were taken and who the people are, and you can also add a favorite song or songs of theirs to go along with it. Most computers have the software for making photo slide show DVD’s on them. I used Movie Maker to make DVD’s of our family vacations, weddings, and a memorial of our dad. It would be a nice trip down memory lane for them to get to see their lives laid out in such a way, and a special thing to share with them while they are living.
“And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.” – Ruth 4:15
Old Letters and Great Books
My husband’s dad served in Korea, and wrote letters home to his parents a couple times a week. We found the letters a while back, along with a bunch of pictures he took while in boot camp and on the front lines. We also were fortunate to get to inherit his army coat, a hat, and medals, maps, and various other personal objects from the war, along with the flag that was presented to the family at his funeral, and the bullet casings from the 21 gun salute. Altogether the letters and photos, and photos of the objects made a wonderful book that is and shall forever be a cherished keepsake for generations.
I also collected all our family history, stories, pedigrees, photos, birth, marriage, and death certificates, newspaper clippings, obituaries, maps, military histories and pension papers, pioneer stories, censuses, etc. and made it all into a book (first a ring binder, and then a printed, spiral bound book with a hard cover) to share with my sisters. I made scrapbook pages of the old photos and scanned those pages, and made separate chapters for each person, telling each person’s individual stories. I visited courthouses, libraries, and museums in the towns where they lived (the ones that were closeby) and collected as much information as I could about them and the history of those areas (marriage, divorce, land records, court records, if they played on baseball teams, delivered mail, or worked in local factories, or acted, sang, or danced in theatre, etc.). I visited cemetaries and churches and found headstones and church records. I visited newspaper offices and got old newspaper stories and obituaries. I will confess, it is a lot of work, but truly it is fun and rewarding work, and I sooooo encourage you to gather as much of this kind of information as you can from living relatives, while you can. Honor your parents and your grandparents by preserving their legacy in words and pictures. They will be delighted and honored to see all your efforts as well.
“The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.” – Proverbs 20:29
What is your favorite thing that grandma makes? Why not make a date to make it with her, and for heaven sakes get her recipe! Get ALL her recipes, and make them into a cookbook. My husband’s family actually collected recipes from everyone in the family one year and made a family cookbook for all of us. We all contributed, and we all paid for our own copies of the book, and it is very much a prized possession of mine to this day. Each person that contributed recipes also told a story to go with it, like if it was the first meal they made for their husband, or if it was their mother’s favorite thing that they made, etc.
I have myself very fond memories of having picnics with my grandmother. She always made her standard cucumber sandwiches, hard boiled eggs with salt and pepper, and a thermos of iced tea. When’s the last time you went on a picnic with your grandma? Or soaked your feet in a tub of hose water in the back yard? …And listened to her tell stories about a time she got in trouble as a kid. …Or what it was like as a teenager going to school. …Or her first boyfriend, or first date. …Or what she and her brothers/sisters did for fun.
“Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.” – Psalms 71:18
Play a Game
My husband has fond memories of playing Yatzee with his grandmother. It was her favorite game to play, and if he could beat her he felt like it was a real accomplishment. Grandma was apparently very good at Yatzee. My grandma liked to play cards, and her game of choice to play with us kids was Rummy. She also showed us how to play Solitaire and let us play at the table while she cooked and baked. I also remember making card houses in the living room, using the carpet to help hold the cards in place. My sisters and I made elaborate card houses, some more fragile than others. Does your grandma or grandpa have a favorite game they like to play. Ask if you can come play it with them one afternoon. Or, take them to play Bingo, or Pinochle or Bridge at the Senior Center, dominoes, Cribbage, or take them bowling, or to play miniature golf, or darts. You might find out they’re pretty darn good at it.
“With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.”
– Job 12:12
Go for a walk
Do some gardening (plant an herb garden in pots)
Go to church with them
Visit them and read them letters that they’ve gotten in the mail
Take grandma to get her hair and nails done
Take them to their doctor visits
Take them to the store to do their shopping, or run a few errands
Take them to a veterans memorial (if there is one with a spouse or loved one memorialized there)
Take them to a cemetery to put flowers on someone’s grave (for a loved one’s birthday rememberance, or veterans/memorial day)
Take them to a class reunion, or a small town annual get-together
Take them for a drive in the country
Play old records
Watch an old movie
Take them out for lunch
Invite them to your house for coffee (and devotions)
Take them to visit an old friend they haven’t seen in a while
Take them out for ice cream
Sit on a park bench and feed the birds, or the ducks (pond)
Take them for a boat ride (a little row boat across a pond or lake) and bring an umbrella for shade
Take them to a grandchild’s school event, or track meet, or soccer game
Take them to a rodeo, a fair, a car or horse race, or baseball game
Take them to lookout point after dark to look at the city lights
Ask them to teach you how to knit, crochet, sew, quilt, or tie a fly (fishing), etc.
Take them to the shooting range for some target practice
Rent a golf cart and take a drive through a scenic golf course
Take them for a drive to new parts of the city
Take them something you’ve baked or made and visit for an afternoon
Take a pizza and cokes and sit on the porch and eat it with them
Do something for them that is too hard for them to do themselves, but needs done, like vacuum, trim a tree, re-attach a rain gutter, paint, mow, move a hose, shovel a sidewalk, take mail out to the mailbox, light a pilot light, replace a lightbulb, put a heavy dish back up in the cupboard, put laundry away, etc.
Call and check on them at least once a week
Always tell them you love them, as often as you can
Send them cards and letters, with pictures
Pray with them and for them, for their health needs, and other needs
“The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.”
Duuuuude! …Ranch that is. When I think of a backyard barbeque I think of the time that I was a guest at my girlfriend’s ranch when the hands threw a BBQ feast that would knock you right out of the saddle. I was the only dude; everybody else was the real deal. Weeeeee doggies! I loved when I got to stay the weekends with her. Her life was so much different from mine. I was a city girl – well, if you want to call the thriving metropolis of Edgerton, Wyoming a “city” (population 150). Wilma, on the other hand, was a country girl through and through who lived on a ranch clear out in the middle of nowhere, where the deer and the antelope roam. She had two older brothers and her dad was as close to John Wayne as you could get without cloning. He sat tall in the saddle on his giant horse, Keno. Keno was a plow horse with a shiny black coat and giant hooves. Looking back, he was probably a clydesdale or something kin to it. Wilma’s mom was the craftiest lady I knew. She was always dressed so nice in her country western flare. She made all sorts of grub from milk products and her summertime garden and all that a working ranch has to offer. Her house was immaculate and decorated with stretched animal skins backed by layered, pinking-sheared felt, and Indian blankets hanging on the walls.
She also made jewelry out of porcupine quills. Porcupine quills? Well, here’s the story that I got. Wilma’s brothers were coming home kind of late one night and hit a fat and waddling porcupine in the road. When they saw her in their headlights they swerved left and right, dust flying everywhere, but they couldn’t get the old Ford shut down in time. Thump! They bailed out to see if she was okay and saw that she was dead. She was so big that they knew she was pregnant, so they did a prairie style emergency cesarean section on her and brought the little dickens home to mom to see if she could keep it alive. Mom nursed the little critter with a tiny baby bottle, and not only did the tiny beast live, it became a family pet. She plucked its quills to make her jewelry. She made beautiful things from those quills.
Wilma had a bedroom in the ranch house, but her brothers all slept in the bunkhouse with the other ranch hands (probably why the house was always so clean). We never saw much of them. Our days were spent riding her horse bareback all around the ranch, and sometimes following her dad on his rounds. Sometimes we’d pack up her record player and her Tanya Tucker, Dolly Pardon, Tammy Wynette, and Loretta Lynn records (…yes records – I know, this dates me. If you don’t know what records are, ask your mom…) and we’d haul them up to the attic of the barn. We’d push the hay bales around to make a stage, and then we’d string an extension cord, plug the record player in, and take turns pretending to be Country Western stars at the Grand Ole Opry. “Stand by yer man…doot doo dooo…” She knew all the words to all the songs, I just lip-sinked and pretended until I learned them. See the thing about that kind of music is nobody listened to twangy Country Western in my house in the city. But by the third sleep-over with Wilma I could cut loose at the top of my lungs with the best of them. That’s also the beauty of living in the boondocks – nobody can hear you. You know, I can still smell the barn in my memories. Wood, leather tack, and hay —aaahhhchoooo— God bless me!
I always got a kick out of the phone thing too. At Wilma’s house the phone was on a “party line,” and they had a special ring to let them know when the call was for them. If you picked up the phone to make a call you might hear people talking, and if you lacked manners you’d listen in to see what they were saying – but everyone in Wilma’s house was polite not to, at least when I was there anyways. And at night after we cleared away the supper dishes and cleaned up the kitchen, Wilma, her mom, and I, we’d gather around the CB and listen to the trucker’s conversations as they cruised by on the nearby highway. Wilma’s mom even let me make up a “handle” so I could hold that microphone and push the button and say, “Breaker, breaker, one-nine,” and hopefully snag a passerby into a mini-chat. What was my handle? It was pretty corny – Capricorny! The conversations were never too intelligent either.
Okay, so getting back to where I started…there was one weekend that I stayed over when the whole ranch had a barbeque planned. My gosh it was a big to-do. Wilma’s mom had made several salads and a big pot of ranch style baked beans, and several desserts. There were a bunch of bow-legged cowboys hootin’ and hollerin’ in the back yard, some standing around the cook, others trying out their rope tricks on a saw-horse bull’s head, and another gang tossing horseshoes – clank! The BBQ stove was made from a big barrel cut in half lengthwise with welded-on hinges and a vent pipe sticking out the top. It was filled to capacity with ashen charcoals. It was also big enough to cook a couple dozen steaks at a time, and you could feel the heat of it from three bunkhouses away. The smoke from that iron trench rose to the heavens and made a big old cloud in the back yard. It smelled sooooo good, as only charring, perfectly seasoned, aged bovine can smell.
They asked me how I liked my steak and I said, “Well done, please!” In just three shakes of a lamb’s tale (that’s a nano-second to you and me) here it came. I looked at it like a beginner climber might look at Mount Everest. It wasn’t like any steak I’d ever seen before – it was a ROAST, that could have fed my whole family. I weighed in at about a buck o-five, this steak was just under that. It took up my whole plate at an inch and a half thick. The crimson juices ran all over the plate until they were spilling over the sides. When I stuck my fork in, it wiggled a little and let out a moo. I asked, sheepishly, if my side-of-beef could smolder just a smidgen longer on the hot coals until it was dead, dead, dead. They gave me heck and teased me for a stretch, but obliged me. When I got’er back I worked on that thing most of the night trying to git’er done, but it was mission impossible. I rolled around in bed that night with a belly full of cow that would last me the rest of my life. Okay, maybe not that long. Yeehaw! I am a Wyoming girl after all.
So, for my backyard BBQ I’m gon’na play on my memories of this grand little shindig and add a little dude to it, ’cause I really don’t know no better (and yes, I know that was not proper English).
Here’s what I’m thinking for my City Slicker Cowboy BBQ party:
Set up several bench type picnic tables in the backyard. Cover them with red and white check tablecloths. Set up a CD player with my favorite Country Western tunes, or set it on a good Country Western radio station – Sirius Satellite if you have it.
In the invitation ask guests to dress up in western apparel: cowboy boots, cowboy hats, button up shirts with tight Levis and big belt buckles, or women’s shirts and skirts with Cadillac Cowgirl accessories.
Come ‘n Get It MENU
Marinated and grilled Tri-tip
Corn on the cob
Boston Baked Beans
By the way, isn’t this a cute idea for napkin holders? I found a motherlode of bluejeans pockets at my local antique mall a while back and this is how I decided to put them to good use:
MARINATED AND GRILLED TRI-TIP (Serves approximately 8)
1 cup lemon juice 1 cup soybean oil 1/2 cup white sugar 1/2 cup soy sauce 1/2 cup black pepper 1/2 cup garlic salt (recommended: Lawry’s) 1/2 cup chopped garlic 1/2 cup chopped dried onions
2 (4-pound) tri-tips, trimmed
To make the marinade, mix all of the ingredients except for the beef in a large mixing bowl. Place the trimmed tri-tips in a plastic container and pour the marinade over. Let stand in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.
Heat grill to medium temperature.
Place tri-tips on grill at a 45 degree angle to establish grill marks and cook about 35 minutes, or until cooked to desired doneness. Remove the tri-tips from the grill and let rest about 2 to 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with your favorite side dishes.
CORN ON THE COB
As many ears of sweet corn on the cob as number of guests
Butter (lots and lots of it)
Cajun Seasoned Salt, like Slap Ya’ Mama (or another favorite of mine is the wonderful Hatch Chili seasoning from Urban Accents that I got at Central Market in San Antonio, TX)
Leave the corn in the husks and grill on the grill, about five to eight minutes per side until all sides are burned. Remove from grill and keep warm in oven on low (170 degree) heat. When ready to serve cut the stem ends off completely about 1/4″ up the cob. Let your guests peel the husks off by loosening the husks from the corn where the cob was cut. Grab the silks end firmly and pull the husk off the cob. The silks should slide out with the husks and you should be left with a nice clean cob of corn.
Now I have some dandy little plastic corn cups that fit a cob of corn perfectly. Place a couple pats of butter in each dish and then about a teaspoon of seasoning sprinkled all down the length of it. Lay the hot cobs of corn on top and roll them around until they are covered with seasoning and melted butter. Offer little cob forks to make them easier to hold onto.
POTATO SALAD (serves approximately 20)
12 large red potatoes cooked until tender and cubed, skins on or off as preferred
6 hard boiled eggs, cooled and chopped
1 large red onion diced
6 stalks of celery chopped
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
1 small sprig of dill weed, chopped
1 bunch of green onions chopped
1 or 2 large jalapenos, seeds and stems removed, diced
2 ½ cups Mayonnaise (more or less, as you like it)
¼ cup red wine vinegar
3 tsp Iodized Sea Salt
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp pepper
Put first eight ingredients in a very large bowl. Mix up sauce ingredients and pour over the ingredients in the bowl. Toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Add 2 Tablespoons of mustard to finished potato salad.
Add a half-cup of blue cheese crumbles and a quarter cup of crispy crumbled bacon as a garnish on top of potato salad.
BOSTON BAKED BEANS (serves approximately 8)
1 large package dried navy beans (or 6 cups)
2 bay leaves
1 large white onion, peeled
1 cup molasses
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons iodized sea salt
2 teaspoons pepper
2 cups boiling water
1 lb of salt pork
Rinse the beans and soak overnight. Drain and rinse the beans again. Put in a large kettle and cover with fresh water to about ½ inch above the beans. Add the bay leaf and bring to a boil. Simmer until tender, about 2 hours. Drain. Place into a casserole dish.
Poke the cloves into the onion and add it to the beans. Mix together the molasses, sugar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add the boiling water and stir to blend thoroughly. Pour over the beans, adding more water if needed to almost cover the beans with liquid.
Push the piece of salt pork down into the beans until it disappears. Cover beans and bake in a 275 degree oven for about 4 ½ hours. Uncover and continue to bake another half hour. Take the pork rind out and chop up into bite-sized pieces and return to casserole. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve. May also be served cold by allowing to cool and refrigerating overnight.
1 head of green cabbage, shredded (approx. 8 cups)
1 cup red cabbage, shredded
1 cup grated celery
2 Fuji apples peeled, cored, and chopped
½ of a small white onion finely sliced
1 green bell pepper thinly sliced
3/4 cup of white raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
Optional: caraway seed, ground (’cause that’s how my grandma made it)
1 ½ cups mayonnaise
¼ cup lemon juice, or white wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Place the first seven ingredients in a large bowl. Mix together sauce ingredients and pour over veggies. Toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until chilled and ready to serve. Just before serving sprinkle with slivered almonds and ground caraway seeds. Serve within 2 hours for a crispier salad. The salad will become more wilted the longer it marinates.
2 boxes Krusteaz Honey Cornbread mix
1 1/3 cup of milk
1 (16 oz) can of creamed corn
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 Tablespoons diced jalapenos
2 green onions chopped finely
Prepare 1 large 9 x 16-inch baking pan by lightly greasing with shortening or cooking spray.
In a large bowl blend all the batter ingredients until just moistened. Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden on top and springs back when touched.
PEACH COBBLER (serves approx. 6)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon ground mace
½ cup brown sugar
4 cups sliced peaches (fresh or frozen)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon butter
1 ¼ cup flour
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons Baking powder
¼ cup butter, melted
1/3 cup milk
sugar cinnamon mixture
Put first 6 ingredients in a saucepan and cook until thickened. Add another Tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 3 Tablespoons water if needed for thickening. Fresh and frozen peaches produce moisture. If using canned peaches, drained, you won’t need any extra cornstarch.
Pour peach mixture into an oblong glass dish 8 x 12-inch that has been lightly greased with butter.
Place all topping ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Dough should be very much like biscuit dough.
Topping can be added to the peach mixture one of two ways. Some like a peach cobbler with a topping that looks a lot like drop biscuits. Others like a cobbler with a lattice topping like pie. If you like the drop biscuit type then just take small spoonfuls of the batter and slide them off onto the peaches with your finger or a knife, dropping a small pile about ½-inch apart all over the top until all the batter is used up.
If you like the lattice top, sprinkle a little flour on your work surface and pat out the dough with your hands, flipping to coat with flour. With a floured rolling pin roll the dough out to about ¼-inch thickness. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, slice the dough into strips. Lay one set of strips horizontally across the top of the peaches about an inch apart. Pull every other strip back and lay in a vertical strip. Lay the pulled back strips over it and pull back every other of the other strips. Lay another strip in and lay the pulled back strips over it. Repeat until you have a lattice pattern over the peaches. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes for drop biscuit topping, less for latice top, or until the crust is just golden and the filling is bubbly. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
I’ve heard that in the olden days the cowboys would dump the grounds in with the water and set the pot on the fire to cook. When the coffee was made they’d break an egg into the pot to round up the grounds. Let’s be honest… that’s got’ta be the nastiest cuppa-joe on the planet. We’re not doing that. We’re just gon’na brew it in the old Mr. Coffee machine (or Keurig). And since we’re sissy city slickers anyway let’s splurge and have some creamer – flavored creamer if you are one of those. Serve it in little tin cups for looks.
I personally like the frozen Minute Maid concentrates the best. I mix them up with twice as water as directed and then slice up several lemons and float the slices in the lemonade. It will probably need some more sugar (try 1 cup to start). I like the pink lemonade with pulp. And when I’m feeling really fancy, I add a bag of frozen strawberries (or raspberries, blackberries, even blue berries) to the pitcher.
If you are feeling really really fancy you can make Fruity Lemonade: Fill a glass with a chunk or two each of the following fruits: Watermelon slice, pineapple chunk, frozen strawberry, maraschino cherry, orange slice, lemon slice, lime slice, raspberries and a mint leaf. Mingle the fruits with ice cubes and pour the lemonade over the top. Serve with a striped straw. When you are done drinking you have a nice little fruit salad to munch on.
For another change of pace I make Limeade from frozen concentrate, use club soda for the liquid – a little more than called for, add some sliced limes, just like I do for the lemonade. Plus, I add a jar or two of drained maraschino cherries to the pitcher. Lip smackin’ good!
1 gallon of fresh tap water
1 Family Size tea bag
sugar or other sweetener
I brew my tea in the sunshine. I fill my freshly scoured sun tea jar with cold tap water and hang a Family-size Lipton teabag in it (folding the corner over the lip of the jar and holding it in place with the lid), screwing that lid on snuggly. Then I set the whole business out on the back patio until the sun brews it a nice dark golden brown all the way to the bottom. I hurry and bring it in and pull that teabag out, and since I like mine sort of sweet I add about a cup of sugar and stir it in while the tea is hot. Ten I set the jar in the refrigerator to get cold. I like my tea over a tall glass heaping with ice cubes. Mmmm… mmmm…. mmmm, it just doesn’t get any better than that. Unless of course it’s…
MRS. H’S TEA
Not me, Mrs. H., but by BFF Treva’s mom, Mrs. H. — Mrs. Hendrickson. She was bar-Nunn the best cook of the prairie. Treva’s mom had a gallon container of this concoction in the fridge at all times when we were kids. It was the number one requested beverage of all gatherings of kids in our school for all time. It was always the first beverage to run out, and believe you me the party was over when that happened.
In a one-gallon pitcher add:
1 small can (6-oz) frozen lemonade concentrate (or spoon out half of a large can)
Stir until mixed. Mrs. H. always poured hers into a clean gallon-sized plastic container like what distilled water and drinking water comes in, so she could cap it and store it in the fridge. I always use a gallon size bottle of drinking water to make my tea, so I will have the container to make my tea – just like Treva’s mom had. This tea just goes with everything. You’re gon’na love it.
Now, what to do after grub time…
Set up a “stage” using bales of hay, and after dinner let your guests have a go at some Country Western Karaoke.
Ask your guests to do a little research before the party and round up some cowboy poetry. Perhaps your guests are poets-and-didn’t-know-its and would care to take a dare and write some lines of rhymes on their own times and bring ’em. Gather everyone around the fire pit or bonfire and let him or her take turns sharing the funniest and cleverest. Roast marshmallows and invite your guitar-playing buddy to lead the gang in some prairie tunes, like Home, Home on the Range. It will be a little like camping. 🙂
Cowboy Poetry, by Hal Cannon
Cowboy Poetry Classics, by Various Artists (Audio CD – Sep 13, 2005)
Coyote Cowboy Poetry, by Baxter Black (Hardcover – Oct 1, 1986)
Elko! A Cowboy’s Gathering, by Various Artists (Audio CD – Jan 25, 2005)
Cactus Tracks and Cowboy Philosophy, by Baxter F. Black (Paperback – Oct 1, 1998)
Cowboy Poetry: The Reunion, by Charlie Seemann and Virginia Bennett (Paperback – Jan 20, 2004)
(And there are tons of others. Type “Cowboy Poetry” into the search box at Amazon.com)
We are lucky in our family that we have Harold. He’s my cousin-in-law who dabbles a bit in cowboy poetry, among his many other talents. He wrote a poem once about MUSTANGS that I just love. It’s actually best when he tells it, live and sitting around a campfire. I’ve lost my copy that Sonya sent one Christmas and I’ve been kicking myself ever since. We got together for a family reunion a couple summers ago and he told of few of his poems while we were all sitting around after dinner. Darn-it, where’s a video camera when you need one?
MUSTANGS by Harold Anderson
Horseshoes & Steer Roping
Definitely set up a horseshoe pit (see Family Reunion chapter for how to set up a horseshoe pit), and even a sawhorse mounted steer head for some roping practice.
Target Practice and Knife Throwing
Set up a target strapped to a tree for knife throwing competitions, or line the fence with pop cans for some target practice. If you live in the city use rubber band guns or a Red Ryder BB gun. It will be a hoot, I promise!
Be sure and pick up some gunnysacks for races at your local farm and ranch store (like Murdocks), and maybe even a small horse trough filled with water and a half a box of apples, so the kids can bob for apples.
Needle in a Haystack
Make a big haystack and hide some treasures in it for the kids to find.
This is a team relay race so divide your group into however many teams of equal number and be prepared with a stopwatch to time them. At the starting line is a giant stick horse, a cowboy hat, and a neckerchief. At the whistle the first person on the team has to put on the gear and ride the stick horse through the rodeo arena. First they’ll zigzag through the pole bending, at the end of the poles are the barrels, which they must circle each one without knocking ’em over. They’ll ride from the last barrel to the waiting rider, hopping and kicking like they’re on a bucking bronc to the finish line. The next rider has to put on the gear and repeat the process (in reverse) to the waiting team member at the other end. Whichever team finishes in the quickest time wins.
Square Dancing or Line Dancing
Remember when we all had to learn to square dance in P.E. class at school when we were kids? You always wondered where in the world you would ever use that in life – well…right here, at your Cowboy BBQ, that’s where. Clear an area for the Square Dance and see how much you remember. Get a Square Dance CD to refresh your memory if it has faded over the years from lack of use. Or, if you’d rather, learn a couple of line dances and teach them to your guests. There is a wonderful line dance video out there that you can use to teach yourself and your guests.
Square Dance Fun for Everyone (2 CDs and Booklet) – Kimbo; Audio CD
Let’s All Square Dance – Various Artists; Audio CD
A Quick Start Guide to Line Dancing (Shawn Trautman’s Learn to Dance Series) – Shawn Trautman; DVD
Give each guest a harmonica and give everyone time to pick out a tune… then have a contest and pick the winner of the best tune.
Play Harmonica in One Hour, Featuring Bobby Joe Holman by Bobby Joe Holman (DVD – Nov 29, 2005)
After dinner, how about a nice outdoor movie under the stars? Drag the TV outside on the patio. Gather all the lawn chairs around it. Wrap everybody up in a saddle blanket or sleeping bag, and let’s watch an old western. Pick a movie, any movie:
The Shootist Tombstone Silverado Quigley Down Under
The Cowboys Tom Horn Open Range The Quick and the Dead
True Grit Bite the Bullet Wyatt Earp The Sons of Katie Elder
Pale Rider El Dorado Nevada Smith Long Riders
Paint Your Wagon Outlaw Josey Wales Once Upon a Time in the West
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance Young Guns The Magnificent Seven
Maverick Urban Cowboy 8 Seconds Unforgiven
Pure Country Lonesome Dove (ummm… that’s a little bit long to watch in a night)
And when we’re done with that, how about sitting around a campfire and telling stories, roasting marshmallows, or singing to the guitar until everyone is snoring?
Stories for Around the Campfire, by Ray Harriot (Paperback – Dec 1986)
More Stories for Around the Campfire, by Ray Harriot (Paperback – Dec 1986)
The Kids Campfire Book: Official Book of Campfire Fun (Family Fun), by Jane Drake, Ann Love, and Heather Collins (Paperback – Jun 12, 2001)
I personally love Patrick McManus
Here is the short list of some “Cowboy” themed board and card games if you’d like to give them a try. Look for them online at Board Game Revolution and Amazon.com.
Cowboys: The Way of the Gun
Wyatt Earp (card game)
Snorta! New Edition from MATTEL (I hear this one is hysterically fun)
The Farming Game by Weekend Farmer
Racing ‘N Rodeo Board Game, by Weekend Farmer
Late for the Sky Rodeo-Opoly, by Late for the Sky
Life on the Farm, by WeRfun.com
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Well, partner, I reckon I better run off now and git something done with myself. Been sittin’ here at this dern computer most of the morning. Can’t wait to get this party started with you. Happy Trails!!!
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“Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.”