When I was a little girl, Father’s Day was a wonderfully exciting day! As soon as church was over, the green wooden picnic basket packed with fried chicken or sliced ham, green bean casserole, potato salad, tiny pickles and many other good things to eat. When I was very small, big sister Janice would make the absolutely necessary deviled eggs (“They taste good, Momma, why are they called “deviled?”) and Janice’s specialty, German Chocolate Cake. We were headed to the family reunion!
My father did not have much family, two brothers, one of whom had a family, and his mother, Grandmother Irene. His own father had died when he was only 15. Daddy admired his father-in-law, nicknamed him “Pop,” a name which caught on with all the family. Daddy enjoyed going to these family reunions which Pop organized. Pop was the oldest of 8 children, and he liked having everyone get together on Father’s Day every year. The occurred in a concrete block building about 30 minutes away from our town, which seemed so far out in the country at the time. Now, if I could find it, it would be just another part of suburban Atlanta.
As I was a little kid, I didn’t know that cooking food and packing a picnic was a lot of work for Momma, even with Janice to help her. I just knew it was a special day, with hugs and lip-sticky smooches from extended relatives who said “My how you’ve grown!” and “Just look at her curly hair!” I knew Aunt Minnie would make her coconut layer cake, even though I didn’t know she, as Pop’s sister, was really my great aunt. I expected one of the (great) uncles would bring homemade barbecue, which my family never had at my house. I didn’t mind escaping out the back door with the few other small children, mostly boys, playing with frogs and getting my dress dirty, to my mother’s chagrin and Daddy’s annoyance.
I would learn how to help soon, for in a few years, Janice was in her own home, packing her own green and white picnic basket, and I was helping with making eggs (peeling them was the hard part), and making brother Jim’s favorite green bean casserole, packed in a insulated bag with towels to keep it hot.
In later years, as we became accustomed to air conditioning in our homes, many of the younger family members wore shorts rather than “Sunday best,” and eventually, started doing their own smaller family celebrations instead. A few times I was the only teenager there, although there were usually a few babies. When the local news had a story about androgynous names, I said, “There’s a boy at my school named Kim B___.” Mom responded, “I know, he’s your cousin.” While I was in college, the reunion started meeting in a middle school cafeteria, a place with air conditioning, but much less character. My fiancé, now husband, attended a couple times with me there–we appreciated the air conditioning. While Mr. H. and I were in Texas, Pop and Aunt Minnie’s generation passed on, and the reunion no longer met. Those of us who live in Atlanta see each other occasionally, sometimes a surprise “hi!” at Costco, Target or maybe the mall during Christmas, in twos or threes, and of course, always at funerals, telling stories, and remembering our loved ones and the good times we had together.
Whenever I make deviled eggs (one of my favorites), or sample coconut cake, they always bring warm feelings of good times spent with family and friends.
Patricia’s Herbed Deviled Eggs
1/3-1/2 cup full-fat organic yogurt
1-2 Tablespoons mayonnaise, olive oil variety preferred
1-2 Tablespoons mustard, Dijon or grainy preferred
1-2 Tablespoons minced fresh herbs, basil and parsley favorites
salt, pepper, garlic, to taste
Place eggs in a lidded saucepan, single-layered, cover with cold water. Bring to a full rolling boil. (That means you can hear it!) Turn off heat, cover with lid, and set a timer for 10 minutes. When timer goes off, drain hot water and cover eggs with cold water. (My mother would boil the eggs a couple minutes, and let them set longer. This is fine, but yolks will be drier, and will need more dressings added.) You may drain and add cold water more than once if your fingers are sensitive to heat. Crack shells and peel, rinsing under cold water. (Save crushed shells for compost or art projects, if you like.) Slice eggs long-wise, dropping yolks into small mixing bowl. Smash yolks with tines of fork. Mix in other ingredients to make a delicate, creamy filling. Season to taste. Place egg white halves in your grandmothers egg plate, or one you’ve collected. Spoon filling in place, or pipe in with a zipper bag with a corner cut off, or piping bag of your choice. Garnish with pickle or olive slices, capers, snips of herbs, paprika…