Family Reunion (Or Have I Got a Recipe for You!)

Summer. Time for vacations and family reunions.

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Now the Hovie Family really knows how to reunite.  Every single year the clan travels from places near and far to gather in the basement of a tiny Lutheran church in the town of Angelica, Wisconsin (population 1,635 according to the most recent census…just in case you were wondering).

You can always count on the second Sunday in the month of July to be the hottest of the entire summer. And I’m not just talking 80 degrees and sunny. I’m talking upper 80’s with oppressive humidity. Fortunately, a few years back, the congregation of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church decided to pipe a little AC into the basement. Amen.

Everyone arrives at noon, carrying a dish to pass: noodle salad, meatballs, noodle salad, hotdogs, noodle salad, BBQ pork, noodle salad, baked beans, noodle salad, fried chicken, noodle salad, fresh cherries, and jello. I brought this salad (no noodles) from Oh She Glows. Sadly, this year we were lefse-free. (Kind of a big deal for Norwegians.)

And desserts? The dessert table is not for the faint of heart. You have many options from which to sky rocket your blood sugar levels. I snuck in this little gem from Chocolate Covered Katie.  Everything gets washed down with Country Time lemonade dispensed from a stainless steel container, dripping with condensation. A  neatly folded towel lies on the floor beneath the spigot, ready to catch the drips (or flow in the case of the youngsters who “wanna do it by themselves”).

Before commencing with the feast, the fam gathers in a circle to recite the Norwegian Table Prayer, first in our not so native Norwegian tongue (the more immature members of the family…my husband for example…find this extremely entertaining) and then, once again in English.

At this point, the hungry Hovies rush to get in line, while the not so hungry Hovies give hugs and try to snag a baby to hold. Luckily, my niece had twins last December, so there were two babies to cuddle this year!

After stuffing oneself to the gills (unless of course you’re vegan and your options are limited due to your personal preferences), more mobile Hovies begin the “not quite” 1/4 mile trek to the cemetery. The route includes a closeup of a farmer’s pasture where the cows observe us with great boredom. Each year, we urge them to come to the fence. Each year they decline our invitation. Apparently they are not fond of Norwegians.

A few steps more, and we arrive at the cemetery where we either wander amongst the headstones losing ourselves in history, or play with the vintage hand water pump.

At some point during the afternoon, the youngsters (who may even include 30 year olds) sneak upstairs to the sanctuary and climb up the narrow stairs into the attic to ring the church bells. Talk about traditions. This one has been around since my husband was a kid.

By mid-afternoon we’re headed back to Neenah. This year we stopped to visit my mother-in-law who missed the reunion due to an unexpected trip to the hospital. By the time we arrive home, we’re famished. Me especially so.

“What’s for dinner?” my oldest inquired.

Yeah. Good question. Excellent question, in fact.

I have no idea. The weekend had been rather busy, so grocery shopping hadn’t quite happened. I gazed into the fridge. And then I gazed into the pantry. And then I went back to the fridge.

And this is what I finally came up with. The fact that I was able to throw this meal together is impressive. The fact that it tasted phenomenal is more impressive. The fact that my husband took leftovers to work the next day is most impressive. (He’s kind of a big baby when it comes to leftovers.)

The next day,  he texted:

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So yeah. This “recipe” is a keeper. The best part is, you could totally use whatever veggies you happen to have on hand. And if you’re not a fan of chickpeas? Use tofu. (Personally, that’s the direction I’m heading in next time.) And if you don’t have rice? No worries…use a different grain instead. I’m even thinking about putting this in a crockpot to bring to family reunion next year!

Kind of a Norwegian Curry Fusion type of thing.

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Vegetable Coconut Curry with Rice

Serves about 6

1/4 c. green onion, sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 1/2 c. broccoli florets (bite size pieces)

2 1/2 c. cauliflower florets (bite size pieces)

1 c. carrots, sliced

1 can full fat coconut milk

3/4 c. vegetable broth

1 1/2 – 2 T. curry powder

1 t. salt

1/2 t. onion powder

1/2 t. garlic powder

1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)

2 c. brown basmati rice, cooked

In a large wok or pan on the stovetop, saute onion and garlic. (I use water instead of oil to prevent sticking.) Saute until softened. Add vegetables. Cook until crisp tender. Add coconut milk, vegetable broth, curry, salt, onion powder and garlic powder. Stir until combined. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or so. Add chickpeas. Stir. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add precooked rice. Stir. Enjoy