Each summer was marked by a wonderful event, the beloved family reunion. (I say that with all honesty.) I eagerly awaited the annual event. Dad insisted on arriving at least a half hour early. This was so he could see who brought what.
But as each year passed, I realized each person brought their signature dish. Being of the younger generation, I dared to prepare something out of the ordinary -- homemade bread braided around ham, cheese and pickles. This soon became my signature dish. Mom and Dad were well-known for their baked beans and potato salad. Aunt Judy made ham loaf. Aunt Pauline presented Ambrosia and my sister-in-law always made a relish tray and deviled eggs. Grandma Mobley made two dishes: Fried chicken (made in her electric skillet) and the "piece de resistance" heavenly rice with the pastel mini marshmallows and Maraschino cherries. Many other culinary concoctions were packed in makeshift picnic baskets made of a cardboard box covered with colorful dish towels. These all adorned the picnic tables at Tuscora Park, ready for us to devour the goodies. But no dish was more memorable than Grandma's heavenly rice.
Now Grandma is gone as are the Mobley reunions. Although I retrieved her beloved, tattered cook books and I, along with many others, have attempted in vain to replicate the tasty, heaven-sent rice dish, we never quite captured the soft fluff Grandma perfected.
Grandma never thought of herself as a great cook, nor did any of the other family members that worked so hard to prepare such living memorable dishes for our modest gathering. However, the flavors of the picnic will remain in my memory for all of time.