What if for one day you had a chance to reconnect and reminisce with family and enjoy delicious food? That’s exactly what Joe Hamilton decided to do when he helped in kicking off the Hamilton family reunion and created the Hamilton family cookbook.
After 30 years of dwindling contact with his relatives, Joe was instrumental in organizing his family’s first reunion
in 1984. Now a tradition, the descendants faithfully gather every two years.
There are many reunion ideas to choose from, but In thinking of ways to keep the family connected, Joe and his daughter, Jeanne, proposed the idea of a family cookbook. Family members were more than receptive to the idea, and the project got underway.
“I had helped with our church cookbook and knew the process was easy,” Joe said. “I requested the free kit from Cookbook Publishers just a few days after our 2008 reunion and called any time I had questions.”
A Family Reunion Cookbook Brings the Hamiltons Together
Joe took advantage of the many free standard features for their project. “The Recipes to Remember cover and divider set was the perfect touch for the direction that Jeanne and I wanted to take this cookbook.”
The personal pages at the front of the Hamilton cookbook are filled with framed older photos and a family tree outlining the family’s first generation. While all the photos are cherished, one favorite is a large family gathering taken in 1943 during the 50th wedding anniversary celebration of George Percy and Mary Ann Hamilton. “Jeanne was key in preparing our personal pages,” Joe said. But they both have every reason to be proud of their accomplishment…those pages alone transformed the cookbook into a family heirloom and keepsake.
Joe and Jeanne didn’t stop there! Each of the nearly 500 recipes show the contributor’s name followed by another name in parenthesis, which denotes their connection to the first generation family member.
“Everyone loved the opening pages, but we received even more compliments about the layout of the recipe pages. I left the recipe format decision to Jeanne!” Joe quipped. The Hamiltons opted for the Welcome Home recipe format in Recipes Not Continued. “That was a feature our church cookbook lacked and a Designer Upgrade that I knew we needed to include in ours,” he added.
Joe’s father and most of the first generation are buried in the family cemetery in Texas, where the one-day reunion is held either Memorial Day weekend or the weekend of the 4th of July holiday. “I’m so pleased and surprised to see younger family members planning and looking forward to the next reunion,” he said. “The day is filled with lots of visiting and lots of food!”
Joe and Jeanne’s efforts in compiling a family keepsake cookbook has brought another pleasant surprise. More than just holding a special place on shelves and in hearts, the sale of the cook books raised enough funds to cover the community center rental for the next four reunions.
While tables are filled with an array of dishes, one of Joe’s personal favorites and a “regularly requested recipe” at gatherings is Corn Bread Salad. The recipe follows:
Corn Bread Salad
from Florene Murphy (Corene)
2 boxes Jiffy corn bread mix, baked and cut into chunks
4 stalks celery, cut into chunks
2 onions, cut into chunks
2 bell peppers, cut into chunks
2 red peppers, cut into chunks
4 tomatoes, cut into chunks
3 c. Miracle Whip salad dressing
½ c. mustard
8 to 16 pkg. Sweet n’ Low (to taste)
Mix celery, onions and bell peppers well. Add salad dressing, mustard and Sweet n’ Low. Mix well before adding chunked corn bread. More dressing may be added to reach desired consistency. Top with tomatoes.