(Family Features) - No one celebrates family in more style than African-American families, many of whom gather during June - Soul Food Month - to celebrate Juneteenth with a picnic or barbecue. Juneteenth, June 19, 1865, is the date that slaves in Texas learned the Emancipation Proclamation had freed them.
Celebrating family is as good a reason for enjoying good food that I know, and African-Americans have honed family reunions to fine culinary art! Deeply satisfying soul food, a heritage of good Southern African-American cooks, is something we can all sink our teeth into.
It's the spirit of the celebration that counts: staying in touch with family doin's, fueled with good, honest food inspired by generations of excellent cooks. One Southern dish I've adopted - and my family loves! - is Banana Pudding. I've found that this homey comfort food is a favorite for families everywhere. Far-flung family members bond over dishes of this classic American dessert.
Set a date, gather your kin from far and near, and share the preparation and the fun!
- Enlist the kids in making Banana Pudding - it's just plain fun to put together! The recipe included here makes eight generous servings, so plan accordingly; you might want to make more than one batch.
- Identify a pit-master in the family to reign over the grill.
- Consult the family for favorite recipes and assign everyone to bring a dish.
- Collect family-favorite recipes; appoint a camera-bug family member to document the event; print a memories booklet with recipes and photos to send to all.
- Provide big jugs of iced tea and lemonade for keeping family storytellers fueled!
For more picnic-perfect dessert ideas custom-made for summer celebrations, check out www.verybestbaking.com.
Jenny Harper is Consumer Test Kitchen Project Manager for the Nestlé Test Kitchens and Verybestbaking.com.