Iron Chef 2012

This past weekend my entire family gathered at my parent’s house for our yearly “Remix”.  This unique family celebration came about because we were all in need of a weekend full of laughter, lots of sugar, and little sleep somewhere between our Christmas celebration at Labor Day and our annual camp-out over the 4th of July.

Since we invented the holiday, we decided to invent our own traditions too – and thus our annual Iron Chef competition was born.

The secret ingredient is announced in advance and everyone is welcome to bring as many entries as they wish.

This year’s secret ingredient was cereal.

As always, there were many amazing entries –

Iron Chef entriesBut I had a favorite.

My sister Sandy’s kids went above and beyond to create a masterpiece. Surely you remember the Rice Krispie sculpture of William Tell from three years ago?

This year they made a giant cereal bowl out of cereal complete with a cereal spoon!

rice krispie cereal bowlBut that’s not all!

Oh no! These kids decided that a special bowl needed a special cereal – so they invented 2 kinds.

The first was Uncle Rod’s Adventure cereal. Uncle Rod loves cereal. Especially sugared cereal. Since his favorite part of the cereal is the toys inside – they decorated an empty cereal box and filled it with plastic baggies full of plastic adventure toys!

But the second kind of cereal was my all-time favorite. Why? Because they named it for me!

Auntie M's Organic O'sIt even had my picture on the front!

But the best part was what was inside!

I opened the recycled cereal box and pulled out a plastic bag that looked like it was full of Cheerios. But – as I kept pulling, I discovered the cereal was just a disguise.

The bottom of the bag was full of mini chocolate candy bars!

One of the kids called out, “Because Aunt Melinda is always hiding her chocolate!”

Those kids know we too well!

Not that I would ever dream of hiding my chocolate at the bottom of a box of organic cereal! 🙂

But I did keep the box – just in case!

White Elephant Bingo

Can I share just one more tradition from our Remix celebration? (Boy can we cram a lot of them in one short weekend!)

We had a hoot playing White Elephant Bingo!

Bingo Fun

The rules are simple.

Everybody brings a wrapped white elephant gift. One person is the designated “caller” – everyone else can play with as many Bingo cards as they wish.

Whenever you get a Bingo – you choose a gift from the vast assortment on the table – or you can take a gift from someone else. Then that person needs to pick another one from the table – or take one from someone else which means that person now needs to pick another one from the table or from someone else which means… well… you get the picture!

Presents

It gets pretty wild toward the end as multiple people are getting Bingos at once! We play until someone gets a black-out. Then we take turns opening our “gifts”.

It’s interesting that when you don’t know what’s inside a present – you pick according to the wrapping.

For awhile a nicely wrapped gift with a toy chicken on top was a hot commodity.  Lovey (age 5) was thrilled when she ended up with it – at least until she opened it. The tire gauge and fancy bath soaps just didn’t thrill her!

PosterPedro was pretty excited about his gift – a poster showing airline barf bags from around the world.  Yes – I’m serious – barf bags.  No – it is NOT going in his room.

It was amazing how often the perfect gift went to the perfect person. My musical niece got a set of old Broadway Songs on cassette. (I hope she knows what a cassette player is!) 🙂

Remember Butter Buns? She got a vintage movie camera – one that actually uses film. I bet she already has it taken apart or has figured out to use it!

Then there’s my nephew TJ. This guy really needs a wife.

gifts

I’m sure the romantic super-sized heart candle and the Joe Cool sunglasses will help immensely – don’t you think?!

Buddy was very excited when he ended up with the pirate gift bag – and was even more happy to find it full of Burger King and McDonald’s Happy Meal toys.

Some gifts just keep on giving.

Poor Jan got a brand new how-to golf video (circa 1987) that we had brought the year before!

GiftsIt’s amazing the fun you can have with a garage sale Bingo game and everybody’s junk!

But then in my crazy family – it doesn’t take much to make memory!

So How Do We Iron Chef – 2011

What a week-end!

We gathered at my parents with all my siblings, their spouses and children for our traditional spring gathering that  we’ve dubbed The Remix.

Part of the crazy fun included our annual Iron Chef Competition! This year’s secret ingredient was a Mix. We could bring anything made from a mix – or a mix of things (ie: Chex Mix or Trail Mix.)

I did not have an entry this year – I just didn’t have time.  (But it’s okay – that date day with my husband was worth it!)

The  kids did though – Angel Girl made a yummy brownie -filled cookie that we found at The Picky Palate that used a brownie mix. Buddy made our favorite Hot Chocolate Cookies using hot chocolate mix and Dagmar made a new -absolutely wonderful – diet busting treat – Caramel Chex Mix. (Yes – I will share the recipe!)

Pedro went a little outside the box and put together a mix of music on his Itouch as “food for the soul”!

He wasn’t the only one that thought outside the box!

Some of my nieces and nephews blew me away with their entries!

There was the winner in the Best Represents the Family category – Sweet Prairie Memories.

Jelllo

This delightful jello concoction (jello is a mix!) recreated out of candy many of the things that the grand-kids love about Papa and Nana’s house.

You can see candy grandkids inter-tubing down the river, Nana playing bear in the trees, the prairie playhouse and Papa Jim on the lawn mower pulling wagons full of grand kids.

Then there was Butter Bun’s entry. (You may remember Butter Buns as my very creative 7 year old niece.) This time she “mixed” food with technology and made the amazing “cake froster”.

Frosting

The mustard bottle in the middle holds frosting. You can then rotate it around the cake and squirt as much or as little frosting as you desire on your piece. 🙂

Watch for in a stores everywhere!

The grand prize in the Best Use of the Secret Ingredient Category went to my nieces Lexie and Molly for the triple layer cake and pie concoction.

Minecraft cakeThink “Turducken” meets the pastry world. Each layer is a pie baked with a cake surrounding it.

I’m serious people.  Each layer has a pie baked right inside a cake.

There were three layers.

With frosting.

And a mural on the outside in frosting complete with green creepers and a pink pig made out of caramels.

That thing was huge! They had to custom design a carrying case for it out of springform pans, a mixing bowl and duct tape just to get it there!

Talk about creativity!

Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t have time to make an entry – I’m not sure I can compete on this level! 🙂

Those nieces and nephews of mine have just raised the bar for future Iron Chef Competitions.

 

 

So How Do We Iron Chef?

One of our favorite family traditions is our Annual Iron Chef Competition at the Remix.

Since we are a family of foodies (people who love to read about, talk about, think about, make, and eat food) our very own Iron Chef Competition just makes sense.

Our rules are simple. The official judges (Nana and the grandkids) chose a secret ingredient and announce it a few weeks in advance. Any one – of any age – can enter as many entries as they wish.

The day of the event all of the entries are placed on a table, labeled and given a small plastic cup to hold the votes. Whenever we are all assembled and quiet (now that’s a major undertaking!), each chef shows their dish and describes the ingredients.

Our Iron Chef Dishes

Then we all go around the table taking samples of everything. We each have a small cup of M & M’s that we use for voting by putting them in the cups of our favorite dishes.

This year’s secret ingredient was apples.

We had everything from apple muffins to apple salads. We had apple brownies, apple snacks, and apple desserts. We even had apple butter pancakes!

Some of the amazing entries were:

Thick Skinned Apple

The simple: “Thick Skinned Apple” – an apple that was peeled, then peanut butter was used to re-apply the peel.

Chocolate Bars

The Chocolate: Caramel Apple Bars

Apple Salsa

The Unique: Apple Salsa

William Tell's Son Cake

The Artistic: A Rice Krispie sculpture of William Tell’s Son complete with apple and arrow!

It was a fun and delicious family activity!

The Remix: A Family Tradition

I love my family.

I love getting together with my family.

With 2 amazing parents, three sisters, one brother, 4 in-laws and a large collection of assorted nieces and nephews, aged 3 to 24 , any gathering is an undertaking best described as “organized chaos.”

Our official spring gathering is called the Remix and is entirely grandchildren driven. Since we celebrate Christmas together over Labor Day they thought we should remix Christmas in the spring.

Now every year the grandkids (with Grandma’s guidance) plan a fun- filled week-end at Mom and Dad’s on the prairie.

Some of the traditions include:

White Elephant Bingo: Everyone brings a wrapped white elephant gift and one evening we play bingo. Every time you get a Bingo you get to chose a present – either from the table full of presents, or you can take a gift away from someone who has already chosen one.  Things can get pretty wild as presents start flying from one person to another!

When someone gets a black-out, the game is over and everybody opens their gifts. (Anybody need a talking Bob the Builder and Wendy who can no longer talk?!)

Dress-Up Night : No, we don’t do a white tie meal with tuxes and formal attire, instead, we dress-up as any assortment of strange characters. We had pirates, ninja’s, and some Lord of the Ring characters (swords were definitely a favorite accessory this year!)

But we also had a sweet old granny, door-to-door salesmen, a camel herder, and even Shaun Cassidy (complete with entourage).  The creativity among those young’uns was amazing!

Family Worship Service: On Sunday morning we gather together to sing, pray and share. This year was especially sweet as both of my parents shared their testimonies.

For my siblings and I,  it was a precious review of events we experienced together as our entire family of seven came to know the Lord in just a few years. But for our spouses and children,  it was a look at events that changed the course of our family for generations.

Tears were flowing freely by the time we sang our traditional closing hymn – “Blest be the Tie That Binds.”

There were huge meals, too  many desserts,  games galore,  a family sock hop, and lots of laughter.

What precious memories we made this week-end.

Yep…I really love my family.