My family is big on family reunions. My mom’s side of the family has reunions every year at state parks in upstate New York. My dad’s side of the family had them every year when I was young and my great-grandmother was still alive. However, after she passed, we didn’t really do formal “reunions” as much. We all still got together frequently though as my dad has a somewhat smaller family. In the past 8-10 years though, the family has really grown as my generation has gotten married and had children. We really needed that formal “reunion” time in order to have a time when everyone in the extended family could get together. This year the reunion was over the 4th of July in Beaver, Pa, where my parents, my paternal grandmother, my dad’s brother, and my dad’s sister-in-law all live. Not everyone in the family could make it, but we had a pretty good showing of people from all generations!
I loved the reunion activities this year. We played water relay games that my sister Sarah and her husband Ryan arranged. My favorite game was where someone would hold a colander on their head while the rest of the team tried to throw water balloons into the colander. There was a small fight over which colander would give a better advantage which almost ended the game, but luckily we recovered. It’s not a Neeley reunion without a large scale fight over the most insignificant things.
We also played a lot of badminton since someone set up a net in the yard. Everyone wanted to play on Rajat’s team since they know he is the badminton guru. And, we had a white elephant gift exchange which resulted in a lot of people getting rid of household trash and taking new trash home. My sister Olivia and I picked berries at my grandma’s. JoAnna and I helped my grandma make jam. Rajat and the boys went golfing (it was his first time on a real course!). Rajat also was manning the fire pit every night. If we couldn’t find Rajat, everyone knew to look near the fire pit. We also got to meet my newest niece, Leona for the first time. She is such a beautiful baby. Leona was the name of my mom’s grandma who we all loved dearly, so it felt very special to meet another Leona in our family.
One salad that always reminds me of hot summer days and the 4th of July is this corn and basil salad. The flavors in it surprise me every time I have it. I am not the biggest corn fan, but I love corn in this dish. It makes a great side to basically anything or even a light salad lunch on its own that could be served with crackers or bread.
Summer Corn and Basil Salad
Feeds 4 as a side, 2 as a main dish
- 4 Ears of Corn, husks removed
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped chiffonade style (I julienne my basil by laying about 7 leaves one on top of the other and then rolling them tightly int a cigar. Then you can thinly slice the cigar and it nicely chiffonades your basil).
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 tbsps red wine vinegar
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Cook the corn. If we are already grilling, then I grill the corn. If the grill isn’t turned on, then I just boil the corn in some salted water. I usually cut the ears of corn in half before cooking them to make them easier to handle. I boil them for about 6-8 minutes in a generous amount of water. I like my corn to not be too soft. If you want it softer, you could go for 10 minutes. If boiling, remove from the water and pat dry.
- Once the corn has cooled enough to handle, remove the kernels from the stalk. I do this by standing the corn vertically, and then running a sharp knife down the side. Try to get he knife as close to the stalk of corn as possible in order to get as much corn as possible off.
- In a bowl, add the corn, tomatoes, onion, and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add olive oil and 1 tbsp of the red wine vinegar. Stir together. Taste for seasoning and vinegar. Add more to your liking. I like a lot of vinegar, but other people may want to stop at only 1 tbsp, so add it slowly.
- Mix together and serve.