Thursday, October 4, 2012

Calorie Reunion 2012

Hello everybody! I missed you while I was out sick again and then galavanting around Southern Minnesota. I meant to post this on Monday after I got back, but somehow it's Thursday and who knows how that happened.

Maybe these guys picked me up and didn't tell me about it.

I'll tell you about my excellent adventure down US Highway 169 after the warp.

While it's hard to pretend that there were any net health benefits from it after all the food that was eaten at our annual family reunion last weekend, I did walk quite a bit Saturday and Sunday. We have the event each year at a campground on a lake in the Deep South of Minnesota, where the snowmobile is an acceptable mode of transportation to high school and camouflage goes with everything. It's always around the first of October so while the fall colors are pretty reliable, the temperature can range between 41 and 98 depending on the year. Minnesota is weird. This year, it was a gorgeous 75 degrees all weekend and just delightful. I bonded with various sisters, cousins, and nieces/nephews on walks along the trails and on the lakeshore.

I like trees of all sizes.

And colors.
Lakes are cool too. Me and some little ones did our part by throwing rocks back in.
You can barely see Mila there in the zebra-striped dress but she is giving it her all!

I also played that safer-than-horseshoes game people call "Bags" where you throw bean bags at a plywood target with a hole in it. That got pretty rowdy.

Now for the negative calorie-burning. This event is always about the food, even if we pretend to focus on family togetherness. And really, what brings people in the Midwest together faster than a power circuit overloaded with Crock Pots and picnic tables overloaded with "salads" full of mayo, meat, and cheese. Someone even brought all the fixin's for Tacos-in-A-Bag which I thought my friend had made up when she told me about them a while back. I guess everyone knew about it but me!

Thankfully, I was able to avoid most of the temptation to eat like a bear preparing for winter due to my restrictions regarding meat. I only eat Zabihah Halal, which basically means the animal must be slaughtered humanely by a Christian, Jew, or Muslim while asking permission from Allah by saying "Bismillah" in the case of Muslims. Obviously this isn't a common practice in mainstream meat processing anywhere in the US. I can eat meat from hunted game though, so the pheasants my dad takes on trips to Iowa are on the menu!

My Crock Pot was filled to the brim with shredded BBQ chicken, the lazy lady's answer to party food. You just dump a bottle of BBQ sauce and a bunch of sliced onions into the pot with a few pounds of skinless chicken and let it go for 8 hours. Then you shred it up and remove the bones, if any, and serve on buns to very happy people. I also brought Halal hot dogs and marshmallows for toasting over the fire. 

It's pretty sad when my "exercise" section is more about food than physical activity, but what can you do when your aunts insist on tradition?

It's always bittersweet when the weekend ends. While you're exhausted from your restless night in a camper bed made for someone two inches shorter and so ready for a shower to wash away the campfire smell and marshmallow residue, you know that you won't get a chance to totally check out of reality like this for another year. Who knows? Maybe the stress relief I experienced from having no cell signal or access to the internet for two whole days paid off more than any exercise I could do.

'Bye Dad!!


I skipped Arabic while out of town and ONCE AGAIN forgot about my new online class which is now in its 5th week. But I listened to the recorded session and I don't think I will have a problem catching up. It's mainly the other students taking turns reading the book out loud.

I also considered the family reunion a venue for dawah because I was answering questions from my relatives about Islam, explaining some Arabic words and Islamic concepts, and bursting with pride watching my dad man the grill and warn against Halal hot dog cross-contamination. He was training everyone on how to make sure not to let them roll over to where the bratwurst were and mingle their juices. It was really sweet. I love him.

Yesterday I had the Midweek Halaqa again and we talked about checking ourselves when the temptation to judge others comes into play. Sh. Hatem was saying that it's easy to talk smack about rich, famous, athletic, or otherwise advantaged people when they show off their goods, but how do we know we wouldn't do the same if in their situation? This is just one more example of how the traditional trappings of success are such a double-whammy. They're more of a test than poverty because you are responsible for how you handle them.

Insha Allah I will be able to stay humble if I ever have a reason to be arrogant. Alhamdulillah there aren't really any yet!


  1. TACOS IN A BAG!! I'm telling you! Yum!

  2. Oh my crockpots. I SO MISS YOUR BLOGGING!! It's like all our text messages organized into sensible sentences. We still gotta try Dilly Beef. Remember that one we saw? Your family rocks. I want to go again, like soon. With my crockpot and a Ball Jar soap pump for your ma in hand.

    By the way, folks, this girl makes a mean replacement crockpot handle.