Family Traditions give me the warm fuzzies. Warm fuzzies are my "Right Relief." I also LOVE giving others the warm fuzzies by sharing my favorite foods. Hence, a big reason I started The Right Relief (which has a big focus on FOOD for caregivers!). So...let's discuss one of my family's MAJOR holiday traditions...Snack Mix!!
This was passed down from my Mom's Mom Grandma Gail. You mix a bunch of crunchy goodies like Bugles, Cheez-Its and Wheat Thins with popcorn oil and dry ranch seasoning mix and you get deliciousness. It is a staple at Christmastime. Kyle and I now make a double batch in early December and share with friends throughout the month. Everyone has started to expect it now and wait for it. This is the first year the "Christmas only" rule has been broken. My mom made a batch for our cousin's graduation party in June and I made a batch for a friend who had a baby since she likes it so much. We also brought some to our annual 4th of July cookout with karate friends. They were shocked to see it in the summer. One thing I have learned: we need to make snack mix all year long!
Thankfully, my family is on board with this wholeheartedly. My mom mentioned this weekend she will be bringing some for Thanksgiving (which, if we are honest, is pretty much Christmas part 1 for those of us who are major Christmas enthusiasts). She also will mail some to Alexandria where my sister and brother-in-law live. Now you see where I get the "mailed food" thoughts from!
What makes "snack mix" so special to me is the memories associated with it. I can vividly picture my sister and I with bugles on each finger (after carefully picking them out of the big mixture) and eating them off one by one. I remember us sitting around a big plastic outdoor patio table in the dining room playing cards with extended family who visited at Christmas; and we all had paper holiday bowls of snack mix. After every few hands of the game, Mom or Grandma would get the big stash and refill everyone's bowls.
Another unique thing about this scrumptious snack is that everyone who makes it (my Mom, Grandma, Aunts/Uncles, Sister...) makes it with their own flair. So, you are never quite sure what version you will get. Some of us (well, most of us) like Bugles and Combos best so those are usually always a main ingredient. But, the rest change often. Kyle and I have added cheddar goldfish, holiday shaped pretzels and different flavors of CheeZ-Its and Wheat Thins depending on what we are feeling like. My Mom and Grandma's versions usually have more cashews/nuts. My Uncle Steve/Aunt Hope seem to always have the largest batch...I think they just put extra of everything in!
I really enjoyed introducing Kyle to this family tradition when we first starting dating. I brought him along on a grocery store trip to help get ingredients way back in 2012; our first holiday season together. He was confused and didn't know what was so special about "snack mix." NO it is NOT the same as store bought Chex Mix! Once I started filling the cart with delicious snacks he was on board and couldn't believe that all of those yummy snacks get mixed together to make an even yummier snack. AND...he came to the rescue and found the last popcorn oil bottle on the bottom shelf hidden behind some other things. He was literally on his belly on the grocery store floor reaching back to grab it for me. It would not work without the oil so this was hugely important. We brought everything back to his apartment in Oconomowoc and I started emptying snacks into a big paper shopping bag which he again was confused by. That is how my Mom makes it and her Mom before her so that is how I make it. There is not a mixing bowl big enough to hold everything and to get everything coated with the oil/Ranch mix, you have to really be able to "seal it" and shake vigorously! To prevent oil leakage, the whole concoction sits in a plastic garbage bag while it "soaks" up the flavor for almost an hour. He loves labeling things with Sharpies and so he was on top of the holiday Ziploc bags once we were ready to fill and distribute. He wrote names (or initials) of all his staff members and friends who we were going to give it to and I would fill. And thus, the Mealy version of the Merry family SNACK MIX began and continues each year!!
And now, I'm sure your mouths are watering and you are dying for the recipe...well...#FoodFriday is just 3 short days away!! Check back!!