Summer Journal: Great Eats over the fire.

Food on the Fire:
Classic Family Reunion Fare

Our summer journal wouldn’t be complete without a shout out to the folks who man the main event at the Balaban family reunion – Whole Lamb and Chicken slowly cooked via open flame.

Months of planning result not only in family members coming from all over the U.S., but some really good eats. Fresh, good eats. As with the last reunion 3 years prior, fresh lamb and chicken were scheduled to be the main event. The Balaban team gets the lamb from Elysian Fields farm in Greene County ( All natural, fresh from the farm. Additionally, the lamb is accompanied by juicy chickens cooked slowly over the hot coals and basted periodically. It’s an afternoon of slow cooking, basting and families reconnecting.

The following pictorial shares that afternoon of deliciousness (and patience).

Early the morning of the reunion the lamb is washed with squeezed lemon juice and seasoned with kosher salt.  Garlic cloves are inserted into the meaty portions of the legs and shoulders.  The slow roasting begins at 8 AM and ends about 3:30 PM.

Slow cooked deliciousness

The cool thing is the indirect heat method for the lamb. To keep it from burning, the coals are positioned away from the lamb to allow a slow cook throughout the morning and early afternoon.


Not quite ready....

Nice and slow.

Capturing every bit.

Get this: pieces of French bread to capture the juices. Genius!


Taking their rightful place.

Not to be outdone 20 chickens make their debut.


Taking care of the little ones.

To maintain moisture, the chicks are basted throughout the morning with a secret family recipe
(ok, I think it’s beer and butter…)

Worth a close up.

Crispy. Golden. Delish. Beautifully primitive.

Carving is serious business.


Hungry Balabans

Mid afternoon everyone comes together after hours of reuniting with loved ones and learning of each family member’s newest adventures or recounting those that will be passed down to generations to come. It’s time to eat and share a great meal.

Every three years it happens at this great Pennsylvania property that continues to serve as the catalyst for great storytelling and appreciating the past – and speaking of dreams that fuel our passions. Being somewhat new to the Balaban Reunion event, I can see myself making the trek years to come to tell my own story of how my youngest, at the age of just one year old, couldn’t stop eating lamb, and how the children played for hours in the heat of summer. And the heat didn’t seem to matter as it was overshadowed by the cool vibe of being a part of this Balaban family.

A pretty cool summer journal entry indeed.



Combining his love of food and communications, Rod is a marketing guru with extensive experience in the healthcare, restaurant and luxury services industry. Rod’s special talent is cooking. He makes magic in the kitchen by relying on fresh foods and unique flavors. He is married to Beth, and together they have two little girls. Rod and Beth have the perfect Live Pretty partnership: he cooks fabulous dishes and she creates the beautiful ambiance that combines to make their events special and unforgettable.

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