In our joint shopping excursion for the Turkey Day meal, we sought the proper menu for this daring departure from the confines of “we always did it that way.” And, since Life Mate was in the final stages of recuperation from some supposedly minor surgery, it was decided that I would man the grill for the “giving-thanks-dining.”
We picked kabobs, something I’ve never attempted on the grill, but with gentle guidance, it turned out just fine.
And, by not messing with poultry, I didn’t have the worries my hero and friend Leon Hale referred to once. Leon, the outstanding nonagenarian columnist for the Houston Chronicle, was in a bachelorhood period at the time, and wrote about cooking a chicken and referred to boiling it until its “britches legs” rolled up. Meaning, of course, that he cooked the chicken until the skin on the legs shriveled.
MOTHER WAS rarely a turkey cook/roaster on Thanksgiving, but instead opted for what she’d grown up with on the farm — a steady supply of chickens. So, a fat hen was usually the main course of her “turkey” day meal, partially submerged in a giant pan of her absolutely magnificent cornbread dressing.
My mother-in-law and father-in-law were both traditionalists and each had their own methods and “secrets” in preparation of a holiday meal. Each of them cooked special occasion meals for us and I couldn’t hope to approach either my mom or Life Mate’s folks when it comes to cooking. Nor Julie either for that matter.
But, I hold my own fairly well when it comes to cooking breakfast or grilling. Steaks, pork chops, chicken, burgers, sausage. No prob. Or at least no complaints. But, then diners at home rarely gripe about the cook because that might mean they get to assume the chores on a regular basis.
I’VE NEVER been a fancier of poultry legs (notice I said poultry) because Mom spoiled me from the beginning and allowed me, as the oldest child, the choice of chicken pieces. Right away I became a white mean fancier if not a gourmet expert. However, I usually got the breast, and the next child’s pick might be what was termed in the Webb farm country household at the “pully-bone,” or wishbone as it’s familiarly known in more (ahem) upscale homes. The leg was always third choice in our house.
Of course, getting first pick brought familial broadsides from three younger brothers: “spoiled,” or “pet,” or “it ain’t fair.” After all, I was the eldest, first-born, and delivered on Mother’s Day. Yeah, it probably wasn’t fair. They didn’t stand a chance. (Don’t tell my brothers I said that).
But, back to the Thanksgiving experience.
Some “grilling purists” might groan when I mention my propane-fueled grill. My answer to that is that the “contained” grilling area plus the grill itself are seasoned by the aromas and flavors of scores of outings of all of the earlier referenced meat choices.
Plus, with cooking the kabobs there is always the little extra consideration of observing the various veggies skewered with the meat.
NATURALLY, THAT adds considerable flavor variety to the holiday repast, always desirable but especially so for an observance such as Thanksgiving.
I couldn’t veer away from traditionalism for Christmas though. As a matter of fact, the thought of firing up the grill for that day is disturbing. You couldn’t even enjoy opening gifts (ahem, ahem) with that duty hanging heavily upon your shoulders.
But, I defied conventional wisdom on Turkey Day and ate my own cooking, including some vegetables on the kabob that are contrary to my digestive regimen. After all, 55 years of sweating the continuous pressure of deadlines haven’t helped my stomach.
Sure enough, not long after my head hit the pillow, a bell pepper reminded my tummy that even though I love that green veggie, it’s not a good idea to indulge.
Oh, well, it gave Life Mate a rest from the kitchen.
Willis Webb is a retired community newspaper editor-publisher of more than 50 years experience. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.