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MY FAMILY’S TRADITIONAL SUMMER TURKEY DINNER
One of the meals I absolutely love and request whenever someone asks me what I want to eat is a traditional turkey dinner. Since I was a kid, my family has cooked up the entire meal all year, but we especially enjoyed this dinner during the summer. Growing up, my family always went up north during the summer to visit my great aunt who lived in a cottage by a lake. She was my grandma’s sister and didn’t have any kids of her own, so we’d go almost every 2–3 weeks and sometimes for the major holidays like Memorial Day, Labor Day, and the Fourth of July. As we grew older and had summer sports and other activities, we went less frequently. Then, my parents moved into a house on a lake down here, and we stopped going altogether. While we didn’t have our turkey meal every single time we went to the lake house, we would save it for special occasions and holidays — sometimes for the Fourth of July or a last hurrah just before school started up again in August. My dad would go buy a turkey, fire up the Weber charcoal grill, and cook the turkey whole, which took about three hours. Meanwhile, everyone else would prepare the mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing — the whole shebang. My favorite part of the meal, apart from the turkey, was the mashed potatoes. Once the turkey was
finished, we’d sit down and enjoy the meal together, no matter how hot it was at the time. We cooked it the same way for all our holidays. Having grown up with it my whole life, I thought having a turkey dinner was just part of the summer experience and figured everyone did, too. As I became an adult, I found it’s entirely not “normal.” A few times I’ve mentioned cooking a turkey on the grill, everyone looked at me strangely. I didn’t know there was any other way to cook a turkey until after I was married. Over the years, several people have made speculations about our turkey tradition, such as “You must use a pretty large grill.” Actually, I’ve always thought we use a regular-size grill. It’s not a contraption a crazy uncle threw together with scraps from the backyard; it’s just a grill anyone can pick up at the store. After my wife and I got married, my family used my next birthday as a chance to give me my very own Weber charcoal grill, and I still have it. It’s sitting in the garage, but I only use it to cook turkeys. Even though this is my favorite meal, I can’t make it on my own. I haven’t taken good notes and I’m not that great of a cook, but my dad is always willing to come over and help me the dinner whenever
we’re planning it. Over the past few years, I’ve done it a couple of times for the holidays but not on my own just yet. Dad came over a few hours early so the two of us could get the turkey on the grill and get everything else ready. Since I’ve been married, I’ve had oven- cooked turkey, but I think grilled turkey still tastes the best. The grill makes the meat more flavorful, and while we might all think our way is the best, in this case, I know I’m right.
–Kyle Matthews 1 (248) 543-0340janetdaviscleaners.com
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