What Memorial Day means to me…
I am feeling the post Memorial Day blues today. You know how it is, you get that extra day away from the grind of work and you jump headfirst into the hustle of a weekend crammed full of family events. I know what you may be thinking, (well probably not since most of the time I am not sure what I think) but someone may be wondering why I am so insistent in having a three-day weekend over packed with cookouts, birthday parties and other activities as opposed to doing something more traditional. I believe that Memorial Day is a time to remember those who were willing to paid the ultimate price and they willingly put their lives in jeopardy so that we might be able to fire up the grill and party.
I am not being flippant, I am being very serious when I say that I think the best way to honor those men and women is to be with family and friends. We may all know a family who lost a loved one wearing a uniform and for them, Memorial Day is just another day to remember their loss because every day to some extent is Memorial Day. They don’t get to spend a silent moment and then going about their lives as if nothing happened. They go about their daily routine with an empty place in their soul because of a little thing called service to the nation. I think about families like Big Joe out in AZ whose step son served in the Marines. I think of a not so little girl whose dad died in a plane crash. I think of Padre Steve whose former Commander took his own life after the war was over for him. Dying on a battlefield or dying in or out of the uniform is the same thing to me.
If I go to a cemetery and walk around for a few minutes, what have I really accomplished other than to get a walk in? To me that is a hallow action full of honor and respect, and I am glad that there are people who chose to remember their lives in that manner. But it doesn’t fit with the narrative of how I chose to remember. If I had died over there or over here, I wouldn’t want some guy I didn’t know to walk past my grave and thank the Lord that it was me and not him. I would want that guy to live his life fully, to spend a weekend with his families and friends, enjoying life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is tough and stressful to host three parties in three days. It is tough to fire up the grill and make sure that the meat is cooked to perfection. It is tough to make sure there are plenty of cold drinks in the cooler. It is tough after a long day over the grill to clean the house and do it again the next day. And then do it again the next day. But that is how my family chose to honor those who lost their lives. When I cut into that nearly perfect pork rib, I almost cried because that is how I chose to honor the fallen on Memorial Day.
It would be easy to end this article here but that only leaves you with the answer of why I celebrate like I do. Everyone wants to know why but no one wants to teach you how. That is because if you know how then it takes the power of knowledge away from one and gives it to the many. I don’t want to tell you why I am on the path to grill master status. I want you to be a grill master too. I’m not at grill master status yet, but without sounding braggadocios. I am getting pretty good even when I am still making mistakes on every cook.
Last summer I bought a Kamado smoker called an Akorn. Since I am cheap and even more importantly I couldn’t justify spending 1500.00 dollars on a smoker to my wife I went to Home Depot and bought the knockoff smoker. I have never eaten anything off an Egg or Primo Kamado smoker but there is no way it tastes that much better than what I can produce on my smoker. So if you want to be a master griller like me, go to Home Depot and drop 350.00 on a Char Griller AKorn Smoker. It works like magic and with a little training, it will make you look good.
If you are in the market for a gas grill, do yourself a favor and get one that is infrared heating style. Basically the fire heats up metal and that is what cooks the meat. Since the flame doesn’t actually touch the meat, it is almost impossible to burn the meat. Again, five years ago I went to Home Depot and bought a 250.00 dollar Char Broil gas grill with the infrared technology. It is so easy to cook with; it is almost embarrassing. Set the temperature, throw the meat on, flip it a couple of times and it is ready to eat. But when your guests are eating the meat you just cooked and they are shocked when their pork chop is tender, juicy and well done they will rave about how good you are. You can take the compliments and smile because you know it is all because you got the right grill.
I can tell already that this article is going to go long, so we are going to make it a two-day article. Your homework should you choose to accept it, will be to go out and get a smoker. Next week we are going to look at what I created over the weekend, with pictures. I am going to take you behind the curtain, we are going to explore everything from starting the fire to making your own “homemade” bar-b-cue sauces. I am going to show you what I did right and where I failed. I am going to tell you how to restart your fire and how to get that amazing smoke ring on your meats. This weekend I did pork but we will talk beef and chicken too. I cant think of a better way to honor the men and women who serve than by sharing with you the secrets of being a “Master Griller” so that you can live your life in pursuit of happiness and the perfect rib. Maybe together we can honor all the families who gave a son or daughter on the altar of freedom with something to smile about.
Until next time, keep on rockin.