A few of my readers will see this title and know exactly what this post is about. Others will read the title and just wonder. So for those of you who may be puzzling over the title let me explain.
Grill Out Night is one of those family traditions that started a number of years ago and carries on to this day. As any parent with young children knows, extra curricular activities can make for a very hectic life. With scouts and swimming and music lessons, evenings after work and after school can leave little time for family dinners together—especially when the children are not of driving age themselves and have to rely on Mom or Dad to drive back and forth to these events. Is it any wonder we have relied so heavily on “fast food” to get us through the weekdays?
But the weekends, awe that’s a whole other matter.
I have always enjoyed cooking out. I can’t even count the number or types of grills I have had in my lifetime, going all the way back to my first—a Weber kettle grill—a wedding gift from my sister 35 years ago. And being a meat loving kind of guy, what better way to prepare a good meal.
So somewhere along the way when our oldest kids got into high school and they were driving themselves in their own cars to events and activities, I realized the frantic weeknights of trying to have a family dinner together had turned into few nights when all five of us were even around together for dinner. But Sunday night proved to be the one exception.
Since Sunday night was a school night, it was typically not a night that other activities occurred. I realized it was probably the one night we would reliably all be together. Since this one night of being together was special, it needed a celebration. And in my mind, celebratory holidays like Memorial Day or Fourth of July called for cookouts. So Sunday night would become our cook out night—our Grill Out Night.
I refer to it as Grill Out Night for a bit of a snobbish reason. If you follow my blog, you know I live in Memphis and in fact I am such a Southern boy, that Memphis is as far North as I have ever lived.
In Memphis, we know what Bar-B-Q means—ribs (wet or dry), pulled pork, baked beans, slaw—you get the picture.
When my daughter went to college in a town far north of our home, I found out that when people in other parts of the country have a Bar-B-Q, it might mean grilling out hot dogs or hamburgers. That to me a true Southern boy was not Bar-B-Q. That was cooking out or grilling out. So Grill Out Night it became so that people from any part of our country would know what it meant.
While I love to keep track of dates, I can’t place a specific date on when Grill Out Night started. I know it was sometime when our oldest kids were in high school so it must have started in the late 1990s. So I guess it has been going on for close to 25 years.
So what sort of food would we grill out? Well in the days before I had to worry about my cholesterol level, it would mean a lot of burgers (my favorite food), steak (my second favorite), chicken and ribs.
After that life health change, it became a lot more salmon…
…often cooked on a cedar blank having been previously brushed with soy sauce and ground ginger.
And lots more chicken, simply marinated overnight in Wickers.
After our two oldest kids went away to college, Grill Out Night continued, but with fewer participants.
When our youngest son too went off to college, it was just my wife and I for a while. But being a lover of grilled out food, the tradition continued.
When one of my sisters moved back to Memphis to study for a graduate degree, she was welcomed to our Grill Out Night. And when one of her sons moved to Memphis also, he and his wife became members as well. With these additions we were back up to 5.
Now, Grill Out Night is back to just my wife and I. And every weekend I still think of what we will grill out on Sunday night. Traditions spanning a generation are hard to stop. And even harder to stop when they are ones that you enjoy, ones that bring back fond memories of family time together, of laughter and closeness, of love.
And so it is that this post is coming to you on Sunday morning, the morning of Grill Out Night. Wonder what it will be tonight?