Memory Lane: The Family Cookout

Image result for Men Playing Horseshoes

On many a Sunday in the summer, my father liked to hold a family cookout in the back yard. So early in the morning, I’d run over to the playground and fetch some fine sand for the coals to rest on.

If Uncle Ferdie came, as he usually did, we’d break out the horseshoes and have a few games, him, my father, my brother, and me. There’s nothing like the clang of horseshoes on a summer day. If Uncle Bernie came, he’d do some simple magic tricks that always wowed me. I never could figure out how he pulled off one of his fingers and stuck it back on, good as new. When he finally taught me how to do it, I had a lot of fun blowing the minds of the younger kids in the neighborhood.

When my aunts came, they usually brought slides of their latest visit to some exotic clime–places like Yucatan, Uganda, Iceland, or Australia. My Dutch step-grandfather, John, played old Dutch tunes on his harmonica. Grandpa reminisced about the misdeeds of Woodrow Wilson.

And then came the hot dogs and the hamburgers, which always tasted so much better, off the grill. I enjoyed watching the charcoal briquets catch fire briefly, then settle down to glowing redly and sputtering when fat dripped on them. A simple feast, but highly satisfying.

If only we could do it all again…

20 comments on “Memory Lane: The Family Cookout

  1. My boyhood home was on a one acre lot on the outskirts of town. They had a simple redwood picnic table and the best charcoal grill two bucks would buy, so summers included lots of cookouts. It was a great excuse to invite a pal over for supper. Great memories!

    1. The rest of my day will,be spent thinking about the possibilities when a Hibachi and Italian Sausage are brought together in a single place and time. 🙂

  2. We had many cookouts with an old charcoal grill – grandma, grandpa, my aunts, uncles, cousins and great aunts. We children always went berry picking on my uncle’s 50 acres while the grownups did the cooking – and oh boy did that charcoal grilled food smell good, and tasted even better! Gas grills can’t compare to a good charcoal cooked burger or sausage, and chicken on a charcoal grill is soooo yummy! Those were the days . . .

    1. I couldn’t agree more. I don’t see the point of propane grills, beyond basically being an outdoor stove. I’m thinking that I might buy a Hibachi one of these days. Some good Brats or Italian Sausage (which I do happen to prefer as hot as possible) on a nice soft bun, sounds pretty good.

      I just finished supper, but this thread has me feeling a bit peckish. 🙂

    2. We had family day with pizza today – loaded with cheese, pepperoni, sweet green, yellow and red peppers, onions and mushrooms – yummy!

    3. The nearest town has an excellent Italian restaurant with great homemade pizza . . . and that’s what I had today. Just pepperoni, sauce and cheese, but it was excellent.

  3. Oh, I remember the days when my many relatives gathered for these huge family dinners. Every one of my aunts and my mother and grandmother(s)
    were fabulous cooks who each brought some fancy dessert, then they all shared the main dish cooking while all the kids played in the huge yard (of whichever home we were meeting at), playing croquet, tennis, splashing in water pools, etc. In the evenings, we made ice cream with a hand crank freezer. It doesn’t get any better than that.

    1. We had a dairy farmer down the road, and when he’d let us help milk the cows, he would always give us some of the cream that floated to the top to bring home so we could churn butter 🙂

    2. Believe it or not, I used to make a lot of home-made ice cream, mostly sherbet. And mine was out of this world. It’s just a matter of using the best ingredients.

      I don’t make it anymore–not since Peep, as a kitten, somehow got on top of the refrigerator, climbed into the box holding the ice cream machine, and toppled it all to the floor with a mighty crash. We thought she’d killed herself, but the only casualty was my ice cream machine.
      Anyway, a lot of the ingredients I liked to use are no longer available. But oh! The sherbet I made with “Thank You” brand (extinct?) raspberries, blackberries, or boysenberries! Better than any I’ve ever bought.

  4. Durn! This blog is piquing my appetite. I got you beat, of cat breakage, however. The adorable little cat that is curled up next to me as I type, once broke the toilet. Long story, but the bottom line is I had to replace an entire toilet.

    1. Really now, this is quite unfair! Please tell us how your cat managed to break a toilet. Inquiring minds want to know!

    2. OK, here’s the story all of America has been waiting to hear.

      One fine day, I walked into my home after work and noticed a faint scent of perfume in the air. Because I rarely hold fashion shows in my living room, I found this to be puzzling at the very least. I noticed that the door to the guest bathroom was closed and when I opened it, my cat bolted past me. It seems that she had been pursuing imaginary prey behind the open door and managed to lock herself in.

      Like all good felines, she did not want to be confined and she began to explore every area of the bathroom, in hopes of escaping. She got up on a shelf above the toilet and knocked over a leaded crystal after shave bottle, a quite heavy leaded crystal after shave bottle. Said bottle proceeded to strike a glancing blow to the rim of the toilet, which broke the top off. It then landed, inverted, in the toilet bowl adding a delicate scent to the water within. A seven inch long piece of the broken toilet rim laid on the floor and the only option was to replace the entire toilet.

      So, a priceless antique bottle was destroyed and an innocent plumbing fixture went to an early grave. My cat, now liberated from her confinement, washed her paws and wondered what all the fuss was about.

    3. Priceless! Unfortunate, but still priceless! Thanks for sharing that. It put a smile on my face and gave me more than a little chuckle 🙂

    4. Even at the time, I was more bemused than anything by it all. That a smallish cat could take out a toilet was worth more to me in the way of amazement than the cost of replacing the toilet. I sure love that little critter.

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