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“That Vast Consoling Meal”

The poet Louise Gluck’s description of Thanksgiving is still my favorite. And, lucky for me, it describes every Thanksgiving at my Cousin Susan and Elkan’s house. Here’s why:

  • They’re welcoming, gracious, and cheerful, pretending that they’re not stressed and already exhausted.

  • Everybody cooks and brings something. That way, no one’s overwhelmed, and everyone gives and gets compliments (no one more than Elkan, who grills the turkey whole. Really, if you have an outdoor grill, you should try this. The recipe is at the bottom of the post).

  • No matter how many additions there are to the family, Susan & Elkan fit us all in with what appears to be great enthusiasm.

  • If there’s anyone in the room who isn’t politically progressive, they’re not ‘fessing up to it, at least not at this gathering.

  •  No one (at least, not me) feels too bad about getting up every so often to duck into the den and check out what’s going on with the football game on television.

  • In memory of my mother, we sing “We Gather Together.” Since my mother had The Worst Voice in the World, no one worries about how we sound. In memory of my husband David, we sing all two hundred verses. Oy vey.

Susan and Elkan truly get what Thanksgiving should mean – family togetherness and gratitude. Even though it takes me approximately 27 hours on the Belt Parkway to get to their house on Long Island from my house near Philadelphia, it’s so worth it.

Jae and I are thankful for the families and friends with whom we love to share our holidays. We are thankful for each other. We are thankful to you for reading our blog and for sharing your thoughts with us. We are thankful that the book we’ve been incubating will be published soon. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Elkan’s Grilled Turkey

  • Take the fresh, uncooked turkey out of the refrigerator for two hours before you’re ready to grill. Remove any giblets that may be in the cavity.

  • Place the turkey, breast side up, on a V-shaped rack in a HEAVY roasting pan (to prevent a dangerous accident when you bring the turkey back into the house after grilling).

  • Blot it dry, sprinkle with salt & pepper, and then cover with a clean dish towel so it won’t dry out too much.

  • When you’re ready to start cooking, preheat an outdoor grill to 500 degrees (essentially, as hot as it will go).

  • Remove the dishtowel, place the turkey in its pan on the grill, and close the cover (no trussing, no basting, no nothing!)

  • Cook for 6 minutes per pound, and then insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, without touching the bone. The turkey is done when the thermometer registers 165 degrees.

  • If the turkey is brown before it’s done, just cover it with a sheet of aluminum foil.

  • Remove the turkey from the grill, bring in inside, and let it (and you) rest for ten minutes or so before you present it to the adoring crowds.

Note 1: this recipe is adapted from one that appeared in the New York Times more than 20 years ago. The original recipe calls for roasting the turkey in a conventional oven. Cousin Elkan warns against this – the amount of smoke that will billow out of your 500-degree oven may result in firefighters being the only guests joining you for dinner.

Note 2: looking for a great novel? Read Cousin Susan’s (Isaacs) latest, Takes One to Know One. It’s gotten rave reviews, and deservedly so. I loved it!