December 01, 2009
"More Brining, Less Whining"
The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
This Thanksgiving was the sixth straight year that I cooked our turkey on the grill. I don't mean to brag, (which of course means that is exactly what I mean to do :) ) but once again the turkey was marvelous. After six years I have the process perfected and don't even need to refer to my notes. The absolute secret to success is to brine the turkey for twenty-four hours before you put in on the grill. The turkey must be completely submerged in a mixture of water, stock, salt, sugar, onions, sage, rosemary and apples. The flavors can change according to one's preferences, but what cannot change is the need to submerge the bird for a full day. After the grill is lit and the wood chips are added, the turkey is cooked with indirect heat for about three hours, basting the turkey and adding wood chips to the fire, every thirty minutes. When the turkey is carved at the table the purpose of the brining becomes clear. Even after three hours of smoking on a hot grill, the turkey is incredibly moist. Without the brining the turkey would no doubt be dry and difficult to swallow.
So why all this detail about how to insure that a grilled turkey remains moist? If my intention was to help us prepare for Thanksgiving I would have sent this out last week. My intention in sending this out today is to help us each prepare for Christmas, which will be here before we know it. My recommendation is that we all find a way to brine and baste our hearts and souls on a regular basis over the next few weeks in order to prevent us from becoming overcooked and dried out. Not only will this be a gift to ourselves, but also a gift to those around us who will find our stress and crankiness hard to swallow if our souls do in fact become dried out. My advice to myself is the same as for others: More brining, less whining. We are all familiar with the most popular Christmas wine, I mean Christmas whine: "I have soooo much to do and not enough time to do it." I have not yet said those words myself, but the "grill" is just starting to heat up. How are you doing so far? Have you, or those around you, starting whining yet?
Whining doesn't take much effort, but brining does. Whining happens mindlessly; brining happens mindfully. So, specifically what can we each do to keep ourselves from drying out this time of year? Well, only you can answer that for yourself. Here's a few things that I am already doing, and intend to keep doing in the days ahead: playing my guitar more, working out more, reading more, having more fires, cooking more, spending more time with family, saying "no" to invitations, playing Super Mario Brothers with my adult children (okay, I play it by myself, too), connecting with friends, more time praying and meditating, getting more sleep, taking my self less seriously, listening to music--my favorites being A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Peter, Paul and Mary Christmas, and the Kings College Choir singing Lessons and Carols.
There are countless unique ways to brine a turkey, depending on your personal preferences and tastes. The same is true for brining your soul and spirit. The important factor in both is not having the perfect recipe, but simply remembering to take the time to do it.