The Jacksons – for Apr. 1, 2010

The 21st day of March is rarely a good day for a barbecue in Manitoba. Even Gretna, the unofficial hot spot of the province (some would say of the entire country) is often downright cold and unpleasant on the first day of spring. And in a normal year, there is liable to be several feet of snow still piled up next to the hedge and probably a good layer still covering the lawn.

This year is not normal. March came in like a lamb and then stayed that way, at least till the 21st. And being that the day was so wonderfully warm and sunny, and a Sunday to boot, Andrew Jackson decided to fire up the barbecue and treat the family to the year’s first grilled T-bone steaks.

There was a full house for the event. Brady was there with his girlfriend Amanda, Randy and Jackie were there with daughter Allison. And of course Jennifer was home, which she usually is for Sunday dinner. Andrew and Rose were the last to seat themselves at the table and there was no hesitation from the rest of the family when Rose invited them to dig in. There was little conversation as they set about filling their plates, passing dishes and making sure they didn’t miss anything.

Amanda looked doubtfully at the steak on her plate for a moment, but then picked up her knife, sliced off a bite-sized piece and popped it into her mouth. She chewed thoughtfully for a few seconds and then put down her knife and fork.

“Oh my gosh,” she said. “That is the best steak I have ever tasted in my life!”

Andrew smiled. “Why thanks,” he said. “It is pretty good if I do say so myself.”

“Seriously,” said Amanda, chewing on another mouthful. “What did you do to it?”

Andrew shrugged. “It’s good grass-fed Manitoba beef,” he said. “Not that corn-fed crap you get from the grocery store.”

“Tell the girl the truth,” said Randy. “That’s only half the story.”

Andrew nodded. “It’s all in the marinade,” he said. “I just happen to have the best marinade recipe in the history of the universe.”

“It’s true,” said Brady through a mouthful of food. “Best marinade ever. You know how good it is?”

“I’m in the process of finding out,” said

Amanda, “but tell me, how good is it?”

“This marinade is so good,” said Brady, “that last year Dad marinated a couple of portabella mushrooms in it and barbecued them. And then, guess what? I ate some. And I liked it.” He looked at Amanda who was looking at him. “I know,” he said. “Unbelievable, eh?”

“Can I get the recipe?” said Amanda.

“I thought you were a vegetarian,” said Jennifer.

“I was,” said Amanda. “But it didn’t work

out so well when I moved out here into beef country.”

“I dated a vegetarian once,” said Randy.

Jackie stopped eating and stared at her husband. “You never told me that,” she said.

“That’s because I only dated her once,” said Randy.

“Who was it?” asked Rose. “I thought I knew all your girlfriends.”

“Like I said, I dated her once,” said Randy. “Megan Patterson.”

“Oh, I remember her,” said Rose. “She was a vegetarian? Doesn’t her family run a feedlot?”

Randy nodded. “Go figure,” he said.

“So what happened?” Brady wanted to know. “Culinary incompatibility?”

Randy laughed. “Exactly,” he said. Jackie looked at him, skeptical. “Really?

You didn’t go out with her again because of that?”

“More like she didn’t go out with me again because of that,” said Randy. “Although there was a bit more to it than that.”

“Do tell,” said Jackie, curiously. “Well, we went out for dinner,” said

Randy. “I ordered a burger and fries and she ordered a salad. And then she said something about animal rights and I looked at her plate and I said if she wanted to do something nice for the animals, she should stop eating all their food.”

“So can I?” said Amanda. “Get the recipe? If it’s as good on mushrooms as it is on steak I may go back to being a vegetarian.”

Andrew looked doubtful. “It’s a family secret,” he said. “I don’t want it falling into the hands of the vegetarian sympathizers.”

“I’ll show it to you after dinner Amanda,” said Jennifer.

Andrew looked at his daughter. “Hey,” he said. “Whose side are you on?”

“I’m on the side of democracy and access to information,” said Jennifer, “and freedom to marinate.”

Brady raised his glass of milk. “Hear hear,” he said. Visit www.thetravelingmedicineshow.com

and find the world’s best marinade recipe on the welcome page. And it’s FREE!

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