Independence Day! The 4th of July! Yankee Doodle Dandy! Grill me some MEAT! Yes, it is our great nation's 244th Birthday. May I say, we don't look a day over 220, 230 tops.

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This year, 2020, has been, as we all know, a very big challenge. So, it stands to reason that we're going about our traditional celebrations a little differently as a result of the Covid-19 Crisis. This includes getting together with family and friends for the 4th of July.

With proper social distancing precautions, many will still enjoy assembling loosely in backyards everywhere and doing what is our natural inclination to do - and that is to fire-up the barbecue or smoker or both -- and cook some meat!

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What's on your menu this weekend? Burgers are always a hit. Do you do something special to make your burgers juicier, more delicious creations? Or do you just slap it on the grill and let 'er burn? I hope it's the former. I have discovered starting with fresh ingredients is key to arriving at the best tasting result.

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How about steak? Ribs? Chicken? All are very popular at the typical outdoor soiree feast and can be complimentary to one another.

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Get crazy and make some 'surf' selections available to your guests. Nothing like grilled salmon or shrimp kabobs or oysters in the shell for grilling magnificence.

Brian Stephenson

I recently acquired a smoker for Father's Day as a gift from my kids. It's a nice little electric smoker and easy to use but has already provided glorious brisket, chicken, pulled pork, meatloaf and ribs.

Maybe over the weekend I'll post my close facsimile of my late mother's potato salad recipe. I've been getting rave reviews with it the last couple of weekends.

Whatever you plans, I hope you enjoy time with family, friends and meat......and that you'll take time to relax and realize how lucky we are to live in this amazing country.