Have I mentioned that spring is my favorite time of year?
Of course I have!
Tuesday night after slaving all day in front of my computer (here is where you should feel sorry for me) my wife Kathy and I had a wiener roast in our backyard.
That’s where hot dogs, the kind made with real cattle and not turkey or pork, are cooked over an open flame. Yes, the 100 percent beef dogs cost more but are worth every penny.
I threw some logs into the firepit, threw on some starter fluid and lit it with a long-handled lighter. After about an hour of quality time sitting with Kathy around the open fire in 80 degree weather, it was time to cook.
Using a metal pronged fork, four dogs were cooked at the same time.
My, have times changed!
Cooking hot dogs over an open flame is something both my children Robin and Ryan enjoyed doing when they were growing up.
In fact, when Ryan was probably 11 years old visiting his aunt Cheri’ in Columbus, Ohio, with a gazillion special places to break bread, Ryan just wanted to roast hot dogs in her fireplace.
It was something that was done at his grandparents’ house as well.
Naturally the best place in the Abilene area to roast dogs is in Brown’s Park. When my wife was teaching, many Friday night McKinley school staff parties were held there. Robin and, as he got older, Ryan and I would arrive about an hour ahead of the party. Our job was to first find wood and start the fire.
There were two types of wood required.
First, the smaller sticks could be found in the wooded areas for kindling. Those were used to get the fire started. Next, larger deadwood was needed which we sometimes had to break into small logs.
Lighting the fire sometimes turned into an adventure because we didn’t use lighter fluid. Often we used a match to light a brown paper bag we had received at the grocery store at the time we bought our picnic supplies. It’s doubtful the plastic bags we get today would be sufficient to ignite a campfire.
Once the smaller branches caught fire, it was time to add the larger deadwood logs, the number depending on the size of the party. We wanted a good flame and hot ashes just in time for the arriving party to break out the ketchup, mustard, relish, potato salad, baked beans, chips, s’more fixins and beer.
But, my kids and I weren’t finished.
It was then time to find the perfect sticks in which to cook the hot dogs. Sometimes we could get one that was “Y” shaped, allowing two hot dogs to be cooked at the same time. The skewers had to be long enough and big enough not to get the chef toasted during the cooking process.
Using a hunting knife, we would scrape off the bark and sharpen the ends to satisfying points.
These we turned over to the guests so they could cook the perfect hot dog while I snacked on BBQ chips.
Good times. Good memories. Last evening, I silently thanked the German immigrants that brought the “dachshund sausages” to the United States in the 1800s.