Monday, July 29, 2013

Celebrate the Hot Dog

July is National Hot Dog Month, and I think of them as a summertime staple. Keep a package in the freezer and you’re ready for a cookout anytime! One of my favorite places to eat hot dogs is at a baseball game, so I took these photos at a Kansas City Royals game a little over a week ago. I also thought I’d share some hot dog history tidbits.

Just how popular are hot dogs?  Each American eats approximately 60 hot dogs every year, and on July 4th we enjoy 150 million of them. If you lined up each of those dogs, they’d reach from Washington, D. C. to Los Angeles more than 5 times.

No one is exactly sure where hot dogs came from. One clue: In the 1600s, a butcher brought his sausages to Frankfurt, Germany. They became so popular that people called them frankfurters, which is another name for hot dogs.

However, hot dogs are also called wieners, a name that comes from a city in Austria. The city, Vienna, is spelled Wien in that country, and it sounds like “veen.” The sausage’s name is pronounced “veener” in Austria, but here it sounds like “weener.”

In the 1800s, some frankfurter and wiener makers immigrated to the United States. Many immigrants sold their sausages and hot dogs from pushcarts and wagons. One immigrant, a man named Anton Ludwig Feuchtwanger, sold his frankfurters at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. He gave everyone a pair of white gloves so they could keep their hands clean and not burn their fingers as they walked around. Unfortunately, a lot of people didn't bring the gloves back. So Mr. Feuchtwanger asked his sister’s baker husband to make a soft roll to hold the frankfurters. Many people think this was how the hot dog bun was invented. However, historians say the Germans have always eaten sausages with bread.

German immigrant Chris Von de Ahe, owner of a bar and the St. Louis Browns baseball team, was the first to sell frankfurters at baseball games in 1893. (The Browns moved to Baltimore in 1953 and became the Orioles.)

You’ll hear a lot of different stories about how hot dogs got their name. The most popular is the tale of a sportswriter and cartoonist named Tad Dorgan, who was watching a baseball game at the Polo Grounds in New York City on a cold April day sometime in the early 1900s. (No one knows for sure the exact year.) He heard the sausage vendors yell to the crowd, “Get your dachshund sausages while they’re red hot!”

Dorgan decided to draw a cartoon of a vendor selling a sausage that looked like a dachshund dog with a head and tail. When he started to write the caption, he couldn't spell  dachshund. Instead he wrote “hot dog.”  The cartoon was a big hit, and people began using “hot dog” instead of “frankfurter,” “wiener,” or “dachshund dog.” It’s too bad no one has ever found a copy of Dorgan's hot dog cartoon. In fact, most hot dog historians think the story is just a legend.

In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, served hot dogs to England’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at a picnic held on the president’s estate in Hyde Park, New York. I wonder what royalty puts on their hot dogs.

What do you like on your hot dog? My favorite way to eat them is with mustard, hot pepper relish, and a little chopped onion. I also love Chicago-style dogs.

In fact, how you eat your hot dogs often depends on where you live in the United States:

  • A Kansas City hot dog is served on a sesame-seed bun and topped with sauerkraut and melted Swiss cheese. (Like the one pictured on the left.)
  • Boston hot dogs come in a “New England–style” bun, which is split on the top instead of on the side. They’re topped with mustard and relish.
  • In New York, people eat hot dogs topped with pale yellow mustard and either steamed onions or sauerkraut.
  • New Jersey’s Rutt's Hut is famous for deep-fried hot dogs. They’re called “rippers” because they rip open as they fry, and get crispy on the outside.
  • People in Chicago like their hot dogs in a poppy seed bun and top them with a lot of stuff: bright green relish, yellow mustard, chopped onions, tomato slices, a dill pickle wedge, peppers, and a sprinkle of celery salt.
  • Texas is famous for the corn dog, which was invented by Neil Fletcher at the State Fair in 1942. Most Texans eat their corn dogs with mustard.
  • Southeastern United States, folks like to eat slaw dogs, which are hot dogs topped with coleslaw.
  • Pink’s in Los Angeles serves a bacon-burrito dog, which is two hot dogs, cheese, bacon, chili, and onions wrapped in a flour tortilla.

Now that you know a little more about hot dogs, grab a package of dogs and buns, plus some of your favorite condiments, and call up some friends and family to celebrate summertime and this All-American meal.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

No Churn Vanilla Ice Cream


Sometimes summer can be torture. No, I’m not referring to the stifling heat and humidity. I’m talking about all of the wonderful recipes for homemade ice cream to be found in magazines and cookbooks, or floating around on the internet, and me without an ice cream maker.

Then one magical afternoon, I watched a rerun of a Nigella Lawson cooking show. There she was, in full view, making bitter orange ice cream without a churn! It looked so easy and sounded so delicious. I was intrigued.

Nigella's website lists a number of no-churn ice cream recipes. Most call for heavy cream, confectioner’s sugar, and a flavoring of some kind.  One of her recipes called for sweetened condensed milk instead of sugar. All of the recipes instructed readers to put the ingredients into a mixing bowl and then whip until soft peaks form.

No egg yolks. No cooking. No churn. Simple!

I decided I wanted to try a basic vanilla no-churn ice cream. Once I had it mastered, it would just be a matter of adding different ingredients to change up the flavors. So I went to the internet and found many recipes, but these all called for whipping the cream separately to stiff peaks and then folding it into the flavored sweetened condensed milk.

First, I tried the recipe Nigella's way. Epic fail! The mixture never whipped. My guess is my cream-to-sweetened condensed milk ratio wasn't correct. Whatever the reason, the mixture just stayed a loose liquid. (I’m curious to try the recipes with confectioner’s sugar to see if they work better.)

So I went to the whip-the-cream-separately method.

Major success!

The ice cream was amazing and tasted like my Mom’s homemade version she makes in an ice cream churn. It was so rich and creamy you would swear there were eggs in the mixture. Plus, the ice cream scooped smoothly out of the container with no ice crystals.


I did discover the longer this ice cream is in the freezer, the less smooth it becomes. However, I think that may be because I froze it in a larger container than necessary, leaving the ice cream exposed to more air than in a smaller container. Anyway, it still tasted wonderful.

The Picky Eater and I devoured the first bowls, while I called Mom to tell her of my discovery.

Now I plan to spend the summer trying different flavor variations. I think chocolate has to come next.

Something to look forward to as the season steams onward.

No Churn Vanilla Ice Cream

No Churn Vanilla Ice Cream

Yield: 4
Author: Linda Ditch
A way to enjoy homemade ice cream when you don't own an ice cream machine.


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt


  1. In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer), whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over mix. The cream can change quickly from fluffy to butter. Once stiff peaks are reached, set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and salt. With a large spatula, gently fold in the whipped cream until combined.
  3. Pour the mixture into an air-tight freezer container (or a loaf pan, which you will cover with plastic wrap.)
  4. Place in the freezer and allow it to harden for at least 6 hours before serving.
  5. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summertime Jam and Jelly

Today my article ran in the Topeka Capital-Journal newspaper on making jams and jellies. 

The piece features a European-style strawberry jam recipe inspired by one Sue posted on her View from Great Island blog last summer, plus one I saw in Home Made Summer by Yvette Van Boven.

In this method, instead of boiling the filled jars to seal them shut, you turn the jars upside down to seal!

Also, the article features my Mom’s yummy grape jelly, which we made on a recent Sunday morning on the
farm in the traditional way.

Both the jam and jelly were big hits!

Click here for the article and strawberry jam recipe.

Click here for Mom’s homemade grape jelly recipe.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mystery Cuisine: Peach Upside-Down Cake

Two happy events occurred recently. One was the arrival of summer peaches, which I mentioned in my last post. The second was the publication of a new Booktown Mystery by Lorna Barrett, titled Not the Killing Type.

I've written before about Barrett’s cozy mystery series, which also contains recipes. In fact, I look forward to the recipes just about as much as I do learning about the latest happenings to protagonist, Tricia Miles, and the other residents of the fictional Stoneham, New Hampshire.

This new book didn't disappoint, both with the plot and the recipes. I enjoyed the emotional growth Tricia goes through as she works to solve the current town murder. Barrett gave this plot a lot of depth. Then I saw the recipe for Grandma Miles’s Peach Upside-Down Cake and knew I had to give it a try. So I headed to a farm stand located at a North Topeka gas station and found some delicious peaches (along with yummy tomatoes and cantaloupe.)

This is an easy recipe. I didn't bother peeling the peaches, and I added cinnamon to the recipe since I think its warm, fragrant flavor goes well with peaches. The result was a delicious cake that works both as a breakfast coffee cake (as it’s used in the novel) or a dessert.

The Picky Eater gave his approval.

I've had a slice for breakfast two days in a row. Plus a slice for an afternoon snack.

Yep, this recipe is a keeper!

Peach Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from Not the Killing Type by Lorna Barrett

1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 cups sliced peaches, fresh or frozen
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Pour the melted butter into a 9-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter, and then lay the peaches on top in a single layer. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the peaches. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the shortening and sugar. Add the egg, lemon juice and vanilla and beat until smooth. Beat the flour mixture and the milk, alternating between the two (one-third flour mixture, half the milk, one-third flour mixture, half milk, and remaining flour mixture.)

Spoon the cake batter on top of the peaches and smooth until even. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn the cake out onto a plate. Serve warm (though it tastes great cold, too!)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Rustic Peach Tart

Peaches have arrived in Topeka’s farmer's markets, and I've found a lovely way to enjoy them…other than the obvious one of consuming the luscious, sweet fruit while the juice runs through your fingertips This rustic Peach Tart is simple to make and highlights the flavor of ripe summer peaches.

The recipe is adapted from one I found in Home Made Summer by Yvette Van Boven. If you haven’t seen this cookbook yet, run out and grab a copy before summer’s bounty passes by. The book is full of wonderful recipes that celebrate the simple deliciousness of the fruits and vegetables available this time of year.

The best part of this recipe is the ease of preparation. There’s no peeling the peaches, and the crust comes together in minutes thanks to the food processor (and is one of the best crusts I've ever eaten.)

I also like the simplicity of the filling, which is just peaches, sugar, and salt. That’s it. The peaches are allowed to shine without any extra enhancements. Plus, depending on the sweetness of the fruit, not a lot of sugar is necessary.

Don’t have peaches? Any summer fruit will do in this tart recipe.

A simple, flavorful summer dessert. Perfect!

***Hey, thanks for reading! If you've enjoyed my posts or tried one of my recipes, you can support my writing efforts through Buy Me a Coffee...or tea...or flavored fizzy water. Your donation will be greatly appreciated, especially now as I deal with a chronic autoimmune disease that flared back up again. The button is located on the right-hand side of this page or you can follow the link here. If you can't donate, that's okay, too. Either way, thank you so much for reading my stuff!  

Monday, July 1, 2013

Pressure Cooker Pulled-Pork

Through the years I've made pulled pork a number of ways—slow corker, oven, and smoker. I love this dish for summer gatherings and it is always a popular meal choice.

Recently I discovered what is now my all-time favorite way to prepare pulled pork—with my pressure cooker. I tried this recipe while working on a newspaper article for the Topeka Capital-Journal about this much-maligned piece of kitchen equipment, and now it's my go-to one.  

Pressure cookers work by trapping steam inside, which in turn increases the pressure and temperature to a higher level than can be reached in a normal pan—thirty-eight degrees higher, to be exact. Food cooks faster, retains more flavors, and uses less energy. Plus, a pressure cooker is perfect for summertime, since the steam stays inside the pan instead of heating up your kitchen. (For tips on using a pressure cooker, check out my article here. You can also find the recipe I made for pressure-cooker Citrus Grain Salad here.)

This pulled pork recipe is easy! Instead of taking 6 to 12 hours to make, this one only takes 45 minutes
under pressure to cook a 4-pound pork shoulder. Including preparation, getting the pressure cooker up to full pressure, and the cooling off time, the recipe only takes about 1 1/2 hours from start to finish.

The flavor of this pulled pork recipe is amazing! The Picky Eater liked it and enjoyed the leftovers the next day. The liquid from the preparation makes a delicious sauce, or you can serve it with your favorite barbecue sauce.

Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork
Adapted from Pressure Cooker Perfection by the editors at America’s Test Kitchen
Serves 6 to 8
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 4-pound pork butt roast (also known and pork shoulder), cut into 4 pieces
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
6 to 8 hamburger buns

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Rub the mixture all over the pork pieces. In the pressure cooker, whisk together the cider vinegar, water, ketchup and liquid smoke. Add the pork pieces into the pot.

Seal the lid, and bring the pressure cooker up to high pressure over medium-high heat. When the cooker reaches high pressure, lower the heat to medium-low or lower, and cook for 45 minutes. If needed, adjust the heat to keep at high pressure.

Remove the pressure cooker from the heat and allow it to sit with the lid still locked for 15 minute to naturally release the pressure. After 15 minutes, quick release any remaining pressure. Remove the lid and place the pork to a large bowl. Return the pressure cooker to the stove without the lid. Skim off any fat from the top of the sauce in the cooker. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sauce has thickened and reduced to approximately 2 cups, 10 to 15 minutes.

When the pork is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-sized pieces. Pour 1 cup of the sauce over the pork, and serve the rest on the side. You may also serve with your favorite barbecue sauce. Spoon the pork onto the buns and serve.