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The Wiener Roast

Country at HeartIt may already be too cold in your neck of the woods for outdoor cooking, but for those of us whose season is still autumn-like, we can have our little cookout. A wiener roast is probably only for us country folks; I suppose you can roast a hot dog in the city, but I think they taste better when eaten out in the grassy field someplace with crickets chirping and frogs croaking in the background. This was the setting for our wiener roast.

Our church also hosted wiener roasts for fundraisers, but the one I remember most vividly is the one our family had.

Buying wieners is only about half of the job. You have the wieners, but before you can roast them, you have to build a fire. If you make starting the fire fun, then the entire evening gets off on the right foot.

When we had our wiener roast, we had to find suitable wood to build the fire with and a space for a crude, homemade "pit." So, somewhere in the backyard, we cleared a little space and laid kindling and pieces of wood on top of each other until we had a nice little stack. The wood was probably oak, because pine is definitely not the kind of wood you want to use to roast wieners. Pine is very strongly scented, and it leaves a sharp odor. We didn't want wieners that taste like Pine Sol.

Wieners can be roasted in an over or even over a gas flame, but that's far from my idea of a tasty hot dog. OK, so we have the wieners and we have the fire going, but we need the sticks to put in the wieners to hold them over the fire.

Where do you suppose we got the poles that the wieners are roasted on? In case you can't guess, I'll tell you. Since tree limbs stay clean from frequent rains, we considered them naturally clean, so we simply scouted among the trees and the first slim, tender twigs that we saw, we broke them off. They couldn't be just any old twig. They had to be pretty straight, unless you want a crooked roasted wiener. The twigs are trimmed with a sharp pocket knife until they're the shape and size that we need.

The thin, finished wood poles have to be much smaller than the wieners but not too large. The end where the wieners go should be as small as it can be without turning into a toothpick. The other end can be as large and as long as you want. The longer the stick, the better, because if the fire is really roaring, a long stick allows you to stand at a safe distance while roasting your wiener.

Now, this is the part that tested my patience. It's not too bad roasting the first wiener, but usually you're going to eat at least two hot dogs, so, either you roast one and wait for what seems like eternity to get your second one, or you either roast them with two different sticks – one in each hand. Greedy me. That's what I did.

After the wieners are good and done – almost burnt black – we wedged them between the buns, slathered on some mustard and ketchup, and, of course, some onions and relish and chili, if you like. Then we settled down for a fun time and for some really delicious, cholesterol-elevating, blood-pressure-raising, finger-lickin', shouldn't-eat-too-much-of good junk food.

There's nothing quite like an out-door, country wiener roast. You don't have a wiener roast during summer. Well, you can, if you like hot dogs, hot chili and hot weather together, but the cool, colorful autumn time is ideal for outdoor eating. The air is warm but not too hot and not too cool to be outside, even with short sleeves. Late autumn is the best time for hot-dog roasting and downright, good yard-side eating.

wiener roast | Fotolia/goran&asa 

Photo: Fotolia/goran&asa