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Sinning more safely, at home


If you don’t love hot dogs, there’s something wrong with you. But of course you also know that hot dogs are one of the nastiest foods we can eat. I’ve been making alternatives to hot dogs for 40 years. Some alternatives are convincing, others not. But here’s a way to have an authentic hot dog experience without eating anything terribly nasty.

I discovered Morning Star’s fake hot dogs only a couple of months ago. They are thoroughly convincing, with a proper hot dog bite and hot dog taste. We’ve all tried the tofu versions of hot dogs available in health food stores. They’re not very good, because they lack the hot dog bite and the hot dog taste.

We might complain that Morning Star’s products have too many ingredients. Yet I look the other way, because Morning Star’s products are bound to be healthier than the alternative. Not to mention that no animal had to live on a factory farm, or be slaughtered, to make Morning Star’s products. I’m confident that meat analogs will get better and better as the market demands it and as food engineers work on the problem. Meat analogs ought to cost less than meat. Probably the lack of government subsidies has something to do with it, plus the market is smaller. When will our government wise up and stop subsidizing meat and start subsidizing meat analogs?

Here are some guidelines for hot dogs as we make them here in the South:

• There is no alternative to a commercially made hot dog bun. Sure, I’ve made homemade buns, and they’re good. But I cannot make a homemade bun that gives a true hot dog experience. The bun must be lightly toasted in a little butter and served warm. Toast it in a buttered skillet, turning it to brown at least two sides. Restaurants brown the buns in a griddle press.

• It doesn’t matter what you put on your hot dog. That’s part of the fun. You could even make homemade vegetarian chili if you want. I’m partial to slaw or sauerkraut, onions, mustard, and relish. In the South, when you order a hot dog “all the way,” you get mustard, slaw, onions, and chili.

• A hot dog must be eaten with fries. I’m sorry, but that’s the way the world works. I don’t know what got into me (maybe lingering memories of Jim’s Grill), but I bought frozen French fries a couple of days ago for the first time in 30 years. My excuse was that I have a lot of page proofs to read this week and won’t have much time to cook. I also knew that this was the week that I was going to make some serious hot dogs.

Back in the 1980s, I used to buy Loma Linda’s hot dogs, which come in a can. Loma Linda still makes these, but they are not available in any local stores. You can order them from Amazon, but they cost a fortune by the time you pay for shipping. My recollection is that they are quite good.

Trader Joe’s sells a live, unpasteurized sauerkraut that is very good. You’ll find it with the refrigerated foods.

I’d love to hear from readers in the U.K. about hot dogs. It has been years since I had visitors from the U.K., but they always loved American hot dogs. Can you get proper American hot dogs in the U.K.?





  1. Henry wrote:

    Yippee! I love Hot Dogs and usually eat them during Baseball season. But now I have an alternate. Thanks David

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016 at 10:44 pm | Permalink
  2. Jo wrote:

    Hot dogs are loved by almost everyone. Will definitely try the Morningstar ones.
    There is a restaurant in South Carolina (Lilfred’s,Rembert, SC – in the middle of nowhere) with great food and known for their slaw. Finely chop 1 onion & 1 green bell pepper in food processor. Refrigerate overnight. Following day, grate cabbage & mix all together with Hellman’s mayonnaise. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Lilfred’s serves this as a first course in lieu of salad. Perfect with toasted garlic rounds. Good!

    Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at 1:39 am | Permalink
  3. daltoni wrote:

    Jo: Yum!

    Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at 9:04 am | Permalink

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