COOKING FOR THE 4TH OF JULY PICNIC CROWD

Experts agree that the correct way to get into the holiday spirit is to relax and not allow yourself to become overwhelmed.

For example, the other day someone told me that it was the end of June.
“WHAT?!”

Helpful strangers standing yards away, shouted. “Three days until Fourth of July!”

“How could it be?” I queried the clerk as I scratched out “May” on my check for groceries. Then my faithful friend, Margo arrived on the scene and without a second’s hesitation reminded me I am to bring the main course for the annual Fourth of July picnic. “What was I bringing”?

By now I am considering making a break from the grocery line but I had other items on my busy agenda, with number one being remembering how to breathe.

I remembered to rely on the techniques for living a well-balance life that I had just read as I waited in line to check out my groceries.

So here was the procedure:
Visualize what you want to accomplish (I cannot believe I signed up for MAIN COURSE!)

Try to see as an opportunity for growth and learning (The worst part is you have not a clue what to make and you are at the end of your monthly budget.)
Do things that bring joy and fulfillment into your life (And don’t think for a moment that you are going to get out of it, because you aren’t.)

I came out of my unconscious state mumbling, “Hot Dogs.”

“HOT DOGS!” Margo yelled over her shoulder.

I look down the crowded aisle of shoppers and they look at me with the bright polite smiles of people who do not have a clue what had just been said.

“Whoa! Now, Margo lets not be hostile. I mean I’m not going to serve them with Cheez Whiz,” I explained.

“To the best of my recollection, Cheez Whiz on a hot dog is mighty good,” said the customer second to the left in line.

I smile weakly.

Not feeling exceptionally energetic after purchasing $107.82 worth of groceries I knew as a food columnist I had to give that weenie a gourmet twist.

“Did I say Hot Dogs? No, no, no I meant Frankfurters,” I said. I felt a quiet giddiness and relief until I realized–condiments.

I pondered on this on the drive home. As I breathe deeply (so as not to become overwhelmed) I thought there has to be more than one way to butter a hot dog bun. Never doubt it, it only takes a rise in blood pressure to stagger the imagination to make a pretty dull weenie into…FOURTH OF JULY FRANKFURTERS

Score frankfurters about 1/4 inch deep. Brush with a sweet-sour BBQ, or zesty tomato sauce. Grill 6 inches from heat, turning and brushing once or twice with more sauce. Grill for 10 minutes or until hot dogs are puffed and richly glazed. Now take your pick of homemade condiments:

-Top grilled hot dogs with mashed avocado, sliced ripe olives and crushed corn chips.
-Line toasted hot dog buns with sautéed red and green peppers seasoned with chili sauce.
-Serve with grilled (canned or fresh) pineapple spears, chopped macadamia nuts and diced green peppers.
-Insert tiny pieces of white American Cheese into scored hot dogs before grilling; spread mustard on hot dogs buns and arrange slices of red and green pickled cherry peppers around hot dog.
-Spread toasted hot dog buns with canned deviled ham, place grilled hot dogs over and top with chopped Bermuda onion or Walla Walla sweets.
-Wrap lean bacon around hot dogs before grilling and top with hot dog relish in toasted buns.
-Fill toasted hot dog buns with rice salad and place grilled hot dog over top with dairy sour cream seasoned with mustard.
-Top grilled hot dogs in toasted buns with orange sections and sweet onion slices.

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