a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Dad's hot dogs

Crescent-wrapped hot dogs like those my dad used to prepare. (Scott Beveridge photo)

By Scott Beveridge

WEBSTER, Pa. – One of us made the mistake of telling our father - the "chef" of the family - that we really liked the crescent-wrapped hot dogs he had prepared in the 1960s for supper.

He responded by baking the Pillsbury Crescent Dogs so often that we finally had to complain that we kids had become sick of them.

Jim Beveridge worked the kitchen like a sergeant of a mess hall, preferring to fix meals that were easy, quick, cheap and dirty. The cheaper the better. I mean he stocked up on Jiffy Mix cake mixes like there was no tomorrow. On a good day back then those cakes mixes sold for a quarter apiece.

The cooking around our house often fell to him or dinner was going to be late to the table.

As a steelworker whose job schedule was known as "working the swing shift," he was home in the late afternoon and evening more often than not because his week was divided into his punching the time clock for three different 8-hour shifts. Our mom's day job as a secretary/bookkeeper kept her in the office weekdays until 5 p.m.

My father took to the crescent dogs after seeing a cooking demonstration about them on the The Mike Douglas Show, the father-of-all daytime television talk shows. In between groundbreaking interviews of such stars of their time as John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the show often featured easy recipes for housewives to prepare.

In time he discovered Hamburger Helper. When Betty Crocker expanded that line to include Tuna Helper, the two skillet dishes became our version of surf 'n' turf.

A group of my friends earlier this year wanted to try these crescent rolls after I told them this story, having never heard of the delicacy. They really liked them, too. For the sake of room on the Internet, I won't rehash the recipe here because there are plenty of them already posted across the web.

However, my favorite hot dogs prepared by my father were cooked in beer. (Vegans do not try this at home)

He'd put hot dogs in a skillet, cover them in Iron City and boil them until they swelled and the liquid began to disappear. Then he tossed in a couple tablespoons of butter to brown the hot dogs.

It was a feast de la Resistance, Appalachia style.

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