Food by the Book: Summer of '69 full of firsts

Bring that plain old hot dog into the 21st century with these modern renditions for your Labor Day picnic. Pictured are Asian slaw dogs and bacon-wrapped jalapeño dogs.

August marked the 50th anniversary of that infamous summer of 1969 when the baby-boom generation let the world know that peace and love could change things. It is only fitting that best-selling author Elin Hilderbrand, born that summer, should top the charts with her latest beach read, “Summer of ‘69” (Little, Brown and Co., 2019).

For us baby boomers, reading Hilderbrand’s novel is like being in retrograde motion, moving backwards in nostalgia and forwards with the eyes of an adult. In the first chapter alone, Kate, the mother of Blaire, Kirby, Tiger, and Jessie, contemplates the draft notice her son has just received in the mail. It’s enough to bring tears just in the first page. Things soon change, however, as Jessie stays at her grandmother’s historic home, All’s Fair, on Nantucket, for the first summer without her older siblings.

While the young people are on a magic carpet ride through tennis lessons, civil rights marches, and hanging out with the surfers and hippies on the south beach, Teddy Kennedy drives his car off a bridge at Chappaquiddick, the first moon walk takes place, and a well-kept family secret threatens to surface. Much more than a typical beach read, this is a coming-of-age novel for both the main characters and readers, young or old, who can see both sides of that fateful summer now.

As food goes, 1969 saw the introduction of Pringles potato chips, Alice’s Restaurant was popularized by Arlo Guthrie, and Graham Kerr premiered as The Galloping Gourmet. There were also those thousands of hot dogs served at Woodstock. Fortunately, our taste buds have become much more sophisticated. Bring that plain old hot dog into the 21st century with these modern renditions for your next picnic.

Asian Slaw Dog

8 all-beef hot dogs

8 top sliced buns

1 sack Asian chopped salad


1/2 cup rice vinegar

1 tablespoon Thai sweet chili sauce or Sriracha

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

2 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Sriracha Catsup to serve

Spicy Mustard to serve

To make the slaw dressing, combine all dressing ingredients in a pint jar, screw on the lid tightly and shake it until mixed together thoroughly. Set aside. When ready to serve, add the slaw and dressing to the bowl and gently fold it together. Meanwhile, heat up grill to medium heat. Score each hot dog 3-4 times on one side. Grill dogs for 8 minutes, rotating every 2 minutes to heat through.

If desired, toast hot dog buns, cut side down on the grill for 30-45 seconds; do not burn. Place 1-2 tablespoons of slaw in each bun, then the hot dog, then top with more slaw. Drizzle the dogs with catsup and mustard, serve warm.

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Dogs

2 tablespoons butter

2 onions, sliced into strips

6 hot dogs

2 jalapeños, seeded and sliced

6 slices of bacon

6 hot dog buns

Cheddar cheese, shredded


Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in a skillet over low heat, then add onions. Cook, stirring often, until onions are soft and browned, about 30 minutes.

To wrap the hot dogs, place a line of sliced jalapeños along one side of a wiener and carefully wrap with bacon. Use toothpicks to secure in place, if needed.

Place hot dogs on the wire rack and bake until bacon is cooked, 20 minutes. For crispier bacon, broil on high for the last 2-3 minutes. Most people will want to do this if they don’t have a wire rack. Remove toothpicks and serve with caramelized onions, shredded cheese and guacamole. These and more ideas can be found at

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