Off the Porch: The ultimate summer sandwich

Aug. 07, 2013 @ 10:41 AM

The decision was made. We were going to have hot dogs for supper. My eleven year old grandson, Charlie, gathered twigs while I split off some smaller pieces off the red oak firewood we brought along. We were in the National Forest Campground on a hill overlooking Watauga Lake. While Charlie gathered twigs, I set the stuff out for dinner. Jesse Jones hotdogs, Patterson’s Chili, French’s mustard, Heinz Ketchup, and the hotdog buns from the Food City in Elizabethton, Tennessee. Charlie brought the twigs and I laid and lit the fire.
OK, so maybe what I’m describing doesn’t sound like a gourmet dinner, but I can tell you, it was pretty good when washed down with an Auldi’s root beer and some salt and vinegar potato chips. Food doesn’t have to be sophisticated to taste good, and those Jesse Jones red hot dogs were delicious out in the woods when cooked over red oak coals. I put mustard and chili on mine, Charlie went for chili and ketchup. Charlie and I were on a camping trip and simplicity has merits.
Another great summer camping dinner is a tin foil dinner. I’ve loved these as long as I can remember and my Mom used to cook them in the oven. Charlie and I like to spruce ours up a little over the conventional version. The conventional tin foil dinner consists of a hamburger patty, sliced potatoes, onions, carrots, and little green peas. I like to put the potatoes in first and pile the other vegetables on, followed by the burger on the top level. This allows the burger grease to melt down over the vegetables and the potatoes are almost French fried. Our more sophisticated version involves a split chicken breast under the potatoes with the burger on top. Charlie prefers leaving off some of the vegetables but the way I see it, it’s his loss.
You can say what you want, but summer is my favorite food season. For supper last night, I had corn on the cob, sliced tomatoes from the garden, and a baked potato. It was wonderful and I’d pay five dollars apiece for real tomatoes in winter. Maybe it’s a good thing I can’t get them because I’d probably go broke.
The home grown tomato is one of the greatest things in the world of food. It’s right up there with good biscuits and gravy, country ham, pinto beans, peach ice cream, hotdogs and hamburgers with mustard, chili, slaw, and onion, fried squash, good pimento cheese, pickled okra, country style steak, or duck, or dove, or whatever else you have in the freezer, fried catfish, raw oysters, boiled crawfish, and a host of other great Southern foods.
Sure, there are great things to eat that don’t have a Southern Tradition. We have good barbeque but anyone who’s had really good Kansas ribs who says North Carolina barbeque is simply the best is either a liar or a chauvinist. Some of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten were in the little taverns that sprinkle all over Wisconsin and Minnesota. The Italian food from my wife, Cherie’s, home town is better than anything you can get around here for any price but good old Southern summer food is hard to beat.
Part of what makes fishing great is eating fresh fish and it turned out that Charlie and I had a few stripers and hybrid bass to bring home from our excursion. We had ourselves a little fish fry the night after we got home and we invited some family. Fried striper, boiled little red potatoes from Michelle,
Ensley/Clodfelter,s little vegetable stand on 109, some slaw, and light rolls made a fine dinner. Charlie and I got to gloat about our angling adventure and everybody got their fill of striper.
Of course, this isn’t really an outdoor story but the fish were caught outdoors, the tomatoes grew outdoors, and we ate the hotdogs outdoors. This is really more of a food story so I’ll throw in a recipe like the food features always do. My recipe is for the ultimate summer sandwich. It is refined, sophisticated, and can be served in the most elite of social events. It is the Homegrown Tomato, Cheddar Cheese, Sliced Onion, and Fried Squash Sandwich. I’m sharing this with you because I’ve decided not to open a restaurant serving this because it would only work in summer. The home grown tomato is a component of the sandwich that simply can’t be substituted.
Homegrown Tomato, Cheddar Cheese, Sliced Onion, and Fried Squash Sandwich
•        2 slices white bread
•        1 slice cheddar cheese
•        One medium squash
•        House’ Autry Seafood Breader
•        One medium sweet onion
•        One ripe home grown tomato
•        Mustard and/or Mayonnaise
Begin with two slices of white bread, toasted if you prefer. Slice the homegrown tomato into half inch thick slices (I prefer my tomato peeled) Salt to taste and follow up with the cheddar cheese. Slice a sweet onion, wafer thin, and pile some of that on. Fry yellow squash in olive oil after breading it with House’ Autry Seafood Breader with extra salt and pepper added. Pile on a generous pile of fried squash, add mayo or mustard to your preference, and enjoy the ultimate summer sandwich.