Gearing up for the end of summer

August 22, 2012


This summer, I helped create a new summer snack program at our boys’ school called, “Dirt to Dish” – an organic, sustainable farm-fresh approach to school snack. The goal was to teach our kids how to eat from the garden and their local farmers markets while encouraging them to try new flavor combinations, especially sweet and savory together. As the program grew, we realized how hungry (both literally and figuratively) the kids were to learn about their food and take a leadership role in snack preparation.

As we geared up for the end of summer camp, the culminating event was an all-camp BBQ.  I knew right away the menu would be Niman Ranch Fearless Franks, Sausages and fresh fruit from the local farmers market.

Hot dogs don’t always have a good reputation, but not all hot dogs are created equal. You can eat Fearless Franks with confidence that you’re getting all-natural meat that’s free of antibiotics and added hormones, and is fully traceable. So my goal was to teach both campers and parents on the values that go into the franks and the confidence they have knowing they’re eating wholesome food.

So as we near the end of summer and think about Fall’s activities … tailgating, grilling at kids’ soccer games, ducking outside on a cool evening with something quick on the grill, I think of franks and brats. You don’t have to fear the ingredients, getting the doneness exactly right because they’re already fully cooked, or that they will take a long time on the fire.

BBQ and Grilling Tips for Niman Ranch Fearless Franks
Use tongs to turn your franks and brats instead of a grill fork. Poking holes with the fork will release the delicious juices and you’ll end up with dry sausages. Rotate often so they cook and brown evenly.

If you’re grilling for kids and adults, build the charcoal fire on one side of the grill. Use the fireside for the char-grill that adults like and the other side to roast the sausages hot, but not charred for the kids.

If you want a smoky beer flavor, float the sausages in an old saucepan spiked with a local lager spiked, sliced onions and mustard seeds. Drizzle a little of the cooking liquid over the franks when they’re in the buns, add the onions and sweet relish.

As the final push to make great franks and brats even better, spend a few minutes making this homemade relish. You might not go back to the pickle version again.

Homemade Pickle Relish

Gearing 2

Makes 4 servings


1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water

Relish Vegetables

1 white onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, minced
1 yellow bell pepper, minced
1 green bell pepper, minced
2 bulbs fennel, minced
1 to 2 teaspoons minced jalapeño pepper

Heat the dressing ingredients in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves and the dressing boils. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the relish vegetables and cook over low heat for another 5 minutes.

Place a colander inside a bowl and scrape the relish into the colander to drain; set the relish aside. Pour the dressing back into the saucepan and boil, reducing the dressing until syrupy. Combine the syrup with the relish, allow it to cool, and store in a container with a tight-fitting lid.

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