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opinion Wadena, 56482

Wadena Minnesota 314 S. Jefferson, P.O. Box 31 56482

Now that my Carhartt jacket, overalls, hat, gloves, earmuffs, scarf, boots, flannel socks and long underwear are packed away, I am ready to get outside without the risk of literally freezing to death. Moving south for a few years made me weak, but I’m proud to say I made it through my first Minnesota winter in more than 10 years. After writing about how to build a bonfire pit, I have a few variations on traditional cooking using the basic element of fire. This week I am going to write about hot dogs sticks. Don’t laugh or roll your eyes, I have some really good tidbits of information. Again, please make sure you aren’t breaking any laws, are always keeping safety in mind and most importantly, having fun!

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Nothing compares to a Minnesota night with family and/or friends, a good bonfire, and a meal of hotdogs and s’mores. The best part is that in addition to an inexpensive family activity it is a fun and different way to cook a meal or snack. There is nothing worse than being stuck in a hot kitchen on a beautiful summer day or evening while everyone else is outside having a good time. With a little pre-planning and prep work, no one will be upset and alone in the house making dinner and Googling ways to undetectably poison family members in retaliation.

There are a few upfront costs for some of the unique fire based cooking methods that I will be writing about but they are minimal and if you take care of your purchases, they should last a lifetime. You might even have some of the things needed already or can find them in the woods.

HOT DOG ROASTING STICKS – These are a must-have for cooking over an open flame. There are many different types of hot dog roasting sticks. You can use something as simple as a stick that you find or you can buy an official hot dog/marshmallow stick at any hardware, fleet, hunting and fishing store or big box department store. I have seen these cool metal prongs that you simply slip over the end of a stick to turn it into a roaster fork. Sure you can use them to cook a hotdog to crispy perfection, but more importantly you can make my personal summertime favorite, s’mores.

I can’t imagine that anyone has not enjoyed this sugar-laden bundle of love and happiness. I searched for the origins of the toasty treat and it seems like the first documented recipe was found in a Girl Scout cookbook in 1927. They were originally called Some Mores and were later shortened to s’mores. No one is certain who created the campfire dessert, but whoever it was, you are a genius and I thank you.

Over the years I’ve picked up a few variations on the traditional graham cracker, chocolate and marshmallow treat. Sometimes it was because we were out of the “normal” ingredients, and other times it was because of a hot tip from someone I knew or something I had read about. Here we go.

Instead of a regular Hershey’s chocolate bar, you can use a Reese’s peanut butter cup, Caramello, Peppermint Patty or Andes mints. Instead of using regular graham crackers, you could use chocolate chip cookies, Fudge Stripes cookies or cinnamon graham crackers.  Yesterday at the grocery store I saw chocolate graham crackers which are now in our cupboard waiting for the first bonfire of the year. If you were feeling really adventurous you could smear some Nutella (a delicioushazelnut spread) or peanut butter on the graham crackers to spice things up. To change things up for the best part of the s’more, the marshmallow, you could use Peeps left over from Easter or you could simply roll a regular marshmallow in shredded coconut or crushed Oreo’s. I read an article about how to make your own marshmallows but it is way too involved for a mom of five or anyone who has a life. I’m all about saving money but a bag of good marshmallows costs $1.29 so it isn’t worth the hassle of making them from scratch. If you’ve made your own marshmallows successfully, please let me know, and I’d be happy to sample them for you.

If you don’t want the mess or fire, you could make s’more in a glass, Google recipes for S’more shakes or s’moretini. I’ve made s’mores in a mini muffin pan as well.  They are super easy and really good. I will warn you though, make a lot because if you are like me and “sample” your baked goods, it’s embarrassing when there aren’t any left for anyone else. There are recipes for s’more pies, pudding, cakes, bars, ice-cream and cheesecakes. S’mores aren’t just limited to campfire fun!

In addition to revisiting staycation ideas for the Wadena area, I’ll be writing more about campfire cooking. We are also in the process of planning a hobby farm. I grew up in the country but never had animals other than a dog and cat so this should be interesting. Other than that, I can’t wait to have the smell of bonfire on my clothes and in my hair. I’m so thankful that winter has left and that spring is here.

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