Independence Day is coming up. All the local festivities are cancelled, so we’re heading out on the road in our camper to see how the rest of America is doing. It’s been over 100 days spent within a few miles of our home, around family only, so this feels particularly adventurous.
Apparently, RV sales are insane right now as Americans pivot to socially distanced domestic travel. While it might make the campgrounds and roads more congested, I really think this is a good thing for us as humans.
We’ve been camping with our little Airstream for 7 years now, and one thing we noticed immediately is that American families don’t road trip anymore. We’ve camped from coast to coast, and especially in the southwest National Parks, most of the visitors are international travellers renting RVs or retired people. Very few families with kids.
Maybe American families work too much, maybe we take our National Parks for granted, maybe youth sports make family time difficult, maybe camping isn’t cool, maybe plane tickets are quicker and cheaper. Probably a combination of those things. But the pandemic might just change that.
Driving through our country, rather than fly over it, gives a very different perspective of who we are, how big and diverse our United States is. I remember one road trip where we took the kids up the coast from San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle….then over to the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo and the Iowa State Fair. It was complete cultural whiplash, and it was wonderful.
I can’t help but think this stateside travel and camping boom will be good for our country and our nation’s kids. It’s good to see different parts of the country, good to see different people, good to see the outdoors. We have a strict no-digital-device rule when we road trip, so it will be good to disconnect too.
Which brings me back to the title of this post.
Regional food quirks are my favorite part of domestic travel. When you travel out of the country, you expect food adventures. But I’m telling you, travel a few states away, even simple groceries and farmer’s markets are different. It’s crazy.
Even the gas station foods are different: Midwest pop gives way to soda, peanuts get bigger as you travel South, and strange things like Whoopie Pies, Pepperoni Rolls, and Pasties are sold near the checkout counters.
But who knew HOT DOG BUNS are better in Maine? I did my residency in Maine, the girls were born in the hospital I trained in. I remember buying hot dog buns the first time and I was baffled.
They come in a slab. A big slab of bread with partial cuts in the top.
It seemed like the laziest thing ever. And then I realized the Yankee Ingenuity of the whole situation–super easy to make, top-loading, self-standing, born-to-toast…brilliant.
Now that we’re back in the Midwest, we have to make our own, which is very easy to do with the perfect pan. Upside of being back in the Midwest, it’s much easier to find the sport peppers and neon green relish to make the proper dog.
Because even though New England has the best buns, Chicago still has the best toppings. Combine the two and it’s the best of America in a hot dog.
This New England hot dog bun recipe is dairy-free and egg-free, it also happens to be vegan. The dough fits perfectly into the New England hot dog pan, no shaping of individual rolls needed!
- 2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour (about 360 grams)
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- 2 T. sugar
- 2/3 cup potato flakes
- 1 1/2 t. table salt
- 2 T. dairy-free margarine or oil
- 1 1/4 cups water
- Poppy seeds
- Mix and knead all the ingredients together until you have a nice soft dough. I use a stand mixer, and knead for about 5 minutes. The dough should be nice and soft, but not sticky. Add more water if it’s too hard or dry, add more flour if it’s too sticky.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and raise for 1 1/2 hours.
- Spray the hot dog pan with oil and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
- Gently stretch the dough out and press into the pan.
- Sprinkle the top of the dough with more poppy seeds.
- Cover the pan and allow to raise for 45 minutes.
- While the dough rises, preheat the oven to 375.
- When the dough has nearly reached the top of the hot dog pan, they’re ready to bake.
- Grease the bottom of a sheet pan and place the pan on top of the hot dog pan (this will cause the bottom of the buns to have the characteristic flat bottom).
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, remove the sheet pan and allow to bake a little more if the buns need to brown a bit more on top.
- Flip the buns out on cooling rack (the ridged side is the top of the bun). Cut the buns apart when cool, and make a half-way cut down the center when ready to fill).
In case you need directions on a Chicago Dog, it’s: sliced tomatoes, chopped onion, dill pickle spear, neon green relish, sport peppers, yellow mustard, celery salt.
Our hot dog of choice is Hebrew National, there’s been a shortage here lately so Nathan’s works in a pinch.
- Category: Bread
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: new england hot dog buns, vegan hot dog buns
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