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Although the summer solstice is still about a month away, I think Memorial Day has now made summer at least barbecue-official.  And I must confess that hot dogs are one of my favorite things to throw on the grill.  The way their casings split open, letting the salty mincemeat within caramelize over the coals — fantastic!

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Of course, the toppings are where you get to have even more fun.  And in different parts of the country, locals get pretty passionate about how they dress their dogs.  My hot dog topping preferences are a calabash of influences from where I’ve lived and traveled.  I’ll always cook with Flint’s Koegel hot dogs when available — their casings, which are snappier than Don Draper’s suits, are like none other.  I like a touch of Carolina mustard, and some sweet Chicago-style relish.  And because I grew up eating hot dogs with nothing but a line of ketchup drawn along them, I still put a bit of ketchup on my dogs.

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But a good relish is hard to find in this part of the country.  So I’m excited to share my sweet pickle relish recipe with you, which I wrote for Food Preservation on about.com.  I hope you enjoy it, and keep those grills warm!

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