Sometimes you can have a perfectly good, but not spectacular, dining experience that is elevated (or the opposite) by the environment in which you “dine”. Such is the case with Irving’s Red Hots…. The stand is located on a grassy knoll in the center of Ketchum during the Summer and the bottom of the Warm Springs lift in the Sun Valley Resort in the Winter…..Closed for a time in the Spring and Fall, its reopening is always happily anticipated….A perfectly simple and straightforward hot dog, bun (and chili if desired) this hot dog (or polish sausage) is served with whatever combination of “the works” that one wants. Ketchup, mustard, relish, onions, a pickle spear and, of course, warm sauerkraut on the Kraut dog…it is always served with a pepperoncini and chips. A chili bread bowl is available in the winter… Most everyone has a prepaid card on file at Irvings…..



Not every food experience has a happy ending. Sometimes something so simple and good can be ruined by corporate policies… I remember the “olden days” when one could go to Costco and get a their well-known hot dog… For some it is still the dog they have always loved…..But ever since they took out the big stainless pot in the steam tray, that was filled with “all you can load up” warm sauerkraut…..it has never been the same…..It just doesn’t work with small chilled or room temperature (dry) sauerkraut in little plastic containers…..the thrill is gone……..


This salad is to be proportioned to its maker’s personal preference for the combination of ingredients. I like a little bit of everything in every bite…..

Iceberg Lettuce…  A firm/heavy head. This salad depends on texture and crunch, as well as flavor, so discard any loose floppy leaves and use only the “heart”.  Tear, or more easily cut, into (large) bite size chunks.

Canned Red Kidney Beans….These MUST be canned since the “juice” from the can is an essential ingredient for the dressing….When I was younger I was always able to find cans of “small” kidney beeans…but these days “bigger is better” rules..so if I am going to make this salad I take the time to (tediously) cut the large beans in half .

Green Onions sliced to taste. Again, I like green onions a lot. These can be cut in 1/4″ thick slices, straight or diagonal cuts based on visual appeal only.

Garlic powder (to taste)

The dressing consists of Miracle Whip (only…no substitutions),  mixed 2/3 miracle whip to 1/3  of the juice from the can… Mix the first two ingredients together to create the “oil” and mix 2 oil to 1 red wine vinegar…..less vinegar if you want a more mild dressing. Again, I have to stress…this is not the time to get fancy and use balsamic….just use old-fashioned red wine vinegar to get the proper combination of flavors……

Toss all the ingredients together (careful to keep the iceberg chunks intact) and enjoy with a summer barbeque……


The first recipe I learned from another family’s tradition was one that I got from a high school friend…For some reason it really appealed to me….perhaps the sweet/sour flavor… The name I have given it is kind of misleading, based more on some ingredients than the background of my friend, but I just couldn’t resist…..This is another salad based on iceberg lettuce and is also good for summer eating……When cooking it is sometimes more fun when you have a “little helper”.


When I was in college I would frequent a very formal Chinese restaurant. It was near a nightclub, where my then boyfriend worked, or I never would have discovered it. They had a dish which they called Peking Duck. My brother, who traveled the world for work and frequently visited his in-laws in Hong Kong, has since described the correct procedure for preparing “True Peking Duck” and I have no idea if any of these methods were used. Their Peking Duck, however, was one of my favorite dishes of all time. Each piece was like a miniature Duck “Napoleon” with layers of very crisp duck, skin and sauce. The experience of savoring those flavors lives on in my dreams and desires.  My brother continues his search for the “perfect” Peking Duck”…and I look forward to tasting it….But, somehow, I feel it will never live up to my first experience…..


I never attended a school that had a cafeteria… Some of my children had that nasty experience and my youngest has been spoiled by the local restaurants delivering to his school. My mother, along with her no cooking policy, had a never wake up early policy as well. My father made us breakfast and even brought me orange juice in bed when he came in to wake us up (my brother insists he did not get the same service). Her solution was to bring us food at lunchtime. I liked my lunch; cottage cheese, cantaloupe and cucumber…with the occasional peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich.. My brother only got the PB&J…..When we moved to another house my brother’s school had a cafeteria..which he did not like. My mother brought him a pork chop everyday for a few weeks and then got “busy” and it was back to the cafeteria for him……


The first restaurant which my family visited regularly was a small Mexican restaurant on San Fernando Road in LA.

This before the era of the margarita and multiple varieties of salsa.

I don’t remember it being too spicy or unusual….

My favorite item on the menu was the cheese enchilada, served with red sauce, additional cheese on top and a light sprinkling of green onions….  The cheese enchilada is still my “go to” when I am feeling in need of something safe and comforting at a Mexican  Restaurant.

My nieces say my brother also goes to Mexican food for his “comfort” moments….