Grilled Heart Attack, and Dill Relish

So, the kittens, Mark, and I all survived the weekend, which was an issue because we hosted a party for a bunch of people we don’t know. Which was especially difficult for us as a group because I’m extremely shy, Mark’s a member of the People Who Hate People Party, and the kittens are just baby kittens who’ve never experienced the turmoil of a bunch of strangers invading their home at one time. See, our friend Matty has graduated from college and is at long last on his way to becoming a sign language interpreter. And Matty needed a place to have a party because he lives in an apartment, and as everyone who sets foot in our house feels at home there (something I take pride in, but it’s as much this house just having some crazy great vibe as it is anything I do), he wanted to have it here. Matty has a lot more friends than I do, however, and knows a lot of people I don’t, meaning I knew maybe 10% of the guest list. It also meant this was not a vegan party. I generally throw one or two smallish parties a year, which are completely vegan, and which I completely cater. But I wasn’t about to tell Matty he had to have a vegan party and I didn’t have time to cater it either. So Matty bought a grill and he and his friends made hamburgers, and each of the guests brought a dish. I did buy a bunch of snack foods, though, and I went to the farmer’s market that morning and got a bunch of veggies that I cut up for dipping in my homemade ranch, tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro, garlic, and onions that I made into salsa, as well as tomatoes and onions for the very non-vegan burgers, and I made nacho dip, baked beans (in the crockpot), hamburger noodle bake, sourdough bread, and five grain levain rolls. Oh, and chocolate mousse ice cream. And iced tea. I didn’t intend to make that much food, I just can’t help myself. I didn’t take any pictures since most of what I didn’t make wasn’t vegan and you’ve already seen most what I made. I think I’m going to have to do a post on those rolls, though, because I got a ton of compliments on them. People seemed rather amazed by them, in fact. So maybe I’ll do that this weekend.

Anyway, everyone was very nice and I didn’t have a nervous breakdown or anything. I really am VERY shy around people I don’t know (although Matty and many other people have expressed surprise at this assertion), but I think having the party at my house actually helped because either I was too busy to be shy, or I figured since it was my house, people were obligated to be nice to me. The heat index was 110 degrees (43 Celsius for you non-Americans) Saturday, which made grilling very pleasant, I’m sure. The kittens were a huge hit, and they behaved exactly as I had hoped: too scared to leave the bedroom (and therefore not running outside or getting underfoot), but not so freaked out they wouldn’t come out to play for small groups of people who came to see them. There was a ton of food left over, all of which Matty packed up and took home with him (he won’t have to make himself dinner for a month), but he left the grill behind. So now I have a grill. Which is cool because I’ve always wondered if I’d like a grill, but never wanted to invest the money in case I didn’t.

In typical Renae fashion, I read the grill instructions front to back Sunday morning, then today came home from work feeling like a grilling master. Although I thought Mark might kill me for playing with fire when I’m home alone and have no idea what I’m doing, I decided I was going to grill dinner while waiting for him to get home from work. Today was a mere 89 degrees (32 Celsius) – seems practically chilly in comparison to this weekend; time to unpack the sweaters! – so it seemed like a good day for it. For my inaugural grilling, I made a recipe from the grill instructional manual, which must have been designed to kill anyone who eats it: Stuffed Hot Dogs. Wrapped in bacon. Seriously. You stuff hot dogs with cheese and relish, then wrap them in bacon and grill them. That’s it. I renamed it Grilled Heart Attack, although I don’t think the vegan version is going to cause any heart attacks. I thought I had relish, but I didn’t, so I made some, and a recipe for that follows.

Grilled Heart Attack, or Stuffed Hot Dogs

vegan hot dogs
vegan cheddar cheese, grated (like Daiya)
dill relish
vegan bacon

Keep in mind I have never worked a grill before in my life and I was doing this alone, so I could have been doing this all wrong…. but here’s what I did:

I made a pyramid of charcoal briquets, doused them in lighter fluid, and set them on fire.

I let them burn, then smolder, for about 15 minutes, until they were mostly covered in white ash.

I made a little pan out of aluminum foil, put it in the center of the charcoal rack, then used tongs to move the hot coals into a tight circle around the pan.

I let that smolder while I prepared the hot dogs. I cut each almost but not quite all the way through, then stuffed with relish and a bit of Daiya cheddar.

Then I wrapped a slice of vegan bacon around each one and placed it in my foil pan.

I also put some water-soaked corn (which I had de-silked) on the grate above them, then closed the grill.

I turned the corn a few times, and let it all cook for about 15 minutes, toasting some hot dog buns during the last couple of minutes.

I dressed the finished hot dogs with mustard …

… and served with left over baked beans.

I was unsure if I would, but I definitely did discern a unique grilled flavor in the veggie dog. Mark agreed. I’m not sure it would be worth going through the trouble just to grill a packaged veggie dog, but overall it was a successful foray into grilling and I’m eager to try more exciting things. I don’t think the corn was well done enough, though.

I was hoping to get some input from my wonderful readers – I’ve always gotten great answers when I asked for advice, so: what do you guys grill? Any tips or pointers? I picked up a pretty nice grill wok for $6 at Wegmans; it seemed like something I should have. Obviously I’ll have to make veggie kabobs, but what else is good? The more exotic, the better!

I told you I’d also show you how I made a quick dill relish when I realized I didn’t have any. I might make a fancier one down the road, but I wanted something super fast, so here’s what I did:

Quick Dill Relish

1 small jar dill pickles, minced
1 shallot, minced
3/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1/2 tsp mustard seeds, crushed
1/4 tsp dried dill weed
salt and freshly ground pepper

Grind the coriander and mustard seeds in a mortar.

Mince the pickles and shallot.

Place all ingredients in a small bowl and mix.

Refrigerate for a while to allow flavors to blend.

This is a horrible picture, but here’s what happened when I tried to eat my dinner:

And here are the kittens on a lazy summer afternoon:


  1. Keia Said,

    July 27, 2010 @ 7:54 am

    Those veggie doggies look mighty tasty despite the heart attack factor :). The hubs and I like to drizzle some olive oil onto veggies like zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, and such and then throw those on the grill. It is really great…oo!oo! and mushrooms too. My dad actually puts fruit on the grill sometimes which is surprisingly good.

  2. Lisa G/K Said,

    July 27, 2010 @ 8:11 am

    My husband (aka Mr. Thrill of the Grill – he’ll grill in a blizzard) loves to grill veggies – especially asparagus. Just a simple olive oil/garlic salt/balsamic vinegar mixture. It is worthwhile to purchase a grilling basket so pieces don’t fall.

    My personal favorite is grilled fresh pineapple. You can make it more of a dessert by brushing a brown sugar/margarine/lemon juice/cinnamon concoction on each side while grilling…

  3. Michell Said,

    July 27, 2010 @ 9:56 am

    I say you did a fantastic job on the grilling especially for a first timer!! I don’t touch the grill at home…that’s my husbands territory…ha Your veggie dogs look yummy. I haven’t tried veggie dogs yet, but I think that is going to change after seeing yours.
    When we grill out, I always get my husband to grill me a couple of portabellas. We love to cut up squash and onions and drizzle olive oil over them with a little garlic powder sprinkled on them. We wrap them up in alum foil and put them on the grill…talk about yummy! :o)

  4. susan Said,

    July 27, 2010 @ 12:26 pm

    i live alone and i use my grill quite a bit…BUT…its propane…on the bottom of the grill are briquettes that get hot….i use it for pizzas, lots of veggies tossed in olive oil and garden herbs, gardein frozen cutlets marinated in dressing, veggie dogs and burgers and tofu….although the grill cost much more than a charcoal grill it’s a five minute start up and when i am done its a turn of the dial…no waste…and it does give everything a barbequed taste

  5. Josiane Said,

    July 27, 2010 @ 12:40 pm

    You have all my admiration for surviving a party you had to host under such stressful circumstances, and in that kind of heat! Any of these things alone would have killed me… You are a stronger woman than I am!

  6. Erin Said,

    July 27, 2010 @ 12:49 pm

    For a first time griller, I’m impressed! I always let my boyfriend light the coals and tend the grill, cause I’m scared I’d cause an explosion or burn myself or something. Love the idea of the stuffed hot dogs! Oh, and I can definitely taste the difference when I do a veggie burger on the grill as opposed to a different cooking method. I usually stick with veggie dogs and burgers for ease, but I’ve also grilled homemade veggie sausages and black beans burgers, marinated portobellos, baked tofu, even bbq tempeh I think. And you can do any veggie wrapped up in a foil packet – mushrooms, squash, asparagus, onions and peppers, etc. We also like to chops potatoes, add a ton of garlic and some oil, and let them go for a long time so that the potatoes touching the foil get crispy.

  7. Jennifer Said,

    July 27, 2010 @ 1:00 pm

    I like to wrap cut up potatoes, with a little olive oil and herbs in foil and grill them. This works really well with sweet plantains, cinnamon, and allspice too. I grill these foil packets for about 40 minutes flipping every 10. It’s nice because it doesn’t heat up the kitchen and you get a smoky grill flavor on the potatoes.

  8. Jes Said,

    July 27, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

    I’m so glad everything went ok! Sounds ridiculously stressful–you’re an amazing person to open your home up like that! & those heart attacks on a bun? OH man. Need one. Now.

  9. Tiana Said,

    July 27, 2010 @ 2:22 pm

    I am a member of Mark’s club for People who hate People party, lol.

    I live in Los Angeles and when you go to downtown, they have these hot dogs that are wrapped in bacon, with onions and bell peppers on top, then mustard and mayo. They are so delicious (veganized, of course!), you have to try them =)

  10. Tweets that mention i eat food » Grilled Heart Attack, and Dill Relish -- Said,

    July 27, 2010 @ 5:10 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by miranda, Ray Dewrell. Ray Dewrell said: i eat food » Grilled Heart Attack, and Dill Relish: Those veggie doggies look mighty tasty despite the heart attac… […]

  11. meg Said,

    July 27, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

    I know if you have a not-quite-ripe avocado you can slice that bad boy in half and put it face down on the grill; softens ’em up and gives a unique flavor to guacamole.

    Also, you can bake bread on a bbq, skip on over to vegandad’s blog, he’s been on a kick with it recently. Since you’re a breadmaster I think you pretty much need to try it.

  12. Ksenia Said,

    July 29, 2010 @ 6:05 am

    Congrats Renae! You survived a non-vegan party with lots of people you didn’t know. I am sure I wouldn’t if I were you.

    I have never grilled anything, so I can’t give you advices because you already know more than I. I don’t know about the vegan version (I hardly ever buy pre-made meat substitutes like vegan hot dogs, so I am not sure about what they are made of), but I am sure the non-vegan one could really kill someone. They should also suggest to dip it into patê. You know…just in case somebody survived. This reminded me of a dish I saw on TV once: battered and deep fried pizza O.o

  13. Zoa Said,

    July 31, 2010 @ 7:34 pm

    Gah, Renae, what’s the book? Seriously. I can’t stand not knowing. Your *so cool* bookstand would come in handy around here. I use a very lo-tech knife sharpening steel, which gets the job done, but inelegantly. How nice you are to host a party for people you don’t know…and *non-vegan* to boot? This qualifies both you and Mark for bodhisattva status. Congratulations! (Okay, I don’t get to give out those awards, but if I did, you would get one 😉 Nice that you got a grill out of it though. I have a little grill something like yours but it ended up being way pathetic for me, living alone, to use it, like that scene in Waiting for Guffman where the single girl cooks one chicken wing…

  14. renae Said,

    August 1, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

    Zoa, the book is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Mark wanted to watch the movie so I had to read the book. I was actually thinking about writing a widget that would grab what I’m currently reading from my super-nerdy books database and publish it on the side of the blog, but I figured no one really cared what I was reading. Maybe I should do it anyway just to make my nerdiness complete. The bookstand is a Book Gem – I just checked and they offer “fast and free” service to Canada so you should check it out; it’s very useful. I’m curious how you use a sharpening steel – do you have to carefully balance it?! I love Waiting for Guffman and all the related Christopher Guest movies.

  15. Zoa Said,

    August 1, 2010 @ 7:31 pm

    Thanks for taking pity on me! Um, I have a books database too. I’m always interested in what people are reading, but really get frantic when they’re actually reading something right now and I can’t see what it is–I watch most of my TV shows and movies on iTunes and am constantly rewinding and pausing to peruse bookshelves and books in hand. You don’t want to be sitting next to me or ahead of me on the bus while you’ve got a book in your hand…

    I think there actually may be existing widgets like Shelfari or iBookDB that might do what you want, though of course writing your own increases the nerd factor exponentially. Thanks for the Book Gem link, by the way.

    And yes, balance is sometimes a problem with the steel, but like most things, one’s skill increases with practice…

  16. renae Said,

    August 1, 2010 @ 7:44 pm

    Well, if I don’t get around to writing that widget, I’ll make sure I mention what any books are that show up in my pictures! I’m the same way, always extremely curious what people are reading, so I understand. It’s getting harder now that more and more people have e-readers, though.

  17. Mo Said,

    September 8, 2010 @ 2:29 am

    Delicious! I’m in the mood for some hot dogs now.

  18. jen Said,

    September 13, 2010 @ 10:19 am

    i love to slice delicata squash into rounds and season them with olive oil, salt, and pepper before throwing them on the grill! the skin is completely edible and it takes only a few minutes per side if you slice them 1/2″ thick.

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