While in Wildwood, New Jersey, I had the best of both lives: lifeguarding on the beach during the day and cooking on the boardwalk at night.
For four years, I was living the dream. There were kids that I snatched out of the surf, and then fed cheesesteaks and fries a few hours later. Babes that I was flirting with on the beach came to see me so I could flirt with them at the counter. (Incidentally, one of those babes ended up being my wife.)
Even though I get back, I still miss the days and especially the food. My wife says that I wish I could be like Fourney, Stocks, Killian, Schneiders and McGuinn: guys I guarded with that are now running the beach patrol. She is definitely more than 50 percent correct.
The boardwalk is the Fayette County Fair for 10 days. There is a buzz and excitement for all. For the young it’s the rides, the games and the arcade. The young adults thrive on love or searching for it. For the parents its experiencing joy through their children and for the older adults, its nostalgia. But, for all it’s the food….
When going to the boardwalk, we aren’t focused on the Keto diet or any diet for that matter. The greasier, goopier, sweeter, and worse for you, the better it is. You are on vacation and your diet should be, too.
My top four foods on the boardwalk is pizza … in that order. After that, I would put fudge at number five. You can fill up on fudge samples making your way down the boards, but you always seem to buy some to take home with you. The velvety, sweet squares are always calling you back.
Sausage and peppers were always a favorite of mine. While working at the HotSpot on the boardwalk, I would always start the shift by piling mounds of peppers and onions on the grill and carmelizing them while getting the rest of the kitchen ready. But the ultimate sausage on the boardwalk is the corn dog. A corn dog seems to epitomize summer. Combining the iconic hot dog with a batter made from the ultimate summer vegetable and deep frying pulls you in. It is a hotdog with a corn bun on a stick. Although, several people take credit for creating the corn dog, convenience in conveyance was the motherhood of this invention.
I’m not a fan of the crinkle cut fries that are famous in Wildwood. I prefer the fresh cut fries at many of the lesser known food booths. These masters of spuds have managed to create a crispy fry where many have failed. To give it the ultimate beach taste, many top them with Old Bay style seasoning. But, the true way to bring out the flavor the fry is a splash of malt vinegar.
And while we are frying, let’s not forget the funnel cake. The delectable treat made its way east from Pennsylvania Dutch Country in the mid-20th century. Originally topped with confectioner’s sugar, you can find it topped with chocolate, whipped cream, strawberries, peaches, Nutella and the list goes on.
If you are like me and spend your current lifeguarding days watching the kids at the pool, bring yourself to the boardwalk by recreating your favorite foods. It will be iconic.
Simple Chocolate Nut Fudge
3 cup sugar
Can evaporated milk
10 oz Bag miniature marshmallows
3 cups chocolate chips
2 tsp vanilla
Cup chopped nuts
Bring sugar, milk and butter to a boil and keep on a boil for @ 8 minutes constantly stirring. Pull from heat and stir in vanilla, marshmallows and chocolate chips until smooth. Fold in nuts. Press in to 9x13 baking dish and cool for a couple of hours. Cut and serve.
1 ¼ cup flour 2 Tablespoons sugar teaspoon baking soda teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt 1 egg beaten 3/4 cup milk
Fruit etc for toppings
Combine dry ingredients. Add egg and milk, mix until smooth. Have hot oil ready(350 degrees) for deep frying. Put some batter in large funnel, cover opening with finger. Hold over oil and let batter drizzle in oil. Flip when bottom looks cooked. Drain and top with confectioners sugar. Top with favorites if desired.
1 ¼ cup milk
One egg beaten
2 teaspoon baking powder
Teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
Dash hot sauce
Oil for frying.
Mix together all the dry ingredients. Fold in milk and egg until fully incorporated. Pat dry your hotdogs and put on skewers. Dredge into batter and deep fry in hot oil. Makes about 12 corndogs.
Any leftover batter can be used to make hushpuppies.
Fresh cut French fries
Bucket of cold water
¼ cup salt
4 russet potatoes
Oil for frying
Old bay, malt vinegar or just s&p.
Add salt to water. Cut potatoes into fries to desired thickness. Put in cold water. This will remove starches that make fries soggy. You can soak for a couple of minutes to 30 minutes. Also, the colder the fry going into the oil the crispier it becomes. Dry potatoes before frying. The main reason for this is for safety as the water will boil the oil. The true frymaster uses peanut oil because of its high smoke point. Refined peanut oil has no allergens. Heat oil to 375, and drop your fries. Another crisping trick is to cook fries until just done and then pull them and let fryer get up to temperature again and fry until crispy. Season fries.