Tailgating at Home is okay, not okay

Published 8:09 am Thursday, September 24, 2020

Today’s Special

These crisp mornings, fine fall days and pleasantly cool evenings would make for the most perfect tailgate weather ever for the first games of the season.  But for our SEC football 2020 season it’s not to be, we’ll be tailgating from home.  DW and I even opted out for this season, too much on the line here, so we won’t be going to any games.  To psych myself up, I’ve come up with a few reasons why tailgating at home is a good thing…

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To start with, no mask is required.  We don’t have to drive 3 hours to get there.  There’s free parking and no traffic at home.  Nobody has to pack and haul coolers and baskets full of food and drinks a half mile across campus and there’s no tent to set up, unless we choose to.  The kitchen sink, grill and TV are all right here.   And no body’s going intrude upon our spot.

At home, there’s no standing in line for anything.  We’ll see every play, up close with seats on the best vantage spot on the field and there’s no extra cost for chair backs.  The bathroom is clean and just a few steps away.  Napping is permitted at halftime. Who cares if it rains, sleets or snows or it’s so hot my sunglasses slide off my face?  And no sunscreen is needed. No one will be yelling or ringing a cowbell in our ears or for that matter, we can ring our cowbells anytime, every play.

And when it’s over, DW can just turn off the television and head to bed or tune in to another game. There’s nothing to pack up and take back to the car, another half mile trek. And we won’t be getting home at 2 a.m… we’ll already be sound asleep.  The tent can stay up in the backyard all season if we want to play like we’re tailgating.  And we can sit around and listen to the post game show in our jammies eating leftovers instead of in the car wondering why traffic is not moving.

I know right, I’d rather be there too. I’ll miss our tailgate buddies, the band, the Dog Walk, going to the bookstore and the cheese store and all the sights and sounds of the season.  And the food, my goodness do we ever eat good, there’s something about being outside that makes food taste even better especially in such good company.  But it’s not to be this year, but better safe than sorry I console myself.

Like most of you SEC fans out there, DW and I will be watching our team take the field Saturday in front of the TV, wearing our school colors and doing what we can to get in the spirit… eating, cheering and hoping that the virus is not the ultimate winner.  Go team go! Let’s do this, let’s crush the corona!

So, to help our feelings here are a few ideas for some good eats even though we’re sidelined at home.

For a morning game: apple bread or pumpkin muffins*, a breakfast casserole, fresh fruit, sausage balls or country ham and biscuits, spicy cider and a box of fresh donuts.

For an early afternoon game: Lasagna Bread*, raw veggies and dip, KFC or Popeyes fried chicken (order ahead), baked beans, lemon squares, chess squares and icy cold colas.

And for a late kickoff: Beer brats*, Chopped Steak Sandwiches*, cold corn salad, assorted dips and chips/crackers, baked potato skins, fruit tea, and a Sugaree’s Cake.

*Pumpkin Muffins

3 ½ cups self-rising flour

3 cups sugar

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

cup water

2 cups canned pumpkin

1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Sift dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients together, then stir into the flour mixture.  Stir in nuts if desired. Do not over mix. Pour into greased and floured muffin pans. Bake in 350-degree oven for 25 – 30 minutes. Makes about 3 ½ dozen. Cool in pan for 4 – 5 minutes then remove to wire racks to finish cooling.

*Lasagna Bread

¼ pound sausage

½ pound ground beef

¾ cup chopped onion

6 ounces tomato paste

½ clove chopped garlic

½ tablespoon basil

½ tablespoon dried oregano

½ tablespoon salt

1 cup cottage cheese

1 egg

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 cans (8 count each) Crescent rolls

Mozzarella cheese slices

1 egg white

Brown meats and onion; drain. Add tomato paste and seasonings; simmering 5 minutes. Roll out one can of rolls, press dough onto cookie sheet. Mix cottage, cheese, egg and Parmesan then spread over dough. Next spread cooked meat mixture over cheese mixture, topping with slices of mozzarella. Roll out other can of rolls and place dough over top of all.  Pinch sides to seal. Brush with egg white. Bake in 350-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, cool, cut in squares to serve.

*Boozy Brats

24 ounces cheap beer

2 large white onions, thinly sliced

8 – 12 bratwurst sausages

Hot dog buns or sub-rolls

Brown mustard, ketchup, grainy mustard

Pickle relish, etc.

Sour Kraut, drained

Combine beer, onions, and brats in large pot. Place over medium-high heat (stove, portable burner, or burner on gas grill) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, simmer just until brats are cooked through, about 8 minutes. Remove from pot (discarding cooking liquid) and place brats on grill. Grill 8 – 10 minutes, turning frequently to brown evenly on all sides. Slide grilled brats onto buns and top with condiments and relishes as desired.

*Chopped Steak Sandwiches

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 jarred, hot cherry pepper, stemmed, seeded, chopped

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1-pound beef tips, cut into 1-inch pieces

Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons canola oil or part olive oil

1 small yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced

6 ounces sliced white mushrooms

1 ½ cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese

4 Hoagie or long rolls, partially split open

Baby arugula

Mix ketchup, mustard, cherry pepper, and vinegar in small bowl. With a chef’s knife or in a food processor chop or pulse beef into tender little pieces. Toss with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Heat 1 ½ tablespoons oil in heavy skillet over medium-high heat, being careful not to over-heat. Cook beef in 2 batches, stirring occasionally until no longer pink about 3 minutes each. Transfer to a plate. Heat remaining oil in pan, add onion and ¼ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring often to soften, about 2 minutes. Next, add mushrooms and another ¼ teaspoon salt, stirring until soft and they begin to release their juices. Stir in ketchup mixture and cooked beef with any juices that cooked out. Cook stirring often until heated thoroughly, about 2 minutes. Stir in cheese until melted.  Lightly toast rolls if desired, fill with steak and top with arugula. Cut in half to serve. Can double recipe.