First and ten, huddle; tension in the air as the players take the field; captain calls off numbers, “13, 9, 45…hut, hut, hut”, the ball is thrown, no…wait…hidden pass off to the running back, tight end guarding his flank down the field…..going, going…holy cow….TOUCHDOWN!!! The crowd erupts in a roar; coach of the opposing team throws his clipboard, almost scalping a benched player.
Its football season, American fans are pumped up and excited; faces painted with team colors, jerseys of favorite players freshly washed and worn with team pride. At the stadium, beer, hot pretzels, brats on a bun might be the typical fare to be purchased at exuberant prices. Then there are those who planned for weeks on going to the game; tailgating parties in the parking lot. Tables filled with platters and trays of any food imaginable; and more cooking on the grill.
The stay-at-home fans do the same type of planning; who makes the best dish to bring, and who gets stuck buying all the beer. Neighbors bring over extra tables and chairs, no walking room, so just start passing the food. Keep the fried onions away from Uncle Harry, you know how badly he gets gas; geez Sam, get your elbow out of my tater salad!
What we know as football today was a branch off of British rugby in 1863, and it’s come a long way since then. Playing with no protective gear gave birth to leather helmets thin as a glove which facilitated development of stronger, heavily padded, hard shell helmets. Talk about a contact sport, at first, football was a free for all, similar to rugby, with all team players massing on top of the poor smuck who had the ball. Debilitating injuries, deaths forced the development of rules, regulations, formation strategies, and the roles each athlete played within the game.
Throughout American football’s history, there have been moments of drama, sadness, and hilarity. Take, for example, the 1929 Rose Bowl game between California’s Golden Bears and Georgia Tech’s Yellow Jackets. Midway in the 2nd quarter, Golden Bears center, Roy Riegels picks up the fumble, bounces off a Georgia Tech tackler and begins running towards the wrong goal posts. Georgia Tech ends up with a 2-0 leads which put them in the position to win the game; and Riegels obtains the nickname, “Wrong Way”.
Now here are a few appetizer ideas for your tailgate party, and you won’t be going the wrong way with these.
1 ½ lbs. lean ground beef
½ cup each of diced red bell peppers and onion
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 (15 oz.) can whole black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes with chilies
1 (1.75 oz.) package taco seasoning
1 (8 oz.) package shredded Mexican blend or Colby-Monterey Jack cheese
In a large skillet, medium-high heat, brown the ground beef and drain excess grease; set aside. In same skillet, sauté peppers and onions till soft, but not browned.
Return beef to skillet; add garlic, beans, tomatoes and taco seasoning; mix and let cook for 10 minutes; stir occasionally. Reduce heat to low; spread cheese over mixture, cover and let cook an additional 5 minutes.
Serve with chips, sour cream and/or guacamole.
Makes 6 servings.
Note: mild, medium or hot is the cook’s option for both the diced tomatoes with chilies and the taco seasoning.
Option: Deep fry waffle fries until golden brown, top with meat mixture, sour cream and/guacamole. Who says nachos can only be made with tortilla chips!?!
Sicilian Pepperoni Rolls
12 oz. homemade pizza dough or 1 canister of Pillsbury Classic Pizza Dough
1 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. Italian herbal mix
1 cup Italian cheese mix
1/2 cup diced pepperoni
Grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425F. Spray a jelly roll pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Lightly flour a wooden board and roll out the dough to a 14"x20" rectangle; mix the olive oil with the herbal mixture and lightly brush the rolled out dough. Sprinkle the cheese and pepperoni over the oiled dough. Starting at the top edge of dough, carefully begin rolling towards the bottom edge; make sure to keep the roll tight; the oil will help seal the roll.
Cut off a little of the far ends of the roll; cut the roll into one inch pieces. Carefully transfer each cut piece to the jelly roll pan, cut side up. Lightly dab the herbal oil mixture, and sprinkle a little grated Parmesan cheese, onto each piece.
Bake for 15-20 minutes; until dough is golden brown. Remove to serving plate and serve with dipping sauce.
Makes 20 pieces.
So, in the immortal words of coach, Vince Lombardi, “Football is a great deal like life in that it teaches that work, sacrifice, perseverance, competitive drive, selflessness and respect for authority is the price that each and every one of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”