Check each week for our tailgating column.

Pizza at a Tailgate, Why Not?

By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
Using the most recent estimates from the American Community Survey and Dunn and Bradstreet, we’ve discovered the most popular food in every state.  The food type with the highest density per 100,000 people is considered the most popular.  Pizza is the fan favorite in all states that our column is published (Oklahoma to Ohio). Californians and a couple other states that border Mexico are the only exceptions to this national domination.
So why can’t we make pizza at our tailgate parties?  The answer is that we CAN make pizza, and we’ll show you here an easy way to have it taste better than you can buy and far better than a reheated frozen variety or a pie with store bought, pre-made crust.  Besides a grill with a lid, the only equipment you’ll need is a pizza stone (or quarry tile that will fit onto your grill) on which to cook the pizza, and a peel (large flat paddle to transfer the pie to and from the stone).
Tailgate Pizza
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 package dry active yeast
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 ¾ lbs. whole milk (not skimmed) mozzarella cheese
1 jar favorite pizza sauce
½ onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped
1 can ripe olives sliced in half
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage ground and well browned
Ground Oregano and Basil to spice

Preparation: Before - Proof the yeast in one cup warm water.  In a large mixing bowl mix the flour salt, and sugar; then add the yeast water mixture and the oil. With your hands knead this flour and liquid mixture into springy dough.  Knead the dough at least five minutes and as much as fifteen if you have the strength.  Then place a bit of oil in the mixing bowl make the dough into a ball.  Cover this bowl with clear wrap and refrigerate it 24-48 hours.
Game Day Morning - Take the dough out and let it sit for an hour at room temperature. Then cut the ball into four pieces and roll each into a small ball and let them sit under a clean dish towel while you prep things for your trip to the game.  Lastly pack the dough balls with an inch separation into a container for your trip to the game. 
At the Tailgate - Heat your grill at least 30 minutes until the temperature of the stone is 450-500 degrees.  Flour a cutting board and place a dough ball on it.  Spread the dough out into a circle.  You can use a rolling pin or air toss if you want.  Then place some corn meal on the peel and then the dough circle on top.  Spread evenly two tablespoons of sauce on the dough and then slices of your cheese to cover the dough. Now add a little of the sausage and a small amount of the other toppings that you choose.  You’ll add more as the pie is cooking on the stone. Make sure the dough slides on the corn meal so it is easy to transfer to the stone for cooking.
Slide the dough onto the stone and then close the lid to keep the heat in.  After a minute quickly add more sausage and other toppings you want.  Also place dollops of sauce in key areas of your pie.  It’s safer to add more toppings once the pie crust is firming up on the stone.  The pie will be ready to remove to the cutting board in five to ten minutes.  Just check the crust before removing it. This recipe will serve four to six people.


Daylight Affects Weather

By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
Experts tell us that in September we lose about one hour and 17 minutes of daylight.  In October they say we lose another hour and 16 minutes. So with less heat from the sun our mornings and evenings are colder. Here’s a tailgate riddle. “What starts out cold, gets hot, and then ends up cold, even though its fire never goes out?” The answer is a fall day of tailgating.  So if you’re planning a fall tailgate party you have to keep temperatures in mind.  Early start times from 11am to Noon require the tailgate chef to think about hot breakfast foods and hot drinks like coffee and cocoa.  If tailgaters return at halftime it can the temperatures can warm drastically requiring cold drinks.  After the game it’s again time for hot foods and coffee for the drive home.  Later starts, like 3:00 pm mean a typical warm weather pre-game meal and then a cold weather snack after the game before driving home. When planning for an 8:00 pm start just expect cold and colder.
To help with those real late games here’s a list from Eat This Not That magazine of foods that will keep one warmer:

Here’s a great cumin dip recipe that has a little kick.
Cumin Yogurt Dip
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cloves garlic crushed and diced
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
4 Tablespoons sour cream
½ teaspoon salt (fine sea, plus more to taste)
¼ teaspoon cayenne
Preparation: Mash, peel and chop the garlic.  Then sprinkle it with a little sea salt and mash it to form a paste. In a medium bowl stir to combine the yogurt, sour cream, garlic, ground cumin, salt, and cayenne. Taste and adjust all seasonings to taste.
Cover and chill to allow the flavors to blend for at least two hours. Transfer the mixture to a seal and serve container and pack away in your food cooler.  At the tailgate, serve with vegetables and/or crackers. Make it more attractive at the game by sprinkling a few whole cumin seed on top (serves 12).

Tailgater’s Toolbox
By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley says that the first record of the “toolbox” was between 1835-1845.  It’s a box to organize, carry, and protect the tools of the craft of the owner.  If your craft is tailgating then here are some ideas for the contents of your game-day, take along, soft sided, small tool box.
Quoting the great cartoon philosopher Ziggy, “It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.”   Remember, there’s always somebody parked near you that will need something.   So fill your box/bag with:

No matter how well prepared you are, you’ll still become hungry.  Here's a recipe you should try.

Italian Baked Beans
1 medium onion, chopped                       
1 6lb. can Van Camps or other Pork and Beans
1/4lb. bacon, diced                                  
1 green pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup catsup

Sauté bacon, onions, green pepper, and garlic in olive oil over low heat  until vegetables are cooked.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour bacon  mixture into large casserole dish.  Add beans, brown sugar, catsup, and  season with salt and pepper to individual taste.  Bake at 350 for 90  minutes.

Ten Commandments of Tailgating
By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
Often we’re asked what it takes to be great at tailgating.  Here are the Ten Commandments for successful tailgating:
    Thou shalt arrive early – you need to be set-up for tailgating and relaxing at least two hours before kick-off.  To quote William Shakespeare, “Better three hours early than one minute too late.” Relax, tailgating is a social event.
    Thou shalt not diet – J. Hazzard of the National Institute of Fitness and Sports said, “You can eat almost anything in moderation.” There are only a half dozen tailgates a year, so eat up.
    Thou shalt not be a cheapskate – since your tailgate is like entertaining at home, purchase the “top shelf” brands of adult beverages and highest quality of foods to serve your guests.
    Thou shalt have plenty – always prepare extra food for people who may stop by.  There is nothing more gracious than to share good food with good people.
    Thou shall not talk politics – since people you see of opposing political views are obviously miss guided, don’t talk politics.  You’ll embarrass them and yourself.
    Thou shalt not resist progress – activities that are repeated during a season will identify equipment that needs to be improved.  Don’t hesitate to purchase well-made equipment that you see others use with success.  Buy the best so it lasts for many seasons to come.
    Thou shall display team colors – Imaging the snap of a red, blue or green flag against a blue sky.  Couple that with the sounds of a band and a fight song and you know this is a special day.  Display flags, bright sweaters, table clothes, chairs, drinking cups and more in team colors.  Color always improves the ambience.
    Thou shalt not drink to excess – believe it or not, fellow tailgaters aren’t amused when one gets too tipsy.  Being drunk was fun for undergraduates, but today’s society doesn’t like it.  If you drink, do so in moderation.
    Thou shalt not leave early – tickets are far too expensive to just leave the game even if the score is one-sided.  After all it’s your team and if you’re not loyal enough to stay, who will?
    Thou shall tailgate after the game – Only a fool rushes to get into the traffic exiting the area after a game.   A simple half our tailgate will usually give one clear streets and roads for the trip home.  Relax; you’ll have a nicer drive without traffic.
A great snack before starting for home after the game is fried chicken and a cup of coffee or a soft drink.

University of Kentucky Fried Chicken
2 envelopes tomato soup mix (1 oz. each) 
2 envelopes Italian dressing mix (3/4 oz. each)
1 Tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons dried chervil (a delicate annual herb related to parsley).
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon instant chicken bouillon powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon tarragon
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups pancake mix
Buttermilk to soak the chicken

Mix all of the ingredients for the coating in a blender.  The coating is enough for one whole chicken, cut up.  Soak the chicken pieces in buttermilk for at least one hour in the refrigerator.  Remove chicken from buttermilk and roll in the chicken coating mixture above.  Let chicken sit at room temperature while waiting for the oil to get hot.
Deep fry if possible for the most authentic copy of the original (you know who’s) recipe.  If that is not possible, use a cast iron skillet.  Don't crowd the chicken when placing into the skillet.  Use lard or shortening if you really want that original Colonel taste.
Brown the chicken in the skillet on high heat.  Then turn down the heat and cover the pan.  Cook until the fried chicken is done (approx. 30 minutes).   During the last 10 minutes, uncover the pan and turn up the heat to crisp up the fried chicken.  Take care not to burn the chicken during this last step.
Remove the fried chicken and drain on paper towels.  Refrigerate the chicken and then pack it in your cooler on game day.


Early Morning Fun
By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley

Games for college and Pro football used to always start at 1 or 2PM local time.  It was great to get to the stadium around noon and enjoy a snack and a drink in the parking lot.  Then after the game we always enjoyed a roadie which was a snack and/or drink before the drive home.  Today, however some games in the Central, Mountain and Pacific Time zones get to start games at 11 and the Eastern Time zone games often start at Noon.  So now serious tailgate hosts have to consider preparing a breakfast for their tailgaters.  Annually we offer a new breakfast casserole recipe and talk about how to cook eggs, sausages and breakfast burritos. Then we plan Bloody Mary and Mimosa drinks.  That’s all well and good, but what about those that are serious beer drinkers.  These days, with the craft beer boom, it’s time to think of serving something that really pleases those beer aficionados.
Here is a great breakfast recipe that will keep your guests talking for a while. It’s for thin beer pancakes that taste savory.  The mix should be prepared the night before and tested by the chef.  This is to determine if there is a need for more beer.

Beer Pancakes
2 cups pancake mix
2 bottles of beer
Buttery Spray
One pint sour cream
            Make these savory pancakes like crepes by thinning them out more than the recipe on the box of all-in-one pancake mix.  In a large plastic bottle funnel in 2 cups of mix and then add 1 1/2 bottles of beer.  Mix these ingredients together with a long wooden spoon handle or other rod until they are smooth. You can actually shake the bottle after this for final blending.  The night before, make one pancake like a crepe by rocking, in a nonstick pan, to keep it thin.  Then decide if you need a little more beer. Drink the remainder of the beer as a reward.
On game day, set up your tailgate with a griddle on your stove or grill.  Heat the griddle to where a drop or two of water will dance and bubble on it.  Then pour the mix so as to keep the pancakes thin.  Cook one side until it bubbles then flip the cakes and cook till done.
Plate the cakes with a large serving of butter, and a scoop of sour cream.  Serve with beer or coffee.

Don’t Get Hot Under the Collar

By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
Due to longer football seasons, it seems those early season games are always in really hot weather, even in the northern states.  So keeping cool, for tailgaters, when temperatures reach record highs, isn't just about comfort.  Dangerously high temperatures can result in heat-related illnesses ranging from heat cramps to heat exhaustion or even heat stroke.  The following tips can help you keep cool at a hot weather tailgate party:

Here is a great sandwich that is tops for hot weather tailgate parties.

Chicken Salad
4 Chicken breasts
1 Red bell pepper diced
¼ Cup diced purple onion
1 Small diced Granny Smith apple
1 Small can of crushed pineapple (drained well)
¼ Cup pecan pieces
Grill or cook 4 chicken breasts.  Shred/cut and mix with 1 small red pepper, ¼  cup purple onion, 1 small can of crushed pineapple (drained well), Granny Smith apple and pecan pieces.  Add in olives and or grapes if you like and then mix-in mayo to your liking.
Serve with Swiss cheese on your favorite bread.

Wasted Space

By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
Is your tailgate vehicle so large that space is never an issue? Does it have room to seat a whole family, all the grills and coolers, tables, chairs, tents and flagpoles necessary to have the ultimate tailgate party? We mean the kind of party that’s admired by all who pass by?  If your answer is, “No”, then don’t feel like the Lone Ranger.  Almost nobody does due to limited space in today’s tailgating lots.
In the early years, tailgating parking was very casual and most stadium lots were not even measured into spaces.  Colleges like the Air Force Academy described their parking surfaces as “native grasses”.  What this really meant was that it was unpaved. Parking and hence tailgating was mostly first come first serve. People tended to spread out more. But things seem to always evolve around money.
The quest for the all mighty dollar has had an affect even on tailgating spaces.  The lots closest to the stadium generally require a huge in the thousands for one parking space.  These spaces are measured and lined off to barely fit a Compact Utility vehicle (CUV) with so little space between parkers that people have to be careful when opening doors so as to not dent the neighboring vehicle. Public, pay-as-you-go, lots are generally much greater distances from the stadium and require a hike to get to the game.
These days, limited space requires serious tailgaters to take space saving measures to pack all the necessary equipment, food and drink so that all the guests are happy and comfortable.  Here are some tips for packing one’s tailgate vehicle:

When thinking about one’s menu, it’s important that we not forget an easily packed desert that can satisfy that sweet tooth of our guests.  The top tailgate desert is a bar that the tailgater can enjoy while standing and without a fork.  Click here for a recipe for No Bake Peanut Butter Cup Bars. Pack in a square container in your food cooler.

No Bake Peanut Butter Cup Bars

Was it something I ate?

By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
A late-night roiling stomach is cause for frenzied reflection. After wondering if you’re getting sick, your thoughts will likely wander to your most recent meal, prompting that anxiety-inducing question: “Was it something I ate?” We don’t want our tailgaters to become part of the group estimated by the Food Safety Analytics Collaboration to be part of the 48 million people who get foodborne illnesses in the United States each year.
The Department of Agriculture considers the following “high priority”: E. Coli 0157, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Listeria. These “nasties” (bacteria) are among the most common and most severe types that cause foodborne illness, but, as the FDA wrote in a press release, “targeted interventions can have a significant impact in reducing them.”
Targeted intervention is what we all need to do to keep our food safe. These are our rules that stand the test of time and are worth repeating:

Click here for a great recipe that can be kept “food safe” for your tailgate this season, even in the warm weather. 

Italian Pasta Salad

Getting Ready for the Season

By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
Once again we must prepare for another tailgate season. In our preparation we must remember a “famous” quote. This one is from Wally “Famous” Amos of chocolate chip cookie fame. “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.” He used these words of wisdom in some of his 10 his self-help books. His idea was to change things that didn’t work. So you ask, “How does this apply to my tailgating experience?”

Think back over the last few years of tailgating.  Were there things that didn’t go the way you’d hoped?  Were you too cold? Were you too hot?  Did you get wet in the rain? Did you have the right seats for your guests?  Did you have enough serving or cooking surface? This list can go on and on depending on your ability to reflect. Again you say, “So how does this apply to my tailgating experience?”

One needs to plan some improvements to insure improvement of his or her tailgating experience. Things you’ll need to buy are on sale this time of year because, after Labor Day, the camping season virtually shuts down as school starts and temperatures cool. So check the ads in the tabloids and on line.  If you type an item like “coolers on sale” into a search engine, you’ll get listings of different coolers from different sources and you’ll see the prices.  In Google I got more than 10 pages of listings and some were 70% 0ff.
Here’s a recipe for one of the most popular items at a warm weather tailgate party, the Deviled Egg.
Caviar Deviled Eggs



Laugh Out Loud

Ball State's dancing tour of campus.

Ohio State's great flash mob at the Student Union

Yale's pranking of Harvard getting them to spell out "We Suck" at the game

Holy Cross Dancing Crusader.