Check each week for our tailgating column.


Dessert Bars 2018 Column 7
By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley

carrot cake bars

An experienced restauranteur in southwest Michigan, the late Betty Barker, told us that if a diner serves meat loaf, stuffed peppers or cabbage rolls as their daily special, they must make extra servings because almost all men will order these items.  We checked with restaurant people across most of the country, we found Betty’s statement to be true. These entrees, however, are not real conducive to tailgating requiring foods that can be easily eaten while standing and socializing.  So, we kind of forgot about preparing them.  But Barker also went on to say, “All men like carrot cake”.   Serving cake at a tailgate requires at least a plate and a fork but always thinking about good desserts, we decided to search for a recipe to make the taste of carrot cake available to tailgaters in a more manageable way.
Marie Simmons is one of America’s great award-winning (James Beard Society) food writers, formerly with Woman’s Day, Cuisine Magazine (Editor), the LA Times, Bon Appetit, Mc Calls and many more.  In addition, Simmons has authored dozens of cook books.  One of her works, Bar Cookies A to Z (Chapter’s Publishing 1994) became our inspiration for this tailgate dessert.  The advantage of this bar is that it can be held in one’s hand and enjoyed with all the flavor of a carrot cake, but without the mess.  We first communicated with Marie back in 1996 and swapped The Tailgater’s Handbook for Bar Cookies A to Z.  Marie was very encouraging and thought tailgating looked like a great activity.  To our delight, Marie helped us find a bar that made the tailgater feel like he or she was enjoying a piece of carrot cake.  Here is her recipe she allowed us to include here.

Carrot Cake Bars
1 Cup flour
1/2 Cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup canola oil
1 Cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Cups carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
6 oz. softened cream cheese
1 Cup confectioners’ sugar sifted
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. finely chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350. 
Lightly butter a 13/9 baking dish. Combine flours, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl; add the pecans; stir to blend. Place the oil, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla in the bowl of your food processor. Process until blended then gradually add the carrots through the feed tube while the motor is running. Process the mixture until the carrots are finely chopped. Pour the carrot mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.  Spread the batter into the prepared dish and bake for 35 minutes, or until the edges pull away from the sides and you can place a tooth pick into the middle and it comes out dry. Cool on a wire rack.
To make the frosting beat the cream cheese and conf. sugar until smooth. Add the lemon juice, nutmeg and vanilla.
Spread the frosting over the cooled bars and then sprinkle with chopped pecans. Cut into bars. Decorate each with an orange icing carrot with green icing leaves. Or decorate each with a team "letter" symbol, like an H for Harvard or P for Packers.  Small tubes of decorating icings are available in all colors.
Serves 24 bars.

Tailgate Buffalo Wings 2018 Column six
By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley

Buffalo Wings

This season we’ve been writing about foods that all football fans love to eat in the tailgate lots on game day.  We’ve featured pizza, pancakes, hot dogs and burgers.  Remembering that last year the number one food ordered from the deli sections in our favorite upscale markets for football games was wings, we decided it was time to show how to serve tailgate Buffalo Wings that taste as good as if they were just served at one’s favorite restaurant.
As you’ve surely noticed, this season we have visited the country’s most famous chefs and restaurants to taste foods for which they are famous to learn how to adapt it to tailgating. So, when it comes to Buffalo Wings there is no better place to start than their birthplace, the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York.  As the history goes, on March 4th, 1964, Dominic Bellissimo was tending bar at the Anchor Bar Restaurant at the corner of Main and North Streets in Buffalo, NY. Late, on that night, at about closing time, a group of Dominic’s friends arrived at the bar with ravenous appetites. Dominic asked his mother, Teressa, to prepare something for his friends to eat.
She then took wings, a part of the chicken that usually went into the stock pot for soup, and deep fried them and flavored them with butter and cayenne pepper sauce. The wings were an instant hit and soon people from all over town were flocking to the bar to experience their new taste sensation. From that evening on, Buffalo Wings became a regular part of the menu at the Anchor Bar. 
The Buffalo Wing taste has now spread across America and the world and is enjoyed by people of all ages. This famous restaurant has become a chain with dozens of locations in Canada and in the US as far west as Las Vegas. 
At the original Anchor Bar Restaurant on Main Street in Buffalo we spoke with Jason Ryals, the General Manager. We asked Jason how can we make these tasty wings for a tailgate party where the people don’t have deep fryers?  We showed him our oven baked recipe and asked his advice. He suggested following our recipe and then at the tailgate, re-sauce and grill the wings until they are warm and crispy.  He also suggested adding a little Bar-B-Q sauce as we reheat some of the wings on the grill at the tailgate.  Among his comments, “We serve a lot of people that like a Bar-B-Q flavor as well”. 
Tailgate Buffalo Wings
2.5 lbs. chicken wings 
I Cup Anchor Bar Buffalo Wings Sauce
2 cups Flour
Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash wings and clip off their tips with poultry shears (or knife). Cut wings at the joint into two parts each. Put wings on paper towels to dry. Using a gallon size re-sealable plastic bag, put in two cups of all-purpose flour, a tablespoon of kosher salt, and teaspoon of black pepper.  Place wings in the flour bag and coat them with the mixture. Remove the wings with tongs, shaking off excess flour.  Place wings on a sheet pan rack with the pan below. Place the racked pan into the oven and bake 35 minutes. Remove wings and place them into a bowl of the buffalo wing sauce to toss and coat them slightly. Replace the wings onto the rack and cook them five or ten minutes more until they crisp slightly.
Remove the wings and let them cool.  Then place them in the refrigerator overnight in a zip bag.  At the tailgate heat the wings to crispy on your grill and then re-sauce them and serve.  Try some with bar-b-q sauce as well.
Serve with celery and blue cheese or ranch dressing.
4 servings
You will find Frank and Teressa’s Original Anchor Bar Buffalo Wing Sauce on line from places like Walmart or even The Anchor Bar itself.
Or you can substitute another brand of Cayenne Pepper Sauce but be sure to add butter, one stick to a cup of sauce.


 The Jucy Lucy Burger Column five
By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley

Jucy Lucy burger

When you think of what is the quintessential American tailgate fare, what comes to mind?  Hot dogs (last week’s column) and hamburgers are what you probably will answer.  And to be fair who really doesn’t love a good burger?  Even those who don’t eat meat love a good veggie burger.  So, why do tailgaters love burgers?
To start with they taste good.  There is just something about the taste of a juicy burger.  Many people prefer the taste of a well-prepared hamburger to that of a steak, and the burger on a bun is easier to eat while standing in the parking lot.  It’s also easier to chew and digest.  A burger can also be part of a satisfying meal that’s much more versatile than a lot people realize because of the different types of meats and the variety of toppings that you can pile on top.  Burgers offer a flavor that can be individualized to each person’s taste.
According to the Library of Congress and the Food Network, the first hamburger in America was served at Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1895.  It seems there are almost as many lists available ranking America’s best hamburger as there are people eating burgers.  But the Travel Channel, Time Magazine, the Food Network, Zagat, Food and Wine Magazine and most other rankings place Louis’ Lunch among their best.  As a result, we traveled to New Haven and checked off another item from our bucket list.  The burger at Louis’
is made with five cuts of meat, ground fresh daily.  It is served on white toast with only cheese, onion, and tomato as garnishes.  This was a tasty experience, but we needed to find a more Midwestern flair for our tailgate burger. 
Thus, we asked around for the highest rated local burger and found the 317 Burger in the trendy Broad Ripple neighborhood in Indianapolis.  The 317 is known for their Jucy Lucy burger with the cheese on the inside.  The name derives from the fact that as the burger cooks, the cheese inside melts.  This has the effect of keeping the meat near the center of the burger very juicy. This process also separates the cheese from the bun, resulting in a much different texture than the usual cheeseburger.  The 317 Burger is made from 100% premium Black Angus beef and the cheese in the middle can be varied to individual tastes.  They serve Jucy Lucy burgers with centers of Velveeta, Cheddar, Blue Cheese, and others.
At 317 we met Lance Freeman the Manager and Chef Jeff Meyers who gave us a class on how to prepare the Jucy Lucy.  Taking the directions for these Jucy Lucy burgers home, we have now made several batches to perfect the way to use them at a tailgate.  Here is how to best make the Jucy Lucy.

2 lbs. 80/20 Angus Beef
4 or 5 oz. Cheese
4 Hamburger Buns

Make four round thin half pound patties of the ground beef.  Now flatten a one-ounce piece of Velveeta (or other cheese) into a disk shape and place in the center of the patty.  With your fingers pull up the edges of the beef patty up to the center and completely cover the cheese with no gaps.  Now smooth out the top of the patty so that it is even like the bottom.  Turn the patty over and store it on wax paper in a sealable plastic container for transport to the game in your food cooler.  To get a good sear, cook the Jucy Lucy on a flat top grill, or you can use a regular grill grate to get grill marks.  Cook 5-6 minutes per side for medium.

Makes four half pound burgers

The Great American Hot Dog 2018 Column four
By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley

chestnut and Drozda hit dogs
Forget corn on the cob and apple pie - there is no food more important to our USA game day identity then the mighty hot dog.  Even though Frankfort Germany claims to have invented the Frankfurter in the 1400’s, these sausages cropped up in America in the 1860 from push carts in New York City.  The first real frankfurter on a bun was sold in 1893 at the Chicago world’s fair (Columbian Exposition).  Since it was easy to hold and inexpensive, the frank grew in popularity by leaps and bounds and has become the standard go-to fare for football games.  The name “Hot Dog” began appearing in college football programs in the 1890s and Yale magazine wrote about munching on hot dogs in 1895.
By talking with dozens of tailgaters across America, we’ve learned that hot dogs are still as popular as ever.  Practically every tailgater we spoke to said that they enjoyed hot dogs.  So, we began a quest to find out how to have a perfect tailgate hotdog. But where should we start? How about with America’s most famous hot dog consumer?
The most famous hot dog eater can be no other than Joey Chestnut, 11-time winner of the 4th of July hot dog eating contest at Nathan’s Famous Restaurant on Coney Island.  This annual event is telecast live by ESPN.  Chestnut, a professional eater is ranked first in the nation by Obviously, he is an authority on the great American hot dog.
We sat with Chestnut one afternoon and enjoyed a hot dog slathered in his new product, Joey Chestnut Spicy Brown Firecracker Mustard. The first question we asked was, “do you enjoy hot dogs in a normal way, like eating only a few at a meal?” “Absolutely,” he answered.  “I really like them.”  We asked which dogs he liked best and his answer was, “I like Nathan’s ‘Famous’ with their spice mixture and natural casings.”   So, we now had to see how Nathan’s prepared their hot dogs. 
We visited Nathan’s with its famous Coney Island hot dog.   There were three of us in our party and we each ate several hot dogs and enjoyed them immensely!  Chestnut was right on about the spices and casings - they were so good!  To find out more, we talked with Phil McCann of Nathan’s marketing department.  He said that hot dogs should be grilled on a flat top grill and just before they are done, press down on them with tongs to break the skin slightly to release some of the spices onto the hot dog.
Whether one likes hot dogs from a local butcher, Nathan’s, Hebrew National, or any of the other brands, the important thing is to buy what you like and cook them as you like.  From our research, here are some recommendations
others have found to enhance the hot dog’s taste:

Eating your Beer for Breakfast 2018 Column three
By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley

ale pancakes

It seems to us that there are a lot of new breweries these days.  In the 1980’s, according to Brad Tuttle in Time Magazine, there were less than 100 brewers in America. And of these breweries, all were mass marketers.  In 2008 the number of companies brewing beer rose to around 1,500 and it climbed to 3,500 in early 2015.  According to 6,372 breweries were making beer in 2017.  It’s a sure bet that we’ll see more of these breweries when the 2018 figures are in.  So why this new demand for beer?
Tailgaters seem to be buying craft beers, not because they look good, but because of all the new craft breweries and brew pubs that specialize offering quaffs to meet different tastes. Today’s beer drinkers now can enjoy IPA (India Pale Ale) style brews as well as America cream ales, pale ales, and as many other tastes as one can imagine.   It’s not uncommon to see tailgaters comparing labels and even swapping beers in the parking lot.
With all this in mind, we decided to figure a good way to use one of these new craft brews to make a tailgate breakfast for those early (noon) start games where tailgaters are setting up at 10 AM and needing breakfast foods.  So, we went to one of the Midwest’s growing craft breweries, Mash Craft Brewing in central Indiana now with three locations.  At Mash Craft in Fishers, we met Andrew Castner, the master brewer and Paul Whitmore, the location manager. These gentlemen agreed to let us experiment in their kitchen with their ales to come up with a new tailgate recipe and possible addition to their brunch menu.
We tried lots of mixtures and brews along with different toppings and came up with this great but simple Ale Pancake recipe.

Ale Pancakes with Sour Cream
2 cups - complete pancake mix (the all-in-one kind that you just add water to the mix)
12 oz. – MashCraft Mad Skillz ale or your favorite stout beer or dark ale
1 lb. container of sour cream
Small jar of caviar
Small jar apple sauce
Small bottle of pure maple syrup
1 lb. - salted butter

Wisk 2 cups of the pancake mix with 12 ounces of ale until only small lumps remain.  Move this batter to a sealable pitcher/container and place this into your food cooler for transport to the game.  At the tailgate site, heat your flat top grill or frying pan until water you flick onto the surface will bounce and crackle.  Then butter or oil the surface well and pour on one pancake at a time.  These cakes are thin so make sure you keep an eye on them.  Flip the cakes when done on side one (bubbles have formed).  Cook side two a little less and plate the cake.
Top with melted butter and sour cream.  Then add toppings you like such as caviar, apple sauce and maple syrup.  These gourmet treats can be both sweet and/or savory.                                                                           
These ingredient quantities make eight to ten cakes.

Baking Pizza (Pie) in The Parking Lot 2018 Column two
By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley

pizza on grill pizza on grill2
Not to be “survey happy” but asking people what they like to eat is helpful in designing a menu.  It turns out that a recent Harris poll found that pizza is America’s favorite comfort food over chocolate, ice cream, chips, burgers, steak and mac and cheese. Another survey by found that crust of a pizza was considered its most important part. So, this week lets make a menu which has pizza with good crust, baked at your tailgate.
To further research this subject we had pies at numerous places including Lombardi’s (America’s first pizzeria) in New York’s “Little Italy” and Pizzeria Uno in Chicago (the first deep dish pie in the US). We were most impressed with the crispy crust created by Lombardi’s very hot stone-based oven.  So, as we created our version we baked our pie sith our grill on a pizza stone.  The pie cooked in less than ten minutes and had that chewy crust we liked best.  We got some help with the crust from Barry Abes, owner of the extremely popular Greek’s Pizza on Main Street in upscale Carmel, Indiana.
Barry helped us develop an easy recipe to make dough which allowed us to make crust just like those famous pizzerias.
4 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup warm water
½ cup cold water
1 pkg dry yeast
½ tsp salt
1 ½  tsp sugar
½ cup oil
Proof the yeast in ½ cup of warm (90 degree) water. Stir the sugar in very gently until the yeast and sugar are dissolved.  Then add ½ cup of cold (40 degree) water to shock the yeast.  Place this mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer, Now add the dry ingredients of flour and salt. Using a dough hook gently knead everything until the dough starts to form.  Now add the oil and knead the dough until it feels smooth and elastic. The dough should be kneaded with the hook for about 15 minutes on medium speed. Now remove the dough from the bowl/hook.

If you want thin crust, separate the dough into four small balls. For regular crust make three balls.  Oil the dough slightly with your hands then place the balls onto an oiled tray or into small bowls and cover them loosely, but air tight, with a large sheet of plastic wrap.  Place the tray into the fridge for 24 hours.  The balls will more than double in size.
On game day take the dough out of the fridge and let it warm for a good hour in your vehicle as you drive to the stadium. 
At the tailgate lot place the pizza stone on the grates of your gas grill, and with the lid down, let the stone warm for an hour to 500 degrees. Put a ball of dough onto your floured peel and stretch it into a circle slightly less than the size of your stone.  Using the peel, slide the circle onto your pizza stone for just a minute.  Use tongs to lift the edge of the dough and slide it back onto the peel to remove it so that you can dress it by adding sauce, cheese and other toppings. Always keep the lid down and the flame on high even when not using the grill to keep the stone hot.  Place the dressed pie back onto the stone and cook with the lid down for six or more minutes. Use tongs to check the crust to ensure it is to your liking.
Remove the completed pie and let it stand for a few minutes until you cut it into pieces.  Repeat the process changing toppings to please all your guests.

By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
This season we’ve decided to kick-up our menus by seeking the help of some famous chefs and restaurateurs. In the next twelve columns we will discuss new tailgate ideas like pizzas made fresh at one’s parking spot.  We’ll also show how to cook breakfast with beer, and how to grill skewered kabobs.  We will even write about making the famous “Juicy Lucy” hamburger. Join us this football season for some real tasty game day food which will be something new.
For more than two decades we have started the football tailgate seasons with a column about being prepared. So, what’s new? Deja Vu, right? The somewhat overused quote “It’s Déjà vu again” first appeared in a humorous love poem by Jim Prior circa 1962.  We changed Prior’s words here to apply to the great social event of tailgating.

It’s Déjà vu again
Tailgating renewed again
Team colors and flags again
Against skies of blue.

It’s making a list again
Fixing mistakes again
Serving the best again
Excitement anew.
Switching back to prose here is some advice to prepare for your season:




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.