On Food and Football
Football season kicked off this weekend and I’m kind of feeling like the only person on the planet who isn’t drunk with giddy excitement over it’s arrival. I love the fall season that it ushers in. I love the crowds and the sounds of marching bands and the general atmosphere of a football game. Take me to a game, and I’ll totally get swept up in the frenzy of it all. However, ask me to watch a game on the TV, and I’ll happily wander into your kitchen and whip up some appetizers while you scream and sigh and chew out the ref. Part of this is because I didn’t grow up in a home where game-day was a big deal beyond my dad watching it on TV. We didn’t schedule important events such as weddings around what teams were playing who what day. We didn’t socialize in the Grove or tailgate in the stadium lot or travel to away games with friends on charter buses. Even though my childhood was divided between the states of Mississippi and Texas, both huge football states, I missed out on the college football gene entirely.
My first introduction to the concept of college football and my need for an official stance on the topic occurred in the hallway of my elementary school in 1st grade. “Are you a Longhorn or an Aggie?” a little boy in my class demanded to know, referencing the great rivalry between the University of Texas and Texas A&M. “I don’t know” I replied with a certain amount of pain (at that age, I did not like not knowing the answer to things.) “This is an Aggie” the boy said, making a thumbs up with this left hand, “And this is a Longhorn.” He made a hand symbol that gave the general impression of cow horns with his first and pinkie finger (also akin to the universal sign for “rock on”) and then made a loud “Ka-Pshhhhhh” sound as he rammed his hands together, and held the Longhorn hand up, victorious. I was torn. On the one hand, the “thumbs up” was such a positive sign…for instance it was used in the popular game “Thumbs Up, 7 Up,” and clearly, from his demonstration, the Aggies were the underdog, and who doesn’t love an underdog? But I also really loved cows. There were lots of cows on my ride to school and I loved watching them stand around in the field. Fortunately I was saved when it was suddenly my classmates’ turn at the water fountain. Later that week I saw the Aggie and Longhorn symbols on a sign at the local Albertson’s grocery store and decided I would be an Aggie because I liked the color red way more than the color orange. As an adult, ask me where my loyalties lie and I’ll recite the following bullet points:
*My “strongest” allegiance is to Auburn. My dad is an alum and he is forever trying to teach any grandchildren who come along to say “War Eagle.” I grew up hearing my dad be excited about Auburn, and had I gone to a large school, that’s probably where I would have gone.
*I like South Carolina because my husband is a fan and I love my husband.
*I like Mississippi State because my brother went there and is obnoxiously a bulldog forever.
*I like Vanderbilt because I currently live a mile and a half from there and it makes me feel good to have some hometown spirit.
*I like LSU because I once went to an LSU game my freshman year of college with a friend who went to LSU and they won. And tore down the goalpost. And the whole event was terribly exciting and memorable.
*I like Ole Miss because most of my friends from college and post-college are Ole Miss fans.
In college, I was actually a college cheerleader. Yes. I cheered for an entire year in college before I traded in my pompoms for lab goggles and got serious about my Biology degree. However, I went to Mississippi College, a lovely place for sure, but not exactly big in the sports arena. For example. No guy really wanted to take a cheerleader to the homecoming dance because that meant that that poor chap had to stay for the entire football game. And lets be real, no one stayed for all four quarters of an MC football game. It was generally clear in the first 5 minutes of play that the Choctaws were not going to be victorious, thus everyone left at the beginning of the 2nd quarter so as to beat everyone who waited until halftime to leave to the good restaurants. For graduate school, I attended Mississippi University for Women, also called “The W.” They do not have a football team.
I’m not much more dialed in to professional football than I am college ball. Growing up in the DFW area, I came to loosely be a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, meaning I had a Cowboys sweater that I LOVED to wear to school with some navy blue leggings, but then we moved to Mississippi when I was 12 and Mississippi doesn’t have a pro team. My dad is a big Eagles and Steelers fan so I obediently claimed the Eagles as my own as a kid. As an adult, Keith and I have enjoyed going to Tennessee Titans games on occasion when we get the notion and we always have a blast. I also met Aaron Rogers once and he seemed really nice. So if his team is playing, I usually hope they win.
But there IS something that starts with an “Foo” that gets me really excited. Food. And fortunately cheering for one’s favorite team seems to make folks hungry, so that always works out well. Keith really enjoys football season anyway, but his excitement gets taken to a whole new level due to a little thing called Fantasy Football. Two years ago, on “draft night” i spent hours making sugar cookies for the guys to munch on as they fought over who got what running back and who was most likely to score points or sit on the bench all season or whatever. Tonight happens to be draft night again and that got me thinking about those sugar cookies all over again and how I should totally share that recipe with you in case you have your own draft party coming up, or friends coming over to watch the big game or a tailgate (or ten) that you’re headed before the season comes to an end. So here it is. The famed sugar cookie recipe. And if you’re as foot-ball clueless as I am, remember, how you decorate the cookies is up to you…so it’s good for birthdays, holidays, or anytime you have a craving. Enjoy!
Basic Rolled Sugar Cookies
- 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
- 2 cups white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- In a large bowl (or stand mixer) cream together butter and sugar until smooth.
- Beat in eggs and vanilla extract.
- Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Cover and chill dough for at least an hour, or overnight. (I’ve found that 2-3 hours seems to work perfectly.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Roll out dough on floured surface (or wax paper) 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
- Cut into shapes with cookie cutter.
- Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
- Bake 6-8 minutes in preheated oven.
- Cool completely on cooling racks. Place Cooling racks over wax paper and glaze.
- Makes approximately 25-50 cookies (depending on size).
Sugar Cookie Glaze
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3 drops almond extract (more or less to taste)
- 10 drops food coloring (more or less to preference
- Stir confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, and water together.
- Stir in food coloring if desired. If you want to use multiple colors, remember to either mix up multiple batches of glaze, or separate glaze into multiple containers before adding colors.
- Glaze must be stirred each time you use it. If it is not stirred before each use it will dry with a mottled look instead of a solid color.
- Works best if you dip cookies into glaze. Glaze will run, so set cookies on wax paper.
- Recipe makes 0.5 cup glaze.
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