Monday, December 4, 2006

"Green Bay Packers Family Cookbook, Vols. 1&2" & "The NFL Cookbook" & "Favre Family Cookbook" - Packer fan recipes

Oh, people, it’s challenging to be a Packer Fan but cooking up a bunch of Packer-related recipes was no challenge whatsoever.

Despite their woeful performance so far this year (2006), I have always been and will always be a Packer Backer. My hometown in Michigan’s U.P. (Upper Peninsula) is three hours away from Green Bay whereas Detroit is eight hours away. Suffice it to say, we felt more attached to Wisconsin, both spiritually and by land and so most of us from that area are Packer fans.

So it stands to reason, doesn’t it, that as a fan, I have no less than three Green Bay Packer-related cookbooks? One is the Green Bay Packers Family Cookbook, Volume 1, which is of course, followed by the Green Back Packers Family Cookbook, Volume 2, and the third is the Favre Family Cookbook (and if you say to yourself “Favre who?,” just quit reading now and go to the recipe. Please, I beg of you.)

I thought about telling you all the interesting connections I have to the Packers organization, coaches and assorted staff but then realized those stories could make up an entire blog all by themselves and so it’s off to the recipes we go.

One of my law school classmates and her husband are from Milwaukee, WI (now living in Hudson, WI, just across Minnesota border (and about 20 minutes from St. Paul, MN) and so I invited them over to watch the Packer-Viking game with us last year. And, course, I pulled a Packer cookbook, in this case, Packer Family Cookbook, Volume II, and found the perfect thing to accompany brats on the grill – Calico Beans.

Knowing of my deep love and affection for the team, Autumn and John bought me a Cheesehead as a hostess gift (and really, it’s just the gift that keeps on giving). (Note: a Cheesehead is a foam replica of a piece of cheese that Packer fans far and wide wear on game day. It’s the football version of a rally cap). When I told my mom about having them over and the Cheesehead gift, she got confused and said: “Well that’s nice that they got you a tea set.” (??!) to which I replied “No, mom. Cheesehead. They bought me a Cheesehead, not a tea set. Sheesh.”

Mind you, Autumn is Vietnamese so it’s entirely possible that she could have brought me a tea set…but she didn’t.

Green Bay Packers Family Cookbook, Vol. II – by the Green Bay Packers
Published by – Packers Women’s Association
© 2001
Recipe submitted by Betsy Mitchell, Psychological Consultant to the GB Packers

Recipe – Calico Beans – p. 174

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? How COOL would it be to be a Psychological Consultant to the Packers! I’m picturing Brett Favre (the Packer’s current quarterback) on the couch being counseled after a game: “So Brett, when you were being blitzed by the (Bears, Seahawks, Eagles..), how did it make you feel…..?”

I swear I’m always choosing the wrong profession.

Luckily, I chose a great dish to make on Packer game day. Thank you, Besty!!

Anybody who has ever been to a potluck has seen a dish like this: You take your basic canned beans (butter, kidney, pork and beans, etc), add browned ground beef, a few spices and after cooking for 40 minutes or so at 350, we have a kickoff! But just in case you need the actual ingredients and directions:

Calico Beans
1 lb. ground beef
1 c. chopped onion
1½ c. ketchup
¾ c. brown sugar
2 tsp vinegar (white or cider)
1½ tsp. salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1 16 oz. can drained butter beans
1 can kidney beans
2 16 oz. cans pork and beans
*note, some people use garbanzo beans as well. I think you could substitute and still come out okay.

Brown the ground beef and onion. Drain well. Mix all ingredients together then bake uncovered for 40 minutes at 350 F.

Next we have.....Bart Starr's Favorite Salad...

Date I made this recipe: Sunday, September 22
The NFL Cookbook
A National Football League Publication – New American Library
© 1981

Recipe: Bart Starr’s Favorite Salad – p. 38

Before there was Brett, there was Bart. Starr, that is.

Bart Starr was, and still is, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all times. The fact that he played for Vince Lombardi (may he rest in peace) and took the Packers to the Super Bowl puts him on the left hand of God (Vince, naturally, is on the right) in the hearts of many Packer fans.

So seeing as how I was on this Packer recipe roll, I couldn’t resist making a recipe from The NFL Cookbook.

I scored (no pun intended) this cookbook at a bookstore in East Lansing, Michigan, last year (2005) while attending my cousin’s daughter’s wedding. I’ve been to this bookstore before and usually walk away with at least a bag full of fun finds. (Note: I should clarify that there are two bookstores blocks away from each other, owned by the same person. One is Curious Books – 307 E. Grand River Ave and the other is Archives Bookstore – 517 W. Grand River Ave. Both are just blocks away from Michigan State University’s campus)

This book, however, was not without its problems: You just try finding a recipe that was not submitted by an “enemy” team (which, these days, includes everyone). Lucky for me, Bart Starr’s Favorite Salad was there to save the day.

This salad is easy and quite refreshing, even for a fall day. But what to team it with was my next big question. (I swear, these sports analogies are just popping up all over the place). Chicken, steak, fish or….

And then, people, the freezer light bulb went on and voila! We would finish up that second frozen, pre-packed and highly salted pork tenderloin, previously mentioned in an earlier blog.

In my humble opinion, the “mesquite” rub (of potassium, potassium, potassium, and salt) was overkill and added nothing to the meat but at least this time it was edible.

So pork and salad it was. Pork and beans would have been better, but I covered the bean issue last week. So pork and salad it was.

The Packers, by the way, beat Detroit that day but we didn’t get to see it because of a TV blackout that goes like this: If those pathetic Vikings are playing at the same time as my brilliant, yet struggling, Packers, then (and for this, recall your 9th grade Algebra rules), FOX TV will show the Viking game, in its entirety, in Minnesota, with complete and utter disregard for the fact that the Wisconsin border is 15 minutes away from downtown St. Paul. Those interested in joining my amicus brief to the Supreme Court, see me afterwards (after the game that is. You know better than to interrupt a Packer game, right?!).

Bart Starr’s Favorite Salad
For the dressing (note: makes one quart)
3 c. salad oil
1 c. cider or wine vinegar
¼ c. Worcestershire sauce
¼ c. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp Italian seasoning
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
Freshly ground pepper
For the salad
1 head iceberg or Romaine lettuce
½ unpeeled cucumber, sliced
½ red onion, sliced
6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 stalk celery, diced
8 to 10 black olives - cut up
½ avocado, diced
½ c. Fontina or hard white cheese, grated
½ c. seasoned croutons

Combined salad oil (I used olive oil), vinegar (I used white), Worcestershire sauce (can we talk about how impossible it is to spell this?), Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper to taste in a container. Cover and let stand several hours, or overnight.

Combine lettuce (I used Romaine as I hate iceburg), cucumber, onion, tomatoes, celery, olives (I used a mix from an olive bar that I then had to slice myself which was a bother but then I like making things difficult for myself), avocado, cheese and croutons in salad bowl.

Add the desired amount of dressing and toss lightly. Makes six servings of salad.

And so back to you, Brett….

Brett Favre, the Packer’s current quarterback, is a man of many talents, one of them being cookbook publisher. Okay, technically, he did not publish the cookbook but he submitted recipes, so there.

Long before I purchased the Packer Family Cookbook Volume II, I snapped up the Favre Family Cookbook and naturally, I had to make a recipe submitted by Brett – Red Beans and Rice. (Note, I did not make the dish at the same time as Bart Starr’s dish, but I had Famous Packer Quarterbacks (“for 10 points, Alex”) on the brain so I had to include it for continuity’s sake. I think I made this dish about a year or so ago).

Favre Family Cookbook by the Favre Family
Published by Addax Publishing Group
ISBN: 1-886110-75-1
© 1999

Recipe: Red Beans and Rice – p. 135

This dish was relatively quick and easy but the thing I felt was missing was bit of spice and I’m not even a big fan of spice. My husband disagreed and he’s the spice king in our family. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought I added a can of Rotele tomatoes (to add that little snap to the dish), as was called for in other recipes in this book, but I checked the list twice and I didn’t seem them so…there it is.

Red Beans and Rice
1 pound dried kidney beans
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
½ stick butter
1 T. flour
1 pound smothered sausage, sliced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 c. rice, cooked

Soak the beans in enough water to cover, overnight; drain and rinse. Saute’ onion and garlic in butter until tender. Sprinkle flour in with onion and garlic and mix well. Add sausage and beans with enough water to cover the beans then season with salt and pepper. Cook slowly on low heat for one hour or until beans are tender. Serve over rice. Serves 6-8.

Okay, as a note, the back of the book had definitions but “smothered sausage” was not one of them. I’m sure a southerner can enlighten me in about a minute flat as to what that term means and so I’d love to know if there was something I should have done to the sausage to smother it – get a pillow perhaps? (or better yet a blanket for smothered Pigs in a Blanket - pigs=sausage, get it?! Hahahaha....)

And last but not least....

Date I made this recipe: October 2, 2006

Packer Family Cookbook Volume I by the Packers Women’s Association
Published by – Packers Women’s Association
© 1998
Recipe submitted by Vaughn Booker, Defensive End #96

Recipe: Tuna Macaroni Casserole – p. 89

I swear, dear readers that this is the last recipe I have from any football-related cookbook. And I specifically chose a recipe that transcends all time, including football season: Tuna Casserole. Who doesn’t love tuna casserole (well, except people who don’t love tuna…or casseroles).

I selected this recipe because it seemed easy and appropriate for a fall football evening when the weather gets cooler…or so I thought. Of course, the weather people got it all wrong and on October 2, 2006, the temperature spiked to 80 degrees. I was not deterred. October 2nd was a Monday night game between the Packers and the Eagles (Philadelphia). Despite getting off to a good start, and despite my endless coaching, we were spanked: 31-9.

But people, do not despair because the recipe was a winner.

First things first: if you do not understand that the base of all casseroles is a can of cream of “something” soup, you have not been paying attention. Sure, purists will want to make it with a traditional white sauce (as I learned to do in Home Ec), but as I am known to say: “why do something yourself when you can pay others (in this case, a soup company) to do it for you?

This recipe called for Cream of Celery soup and I liked that over Cream of Mushroom but that could just be me. Cream of Mushroom has its place, you understand, but I like a lighter taste to my casserole. It also called for mayonnaise and I liked that, too. It did not call for peas, but I’m sorry, in my culinary world, tuna casserole = tuna + noodles + peas. Period. If you do not like peas, you can leave them out and still get great results. Add to that mixture some milk, grated cheese and dried mustard and you have a game winning result.

The ease of preparation got this recipe a gold (and Packer “green”) stars and here’s why: I simply had to take a walk after work it being unusual to have 80 degree weather in October (snow is more like it) plus I had numerous errands to run (the local library, Target, Barnes and Noble –I had an extra 15% off coupon that expired that day and if there’s one thing I love, it’s an additional discount – and the grocery store). By the time I got home, it was 6:45 and the game started at 7:30.

I put a pot of water on the stove to boil the macaroni, preheated the oven, raced upstairs to take a shower and came back down just past 7. I threw the pasta in the boiling water, started combining all ingredients (and a big shout out for not having to chop a damned thing) and at 7:28 the whole thing went into the oven. Piece.Of.Cake (or, in this case, Tuna.Casserole).

When the casserole was done, the Pack was making a good showing. By the time I finished eating, they were not. Seeing the Pack lose the game gave me heartburn but the tuna casserole gave me joy. And I really didn’t mind that it was hotter than Hades in my house with the oven on. Really. Okay, maybe just a little.

And so a couple of final words before I move on to a recipe that is not sports-related: I finally made it to “hallowed ground” on September 17th for the Packer/New Orleans game (what a thrill) and just yesterday, got a book signed (alas, not a cookbook) by former Packer great, Jerry Kramer, he of Instant Replay fame (one of the funniest football books ever) and one of Lombardi’s best players. It was a thrill to meet him, let me tell you. Believe it or not, I actually read something other than cookbooks and my brother and I pawed through Kramer’s book so often when we were younger, it’s amazing it is still in one piece.

Tuna Macaroni Casserole
4 oz. small shell macaroni
1 10 ¾ can condensed cream of celery soup
1/3 c. milk
¼ c. mayonnaise
½ tsp dry mustard
1 c. shredded American cheese
1 6 ½ or 7 oz. can tuna, drained
¼ c. fine dry bread crumbs (or crush some croutons for the same effect)
1 T. butter
½ tsp paprika

Cook macaroni according to directions then drain. In a bowl, blend together the soup, milk, mayonnaise, and mustard. Stir in cheese and tuna. Fold in cooked macaroni. Put mixture into 1 ½ quart casserole dish. Combine the bread crumbs, paprika and melted butter then sprinkle on top of the casserole. Bake uncovered at 350 for approximately 45 minutes.

NOTE: I purchased the two Green Bay Packer Family Cookbooks from the Packers Pro Shop (once online and once in person) but I just checked the website today (12/4/06) and neither book showed up. ( I Googled the book titles, but no luck there, either. I hate to say this, but you might need to take a road trip to Green Bay to find the books. I'm just saying.... (and if you do go on a search and destroy for them, please let me know! I'd love to hear of your quest.)

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