the most wonderful time of the year: tailgating menu

these are the flags that fly 20' above our tailgate:  
Purdue flag with our grad years, Duke Blue Devil flag and pink koi from our days in Tokyo

Tomorrow is the first of three Purdue home games in a row and my tailgate prep is 90% complete before 10:00 pm.  I do believe having really awesome pizza (Hot Box Supreme on skinny crust) delivered while we wrapped up Ryder Cup viewing and started cooking was the key to success this week.  That, and I've had my menu planned for a week.  It's Family Day at our alma mater and since our Purdue girl has graduated we'll be adopting my BFF's son in his first year on campus and bringing Greg's parents (both Boilermakers), sister (another one) and her family (yep, brother-in-law is a Boiler too).  A full house of a different kind.  Still feels funny not to have the Thetas roll in with Kelly and still miss Sara's knack for knowing all the players' numbers and keeping the commentary rolling by my side.  Memories....  All to be reprised when the girls are home for game 3 in this series aka Kelly's first Homecoming as an alumna and Sara's Fall Break.  Not like I'm excited to have them both home or anything.  I'll be taking requests for that menu, but I'm sure they'll text them in with plenty of lead time.

Tomorrow's main dish is barbacoa beef all ready to go after browning and slow braising in the oven almost 6 pounds of beautiful boneless short ribs with 3 large onions, 10 cloves of garlic, 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, 20 whole cloves, 2 bay leaves, oregano, cumin and chicken broth.  It's a gorgeous pan full of shredded goodness that I'll serve in tortillas or on buns.  I make mine in a big oval Le Creuset French oven which moves easily (well, it's super heavy but I'm strong) from cooktop to oven.  I transferred the finished barbacoa to a smaller pan for ease of transport and reheating on the grill at the tailgate.  I love to use the enameled cast iron because after chilling overnight it will stay cold nicely in the cooler and after heating it will stay warm.  And here's a little hint for you:  clean your enameled cast iron cookware with Bon Ami cleanser and a tiny bit of water or buy the very convenient liquid version.

There will be hungry, growing young people to help us with the queso which along with my guacamole has made me very popular with this age group.  We'd be enjoying breakfast casserole and the sorority girls would roll in and we'd heat up the queso to go with or just be breakfast.  It's that good.   And if after linking back to my very first post (guacamole, the obvious choice) at least12 times in the last two and a half years, you still haven't tried it you really should.  Addictive.

I've also sliced up apples and squeezed a bunch of lemon juice over them (be generous with the juice, apples are so bright and fresh this way), cut up strawberries and squeezed about 2 cups of lime juice for adult beverages.  Oh, and I thought I might actually use the frozen cookie dough nuggets I purchased from one of my nieces, nephew or neighbors and let me tell you the caramel apple cookies are oat-y and tasty.  Tammy came over and sat at my kitchen island while I finished my prep work and we had to be the royal testers on the cookies.  After pizza.  Life is good.

To top it all off tomorrow's kick-off is at 3:15 so I might even get in a yoga class for a little detox before  the tailgate (come to think of it, might need a little detox after my Friday night indulgences).  It's that incredible Fall weather with cool mornings and sunny warm afternoons.  The kind of day that Greg and I always say to each other, "I'd love some of this weather for a tailgate".   The kind of day where in the reciting of "I am an American" as part of the pregame rituals, you will say "this bright September sky".  And for those of you who know exactly what I'm talking about, let the people say, "Amen".

'I Am An American'
A proud tradition of Ross-Ade Stadium pregame ceremonies is the reading of this tribute to freedom by Roy Johnson, voice of the Purdue "All-American" Marching Band.
I am an American. That's the way most of us put it, just matter of factly. They are plain words, those four: you could write them on your thumbnail, or sweep them across this bright autumn sky. But remember too, that they are more than just words. They are a way of life. So whenever you speak them, speak them firmly, speak them proudly, speak them gratefully. I am an American.

Boiler Up!


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