The first tailgate food I remember was ham on white bread with mustard wrapped in wax paper and washed down with hot chocolate. I wasÂ drinking the hot chocolate when the sandwich hit me in the backÂ of the neck.
If the new â€œTailgating on the Banks of the Red Cedarâ€ cookbook is any indication tailgates have come a long way. The cookbook which is conveniently broken down into six courses from Appetizers to Final Scores contains recipes ranging from the George and Sammy Perlesâ€™ traditional Lithuanian potato dish Kuglius to Becky Dantonioâ€™s Chicken and White Bean Soup.
The best thing about the $15.00 cookbook collection of more than 120 appetizing tailgating recipes celebrating this paean to excess is the profits go to sustain Haven House, an East Lansing homeless shelter for families and children.
Carol Brownell one of the many Haven House board members who volunteer on the project said the cookbook had its roots in a similar project at Notre Dame. The groupâ€™s first tailgate cookbook, published last year, was a great success and Volume II contains all new recipes. In its first year the initial printing of 3000 sold out to buyers in 17 states. Volume I is still available on demand at www.havenhouseel.org
Brownell and a friend gathered most of the recipes at MSU football games.
â€œThe only way to get recipes is to go out and get them. I grabbed a friend who had a camera and we just went up to tailgaters and asked them for their recipe. On a good day weâ€™d get 25.â€
She said the secret to cookbookâ€™s success has been it is sold in more than 20 locations and no one takes a percentage. Eleven dollars of every sale goes directly to Haven House.
The bonhomie of tailgating has also been passed on to the efforts of Haven House.
â€œThe cookbook puts a face on Haven House that it didnâ€™t have before,â€ Brownell said.
â€œWeâ€™ve seen a lot more volunteers and a lot more donationsâ€.
Â This last year, Haven House provided temporary shelter to nearly 500 adults and children (children making up 60 percent) and helped provide food to more than 1600 recipients.
According to Brownell, one of the recent challenges for Haven House has been meeting increased demand just as the economy went in the dumper resulting in fewer donations and grants. Â
The cookbook sales help fill a significant hole in the budget.
Brownell emphasized that the cookbook isnâ€™t just for tailgaters, but itâ€™s a great cookbook for upcoming holiday parties (and maybe New Yearâ€™s Day bowl parties).
And given all those smiling faces on celebratory tailgaters (most of the recipes are illustrated with photos), some fueled by recipes such as â€œBig Buckâ€™s Southern Comfort Pineappleâ€ the cookbook is an overwhelming success. Some of the recipes in the cookbook are generational reaching back into the eighties and beyond when the bar on tailgating on campus was raised to new levels.
One tailgating couple (Terry Oâ€™Dell and John Broker) recall commuter lot tailgating in 1965 (think Rosebowl) with eight people eating sandwiches listening to the car radio. They detail in their entry for Go Green Cake how itâ€™s now three flat screened TVs and 80 people at a pig roast.
Scott Westerman, executive director of the MSU Alumni Association, said tailgate cuisine has become as much a part of the MSU tradition as is the fight song.
â€œFrom brats and bagels to steaks and omelets, Iâ€™ve seen just about every creation.â€
Schuler Books and Music at the Eastwood Towne Center is hosting a launch tailgate party Wednesday, November 17 at 6 p.m. Samples from recipes in the cookbook will be provided, but you may have to bring your own â€œcanâ€ goods.