The first tailgate food I remember was ham on white bread with mustard, wrapped in wax paper and washed down with hot chocolate.
If the new “Tailgating on the Banks of the Red Cedar, Vol. 2” 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 George and Sammy Perles’ traditional Lithuanian
potato dish kuglius to Becky Dantonio’s chicken and white bean soup.
Profits from the $15 cookbook (featuring more than 120 recipes) 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 have volunteered on the project, said the cookbook had its roots in a similar project at Notre Dame. The group’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 3,000 cookbooks 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 Michigan State University football games.
“The only way to get recipes is to go out and get them,” Brownell said. “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, we’d get 25.”
She said the secret to the cookbook’s success has been distribution: 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 carried over to the efforts of Haven House.
“The cookbook puts a face on Haven House that it didn’t have before,” Brownell said. “We’ve seen a lot more volunteers and a lot more donations.”
In the past year, Haven House provided temporary shelter to nearly 500 adults and children and helped provide food to more than 1,600 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, which resulted in fewer donations and grants.
The cookbook sales help fill a significant hole in the budget.
Brownell emphasized that the cookbook isn’t just for tailgaters: It’s also a great cookbook for upcoming holiday parties and New Year’s Day bowl game gatherings.
Given all those smiling faces in photos of celebratory tailgaters — some perhaps fueled by recipes such as “Big Buck’s Southern Comfort Pineapple” — the cookbook is an overwhelming success. Some of the recipes in the cookbook are generational, dating back to the 1980s, when the bar on tailgating on campus was raised to new levels.
In their entry for “Go Green Cake,” veteran tailgaters Terry O’Dell and John Broker recall commuter lot tailgating in 1965 (think Rose Bowl) with eight people eating sandwiches and listening to the car radio. These days, they add, it’s three flatscreen 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. “From brats and bagels to steaks and omelets, I’ve seen just about every creation,” he said.’Tailgating on the Banks of the Red Cedar’
6 p.m. Wednesday, November 17. Schuler Books & Music 2820 Towne Centre Blvd., Lansing. (517) 316-7495. www.schulerbooks.com