For fans, a pre-game feast

October 30, 2002|by KATE COLEMAN


It's about more than the back end of a pickup truck.

For some fans of high school, college or professional sports, tailgating - picnicking near one's automobile in a parking lot before a sporting event - is a way of life.

Bill Anderson, in his 30th year of teaching, is the man who calls the plays at the tailgating parties for faculty members and their families at home football games at Hedgesville High School in Hedgesville, W.Va.

"It's a fun tradition," says Ron Allen, the school's athletic director.

Anderson started that tradition six or seven years ago, bringing a little hibachi grill. The party has grown to at least 100 people, Anderson says.


He fires up the grill at the tennis court end of the field. Anderson rotates the menu, cooking meat at home on Thursdays before Friday night home games. Sometimes it's burgers and hot dogs, other times roast beef or barbecued chicken. Fellow tailgaters pitch in with side dishes; a broccoli-rice casserole and Bourbon Street Baked Beans are favorites.

Last weekend's Homecoming fare was top sirloin steaks. Anderson grilled in the rain.

Although neither of them attended University of Maryland, Ed and Sandy Hess of Hagerstown have held season tickets for Terrapins football games for more than 20 years. Their family of tailgating friends includes about 30 people - a half dozen from Hagerstown, a couple from Frederick, Md.

This group of fans has gathered post season as well, following the Terps to the Citrus and Orange bowls. The Hesses - and some of their friends - plan to travel south to Chapel Hill, N.C., for the Terps contest against the University of North Carolina this weekend.

Their tailgating food is fairly simple. The Hess' gang has done egg casseroles for breakfast before noon games, taken baked hams and lasagna made at home. Wrapped well and carried in a cooler, the food still is hot when it arrives at the stadium, Sandy Hess says.

Wouldn't it just be easier to buy a hot dog at the refreshment stand?

Tailgating is "much more fun," Sandy Hess says. She enjoys relaxing and talking with friends. "It's my release," she says. It's a party.

Carlotta Botvin is a special events administrator at University of Maryland. Among the approximately 40 events per day she plans are football-game gatherings in the President's Box at the stadium.

Well above the parking lot, with as many as 200 people, the football-game parties Botvin plans take tailgating to new heights. There's a buffet, themed to suit the Terps' gridiron opponent. Fritters may be on the menu for the Saturday, Nov. 9, contest with North Carolina State. She always has hot dogs, a carving station and usually a soup - a corn chowder or a basil tomato soup - something that can be sipped from a demitasse cup during the game.

There's no fancy dinnerware when Teresa and Doug Bachtell and other parents of Salisbury University volleyball players tailgate. They will gather this weekend in Pennsylvania for a tournament at Elizabethtown College. Doug Bachtell will take his grill and cook steak and chicken. Teresa Bachtell will take the pumpkin bread she's been making for years. Eighty to 90 percent of the girls on Salisbury's varsity team will have at least one parent at every game, Teresa Bachtell says. They travel for the food and camaraderie as well as the competition.

In another two weeks, the Bachtells will wrap up 25 years of following four children through high school and college sports. That's a lot of Teresa Bachtell's trademark Snickerdoodle cookies and Rice-Krispie treats, a lot of tailgating.

"I've had so many great experiences," she says.

Doug Bachtell's Marinade for steaks

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce

  • 4 tablespoons honey

  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

  • 6 1 1/2-inch steaks

Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Mix together and simmer.

Cool marinade and place in plastic zip-top bag with steaks.

"Don't overpower the steaks," Bachtell cautions, recommending that you use just enough marinade to cover the meat.

Refrigerate overnight.

Heat grill to high and sear steaks, 30 seconds per side.

Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of marinade on each steak, spray with water and close grill.

Flip steaks every two minutes, adding marinade, spraying and closing grill until done, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Check for desired doneness.

Grilling tips

Doug Bachtell uses a gas grill. When it cools down after cooking, he cleans it well with a wire brush, rubs it down with a cloth and sprays with cooking spray so it's ready the next time he wants to use it.

Before heating up the grill, he sprays it with cooking spray.

He keeps a spray bottle of water handy, spraying the steak or chicken he's grilling so it's cooked through without being burned.

"The biggest secret to grilling is the spray bottle," Bachtell says.

- Recipe courtesy of Doug Bachtell of Smithsburg

Teresa Bachtell's Pumpkin Bread

  • 3 1/4 cups flour

  • 3 cups sugar

  • 3/4 cups water

  • 1 cup cooking oil

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 15-ounce can packed pumpkin

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl. Pour into four 9-inch-by-5-inch greased loaf pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.

Bachtell slices the pumpkin bread and takes it tailgating in airtight containers. Her "fans" like it with cream cheese, butter or simply plain.

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