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At HOME with Keith Watson: Tailgating Memories

Growing up in Alabama I have fond memories of the great southern tradition of tailgating at football games that makes Gainesville come to life at the Back to School Season.  I will never forget my first time tailgating at a college football game.  It was 1964 and one of my older brothers was a student at Auburn University.   I have vivid memories of my mom in the kitchen at 5am frying chicken, making homemade pimento and cheese sandwiches, homemade yeast rolls, fresh squeezed lemonade, sweet tea, peanut butter cookies and banana pudding. 

When the two picnic baskets were loaded into the car, we made the long drive from north Alabama down to the plains of Auburn and I can still remember the mouth-watering aroma of the food filling the car and how hungry I was when we arrived.  We parked underneath an old oak tree and shortly thereafter were joined by more football fans. 

To our left was a group of students who were true to their hippie identity (which gave my conservative parents plenty to discuss).   As soon as my parents had spread the checkered table cloth on the trunk of our car, a big black Rolls Royce pulled along the open space to our right.  The chauffer tipped his hat to us as he got out of the car and proceeded to spread a white linen table cloth on the trunk of the car on which he placed silver platters of gourmet food served on real china.  

I don’t remember much else from that day other than there were three distinctly different groups of fans gathered under an old oak tree enjoying the fellowship, united together to cheer on their favorite team.

I took a poll among several of my friends and without exception they all mentioned that the best part of the tailgate is the fellowship with friends and family, and of course, their traditional recipes.  I have taken the suggestions of some of those friends, some of my family traditions, and some ideas from my great staff to create a Gator Tailgate.  We enlisted the help of our friends at DreamDay Cakes to bake a delicious “Gator Blue Bread” combined with my mother’s homemade pimento and cheese spread for the ultimate Gator “Orange and Blue” sandwich. 

To get the younger kids involved in an activity, create individual snack cones made from orange construction paper.  Fill them with blue corn chips and serve with Sun Dried Tomato Dip (recipe below).  They can also use blue construction paper cones and fill them with crunchy Cheetos.  Fruit skewers of cantaloupe and blueberries and of course, Peach and Blueberry cobbler (recipe from Penny Jones listed below), and orange and blue coconut cupcakes completes the meal.   

GO GATORS!

Mama Jesse’s Pimento & Cheese Spread:

  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 2-ounce jar pimento, chopped
  • 2-4 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Pinch of Cheyenne Pepper

Beat cheese in mixer until smooth.  Add pimento and continue beating until well blended.  Add enough mayonnaise to make a mixture that will spread easily.  Season with salt and Cheyenne Pepper.  Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to use

Sun Dried Tomato Dip:

  • 1 C. (8 oz.) oil packed sundried tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ¾ C. mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ C. extra virgin olive oil

In food processor, chop tomatoes and garlic.  Add remaining ingredients and blend until fairly smooth.  Serve with blue corn tortilla chips!

Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine in baking dish:

  • 1 bag frozen peaches and 2 C. blueberries
  • Combine and spread on top of fruit:
  • 2-3 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 8-10 ginger snaps –crushed

Bake in 350 degree oven until bubbly

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