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Chef Stacy believes that cooking from scratch and using the best ingredients are the secrets to preparing delicious and memorable meals. She has created dozens of classes for the home chef and teaches students how to master culinary techniques and recipes in just one session. Read on to see what she's dishing up for The Oakland Press today....

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tailgate 101

This morning, I had the opportunity to go to a fantastic tailgate party! As I soaked up the sun and looked out at a sea of maize and blue, even though I'm a Spartan fan, I couldn't believe what a perfect morning I was having! Gorgeous weather, great food, and good friends are the perfect ingredients for hosting a great pre-game event, but there are a few other things to keep in mind when you're planning your next tailgate.

Remember that refrigeration is essential, so if you don't have access to a refrigerator or freezer, it is a good idea to stock up on coolers of various sizes (at least 6 or 8 for a party of 30), insulated grocery bags (the ones that keep hot food hot, and cold food cold, if used with ice), lots of ice, and don't forget to take advantage of the shade.

Since refrigeration is not typically an option, remember to be careful about how long you allow food to sit out, especially things like mayo, potato salad or coleslaw(mayonnaise-based), cheese, sour cream, etc. It is best to take out only small amounts of the food you are serving and keep the rest chilled until you need it, to avoid any risk of foodborne illness.

Don't forget little thought-of tools like chip clips, scissors, a large garbage can, a medium sized garbage can (for bottles and cans), an ample supply of garbage bags in the appropriate sizes, a box or two of food-handling gloves, food storage containers (ziplock, tupperware, etc.), bottle openers, corkscrews, extra corks, and pourers.

No tailgate is complete without the right set-up for the grill. Whether you're using charcoal or gas, be sure to have ample propane or coals, a multi-purpose lighter (one of the long ones, not a cigarrette lighter), a sturdy grill brush, and an oil-soaked towel that has been rolled into a cylinder and tied on each end (for oiling the grill), several sets of tongs, platters for raw food, cooked food, and presentation, and a small container or your favorite seasoning at hand so you can season your food as you cook it.

Beverages are essential, especially if you're a Spartan! With your beverages, take into consideration who will be tailgating with you and whether or not there will be any children (at today's event, there were a few). Use some of your coolers for beverages, and designate them clearly as "adults only beverages",and another one for "soda, water, etc.". This makes things easier for everyone to identify what they should or should not be drinking, especially when bottles of "hard cider", "cranberry", or "lemonade" are available for adults.

As the weather turns colder, it's also a good idea to buy a few inexpensive fleece blankets, and gloves to keep in your car, just in case. Whether you're a wolverine or a spartan, if you plan your next tailgate carefully, everyone can have a great time, even if they find themselves in "enemy territory".


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