There are two things I grew up doing with my dad that helped shape who I am: cooking and watching football. That may seem hyperbolic, but the subtle lesson I learned was that gender did not have to define your interests in life. My dad loves being in the kitchen and reading cookbooks and making groceries. He and I were the early risers in our house, and I found such joy in starting our Sunday mornings together making a menu for the coming week and organizing our grocery list. We’d head to the store together, and I’d help him collect all of the items we needed to bring these recipes to life.
It was on these early morning adventures that we’d talk. We’d talk about our week ahead and what was going on in the world, and we’d talk about sports. We’d talk about the Saints, and how we thought they would do that day. We’d talk about Tony Harris and Irvin Johnson who played for UNO’s basketball team and what kind of season we thought they could put together. And he didn’t keep these conversations superficial because I was his daughter and not his son. He taught me about the game itself, from the fine points to the gross concepts, and as a result, I grew up devouring anything that related to athletic competition from the Olympics to Wimbledon to the Final Four. And while I wasn’t a gifted athlete, he taught me that you could love the game without having to play it.
When Mark and I lived in South Carolina for four years, I often found myself longing for New Orleans. Never more was that true than during Saints season. While we maintained our season tickets and returned homes for half of the games, it wasn’t the same as living amongst the madness. To feel like a part of gameday, I’d spend Sunday morning much like I did in my childhood. I’d make a menu and a list and head to the store to get my supplies. Then, while watching hours of pre-game coverage, I’d start preparing game day grub to share with our friends. I’d call my dad to tell him about what we were cooking and what anxieties I had about the day’s matchup. And somewhere between the smells wafting from the kitchen and our chat, I’d feel at home again.
As we get set to embark on the 2014 Saints season, I am looking forward to sharing my love of cooking and sports with Jane. On Sunday, we’ll be preparing for the season opener in our kitchen decked out in our black and gold.
Here’s a classic tailgating snack that is loved by New Orleans kids and New Orleans kids at heart. It’s tasty and delicious, and kids of any age can help you make it. You never know how something as simple as sharing time in the kitchen and lessons on game day may shape your little one and who he or she will become.
Cajun Crunch Chex Mix
6 cups Corn chex
4 cups Wheat chex
1 bag Bugles
2 cups Cheerios
2 cups pretzels sticks
2 cups peanuts (optional)
1.5 stick butter
4 Tbls Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbls Tony Chachere’s
1.5 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
Combine all cereals, snacks, and nuts in a large roasting pan.
Melt butter and mix in all seasonings. Stir
Bake at 325 for 1 hour, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes.