Play Ball! Packing a Little League Dinner

Tailgate Dinner

Baseball season is officially underway and here I am packing and planning for tailgate dinners we can take to my 10 year old’s games.  Sure sometime we can wait until it’s over but that could be 7:30 or 8 p.m.  It’s easier for me to plan ahead and get it ready and packed.  I’m also discovering my son not only wants food during the game but can eat a meal after too.  My daughter is happy with packing food as it gives her something to do and as she says “it’s like a real baseball game”.   I’ve done lots of sandwiches and pasta in the past.  See last season’s dinner line-up blog.  But now I got to to thinking about the real game aspect and wanting to expand my little league menu.

So this week it was chicken apple and vegetarian sausages with popcorn.  Then to round out the meal there were blackberries, apples, carrots, tortilla chips and dip.  I ended up doing the score keeping so I couldn’t eat mine during the game.  But I was pleased when I got home.  My son was thrilled to have a sausage during the game when he got hungry.  One of my son’s teammates asked his mom to please get him the same thing my son had.  My kids I’m sure are sometimes embarrassed by all my food rules and snobbery but I saw my son smile as I told the mom I had made it at home.  She could’ve guessed by my large cooler bag under the bleachers.  I’m happy to share too.  I know I can go overboard, but I’d rather have too much than nothing.  I sometimes see parents rush out and leave the game to go get anything that will suffice as food for their children.  My son was even happier when he realized I had made an extra (actually thinking for Dad) and could have another dinner after the game.  I could’ve set up a stand.

 

 

 

 

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Take Me Out To the Ballgame – Kettle Corn Recipe

 

 

 

 

To celebrate my son getting his braces off and because we were headed to the San Francisco Giants game the next night, I decided to make Kettle Corn.  My son was very excited by the idea as he’s been very good about not having popcorn for the past 13 months during braces (at least as far as I know).  This also meant if I brought the kettle corn hopefully my kids wouldn’t ask for things like Cracker Jack’s and other ballpark food.  (We were packing peanuts too).

 

 

Kettle corn is easy enough and I’ve made it dozens of time.  It’s something that I think of making quickly too because I always have the ingredients.  Except I didn’t realize my popcorn was old.  Nor did I know what happens if the kernals are old.  Well now I can tell you, they don’t pop up nice and fluffy – they kind of half popped and burned.  Yucky and smelly.  I checked my popcorn bag and the date was almost a year previous.  Oops!  Luckily I had enough time to go to the store and buy new kernals before the game.  It was a hit with our family as well as some friends.  (The Giants won too!)

Kettle Corn (adapted from Petit Appetit Eat, Drink and Be Merry)

Kettle corn is a perfect mix of salt, sugar, and crunch that kids and adults find addictive. Be careful and patient when popping on the stove, as moving the lid may cause hot popcorn to escape. Have children listen from a safe distance.

Makes about 7 (1-cup) servings

½ cup organic popcorn

¼ cup grapeseed oil

3 tablespoons evaporated cane juice

1 teaspoon coarse salt

Pop the kernels using a large 10-inch, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid or a popcorn maker. If using the pot, coat the bottom of the pot with oil and heat over medium heat. Drop in 1 kernel of corn. Wait until it pops then add the remaining kernels. Sprinkle the sugar over the kernels. Cover and shake pan. Continue to shake pan until all the corn has popped, being careful not to burn, about 3 minutes. (You may want to slightly lift lid every minute or two, so steam can escape.)

Place the popped popcorn in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the salt. Toss gently to combine.  Serve immediately or keep up to 2 days in an airtight container.

 

 

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Giants vs Dodgers – Food Concessions Battle

 

         VS.         

I don’t know the baseball standings right now.  But I do know how the ballparks for the L.A Dodgers and S.F. Giants rank for me and my family in terms of food.

I grew up in the LA area and went to many Dodger games.  It was the years of Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, and Tommy Lasorda.  Yes, I’m that old.  Anyways my kids and I I were lucky enough to go to a Dodger game while visiting family in L.A. this summer.  It was just as I remember as a kid.  There were no differences.  The concessions were stuck in a Dodger Dog and fast food time warp.  Luckily my sister the vegan thought ahead and brought she and my vegetarian daughter veggie mexican food from Chipotle.  However when I went searching for my son’s dinner – it was slim pickings.  I couldn’t even find a plain cheeseburger that wasn’t a pre-made saucy fast food mess, topped with bacon.  He ended up sharing some cheese pizza with his uncle and having some peanuts.  I was determined to find something healthy and all I came up with was one cart (really not even a permanent stand) that said “Healthy Fare”.  This meant a $12 wilted iceberg lettuce salad and some iced teas.  (Apparently they already sold out of sushi – this was only the second inning.  People want this stuff!).  I bought the iced tea and went back to my seat in a huff.  Luckily for me my daughter’s veggie burrito was huge and I ate some of hers.  My sister felt bad and gave me some of her salad too.  Thanks sis.  Really in an area with all kinds of celebrity money and high profile chefs, someone needs to step up and bring LA into the present.  Magic, are you listening?

The very next week we met friends for a lovely day at AT&T park to see the Giants.  My husband and I used to live right down the street and go to many Giants games (back when Barry was Barry).  As we were walking near the stadium there was a Safeway selling peanuts, water and Cracker Jacks for about a quarter of the ballpark price.  This was a good ballpark food start.  Once we got inside there are was a large variety of lunch options.  However the lines were much longer than the Dodger lines.  Everything  from Cha Cha Bowls (my daughter and husband’s pick) to clam chowder in a bread bowl (my son’s pick), to fish and chips and fresh crab sandwiches.  Of course there’s the usual ballpark fare too.  There were actually too many choices for my son and we did a bit of line jumping before he made his soup decision.  We were with friends whose kids chose hot dogs.  They bought and finished them no problem before we even got through our first gourmet line.   I realized if my kids weren’t such food snobs (my doing) we’d spend less time in lines and we’d see more baseball.  I’m not complaining, just observing.  Again it was all about wrangling food for the kids and by the time my friend and I were choosing food for ourselves, we decided to hit the margarita cart.  It went well with my daughter’s Cha Cha bowl which was bigger than her head.

Both games were fun and we saw both home teams win their respective games.  If I ask the kids which game they liked better they’d probably say Dodgers.  The reason?  Not the food.  Not the baseball.  The give-away – Kurt Gibson bobble heads!  The Giants gave away 2 for 1 tickets to fly on Virgin Airlines (not sure we’re headed anywhere before the stingy Nov. 2012 deadline).

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