Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tailgate Party

Every month we have a themed luncheon at work. It's a time for us to recognize the birthdays for the month and break bread together. Once we had middle eastern food. Another time, it was healthy food. Some have been better than others, of course. We just got done with our big fall conference and things seem to be hitting equalibrium.

This month was to host a "Tailgate Party" luncheon, where we were to bring food you might have while tailgating for your favorite team. We were also sternly directed by the party coordinator to wear our favorite team's jersey. We even got to dress down for free, even though we had a client in the office.

I offered to bring my Sloppy Joe loaf, home made braided bread wrapped around Sloppy Joe mix. I was regretting this offer at about 9 p.m. last night when the bread was still rising. But it was worth it. I saved some leftover dough to carve the letters OSU out and decorate the top and it's in the spirit of the day. Just cut off a slice and carry it around while you mooch off everyone else.

Since having had my heart broken by the Browns when they left town in the dark of night on a stagecoach driven by Satan himself and led by the hounds of hell, I know longer give my heart to sports teams. Not that I'm bitter, I just got out of the habit of football. Besides, Doc's not a sports nut, so I'm spared donating any mental real estate to it. So, I struggled to find something to wear. I thought about just wearing whatever, but that passed when I found a Harvard t-shirt.

When I got settled in to my desk and turned around to greet people as they entered, I saw that almost everyone had a team jersey on. We had representatives for the Steelers, the Browns, the Buckeyes, the Sooners, Penn State, the Indians, the Yankees and even a CFL team. It was fun. We talked about our teams (Harvard plays football, don't they?) and had a good time.

About 10 a.m., they began plugging in the crock pots, which now sit right by our department. Before long, we were all turning our noses up at the scent of barbecued ham. It smelled wonderful. It reminded me of Christmas, because we traditionally have cocktail weenies in barbecue sauce cooking in the crock pot on Christmas Day. It made me feel happy. I just breathed it in and anticipated lunch.

When lunch came around, we mixed in together in the long conference room. Developers and analysts at the table with trainers and administrators. It was like the first Thanksgiving. We all laughed and ate and ate and lauged. Many people asked for my recipe (see below). At one point someone mentioned that it was probably time to head to the game, maybe after we toss the football around a little bit first.

We didn't, but we enjoyed the idea of it. We headed back to work. I was feeling such an esprit de corps, that I started razzing people who didn't wear a jersey with such pithy statements as, "Go, Abercrombie!"

At my old job, we'd have lunch out at a fancy corner of Cleveland. It was always remarkable, but never so comfortable. In the past I was all about Tah-da! About being "world-class" and a "destination place." Now, you can come to us or we'll come to you. Maybe we'll just talk on the phone. But when we're done, you're job will be easier and we will have shared something. And that's all I really want.

If I earn fame somehow, it will not really matter. I'll already have what I've been looking for: a place to make a difference, have a laugh and maybe think about tossing a football around.


Beef 'n' Bean Braid/Sloppy Joe Loaf
Retrieved from Taste of Home magazine

Prep: Recipe says: 30 min + Rising; I say: don't make any plans for your day (plan 2 hours for bread to rise)
Bake: 20 min

1 package of active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour

Filler (I use sloppy joe):
1 pound of ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 can kidney beans (16 oz), rinsed and drained
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water
Add butter, sugar, salt, egg and 1-1/2 cups of flour
Beat until smooth
Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough
Turn onto floured surface
knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes
Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top
Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, about 1 hour
Prepare filling: brown ground beef, with onion and garlic salt, drain, stir in the beans, water and seasonings; bring to a boil; reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes...or do whatever you need to do to prepare the meat filling of your choice
Back to the bread: Punch the dough down
Turn onto a lightly floured surface
Roll into a 16 in x 11 in rectangle
Transfer to a greased 15 in x 10 in cookie sheet
Spread beef mixture down center of dough (sprinkle with cheese, if you like that sort of thing)
On each long side, cut 1-in.-wide strips about 1/2 from filling
starting at one end, fold alternating strips at an angle across filling;
seal ends
Cover and let rise until doubled, 30 minutes
Brush egg over dough
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown
Remove to a wire rack
Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing
Bon apetit!


  1. Sounds like a fun time, and I am glad you shared your recipe with us. I am going to give it a try!

  2. the Sooners?? the CFL?? Chicken Flied Lice? Gawd, I'm outta touch.

    I remember the day they traded Bernie-- my god, NO WORK got done that day (anyone remember the Sports Illustrated cover?? I think it's the only one I ever actually understood).