La What Now?

Since the 1960s, baseball teams and players have been publishing cookbooks. I collect them and try out some of the recipes that major leaguers have shared with their fans over the years. Photos, recipes and comments included.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Oatmeal Carmelitas - Ron Kittle (Outfielder)


1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 cup (6-oz. package) semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts [I used pecans]
3/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
3 tbs. flour

In larger mixer bowl, combine flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, soda, salt and melted butter.  Blend well at low speed to form crumbs.  Press half of crumbs into bottom of 11 x 7" pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven.  Sprinkle with chocolate pieces and pecans.  Blend caramel topping with flour; pour caramel mixture back and forth over chocolate and pecans to cover.  Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture.  Continue baking for 15-20 minutes until brown.  Chill 1 hour and cut into bars.

There is no more appropriate player to highlight today than Ron Kittle, who was the sole White Sox representative at the 1983 All Star Game played at Comiskey Park in Chicago.

Kittle burst into the public eye during his spectacular 1983 season.  That year, he hit a club rookie record 35 home runs and 100 RBIs. 

Despite the fact that the All Star Game was being played on the southside that year, he was the only Sox player chosen.  As a late-game outfield replacement for Dave Winfield, Kittle went 1 for 2 and scored a run in the memorable 13-3 laugher won by the American League.

Kittle is best remembered for his booming home runs.  He hit a record seven of them over the roof of old Comiskey Park.  His playing career included brief stops with the Yankees, Indians and Orioles.  He returned to the White Sox and ended his career at New Comiskey Park in 1991.  In his 10-year career, his numbers were a .239 average, 176 home runs and 460 RBIs.

In 2005, he published Ron Kittle's Tales from the White Sox Dugout, a collection of memories and anecdotes from his playing days.  He also forged a business out of building baseball-themed benches, as seen on his popular website.

As for Kittle's contribution to the 1983 White Sox Cookbook, it couldn't be simpler or tastier.  I threw this recipe together last night and sampled the results this morning. 

Wow!  These oatmeal carmelitas come out golden brown on the outside, with a decadent layer of chocolate-pecan-caramel on the inside.  They'll be the perfect snack while watching the 2013 All Star Game tonight.

FINAL SCORE - Ron Kittle hits another homer with this decadent treat.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Taco Salad - Tom Paciorek (Infielder/Outfielder)


1 ripe avocado
1 onion
1 head lettuce
1-2 tomatoes
8 oz. or more cheddar cheese
1 can Mexican beans
1 small bag corn chips

Mix and top with zesty Italian dressing (small bottle) just before serving.

And here he is, the Wimperoo! 

Tom Paciorek spent only four of his 18 major league seasons as a member of the Chicago White Sox.  However his stint as a colour commentator for Sox broadcasts from 1988 to 1999 cemented his lasting popularity with fans everywhere.  That includes such far-flung places as Hamilton, Ontario.  There, as a youngster, I'd tune in to scrambled WGN broadcasts and listen to "Hawk and Wimpy" as they called Sox games in the early 90s.  In the era bridging newspapers and the internet, it was a thrill to watch games live, or at least listen to them.

Paciorek was already a seasoned veteran by the time he joined the White Sox in 1982.  His career began with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1970, and he also played in Atlanta and Seattle before being traded to Chicago for three players.

The highlight of his time on the southside was being part of the 1983 AL West Division champs and playing in the ALCS. 

And of course, he is remembered as the chipper, giggling sidekick to Hawk Harrelson on TV.  Once in a while, Paciorek returns to the broadcast booth and it's great to hear his voice again - only this time without the scrambled picture.

As for this recipe, it's so easy a monkey could do it.  Throw everything into a bowl, hit it with the dressing and enjoy.  I like it so much it was the first recipe from the 1983 White Sox cookbook that I made twice, and it's open to whatever additions you want to make.  The second time around, I included lime juice and cilantro to jazz it up even more.  Next time, I'll try some more exotic corn chips, like the blue or red ones.  Oh yeahhhh!

FINAL SCORE - It's Wimpy.  It's a salad.  It's delish.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Calico Beans - Rusty Kuntz (Outfielder)


1 large can baked beans
2 large cans kidney beans
1 can lima beans (drained)
1 cup butter beans
1 lb. bacon (drained)
3/4 lb. hamburger
1 pkg. sweet Italian sausage
1 onion
1 cup catsup
4 tbls. vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. regular mustard

Fry bacon, onion, hamburger and sausage together.  Add rest of ingredients in casserole dish.  Combine all.  Bake 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Serve warm.
Eagle-eyed observers will note that Russell "Rusty" Kuntz continues to be spotted on Major League Baseball fields to this very day.  He presently serves as the first base coach for the Kansas City Royals, continuing a career-long circuit through the AL Central.
The AL Central didn't exist back in Kuntz's playing days, but he never strayed far from the midwest.  He was drafted by the Chicago White Sox and made his debut with them in 1979.  He was on the roster as a back up outfielder and started the 1983 season as a member of the White Sox.  That June, he was traded to the Minnesota Twins, thus missing out on being part of the Sox team that went to the post-season.
After finishing the '83 season in Minnesota, Kuntz was traded in the off-season to the Detroit Tigers.  Where he missed out in '83, Kuntz hit the jackpot as a member of the '84 World Series Champion Detroit Tigers.  He played sparingly for one more season, then was released.
This is one of those recipes that I skipped over for the longest time, never taking much interest in the name or the long list of legumes involved.  What a mistake!
When I finally got around to making this dish one lazy weekend, I was blown away by the result.  Sure, basically it's a bean and meat stew, less liquidy than chili but very similar in the ingredients.
The difference maker is the dry mustard.  I don't use it often enough to be overly familiar with how it blends with other food items, and found that it really stands out here.  The aroma that it adds to this dish made me glad for the crazy long list of beans involved.  If you use everything listed above, you end up with a large casserole dish full of fragrant goodness.  I stowed entire containers of the stuff in the freezer and went through it in small quantities.
FINAL SCORE - I can't wait to make this one again!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Pork Chops and Brown Rice - LaMarr Hoyt (Pitcher)


4 or 5 pork chops, medium, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1/3 cup green pepper, diced
1 cup uncooked rice
1 can beef consomme
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Brown chops lightly in 10" to 12" skillet.  Remove chops and pour off grease.  Pour onions, peppers, rice, water, consomme and salt and pepper into skillet and let come to a boil.  Return chops to skillet and cover.  Cook in oven 40-50 minutes, stirring once.  Serves 4 to 5. 

Everyone raves about this one!

It's another throwback Sunday for the White Sox today.  Kids get a free 1983 jersey, but even more exciting than that: both Tony LaRussa and LaMarr Hoyt will be on hand at the game.

Hoyt's 1983 season with the White Sox was nothing short of spectacular.  He went 24-10 with 148 K's and only 31 walks.  His K-to-Walk ratio was a league-leading 4.77.  He helped the Sox to their first post-season appearance since 1959, and he won the Cy Young Award along the way.

So in honour of the big man's return to the southside, here is another of his recipes from the 1983 White Sox cookbook.

We've already been dazzled by Hoyt's Shrimp Creole earlier this season, and this pork chops and rice dish presents another classic southern offering.

Season the chops however you like.  I have a garlicky-peppery spice blend that I like to use. Actually it came from Chicago too - it's the Back of the Yards Butcher's Rub from The Spice House.  I love it.  Love The Spice House too - they have all sorts of spices available, as well as local-neighbourhood-themed spice blends, and they do mail order!

Got way off track there, sorry.  Back to the pork chops.  A quick browning, then put them over the rest of the ingredients and pop everything into the oven.  If you use smaller chops like I did, the oven time can be reduced to keep the chops juicier.  You will indeed rave about this one.

FINAL SCORE - a big, delicious dish from the big man on the mound.  Welcome back, LaMarr!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Chocolate Peppermint Frosties - Vance Law (Infielder)


1 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup Milk Mate
1 cup peppermint ice cream

In blender combine all ingredients.  Cover and blend until smooth.  One serving.

Vance Law made a return to the Chicago White Sox bench last night, filling in as a coach during Robin Ventura's temporary absence from the club (daughter's graduation).  He will remain in the dugout for another couple of games.

It's great to see another member of the 1983 White Sox still playing an active role with the club.  There were quite a few longtime fans geeking out on Twitter about it.

To mark Law's temporary return, here's another of his recipes from the 1983 White Sox cookbook.

Probably everyone and their dog has made a smoothie in their lifetime, so this is likely the easiest recipe in the book.  I'm not sure if they still make Milk Mate, but any sort of chocolate milk mixer will do.

The result: a minty-chocolatey smoothie.  It went down fast, and well.

FINAL SCORE - Another solid hit from Good Ol' Vance Law!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Porcupines - Kevin Hickey (Pitcher)


1 pound hamburger
1/2 cup uncooked rice (regular)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 can (15-oz.) tomato sauce
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Mix hamburger, rice, 1/2 cup water, onions, salt, celery salt, garlic powder and pepper.  Shape mixture by rounded teaspoonfuls into 12 balls. Cook meatballs in 10 inch skillet until brown on all sides; drain.

Mix remaining ingredients, pour over meatballs.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer 45 minutes (add water during cooking if necessary).  Makes 4 or 5  servings.

Kevin Hickey was born in 1956 on the south side of Chicago.  His path to major league baseball was a rare one: in 1978 he attended an open tryout held by the Chicago White Sox, and was the only player out of 250 to be invited to sign with the team.

Hickey worked his way up through the minors and played for the White Sox for three seasons: 1981-83.  He was a relief pitcher for the 1983 AL West Division champions.  He also pitched for the Baltimore Orioles for three seasons (1989-91) and eventually returned to the White Sox organization.

In 2003 the White Sox hired him as their batting practice pitcher and he spent the rest of his life in that job.  Hickey passed away in May 2012 and his #99 jersey was hung in the White Sox dugout for the remainder of the season.  He was also honoured with a memorial sleeve patch. This year, Pitching Coach Don Cooper wears #99 in tribute to "The Hic Man."

This dish is both unique and tasty.  I am familiar with using cooked rice in ground meat dishes, but the uncooked rice was an unusual twist.  It gave the meatballs both their "spiky" appearance as they cooked, but also a bit of subtle crunch when I dug into them.  Unusual, in a memorable way.

The recipe itself is a basic meatball dish, but the rice made the difference in this one.

FINAL SCORE - A winner from the Hic Man - always remembered, never forgotten.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sweet Potato Crunch - Mike Squires (Infielder)

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup of margarine, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup coconut
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup margarine, melted
1/2 cup flour
Preheat oven 350 F.  Grease a 1 1/2 quart shallow casserole.  Combine potatoes, vanilla and margarine, place in casserole.  Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over potato mixture.  Bake covered 20 minutes and uncover 15 minutes.
For a light-hitting first baseman, Mike Squires was still able to rack up some interesting firsts as a member of the White Sox.
Squires first broke in with the Sox in 1975, then went on to spend the rest of his career (1977-85) on the south side.  Although he hit for decent average (career .260), he lacked the home run crushing power one associates with many other Chicago first basemen; in fact, he never hit more than two home runs in a season.  Better skilled with the glove than the bat, he was often deployed as a late inning defensive replacement.
Now, some of his interesting firsts.  On May 4, 1980, Squires became the first left-handed catcher to play in a game since 1961, when he shifted from 1B to behind the plate in the ninth inning of a game.  On August 23, 1983 - the year the Sox won the AL West Division title - Squires became the first left-handed third baseman in over 50 years when he replaced Vance Law in the eighth inning of a game.  Squires would play 3B thirteen more times the following season, including four starts there.
As for this recipe, everything is exactly where it should be, no quirky substitutions.
A quick google search reveals Sweet Potato Crunch to be a classic southern dish.  Some familiar elements of southern cooking are certainly there - I'm talking about the pecans and the sweet potatoes.  They make for happy friends in this easy make, easy bake recipe.
What comes out of the oven is a sweet-smelling, deelish - I said - deelishous dessert treat.  The sweet potatoes are a heavenly soft base for the crunchy pecan-coconut-brown sugar topping.  Carve out a square, serve it up on a plate, and smoosh everything together on your fork.  Can you tell I really liked this one??
FINAL SCORE - A home run from Mike Squires!  Wish we could have more like these!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

New Orleans Barbecued Shrimp - Joe McConnell (radio announcer)

5 lbs. green shrimp
1 bottle (large) Wishbone Italian Salad Dressing
1 lb. butter
4 lemons, cut up
2 oz. black pepper
Heat dressing, butter, lemons and pepper.  Pour over shrimp.  Bake in a covered dish for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. 
Serve with French Bread.  Use sauce as a dip for bread.
Growing up in Canada, Joe McConnell's voice is not one that I ever heard.  As a kid in the 80s, newspapers and the occasional "Game of the Week" on NBC were my only chance to follow the White Sox.  And whenever they played the Blue Jays, of course. 
McConnell, now retired, had a long and varied career in radio broadcasting.  He called games for five different NFL teams, two NBA teams, both football and basketball at the collegiate level, and Major League Baseball.  He was announcer for the Minnesota Twins in 1978 and 1979 before switching to the White Sox from 1980 to 1984.  His partner in the radio booth in 1983 was Early Wynn.
Another great southern recipe here - you can't go wrong with southern cooking.  Only I did.  A couple things I did wrong: instead of green shrimp, I used small shrimps that were totally cleaned - based on an online photo search, it looks like you're supposed to leave the shrimps with tails and casings on.  The second mistake was to overcook the shrimps.  Forty-five minutes was way too long for the ones I used, and it left them shrunken and rubbery. 
Lessons learned.  I do love shrimp and Cajun/Creole cuisine, so this recipe will definitely be getting a second attempt in the future.
FINAL SCORE - a couple of errors by the cook resulted in a no-decision here.  Sorry!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wet Bottom Shoo-Fly Pie - Nellie Fox (White Sox Old Timer)


1 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbls. Crisco or oil

1 cup table molasses
1 cup boiling water
1 egg
1 tsp. soda dissolved in water

Mix flour, brown sugar and shortening to make crumbs.  (Reserve 3/4 cup of crumbs.)  Mix eggs, molasses, soda and boiling water.  Add remaining crumb mixture; mix and pour into 9" pie shell.  Put the reserved 3/4 cup of crumbs on top.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes and at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Here's another recipe from the "White Sox Old Timers" section of the 1983 Sox Cookbook.  Jacob Nelson "Nellie" Fox played for the White Sox from 1950 to 1963, and any image of him on the field is evocative of Sox baseball in the 50s.  Baggy wool uniform, cheek full of chaw, always ready to turn two.
Fox needs no introduction to any Sox fan.  He was a 15-time All Star, 3-time Gold Glove winner, and 1959 American League MVP as part of a pennant winning Sox team.  He will forever be remembered as part of the infield combo with Luis Aparicio that took the Sox to the 1959 World Series.  His #2 was retired in 1976.
When this cookbook was being compiled, Nellie's wife Joanne submitted three recipes, the first of which is featured here.
Shoo-Fly Pie comes from the Pennsylvania Dutch, and is also known in Southern cooking.  Basically, it is molasses pie.  Not much else goes into it.  You will see from the recipe that other than the molasses, the other ingredients are common in most pantries.  This is an old recipe.  If you google it, you'll find the exact same recipe as above posted on countless websites.  It's one of those dishes that has stood the test of time, or resisted it anyway.
The "wet bottom" part of the recipe's name intrigued me.  But it turned out to be very accurate.  After taking the pie out of the oven and letting it cool for an hour, I was eager to see what the wet molasses filling had turned into.  As you can see above, the top half of the filling solidified to a soft, cake-like texture, while the bottom remained moist and jam-like, hence the name.  There's some interesting science going on here.
The taste is, well, molasses.  I don't eat a lot of the stuff, but tried a few fingertips of it while preparing the pie.  The end result tasted much the same.  It's a sweet, syrupy flavor - the whole thing is packed with sugar so no surprise.  A classic American pie.
FINAL SCORE - Super-sweet pies are not for me, but I was glad to try this unique offering.  Appreciate the pie! 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Garden Pasta Salad - Greg Luzinski (DH)


4 medium tomatoes, diced
1 medium cucumber, diced (1/2 cup)
1 small green pepper (1/2 cup)
1 small onion
1/2 cup snipped parsley
1 recipe fresh herb dressing (below)
8 oz. cooked spaghetti or fettucini
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (4 oz.)

In food processor or by hand, dice tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper and onion.  Turn into a bowl along with parsley.  Pour herb dressing over vegetables.  Toss.  Cover and chill.  Cook spaghetti until tender.  Drain and rinse with cold water several times until chilled.  Put into bowl.  Top with vegetables and feta cheese; toss.

Fresh Herb Dressing
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 tbls. sugar
3 tbls. dry white wine
2 tbls. lemon juice
1 tbls. snipped fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
several dashes hot bottled pepper sauce

Greg Luzinski was one of the first big name acquisitions made by new White Sox owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn in early 1981.  He was purchased from the Phillies, with whom he had played for 11 seasons, culminating in a World Series title in 1980.

A Chicago native, "The Bull" became the Sox' full time designated hitter and made an instant impact.  His soaring home runs hit the roof of old Comiskey Park three times.  In 1983, his 32 home runs set a record for DH's, and was second on the team to rookie sensation Ron Kittle.

Luzinski was a popular member of the 1983 AL West Division champs, remembered for his booming bat, burly build, big beard, and aviator glasses.

As we finally get into warmer weather this year, it's time to start thinking about dishes that would go well outdoors and this salad is perfect picnics, BBQs and the like.

Normally, pasta salad involves something like rotini or bowtie pasta, but the spaghetti in this recipe goes just as well.  I haven't often seen spaghetti used for a garden salad but it's good to mix things up and it gives a different look to the dish.

The homemade dressing was good too.  I was generous with the lashings of hot sauce, but you can skip it altogether if you don't want a spicy salad.

FINAL SCORE - It may not be Bull's Barbecue, but this is just as good for a side dish.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Appetizer Soup (Stracciatella) - Dick Tidrow


1/4 cup tiny bow tie macaroni
2 (13 3/4 oz.) cans chicken broth
2 tsp. snipped parsley
1 slightly beaten egg
2 tbls. grated Italian cheese

In sauce pan, stir bow ties into chicken broth; bring to boil; reduce heat, simmer covered for 10 to 15 minutes until pasta is tender.  Mix together egg, parsley, and cheese.  Gradually pour egg mixture into simmering broth, whipping gently with wire whisk or fork until blended.  Serve immediately.  Serves 6.

This is very simple to make and quite delicious - similar to Chinese egg drop soup.  Enjoy!

Dick Tidrow truly knows the highs and lows of baseball.  He began his MLB career in 1972 with the Cleveland Indians before being traded to the New York Yankees.  He was on both of New York's World Series winning teams in the late 70s, before being traded to the Chicago Cubs.  Talk about going from the Penthouse to the Outhouse.

Tidrow toiled with the Cubs for four years before being traded to the White Sox.  1983 would turn out to be Tidrow's sole season on the southside, but he was back in the high life as part of a division winning squad.  After 1983, Tidrow pitched one more season, with the Mets. 

Currently a scouting director with the San Francisco Giants, success seems to follow him wherever he goes (except to the Cubs, where no one succeeds, ever).

Primarily a setup man and spot starter, Tidrow's "high kick and sidearm delivery anticipated the style of Dennis Eckersley," according to his Wikipedia entry.

Tidrow was nicknamed "Dirt" because of his ability to get his uniform dirty routinely, despite being a pitcher.  His recipe here is anything but.  It's a surprisingly light and delicately flavoured soup.

Most of the ingredients are things you are likely to have around the kitchen, and it is easy to whip up a pot.  I'd hesitate to start tinkering with this recipe, it's just that good as it is.

FINAL SCORE - A great, light soup dish - the last thing you'd expect from a guy named "Dirt."

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Meatloaf - Dennis Lamp (Pitcher)


2 1/2 pounds hamburger
2 cans tomato soup
3 large onions
1 green pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
salt & pepper to taste

Cut up and saute onions until clear.  Add green pepper (cut up) and cook slightly.  Combine 1/3 of this with meat and bread crumbs.  Add 2 cans tomato soup to remaining onions with 1/2 cup water, heat until bubbling.  Add 1/3 of meat, mix with fingers.  Shape into meatloaf.  Put in large baking dish.  Pour remaining tomato sauce on top.  Cook uncovered 1 hour at 375 degrees.

Dennis Lamp played 19 big league seasons with six different teams.  He was drafted by the Cubs and worked his way through their system to his major league debut in 1977. 

After four seasons on the north side, he was traded to the White Sox for Ken Kravec.  At the time, it was a straight up trade of starting pitchers, but for the 1983 season, Lamp was moved to the bullpen, where he flourished for the remainder of his career.

Lamp was part of the 1983 AL West Division champs, and would also go on to enjoy post-season action with the 1985 Blue Jays and 1990 Red Sox.

It's almost a given that a 1980s baseball cookbook would have a recipe for meatloaf, and here it is. 

The ingredients are very straightforward, and I stuck to it.  However, the simplicity of the recipe invites experimentation.  Maybe add a little heat with chili powder, maybe boost the flavour with some garlic, or fresh parsley, or other spices. 

The recipe is a great foundation for all sorts of creativity.  As for this one, it turned out great.  The sauce is as basic as it gets, but actually turned out quite tasty.  It's hardly gourmet food, but easy to make and very filling.

FINAL SCORE - Lamp comes in with a no-fuss performance, and it's a good one.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Chicken and Rice Casserole - Marc Hill


6 pieces of cut up chicken
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
2 cans water
1/4 cup long grain uncooked rice
melted butter
9 x 13 glass pan
In baking pan stir water and soup until smooth.  Pour rice over soup mixture, evenly.  Do not stir.  Take chicken pieces, roll in butter and place in pan on top of mixture.  Salt and pepper and bake 425 degrees (preheat oven) for 1 hour uncovered.
You could think of Marc Hill as the Chris Widger of the 1983 White Sox team.  A lesser-remembered name, he served as backup catcher to a much, much bigger beast.  In Widger's case it was A.J. Pierzynski; In Hill's case it was Carlton Fisk.

Not to discount Hill's lengthy playing career.  Over 14 seasons - most of them as a backup catcher - Hill had stops with the Cardinals (1973-74), Giants (1975-80), Mariners (1980) and finally the White Sox (1981-86).

The cavalcade of casseroles continues with this quick 'n' easy offering of chicken and rice, and the inevitable can of cream of mushroom soup.
This recipe really captures the essence of 1980s cooking - which was essentially a carryover of 1960s and 1970s cooking.  Many recipes in the 1983 White Sox cookbook are like this one: you aren't so much cooking something from scratch as you are just mixing a bunch of pre-processed ingredients together and throwing them in the oven.
I chose a package of drumsticks for this one and they worked out fine.  I mean, it's really hard to screw up such a bake-by-numbers recipe.  It's just the sort of dish you'd expect from a backup catcher.  A decent night, nothing spectacular, but it gets the job done.  That, is your chicken and rice casserole.
FINAL SCORE - Decent, nothing spectacular, got the job done.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Strawberry Jello Salad - Floyd Bannister (Pitcher)


1 large box (6 oz.) strawberry Jello
1 frozen carton (10 oz.) strawberries
1 flat can (6 oz.) crushed pineapple
1 small carton (8 oz.) sour cream

Dissolve Jello in two cups boiling water.  Add thawed, but not drained strawberries and can of pineapple with juice.

Pour 1 1/2 cups of Jello mixture into 9 x 9 pan.  Chill until set.  Mix sour cream with spoon until spreadable and smooth over thickened Jello.  Put in refrigerator to chill about 1/2 hour.

Carefully spoon remaining Jello (keep set out so not congealed) on top of sour cream layer.  Chill until set.

Nothing says 1983 like a wacky Jello dessert, and here it is!

Floyd Bannister was not particularly known for his culinary prowess, but he was a solid starter and spent the middle five of his 15 career seasons (1983-87)  with the Chicago White Sox.  The 1982 All Star signed with the Sox as a free agent from the Mariners.

The southpaw Bannister's Wikipedia entry describes him in possession of "a strong fastball, an excellent slider, and above average curveball."  He recorded an average of 6.49 K's per nine innings over his career.

As part of the 1983 AL West Division champions, Bannister went 16-10 with a 3.35 ERA and 193 strikeouts.  He lost his only postseason appearance, against Baltimore in the ALCS.

As for this strawberry Jello salad, well what can you say?  There was a time when people believed Jello qualified as salad.  To be honest, it was fun to make.  The only real trick is to make sure the Jello that you reserve for the top layer doesn't congeal while the rest of it is chilling in the fridge.

Was it good?  Of course!  It's Jello, and I especially love strawberry.  The sour cream layer wasn't too weird.  I grew up with this stuff so maybe it doesn't strike me as awful as it would to younger eaters.  But it's not something you'd want on a regular basis.

FINAL SCORE - An easy winner from this southpaw.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Wheat & Honey Muffins - Jerry Dybzinski (Infielder)


Makes 1 dozen muffins.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1/2 cup wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup oil
1/2 tsp. shredded lemon peel or 1 tsp. lemon juice

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl and other ingredients in another.  Combine the two and stir with fork until just moistened.  Bake in oiled muffin tin or paper cups for 20 minutes (or until golden brown).

Jerry Dybzinski did not have a long career.  The Cleveland native was drafted by the Indians and worked his way up through their system before making his major league debut in 1980.  He played three years with the Indians before suddenly being traded to the White Sox for Pat Tabler on April 1, 1983.  No fooling!

"Dibber" was the Sox's starting shortstop in 1983 and enjoyed the best numbers of his career as part of the AL West Division champs.  In 1984, however, Dybzinski was relegated to backing up Scott Fletcher, who was seen as the shortstop of the future. 

The Sox released Dybzinski and he played one more season with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1985, his final season in the majors.

Muffins.  Easy to make, hard to screw up, and one batch can last you a few days.  This recipe for wheat and honey muffins was effortless.  The muffins were soft, moist and tasty.  What else can I say?

FINAL SCORE - Despite my questionable cooking skills, it was impossible to mess these up, and they turned out great.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Beefy Vegetable Soup - Britt Burns (Pitcher)


1/2 - 3/4 lb. ground beef
5 cups water
38 oz. tomato sauce
1 1/2 - 2 cups potatoes, diced
1 large carrot, diced
8 - 10 oz. frozen lima beans
1 can whole kernel corn
3/4 cup macaroni
2 celery stalks, diced
3 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. granulated onion
2 bay leaves

In large pot or dutch oven, brown ground beef until it is crumbled well.  Add water, tomato sauce, vegetables, macaroni and spices; mix well.  Bring to gentle boil for 15-20 minutes, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Britt Burns was a high school phenom who made his White Sox debut in 1978 at the age of 19.  He was part of the starting rotation that helped the Sox clinch the 1983 AL West Division by 20 games, and was an All Star in 1981.

Burns played his entire career with the White Sox - a career that was abruptly halted in 1985 at the age of 26.  After winning 18 games that year, Burns was traded to the New York Yankees.  However, a chronic, degenerative hip condition prevented him from ever taking the mound for the Yankees, and he retired.

After spending some time coaching in the Houston organization, Burns returned to the White Sox this year as pitching coach for the Birmingham Barons (the Sox' AA affiliate).

At 6'5" and 215 lbs, Burns was a big, beefy Texan and this recipe reflects that perfectly.  Everyone and their mother has their own recipe for vegetable soup, but this one adds ground beef to make it a really big meal.

This is hearty and very filling.  Freezes well and you could feed an entire team with this.

FINAL SCORE - This one goes in the Win column.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Breakfast Cake - Vance Law (Infielder)

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbls. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup oil
1 1/3 cups milk
2 eggs
Sift dry ingredients.  Beat eggs; add oil and milk.  Combine with flour mixture.  Pour into a greased 9 x 13" pan.  Sprinkle topping on top.  Bake 25 minutes at 400 F.
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbls. cinnamon
Combine all until crumbly.
Vance Law was a White Sox player for only three seasons (1982-84), but he is well-remembered from the 1983 AL West Division winning club.  The eyeglasses he wore at the time, instantly recognizable, have taken on an iconic status.
For three years, Law was the starting third baseman for the Sox, and built a reputation for reliability and solid play.  No flash, just fundamentals.
Sort of like this recipe of his from the 1983 White Sox Cookbook.  I don't know if "breakfast cake" is a lost culinary tradition, but we brought it back here courtesy of Mr. Law.
This is probably the most basic recipe for cake you can find.  The cinnamon flavoured topping seems almost exotic by comparison.  Anyway, follow the steps and you'll be rewarded with a nice white cake.  You can have it for breakfast with fruit or jam or whatever creamy spread you like.  Makes a nice snack any time during the day or night.
I say it's time to bring back the timeless art of breakfast cake!
FINAL SCORE - solid, reliable, won't let you down... just like Vance Law at third.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Banana Cream Pie and Graham Cracker Crust - Harold Baines (Outfielder)

Finely roll 1 individual pack of graham crackers (about 1 2/3 cups).  Pour crumbs into bowl.  Add 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup softened butter.  Blend well with fingers.  Pour crumbs into 9" pie plate.  Set an 8" pie plate on top to press.  Take off.  Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes.  Cool rack.  Fill with favorite filling.  A little reminder - you could also buy the already made dough crusts to bake your banana cream mixture in.  They're pretty good but if you like to make your own crust, I'll gladly give you my favorite recipe.
Also, vanilla pudding mix (either instant or other) can be a makeshift cream filling for the banana cream.  Just a thought.
Mix in saucepan:
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tbls. cornstarch
1 tbls. flour
Gradually stir in 3 cups milk.  Cook over moderate heat stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils.  Boil 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Slowly stir half the mixture into 3 egg yolks (slightly beaten).  Then blend into hot mixture in saucepan.  Boil 1 minute more, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.
Blend in:
1 tbls. butter
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Cool completely.  (To keep from hardening, place wax paper directly on top.)  Pour in 2 bananas (cut up).  Can also layer bananas with pudding.  Chill thoroughly.  Sprinkle with crushed graham cracker mixture, coconut or fresh strawberries.
Today we have this dalashous dessert recipe from Harold Baines, who is being fêted with his very own 1983 throwback bobblehead this coming Saturday, April 27 at US Cellular Field.
Baines is a White Sox legend, not the least for his longevity with the organization.  He was drafted in 1977 (after being spotted while playing little league ball by Bill Veeck some years before) and made his White Sox debut in 1980.  As part of the 1983 AL West Division winning team, Baines hit .280 with 20 HRs and 99 RBIs.
The sweet swinging right fielder would play all or part of 14 seasons over three stints with the White Sox.  His number 3 was famously retired by the Sox while Baines was still an active player, and he remains with the club presently as assistant hitting coach.
I was really looking forward to making this recipe, and it turned out pretty good.  The only hitch was that after all the boiling and pouring, the pie did not want to set - it remained a liquidy/goopy thing, rather than firming up.
Checking online, I learned that this happens to many a frustrated home cook.  The best advice seemed to be: if your banana cream pie won't set in the fridge, throw it in the freezer.  Presto!  Frozen banana cream pie!
So that's what you see in the photo above.  Naturally, the pie had to be taken out of the freezer and thawed for a bit before it could be enjoyed, but it was definitely enjoyable.  I think some extra cornstarch might help it set next time, but that's just my own theory.  Harold would whisper a few instructive words in my ear, were he here. 
FINAL SCORE - Dalashous!