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.

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.