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A Pinch Of Blue, A Dash Of White: Getting Into The Tailgate Spirit With A Vintage Penn State Cookbook

As the seasons change from spring into summer, Penn State fans across the country are waiting more eagerly than ever for football season to begin. After all, with the return of black shoes and basic blues comes the rejuvenation of the nation’s greatest tailgating scene.

However, as we wait to (hopefully) return to Beaver Stadium and are cooped up inside, it’s tough to get into the tailgating spirit. Luckily, some relics from the past can do just that.

Back in 1988, the Penn State Alumni Association released a tailgating-themed cookbook called “Cookin’ With The Lion,” which included recipe submissions from alumni and friends of Penn State. It also featured an especially goofy-looking Nittany Lion, but that’s a discussion for another day.

The cover of this vintage 1988 gem.

While I’m a proud and enthusiastic member of the Blue Band, I rarely get the chance to leave rehearsal to spend time at any of my mom’s tailgates. So, I did what any rational Penn Stater would do and took it upon myself to try out a few of these beloved recipes in honor of the upcoming football season.

The first recipe I tried was “Jordan’s Not-So-Hot” bars by Jonelle L. Jordan, an honorary alum. The recipe was pretty much layers of cheese and jalapeños held together by beaten eggs, topped with onions and paprika, and baked in the oven. Even though the version I made still turned out decently spicy, it was awesome. That’s one great way to get fired up before any game!

Cheesy, spicy, and delicious

Next, I pulled out a crab dip recipe contributed by Rosanel Owen Oswald and John W. Oswald, both honorary alumni. The dip was pretty easy to make. All I needed to do was stir everything together, top it with sliced almonds, and warm it up in the oven for 15 minutes.

It was an especially impressive dip for the little effort it took. I could definitely see myself bringing it to a fancy party or a tailgate. The only thing I might adjust in the recipe is adding a bit of salt since the crab meat I used was pretty mild.

A simple dip that’s sure to wow a crowd

Last but not least, I took a crack at Sue Paterno’s Toll House Pie recipe. It tasted absolutely phenomenal, but I definitely screwed up its structure. Despite following the recipe’s directions to a tee, I mistakenly placed the pie into a shell that was way too shallow. Although it looked gorgeous going into the oven, the pie lost its delicately swirled shape and spilled out of the shell within a few minutes.

I’d only figured out what happened to my pie when the distinct smell of fiery death eminated from the oven, forcing me to rush for the nearest cookie sheet to salvage my pie. SuePa, if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry.

Even though it was a mess, I am still very proud of this pie.

All in all, it was very fun to read through this cookbook and do my best to recreate a few fan-favorite Penn State dishes. When I started, I had no idea I’d also get a (literal) taste of Nittany Lion history, too.

Working through this book reminded me just how important tailgating is to Penn Staters. Alumni get to relive their good ol’ college days, students can visit with their families and party with friends, and food never fails to bring folks together. It’ll always be a part of “We Are,” and I hope others will continue embracing that in the future.

Although the book was first published more than 30 years ago, you can still pick up a slightly expensive copy of “Cookin’ With The Lion” on Amazon or other sites today.

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About the Author

Meredith Lea

Meredith “Deedle” Lea is a junior majoring in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science. You can find her hanging out with her ZTA sisters, eating Canyon pizza, or playing the saxophone somewhere in the Blue Band. Follow her on instagram @meredee.lea or on twitter @meredeed.

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