Country Kitchen: Time for Tailgate Outings

Country Kitchen: Time for Tailgate Outings

By Mary Emma Allen

With the arrival of autumn, picnics in the form of tailgate outings kick off outdoor events, such as football games, soccer games, hikes, and other sporting occasions. The advent of the larger automobile, called by various names such as ranch wagon, suburban, station wagon or van, made picnics and barbecues in parking lots popular.

Some people look forward to these outings at every game. Others plan on a tailgate party once during the season. Some meet in parking lots of campgrounds or trail heads and picnic before a hike. Whatever you decide, you have a variety of options about the food you choose to serve.

Simplicity & Advance Planning

Factors to keep in mind when planning your outing is keeping your picnic simple and preparing as much as you can ahead of time.

*Plan your menu several days beforehand

*Do your shopping in advance

*Divide the menu if several people or families are contributing

If you're needing items other than food, such as folding table, chairs, grill, etc. decide who is bringing which. Then load the car with all non-perishable items the night before.

Handy Items to Take

There are several items that come in handy for tailgate gatherings.

*Jugs or bottles of water

*Possibly frozen bottles of water to keep food cold and then served as a refreshing drink

*Plastic wrap

*Trash bags

*Plastic containers for leftovers

*Aluminum foil

*Paper towels

*Paper or plastic dishes


Your menu can be simple, prepared ahead, and eaten on the spot with little work. Or, if it's the custom at a particular event, you might take a grill and cook burgers and hot dogs and other foods at the parking lot.

Much will depend on the availability of facilities and what's allowed at various events. Also, do you like to spend time cooking in the parking lot or picnic area. Or would you rather have everything made up ahead?

I opt for the easy way out so I'm not frazzled by cooking away from home. However, my husband likes to barbecue, so sometimes has brought along a grill.

Whatever you plan, make sure you keep items cold that should be. Have plenty of ice in your coolers. Hot items, soup and beverages, can be made at home and kept hot in a thermos.

There also are the heaters you can plug into the cigarette lighter of your vehicle. These might keep something hot, or even heat water for making hot beverages. We have a unit that keeps cold items cold and hot ones hot. Not at the same time though!

Make-Ahead Foods

These can include sandwiches, salads, casseroles, and desserts. During this season of apples, APPLESAUCE COOKIES would be tasty and easy to serve.

This is a recipe from my husband's family.

Cream together 1/2 cup shortening, 1 egg, 1 cup sugar. Stir 1 teaspoon baking soda into 1 cup applesauce. Mix into creamed mixture. Sift together 2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir creamed ingredients with dry ingredients. Add 1 cup raisins or chocolate chips and 1 cup chopped walnuts.

Drop by teaspoons on greased cookie sheets. Bake 15 to 20 minutes at 375 degrees. F.

Article (C) 2004 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing cooking columns for 40 years. She and her family compiled a cookbook to preserve their food heritage. She teaches workshops to show others how to do this, along with scrapbooking their family recipes. Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at

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