Theme Change Alert

We interrupt the longest in season between-post break in history, in this the worst football season ever, to announce a change in theme for Saturday.  In short, it's too cold to fry turkeys...more to the point it's too cold to pre-smoke the we are switching the theme for the final home game under Brady Hoke to "Soups and Stews and Filet Finale."

I'm bringing a chili and the sausage and cheese chowder and I'll have them on the double boiler all day.  Gus is bringing the steaks and we'll have them sizzling around noon, likely with a side of loaded smashed potatoes and a mushroom gravy.


Tailgate Tuesday: Sausage and Cheese Chowder

 One of our tailgate staples, this creamy soup has made appearances on the road and at home.  It's easy to easy, I think The Godfather could do it (but he won't).  I highly recommend pre-prepping it at home in a large heavy-bottomed pot and transferring it to one or two crock pots / slow cookers for serving.  Recipe makes enough to feed a large crowd.

Adapted from



  • 3 pounds of smoked kielbasa or other smoked sausage, diced
  • 1/2 pound of bacon, preferrably peppered bacon, diced
  • 3 medium onions, diced
  • 1 bunch scallions, diced
  • 3 Tbsp granulated garlic
  • 6 cups of corn kernels, frozen is fine
  • 1.5 cups of flour
  • 1 gallon of whole milk
  • 3 pounds of finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper




  • Cook bacon in bottom of large (at least 10 quart size) heavy bottomed pot
  • Remove bacon with slotted spoon, set aside
  • Add onions and granulated garlic, cook until starting to caramelize
  • Add sausage, cook until heated through.  A little browning is fine.
  • Add corn, cook until heated through.  Again, a little browning is ok.
  • Add flour and stir continuously for 2-3 minutes.  This is like a roux.  It will darken a bit, but don't let it stick or burn
  • Add 3 of the 4 quarts of the milk (don't add the whole gallon!), one quart at a time, bringing the milk close to boiling each time.  Stir vigorously, breaking apart the flour/vegetable/sausage mix and incorporating it into the milk.  You will be left with a quart of milk...keep that off to the side in case you want to make the soup thinner later.
  • Bring the concoction to a simmer, turn the heat down to low to medium-low and add in the cheese...again stirring constantly.
  • Once melted, add in the cream.
  • Keep heat on low and keep cooking for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, check the thickness of the soup.  Too thick?  Add milk a cup at a time, waiting 10 minutes each time to make sure it is incorporated into the soup, until desired consistency is reached.  Too thin?  Make a slurry of one cup of milk + one cup of flour (whisked together) and add it to the soup, again waiting 10 minutes between additions to make sure it gets incorporated.
  • Just right?  Add the bacon back in, add scallions, crack some black pepper in there, and salt to taste.
  • Serve!  Note:  It tastes great now, but you should probably reserve a couple bowls for yourself and put it in the fridge...because it's even better tomorrow.


Important tips! Once the cheese is added, the heat should never go beyond low or medium-low, otherwise you will burn the bottom resulting in a beautiful pot of creamy charred crap.  If you feel like you have burned the bottom, don't stir up the bottom!  Transfer to another pot to try to salvage the soup, leaving the cheesy charred remains behind.

Enjoy! ...and Go Blue!

Teach Me to Trust You Again...For the First Time

I'm like a dog that has been beaten so many times that the mere raising of a hand sends me away cowering. I've been hurt too many times to count. Outside of Bloomington and the Metrodome, I've watched Michigan lose a football game in every Big Ten venue, as well as four times in the Rose Bowl (one of those being a regular season game against UCLA), the Capital One/Citrus Bowl, the Alamo Bowl, Washington, Oregon, and a bunch of other places....not to mention the crushing defeats I have endured at home.

For the losses that occurred from 1998 through 2006, I expected to win every one of those games. I went into each of those meetings with confidence that Michigan would just be Michigan, and would come out on top. But something changed when Bo died before The Game in 2006. Bo died on Friday, and we lost on Saturday. We lost the chance to go to the national championship game. We lost our undefeated season. And we lost the chance to honor our most revered coach with a victory over a Buckeye team that had defeated us for two consecutive seasons, which at the time was about as long as streaks had gone for the Buckeyes against Michigan. That was five years ago, and we still haven't won.

This is where my bitterness comes from.

It's not from the Rodriguez years, which were themselves horrifying in so many ways, it was that two-loss finish. That Ohio State game and that Rose Bowl to end the 2006 campaign. And it was the writing was on the wall. The two games that started 2007 (App State and the Oregon blowout) just threw more gasoline on the fire. By the time we made it to Orlando to defeat Tebow that year, I had already reached a level of bitterness that didn't even allow me to enjoy it.

This is why I enter every game expecting Michigan to screw something up, to miss field goals, to fumble punt returns. This is why I enter every season expecting to lose games that we shouldn't. I didn't used to be this way. Recalling Michigan's victory in 2003 over the Buckeyes, I was a confident fan...hell, even downright poetic:
The rising sun broke the horizon as I loaded the last of the tailgate equipment into my car. It was a brisk and mostly cloudy morning. This is one of those games where the tailgate is just something you need to get through. I exchanged a few salutations and a 'Go Blue' with the families of Grant Bowman and Andy Mignery, expressing cautious confidence verbally, while maintaining the utmost confidence mentally in the team which I follow with unwavering passion.
Wowsers. Old me would stare new me down and call me a bad fan.

It would be so cliche to say that Saturday's win over the Cornhuskers changed everything. Honestly, Nebraska is not that good (see home loss to Northwestern), and they did everything possible to hand us that game on a silver platter. But it did change some things, like the current perception of Michigan Football. And I've said it 1000 times, there is no place in the world where perception is reality more than in college football. Michigan has one many-a-game before they were played over the years by way of the name, the helmet, the jersey, the tradition, the reputation.

That will start to happen again.

Saturday also changed me a bit. It made me look at myself and wonder why I gave my team absolutely no chance to win that game, why I was waiting for the screw-up, the turnover, the big play that let Nebraska back into the game. I look away when we kick field goals, and when I did so on Saturday I missed Hoke's fake field goal call and Dilleo's slashing run that executed it and sent a message to Nebraska: We are leaving no doubt.

All of that worry. All of that snarkiness...instead of appreciating the fact that we dominated a team. A team with a mobile quarterback. A team with a power running game. A team with a power defense. Three historical recipes for disaster that Michigan took head on and threw back in their face.

And now The Game is all that is left. A bruised and beaten Buckeye squad, ripe with the stench of controversy, full of bitterness, looking to salvage an entire season at our expense. It can't happen. It won't happen. I want to step on their throat. I want to curb-job them American History X style. This is not about 8 long years of waiting to beat Ohio. This is not about serving justice for their crooked program and illegal players. This is about today. This is about 2011. The revisionist Buckeye faitful used to like to pretend that Ohio State football history started with Tresselball...and that time is dead. A new history starts Saturday. A history that starts at noon and ends with me making reservations for New Year's in New Orleans.

42 Big Ten Championships. 132 years of Michigan Football. Beat Ohio.

And leave no doubt.

Tomorrow Is Not Just Another Day

I posted back in August that we had reached the milestone of having ten seasons of tailgates plastered across the internet.  Well, on Saturday, we will be celebrating our actual 10 year anniversary.  On November 20, 2000, went online.  10 years later, and we're still doing it better than most.

It's been a great 10 years.  Let's celebrate with a Michigan victory and boots full of beers.  On that note...

Theme Alert: German....and at the Godfather's request, a side of Soups and Stews.

See you there!