Super Bowl Sunday has become almost a national holiday. There is almost as much hype over the Super Bowl as there is over Christmas -- definitely more than any of the other genuine national holidays.
I remember the first Super Bowl. Well, not the game itself, but the circumstances surrounding it. I was the only female in our church's youth group and it was canceled that Sunday so all the male members and the group leader could watch it. Super Bowl,1; God, 0.
I've never watched an entire Super Bowl game, although the men in my life never miss it. Through the years, I've learned the rudiments of football and I have sat through countless high school and college games that our son played. But it's never become a burning passion.
I used to sit with my husband and son as they watched the Super Bowl. I was quite happy -- I had a good book to read and they shared their snacks. If a commercial was interesting I would watch it -- and I have to admit Super Bowl commercials are an entity all their own, as are the half-time shows.
And then last year, I discovered a football game I could totally relate to -- Animal Planet's "Puppy Bowl." The two-hour show mimics a football game with canine players from adoption centers across the country. Dogs score touchdowns when they cross the goal line on a gridiron-marked carpet with a toy.
There is a Most Valuable Pup award, water bowl and slow-motion cameras, hedgehog referees, a puppy hot tub and a blimp with a crew of hamsters. Biographies on each "player" scroll across the screen, so viewers know how to find each animal for adoption.
According to a recent Associated Press article, "Puppy Bowl IX" this Sunday will feature 84 animals, including 21 kittens from a New York shelter for the halftime show, and 63 puppies from 23 shelters. Almost 9 million people tuned in to see last year's show.
Our yellow Labrador retriever, Sassy, and I will be cuddled together watching it Sunday-- and believe it or not, she does watch!
One of our favorite game day snacks are meat pinwheels my mother-in-law used to make. She specifically used packages of Buddig sliced beef and ham, which can be found in the packaged cold meat section of the grocery store. She also used packages of dried beef (found in the tuna fish aisle), but it should be rinsed thoroughly and patted dry.
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon horseradish
Dash Worcestershire sauce
2 packages (2 oz. each) Buddig Sliced Beef or Ham
Combine cream cheese, horseradish and Worcestershire until well blended. Separate sliced meat, laying two slices in a row, slightly overlapped. Spread with cream cheese mixture. Roll up and fasten with a wooden pick. Repeat with remaining meat and cream cheese. Refrigerate, covered, at least 2 hours. Just before serving, cut into 1-inch slices.
Another favorite football food -- from our tailgating at Plymouth State U. -- is this recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken Grinders.
It can be turned into a sweet-and-sour beef or pork by using an equivalent amount of sirloin or pork. For a spicy take, add a splash of hot sauce, a pinch of red pepper flakes or some finely diced jalapeño peppers.
Sweet-and-Sour Chicken Grinders
Makes 4 servings
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon hot sauce
2 tablespoons apricot or peach jam
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
1 large green bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup chunk pineapple, and 1/2 cup of the canning juice
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Four 6-inch sub rolls
In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, jam and cornstarch. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour and chicken, tossing to coat. Set aside.
In a large sauté pan over medium-high, combine the butter and oil. Heat until the butter has melted. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.
Add the onion, both peppers and the pineapple juice. Sauté until the chicken is cooked through and the onions are tender, about another 4 minutes. Add the pineapple, then cook until heated.
Stir in the soy sauce mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon chicken, vegetables and sauce into each sub roll.
Margaret Button is the city editor of the North Adams Transcript. Send recipes for inclusion in future columns to the North Adams Transcript, 85 Main St., Suite 2, North Adams, Mass. 01247 or email them to email@example.com.