Category: Non-haikus

Culinary Cardinals: Tom Lawless’ Strawberry Pretzel Salad

IMG_3394I am going to occasionally feature my cooking experiments with recipes from Cooking with the Cardinals – a cookbook from 1985 chock full of recipes by the Cardinals and their wives. Luminaries in the book include Whitey Herzog, Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Bob Forsch, Darrel Porter, and Jack Clark.

While not the most famous Cardinal of the era, Tom Lawless did contribute one of the best recipes in the book: the iconic Strawberry Pretzel Salad.  This recipe had been in my mom’s recipe box for many years, and it’s a dish I’ve made quite a few times over the years and enjoyed at many Midwestern gatherings.

I served this at a BBQ yesterday. Guests were skeptical, but they couldn’t help but be bewitched by the sweet/savory combo of the pretzel crust, the cream cheese, Cool Whip, and strawberry jello. Oh, and lots of sugar. Even Jell-O haters are converted by this recipe, I promise ya.

Here’s the recipe, as written by Tom’s wife Cheryl.

2 2/3 cups crushed pretzels
3/4 cup margarine, melted
3 tbs sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese
1 8 0z pkg Cool Whip
2 pkgs (3 oz each) strawberry Jell-O
2 cups boiling water
1 pint frozen strawberries, with juice

Mix pretzels, margarine and 3 tbs sugar. Press on sides and bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Bake 10 mins at 350 degrees. Cool. Cream 3/4 cup sugar with cream cheese; add Cool Whip and mix thoroughly. Spread on top of cooled pretzel crust. Dissolve jello in boiling water. Cool. Add strawberries and juice. Pour on top of cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate until set.

Tom Lawless is most famous for being the only player traded for Pete Rose. Cardinals fans will never forget his game-winning home run in the 1987 World Series Game 4, which was pretty amazing especially when you consider he only hit two regular season home runs in his entire career (1982-1990). Check out the bat flip!

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Tom has gone on to manage minor league teams and served as the Astros interim manager in September 2014 after Bo Porter was fired. He even coached the Chinese national team for three seasons! Based on this news story from January, it looks like Tom and Cheryl are still married, and Tom is looking for work. With all the sugar, Cool Whip, and cream cheese in this recipe, I’m guessing Cheryl made it during the off-season, or Tom would have never been good at running the bases.

Then:

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Now:

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If you like Jell-O, check out my old blog: Julie and Jell-O. About five years ago, I was inspired by Julie and Julia and decided to cook my way through a 1970s Jell-O cookbook. Eventually, I gave up – too many molds involved canned salmon, eggs, ham, and other savory items. Jell-O should only be sweet!

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Visiting Cooperstown, Part II: Parade of Legends

It was a thrill to see the Parade of Legends, featuring all the hall of famers who made the trip for Induction Weekend.  I snagged my spot about an hour before the parade started, and stood several rows back from the road. Everyone in front of me had brought chairs and staked out spots much earlier in the day, so I still had a great view as most of them remained seated for the parade.

The parade route goes from Doubleday Field to the Hall of Fame, traveling down Chestnut Street to Main Street.  The parade started right at 6:00 PM after the induction of broadcasters that took place at Doubleday Field at 4:30 PM.   There were 52 hall of famers in the parade, and they all rode in trucks provided by the local Ford dealership. Some had family members accompanying them.

I got photos and video of almost everyone in the parade – check out all my pics here.

Of course, I cheered the loudest for the Cardinals hall of famers who made the trip: Tony LaRussa, Bruce Sutter and Ozzie Smith.

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Fans asked Ozzie to do a backflip but he indicated he didn’t have enough room in the back of the truck.

Other highlights included…

Whitey Ford led the parade.

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Fans imitated Carlton Fisk’s famous gesticulations when he willed his home run to stay fair.  Fisk laughed.

Great ovations came for this year’s inductees: Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey, Jr.  Mets fans dominated the crowd as it wasn’t too bad of a journey to get from Queens to Cooperstown. But I was also impressed at how many Mariners fans made the trek.

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Seeing Randy Johnson up close, I could really appreciate how tall and dominant he must have seemed on the mound.

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Seeing Jim Palmer made me think of his old underwear ads.

I had an awesome time at the parade. It was really kind of overwhelming to see so many legends up close.  It was also neat to see the fans in the crowd showing their appreciation for all the hall of famers, disregarding team rivalries. Everyone was just celebrating baseball!

Visiting Cooperstown – Part I: Baseball Hall of Fame Tour

Recently, I attended the New York State Summer Writers Institute at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, where I worked on writing stuff that is longer than haikus. After I arrived, I realized the college was only about 90 minutes drive from Cooperstown. We had a free day on the weekend in the middle of our two-week conference, so I made a day trip to Cooperstown. It also happened to be Hall of Fame Induction Weekend – perfect timing! In this post, I will talk about my Baseball Hall of Fame visit and my next post will cover the Parade of Legends.

I got to Cooperstown around midday and there was quite a long line to get into the Hall of Fame, but it moved pretty quickly. Inside, it was packed, and I would definitely like to visit again sometime on a normal day where I could feel less rushed and jostled. I still managed to check out the whole collection and spent about three hours in the museum and store.  Ken Griffey, Jr and Mike Piazza were being inducted, so there were many Mets, Mariners, and Reds fans in attendance. There were long lines to see the display cases devoted to those guys.

The exhibits that tell the history of the game are really great and packed with info. I also enjoyed the exhibit on women in baseball.

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Probably some of my favorite parts of the museum were the kitschy nostalgic things, like seeing the old handheld baseball electronic game from the 80s and the San Diego chicken costume.  They had the little plastic helmets for each team that were used for sundaes at Baskin-Robbins. I remember trying to collect them all.  I saw a package of Big League Chew that I would always chew during my softball games, pretending it was chewing tobacco. The museum has so many happy baseball memories.

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I spent most of my time looking at the Cardinals exhibits and there were plenty. It was amazing to see the Stan Musial locker display. I also liked the Whitey Ball exhibit and the more recent items including David Freese’s home run back from the 2011 World Series Game 6.  I took photos of each Cardinal hall of famer plaque and most of the Cardinals memorabilia on display. You can see all my photos here.

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The town of Cooperstown is really cute and has a “Main Street USA” feel to it. I checked out many of the memorabilia shops. There were a lot of baseball players doing signings at these stores, even Pete Rose (isn’t it kind of painful for him to be there on that particular weekend?). For some reason, Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart was also signing. I took a break at the Cooperstown Distillery tasting room and had a good cocktail. Love the baseball bottles! I hope to return and tour the distillery.

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With baseball fans of all different teams and all ages visiting that weekend, united by their love of the game, I couldn’t help but feel America is still pretty darn great.

Check out all my Cooperstown pics.

The Cards West Coast Swing – I Was There!

Sorry this post is a little late but just wanted to share a few thoughts and photos from the Cardinals’ recent West Coast trip. I live in LA and was able to attend three games.

Wednesday, May 11

IMG_1174It was my boyfriend Dave’s and my 8th anniversary so we celebrated at Disneyland and then the Angels/Cardinals game. Parking was really easy because the game was not very crowded. We walked around the stadium and checked out the food choices. I was impressed at the craft beer options. Our seats were field level, in shallow right field, on the Cardinals side. I got the tickets off Goldstar and saved about $15 per seat.  Garcia pitched well and the Cards won 5-2. There were many Cardinals fans in attendance. One Cardinals fan was even kind enough to pull me aside and tell me the score of the Blues playoff game, happening at the same time as our game.  The Cards went on to sweep this series. It was nice to see Albert Pujols again. I harbor no ill will toward him – after all, I left St Louis to live in LA too. I am glad to have had both living experiences even if they didn’t come with millions of dollars.

Friday, May 13

IMG_1201Due to Friday traffic, we arrived at Dodger Stadium just before the national anthem and briefly checked out the Cardinals bobbleheads on display in the massive bobblehead collection at the stadium. We had seats on the field level, similar to our seats from Wednesday night. They were in the first row behind the section with table service, so they were very close to the field. We had three foul balls come to our section but not close enough to catch.  This game was sloppy as hell, with four errors, including three from Diaz. Wacha got shelled.  The Cards lost 8-4. Amazingly, no Dodger fans rubbed the loss in our faces.  Once again, there were many Cardinals fans in attendance, particularly in our area. It was Friday Night Fireworks so we stuck around and watched them from the field, which is always fun. We also met some nice folks visiting from St. Louis who were sitting behind us and figured out that we probably played CYC softball against each other back in the day in North County.  I got my seats off Stubhub for less than face value.

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Sunday, May 15

IMG_1310I was really worn out from getting very little sleep at a Relay for Life fundraiser the night before, but I rallied. I got some cool seats off Stubhub – front row in the corner of field level, right next to the Cardinals bullpen. It’s not a great view of home plate and sometimes was hard to tell when the ball had even been hit, but it was still an interesting angle. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch a ball but we did get some cool photos. We were about an hour early for this game, so we wandered the stadium and visited my friend and fellow MLB blogger Emma up at the top deck. Love the view from there! Most of the game was a tight pitchers’ duel between Wood and Leake but Yadi cued a rally with a two-run double in the 7th inning.  Rosenthal stressed us out as usual in the 9th but managed to get the save and the Cards won 5-2 for their only win of the three-game series. Once again, all the Dodger fans were friendly or at least ignored us. When I went to the bathroom after the win, a young gal in Dodgers’ shirt and cap actually wished me “Good game.” I have had a few intense moments with Dodger fans during playoff games but generally I enjoy the games there and have no qualms about wearing my Cardinals gear.

With the way the season is going, I don’t think I’ll be seeing the Cardinals in the playoffs out here, but of course, it’s too soon to tell. Our offense looks great but defense and pitching keep letting us down.

Click here to see all my photos from these games. 

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