Posts Tagged ‘football’

spreading the avocado love

I realize this may be coming a day late and a dollar short, but I don’t care. I love guacamole. And I don’t think you need the nation’s biggest sporting event as an excuse to make it. Boyfriend and I have been making guac since our early dating days, thanks in large part to Trader Joe’s super easy guacamole kits: two avocados, two small tomatoes, a baby white onion, a clove of garlic, and a jalapeno, all packaged together a ridiculously low price. Like $3. It’s insane.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: there are a million ways to make guacamole. Millions of techniques, mix-ins, preferences. I know people that stir in store-bought salsa, and people who only add lime juice and salt. Mercadito in Chicago has an entire guacamole menu. So please, I make no claims on authenticity, just deliciousness. The crunch of onion and sweetness of tomato, the limey zip and two different kinds of heat: it’s what works for us, and I’m betting you’ll like it, too.

We made a huge batch of guacamole for yesterday’s game — actually too much; how can there be too much food at a Superbowl party?! — and it was delicious. Keep the measurements intact, halve or quarter them to your liking and party size, and enjoy!

Guacamole for a Crowd
Serves 8-10

  • 6 ripe avocados
  • 2 1/2 limes, divided
  • 1 beefsteak tomato
  • 1/2 medium white onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 1 serrano chili
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro
  • salt, to taste

Halve the avocados and scoop the flesh into a food processor. Add the juice from half a lime. Pulse until large chunks are gone, stopping before it is completely smooth. Scrape into a large bowl. If you don’t have a food processor, or aren’t dealing in such large amounts, use a potato masher!

Dice and add the tomato and onion. Smash, mince, and add the garlic.

Split the peppers in half and spoon out the seeds and ribs. They add two different kinds of kick, but not too much heat. Dice and add.

Chop up some cilantro and add. Juice in two more limes.

Stir together, taste, and adjust ingredients as needed. Salt it, too.

Before storing in the fridge, smooth out the top and squeeze one half a lime over the top. The acidity acts as a preservative and prevents the guacamole from turning brown. Stir in immediately before serving.


someone buys a plane ticket

It happened! A friend and not a parent bought a plane ticket to come see us in Iowa! And not just any visitor, but one from New York! That’s a big city, eh? Billy’s buddy Branden has been instructed to sing our Midwestern praises upon his return to the Big Apple and we, naturally, are sitting pretty with thoughts of the dozens of friends who will surely follow in his plane steps. “How will we fit them all in the house?!” Such are the thoughts that have pitched a tent in my mind. “We should probably get a blow up mattress now. Before the flood.”

Branden arrived just in time for the Saturday football game against Michigan, and we wasted no time shuffling him to the Vine downtown. Unfortunately, it was an away game, so tales of our block’s madcap six AM tailgates remain largely unwitnessed. But I think this sports bar gave a nice snapshot of Hawkeye mania.

We arrived a couple hours before kick off for lunch, wanting to snag prime seats before the place filled up. And fill up it did! We ate. OH HOW WE ATE. Two plates of nachos (bean nachos, mind you); a round of cheese fries; what I am now calling four “flights” of buffalo and/or barbecue wings in an effort to make it sound less abominably gluttonous; and many pitchers of beer. I am slightly consoled by the fact that we did not order burgers, as originally planned — especially since we grilled brats and potatoes back at the house several hours later.

Anyway, the Vine was a fantastic game-watching hang. Lots of fans and TV’s, both on very high volume. It’s not quite in-the-flesh tailgating on Melrose, but a close second! Later that night, we showed Branden some of the unmissable Iowa City nightlife. It began with a [plastic] boot of beer and ended with Mexican fast food. I’ll let you fill in the rest.

The following day, a beautiful day, we took Branden to the charming town of Amana (which you of course remember from last year) for kitschy antique and Christmas stores, a fruit winery, and a brewery tour. I can’t get over how perfect the weather was. A sunny seventy: I think it may be our last nice day. We reveled.

That night: bacon-wrapped dates, grilled zucchini and aioli, baked tomato goat cheese, and patatas bravas at Devotay. Then key lime pie. And yesterday, we had some fresh croissants, a round of burgers at Short’s Burger, and for dinner Bobby Flay’s incredible, more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts BBQ Chicken Quesadilla with Grilled Tomato Salsa & Buttermilk Dressing. I’ll tell you all about that quesadilla one day, and how it’s totally worth the hour plus prep, but for now I think I’ll roll to the store and pick up a bag of celery for dinner.

I think (hope!) Branden had a hoot of a time here in Iowa, BUT KNOW FOR SURE that he’s coming away with experiential knowledge of how we survive twenty below winters. Visitors, ahoy! Your guest room awaits.

in which football is exciting

If we’re burned out from two straight football weekends, and we are, I can imagine you’re all similarly tired of reading game recaps. And this entry won’t even have a neighbor feud because, unsurprisingly, we won the lawn war. But do bear with me for another Hawkeye entry (the last until Halloween, promise!), because a couple incredible things happened on Saturday: one, football got exciting. Two, it snowed (pictured below; enlarge for full flake effect).


It was there when we woke up, and gone three hours later but even snow didn’t stop the neighborhood from full-tailgate revelry. It was the only nightgame of the season, with a seven o’clock PM start — but of course, we were  embarrassingly late by starting at three, rather than ten. The afternoon was cold and oh so bright, but with cocoa and grill-hot brats in hand we didn’t mind too much.

on the deck

sunny roofgrill preparation

By the time we headed over to Kinnick at six — an hour early, and good thing too! — I’d accumulated five layers of clothing: short-sleeved shirt, long-sleeved shirt, sweatshirt, vest, winter coat, PLUS hat, hood, scarf, and gloves. Thankfully, it didn’t snow any more during the game (or for the rest of the weekend), but standing in thirty-degree weather for three and a half hours is still quite hardy. I’ll just need to add some wool socks to my arsenal next time.

kinnick at twilight

Now I’m not sure what it was — maybe the energizing cold or the late hour. Maybe because the entire day was a study in waiting and patience, leading up to this one event. Maybe because we were (and remain!) undefeated and had to defend against Michigan, a Real Team. Maybe the fact of homecoming weekend was enough. But football was really. . .

stadium at 7

really …

stadium at 9

really . . .

gold pom-pom cheers

EXCITING. And not just in the “interesting experience” way, or the “join the locals” way — it was a thrilling game! Everyone was so into it, screaming and waving their golden pom-poms  at every play, from masterful touchdown to your normal  ball-catching. (What other team knows how to catch a ball? Who does it this well? No one! Time to scream!) We led for most of the game but endured a heart-clenching final two minutes. A scant two point lead and Michigan’s offense bearing down on our side. A minute and a half to go, the quarterback tried to lead Michigan downfield, but over-chucked the ball — and it sailed right into a Hawkeye’s hands. Our possession! We won!

rushing the field

And everyone stormed the field. We’re now ranked #12, and the only undefeated team left in the Big Ten. The first half of the day may have been sluggish, but what a game! For those keeping track at home, that’s three more to go. Fingers crossed for wins!

good fences make good neighbors, especially during football season

fall leavesWe’ve been busy, busy bees here at iowasthinking over the past five days — indeed so busy that we almost didn’t notice Real Fall sneaking up under the cover of rain last week and setting up permanent camp. Trees have been changing color for at least a month in these parts, but this is Real Fall for a couple key reasons: it smells like it, and I’m wearing boots. We’ll be talking about the best lentil soup (caramelized onions and white wine, are you convinced yet?) and revisiting caramel apples in good order, but the important talk of the day is that Billy’s parents were here this weekend for their First Iowa Football Game.

Oh, how well do I remember my First Iowa Football Game . . . and you all probably do too, because it was only a month ago. Unfortunately, this was the coldest and wettest game day of the season, so the tailgaters weren’t out to impress. The entire court was much more subdued than usual, which worked out just fine, because our duplex-neighbors decided to go from unobtrusive (if slightly odd) to belligerently rude in a single morning.

This will take some stretch of the imagination, Reader, but imagine you are the sort of person who tries to take what is not lawfully yours, and then to retrospectively, belatedly search the law books for justification. Then you would be rather like our neighbors who, when asked to please not sell parking on our side of the lawn to pay for their utility bills, came at us with Iowa Common Law. Now, that’s certainly unneighborly, but (much to our glee) also incorrect. Because if, dear Reader, you were going to pirate your neighbor’s lawn space, wouldn’t you (a) Clear it with the landlord first, (b) Double check that your lease doesn’t prohibit parking on the lawn in the first place, and (c) Find out the police department’s guidelines on car removal? Surely, Reader, you would. You would therefore make a much better pirate than our neighbors who, besides having proven themselves exceptionally unthorough law students, will be quite surprised when we tow away their customers’ cars next game day.

grill smokebrats & sausages

Besides (because?) discovering our neighbors’ incompetence, we had a delightful tailgate with both Billy’s parents and Rob’s family. Ten people in all, which I consider quite a feat for any outdoor activity on a dreary, barely-50 degree Saturday morning. Especially one that obligates beer-drinking and football-watching. Under this cloud cover, are you serious?


By the third, drippy quarter, Billy and I had to concede: our guests are of much hardier stock than we. They stuck it out until the final, embarrassingly close second. We stuck around long enough to bring some yellow sunshine to the bleachers, and then headed home early. Was it really ever warm enough to wear shorts to the game? We judiciously finished out the game in Hi-Def, indoors.

sunshine cleaning

The rest of the weekend was filled with beautiful, crisp weather, extremely generous purchases, and a trip to Lowe’s for a bevy of “No Parking” signs. We also ate exceedingly well, so for those foodies out there wondering why this comrade has been hanging with meat heads rather than talking pork belly — patience. Restaurant talk to follow. If you’re good, maybe even a layout surprise.

red tree

football two

Almost a week since the last post?! I know you’ve all been withering away without my scintillating narration of the roller coaster of Iowan high life — much like the pathetic, parched Mums in my teensy flowerbed that I keep forgetting to water die randomly to spite me. But dry your eyes, blooming readers. It was football weekend.

kinnick stadium

Unlike last Football Weekend, this time the game didn’t start until 2:30pm, so we had a gracious lie-in until 8am, at which point our across the street neighbors/passionate tailgaters started their keg festivities. We awoke to the dulcet tones of wooden stakes being hammered into the ground, presumably to emphasize that their lawn is not a parking lot. We — or rather, our duplex mates — went in the other direction. Apparently selling parking spots on the grass implicitly also permits impromptu barbecuing on it and use of bathroom facilities (though not ours).

front lawn

We didn’t have the 3L’s tailgate to attend (they’re out of town! we were invited back! next time!) so Rob, Jill, Billy, and I cooked brats and sausages on our porch. A later, calmer, and less beer-y lead up to the game than the last, though we did have some surprise visitors. A guy on the other side of the house is vice president of the law school fraternity so a lot of 1Ls stopped by his house and, since it’s attached, ours too. Anyway, not exactly a proper tailgate of our own, but a start. At least we had the grub down; next time we just need the equipment.

kinnick at the start of the game

Needless to say, it was quite a scene outside Kinnick when the floodgates opened. Unfortunately (because it necessitated an extra one-two trip home) and stupidly (because the purses were regulation last time) we were turned away at the gates for having Too Big Purses . . .

black out game

. . . but once we got inside it was quite a scene, too. U of Iowa played the University of Arizona Wildcats, the red contingency in the audience on the right. We gained the lead before halftime and kept it the rest of the game. And speaking of halftime: our marching band is good, but what odd musical selections! Last time, a song by Lifehouse. Bad to start, and not improved in a giant stadium. Shocker, I know. This time they performed the Beach Boys, which was indeed an improvement. But at the UNI game two weeks ago, they played Ben Hur. Ben Hur! Now that is warrior-worthy.


Even without the warrior music, we stormed in triumphantly for the second half. I think this was meant to be a close game, but we are VERY good and won 27-17.

running in

The four of us left a few minutes into the fourth quarter. Partly because we were seated in front of a pair of truly wretched sports fans who kept yelling profanities at other spectators and the players. Equal opportunity! Partly to avoid the crush of leaving spectators. And partly because (uh-oh) we were a bit football-saturated. This does not bode too well for the rest of the season. We must soldier on though! and I look forward to dressing in hawkeye fleeces and tailgating with peppermint schnapps hot chocolate. That’ll be any week now.



Or, the story of B’s and my first Hawkeye game, and my first football game EVER.

Kickoff on Saturday was at 11:00am. We were going to show up at our new friends’ tailgate at 9:00am. And we were awoken at 6:00am by the house across the street, who clearly thought waiting three hours for brews and brats was too long. So this is the view out our window around 7:30am, when we finally gave up on sleep.


Rob had finagled an invitation for the four of us to a 3L’s tailgate on Melrose, so once he and Jill arrived (on foot, from a mile away, out of deference to game day traffic), we headed over and attempted to remind our bodies that it’s five o’clock somewhere. Which means chips, bratwursts, and Hawkeye-themed Bud Light cans. Yeah, we didn’t know they made black and yellow cans just for Iowa City, either.


flying the hawkeye flag

In fact, we didn’t really know anything about tailgaiting, since none of us had ever done it before. We surmised enough to not bring cookies or pie, though we did get as far as our porch before realizing we were transporting the beer over in a sparkling water case. Everyone was wearing gold (“Be bold, wear gold!”), including us. Everyone was also really nice and totally accepting of this small band of 1Ls and girlfriends gatecrashing gate-tiptoeing a grown up party. It is, in sum, very easy to host a tailgate: all you need is lawn space, long tables, Dixie cups, beer, something grillable, and a laissez-faire attitude towards trash. This is the most crucial point.


Melrose Avenue was completely packed as we made our way to Kinnick Stadium a few blocks down (the first of surely many odes to our beyond-convenient location), and the stadium itself was a total ocean of gold. Sold out, over 70,000 fans. We briefly lost Jill and Rob, but managed to stick with a few 3Ls who, over the course of the game, picked Billy up with shouts of joy three times. We were once specifically informed, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re not being belligerent enough.”


U Iowa played the University of Northern Iowa and it was meant to be a surefire win, a practice game. We won, but barely, at 17-16. With something like twenty seconds left in the game, UNI’s Panthers set up a field goal (is that the right phrasing?), but we blocked it with one second left on the clock. It was a Hawkeye victory!!!!!… until the refs re-evaluated and determined the ball hadn’t crossed the neutral zone. So with one second left, UNI got another field goal awarded, we blocked it again and really, truly, officially won. (Cue high fives, screams, Billy being picked up.)


Melrose Avenue was closed to car traffic after the game. Our street — our little street — was literally full of people as we streamed back home with the crowd. The entire city (citizens and students and from miles out) come to the Hawkeye games, because this is the best — not to mention one of the only — outlets for sports lovers in Iowa. It’s not like New York, where you can chose from two baseball teams, two football teams, one hockey team and one basketball team. (That’s also better for me, doesn’t care enough about sports to keep the NY ones straight.) These football Saturdays are really Iowa City’s THING — what everyone waits for and watches and bonds over. It may seem limited, or limiting, but it’s actually really exciting.


Which is why we bought season tickets.