By Dotti Hydue, Levy County Kitchen author & Editing Consultant.

The sun is tracking a little lower in the sky, ushering in most people’s favorite season—FOOTBALL! Whether you are a fan of pro, college or your local high school team, nothing says autumn like cheering for your favorite team. And nothing adds to the enjoyment of watching your team as much as good food does. Tailgating has become an art form in itself with some people taking it to the extreme with all kinds of gadgets, generators to power electric blenders and other equipment, and gourmet foods. All that fuss just wears me out though. I prefer to keep my tailgate foods a bit simpler by serving what would normally be considered picnic fare—a good submarine sandwich or po’ boy comes to mind.

Sub Style Sandwich

Subs were named for the shape of the bread especially made for this sandwich that originated in Italian neighborhoods in the northeast part of the U.S. Traditionally made with Italian meats and cheeses, you can substitute your favorite lunchmeats and cheeses and any other ingredients you fancy. Buy a long loaf of crusty French, Italian or Cuban bread. Slice it in half along the long side and spread it flat on a work counter. Start with a generous layer of cheese, then add the cold cuts, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes and onions and zesty pickled peppers. Season with salt and pepper and other seasonings of your choice. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar or bottled Italian dressing, then add a final layer of cheese. (Using cheese as the top and bottom layers keeps the bread from getting soggy.) Close up the sandwich and firmly press down along the length of the loaf to “seal” the ingredients together. Wrap in plastic wrap and keep cold until ready to eat. Slice into sections to serve. For picky eaters you can buy individual rolls and make sandwiches to suit their taste.

New Orleans-style po’ boy sandwich

New Orleans-style po’ boys were originally made with beef, but seafood versions are also popular. Buy a good loaf of bread as noted above. Slice it in half the long way and hollow out the bottom section. Brush cut sides of both halves with melted butter and place in a hot oven to lightly toast. Fry up a generous panfull of Cedar Key oysters or clams, stuff the loaf and drizzle with any remaining melted butter (hot sauce and lemon optional). Top with the lid, wrap well, refrigerate and save it till you get to the game—if you can. Be sure and bring a sharp knife to cut the sandwiches.

Those watching a game from the comfort of their own home can snack their way to the final whistle. Florida avocados are in season now, and you don’t need too many of those big green fruits to feed hungry fans. You can vary the ingredients according to your own personal taste, but traditional guacamole is simplicity in a bowl: roughly mashed avocado, minced onion, minced jalapeño pepper and lime or lemon juice. Mix gently and serve with a variety of chips.
For heartier fare, start a batch of stew or chili before the game and it will be ready to serve in a few hours.


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This chili makes good use of that forgotten package of venison in the back of your freezer but works equally well with fresh meat. The recipe makes about 6 servings, but can be easily doubled.

1/4 pound slab bacon
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pounds venison shoulder, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 can (26 ounces) Italian plum tomatoes, crushed
1 and 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup red wine (or apple cider or additional beef broth)
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 can (16 ounces) dark red kidney beans
1 cup baby lima beans
Chopped onions and shredded cheese for topping the finished chili
Corn bread or cooked rice as an accompaniment
Cut bacon into 1/4-inch dice and brown in a skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Remove from pan with slotted spoon and put into a heavy stew pot. Measure 3 tablespoons bacon fat and discard the rest.
Sauté the onion in 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat until it starts to soften. Sprinkle with the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and pepper flakes and cook, stirring, 5 minutes longer. Put in pot with bacon.
Add remaining tablespoon bacon fat to skillet and brown the venison in small batches over medium-high heat. The venison should brown quickly, so raise the heat if necessary. If the pan is too crowded the meat will steam instead of sear. The brown crust locks in juices and contributes a world of flavor so don’t hurry this step.
Put meat in crock-pot and add the tomatoes, broth, wine, and tomato paste. Stir to dissolve the tomato paste and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the kidney and lima beans and cook another 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. If meat is not tender, cook another 10 minutes and check again. Serve with toppings and accompaniments as desired.

(Are you planning on making this recipe? Be sure to send us a photo!)
This hearty salad travels well. Makes about 6 servings.

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp salt
Ground black pepper to taste
5 Tbsp olive or salad oil
1/4 cup minced or snipped fresh basil, cilantro or parsley
3 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained if canned
1 and 1/2 cups corn kernels, lightly cook and well drained
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
or 1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped red onions
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, garlic, salt and black pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil and basil.
Place black beans in a bowl and toss gently with most of the dressing. In a separate bowl, toss the corn with the tomatoes and red onion. Gently stir corn mixture into the black beans along with the rest of the dressing. Chill before serving.


A variety of lettuces share a garden bed with quick-growing radishes. By the time the lettuces need the space to spread out, the radishes will have been harvested.

It’s time to start planting your vegetable garden with the cool-season vegetables that thrive in Levy County during the winter months. You should have cleaned up the garden by now and worked in any amendments indicated by soil test results. Local hardware and feed stores and nurseries are getting starter plants in. Purchase them early while they are fresh to avoid ones that end up root bound in their tiny containers. You can find starts for strawberries, greens, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli along with a number of herbs to spice up your cooking. Depending on what your family likes to eat, consider planting beets, carrots, collards, kale, mustard, radishes, rutabagas, turnips, and lettuces. Don’t forget to plant seeds for radishes and lettuces every few weeks so you can have plenty of veggies to harvest on an ongoing basis.

This scary looking Hickory Horned Devil caterpillar becomes the nocturnal Regal Moth as an adult. Although fierce looking to its predators, the caterpillar is harmless to humans.

That’s all for now. Until next month, the kitchen is closed.


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