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Stadium Dogs, Cracker Jacks and a Pepsi

Coming into the home stretch of Oscar Week, our award goes to “Moneyball”. 

Ahh..the American pastime.  Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.  This is an easy one.  Baseball is steeped in tradition.  It holds more drama and romance, if you will, than other popular American sport.  Football and basketball have drama but with a party-like atmosphere.  Baseball is different.  Some say it has lost its appeal because it can be slow-paced.  But there are some unique and fascinating qualities about the sport.  It is an individual sport played in the middle of a team sport.  It’s not perfect by any means and the movie “Moneyball” gives us a glimpse into that world.  I love a story that gives me a behind-the-scenes look at something.

I’m a third generation devout LA Dodger fan.  My dad was a fan of the team when they were in Brooklyn.  And his older brother was a Yankee fan.  Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall during those days?  Sadly, the Dodgers have been in a slump since 1989 and the turmoil only seems to get worse.  But I am keeping hope alive that things will turn around for them soon. 

Locally, our amazing city is home to a single A baseball team.  If you want to step back in time, go see a minor league game.  It’s really cool.

UofO Baseball team 1893-94

Our UofO Ducks recently brought back baseball.  They had a team in the early years of the university and are trying to bring back that tradition. 

Baseball food is also ripe with tradition.  Hot dogs, peanuts, beer, soda and Cracker Jacks are some of the things that come to most people’s minds.  Now when you attend a game the food available is as varied as you’d find at an amusement park.  But I’m focusing on the traditional fare today with a little twist; Cracker Jacks, Pepsi, and fancy sausage dogs. 

There was a variety of sausage dogs at my local market.  I think I counted 12 different choices behind the meat counter.  I picked four.  My husband and I had fun taste testing.  He had the chicken and apple dog.  I think mine was the pork and apple but I’m not sure.  HA!  I also purchased a German bratwurst and English banger sausage.  I simmered the dogs in about 2 inches of water and then fried them in a few tablespoons of oil to get their casings nice a brown.  We then carefully selected our dogs and nested them in a traditional “stadium roll” and topped them with traditional condiments.  Mmmm…..

But wait!  You can’t just stop there.  There are Cracker Jacks too.  This adventure proved to be a bit more frustrating.  I found what I thought was a decent recipe for homemade Cracker Jacks.  Have you ever starting to combine ingredients only to realize that something is definitely not right?  Well, I knew the minute I started working on the caramel portion that it wasn’t going to work.  But I tried to stay optimistic and brushed my doubts aside.  Sure enough, my little voice was right.  My Cracker Jacks turned out gritty and dull.  I didn’t panic.  I knew just how to fix this mess.  Step #1: Bench the rookie (aka throw out the first batch).  Step #2:  Call in the closer and turn to the queen herself, Ms Paula Deen.  I have used her caramel corn recipe several times and it has never failed me.  And by adding peanuts I figured it would come pretty darn close to Cracker Jacks (without the prize).  I was right.  Try this recipe and you won’t be disappointed. 

Homemade Cracker Jacks


10-15 cups popped corn, unsalted

1 c. butter

2 c. brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 c light corn syrup

1 tsp baking soda

1 c. spanish peanuts or unsalted roasted peanuts

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F

Combine butter, brown sugar, salt and corn syrup in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in baking soda.  Pour over popcorn and mix until coated.  Stir in peanuts.  Spread onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  Bake for 1 hour, gently stirring every 15 minutes.  Let cool and break up into chunks.