I’ve been feeling nostalgic these days. Our lives have changed so much the past two years and with it our ministry focus. We’re driving distance to many former staff members and have enjoyed our times getting together, but with our last move for the first time we did not go with or bring anyone we knew. While we build memories with new staff members I’ve found myself reflecting on the amazing friendships we’ve developed through the years. For some reason, food brings up the most vivid memories.
The year my husband was a GA, the head coach started a tradition we continued for years. Every Tuesday evening our staff families gathered in the office for dinner. The wives rotated what part of the meals they contributed and while it was chaotic, I enjoyed seeing everyone through the week instead of just at the game Saturday.
When my husband entered his first season as a head coach we still had some staff dinners, but we also kicked off and wrapped up the season with an all family staff dinner and in between, I sent baked goods to the office whenever I found time to try out a new Pinterest recipe. These days I simply send baked goods to staff meetings once a week.
I love feeding our staffs. For me, it’s a simple way to say hey, I see you working hard and I appreciate you. I noticed recently when meal planning that many of our favorite family recipes are those I’ve contributed to staff dinners through the years.
Just like in my Grandmother’s family cookbook, I’ve adapted my recipes over the years to staff preferences and changed recipe titles in honor of the person who loved it most.
- Andy’s Cherry Cobbler (credit: joyshope.com)
- Brandon’s Lemon Oreo Truffles (any oreo will do, but Brandon’s favorite was lemon with white chocolate topping) (credit: PopSugar.com)
- Jake’s Dip (serve with Ritz crackers) (credit: TasteofHome.com)
- Lamar’s Favorite Pasta (add Italian seasoned ground pork fully cooked and drained before baking) (credit: passionforsavings.com)
Food also reminds me of treasured moments with football. My recipe book includes Kristen’s Peanut Butter Popcorn (sub honey for corn syrup, omit peanuts). I love it so much I had to have the recipe. The first time I made it I forgot to pull the unpopped kernels out and we ended up sitting around a bowl tossing them into a bowl to avoid breaking our teeth. No one minded, we just chatted as we went.
I still can’t make a specific version of chili ever since I threw up in the middle of a staff dinner while pregnant. Only my husband and Laura noticed my quick exit and wardrobe change, which was good because I was only about 7 weeks along and we hadn’t told everyone yet.
Emily introduced us to 7 can taco soup (7 can because we use frozen chicken breasts) when we spent our bye-week with former staff the year we all needed encouragement and fellowship. It’s still a family favorite I make almost monthly.
My two favorite recipes are tried and true through every staff and team. Libby’s Cake Cookies recipe was given to me by the manager of food services at a college we worked for years ago. My boys were young and loved the cookies so much Libby found a 9×13 version of the recipe for me. Every time I made the cookies for our team they would insist I did something different.
Sue was a neighbor of ours and her recipe is the only one that didn’t originate from a football staff event, but after we devoured her caramel rolls at MOPS and begged the recipe off her later that day we adopted it as our own by doubling the amount of caramel when we served them.
Caramel rolls are my current recipe of choice. These arrive along with my husband for the post-game staff meeting. Win or lose, its my contribution to the weekend.
Sue’s Caramel Rolls
12 Rhodes Yeast Dinner Rolls
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 package Butterscotch Cook and Serve Pudding Mix
Combine butter and brown sugar and pudding. Spray 9×13-inch baking pan. Place frozen rolls in the dish. Pour the liquid mixture over the top of everything. Cover with sprayed plastic wrap and let sit out overnight to rise (kitchen must be cool).
* Remove wrap and bake at 350°F 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto serving platter. Recipe adapted from here.
By the way, not all my favorite food memories involve cooking or baking. Betsy always had a bag of marshmallow pumpkins in the stands. We stress ate those candies until we made ourselves sick for multiple seasons. I even discovered they last longer when frozen one year!