Living as I now do in Columbus, Ohio, this is the week that’s known around town colloquially as “Michigan Week". It’s the week that the Buckeyes of Ohio State University take on their arch rival from “that state up north”, the Wolverines of Michigan. If there’s a better rivalry in all of college football or, for that matter, all of sports, I don’t know of one.
It didn’t start out that way though…
When I first got here, I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York and outside of the Fighting Irish, college football was pretty much an afterthought. We had plenty of pro teams to choose from. In football you had the New York Jets and the New York Giants, this was before they both moved to New Jersey so any of you Jerseyites out there, please bear with me. In baseball, you were either a Mets or, god forbid, a Yankees fan. In hockey there was the New York Rangers and the upstarts from Long Island, the New York Islanders. Basketball gave us the New York Knickerbockers and their cross state rivals, the New Jersey Nets. What I lived in was something akin to an orgy of sports and the cheering when your team won and the tears when your team lost seemed to go on all year round.
Sports in Columbus are dominated by one thing and one thing only, Ohio State football. Just like any other big school, they’ve also got baseball, basketball, football, hockey and countless other teams but when it comes to grabbing headlines, football is king. Christ, even when seniors in high school sign their letters of commitment to attend Ohio State, it’s big news.
When I first got here, I couldn’t understand it. I couldn’t fathom what the big deal was all about. After a few years of casually rooting for the Buckeyes, something began to take hold. I began to notice the spectacle that is Ohio State football and soon became a fan. Oh, not one of those loony types that feels the need to adorn themselves with body paint or decorate their yards with Buckeye paraphernalia or fly banners from their car. No, just another fan who liked to watch the games while nursing a few cold ones at the local watering hole with like minded people.
The past couple of years have seen a change in my personal intensity. These days, there are early morning pot lucks and afternoon tailgating parties to attend. The bar that I frequent is a stones throw from the stadium and tonight and tomorrow the place will be packed to the rafters with people like myself. The jukebox will blare the Ohio State fight song and people will be drinking their favorite beverages and recalling victories and losses from years gone by.
I’ve been living here going on ten years or so and can now converse with the best of them. I think I’ve finally arrived.
Here’s a little dish better known in my circles as a pending heart attack
in a casserole
dish. I’m making it tomorrow for the pot luck breakfast
my friend is hosting replete with Bloody Mary
’s starting promptly at 8:00 AM. Kickoff for the game is at 1:00 PM. It should serve about 8 people.
Win or lose, it’s gonna be a long day.
Here’s what ya need
3 cups of cottage cheese
2 sticks of butter, melted
About a teaspoon and a half of salt
A teaspoon or so of pepper
1 medium onion, diced
4 or 5 pretty large Idaho potatoes, thinly sliced. You can either peel ‘em or not, I prefer to leave the skins on.
1 pound or so of hot Italian sausage, cooked crumbled and drained
2 cups of sour cream
About a tablespoon of fresh chives, chopped
Here’s what ya do
First of all, get your hands on a medium sized bowl and dump in the cottage chees, the melted butter, the diced onion and the salt and the pepper. Mix ‘em up real good.
Next, grease yourself a 9 x 13 baking dish and make a layer of the sliced potatoes. Sprinkle some of the cooked sausage over that. Then, add a layer of the cottage cheese mixture. Repeat the process until you either run out of ingredients or the baking dish can't hold anymore but make sure to end it with a layer of the cottage cheese. Mine usually runs about 3 layers deep.
Put the baking dish into a preheated 350 degree oven and let it bake for thirty minutes or so.
While your waiting, partake of your favorite beverage and lay your hands on another medium sized bowl. Dump the eggs, sour cream and chives in there and beat the mixture mercilessly.
After the oven timer pings, remove the casserole and spread the mixture over top of the casserole.
Plop it back in the oven for another 35-45 minutes or until it gets all puffy and brown and the aroma makes your mouth water.
Eat like kings!
PS. If there’s any leftovers, much like chili and depending on the degree of your hangover, this stuff seems to be better the next day