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BY SHARON THOMPSON
No one knows Southern cooking like the folks at Southern Living. And as football and tailgating season gets under way, you can bet the magazine's "The Official SEC Tailgating Cookbook" (Oxmoor House, $19.95) will deliver plenty of great recipes to make tailgating party food even more competitive.
"Tailgating parties are just so much bigger and more special than ever," said Southern Living test kitchen director Rebecca Gordon, above. "We're extending hospitality beyond the living room and sharing food with people we see once a year during football season. It's a season-long party."
The book is a longtime dream of Gordon, an avid football fan and tailgater. "When the opportunity came to get the book rolling, we drew off the recipes that were favorites over the years at Southern Living and we partnered with the SEC to offer something really special for each team," she said.
The cookbook focuses on all 14 schools in the Southeastern Conference and features game-day traditions and menus that reflect each hometown.
The cookbook was a collaboration of the entire staff. "So many on our staff are huge college football fans," she said.
Travel writers shared favorite tourist sites and restaurants in each college town, and the food writers selected Southern Living recipes that would reflect the towns.
Along with menus for each team, the editors developed versions of deviled eggs, spritzers and cupcakes.
For team cupcakes, make a batch of vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, then jazz them up with your favorite team flavors.
The cookbook also gives insider information on how to throw the best tailgate party. Gordon and her staff have included secret strategies and trick plays called "extra points" to help pull off the game-day spread.
At Gordon's tailgating parties, she's the planning and logistics person. "It's all about organization," she said. "I start midweek before the game and determine the menu, grocery shop, prep, and make ahead anything that makes life easier to tote.
"There's nothing better than a cooler on wheels."
BAKED BEAN CROSTINI
1 (8.5 ounces) French bread
HOT BACON POTATO SALAD GREEN BEANS
Makes 8 servings
3 pounds fingerling