Last week I was at a conference in New Orleans and on Friday night I went to a Pelicans game with a friend who lives in town. While there I noticed goalposts for an arena football team hanging in the rafters and shortly after found out they were for the New Orleans team, the VooDoo, Watching arena football on NBC ten-ish years ago was one of the first things that fueled my strange obsession with any type of football that isn’t the NFL (CFL season is just about two months away!). Having done the touristy things in town for three days I was thrilled to find out that the VooDoo had a home game on Saturday night. So off I went to the Smoothie King Arena on Saturday night to pique my interest in semi-pro sports.
For those that don’t know, the Arena Football League is a 12 team indoor football league played on a 50 yard field (half the length of the NFL or NCAA). This in addition to other rule changes (no punting allowed, sadly) encourages high scoring games and a fast pace of play. There is also no out of bounds area, just padded sideline boards. This is one of the many things that I think made the fan experience equal parts special and terrifying. Before the game the PA announcer warned that “players may go flying into the stands and cause serious injury” and that “any ball that goes into the stands is yours to keep, but you have to return any player that does”. On this play receiver Marcus Smith reeled in some freshly baked quinoa flour baguettes, disappointing the fans who thought they might catch them (Photo courtesy New Orleans VooDoo). Click to read more about the game…
This month Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla chose the #BreadBakers theme of Easter, Passover, and Springtime breads from around the world. Breads are by definition heavily limited for Passover and since I made matzah last year I decided to see what interesting Easter and spring breads I could turn up for this month.
A great deal of the Easter breads I had known about before were (unsurprisingly) rich and egg laden doughs, often with a whole egg baked into the outer part of the loaf. The Greek Easter bread Tsoureki is an example of one such bread. Though I figured any Easter bread would be egg heavy I wanted to do something more off the beaten (HA!) path. A search on The Fresh Loaf turned up this incredible bread filled with fruit, nuts, and a wonderful combination of spices.
If you’ve ever been on campus at the University of Michigan, a sporting event, or rifled through my wardrobe (probably only one blog reader who can claim that I hope), you will know that U of M’s colors are maize and blue. If you want to get really technical they are Pantone® 7406C and 282C. Interestingly enough the colors weren’t adopted until 50 years after the school’s founding and then it was still another 45 before they were made official in 1912.
A friend of mine who went to another Big 10 school opposes Michigan’s use of the word maize, vehemently maintaining that ‘corn is not a color’. He has decided my love of Michigan equates to a love of corn and as a result part of our wedding present from him included a dozen cans of corn. With two months to go until our first anniversary we still have eight of them left; truly, the gift that keeps on giving!
Nearly two years ago I shared a photo at the end of my 100% whole wheat sandwich loaf post that started me down the path that would lead to Photoshop Phridays. This week I revisit that and take a closer look at one of my favorite Michigan football players, Denard Robinson. From 2009 to 2012 Denard was one of the most exciting players in all of college football. His first play ever at QB, a bobbled snap that turned into a touchdown run, set the tone for fans that with him there was always the potential for a big play. Denard somehow stayed relentlessly positive in what was a darker time for the Michigan program. He stuck with the program through coaching changes, moved to different positions as a senior, and in doing so demonstrated some of the most admirable qualities of a leader and team player. I recommend Ryan Kartje’s 2010 profile of Denard to learn more about his story before coming to Ann Arbor.
As for the highlights and records, where to even begin? His logic defying performances are all over the Michigan and NCAA record books. In 2010 he became the first player in NCAA history to pass for 2,500 yards and rush for 1,500 in a single season. That year he also set the NCAA QB season rushing record (1,702 yards) and as a senior surpassed Pat White for the career QB rushing record at 4,495 yards. Denard is responsible for 8 of the 10 highest single game yardage totals in Michigan history (Devin Gardner has the other two). If you want specific highlights, I’d recommend starting with his 87 yard TD run against Notre Dame (part of a 502 total yard performance), or the miraculous ending to the 2011 win against Notre Dame. These days Denard is on the Jacksonville Jaguars and last season finally had a chance to show NFL fans what he was capable of. No doubt his favorite banh mi sandwiches helped fuel his legendary collegiate performances and infectious smile (Photo credit to Joseph Tobianski).
Well, here’s another recipe to file under ‘things I made while my wife was out of town that she is upset about not getting to try’. What is not to like about this dish? It has all the major food groups as far as I’m concerned: onions, potatoes, and chorizo. If you’re someone who eats meat and haven’t tried chorizo before you are really missing out. There are different varieties, for example Mexican chorizo is typically sold uncooked while Spanish chorizo is usually cured, but each is heavily seasoned with things like paprika, garlic, pepper, cumin, and cayenne pepper.
This dish is so easy to put together and has a short and simple ingredient list. I especially like that it is a complete meal in one pan. No need to prepare a separate veggie dish or protein, you’ve got it all in one place. The added citrus from the orange zest also lightens up the meal a bit. Depending on how many people you’re feeding you may want to cut down the recipe. I didn’t really think about it until afterward, at which point I had two roasting pans full of this and was the only one home to eat it. I should be clear I’m not complaining about that, but you may not want to spend 2 weeks eating it like I did.
A Michigan native, LaMarr Woodley finished up his time on campus just before I started mine. Woodley was a linebacker at Michigan from 2003 to 2006. He was sometimes shifted around defensively to different positions and as a senior was recognized as a first-team All-Big Ten selection and first-team All-American. In 2007 he also became the first Michigan player to win the Lombardi award, which is given to the best lineman (offensive or defensive) in college football. His stellar college performance led to him being selected in the 2nd round of the 2007 NFL draft by the Steelers.
Woodley signed with the Cardinals a few weeks ago after 6 years with the Steelers and one with the Raiders, If you watched Super Bowl XLIII in 2009 you couldn’t miss Woodley, who forced a fumble with 5 seconds left to seal the Steelers victory. Off the field LaMarr has also donated his time and money to a variety of good causes. In 2012 when budget cuts to Saginaw (his hometown) Public Schools forced a $75 per student athletics fee, LaMarr stepped up and donated $60,000 to cover expenses for the entire district. There are unconfirmed reports that each student will also be receiving one of Woodley’s favorite chocolate eclairs with dulce de leche cream and strawberries.
Last fall after baking my way through a few Tartine books I decided it was time to get another bread book. I had heard great things about Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread for quite some time so I added it to my collection. The book is more advanced and technique focused than others I have but is still loaded with fantastic recipes.
I read through many of the technique and bread science sections quickly but it wasn’t until earlier this month that I actually baked from it. I was looking for ideas for the March edition of #BreadBakers when I came across the formula for this loaf. After I had baked two loaves I decided that the presence of fennel seeds wasn’t enough in the spirit of the ‘seeds’ theme to use it for #BreadBakers. But I am very happy to have discovered this loaf that has a lot of great flavors in it. but I was very happy to have made the loaf.