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T’is the Season: The Vaughans give thanks for Auburn football every week

Salt of the Turf is TWER columnist Jennie Henderson’s ongoing investigation into the ritual and recipes of Auburn tailgating. Have a great game day recipe? Know a die-hard tailgater? Let her know at [email protected]

summer tailgate  175The planning starts on Sunday. The menu is decided, lists are made, dishes assigned – all the preparation and attention to detail of Thanksgiving dinner. It even looks like a holiday: delicious smells in the air, kids toddling around a table groaning with food, travelers from far and wide.

The people, the food, make the experience.

“The spirit of tailgating can really be summed up in one word,” says Summer Vaughan. “Family.”

And Vaughan, 29, a 2001 Auburn graduate and practice manager for a local financial planning firm, loves her family.

“We all consider each other to be Auburn family … not just on football Saturdays, but year round,” she says.

Since 2000, three families have made up Vaughan and husband Gary’s central tailgating group. But the core of 12 can swell to 50 when the game, and the cooking, is going to be good.

Either way, the preparation is the same.

The RV is parked and grass cordoned off at 4 p.m. Wednesday… as in, as soon as they’re allowed. On the eve of the game, outdoor carpet, tents, lighting, tables, chairs, an inflatable Aubie, cornhole, TVs, trashcans, tablecloths, and table decorations are set up. The act of tailgating itself happens both before and after the game and the dual pleasures of turf and turf make the hours of setup and tearing down worth it, regardless of what happens inside the stadium.

summer tailgate  174Gary is usually in charge of the main dish, which means hauling to the site the smoker, fryer, grill or gas tank depending on if the entrée is brisket, fried turkeys, drunken chicken or jambalaya.

“We try to select something related to the opposing team’s mascot and/or geographical location,” Summer says.

For La. Tech? They went Cajun. Specifically po-boys, with friends agreeing to bring fresh seafood up from the coast.

The Vaughans, the Petersons, and the Bushes go all out.

summer tailgate  176Because the en plein aire festivities that flank Jordan-Hare when the leaves turn as orange as the sweat shirts are about more than just food and football.

And that’s why Summer Vaughan tailgates.

“It is a time to share good cheer and get a taste of how Auburn fans aim to make all fans feel welcome,” she says.

(That’s actually better than most family Thanksgivings.)

The Spread

Make-your-own Po Boys (shrimp or oyster)
7 Layer Dip & French Onion Dip with Chips
Deviled Eggs
Cookies & Carrot Cake

Arnold Palmers

2 quarts lemonade
2 quarts sweet tea
1 quart vodka

Mix well and serve cold.

Blue Cheese Cole Slaw (an Ina Garten Recipe)

1/2 small head green cabbage
1/2 small head red cabbage
4 large carrots, scrubbed or peeled
2 cups good mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) crumbled Roquefort blue cheese
1 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

Cut the cabbages in half and then in quarters and cut out the cores. Set up the food processor with the slicing blade (according to manufacturer’s instructions) and place the pieces of cabbage, one at a time, lying horizontally in the feed tube. (If they don’t fit, cut them to fit lying down.) Place the feed tube pusher on top and turn on the processor. Don’t push on the feed tube pusher or the slices will turn out too thick! Continue with the remaining red and green cabbage quarters. Transfer into a large bowl, discarding any very large pieces. Before you pour the dressing on the salad, save a handful of the grated vegetables to decorate for serving.

Change the slicing blade for the large shredding blade and cut the carrots so they also lie down in the feed tube. Since the carrots are hard, replace the feed tube pusher and press firmly with the food processor on. Transfer to bowl with the cabbages.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, both mustards, vinegar, celery salt, kosher salt, and pepper. Pour enough mayonnaise dressing over the grated vegetables and toss to moisten well. Add crumbled blue cheese and parsley and toss together. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours to allow the flavors to meld. Serve cold or at room temperature.

About Jennie Henderson