Tailgate Treats – Week #1 “Crazy Good Dip”

It is finally here! In less than 24 hours my friends and I will be in Jordan Hare stadium cheering on the Auburn Tigers. Each home game weekend this fall I  plan to share one of my favorite tailgate recipes. This week has been a hectic one, the first full week of classes and we were having a nightly gospel meeting at church so this week’s recipe is one of the quickest and simplest ones I have. I discovered the recipe a few years ago on an online blog (I do not even remember which one it was) it is popular on Pinterest and popular in my kitchen. It is great if you need a quick tailgate food or even if company is on the way. So regardless of whether you are watching the game from home or traveling to your school to tailgate this recipe is always a crowd favorite.

All you need are 4 simple ingredients.

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1 Packet of Ranch Dressing Mix

1 Cup Cheddar Cheese (I prefer finely shredded)

1 3 oz. pack of bacon pieces (if you are feeling fancy you can cook your own and crumble it)

16 oz. of sour cream

First mix your sour cream and ranch seasoning, then add the bacon, and cheese. It tastes better if you let it sit in the fridge overnight. Even if you don’t it still tastes good!  You can make this  “healthier” if you choose to use  low-fat or fat-free cheese and sour cream.

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It is VERY simple, quick and does not require many ingredients. I like to buy a aluminum loaf pan that I can pour the dip in and that way instead of having to deal with a dish when it is time to go to the game I can just throw the pan away.

It tastes great with chips, crackers or even vegetables!

New School Year, Domain, Look, Series

I have successfully survived my “last first day of school”. I should have got my brother Brady to take my picture this morning before I left with my backpack and lunchbox, however it was 5:45am and I don’t think he would have appreciated it very much if I would have woke him. Needless to say I am very happy to be back in Auburn, I was able to have a turkey sub from BBQ House for lunch so it has been a good day.

Anna Leigh Peek BBQ House

 I started a few days later than the rest of Auburn students because last week I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the AgChat Foundation’s Agvocacy 2.0 Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

AgChat 2013

Photo Courtesy of Chuck Zimmerman

Since my major is Agriculture Communications I was so excited to be going to a conference that was all about social media and agriculture. I was able to finally meet folks I have followed on Twitter and Blogs for years now. We also had a swap on Thursday night where we swapped items from our state with others. I came home with some pretty awesome swAG.

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At the conference I was able to learn from some of the best Ag-vocates out there. I was able to learn how to use some social media platforms I have not really considered like Pinterest. I even learned a few tips about Facebook (I thought I had mastered the Facebook) I have been motivated to blog more and was even motivated that I now have my own domain (www.ALfromAL.com) and have left blogger to come to Word Press. 

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We had a great panel discussion there with guest panelist which included a mom blogger, nutritionist, blogger and a chef. It was a great reminder of why we were there, even though they are very educated individuals they still lack a great understanding of food and where it comes from and also shows we still have so much work to do. I have came home energized and hoping to do more blogging on food production and just more writing in general. So a few things to look for in the coming weeks:

1. Harvest Posts- harvest is coming up so why not show it? I hope to show how food leaves the field on its way to your plate. 

cotton harvest Alabama

2. Football Posts: Auburn Traditions / Fun Facts on Mondays and Tailgate Recipes on Fridays. There will also be travel stories at least from Texas A&M hopefully some other schools. 

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3.  Summer Internship- a few posts looking back on my experiences with Monsanto this summer in the Dakotas 

South Dakota Sunset Internship Anna Leigh PeekIt should be a fun fall and I am going to try to enjoy it as much as I can seeing that it is my last fall in Auburn as a student. Keep up with my adventures here!

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Decoration Days: It’s An Alabama Thing

Since I was a little girl I remember every second Saturday in August as Decoration Day. Decoration Day is an annual event held in rural cemeteries especially in North Alabama, I am not sure how prevalent they are in other areas of the country, but from my research it does not seem that they are common. My grandfather, great-grandparents, and some of my great-great-grandparents as well as numerous aunts, uncles and cousins are buried in Sandlin Cemetery in Northwestern Limestone County. 
 
 
Decoration Day is not just a day to put pretty flowers on the headstones, but has become more of a social event in recent years. Decoration day years ago was more of a maintenance day, but now the grass at the cemetery is usually cut a day or two before the decoration day and old flowers removed. Decoration days are typically held between March and September when the weather is warm. At Sandlin there used to be a meal served, typically consisting of goat stew, but they no longer eat, but it doesn’t stop people from walking around and visiting with friends, neighbors and relatives. 
 
 
New flowers are affixed to headstones. My grandmother and her daughter make their own arrangements each year a few days prior to the event. She fixes flowers for several relatives graves on both her side of the family as well as my late grandfather’s family. We go to the cemetery, fix the flowers and talk to others there doing the same. Although they no longer cook at Sandlin, we still go to Nana’s house and have goat stew just like they used to do. 
 
 
Decoration day is always a good day for me to learn. Each year I am reminded of my relatives and it helps me to remember our family ancestry as well as the connections to other members of the community. My dad says he always remembers going to decoration days growing up, however my mom who grew up on the east side of the county had never heard of it until she married my dad. Decoration days are not widely practiced, but there are several rural cemeteries across the county that still have them. It will be very interesting to see if they continue through the next generation or if it will fizzle out as the years go by. 
Does your geographic region have decoration days or do anything interesting / special when it comes to the upkeep or remember loved ones that have passed on?
You can read more about decoration days in the Encyclopedia of Alabama http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/Article.jsp?id=h-2316

Where’s the Dirt?

Tuesday I had the opportunity to visit with Steve Carpenter of Jack-O-Lantern Farms in Muscle Shoals, AL (which is in North Alabama near Florence). 
 
 
 
They grow produce hydroponically which means they grow their plants in a mineral solution and not in soil! It was very interesting to learn about the different methods he uses to grow plants. His tomatoes, lettuce and peppers are grown in this way. 
 
 
 
 He does grow some of his fruits and vegetables traditionally in a garden type setting, but since people typically think of farmers as being someone who plays in the dirt it was a very cool setup. They sell their produce to some of the restaurants in the Florence area, including the 360 Grille which is a landmark in Florence. They also have a farmers market Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday where anyone can come buy their produce. Want to know more? You can find out more about Jack-O-Lantern Farms at their website http://www.jackolanternfarm.com/ and also in the October edition of the Alabama Cooperative Farming News Magazine or on their website http://www.alafarmnews.com.
 

Adventures of the Traveling Minions

Thanks to McDonald’s Happy Meals I have had some travel buddies the last few weeks, a trio of minions. 
 
I hated to part with them so they journeyed with me from South Dakota back to Alabama. 
 
 
They rode with my boss and I to the airport. 
 
 
Went through security and waited on the airplane
 
They were very excited for their first plane ride. 
 
Lucky them they got a window seat.
 
Enjoyed a seat back magazine. 
 
The obeyed all posted and lighted signs (staying buckled  no smoking). 
 
Endured a layover in Minneapolis. 
 
Safely arrived in St. Louis and took the shuttle to the hotel.
 
Worked on a marketing presentation.
 
Slept Good. 
 
Very good. 
 
Ordered room service. 
 
Made sure to stay fresh. 
 
Made it back to Alabama riding in my backpack. 
 
They are adjusting well to life in Alabama. Sitting on the front porch 
 
 
and drinking sweet tea. 
 
I think they’ll like life at the Peek house.