Two-a-days have wrapped up in Stillwater and Norman, the bands are fine-tuning their timing, cheerleaders have been chosen, and it's almost time to kickoff the 2012 college football season.
So, let the tailgating begin.
As we have for the past two football seasons, The Oklahoman will host a tailgating challenge between the two schools that will culminate in a showdown at American Propane in time for the Bedlam game, featuring the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University.
Our friendly little cook-off will henceforth be known as The Ultimate Crimson vs. Orange Tailgate Face-Off.
The rules will be a little different this year. Entrants must submit at least one recipe to be considered. Pictures are encouraged as are videos. We will not only be looking for recipes that sound delicious, but also tailgate-friendly. What that means is, can it be toted from tent to tent? Does the dish fit in one hand so a cold beverage can be carried in the other? Be creative, show your spirit, but most importantly, have fun.
To enter, go to http://newsok.com/tailgating/submit/ and fill out the form. Entries must be submitted by midnight Sept. 30.
To kick off this year's tailgating, I rounded up some folks who know a thing or two about the reason for the season.
Brad Vincent and Chad O'Neal have football in their blood. Both played in college, Brad at Texas Tech University and Chad at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. So when the opportunity to revive the Split-T Grill became available back in 1994, they jumped at the chance.
But to do that, they had to convince founder Vince Stephens to let loose of the recipe for the hickory sauce for which the Split-T became famous.
Ask Brad or Chad, and they'll tell you Stephens never gave anyone the full recipe until he gave it to them. They'll tell you Stephens went to great lengths to make sure he was the only one who made the final mix.
The Split-T property was sold in 2000. Brad and Chad will tell you they work half as hard and make twice as much since they got out of the restaurant business. But they still own the recipe to that hickory sauce, which graced the No. 1, a hickory burger, and the Theta.
The Theta was named when members of the sorority made started asking to have mayo added to their No. 1 burgers. Eventually, someone taking the order started noting “theta” on the ticket so the kitchen would know what to do.
“A true Theta Burger is topped with mayo, sliced pickles, hickory sauce and grated cheddar cheese on a sesame bun — Vince was a stickler about that,” Brad said. “I am an onion lover, but it was not on the original Theta.”
Chad and Brad said you can now get true Theta Burgers at Louie's restaurants, Henry Hudson's, The Greens Country Club, Quail Creek Country Club, Les Debris and at the State Fair.
Split-T Hickory Sauce can be found at Crest Stores, Sprout's Markets, Buy For Less stores, The Meat House, Everything BBQ, Holder Brothers Beef, Jack's Fire House and American Propane.
To talk Sooner tailgating, I spoke with Paula Barrington, who along with Pam Wiley, is responsible for The Catering Girls tailgate. Paula is famous first and foremost for her Bloody Mary. One sip and I was sold. I am historically not a Bloody Mary person, but this mix of heat and spice was good enough to eat with a spoon and call gazpacho.
Tailgaters started calling Barrington and Wiley the catering girls because of the breadth of products they bring to their tailgate. You'll find their tailgate just north of University and Boyd, near the First Presbyterian Church in Norman.
Barrington said her food secret weapon is the bratwurst, but that no one walks away from their tailgate hungry or thirsty.
As for the Sooners, she said, “I expect a national championship and nothing less every year.”
Up in Stillwater, on the west side of the architecture building just south of the stadium parking lot, you'll find Laura Steen and her husband, Conner, surrounded by the same friends and their families that started tailgating while in college close to a decade ago.
“We all keep expanding our families, and the tailgate just keeps getting bigger,” she said. “It's meant our tailgate has had to adapt to having kids around.”
Steen said the go-to tailgate treat is the Walk-o Taco, also known as a walking taco or a taco in a bag. Simply cut open a single-serving size bag of tortilla chips — Laura prefers Doritos — and replace the air so kindly supplied by the folks at Frito-Lay with seasoned ground beef, lettuce, cheese, salsa, onions and whatever taco-friendly toppings you prefer.
“You can walk from tent to tent with it,” she said. “And still hold a cold beer.”
Whether you bleed orange, crimson or a little bit of both; and whether you trek to Stillwater, Norman or open up the back patio, part of what makes the fall so fun is getting together with friends for football, fellowship and flavor.
If you think you excel at any or all of those things, by all means enter the contest.
Here's a recipe for Theta Burgers and a healthy choice for gyros from Ultimate Tailgating Face-Off sponsors Homeland and the Oklahoma Beef Council.
Makes 6-8 burgers
2 pounds 80-20 ground chuck, formed into 1/4- to 1/3-pound patties
Grated cheddar cheese
Split-T Hickory Sauce
6 to 8 Sesame seed buns
Food Dude Note: Though Vince Stephens wouldn't approve, I think diced onions are a great addition.
TZATZIKI-SAUCED GREEK STEAK WRAPS
Makes 6 sandwiches
3 beef shoulder center steaks, cut 3/4-inch thick (about 8 ounces each)
3 1/2 teaspoons Greek seasoning (salt-free or lightly salted), divided
1 cup finely diced unpeeled English cucumber
1/3 cup drained, chopped pitted kalamata olives
8 ounces (1 cup) plain Greek yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh dill
6 soft whole-grain bread wraps, such as naan, pita or flatbread (about 7-inch diameter)
3/4 cup chopped grape tomatoes
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Nutrition information per serving: 301 calories; 15 g fat (7 g saturated fat; 5 g monounsaturated fat); 79 mg cholesterol; 402 mg sodium; 12 g carbohydrate; 1.3 g fiber; 28 g protein; 4.7 mg niacin; 0.6 mg vitamin B6; 4.4 mcg vitamin B12; 3.0 mg iron; 36.6 mcg selenium; 6.3 mg zinc; 87.8 mg choline.
This recipe is an excellent source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, selenium and zinc; and a good source of iron and choline.