We had big plans for today.
On this particular Saturday, we live in the epicenter of the sports world. #1 ranked LSU is coming here to Tuscaloosa for a night game with #2 Alabama, and the excitement has been building for months. Some of the things I love about the South are the tradition, pride, loyalties, and festivities that surround college football. It’s really a cultural experience like no other. If you’re a sports fan and you haven’t been down here, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you come for a weekend.
Tailgating sites in this part of the country regularly include twinkle lights, chandeliers, huge televisions, bouquets in vases, blow-up mascots, and all manner of tableclothes, napkins, tote bags, etc. in team color schemes. We heat up cider with fresh fruit slices on mini-grills. Many girls wear cocktail dresses to tailgates and games, and their dates from fraternities wear sport coats and ties. Between the ever-popular autumnal decorations and the sports, fall may very well be everyone’s favorite season around here.
So anyway, we’d spent weeks brainstorming clever, catchy slogans for signs to take to the GameDay set. We bought six pieces of posterboard and two pieces of wood to attach them to. We got tickets for a lunchtime gumbo cookoff at the student center. We debated whether to watch the first half of the game at home, or walk through campus to be part of the atmosphere, hear the roars of the crowd, and keep up with the score on tailgaters’ TVs.
But then… it was a long, tough, busy week for both of us at work. The tickle I’d noticed quickly became a full-blown painful sore throat. We ran out of steam. We definitely did not feel like staying up late to make signs and getting up early to fight traffic on campus and hold them up for hours in a big, crazy crowd. So, we drove down University Avenue on Friday night to check out the fans, mood, and tents. And then we came home and settled into sweats and cups of hot tea.
But, you know, I think we enjoyed today even more than we would have if we’d taken part in all the hype. It was really our favorite kind of weekend, with the anticipation of a huge game and the promise of an extra hour due to daylight savings time as happy added bonuses. We slept in and had a leisurely, snuggly, robe-wearing morning watching GameDay from our comfy couch. We took a long walk with our dog in our favorite neighborhood, grocery-shopped, went to the gym, and made big salads for lunch. We whipped up some Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins and put them on the adorable “sports nut” plate my sister surprised us with last year. (It wasn’t for a birthday or any other occasion, just arrived in the mail one day out of the blue. I love those kinds of gifts.)
My friend Kim suggested this recipe to me a few days ago, and I was excited to give it a try. We adapted it a little bit, using gluten-free flour and xantham gum (we’ve been experimenting with eating less gluten lately), and replacing the sugar with agave nectar. (We increased the flour by 1/4 cup to compensate for the liquid sweetener.) I think walnuts would be delicious in there too. And I liked the boiling water technique- I’d never used it before but it created a smooth, chocolatey addition to the batter.
Another pumpkin chocolate chip muffin that we’ve enjoyed in the past is this one from the Vegan Lunch Box cookbook. There’s a fantastic cake-like, maple syrup-sweetened, wholegrain cornbread recipe in there too. Serve it with fresh black-eyed peas and greens for a different, non-sports related Southern cultural experience. :)