Backyard Ballpark Nostalgia

Bringing picnic baskets to the ball park, like in the old days, is no longer an option (sigh…) so when I get the urge to indulge in America’s favorite past time, I like to re-create our mid-century memories in our own back yard.

Central to the afternoon is piping in baseball games  through outdoor speakers– the sound of the game will set the tone.  Big aluminum wash bins are perfect for filling with ice and bottles of beer and local soda pops, such as Goose Island Craft Sodas and placing them conveniently around the back yard.
When it comes to snacks everyone will want to try all of their ball park favorites, so keep portions small and portable.  We’re smitten with a slider bar that’s stocked with sliders of barbecued chicken and marinated skirt steak, all marked with wooden sandwich picks. Inviting some vegetarians?  Caprese pesto stacks, made with tomatoes and mozzarella, are a great vegetarian “slider” of sorts.

It’s not baseball without hot dogs. All-beef 3” hot dogs  topped with Chicago-centric ingredients like pickle, tomato wedges, green relish, onion, celery salt, and sport peppers are an obvious choice.  Pair them with cones of hot French fries that have been tossed in spiced salts and served with a selection of dipping sauces…truffle mayo anyone?

For dessert, we know you’re thinking about [as American as] apple pie. But, in hot weather, we think that something cool and portable is a better choice.  Think butter pecan milkshakes (add a splash of bourbon for the grown ups).