Candace Braun Davison loves theUniversity of South Florida’s tailgate culture so much that she wants everyone to know about it.
“As a recent grad and Tampa Bay-area native, I set out to do exactly that with ‘The Collegiate Cookbook: USF Gameday Edition,’ available now on Amazon,” she said. “The book features more than 40 recipes, all with full-color photos, and 25 percent of the proceeds go toward student scholarships at the university.”
Temple Terrace Patch talked with Braun Davison to learn more about her book and USF’s tailgate culture. Here’s what she had to say.
Temple Terrace Patch: When did you graduate from USF? What degree did you earn?
Candace Braun Davison: I graduated from USF in May 2010 with a degree in Mass Communications.
Temple Terrace Patch: Where, specifically, in the Tampa Bay area are you from? Do you still live here?
Braun Davison: I grew up in the Palm Harbor and Tarpon Springs areas, but in college I moved to Tampa (specifically Temple Terrace). Since January 2010, I’ve lived in New York, where I work in the magazine industry (I completed my final semester long-distance). My family still lives in Palm Harbor and many of my friends live in Temple Terrace, so I try to make it back five to six times a year.
Temple Terrace Patch: Can you tell me about USF’s tailgate culture? What’s it like? Why do you enjoy it?
Braun Davison: Over the past few years, USF has made great strides in shedding its commuter school image, where students show up for classes, leave, and that’s it. There’s a sense of community, of family, and that’s most palpable on gameday. Students from every branch campus are there, as well as alumni and Tampa Bay area Bulls fans in general, and everybody welcomes each other openly. I love being able to wander from one tent to another, playing games, sharing grilling tips and getting to know other fans. I’ve had friends who started talking to strangers as they painted up before a game, and before I knew it, my friends were getting painted too.
The best part, though, is seeing the creative ways people tailgate. The area’s a wash of green and gold, and so many people have really taken ownership of those colors and created their own signature gameday looks and rituals. There’s the green and gold guys, who are so expertly doused in glitter that they shine from halfway across the stadium; the Beef Studs and Beef Babes, who take body paint to the next level with their uniform-like designs, horned helmets and hula skirts; and the Pinterest-savvy sorority girls, who are total pros at turning an oversized USF tee into a dress or halter top.
The tailgates themselves can vary from a bunch of friends flipping burgers and playing flip cup to USF’s Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) bus, which has been known to have DJs spinning and a Jacuzzi in tow. I love it so much that I actually devoted six pages of the book to the tailgate culture, and it includes interviews with the Beef Studs, SAE, an alumni watch party organizer and a sports photographer.
Temple Terrace Patch: How did this book come about? Why did you want to create a book that features USF tailgate recipes?
Braun Davison: I really wanted to capture the burgeoning sense of community that surrounds gameday at USF, and help strengthen it, if I can. So many universities with storied football programs also have a deep-rooted tailgate culture. Fans have rituals, meals they must make for every game, lucky clothes they wear—and I think USF can have that too. To some degree, we already do, and if there’s any way I can spread that passion for Bulls football to other people, I want to do it.
Temple Terrace Patch: Are you a chef? A writer?
I’m a girl who likes to eat. By day, I’m the web editor forOprah.com, and in my spare time, I run a cooking site for students called CollegiateCook.com. I’ve taken a few courses at the French Culinary Institute in NYC, but I’m not a chef.
Temple Terrace Patch: Where did you get the recipes from? Did you make them all up yourself?
Braun Davison: Most of the recipes were inspired by dishes people raved about at their own tailgates and watch parties. I tried to put my own spin on a lot of classic party foods: buffalo chicken wings became cheesy buffalo chicken pinwheels, Chex mix got a green & gold, sweet-meets-savory makeover with our Rocky’s UnstoppaBull Snack Mix—even the traditional sugar cookie gets an upgrade with a crackling Pop Rocks center. We call that one the Fourth Quarter Kaboom! Cookie.
Temple Terrace Patch: Will you be tailgating this year? What recipe will you use the most? What’s your favorite recipe?
Braun Davison: I’ll be in New York for most of the season, but I’ll be watch-partying for sure. The “Sweet Victory” green velvet cupcakes, Rocky’s UnstoppaBull Snack Mix and Buffalo chicken pinwheels will be my go-to recipes. My favorite has to be the “Sweet Victory/Drown Your Sorrows” boozy cupcakes. They’re a rich green velvet cake with a vodka-infused cream cheese frosting. It’s a delicious alternative to the classic shot, and I like to joke that you eat one to celebrate a win...and eat two to drown your sorrows if you lose.
Temple Terrace Patch: Why should people buy this book?
Braun Davison: People should pick up this cookbook to upgrade their tailgate game beyond the traditional burgers and hot dogs. The recipes are surprisingly easy to make (OK, except for the Fourth Quarter Kaboom! Cookies—those a bit labor intensive), and they’re loaded with flavor. You don’t even have to be a Bulls fan to enjoy these dishes, but with the USF trivia, “Taste of Gameday” section and themed recipes, you may just find yourself donning the green & gold after going through it.
Check out this recipe from the book:
Rocky’s UnstoppaBull Snack Mix
The best part about this mix? You can make it your own! If you’re not a fan of peanut butter, you can coat the Chex with an equal amount of melted white or dark chocolate, or butter mixed with a teaspoon of cinnamon.
Cook Time: 8-10 minutes
½ cup peanut butter chips
1 teaspoon canola oil
4 cups Honey Nut Chex
2 cups pretzels
1 cup green and yellow M&Ms
2 cups popcorn
1 cup pistachios
1. Place peanut butter chips and canola oil in a bowl and microwave for 20 seconds. Stir and continue heating in 20-second intervals until melted.
2. Toss the Chex and melted peanut butter in a large mixing bowl until the cereal is lightly coated. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread a thin layer of cereal across it. Put it in the fridge to set for 5-7 minutes.
3. Break up the coated Chex into bite-sized pieces, then toss in a mixing bowl with the other ingredients.