In 1985, the Cardinals - or to be more accurate, “the St. Louis Baseball Cardinals Wives,” as they’re credited - published a cookbook: Cooking With the Cardinals. So as the Hot Stove Season cools to a simmer, what better time for Viva El Birdos to become what destiny has always pulled it toward: A cooking blog.
Can John Tudor make a lobster bisque? What is Bob Forsch’s favorite cocktail? What is Coke Cherry Jello? These are among the questions I will seek to answer.
Cooking With the Cardinals and its sequel, 1988’s Cooking With the Cardinals II, are fascinating artifacts. They contain some impressive made-from-scratch recipes and a handful of dishes from around the world - especially via the Latin American players. But the books are also a product of their time, which means a whole lot of 1980s midwestern potluck fare: Canned fruit cocktail, cream of mushroom soup and jello.
The majority of the recipes are attributed to the players’ wives, but several are credited to the players themselves, and I have to admit I was especially drawn to those.
I became aware of Cooking With the Cardinals through Julie Wiskirchen, who writes the Cardinal Girl blog and tweets haikus after ever game. She’s blogged about a few of the recipes, and I will (mostly) not overlap with what she’s already cooked.
So, with that introduction out of the way, why not start with a cocktail and an appetizer?
Bob’s Poolside Libation
For 15 years, Bob Forsch was a force in the Cardinals rotation. Since WWII, only Bob Gibson has pitched more innings for the team. While he has the distinction of being the only Redbird to ever throw two no-hitters, his real value was his reliability. In his 14 full seasons as a Cardinal, he topped 180 innings in 10, and only once threw fewer than 100.
Now, this drink is on the fringe of what you might call a “recipe,” almost like writing down instructions for a PBJ. It’s basically Malibu and pineapple juice. Ask around any sorority and they’ll tell you that’s a winning combination. But just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean it’s not delicious.
Still, Bob did throw in a twist of lime. When I mixed a batch without the lime for my guests - an exclusive list of Des Moines area VEBers and their significant others - we agreed that little spark of acidity did actually add quite a bit.
Fresh lime, quartered
Combine 1 part rum with 2 to 3 parts (depending on taste) pineapple juice. Squeeze juice of lime quarter into each glass. Serve over ice.
“This drink is always a requested favorite when friends are together and the weather is hot. Bob prepares them by the pitcher so no one has to wait.”
Sadly, Bob Forsch died in 2011, less than a week after throwing out the first pitch at Game 7 of the World Series. So if you mix yourself up a glass (or a pitcher) of his Poolside Libation, tip your glass to the sky and toast one of the greatest pitchers in Cardinals history.
Luis Alicea’s Shrimp Dip
From when Tommy Herr was traded to the Twins a few weeks into the 1988 season until Fernando Vina stepped-in in 2000, 2nd Base was a veritable black hole. But during those years, Luis Alicea logged more games at the keystone than anyone.
This recipe comes from the 1988 Cooking With the Cardinals II, and like Bob’s Poolside Libation, it is credited to the player himself.
1 small onion, diced
2 pkg (8 oz each) cream cheese
2 cans (6.5 oz each) shrimp
1 Tbs lemon juice
Dash Tabasco sauce
Drain shrimp. Blend all ingredients together with a spoon. Mix well. Chill. Serve with crackers or chips.
So this is a pretty standard cream cheese dip recipe. Mix a little onion and a few other ingredients into cream cheese and spread it on a cracker, and it will probably turn out pretty good. Because this was the 1980s, canned shrimp seems like a logical choice.
I’ll be honest, when I first threw this together it looked like garbage. But one of my guests whipped the cream cheese more aggressively, which gave it a lighter texture and incorporated the other ingredients. The finished product, spread on a cracker, garnered positive if-not-quite rave reviews from everyone.
The next night, after sitting in the fridge for 24 hours, I dug back into the leftover dip. About 40 crackers later I decided it had definitely improved with age. I think you could kick-up the flavor a bit. If I made it again, I’d probably add some diced parsley or some other herb. It’s pretty much a blank canvas. The canned shrimp - while not the first thing I would have reached for - work fine here.
More recipes to come...