Friday, April 8, 2011

Cooking with Catfish Hunter

Today, I would quickly like to share one of my "sports" cookbooks with you. The title is Cooking with Catfish Hunter, published in 1988. Although the name Catfish Hunter may drum up memorable baseball memories for some, others may suspect that we are about to embark on a catfish fishing trip. No. I may have worn more than my fair share of little league coach hats (the kids use to call me coach smurfette; not kidding:) and team mom chauffeur nameplates, I don't do catfish fishing; never have, never will, I suspect.

I first became "acquainted" with Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher James Augustus Hunter when my son John was but a toddler. He took a liking to baseball at a very young age and to be perfectly honest, the roster of sports enthusiasm has continued to grow through the years. Thankfully, my fabulous daughter-in-law, Kyla, just goes with it...It wasn't long before John became a huge Yankees fan, as did I. (Just for the record, Michele is a Mets fan:)

I chose today to share a few recipes from Cooking with Catfish Hunter because, according to biography.com, James Augustus Hunter, Catfish to fans, was born on April 8, 1946. I found the scoop on his "fishy" nickname at The Baseball Hall of Fame.

Cooking with Catfish Hunter
Jim Hunter’s parents christened him James Augustus Hunter on April 8, 1946. Nineteen years later he made it to the big leagues and his colorful new boss, A’s owner Charlie Finley (nickname: Charley O), took it upon himself to give his future star a more memorable tag, complete with back-story. As a boy growing up in rural North Carolina, the tale went, young Jim returned home from fishing with a very impressive catch—thus earning him his famous nickname. Almost no baseball fan (or, very likely, any of his teammates) ever knew Jim Hunter as anything but Catfish. The name and the fable followed him throughout his career and all the way to Cooperstown.

When the time came for his induction into the Hall of Fame, Catfish was so torn between his allegiance to his two former teams, the Athletics and the Yankees, he chose to enter the Hall of Fame with a cap bearing no team insignia at all. In the end, his baseball nickname was so enduring that it outlasted his uniform.

Although there are scores of celebrity websites that pay homage to Catfish Hunter, very few, if any, mention the fact that he had diabetes. He was also author of two cookbooks; Catfish Hunter's Southern Cookbook, Cooking with "Catfish" Hunter; Tasty Recipes for People with Diabetes and a memoir; Catfish: My Life in Baseball.

I usually do a quick google search before posting cookbook recipes to avoid duplicating a recipe. Many times, it's difficult to sidestep a recipe due to its popularity or just because the internet may just be the largest virtual cookbook in the world! (The newest mammoth print cooking book I know of was recently released in March of 2011. Entitled Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, it is six-volumes, 2,438-pages and comes with a hefty price. Here's the official website.) Back to Catfish...

The first recipe I would like to share is for Seventh Game Soup in essence, a Black Bean Soup. Oh, I know, soup season should have been over about a month ago here in PA but while I was researching a choice recipe, this recipe was requested on so many message boards and websites I just had to post it in hope the person seeking it will find it. (Sorry, I don't post on message boards)

Seventh Game Soup Black Bean Soup
A rich soup of South American origin, this is almost a meal in itself. The combination of quickly sauteed onions, garlic, celery and peppers is called a sofrito. Add fresh or drained cannedtomatoes to it if they don't appear elsewhere on your menu. The vegetables are a good source of vitamin A and C, and the black beans are very high in fiber. You can double the recipe and freeze in individual portions.
1 cup dried black beans
1 quart chicken stock
1 quart water
2 bay leaves
2 tbs. safflower oil
1 large onion chopped
2 celery stalks, with leaves, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 each of small red, green and yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1-1/2 tbs. balsamic or red wine vinegar
1/2 cup low fat yogurt
2 to 3 tbs. chopped fresh parsley or coriander
freshly ground pepper to taste

Soak beans overnight in water to cover. Drain beans and place in soup kettle. Add broth, water, black pepper and bay leaves, place over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat, partially cover and cook at a simmer for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, or until beans are tender. Thirty minutes before beans are done, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until vegetables have softened slightly. Stir in red, green and yellow bell peppers and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add sauteed vegetables, red pepper flakes, basil and vinegar to beans and stir well. Cook until beans are soft but vegetables still have some crunch. Ladle into soup bowls, place a dollop of yogurt in center of each bowl and sprinkle with chopped parsley or coriander. Makes 6 cups, serving 4.

Next up we have a Home Plate Special; Chicken Kebabs.

Home Plate Special; Chicken Kebabs
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
Mint-Yogurt Marinade
1 cup plain low fat yogurt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1-1/2 tbs. olive oil
3 to 4 tbs. chopped fresh mint
2 garlic cloves
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
Orange-Dill Marinade
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp. grated orange rind
Dash hot pepper sauce
1-1/2 tbs. chopped fresh dill
2 garlic cloves
1 scallion
Vinaigrette Marinade
Juice of 1 lemon
1-1/2 tbs. olive or safflower oil
1 tbs. soy sauce
Dash hot pepper sauce
2 shallots or 1 small onion
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried rosemary, or oregano
To prepare chicken, remove and discard all fat, cut chicken into long 1-inch-wide strips, or into 1-1/2 inch cubes, and place in bowl.
To prepare any of the marinades, place all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend until garlic or shallots are chopped fine. Pour over chicken and mix ingredients well. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat broiler. Thread chicken on skewers and broil 3-1/2 to 4 inches from heat source for 4 to 5 minutes, without turning, until chicken is cooked and lightly browned. Serves 4.

Catfish Hunter passed away in 1999 from Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He was 53 years old.

"While Hunter's feats on the mound have earned him a place in baseball history, he will also be remembered for what he did off the mound. Hunter was an ace pitcher, to be sure, but he was also an ace of a human being, whose down-home farm boy personality endeared him to the hearts of many. Years after his retirement, he remained a household name. After being diagnosed with ALS, Hunter struck back and founded the Jim "Catfish" Hunter ALS Foundation hoping to use his name as a baseball Hall of Famer to raise awareness about the disease and raise funds for research and for ALS patients. In this way, Hunter hoped to "strike out" the disease, just as he did so many batters. Even after he'd lost control of most of his body, Hunter continued in the fight to raise funds for his cause. His widow continues today. Though Hunter is gone, his foundation and his feats on the mound live on. (source)

FYI: Today is National Empanada Day! Yes, I shared a few recipes way back in 2008 when I first started this blog. Perhaps that's why no one left a comment. Perhaps?

"For the ninth year in a row, the town of Celebration, Florida will become the Pie Capital of the World on April 9th & 10th 2011 when thousands of pie lovers, tasters and bakers gather together for the Great American Pie Festival sponsored by Crisco®."

1. National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
2. Card Corner: Jim “Catfish” Hunter


  1. I love this kind of book; I am not much of a baseball fan, so I never heard of Catfish Hunter. What a horrible disease that knocks young poeple down.
    That chicken looks wonderful; again Louise another intersting post.

  2. Ha! I definitely thought of actual catfish because I grew up in the South!

  3. That one was obscure even for you!

    BTW: Modernist Cuisine makes it onto my list of "books I don't ever want to own or read."

  4. I don't know much about baseball, but those recipe look great. At first, I thought that you were spaking about the fish... ;-P



  5. I thought you meant sports as in sport fishing, as in real catfish...

    On that note, I do love the LL Bean hunting and fishing cookbook.

  6. Love these cookbooks. I recently got a San Francisco Giants Cookbook at the White Elephant Sale. Will look up the title. Didn't even check for Chocolate Recipes! Happy Empanada day, too. They're not chocolate, so I didn't post :-)

  7. I too thought it was a fish cookbook (like rosa) not being familiar with baseball but this sounds like a great guy.

    Wanted to let you know I have given you a stylish blogger award at http://gggiraffe.blogspot.com/2011/04/memes-are-due-thanks-are-due.html - pass it on if you have the time or inclination - or just know that I love your blog

  8. What a wonderful post about Catfish Hunter, Louise. How sad that he was not only diabetic, but died from ALS. He sounds like a fine man and one who boys could look up to.

    Interesting he had two cookbooks. Both of these recipes look excellent, too.

  9. that is funny! I met CATFISH and got his autograph on a baseball when i was a kid..:) What a great memory

  10. I had no idea Catfish Hunter had a cookbook. I've been a baseball fan since was ten, so I'm well aware of Catfish Hunter. What a neat addition to your cookbook collection and the recipes don't sound half bad.

  11. i have several nicknames, but none are as inherently awesome as 'catfish'!
    that black bean soup looks stellar, as does the list of marinades, the mint-yogurt one in particular. great post, louise!

  12. I remember Catfish Hunter. I don't much take to current celebrity cookbooks, but I'm fascinated by the ones from 20 plus years ago - some names familiar, and others just a distant memory. Good to know Catfish embraced the game on the mound and in the kitchen.

  13. I grew up in a house full of baseball fans, but I didn't know of Catfish Hunter. Interesting that he also wrote cookbooks. The black bean soup and the chicken kebabs both look great!

  14. Wow, Louise, outstanding post, as always. As an avid baseball fan (go Giants!) I would snap up this book in a minute if I ever saw it for sale. Along with the bb connection, it looks like it has some great recipes as an added bonus. Did you find it used somewhere? Let me know whenever you're culling out your cookbook collection -- I could trade you one Jacqueline Kennedy's personal White House chef cookbook for this one ;)

  15. I love visiting here because I get smarter each time, I do. This was interesting and I am just a bit knowledgeable. Add all those bits up and you have made me one smart lady.

    Thanks for taking the time to put these together. I could stay and read for quite a while.

  16. I know nothing about baseball,and I don't know Catfish Hunter. So interesting that he wrote cookbooks!

  17. Not my usual ingredient for a food recipe, but I'm willing to try this. It looks good! :)
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  18. I'd love to know what you think, Misa. Thanks for visiting!

  19. To learn more about Catfish Hunter and the event I run in his memory, please visit www.facebook.com/JCHALSS

    Our 15th annual event is in just two weeks!!


Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise