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