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RBR Tailgating: Pineapple Upside Down Cake

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Contrary to assumptions, this recipe is terrifically tailgate friendly. I’ve got a recent travel slideshow to prove it! Everybody loves travel slideshows. Let me tell you about my time in…

To get this out of the way, this recipe is not a ham fisted tribute to Tua’s Hawaiian roots. Any attempt at such a thing registers on my tacky meter. He will and should heal, rehab, and look forward to a brilliant future without pandering paeans to his home from the likes of me. Godspeed and all. Honestly, Godspeed. You gave us a hell of a ride (maybe you could come back for a year? We’d be very happy if you did. I know, but… we’d be very happy if you did.)

I’ve had this on the back burner for quite some time. Besides, Hawaii has seen its pineapple market share fall as of late. Apparently there are more profitable places grow the fruit. So while the island paradise remains the only US state to grow pineapples commercially their crop accounts for about two percent of the yearly global yield.

This recipe is a tribute to Idaho.

In early August my family and I took a white water rafting trip down the Main Salmon River. I tend to go off on Cliff Claven like “I’ve been to Florida” orations about this particular trip so I’ll cut this short and leave you uninformed about the bald eagles, weirdo miners, the snake in the boat, and all manner of other matters of interest. What I will inform upon (Can you inform upon? Does that work grammatically?) is the food.

Of the sixteen of us on our four raft flotilla, four were paid guides. I talked to the guides about the amazing efficiency with which they cooked for us.

Every morning we had fruit, scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, and toast. Depending on the day that breakfast also included French toast or pancakes. Lunch was simpler: cold cut sandwiches and an array of crackers and chips.

But dinner. Holy mudderstuff, dinner. Over the course of our five nights in the middle of nowhere we were treated to salmon doused in butter with lemon, a very moist chicken even though it was white meat, hearty lasagna, burritos with freshly squeezed margarita mix and by that I mean there were actual freshly squeezed margaritas with tequila and everything, and rib eye steaks.

Anybody that thinks themselves a tailgate expert should take lessons from the Salmon River guides. They had set roles, I was told, that they were trained in as much as they were trained in the whys and why nots of the river as it changed through the season.

They worked quietly with a paucity of tools. Each had a pair of pliers in their belt used to convey hot plate or pan from flame to table or vice versa. I thought that was kinda cool. I felt a bit ashamed of my rubber/plastic heat gloves. Why wasn’t I reaching into the tool box like a real man… or woman. One of the cool guides was a woman.

They didn’t even speak to each other as they prepped and cooked. It was like a ballet. Then my kids got involved.

My oldest son ingratiated himself to the sole young lady guide. I’m sure that the fact that she was attractive had no bearing on his interest in the bakery to follow. What needs be noted is that this, and a great many other things, was perfectly cooked with driftwood fires and prepped on a table that had just recently been lashed to my raft to serve as my seat. Tailgaters take note, I’ve never seen more done with less.

This is my son’s recollection, more or less, but he did it on a sandy beach where there was the threat of bears.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

- ¼ cup butter

- ½ cup brown sugar

- 20 oz. can sliced pineapple, juices reserved

- 1 box yellow cake mix and eggs and vegetable oil as called for - generally 15.5 oz mix, 3 eggs, and ½ cup oil, but obey the directions.

So this is really simple. On the river, the cool people made it in a Dutch oven over an open flame. You can do the same at your tailgate and I’ll look and regard your accomplishments and consider you among the Vikings.

To be among the Vikings you’ll have to get a feel for and check frequently the temperature of your flame. Otherwise, pre-heat your oven per the premixed cake instructions - 325˚ F for me.

Melt the butter in the bottom of your 13” x 9” pan or totally cool Dutch oven and remove from heat.

Sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter. Aim for even distribution.

Layer the Pineapple.

Pour in the mix, and cook per instructions. 45 minutes at 350˚ ought to do it.

If they can do it on the beaches of the Main Salmon, you can do it in the shadow of Bryant Denny. Oh, and flip it over so the pineapple is on top.

I will Clavin beyond tolerance if I don’t stop. Everybody needs a week of river time in Idaho. If you can’t get away, take a slice of river goodness while you debate Mac and our future.

We saw a once in a lifetime talent light things up. Now the consensus is that we have to rely on a game manager. That’s fine. We’ve done pretty well with game managers in the past. I just don’t think Jones is a game manager as we think of it. He’s the highly recruited guy who didn’t beat out Tua for the starting position. That’s not a derision.

We are about to find out if he’s dangerous or not. I say he is. So, I assume, do Jeudy, Smith, Ruggs (after he rests his ribs,) Waddle, Harris, and the rest of our heavenly host. Speed. God, there’s so much speed.

Enjoy, no injuries (a whole rosary toward this end if you’ll join me,) and Roll Tide.