The woman two aisles over from me who was also checking out of the store seemed to have captured everyone’s attention. Since her back was to me, I was trying to figure out why other customers were staring at her. She was of medium height, medium build with short brown hair. Maybe she was some celebrity. Maybe she was robbing the store. No, the cashier was smiling and chatting with her. Then the woman behind me whispered to her friend, “She’s really got guts.” Suddenly I caught on to what this was all about. The woman was wearing a beautiful leather Vikings jacket. She was surrounded by a sea of gold and green clothing and hats. This happened in La Crosse, Wis., deep in Packer country. We all know that the Vikings and the Packers are arch rivals. The woman was brave and/or naïve. The Packer fans are rabidly enthusiastic about their football team! Personally, when I go into hostile territory, I always wear black.
Knowing I might get hate mail, I will still admit that I am not a football fan. When I watched high school football, I could never figure out who had the ball until they were tackled. Probably because I was talking when I should have been watching, or I am simply not smart enough to understand football plays. Yes, I know what a touchdown is. I know what a field goal is. I know there are four downs, and that the quarterback is the main guy. I think this is a bit unfair because he just has to throw the ball while his friends protect him. The other players have to catch that ball and avoid being tackled by enemy players. The enemy players do not play well with the ball catcher. If they catch him, they throw him to the ground and jump on top of him. I suspect they really want to hurt him rather than just recover the ball!
It was highly unusual that I watched the Vikings play the Saints recently. Over the holidays my nephew, John was excited about the Super Bowl being in Minnesota and the Vikings in general. His enthusiasm was contagious so I decided to watch the Vikings play a game. My husband refused to watch with me because after many years of watching the Vikings play and choke while he swore loudly at the TV, he was convinced that he had cursed them.
It is much easier to understand football on TV because of the replays in slow motion. I finally figured out who carried the ball BEFORE that player was tackled. I felt soooooooo smart. Then I realized that a minute in football may be 20 minutes in real time. The Vikings were winning by 17 points at half-time. Perhaps Jim had been wrong about the Vikings. Soon I discovered he hadn’t been, and I started swearing at the TV. It was agonizing to watch them play. I vowed never to watch them play again. Then just before I turned the TV off, a player by the name of Diggs caught the football, ran with it, and scored a touchdown. The VIKINGS WON. It was like a Hollywood movie.
I couldn’t wait until morning to tell Jim about the game. By the time I got up the next day he had read about the “Minnesota Miracle” in the newspaper. Since that time I have been reading the sports page every day. Jim finds this rather unsettling. I am looking forward to watching the Vikings again. Perhaps the “purple curse” has ended! Perhaps I am living with the man who started it.
Cheesesteak Potato Chowder
2 tbsps. olive oil (divided)
1 pound round steak, cut unto cubes
1 chopped onion
1 chopped green pepper
2 cups frozen hash browns, thawed
1/4 cup flour
2 cups beef broth
3 cups milk
1 tsp. each salt and pepper
6 slices French bread
3 large slices Swiss or cheddar cheese, cut in half
In a deep pot, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add the cubed steak and cook until brown. Remove steak from pot. Add the other tbsp. olive oil and heat until hot. Then add the chopped onion and green pepper. Cook until softened, about 3-4 min. Return steak to pan, add hash browns, sprinkle meat and vegetables with the flour. Toss to combine and cook 2 minutes longer. Whisk in the beef broth and milk. Add salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 20-30 minutes. Preheat broiler. Arrange bread slices on baking sheet and top with cheese slices. Broil until cheese melts. Ladle chowder into bowl and top with cheese bread slices.