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Just in time for kickoff, Jen Elsner has released The University of Oklahoma Cookbook, which offers recipes for game day and more. You can pick it up at Full Circle Bookstore, 1900 Northwest Expressway; the University of Oklahoma Bookstore, 1185 Asp in Norman; and metro-area Barnes & Noble locations.

The full-color cookbook is organized by appetizers, main course, veggies, dips, beverages and sweets.

A resident of Norman, Elsner points out that the book goes outside the gridiron. These dishes easily lend themselves to occasions like other sporting events, watch parties, holiday and birthday parties.

“These are family recipes I have enjoyed my entire life,” she said, “or ones that I’ve created by sitting around and theorizing about what might be tasty.”

Boomer Sooner Sugar Cookies, Touchdown Taters and Tornado Alley Pumpkin Dip are delicious delights. And before Oklahoma State University fans start to feel left out, recipe names are not limited to just Sooner lingo; Elsner pays homage to the entire state.

“Coming up with the themed names was the most fun for me,” she said.

More than eats

But hardcore tailgaters know they have to prepare more than food.

“We have a preseason planning meeting with three other families,” said Dan Tero, a devoted OSU graduate. “You can’t just open a package of hot dogs. We don’t have the same menu at every game.”

Tero; his wife, Whitney; and their friends make it a weekend event. The longtime Cowboys fan even purchased a vehicle for the celebrations.

“We took one of my company’s old vans and painted it bright orange,” he said. “Now we have a vehicle to just tailgate.”

Inside this OSU-mobile is where Tero keeps his essential supplies. A large tent, rugs, a television, a stereo with speakers, a generator and decorative lights to decorate outside are some of the provisions besides the two gas grills.

Setup begins on Thursday nights before a game. That’s when the tailgate space is staked out and the tent put up.

On Saturday, Tero and his crew usually arrive six to eight hours in advance of the game to begin organizing items and cooking.

He noted that his tailgate, which often has 40 or 50 guests, wouldn’t be possible without his pals.

Tradition and school enthusiasm enhance the feeling, too.

“If you did this by yourself, all of it would just be a job,” he said. “A good group of friends counts.”

Elsner, a Sooner faithful, recommends making a to-do list and getting to the stadium site early.

Local grocery stores get in on the action, which helps if you are pressed for time or want something special. Check out the new Uptown Grocery Co., 1230 W. Covell in Edmond, or Whole Foods, 6001 N. Western, for prepared food options.

Crest Foods, with several metro locations, features ready-to-cook steaks, burgers and a sausage custom-made for the football season.

At the end of the day, tailgates are about quality time just as much as quality food.

“The culture of tailgating seems to be about camaraderie that is shared between fellow tailgaters,” Elsner said. “It cultivates and boosts a collective sense of team spirit.”

Tero couldn’t agree more. “I couldn’t imagine not doing tailgates,” he said. “Having all your friends there is the reason you do them.”

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