For Jason Reimer, there's nothing like the energy behind a Penn State tailgate.
The attorney at Post & Schell in Harrisburg and partner at the Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey in Londonderry Township is entering his eighth season making the trek to Happy Valley to root on the Nittany Lions.
He was introduced to Penn State's tailgate traditions by his wife, Jessica Reimer whose father, Tom Smith, is a Penn State alumnus and season ticket holder.
Reimer admits he didn't understand the fuss at first.
"I've always been a sports fan, generally pro football, and I never quite understood from afar what the big deal was until I experienced it," Reimer said. "When you experience it, what you learn and what you see is it's a cultural event. It's people getting together just to enjoy life. It's a way for people throughout central Pennsylvania to kick back and relax."
As at any tailgate, Reimer's family goes all out with food and beverages. They plan menus up to a month ahead with themes.
A shrimp feast is planned for one of the games with everyone bringing a different dish, from grilled shrimp to shrimp salad.
On Sept. 9 for the Pitt game, Reimer said they will be serving grilled burgers with a toppings bar.
Two of the family's favorite recipes are a ham and cheese breakfast strata casserole and a hashbrown casserole prepared ahead of time for noon kickoff games. It pairs with another early morning favorite, mimosas, Reimer said.
No matter what, he said the tailgates provide a place to kick back and relax.
"Everyone is sharing food, drink and getting to know each other. There's nothing better in the world. I love finding out what other people are doing, and what makes people tick. That's what I find makes the Penn State tailgating experience. It's just a whole different experience than what we are all use to," he said.
Ham and Cheese Strata
- 8 slices white bread, cubed
- 2 cups diced ham
- 1/2 pound grated cheddar cheese
- 1 stick of butter, melted
- 8 eggs
- 2 cups of milk
Grease a 9X13-inch pan. Layer bread, diced ham and cheese in pan. Pour melted butter over the bread, ham and cheese. Beat the eggs and add salt and milk. Pour the egg mixture over the bread. Refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake covered with aluminum foil for one hour. Let stand uncovered for 10 minutes to allow casserole to set. If taking to a tailgate, transport in casserole carrier designed to keep food warm.
- 2 pounds Ore Ida shredded hash browns
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 stick melted butter
- 1 1/2 cups cornflakes, crushed into crumbs
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix hash browns, sour cream, cheese, soup, onion, melted butter. Combine cornflakes with 4 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle on top of casserole. Bake for about one hour.
We are profiling Penn State tailgaters throughout the season. If you have a recipe to share, email PennLive food and dining reporter Sue Gleiter at [email protected]