Tasty tailgating with cookbook of favorites

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 4, 2011

By Deirdre Parker Smith
SALISBURY — She’s not exactly sure how it happened, but Debbie Moose has become something of an expert on single-subject cookbooks.
First, it was deviled eggs, in “Deviled Eggs: 50 Recipes From Simple to Sassy,” and that has done so well, she has sold 55,000 copies. People really love their deviled eggs.
“It does really well in gift shops, which surprises me,” Moose says from her home in Raleigh.
A former food writer for the Raleigh News & Observer, she still freelances two columns a month for the newspaper, Sunday Dinner and the Tasteful Garden.
And she writes cookbooks in her spare time.
Then she tackled tailgating with “Fan Fare: A Playbook of Great Recipes for Tailgating or Watching the Game at Home,” and that’s the book she’s promoting in her Nov. 12 visit to Literary Bookpost, 1-3 p.m.
But she’ll bring the rest of her single-shot cookbooks along, too, including “Potato Salad: 65 Recipes from Classic to Cool” and “Wings: More Than 50 High-Flying Recipes for America’s Favorite Snack.”
“It was not intentional, but I’ve fallen into these intense focus books. It’s kind of fun to try and think of all the ways to do something, and the books are short. “
You see how they all tie in together. If you’ve got deviled eggs, you probably serve or bring potato salad along, too. And for a little extra protein, you might throw in some wings, and suddenly, you have yourself a tailgate picnic or a nice little buffet for the coffee table.
She’s focusing on “Fan Fare” because she says it’s perfect for this time of year
And she’s at work on her next book — buttermilk.
Wow, buttermilk?
“UNC Press is doing a series on the tastes of the South. I’m doing buttermilk, someone else is doing pecans and so on. They want to make them all consistent so people can collect them, like trading cards.”
When the deviled egg book came out, it showed up in Crate and Barrel stores for the first couple years. “I would stand there and say ‘My, what an excellent book’ so people could hear me. I really did.”
Moose, who worked at the Salisbury Post from 1979-1982, has done a little of everything, from working in the “women’s department” to arts to copy editing. Working at a newspaper, especially those night shifts, gives you a different perspective on life in general. Nothing like a full moon for an exciting night. Makes you look forward to a little getaway.
“All four books are sort of tailgate related,” Moose said, “but FanFare is good for this time of year when people are tailgating at games, having parties, looking forward to the Super Bowl.”
The potato salad and wings books are the newer ones, but FanFare was especially for sports fans — like Moose, who is dedicated to the Tar Heels.
So what does she contribute to sports-watching parties? “I usually bring deviled eggs.” They’re very portable.
As a food writer, she feels it is her duty to snack. “You cannot be a food writer without making snacks.”
Her Tasteful Garden column is written with Carol Stein. “She writes about growing it and I write how to cook it … We tell people ways to work it (food plants) into the landscape.”
In Moose’s research for “Fan Fare,” she learned tailgating is at least 100 years old; there are competing claims — either people were arriving for games by carriage or by train around Rutgers and Yale and they’d bring a picnic.
Of course, those baskets probably contained a wide variety of nibbles, from simple biscuits and cheese to, as they used to say, “spiritous liquors” and fancy paté.
Moose makes a simple, if guilt-driven pitch: “You can go to the drive through, and get your bucket of chicken, but really, don’t you want to treat your friends better than that? The quality of food at the tailgate determines the outcome of the game. You can do a lot of this stuff ahead so you can just pack it and go.”
She encourages food enthusiasts of all shapes, sizes and tastes to come see her — whether you are the eater or the fixer. She might even have a good recipe for watching golf on TV.