Indiana Fever fans Barb Siwy and Lisa Baker won a dinner prepared and enjoyed with coach Lin Dunn, as a part of a team auction for Breast Health Awareness in September.
One of the most exciting parts of my job is interacting with our fans. That is why I again volunteered my culinary prowess for the Fever's BHA auction in the fall. The Fever faithful were as excited as I was about the prospect of me cooking them a big southern dinner, and the bids flowed in. Three months and a WNBA Championship later, I was happy to deliver the goods to the two big winners (and their friends)!
I am a true southerner from the great state of Tennessee. That is where I first developed my love for the kitchen, with the help of my grandmother's recipes. For the holidays, I go back home with my sisters, but we don't have a big feast. I don't know that I could do two in the same month, but it is nice to be able to cook a big meal for a group like we did here and then relax a bit.
In the past when I've done these dinners for fans, I haven't had an assistant to help. We would sometimes have the winners come to Bankers Life Fieldhouse or I would go to their house, but I would be solo in preparing the meal. This year, I knew I wanted to go above and beyond in the kitchen and to do that, I was going to need some help.
I enlisted the culinary expertise of a close friend of mine, my "sous chef" for the day, Fran. To maintain my home kitchen advantage and limit the mess at the winners' home, I prepared most of the meal at my house with Fran. We started cooking and baking at about noon for the seven-o'clock engagement and had just about everything prepared when we arrived, though we did fry the okra and the green tomatoes onsite to get the aroma going and to rev up everyone's appetites.
On the menu were some old Tennessee and Dunn Family favorites straight from our southern cookbook. "Bestsellers" included fried green tomatoes, fried black eyed pea cornbread,and a mean, salty country ham. A lot of the guests at the dinner had never had a real country ham before -- that was a big hit. The black-eyed pea cornbread, which has sausage, corn, jalapeno peppers and black-eyed peas, well, that could be a meal in and of itself, but it is hard to beat that Indiana corn... And let me tell you this, if you have not had a glass of red wine with fried green tomatoes, honey, you have not lived!
Rounding out the meal and adding some protein were fried chicken, fried okra, orange juice cake, pecan pie, and a lot of fine wine.
The two winners -- Lisa and Barb -- they are original Indiana Fever season ticketholders. They are founding fans for this team and Fran and I could not have been more excited to cook for them. We had a great evening. Anytime that we as WNBA coaches or players are able to engage with fans, especially when it is for a good cause, it really means a lot to us. Seeing the look on Lisa and Barb's faces at the end of the night -- one of satisfaction, fullness and happiness! -- is something that we will not soon forget.
The only question I have now, is how can I ever top this for next year...?