Outside of organized religion, nothing seems so steeped in tradition– both the heartwarming and the inexplicable– as the wide world of sports.
I was raised in a household where the name Michael Schumacher meant a whole lot more than Michael Jordan, and Super Bowls and World Series came and went with little or no acknowledgement. When I wasn’t catching bits and pieces of taped Formula One races with my dad, I was scouring the Outdoor Life Network (hey, Canada, does it even still exist?!) on Dish for broadcastings of show jumping events hosted at Spruce Meadows. Though some might ignorantly beg to differ, both auto racing and horseback riding are sports– each with their respective traditions.
For racing, it’s the smell of brake dust and high octane racing fuel on Sundays at the Monaco Grand Prix. The vibrant podium ceremonies. Strong European influence (and domination). Unrelenting reverence for Senna. To understand it, read Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. No one can do justice to the enthralling mystique of racing like Enzo can.
For riding, it’s the smell of freshly oiled leather and sweet hay lingering in the cold air after a morning schooling before a show. The tall boots and the jacket and the braided manes and tails. Rich military roots. The partnership between man and beast
For a long time, that’s as far as my understanding of the sports world extended. Frankly, half-way into writing this post, I questioned my qualifications to even discuss this topic in a public forum for fear I might embody the unfortunate “chicks don’t get sports” stereotype. Indulge me.
Eventually, I actively engaged in a lesser known strain of seasonal affective disorder: Chicago Cub fan-dom. Every baseball season marks a brief cultivation of new-found hope and then an anticipated swan dive into pure misery. This adopted identity, and by extension, this disorder, often make me wonder about the nature of the apparent cognitive dissonance I was experiencing (consciously or unconsciously) while pledging my allegiance to the boy wonders (read: lovable losers) of Wrigley Field.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the Cubbies are a century-old enigma of Major League Baseball. When you’re not scarfing Vienna beef hot dogs and tipping and spilling your Old Style while singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” in the 7th inning stretch, you’re whispering quiet little affirmations to yourself that “next year is our year.” If only the tradition of losing weren’t so deeply embedded into the team’s framework…
However, the big bad granddaddy of money-makin’ sporting traditions is (obviously) the Super Bowl. Every year, the event seeks to outdo itself in every possible way. Anyone who tells you “it’s all about the game” is a misguided fool; the Super Bowl is anything BUT all about the game. It’s 3.8 million dollar commercials and half-time extravaganzas (sans wardrobe malfunctions) and electrical mishaps and bigger-is-better grease-and-sugar-fest food. This year proved no different. Except for the fact I actually teared up while watching this year’s Budweiser ad.
Here it is, in case you missed it.
Thank you, Budweiser, for making sure my eyes stay well-hydrated.
A couple years ago, these cupcakes became a new Super Bowl tradition. Everyone has their own way of honoring the big game, and this is mine. Suffice it to say, not one went unclaimed.
Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 4 large eggs
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened (NOT melted)
- 4 ounces (half brick) cream cheese, softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2/3 cup Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2-3 Tablespoons heavy cream (or more for desired consistency)
- Cinnamon and sugar and Cinnamon Toast Crunch squares to top
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a muffin pan with liners
- Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and cinnamon until light and fluffy
- Add eggs one at a time, mixing in between each
- Add flour, baking powder, salt, and extract and mix until just combined (don’t overmix!)
- Add milk and vegetable oil and mix until just combined
- Spoon batter into cupcake liners and fill each 2/3 full
- Bake for 16-18 minutes until slightly golden, then allow to cool on a wire rack.
- Beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed in an electric mixer for about one minute
- Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating well between each
- Use a food processor to pulverize the Cinnamon Toast Crunch-- you want it to be a fine dust
- Add crushed Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal and beat
- Add vanilla extract and beat
- Add 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream and beat. Continue adding more, one Tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached (be VERY careful it doesn’t get too liquid-y!)
- Spoon frosting into a piping bag (or piping gun, if you’re feeling feisty) and pipe onto cooled cupcakes
- Dust with cinnamon and sugar, and place a Cinnamon Toast Crunch square on top right before serving!
- Place in large airtight container (make sure it’s deep enough so the frosting isn’t ruined) and refrigerate to allow frosting to harden.