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Pacers: You can win one for the Gipper

Community members are trying to help rebuild the Lakeridge High School football team one healthy meal at a time
by: Sandi Swinford, Members of the Lakeridge Football team enjoy a good meal and good company at their weekly team dinners. Some of the food used to prepared the meal was donated by well wishers with extra from their gardens.

I don't know the difference between a touch back and a safety or understand any of the fancy hand gestures a ref may give from the middle of the field. However, even with my meager knowledge of the game, I still consider myself a football fan. This season I am proud to say I haven't missed a home game of my favorite team, the Lakeridge High School Pacers.

Whether you live in West Linn or on the north or south side of the lake, you've got to have a soft spot in your heart for the Pacers football team. Those young men have plowed through arduous adversity this season and still show up with a whole lotta heart come Game Day. It might have something to do with the food they eat.

Sandi and Tom Swinford, parents of quarterback Ben Swinford, stepped up to manage the all-important team dinners at the start of the season. That comes as no surprise.

'Feeding them is about all we can do at this level,' said Sandi.

What was surprising were the unexpected offerings Sandi received to her pleas for help in feeding the team.

'Hi Barb,' her e-mail read. 'As you know Ian Lamont said it will take our community to rebuild the football program at Lakeridge High School. Well, I asked, and we received vegetables from the Community Garden at Luscher Farms to serve at our team meal - a healthy addition. Katie O'Neill (a senior at LHS) gathered up a sack full and will also be making zucchini bread for the players.

'I need help. I know the obvious cucumbers and tomatoes, but do not know how to prepare, or what a few of the items are, and thought you may be able to suggest a way to prepare/present to the players (to make it enticing to eat).

'At the very least, I sure could use help on making these veggies edible for the dinner next Thursday.'

What Sandi had was a wonderful selection of unique hybrid summer squash and a few eggplant, passed along by people with garden plots at Luscher Farm. The gardening well wishers shared their bounty because they knew the food was great tasting and the team needed the extra nutrition found in fresh vegetables. I gave Sandi a simple recipe for ratatouille to use the items she had been given.

And that is how meals have appeared on the Pacer football team table this season. Different people donate what they have in the garden, to do what they can to keep the team strong and healthy.

Feeding 40 growing teens, 10 coaches and guests is no easy fete. The night the team ate their fresh from the garden ratatouille, the menu also included chicken fettuccini, Caesar salad with garden grown cucumbers, watermelon, rolls, cookies and ice cream and gallons of chocolate milk, water, juice and Gatorade.

Sandi said the team parents whipped up the meal with a whole lotta love and about eight pounds of fettucini, 24 chicken breasts, four quarts of alfredo sauce, mountains of Parmesan cheese and 10 heads of romaine lettuce.

Lakeridge plays at Clackamas Friday, and then truly has a Homecoming on Oct. 10, when the Pacers will play their first-ever home game at 7 p.m. at Lakeridge. Wear your Pacer blue and get there early!

Sandi says a special meal is planned for Homecoming featuring Pacer Pasta. She wouldn't give me the recipe, but hinted that it was a powerful concoction of three meats and four cheeses.

Remember the line 'win one for the Gipper,' from 'Knute Rockne: All American?' I think that line sums up the spirit of the Pacer team. Ronald Reagan played George 'The Gipp' Gipper, star player of the 1920 Notre Dame football team. He contracts a fatal disease and asks a last favor of his coach Knute Rockne. Rockne relays to the players The Gipper's dying words:

'Rock, sometime when the team is up against it and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go out there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper.'

Win, lose or draw, Pacers, we're still cheering for you. Have fun and win one for the Gipper!

Bon Appetit! Get it from the garden!

Lakeridge senior Katie O'Neill made several batches of her delicious zucchini bread for the team's road trip to Crater. The recipe makes a lot and it is good, really good!

The O'Neill Family's Zucchini Bread

Makes 4 large or 8 small loaves

6 eggs

3 ½ cups sugar

1 ¾ cups light vegetable oil

5 cups unpeeled grated zucchini

5 teaspoons vanilla extract

6 cups unbleached all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Zest of 1 lemon

1 ½ cups chopped walnuts

1 ½ cups brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Spray loaf pans with cooking spray.

Beat eggs, add white sugar and mix well. Add oil, zucchini and vanilla extract and mix together. Sift dry ingredients together and then mix in the egg mixture. Stir until blended.

Spoon batter into pans until ¾ full. Sprinkle top with brown sugar and nuts, dividing equally among all pans.

Bake for approximately one hour for large loaf pans and less for small pans.

Enjoy!

Katie and Lynda O'Neil

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-635-8811 and by e-mail at brandall@lakeoswego

review.com .

Five:30

Pasta is a mainstay of the sports team dinner. It is easy to prepare, full of energizing carbs and tastes pretty darn good. This recipe serves six and could be easily doubled and made in multiple batches to feed the whole team.

Ravioli with Fresh Sage Tomato Sauce

Serves 6

½ pound fresh ravioli, your choice of cheese, meat or spinach filled

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 28 ounce can tomatoes

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon or more fresh sage leaves, chopped

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic for 3 or 4 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add tomatoes and their juice and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover pan and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring and mashing tomatoes with a spoon. Stir in sage.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the ravioli and cook 6 to 7 minutes, or until they float to the surface. Test that they are al dente then drain and keep warm.

Pour about a half cup of sauce over the ravioli and stir it in, to keep the pasta warm and pass the pasta with additional sauce and Parmesan cheese.

BR