Barbecue for the Troops: Tastykake Pie Ice Cream

Have you signed up to host a Barbecue for the Troops for the summer yet? Be sure to use one of our amazing recipes!

Today we’re featuring a delicious-looking ice cream update from our great partner, Tastykake!  Tastykake is a Proud Supporter who’s donated to the USO in support of our troops and their families.

Tastykake Pie Ice Cream

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Who needs ala mode when you can have it all in one?

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Heavy Cream
  • 1 Cup Whole Milk
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
  • 3 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Tastykake Fruit Pies (We used Blueberry)

Instructions:

  1. In a saucepan, heat 1 cup of heavy cream, sugar, and salt. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.
  2. Add one cup heavy cream, 1 cup milk, and vanilla extract. Refrigerate mixture until thoroughly cooled.
  3. Add chilled mixture to ice cream maker and churn according to directions.
  4. Once churned, gently stir in chopped Tastykake fruit pie of your choice and serve right away, or layer ice cream and pies in a container, and freeze until desired hardness. Makes a little over a quart.

Legendary Dad: How Online Gaming Brought One Marine Family Closer Together

Today, troops and families around the world come together with video games – many of them at USO centers. But that wasn’t always the case. USO Staff Writer Joseph Andrew Lee remembers the beginning of online console gaming– and how it brought him closer to his family despite being stationed half a world away:

When I visit my parents’ house, the first thing I hear when I walk through the door is a face-melting guitar solo followed by a string of heavy machine gun fire.

No, I’m not an Osbourne or a Schwarzenegger. My parents are online gamers. My father is well known (and feared) across the spectrum of first-person shooters, while my mother is known to snap-kick like Steven Tyler when she heats up on a Guitar Hero riff.

For years now, the living room gaming console has made my parents’ house a home. It’s not just a toy. For them, it’s a fountain of youth.

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Tommy Lee aka Legendary Dad, can be seen on Skype while playing Battlefield 3 against his son, Joe Lee just last week. USO photo by Joseph Andrew Lee

As a teenager, “Goldeneye 007″ was a mainstay on Nintendo 64. In fact, I believe 007 was the first video game my dad ever attempted to master. He would get so angry whenever my brother and I would ambush him. He would ignore the dinner bell for hours until he was able to kill one of the two of us. Then — and only then — was it was time to eat. (Yes, sometimes I was hungry enough to let him win.)

My dad was already in his 50s when I left for boot camp in 1997, so my brother and I give him a lot of credit: He didn’t just play video games with us, but he actually took the time to learn how to set an effective proximity mine and launch an MGL round at just the right angle so it would land directly in someone’s path. Trust me, this takes skill, and is good reason to be impressed. If technology were alive it would have a restraining order against my dad.

When I left home at 17, I probably missed those gaming days the most. Not so much getting blown up by a random grenade, but the trash-talking and hanging out with my family and friends. Keeping my dad up to date on the latest games and watching him become proficient at them was really fun for us. We felt like it kept him young. When my siblings and I left the house, it was sad to think that without us he might grow old and lose track of how to play the newer, more technical games.

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“Goldeneye 007″: A father’s introduction to gaming.

I spent the first two years as a Marine in Okinawa, Japan, and I missed my dad and brother a lot. I could tell they missed me, too, but phone conversations between the boys always felt forced and awkward. Maybe it was just me, but I just never felt it was a guy thing to jabber on the phone about Grandma’s new hip or to describe what I just ate for dinner (pre-Instagram).

In the year 2000, (queue up Conan O’Brien bit) the world was supposed to change dramatically. In most respects it stayed very much the same. In the world of console gaming, however, there were some significant changes taking place.

Two paradigm-shifting consoles hit the ground running in the first few years of the century, and once they got their respective online networks established in 2002, Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network began connecting families like mine.

The PlayStation Network was a free service, so it probably comes as no surprise this was the console of choice for a broke, young, enlisted Marine like me. The first big shooter to come out for the PlayStation Network was a game called SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs.

I was immediately engrossed.

The title was revolutionary in that every copy was packaged with a microphone headset intended to promote in-game communication. But as a perhaps unforeseen byproduct, the headsets created a new communication platform for fathers and sons, brothers and friends. Finally, the men in my family had a way to discuss Grandpa’s colon cancer with dignity — while shooting each other in the face.

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“SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs” became an international family affair for the Lees.

The first of my family to connect online was my brother and me. As an active duty Marine, my skills were valued in this new form of online competition, and as an aspiring Web designer, his skills were also useful. We made friends with other gamers quickly and formed a team (called a “clan” in first-person shooters) named Special Operations Training Group (SOTG). He built out our website and discussion forum while I designed our team’s tactical strategies. At its peak, SOTG had more than 200 adult gamers who played SOCOM daily. Many were active duty military. Some were on my base. Some were veterans assigned to Camp Couch, 1st HOME. Others aspired to be – and eventually became – servicemen and women themselves. All are still my close friends today.

Gaming was a reprieve from military life as well as a direct portal home. Knowing my family and friends were just a power button away lifted my spirits greatly while I was in the service. Before online console gaming, my brother and I spoke once every couple of years. Now we were hanging out daily.

Over the years the games have changed but the bond has stayed the same.

“Goldeneye” turned to “SOCOM” turned to “Battlefield” turned to “Call of Duty,” but I feel comforted knowing that somewhere out there, my dad is virtually mowing down fields of teenage gamers with an arsenal of automatic weapons. Maybe even with a flame-thrower (tear).

My Mom still kicks shoes across the living room, rocking out to Drowning Pool while simultaneously baking a five-layer wedding cake for one of my sister’s friends.

My brother doesn’t play so much these days, but when I have a chance, I still jump online to hang out with (and generally get “pwned” by) my father, whose call sign couldn’t be more accurate.

His name is Legendary Dad. Find him online and he will kill you.

–By Joseph Andrew Lee, USO Staff Writer (aka SOTG Marine)

Barbecue for the Troops: Barbara Bush’s Caesar Salad

Have you signed up to host a Barbecue for the Troops for the summer yet? Be sure to use one of our amazing recipes!

Today we’re featuring a caesar salad recipe found in the 1993 USO Celebrity Cookbook from Barbara Bush!

In 2010, George Bush, 41st president of the United States, and Mrs. Barbara Bush hosted a special event celebrating the USO at the George Bush Presidential Library Center. The event included remarks from the panelists about the ongoing mission of the USO and an audience question-and-answer session.

More recently, the USO announced this week that it will dedicate its next Warrior and Family Center to Prescott S. Bush, which you can learn more about on USO.org.

Barbara Bush’s Caesar Salad

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Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 4 cups of bread cubes
  • 4 quarts of assorted lettuce greens
  • 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon of pepper
  • 12 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled Blue cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 7 tablespoons f lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

Instructions:

  1. Cut garlic into quarters and let set in 1/2 cup of olive oil overnight (out of refrigerator).
  2. Put bread cubes in a shallow pan and toast at 300 degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown, turning with a fork. After cooling wrap them with wax paper until needed.
  3. Sprinkle lettuce greens with Parmesan cheese, Blue cheese, salt and pepper.
  4. Add olive oil (not the oil treated with garlic).
  5. Mix together 1 egg, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over salad and toss.
  6. Mix croutons with olive oil treated with garlic and add to salad.

‘A Big Smile and a Bullhorn’: Admiral Praises USO After Chicago Airport Experience

On occasion, the USO gets notes of appreciation from senior military leaders. Now-retired Army Gen. Carter Ham lauded the USO’s efforts in helping the freed Algerian oil-workers-turned-hostages back in January.

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Rear Adm. John Kirby

Rear Adm. John Kirby, Navy Chief of Information, dropped one of those notes to USO Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications Frank Thorp two weeks ago. Kirby had just watched his son, Colin, graduate boot camp and traveled with him to Chicago O’Hare International Airport where he encountered a familiar sight.

Here’s the story in Kirby’s words:

[T]he real purpose of this note is to let you know how utterly impressed I was by the USO volunteers at O’Hare airport.

As I mentioned, my son graduated from Navy boot camp last Friday. I had the great fortune to be there with my wife. What a day.

Late that night, as they typically do at [the Navy Recruit Training Command], the new sailors were sent by bus to the airport to await their flights out. Colin was going to Charleston on a flight that left at 0600. Some kids weren’t leaving until after noon.

Didn’t matter. RTC dropped them all off at O’Hare at around 0100 to wait.

Who was there to meet them? A USO volunteer with a big smile and a bullhorn.

He separated them into groups based on their departure times, then marched them all up to the USO facility to drop off their gear and relax. Some stayed there. Some, like my boy, opted to go somewhere else to eat.

But all of them were made to feel welcome and proud. All of them were treated like war heroes by the staff there.

And it was the middle of the night.

I have to tell you, I got a little thick in the throat watching those volunteers check these kids in and answer their questions (some had never traveled on their own) and make them feel special.

They didn’t have to do that. But somehow, I got the feeling that they really believed they DID have to.

We didn’t stay with Colin all the way till his departure time. Some parents did. We figured he’d want a little time with his buddies. Besides, we weren’t worried about him.

He was at the USO.

–Preface by USO Story Development

Barbecue for the Troops: Kroger’s Parmesan Garlic Grilled Corn

Have you signed up to host a Barbecue for the Troops for the summer yet? Be sure to use one of our amazing recipes!

Here’s one from our partner Kroger. In support the USO’s broad range of programs that assist troops and their families, Kroger will donate $2.3 million to the USO during their Honoring Our Heroes campaign! Learn more about Honoring Our Heroes at www.honoringourheroes.com

Kroger’s Parmesan Garlic Grilled Corn

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Enjoy this simple recipe for grilled corn on the cob topped with garlic spread and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Servings: 4
Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients
> PAM grilling spray 1/4 cup
> Parkay original spread
> 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
> 1/8 tsp. black pepper, ground
> 4 medium ears fresh sweet corn, husks removed
> 3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions
1. Spray cold grate of gas grill with grilling spray. Preheat grill to medium heat.
2. While grill heats, combine Parkay spread, garlic salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Grill corn 12 to 15 minutes or until tender and lightly browned, turning occasionally.
4. Remove corn from grill. Brush with Parkay seasoning mixture; sprinkle entire ear of corn with cheese and serve.

Find more recipes at Kroger.com!

News Roundup: A Day in the Park for Stuttgart Students, Milwaukee-Area Troops

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USO volunteers and staff served food to Patch High School seniors June 4 as part of graduation week festivities. USO photo

With 72 years of practice, the USO knows how to throw a party.

And after sitting through ceremony practice last week, 170 graduating students from Patch High School in Stuttgart, Germany, needed a break.

USO Stuttgart – with help from the parents of the graduating seniors – held a barbecue for the grads June 4, with USO staff and volunteers served up hamburgers, hot dogs, sides and desserts.

When they were done eating, students were treated to an afternoon of lawn games including a water balloon toss, volleyball and croquet.

“We appreciate the USO so much for coming out and supporting the seniors,” said Sheryl Wagner, the Patch High School Guidance Department secretary and mother of a senior.

USO of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Brewers Honor Troops with Mass First Pitch

Fifty-eight troops participated in a mass first pitch May 27 at Miller Park in Milwaukee. USO photo

Fifty-eight troops participated in a mass first pitch May 27 at Miller Park in Milwaukee. USO photo

Fifty-eight people lining the infield of Miller Park were all thinking the same thing: “Just don’t let me throw it in the dirt.”

On Memorial Day, the USO of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Brewers teamed to do something special for thousands of troops. Not only did they combine to donate and distribute 5,000 tickets to the May 27 Brewers game against the Minnesota Twins, but they also placed 58 troops on the field before the game to throw out simultaneous ceremonial first pitches.

The Brewers Community Foundation also held a 50/50 raffle that afternoon, with proceeds going to the USO of Wisconsin.

–Story by USO Story Development