This blog turned two.

On the menu: Sloppy Joes

sloppy joes ~ documenting our dinner.

Friends, something happened last month that I think you should know about. This blog turned two years old. I think that’s pretty cool…except for the fact that I haven’t been around much lately. I started thinking about celebrating two years of the blog back in September, and I had all of these grand plans, but this is all that came out of it. A redux of the first recipe we posted here, with better photos…and an actual recipe.

Sloppy Joes are the business. Here’s a story for you: I was at a gathering of graduate students a couple of weeks ago, most of whom study pollinators, and we were discussing the origin of the phrase “the bee’s knees.” Is it at all related to the expression “the business?” You know, if you say business a bit funny, it sounds just like you are saying bee’s knees. These are the kind of conversations we have. It’s good to get away from research sometimes! Okay, tangent over. We’ve only made Sloppy Joes once since we posted that first post two years ago. A lot has happened these last couple of years; we’ve certainly tried an abundance of new recipes, but life has brought us all kinds of new adventures.

Like a cat. Visiting 40-ish lighthouses along Maine’s coast. Lots of trips to New Mexico and Wisconsin to spend time with family. A new apartment. Just recently, two Master’s degrees (yay, Kevin!). And there are more adventures to come: being doctoral students, an impending move to the coast, whatever ailment strikes the cat next, and innumerable possibilities that I can’t even imagine. There’s also an ever-expanding list of culinary adventures to accomplish.

sloppy joes ~ documenting our dinner.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this space. What I want to do with it, since I have been neglecting it so. It comes down to this: I’m a rut. A big ol’ bottomless rut. I don’t know what to cook, when I’m going to have time to cook it, or if I’m going to be able to take pictures and write something worthwhile about it. Kevin has been doing about three quarters of the cooking and cleaning around here. I sit in a chair and stress about school. I’m putting too much pressure on myself to succeed at school to allow myself ample time to dedicate to this space. But as the first semester of my studies comes to an end, I am hopeful that I’ll be able to manage my time and my energy better in coming months (and years…eek!).

Speaking of my studies, as much as I am enjoying this new program, I find myself yearning for an endpoint. I’ve been in school for 20 years; my only full time employment has been two summer temp positions. Some days I wish I could plateau. I think to myself: I’ve reached my intellectual peak. It’s time to stop learning and use the knowledge I have in a professional realm. It’s time to stop worrying about grades, and academic progress, and the manuscript I have to write and attempt to get published.

But I must press on. There’s an end goal here that must be achieved, even if it takes four more years of education. At this point in my career, I can’t imagine being anything but a professor. I’m heading home, to Wisconsin, this week. I’ll be there two whole weeks. This simultaneously elates and intimidates me. My mother and my stepfather have given me the opportunity to make Christmas dinner for my family…all six siblings, three step-siblings, and three grandparents. And the dog, who is sure to get a special treat from me, along with a gajillion belly rubs. Here’s the thing: I have no idea what my siblings eat. I’m pretty sure they’re all real picky, too. I plan on involving them in my menu planning so everyone has something they like. Wish me luck, friends. I mean, if all else fails, I can just make Sloppy Joes.

Sloppy Joes
adapted from the inimitable Joy of Cooking

serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-sized green bell pepper, finely diced
3 medium-sized celery ribs, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup beer
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
salt, pepper, and hot sauce, to taste
six large rolls, split and toasted

Heat oil in a medium (10 inch) skillet over medium heat. Add bell pepper and celery and sauté 6-8 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook for another minute or two.  Meanwhile, heat a large (12 inch) skillet over medium-high heat and add the ground beef. Cook , stirring to break up the meat, until browned, 4-5 minutes. Add pepper, celery, and garlic, along with chili sauce, beer, and Worcestershire sauce.  Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until the sauce thickens a bit. Meanwhile, split and toast six buns. Season Sloppy Joe mixture with salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste.

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7 Responses to This blog turned two.

  1. Emma says:

    YOU ARE MOVING TO THE COAST?!??!

    !!!?!?!!

    So lucky so lucky so lucky. That will make the stress of grad school so very very worth it – it is a permanent thing?

    Enjoy your holidays in Wisconsin, I know everyone will love what you end up making:) xo

    • Brianne says:

      With Kevin starting his PhD in the spring, we are moving to be closer to his lab over the summer. Alas, it is only exacerbating the stress of grad school: my advisor wants me on campus 3-4 days a week. So…either I get a place with roommates up here or I crash in University housing 2-3 nights a week. But I’m anticipating that my permanent address (at least until we’re done with school) will be on the coast, which is very exciting :)

      I hope you enjoy your holidays, too. I can’t wait to see your lefse-making photos!

  2. Hannah says:

    Congratulations on 2 years! Your photos are lovely and the Sloppy Joes look so inviting. Enjoy your time in Wisconsin with your family. Merry Christmas to you!

    • Brianne says:

      Thanks, Hannah! I hope you and your family didn’t get too much snow after that storm that came through your neck of the woods!

      • Hannah says:

        Unfortunately we didn’t get any where we are, much to my boys’ disappointment – a snow day would have been fun! The storm was in the mountains and further east/south of us. There’s still time for more, though! :)

  3. omg, happy two year old blog birthday! That’s CRAZY! And you’re right; when all else fails, sloppy joes will make anyone happy. They are a personal favorite of mine, ever since i was little (I even use the same canned sauce because i love a specific flavor to my joe), and oddly enough, i never make them.
    which means, now that you’ve reminded me, i’m making them very soon.
    and the COAST!!! I echo emma’s sentiment there, although surely she knows more about the coast than i do. I can picture it in my head pretty well, however. That sounds awesome; so many new adventures! I don’t want you to be in a rut; i’ve been there, and it’s no fun. Girl, you just cook whatever, whenever (who cares what time it is? it’s winter; the light is bad mostly all the time), take some photos, put it up here. I feel like you need some new cookbook inspiration. I’m calling the Maine library sytem and sending someone over with some books. :)

  4. carey says:

    Happy 2nd birthday to your blog! (And congrats also to Kevin on the Masters!)

    Wow, 20 years in school. I definitely understand that thirst for knowledge, though, and you’re working towards a wonderful profession. It will definitely feel amazing when it’s all over and you can start that next phase of your life. : ) I’ve set a 10-year cap for myself on my current job, which means I have less than 2 years left. I can’t wait to be done with it. I’ll probably still do what I do as a freelancer, but at least then I’ll be making money in accordance with the actual work I do. As much as I’d love to be doing something new right now, I think having a couple extra years to really get to know your rut, set aside the frantic exasperation, and then figure out the best way to emerge from it can be a great thing. And having a little change of pace living out on the coast might not hurt either!

    Have a happy holiday out in Wisconsin! And have fun cooking for the whole family!

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