On the menu: Sloppy Joes
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.
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.
adapted from the inimitable Joy of Cooking
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.