Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 02/2010

You can find 1000+ of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch nearly 100 of my Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. Have fun!


~ School's Out: Time for the Good Ole' Sloppy Joe ~

PICT4150It's June and I'm letting the kid in me come out today. What I most remember about June in the 1960's was that last school bus ride to the end of Ye Old Hauto Road and my brother's and my half-mile walk home. We'd enter the kitchen door and place our lunch boxes and our report cards on the kitchen counter.  We'd run into our respective bedrooms and trade in our school clothes for play clothes.  I'd emerge in a pair of shorts, a frilly tank top and a pair of brand new white Keds. David would emerge in pair of shorts, a white T-shirt and a pair of brand new high-top black Keds.  I'd have a carrying case of Barbie dolls in my hand, while he'd be wearing an army helmet and carrying a plastic machine gun.  Dad made sure our bike tires were pumped up, mom "read us the riot act", and after that, our household transitioned to full-scale summer mode.

While we had a Tamaqua mailing address and went to the Tamaqua Area Schools, my family didn't live in Tamaqua proper.  My parents built their home in the suburb of Hometown. That meant that my brother and I weren't "townies", which meant that we couldn't just walk to The Bungalo, Tamaqua's community pool, to swim.  My parents and a lot of their 'burb friends were members of a place affectionately named by its members: "The Commodore Boat Club".  It was a short 10-minute drive from Hometown to Barnesville.  Don't go getting excited, it was man-made lake with a small sand beach, and, there wasn't a boat anywhere to be found.  

Lakewood A bit of background:  If you google Lakewood Park PA, here is what you'll find:  Lakewood Park was a large amusement park established in 1916 and was known as a nature retreat.  In its heyday, it boasted a very large wooden coaster and kiddie coaster in addition to the Wild Mouse ride.  In fact, the park was broken into two sections with adult rides on one side and children's rides on the other.  It had a long miniature train ride that circled the park, a hand-carved Miller & Baker designed carousel and a 150-yard in-ground cement pool. Its Grand Ballroom was the host of big bands which included The Dorsey Brothers, Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller, as well as celebrity performers like Dick Clark and Doris Day.  The Theater hosted countless theater companies.  It was a mecca for 68 years and was well-known for its annual Bavarian Beer Festival.  Sadly, it closed during the '80's, but that was well after I had moved to Happy Valley, so my remembrances of it as a bustling, busy, noisy, hot, sticky amusement park are crystal clear and that's how I want them to stay.  Thanks to the Joel Styer collection for this nostalgic postcard look back into time.

PICT4139 On the other side of Lakewood was a lake/park called Lakeside Park. Lakeside was a lake. One side of the lake was a public beach with public swimming and on the other side of the lake was a private beach with private swimming, or, "The Commodore Boat Club".  The beaches were man-made sand beaches, but beyond them were groves of trees, picnic tables and pavilions. There were no concession stands, which meant no ice cream sandwiches or snow cones.  If you were a kid, it was a place you went with your parents, not a place your parents sent you to entertain yourself.  Members arrived equipped with their charcoal grills and coolers of beverages.  Members knew all the other members and their kids.  Wherever the kids happened to be at the time, those parents fed those kids.  My mom was the "sloppy Joe mom", because she didn't like to grill.  The pavillions had electricity, so she would plug in her electric skillet and reheat the Joe's.  We went to The Commodore several days a week and:  My mom's sloppy Joe's were to us kids at The Commodore what a Happy Meal at McDonald's is to kids today.

This is one of those no-nonsense, timeless, nostalgic, comfort-food recipes that gets passed down from generation to generation via the family recipe box and for the most part remains unchanged.  If you're a professional chef, the family cook, or just cook out of necessity, you have no doubt made these simple sandwiches for someone, for some event, or, for some get-together -- simple, straightforward and scrumptious as well as sweet, savory and sloppy.

















6  pounds extra-lean ground beef (90/10)

1 1/2  pounds diced yellow or sweet onion

12  ounces diced celery

1 1/2  teaspoons celery seed

1 1/2  teaspoons garlic powder

1  tablespoon sea salt

1  tablespoon cracked black pepper

3  cups ketchup

6  tablespoons yellow mustard

8-10  tablespoons dark brown sugar

4  tablespoons apple cider vinegar

soft, "Wonder-type" sandwich rolls 

PICT4076 ~ Step 1.  Place the ground meat in a 14" chef's pan w/straight, deep sides (or an 8-quart stockpot).  Prep the onion and celery, placing them in the pan as you work.  Add the celery seed, garlic powder, salt and pepper.




~ Step 2.  Using a large spoon or spatula, give the mixture a thorough stir.  Make sure all of the vegetables and the spices are evenly incorporated into the meat.  Saute, over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until meat has lost all of its red color and is steamed through, about 20-30 minutes.

PICT4086 ~ Step 3.  Remove pan from heat. Using a soup ladle, remove and discard as much of the fat/liquid from the meat mixture as possible.

Note:  When I remove the pan from the heat, I like to place it on a folded kitchen towel, so that the pan is tipped to one side.  This allows the juices to flow to the low side of the pan, making them very easy to remove.

PICT4089 ~ Step 4.  Return the pan to the stovetop and add the ketchup, mustard, brown sugar and apple cider vinegar.

Once again give the mixture a thorough stir to combine all of the ingredients.




~ Step 5.  Adjust heat to a steady but gentle simmer.  Partially cover the pan and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened, about 30 minutes.  

To serve, ladle about 1/2-3/4 cup of warm meat mixture onto each roll.





6a0120a8551282970b015432ba25f3970c-320wi~ Step 6.  Like my mom, I like to make a big batch of sloppy Joe mixture (which I did today), portion it into 4, 4-cup size containers and freeze them for easy weekday meals.  

Note:  Each container of meat mixture will fill 8 hamburger-roll size sandwiches or 6 larger-size rolls like the ones pictured in the first picture of this post.  

Whatever time of year it is, it's always time for a sloppy Joe.

IMG_4467School's Out:  Time for the Good Ole' Sloppy Joe:  Recipe yields 4-quarts of meat, enough for 24 large or 32 small sandwiches.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 14" chef's pan w/straight, deep sides; large spoon; soup ladle

Cook's Note:  This recipe is written so you can cut in in half to make a smaller batch, but you can also double it and make it in a 12-quart stockpot without any compromise.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2011)

(Postcard-Photo of Lakewood Park courtesy of the Joel Styer collection/Copyright his/theirs) 


Jim! I am so happy you enjoyed reading this. We visited my parents in Hometown two weeks ago and drove through Barnesville. Sadly, there is nothing left except for our memories! ~ Mel.

wonderful story ! It takes me back and I remember it all very well in my minds eye.
We went there as kids form Lansford with the Poshefko family.
Jim Stone

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment