Monday, February 18, 2013

G.I Sloppy Joe

Happy Presidents' Day!

A long weekend = more cooking from the notebook. There was no actual rhyme or reason for this weekend's selection other than I knew I wanted to make a yummy dessert, preferably pudding. Chocolate or butterscotch pudding. Mmmm...though after leafing through every page I found myself at the end of the notebook, firmly in the 1950s, with no pudding recipe to be had (except for plum, prune, or cherry) Then it hit me -- boxed pudding was solidly on the market, according to my research, since the mid 1930s. As declared by the advertising of the day,  Jell-O and Royal Puddings were the go-to for the busy housewife in need of a quick and satisfying dessert that was also wholesome and easily digested (?). During that time pudding mix generally came in three flavors -- vanilla, chocolate, and butterscotch. However, I would not partake of boxed pudding -- cooked or instant. Not this weekend.

Back to the search -- I came across several sheets of typewritten recipes from Grandma's sister, Evelyn. She included a yummy-sounding upside down cake recipe using any choice of canned fruit. Sounded Mid-Century Modern to me! The ingredents hit the grocery list.

Upside-Down Cake -- submitted by Aunt Evelyn

2 T butter
fresh or canned fruit
4 T sugar (white, brown or maple)

Melt butter and sugar in pan and cover with well-drained fruit -- pouring batter over it.
Bake 400 degrees for 30 minutes

Cake Batter
1/2 cup sugar
1 T butter or crisco
1 whole egg or two yolks
Beat  these together with a rotary beater
Then add 1/2 cup milk
1 cup flour sifted before measuring
2 level teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 teaspoon salt

I used a round layer-cake pan, brown sugar and canned pineapple. The cake came together easily and popped out of the pan cleanly. All I needed was a jar of bright red maraschino cherries!!

The cake was good, not too sweet, and was even better with vanilla bean ice cream and whipped cream. A solid addition to anyone's recipe box.

Not far from that entry a small, untitled recipe written in pencil caught my eye. According to the ingredient list it was some sort of Sloppy Joe sanwich, yet the recipe sat there with no name. Judging by the chronology I guessed it to be 1949 or 1950. Given the post-war era, G.I. Sloppy Joe sounded fitting -- especially since the list called for ingredients today's Sloppy Joes do not include -- horseradish, chili sauce, dried mustard, and garlic powder. Now I was interested. No bottled BBQ sauce? We were going to find out the genre of this meat sandwich....

G.I. Sloppy Joes -- author unknown

Brown one large onion and 1 pound ground beef
2 T chopped green pepper
1 T horseradish
1 t garlic salt or powder
1/2 t dry mustard
1 bottle chili sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar

Simmer. Put on toasted buns.

Heinz reportedly put out the first barbecue sauce in the late 1940s but this recipe may very well predate that nationally distributed sauce. Besides, the flavor of this meat was NOT in the barbecue sauce or Manwich (1969) category. It was really reminiscent of a sweet and sour cocktail meatball -- very retro, VERY good. I served it on whole wheat Pepperidge Farm buns, toasted, as Grandma suggested, with roasted potato wedges, a marinated cucumber and tomato salad with a fruit compote on the side. Quick, easy, good. John and I agreed the meat would be good as quirky-cool mini-sliders on small hawaiian rolls.

This weekend? Home Run. Two five star recipes!

Upside-Down Cake -- Five out of five soup cans
                                    G.I. Sloppy Joes -- Five out of five soup cans

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