I have a neighbor who is on disability, actually I have lots of neighbors on assistance, came dragging a large box of bread and sandwich rolls over to my trailer. I am in the habit of taking leftovers to neighbors that I think will eat them instead of seeing the leftovers languish in my refrigerator to be tossed out. This neighbor is on a gluten free diet and last month our local grocery decided to get rid of gluten free baking mixes. The markdown was extremely low. Baking mixes for gluten free breads and cakes are very expensive. I did a quick inventory in my mind as to what I had at home in the freezer so I could figure out how much of the bargains I could get for her. I had the bargains rung up separate from my groceries. That way I could show her how little I paid for them. She was delighted and we figured out I saved about $100 dollars for her. You see I filled my cart with 20 boxes of various mixes at $.50 a box. I just told her it was a gift (an early Christmas present) and don’t worry about the few dollars I spent. I actually think this was more of a treat for her then a savings because gluten free mixes run between $5 and $6 a mix. Food stamps for a single person don’t cover what is needed to eat on, let alone a special diet. The next day I went back and they had added rice flour and bulgur wheat to the close outs. They were $.25 a bag. I shared the rice flour with her because I only wanted a few bags. The bulgur wheat I keep for myself to use in bread baking.
This month when she was at the food bank she must of excepted the bread to pay me back. She also gave me boxes of spaghetti and macaroni and cheese. So now I have lots of bread and my freezer only has enough room for half of it. As my friend Mr. Day always says to me “what is a mother to do,” I made Sloppy Joe’s.
This recipe for Sloppy Joe’s is inexpensive to make compared to a can of Manwich Sandwich. The recipe came from my mom, who got it at a house wares party when I was about 8 or 9 years old., long before there was a canned sauce for this sandwich. Once you make this you will not go back to canned sauce because it is so easy and tastes better. It is made from ingredients that you normally have on hand even when you are broke. If you don’t have the molasses or brown sugar you can substitute the brown sugar with regular sugar or leave out the molasses. You can also just leave out sugar in general because the ketchup is sweet anyways. You can use either prepared mustard or ground mustard. I try to stick to the recipe as close to it as my pantry will let me because it really is good. One extra thing I do add to it is chopped green peppers and celery. I am in the habit of keeping celery on hand and freezing chopped green and red sweet peppers when I find them on sale to cook with. The only difference between the canned sauce and ketchup is that it has onion, celery and green pepper in it. When I only have a pound of ground meat, the recipe is halved and I add 3 or four cubed slices of bread that is going stale to absorb the sauce and stretch the meat. So when you are out of ideas and low on money add this to your menu.
Sloppy Joe's (Original Recipe)
- 2 ½ pounds of ground beef
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon pepper
- 1 ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 3 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 teaspoons mustard
- 3 cups ketchup
- 7 teaspoons sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons vinegar
- 2 tablespoons molasses
Optional ingredients, chopped celery 1 or 2 stalks and ½ cup chopped sweet green pepper. Bread cubes enough to sop up extra sauce.
Brown meat with onion and extra vegetables. Drain grease. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for about 10 minutes. If too saucy add bread cubes to thicken it. Serve on sandwich buns.
There is a lot of sharing and bartering that goes on where I live. It is part of the new normal as it has been named instead of a depression. The lady in the trailer next to me has internet service. She gave me the key to her wifi so I would have access. I used to sit in the parking lot at the library with my lap top when I needed to get on line. My internet service went off to college with my grandson last year. He shares an off campus apartment with a friend. I watch her dog sometimes and bake for her every week. She works at Wal-Mart and takes care of her elderly father. I make sure his 85 year old sweet tooth is satisfied. He gets to sample everything I bake. Sunday I asked my son what was he washing. I found out another neighbor had brought over a comforter to be washed that she uses to hang up over her hallway because she only air conditions half her trailer at a time. I have front loader washer and dryer that can handle that and hers is too small. The man across from me likes my home made soup. He tells me that it reminds him of his mother. I make soup every week and save glass jars so I can fill with hot soup to take over to him. I usually end up making more then my family is willing to eat. This is nicer then throwing it out several days later when I have no room in my freezer. It is nice to hear his complements when the kids complain about soup. A few door down across the street, an Mexican couple lives. Now that the weather is starting to cool off he will be out on his lanai with his guitar singing every Saturday evening. I enjoy this and go outside to my lanai to listen. I have no clue what he is singing about but it is lovely to listen too. So this is what the new normal is all about. People making due and making the best of it.