Monday, February 1, 2010

Sloppy Joe's and Bagels

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Every cook has an "aha" moment. One of my many came in 1988. We were living in an apartment in Grand Rapids, MI. I was looking for a house and a job, and discovered cooking and baking as a past time. Bagels were one of my baking staples. I dreamt of big, fat New York style bagels, and sadly made very anemic, rather pathetic bagels. But I kept making them. I still have that recipe and will attempt them yet again this year.

One evening Scott came home from work with his boss, and he asked what was for dinner. I said Sloppy Joe's. His boss, Mary Ann saw the Manwich can on the counter and said, "What? You make homemade bagels but use Manwich for Sloppy Joe's?" It got me thinking.

First let me say, we never, ever ate Sloppy Joe's as a kid. Where I ever tasted the sweet Manwich sauce is beyond me, but I loved it. I had a few cookbooks, but none had a recipe for Sloppy Joe's. Obviously there was no internet, so I was using Manwich for years after that. Sometime in 1994 I must have clipped out a recipe for Sloppy Joe's Semma in Gourmet Magazine. It wasn't until October 20, 1997 that I made them. The date? Well, as I have explained here numerous times, food and memories and carefully intertwined for me. I always write in the book or on the card when I made them, changes, and events of the day. That day in October, Nic was 8 years old and got his first cast after a nasty hayride accident. They have become a family favorite ever since.

I found a few mentions of Sloppy Joe's Semma around the internet, I assume Semma is the name of the recipe contributor all those years ago. I rewrote the recipe into a small book I use for recipes I use frequently, and apparently I made a couple big surprise there! Here is the version I use:

Sloppy Joe's Susie
1½ pounds ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
1 + cups ketchup
1 T white vinegar
1 T lemon juice
1 T Worcestershire
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon paprika
1 T brown sugar

Brown beef and onion, drain, add other ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes or more. Makes about 4. Easily doubled, tripled, quadrupled!

Homemade Bagels? Yes, we will pull out that old recipe and give it a whirl. I am a little interested to see how good yeast, a better oven, and better flour choices will impact the recipe. Stay tuned. For now, dinner is ready!


  1. seriously, i had to get off fb and check the blog to see if this truely was "sloppy joes". And mention of manwich and that....i thought it was just a southern thing...go figure! love the blog as always...

  2. Two of my fav indulgences, sloppy joe's and bagels. Brilliant, and they look delicious!