Just “yesterday”, I was a new mom, new ranch-wife, and subsequently, (because we live hours from the nearest fast-food joint) a new 3-meal-a-day cook for a family of four that had a knack for growing to 24 in a matter of hours.
If you happen to be a young person just starting out in life and reading this, I urge you to savor it. Capture it, document it, relish this time in your life, because your mama wasn’t lying to you when she said you grew up too fast. “Yesterday” my boys were just speedy little bundles of joy and dirt and noise, and “tomorrow” (or in just a few days) the last of those young’ns will be wrapping up his high school career to make his tracks on the world. I tell ‘em both that when they go out in the big wide world, they’re carrying part of my heart with them, but I don’t know if they quite realize the gravity of what I’m saying. Someday, with God’s grace, they will. With even more grace will find their way home again to take up the reins of this operation down the road and raise their own families.
For now, this is May–full of new beginnings–and spring finally blessed us with a half-inch or so of desperately needed rain. May typically brings with it a list of ranch activities that are best tackled in cooperation with the neighbors. You know how I mentioned the “family” could grow from four to 24 instantly? Well, those neighbors are the extended family who come to help with days-long ranch projects, and our crew then returns the favor – things like branding, trailing cows, seeding, etc. With that many helping hands there are plenty of hungry bellies to fill. In twenty-plus years of ranch-wifing (I’m confident that’s a real word) and crew-feeding, I’ve gathered a few winning recipes that can be modified to feed a small family or a full branding crew. Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes is one of those.
I like this particular recipe for several reasons. Besides the fact that it’s absolutely delicious, it’s a great way to use ground beef. It can be served to a crowd in an electric roaster to eat banquet-style, or cooked in a crockpot for the end of the day, or prepared ahead and wrapped up “to-go” in tin foil, which is super easy to toss into an insulated cooler wrapped up in a towel to keep warm, then handed out to riders on horseback or ATVs for when there isn’t time to stop for lunch. Who needs a fast-food drive-through, anyway?
Whatever is on your agenda for the coming weeks, be it graduations, Memorial Day, or just heading into summer break, may you be blessed with good moisture, fun and good family and friends. Don’t forget to remember and acknowledge those who’ve paid the ultimate price for our freedoms, and may all of our graduates in Turner and beyond experience God’s blessings on your future paths. The generations before you are waiting in your corner to cheer you on.
Philly Cheese Steak Sloppy Joes
1 lb. ground beef, browned
1 Tbsp. garlic (optional – I put garlic in almost everything)
OR 1 tsp. Alpine Touch seasoning (also optional)
1 Walla Walla onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. tomato paste (or ketchup works in a pinch)
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. coarse salt
½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 c. beef or chicken broth
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup (optional)
6 Hamburger or brioche buns or your bun of choice
- Brown up the ground beef burger in a deep skillet. Do not drain the burger! In a separate pan, saute the onion, garlic, peppers, and mushrooms in butter. It is usually best to add the mushrooms to the pan last to avoid overcooking them. When slightly browned, add all this to the burger. Whisk the cornstarch and beef broth together in a small bowl, and add to the mixture, stirring constantly. Sauce will thicken. Stir in tomato, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Sometimes you can add cream of mushroom soup to change the consistency. Lastly, add cheese and stir until melted.
- Spoon onto buns, add another slice of cheese if you like, and serve. You may alternatively wrap the assembled sandwiches in tin foil and warm in the oven for a few minutes before serving or serve on the go.
- This recipe also works well combined in a small crockpot set on low heat, after browning the beef. Makes 6 sandwiches. I found a similar recipe online somewhere and have modified it some.