I knew this day was coming, but I tried to push it out of my mind. I know everyone says, “well, they’re just numbers,” but these numbers are my birthday numbers and they are getting higher and higher.
I talked with my cousin, Lynn, whose birthday is Aug. 26, two days before mine. We were both in All Saints Hospital as newborns. In fact, I think our mothers were next door in the hospital, but we didn’t meet until high school. She ended up marrying my cousin, Gary, after college, and that’s when we became cousins.
She spent her birthday with her girls and grandkids Sunday, and I did the same. Jim found some briskets on sale, and I told the girls I would cook roast, and they said they would bring everything else.
It was too hot to cook outside. In fact, Jim flatly refused to fire up the pit, so I made plans to cook the brisket as a roast. Of course, that meant cooking a gallon of fluffy whipped potatoes. That’s what the guys like. So, the plan was made. Now all Jim and I had to do was get it going Sunday morning.
He brought a 15-pound brisket he thought looked good, and that’s what he presented to me to cook. I asked why such a huge slab of meat? He said he thought maybe we would have some left over for Monday and Tuesday.
I think briskets make a lovely roast much like Pikes Peak roasts used to. Sprinkle it with a little salt and pepper and some garlic, add a cup of water to the roasting pan, cover with foil to keep it moist and pop it in the oven at 350 degrees until it is tender at its thickest part. The result is a tender roast that will please everyone. I drain the juice from the pan into a bowl, place it in the freezer for all the grease to come to the top. When it does this, take a spoon and take the congealed grease off and you are left with wonderful liquid to use for roast gravy.
The day progressed, everyone arrived, and we had a great time. As Diana lit the candles, she remarked she hadn’t put all of them on the cake since nobody wants to eat a cake where the frosting has melted from the heat of that many candles. Hah! Her day is coming when she’ll be in the exact same place.
After everyone had left Sunday evening, Jim and I collapsed in our chairs and had some quiet time.
Monday, I looked at the roast that was left. I told Jim I thought I would make Sloppy Joes for dinner if he would chop up the meat. He gladly did it, and I ended up with a skillet full of beautiful chopped beef. I used my mom’s recipe except for the ground meat. So, with Labor Day coming up and briskets still on sale, why not cook inside where it is cool. Use this recipe for the leftovers.
2 pounds ground chuck (drain grease) I used chopped cooked brisket
1 (12-ounce) bottle Heinz chili sauce
1 cup sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon French’s mustard
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped celery
Salt to taste
Brown meat or heat roast in a skillet, then add onions, celery. Cook until meat is done, then add remaining ingredients. Let simmer till flavors blend. Serve on hot buns.
OK, I had Sloppy Joes cooked, now what could we have to accompany them? Jim said he would like onion rings from Wanda’s. I thought that was a great idea. I told him I would make some iced tea while he was gone. He made a quick trip and walked in with a sack containing onion rings fried to perfection by Wanda’s. They were lightly battered, fried to a crispness that was sooo good! They reminded me when Jim and I were going together. We would stop at Carleson’s Drive-In on University Drive in Fort Worth, order a cherry Coke or a lime freeze and an order of onion rings. It was always a wonderful end to a fun date. I told Jim what I was reminded of, and he said he guessed we could go eat in the car if I wanted to. I declined.
Wanda’s onion rings are never heavily battered like some I have eaten. A heavy batter makes them either fried so hard they are hard to eat or limp from so much batter they can’t fry evenly. While I was finishing up, I popped the onion rings in a warm oven until we were ready to eat.
With our Sloppy Joes and onion rings, we had a fresh fruit bowl I prepared. I put some watermelon, cantaloupe, fresh peaches, blueberries and bananas in a bowl and tossed them together. It was a very good meal. I may do the same thing for Labor Day if everyone decides to come over.
Plan ahead for Labor Day, and don’t spend all day cooking and slaving over a hot barbecue grill. Plan something easy so you can enjoy the day. You know, I wouldn’t even mind if it rained all day. We desperately need it.
Lynn and I decided we’re going to call Claudia (Lynn’s sister-in-law; my cousin) and wish her a Happy Birthday. Her birthday is today, and she is five years older than we are. We August girls have to stick together.
Janis may be reached at email@example.com.