April...springtime in Amish Country.... I had one day all planned to take pictures of key places I've included in my book, The Prodigal Son Returns (available everywhere NEXT WEEK! or you can pre-order it here from Christianbook.com or here from Amazon!)
But what happened?
Flooding rain, as you can see in this picture from my dear husband's hometown in Michigan.
So no pictures of spring flowers, pastel dresses hanging on the clothesline in the spring breeze, buggies with the windows open to let the fresh air in as the horse trots down the road....
But I did get this picture:
This is one of the few surviving barns built by my great-grandfather, George Sherck. I used his father's name and George's barn building skills in my story, and it's a pleasure to see this barn in person. It's located along US 131, just south of Schoolcraft, Michigan. George lived from 1879 to 1959, so I'm guessing the barn was built sometime around the 1930's. (Grandpa changed the way he did the roof in the 1940's). I'm so glad to see the current owners have preserved this barn with a new roof!
You know I love history, but we don't live in the past. While my imagination lives in pre-Civil War Pennsylvania (for my current work-in-progress), my children live in VERY present-day South Dakota!
And what do college age and 20-something adults do? They make friends :)
Saturday night my husband and I went out on a date while our children opened the house to ten of their friends (plus one VERY cute five-month-old). It was game night. Settlers of Catan, Carcassone, Cranium, Balderdash, Cribbage...and I'm not sure what else.
With that many people, my daughter's first choice for food was my famous Joes for a Crowd.
Of course! How else are you going to feed this many hungry people? (unless you're Ruthy and pull out the deep fryer - but that's a different post!)
Super easy, makes a ton of deliciousness, and everyone can help themselves.
Joes for a Crowd
5 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
4 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 bottle Chili Sauce (or 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons white vinegar
3 Tablespoons prepared mustard
24 oz. tomato sauce
Brown the ground beef with the onions and drain well. Combine all of the ingredients in a crock pot and heat thoroughly - about one hour on high - and then reduce heat to low until you're ready to serve.
And that's it! Serve with chips and some veggies. Ask your buddies to bring snacks/dessert, and have fun.
(By the way, if you have a smaller crowd, like four or five people, you can reduce the ground beef to about two pounds and divide all the other ingredients by three.)
And if you're like me, just add a bit of shredded cheese to make them super-yummy :)