Monday, April 22, 2013

Joes for a Crowd

My trip east last week was supposed to be a picture taking trip.

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 or here from Amazon!)

But what happened?


Cold rain.

Unrelenting rain.

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

hamburger buns

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 :)


  1. Hmmmm...I think it's time for me to make my tvp version and I rarely buy potato chips but they look awfully inviting on that plate. I think I'll have to splurge.

    Love the barn. Imagine if it could talk! Oh -- remember when they did that point of view writing thingy on seekerville from the barn's pov?! This is the visual.

  2. I love that barn too, Kav. When you read the post, I had attributed the wrong builder - but the story is just as good.

    According to my dad's cousin, who worked with his Grandpa on these barns, "Grandpa's favorite activity was to slide his fanny along the ridge pole and nail the top of the rafters in place. he would holler 'bring on another rafter' to his crew until he had worked the length of the barn usually about eighty feet in length...Grandpa loved the ridge pole."

    Grandpa was also a preacher and raised five daughters.

  3. Rain was in Hawaii too but we perservered! Can't wait to get your book on my Kindle!

    Peace, Julie

    1. Rain in paradise? I'm sure it was still beautiful, though!

  4. Jan, I love the barn! Amazing to me that they he built something so huge.

    Thanks for the recipe!! I'll be sure to try it and compare to Big K's Sloppy Joes. :) With those ingredients, they must be delicious!

    Now to hit my handy dandy print button... :)

  5. Jan, I'm trying this recipe for one of our roofing projects the next few months... I promised them steak one night, but this is a perfect ROOFER'S LUNCH!!!! And I can have it all done and tell them the ridgepole story after....

    You know it's funny, my husband loves being in high places but I wouldn't let him re-roof the front of our old farmhouse. It's 2 1/2 stories high, a really great/steep roof pitch and the house is on a slope... and you have to go up three steps to get into the house. So the slope and the steps add almost another full story to the height.

    I just knew someone would FALL... and it would be my fault. So we're hiring that one done (mid-May) but the rest of the house.... and garage... and new family room... we're doing. They're only 1 story or 1.5 stories high and most people will barely get bruised from that height! :)

    But I could totally see Dave up on a ridgepole.

    That barn is a story unto itself, but this recipe??? Oh mylanta, sistah, I cannot wait to try it!

    With fries in the deep fryer, of course!!! :)

    1. We have the same kind of problem on our back roof, Ruthy! Two stories from the ground, but the back of the house is on the edge of an "intermittent creek" - aka really deep ditch. So when a few shingles blew off, what did I do? Yup, called in the pros. Took them five minutes, but I didn't worry about a tip to the ER!

      And it sounds like your roofers are going to be eating the good stuff :)

  6. sounds yum! I hit the handy dandy print button and it started printing everything - even all the replies! is this happening to everyone or is this computer at work whacked?! oh well got the recipe with no copy/paste business and hit 'cancel' when it said page 5 of 25! :-)

    ya'll my baby lab - Kayla - is going downhill - got new med for her this afternoon and she said we should see a differene withing 48 hrs - super prednisone (I call her baby but she turend 12 last month) they think she may have something besides the hip stuff going on but tests would be expensive and anything revealed most likelycouldn't be fixed and would put her through a lot. just hoping she perks up - her back legs started giving out on her more and more but she seems to try so I'm doing what I can for her. I've never had to deal with this before - my parents dealt with the 'college' dog I had and this is my first rodeo and it ain't fun. brings back my parents' deaths like they just happened.

    I could eat a whole thingy of this stuff right now - stress eating. :-( picked a bad time to restart weight watchers but heck I'm beginning to think there will never be a good time...