Thursday, June 5, 2014

"Race Day Grub - Recipes from the NASCAR Family" - Martha Nemechek's Sloppy Joes - for Memorial Day

Date I made this recipe:  May 25th, 2014 – for Memorial Day

Race Day Grub – Recipes from the NASCAR Family by Angela Skinner; foreword by Mike Skinner
Published by:  Wiley (as part of the NASCAR Library Collection)
ISBN:  0-470-09858-9
Purchased at Strand (bookstore), NYC
Recipe:  Martha Nemechek's Sloppy Joes

We are now one day away from Memorial Day, the official start of the "summer" season (technically, it starts on June 21st), and while I celebrate the start of my favorite time of year, I also dread it.  You see, I suffer from a seasonal affective disorder called "grilling anxiety."

I didn't used to be this way, perhaps because my dad took care of all the grilling growing up, mostly on our little hibachi grill.  I loved that thing, mostly because it was so portable.  And it's not like I'm afraid of fire because I was a Girl Scout and we had to build fires all the time.  (I have merit badges to prove it!).

No, the problem is with our household grill.  It's gas – not that there's anything wrong with that because our stove is gas – but it's a bit finicky and it's filthy.  Filthy as in "sat in the garage unused for a couple of years now because we haven't had time to grill" filthy.

Now my husband was not brought up with my mother's exacting sanitation standards so he wanted to haul out the grill, give it a quick scrub, and fire it up.  I told him that unless and until he sanitized it within an inch of its life by pouring scalding hot water over it – several times – I would not eat anything that came off it.  He looked at me funny and sighed.  I looked back with my "I am not kidding" visage.  He blinked first.

And so, the win goes to Ann!  And I won because at the end of the day, we did what we always do and that is ignore the problem rather than just clean the thing and just let the grill sit in the garage.  Clearly, we are not enamored with this "sport."  This decision then freed me up from the second component of my "grilling anxiety" – selecting the grill recipe.  Since we use gas, I flip past all the pages that require us to use coals or wood chips and those recipes that require long-time marinades.  And although hamburgers and hot dogs are not exactly off the table, grilling them always seems like a cop-out.  Within minutes, I was exhausted and had exhausted all brilliant grilling ideas. And so...Sloppy Joes.  (By the way, the third component of my "grilling anxiety" is the overabundance of mosquitoes, which, in this state are required to file a flight plan with the FAA.)

Now, these are not just any Sloppy Joes, these Sloppy Joes are from a NASCAR cookbook.  And that's because Memorial Day weekend is also race day weekend as Indy 500 and NSACAR drives get behind the wheel to hurtle themselves around a track at speeds in excess of 200mph.  And trust me, this is far more enjoyable to watch than standing outside, swatting at mosquitoes, tending to a grill.  That said, Andy and I were busy all day and so we missed both races. (But we caught the recaps later on so...half points awarded).

I'm not sure I have an Indiana cookbook in this house ( by the way, "Indy" stands for Indianapolis) but wouldn't you know I have two – count 'em – two NASCAR cookbooks in my house, purchased last year at Strand Bookstore in NYC.  I always like to be prepared for any occasion and see, didn't I just call that right?  You need a race car cookbook, you see me.

When it comes to car racing, while Indy Racing is the Big Daddy of them all, with the Indy 500 (500 miles) taking place every Memorial Day weekend for the past 103 years, NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) should never be dismissed like a fly on your arm during a BBQ.  NASCAR's following is absolutely huge compared to Indy.  And although there are more Indy races than just the famous 500, it is a rare moment when you cannot find a NASCAR race on TV. 

And although Indy drives tend to just drive that circuit and no other, over the years, a couple of NASCAR racers ran Indy.  As my husband can spend endless hours telling you, everything about those races are different – cars, driving, driving style, etc.  But we both kind of liked the "mix and match" that took place.

My absolute favorite thing about watching NASCAR is listening to the announcer call the race.  The minute I hear commentator Larry McReynold's southern accent and Darrell Waltrip's (former champion) "boogity, boggity, boogity" catch phrase, I know that Andy has switched the TV to a NASCAR race and we are in for a fun and entertaining time. 

There was also something about this recipe that made me select it, mainly that you added two cans of Campbell's Vegetable Soup with Alphabets.  Well this is new!  (I'm not sure the soup added anything one way or the other but Andy liked it.) The other thing that sealed the deal is that this recipe was submitted by Martha Nemechek, mom to race driver Joe Nemechek, and both Martha and her husband, "Big Joe," are huge supporters of soldiers in the U.S. Army.  Martha is even pictured in the book wearing Army fatigues.  And so a non-grilled item + NASCAR + Memorial Day + Army aficionados = a great way to celebrate the first weekend of summer.  Inside.  Without bugs.

PS—Congratulations to this year's Indy 500 winner, Ryan Hunter-Reay who managed to hold off challenger (as in "hot on his tail"), Helio Castroneves by 0.060 seconds.  And Congratulations to four-time NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 winner (a/k/a "Charlotte 600"), Jimmie Johnson. Johnson took a page from the Indy race, beating out second place finished, Kevin Harvick, by 1.272 seconds.

And here I get all nervous when someone comes within 5 feet of my bumper!

Martha Nemechek's Sloppy Joes – makes 2 to 4 servings
1 pound ground beef
½ small onion, chopped
Garlic powder
½ cup ketchup
½ cup water
Two 10 ½-ounce cans Campbell's ABC vegetable soup
One 1.4-ounce packet Sloppy Joe seasoning
2-4 hamburger buns

Mix the ground beef and chopped onions in a skillet over medium heat.  Sprinkle in the garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until the meat is brown and drain off the liquid.

Put the meat back in the pan and add the ketchup, water, soup and seasoning packet.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve on your favorite buns and enjoy!

Ann's Note:  I had to chuckle at the instruction to "salt and pepper to taste" because the soup contained a lot of sodium as did the seasoning packet.  So I peppered only and perhaps you should, too!

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