Friday, March 17, 2017

March 18 - National Sloppy Joe Day


Like lips, there aren't too many children's books about Sloppy-Joes-the-food. But, there is, however:


When it comes to being messy, Sloppy Joe is a pro! He slurps, spills, slouches, talks with his mouth full, and never, ever tucks in his shirt. But being messy has its challenges. So Sloppy Joe sets out to become Neat Joe, only to learn that being messy is a part of who he is—and his family loves him for it!

Let's just read about being sloppy today!


This is the van that Dad cleaned...and these are the kids that turned it into a complete disaster in about three minutes flat. In the pattern of "The House That Jack Built", one thing leads to another, and the van is back to looking like my car. The natural activity to follow this one? Go out and clean the car together! Sometimes, kids are more likely to keep something clean, if they have been involved in getting it that way to begin with.



We aren't ever sloppy when we are reading BOOKS, are we? Gasp! This poor little guy (with the most adorable failed comb-over ever seen in a children's book) is trying to tell his story, but between the jelly and the orange juice and the SCRIBBLING, it's just ruined. Or, is it?

Take an hour or so to go through your own book collection together. Are some in need of some repair? Give them a little TLC to help them last a bit longer!

Language Arts

So, why do we call Sloppy Joes (the food), "Sloppy Joes"? Nobody knows for sure! Some possibilities are:

- a 'loose meat sandwich' created by a cook named Joe in Sioux City, Iowa
- an invention of Sloppy Joe's bar in Key West, Florida
- a sandwich from Sloppy Joe's saloon in Havana, Cuba
- a mixture made popular during war rationing was then given its name and publicity when Hunt's started selling it in a can

Think about some other foods we eat with odd sounding names. Waldorf salad? Caeser salad? Reuben sandwiches? Pick one or two, and before you try to find out the real story, make one up! Perhaps there was a prince named Reuben who wanted to win a fair maiden's heart, so he disguised himself as a cook's boy in the castle, and...

After you have written and illustrated your story, do an internet search to find out how close you were to the real story (and if you like your version better!)

Social Studies

Let's look more into the subject of war rationing. It is a foreign concept to most Americans that you can be limited in how much you buy, by anything other than how much money you have. When I lived in Ukraine in the 90's, however, I was issued a ration card for butter and sugar! I think I was allowed a pound of butter a month. As you will see by the Sloppy Joe recipe below, that just wasn't going to cut it for me. Fortunately, the 'black market' there was easy to find, just a bit more pricey.

Talk with your child about the abundance of available food here in the US, compared with the scarcity in other countries. Even in 1990's Ukraine, where there was only one kind of cereal (how many can you count here?!), they at least had cereal. There was food, if you had the money to buy it, or something to trade (which was not always the case). In some countries, however, there is simply not enough food to be had, because of drought, war, corruption, or crop failures.

Sometimes there is just a certain type of food that becomes scarce. A disease hits swine herds, and bacon becomes expensive, for example. War time is another prime example, and has an excellent article on the topic.


After sharing the above article together, talk about some of the ways people changed their eating and food preservation habits, to be less wasteful and to save food longer. Is waste only an issue during times of great need?

Are there any 'war time' ideas you can implement into your own household? Do you can or preserve food, for example? If not, see if your local County Extension Office offers lessons or demonstrations (they usually do!) Maybe get together with some friends for a class, then plan a day at the home with the biggest kitchen, and work together to preserve whatever is in season (or on sale!)


Remember this guy from your own childhood?

He sure loved his hamburgers (or free food, at least)...wonder what he would have thought of Sloppy Joes?
What would you charge Wimpy for a burger? For a Sloppy Joe? Fries? Shake? Salad? Make up a menu of some of your family's favorite foods, along with prices. Let your child practice taking orders from family members, and adding up their tickets.
If you want to make this a long-term learning play, set up a little center with fake food (purchase at the dollar store, or glue magazine pictures to tag board) and play money.


Messy art is always a hit! Here's one of my favorites:

Hang a white sheet outside on a clothesline or chain link fence (be cognizant of what is behind it or nearby). Mix a little tempera or fabric paint with extra water, and put it in small cups and bowls. Brainstorm different ways to get the paint on the sheet.

- toss dixie cups
- put in squirt guns (takes some patience, but it's loads of fun)
- dip sponges in and toss them
- use your hands!
- use found objects as paint brushes (feathers, leaves, sticks, etc.)
- dump cooked spaghetti in the paint and throw it at the sheet.

I'll bet your little one can think up more! This is a tablecloth we made from a sheet, using our hands and feet and fabric dye:


Well, obviously, we need to make Sloppy Joes! There are many, many different recipes, often dependent on the region you grew up in. This is how WE make it, but feel free to adjust. Remember: baking is a science, cooking is an art! (Note: this makes a LOT, because a) we have seven people in our family, and b) it is so easy to freeze and reheat another day)

1. Brown 5 lbs of ground beef. Drain off most of the grease when it is mostly browned, and add 1 whole stick of butter. Yes, really! This is the most important part! Finish browning and do NOT drain again.

2. Add: 3T of minced garlic,
2 cups ketchup (or catsup - how did THAT get its name?)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 T chili powder
1 T dry mustard
1 small can tomato paste
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
*ALL of these measurements are estimates. I just dump in what looks good.

3. Simmer at least 20 minutes on low.

4. Add 2 chopped onions and 2 chopped green bell peppers. Some people start off by sauteing those, but we like the crunch! Heat through, and serve on your choice of buns.

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