Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Seventeen Cookbook" - Sloppy Joes - Seventeen Magazine and Say Yes to the Dress Goes to the Prom!



Date I made this recipe:  June 11, 2017

The Seventeen Cookbook by the Editors of Seventeen Magazine
Published by The Macmillan Company
© 1964
Purchased at Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, NYC
Recipe:  Sloppy Joes – p. 60

Those of us of a certain age will likely remember reading Seventeen Magazine cover-to-cover, taking note of the current fashion (ugly as it was), dating tips, life tips and well, tips in general to help us all navigate through our teenage years.

I have to say that I was a little surprised this magazine was still in publication but then again, it's not like I've looked for it on the newsstand.  If Brownies can "fly up" to be Junior Girl Scouts, then Seventeen Magazine readers can fly up to read Vogue and other more adult-oriented fashion magazines. I do believe this is an unofficial life rule.

I've had this cookbook for a while now but was never really prompted to cook from it until I saw "Say Yes to the Prom," that aired on TLC in April.  This special event show was a take-off of the very popular "Say Yes to the Dress," that airs on the same channel.  I'm constantly amazed at how many people, including me, "confess" to watching "Say Yes to the Dress" and am almost always amused by the fact that these friends and I share the same sense of horror at what some women consider to be appropriate bridal wear.  Hint:  "If it looks like a nightgown, it is a nightgown.  Just put it down, honey, just put it down."

Happily, "Say Yes to the Prom" did not go the way of the bridal show.  In this special episode, 50 high school students were given the opportunity to select a prom dress with assistance from Aya Kanai, Seventeen Magazine's Fashion Director, designer Betsy Johnson and Monte Durham from "Say Yes to the Dress – Atlanta."  All of these kids were deserving in some way and were thrilled with their dress selections.  It was a total feel-good moment, sans the usual family infighting that happens on the bridal show. Also missing was the reveal of the "over your budget" (by a country mile) price tags that make this gal blink in double-time and that was refreshing!

As to my prom, I didn't go but before you get all "awww" on me, let me tell you why.  My school had only a Junior-Senior prom and to the best of my recollection most, but not all, of the people who attended were going together, otherwise known as going steady, or, if you will, in a "committed high school relationship."  The Christmas Hop however, was another story all together.

The Christmas Hop has been a mainstay at my school for well over 60 years (perhaps even closer to 70).  I remember seeing "Hop" photos in a lot of the older year books that were stored in the high school library and just loved looking at Hop fashions over the years.

The Hop was the biggest deal on the planet even though it was a Sadie Hawkins dance which is to say the women asked the men, and I think it was open to all high schoolers but cannot remember. (I think the junior high students pulled [serving] punch duty.)  I do know that attendance far exceeded the prom as nobody wanted to be left out of The Hop as it was "The" social event of the year.

The Hop was held in the cafeteria/gymnasium of Central School, the elementary school next to our combined junior high and high school and it was packed to the rafters with attendees.  If memory serves, this was held in early December which was really a bad time of year to hold a formal dance because of the high probability of snow or a snow storm, but who cared?  Most of us women attending wore boots beneath our evening gowns and changed into sandals in the parking lot because that was what you did.

The flower shops in my hometown were never as busy as when they were preparing Hop corsages and boutonnieres to match your dress which of course, you looked high and low for.  Velvet was in as were "granny" dresses and please do recall folks that this was the 70's and also that what goes around, comes around because nowadays, all of that is fashionable again, why Lord, why?

The first year I went to the Hop was my junior year and I asked not only the shyest guy in our class but also the future valedictorian.   I wore a light green dress that was very simple and was also affordable.  He wore – and I love this – red checkered pants, a red jacket, a white bow tie and either a red or a blue shirt, I cannot recall.  We definitely took our holiday theme seriously.

The second year I attended, I asked the class salutatorian (see a pattern here?) and dressed in a light blue sleeveless dress with a dark blue velvet jacket with a light blue ruffle.  I could gag at the thought of it really, but such is life; the green dress the year before was way better.  My date dressed in blue to match my dress although I cannot recall if that was deliberate or not.

To make the whole look really, really awful (mine, not his), I decided to go to the beauty salon and have them roller set my hair under the premise (and I was not wrong) that it would help straighten out my naturally wavy hair.  This one-off look was never seen on me again as it didn't quite work as I expected it to.  That said, it was usual and customary for my female classmates to have their hair curled for the big event.

So to recap, I had this bad hair, a dress I hated and which seem to accentuate the fact that I had gained weight during the summer before my senior year (lost it all before graduation but alas, too late for senior photos) and to make it all worse, I wore gold-rimmed aviator glasses.

Let that just sink in for a minute.  I mean, the look was not at all uncommon back then but yeesh, people.  Yeesh!  And not only were they ugly glasses but for the first time since I got them in 6th grade, I wore them for a Hop photo.

Why did I do that?  Why?  I NEVER wore my glasses in photos, not ever.  Even in childhood vacation pictures, you will be hard-pressed to find photos of me wearing my glasses and so there I was all dolled up on Hop night and I had to go and ruin my no-glasses streak and it has bothered me ever since.  (As an aside, after I sold my childhood home, I brought back a ton of childhood photos and a best friend kept exclaiming that "they don't look like you."  She finally figured out why:  I never wore my glasses and I almost never smiled because my teeth were crooked and I was self-conscious.)

Still, the fact that I attended the Hop with my friends was fun even if my date the second year spent most of his time romancing a friend of mine who had just broken up with her boyfriend.  Let the pity party begin!

Since my hometown was short on restaurants (the town was tiny), nobody really got together beforehand to go out to dinner and only the second year did my friends and I gather afterwards.  And for the record, there was absolutely no such thing as a limousine in the town so you could forget that noise.  Things were pretty simple back then and we managed to have a ton of fun without all of today's prom accoutrements and accompanying expenses.

The nearby town of Marquette, Michigan though, was much bigger and their high school had a huge spring prom and I know this because my trial run as hostess at the Garden Room restaurant was on prom night.

I was going to college at Northern Michigan University in Marquette and needed a new summer job before starting my senior year. My summer job the previous year was at Montgomery Wards Repair Service and we do not have time here to discuss the horror that was that job, nor does it have anything to do with Prom so there it is.

Prior to my trial run at the Garden Room, I spent two weeks working for pennies on the dollar at a local Big Boy restaurant before deciding I was simply not Big Boy material and so set my sights on one of my family's favorite restaurants, the Garden Room

The Garden Room was a family favorite because the owner, Dorothy, and her family owned also a few other restaurants in town, one of which was the site of my parent's wedding brunch.  The food was fabulous and unlike Big Boy which was stuck in a mall, this restaurant overlooked Lake Superior and it was gorgeous.

So I went in one day and pitched my services to Dorothy who then asked if I could come in that Saturday for a trial run as hostess (which I loved better than waitressing) and I said sure, and then when I got there, she said "Oh, by the way, it's prom night."

Good to know.

So I survived that and managed to seat all the prom attendees without incident and I was then hired FT for the summer.  I have to say that it was somewhat amusing to seat students who were just a few years younger than me but "them's the breaks!"

Now then, returning our attention to The Seventeen Cookbook, in the early years of formal dances, it was usual and customary for one of the attendees to throw a dinner party the night of the big dance (although not in my town) and the dinner party menu usually had something "fancy" on it like Beef Stroganoff or steak and twice-baked potatoes and I was leaning heavily toward the stroganoff for my ode to prom until my husband decided he wanted the Sloppy Joes.  (He didn't attend prom, either.)

What can I say?  One cannot go wrong with Sloppy Joes even though I doubt anyone would have served them on prom night because they were, well – sloppy! (Can I just say that on prom night at the Garden Room, almost everybody used their napkins as a bib lest the outfit be ruined which would be horrible and unncessary!)  Since Andy and I ate this "prom night" food in our casual summer clothes, we didn't care what happened and so why not Sloppy Joes?

I know that in some parts, it is usual and customary to add a cream of "something" soup to a Sloppy Joe mix (or Chicken Gumbo or Chicken and Stars) but I never found a recipe calling for the soup until now.  In addition to the soup, you'll add chili sauce and prepared mustard, the combination of which made me feel like I was eating a burger instead of a Sloppy Joe but it was good so why quibble?

And so here we are, many moons past prom and all my reminiscing that went with it, but it doesn't matter because Sloppy Joes are great any time, anywhere, prom or no prom, Hop or no Hop! Enjoy!

Sloppy Joes – makes 12
2 tablespoons butter or other fat
2 lbs. ground beef chuck
1 cup chopped onion
2 cans cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
½ cup chili sauce
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
¼ teaspoon black pepper
12 hamburger buns, toasted and buttered


Melt butter in a large skillet.  Add beef and onion, cook, stirring until broken up and well-browned.  Add soup and seasonings; simmer for about ten minutes to blend, stirring occasionally.  Serve by ladling mixture onto hot hamburger buns.

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