It was almost bedtime when the white van pulled into the driveway, towing a big black trailer loaded to the brim.
This article is a part of "The Amish Cook Column", a weekly series of featuring a story & recipe from Gloria Yoder, Amish wife & mother of six from Flat Rock, Illinois
I didn’t hesitate. Turning to the children, I said, “I’m going out to meet them.”
How delightful to see two out-of-state uncles on the Raber side.
They planned to come for the next two days to help us out. When they heard that our house needed more insulation and new windows, siding, and a roof, they promised they’d come and do what they could. Here they were; the trailer was loaded with siding, windows, and the like. When the trailer was unhooked, they scattered to other community Raber families, with plans to return the following morning at 8:00.
The weeks before, I had this stubborn worry pop up repeatedly as I imagined 80 people (including children) gathered to help us, only to have it rain. Again I’d pray for sunny weather to be compatible with the projects.
Now it was the night before the first big day; it rained all night; in the morning, the clouds mercifully broke, and the sun warmed all who came to help.
By 8:30, it was a hive of busy bees. Dad’s four brothers, their partners, children, and grandchildren created an amazing team. Ladies sewed dresses and curtains and did mending; others mulched our fruit trees and flower beds. Sister-in-law Mary, who was also here, took charge of the kitchen where they made cookie bars, two kinds of energy balls, cake mixes, pancake mixes, a stock pot full of soup, hamburgers, meatballs, granola, cookie dough shaped into balls, all for the freezer for future use.
In the meanwhile, Dad assigned the guys to their specific jobs.
Two cousins who specialized in putting up siding replaced the old white with gray-tannish siding, a brother-in-law who does construction tied the new deck roof with the house, and another who does guttering put up new guttering. One gentleman who does roofing took charge of putting new charcoal metal up—two uncles who excel in working with windows replaced most of the windows throughout the house.
Hosanna played with dolls on the trampoline with her little friends while the boys spent endless hours playing pitch and catch and riding their bicycles.
It was amazing to observe. I had fun floating around from one project to the next, answering questions and trying to make decisions. There were so many little things I naturally looked to Daniel to make the final decision. Perhaps it was good for me to see that it’s all temporal, and for most items, there’s not a single precise answer on what will be the best.
The big bay window in the kitchen, donated to us, gave our kitchen a dramatic facelift. I marvel as I am next to it and watch the children outside at play. I never expected to have a bay window, and here it is! It has a way of making the kitchen look more spacious.
I could fill the entire column about how much I enjoy it and the air movement gently flowing through the kitchen from those side windows, but you’d soon get bored.
Let’s move on to the second day. Now that was unreal. I never knew things could come together so swiftly and smoothly. We picked out a stain for the wooden railings on the front porch; someone went to town to pick it up, and the next thing I knew, it was all stained, not to mention all the block around the house that was painted a charcoal color to match the roof. It looked so fresh and nice; it felt like a farm girl like me doesn’t fit into what looks like a castle to me!
I had never really considered our house as old. I remember when my Daddy built it, but when I stopped to consider, that was 26 years ago. Things don’t last forever.
At any rate, as the house began wearing its new look, my mind kept going to how God brings new things into our life. Sometimes it doesn’t feel good, but if he’s in it, it’s always good. In a way it was sad to make so many changes while missing Daniel so, yet I knew it was the next step and of course, was thankful beyond measure to everyone helping.
Take this, as the last jobs were wrapped up, it began sprinkling a wee bit, and that night it rained in torrents. Surely God not only answered our prayers but also showed that he really is in charge.
Feeding 80 people for four meals is no small task, so each of the four Raber brothers took turns serving the meal their family had planned and prepared before their arrival.
One of my twin cousins declared that if this was to be a Raber gathering, it would not be complete without a snack twice a day! It was a plan. If you know the Raber family, there was lots of fun and laughter, but then there was also the serious slant as we all keenly felt the loss of our dear Daddy.
Precious memories were tucked away to be relived after that last van pulled out of the driveway.
The last meal was perfect for wrapping it all up- hot dogs, sloppy Joes, cobblers, and ice cream.
Whether you can eat on a picnic or enjoy it indoors, try my mom’s sloppy- Joes!
📸 Editor's Notes & Comments
Looking for a delicious and easy meal to make at home? Try making your own Sloppy Joes with this simple recipe. Say goodbye to the canned sauce and hello to a homemade version that will have your taste buds begging for more.
This Sloppy Joes Casserole in a Skillet resembles regular sloppy joes in many way, but the flour thickening gives it more of a casserole feel. So you can pile it on your plate and pair it with a vegetable, or eat it the traditional way on bread with a slice of cheese, your call!
📜 Step-By-Step Sloppy Joes Casserole in a Skillet
Gather Your Ingredients
To make the best homemade Sloppy Joes, you'll need the following ingredients: ground beef, onion, garlic, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, and pepper. Make sure to have all of your ingredients measured and ready to go before you start cooking.
Brown the ground beef and onions
To start making the best homemade Sloppy Joes, you'll need to brown one pound of ground beef and one chopped onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until the beef is no longer pink and the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally. Drain any excess fat from the skillet before moving on to the next step.
Add the remaining ingredients and simmer
Once the ground beef and onions are cooked, it's time to add the remaining ingredients to the skillet. This includes ¼ cup of ketchup, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon of mustard powder, ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir everything together until well combined, then reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for 10-15 minutes. This will allow the flavors to meld together and create a delicious sauce for your Sloppy Joes. Serve on buns with your favorite toppings and enjoy!
Toast your buns and assemble your sandwiches
Once your Sloppy Joe mixture is ready, it's time to assemble your sandwiches. Start by toasting your buns in the oven or on a skillet. This will give them a nice crunch and prevent them from getting soggy from the sauce. Then, spoon a generous amount of the Sloppy Joe mixture onto each bun. You can add additional toppings like cheese, pickles, or onions if desired. Serve hot and enjoy the best homemade Sloppy Joes you've ever tasted!
Enjoy your delicious homemade Sloppy Joes!
Congratulations, you've made it to the best part - enjoying your delicious homemade Sloppy Joes! The combination of the savory meat mixture and the toasted buns is sure to satisfy your taste buds. Don't be afraid to experiment with different toppings to make it your own. Serve it up with some fries or a side salad for a complete meal. Enjoy!
This is Gloria's Mom's recipe and I spoke to her on the phone about it. It sounds delicious. The flour is an interesting touch that you don't always find in sloppy joes, it gives these a thicker quality than some you'll find, which I like. I like thicker, denser.
I asked about the brown sugar vs. maple syrup and she almost always uses maple syrup, she says, but brown sugar will work just fine if you don't have maple syrup (part of me wonders how Coke would do here, but I've never tried that, so I won't advise you do it!)
🖨️ Recipe For Sloppy Joe Casserole in a Skillet
Sloppy Joe Casserole in a Skillet
- 2 pounds hamburger
- 1 /2 cup quick oats
- ⅓ cup chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 /2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon seasoning salt of your choice
- 1 /4 cup flour
- 1 /2 cup water
- 1 ½ cups ketchup
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 /2 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 2 tablespoons mustard
- ½ cup brown sugar
- In a large bowl mix hamburger, oats, onion, salt, pepper, and seasoning saltand then cook in a large skillet over medium heat until hamburger is fully browned.
- Sprinkle with 1 /4 cup flour and stir.
- Add 1 ½ cup ketchup, 1 teaspoonWorcestershire sauce, ½ teaspoon liquid smoke, 2 tablespoons mustard, and ½cup brown sugar(or maple syrup)… you can adjust any of these ingredients to satisfy your own taste buds.
- Simmer 10 minutes of medium low.
- Spoon onto buns and make sloppy joe casserole sandwiches or just eat off the plate!