My mom’s from Iowa, which means I grew up eating Maid-Rites, the greatest sloppy joe. You can find a bunch of recipes online but this is close to the even-simpler version we had. You can eat it on a bun or just fork it up out of a bowl. I added a bunch of extra stuff, but the moment I tasted that first bite of ground beef, tomato, onion, and oatmeal, I felt like the world’s happiest little kid.
Ingredients (you can switch these around to your taste of course): Ground beef, a bit of butter, onion, ginger, garlic, canned diced tomatoes (or condensed tomato soup, or apparently even ketchup?–you just need some tomato up in there), quick oats, ground cayenne, ground cumin, cinnamon, salt, black peppercorns in a grinder, water, bread or a bun or whatever if you feel like it.
What I did: Get some butter going in a pan. Throw in chopped onion (like half a medium or small onion), as much chopped garlic as you like, and minced ginger. When the garlic is golden brown on the bottom, add ground beef. My parents gave me meat as a Christmas present, so I broke up a small hamburger patty with my hands. (To be honest, I should have added this at the very beginning, without waiting for the onions etc to brown. It was still quite tasty.)
Things will happen quickly now, especially if you’re impatient like me and always cook on a high flame, so add some canned diced tomatoes and juice (you don’t need a lot), some water, and some quick oats. The oats are to stretch out your meat budget, but they also add a nice sweetness, a real homey comfort. I used a pretty high proportion of oats to meat–probably about 1/2 cup oats? Maybe more. The water should basically be enough to cook the oats in.
If you want toast to eat this on, go for it.
Add salt, cumin, cayenne, and cinnamon to taste. Stir stir. Then all you have to do is wait (stirring now and then) until the oats are cooked. You can keep cooking to thicken it if you put too much water in; you can add water if it starts to dry out before the oats are ready. It’s really a pretty forgiving recipe. Total time including chopping was 20 – 30 mins.
Scrape it out into a bowl. Grind some black pepper over it. Eat while reading something by Marilynne Robinson. Close with a hymn.