diner's, drive-ins & lunch counters

It's funny how the things you let slip away sometimes come back to you when you least expect them...... watching the latest storm, memories floated down like the snowflakes swirling around outside my window....my Mom and I were going shopping, downtown! We took the bus. I remember the excitement of seeing it thunder down the road, then climbing the steps, putting the coins in the slot and finding a seat! I could not have been more excited if we were going to Disney Land!

After shopping for a few hours, it was finally time for lunch. At the lunch counter. With the chrome stools that twirled all the way around! Yep, right there in the middle of the store! I would order the grilled cheese or egg salad on toast cut into triangles with a cherry coke! Mom  had the club sandwich or stacked ham on a bun with coffee and we would share fries or onion rings. Just mention the words lunch counter to me and I get instantly nostalgic. Just say "soda fountain" and childhood memories come floating back to me like the bright balloons behind the counter that when popped held the secret price you would pay for your sundae! I get weepy just thinking about root beer floats, milk shakes and malts so thick you had to drink them with a spoon and what greater delight for a child then a banana split? Never do I remember being able to finish one by myself. As if all that were not enough, there was a magical tower, made entirely of glass that held the most beautiful slices of pie...... cherry, blueberry, apple, coconut cream, chocolate cream, and my favorite lemon meringue.


They all had one, Woolworth's, Kresge's, Kippy's, Isaly's, Ben Franklin, Polsky's, Montgomery Ward's, the list goes on, but unfortunately the lunch counter went the way of saddle shoes and wrapping your steady's ring with angora (a different color every day!). Lucky for me there is one on Memory Lane and I visit it often.

The following recipe is from my retro diners, drive-ins and lunch counters collection.

Sloppy Joe's
1 small onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tb olive oil
1 pound ground beef
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1 small can tomato paste
1 Tb brown sugar
1/4 cup organic ketchup
1/2 cup water

Saute the onions, pepper and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Drain. Add all the other ingredients to the ground beef mixture and cook over medium-low heat, stirring until thickened. Add more water if it gets too thick. Serve on soft hamburger buns.

happy memories
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