CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Auntie Helen’s Barbecues

It’s high school graduation season, and a lot of families are scrambling to prepare for parties for their soon-to-be graduates.

Food is always at the center of these celebrations, and there are two routes that you can take: catered from a restaurant, supermarket or culinary service or do-it-yourself.

We recently hosted our grandson Rakeem’s party, which was held early because of weekend conflicts with his baseball schedule. The food we served was all homemade, with the exception of the candy bar that was set up for the kids.

Our main food was homemade barbecues or Sloppy Joes. The recipe I used was given to me by my late Auntie Helen Tiedeman, who was the head cook for the students at the old Cathedral High School and Grade School back in the 1950s into the 1970s in my hometown of Crookston, Minn.

We used to have barbecues — some would call them Sloppy Joes — and oven-roasted potatoes that were seasoned with parsley at least once every week or two for hot lunch. The barbecues were one of the favorites of most kids. Some of my friends still talk about the barbecues because they were that good!

We’ve had the barbecues many times over the past 15 to 20 years, but I’ve never used the original recipe she gave me, which was for serving 100. I’d always cut it down — until last week.

As usual, the barbecues were a hit at the party, especially with the kids, many of whom had sampled them when I treated Rakeem’s baseball teammates over the years.

If you’re looking for a tasty and easy recipe for your graduation party, you will hit a home run with this one!

Auntie Helen’s Barbecues
6 pounds of ground beef
1 package flaked onions
25 ounce-can cream of mushroom soup
½ gallon of ketchup
1 stalk of celery, diced, precooked
2 tablespoons mustard
¼ cup of vinegar
Barbecue spice, to taste
½ cup of brown sugar
Brown ground beef and drain fat. Mix all of ingredients in large pot and cook for about 2 hours.
Yield: Serves 50.
Note: Recipe easily can be doubled, or cut in half, like I did for the doll club meeting.

2 thoughts on “CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Auntie Helen’s Barbecues”

  • Tom Nimens May 29, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    Helen use to make a baked fish cake I’ve tried. Even asked Gordy. No help. Anything you can add?

    1. Jeff Tiedeman May 30, 2017 at 9:45 am

      Sorry, I can’t help you, Tom.


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