This is not a recipe: Hobo Joes


Some of my favorite dishes don’t come from a printed recipe – they come from a friend or family member or acquaintance who jots something down or tells you the ingredients quickly over the phone.


My mom used to make Hobo Joes for us when I was a kid. I have no idea where that name came from, but I imagine it refers to a foil packet of food that could be cooked over a fire by a vagabond. Where did my family get this non-recipe? No clue.


It’s basically a steamed packet of goodness that you can tailor to whatever you like and whatever’s in your fridge.


Lay out a few sheets of foil. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Or 400°F. Whatever floats your boat. Mix a half a pound of ground beef (or ground turkey?) with some Lawry’s seasoning (or whatever seasoning you like, just make sure there’s some salt), and form two patties (or roll into little meatballs). Set aside. On the foil, layer sliced (or diced!) potatoes with any other veggies you want – canned mixed veggies, sliced zucchini, mushrooms, corn – whatever. Be sure to salt them a little as you go. Top with some canned diced tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes, or crushed tomatoes), sprinkle everything with salt and pepper, then plop the beef patty on top. Fold into a well-sealed foil packet and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 – 45 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through and the veggies are tender. You can either eat it straight from the foil or slide the goodness onto a plate. Spoon on some salsa. Or sour cream. Or sprinkle with cheese. Whatever makes your mouth happy.


And that’s a hobo Joe – one of the most comforting dishes I know. :)

When you’re old


When you’re old, you might whine a little bit. You might complain that people don’t pay enough attention to you, or that the temperature is too cool, or that no one gave you water from the sink.

You might yell when people are on the phone, or pout in a corner, or hide in the bathroom so everyone will leave you alone. You might need medicine for your arthritis, and for your indigestion, and you might eat special food for your kidneys. You might not be able to jump as high as you used to, or run very fast, or play for more than a few minutes without laying down.

Maybe you have a cardboard box that you curl up in during the day, or possibly some shoes that you can plop on, or maybe someone’s keyboard you can lay on. Maybe you get annoyed when someone coughs, or when another cat has the audacity to touch you, or when it’s 8:45AM and no one is watching you because they’re working.

Perhaps you just want to sleep all day, except for when you don’t, and perhaps you want everyone around you to know when you would like a hug, or a piece of cheese, or a lap. Perhaps you get angry and scratch on things, or swat at things, or pee on things.

Maybe the people around you wonder how you could have possibly gotten so old so fast, when just yesterday you were a kitten, so tiny and cute and young and agile. Maybe your aging makes them feel old, and maybe it makes them worry about losing you.

These things might happen when you’re old. Just FYI.

And then there’s this.


Some days, life seems like so much mud, and you’re sloshing through, trying to make progress, trying to move forward. It’s so hard, so tiring, so thick with doubt, and you feel like maybe you should just stop and become one with the mud.

But some days, the sun sets just so, and the music surrounds you, and you feel the love of friends and family, and life seems so open, so crisp, so light. These are the days you have to hang on to, the ones that you can plant in your mind to get you through the mud.

The mud has no chance.


Today was our 17th anniversary. 17! How are we possibly old enough to have been married 17 years?

So we had a late lunch at one of our favorite places, and we talked about life, and we danced to this song in the living room. I’m a little scared of growing old, but if my love is there with me, I know it will be okay.