Ask any elementary student this question, “What do you like
the best about school?” I just bet you
that their answers will be “Lunch” and “Recess!” Those were my answers when I was a student at
Mansfield Elementary School in the 1960s.
Kids are a little like a dog: if you feed them, they will keep coming back. I remember long ago when I could barely see over the stainless steel countertop at MES and watching that sweet, grandmotherly line of ladies scoop food into that cafeteria tray. They were all so nice to me and made me comfortable until I tried to leave the lunchroom to go to recess so I could nab the good swing sets! At the trashcan, there stood either a teacher or a cafeteria lady who would give our tray the once-over, looking to see if we had wasted food. After all, there were starving children in Africa.
The worst food imaginable was Texas Hash: a ground-up scoop of tomatoes, onion, peppers, pencil shavings, and sand, or so it seemed. We were told to sit back down and we could only leave when three teaspoons of any untouched food were eaten. I did pretty well with every section of that rectangle tray, except on Texas Hash day. Deals were made at the table to friends and some not-so-much friends. Trades were made by giving cookies to the kid who would eat our scoop or at least three spoonfuls. Chocolate milk was gold in those days. I got wise quickly after missing one entire recess when I couldn’t/wouldn’t eat my hash. When I finished all of my food, I would put three spoonfuls of the hash in my empty milk carton! Worked like a charm!
The best days on the menu were the days that the ladies made pizza. It wasn’t some flat, square piece of cardboard but it was thick, gooey, cheesy homemade pizza that I looked forward to every time. Long before we knew of Pizza Hut or Inn, Dominoes or Totino’s, we only knew of BBQ Pizza made from the loving hands of the cafeteria ladies. That menu was always pizza, corn, and applesauce or Dutch apple dessert. As the years passed, my fondness for their pizza didn’t wane. They made chocolate No-Bake cookies also that made my tongue slap my forehead!
Finally, it was graduation night and the faculty was shoving me out of the doors of my school after twelve long years. We got our diplomas, turned our tassels, hugged family and friends and lingered in the lobby of the High School, hesitating to face the world just outside those metal and glass doorways. I was stopped to get a drink from the water fountain just outside the library doors when a gentle hand patted my shoulder. It was sweet Mintie Turner, the chief of all cafeteria ladies who had fed me for all twelve years of school. She handed me a card that had a nice car on the front. The card read, “We wanted to get you’re a Ferrari for your graduation…,” and on the inside was a brand new penny that finished with the writing, “..but all we could afford was a brand new Lincoln!” It was signed by each of the cafeteria ladies. There were also two folded sheets of paper in it. It was the recipes for Barbeque Flap Jack Pizza and Chocolate No-Bake Cookies! She explained that they sat down and tried to break their large recipes for school down to recipes for just a family. That meant so much to me. Not because it was my favorite foods, but that they cared enough to do that. I kept that card for decades and I am sure it is somewhere in all of my collections of stuff.
I have made the pizza many times (changing the name over the
years to BBQ Flat Jack Pizza), sometimes adding different ingredients to test
the flavor. The ingredient list to the
No-Bake Cookies must have lost something in their break-down because it never
set. It was good over ice cream though!
I made the pizza just this week and shared a photo of it on
Facebook. Many of my old friends from
Mansfield saw it and remembered it fondly, asking for the recipe. I leave you with that recipe today. I hope it works for you! Enjoy…
1 pound of lean ground beef
1 pound breakfast sausage
¼ cup chopped onion
1 cup Barbeque Sauce
½ tsp. Tabasco Sauce
1 can of jumbo buttermilk biscuits
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Garlic, to taste
¼ tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown the hamburger, sausage, and onion in skillet and then drain. Stir in the barbeque sauce (I use a bit more) and Tabasco and simmer while preparing the crust. Separate the 10 biscuits and either roll them out or just place in the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 inch pan and press them together over the bottom and one inch up the sides of the pan. Spread hot meat mixture over the dough evenly. Sprinkle with the cheese. (I use way more than a cup). Bake for about15-20 minutes until it is bubbly and the crust is golden brown. They said it made 6-8 servings but….