Category Archives: Culture

Loose Meat Sandwiches

This evening I had a loose meat sandwich for dinner.

Loose Meat Sandwich, Canteen, Ottumwa, iowa, Tavern SandwichWhen I talk about loose meat sandwiches here in California, no one knows what I am talking about. However, if you are from Iowa you definitely know.

You may have also heard of loose meat sandwiches from the TV show Roseanne.

My loose meat sandwich is perhaps spiced a little more than the traditional Iowa loose meat sandwich, however it is definitely in the same spirit. I start by browning a pound of hamburger while adding in a few spices for flavor. I also add miso which helps the meat break down a bit more and also adds to the complexity of the flavor.

Once the hamburger is browned it is then time for steaming. I add about 1/3 cup of water into the iron skillet and let the hamburger cook until the water is all cooked off. The end result is a nice crumble of hamburger.

buns, soft buns, loose meat sandwichThe next step is to put ketchup on the buns. I like to have a good coat of ketchup on both sides so that the loose meat stays inside a bit better.

If you don’t have buns, two slices of Home Pride bread work just as well 🙂

Loose Meat Sandwich, Canteen, Steamed HamburgerThen it is time to pile on the loose meat. You can keep it to a manageable thickness so that it is held in place by the top bun or stack it high and wrap the sandwich in wax paper to catch what falls.

Loose Meat Sandwich, Seasoned Steamed Beef, Canteen, comfort FoodThe sandwich is now ready to eat.

hamburger, loose meat, canteen, Ottumwa, IowaOf course the sandwich was delicious.  The taste of course brought back memories of growing up in Iowa and eating loose meat sandwiches. Real comfort food 🙂

Canteen Lunch in the Alley, Ottumwa, Iowa, 1936, Loose Meat SandwichesMy dinner also brought back memories of eating loose meat sandwiches at the Canteen in Ottumwa, Iowa.

The Canteen looks a bit different today as a parking garage was built over it in the early 2000’s.

Tonight’s dinner also brought back memories of my Grandfather who used to eat lunch at the canteen when he worked at Lowenberg Bakery in Ottumwa.

Hmm, my mind is wandering to other memories, but I will save them for later posts.

Have you ever eaten a loose meat sandwich?




Taiwan Tea

Tonight I am thinking about tea. Whenever I have a student from Taiwan in one of my classes they will usually bring me tea. In a class I taught in Singapore earlier this year I was brought two more boxes. I have been walking by them for weeks and finally decided that I needed to find a home for one of them. I decided to take one of the boxes to work and give it to a friend who loves tea.

Taiwan Tea, Healthy Tea, Loose TeaHere you can see that it is ‘Best Famous Tea’ and that it has ‘Natural Health’.

Taiwan Tea, Healthy Tea, Loose TeaHere you can see that it is actually a bag of tea instead of a box 🙂

The tea is Yu Shan Oolong tea. Yu Shan means ‘Jade Mountain’ which is the highest peak in Taiwan. The tea is grown on the mountain at a height of 1,600 meters and has a very distinct and wonderful flavor.

Taiwan Tea, Healthy Tea, Loose TeaThe tea is loose leaf, but luckily I have the right equipment for brewing it.

Taiwan Tea, Healthy Tea, Loose TeaI bought this years ago at Cost Plus World Market and it has served me well.

Taiwan Tea, Healthy Tea, Loose TeaOf course, one of the first things is to put on the tea kettle. I really like hearing the whistle of the tea kettle when it is ready.

Taiwan Tea, Healthy Tea, Loose Tea, yu Shan oolong TeaWhile waiting for the kettle I wash the tea cup and strainer in hot water to warm them up and have them ready. I then take about a teaspoon of dried tea leaves and place them in the strainer which has been placed in the tea cup.

When the water is ready you simply have to fill up the strainer and let it brew for awhile.

Taiwan Tea, Healthy Tea, Loose TeaHere you can see that the tea leaves have expanded. It is then time to carefully lift out the strainer using a hot pad or towel. You have to do this slowly or you get water all over the place.

Taiwan Tea, Healthy Tea, Loose TeaI didn’t get a good picture of the tea since the steam tended to fog the lens of my camera. However, the way it looks is not so important. The taste is important and it was of course really good.

Now I need some more tea after writing about it 🙂

Time to put the kettle back on.

Have you ever had tea from Taiwan?