Category: Family Traditions

A Simple Roast Beef Dinner: Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad

57 years ago today my parents were married in Flint, Michigan. For as long as I could remember, my mom made a simple yet traditional roast beef dinner in one of those navy blue oval roasting pans about once each month. But she did it the old way. She’d place the roast in the middle of the pan, then add water till the roast was covered. She’d then add cut onions, carrots and potatoes around the roast, then place the cover and “roast” it at 350 – 375 degrees F until the roast beef fell apart.

Yup. She basically boiled it. I loved my mom (and dad) very much. But the boiled roast beef tasted better when I slathered it with French’s yellow mustard before eating.

Mom and dad both passed on last year before their 56th anniversary. I’d made a proper slow-roasted beef roast for them a couple times and they couldn’t believe how flavorful it was. It doesn’t take much: Just roast it slow, and keep it out of the juice. Oh, and make sure to forget about the water. Sorry mom …

A simple yet traditional roast beef dinner can be an amazing thing. Meijer had some beef roasts on-sale yesterday that were about 2 inches thick so I went ahead and snagged one, along with some kohlrabi and baking potatoes.

Here’s how I do it: For a 5:30 pm dinner I started at 11 am, preheating the oven to 200 degrees F. I then sliced six stalks celery and six nice-sized carrots. I cut onions and kohlrabi in half, then quartering the halves. Dumping all this into the oval roasting pan made for a layer of vegetables about 1.5 inches deep. I then seasoned both sides of the roast with plenty of Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper and laid it on top of the veggies.

Why lay the roast on top of the veggies? My roaster doesn’t have a rack, and the veggies work well in physically supporting the meat. The veggies then slow-cook in the juices from the roast, while still having a nice “bite” hours later. I learned this from that Guy Fieri dude, and it works really well.

I put the cover on the roasting pan and placed it in the oven by 11:30 am. I then wrapped the baking potatoes in aluminum foil, punctured them a few times deeply with a fork, and placed them next to the pan on the oven rack so they would also slow-cook for six hours.

The roast simply slow-cooks and is fall-apart good, with a nice rich flavor. The veggies still have a good “bite”, especially the kohlrabi. And the potatoes don’t get overdone at all.

Even if your parents are gone, make sure to continue their traditions, especially those having to do with food. Your parents raised you on certain foods and meals, and those meals are part of who you are. As in the Navy, when it comes to even the simplest family traditions, always “Carry on”.

Homemade Old-World Lunchmeats in Toledo? Yes, at Kilgus Choice Meats

Homemade Dutch loaf, homemade Kielbasa loaf, and some homemade Krakowska sausage, all from Kilgus Meats. When I got the slices of loaf lunchmeats home, that’s when I realized they were still warm.

A variation of this article is also posted on the Toledo Food Examiner pages of

Paul … quit bugging me already … I get it now, alright? Sheesh …

About a month ago Paul, the owner of the software development company I work for, happily lectured me about my lack of knowledge about Kilgus Choice Meats in Toledo. “Go to Kilgus Meats … When you get there … write this down … get some Krakow-… are you writing this down?? You really need to write this down … get some Krakowska … why aren’t you writing this down???”

About a week later I hear, “Dave come down here …” Thinking I was in trouble for God knew what, I headed downstairs … where Paul promptly shoved a slice of the homemade Krakowska sausage at me.

Ok, sure. Probably the best damn sausage I’ve had in a good long time. Probably ever. I got a little curious.

Paul also knew of my love of Koegel’s Braunschweiger, and that I’ve probably eaten it my whole life. So, he then handed me a slice of Kilgus’ homemade coarse Braunschweiger.

Yeah, that does it. Koegel’s is now a close second in the Braunschweiger department. (Sorry John!)

I finally made it over to Kilgus Choice Meats in Toledo this morning. Located in a small strip mall on the north side of Laskey just west of Secor, if it hadn’t been for the amount of cars in the parking lot I may have missed it. Still, it should be fairly easy to spot with the classic butcher shop signs in the windows.

Inside the atmosphere was decidedly friendly. The prevalent culture in the shop is eastern-European. German is spoken fluently on both sides of the counter. There’s Stollen on the shelves, countless handmade sausages and bacon in one case, cheeses and homemade luncheon loaves in the back case, and beautiful cuts of beef, pork, veal and poultry in the main case on the left side. There’s even homemade corned beef, which for some reason I totally neglected to sample or purchase …

3rd Generation Master Meat Packer Erich Schiehlen slices some of his homemade Kielbasa loaf for me to bring home.

On August 21, 1962 Erich Scheinlen received a MeisterBrief in Fleischer — a Master’s Degree in Meat Packing — from the University of Frankfurt. The degree itself is displayed proudly on the wall in Kilgus Meats for anyone who’d like to see it. This is definitely “old-world” meats at their finest, in a Toledo neighborhood where you wouldn’t expect to see such things.

Growing up in the Flint, Michigan area and enjoying Koegel meats all my life, I have also been to the village of Frankenmuth, Michigan countless times over the years. I’ve had my share of products from Kern’s Sausages where they make culturally authentic meats. But I do believe Herr Erich Scheinlen (as it reads on his degree) has a much stronger pedigree … and likely makes even better products than the excellent meats and sausages at Kern’s.

Erich’s homemade Dutch and Kielbasa loaves on the countertop. What I brought home was cut from these two loaves.

I had the priviledge of Erich filling my order himself. He’s delighful to talk to, the thick dripping German accent sounding of the old-style meat packer he is. You know how you talk to someone who’s spent their life on the sea, and you can tell just by listening to them, your wanting fish more and more during the whole conversation? Erich’s voice just wants to make me order more fresh-cut meats. He’s justifiably proud of what he does, and simply enjoys it. His son Bill started working at Kilgus Meats at the age of 17. Now 44, with a business card listing him as the shop’s “Proprietor”, Bill is proud 4th generation meat packer.

I couldn’t get out the door of Kilgus Meats without succumbing to the temptation of picking out a quart of Erich’s homemade lentil soup. I’ll have to try that for lunch tomorrow. I’d have had some today, but I doubt our fellow guests at a wedding we’re attending this evening would appreciate it.

For lunch, Mary and I had sandwiches of the Dutch and Kielbasa loaves on oatmeal bread with a good mayonaise. Mine also had yellow mustard, along a few slices of the Krakowska. The quality of the meats cried out for better, likely homemade, bread of eastern-European origin, and maybe even some horseradish mustard. But now two hours after lunch, I keep popping into the fridge for more of what’s left of the sliced Dutch loaf …

I leave this post with a shot of some of Erich’s homemade veal loaf. Minutes after I shot this photo, there was only an inch or so left of this.

I guess I should have asked for some when I had the chance.

Mom’s Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese

Our mom, who passed away on April 21, 2009, at the age of 79, had taken the time once to use a Brother word processor (a glorified typewriter with an LCD screen) to type up a lot of her recipes. Unfortunately, no one told her about the floppy disk drive so she could save her work, but I do have everything sheʹd printed in a three‐ring binder.

There are recipes she never wrote down, simply because she hit the wall of, “Oh, I never measure anything.” On May 27, 2007, she decided to make her well‐known Velveeta-based macaroni & cheese, something I like with plenty of Heinz ketchup on it. The whole family loves it, as do friends. Mom learned it from her own mom back in the late 1950s, and the recipe hasn’t changed.

But it was never written down, either.

Camera in‐hand, that Sunday I followed her every step, bugging the bejeepers out of her with my constant requests of, “Hold still, mom, you’re making it blur again.” (As Jimmy Neutron once said, “Sorry about your bejeepers, mom!”) That afternoon is where the photos in this recipe came from. After almost 50 years with mom, and decades prior to that with her own mom, after literally hundreds of friends and family have enjoyed the results, this popular and highly-searched‐for recipe is finally written down.

We hope you enjoy this dish as we have.

Mom's Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese

Don’t forget to douse your serving with plenty of Heinz ketchup. That's how mom liked it.
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cheese, macaroni, macaroni & cheese, Velveeta
Servings: 8


  • 1 lb Elbow macaroni
  • 2 lb Velveeta
  • 6 Tbsp Butter
  • 2% or whole milk (no, I don’t know how much … you’ll see …)
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  • Get yourself out a double boiler. Add about 3/8″ water to the outer pan, then set the inner pan inside. Set the double boiler over high heat.
  • Add about 4 quarts water to a 6-quart pan that has a good lid, and set it for high heat. When it boils, add 1 lb elbow macaroni, cover it with the lid, remove it from the heat, and let it set for 10 minutes while continuing with the rest of this recipe. At the end of those 10 minutes, immediately drain the pasta.
    Meanwhile, back on the stove …
  • Once the water in the double boiler is, well, boiling, reduce the heat slightly so the water is still at a nice high simmer. Begin making the cheese (… is it? …) sauce by cutting 28 oz. of the 32 oz Velveeta block into the inner pan in chunks about an inch square or so. While doing so, be extremely careful of hot steam that may still be escaping from between the two pans of the double boiler. (This is exactly why children who attempt to make this dish need to be heavily supervised!)
  • Add the 6 tablespoons butter to the cut cheese. (I know there’s a joke in that phrase, but I’m not going there just now.) If you use unsalted butter instead of salted butter in this step, you may want to add just a bit of salt … but not too much! The salt will punch up the flavor for the unsalted butter, but isn’t necessary if you use salted butter or the margarine mom used in this picture. No, that yogurt-based “spread” you have in the fridge to help you keep your girly figure won’t work here. And no, there probably ain’t no trans fat in there anyway, as they’ve probably taken it all out by now. Besides, if you’re that worried about it, why are you making macaroni & cheese?? Oh, never mind …
  • Add enough 2% or whole milk to the point where what’s in the pan is almost completely covered. No, mom never measured this measurement. Can’t you see she’s just pouring it out of the carton here? Pay attention, ok? Thanks. Anyway, no, 1% milk or skim won’t work for this. You have to have a decent amount of milkfat for the sauce to thicken-up. No, don’t go off the deep end and use heavy cream! Ummm … ok … yeah, you know, that is a thought … maybe heavy cream would be a good idea … No, no way, get those soy and rice “milk” wannabees outta here! What’s that? Goat’s milk?? Hey, that’s worth a try, sure, why not …
    Add just a little salt and pepper to the sauce here … but not too much! Mom says, “Five shakes salt, two shakes pepper”. Of course, that also depends on the size of the pepper grind, whether you’re using Kosher or iodized salt, the size of the holes in the shak … oh, I don’t know, you figure it out …
  • Using a wooden spoon, stir what’s in the double boiler constantly … continuously … without fail … duct-tape the spoon to your hand so you can’t let go … don’t even head down the hall to use the loo … ok, sure you can, it’s the first door on the left, and don’t forget to spray when you’re done … just don’t take any extra time on the bidet … contemplatively stir the sauce over the semi-boiling water until all those ingredients are pretty-much about as smooth as they’re going to get. And frankly, they’re going to get pretty-darn smooth for you. Just be careful not to stir it too fast or it’ll go everywhere. And if you stir it too slowly, you’ll end up with a skin forming on-top with a ring of nasty stuff around the inside top of the pan right where the top of the sauce is. And that stuff is not easy to clean up!
  • As you can see in the pic mom used a little 1-cup Pyrex measuring cup for this next step, but any glass measuring bowl will do. Take 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, add it to the little mixing bowl (oh, ok, or the little Pyrex 1-cup measuring cup), and add just enough lukewarm water to turn that flour into a smooth paste, aka a "slurry". No, you’re not looking for the density of pancake batter, it’s got to be thicker than that. More like wet plaster is the kind of density you’re looking for here. Really, though, if you accidentally add too much water and the paste is too thin, just add more flour, then don’t use as much of this thickening paste/slurry in this next step.
  • V-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y, add the slurry you just made to the sauce still brewing on the stove, continuously, constantly, conemplatively stirring the sauce while adding it. If it’s all gone well, and you’ve stayed away from soy milk and the yogurt spread, the sauce will thicken almost immediately. That’s a good thing, so don’t be afraid of it! After you’ve finished adding the thickening paste, continue stirring the sauce until it’s at a good consistency for macaroni & cheese. You’ll know what that consistency is when you see it, believe you me.
  • Once the sauce is thick enough, and the elbow macaroni is drained, butter the inside of a large, glass oven-safe bowl. No, don’t use that non-stick spray stuff, it adds the wrong kind of flavor … Add the finished macaroni to the buttered bowl. Slowly pour the finished sauce into the macaroni, then fold it all together. Let it set up for a few minutes so the sauce will properly congeal before serving, or, if the macaroni & cheese is for later, just refrigerate it until it’s ready for reheating in the microwave or, more preferably, in a 300 degree F oven.


Yeah, yeah, I know, if you go ahead and use the other 4 oz. of Velveeta and the other 2 tablespoons margarine, it’ll probably be fine. But argue with mom about it? No way!!!