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operation: culinary survival

January 8, 2011

Attention: The following is an unauthorized post from somewhere in the frozen tundra, where warmth is scarce and food is scarcer (or is it ‘more scarce’?). Your regularly scheduled blogging will resume when I’m done. Or sooner, if the authorities find me.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Many a married man knows the struggle. The absence of the wife, the mother, the cooker of the sustenance. The inescapable question, “What will I eat tonight?” In that absence, the options narrow: foraging, hibernation, starvation.

Oh, I know what some will say, “Don’t single men have this problem all the time? And there’s plenty of single men around. Don’t they have to fend for themselves every day?” But this is exactly the point. Like animals kept in a zoo and then thrust into the wild, married man have lost their edge, their survival instinct. After five years of marriage, even Ramen noodles begins to feel complicated.

“Do I heat the water first and then pour it on the noodles? Or do I pour it on the noodles and then heat it up?”

Normally, this is not a problem for me. My beloved loves me, and she plans. When she departs our home, I am left with scrumptious meals that would make your tongue slap your mama. This time was different. This time my wife was not leaving me for a short trip, but I was returning home early. Two weeks early. Fourteen, long, foodless days early. How would I survive? Would I survive?

The pizzas went first. They lasted a day or so.

Cereal was next. The milk from before Christmas was still good. Barely.

Pasta was attempted. Knowing that some sort of oil was required, I sprayed Pam into the boiling water filled with spiraled wheat. Pesto was added for flavor. The result was edible. Barely. But it only lasted three meals.

And then meal-skipping began. One lunch. Then another. I knew that the cereal was running low. Like the widow of Zarephath, I was preparing for the worst. Where was my Elijah, the man of God who would prolong my oil and flour?

Friends recognized the need. Invitations for dinner rolled in. I became a food-mooch. Chicken and potatoes with the Tabbs (I consumed at least three plates full). A providentially late BCS Christmas Party (Swedish meatballs from Anita. And a plate to go, to boot). But I knew it wouldn’t last. How much food could a food-mooch mooch if a food-mooch could mooch food? Friday, and the homecoming of my bride, was too far, and hope was dying on the vine.

I fell to my knees, and cried. Something must be done. But what? And then I remembered the Book. No, not the Bible. The Cookbook. Or rather, the Cookbooks. The shelves of them in the kitchen. They were for more than decoration, were they not? Surely one of these might be able to instruct me, even me, the culinary-challenged, in the arts of procuring edibles?

I surveyed the titles.

The Ultimate Cooking Course (Cooking course? What? Do I look like I have a semester?)

Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes (Never trust a felon, I always say.)

Cooking with Your Slow-Cooker (‘Slow-Cooker’? I won’t make it.)

The Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free, & Dairy-Free Cookbook (Sounds taste-free. Even I’m not that desperate.)

And then I saw it: The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Here is someone who might understand my challenge. Home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play. Images filled my mind. Searching for water in the desert of Arizona. Foraging for wild berries in the forests of California. Hunting the buffalo in Comanche Territory. This sounds promising.

I removed the book from the shelf and began to peruse, skimming its pages for something, anything that would catch my eye.

Huevos Hyacinth (I don’t eat anything I can’t pronounce.)

French Breakfast Puffs (Baking was out of the question. And the French! Don’t get me started.)

Perfect Pot Roast (I’m an amateur. No way I’m pulling off something ‘perfect.’)

My eyes fell upon p.88. Marlboro Man’s Favorite Sandwich.

“Hmmm… I’ve never had a cigarette. But the sandwich looks good. Really good. And if I look for too much longer, I will eat the paper.” So began my journey, my exploration of the culinary arts.

I journeyed to the Rainbow. I sought the cube steak, tenderized by the butcher. The onions (1 larger or 2 medium). The sliced mushrooms. The unpronounceable ingredients (Does anyone know how to say ‘Worcestershire Sauce’?). And the butter. Oh, the butter. ‘Lots of butter,’ says the Book, and I obey.

The following pictures, grainy and imperfect as they may be, document my efforts. With my trusty sidekicks, Dirty Stache and Joshua the Man-Child, I ply this new trade, following the directions of the Pioneer Woman.

My Ingredients

My Sliced Onions (I actually You-tubed how to cut them)

The Onions and Mushrooms, Browning in Butter

Ahh... The Meat!

Mixing It All Together

Heated Buns


The Finished Product... SUCCESS!!!

So ends this expedition. With full bellies, the Stache, Man-Child, and I collapsed in heaps, thankful to the Lord of hosts for this provision of daily bread (and onions and mushrooms and steak). We came, we cooked, we conquered.

But the question remains: Is this the end? Will there be more expeditions? Only time will tell. Until then, I have enough leftovers to last me the weekend.

We now return to your regularly scheduled blogging. No animals were harmed in the making of this post. Except for the cow that we ate.

30 Comments leave one →
  1. therigneys permalink*
    January 8, 2011 10:42 pm

    Joe, I am dying!! I’ve never been so proud. I was sitting on the couch with my mom, trying for the life of me to figure out who hacked into my blog! You are so hilarious. We got the best laugh out of this.

    I love you. I will be back soon and you will never have to cook again, that is unless you want to!

  2. January 8, 2011 10:42 pm

    HILARIOUS!!! Looks good!! 🙂

    • April 2, 2017 4:55 am

      Way to use the internet to help people solve premolbs!

  3. therigneys permalink*
    January 8, 2011 10:44 pm

    P.S. Please post a picture of the kitchen, CLEANED UP! 🙂

  4. Anna permalink
    January 8, 2011 11:00 pm

    Jenny– Don’t get my wrong, I love your bloggin’

    but this might be my favorite post.

  5. January 8, 2011 11:03 pm

    lol! If I had a way to get this to Ree Drummond I’d do it. This is hysterical!

  6. therigneys permalink*
    January 8, 2011 11:04 pm

    Anna, no offense taken- this is my favorite post EVER! 🙂

  7. Jana permalink
    January 8, 2011 11:14 pm

    Joe and Jenny, y’all had Jimmy and I in tears! 🙂 loved reading this!! 🙂

  8. January 8, 2011 11:14 pm

    Wow, Joe… nicely done. This is really funny.

  9. Chris K permalink
    January 8, 2011 11:21 pm

    This was the best post ever. I am totally, utterly impressed. My husband would NEVER attempt something like this. I love Pioneer Woman’s cookbook and her step-by-step directions for her recipes but I think Joe just won THE PRIZE! (pics and all) Jenny, you are one lucky lady!!!! (P.S. Please keep us posted, Joe, when you put your own cookbook out.)

  10. Matt permalink
    January 9, 2011 12:28 am

    I’m proud of you Joe. And I’m also very happy that a lady from Oklahoma basically rescued your Texan rear end from starvation with her book. Boomer Sooner.

    Also, we love that sandwich in our house.

  11. January 9, 2011 12:37 am

    Hilarious! 🙂

  12. January 9, 2011 12:48 am

    i should not have LOL’d at 12:45am. But, “hmmm…I’ve never had a cigarette. But the sandwich looks good,” killed me. WELL DONE. And, Joe, please come over for dinner as much as you need! You are officially invited to dinner whenever!

  13. Becky permalink
    January 9, 2011 12:51 am

    This was straight up awesome. Joe, I’m terribly impressed! I think if enough of us share it with Ree, then she HAS to read it! Keep going, Joe. Only a couple more days!

  14. Nancygirl permalink
    January 9, 2011 6:07 am

    well played Joe…well played! Your resourcefullness is only exceeded by your mad verbal skills. You may want to take a few lessons on photography from your wife when she returns though, she’s still rocking it pretty much in that area. I got a good laugh from this post. PW has some competition!

  15. Kirstjen Pratt permalink
    January 9, 2011 9:00 am

    Hiliarious! And for a novice, I’m impressed you chose such a delicious recipe!

    I could totally see my own hubs you-tubing “how to slice an onion” in an attempt to get some food in him.

  16. January 9, 2011 11:16 am

    priceless! I loved it 🙂 Hurry home, Jenny.

  17. Brad Kresge permalink
    January 9, 2011 11:46 am

    Joe, your redonkulous in a hilarious way!!

  18. January 9, 2011 11:59 am

    Loved the post, Joe! I thought I saw you rummaging in every fridge at church last week trying to find more than expired condiments 🙂

  19. January 9, 2011 1:51 pm

    I’m surprised you didn’t resort to tuna. 50 cents a can. That’s how I survive my single life.

  20. Gabriel Leake US permalink
    January 9, 2011 3:32 pm

    Haha, you’re awesome Joe! And it actually looks really good.

  21. talithapiper permalink
    January 9, 2011 3:47 pm

    wow thats awesome Joe! and that sandwich looks really good too!

  22. January 9, 2011 4:03 pm

    Hahaha, this was fantastic. Well done, Joe! I’m glad you’re surviving ok. 😉

  23. Alex permalink
    January 9, 2011 5:13 pm

    From one zoo-animal to another, well done my friend. I hope you enjoyed your man-sandwich with a couple brewskies.

  24. Gigi permalink
    January 10, 2011 6:08 am

    JOE, Your mama raised you better!!!!!!. However, I do know that Jenny has definitely spoiled you, as she should. She is such a wonderful cook. You could take some lessons from her. I am glad she will be home soon to take care of you.
    Jenny, now that you have a house I think a grill is in order so that he can really learn to cook and help you out.

    Love you both

  25. Jenn A permalink
    January 10, 2011 6:59 am

    Hilarious! Good work, Joe!!

  26. January 10, 2011 4:27 pm

    haha…this made me laugh really hard. You’re invited to cook for us whenever you want! 🙂

    PS. French breakfast puffs would be better than plain old breakfast puffs…but don’t get me started about the French. 😛

  27. emily weller permalink
    January 12, 2011 4:18 pm

    this is one of the most hilarious blog posts i’ve read in a long time 🙂 thankful that you somehow made it through!

  28. Joe Selness permalink
    January 27, 2011 3:02 pm

    My wife (who pointed me to this post) made that sandwich for me and earned the love of my stomach forever. We also found this recipe, which is even better:

  29. January 29, 2011 10:21 pm

    I read this really late…but this is hilarious! I had no idea that we were in the business of life-saving when we invited Joe over for dinner that night. Had I known, I would have sent him home with soup from our freezer…if he’d be ok with thawing and heating it! 😉

    Love it! And, the manwich turned out great!

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