Thursday, January 21, 2010

“Soup Survivor”

c. 2010 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

“I live back in the woods, you see / A woman and the kids, and the dogs and me / I got a shotgun rifle and a 4-wheel drive / And a country boy can survive!”

- Hank Williams Jr.

In December, the Icehouse became an all-male outpost in the hinterland.

Liz, my wife, made an impulsive, northbound trek to Wisconsin. Escorting her were Soccer Fairy and Leigh, our girls. Their purpose was to help with family concerns in that distant state.

Dutifully, I promised to look after the homestead on my own.

Riley, our Labrador retriever, was my companion. Quigley the Pomeranian completed this manly trio.

I took my vow seriously. Yet before long, ghosts of a bygone era were returning. Strangely, I had begun to unforget how it was to exist on my own.

Old habits reappeared with frightening rapidity. Work remained a primary concern of living. But other needs, like meal preparation, were not so important. At first, my diet consisted of beer, summer sausage, and crackers. Then, I began to hunger for something more sophisticated. A meal requiring little actual effort, while offering genuine taste satisfaction.

It represented a challenge worthy of a true ‘Dissident Chef.’

My first attempt at meal diversification was acceptable at the time, but needed improvement:



1 macaroni & cheese dinner
½ lb. of bacon (slices cut in half)
1 small chopped onion


Fry bacon, sauté onions. Set both aside. Prepare macaroni & cheese as directed. Add bacon and onions, stir together. Season as desired with pepper.

My second attempt at food betterment, a day later, showed greater ambition with a bit more success:



6 thick slices of bologna
6 frozen biscuits
6 slices of American cheese
6 dill pickle chips
1 squeeze of spicy mustard


Bake biscuits as directed. Slice in half; add one folded slice of bologna, one slice of cheese, and one pickle chip to bottom of each biscuit. Garnish with mustard, top with other biscuit half, and return to oven until cheese melts.

My belly was filled for the evening, but I still needed a better alternative for tomorrow. Happily, one trip to the pantry solved my dilemma. Stored away were canned vegetables of all sorts. And in the freezer, I knew there was a pound of Bob Evans sausage.
A recipe began to take shape in my head:



1 can whole kernel corn
1 can sliced carrots
1 can beans in tomato sauce
1 can blackeyed peas
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can sweet peas
1 lb. roll of breakfast sausage
¼ cup chopped onion
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Sugar


Brown sausage in a skillet, set aside. Place canned vegetables in a pot, and bring to boil. Add sausage, and other ingredients. Simmer for at least twenty minutes. Season as desired.

A day later, I assembled the necessary items. Once the concoction was complete, I let it cook while checking e-mail messages.

Soon, a delicious aroma filled the house.

My appetite grew wilder with each breath. I ladled out a bowl of soup and took it to the office. It was delicious, despite being improvised from the household inventory.

Our telephone rang as I reached my desk.

“Hello?” I said, still holding a spoon.

“Rodney!” my wife laughed. “We just got to Milwaukee. Do you miss me?”

“Of course,” I replied.

“Are you taking care of yourself?” she wondered out loud.

“Of course, of course!” I repeated.

“Not just living on macaroni and cheese?” Liz asked, suspiciously.

“No,” I bragged. “Bacon and macaroni… and cheese.”

“You turkey!” she hissed.

“And Bologna Biscuits,” I continued.

“What??” she whined.

“They are fantastic,” I said. “If I fry the meat first, they’re even better!”

“What about all the sodium?” she complained. “And the fat content?”

“No problem,” I explained. “Tomorrow I’ll gnaw on cardboard and do an hour on the treadmill. Okay?”

Liz wasn’t amused. “You’re such a poo!”

I sighed, loudly. “Anyway, tonight I’m having Six Can Soup.”

“Canned…soup?” she groaned.

My pride couldn’t be hidden. “I put it together with stuff from our pantry.” Quietly, I repeated the recipe from memory.

Silence filled void between my receiver and hers.

“Are you still there?” I exclaimed.

“Yes,” she whimpered.

My grin went wide. “Did I say something wrong?”

“I can’t leave you alone for a week,” she fumed. “What would the doctor say about your diet?”

“Don’t know,” I said. “I haven’t seen her in several months.”

“Rodney!!” Liz exploded.

My eyes shut, reflexively. “I’ll go when you come back.”

“Yes you will!” she shouted. “But… that could take awhile.”

There was another pause. “I understand. It is important to be with your family.”

“Yes,” she agreed.

“Too bad the Green Bay Packers lost to Arizona,” I observed. “You could be sharing the NFL playoff excitement up there…”

“There are more important things in life than football!” she hissed.

“Umm… are you really from Wisconsin?” I pondered.

“Rodneyyyyy!!” she cried.

“Vince Lombardi would be shocked,” I said. “More important than football?”

“Quit joking around!” she squawked. “This is serious!”

“Sorry,” I responded, weakly.

“While I’m gone, you need to think about everything,” she advised. “You’ve been working so many hours lately. Always on your computer. Or on the road. Work, work, work. Don’t forget that you have a family…”

“That’s right,” I nodded.

“There are things in life more important than writing, too!” she proclaimed.

I took a deep breath. “Yes…”

“Okay… talk to you soon!” she cheered.

After our conversation was over, I opened a cold Labatt Blue.

My computer monitor glowed with new messages. A half-finished column waited for review. Unread papers were stacked on top of the printer.

But it was after midnight.

I savored the brew, then began to fade into oblivion.

Work would have to wait until tomorrow!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

弱者困於環境,智者利用環境~~加油! ....................................................

6:35 AM  

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