I'm on empty, fill 'er up.

My sister stayed with us for a few days, so on a pass through the grocery store I picked up some breakfast sausages, a brand new to me. So, artisan sausages…a treat for her, no doubt. 

They were not a resounding success. I believe the phrase settled on by the people in the house, at least those with taste buds, was, “…salted grease gut bombs.” 

I was a little grumpy by the judgement. “I bought these just because you were here,” I said. “If I were eating breakfast alone, I would’ve soaked a piece of chocolate angel food cake in milk and had that with three cups of coffee.” 

That earned me a look, but then the conversation shifted to what would be done with the several left-over sausages, of which the number was “all.” 

I said, “If no one’s home, I’ll probably just stuff them between a couple slices of bread and have them for lunch.” 

I got another look. 

My wife retired about a year ago and the only downside to the decision, as far as I’m concerned, is that there are witnesses to my eating habits. When she was working, I almost always ate breakfast and lunch alone. If she happened to comment on an odd assortment of missing leftovers – and I sensed judgement in her tone - I always blamed the dog. 

Here’s the thing. It’s not that I can’t cook. I ran a café for five years and in all that time I didn’t kill anyone. 

At least…no convictions. 

So, even though I do have some skills, noon on a working day is no time to be using them. I think lunch time cooking isn’t so much an art as it is “I’m on empty, fill ‘er up.” 

It’s sort of my specialty.  

I’m a fan of those boxed mixes that are supposed to taste like you’re in New Orleans. They call for adding a pound of andouille sausage or fresh shrimp, but I’ve discovered that if you add some red pepper flakes, you can use pretty much any kind of meat – you’re not going to taste it anyway. Add an extra cup of rice to the mix and you have lunch for most of the week. 

Another cooking tip – after five minutes in a frying pan, you can slap almost anything between two pieces of bread and call it lunch. 

I sometimes like a little something sweet after lunch. That’s often a problem because we very seldom have any cake, cookies, or ice cream around the place. But if I have enough time, I can usually find where my wife hid the baking chocolate. My theory is that if I only take half of it at a time, she’ll never notice. 

It’s not a perfect theory. 

Many people, decent people, eat salads for lunch. I’ve got nothing for those people. Lettuce in a BLT is a fine addition to the alphabet, but remember my “I’m on empty, fell ‘er up” analogy?  It would take about a bushel of lettuce to move my needle to “Full,” and that amount would require 17,000 calories worth of ranch dressing. 

I have other tips, but I’m saving them for the cookbook. I like the title, “I’m on Empty, Fill ‘er Up.” 

I’m pretty sure there’d be a market. 

Copyright 2021 Brent Olson