Today’s show is built on the premise that four teenage boys are transforming an empty salt house on the Drummond homestead into a man cave. Never mind that presumably it’s the middle of summer and the salt house doesn’t have any power or running water, Ree has taken another stale idea and scripted an episode around it. Something tells us, when Oklahoma’s temperatures soar into the 90s and 100s, these kids will be heading for the air-conditioned house to play video games. But of course, the Antichef doesn’t want anyone to think her precious darlings do things normal kids do, like yearn for the creature comforts of their home.
To open the show, Ree does her best Ina Garten imitation and mugs it up with the car cam. She says she’s playing chauffeur and cook during the man cave renovation. As Ree voice overs, we see four boys sweeping and washing what Ree says is an empty salt house on the homestead. We’re not sure where this place actually is on the ranch, but if you look closely, there’s clearly a structure behind it that looks strangely like Ree’s house. We cut back to Ree who’s still running at the mouth with the car cam. She says she’s planning to run to town with the boys to “git” a few things for the man cave project.
Gone is the filthy red truck from past episodes and in its place, is a filthy black GMC Acadia. Like a pair of blue jeans white-washed to achieve the worn look, the dusty car look is probably detailed by a local body shop especially for the show.
Cutting to the stunt kitchen—thank you JoyceG for coining that term–Ree is already standing at the stovetop, a retreat from her usual grand entrance from stage left. It’s a good thing too, because she’s wearing a cotton knit shirtain with horizontal stripes, a huge mistake when you sport the thunder thighs this woman has. A huge thanks to the editors for sparing us that vision at least until later in the show.
Interestingly, the food is already cooking. We see chicken breasts sautéing in butter and bacon frying. Far be it for the Antichef to sweat any culinary details, so no mention is ever made that there’s probably some oil in that skillet to prevent the butter from burning. While Ree painstakingly slices bread, she breaks into a history lesson about the salt house. It’s a place where Chuck stored salt and minerals for the cattle. Ladd never used it for that purpose so it has sat empty for years until recently, when Ladd and Ree “noticed” their boys were “nowhere to be found” on the property, they subsequently found them hanging out in the salt house, no doubt plotting their escape to a normal childhood.
After Ree finishes slicing bread, she says she’s going to lay it all out so it will be ready for the ingredients. Five minutes into this “cooking” show and all Ree has done is drive, talk, and slice bread while the editing of the back and forth between the kitchen and scenes of kids has the audience feeling like a yo-yo. Next Ree turns to her favorite go-to ingredient: anything in a bottle or can. Today it’s Marzetti’s bottled ranch dressing for the chicken/bacon paninis, but as you will discover later in the show, she actually makes a buttermilk salad dressing from scratch for the chopped salad. Pardon us Ree, but couldn’t you have used that for the sandwiches too?
Ree says, “there isn’t a boy in Osage County who doesn’t love ranch dressing” and using it as a sauce for Paninis and grilled cheese is, well “just glorious.” Next Ree explains how she’s going to take sliced cheese and place it on the bread slices. “Take the cheese just so and lay it on the bread just so,” she says. In a bid for a laugh Ree says, “oh my gosh I should be making myself one of these” as she assembles the sandwiches. It’s official, Food Network masters the art of sandwich prep.
After the Antichef assembles the sandwiches, she places two of them on her high-end Panini maker. Not sure where Ree picked up this model, but we’re certain that FB’s creepy Linda will have the answer when the reeple ask. In any event, Ree needs an excuse to offer a give away and why not a Panini maker? If she’s really smart, Ree can always negotiate a private label agreement with Breville to produce a low-end pioneer woman version for her budget-strapped reeple and sell it at the Mercantile.
Back to the car cam where Ree explains that she’s driving the sandwiches to the salt house. Wait a minute, in earlier scenes, you can clearly see the salt house appears to be in walking distance from the Drummond’s home. WTF, why would you drive such a short distance when all you have to do is text the kids to “git up” to the house for lunch. Oh, but then you might have to fill that time with some actual cooking.
Next scene, we see the filthy black car pull up to the Pawhuska Alco. Not being familiar with these stores, we quickly Googled it. Turns out, the reeple can “git” themselves a 3-in-1 panini maker for $24.99. And wait there’s more, the Alco brand doubles as a waffle-maker. As Ree and the kids get out, the audience is treated to a full frontal of the horizontal striped-shirtain Ree has paired with her jeans and cowboy boots.
Do you think she sleeps in those things? In case you’ve forgotten at this point, yes, you’re watching a cooking show, one that’s now being filmed inside an Alco Discount store. In a highly staged scene, Ree instructs the boys to “go forth and shop.”
After a three minute commercial break, it’s back to the Antichef as she repeats what we already know: she’s preparing food for the boys who are transforming a salt house to a man cave. Thanks for the reminder Ree. She says she’s “whipping up” brownies, something she’s already done on three prior shows. While she pretends to chop nuts, which we find quite odd since these are sold in supermarkets, we see her clearly reading the teleprompter.
Next the Antichef pulls a real trick out of her culinary hat. Using boxed chocolate cake mix, she adds melted butter, evaporated milk, and waxes rhapsodic about how this technique will yield dense, rich brownies. You know, there’s a trick we use for dense, rich brownies too but it involves measuring flour, bittersweet chocolate, eggs and butter. As Ree pours the melted butter into the boxed cake mix, she says she’s going to do so “very gently.” Why is that? Is she afraid some vigorous beating with a wooden spoon might activate the chemicals in this crap?
She divides the cake batter in half and presses one piece into a cake pan. To this batter she adds Reese’s peanut butter cups, chocolate caramel candies, M&Ms and chopped nuts. These aren’t brownies, these are an affront to desserts in general. Every week this gal assures us they don’t eat this type of thing on a regular basis, but then she turns around the next week and once again, makes something outrageously unhealthy.
Back to the man cave as the kids set up furniture and place a table cloth on the floor with plates and cups on it. Someone alerted the flies which are swarming and which no editing could eliminate. We continue to wonder how much time four boys, who no doubt love their electronic devices, will actually spend in this powerless, waterless man cave once the cameras shut off.
Back to Ree preparing a chopped salad. She takes a few whacks at the iceberg and begins assembling the salad with ingredients prepped and laid out by the production staff. She says she’s making a really easy Buttermilk Dressing, the same dressing that she could have used on the Paninis, after all it’s basically a ranch dressing. Without giving specific measurements—you have to click on her website for those—Ree says she’s adding equal amounts of buttermilk, mayonnaise and sour cream to a mason jar, the Antichef’s new, go-to hand-mixer. She adds white vinegar, garlic and hot sauce, never divulging actual amounts as she screws on the lid and shakes the jar. Next she adds it to the salad, now in a Tupperware container, puts the lid on it and shakes that up.
After a commercial break, it’s back to the stunt kitchen where Ree, for the third time, insults her audience and reminds them about the man cave premise. We get it Ree, move on. We see Ree remove the brownies from the refrigerator and turn them out onto a cutting board. These things are dense alright, so much so they look like they contain lead. Next, Ree breaks into a powdered sugar monologue praising its lusciousness and telling viewers to add more, even after they think they added enough. Next, she says the best thing for slicing these brownies, short of a chain saw, is a long, serrated knife.
More licensing opportunities in the Antichef’s future.
Again, it’s back to the salt house for more scripted dialogue, then back to the stunt kitchen. Ree is standing at the cutting board saying she’s making steak fingers. One problem, there’s nothing to cut up and nothing to prepare. The slices of beef, cut from chewy, gristly cube steak, and the wet and dry breading mixtures have already been prepped off stage. But to kill time, the editors insert stock footage of the difficult process behind whisking flour with seasoning salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. They do the same thing with the eggs and milk. Now it’s time to dip ‘em and fry ‘em according to Ree.
The show cuts to a brief, less than 30 seconds, scene at the salt house and it’s back to the stunt kitchen where the steak fingers are now magically fried. Ree says she’s going to finish dinner, pack ‘em up and head down to the man cave. “Somethin’ tells me those boys are goin’ to be hungry.”
Following a commercial break, it’s back to the car cam with another time-killer explanation about the man cave. Ree, give the audience some credit, unless they have Alzheimer’s, they should be able to go three minutes without forgetting your elementary set up. From the newly dustified Ford Fusion, not the kitchen mind you, Ree explains how to make gravy from pan drippings. And what did we take away from this segment: whenever you make pan gravy, always…always transfer it to a serving container. Hell, at our house, we just plop the ol’ iron skillet in the middle of the table so everyone can double dip.
Ree pulls up to the man cave, and when she gets out of the car, she hollers to the boys that she has dinner. LOL, not one kid bothers to get up and help her bring in the food. Why? It wouldn’t be keeping with the script which is all about screen time for Ree, Ree and Ree.
With her hands full of food, we see more flies buzzing around as Ree puts dinner on the floor. Going for the cheap laugh, Ree spouts off some crap about not being a trespasser in the man cave. Once she leaves, the boys dig in, but instead of showing the kids dipping the steak fingers into the cream gravy, the editors cut to scenes clearly shot at the stunt kitchen. We see hands dipping meat into gravy and another scene of someone using tongs to place salad on a plate, but the hands don’t belong to the kids.
Who edits this mediocrity? You’d have to be a moron not to notice that these scenes were out of place. But our favorite shot by far has to be this one of the two brownies. Can anyone tell us where the hell the cream cheese brownie come from?
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