Friday, April 11, 2008

“Prime Time Recipes”

c. 2008 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Spring fever had me busy in the Icehouse home office. After inheriting new file cabinets from my mother-in-law, I had begun to organize a pile of books, vinyl records, and literature that accumulated over the winter. I was a task that required honest dedication. And, a fresh pot of Colombian coffee.

The pile had almost disappeared when Liz, my wife, arrived home from work. As always, she was a vision in pink. But today, the hue of her outfit seemed brighter. I shielded my eyes from the glow as she danced through our front door. Her heels tapped out a Morse Code greeting across the kitchen.

“Rodneyyyyy!” she sang with a twirl.

I tried to deflect her view from my project. “Almost finished in there, honey. Would you like a cup of coffee?”

She stopped spinning abruptly. “Oh, good! Let me see your workspace!”

I bowed while gesturing toward the desk. “The right-hand tower is made of our new cabinets. I stacked them to save room. It matches my four-drawer file on the left.”

Liz chewed her lip. “Hmmmm. So did you get rid of anything?”

My face reddened. “Well, no…but I successfully organized the mess…”

She sighed.

“At least everything is sorted now,” I boasted. “Plus, I discovered a few things that disappeared last fall…”

My wife nodded with resignation. “We really need a bigger house!”

“True,” I agreed. “So… are you ready to make an audition tape for ‘Deal or No Deal?’”

Her brunette curls flew wildly. She pointed a finger in the air. “What happened to selling our books?”

“Okay, forget Howie Mandel. I’ll wear my denim overalls, and we can hawk our material on the Jerry Springer program.” I said.

She stomped her heel. “Never! Stop being such a poo!!!”

Suddenly, my makeshift library stack collapsed. A cascade of printed volumes spilled through the doorway.

Liz gasped as a cookbook slid under her shoe. She danced on one foot to keep from crushing it into the floor. “Hey, what is this?”

“That’s something new,” I explained. “It’s called ‘The Fruit of the Spirit’ – a collection of recipes to benefit Tim’s House.”

She smiled while reaching for the book. “Really? What a great idea!”

“They even included a few of my own concoctions,” I cheered.

My wife skimmed through the publication. “This is so cool… a perfect way to raise funds to help those affected by a loss to suicide…”

I agreed. “It’s a useful keepsake. Fun to have, and fun to share. With a message that needs to be carried across America.”

Liz paused in silent reflection, while flipping pages. Then, enlightenment made her chirp. “This is it, Rodney! Our recipe for success, so to speak…”

I frowned. “What??”

“We could do this ourselves,” she exclaimed. “An Icehouse cookbook! Rural vittles from a hillbilly wordsmith!”

“Hey!” I protested. “Who are you calling a hillbilly, Miss Haybale? I’m not the fan of Trace Adkins!”

She danced around the room. “We’ll call it ‘Cooking with Chef Rodney.’ Better days, here we come!!”

After reassembling my pile, I got a fresh cup of coffee. My wife’s cookbook idea was inescapable. It continued to reverberate inside my brain. In only a few minutes, I had remembered a half-dozen meal plans from bygone days. My wife’s proposal had been a precious glimmer of inspiration:



1 can of Vienna Sausages
½ cup of frying mix for chicken or fish
1 egg

Break egg; pour into bowl and whisk with a fork. In another bowl, pour the fry mix. Coat sausages individually with egg; roll in the fry mix. Make sure to coat evenly. Drop in hot oil; fry until golden brown. (It doesn’t take long.) Enjoy!


1 cup of instant grits
3 cups water
3 tbsp. butter
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup diced tomatoes
¼ cup chopped onion

Gently fry onions and tomatoes; set aside.
Mix dry grits and water; prepare as indicated on package. Stir butter into cooked grits. Spoon onto serving plate, top with onions & tomatoes, then shredded cheese to taste.


1 pound bacon
2 refrigerated pie crusts (top & bottom)
1 can condensed cream of celery soup
1 16 oz. bag frozen mixed vegetables
1 can sliced potatoes
1 medium onion

Preheat oven at 350 degrees F; press bottom crust into pie dish. Bake lightly. Meanwhile, cut and fry bacon strips; chop and fry onion; cook sliced potatoes in skillet; set these ingredients aside. Prepare frozen vegetables as indicated on package. Mix these with condensed soup and other ingredients. Spoon into dish. Top with second crust. Continue baking for 30 minutes or until golden brown.


1 cup buttermilk
1 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium green pepper
1 medium onion
1 can SPAM

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Cube SPAM; chop and gently fry with onion and pepper; set aside. Melt butter in cast iron skillet; coat evenly. Mix dry ingredients; add buttermilk and egg. Blend in the SPAM, pepper, and onion. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown.

A day later, I showed my recipes to Liz, after dinner. Her reaction was immediate.

“Don’t you have any healthy dishes to include?” she said with disbelief.

“What do you mean?” I smirked. “Like a tofu and lettuce salad?”

She shivered. “It wouldn’t hurt to offer some better alternatives!”

“Okay,” I groaned. “How about cottage cheese with bean sprouts, kiwi fruit, and pomegranate dressing? Yes mam, I’d rather have that than Buffalo wings!”

“You’ve always got to be such a rebel!” she complained.

“How about green tomatoes and yogurt with a garnish of roasted sunflower seeds?” I continued.

“You’re being extreme!” she whined.

“Not at all,” I replied. “It’d be great to munch on bamboo shoots and drink prune tea. Maybe I’ll eat broiled grape leaves for dessert! Yee haw!”

Her face went red. But she was laughing!

“Okay, okayyy! Never mind the Icehouse cookbook,” Liz said, at last. “Dig out our camcorder. We’ll make that video for Howie, after all!”

NOTE: ‘The Fruit of the Spirit’ cookbook is now available from Tim’s House, in Chardon, for a donation of ten dollars. Call 440-286-HOPE for further information.

POSTSCRIPT – Congratulations to City Councilperson Mary Bramstedt on being elected Chairman of the Chardon Charter Commission.

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