Thursday, March 26, 2009

“Stovetop Ingenuity”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: What follows here is a mini-cookbook of sorts, for the ‘Bailout Era.’ We have all begun to look backward across history, in search of wisdom from those who survived this nation’s ‘Great Depression.’ Offered here is perhaps the most basic form of coping with a diminished economy – old fashioned stovetop ingenuity.

Tough economic times have Americans at all income levels struggling to reduce their household expenditures. But while there are many strategies to achieve this goal, one change seems to work best for modern, on-the-go families… a shift back to the lost art of cooking at home!

Recent generations seemed to jettison this time-intensive ritual in favor of fast food, microwave specialties, or restaurant fare. Yet world wide financial chaos has made such alternatives less attractive.

Suddenly, the luster of bygone thriftiness has returned.

In the Icehouse, old-fashioned cooking has never been out of favor. Here, creating meals is equal to writing poetry or composing music. Each of us learned to work in the kitchen as part of personal development. Yet our culinary outlook has a tilt toward experimentation. The family cookbook continues to grow as these new creations are added, one at a time.

Below are a few of the most recent examples of this march toward amateur chefhood:

FOWLER'S PIE (A variation on the classic British dish 'Shepherd's Pie')

1/2 of a large onion
1 lb of ground turkey
2 tablespoons of flour
1 tablespoon of horseradish cocktail sauce
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
1 cup of water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 pkg herb & butter mashed potato mix
1 tablespoon of butter
1 16 oz. package of frozen mixed vegetables

Prepare mixed vegetables as indicated on package, set aside.
Prepare mashed potatoes as indicated on package, set aside.
In large skillet, sauté onions. Add meat and brown. Add cocktail sauce, Worcestershire sauce, butter, bouillon cubes, and water. Stir together over medium heat until bouillon is dissolved. Add flour and stir again. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Add mixed vegetables. In a medium baking dish, place mixture of meat and vegetables. Spoon mashed potatoes over this layer. Top with shredded cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees F. Let finished product cool slightly before serving.


12 oz. beer
3 cups self-rising flour
3 tbsp. sugar
3 oz. pkg. sliced pepperoni
Shredded cheese (for topping)
1 pat of butter (melted)

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl; add pepperoni slices, then beer. Stir mixture together and press onto a pizza pan or baking stone. Pat with extra flour. Brush lightly with melted butter. Add shredded cheese, enough to cover top of bread. Bake at 350F 40-45 minutes. Bread will be crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. A great appetizer for parties!


3 eggs
1 pkg. Ramen noodles
¼ cup milk or half & half
¼ cup shredded cheese
Spices (pepper, curry powder, etc.)
Soy sauce

Prepare noodles as directed, drain water. Stir in spice packet. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with milk. Add extra spices, Soy Sauce and cheese. Mix these together with noodles until cheese is melted and ingredients are evenly combined. Fry on each side until golden brown. Enjoy!


1 cup white rice
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 stalk celery (chopped)
1 large carrot (chopped)
2 eggs
Curry powder (to taste)
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Olive oil


Prepare rice as directed, set aside. Whisk eggs in a bowl, set these aside. Heat oil in a large skillet. Sauté onion, celery and carrot. Add rice, then lots of curry and pepper, as desired. Fry mixture while adding eggs. Stir until evenly distributed. Cook until lightly browned. Note: let taste be your guide. Use curry in proportion to your own desire for flavor!


2 cans of Vienna sausages
2 eggs
Fry mix for fish or chicken
Potatoes cut into thick slices
Spices (like pepper, chili powder and garlic powder)

Heat oil in deep fryer to 400 degrees. In one bowl, whisk eggs together. In a separate bowl, pour fry mix. Dip sausages into eggs, then roll in fry mix. They should be generously coated. Drop into hot oil and fry gently. Be careful not to over-cook. Place on a plate with paper towels to cool. Then, fry potato slices while oil is still hot. After cooking, sprinkle them with spices. Serve together. This might be an unhealthy treat, but it is very satisfying!


2 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
2 15 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
1 green pepper (chopped)
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 15 oz. can of large black olives (cut in halves)
½ cup (approximately) of sliced mushrooms
Olive oil
Oregano or Italian seasoning (to taste)
Parmesan cheese
16 oz. pkg. of thin spaghetti

Using a large skillet, fry chicken in olive oil. Add extra olive oil as needed, with tomatoes, green pepper, onion, olives, mushrooms and oregano. Simmer over low heat. Prepare pasta as directed. Spoon mixture over pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.


1 can (12 oz.) of SPAM, cut into thick slices
5 eggs
Fry mix
1 small onion, chopped
½ green bell pepper
Shredded cheese (to taste)

Whisk 2 eggs in a bowl. Pour fry mix in a separate bowl. Dip SPAM into eggs, then into fry mix. They should be liberally coated. Fry in large skillet until golden brown on both sides. Set aside. Sauté onion and pepper, add remaining three eggs and scramble together with shredded cheese. Serve with hot SPAM planks.


2 slices of bread
Peanut butter
Cinnamon & sugar
Maple syrup
Chocolate chips, powdered sugar, whipped cream (optional)

Make a sandwich with bread and peanut butter, including cinnamon & sugar added inside. Generously spread outsides with butter. Fry on medium heat. When golden brown, put on serving plate and cover with syrup. If desired, garnish with toppings for extra flavor.

Our household kitchen remains a place of innovation, drama, and occasional bouts of lost direction. We continue to thrive here, on the promise of improvised edibles. Bailout woes have no power greater than our faith in a satisfying plate of vittles.
Though some of our dishes may be impulsive in nature, they will never be… boring.

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