Thursday, October 29, 2009

“Dissident Chef”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Political dissent is a tradition witnessed by every civilization. Yet while many nations experience this philosophical rowdiness through the agony of armed conflict, Americans follow a different path. We have institutionalized protest as an expected part of the governing process.

Opposing views are typically conveyed through organized demonstrations. But a new venue for rebellion has appeared, as those given to dietary correctness have begun to impose their will on the greater society.

In kitchens from New York to California, a culinary uprising has begun, one recipe at a time. Each dish prepared outside of the low-fat mainstream signals a yearning to be free, and strengthens the drumbeat of liberty.

The dissident chef’s arsenal is stocked with potent flavors and inventive seasonings cataloged for future generations. These recipes create a path toward freedom that will endure, forever.

Here are a few examples of this noble work in progress:


2 cans white corn, drained
2 cans black beans, drained
2 cans blackeyed peas, drained
1 medium Vidalia onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced
2 tablespoons diced jalapenos
2 teaspoons Italian dressing
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate overnight.
Serve with Frito Scoops or tortilla chips.


12 sardines (canned)
1 cup grated cheese
1 cup chili sauce
2 tablespoons butter

Place chili sauce in saucepan, heat, but do not boil. Mix in the cheese. Butter a baking dish; arrange sardines inside, and pour the chili sauce over them, mixed with the cheese. Bake in hot oven for about 10 minutes, or until browned on top.


1 1/2 lb. bologna, sliced to 1/2-inch thickness
2 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese

Take 1 piece of bologna and cover with a layer of cream cheese, lay another piece of bologna on top of first piece. Then cover second piece with cream cheese, continue to do this until all bologna slices are layered in the form of a cake. Then take remaining cream cheese and cover top and sides, just like you were icing a cake. Chill, then slice your cake and serve with crackers or chips.


1 large onion; coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 medium cabbage head - (about 2 lbs.) coarsely shredded
1 can SPAM luncheon meat - (7 oz) diced
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
2 tbsp. vinegar
2 tsp. sugar

In large saucepan, sauté onion in butter until golden brown, stirring often. Add cabbage, Spam, water, caraway seeds, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in vinegar and sugar; mix well.


4 1/2 cups grits, cooked and cooled
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup bacon grease
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 (12 ounce) can chopped tomatoes
16 ounces country ham or Canadian bacon, cooked in a skillet
8 eggs, fried

Take the grits after they have cooled and mix in the Parmesan cheese and garlic powder. Add some cayenne pepper if you like things hot! Spread the mixture on a large baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes. Take a large biscuit or cookie cutter (you can use shaped ones for the holidays) and cut out the grit mix. Place 1 tbsp. salt, 1 tbsp. pepper, and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour in a small bowl and mix well. Pour onto a plate and press the grit cakes into the flour to coat both sides. In a skillet over medium heat add the oil to cover the bottom. When the oil is hot but not smoking, drop in the grit cakes, browning both sides. Remove and hold. Cook the country ham or Canadian bacon in another skillet, just until browned. Remove and place on a paper towel to absorb the grease. Leave 1/2 cup grease in the skillet for the tomato gravy. (You can use bacon grease instead). Heat the ham or bacon grease over medium high heat. Add 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour and stir until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup milk and stir until it boils. Add the tomatoes and return to a boil. Add the salt and pepper to taste. If it is too thick, add some water and stir. Meanwhile, fry your eggs in the skillet where you cooked the grit cakes. To assemble, place two cooked grit cakes on a plate. Place a slice of ham or Canadian bacon on top of each grit cake. Place a fried egg on top of the ham or Canadian bacon. Ladle the tomato gravy over the top and enjoy.


1-2 lb. summer sausage
1 med. onion or 2 small onions
1 can (12 oz.) corn (or 15 oz.)
1 jar (1 lb.) spaghetti sauce
1/2 stick butter
1 box (8 oz.) macaroni

Cook macaroni according to package and drain. Melt butter in large pan. Cut sausage into 2 inch slices, then cut each slice into 4 pieces. Chop onion finely. Add onion and sausage to melt butter and sauté, for 10-15 minutes or until sausage and onion looks fully cooked. Drain off butter. Heat spaghetti sauce and corn; (pour) over top onion and sausage. After it is hot and bubbly, add everything to macaroni, mix well and serve with Parmesan cheese on top.

Most activism might take place on courthouse steps or at the threshold of a Senator’s door. Yet no political rally can completely embody the spirit of our nation’s founders.

It is in the kitchen that we may rediscover the true realm of patriots.

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Monday, October 26, 2009


On Sunday October 25th, the boisterous 'Tea Party' movement came to Geauga County thanks to Tammy Roesch and the group 'G.O.O.O.H.' (Get Out Of Our House)

Founder Tim Cox, of Texas, explained that the mission of G.O.O.O.H. is to completely evict the current 435 members of our US House of Representatives.

The event was hosted by Matt Patrick, a radio personality from Akron's WHLO 640.

Speaking at the rally were Joe 'The Plumber' Wurzelbacher, and Doc Thompson, who both admonished the crowd to take a more active role in local politics.

Dignitaries in attendance included Tim & Diane Grendell, Sharon Gingerich, and Chardon City Councilperson Mary M. Bramstedt.

The Geauga County Fairgrounds in Burton, Ohio

Joe 'The Plumber' Wurzelbacher promoted his book before the event

A creative sign that spotlighted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

A stand for literature from Lyndon LaRouche, well-known as a perennial figure on the fringe of American politics

Joe 'The Plumber' Wurzelbacher addressed those in attendance about the need for citizen action

From left: Event Host Matt Patrick of WHLO 640; Joe Wurzelbacher

G.O.O.O.H. founder Tim Cox, of Texas

Chardon City Councilperson Mary M. Bramstedt attended the rally as an enthusiastic supporter of political reform

Joe Wurzelbacher's book was available at a table manned by the author himself

Doc Thompson from WRVA, frequent guest host on Glenn Beck's radio program

G.O.O.O.H. literature from the event

Political opinions vary widely across the state of Ohio. But events like the Burton 'Tea Party' indicate that the rowdy traditions of American democracy are alive and well.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

“ATM Encounter”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Typically, mornings at The Icehouse begin in our home office. I often review e-mail messages and news stories over my first cup of coffee. This habit tends to provide inspiration on a just-in-time basis. It also guarantees that there are no traffic-jam episodes at the bathroom door, while my wife and family get ready for work. We depend on the normalcy of such things to keep life moving efficiently. But sometimes, random events can send this routine spinning out of control.

This was one of those days!

I had been on the road since sunrise, playing chauffeur for Soccer Fairy, our eleven-year old daughter. After taking her to school, an unexpected detour appeared. Leigh, our older child, needed a prescription that couldn’t be found at any of our regular pharmacies. I had a seminar scheduled in Cleveland, so keeping my appointment depended on a speedy accomplishment of this task.

After stopping at the drugstore, I circled back home to Thompson. Once the delivery had been made, my attention turned toward getting to the freeway.

It was time to get the day back on schedule.

My seminar was intended to analyze turmoil in the newspaper industry. I took lots of notes as one expert after another offered insight into the journalistic paradigm shift that was taking place.

This informative session concluded long after sunset. Yet it had me feeling more able to cope with shifting trends in the market.

My drive back from Cleveland delivered a quiet post-lecture experience. I scanned through stations on the radio, finally pausing at WTAM-1100. Program host Bob Frantz was in the midst of a rant on NFL football. I listened all the way to Chardon.

While passing through town, I decided to stop at my bank’s ATM to withdraw twenty dollars in cash. It seemed a simple task, especially so late at night. But as I jammed the debit card into their machine, it locked up while processing the transaction.

Ominously, the screen went blank. Then, a warning appeared:


I blinked with disbelief. The bank had closed several hours before.

“Is this a prank?” I wondered out loud. “Maybe a new version of ‘Candid Camera’ for Geauga Tel?”

I canceled my request for cash, then started again. But the same chilling message returned. Suffering from disbelief, I started to drive away.

Suddenly, a black limousine careened around the corner. It skidded to a stop in the empty parking lot. The passenger window rolled down, and from inside, a pale visage peered through dark sunglasses.

“Mr. Ice?” the figure spoke in a monotone voice.

I slumped in my seat. “Yes… that’s right.”

“We’ve met before,” he laughed, while lighting a cigarette. “Do you remember?”

My face went red. “No, I don’t. Was it on Halloween?”

The stranger laughed out loud. “Very good, Mr. Ice. I’m glad to see that you still have a sense of humor!”

I was becoming impatient. “Okay, if you were trying to spook me, it worked. So… who are you? And what do you want?”

“You call me Mr. X in your writings,” he smiled. “A bit cartoonish, but it is a moniker I accept.”

His remark jogged my memory.

“Right,” I said. “Now I recall. You’re a secret agent, right? But… an agent working for whom?”

“That isn’t important,” he sighed. “Trust me, Rodney. Tonight, there are bigger questions to ponder!”

“Like what?” I mumbled.

Mr. X leaned out of his car window. “Patience, my friend. Before I can reveal
Anything, you need to tell me… what is the subject of your next column for the newspaper?”

“Huh?” I balked.

“Your upcoming weekly feature,” he repeated. “What will it say?”

My eyes burned. “Well… with all the discussion of President Obama’s Nobel Prize, I reckoned on writing about Geauga County residents who deserve special accolades of their own.”

He shook with laughter. “Very topical, yet safe. Nothing more controversial?”

I could barely answer. “Umm, no. Sorry.”

“Very wise,” he said, approvingly.

“Wise?” I muttered with confusion.

“I’ve come to give you a friendly warning,” he said.

“A… what?” I blustered.

“A warning,” he whispered. “You have attracted attention from… important people in Columbus and Washington.”

“Come on!” I groaned. “My column runs in a small-town, weekly newspaper.”

“Yes, but your Internet presence makes it widely read, and respected!” he growled.
“Except that not everyone is happy with the things you’ve uncovered.”

I was embarrassed. “You must have me mixed up with someone else…”

“Rodney!” he complained. “Didn’t you reveal that former General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner had visited the county?”

I shook my head. “That was a joke! A bit of satire.”

“But you did contact him,” he said accusingly. “Correct?”

“Yes,” I admitted. “Not directly, though. It happened through the GM Executive Offices.”

“And you’ve been speaking out against the government,” he added. “Appearing on radio and television isn’t a good way to remain anonymous.”

“More satire,” I sighed. “You need to look closely at my columns…”

“Wake up!” he shouted. “Look at what happened to ‘Joe the Plumber.’ You may be next on the list.”

I snorted with amusement. “No… that’s not likely.”

His mood softened. “Rodney, I came here as a friend.”

“Friend?” I laughed. “That’s insane. We don’t even know each other!”

Mr. X bowed his head. “Oh but I do. I do know you… very well, indeed.”

“What do you mean?” I snapped. My skin began to chill.

He stubbed out his cigarette. “Come closer. I will say this only once.”

My hands began to tremble. Reluctantly, I approached the limousine.

“We are watching you,” he whispered. “I risked my career to come here. Now remember what I’ve said tonight. Beware!”

His window rolled up suddenly, interrupting our conversation. Before I could protest, the long, black car drove away.

The remainder of my homeward trek happened in silence. I guessed that fatigue must have made me hallucinate.

But just in case, I decided to forget about the twenty-dollar bill.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I grew up with motorcycles.

Dad kept my head full of stories - about his two-wheeled adventures on cycles by Indian, Harley-Davidson, BSA, and Norton. When I was young, he tinkered with early products from Honda and Yamaha before retiring from road duty altogether. But the tales continued.

I became most fascinated with the individualistic bikes made in Milwaukee. But a different vibe remained as I got older. A passion that was both enduring and pure... for the Triumph Bonneville.

I remember visiting Gatto's Cycles in Tarentum, Pennsylvania, around 1976... and there it was, the new Triumph Bonneville. Painted red, white and black, with deep chrome accents and enough British mojo to make my teenaged head swoon...

In the 70's, every new issue of Cycle World had an ad for the Bonneville. Even though the golden era of British motorcycles had passed, it remained a favorite of riders across the world.

The Bonneville was an enduring icon of lost traditions. As a teenager, it seemed to beckon me with the luster of Old World glory. But in modern terms, this wheeled steed offers something more... a glimpse of yonder days that will never fade away.

Friday, October 16, 2009


I've written several columns about U.K. songstress Sazi Riot. Her passion for Rock 'n' Roll is an inspirational force. If you've never heard her music, the Reverb Nation site is a good place to start:

Listen and you'll be hooked. Cheers!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

“Rooftop TV”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: What follows here is a telephone diary from my wife. While I was away helping my parents through a family crisis, she ordered satellite TV service from a popular provider. At first, this idea seemed well founded. But after three months, she discovered the profundity of ‘Caveat Emptor’ which literally means: Let the buyer beware.


OPERATOR – “This is Tamelle from Rooftop TV. We’re ‘raising the roof’ with quality entertainment, news and sports, twenty-four hours a day. How may I help you?”

LIZ – “Hi Tamelle. I’m calling from Thompson Ohio to see if your service is available in my area.”

OPERATOR – “Wonderful! Could I have your zip code please?”

LIZ – “It’s 44086.”

OPERATOR – (Tapping her keyboard) “Yes it is. We have a special introductory package available, for $29.99 per month through your first year as a customer…”

LIZ – “What channels does that include? I like to watch Oxygen or The Food Channel. My daughters like The Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. My husband watches ESPN and Spike. And our dogs like TV Land.”

OPERATOR – (Pausing) “Your dogs watch television?”

LIZ – (Giggling) “We leave it on when the house is empty.”

OPERATOR – “Umm, okay… very good. All I need is some personal information, and we can get you connected!”


OPERATOR – “This is Jorina from Rooftop TV… how may I help you?”

LIZ – “Hi Jorina. This is Liz Ice calling from Thompson, Ohio. I signed up for your Viewmaster America package but don’t seem to be getting the channels that I wanted. The menu card lists a lot of programming we can’t see.”

OPERATOR – (Tapping at her keyboard) “Let me check your account, Mrs. Ice… hmm… let’s see… you are enrolled in the Viewmaster Basic program. Isn’t that the choice you made?”

LIZ – “Basic program? Is there more than one?”

OPERATOR – “We have Viewmaster Basic, Viewmaster Plus, Viewmaster Popular Value Club, Viewmaster Diamond Select, and Viewmaster Gold Club Executive.”

LIZ – “Well… I wanted the best value so I decided on the basic program.”

OPERATOR – “A great option! But our menu card lists some programming only available from higher-level packages.”

LIZ – “I thought this was sorted out before. But, let’s try again. What level do I need for ESPN, Nickelodeon and The Disney Channel?”

OPERATOR – “ESPN comes with Viewmaster Plus. For the other two you need Viewmaster Popular Value Club…”

LIZ – “Okay. Then I’d like that plan, please.”

OPERATOR – “I can offer you a twenty-dollar gift card if you also sign up for Account Guard protection that insures all your equipment in case of damage or device failure.”

LIZ – (Feeling confused) “I really just want those three extra channels.”

OPERATOR – “Then I can give you Viewmaster Plus Plus with an individual channel choice option…”

LIZ – “Plus Plus??”

OPERATOR – “It’s one step up from Viewmaster Plus.”

LIZ – “But… your literature says that Viewmaster Popular Value Club is one step up…”

OPERATOR – (Sounding miffed) “Well, then consider it a half-step, Mrs. Ice.”

LIZ (Sighing loudly) “Okay. Whatever gives me those extra channels.”


OPERATOR - “This is Kimecca from Rooftop TV…how may I help you?”

LIZ – “Hi Kimecca. This is Liz Ice from Thompson, Ohio. I’m having a hard time understanding my bill. Could you offer some kind of explanation?”

OPERATOR – “Absolutely! Let me look up your account… hmm… according to our records, you have a current balance due of $137.50.”

LIZ – “Really? Wow. The printed statement we got in our mail says $99.79. But when I went on the Rooftop TV website, it says $110.44. Why is every billing different?”

OPERATOR – “Your charges reflect a day-to-day total based on the accrued amount to date, plus any applicable fees, minus credits and discounts, with a satellite-to-ground communication fee added…”

LIZ – “Huh?”

OPERATOR – “I’m sorry Mrs. Ice. Would you like me to repeat that for you?”

LIZ – “Actually, no. You hurt my ears the first time!”


OPERATOR - “This is Macole from Rooftop TV…”

LIZ – “Hello. This is Liz Ice from Thompson. I’d like to cancel my account, please.”

OPERATOR – “Cancel? But why?”

LIZ – “I’ve spent three months trying to get the service that I want, while trying to figure out what it’s costing my family. But it isn’t working. So please cancel my service, immediately.”

OPERATOR – “But… you must return our decoder boxes and remote controls.”

LIZ – “That sounds easy enough. I’ll do it this week. Thank you!”


OPERATOR - “This is Nindella from Rooftop TV. We’re ‘raising the roof’ with quality entertainment…”

LIZ – (Interrupting the speech) “Ahem! This is Liz Ice.”

OPERATOR – “How may I help you, Mrs. Ice?”

LIZ – “I tried to put gas in my car today, and the transaction was denied. When I checked my bank account, it was more than eight hundred dollars overdrawn! The teller said I’d been charged by Rooftop TV for cancellation and an equipment deposit. But I didn’t authorize any such transaction! Isn’t that illegal?”

OPERATOR – (Tapping furiously at her keyboard) “I’m sorry Mrs. Ice. You had an amount due of $787.00. That is a standard charge and we had your financial information…”

LIZ – (Turning red) “Standard charge? Why didn’t you mention that before?”

OPERATOR – “I’m sorry Mrs. Ice. You will receive a refund of $181.77 when we get your returned equipment. The only way to avoid these costs is to reinstate your contract.”

LIZ – “But I don’t want your service! You never lived up to the terms of our agreement!”

OPERATOR – “I’m sorry Mrs. Ice. This is how we pass along savings to our customers.”

LIZ – “By robbing those of us who are unhappy?”

OPERATOR – “Good afternoon, Mrs. Ice.”

(The phone line went dead. Rooftop TV ended the conversation abruptly.)

Postscript: My wife decided to file complaints with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and our State of Ohio Attorney General. I was proud of her persistence. And… glad to have a compelling story for this column.

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