Friday, July 29, 2011

“Pickled Delights: Part Two”

c. 2011 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”
- Thomas Jefferson

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote in this space about the disappearance of Penrose pickled sausages. A personal investigation revealed that ConAgra had eliminated this spicy treat from their company roster in 2009.

Recipes that promised to recreate the flavorful snack at home also appeared with the stories I read. So after my column was published, my thoughts turned toward our household kitchen.

Writing about these lost delights was not enough. I wanted to make them here.
Gathering the necessary ingredients wasn’t difficult. The brine consisted of - 3 cups vinegar; 1 cup water; ¾ cup brown sugar; ½ tbsp. crushed red pepper; and 1 tbsp. pickling spices. I simmered all the ingredients for five minutes and poured it into canning jars filled with smoked sausage and fresh onions.

A minimum holding time of two days was suggested in the directions, before eating. Personally, I guessed that a much longer period would produce better results. But I took a jar to my oldest nephew, who has a strong inclination to try new things at the dinner table before anyone else.

His verdict was positive. My experiment had been a success.

Further research about making pickled sausages yielded other suggested ingredients for the recipe that seemed sure to add variety and flavor:

Minced garlic
Bay leaves
Pickling salt
Tabasco sauce
Chile peppers
Mustard seed

I couldn’t help wondering if Geauga County maple syrup should be added to this list.
Although genuine Penrose sausages had vanished, I discovered that lots of other pickled delights remained available from producers around the country:

Long Lake Distributing LLC
DBA Long Lake Foods
Clintonville, WI

Malone, New York
518-565-0095 or 518-314-9770

Red Smith
Davie, FL
(Also available at selected Walmart stores)

Porkie Company of Wisconsin
Cudahy, WI

Herb's Snack Foods, LLC
Gibbstown, NJ

Gilbert’s Craft Sausages
Denmark, WI

While pondering all this new information, I remembered an old family recipe for banana peppers stuffed with hot dogs, in a pickled brine. The snack was something I had long wanted to recreate. No one in the family could remember how it had been prepared. But finally, kitchen courage appeared. I made a trip to my local Giant Eagle store, and bought the obvious ingredients.

My culinary experiment was certain to continue… for a long time to come!

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Friday, July 22, 2011

“Eric Moore, Remembered”

c. 2011 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

For this writer, music activist Eric Moore was like a comet.

He traveled quickly above the Rock & Roll horizon, offering illumination and hope. But too soon, he was gone.

I knew him because of my membership in the online Davie Allan fan forum. While discussing guitar techniques and recording history with that plectrum icon, Eric spoke about his own activities. He had created an ongoing petition to have the late axemaster Link Wray inducted into the Rock Hall.

It was an effort I supported in spirit, and in print:


Readers of this (column) will know about Eric Moore's ongoing petition to have Link Wray inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. But have you participated in this effort? If not, take another look at:

Here's what I posted in the comments section of Eric's site, after signing the petition:

"This is appropriate in every sense. Link Wray’s importance as an iconic figure of electric guitar history can’t be overstated. He has inspired so many. To ignore his contributions is an act of wanton negligence. Link should be honored in the Rock Hall, and everywhere."

This effort is worthwhile and noble. Join in the good fight, today!

In 2009, Eric would organize a Link Wray tribute concert at the Beachland Ballroom. It was an inspirational night, where we both were privileged to be in the company of Beth Wray Webb, Link’s daughter. I wrote enthusiastically about the event:

Native Visions Fill The Beachland Ballroom In Link Wray Tribute

CLEVELAND – It was a homecoming of sorts.

Fans rocked and remembered Link Wray on a recent Saturday night at The Beachland. It was appropriate because Alan Freed held his groundbreaking ‘Moondog Coronation Ball’ in this city by Lake Erie. And because the late performer had played this venue before, most recently in 2003.

But attendees experienced something more than simply a well-organized tribute to the late guitar shaman born in Dunn, North Carolina.

They felt the touch of an intangible force greater even than Rock ‘n’ Roll.
To be sure, musical energy echoed throughout the ballroom, as provided by a hero’s roster of performers. Included in the event were The Topcats, Wraygun, Link Wray's
Raymen, Chris Webb with Stuck In Gear, and Webb Wilder. Each delivered passionate testimony to the artistic worth of the world’s most iconoclastic axeman.

Yet many fans agreed that an unseen participant hovered over the stage - one who boasted the mesmerizing power of his Shawnee ancestors.

His photographs loomed large as a background. But Link’s spirit was also there.
The release of ‘Rumble’ in 1958 defined his legacy forever, as a pioneer without equal. By developing the use of unique tonalities and chord structure, he inspired generations of popular and unpopular musicians. Still, greater success and stardom went to those who followed his wandering path.

Link was content to live the life of a Native American scout, stealthily crossing uncharted artistic territory with swiftness and self-confidence.

Eric Moore, who organized the concert, expressed this conundrum in simple language. “He (was) Rock and Roll's greatest underdog.” An ongoing petition to have this influential guitarist inducted into the ‘Rock Hall’ has become his life’s work.

I also saw Eric at a ‘Pabst Blue Ribbon’ concert during that year. The show featured Los Straitjackets and Southern Culture on the Skids. Entrepreneur and Surf Music promoter Unsteady Freddie was in attendance, which made the night even more special. Freddie had long been an active force in the Davie Allan fan community.

Eric’s shimmering arc across the sky seemed to bring light to everyone. So we could never have imagined that, in only a short while, he would be gone.

Strangely, our last encounter came over a subject totally unrelated to popular music.

While reading through his online posts, I discovered mention of a speaking engagement at the public library in Chardon. He explained that this appearance was on behalf of a group dedicated to growing flowers.

Shortly afterward, I wrote about this unexpected development:

The subject of popular music is a frequent topic for installments of this column.

In past issues, I have written about the efforts of area resident Eric Moore to have legendary guitarist Link Wray inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But a recent Internet encounter with this energetic fellow uncovered a different side of his personality.

On a fan forum dedicated to another plectrum icon, Davie Allan, Moore mentioned speaking at the public library in Chardon.

Since this online group included members from around the world, I was stunned at the mention of a locale so close to home.

I contacted Moore directly, and asked about his appearance. It seemed likely that he would have visited to discuss Rock music, or some facet of popular culture. But instead, he mentioned a club I’d never heard of before – the Western Reserve Daylily Society.

Unexpectedly, Eric passed away on June 11th of this year. He was 32 years old. Surviving him were his wife, Angela, and two children, Veronica and Isaac.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

“Pickled Delights”

c. 2011 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Recently, I wrote in this space about being a retail manager in and around Geauga County. As one half of a dual career path, my ‘other’ profession has often produced interesting stories for the newspaper. I was again reminded of that fact while pondering the unavailability Penrose pickled sausages at the supermarket where I am a manager.

In bygone years, this politically-incorrect snack was a staple item. They were also found at tavern establishments like the old ‘Chardon Beverage & Bar.’

But in modern times, this treat has become elusive. After many customer requests, I decided that a bit of journalistic investigation was in order.

An Internet search revealed that food giant ConAgra owned the brand. Production was discontinued after a fire at the plant where they were created. Then, a decision was made let the jarred products disappear altogether.

Dave Sacerdote addressed the subject on his ‘Dave’s Cupboard’ weblog:

“Back in October 2009, I wrote a short review of Penrose Hot Sausage, a pickled sausage product made by ConAgra. I didn't like them very much, but several readers disagreed with me and left comments about how much they enjoyed them. One of the comments mentioned that the sausages had been discontinued, and I decided to do some Googling. The first thing that I noticed was that every online source that I found listed all sizes of Penrose Hot Sausage as ‘sold out.’ When I looked up the product at ConAgra's website, I found that it was no longer listed in the drop-down menu of Penrose items offered by the company. Finally, I called ConAgra's Penrose consumer help line…and spoke to a pleasant young lady who identified herself as ‘Bree.’ She confirmed to me that Penrose has discontinued all product in jars, and that the only Penrose items currently being packaged are in snack-sized shrinkwrap. She said the decision was made by ConAgra about 6 months ago, which is why it has become increasingly difficult for fans of the sausage to get their fix.”

Comments that followed offered contact information for ConAgra, to send protests and inquiries:

ConAgra Customer Service - 1.800.382.4994
Doug Knudsen, V. P. of Sales for ConAgra -

Pondering the unavailability of this pickled delight, I began to do further research. On ‘’ I discovered a historical tidbit about these pickled delights, and hope of recreating the snack at home:

“The earliest recorded pickled sausage recipe dates back to about 1888 and comes to us from a pub owner in London who decided to sell the tasty morsels as an attraction to get more custom. Penrose sausages are a brand of pickled sausages made by the Penrose Company which discontinued selling jarred meats in 2009 due to the high costs. You can make a sausage very similar to Penrose pickled sausage in your own kitchen.”

The recipe that followed seemed easy to prepare:


2 lb. Kielbasa
1 cup water
¾ cup brown sugar
3 cups vinegar
1 tsp. Crushed red pepper


Cook 2 lbs. of kielbasa and slice it into thick pieces 2 inches wide. Place the cut sausages in sterile jars. Place 1 cup of water, 3/4 of a cup of brown sugar, 3 cups of vinegar and 1 tsp. of crushed red pepper into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer the ingredients for five minutes. Pour the mixture over the sliced sausages, loosely seal the jars and refrigerate for at least two days.

Other versions of the recipe suggested adding ten drops of red food coloring with the brine mixture, to produce the distinctive hue of original Penrose sausages. Or, a tablespoon of pickling spices for more flavor.

Other meats were listed as well, including smoked sausage, hot sausage, and cocktail wieners.

Once my investigation was finished, a single thought remained. How long could I wait before trying this recipe, myself?

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Friday, July 08, 2011


c. 2011 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

A few weeks ago, I wrote about being contacted by relatives from Brunswick, who are Civil War reenactors. Bringing the past to life, they regularly play the roles of a military surgeon and his wife/assistant. Through careful study and the collecting of period-correct artifacts, they have developed a living exhibit that is both compelling and informative.

Uncle Larry is a Navy veteran. Aunt Carol is a lifelong family historian.
They suggested that I might join them as a reporter from that era. Afterward, a search of regional newspaper archives revealed that our local journal at the time was ‘The Jeffersonian Democrat’ published in Chardon.

I decided to visit strictly as an observer. But the lure of that era was strong.

On June 18th and 19th, the Lake County Historical Society’s Civil War 150th Anniversary events transpired. Their encampment was an impressive display of yesteryear, revived.

The theme for both days was ‘Bordertown.’ Represented was a village from 1861, split in half by the line that divided Virginia and Maryland. Additionally, this community was separated by something greater still – a question of Union loyalty or Confederate secession.

While Maryland remained steadfast in supporting the nation, Virginia chose to secede in April of that year. Their decision made a greater war unavoidable:

“Now, therefore, we, the people of Virginia, do declare and ordain, That the ordinance adopted by the people of this State in convention on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and all acts of the General Assembly of this State ratifying and adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State. And they do further declare, That said Constitution of the United States of America is no longer binding on any of the citizens of this State.”

Bordertown had everything that one might expect in that decade. Included were soldiers, common folk, a minister, traveling musicians, a laundry service, a local tavern, undertaker, and even Madame Lily’s ‘Chateau de Repose’ bordello.

The mayor of Bordertown gave a rousing stump speech, in defense of President Lincoln and the Union cause. But when some in the crowd grew angry with his tone, he was shot.

The local sheriff claimed not to have seen who was responsible. His Confederate sympathies were obvious.

A distinctive bark of black-powder rifles echoed across the landscape throughout this event. There were shouts of encouragement and good cheer on both sides. But also prevalent were silent emblems of an earlier time. A blacksmith’s anvil. Cast-iron cookware hanging by the fire. Canvas tents and clay pots. A wooden cross above the chapel.

As the daylight faded on Sunday, Uncle Larry reminisced about having been a reenactor for twenty-four years. He spoke of becoming fascinated with this habit after participating in an encampment at Gettysburg.

While he mused over the bygone years, I watched the sunset, and pondered the life of a Geauga reporter… in 1861.

The Lake County Historical Society
415 Riverside Drive
Painesville Twp., OH 44077

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Friday, July 01, 2011

“Beer Across The Border”

c. 2011 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Visits to Erie, Pennsylvania come regularly in the Ice household. Typically, I use these occasions to find collectable junk, look around at local food retailers for fresh business ideas, and pause to stock up on brew unavailable here in Geauga County.

But most recently, I came away with something more – a tidbit of genuine news.

While visiting ‘Beer 4 Less’ on Peach Street, I spoke with ‘Tom’ (not his real name) a manager who has become a familiar figure during these eastbound excursions.

“Yuengling is coming your way,” he assured me, faithfully.

My reply was diplomatic. “Yes, I’ve heard that for years.”

Tom smiled sharply. “No. This time I mean it. Dick Yuengling signed an agreement with the Budweiser distributor out there. You’ll be seeing it very soon.”

My eyes widened. “Really?”

He nodded with certainty. “The only bad thing is that fewer of you guys will be driving here to get that stuff. I get a lot of customers from Cleveland.”

I made my purchase, and headed west on I-90. But his words continued to echo. Later that night, I began a column on the subject:

“During the past couple of decades, people in northeastern Ohio have grown accustomed to seeing familiar institutions replaced by those from Pennsylvania. Giant Eagle purchased Rini-Rego Stop ‘n’ Shop, our region’s premiere supermarket chain, in 1997. More recently, PNC Bank absorbed National City under a plan developed by the federal government. And many sports fans abandoned the struggling Cleveland Browns in favor of Pittsburgh’s celebrated Steelers, after years without a winning season. Happily, one impending arrival from the Keystone State is sure to be welcomed with universal applause – Yuengling beer. Cleveland used to be a brewing powerhouse. At one time, brands like Black Label, P.O.C. and Leisy’s offered blue-collar drinkers a variety of local refreshment choices. But the market dominance of Anheuser-Busch and Miller Brewing overwhelmed that proud tradition. The products of Great Lakes Brewing demonstrated convincingly that there was still a desire for quality brew on the northcoast. But those searching for an affordable, everyday brew were forced to look elsewhere for satisfaction. Yuengling’s arrival in Ohio seems sure to change that situation.”

The next day, a news report appeared in the WTAM-1100 newscast that repeated Erie Tom’s assertion. Yuengling was coming. Soon.

I decided to refresh my memory on the history of this venerable brewery. An article on Wikipedia detailed the company’s beginning:

“The German brewer David Gottlob Jüngling immigrated to the United States in 1823 from Aldingen, a suburb of Stuttgart, in the Kingdom of Württemberg. He anglicized his surname from Jüngling to Yuengling and began the ‘Eagle Brewery’ on Center Street in Pottsville in 1829. His eldest son, David, Jr., left the Eagle Brewery to establish the James River Steam Brewery along the James River in Richmond, Virginia. The first brewery burned down in an 1831 fire and the company relocated to W. Mahantongo Street at 5th Street, its current location. The Eagle Brewery changed its name to ‘D. G. Yuengling and Son’ in 1873 after Frederick Yuengling joined his father David in running the company. Although the company's name changed, the bald eagle remained the company's emblem…During the Prohibition era, Yuengling survived by producing ‘near beers’ (beverages with a 0.5% alcohol content) called Yuengling Special, Yuengling Por-Tor, and Yuengling Juvo. The company also ran a dairy which produced ice cream and opened dance halls in Philadelphia and New York City. After the 18th Amendment was repealed in 1933, Yuengling sent a truckload of ‘Winner Beer’ to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in appreciation, which arrived the day the amendment was repealed — particularly notable since Yuengling beer takes almost three weeks to brew and age.”

Reading from company text, I pondered taking a tour of the original brewery in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. The descriptive language of their ad made me eager to visit:

“Come tour the site of America's Oldest Brewery. Discover the hand-dug fermentation caves that were used for storage before refrigeration. Wander through time and enjoy a taste of living history in a building that has produced fine beers through times of peace, prosperity, upheaval and world war. Tours are open to the public at no charge.”

It would be a much longer drive than going to Erie. But one worth taking, in the near future!

D. G. Yuengling & Son, Inc.
5th & Mahantongo Streets
Pottsville, PA 17901
(570) 622-4141

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