Bacon is everywhere. Its on doughnuts, ice cream, chocolate bars, even candles and soap. To each their own, but I just want delicious, smoky, crispy bacon on a BLT or with oysters, something savory, salty and delicious. One of the problems I’ve found with bacon from the grocery store is that it tends to be sliced too thin, even the “thick” bacon from fancy grocery stores is fairly thin which is fine for a sandwich but for some of the recipes I want to try I need a big hunk of bacon. Another problem is that I have not been happy with the taste of store bought bacon . It just ain’t right.
I decided that I’d make my own bacon. First decision, to nitrite or not nitrite. Nitrites (also referred to as pink salt or curing salt) in combination with kosher salt are added to cured and smoked products to inhibit the growth of bacteria. There were several recipes I found that used only kosher salt to treat bacon but I don’t feel that is sufficient. The pork belly that I was turning into bacon would sit in my refrigerator for a week and then be smoked at a low temperature for a few hours and that is the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. Also, the nitrites give bacon that special bacony good taste.
Get it started. I ordered the pink curing salt and some cane syrup from Amazon and received it within a few days. Then I visited Assi, an international market, to find my pork belly. They had some pieces in the meat case but they were a bit too small, about 2 pounds each, I was looking for a large piece that was a least 5 pounds. I asked the ladies that were packaging sausages behind the counter if they had any larger pieces of pork belly. There was a bit of confusion, a language barrier and some strange looks but finally they called the butcher over and he brought out a huge 12 and a half pound pork belly.
Stay tuned. I’ll fill you in on how I got from belly to yummy, yummy bacon in a future post.
I love this simple vegetarian dish, I’m using patty pan squash ( I don’t know the specific varieties) that I bought from the farmers market this weekend. They were so beautiful that I almost couldn’t bring myself to cook them….actually I didn’t cook one of them, it’s just too pretty. When you make this, cut the squash so that you show off the beautiful flower shape.
Seared Patty Pan Squash Steaks
2 Patty Pan Squash (about 2 1/2 inches in diameter)
1 teaspoon of canola or olive oil ( I used canola oil for it’s mild flavor)
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Slice the squash into 1/3 inch steaks ( see the picture attached to this note for an example)
Coat the patty pan squash slices in oil and season with thyme, salt and pepper
Let this stand (or sit) at room temperature for about 5 minutes
Heat a frying pan over high heat…let the pan get really hot. Sear the patty pan squash slice quickly over high heat for about 1-2 minutes per side..until beautifully browned
I’m a sucker for “krab”. I love it. I love it in fake krab sushi, in krab salad with cucumber and carrot,spicy krab dip, as a krab appetizer stuffed into tiny tomatoes, krab and pasta, krab in coleslaw (that’s what’s in the picture over there krab with shredded cabbage, carrot, cucumber, sriracha, mayo, rice wine vinegar and sweetfish roe) ….KRAB I love it. Well, I only love one brand, the one from Sam’s Club. It’s a little dryer with a firm, flaky texture that I prefer to what I find in the regular grocery store. All of the other brands I’ve tried seem very mushy to me.
OK, it is a processed item, ground up fish meat and such, probably some MSG, and it doesn’t really taste like crab (crab is a miracle from God and can not be duplicated) but it is sweet and fishy and tasty.
That’s it really. I just wanted to tell you that I love Krab.
Raw cookie dough in nearly irresistible. Many people (mostly teen aged girls) buy pre-made cookie dough just to eat it raw. But that’s a bad idea. Salmonella we all know about, but recently the CDC has reported that a pathogen in raw flour may make you sick as well. So don’t eat raw cookie dough, instead eat this egg-less, flour-less delicious snack.
Oatmeal cookie dough bites
4 ounces of softened fat free cream cheese
2 teaspoons of honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup quick cooking oats
optional mix ins
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 dried cranberries
Mix it all together (the more stuff you add in the more cream cheese you have to add to make the mix mixable) roll into balls about 3/4 of an inch in diameter. Roll in cinnamon sugar, shredded coconut or sweetened cocoa powder. Store in the refrigerator for about a week.
Jams and jellies (wait, did anyone get my obscure “80’s musical reference in the title of this blog post?) where was I…OH YES!! Jams and jellies are pantry staples in my kitchen. They are great in desserts like thumbprint cookies or between layers of cake but I also like to use them in savory dishes.
Last summer I was fortunate enough to get a bushel of ripe peaches and I made peach/rosemary jam for my first canning project. It was a beautiful thing. One night I needed an hors d’oeuvre for a casual party and the peach/rosemary jam was the perfect answer. I roasted chicken wing sections with a little salt and pepper and at the end of cooking I coated the wings with the jam and broiled them for a few minutes just to get a bit of char on them. They were a huge hit; guests were licking the sweet sticky jam from their fingers ( I guess I should have given them napkins…oh well, hindsight is 20/20).
I needed a quick solution for dinner the other night and I needed to cook some chicken drumsticks I had in the fridge. I remembered that delicious party dish, but unfortunately I was out of the homemade peach/rosemary jam. I did , however, have some store bought apricot jam that I bought at a half price sale a few weeks before. I roasted the chicken drumsticks just as I did the chicken wings, but I sprinkled a bit of dried rosemary on them along with the salt and pepper. Delicious, easy and pretty darn quick.
Peach, guava and apricot jams go really well with turkey, pork and cheese; for beef dishes blueberry and blackberry jams would make great sauces with red wine reduction and pan juices.
I knew it was going to be a ridiculously busy week. Three extra kids staying over and lots of activities to participate in. So how do you feed all of those hungry people night after night without wearing yourself out?? BRISKET! that’s how. With a little advanced planning you can slow cook a 5 pound flat cut beef brisket (seasoned with salt and pepper) at 300 degrees on a bed of sliced onions, and a half cup of water in a roasting pan tightly covered with foil for about 4 hours and feed your family a variety of different meals for days.
The first night was taco night. We just heated some sliced brisket and served it with chunky salsa, shredded cheese, fresh leafy salad greens and a choice of flour or corn tortillas….not to shabby.
The second night we had ramen noodles (yes, the cheap stuff) but instead of using the awful seasoning packet we served the noodles in a pool of the brisket broth with sliced brisket, green onions and a boiled egg, not authentic but it was deeeelicious!
We skipped one night and had chicken instead, but the next night we sliced the brisket and glazed it with tangy, sweet barbecue sauce. That was the family favorite hands down. You can take a peek at that in the picture over there served with some buttered egg noodles with broccoli and garlic. We still have a big hunk of brisket and some broth left. Not bad for about $4.50 a pound. The flat cut of brisket is usually sold with a layer of fat about 1/4 inch thick on one side, cook it with the fat on and trim it before you eat if you like.