The Seven Stages of Bacon Eggnogg

1. Revulsion
A prophet is never understood in his own time. I’m used to this.  It happens most notably with sweet applications: the cookies, the candy, the ice cream.  But a DRINK?  A sweet, traditional dairy-based drink at that.  “No way, Jeff, It’ll be like drinking gravy!”  Or “Gross! Why would i want strips of bacon floating around in my glass?”    I’ve certainly heard my share of scorn from those of us who do not embrace the Bacon Lifestyle.

2. Bewilderment
Fortunately, just as stage number one is inevitable, it follows that the “eeeeu” always morphs into a “huh?” I speculate that certain food combinations seem SO outrageous, that they remain in one’s head even after the emotional reaction passes. The idea just… sits there like a seed on the most fertile soil.

Yes, I say fertile.   People WANT to eat bacon.  They just do.

3. Intruige
Now, If I can get you to “huh?” I can most likely get you to “hmmm.”  It’s at this point I can explain several things.

Most importantly this is NOT a hamshake.  That would be gross.  What we are talking about is taking an egg and dairy-driven beverage and infusing it with a highly complimentary flavor set.

Also, I mention that the bacon is strained out.  I mean, we totally eat it later because we never EVER waste bacon, but this does remain a beverage.

4. Bargaining
Sometimes people just need to get comfortable with an idea. They raise objections and express hesitation.  Does it taste greasy?  No.  Does it reek of bacon?  Actually no, it’s more of a milder, smoky, savory undertone which balances the sweetness, and besides, there is enough fat to sort of diffuse harsh flavors.   But basically by this point, people are intimating if certain conditions are met, they might be willing.

5. Realignment
If I can get you to this point, there is a 95% chance you will eventually submit to the power of Bacon Eggnogg.   The question has to move from “why should I?” to, “why shouldn’t I?”  To me it’s simple.  It’s a natural pairing.   Starsky and Hutch. Bird and Magic.  Bacon and …eggs.  So stop resisting.

6. Visualization
Once you realize that the bacon is strained out of the dairy, the recipe starts to come together.

An aside. There is a certain unspoken and probably subconscious convention of recipe writing which drives me nuts.  Have you ever noticed that when a traditional recipe is modified by the addition of one blockbuster ingredient, the recipe writer will feel compelled to make a second, theoretically complimentary substitution that is often completely useless or needless? 

I felt compelled, when developing this recipe to tinker with both the spices and the alcohol.  Eggnogg is traditionally flavored with freshly ground nutmeg, and is most often spiked with Bourbon. 

Because of the bacon, however, I felt compelled to experiment with Allspice vs Nutmeg, and rye whiskey versus Bourbon.

In both cases, the substitutions were acceptable.  The allspice provided a rounder set of spices to support the bacon and the rye brought with it a grainyness that didn’t undercut the savory. 

So I’m keeping the rye but using nutmeg.

Bacon Eggnogg

1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, separated
2 cups Whole Milk
1/2 cup half and half or heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
2 T (or more) rye whiskey or Burboun
2 sticks bacon, cooked until most of the fat renders out, and dried.

Combine the milk and the cream and the bacon in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Refrigerate until cool or place in an ice-bath.

Whisk the egg yolks until lighter in color and take on volume.  Slowly add sugar.  The mixture should be thick and fall into the bowl in ribbons.

Beat eggs whites until stiff peaks form.

Drain the bacon from the dairy mixture.   Add booze and spices.

Combine the milk with the yolk and then fold in the white.  Garnish with additional nutmeg.

Serves two.
7. Acceptance

This stuff is beyond delicous.





First Things First

I just wanted to take a moment to thank Jess at The Hungry Mouse for presenting me with…

I was extremely flattered and, honestly, a little bit shocked.  Given her literary background, I would think that my blog, with its editorially questionable content and an author who can barely spell the word “restaurant,” would not deserve to be recognized.

Seriously, though, there are a lot of other great sites on that list as well, and her own blog should be a frequent read.  Her food is inviting and comforting (a lot of braising!)  without being either fussy or trite- a very rare combination.

Thanks.  :7



Why I Wore My Dirty, Smelly Hoodie to Work on Friday.

I am not a bright ray of morning sunshine.

It’s the caffeine.  The source of, and solution to, every single one of my problems.   Its careful and tasty delivery into my blood stream dominates how I plan my day. 

Anyway.  I get derailed easily, which explains, but not excuses, my blogging hiatus of late.  I wake up too late, drink soda at work, fall back into the coma and have to either take a nap or recaffienate in the evening, and end up staying up until three am.  Rinse, repeat.

I thought that I had kicked it by Friday, though.  I made it to sleep at a reasonable hour and vowed to wake up early, brew a pot of coffee, do a bit of tai chi, eat a healthy breakfast and make it to work with my brain in vaguely working order.

So… Electric kettle filled the night before.  Beans ready to grind (I buy the Sumatran from Brutopia) Eight hours of sleep, cooperative French press, I “Part The Clouds” for a few, I pour the excess coffee into my travel mug and I was set.

Okay. Fast forward about twenty minutes.  I’m in my car,  pulling out of the driveway.

Forgive me for another digression.  I have this downstairs neighbor.  I’ve written about her before.  She’s an older woman who lives alone in the large apartment on the ground floor.  She walks slowly and stares a lot.  She frikkin spooks me.

So there she is in the driveway, this woman that I loathe with a completely arbitrary and irrational intensity I typically  reserve for vacuum cleaners, cardamom, and the members of Wilco… blocking my exit.

Don’t tempt me, Cat Lady.

She stares. I turn around and stare back. 

I make it a rule to not talk to Cat Lady.  If she speaks to me, I grunt, once.  It gives me no pleasure, as I actually am social and not a bit misanthropic.  But I’ve already been down this road. I say one thing back, then she says another.  Then, the next time I see her, she will initiate conversation again, necessitating more grunting.  

I feel that by being consistently borderline-rude, we can avoid future misunderstandings.  It’s like a Miranda warning with some people, “I am trying to be your friend, and anything I say to you is designed so that we can be better friends.” 

And I just… can’t.

Okay, back to this staredown.  All of a sudden she starts gesticulating wildly, like giving me these exaggerated thumbs up,  with both hands no less.

I roll my eyes, shake my head, and turn away.  I can see from the rear view mirror that she has returned to the front porch, and I pull out.

Now, because I’m running late, I’m going a bit faster than I should be.  And I should add that my front driver’s-side window is open.

I barely complete the turn into the street when i hear a quick thud on the top of my car, and my shirt is now saturated with burning hot liquid.

I learned that the insulative powers of my travel mug were quite top-notch.  The lid, however, doesn’t seem to seal tightly.

Yes, Cat Lady was pointing to the top of my car, indicating that I had left my mug up there.

Of course I could have gone back inside and changed.  But this would have involved facing cat lady, and frankly, I wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction.  But the only alternative was to wear the skanky and stained hoodie that has been in the back seat of my car since, well, last spring.  I turned it inside out, but it still reeked.  Fortunately the two co-workers I share a room with were both out of the office.  

So I need to find a new way to dispose of leftover coffee without wasting it.

I settled on cafe granita.

Basically, you are hyper-flavoring coffee, freezing it completely, then slowly thawing the stuff just enough to literally scrape out something approaching a slushy mass.  I do confess to having something of a frappuccino addict, this stuff wound up being almost that good.  You have to be patient, I think, and allow it to melt enough to form something with the consistency you desire, either a scoopable mess or a drinkable mess… either way works.

The ingredients are flexible.  But do remember that the cold will deaden your taste buds, so my suggestion is to make this just a bit stronger than you think you will like.  This is how i did mine.

2 cups hot leftover coffee
1/4 cup sugar
2 T Something tasty and perferably alcoholic.  Grand Mariner is nice.  As is bourbon or kalua. 

Stir a bit, and pour into a 9 by 9 brownie pan.  Note to self, make sure the leftover brownie bits have been cleaned out.
Cover with plastic wrap and freeze.

Go to work.

When you get home from work, set the mixture on the counter.  Start scraping the frozen mixture with a fork, just enough to loosen it.  Wait a few minutes and repeat.  Do this several times until you have a critical mass of semi-frozen coffee shards which you can then decant into your favorite vessel.   Eat, or wait several minutes, stirring occasionally, and drink.  VERY refreshing.  And no cat ladies.






The Baconomicon

Vegans are like Vikings.

They have a reputation.  Unyielding.  Militant.  High Minded, ascetic and austere.   And how they plunder.   Stealing what is rightfully ours and reshaping it for their own sordid purposes.

But you have to admit that, within that framework, there is strong undercurrent of frivolity.   This is a culture that gave us Hagar the Horrible, remember, or, for that matter, Garrison Keillor.

As for the vegans, I’m intially reminded of Anthony Bordain’s jibe that while they may be millitant, they lack the animal protien to really do anything truly aggressive or violent.  My personal guess is that they pour their energy into the hilarious names often given to formerly non-vegan dishes.

I cite the Fauxstess Cupcake as evidence of this.

The following dish is my own humble attempt to fight back.  This final version is loosely adapted from the Veganomicon, but there is a bit of backstory.

A couple of months ago, I saw the words “chickpea” and “cutlet” appear side by side.  It was hardly “tomato” and “basil” or “Roasted” and “Chicken,” but I saw potential.   And while I don’t care much for whole chickpeas, I like falafel quite a bit, and the Moosweood Cookbook trifecta of falafel+tabouleh+pita bread is still a standard idea when I cook for my vegetarian friends.

So these cutlets.  There were challenges.  I wanted them seasoned.  But I wanted them seasoned in such a way as to not include ingredients that would otherwise be thematic with falafel. I mean, it was pretty much a given that I would be adding bacon, so a middle eastern preparation of tumeric, cumin, parsely and lemon seemed totally haram.

Also, more obviously, how were they, you know, BOUND?  I knew it wasn’t as simple as just “mash em up and fry em up,” yet eggs were obviously out, and flour just seems to turn the dish into falafel.

Two different people pointed out a recipe from the Veganomicon, which uses this stuff called vital wheat gluten flour.

It is, according to the Bob’s Red Mill packaging, “made from the natual protein found in the endosperm of the wheat berry.  When combined with water it becomes highly elastic and taffy-like.”

A 30 gram serving has 23 grams of protein.  That’s 76%.  Standard Bread flour will have about 12%

I also added bacon.  Clearly, this was not in the recipe.  The other change I made involved the thyme. One-half teaspoon I felt was way too much, and would overwhelm the other delicate flavors at play here. I added some onion to retain moisture and add flavor.  I also changed the paprika to pimenton, or smoked paprika, which is my new favorite thing.  And with the bacon it just seemed right.

Chicpea and Bacon Cutlets. Adapted from Veganomicon

1 can chickpeas, a little over a cup
2 T. olive oil
1/2 c. vital wheat gluten
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. plain breadcrumbs
1/4 c. water
2 T. soy sauce
2 garlic cloves
1/2 t. lemon zest
1/4t dried thyme, or one sprig
1/2 t. pimenton
3 strips of bacon, cooked, and chopped
to taste olive oil , for pan frying or baking

Cook the bacon gently in your cast-iron skillet, allowing the fat to render into the pan but not burn.  Remove the bacon,

cut into small pieces, and set aside.

Rinse and drain the chickpeas.   In a large bowl, mash with the oil until there are no whole chicpeas left.

Add remaining ingredients.

Knead for a few minutes (It’s odd how this ‘dough’ will feel simultansously both bread and meat)

Divide into four equal pieces, and shape the pieces into thin cutlets.

Pan fry, a couple of minutes on each side until surface is brown and crispy.

My verdict was positive.  The flavors was unusual – sort of halfway between bread and meatloaf, but it worked. Yum!