Monday, September 22, 2014

September 21, 2014: The Fresh Market "Weekend" Bacon and Medicinal Bacon!

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues this week with a trip to The Fresh Market for some "Weekend" bacon, and a review of the news.

BACON IN THE NEWS - incredibly, they've found another very cool use for bacon.  In an act of desperation, doctors shoved bacon up a kid's nose to stop the bleeding, and it worked.  The team of doctors won the famous Ig Nobel award from Harvard University for this possibly life-saving act:
"Michigan doctors who used cured pork to stop a nosebleed won a 2014 Ig Nobel prize, awarded by the Annals of Improbable Research magazine at Harvard University for especially imaginative scientific achievements.
Dr. Sonal Saraiya and her team at the Detroit Medical Center decided to try the folk remedy as a “last resort” after failed attempts to stop an uncontrollable nosebleed in a 4-year-old who suffers from Glanzmann thrombasthenia, a rare condition in which blood does not properly clot.
They stuffed strips of cured pork into the child’s nostrils twice, and the hemorrhaging ceased.
Why did it work? “There are some clotting factors in the pork,” she said, the Associated Press reports, “and the high level of salt will pull in a lot of fluid from the nose.”
PULLING THE BACON OUT FROM UNDER THEM is how I would characterize the dastardly acts of the Allstar Products Group, the company that owns the rights to the "Bacon Bowl" - a bacon-making device I reviewed a while back.  Seems that US Dinnerware, Inc., an American company based in Port Gibson, Mississippi, began making the bowls, hiring over 60 people working around the clock.  Then, Allstar pulled production and moved it to China.  Another reason not to buy the Bacon Bowl is that you can use an upside down cupcake tin, although you need to put something under it to catch the oil.

RED ROBIN 'ALL IN' WITH BACON SHAKE.  Yes, the chain famous for its outstanding burgers just introduced a bacon milkshake.  It also has bourbon in it - definitely NOT "to go"... and they've also introduced more bacon burgers!

"Red Robin, the casual dining chain already widely-known for putting pretty wacky things into its milkshakes, has just rolled out the Beam-N-Bacon Boozy Shake. And, yes, that Beam part of the shake is, indeed, Jim Beam Maple Bourbon.
But it's the bacon, not the booze, that's causing a stir. There's social media buzz aplenty over what's actually placed in the shake to stir it: a long, candied strip of bacon. That's right, a strip of bacon baked in brown sugar is stuck into each shake as a veritable stirring spoon. And sprinkled on top are bacon bits."
THIS WEEK'S BACON is the aforementioned "Weekend" bacon from The Fresh Market.

The label says "All Natural - Dry Rubbed Center Cut Uncured Bacon" and lists the net weight at 12 ounces.  Unfortunately, they gypped me and it weighed in at 11.5 ounces.  Post cooking, it was 4.8 ounces; it was very thick and didn't produce a lot of oil, coming in at a measly 75 ml. 

No aroma upon opening, the bacon tasted smooth and appetizing, but unsurprising.  The flavor was rich, and I'll give it a 3 out of 5.  Didn't crips up much at all (2) but was quite chewy (3.5) - makes sense as these two characteristics are the opposite sides of the coin.  Succulence was just average.  An "OK" bacon, but if you're going to spend this kind of money, go for Nueske or Oscar Mayer!!

See you next time.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

September 14, 2014: Fresh Thyme Bacon, "The Blue" in Boca, and More Bacon Crime

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues this week with a review of the Fresh Thyme market bacon (three-way photo below), some road bacon, and, of course, bacon in the news.

BACON IN THE NEWS starts with bacon involved in crime (again).  This is becoming so rampant that I might start a section just on crimes involving bacon.  This one involves an estranged girlfriend who decides to set fire to her ex-boyfriend's house by setting a bunch of bacon on fire.  The perp has such an appropriate name, but what a waste of perfectly good baco.  Trial next month.  We'll see if the judge can keep a straight face.

"Cameo Adawn Crispi, 32, repeatedly called and texted her former flame in March from his home, where she left the bacon over a lit burner, police said.
The man wasn't home and called police saying he wanted Crispi out of his house, The Deseret News reports. Officers arrived and saw smoke flowing out the front door. Inside, they found hot coals on the floor around an open wood stove and the burned bacon.

Crispi's blood-alcohol level was 0.346, four times the legal limit, charging documents say.
"The doctor asked her about the fire ... and she stated she was attempting to start a fire in the house to get back at (her ex-boyfriend)," the charges state."

  This week, I traveled to Florida on business, and had the pleasure of having dinner at The Blue, a private club restaurant on the 27th floor of the tower at The Boca Raton Resort & Club.

What incredible ambiance and flavorful food!  Of course, I had a menu item that contained bacon, and it was the brussels sprouts.  I've shown my own version of this tasty dish before, which is very paleo, in a previous blog post.  This one was just about the best I've ever had outside my own kitchen.  I also ordered the skirt steak - very tasty, and the view was amazing.

Naturally, I asked for the source of their bacon.  Incredibly, it is my #1 rated special bacon: Nueske's from Wisconsin!  I've reviewed and rated their bacon many times.  Check out their website and order some (I'm an unpaid non-spokesperson). 

We didn't get out of the restaurant until midnight, and I had hopes to visit a local brewpub about which I've written before: the Funky Buddha.  Unfortunately, it was closed.  I really wanted to sample and bring home their 4-star Maple Bacon beer, about which I've written before.


I dropped by a new supermarket in Deerfield, Illinois recently and was very impressed by the quality and variety of fresh foods: the Fresh Thyme Farmers Market (by the way, why is everyone so apostrophe challenged these days, especially with retail names like Michaels?). Wow.

I grabbed a pound of their bacon, right out of the case.  They told me that the bacon is from the Indiana Kitchen - which I thought would be a very vague name with too many Google hits to specifically identify.  How wrong I was - it's the first thing on the search list.  And it appears to be all that they do!  The clerk told me that all of her customers tell her it's "the best bacon they ever had".  We'll, here's my opinion. 

Precooked it was 1.06 pounds net; post cooking, 5.9 ounces.  Above average result.  About 120 ml of fat dripped out of the pan.  Also a solid performance.  The bacon had no odor out of the package (normally not a good sign). And during cooking the bacon had some translucence which indicates over-cure.  The bacon immediately started to curl up, and stuck to the pan quite strongly. 

Flavor was quite interesting, with a natural taste that I couldn't quite identify.  I want to say "notes of..." but I wasn't able to find the right music...  I'd give it a cripsiness factor of 3 out of 5, succulence 3 out of 5, and a cheweyness factor (thanks again, Eric) of 4 out of 5.  Of course, cheweyness and crispness often depend on length and method of cooking.  Flavor also gets a 4.  Highly rated, but not "the best I ever had".  That moniker, my friends, goes to Nueske's (see above and older posts.)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

September 7, 2014: Bachinger Farms bacon and a bonus

MY LIFE WITH BACON CONTINUES this week with a review of Bachinger Farms bacon, some bacon on the road, and news.  And a bonus section on awesome pickles.


Yes, a "Bacon Fueled Motorcycle Sizzles across America".  True.  Hormel.  Link here.

And, another vindication of the low carb / paleo lifestyle, in an article in the New York Times summarizing a recent large scale scientific study.   Link here.

BACHINGER FARMS BACON was pretty darned good.  The packaging was attractive.  I purchased the pound at the Saturday Farmer's market in Lake Forest; hadn't seen it before.

The smell was classic coming out of the package.  Precook weight 1 pound, 0.3 ounces.  Post cooking, it weighed in at 6.5 ounces and generated a generous 175ml of rendered bacon fat.  Flavor was a solid 4 out of five, succulence average at 2.5 and crisped up well: 3 out of 5.  However, my friend Eric Arnson points out that crispness and chewiness are directly related to method of cooking, and how long the bacon is cooked.  I agree 100%.  Eric prefers chewy.  His "rule of thumb" is to hold the bacon horizontally - if it stays straight, it's cooked too much.  It needs to bend down easily.  All a matter of taste; I prefer it to be firm rather than limp, and crispy rather than chewy.  What do you think?  Post a comment.

Here's the pre-, during, and post-cooking photos:


ROAD BACON THIS WEEK was consumed at the pleasant Black Water Grill in Salem, NH.  I was visiting my friends at NEPS, LLC, and had a great lunch there.  The pic is of a wedge salad, and a crab cake.  You get great seafood in New England!  The bacon is from Hatfield Quality Meats, and was awesome with the wedge salad.  Very paleo.

THE BONUS THIS WEEK is all about pickles.  Eric does home made pickling at this time each year, and we were the lucky recipients of a few Ball jars loaded to the gills.  Awesome pickling job!  In some batches, he adds peppers, but for the batch he dropped off on Saturday morning, it was "3G", meaning "triple garlic".  I did a side by side comparison to a national brand, and Eric's pickled cukes come out on top by a country mile.  "Awesome, dude!"