Tuesday, December 29, 2015

December 27, 2015: Jalapeno Homemade Bacon, and a Christmas Gift of Nueske's

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues this week with a cook of my own bacon for use in son Sam's famous scramble, and receipt of a great gift of Nuesek's bacon, used at a popular Chicago restaurant.


This is MUST WATCH INTERWEBS. Baby's first taste of bacon, ever, is captured on video, and it is priceless. Link here or click the image:

MY OWN BACON cooked up great in the oven this week, and it was used in Sam's Famous Scramble.

JAKE GAVE ME NUESKE'S which he procured from his restaurant, Wood, here in Chicago. Nueske's is used in all the great restaurants nationwide. Wood looks like a great place! And Nueske's is the best - about which I have written many times.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

December 20, 2015: Sean Hofherr's Bacon in Awesome Appetizer

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues this week with a great appetizer for a dinner party featuring Hofherr's bacon, and some bacon in the news.


BACON BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT? According to a study by Carnegie Mellon University, lettuce is actually worse for the environment than bacon. Here's a quote from an article by treehugger, which isn't exactly pro-meat. Full study here. One rebuttal of the article, which are legion, is here.
"What is best for the body may not be what’s best for the planet. According to a new study published by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, eating a vegetarian or vegetable-centric diet can actually increase one’s environmental impact in terms of energy use, water footprint, and greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the researchers state that lettuce is “three times worse than bacon” when it comes to emissions.
The study examined the environmental impact by shifting the average American diet to three dietary scenarios. In the first scenario, researchers reduced the number of calories consumed but maintained the proportion of meat and vegetables consumed, which cut emissions, water and energy use by 9 percent."
HOFHERR'S BACON IS THE BEST. We had a dinner party on Sunday, and as usual, my go-to place for all things meat is Sean Hofherr's Meat Co. Picked up eight veal shanks for our best winter recipe, and our guests really enjoyed it.  The recipe we use is here: Veal Shanks with Carmelized Onions and Sage. This photo is from the recipe:

As usual, I grabbed a pound of the awesome bacon. The talented and friendly Emily sliced and packaged it to perfection, and reminded me that the bacon is smoked on-site. They actually offer BBQ products but only through their catering business, which is booming!

I used the bacon in a terrific recipe - bacon wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese. Couldn't be simpler.  Baking on a rack on the convection setting really brings out the crispness of these bites.

A few of these is a meal by itself! Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

December 13, 2015: BEAT NAVY BACON

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues by documenting my visit to Philadelphia for the annual Army Navy Football matchup.

Although the Naval Academy won the game, it was a close one, 21-17. Army was a 23 point underdog. They should have won.

Army always wins the march-on, where the entire student body (the Corps of Cadets at West Point, and the Brigade of Midshipmen at Annapolis) marches onto the field before the game. Here's a representative sample of why Army always wins the march-on, with the West Pointers on the left, and the Navy on the right.

And here's a shot of all the cadets in formation on the field.

On to the bacon. I'll call this "beat navy" bacon; consumed at the Renaissance Hotel near the Philadelphia airport. The bacon doesn't look so good, but sure tasted great.

Finally, a shout out to the West Point Society of Chicago Parents Club co-President, Kim Vander Yacht, who sent me this photo. Fitting since the new Start Wars movie is coming out now.

Monday, December 7, 2015

December 6, 2015: Chipotle Bacon from Mariano's

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues this week with a purchase of Mariano's bacon cured with chipotle peppers.

HERE'S THE BACON IN THE CASE - pretty good looking stuff

GOT LAZY THIS WEEK and cooked it in the oven. I crimp the tinfoil to keep the bacon out of the grease when baking.

THE FINISHED PRODUCT looked and tasted great. The bacon is cooked a little too thick for my liking, maybe 1/8 inch. But the flavor was excellent!

Monday, November 30, 2015

November 29, 2015: What I am Thankful For - and it's NOT Bacon Scented Underwear!

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues this week with what I am thankful for (yes, it's her), and featuring a new product: bacon scented underwear.


BACON SCENTED UNDERWEAR IS FOR REAL! Amazing new product is available for purchase; read about it here. It's available for $20 in both men's and women's versions. Bacon-scented pillowcases are also available. A bacon-themed site, J&D Foods, is the purveyor.

THIS WEEK'S BACON is some of the bacon I smoked up last weekend, plus bacon purchased in Vermont for our family's Thanksgiving weekend.

I'll review the Vermont bacon in the future; here is the home made bacon from last week along side some Taylor Ham (top of picture). Taylor Ham is a NJ thing...

WHAT AM I THANKFUL FOR? Like all of us, I am thankful for LOTS of things, starting with my wife and our life. Thankful for the freedoms in this country and the people who defend it.

Each year, at the Peck Thanksgiving, the Saturday after the traditional holiday, each person around the table has to answer the question, "What are you thankful for?" Some answers are funny, some poignant, some traditional, some boring, and some are outrageous and entertaining. This is my answer for this year, with some research:

I am thankful for the author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”

Sarah Josepha Buell Hale was born on October 24, 1788 in Newport, NH.

She was home schooled, a poet, and author, and later the editor of a magazine called “American Ladies’ Magazine” and related journals. She has been described as the “Oprah and Martha Stewart combined” of her day, as an arbiter of American tastes. A true patriot, one of her initiatives was to raise money for the completion of the 221-foot high Bunker Hill monument. She asked her readers to each donate a dollar, and she also organized a craft fair at the Quincy Market.

But her real legacy is why I am thankful for her.

1863 was a momentous year in the United States. 

The Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves, went into effect in January. 

The Union Army was handed a major defeat in May at Chancellorsville.

West Virginia (previously part of Virginia) became the 35th state. 

In July, America suffered its bloodiest three days in history during the Battle of Gettysburg, where there were over 46,000 casualties.

And on September 28, 1863, Sarah Hale wrote a letter to Abraham Lincoln.

Here is some of what it said:

“Permit me, as Editress of the "Lady's Book", to request a few minutes of your precious time, while laying before you a subject of deep interest to myself and -- as I trust -- even to the President of our Republic, of some importance…” She goes on to say, that by “the noble example and action of the President of the United States, the permanency and unity of our Great American Festival of Thanksgiving would be forever secured.”  

Three days later, Honest Abe made Thanksgiving the national holiday that it is today.

Hale is the single most responsible individual for making Thanksgiving a national holiday in the United States. I'm thankful for her work in helping us all be thankful.

Monday, November 23, 2015

November 22, 2015: Bourbon-Jalapeno-Tequila Infused Bacon

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues this week with a review of the bacon I started curing a week ago, and some great pork shoulder (pic below) for the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend.

THE CURE consisted of  Knob Creek Bourbon, Tapatio Tequila and jalapeno peppers, in a modified version of this recipe.

Here's a picture of the curing bacon in baggies. Flipped 'em over in the morning and again in the evening for a full week, from Saturday morning to the next Sunday afternoon.

POST CURE, above, this is what it looked like, just before a rinse.  Below is the pork shoulder, after sitting in a nice injection 'marinate' for 24 hours and before going into the smoker.

I smoked the hunks of pork belly with the 9-pound pork shoulder. Everything fit rather snugly in the smoker. This became pulled pork, which will be consumed by the family over Thanksgiving weekend. The pork was injected per this recipe, and I used "Carolina Dirt" rub.  I also smoked the jalapenos, which can cook up with the bacon later.

POST SMOKING, here's what the bacon looked like. Because I purchased it in long hunks (probably not intended for use as bacon) I had to slice it width-wise. I did cut some up lengthwise for my cooking test.

COOKING THIS BACON was a melange of olfactory sensations. Son Sam said it's the best bacon he's ever tasted. And below more pork shoulder...




Weekend topped off by friends, the Oakleys, whose son Will dropped off a gift.

Monday, November 16, 2015

November 8, 2015: The W.H.O. Bacon Scare is a Conspiracy!

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues this week with news analysis of the Wall Street Journal,

OOPS, didn't notice that I didn't actually publish this last week. So you get a double-dose of posts.

BACON IN THE NEWS--------------------------------------------------

BIG NEWS STORY IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL - this week, the esteemed WSJ published an op-ed piece entitled "The Climate Agenda Behind the Bacon Scare". In it, the journal links anti-meat proponents, who are also often climate-change enthusiasts, in a sort of conspiracy to get the world to eat less meat. The article claims that the actual scientific evidence between eating bacon and cancer is scant; the evidence related to process meats is even thinner. Great analysis of the article here; in reviewing the actual studies, I have to agree that the link between bacon consumption in reasonable quantities, and cancer, is weak.
THE DANGERS OF DIHYDROGEN MONOXIDE. Of course, I've previously written about another global chemical catastrophe-in-waiting, and that is over-consumption and improper use of the chemical DIHYDROGEN MONOXIDE. Again, the article here is worth the read. People have been known to DIE when over-consuming dihydrogen monoxide. It is also commonly used by people who prep for eating competitions. See the "Training and Preparation" section of this article.

BACON SHOW IN VEGAS - yes, Sin City is getting in on the bacon craze. This link is a highlight video of the burlesque 'strip' show. Looks like fun! Sponsored by Hormel's Black Label bacon.

November 15, 2015: Jalepeno Bacon at home, and a review of Pederson's Natural Apple Smoked Bacon

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues with another home-made bacon, this one inspired by last week's post. I'll cook it next week and give you a report.

I, like all of us in the civilized world, are so saddened by the events of Paris, and angered by the senseless murders. A good listen, a podcast by Sam Harris: Still Sleepwalking Toward Armageddon. Frightening.

THIS WEEK'S BACON is HOME MADE BACON inspired by Hormel Black Label Jalepeno Bacon. As you might know from last week's post, the Black Label Strip Show in Las Vegas is an actual live show; when I looked at the varieties of bacon they offer, one of them was jalepeno based.

I bought the bacon at Costco - and it came in chunk strips, typically for braising. But I chose to cure it and later, I'll smoke it. Here is the bacon, currently wet curing. I'll cure it for the week, and smoke it next weekend.

I followed the recipe below, with a few twists. One of them is a trade secret; the other is that I used tequila in addition to the bourbon.

The recipe comes from this very interesting site. Photo of the actual recipe below:

I also made some commercial bacon this week: 


The package was 10 ounces, but it weighted in at 10.2 ounces. Nice little bonus. It cooked down to 2.9 ounces and produced 75 ml of bacon fat. On opening the package, it had a clean, sweet, slightly smoky aroma. Very tasty; solid, solid bacon. The bacon did curl a bit and I had to use my press to flatten those pieces out. 

Good, solid bacon.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

November 1, 2015: Blowback from the Bacon-Haters

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues this week with a lot of anger and feedback all over the Internet about the W.H.O. silliness

BACON IN THE NEWS is red-hot, like a great strip of bacon.


Susannah Mushatt Jones, the oldest person in the world at the tender age of 116, "says it'll be when pigs fly" that she stops eating bacon. As to the W.H.O. finding, she disputes it too!

Monday, October 26, 2015

October 25, 2015: Home Made Bacon and the World Health Org's Misguided Guidance

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues this week with a more complete review of my own bacon - from a raw pork belly, self-cured with tequila, and smoked on my home made smoker.  Picture above.



Apparently the World Health Organization is going to designate bacon as a dangerous substance. An article here. I can't think of anything that is a more of a waste of time, or misguided. There is plenty of evidence that bacon fat is healthy. There is some evidence that eating lots of smoked meats produces bowel cancer. Here's another article: they say that pork and red meat are likely an actual cause of cancer.

But what about that awful chemical di-hydrogen monoxide? It's everywhere and drinking it to excess has caused deaths. Here's the website: dhmo.org.

Hey, on a more serious note - world organizations, news flash: how about doing something that really has meaning - how about providing guidance to every nation and culture that women worldwide are to be treated equally to men and have control of their reproductive rights???

That change - EMPOWERING WOMEN WORLDWIDE -would alleviate more health issues than anything I can think of. Don't be insulted by the first 58 seconds of this video. Watch it all the way through. The WHO and other UN-led organizations should think about the empowerment of women FIRST.

Perhaps I shall lose a few readers as a result, but so be it. Christopher Hitchens, in his last public appearance before his death due to cancer, may be his best here.


THIS WEEK'S BACON IS MY VERY OWN: Frozen for a few weeks in a vacuum sealed bag, I defrosted it and cooked it up.

Upon opening, I detected a strong tangy, sweet and smoky scent. Very nice. It weighed in at one pound four ounces, and after cooking the finished bacon weighed 8.8 ounces - very little reduction. It produced 155ml of rendered bacon fat.

Obviously, the thickness varied considerably - from 1/8 inch to very thin - due to its artisanal nature. In other words, I cut it by hand. That qualifies as artisanal.

It did cook quite unevenly, but I took slices off as they were done.

This bacon offered something for everyone - crispness, chewiness, and succulence - depending on which slice one chose. Excellent overall bacon flavor and probably the best looking bacon I ever had! And I'm trying to be objective. Just look at the  picture at the top of the page - is that perfect bacon, or what? Cancer be damned!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

October 18, 2015: The Most Amazing Bloody Mary (with Bacon, of course)

MY LIFE WITH BACON continues this week with a look at what seems to be an uber-artisinal bloody mary cocktail with terrific bacon, some submissions from friends, a review of an old standby without the microwave, and a teaser for next week.

Some may complain, that with all the trouble in the world, that I should write about more substantial things. Good observation. I like to think of my blog as a necessary diversion from all of our real-world troubles. Kind of like the toy aisle in the department store. Fun to think about other things and enjoy the simple pleasure of life. And what is bacon, if not life? Read on....

BACON IN THE NEWS - well, the 116-year old lady who eats bacon every day continues to make bacon headlines. What a story, about which I wrote last week. But we must move on.

This week, a bacon infused cocktail that involves all the cooking methods I like is featured in eater.com - a menu/food consolidation news site. The cocktail is featured at the Belcampo Meat Co of L.A. and was reviewed at 'Cocktail Week 2015', and the report on it 'de-constructs' how this labor-intensive cocktail is made. This "cocktail week" event varies by city across the U.S. Quote from eater.com:
California's ever-expanding Belcampo Meat Co. is known in Los Angeles for humanely raised meats, expert butchery and, at the Santa Monica location, a very buzzy brunch. Bar expert Josh Goldman of Soigné Group was tasked with designing a cocktail menu for the restaurant, and when it came to brunch he knew the menu "had to have a good quality Bloody Mary." He continues, "The hallmarks of any of our cocktail programs is that they all have to feel genuine, and have a place of belonging. We have to mimic what Belcampo is doing with their food program ... this is a meat company."

Here are a few shots from the report.
Goldman using sous vide cooking to prep the bacon
The bacon before water bath and after baking
Celery reduced to a masticated pulp ice block for the cocktail
...and the finished product looks de-lish. I will be ordering some bacon from their site. What a concept: a butcher-restaurant!
GOOD FRIEND Joel Schneider stopped at Moo's BBQ in Iowa and took a picture of this. So true. The areas of the pig that are 'pawned off' as bacon really aren't, as the graphic clearly states. Thanks, Joel!

Moo's, a family owned place, appears to have a great menu! When driving along I-90 in Iowa be sure to stop in and have some great BBQ!
Nestled in the West side On The Square in Newton, Moo’s BBQ serves the finest smoked meats that Jasper County has to offer. Come in and see what everyone is MOOing about!

ANOTHER BUDDY, Kent Knebelcamp, sent me this photo from the road. The Indiana State Lottery (whose scratch 'n snif tickets I reviewed previously) is still at their 'bacon for 20 years' promotion. I wonder how it's going? Thanks, Kent!

SPEAKING OF ROAD TRIPS, son Jack and I visited Auroro, IL on Saturday for an all-day lacrosse tournament. The team did well, and a highlight of the day was a brunch (during a break between games) at Mother's Pancake House and Restaurant, which features 'the best breakfast in the Fox valley'. I had the Denver omelette with bacon, of course. Excellent! Here's their facebook page.

THIS WEEK'S BACON IS OSCAR MAYER. Instead of cooking it again in the 'bacon wave', which I think is an awful idea, I cooked it in the traditional, skillet way. The results were, well, excellent:

I also cooked up the final batch of my home-made bacon, started from scratch with a pork belly, home made cure and cooked up nice & slow in the skillet. Full review next week but here's a sneak peek at probably the most perfect piece of bacon you'll ever see: