Sunday, April 26, 2015

April 26, 2015: The United Church of Bacon; Stop & Shop "Thick Sliced"

MY LIFE WITH BACON CONTINUES THIS WEEK with a look at a legitimate church called the United Church of Bacon ... and an evaluation of another Stop & Shop bacon.

LITTLE BACON MAN came into my life the other day. Here he is, pictured with my childhood hero, Gumby. Thanks you, Melissa Oakley, for spotting the little guy and bring him to me from your Florida vacation! He looks a llot more mischievous than Gumby, who is pure and wholesome, kind of like a 60's version of Sponge Bob. Hmmm, I wonder if there could be a cool mash-up of Sponge Bob and Gumby out there? I'll have to check. But the little bacon guy does seem more edgy. Maybe in my spare time I'll do a little 'stop-motion' of these guys doing something fun. Maybe another career entirely? Too many ideas, too little time (the only thing you can't get more of).

Can't wait to go to the North Shore Baconfest.Participating restaurants include Egg Harbor CafeBravo CucinaHearty, North Branch Pizza, Real Urban BBQ and more.

YES, THERE IS A CHURCH OF BACON. It's called The United Church of Bacon. The organization is, indeed, a legal church. You can join for free (there are over 4,000 members, making it a 'mega church' and it's allegedly one of the fastest growing churches in the U.S.) and you can also become an "Officiant" and be able to perform marriages! Not kidding! You can choose your own title (I'd be leaning toward "High Priest of Bacon" if I were to apply - but I also like "Friar"), go to your municipality, and apply to conduct marriage services. Amazing. Great picture from their website.

The church is completely secular and was founded by a friend of someone whom I admire: Penn Jilette. He's also apparently a member of the church.

I COOKED UP SOME BRUSSELS SPROUTS with garlic and S&S's Hickory Smoked Bacon. Thus, it wasn't given the "full treatment" of an eval. But the Brussels came out great:

THIS WEEK'S BACON is S&S's "Thick Sliced" (package above).  It was thick all right. The package says 16 ounces and it came in one tenth of an ounce heavy when I weighed the bacon. Post cooking it was 4.9 ounces; retaining a lot of its weight.

The bacon was baked at 400 degrees, and I pan fried three slices. The bacon's taste and consistency were more like Canadian Bacon rather than pork belly. The three slices I pan fried were finished in the baking pan with the rest of the batch, and came out more crisp.

I don't rate this one highly; probably 2's across the board. However, my older son Sam really loved it. He thinks it's a classic. So don't just take my word for it!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

April 19, 2015: John Morell's Bacon, and My Life With Bacon becomes a reality

MY LIFE WITH BACON CONTINUES THIS WEEK with a a full week of business travel to Orlando, consumption of bacon on the road (of course) and meeting some great people. What the heck is that, you ask? Read on, greasy reader...

MY TRIP TO ORLANDO for the Xplorations 2015 conference was an outstanding success, personally and professionally. I made some new friends, some of whom I'm sure I'll be working with for a very long time. The conference has a traditional international attendance including a contingent from the Netherlands, and my new favorite company and associates, who are from South Africa.

The founder of NEPS, Denise Miano, won the lifetime achievement award. This is a highly prestigious award from an important industry association, and we're all proud of Denise. Great picture below: George Webb, NEPS CTO, Mary Hegarty, General Manager CCM, Denise, and me.

Connected to the Wyndham International Drive hotel & "resort" (I use that term loosely) is a Cooper's Hawk winery and restaurant. This restaurant chain serves excellent food and the service was super. On two of the three days I chose the buffet breakfast, which featured bacon, of course.

They get their bacon from John Morrell's out of IL. While I generally find food service bacon to be of lower quality, that wasn't the case here. The bacon was excellent. Although confined to an enclosure at the buffet, it was acceptably crisp and was very tasty. In addition to foodservice, they have a dozen or so national brands that I'll have to look into on behalf of Field Agent.

Speaking of Field Agent, not only does Field Agent now have over 500,000 downloads of its smartphone app, but it also just celebrated its fifth birthday. Wow, simply amazing. Field Agent is doing business with just about every important CPG, Retailer, Research and Marketing Agency as well as QSRs and even insurance companies. There is no better, faster or more cost effective way to obtain business information and insights.

Happy Birthday Field Agent!

BACON IN THE NEWS The picture at the top of the blog is a little "over the top" of the blog. It's someone who created a bacon version of professional hockey's Stanley Cup out of bacon. Courtesy of

The news includes my visit to Orlando, because at the show I met a gentleman named Ed Bacon!  Ed, a longtime employee of Aetna, was very accomodating and let me get a picture with him in the blog, below. Ed's family, as you can imagine, does a few bacon-related things. They are fond of playing bacon-opoly, and he shared that picture with me as well.

Interestingly, Ed didn't know whether he was related to Kevin Bacon or not!

This photo makes "my life with bacon" a literal reality, right? The irony was overwhelming. And the fact that Ed Bacon is in this blog, literally means it's Bacon in the News.

This weekend is Chicago Baconfest; unfortunately, I won't be attending. But I will be going to the Northshore Baconfest coming up in a few weeks.

THIS WEEK'S BACON cook-up is Stop & Shop's standard "Center Cut" bacon, at a package weight of 12 ounces. It weighed in at exactly twelve ounces, a testament to Ahold's quality control. Cooked down to 3.2 ounces with great overall taste, crispness and succulence. I give it 3's across the board. Good everyday bacon, but the slices were cut a little too short...

How did I get this bacon in Chicago? Why, PeaPod, of course.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

April 12, 2015: Richard Peck's 80th birthday party, Bacon Month in Chicago, and an Old Standby Review

MY LIFE WITH BACON CONTINUES THIS WEEK with a visit to the Home restaurant in Branford, CT for my father-in-law's 80th birthday party, and Bacon Month in Chicago!

THE HOME RESTAURANT hosted Rich's 80th birthday party on Saturday. Although his birthday is the infamous tax day (April 15), we held it on Saturday so we could maximize getting as many family as possible to attend. Scattered far and wide, we loved making the trip! Jared was our host, and Katie took great care of us.

The Home restaurant is a beautiful, homey place with great food, procured locally. Highly recommended! And there are six menu items on the dinner menu that contain BACON. Jared told me about their pecan-smoked bacon, but everyone we so busy I never saw it.


YES, IT'S BACON MONTH IN CHICAGO.  Bacon fest is next weekend. I'm not going to attend, but I already have my tickets to the North Shore Bacon Fest in Glenview, Illinois.

From an article in My Fox Chicago:
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -
April is bacon month in Chicago and you can indulge in the deliciously cured delicacy at several free events.
This Tuesday, April 7th, the Acme Hotel on East Ohio Street downtown is hosting a free “Kevin Bacon” movie night.
They will feature some of the actor's most popular films and bacon dusted popcorn.
Next Saturday, several local Whole Foods markets will prepare a free bacon sampling event from noon to 3pm.
Two dozen Chicago restaurants are offering special bacon themed dishes and drinks.
The month culminates with Baconfest Chicago , April 17th and 18th, at the UIC forum. Tickets are still available.
Click here for a list of events, participating restaurants and ticket information
The links above are fantastic, but if you're really lazy, the Chicago links can be found by clicking on the picture:

SO HERE WE GO - AN OLD REVIEW.  This week, we're testing your basic Oscar Mayer bacon. I cooked up a pound of Naturally Hardwood Smoked, and twelve ounces of "Center Cut" "Original"... kind of like what my mom used to make.  What a place to start!

Oscar Mayer GOES WAY BACK - to the late 1800's in Chicago-land.  Business was good from the start, and old German immigrant Oscar did well for himself and for smoked meats, sausages, and BACON.   It took almost a century until Oscar's heir sold the business to General Foods, and now its owned by Kraft.  I have to believe that Oscar's original bacon in 1893 was a little different than the bacon I tested today.  And who doesn't like the Weinermobile?

MY STANDARD PROCESS USED TO BE to fire up the outdoor gas grill (a home-modified version of a Jenn-Air purchased some years ago).  It's fueled by natural gas, and since I couldn't find a conversion kit, I modified the orifices myself to produce more than the normal amount of flame.  I like a high flame to get my cast iron pans extremely hot to properly cook steak, another of my food favorites.  More on those two topics (the gas grill and steak) in future posts.

FOR COOKING OUTSIDE, I highly recommend obtaining a flat rectangular pan, like the one I'm using here.  I like to open the bacon package in the house and place the bacon on the pan while cold; this way I can cook up a pound of bacon at once and not have any splatter while I place the slices.   I take the grates off the grill and place the pan right on top of the vaporizing bars over medium/low heat.  I believe that cooking bacon a little more slowly, and turning frequently, produces cooked slices that are flatter and more evenly cooked.


I started with the ORIGINAL O-M bacon.  It weighed in at exactly 12 ounces, just like the package said.  It produced 100 ml of rendered fat.  The flavor was plain old bacon - no extra tastes, and it was chewy, not crispy.  Basically, it was boring - but GOOD.  What bacon isn't good?  Post-cooking, it weighed 3.4 ounces, a reduction in weight of 8.6 ounces, or nearly 72%.

Next, I cooked up 16 ounces, a full pound, of the Naturally Hardwood Smoked.  It weighed in at only 15.7 ounces - I got shorted on the quantity.   It produced 150 ml of rendered fat, and the flavor was solid - the smokiness came through quite well.  It had more flavor, more succulence, crispness, and overall was very good.  The appearance was a little dusky - it didn't look as good as the plain type.  Weight reduction was 11.2 ounces or 70%.

"WOW, HE HATE A WHOLE POUND OF BACON!" These words were frequently uttered in the Mislinski household as I grew up.  If I only knew then what I know now, I could have said "Mom, it's a 70% or more reduction in weight!  I only ate 4.5 ounces, which is less than a burger!"

OVERALL REVIEW.  The ORIGINAL was BORING; the Hardwood Smoked, good for every day.

Oscar Mayer
Hardwood Smoked
Rendered Fat

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April 5, 2015: Competitive Bacon Eating, and Heinen's Own Wafer Thin Sliced bacon

MY LIFE WITH BACON CONTINUES THIS WEEK with a review of  Heinen's Own Wafer Thin Sliced bacon and someone who ate a full five pounds of bacon!


NICE LOOKING BURGER a friend sent this link which has quite the burger in it, bacon-wrapped, of course. Link here. Nice onion rings.

As my friend Brad said, "I'm not too sure of that green chili sauce..." It looks like avocado (read on to find a bit of trivia about avocado, actually.)

BACON PRICES DROPPING!  Yes, the market is finally turning around. Since the baby swine virus epidemic is over, supply is increasing, so prices are coming down. Great news! Maybe rib prices will drop too, and I'll be doing more smoking in my Big Poppa -based Ugly Drum Smoker! Let's hope the weather turns soon (it's actually 60 today; this pic from a while back).

BACON CAN EXTEND YOUR LIFE! This news is a bit of pseudo-science, (click that link for the source) but an actual study (full disclosure: guess who sponsored it) finds that bacon can extend your life span. The foundation of the study - that the fats in bacon are actually GOOD for you - isn't really news. Bacon gets such a bad rap - "artery clogging" is the term I hear often - it's just plain unfair. But judge for yourself. Believe it or not, many common foods contain poison FROM NATURE. Avocados, for example, have arsenic! So just because it's natural doesn't mean it's good for you. Bacon, on the other hand, is GOOD and GOOD FOR YOU. And the old phrase "everything in moderation?" Harumph. Nonsense. As you might know, a famous Navy Seal once said "Everything worth doing is worth doing to excess." Hmmm maybe there's some truth to that. Which brings me to the next story...

IN THE WORLD OF COMPTITIVE EATING, a Molly Schuyl consumed five full pounds of bacon in five minutes, in a West Des Moines, Iowa restaurant - Jethro's Barbeque and Bacon Bacon. I certainly love bacon, but this is disgusting! Five minutes, two point one seconds. Unbelievable. Maybe you don't want to watch the video, here or click the image. In watching the video, I wonder if that first plate was five pounds gross (pre cooked) or five pounds post cooked. It looked like it was 5# pre-cooked; that would only work out to about 20 ounces. Still somewhat unpleasant to work through so quickly, but I can conceive it.

THIS WEEK'S BACON COMES FROM HEINEN'S grocer, here in northern Illinois. Heinen's is an upscale grocery chain out of Ohio.

I've previously reviewed the thick cut version of the same bacon, which was waaaaaay over-sugared. I was hopeful this wasn't more of the same.

The one pount package came in at 1 pound 1 ounce - BONUS! Post cooking it was 6.2 ounces of goodness. It produced a scant 65 ml of rendered fat.

It was 'hammy' smelling coming out of the package, kind of like store-bought sliced boiled ham for sandwiches. This was not a good sign. During cooking it didn't stick at all and had uneven browning and unusual shrinkage characteristics. It did curl normally and looked very picturesque.

Upon tasting, there were indeed heavy sugar notes, but it wasn't anywhere near as syrupy as the thinck version. Overall a great value - solid bacon flavor, 3.0 on crispness, 2.5 on succuelence and 2.5 in flavor.