So you probably just assumed that my disappearance was due to a pork-product-induced sloth-like state of quaalude-esque relaxation, providing opportunity for me to spend my days reclining upside-down in Rainforest canopies...
Naturally. Me and little Slothy up there, the slowest mammal on earth, basking in the Amazonian sun, two peas in a pod...
Ha. Contrarily (though I am definitely high on home-cured bacon
and pancetta and guanciale and maple-sage sausage and LARD!)
relaxing calmly in a tree... we can go ahead and add that to the "Big Goals" list...
My life is a tornado. And not the "act of God" kind of tornado... (no there is nothing merely coincidental about bringing "God" into this bacon-based spiel ) But I take full responsibility for the chaos and hope that someday I will add to my vocabulary words such as "no, I can't actually do that, or anything else, until 2020 because the next eight years are overbooked and I haven't allotted any time for sleeping..."
Exceedingly important duties
such as molding festive ducky butters,
tying knots around various shapes of various meats
and watching food grow
are of paramount importance...
Clearly there hasn't been much time for dancing as of late...
(Hello lovely dusty boots, don't worry I haven't forgotten about you....)
Those are the nice parts of the tornado. Somehow I don't have photographic evidence of the harrowing bits. For example, nothing says tragicomedy like me standing in the back of a pick-up as the sun goes down, shivering whilst pitch-forking fresh manure... tears, screaming... trophy wife envy, oh yeah, I experienced the whole gammut of emotions...
Then there was Tuesday, when I swore for at least the 50th time that I will never-ever-ever do taxes again... there is a limit to my previously-thought-of-as-insatiable quest for knowledge and it stops right there. I have no desire to learn anymore about taxes. Nor can I possibly endure waiting to tell the person on the other end of the "Help" line that they must, for the health of the vast body of "help"-seekers who clog the lines and cause 15-minute wait times, change the hold music... KENNY G. IS NOT A LAUGHING MATTER (KENNY G!!!!) It is NOT 1990... I can't. I'll take it as a sign. I shall start a piggybank with the dedicated mission of purchasing the services of a professional.
I blame those taxes and that load of sh*t for many ailments, including the reason I have barely been able to type for a month. My arm has been acting like it doesn't belong to me. Mind you it could have something to do with heavy-lifting
But probably just too much time on the computer.
Maybe I'd save time if I was a vegetarian...
Ha. I'd have to quadruple the garden spaces... and
vegetarian farm bosses still have to split wood.
I should not be joking like this. My husband is probably reading and probably shaking in his boots, envisioning his onion-chopping duties quadrupled...
Besides, there are scarier things than acts of God and vegetarianism. Like this
You know, just to give you an example.
The scary part of that is actually (forget that instantanious mirage of blue Mountain Dew, Nascar and Walmart that just assaulted your mind) climate change. This (lovely) crimson neck is the product of a middle-March afternoon of standard woodsman chores. Yes, I said MIDDLE OF MARCH!!!!
In a previous lifetime, spring in Vermont (read: the season that spans from when it stops going dark at 3:30pm––until June, when it is considered safe to plant one's garden without the threat of frosty nights) offered up some seriously good skiing
If you are familiar with the soul-stifling feeling that accompanies vast layers of turtlenecks and so-called high-tech layering systems which proclaim to allow the believer to enjoy a -20degree ski day, you may be in full accordance with my penchant for April ski jaunts...
However, it looks like the concept of 70-degrees with plenty enough snow to ski, is a historical relic; as of Friday, them mountains were in fine birthday champagne drinking form, sans snow!
(this photo is much funnier if you put your hand over us and GusGus is left alone with the bubbly haha)
Due to the fact that milker guy surprised me by coming home from work early (a rare feat in the realm of milker guys and farmers and workaholics) toting whiskey, chocolate, tulips with major pizazz (red striped on yellow=so rad) and some lovely new cheese from Scholten family farm, then proceeded to cook me lunch, and whisked me off to scale a mountain with champagne... I momentarily forgot about the tragic nearly ski-less "winter" and accompanying climate change terror...
I remembered some rule I heard somewhere sometime about the importance of farmers taking one day OFF every single week... (oh yeah it was from these live-off-the-land legends, Helen & Scott Nearing, who lived to be 100 years old!)
One day off, meaning one day away from farm work to spend QT with your hero and do something adventurous
such as petting sharks.
Obviously. (note flat palm & tucked feet due to state of petrification)
How did I get to shark-petting? Oh, right, the guys at Compass Cay were tossing little toes toe-shaped bits of hot dog in the water around my feet so that the sharks would come up and nibble...
Beyond the fact that when sliced into bits they look alarmingly similar to toes, I find hot dogs repulsive and did not add them to our agenda of hog meat experimentation categories...
We had a lot of ground to cover.
Two pigs & 12 hours of butchering lie ahead, plus a multitude of big dreams in the home-curing department... maple & sage bacon, pancetta, prosciuttos, guanciale, spiced slow-smoked hams and a heap of boston butt (which is actually shoulder, just to keep things fresh...)
Furthermore I cannot figure out the necessity of jamming perfectly delicious spiced ground pork into tubes of intestine for the sake of making tube-shaped meat units. That is WEIRD! And weirder yet, through quite extensive research, we found that it is impossible to find a source for organic sausage casing; thats right, those "organic" sausages that you are buying are not cased in intestine from organic animals... The USDA allows 5% of "certified organic" products to be non-organic, which, of course makes loads of sense. I also found out, in my research, that if a truckload of steaming manure brings me to tears I might not want to volunteer a day to hosing out intestines of dead animal in hopes of making my own organic casing... It is a messy job and must be well separate from butchering areas; for this reason only industrial slaughterhouses in the US have the space to house a separate intestine processing quadrant... No thanks on the tube shaped meat units for moi.
So the saucisson and cappicola will have to wait... But honestly, as is the title of this post, people really just want BACON. I mean, I like bacon with dates, I like bacon with peas, you can wrap bacon around anything and that anything will be delicious no matter what it was like in its raw state... but bacon, needs nothing and no one. Bacon (provided it is good bacon) does not beg accessories.
And it is this school of thought that birthed the phenomenon of stand-up bacon. It is a preposterous oversight that bacon is so often treated as an accessory itself. And we weren't about to let that continue, not us, the formidable duo of my one-and-only roomie and I.
There she is, soul-sistah Nicki, rocking the seating chart and glassware on the morning of my wedding day. I am thankful for my college experience for many, many reasons but the genius who was in charge of matching up freshman roommates in '99... well I'd like to find that precious soul and send him/her some of this bacon. Or a note. Or a serenade. Or all of the above.
The fateful evening we founded the following knock-your-socks-off app, Nick had an elegant menu planned and a freezerful of bacon slab to boot. It was her (total bad-ass) husband James' 30th birthday and we had a hell of a party to throw. With the first toast of our martinis, a moment of recognition struck: the enhancement of every guest's life was in our hands. We also needed some height for one of our famous crudité platters... and why on earth would we give our guests willowy celery fronds when we could offer robust bacon sticks!?!?! Brilliance.
This hors d'oeuvre will never, ever go out of style and will always, always be desirable. Hows that for a multi-faceted, never-fail, less-than 30-minute dish!?
Stand-up Bacon (and pancetta) in mind, the woodsman and I took home two pork bellies from our day of butchering last month (which I will describe in detail next time) and consulted the Charcuterie book ... We personally decided that chemical nitrates/nitrites are nasty (yes I know that they are "naturally occurring" in celery) but after extensive research we decided we trust Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall as well as our own home-grown piggies and watchful eyes, (and besides, with bacon, you are going to cook it fully so there should be no botulism fear!) so we opted out of the chemical pink salt but based our bacon off of the Charcuterie Book's basic home-cured bacon recipe...
but added in a generous portion of fresh sage. And rather than cooking in the oven like Michael does, we opted to smoke it outside in the smoker.
*Oh, and if you decide to delve into some research, you will read many, many accounts telling you that it is the pink salt that gives bacon its "bacon-y" flavor... and replaces a would-be unappetizing gray colored cured meat product with the familiar pink tone we are all used to... well that's a load of BS. Our no-chemical-preservative version of bacon is BY FAR the best I have ever experienced and there is nothing gray or unappetizing about it.
Even if you don't want to start from scratch and kill your own pig, butcher it, and cure the bacon, you can rock Stand-up Bacon at your next soirée... It is sure to be the most sought-after hors d'oeuvre.
•A LOT of strips of bacon (Id recommend a couple for each guest) *If you are slicing your own, adequate length makes for better display & 1/4inch thick is just about perfect.
•Maple Syrup (the darker the better)
•Freshly ground Black pepper (you can also use cayenne, sage, paprika... whatever spices you want to stick to your sticks!)
1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay your bacon slices onto a rack over a sheet pan. Bake for about 15-20 mins or until the bacon begins to brown. Remove from oven and brush slices with maple syrup. Sprinkle/grind your spices on top and bake another 5 minutes or until perfectly crisp. Place on paper towel until stiff. Find appropriate vessel (mason jar, glass, shotglass) and stand up the bacon in the vessel.
2) Watch it disappear as sheer bliss enraptures each and every participant.
I can rest easy knowing the guard-dog is protecting our stash from any wayward bacon bandits.
I want to hear your tales of tall bacon! Please report back!