Monthly Archives: March 2011

Brazen Bacon: Why We May Need A Bacon Intervention

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus. Image: Royal Bacon Society

The four friends glanced around nervously. “Are you sure we should be doing this?” one asked.

“I won’t tell if you won’t,” another replied.

“Hey – it’s still legal, you know,” I said. They all nodded, because it was true. There was no law prohibiting the possession and distribution of bacon. We passed the platter and dug in.

That was a few years back, before the bacon boom hit.

Now, it’s a brave new world. People who once hid their habit now proudly proclaim their proclivity for this pork.

Comedian Jim Gaffigan calls bacon “the most beautiful thing on earth.” Stores are selling bacon-laden ketchup, gravy mix, and a mayo concoction called “Baconnaise.” Bacon clubs will send you gourmet selections each month. You can buy bacon jerky, popcorn, pretzels, candy brittle, coffee, chocolate-chip pancake mix – and bacon-flecked lollipops marketed as “Man Bait.”

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Pimento Cheese: A Southern Icon

Photo: Flickr/amy_b

By Emily Wallace

Emily Wallace recently completed her MA in folklore at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she now works at the Center for the Study of the American South.  She contributes regularly to Raleigh-Durham’s Independent Weekly.

In early November, my aunt sent an e-mail to my extended family with a plan for Thanksgiving. The standbys were there—my mother would bring pecan pie; my Aunt Judy, deviled eggs; and so on. But then came a new suggestion. My name appeared with pimento cheese.

A month before, I’d wrapped up my master’s thesis in folklore on the subject, and what the holiday e-mail made clear was that my relatives were eager to taste the results. Though no definitive recipe for the spread appears in my work, I made a batch and presented it with a plate of crackers at our Thanksgiving dinner. My family cooed.

“So this is what you came up with? It’s good,” they told me. But in their eyes, what I’d brought to the table was, in fact, nothing new.  I’m pretty sure that my cousins thought their mother’s recipe superior to mine, and, as each of my relatives had mentioned or forwarded me an article about pimento cheese at some point, they knew that I was definitely not the first to pen something about the spread.

Almost every national newspaper or magazine, it seems, has made some mention of pimento cheese in the last year. And forget just slapping it on bread or crackers. More and more menus tack the spread onto some other type of food—from burgers and ribeyes to fish, eggs, grits, and pizza. Pimento cheese is everywhere, falling on the side of overwrought and over-served. So what, my family wanted to know, did I have to say about it? To their surprise, it was something about them…

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Bacon Explosion: A Recipe For Bacon-Induced Comas

The 'bacon lattice' is a key component in Bacon Explosion

By: WFAE’s Lisa Miller

I am not a sports fan.  I don’t usually go around announcing it, but people notice my silences when sport comes up in conversation.  And then I confess it.  I do have my exceptions… baseball games and the sun, peanuts and beer that go along with them.  However, football is not one of them.   I don’t understand it and I just sit there restlessly watching as the clock starts and stops.  I am not good company.

So when a ‘watching party’ rolled around back during the Super Bowl, I knew that I had to compensate.  This year I tried to do that with Bacon Explosion.  Strangely enough, I got the recipe out of The Essential New York Times Cookbook.  It’s prefaced with “In early 2009, The New York Times was briefly taken over by a college frat.”

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Putting Life Back Into Leftovers

Flummoxed by what to do with the rest of that roast chicken you made the other night? What about the drawer full of vegetables that’s about to go bad? Well, WCNC’s Josh Starnes, the so-called “Leftover King,” Chef Peter Reinhart and local restaurateur Fran Scibelli joined Charlotte Talks host Mike Collins recently for a very (re)heated conversation about leftovers. Find out how to rejuvenate your days-old dinners. Listen to the show.

A few tips from the show:

  • Leftovers can be “planned overs” – plan ahead, make extra to eat later in the week. Or plan to turn it into something different.
  • With leftover vegetables – make a stew, ratatouille or Gazpacho
  • Not EVERYTHING should be doctored up. If you have a good piece of leftover steak – just slice it up, reheat in clarified butter and eat it in its purest form.
  • Condiments are huge. Explore the sauces at grocery stores and international markets. There are a number of simmer sauces you can get at the store now. Just throw leftover chicken in a simmer sauce to make it new again.
  • Turn leftover meat and veggies into a stir-fry with a zesty sauce.
  • The toaster oven can be your best friend – the results can be much better in the toaster oven than in the microwave, especially pizza, breads, etc.
  • Be creative! Not everything will turn out perfectly, but it can be a learning experience. Try new flavors together.
  • Turn mashed potatoes into potato latkes.

Read more tips from listeners and Josh’s Ten Commandments of Leftovers

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Embracing the Weeknight Supper

I have always been disdainful of the 30 minute meal. Not that I have anything against Rachel Ray, but when I say that I like to cook, I mean that I really enjoy the process of making meals. There is nothing so relaxing and wonderful to me than peeling, chopping, stirring and kneading. Instead of “weeknight suppers” or “20 minutes or less” listings, I’ve often wished cookbooks, blogs or websites had sections for most ingredients, most elaborate, most time consuming recipes possible.

A few things you should know: I don’t have children and until very recently, my schedule was such that I cooked most of the meals for the week on Sunday evening, allowing for a relaxing end to the weekend. Now, on a regular weekday schedule, I don’t have to do that. Great, I thought, when this first started, I can make fresh dinners every night. Realistically, that hasn’t worked out as well as I hoped…

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Award Winning Cheese Comes to Charlotte

By WFAE’s Scott Graf

If you’re a cheese lover in Charlotte, there’s something you should know.  There’s a new cheese on the market in our city – a cheese with a heck of a story.

Most of you have probably never heard of Prairie Breeze cheese.  And I’m fairly certain none of you have ever been to Milton, IA.  But that’s where the Prairie Breeze story starts.

Mennonite farmers-turned-cheese makers Rufus and Jane Musser opened the tiny Milton Creamery five years ago.   And for two years they struggled.  Things got bad enough they worried they’d have to close their business.  But their luck changed when they hit on a new recipe that would soon change the fate of Milton Creamery.

That recipe was for Prairie Breeze, a small-batch hybrid alpine Cheddar that’s spent the last two years turning heads in the cheese world.  It’s won blue ribbons in two major US cheese competitions.  And just last fall it won gold in the World Cheese Contest in London.

The critical acclaim has turned the Musser’s fortunes around 180-degrees.  Cheese distributors – some who previously wouldn’t give the Mussers the time of day – were all of a sudden knocking on their door.  Now, the cheese is available all over the country.  The Mussers have gone from nearly closing their factory to expanding it.

The Charlotte angle on the Prairie Breeze story is this: You can now buy the cheese here.  the Earthfare store in SouthPark has been selling it for several months.

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How Your Slow Cooker Can Get You Drunk

Should I be concerned with the speed at which I clicked on this headline from Bon Appetit? And before you answer, just remember… judge not lest ye be judged. If your interest is not piqued by the words “slow cooker” and “drunk” in the same sentence, well… you may be a better [read: classier] person than I am. The BA Foodist blog rounds up a few recipes for warm cocktails, including a tasty-sounding S’more concoction that contains Graham Cracker Liquor (yes, you read that correctly.) Now, excuse me while I explore the paradoxical intersection of “grandma’s beef stew” and “college frat party.”

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