Sunday, September 26, 2010

Everything But the Bacon

I had a friend in college who had this pattern she repeated over and over again.

After a particularly stressful bout of academia, she would go out and binge drink for what usually amounted to anywhere from 4-48 hours. Upon awaking the morning after her alcoholic bender, she would proclaim to anyone who could hear that she would never EVER drink again. For the next month or two, she would stoically refrain from drinking anything with even the faintest taint of the evil substance.

Then, classes would get more demanding, she would start finding herself staying at the library later and later...and the whole thing would start over again.

I've always found this treatment of vices pointless; if you're going to have a vice, just accept it and moderate it--don't pretend its not there by going on benders every few months.

However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't think about quitting.

I've been thinking about quitting my own vice lately--not caffeine, alcohol or nicotine---but meat.

As an animal biologically designed to eat other animals, you may think it incorrect to label this as a vice. After all, meat itself is not necessarily bad for you---and lets face it, we're designed to live off of other living things, whether they be plant or animal--there is no way around it.

However, sometimes I go on what could be called "meat benders," long stretches of time where it seems like I can't go for a single meal without consuming some sort of animal product. After these benders, I feel more sluggish, fat, and usually a little depressed, likely resulting partly from the first two symptoms. I remember what it felt like the last time I ate a salad---was that days ago, weeks, months? Time blurs when you're on a meat bender. Surely, I was more alert, lively and happy when produce was in my diet.

So, I vow to go meat free for a period of time.

But it never lasts. Partly, its because I'm living with someone who has no desire whatsoever to go on a journey of vegetarian discovery with me. He'll humor my tofu stir frys and vegetable stews, yes, but isn't planning on giving up burgers and steaks anytime soon. Partly, its also because, admittedly, I like meat. I think there are a number of meats I could give up, simply because I wouldn't mind leaving them out of a lot of dishes. But then there are bacon.

While I'd love to give up eating pigs in particular for emotional reasons, bacon tastes like nothing else. It makes everything taste better, including vegetables.

bacon wrapped asparagus = divine.

So is it possible that I could be a vegetarian, and give up every meat except bacon? Would that actually be healthier, or would I just end up putting bacon on everything?

I guess I'll find out--in another week, the hubby will be gone for a few days at a work conference, and I'll be left to fend for myself culinarily. I'll probably be buying a lot of things I'm still afraid to make for him (due to an expected negative response) such as brussel sprouts and squash. I'm going to see if I can go meat-free, and try to maybe even make something that's worth preparing again in the process.

If you have any recipe suggestions, feel free to let me know! I'm in the mood to expand my horizons.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An Elegant Pie

I like to think I'm a pretty good baker, but there are some things that I just can't touch: one of them has always been Elegant Farmer Apple Pie.

For those of you who don't know---Elegant Farmer is a fabulous bakery and deli in Mukwonago, WI, famous for their amazing pies in paper bags. I make a pretty good pie, but I've never made anything that even comes close to their delicious, crackly crusted apple pie. Nothing comes close, nothing.

But what is life without goals?

With a free afternoon, and a bag full of assorted apples,  I decided to try to replicate the most amazing pie ever. Unsurprisingly, I don't think I duplicated it--but I came closer than I have before.

To start, the pie of course needed to be made in a bag:

Safety Note: Apparently, you're not REALLY supposed to bake pies in old grocery bags, because the dyes and composition of recycled paper bags aren't regulated for baking purposes. So if you're not as lazy as me, and don't feel like living life on the edge, use parchment paper.

The bag, whatever health risks it may pose, did succeed in producing the pie's characteristically crisp, perfectly browned crust.

The crust itself, which I hadn't been able to figure out previously, was also a success.

Pulling from a lesser used recipe on allrecipes, I tried out a topping that's essentially equal parts butter, sugar, and flour. The result is crackly, crunchy, and just what I was looking for.

The pie was delicious, but it could still use some tweaking. Dave described it as "too Christmas-y," which I believe means "too much nutmeg." Also, he made the point (and I might agree) that there may have been more of that crackly crust, and less of the normal, base crust in the original. As a crust person, I think more crust is always an improvement.

Too bad I don't have my very own test kitchen, or I'd make this again right away! As it is, I've got most a pie sitting here that's just not going to eat itself. I'm sure I'll b making pie again in the near future, however--and I will definitely be using this crust!

Edit: This is the recipe I used to approximate Elegant Farmer's Apple Pie: Apple Pie in a Brown Paper Bag 
Again, however, there is too much nutmeg, in my opinion, and the quantity of apples called for seems a bit high. I used closer to 2 lbs for my pie. Also, I used (gasp!) Jiffy pie crust mix for the bottom of the pie instead of their recipe. When I perfect this, I'll post my complete recipe with edits.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I've been a bad blogger.

A lot has happened in my life since July 29th, though most of it not food related. I suppose I'm a rather odd blogger, in that when my life turns all topsy turvy, I prefer not to blog about it, at least while all the chaos is occurring. Maybe because I like to know what the ending is to the story I am telling.

Of course, there are other reasons too.

We've had guests

August, which we have not only dubbed the "Month of Bad Mojo" for its annual consistency for turning our lives upside down, was also a month of many visitors---which resulted in blogs taking a definite trip to the back burner.

I ate a lot of crap

In the same way that a blog about exercising would be pointless if you sat on your butt all the time and played Halo, a blog about food seems pointless when you're eating frozen pizzas and corn dogs. But then, I should be eating better than that. No excuse!

We got remarried. 

Towards the end of the chaos, Dave and I celebrate our vow renewals at Devils Lake in Wisconsin with friends and family. It was a blast, probably partly because we didn't bother to worry about taking any photos. The food was wonderful, but the only food related photo from the event I can find is this photo my friend Erica took of the fabulous cupcakes.

  They WERE probably my favorite part though, so I suppose that's not too bad. This does, however, lead me to the last lack of blogging snafu:

I have no idea where the camera is.

Somewhere between South Dakota ->Devil's Lake->South Dakota, the camera went missing. Its very hard to post photos on a blog without a camera. So if anyone sees it, let me know. Until then, awkwardly posed phone pictures it is!

But enough excuses.

If I want to do this blog, I have to have the incentive to do it myself. So from here on out, I'm going to pledge to do at minimum, one post a week. If I don't hold to that, you can all yell at me, but mostly, I should yell at myself.

Coming up on the blog...

An excess of meat at the wedding has got me thinking again about being a vegetarian. Could I do it?...