News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

July 12, 2011

LIZ CIANCONE: Homemade bacon? Why not just go to the store

TERRE HAUTE — Mom read cookbooks the way other women read romance novels. No matter how similar the plot, recipes seemed to have enough variation to send her sprinting to the kitchen to assess her cupboards and add to her shopping list if necessary.

I will say that it was heaven to walk home from school and into a house smelling of strudel or home-baked bread or oatmeal cookies. She had a recipe for sugar cooking calling for an entire pound of ground raisins. I thought I brought it home with me after she died, but it was the wrong notebook containing only my diary from age nine. But, I digress.

Take it as a given that Mom really enjoyed cooking. This is not an interest which can be inherited.

I received a recipe the other day from a friend in New Jersey. She suggested, jokingly I presume, that I whip up some homemade bacon as a Fathers Day gift for my Best Friend. She even enclosed the recipe clipped from her local paper. I had a good laugh which, I hope, was what she intended.

The recipe assured me that it took only about half an hour to fling it all together, following which all you had to do was sit back and wait for about a week. In the meantime you could pick up a pound of bacon at the store which is what I’d have done in the first place.

The problem with homemade bacon is finding the basic ingredient. Bacon is made from the belly of the pig. Just for laughs, I checked the meat counter at chain markets and my favorite independent grocer. Nary an uncured pork belly to be had. The recipe assured me that all I had to do was ask and my grocer would find one for me. I think I’ll settle for a laugh and forget the whole thing.

Anyway, you mix together stuff like sugar, salt and pepper, spread half of this in a flat pan, pat the pork belly into the mess and top with the rest of the seasonings. Flavor variations were suggested, but I was laughing too hard to make careful notes.

You refrigerate, uncovered, for about a week, then remove the pork belly. The recipe says the bottom will look like wet sand (YUM!). You wash, pat dry, cut into slices and refrigerate or freeze. It doesn’t read as if it keeps very well.

My BF didn’t get homemade bacon for Fathers’ Day. I hope he isn’t holding his breath.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to opinion@tribstar.com.

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