Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hi, my name is MJ and I love bacon!

Being the holidays, of course thoughts can turn nostalgic, tending to harken up family and past celebrations. Don't worry, I'm not going all warm and fuzzy on you because, truthfully, my father never made this dish (it's coming, be patient) for us, and certainly not anything like it for the holidays. But he did like bacon and we ate a lot of it (the four of us should have been a bunch of little fatties, the way he fed must have been that GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY! thing we all used to do back in the old days). Usually it was a run of the mill bacon he used, but occasionally he would get that fat-sliced, rind-still-on sort (which of course began my love of chicharrones, leading to my love of lechon, - oh that crunchy skin! - it's an addiction that luckily I only need to satisfy once a year or so). But I digress...sort of. Nostalgia is like that; it has many paths to travel. This is one of the good ones. Thanks, Dad! Even though, back then, I thought you were trying to kill us...

While I was out in Oregon this fall, my daughter Sarah, who is a seriously brilliant cook, told me, with just a hint of her teen-age defiance,  "Mom, I know you don't think this is right, but I love green beans cooked like Grandma made them, seriously overcooked to pale green, with a lot of bacon and bacon fat. I don't care if they aren't crisp!" I use quotation marks but of course, it's not a quite direct quote. She'll forgive me just giving the gist of it. Point being, this girl/woman who can cook circles around me likes her green beans soggy with overcooking and saturated in bacon fat.

Truthfully, how can I begrudge her? My former mother-in-law's cooking could be a thing of rapture to enjoy, once I got over the shock of it, growing up on broiled meats and crisp salads. She made the best fried chicken I've ever tasted. And a German wilted lettuce leaf salad (lettuce from her garden, of course) that made me turn into Inhaler Woman (more bacon, more bacon fat, enough vinegar to squinch your eyes and egg dropped into the hotness of that, blowing up like volcanic lava, insta-quick flashed into egg lace, fastly incorporated along with salt and then slewn (I know, slewn is not a word but one must 'slewn' this combination of fat and vinegar and egg) upon light, lovely, soft to brilliant green lettuce leaves...all for the purpose of making them wilt under the power of heated decadence. Slowly, a pan the size of a small car tire would...well, the size of a family dinner serving (I confess I have been known, on quite a few more than one occasion, to eat that amount all by myself, long after these family meals were a memory).

And as hunger hit me late last night after getting home from Susie's, I realized I had some lovely green beans from the veggie guy and some bacon, a rarity in my fridge but for the past couple of weeks, bacon has been calling me seductively and I've answered. One must do what one must do.

So I cooked this, and the green beans softened in bacon fat. Nothing like my daughter delights in, overboiled, in a pot filled with fat chunks of ham hocks, losing their brilliant green to the dull of military fatigues. But enough for me, in the stew of bacon and its fat, salt and onions instead of my usual flash saute, butter and salt. And yes, the beans have not been 'snapped' because it was late and I was lazy and so there!

 I know, it's Thursday and not Free Range Friday. But holidays (especially around here) are made for breaking the rules. Oh my!

There were really a lot more beans here, but I had to re-take the photo of some leftovers this morning, since apparently I was in such a hurry to eat some of this, the original plating was quite blurry. Best eaten one bean and piece of bacon at a time...using one's fingers. this a cure for insomnia? I slept all night and might still be asleep if not for an early morning phone call. Hmmm.

Have a tasteful Thursday! Do something tantilizing.


  1. That vignette frequently unfolds in our kitchen with Kathy playing your role while I play Sarah's. My grandma is your MIL's counterpart. Ham will do in a pinch, as long as the onions are properly sauteed...

  2. Funny! Maybe one day you and Sarah can compare Grandma's (dos) cookin'.