Wednesday, June 27, 2012

BACON-- " Mental Health Food" !

No modern day nutritionist would claim bacon is good for you. It's high in fat and sodium; sometimes it contains preservatives.  It doesn't have any vitamins or minerals to speak of.  It's just not a health food.  Still, is that altogether really true?  Have you been in the presence of anyone when they're eating a slice of crisply prepared, smokey bacon?  They're always smiling and saying, "Yummm!"  Have you ever been a guest in someone's home and woken to the aroma of cooking bacon?  Instantly, you feel welcome!  You're a special guest and someone wants you to come down and join them for bacon!  When you're at your mom's or your grandmother's and they're cooking bacon, does that revive the cozy, homey feelings of camp outs, Saturday morning cartoons, and those special mornings when everyone was home and no one had to rush off to anything?  Bacon may not be such a treat for the body, but I contend that it is a treat for the mind-- a mental health food!  Try to be in a grumpy mood while eating bacon! 
If you are ever asked to bring a "finger food" to a party, something with bacon is almost a sure success, especially if there will be guy guests!  I know people that won't touch pork, but make an exception for bacon.  Many bacon based appetizers call for wrapping it around a piece of chicken, dates, or water chestnuts.  The hard part is cooking the bacon to crispy goodness without burning, overcooking, or undercooking the other component!  One easy way to make bacon into a party food is to make "bacon crisps".   This is a simple recipe that involves dipping the bacon in a seasoned liquid mixture, coating it in crumbs and baking until it is a spicey, smokey, crispy strip of (mentally) healthy goodness!  I adapted this recipe from one I found in an old community type cookbook; I changed the instructions and experimented with ingredient proportions.  It's delicious, and if you have leftovers (unlikely), you can refrigerate them and re-heat in the oven the next day!

Bacon Crisps
1 lb. medium sliced bacon
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 eggs
2 cups cracker crumbs (buy them, grind in a food processor, or crush crackers in a plastic bag)
"old school" salt and pepper (the already finely ground kind)

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Slice the bacon strips crosswise into thirds.  Get out a sheet pan or a shallow baking dish and spray with PAM.
Mix the mustard and cayenne together and then add the eggs in a shallow bowl.  Mix everything up well.  Put the cracker crumbs in another shallow bowl.
Dip a slice of bacon into the egg mixture, then drag it through the cracker crumbs on both sides.  Lay out on the sheet pan and repeat with all the slices.  You can put them close together, but not touching.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until very crisp and pleasantly browned.  Turn them over halfway through the cooking time.  It's easy to flip them over with two forks.  The total cooking time varies a bit depending on the thickness of the bacon.  When they come out of the oven, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then remove to paper towels to drain.  Place on a platter and serve warm or at room temperature.  If you have to do another batch, be sure to drain off any fat left in the sheet pan from the first batch.  Store leftovers in the fridge!

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