Bacon Part Two

Here we are, bacon part two! If you missed last week’s bacon article this week should make up for it. Bacon recipes are in this week’s edition. It doesn’t get any better than this. Throw out those M & M’s in the candy dish and puts some fresh crisp bacon out! You’ll probably have more new friends pop in to visit than you’ve ever seen.

A couple of weeks ago I had baked some bacon in the oven. Delicious bacon smells were making their way around the house. UPS pulled up and I met them at the door. After I had opened the door they UPS guy handed me my box and said, “Man that smells great! Is that bacon?”.

Different ways to cook bacon

According to Cook’s Country June/July issue in the “Getting to Know Bacon” article by Scott Kathan, bacon should never be cooked to quickly or aggressively. The reason behind this is to give the fat on the bacon time to render.

Personally, I like to bake my bacon in the oven on a rimmed baking sheet. Turn my oven to 400 degrees F and while I wait for it to heat up I slowly arrange my bacon on the tray. To save cleanup time, you can place a sheet of aluminum on the bottom. But I don’t mind the cleanup, so I have never done that. I save the grease to fry eggs in or use to jazz up cornbread.

Baking bacon in the oven is great for large batches of bacon. I like to do large batches and then place some in a container to eat at breakfast throughout the week and then I freeze the rest. If I am freezing some of the bacon, I remove those pieces earlier before they get crisp. That way I can pop them in my skillet or on the griddle and finish frying them with my eggs or pancakes.

Scott Kathan recommends cooking smaller batches of bacon by using a skillet and just enough water to barely cover it. Bring your water to a boil over high heat, and then lower the heat to medium and cook until the water has evaporated and the bacon is crispy.

Fun bacon recipes!

We can’t start bacon recipes without listing bacon jalapeno poppers! This is an oldie but a goodie. How can you go wrong with bacon and cream cheese?!

Bacon Jalapeno Poppers

jalapeno
Image by Ray Shrewsberry from Pixabay

Ingredients- makes 12 poppers

  • 12 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 12 jalapeno peppers- a good size would be a 3-inch pepper
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar or shredded Monterey jack

Directions

Turn your oven on to 400 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminium foil.

safely cutting jalapenos with gloves
Image by Robyn Wright from Pixabay

Before touching your jalapeno’s FIRST– put on food service gloves to prevent the oil from the jalapeno getting on your hand and then accidentally touching your face or eyes! Take your jalapeno peppers and cut them lengthwise, remove the seeds and membranes. I like to use the tip of a teaspoon to help scrape and remove.

Next, in a mixing bowl, mix together your cream cheese and shredded sharp cheddar until well blended. Take each jalapeno half and fill them with the cream cheese and cheese mixture. Put each half back together and then take a strip of bacon and wrap it around the jalapeno (it’s a bacon seat belt for all the delicious cream cheese) and lay them seam side down in the baking sheet. If your bacon isn’t holding well, take a toothpick and push it through the bacon into the jalapeno and back out the other side securing the bacon to the jalapeno.

Place your baking sheet of bacon jalapeno poppers into the 400-degree oven for 15 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy. Enjoy!

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts – Julie Bahr

This is a great recipe from my old “Stampin Up!” demonstrator Julie Bahr… she has no idea her recipe is about to hit the newspaper!

Ingredients

  • 3 cans whole water chestnuts
  • 1 package hickory smoked bacon
  • brown sugar

Directions

Drain the 2 cans of water chestnuts and set aside the juice and then drain and dispose of the juice from the 3rd can. Put the 2 cans of juice in a mixing bowl. Add just enough brown sugar to turn the juice a nice brown color. Add water chestnuts into the brown sugar mixtures. Marinate them overnight.

Take the bacon and cut into half or thirds depending on the size of the water chestnuts. Take each marinated water chestnut and wrap a piece of bacon around and stick a toothpick in to hold it. Place them on a broiler pan and broil them until they are nice and brown. Place broiled bacon-wrapped chestnuts in a slow cooker to keep them warm. Enjoy!

More Recipes to look up

bacon wrapped green beans
Image by RitaE from Pixabay

There are many interesting bacon recipes… give these a try:

Don’t forget, bacon is a wonderful meat moisturizer wrapped around chicken breasts, pheasant, and wild turkey. Basically, you just can’t go wrong with bacon.

Till next time friends, bacon in moderation! Here is to good food, good friends and a good life!

Celebrating a Friend and Good Cook

A few weeks ago a friend and good cook passed away. Henry Klumper peacefully passed away Tuesday, February 18th, 2020. Over the last 11 years, Henry and I have many cooking “chit-chats” Most of these conversations centered around cooking.

Henry was easy to talk with, a good listener and could carry on meaningful conversations about life, religion, politics, people, dogs, and cooking. Henry’s ability to adapt to person and place was one of my favorite things I enjoyed about him.

Holidays with Henry

We celebrated most holidays together and he always liked to bring something to add to our feasts. There were times he was not feeling well, and so would decline the need to bring something. But when he did it was always appropriate and was a great addition to the main course.

Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2019 Henry wasn’t unable to join us for our usual holiday feast. The last meal we celebrated together was Mother’s Day 2019. We smoked a pork loin, made cheesy potatoes, roasted asparagus and had chocolate pie for dessert.

Henry loved chocolate pie and would often tell me about his mother’s homemade chocolate pie. Why I didn’t catch on years previous that he was hinting he would like me to make it. DUH!

From the beginning

Henry Klumper
Photo by a friend of Henry

Most people ask me “How in the world did you meet Henry Klumper?” My response is, “I was asked to help paint Henry’s newly remodeled bedroom and closet.” That’s how I met Henry.

Back to my painting for Henry. We began painting around 9:30 am. Periodically Henry would come and check how we were getting along. I am sure all us gals painting had quite a conversation going and he was probably concerned there was more conversation than painting going on.

About 11:00 am Henry told us to stop painting and come eat. We agreed, washed our hands and sat down at the table. Henry placed a bowl of beef vegetable soup before each of us, along with a spoon and a glass of water.

This old guy cooks?

I looked up to the rest of the group for some guidance as to how we were going to proceed. Henry interjected a prayer for our food and gave thanks for our painting efforts and we all closed the prayer with “Amen”.

Being a “type A” person I was needing details on this guy. First, how are his dishwashing skills? Second, I see he had a dog. Did the dog participate in the dishwashing? Third, has anyone ever eaten his cooking? Lastly, just for confidence’s sake, is he a bachelor or a widower? I figured if he was a bachelor and lived this long food had to be involved. If he was a widower we could be in for some gastronomical trouble.

Curiously, I looked up once again looking for any signs of hesitation and no one said anything, they just picked up their spoons and began to eat. I drew my breath, muttering internally words of courage, picked up my spoon and took my first spoonful. Hmm. Not bad. Pretty tasty. This guy is a good cook.

I finished my bowl of soup and a glass of water in record time. My parents taught me that I needed to eat first, then talk. As I enjoyed talking so much, I simply inhaled my food and thus, began to talk. This rule was made to serve as a deterrent but backfired on my parents. Basically it just gave everyone five extra minutes of oxygen before I started talking.

The rest is history

Over the next few years, we forged a friendship through painting, cooking, canning and good conversation. We enjoyed the holidays together, an occasional Sunday evening dinner, games of Mexican Train dominos and lots of coffee. Anytime we had a remodeling project going on, he would pop over to see how things were going and of course drink some more coffee.

One of the very last recipes he shared with me was probably the most different combination of food items but certainly the best. He called my phone and I answered. “Hello, its Henry. Say, I made a recipe and I’d like you to try it.”

It was about two in the afternoon, so I jumped into my car and drove over to check out this new recipe. Henry was a good cook. I always enjoyed his cooking adventures. Letting myself in I shouted out that I was in the house, sometimes he would reply “Thanks for the warning!” Ha… always a sense of humor. I could hear him busy in the kitchen so he didn’t respond.

This is a recipe?

Rounding the corner into the kitchen my eyes about bugged out of my head. “Holey Moley Henry!” I said. I stood next to him staring at a huge bowl of noodles, diced ham, and cabbage. “What is all this?!”

Henry chuckled and told me he didn’t realize that the recipe made so much. Being a good cook, he grabbed me a bowl and filled it up with the noodle concoction. I grimaced a little, to which he said: “Aww, come on!”. I smirked and grabbed the fork from his hand.

Digging the fork into the bowl, I pulled up a good helping and gave it a try. Henry grinned as I chewed and chewed. All I could manage was to nod my head and continue chewing.

As the mouthful of noodles and company found their way into my stomach, I spoke briefly out of the corner of my mouth giving a “chew by chew” of the “salad”. It had great taste. The cabbage and ham together were interesting but delicious. The noodles, well… it was good too. Great salad.

Quite seriously, he shook his head and said it was not a salad, that it was the main meal. Dumbfounded I just sat and stared at him. I went on to laugh and said that I hoped he had a large family reunion to go to or two church picnics because this recipe made a heap of food. He smiled and gave me a wink and said that he had no family reunion or church picnic to go to.

Where are you going to put this all?

pile of delicious bacon
Image by Pearl Vaj from Pixabay

Reaching into his cupboard Henry pulled out some gallon zip lock baggies. We filled up three bags and had about 4 cups left. He wanted me to take two bags home. I declined and took one and told him to call another friend. I washed up the dishes for him and then headed for home.

That night and three lunchtimes later, we dined on this recipe. We decided that it was great warm the first time and needed to be eaten cold thereafter. It was certainly unique, but a good cook always likes variety and Henry never shied away from trying new and different recipes.

Saying goodbye

I watched Henry transition from his own home to assisted living and then to the Luverne Veterans Home. There were a few stints at the nursing home for rehabilitation and the comebacks he made were notable.

I enjoyed Henry’s attitude that he shared with me. “This is just all part of my journey Michele, its God preparing me.” I smiled with tears as I recognized that was a good and important way of viewing life. Just part of the journey.

I was grateful for a phone call from his nephew Ron informing me Henry was not well and was not expected to live long. I hopped into the car and drove right to the VA nursing home. As I drove I cried and gave myself pep talks. I remembered all the great memories of holidays and dinners together. Drinking lots of coffee, laughing and talking.

I entered Henry’s room to find him eating his supper. I greeted him and he smiled. We talked as he finished eating. He had trouble breathing but was making an effort to keep with the conversation. We sang several hymns and he did his best to harmonize. I paused occasionally to cry and apologized for my tears, but he told me it was good to grieve and he appreciated me.

See you later

After a few hours, I could see he was tired and that I should let him rest. I told him how much we as a family appreciated his friendship and company and that as a fellow believer I would be seeing him again. He smiled and said he was not afraid to go home. He asked me to take care of his Norfolk pine tree and I said I would. We said our final goodbyes- I hate goodbye. I prefer “see you later”. I picked up his pine and he waved goodbye to us both.

In honor of my good friend and good cook Henry Klumper, I give you this adapted recipe of the cabbage, noodles, and ham. It has a name and it is called Haluski. It is a Czech comfort food. Enjoy!

Haluski

Ingredients

  • 2 oz of pancetta or bacon- diced small
  • 1 1/2 pounds green cabbage- cored, and rough chopped
  • 6 tablespoons butter divided
  • 2 cups white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 6 oz. of egg noodles- choose your desired size

Instructions

In a medium fry pan melt 2 tablespoons butter and fry pancetta or bacon till crisp. Add the onions and sauté for two minutes. Taking 2 more tablespoons of butter, as well as the cabbage, salt, pepper and on medium-high, cover waiting till the mixture is hot. Then reduce to medium and cook for 10 minutes. You can get your water boiling for the noodles and cook according to your package directions when finished drain the noodles.  Once your cabbage is tender you will add the cooked and drained noodles, as well as the remaining butter- cook, bring to serving temperature. Enjoy!