The word bacon used to strike fear into my heart. Not positive terror like the words pork chop, nor definite disinterest like hot dog, nor middling boredom like potato chips. Just good old fashioned fear. The announcement that BLTs were for dinner made me feel nauseous. Forget about a delicious fatty weekend breakfast – or breakfeast, more like it. My mum tried to trick me into thinking turkey bacon was the more awesome counterpart to the bacon I found gross and unpalatable (because less sodium and fewer calories equals better taste…?), forgetting that Thanksgiving turkey was #1 on my Foods Most Unwanted list.
Life as a picky eater has been a long and difficult road. While my journey isn’t quite over, my 20s has been all about coming to terms with the endless list of foods that I heretofore wrote off without a second thought. Chicken. Cookies. Cake. Butter on pancakes. Butter on toast. Hamburgers. Steak. Wild rice. Potatoes. Milk. Several kinds of cheese. Broccoli and cauliflower. And of course, the aforementioned bacon.
The day that I fell in love with bacon was the best day in the world.
It was Spring Semester 2008, my Junior year in college. Near the end of every scholastic year, the club that I was most involved with on campus held a blowout all-day celebration, beginning with a pancake breakfast, continuing on with timbersports (read: wannabe lumberjacks throwing axes, pushing about logs, spitting tobacco), and ending with a formal banquet. The pancake breakfast has long been cooked and served by the department faculty, in a delightful twist of duty. Backtracking to 2008, I had just taken over as Forestry Club president, having been elected upon an Obama spin-off campaign slogan of “Yes Tree Can!” My comparatively-painless presidential duties included overseeing the pancake breakfast. However, I had a Remote Sensing lecture that overlapped with a good portion of the breakfast.
And here is where I tell you that up until that day, I had never cut class. Not once. Sure, I had been absent for each and every class since the dawn of time for a variety of reasons, but each and every one was premeditated, and often based on some sort of illness. It had never even occurred to me to skip class. The closest I got was skipping a pep rally in high school (before my school outlawed pep rallies), and even then, I felt my blood pressure increase alarmingly and damn, but I felt guilty.
So here I am, 2008, crossing the threshold into my lecture, resigned that I will miss out on my first elected duty, when some mental switch flips. My eyebrows raise in alarm as my feet halt, then backtrack, and finally turn around and exit the classroom. I make my way to the pancake breakfast, feeling ridiculously giddy and also a mite peckish. The world suddenly seems more colorful, more alive. My senses are heightened, and all of a sudden, I smell something. Something savory, and fatty, and unmistakably caloric. I smell bacon. I come face to face with it. It sits there, sparkling with grease. I sidle up next to it, and take one piece. I nibble it. I grab a second piece, and chomp it down. I take a third, and a fourth, and devour them.
I must have eaten 20 pieces of bacon that morning. They tasted like freedom.
Enter Bacon Week 2014. My pal Mary has been doing this Clogged Artery Week for a few years now, and I’ve enjoyed playing along, given that I came to my senses in 2008 and realized what’s up. In case you missed my lengthy preamble, it’s bacon, you guys. In 2012, I contributed Potato Bacon Breakfast Churros served in the world’s cutest bowl made of bacon. And last year, sticking with a theme of cuteness+calory overload, it was Deep Fried Waffles with Maple Bacon Buttercream served in ‘bacon muffinettes.’
This year I went with something a little easier to throw together, though equal in tastiness. A few weeks back I had sketched out several dessert ideas that seemed ingenious to my simple mind. One was for these bacon cinnamon roll cookies. About ten minutes after that life-altering moment, literally, I was cruising the internet and saw like nine different recipes for cinnamon roll cookies just like these. So while I may not be unique or on top of trends, at least I have bacon.
Bacon Cinnamon Roll Cookies
Will yield 24-28 cookies
For the dough:
1/2 c. powdered sugar
3/4 c. unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 tbsp bacon fat
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
For the filling:
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
5 strips candied bacon (Yummy Supper’s recipe will yield 8 strips, a perfect baking use: mouth use ratio)
1/2 tsp water
In a mixing bowl, beat together the sugar, butter, bacon fat, salt and vanilla until light and fluffy, 2-4 minutes. Add in the flour and mix until the dough comes together. On a large piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap, flatten dough. Cover with a second large sheet of parchment or plastic wrap, and roll out into a 9 x 14″ rectangle. Freeze on a baking sheet until well chilled, 20 minutes.
In a food processor, grind the sugar and cinnamon together. Add in candied bacon, and pulse until combined and fine. Add 1/2 tsp water if mixture is too dry.
Remove dough from freezer and allow to warm up for 2-5 minutes. Slather dough with bacon mixture, evenly coating the dough’s surface. Starting with a long edge roll the dough carefully into a log, using the bottom piece of plastic wrap to encourage the log to roll. Smooth out any cracks that develop in the dough as you roll. Once in a log, roll back and forth over the seam several times to seal it. Re-wrap in plastic wrap or parchment and freeze until firm, 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 cookies sheets with parchment paper. Use a trustworthy knife to cut the log into just-under-1/2-inch slices. Transfer cookies to baking sheets and bake 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown on the undersides and edges. Remove from oven, and cool on wire racks.
It’s been an exciting few weeks! I got the chance to interact with a veneer (log) buyer, who taught me quite a bit about log valuation and what I can look for to maximize my wood utilization and timber values.
After a year of silence, we got a new record player up and running, for a total cost of 0 dollars. Now I can listen to Steely Dan and Morris Day each and every day, and my days are bright and sunny (though my vocabulary has seemingly suffered).
And it truly is sunny here from time to time, though we continue to be pummeled by snow. We managed to escape down to New Hampshire for a work conference this week, where we spent a few nights IN A CASTLE.