Saturday, January 16, 2010
Craig loves bacon. “Everything is better with bacon,” is one of his motto's. I regularly lean on him not to put bacon in absolutely everything. Canal House Cooking has a recipe for Candied Bacon and that sounded too kinky to resist. Candy is sugar and that is pretty much what it means here: lay bacon between two blankets of brown sugar and cook it til your house smells like the Boardwalk.
Sugar when it cooks behaves a lot like how you feel when you eat it. The grace period is brief and when you’ve gone to far it is totally unforgiving. Craig dutifully followed the directions but before the time was up there was a distinct change in smell, heading towards sugar-fat cinders. With a fast clearing of children from the kitchen, he took the bubbling, smoking tray from the stove. As the smoke cleared there they lay, gorgeous shiny sticks of lacquered bacon. We tasted it, Craig, Serena and I, and decided it was delicious, but a bit much, even for Craig.
At dinner Craig set out a bowl of cooked carrots. We bought a twenty pound bag of carrots from Sacred Seed Farm here in Ithaca on the last freezing day of the outdoor Farmers’ Market, at the end of December. Late fall carrots have had time in the ground as temperatures drop which makes them exceptionally sweet. Craig cooks the carrots with lots of olive oil and butter and there are never any leftovers. I took a bite and the flavor deepened, sweetened beyond what I had expected. Looking closely at my plate, there they were: tiny crumbles of candied bacon.
Used as an ingredient a little goes a long way and adds a dimension of smokey umame, the pleasing combination of salty and sweet. Craig and I talked a few days later about a little going a long way, the candied bacon in the carrots, and the next morning sprinkled into pancakes as they cooked. At the table there are ways that we behave where a little goes a long way as well. In a busy life of work and family much of our communication is abbreviated. Conversations become short, frustrated bursts of information to convey a message, a task. Not much effort is put into the delivery. At the table we can be our best selves again. We can smile. We can say please and thank you, and heap on praise and compliments. We can enjoy our time and each other’s company. We can be kind and generous.
A small portion of the day, at the table, being kind and polite, a little goes a long way. It sweetens and deepens our lives, our family’s relationship one with the other, like so much candied bacon in with your carrots.