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Bringing Home the Bacon (newsletter)

Uncooked meaty bacon, courtesy of Science Meets Food blog

Dear Friends,
Before I get going, let me update you on last month’s used car quest. Craigslist came to the rescue with an ad for a Forest Green 2010 Toyota Corolla EX sedan without frills but in great condition with new exhaust system and tires. Turns out it was traded in by a local couple at 115,000 miles and our seller took it off the dealer’s hands. He’s a Ugandan dude who drives around in a flatbed tow truck, which is how he delivered the Corolla. The next week he returned to make off with our old Honda, which he bought for himself as an extra car. Interesting fellow; at about 130 pounds, he’s thin as a rail and dark as night with handsome chiseled features and likes to share his carefully construed life philosophy. And I when wanted the car checked out, he trucked to my auto mechanic who, it turned out, had known him for years.

When she came down from Vermont to exchange cars, our daughter was delighted with it. I love it when things groove like that. In case you’re wondering, after the exchange of cars we were out around $5K, though sale tax, title fee, and registration bumped that up ten percent. We’re all happy with the deal and I’m particularly happy to be done responding to car ads by shady guys named Bob or Tony.

Speaking of life philosophy, here’s the meat of this message: how to treat bacon with the respect it deserves.

Most likely you enjoy eating bacon, but how much do you think about what kind to buy and how to handle it? Maybe you’re spooked to eat fatty food, even with most of the fat drained off. I’ve never been, but after I learned that the nitrite used to keep bacon fresh and pink can convert to potentially carcinogenic nitrosamines when cooked at high temperatures, as in frying, I decided to take care. Science Meets Food: Bacon Edition has a nice rundown of what gets added to bacon and how to think about the risks.

A few decades ago, USDA required all bacon to be cured with nitrates and nitrites, but now you can get uncured bacon with an ominous warning label telling you to store it under 40º at all times. Should you buy cured bacon, look for the firmer “dry-rub” kind, like so-called Black Forest bacon. I shy away from flats of bacon injected with water, salt, sugar, preservatives, and sometimes liquid smoke. Look for slabs rather than flat packs to better judge how lean it is. I like mine to be about 50% lean; too much meat and it loses that juicy, crispy mouth feel.

While I might eat bacon four times a week, I don’t eat all that much. When I get it home I cut the slab in half before peeling off strips that I stack up in sets of four. Each stack gets wrapped in plastic and put into a quart freezer bag along with the label I’ve cut from of the packaging. Then I freeze the bag and defrost a packet for each two-slice serving. Now you know how obsessive I can be.

Of course, I don’t fry it. A portion takes 30 minutes or less at 300º to bake in my toaster oven. My preference is toward semi-crisp; cooked enough so that a piece doesn’t droop when picked up from the end, but still with some moist fat. Some dry-rubbed brands cook faster, depending on thickness and water content. I prefer thicker cuts, but tastes differ. Brands I like include North Country, Jansall Valley, Kayem double-smoked, and Trader Joe’s Applewood-smoked. Harrington’s cob-smoked is also delicious but hard to find and pricier. Hope this helps, bacon lovers.

Before I leave you be, here’s another update on another obsession, my novel Her Own Devices. In May and June I queried some publishers with version 5. Two, one in the UK and the other from the West Coast, recently sent polite rejections without comment. Two beta readers also reported in, both men who write. Ken, who likes to read and write all sorts of genre fiction, had only gotten to the third chapter when he gave up, saying there wasn’t enough tension and conflict to draw him in. As the plot uncoils leisurely and most of my heroine’s conflict is either psychic or imagined, I was not surprised to get that type of reaction at some point, but that’s okay. It helps me define my target market.

Beta Reader Dan, a college friend and professor of English who’s authored essays, plays, and poems, pretty much raved about it, saying it “reads like butter.” I took his disappointment with how I treated my character at the end to heart, and have given her greater gratification in the current draft. But he liked the liberties I took with speculative elements—interactions between my protagonist and the book’s editor (in her own words) in the Foreword and Afterword, her sharp debates with her inner critic (speaking of conflict), and the anguished soliloquies from beyond the grave by her late lover that pop up passim. I appreciate such broad-mindedness in a reader.

And now, my old friend Linda has agreed to take a crack at it. She’s an accomplished writer and editor and will likely be the first woman to report in. That’s great, because I’ve long fretted about how well women might take to a work of woman’s fiction written by a hetero man. Too, some of my male characters are gay, and a similarly oriented reader would be nice to find. You out there?

Genre-wise, the novel isn’t easy to pigeonhole. If, atop a circle labelled contemporary women’s fiction, you laid down ones for crime, speculative, and literary fiction, I reckon Devices would occupy their intersection. But maybe just call it “Upmarket,” and leave it at that.

So, if you think you might fall within my target audience and want to take a sneak peak in return for a few well-chosen words of your own, please get in touch to help me publish the best book I can and bring home the bacon.

Please take care. Try to keep away from crowds until this Delta business quiets down.

From Perfidy Press Provocations, a quasi-monthly newsletter

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Published inEssayNewsletternonfiction

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