Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I am currently on vacation. When I go on vacation it's usually a very low-key affair and this one has been no exception. Aside from a few appointments, (got my rear differential services, wifey had an OB/Gyn appointment that we cancelled) the highlight of the week was a July 4th cookout at a friend's house, where I served as grill-master and chief pyromaniac. We cooked five pounds of hamburgers, two kielbasas, half a dozen chicken breasts, two or three pounds of chicken tenderloins, a gang of hot dogs and about a dozen chicken thighs on the bone. There was corn on the cob, potato salad, rice, chips, and a big, old, mean apple pie with ice cream. There were only about eight of us there so there were leftovers aplenty. We've been living off of them for the past few days.

We bought about 40 dollars of fireworks which were ignited with much enthusiasm except our friend Ita's son. Poor little Elisha was scared to death of them. He would sit in his mother's lap as she covered his ears for him. In Connecticut, the laws prohibit fireworks that do anything than make a little noise and emit sparks, so I think that his fear was considerably countered by his fascination with them. When they were all gone he kept asking me if I was going to light anymore.

He's about three years old. I love kids that age. The world is still so full of wonder for them; I would love to see the world through their eyes for a day.

Now, there is a reason why my vacations are so low-key. It's not because I have a fairly stressful job (I do) and don't want to add any stress on vacation, worrying about itineraries, airline tickets, long car trips, etc. It's not because wifey and I cannot get time off from our employer's at the same time (she's a stay-at-home mom). It's not because the boy is involved in a summer sports program or anything like that that forces us to stay close to home. The reason we don't do anything extravagant while I am on vacation is simple: we can't afford it.

I would love to drive down to Florida and see Liz and my mom and finally meet both of their husbands. I would love to fly to Texas or Arizona to visit my sister or my friend Donna.

We, just like so many people these days, live week to week, paycheck to paycheck. It's not like we want for very much or are scrounging for food, but there simply isn't a lot of wiggle room financially. If something dire were to happen to any of us, costly medical bills could potentially bankrupt us. Thankfully I work in a hospital and anything routine is, for the most part, gratis. If something were to happen to me that would put me out of work for any extended period of time would spell financial ruin.

Vacations are not a luxury for me, they are simply a way to escape the stress of work for a very brief period.

...damn. I gave myself heartburn thinking about all this.

Friday, July 3, 2009

An ode to bacon

I just fried up a pound of bacon.

The house is now in the swoon of a heady bacon orgasm. It is altogether comforting, decadent, and wholly satisfying unlike anything else that comes out of the kitchen in the mornings. Just the act of standing over a hot frying pan watching those strips of smoke-cured pork belly brown, sizzle, and curl up into little strips of brown heaven is absolutely awesome. Since you really can't and shouldn't eat bacon every day cooking it is a rare, almost exotic while at the same time completely domesticated act. I love every part of it: the sizzle and pop as the meat renders the fat and browns; the smell that pervades the air, filling the whole house; the occasional pop of the grease that smarts my hand; even the film of spattered grease over the lenses of my glasses.

But cooking it is only a small part of the fun. With a mug of hot coffee in one hand a fork in the other who can resist taking one of the first pieces out of the pan after you've added the next set into the pan. The combination of slightly sweet, salty and greasy that wraps itself up in the intoxicating umami that just sits there on the back of your tongue.

I've started saving bacon grease like my mother used to, saving it for some yet unknown southern, cracker delicacy. I have a cookbook that I got for my birthday called The Cracker Kitchen that is filled with all kinds of recipes that call for bacon drippings, so many of them reminiscent of my childhood and the dishes my mom used to make us. And I guess there is also where part of the appeal of bacon lies: it is something that has survived the transition from my childhood into my adult life. It brings me as much pleasure now as it did then; it hasn't been diminished with the passing years.

I love bacon.