Monday, June 4, 2012

Baking Bacon and Bacon, Egg and Tapenade Sandwiches

Life is pretty simple these days.  Post-op recovery has been slower than expected and I still can’t move my neck enough to cook, never mind drive, but as I have found myself stranded in my neighborhood, unable to do much more than meander around looking at things that are just at head height, I can’t imagine a better neighborhood to be mildly invalided in than this one.  My typical day includes a doctor-ordered stroll and then hours of icing.  A heavy day includes a shower and even more icing.  It could become mind-numbingly boring, but low expectations and a good audiobook make all the difference.

The gardens here are gorgeous and varied – succulents galore, fruit trees and grasses, palms and a hundred flowering things, jasmine, honeysuckle, roses, camellias, morning glories, bougainvillea. 

I head north past my neighbor’s lovely roses and take a left at bushes of heady-smelling, warm white jasmine and toward the canals.   

It would be easy enough to just zigzag through the canals, watching ducks and paddlers and eccentrics pushing dogs in strollers, but after a week of that I needed to branch out.  There are walk streets that lace through Venice, blocks and blocks of houses facing one another separated just by shady paths, streets and driveways hidden at the back.  It’s a peaceful and cool place full of brightly painted old craftsman cottages and striking modern, glass front homes.

Venice is decidedly quirky and firmly a community.  This is my favorite sighting from the weekend’s walks: a mini lending library, nailed to a front fence.

It’s amazing how hungry a mosey can make you.  My kitchen abilities are limited, but I have found a new favorite egg sandwich that makes a lovely brunch and, with some help from Felix at the weekend, I can put it together myself.  Hard boil some eggs and bake some bacon, which can be reheated quickly, and all of the makings are at the ready.

Baking bacon is easy-peasy and I love that it doesn’t just sit festering in its own fat.  Line a baking sheet with foil and prop an oven-safe cooling rack on it.  Spread out your bacon and bake at 375F.  The length of time required will depend on the starting temperature and thickness of your bacon.  Start your timer at 20 minutes and then check at 5-minute intervals until it’s almost perfect – it will cook just a touch more even after you take it out.  

I use the bacon all week – not just in sandwiches but minced in cannelloni filling or chopped in quiches or pastas.  We’ve been eating less meat, so this adds a hint of smoky meatiness to a recipe without overdoing it.

To assemble the sandwich, crumble just a tablespoon or so of soft goat cheese with the tines of a fork onto your bottom bun and top with a slice and a half of hot bacon.  Cover with wedges of egg and close with the top of your bun, smeared with black olive tapenade.  A bit of wild arugula, if you have it, is a fantastic addition.


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