Wednesday, September 30, 2009

No takin' the bacon!

We at BDJ Labs are big fans of the site Passive Aggressive Notes. Basically, people from all over the world share with PAN readers the annoying missives that their roommates, coworkers, neighbors, and other people use to air their grievances because they're too chickensh!t to speak their minds directly to the offender.

For some reason, bacon seems to be a frequent note subject--PAN recently dedicated an entire day to sharing several bacon-related notes, ranging from these "pig" notes, to notes posted after a rash(er) of bacon thefts, to a note scribbled by a kid worried that his mom would bogart his bacon. Click here for the whole sordid story.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

All-bacon pet diet stinks

We at BDJ Labs are all for a daily dose of bacon--but for humans, not other, four-legged critters. Also, no living being should live on only bacon. It's delicious, but it's not exactly chock full of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients we need to live healthy lives. We figure stretching the bacon out over a span of time extends your life and actually lets you consume more bacon in the long run. Hogging it all at once leads to heart disease, diabetes, and extreme fatassedness, and it could bring your bacon-consumption days to a premature end.

We therefore applaud this story of a bacon-stuffed pet skunk, who apparently subsisted on nothing but bacon sandwiches. The poor little bugger was well on his way to an early skunk death when animal control staff rescued him and changed his diet right quick. Yay!, because 1) he'll live to stink up another day, and 2) more bacon for the rest of us.

Fat skunk gives up bacon butties
An overweight skunk from Somerset whose main diet was bacon sandwiches has been re-homed and put on a strict diet.

The owners of Mr Bumble the skunk handed him over to the RSPCA when they realised they could not look after him properly. The creature is now being cared for at the Tropiquaria animal park at Washford Cross, near Watchet. Park owner Chris Noisier said Mr Bumble weighed one stone (6.8kg) and needed to lose 5-6lb (2.2-2.7kg).

'Vegetarian option'
Mr Noisier said: "We're now working on dieting him down to what he should be and clearly bacon butties are not a normal part of a skunk's diet in the wild.

"We're putting him on the vegetarian option at the moment. It's very much like a human weight watching issue. He is getting to meet lots of new people so there's lots going on in his life and I suspect it's making up for the lack of his old favourite food."

In the wild, skunks' natural diet would include carrion, insects, mice and a variety of greenery.
Chris Noisier said Mr Bumble was currently being fed on a vegetable high-fibre, low-energy diet consisting of greens and melon.

Scent glands
He is also taken for two 30-minute walks each day on a lead.

Skunks are native to North America, but have become popular as house pets in the UK. A number of skunks have been abandoned recently since a new law banned the removal of their scent glands. Two vets have examined Mr Bumble and neither can be sure whether he has been de-scented.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Test #185: Bacon and BAC~OS

The subject
Bacon's an excellent salad topper, but unfortunately, some of the health benefits of munching on rabbit food (low fat, low sodium, meatlessness) go out the window when you dump handfuls of salted pork tidbits over your lettuce/veggie concoction. Enter Betty Crocker's Bac~Os, a clever substitute that imparts flavor to any salad without throwing your diet plans under the bus. While we fully admit that they don't taste very bacony, we do like the crispy texture, and the saltiness (although for some reason, they seem to give us nasty burps). Pretty neat for a pile of artificially dyed veggie protein and salt.

However, while we love Bac~Os on our lettuce and in our Mom's Seven-Layer Salad, we've never tried actually cooking these things. Arming ourselves with low expectations, we decided to wrap up a generous spoonful of Bac~Os with actual bonafide bacon and see what the hell happens.

The results
Hell happens--i.e., bacon-wrapped Bac~Os taste like hell. Well, back that up--it's not the taste so much as the texture. The grease doesn't seem to get along with the nearly fat-free vegetable protein hunks, which morph during baking from crispy bits to mushy blobs. Not appealing at all, kids. Save the bacos for the salad, and keep them away from the oven.

The conclusion: Bacon + Bac~Os = a concoction to avoid

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Today is International Bacon Day--for BDJ Labs, it's the most wonderful time of the year (sorry, Jesus--your birthday's nowhere near as cool).

You don't have to buy a tree, wear a costume, hide eggs, give your current boyfriend/girlfriend/lover/spouse chocolate, or wear green and drink yourself in a stupor to celebrate the momentous occasion. No, sir and/or ma'am. All you have to do is EAT BACON. If you're really committed to celebrating, eat bacon in EVERYTHING. Bacon in your morning pancakes. Drink a Bacon Mary. Have bacon-PBJ sandwiches at lunch. Munch on some of Bleeding Heart Bakery's Chocolate Peanut Butter Bacon cupcakes for a snack. Bacon Explosion for dinner. At night, pop in a Kevin Bacon movie and pop up some Bacony Popcorn (see recipe below). You get the idea. Bacon it up, son.

If you want to go all balls and host a bacon party, click here for some inspiration. This woman had a bacon-themed party at which every guest had to bring "creative bacon"--everything from bacon-wrapped Twinkies to deep-fried bacon. Mmm, baby.

Bacony Popcorn

4-6 slices of bacon
1/3 C unpopped popcorn kernels
1/4 C butter, melted
Bacon Salt

Special equipment:
Hand-crank, stovetop popcorn maker (you can get 'em at Target and such)

Fry the bacon up crisp, then transfer the grease to your popcorn popper. Crumble the bacon up real good and set it aside. Pour the popcorn into the greasy popper and cook/crank until the popping noises pretty much stop. Transfer the popcorn to a bowl. Quickly add in succession the butter, crumbled bacon, and a liberal amount of bacon salt. Eat.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Recipe: Bacon-wrapped apricot

Culinary wondercouple Dan and Steve (aka the Hearty Boys) have a delicious story: Despite the fact that neither is a trained chef, they've managed to run one of the city's most beloved catering businesses, open a restaurant (and they're about to open a second), and won much-coveted The Next Food Network Star honors. Their brunch is legendary--in fact, one Sunday a few years ago, their restaurant gave BDJ Labs staff their first taste of maple-glazed bacon.

Their love of bacon endures, apparently--witness the absolutely delectable recipe that landed in the BDJ Labs inbox today--we know what we're having for lunch now.

Bacon-wrapped apricots
24 Turkish dried apricots (brighter color and milder taste than plain ol regular ones)
1 cup white wine
2 fresh thyme sprigs
12 slices bacon, cut in half
Honey Balsamic Glaze, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Put the apricots into a medium-size saucepan, along with the wine and thyme. Add enough water to just cover and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the apricots and let cool. Discard the sprigs of thyme.

Wrap each apricot in a piece of bacon, secure with a toothpick, and place on a baking sheet. Bake in the top half of the oven until the bacon is crisp, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Drizzle with honey balsamic glaze before serving.

Yield: 24 pieces
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Honey Balsamic Glaze

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Combine all the ingredients, along with 1/4 cup water, in a saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and let simmer until reduced by half. The glaze should have a honey-like consistency.

Yield: 3/4 cup
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

BDJ Field Report: McDonalds' Angus Third Pounder

We've been tempted and let down by Angus burgers before. BK's tried the premium cattle matter before, with disasterous results (the flavor reminded us of the sad meatwads we avoided in our high school cafeterias). This particular effort by McDonald's, though, gave us hope--mostly because of the bacon. The dose of salted pork they administer to the burger on TV looks so tempting and plentiful, we couldn't help but harbor positive expectations.

The results: Bacon good. Instead of the flimsy half-strips on the sandwich that Wendy's has the Biggie-size cajones to call "the Baconator", these were full-length planks of BACON (although they don't arrive, as the above pic may seem to imply, still "sizzlin"). The burger: meh. You can tell the good folks at Kuma's Corner they won't be going out of business anytime soon. Instead of perfectly round patties, the 1/3-pounder meatpucks have a sort of scalloped edge to them, as if that's going to impart the image of McD's chefs hand-forming the ground beef in the kitchen with great love and care minutes before the sandwich is served to you. We know the patties arrive via freezer truck in bags of rock-hard ice-meat--stop crappin' us. The burgers themselves taste exactly like quarter pounders--it's the bacon, better-quality pickles, bun, and bacon that dress these babies up. However, no amount of dressing is gonna convince us to pay big bucks on a so-so burger.

So there.