Date nights are to parents what binge drinking is to college students.
It’s early Sunday morning and my head is still throbbing from a series of bad choices made on yesterday’s date night. The day began innocently with brown sugar and chili rubbed bacon and progressed through a few celebratory drinks at Rum Club and the most amazing fried chicken sandwiches at Basilisk, a Portland hot spot. Date nights are to most parents what binge drinking is to college students. Occasions to completely let go (let it go, let it go) and have a wild, carefree time. The difference is as I continue to improve with age my recovery time is not what it used to be. As the title of my pathetic blog suggests I have lived more a life of excess than most people. I am no stranger to debauchery in all forms. Date nights are liberating moments designed to foolishly make us believe, for however short a period, we can live as freely as we once did. Well perhaps before you acquired a five year old dictator hellbent on micro-managing every second of your waking life. I should clarify I am not the same irresponsible person I was thirty years ago. By wild time, I actually mean choosing the movies I want to watch rather than being forced to sit through an endless stream of Princess cartoons, often the same one back to back to back. Yes, it is true, I will freely admit it. I rather enjoyed Disney’s epic animated tale Frozen the first 117 times I watched it. I even donned a tiara and gleefully sang along with the stars at Frozen on Ice. Somewhere around the 200th time watching it during a single weekend binge I started pondering homicide as a viable method to regain sanity. I did the math. I might even get out of jail and still have enough time to enjoy what remains of life before senility engulfs me. Maybe one last bite of crispy bacon crack.
Date nights often mean sleeping unfettered in my own bed. There is a subtle joy in not being pressed face first, blanket-less against a cold wall at hours on end by my son’s snoring body. The freedom we as parents feel by going out without worrying whether you have the right color crayons or enough spiderman stickers to last the 15 minutes while you chug a glass of wine. The liberation of knowing no pet slugs will be found hiding in your shoes feasting on organic bibb lettuce squirreled away for the occasion. At the tender age of five Beau has not only mastered all the buttons to press and how far to push them, BUT he became the expert of the exit strategy. He masterfully balls up into a sniveling mass at the exact moment I think life in jail really isn’t a horrible thing. Three squares, a bed and all the time to think.
As a way to make peace with my inner Bacchus I present to you Bacon Crack, bacon rubbed in brown sugar and chilies then baked to a crispy yummyness. I started making this bacon years ago when I first moved to Mendocino, California and took on the job as Chef of Brewery Gulch Inn. I prepared this for the well pampered guests and may have indulged a bit myself leading to a full on addiction to all things bacon. Working breakfast shift hung over can do that.
- one pound of thin sliced bacon, I opt for a nitrate free applewood smoked bacon
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 - 2 tablespoons chili flakes
- Line bacon on a silpat covered baking sheet. Bacon releases a lot of fat as it cooks so make sure you do not start a fire in your oven and use a pan with sides.
- Rub sugar and chilies all over the bacon.
- Bake at 350 for 20 - 30 minutes. Somewhere around the 15 minute point switch the bacon from the bottom shelf to the top shelf. The idea is to cook bacon slowly. The temptation, especially after eating these previously will be to crank the oven up and get these quicker. Resist by all means necessary.
- Remove from oven when they are perfectly golden brown.
- Lift bacon out and allow to cool. The sugar will harden and make the bacon perfectly crispy. This only lasts for 30 minutes or so and it will start to soften. French people often say food does not wait for people, people wait for food. This is the moment where you need to adopt the dictum in your life. The results will justify the means.
As a disclaimer, I love my son and consider him (and wife Lisa) to be the reason I am a far better person than I was. Both of them, especially my little one make life truly worth living.