Friday, June 20, 2014

Recipe: Spicy Bacon Jam

This post is a bit late, but since my Father's Day gift was a bit late (sorry, dad!), I suppose it's okay.

What do you get for the dad who doesn't like watching sports or playing golf? My father doesn't work in an office so ties and cuff links are out. His company is woodworking so buying tools is sort of like giving a housewife an iron. Not cool. (Also, I can't afford the tools he does want.) Oh, and he doesn't drink. Gifts can be hard.

So bacon jam has started popping up on menus here in NYC, and I knew after the third time I ordered it from yet another restaurant that I needed to make some and send it as a Father's Day gift.

I'm not going to lie, it's pretty incredible.

I decided to base my recipe off of Martha Stewart's recipe and while it doesn't look pretty, it's very tasty. There isn't any fruit in this so calling it jam is a bit of a misnomer, but it is sweet and it does have a jelly-like substance to it. The bacon is rendered so it isn't crunchy; typically I dislike non-crunchy bacon but it works perfectly with the texture.

So what does one do with bacon jam?

I suppose you could slap some on a piece of baguette, perhaps with a bit of brie cheese and eat it like that. I've been putting it as a condiment on my sandwiches - as you can see in the photos with  my cheddar, pepperjack, and avocado sandwiches.

I put it in pasta as well, which was good, but not as delicious as the sandwich. I'm looking forward to mixing some in with my eggs, as well as maybe stirring some into some fried potatoes!

1 pound sliced bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion, diced
1 jalapeno
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
3 ounces pure maple syrup
3/4 cup brewed coffee

In a large skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, cook bacon until the fat has been rendered, about half an hour. If you haven't rendered bacon before, the goal is to turn the fatty parts of the bacon into liquid grease; you'll end up with a skillet of it!

With a slotted spoon, scoop out the bacon pieces, leaving the grease, and place bacon pieces on a paper towel.

Add onions and jalapeno and cook in the bacon grease for about 4-6 minutes. When onions have softened and are turning translucent, add the garlic, vinegar, sugar, syrup, and coffee and bring to a boil.

Boil for about 2 minutes and then add the bacon pieces back into the mixture.

Remove from heat and transfer mixture to a slow cooker. Cook uncovered on high for 4 hours, until liquid is syrupy.

Transfer to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.

You can enjoy right away, otherwise store in the fridge.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Recipe: Homemade Toothpaste

So not only do I make most of my food from scratch (or try to, at least!), I also try to make most of my toiletries from scratch as well, for generally the same reason: I'm trying to cut out the high number of preservatives and potentially harmful ingredients I'm exposed to on a daily basis.

When I ran out of toothpaste one day, I figured I'd give toothpaste making a go.

After a bit of research, it turns out that we don't necessarily need to brush our teeth with anything other than water and a toothbrush. Flossing is much more important as we really need to get the food out from in between our teeth.

As you can imagine, my breath was awful so I gave up on that after a day.

So with a bit more research, I tried making a paste with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide and brushing with that. My breath was slightly better and, WOW, my teeth were sparkling white. After 2-3 days of this mixture, my teeth became very sensitive from the whitening.

I tried just baking soda by itself, but that is nasty. Also, it doesn't really neutralize bad breath. And if I remember correctly, just baking soda still leaves grit on your teeth. Gross.

I think I experimented a bit more, but now I have this recipe that I love, adapted from Wellness Mama. My teeth feel clean, my breath smells great (generally speaking), and the calcium in this recipe potentially remineralizes teeth. (She explains how that works on her site.)

I'm not a dentist or a researcher so I'll not claim anything here, except my own experience. Between this toothpaste recipe and regular flossing, my teeth look and feel better than they ever have before.

5 parts calcium powder (dried, powdered eggshells will also work)
2 parts baking soda
3 parts xylitol
5 parts coconut oil
10-20 drops peppermint essential oil
5 drops orange essential oil

Note: I tend to use tablespoons for mine so it would 5 tbsps calcium powder, 2 tbsps, baking soda, etc.

Mix dry ingredients together.

Heat coconut oil if necessary until the oil liquefies. Add oil one part at a time until desired consistency. (I like about 5 tablespoons in mine; you may prefer more or less.)

Stir in essential oils.

Store and use!

I keep mine in a ceramic container in the bathroom. If it's just you and you're confident in your hygiene, you can just dip your toothbrush into it.

If there are multiple people in your household, you could add an applicator or try putting it in an icing/frosting tube and squeezing it out.