A New Job, a Root Canal, Slab Bacon and Camping

I haven't posted for a while - it's been quite busy for me. My recent news is that I have started a new job within the organization at which I was already working, as an I.T. manager (I had previously been a project manager). Very exciting, lots of new faces, names, projects, applications and responsibilities.

Spring and I went out for dinner last night, and I suppose in part it was to celebrate the new position. I had smoky ribs and a baked potato with bacon bits on it. Spring had a curried chicken dish. She enjoyed her curry, and the bacon bits on my baked potato were very tasty. And in the spirit of many of my posts, I shall now write a bit about bacon and camping.

Taking normal bacon (streaky or rasher bacon) on camping trips can be a bit messy, I find. It's good when you first open the package, but I'm not sure how long it lasts before it goes off, and if it is warm then I find it gets rather messy and melty. Prior to modern day preservation, campers would not have had the luxury of fresh meats and streaky bacon. I have in the past brought a frozen steak or a frozen package of bacon and devoured it on day one or two. But a pound of bacon is a lot to eat in a short time and so I thought a bit about what I could do to have bacon on a camping trip, without these problems.

Slab bacon is the answer. Slab bacon is a solid chunk of pork belly bacon (belly, as opposed to 'back bacon' which is the loin, the ovoid shape of lean meat in back-bacon - in Canadian Bacon and in center-cut pork chops etc...). It is heavily salted and smoky and nitrate-laden, and has little moisture in it. It can be transported in a single piece. You can cut it with a knife and add chunks to a soup, or cut it in slices and fry it up. Slab bacon generally comes with the rind or the skin on it, and the trick is to slice down the subcutaneous fatty layer and peel the rind off - easier said than done in my experience. You could fry up the rind too and make crunchy crackling too, or hand it to the dog for a long-chewing treat, one for which your dog would be eternally grateful. You can also roast it up by putting a chunk of it on a stick and holding it over a fire for a while.

To prepare the bacon as you might with typical store-bought rasher bacon, you might want to remove some of the salt by putting some slices in the frying pan with some water - and then pouring out the water once it has cooked a little bit.

My mouth is watering just thinking about it. To store and transport it you can wrap the bacon in cheesecloth and put it in a paper bag - it will transport easily and safely in warm weather. It would probably be best not to store it in a plastic bag or container as you should let it breathe a bit - the salty bacon is hygroscopic, i.e. all that salt attracts moisture from the air. I'd be comfortable transporting slab bacon on a camping trip for at least a week at ambient temperatures. In a pinch you could eat it without cooking, as it is fully cured - it just wouldn't be all that appetizing.

My mouth might be watering now, but last week is was sort of dribbling as the local anaesthetic began to wear off after one of my teeth had a root canal. Some time ago one of my molars that had a filling in it decided to crack a little, and to allow the oral flora that hang around in my mouth (oh yes, and yours and your friends' mouths) access to the fleshy, pulpy, vascularized and enervated center of the tooth. Eventually I developed symptoms of this infection which included sharp electric pains, dull throbbing intense pains and concomitant moaning, groaning, thrashing, hair-pulling and the occasional release of tears. I was unable to chew much of anything, and could only drink liquids if they were not too cold and not too warm. Analgesic tablets only did so much for the pain. So - no bacon for me.

After urging my dentist to hurry up with a specialist appointment, I got in and had the procedure. The procedure itself was quite painless and all went well. I have a temporary filling in there now, and in a couple of weeks my regular dentist is going to prepare the tooth for a crown. Once that is ready, I will again be ready to eat some bacon.



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