BLT

“I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books, my family and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give.”

Thomas Jefferson

I should preface this “recipe” by reminding readers that this is less a blog where I learn how to make fancy meals and more a place where I focus on cooking things properly. That being said, this week I made BLTS, which is ridiculous because the recipe is essentially in the name and it hardly constitutes cooking, but I needed to know that I could cook bacon well before I went any further down the meat cooking rabbit hole.

For the sake of having recipes to reference here, I looked to the Barefoot Contessa again to teach me to cook bacon (as well as the bacon package and my mother’s insight), found a “bacon” recipe that was really more trouble than it was worth, and used Joy the Baker’s “perfect BLT” recipe to supplement my innate knowledge.

For the purposes of this blog, I decided to make my own “bacon” from plain tempeh instead of purchasing any of the fakin’ bacon products that exist. In fact, the brand of tempeh I chose to use also sold an already marinated bacon-style tempeh; for only a few cents more, it’s definitely worth it to buy instead of make your own. The ingredients on the tempeh bacon package were pretty similar to those in the recipe I used, and, as the tempeh is already marinating in the package, using this product saves a lot of time.

Making the “bacon” was really just a matter of slicing tempeh into vaguely bacon-looking pieces and marinating it with vaguely bacon-tasting flavors. I poured cumin, chili powder, light brown sugar, the oldest apple cider vinegar in the world, and soy sauce in a pot and brought it to a boil. Then, I poured it over the tempeh and waited a couple hours.

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While the tempeh was turning into bacon, I collected the rest of my ingredients and got ready for the bacon baking part of BLT-makng.

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When I started this journey, I imagined myself testing meat with a thermometer and knowing exactly when something is done based on temperature. But so far, there have been no thermometers, and I’m finding that a lot of things require just knowing what cooked meat should look like. This ended up being the case with bacon, as the recommended cook times I came across left the bacon very underdone. I chose to make the bacon in the oven, and the recipe and package both called for an oven temperature of 400 degrees. The recipe suggested 15-20 minutes in the oven, while the package said it should only take 12 minutes. At 12 minutes, my bacon was nowhere near done, and at 20 minutes, it still could have been a little crispier so I left it in until 23 minutes had elapsed.

The “bacon” recipe I chose for flavor purposes actually said to cook the tempeh at 300 degrees, but I really wanted to cook everything at once for the sake of convenience so I googled “tempeh bacon oven 400 degrees” to see if anyone on the internet thought that was an acceptable baking method, and lo and behold, Vegan Yoga Life offered a recipe that used that temperature and, strangely enough, required almost the same amount of time in the oven.

By the end of the cooking process, the bacon/”bacon” almost looked the same, except that the bacon was covered in grease while the “bacon” was stuck to the foil.

This is the part of the recipe that can be fast-forwarded. It’s a BLT. There’s L and T on toasted white bread. Mayonnaise on both slices of bread. Salt and pepper if you feel like it. Add the bacon/”bacon.” Top the sandwich with the second piece of toast, and cut it diagonally (I firmly believe that it the correct way to slice a sandwich).

Once the sandwiches were complete, you really couldn’t tell which was which by appearance (mine is the second photo).

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The BLTs got rave reviews all around. Not to brag, but my mom said they were “perfect.” My BLT was also really good. I ate some of the “bacon” by itself, and it was enjoyable but obviously not bacon. But once it was on a sandwich with all of the other flavors of a BLT, I think my mind kind of filled in the gaps of what bacon should taste like. Overall, this was a really easy, but important, cooking experience.

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7 thoughts on “BLT”

  1. I love that you’re including sandwiches as cooked meals, they are important! And they both look delicious, even though the fake bacon worried me for a little, it looks like it turned out really great! The pictures in this post were spot on, they really help visualize the process. The quote at the top is my favorite part, though, mostly because it’s Thomas Jefferson talking about bacon. Really good find.
    I think commenting would be a better method for you, since there are so many food blogs out there a few are bound to reciprocate and look at yours! Maybe if you start talking to any, you could always ask them for cooking advice or suggestions; online networking could work really well for your topic!
    And I don’t think you’re being a traitor. It’s more like, your broadening your skill sets, while sticking with your own personal decisions.
    Good job on your post!!

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  2. I thought this second post was great because you took the time to explain each step of the cooking process. You’re funny but also honest about your inexperience, and readers will appreciate that. I don’t think other vegetarians will think you’re a traitor. But maybe make it clear through your posts that this is an experiment. You want to practice these practical skills, and that’s okay. You can casually talk about your values as a vegetarian if you want to be really clear.

    To really get a larger audience, consider reading other blogs. They don’t need to be famous, just find one that’s interesting. I’d like to comment that your pictures really bring your experience to life. They visualize your meat and non meat options and show how delicious they both look! Keep going!

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  3. Hey readers! Sara here.
    As I move forward with this project, I’m thinking more on how to reach out to my target audience–as much as I love writing for Kyle and the Emilys, you guys aren’t vegetarians learning how to navigate the meat/meat substitute cooking scene. I really don’t know how I’m going to reach other vegetarians with this blog, and I’m kind of nervous that if I do reach them they might not like the idea of a vegetarian cooking meat (will they think I’m a traitor?!). I also use social media very minimally so the only way to get my blog out there seems to be to comment on other people’s blog (and that’s scary). Any tips you guys can give me on how to reach other vegetarians, or other very, very basic chefs, I suppose, would be really helpful. And any other advice or feedback you have would be greatly appreciated! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, and be on the lookout for meatballs this week!

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    1. Hey, I’m a vegetarian, and I love it! When I used to eat meat my girlfriend and I had a similar food-relationship to the one you’re training for. So the concept immediately resonated with me. I would still suggest social media over blog commenting, Instagram and food go together like nothing else, and with the amount of pictures you take for each post a couple of Instagram photos and some functional hashtags could definitely bring in a diverse meat/non meat eating audience. Another thing that could be cool is taking a short video of what you’re doing for a recipie alongside some time lapsed footage of you cooking it. Could be edited down to 5 minutes all said and done, making it easy to watch and shareable. And you could toss it up on a YouTube channel to create a real strong visual repository for your recipes. Maybe over the top, but this is such a cool idea that I think it could really take off.

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  4. Once again, great post! Your personality is clearly coming through, and the step by step process with pictures just works so well. I never thought of just grabbing tempeh and slicing it over using the fake bacon (which is, well, ok at best). I really like the idea of using spices and vinegar/soy sauce to bake the tempeh in. My grandmother makes a dipping sauce for her Korean dishes that’s red wine vinegar, soy sauce, a bit of sugar and water. I’m thinking maybe if I use that and tweak the spices I could get a good savory but high-noted flavor out of it. Even if I don’t, I gotta try that recipie. The comparison shots were great too, it really is almost impossible to tell which is which!

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