Sunday, July 26, 2009

Red, Purple and Bacon

And you thought I never cooked anymore.

I don't know about you, but I'm the sort of person who has a hard time seeing something like a head of purple cauliflower at the grocery store without buying it. They also had white, green and orange. But come on, a dude has his limits.

So what do you do with purple cauliflower? Well, anything you can do with regular cauliflower, really. You just get the advantage of having prettier colors. In this case, I started with bacon. Peppered bacon.

Huh. Eight half-slices. I could have sworn I ended up using six in the end dish. Something must have happened to the other two.

When the bacon is nice and crispy, pull out out of the pan and set it aside to drain. And yes, I know you don't like crispy bacon like I do. Trust me on this one. You want it crispy. Not cardboard crispy, but it does need to have some snap to it. Drain off most of the bacon fat, but not all of it.

I ended up using about a cup of purple cauliflower, cut into pieces, and half a cup of red bell pepper, also cut into pieces. Crank the heat, and saute them in the bacon fat. We're not looking to actually cook them all the way through, that will happen later. Right now we just want some color on them. I did add a splah or two of Worcestershire sauce though. I like it.

Then we need some pasta. I went with a ziti rigati, maybe a cup or so. Add it to the pan, along with a cup of chicken broth. Keep another half cup to a cup standing by, just in case. Also, I used a half tablespoon each of dried basil and dried chives.

This is a kind of absorption pasta dish. No wasted cooking water, and the pasta soaks up all of that flavorful liquid. You need to keep the pasta moving, but not constantly. Just enough that it all has a chance to soak up liquid, and none of it cooks unevenly. If you start to run out of liquid and the pasta isn't cooked yet, add another quarter cup or so and keep going.

The goal here is for the pasta to finish cooking at the same time as the veggies. It'll take somewhere around 10 minutes. give or take. You'll notice that I didn't add salt or pepper to this dish. Trust me, the bacon has plenty of both. In my case, the dish still ended up being just a tad saltier than I would have liked. Not enough to detract from the overall tastiness.

Just before the liquid finishes evaporating, you'll want to add the bacon back into the pan, along with the juice of half a lemon. You'll notice in the final photo that I ended up cutting it into inch-long pieces. I probably should have started out that way, but that's okay. The bacon is going to soak up just a little of the remaining juices, and catch some of the steam as well. This will make it lose some crisp. If you kept it soggy before, it will remain soggy.

Oh man. This stuff was awesome. I could have eaten it all night, but my heart would have exploded from the bacony goodness. Don't make it as an entree. Keep it as a side. Let me know if you think of the perfect thing to serve it with.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I went to CostCo this morning to pick up a few things. When I was checking out, I had an interesting conversation with the checker. He was probably in his 50s or 60s, and reminded me of the dad in Better Off Dead, trying to communicate with his son. He didn't take it overboard, but he did use the word "dude" a lot. The way he said it was funny, as if it was a new sound that he had been trying out for a couple of days, but wasn't used to it yet. But he made sure to emphasize it ever so slightly, as if he was trying to assure me that he was young and hip.

"How are you today, Dude?"
"Um. Good."

Unlike on my blog, in person I tend to be a man of few words, at least to strangers. Certainly to strangers that I only expect to have to deal with for a couple of minutes, and then potentially never see again. Disposable strangers.

But the conversation took an annoying turn about the time he handed me my receipt. This is when I like cashiers to say. "thank you, have a good day", and then promptly ignore me in favor of the next person. But this was about the time he noticed my t-shirt.

"Oingo Boingo? I don't think I've heard of that, Dude. What is it?"
"They're a band. Well, they were a band."
"Oh, a band? You mean like music, Dude?"
"Yeah. Music."
"Well, what kind of music are they, Dude?"
"They were a ska band."
"Oh, you mean like rock and roll, Dude?"
"Um. Yeah. That's exactly what I mean."

Yes, he did use the word "dude" that many times, and more. The bagger (or whatever you'd call that guy at CostCo) was giving me looks that seemed to be a mix of, "I pity you" and "I pity me too".

There's a lesson here, I think. I'm not really sure what it is, though. Right off.

On. I mean on.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Maters

They's a growin'.

And the zucchini.

And the chiles.

But really, the maters.