Sky Full of Bacon

1. Apropos of Chaise Lounge reconcepting as The Southern, I was going to mention chef Cary Taylor’s new blog, but then there was this whole list of links to Chicago chefs who blog, from Ellen Malloy, so check ’em all out.
2. Jonathan Gold gives some smart tips on how to find good authentic ethnic food starting about 15 minutes into this Good Food episode:

There’s also an interesting bit on home charcuterie around 50 minutes in.
3. Department of Pushing the Envelope #1: Kennyz (headcheese taster in SFOB #4) contributes a quease-inducing post on frying up a big batch of bull testicles for dinner…
4. Department of Pushing the Envelope #2: Saucisson Mac tries to make andouillete, the French sausage made of intestines stuffed in intestine (I had it once in France; tasted fine till it cooled to the consistency of surgical tubing) and, well, he won’t be making that again.
5. You’ve probably run across this (parody) video on how to make a perfect cup of coffee, which has some laugh-out-loud moments, but just in case you haven’t…

How to Brew a Good Cup of Coffee from Ben Helfen on Vimeo.

6. Lots of macaron porn at the blog Paris Breakfasts, just keep scrolling till you see yet another geometric arrangement of brightly-colored cookies.  The post on the Paris flood of 1910 is pretty cool, too.
7. CHOW chows xiao long bao— without spilling. It’s amazing watching how fast this guy can seal them up by hand:

1. Video from the Seoul, Korea fish market I found on Vimeo. The same guy has one entitled “Hagfish, God’s Grossest Creatures,” but I’ll let you find your own way to that one (if you read the sequel to Gorky Park, you will have vivid memories you may not want to reactivate).

Jagalchi Fish Market: Best of Reel from Seoulful Adventures on Vimeo.

2. Edible Geography is one of those blogs that’s so learned that you just wonder, where the hell did these people come from?  Can they really have been writing “5 Wines to Match With Chili Dogs” until this blog opened up and they started cranking out sociological treatises on New York’s bodegas and on-the-scene reports on Algeria’s efforts to stave off a dust bowl?  (My favorite for sheer weirdness is the one on efforts to spot insect infestation in grain silos by sound using hypersensitive listening devices that can tell one bug scratch from another— it’s like something made up for the Museum of Jurassic Technology.) H/t Sharon Bautista.
3. LTHer Michelle Hays figures prominently in Monica Eng’s latest account of the culinary black hole that is school lunch. (Foodies mourned the loss of Eng as a food section writer when she moved out of that department, but in fact we’ve gained someone treating food seriously as a social/political/public policy area.  To the food media discussion with Michael Nagrant last week, this is exactly what something like the Trib should be doing, reacting to a changing environment for its existing food section content like reviews by branching into new territory that it’s suited to doing better than almost anybody else.)
4. Cool photos and video of mochi-making (a New Year’s Day tradition) at Arlington Heights’ Mitsuwa Market, on a Chicago blog called She Simmers.  The best part starts close to the minute mark:

5. Serious Eats recently revived memories of this 2007 post, which had me laughing at my desk, in which Robyn Lee investigates the dark and exclamation-point-ridden world of products imitating not just butter, but the perkiest imitation butter, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!” The comments also point to this, from the British TV comedy The Vicar of Dibley:

6. As you’ve probably heard all over, Fruitslinger, that great read about what the guy who sells you an apple at Green City Market is really thinking, is no more, and from its ashes rises… Waffleizer? Well, it’s a fun idea, anyway, to create a place for people to experiment and have fun with perhaps the least threatening of all foods.  (“Mr. President, the threat level is… Waffle.”)  I may know more about what’s ahead here than I’m letting on.
7. Here’s a warm-feeling trailer for a movie about a community garden/farm project in Detroit.  You can probably pretty much get the whole movie from this trailer, but it’s nicely done.

Trailer ‘Grown in Detroit’ from Mascha Poppenk on Vimeo.

Lots of people I know have been active lately, so this is a bonus-length holiday edition full of either stuff from people I know, or at least, suggestions for stuff for people you know. Like this first one:
1. Economist/Atlantic blogger Megan McArdle has an economist-thorough guide to good gifts for cooks at (naturally) various economic levels…
2. …which goes especially well with this Serious Eats thread about worst foodie gifts ever.
3. Of course, one foodie gift no Chicago foodie should be without is the charmingly retro Soup and Bread Cookbook, offshoot of Martha Bayne’s soup nights at The Hideout, including the hummus soup contributed by none other than me (which came in for praise here). Hugh Amano has a post inspired by it as well here.
4. And working our way through old blog-friends at the holidays, Art and Chel Jackson (I’m guessing the former since it’s meat-based) posted a terrific long post on beef, what the different kinds (grain-fed, grass-fed, etc.) are, what the practices of more conscientious producers are, etc. Really a great in-depth look that could easily have been a magazine piece, and yet, thanks to the internet, you can read it for free. (Um, like a magazine piece.)
5. Helen Rosner contributes to this roundup, not of the year’s best cookbooks, but of the decade’s, which strikes me as more interesting in a longer-view kind of way. (Though I think the list is too heavily weighted toward big chef cookbooks— I mean, tell me there aren’t 100 times as many people getting use out of, say, Bakewise or The Perfect Scoop as Alinea or The Fat Duck Cookbook. Still, that’s where the fun comes in, fixing someone else’s list with your own choices….)
6. Need a new Christmas cookie recipe? Here are 25 pretty-looking possibilities, from Recipe Girl. Diet pills to get you wired up enough to bake 25 different kinds of cookies not included.
7. It must be pie week, because The Reader has a cover story on mincemeat pie, its controversial history (involves liquor and prohibition, not to mention murder and nightmares) and why we don’t make it any more (no mystery to me; people don’t have the parts laying around like they used to).  Also in the Reader, Mike Sula has been writing about mangalitsa pork of late; here’s an account by Signature Room chef Pat Sheerin about watching the slaughter (note mention of Sky Full of Bacon video that his brother Mike Sheerin was in partway through).
8. Though if you are the sort to make old school Christmas desserts involving things like suet, you’ve probably already knocked off a few Christmas puddings. So raise the stakes a little with the Imperial War Museum’s recipe for wartime-deprived Christmas pudding.
9. Do we owe it all to shellfish?
10. This has some laughs:

We are thankful this year for people who put weird stuff on the Internet. Which pretty much sums up most of these. See ya after the T-day holiday, and new podcast coming soon.
1. I didn’t realize until the other day that Ho-Ka, nationally known as a source of pretty natural turkeys for T-day, is just in Waterman, not far west of Chicago, which in fact I had visited with the kids just a few weeks ago (in search of a BBQ place which turned out to be catering-only). The FAQ and this page on Ho-Ka’s site have some interesting things to say about why they raise their turkeys in a respectable way that nevertheless doesn’t qualify them to use any of the usual buzzwords (natural, organic, heritage, etc.)
2. Okay, speaking of BBQ, you’ve probably seen this, but just in case you haven’t:

3. Weird Thanksgiving Science: the problem with a giant pie is that as the pie scales up, you won’t have crust edges to most pieces. Well, what would scale up in area and increase the amount of crust at the same time? A 768-sided fractal pie, naturally.
4. Speaking of weird… Chicago pizza guy Daniel Zemans finds a cool-looking 60s pizza joint in Highwood (somewhere on the north shore, beats me)— but then he gets perverse and orders the hamburger pizza. Yes, it gets as bad as you might imagine.
5. Here’s an interesting video from Liza de Guia, whom I’ve featured before, about a women who tries to reconstruct and recreate historical recipes. Note that she does not use the joke about hoecakes from Hollywood Shuffle, as I would have, inevitably.

The Historic Gastronomist: Giving Recipes an Afterlife from SkeeterNYC on Vimeo.

6. There’s a lot of people making scary bad food on the internet for the alleged purpose of being allegedly humorous, like this site that tries to plate fast food elegantly, which is one joke and just never that funny, but once in a while a sort of sublime perfection is reached, so I dare you to follow this post from The Ridiculous Food Society of Upstate New York (where I also found #7), and make hot dog bao as T-day appetizers. (This gives the background on the mini hot dogs, and is pretty interesting in its own right, not just more goofiness.)
7. This speaks for itself. Be sure to turn your speakers up, especially if it’s late at night and others are sleeping, or you’re surfing the web at a public library.

1. The most interesting, and comical, thing in this episode of Good Food is the story of a public radio journalist who went to Bhutan to help start a radio station… and discovered that the national dish of Bhutan is ema datshi, hot chili peppers with yak cheese. For breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s at about 26 minutes in.

2. I’ve already linked to PR maven/chicken-raiser Ellen Malloy’s RIA Unplugged blog, but this is a really good piece about how the media environment has changed for the restaurant industry.  (Or you can just read about her chickens… one of whom turned out to be a rooster, necessitating a moment of chicken truth.)
3. Saucisson MAC is a Chicagoan who posts about twice a month, but when he does, it’s epic.  Beautiful piece on bacon, great one about Thai sausage with some awesome pictures of trepanning a coconut, truly he is a comrade in arms to Sky Full of Bacon.
4. And on his site I found this one about a guy who not only makes cool charcuterie I never heard of like Nduja, but… don’t get overexcited now… he has a club for charcuterie lovers.  A charcuterie underground.  Vive la resistance! UPDATE: Reader/Twitter follower Jason Brechin points me to a couple of pieces he did on Laurence Mate, author and charcuterie-clubmaster of the above blog. Check ’em out, they’re good too!
5. I’ve wondered this too.  Orange chicken is not enough.
6. Thought-provoking piece on a guy who can identify the conditions under which beef was raised and slaughtered by eating it.  Evidently this would be less uncommon if we all just thought about the beef we were eating a little harder. (H/t to LTHForum poster Dansch)
7. Or we could just… grow our own food! Specifically… meat.

Okay, I don’t really think this is anything more than a concept piece for a competition…

1. LTHForum poster Aschie30 contributes an account of dinner at Napa’s French Laundry that makes the forbiddingly hard-to-get-into restaurant seem… downright cuddly.
2. Crimes Against Food is a great name for a food podcast by two slightly dotty and giggly British women; this kind of unstructured, whatever-pops-into-our-heads podcast usually irritates me, but maybe it’s the accents that make it kind of like spending the afternoon with a couple of fun birds getting tipsy. The one on food in film is a good example.
3. A great story about the craziness of the restaurant-PR game in Hong Kong at a blog called Chef’s Tales.
4. Here’s a post to make you question why you live in Chicago in winter: serving up fresh clams on a beach in Greece, at a blog called Kalofagas.
5. There are so many baking blogs, and most of them are not that exciting— same old muffins and gooshy text. Here’s one called Kuidaore from a woman in Singapore where the stuff looks really beautiful and the writing, though a bit rich, is pretty engaging.
6. When I was in Spain two years ago, the second language seemed to have become Romanian (our hotelier in Catalonia was taking classes to be able to better communicate with the guys restoring his ancient buildings). Poppy Planet is a blog by a Romanian living and cooking in Sweden; if you’ve seen Bridgestone’s posts about cooking and eating in Sweden, this offers more of the same—very fresh, very white food, like Flying Jakob, a dish which somehow involves chicken, bananas and bacon.
7. Borderline stupid idea made borderline brilliant thanks to dead-on characterizations and straightfaced playing: John Candy as the owner of Roy’s Food Repair, from a post-SCTV show called The New Show:

1. is a fascinating site devoted to old photographs (mostly 1900-1930) reproduced in extremely large scans so you can pore over every detail of ancient scenes. There’s all kinds of stuff, but I love studying food ones for quotidian details of ancient life; check out a 1910 square meal; a 1916 box lunch joint (shot by Lewis Hine) frequented by two 15-year-old factory workers, and a railworker lunch break from 1943; the Happy News Cafe; a 1950 bar with lunch menuboard visible; a 1939 country store (by Dorothea Lange); a black cook shack—in the middle of 1916 D.C.; Blue Bell Hamburgers, 1948; groceries in 1900, 1910, and 1950 (oh man, that’s the world I want to live in), and so much more.
2. You can get food for $10.80, but food plus sex for that price? Food+Sex is the name of an arty 20-page magazine published by one of those new magazine-printing-on-demand sites; you can preview it, sort of, here, and there’s a blog post here that tells you a little more about it and its accompanying art exhibit. And who should turn up but Nance Klehm (star of SFOB #7) contributing an article on… urm… “Human-Incubated Yogurt.”
3. I really don’t know what the hell this is. It’s a vaguely food-related song from some British musical about an antique store, apparently making fun of the cozy-little-50s-drama genre, since it’s filthy. The energetic star is Julie Walters, who you may recall from Educating Rita 20 years ago:

4. Martha Bayne has a nice piece on the Pacific Garden Mission, whose gardening program for folks in rehab was designed by… who else, Nance Klehm. You should check Martha’s blog once a month; she doesn’t post a lot but it’s always good. I loved this bit:

I’ve been volunteering here since January, but haven’t written much about it because a) I wanted to respect the privacy of the residents who work with us in the greenhouse program and b) you try writing about working with the homeless without sounding like some smug, self-righteous jerk. Everytime I tried I hated myself.

Yep, that’s why I make videos instead sometimes.
5. Tasting Table, the email newsletter you should go sign up for, found ground cherries at one of the markets—they might still be in season!
6. A weird summer was over before it started. For me, there’s only one thing to do in response to fall’s arrival: make pretty soups, like the author of When I’m Bored I Make Soup. (Ironically, he’s in New Zealand, so it’s not fall there.)
7. Not safe for work (unless you worked anywhere I ever worked in my life): Yes, this Chicago news anchor sure seems to have said on the air what it sounds like he said (h/t Chicagoist):

The co-anchor’s expression when they cut back to both of them is hilarious. They’re claiming he said “flucking.” Riiiiight. A commenter at Chicagoist suggests that this may explain the reference (apparently sampled on a Beastie Boys song).

1. Okay, it goes on forever because it’s on a discussion site, but this is the most fascinating, thoughtful and sometimes hilarious LTHForum thread in a long time. A foodie blogger bigshot (at least he considers himself so) and some friends went to Chicago’s hoity Asian-fusion place L2O and were disappointed with the service… or, as populist LTHers saw it, were disappointed that they didn’t get their heinies kissed sufficiently after attempting to throw their weight around. The result contains a lot of good discussion of blogger ethics, diner tactics, the cult of chefs and how much personal attention you could or should expect, and many other fascinating topics… along with some absolutely killing snark. Two prominent Chicago chefs turn up to weigh in along the way. Start here on page 6 and read at least through page 12, and don’t miss this hilarious parody in another thread.
2. Sky Full of Bacon pal Helen Rosner charmingly asks chefs what they pack in their kids’ lunches. Grant Achatz’ kids arrive at school with sushi.
3. David Hammond’s radio pieces about food have always been good, but his new series— about how sound works in cooking— is exceptional, getting chefs to think and say really interesting things about how the sense of hearing helps them know what’s going on. They air every Wednesday, with three so far (another one by the time you read this, probably); go here.
4. This is a 5-minute video about Oregon’s 70-year-old artisanal cheesemaker Rogue Creamery, which was rescued from the brink of closing by new owners; it seems to be mainly a kind of inspirational piece about following your dreams more than a food piece, but has some cool shots of the cheesemaking process and so on.

5. Monica Kass Rogers tries to hit half a dozen Chicago-area farmer’s markets in one day, at The Local Beet.
6. The journal Foreign Policy is not normally a place I look for food stories, but I happened to spot an interesting, and also (warning) graphic, story on Japan’s unsavory hunger for whale and dolphin meat.
7. For a slice of baby boomers born in the 1960s, as soon as you see what this is for… you’ll smell that indelible artificial grape flavor. The rest of you will just be freaked out by the clown.

1. I started by linking to this (rather dry) website about “famine foods,” but found this more interesting piece rebutting the notion that there even are such things.
2. Feasting on Pixels takes a trip (with lots of pics) to one of my favorite slices of real Chicago, Calumet Fisheries.
3. David Hammond annoyed the entire canning world (I can testify to this personally) with a piece on canning a while back; here he does a nice job of making amends at The Local Beet.
4. Homaro Cantu, last seen in Sky Full of Bacon 09: Raccoon Stories, offers what sure as heck looks like a TV pilot (or at least video pitch) for what could be a way cool sort of Mythbusters Meets Food kind of show:

5. A farmer attacks The Omnivore’s Dilemma and other “agri-intellectuals.” Okay, so this is published at the American Enterprise Institute, so it’s pretty strongly pro-big business, and even I can spot the problem with his talking about small farmers choosing to farm a certain way when so many are pushed into farming that way by the practices of Big Ag. But still, I don’t know that I know enough to easily refute a passage like this:

The biggest environmental harm I have done as a farmer is the topsoil (and nutrients) I used to send down the Missouri River to the Gulf of Mexico before we began to practice no-till farming, made possible only by the use of herbicides. The combination of herbicides and genetically modified seed has made my farm more sustainable, not less, and actually reduces the pollution I send down the river.

So it’s worth reading if you believe it’s always worth knowing the other side’s arguments, seems to me.
6. Hugh Amano starts talking ethics, and ends with a bunch of food pics.
7. It’s like a Julie & Julia flashmob! Whisk rounds up links to hundreds of blog posts in which different people cooked something out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Kind of frightening, but undoubtedly will prove useful. (Hat tip to Emily Nunn, who tweeted it.)

1. Just say the words over and over to yourself: foie gras jelly doughnut.
2. If you’re not reading Chicago restaurant publicist Ellen Malloy’s “RIA Unplugged” blog, you’re missing some of the best commentary on the food biz as a biz. Obviously she can’t name names (sometimes you can guess), but she gives frank insight about the good and bad of the chef side of the business and how it interacts with the media and the public (and makes her job easier… or not).
3. Wittier than Bruno, Remi Gaillard is a French prankster who does things like stage a one-man reenactment of Saving Private Ryan on a beach filled with holidaygoers; this one about a chicken is strangely moving:

this McDonald’s drive-through one is obvious but, hey, you’ve always wanted to do it.

4. Title says it all: the Homesick Texan blog explains How to Make Cowhead Barbacoa. (Thanks to Erik M.)
5. Stevez at LTHForum has a great account of his food adventures in the Carolinas, notably at the famous Allen & Son BBQ spot (“On the way out, this vision stopped me dead in my tracks. It was the wood all set up for the next morning when Keith would arrive around 4:15 to light it up to burn down to coals for the next day’s cook just as it’s been done for generations. I felt like I was looking at the altar of a holy shrine”).
6. How bad TV shows happen: the food stylist who does the Food Fanatics blog has a great audition… and then gets a callback.
7. Sustainable sushi is a site about exactly what it’s about, with a species guide and a blog. I particularly liked this post about a replacement for unagi (be sure to read this one too, about why rattlesnake didn’t make the cut).

BONUS OF TERROR: a couple of Terrors back, I mentioned that Chuck Sudo was making guanciale.  I was graciously gifted with a handsome chunk of it:

which I diced, fried up, and used in bucatini all’amatriciana last night.  It was a resounding hit with the family, full of rich Old World meat funkiness, yet delicate enough that it didn’t put the kids off.  Thanks Chuck!  And it just goes to show how easy cured meats can be, and why they should be in every home cook’s repertoire.