That pork belly, brined and hanging in our refrigerator? Smoked on our front-deck smoker?
It finally became bacon.
(The Mangalitsa belly we bought was rather fatty, so these slices are mostly white. But bacon fat? Not a problem for this bacon goal.)
After I took this photograph, I stood in our kitchen, admiring. Homemade bacon. Right here.
It’s so much easier than I thought.
And since we have perfected the gluten-free bread this month (well, perfected until the next version of the recipe comes out of the oven even crustier and warm), we knew we had to do this challenge.
I grew a garden this summer, for the first time in my life. Every morning in May and June, I went out to the garden in the morning, my feet bare, the hot coffee cup clutched in my hand. I had to check on the growth of the lettuce. It seemed they would never grow.
And then one day, when I went out to see, there they were — sprouts of lettuce, green and leafy, poking up from the black earth.
Within weeks we were eating salads made from clutches of greens we had grown ourselves.
Oh, how I wish I could claim that I grew these tomatoes, the Japanese truffle heirlooms on our friends’ picnic table this summer. These were grown by Billy Allstot, one of our favorite farmers in the Seattle farmers’ market circuit.
I did, however, grow cherry tomatoes — sweet 100s — that glowed orange as kumquats on the pungent vines bending down toward the deck. And some simple slicing tomatoes that grew fat and red. Well, a few of them grew. And I have to admit — we ate all of them in a glorious orgy of warm tomatoes with sea salt, standing over the sink.
So we didn’t have tomatoes we grew ourselves in the sandwich. But they came from the farm stand down the street, where fruit and vegetables sit on a checkered-tablecloth-covered picnic table, along with a cash box. The farmers trust us to tell the truth. We do.
And mayonnaise? Mayonnaise is simple to make. A couple of eggs, an egg yolk, salt and pepper, mustard, lemon juice, and canola oil, poured in slowly, slowly, slowly. You don’t have to do it by hand. A food processor works just fine.
At the end of this process, the mayonnaise is thick and creamy, sunshine yellow and ready for spreading.
But really, it’s all about the bacon. You cannot have a great BLT without some great bacon.
We’ve always loved bacon in this house. But this batch was different. Crafting the bacon from scratch?
This made me love the salty crunch and irresistible taste even more fully.
There’s another reason why this BLT meant so much to me, why it may mean more to me than anyone else participating in the BLT challenge.
I loved creating our bacon, making the bread, growing lettuce and tomatoes, and whipping up some mayonnaise in the food processor. But this was more than just a meal to me.
This was the first BLT I have eaten since having to go gluten-free. That means that this sandwich, which my friend Sharon is holding up in the dusky twilight light, is the first bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich I have eaten in almost 5 years.
Yes. It tasted that good.