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January 7, 2009

Properly Heat Bacon and Peas, Save a Solar System


There is a little known law of the cosmos – any time you mix together bacon and black-eyed peas, you must also add heat, or else a star around which seven populated planets revolve explodes. Ignorance of this rule is no excuse for violating it, and if you’ve gotten this far you can no longer claim that.


Forever will this knowledge weigh on your conscience. The next time you see someone sitting on a barstool, running their fingers through their hair and looking as if they haven’t slept since the dawn of time, give them a nod in a way that lets them know that you share their secret.


Such a combination usually starts with two things – moistening of the peas and frying of the bacon. The first will take from six to eight hours of sitting in water. The second will take from six to eight minutes in the bottom of a pot.


Rinse off the peas and boil them until soft.


Once the bacon has turned crispy, remove it to a paper towel to drain. In that pot, melt some butter. Once melted, add flour and stir into the melted butter for a few minutes to create a roux.


Allow the roux to cook for a few moments to unleash the nutty flavor of the flour. Add some chicken broth and minced garlic, and mix up the roux into the broth.


While this heats, cook slices of sweet red pepper and onion in olive oil. Once softened, add to the warming chicken broth. To prevent them from getting too cozy together and ruining what is shaping up to be quite a party, add a third wheel – a hefty handful of either dried parsley or dried carrot green, and a bay leaf. Either makes for a good chaperone – it reminds you of its presence in a way that doesn’t threaten to make everyone else uncomfortable.


Salt and pepper to taste, and be glad you have a chaperone.


Let these cook for some time to fully blend flavors, and then add some bite-size pieces of cooked chicken. Perhaps you’re wondering when the chicken was cooked. It’s a minor detail, especially considering what you know will be at stake by the end of this. You’ll have to fill in that hole yourself.


Crumble the bacon over the top.


Your hands should now tremble a little bit. You can see in your mind’s eye a sun somewhere slowing its spin. On the planets circling that sun, you can sense apprehension and fear. Add to the stew the black-eyed peas. Somewhere you can sense the sun pulsing with energy – the people dependent on it wide-eyed in terror.


The sun, on the verge of explosion, suddenly settles down and relief spreads over the people. You look at your hand, and it is shaking crushed red pepper into the stew.


No one has ever written a movie script by which the world is saved through cooking, yet this has just happened. But at what cost?


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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