If you are a lover of bacon, you might want to stop reading now. I’m about to commit bacon blasphemy.
Even when I was a meat eater I never really liked pork. There. I said it. Bacon was hardly ever on my plate. I found the texture too slimy, the marbled fat in it gross and the pools of grease that formed on the plate utterly disgusting. This is coming from a born and raised Iowa-girl, where pork is practically a religion. There are more than 20 million hogs currently being raised in my home state, worth almost $7 billion a year. That’s a wholelotta bacon folks.
So about 12 years ago when I started leaning towards vegetarianism pork was the first thing to go. I attended a university with a high Muslim population and I don’t think our dining hall even served pork, so it was an easy omission. Later, I started to understand the damage of industrial farming: particularly of hogs. In the highly concentrated confinement system, hundreds of pigs are packed into an enclosed building, where high levels of transmittable diseases are controlled through the use of antibiotics. Their poop, also highly concentrated, is pumped out into huge shit ponds and you don’t want to know what happens to that. (The official story and what actually happens are often different, and vary greatly depending on who is sitting in a position of power locally.) Also, another little known fact is that property values within a mile or more of any hog confinement are deeply affected by the presence of the building which houses the pigs. The combination of the smell, the possibility of contamination of ground water and did I mention the SMELL is very discouraging to buyers of potential properties. It is estimated that 90%+ of the bacon omnivores eat comes from these conditions. The image of the happy frolicking pig on the farm is just a fantasy.
So what’s the average person to do? I certainly can’t fight an entire economic system built upon these practices on my own- but I can stop consuming it. So I did. I don’t remember the last time I ate pork. But I do recall the taste of one of my favorite sandwiches: The BLT. Perhaps it was the disguise of the lettuce, tomato and mayo that made the texture of the bacon more appealing to me, but I used to love this sandwich.
So today, as I hang around the house, 3 days past the due date of my baby, waiting for labor to begin, I set out to make a veganized BLT, and I was pleasantly surprised! I have read about how to make Eggplant Bacon from one of my favorite vegan chefs. My garden eggplant isn’t ready yet, but my long squash is. The flavor of this starchy vegetable is so subtle as to be non-existent. It’s not the kind of veggie you want to cut up and eat raw. It has a crapload of seeds in the middle and really shines as part of stew or stir-fry where it can take on the flavors of the spices and other foods. It seemed perfect for making “Fakon.” 🙂
I had about half of one squash leftover after the other part was used in soup, so I started by peeling off the thick green skin.
Then sliced it into about 1/8th thick strips and placed on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (I’m cutting down a lot of oils in my cooking and parchment paper has become my new best friend. It can take the heat up to about 425 degrees.)
In the oven, I baked these strips on 425 for about 11 minutes, until I started to see some brown crispy spots. I flipped them over once in the middle.
Meanwhile, I used the PPK’s recipe for Eggplant Bacon (soy sauce and liquid smoke) mixed it up in a bowl and got ready for dipping. Once the strips were cool enough to handle, I dipped them in and put them all back in the oven for about 5 more minutes.
The most surprising thing was how small the strips became once the water was heated out of them! I didn’t have enough to share as I would have liked, but this batch made two good sandwiches. The hickory liquid smoke really gives this the essence of “bacon” that is needed in the classic BLT- no property values or pigs harmed. 😀