JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Screw Politics; Let’s Talk About Bacon

Well, I could write about the election just past, or I could write about bacon. I like politics — most of my readers know that. But ALL of my friends know of my bacon fixation. I’ve liked bacon all my life, but never so much as when we moved into this house 15 years ago with its big garden space and started growing our own tomatoes. The months of July, August, September and October are a time of “BLT Joy” for us.

So, since we all know that we no longer have Tammy Miller and Rick Becker to kick around — still got Kirsten Baesler, though — I’m going to skip politics today and write about bacon.

I was out in the garden Thursday and noticed the first yellow blossoms showing up on the tomato plants. I’ve cut back to 36 this year — I know, I know that sounds like a lot, but the boys in the boat really like Bloody Marys — and they’re looking good. So I thought I better check the bacon supply, to start getting ready for BLT season.

Well, it was dangerously low, so after having our weekly Bloody Mary with my friend, Rick Maixner, over in the Sunset Drive Nursing Home in Mandan, I jumped over the interstate and drove up to the Cloverdale plant north of town. They have a little Country Store there around the back of the plant, where they offer good bargains on all kinds of meat — mostly pork — if you buy it in bulk. I once bought a 30-pound box of bacon there for $100. It was a joy, but I had to get one of the big strong butcher boys to carry to the car for me. But you’ve seen what it costs in the store lately, so at $3.33 a pound, it was worth making room in the freezer.

Thursday I poked around the freezers in the Cloverdale Country Store, looking at big boxes of bacon, sausage, pulled pork and barbecued beef, and then I spotted some smaller packages and went to take a look. That’s when I found 3-pound packages of Cloverdale “Naturally Applewood Triple Slow Smoked Extra Thick Cut Bacon.” For $7.50 per package. You read that right. Bacon for $2.50 a pound.

I was tempted to just clean out their freezer case, but I was a little nervous about the word “Extra.” I’ve been buying Cloverdale Thick Cut Bacon for years. I recounted that in my story about the Crow Butte Mercantile a few years ago. Best bacon ever. Especially on a couple of slices of toasted sourdough bread with some thick slices of tomato. But I worried if I was going to like the “extra.”

So, I decided to take a pack home and try it, and if I liked it, come back and get stocked up for tomato season — if they hadn’t sold out. Well, I thawed it out overnight, and Friday morning, I decided to try it for breakfast. When I pulled open the package, the smell of that “Triple Slow Smoked Applewood” rushed out and filled the kitchen. God, it was glorious.

I counted the slices. Three pounds of bacon. Twenty-five slices. About eight slices per pound. That’s “Extra Thick Cut” all right. I laid it out on cookie sheets and carried it out to the grill. Lit the grill. Closed the cover. Cooked it for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees. By the time it was done the whole back yard, maybe the whole neighborhood, smelled like “Triple Slow Smoked Applewood.” That was fun.

And then I ate some. No tomatoes yet. Just some sourdough toast and strawberries, washed down with a glass of this past year’s tomato juice. Three slices of Cloverdale “Naturally Applewood Triple Slow Smoked Extra Thick Cut Bacon” was a full meal. Twenty-two slices into the fridge. Breakfast for a couple of weeks, I’d say.

After cleanup, as I was finishing the paper and my last cup of coffee, I thought about what I might do today. The beauty of retirement, if you plan well, is that you don’t have to decide what to do each day until that day comes around.

Nothing on my calendar. Well, I thought, maybe I’ll just sneak back over to Cloverdale and see if they have any of that left.

They did.

Now I have 15 pounds of bacon in my freezer. And since lots of people now know that, I’ll keep all my doors locked.

But … I didn’t buy it all. I left a few packages in the freezer case. And some boxes with 15 pounds in them.

You can find them by getting off Interstate 94 at Sunset Drive, go north past the Seven Seas on Old Red Trail, about half a mile, and you’ll see a sign beside the road  that says, “Do you like bacon?” Turn left there. Follow the road past most of the huge Cloverdale packing plant — it covers a few city blocks — and watch for the big yellow sign on the building that says, “Country Store.” You better hurry. I’m pretty sure Bob, Jeff and Larry are already on their way.

You’re welcome. Enjoy your Cloverdale “Naturally Applewood Triple Slow Smoked Extra Thick Cut Bacon.” And save some for tomato season.

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