If you’re looking for seriously good bacon, stop lifting the back flaps on the packages in the local grocery store’s meat case. We admit to doing it too — searching for that elusive, store-bought breakfast treat with more meat than fat. It’s a tiresome, futile process.
But no more! We’ve found hog heaven in the form of Country Grist Mill’s USDA-certified organic bacon. It comes straight from a Mount Hope Amish farmers’ cooperative, free of pesticides and growth hormones. It’s sweeter and leaner than any other bacon we’ve found, cured with salt, brown sugar, spices and absolutely no nitrates.
Your breakfast will come out of the frying pan wonderfully crispy, with a rich, meaty flavor that’s already spoiled us on the grocery store for good — we’ve even managed to convince ourselves that it should become a part of our regular diet.
Sold in one-pound packages, it’s just one of the products under the Country Grist Mill label, which also includes granola, grains, cheese and eggs. You can find it all at the North Union Farmers Market at Shaker Square or at the Riverbank General Store, 5539 Butterbridge Road in Canal Fulton.
Makes 6 appetizer servings
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut in half width-wise
12 large Medjool dates, pitted
12 smoked almonds
Preheat a grill or oven broiler to medium high. Insert an almond into each of the dates. Wrap each date with a piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Grill or broil, turning once or twice, until the bacon is cooked. Remove and let cool before serving.
Let Them Eat This Cake!
There are special occasions cakes, and then there’s Elmwood Bakery’s date nut cake. The recipe comes from owner Andy Rerko’s Hungarian grandparents (the bakery’s in its third generation as a family business), and Rerko prepares it daily — although he’d need a translator for the original recipe. He learned to bake the cake from his crib, he says, and he makes it completely “by heart.” This light, nutty cake with an unbelievably smooth whipped French vanilla butter cream frosting has been a special-occasion must for West Siders for more than 50 years. 15204 Madison Ave., Lakewood;
Way Down Yonder …
For the past five years, Chris Chmiel has been a pawpaw pusher. He wants to see pawpaws named as the official state
native fruit, and with luck, his request will go before the Ohio General Assembly this fall (House Bill 263, Sec 5.081). While he waits, he’ll continue to harvest the fruit from his southeast Ohio farm, Integration Acres. On their own, pawpaws have a creamy texture and are very sweet, with a taste that straddles bananas, strawberries and mangos. Fresh, they don’t travel well, so Chmiel created a line of value-added products that ship anywhere. He blends the pawpaws with organic, locally grown, under-ripe tomatoes from neighboring farmers for his Pawpaw Green Tomato Relish: The tart, acidic tomatoes add a savory character that complements an unexpected, lemony-piney hint of spicebush berries. Try topping grilled spicy sausages or hot dogs with the sauce and freshly chopped onions. www.integrationacres.com;