What Southern Folks Eat: Everything's better with bacon

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Nothing is quite as intoxicating as the smell of bacon frying in the morning, save perhaps the smell of coffee brewing." - James Beard 

The good smells of home are many; cookies baking in the kitchen, garden flowers standing in a pitcher on the table, soup simmering in the crockpot on the counter. One of the most glorious scents, however, is the scent of frying bacon. It’s one of the nicest things about awakening on the weekend, when someone is in the kitchen making a pan of the crisp, streaky strips.
I first became intoxicated by that scent when I was very young, on a family camping trip in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. Several times a year we’d pull our little Shasta camper behind the station wagon and head out to have an adventure together. A huge part of that adventure was packing the food and drink (Shasta sodas!) for the trip.
We’d set up camp in one of the many parks in the mountains, settling in on our perfect spot, surrounded by trees and wildlife. It was always so pretty there, with streams and creeks rambling through the park. The air was crisp and fresh, and the other campers who were there were just as gleeful as we were to be away from real life for a while, having fun together with their own families. 
At night, I’d crawl into my small bunk in the camper after a full day of playing and climbing, and sleep soundly through the night. In the morning… and I can still remember this vividly… the scent of coffee brewing and bacon frying would fill the air and lure me out of my cozy little bunk. The small Coleman camp stove and the percolator perched upon it are etched into my memories. Then out came the skillet, and the scent of bacon would soon fill the air. That combination of coffee and bacon wafted over from other campsites as well, as the campground quietly awoke, and signs of life slowly began emerging.
Those breakfasts were better than breakfasts eaten at home, even though the food was the same. It was just the specialness of being away with the family in an exciting, lovely place, having an adventure together for just a few days.
Bacon, of course, is delicious whether eaten on vacation or at home on a Monday morning before work. And not only is it wonderful for breakfast, it’s an excellent ingredient in many recipes, too. Here are a few of my favorites for you to try in your own kitchen.

Tomato-bacon biscuit cups

    1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
    1/2 cup chopped cooked bacon
    1/3 cup chopped green onions
    1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
    One small tomato, juice squeezed out, chopped
    1/2 cup mayonnaise

    1 small can of biscuit dough 

    Method
    • Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl, stirring until everything is evenly distributed. Set aside.
    • Split each biscuit into two layers; press each layer into a miniature muffin cup that has been sprayed with Pam.
      Spoon tomato mixture into muffin cups.
    • Bake at 450° for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Yield: 2 dozen.

    Savory veggie-bacon hotcakes

    Ingredients
    8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    2/3 cup milk
    1 large egg, beaten
    1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
    1 cup frozen, canned or fresh corn
    1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
    warm maple syrup, for serving (and/or butter, sour cream or salsa)


    Method
    1. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon pieces until they begin to brown. Add the onion and continue to cook until the bacon is crisp and the onion is softened. Scoop out a heaping tablespoon of the bacon mixture for topping the griddle cakes upon serving and set it aside (optional).
    2. Add to bacon and onion in pan the corn and chopped chives. Allow to sauté a few moments (it will take longer for frozen corn to be heated through than canned or fresh). When corn is done, either remove all to a bowl and add olive oil to pan, or just scoot it all into a pile on one side and begin adding pancake batter to pan, right there in the bacon fat!
    3. To make batter: in a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, milk, egg, cayenne pepper and oil. Stir to blend until flour is combined with wet ingredients, but still a bit lumpy.
    4. Pour about 1/4-cup of the batter onto the pan. (I was able to get three pancakes in my pan at a time). After a minute, top with a good pinch of shredded cheese and a spoonful or two of the veggie mixture. Flip pancake to cook on the veggie side for a minute or two. Repeat with the remaining batter.
    4. Serve stacks of griddle cakes topped with a sprinkle of the reserved bacon and warn and onion mixture if you saved some, and maple syrup or other toppings.

    The nice thing about these hotcakes is that you can customize them with your own favorite cheese and veggie combination! The sky is the limit for this simple meal that would be suitable for breakfast, brunch, or supper.


    “It smelled like heaven, like love, like home and family and Sunday mornings at her grandparents' house. It smelled like... bacon.” - Tiffany Reisz, The Night Mark


    Stephanie Hill-Frazier is a writer, food blogger and regional television chef, whose on-air nickname is "Mama Steph." She grew up in Gulf County, on St. Joe Beach, a place she will forever call home. She is married and has three young adult sons for whom she has prepared countless strips of bacon. You can find more of her recipes at whatsouthernfolkseat.com

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