Bacon, Selflessness and an Open Air Workout

meboyswolfpack“Bacon,” Avery replied when I asked what I should blog about that evening.

My mind was all over the place and though my boys were with their dad for the weekend, I couldn’t bring myself to just sit and write. I had the entire weekend to myself, and the words weren’t flowing. I needed them to be flowing.

I was dropping Avery, a 5-year-old who calls me Auntie Jen, and her (my) family off after a workout. An outdoor workout on a cool Maine Sunday morning where I did things like deadlift cinderblocks, crawl up a hill, carry buckets filled with bricks and smash a tire with a sledgehammer. A workout that left Avery’s dad itching to chop wood as we drove home. We had driven in the “bacon car,” so named because it has the words from my tagline “eat bacon” on my back windshield.

“Wolfpack,” Avery suggested after I noted that maybe bacon was too expected. I also noted that WolfPack Fitness, our outdoor “gym,” has already been mentioned on my blog a couple of times (here and here).

The words didn’t flow Sunday night either. I paid bills instead and let my web developer change the theme to my website (which explains the new look you are now seeing). I attempted to view and respond to messages. So many messages. In so many places. No wonder my mind was everywhere.

On Monday, I turned to Facebook and asked friends for some inspiration. I’m known most for bacon and philanthropy, so it’s no surprise that the first six comments referred solely to bacon, followed by some suggestions around generosity and giving. There was mention of music, the changing of the season, and focus. A good friend from high school mentioned wanting to hear more about WolfPack specifically. I noticed other friends liking certain comments on the thread, showing their vote for my inspiration.

The writer in me started to weave it all together to find the storyline in Avery’s innocent response and a Facebook status I half expected to be ignored.

Two comments stood out for me.

“Selflessness,” a simple word left by my good friend, Jim Bouchard, who has written on the topic of selfless selfishness.

My friend Linda responded, “What about: it’s good to do something good for others, but sometimes you have to do something good for yourself? Like a nice open air workout?”

Linda is my workout buddy on Friday mornings and the woman who took the above photo of me and my boys before a “playout” on an island on a weekday where there was no school. We’re still fairly new to that open air workout, but our form is getting better and our weights heavier. The fun is never absent, and the view is always spectacular.

The real thread in all of this is a walk down a long dirt driveway I took on an unseasonably warm Friday at the end of September. The last piece of the puzzle in my quest to reclaim myself after divorce. A selflessly selfish act so my physical strength could match my inner strength. An act that has also given me the chance to be alongside some wonderful, generous people who also value selflessness and a happy life over pain and impressing others.

And, yes, I selflessly eat bacon and eggs before every workout.

I could fret about the lack of words flowing despite a large deadline looming ahead of me. Or the fact that I can’t quite keep up with all those messages. But when I stop and think about it, I had a spectacular weekend. I did some needed organizing, prioritized my to do list, went to a party, talked to some close friends, had a fun impromptu meetup, and pretended to milk a cow with bricks in my hands. At the end of it all, I got to hug my boys.

The words. They will come. They always do.

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf, Bacon Cheeseburger Meatballs, Bacon Vinaigrette…must be International Bacon Day

Today, the Saturday before Labor Day in the US, is International Bacon Day. With a tagline of Be Bold. Be Heard. Give Back. Eat Bacon., it would be remiss of me if I did not celebrate this important holiday. If you have followed me for a while, you might remember past celebrations that included bacon art, bacon dust, and other amazing bacon recipes. Because everything tastes better when you just add bacon, right?

I put a call out on Facebook for more bacon-related recipes, and I received some great ones.

You are welcome.

photo of bacon meatloaf via Alexandra

photo of bacon meatloaf via Alexandra

The first amazing bacon recipe comes from my friend Alexandra Armstrong, who describes herself as Home Cook and Food Porn Enthusiast. I see photos of the food she makes on Facebook. It all looks amazing. And makes me want to run over to her kitchen and eat her leftovers. She lives in the same town as me after all.

Bacon-Wrapped Chipotle Meatloaf

BACON MEATLOAF:
1/2 C. Whole Milk
2 slices White Bread
1 1/2 lb. Grass-Fed Ground Beef
1 Egg, Beaten
1/2 C. sauteed sweet onion, allowed to cool to room temp
1 TBSP. Chipotle Ketchup
2-3 good splashes Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 t. chipotle powder
Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
8-10 slices Applewood Smoked Bacon (thin cut; easier to work with)

CHIPOTLE KETCHUP:
1-1/2 cup Ketchup
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1 Chipotle Pepper in Adobo, finely minced
Blend in food processor, or whisk the hell out of it by hand

INSTRUCTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour milk over the bread slices. Allow it to soak in for several minutes, then tear into pieces and add to large bowl. Add the ground beef and other ingredients.

Mix the ingredients until well combined. Do NOT over-mix! If mixture seems too wet, add some panko bread crumbs until you reach desired texture. Add just a little bit at a time to avoid drying out the mixture. Form the mixture into a rectangular loaf shape on a sheet pan.

Lay bacon slices over the top, tucking them underneath the meatloaf. You can get all kinds of groovy-creative with a cross-hatch pattern if you like. I keep mine simple.

Pour 1/3 of the Chipotle Ketchup over the top of the bacon. Spread with a spoon. Bake for 45 minutes, then pour another 1/3 of the sauce over the top. Bake for another 15 minutes. Let rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Slice and serve with remaining sauce.

Serve with Garlic Smashed Potatoes and Oven Roasted Green Beans with Onions and (wait for it!) more BACON! (serves 4, or 2 with left-overs; easily doubled!)

NOTE from Alexandra: I NEVER measure anything, so measurements are approximate. Feel free to adapt to your taste!

photo via WolfPack Fitness

Photo via WolfPack Fitness. Because bacon and eggs for Halloween.

This next recipe featuring bacon comes from April, who says “I am a foodie but because I follow a specific nutrition plan I have had to adapt recipes to make them fit my lifestyle, and they have to taste amazing and be easy for a working mom.”

April has tested this recipe out with her fellow “she wolves” at WolfPack Fitness (featured on the blog in a past Philanthropy Friday, along with founder Luke Robinson). As a fellow working mom, I appreciate how easy and tasty this recipe seems.

Bacon Cheeseburger Meatballs

1 1/2 pounds of ground meat (I use beef but you can use chicken, turkey, pork, etc.)
2 eggs
1 package of dry onion soup mix
1 cup cheese or cheese alternative such a daiya
4 slices of uncooked bacon chopped

Mix all ingredients in a bowel. Roll into small meatballs (I use mini muffin tins to bake in). Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve with any burger condiment.

bacon

This next recipe is a quick and easy one from Ben Grant, owner of Bad Dog Deli in Scarborough, Maine. I’m not a big fan of store bought salad dressing. How could you possible go wrong with bacon vinaigrette?

Bacon Vinaigrette 

3/4 c rendered bacon fat, 2T dijon mustard, 2T white wine vinegar, pinch of kosher salt. Bacon vinaigrette!

Save the bacon crumbles/strips and dress up a BLT-style salad with dill pickled eggs and Bleu cheese.

Holy Yum.

A few additional bacon-focused recipes were sent to me via Facebook. Here are some links:

How are you celebrating International Bacon Day?

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