Humor Column: The rebirth of my bacon frying experiences

Pat stores her extra grease in empty plastic sour creme containers. Photo by provided by Pat Van Dyke.

By Pat Van Dyke  
Humor Columnist, Canyon Lake Insider  

I am always amazed at how some of our most useful items have evolved during my lifetime. For example, when I was in high school, a record player did exactly that: it played records. It had three speeds, 33, 45, and 76. The only creative way that you could use it was to slow down or speed up the record.

To irritate my mother, we would play a 33 record on the 76 speed and make Frank Sinatra sound like the Chipmunks. Then several years later, while in college, I received a 45 single record of Tiny Tim laughing which I would play on the 33 speed and scare everyone in the dorm with a slow morbid laugh and then speed it up to a 76 speed to make Tiny Tim sound even more dreadful.

For some of you, this might sound very dull; but when you attend a college that is located in Iowa and surrounded by cornfields, this was excitement! (As was short-sheeting beds and greasing toilet seats!)

For those “youngsters” who do not remember Tiny Tim from the 1960s, he’s proof that “my generation’s” choice of music was worse than yours!

Another change occurred concerning my mother’s pressure cooker. My mother had this large pot in which she would place canning jars filled with green beans. She would then clamp on the top, pray that she did it correctly, place it on a burner, and then wait for an hour.

It was successful if, by the end of an hour, the lid was still clamped on the pan and the beans were still intact. It was unsuccessful if, within that hour, the lid flew off the pan and we had beans all over our kitchen and the kitchen of the house next door. I looked at it as extremely experimental as either reaction happened without notice.

Fast forward 65 years. I now have a Ninja Foodie which I view as a modern pressure cooker. From what I’ve been told it can roast, broil, air crisp, bake, dehydrate, steam, and sauté. You can use it as a crockpot, yogurt maker, egg cooker, and pressure cooker. That’s what I’ve been told but not what I’ve experienced.  

We have had our Foodie for a year now. We tried the various functions and have concluded that it works great for two functions: making shredded chicken and dog food.

Last month, as my 30-pound, Volkswagen-sized, dogfood-producing Foodie sat glaring at me from my kitchen counter, I remembered a former appliance with fondness. When we were first married, I hated frying bacon. I found myself ducking behind the refrigerator, stove, door, or any other barrier that could protect me from the ravages of “grease spitting bacon.” But still, the sting of the popping grease would follow me wherever I hid.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved bacon, but I hated the spitting grease that hit my face and hands. The only possible solution would be to wear a welder’s mask and gloves. I hated the greasy mess that coated my stove, counter, floor, dog, and anything else within “spitting range.”

I was so thankful when my parents came to my rescue and gave us a “bacon fryer.” And what did that bacon fryer do?….fry bacon…that’s it…it fried bacon! It only did one simple task, but it did it well. I used it until it “gave up the toast” and then returned to the traditional terrifying bacon-frying experience.

Now, 50 years later, I discovered that my memories concerning the bacon fryer aren’t quite as clear as they used to be. I do remember the crispness of the bacon and how it cooked the bacon to the perfect consistency to be eaten without overcooking the meat and undercooking the fat.

I remember how it formed a perfect “U-shape” which could be broken and placed on a sunny-side-up egg without hanging over the edges. It was so delightful that we often had “breakfast for dinner.”

I began to think, “Could this culinary aide be re-discovered? Yes, it can!”

I went on my usual “Goggle-Shopping Quest” and found a bacon fryer almost exactly like the one that we had. It was on Amazon and with my Prime membership could be on my doorstep in just two days. Being filled with nostalgia, I responded to the three short phrases of three words each that causes Pastor Pete’s hair to stand up on the back of his head: “Add to cart” followed with “Proceed to checkout” followed with “Place your order.” I followed the Amazon commands exactly! A bacon fryer was soon on its way to our house.

Side note: The hair on top of Pastor Pete’s hair would stand up, but the last few years, it’s been “lying down and departing.”

The bacon fryer arrived and immediately my taste buds were yearning for all that bacon goodness. I set up the bacon fryer. It worked, but I had forgotten some facts.

First of all, the fryer was still the same size, but I wasn’t. My body now requires more bacon than before. I tried to squeeze on six strips of bacon, but the fryer groaned as I closed the sides. It sounded like I do when I try to put on my “skinny jeans” that I should have given to a skinny person years ago.

The “bacon occupancy rate” reminded me of our church auditorium. The sign in church says, “Seats 600,” but it doesn’t tell you that with 600 people, you can only give each person 18 inches of pew space to occupy. I don’t know about you, but 18 inches isn’t going to make it for me! I’ll have to wait outside the church door until a “12 incher” walks in!

Then there was the grease…It must go somewhere! I forgot where! After using the fryer three times within 30 minutes, I saw grease oozing out of the bottom of the fryer. I decided this would be a great time to read the instructions. The booklet read: “Empty the grease drawer after each cooking.” What grease drawer?

Next was the dilemma of what to do with the grease that was now overflowing from the grease drawer. As I poured the hot grease into an empty plastic sour cream container, I hoped that the grease wasn’t too hot. If it was, I would have to convince the sixth-grader next door that I had a great science experiment for his seventh-grade year.”  

Was the bacon just as I remembered? Yes! The bacon was crisp, grease-free, and tasty.

I love my bacon fryer, but I now have six cups of pure bacon grease to use in some creative way. I did discover on the internet that bacon grease can be used to polish your shoes, grease a door hinge, and make a bacon grease candle. I even found a recipe for Bacon Grease Chocolate Cake. I would consider the suggestion to use it as a heel moisturizer, but I’m sure our dog would follow me all day long.

My favorite suggestion is to use the grease as a lip balm. What could be better than tasting bacon all day long!

Prior to joining Canyon Lake Insider, Pat Van Dyke was a humor columnist, reporter, and photographer for a local newspaper for four years. She graduated from Central College in Pella, Iowa, and earned a master’s degree in educational administration from California Baptist University. She was a middle/high school teacher for 20 years and a middle/high school principal for 14 years. Van Dyke and her husband, Pastor Pete, have resided in Canyon Lake since 1977.


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