Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"Wuthering Heights" with a side of bacon EDITED


DL: Today I'd like to introduce to you Alex. She may occasionally guest blog for me.

What should I blog about tonight?

Photo Credit
AL: At the question, "What should I blog about tonight?" my answer was needles. How we got to bacon, I don't know, but I can tell you that some people would rather poke themselves with a thousand needles than bear 400 pages of British literature. For many of those people bacon makes things better (including asparagus, McDoubles, and tales of the despondent histories of the Yorkshire moors).

DL: True, bacon does make many things better. I don't see how it would help needles though. I definitely see how it could help British Lit, but it would take a lot of bacon, and maybe chocolate. What were they eating in the story you were reading? The "Editor-in-Chief" keeps reminding me that this is supposed to be a food blog, so I need to include a recipe at some point.

AL: The English language is all about Thinking Sideways, so please turn this around for the Editor-in-chief: gruel, lumpy oatmeal, bread crusts, and coffee. Please realize that the late 16th century setting put you in a dank kitchen with a "kitchen fire". Have fun with that.

DL: How depressing! I forgot how much I hated British lit in high school. But I do like coffee. So a dank kitchen with a kitchen fire. Was it smoky? Were there rats? And if there were crusts of bread, what happened to the rest of the bread?

AL: Their lives are too sad for the rest of the bread.

AL: Honestly, though, did you seriously just ask me if there were rats? I think the better question would be "Were there zombies?" Yes, master, I stole your line, and you must realize by now that I'm working on my vengeful plot to steal your estate and rights to your blog. I'm half way there.

 Mwahahahahaha (this is totally a word).

 As I was saying about zombies. Once in the book, a character was on his way back to the Heights and stopped by the market in the village with his eye on the mule with the wobbly ankle to carry the ingredients for his gruel all the way back to his estate. I could only wish Emily Bronte would Think so Sideways (Ha! I did it again!) FYI: it is my personal belief that Lady Gaga wrote Bad Romance about this book. Soon, it will be the anthem for this blog. That's right, Lady Gaga, you just keep if that's what you call it. So, tell me how a zombie might tackle the greasy, gruelly, crusty, caffeinated challenge of Wuthering Heights with a side of bacon.

The Greasy, Gruelly, Crusty, Caffeinated Aftermath

I really can't say I'm surprised. She wants to steal my estate and the rights to my blog. At her age I wanted to rule the world (no, really I did... one of the issues I'm still working through in therapy: my frustrated megalomania). In fact, I still have my copy of the UN Charter with all of my crib notes on how to change it into a federal system and install myself as president of the Earth. Ah, dreams...

Anyway... Phyllis wants recipes. Alex wants it to be related to depressing Wuthering Heights: gruel, crusts of bread, coffee...

I think I can work with this.

First off, what is gruel? Simply put, gruel is a food preparation consisting of some type of cereal: millet, barley, oat, wheat, rye, or rice that is boiled in water or milk. Gruel is associated with poverty, So really any thin soup or boiled cereal preparation that is used. But I have been challenged to live up to the name of blog "Think sideways". Okay.

Gruel (my way)


  • 1/2 cup of Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/2 cup of Half and Half
  • 3/4 cup of Earl Grey Tea, Hot
  • 1/4 cup of currants or raisins
  • 1 cup of water
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon butter


  1. Place currants in tea and allow to hydrate for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove currants. Roll in sugar.
  3. Place remaining tea and Half and Half into small saucepan. Bring to low simmer. Caution! Do not allow Half and Half to come to full boil or liquid may burn.
  4. Add Oatmeal and salt to saucepan. Raise heat. The oatmeal flakes will absorb the water and expand. Leave it until it bubbles.
  5. Lower the heat to medium when the oatmeal begins to get bubbly. Stir the pot and let it cook 2-3 minutes more.
  6. Cover and remove from heat. The residual heat should cook the oatmeal the rest of the way 5-7 minutes.
  7. Remove from saucepan and serve with sugared currants and butter.
Hail Britannia!
Earl Grey Tea and Currants!

Hah. That wasn't even worth my time. Let's see, what's next? "Crusts of Bread." Oh, I have so got this one.

Crusts of Bread
(my way)


  • 1 small loaf French bread
  • 6 eggs yolks
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup raisins and or 2 tablespoons cognac


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease a 9x14 glass baking pan
  3. Beat egg yolks an 1/4 sugar until smooth
  4. Add sweetened condensed milk, salt, and extract to egg mixture. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Tear up bread unto bite size pieces and place into thick single layer in pan.
  6. Cover bread with egg mixture.
  7. Add raisins and/or cognac if desired
  8. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon over top
  9. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
As crusts of bread go, I think that looks pretty darn tasty, eh? Should make a good breakfast or dessert. Serve it with a little creme fraiche and you'll forget completely about the zombie hordes ready to consume London.

Now comes the hard one, the coffee. You see, believe it or not, I am a simple man with simple tastes. I like a good cup a joe. Nothing fancy, nothing foofy. Sure I like the occasional Espresso or Latte, but normally I want a good cup of coffee. But since I need to think sideways... (I'm going to cheat on this one though)

Coffee ('s way)


  • 1 (2 1/2 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 (2 1/2 ounce) package chocolate instant pudding
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup coffee, chilled. (don't use a flavored coffee.)
  • whipped cream


  1. Follow the directions on the package for preparing the vanilla pudding: add 2 cups of cold milk and pudding mix in a bowl and whisk for two minutes.
  2. In a separate bowl, prepare the chocolate pudding. The directions call for 2 cups of milk. Instead, put in 1 1/2 cups of milk and 1/2 cup of chilled coffee and pudding mix in a bowl and whisk for two minutes.
  3. Transfer about 4 tablespoons of the vanilla and 4 tablespoons of the chocolate pudding to a third bowl. Add 2 more tablespoons of coffee to this batch. Whisk this batch. It should appear a few shades lighter than the chocolate pudding's color. Drink the remainder of the coffee.
  4. Layer in cups or parfait glasses. Refrigerate for five minutes. Garnish with whipped cream before serving. (1)
You have your gruel, your crust of bread, and your coffee. The only thing I haven't given you yet is the side of bacon.

Okay, that wasn't nice. Funny, but not nice. What I was going to do was give you a little bit of advice.
  1. Look for Applewood smoked bacon. It is available occasionally, and it is very good.
  2. Finish your bacon before you serve it by putting real maple syrup in your pan to candy the bacon a little.
  3. Always ask your guests how they like their bacon. People are as picky about their bacon as they are their eggs. Your guests will appreciate it.
I've a good time with Alex's challenges today. I hope she has as much fun with British Lit (mwa-ha-ha - that would be the proper spelling per Dilbert) as I did writing today's blog. Alex - watch out for Zombies!

I want to thank a lot of you for the positive messages I've gotten over the last 24 hours. I really do have a lot of fun writing this blog and to know that you guys are reading it and are looking forward to the next installment means a lot to me. So in the immortal words of Chip Diller:

Until next time, I wish you Peace, Love, and Hollandaise Sauce


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