Baconfest 2015

Baconfest 5 logo

Well, another baconfest has come and gone.

I can’t believe we’ve been doing this for 5 years already. It seems like just the other day we started doing this. Can I just say that I’m *so* not tired of this yet? Best. Tradition. Ever.

Like all good traditions, some parts have fallen by the wayside (e.g. The Watching of the Kevin Bacon Movie), and other traditions have sprung up (e.g. The Waking of Guests With the Talking Bacon — seriously, this is the part the kids look forward to the most!)


It is, however, a mega-ton of work. From planning the menu, to running around buying the bacon for the taste test, to cooking everything for days beforehand, to the smell of bacon leaking into every nook and cranny of your house, your clothes, your very nostrils…yeah, I was a little stressed out.

This year was particularly bad. Not only did the kids have their big ballet performance during baconfest on Saturday, but we also went to see Welcome to Nightvale on Friday night (post to come; I’m a little behind!). Add in the ballet dress rehearsal / costume fitting on Thursday, swim class, etc. and it was just a little much for the week.


Because of all that, the menu was a little light this year. Most of the meals had to be quick ones, so we didn’t overdo it on the bacon this year. I think this might have been the first year that I didn’t feel like I ate a whole pig by the end of the day, so I guess it wasn’t all bad.

On the flipside, my heart hardly had to struggle to pump blood through my bacon-clogged arteries, which means it didn’t get any exercise this year and is probably going to grow weak.


For breakfast this year, we basically just had scones. They didn’t even have bacon in them! But we had the taste test as part of breakfast, so that was bacon enough.

For lunch, we had a Bacon Chopped Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette (see above), and it was just about perfect. Really hit the spot. We also had a Spaghetti Squash with Bacon, Spinach and Goat Cheese (see below), and followed that up with Oatmeal Cookies with Molasses & Bacon Fat. The cookies were actually really, really amazing, though not particularly bacon tasting (which actually was okay with me).


Finally, for dinner we needed something simple, since we were coming from ballet, so we just had two dips, with veggies and crackers. The first, the Bacon Cheddar Ale Cheese Spread, pretty much stole the show for the weekend, but the Bacon, Scallion and Caramelized Onion Dip wasn’t bad either. And then more cookies, natch.

Finally, we ended on a game of Agricola, the most bacony of games, which — what’s that? Oh, I won? Oh, oh, I see. I believe that’s 3 in a row for me, which is an unprecedented win streak for anyone not named Sara. I’m like the Sara of Agricola.

2015_05_09_1785Stay tuned for more baconfest posts this week. Here on the Halbach channel, it’s all bacon, all the time.


The Quotes of Baconfest

No context provided:

Nathan: “Amanda is out of control when it comes to men’s underwear.”

Me: “Yeah, well. She’s not the boss of the bathroom.”

Nathan: “I’m going to eat all of MY number two!”

Ollie: “Aunt Rachael’s skin is the color of sausage.”

Chocolate Covered Bacon Toffee (aka Bacon Crack)

First Friday Food began with me guest-posting on another blog, so it seems fitting to host a guest recipe of my own.

Today, fellow author Beth Cato (as you may know, we shared a table of contents in OOMPH) stops by as part of the Clockwork Cookie Blog Tour to talk to us about her new book, as well of two of the most wonderful things in the world: bacon, and toffee.

I think I might have just picked out the first recipe for Baconfest next year…


Hi! I’m Beth Cato. I’m here to share some sweet-salty-savory goodness and to introduce you to my book.

My debut novel, THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER, comes out September 16th from Harper Voyager. It’s a steampunk novel with airships, espionage, and a world tree that seriously plays favorites. Here’s the back cover summary:

Orphaned as a child, Octavia Leander was doomed to grow up on the streets until Miss Percival saved her and taught her to become a medician. Gifted with incredible powers, the young healer is about to embark on her first mission, visiting suffering cities in the far reaches of the war-scarred realm. But the airship on which she is traveling is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing occurrences, including murder, and Octavia herself is threatened.

Suddenly, she is caught up in a flurry of intrigue: the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Daggers—the Queen’s spies and assassins—and her cabin-mate harbors disturbing secrets. But the danger is only beginning, for Octavia discovers that the deadly conspiracy aboard the airship may reach the crown itself.

You can also read the full first chapter over at It can be found at Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and most any independent bookstore.

Now, on to the Bacon Crack!

I’m an author, but I’m also somewhat infamous for my cooking. Every Wednesday over at my site, I post a new recipe in my Bready or Not series.

This recipe makes bacon into addictive candy. The first thing you taste is chocolate, then the sweet of toffee, and then the smoky, salty taste of the bacon. The pieces are small and it’s easy to keep popping them in your mouth.

It’s called bacon crack for a reason.

Chocolate Covered Bacon Toffee (aka Bacon Crack)

Modified from Wine and Glue


  • 2 cups butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 10 slices bacon, cooked and chopped (should make about one cup)
  • 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Prep the bacon and have it ready. Layer a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and make sure you have a space where it will fit in the fridge.
  2. It’s toffee time. In a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, melt the butter, sugar, and salt. Stir regularly until the mixture boils and comes to a 285 degrees F. (Yes, a candy thermometer is necessary here.) The temperature is slow to start but once it gets above boiling, it goes up quickly.
  3. Once the mixture has reached the right temperature, quickly stir in the almonds, and then the bacon. The fat is going to melt off the bacon immediately and separate from the rest of the mixture.
  4. Pour it all into the jelly roll pan.  It will start to set quickly, and the bacon fat will be liquid and on top. If you can, lift the pan with one of the corners pointed down and pour off the fat into the glass measuring cup. Get as much of it as you can, turning the pan and dripping from the opposite corner as necessary. OR–because my mixture didn’t set and wanted to slide off–grab some paper towels and blot the fat from the top.
  5. Let the toffee set for at least two hours in the refrigerator. Move to the freezer for an hour. Once frozen, break it apart and store it in there as you prep the chocolate.
  6. Melt the chocolate using the microwave or a double boiler. Taking a few pieces of toffee out of the freezer at a time, dip it in the chocolate, setting it on wax paper to set.
  7. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.


Beth Cato’s the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER, a steampunk fantasy novel from Harper Voyager. Her short fiction is in InterGalactic Medicine Show, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Daily Science Fiction. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat.

Baconfest 2014, Taste Test

And the nominees are:

taste test 1 and 2taste test 3 and 4

For the 3rd year in a row, there was a “trick” bacon in the mix. This year it was venison bacon. It’s a blind taste test, but from appearance alone, you could tell something was not quite right…

deer bacon

..and not everybody was fooled.



I’m always glad when the “trick” bacon scores low. Honestly, it wasn’t bad. We all agreed that it would be good on a sandwich. As a true competitor in the bacon taste test? Just, no.

Additionally, the texture of the Berkshire pork bacon really creeped people out, garnering comments of “texture was off”, “What animal is this?”, and “i DONT NO WAT IS WRONG WITH IT”.

Anyway, on to the results!


Brand Rating (1-10) Comments
Black Earth Meats Berkshire House Cured  7  Great flavor – lots of crunch but oddly soft too, texture was off
Jordanal Farms Hickory Smoked, Cured  9  Giant pieces – looked like a lot of fat but didn’t taste fatty; thicker cut; what I would classify as eggs and bacon bacon. Clearly whole meat cut.
Pernat’s Premium Meats (Venison Bacon)  2  Very lean and does not have the CRUNCH; clearly not whole cut meat; tastes like jerky
D&G  Sausage Shoppe – D&G Homestyle Bacon  8  Solid. Good, every day bacon (grocery store type) – nothing bad / nothing good, but the flavor couldn’t put it in the next level


Brand Rating (1-10) Comments
 Black Earth Meats Berkshire House Cured  6  Looked the worst. Smokey, salty. Didn’t like the first bite, but 2 & 3rd bites were better
 Jordanal Farms Hickory Smoked, Cured  5  Looked the best. Not much flavor. A little thick & leathery. Boring.
 Pernat’s Premium Meats (Venison Bacon)  -1 (0)  EEw. I know what this is. Deer != bacon.
 D&G  Sausage Shoppe – D&G Homestyle Bacon  9  NOM NOM NOM NOM! Perfectly balanced, not overly salty. Slightly smokey. perfect thickness. Looked good too. This is my jam.


Brand Rating (1-10) Comments
 Black Earth Meats Berkshire House Cured  4  Airy, greasy, tasteless. What animal is this?
 Jordanal Farms Hickory Smoked, Cured  7  Hammy flavor, nice, wide appearance, a little chewy.
 Pernat’s Premium Meats (Venison Bacon)  8  Looks like jerky, tastes like sausage, maybe I like this.
 D&G  Sausage Shoppe – D&G Homestyle Bacon  8  Very traditional and crispy. Might be Hormel, but I still like it. (salty)


Brand Rating (1-10) Comments
 Black Earth Meats Berkshire House Cured  7  Nice texture, crisp, crumbly, nice fat. Appearance was a little off. Looked thin and off-colored.
 Jordanal Farms Hickory Smoked, Cured  8  Best appearance, wide flat pieces, chewier, more flavor. More what I expect bacon to taste like.
 Pernat’s Premium Meats (Venison Bacon)  4  Strange looking, more like thin ham. Too uniform, would be good on a sandwich, but not to eat for breakfast.
 D&G  Sausage Shoppe – D&G Homestyle Bacon  5  Decent appearance, 2nd best looking, very crunchy. Too crunchy. And too salty, only all right.


Brand Rating (1-10) Comments
 Black Earth Meats Berkshire House Cured  2  i DONT NO WAT IS WRONG WITH IT
 Jordanal Farms Hickory Smoked, Cured  9  GOOD BUT i DiDiNT LikE iT AS MUCH AS 10
 Pernat’s Premium Meats (Venison Bacon)  2  iT TAST LikE SALOME
 D&G  Sausage Shoppe – D&G Homestyle Bacon  10  iT WAS GOOD Lik LAST YER


Ollie gave everything a smiley face. His only comment was on bacon #2: “Can we make this greasier?”

Overall Results:

Brand Average Rating
 Black Earth Meats Berkshire House Cured  5.2
 Jordanal Farms Hickory Smoked, Cured  7.6
 Pernat’s Premium Meats (Venison Bacon)  3.2
 D&G  Sausage Shoppe – D&G Homestyle Bacon  8.0

Baconfest 2014, In Pictures

bacon marmalade


bacon weave








homemade ravioli

makin bacon



bacon selfie