Bacon Bark

Bacon Bark by Farmhouse38.comI have lured you here with the sweet siren song of bacon….further elaboration on this recipe is probably not required.  So let’s cut to the chase, shall we?  Okay then.

To make one batch, you will need:

-2 packages store-bought bacon, cooked the way you like it (I prefer crisp, and I think it works best in this recipe that way)

-2 sticks unsalted butter

-1 cup brown sugar

-Two 12 oz packages semi-sweet chocolate chips

-approx. 2 tablespoons Bacon Salt (see recipe below), or sea salt

For the Bacon Salt:

–1.5 tablespoons grey sea salt or whatever sea salt you prefer

-1 package bacon

Bacon Bark from Farmhouse38.com

Bacon Salt. When salt salt just isn’t cutting it.

Cooking the bacon:

To cook large quantities of bacon, I prefer to throw it in the oven rather than fry-pan-it.  Line your baking sheets (two packages of bacon will probably require four baking sheets), with tinfoil and put them in a cold oven.  Turn it to 375 and then cook anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how well-done you want it.  Keep an eye on it.

Once your bacon is cooked how you like it, remove it from the baking sheets and let it cool off sandwiched between layers of paper towel to soak up the excess oil.  Help it a bit by mopping it off with the paper towel, too.  You really want as much oil off as possible.

Once it has thoroughly cooled, separate out one package-worth to make the bacon salt. Throw it in a food processor and pulverize it into very fine pieces.  Add your 1.5 tablespoons of sea salt, process for a moment, and then store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Take your remaining two packages-worth of cooked bacon and put in a food processor and process till you have smallish bacon bits (or as small or large as you want it).  I find that smaller pieces of bacon work better for this.

To make the bark:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a standard cookie sheet with tinfoil (if you want thinner bark) or a smaller baking dish (if you want thicker bark).  I use heavy-duty tinfoil, as normal tinfoil can be a bit tricky to peel off afterwards.

Spread your bacon bits in an even layer across the bottom of the pan.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt your butter.  As soon as it is completely melted, add the brown sugar, stir well and dissolve.  Let this come to a boil and stir it steadily.  It will thicken and darken, and you want to keep stirring the whole time–don’t let it burn.  When it is a nice caramelly brown color and kind of fluffy and thick (after about 5 minutes), pour it evenly across the bacon bits in the cookie sheet.

Pop the sheet into the oven for 5 minutes, then take it out and pour your two bags of chocolate chips evenly across the top of the caramel-bacon mixture.  Pop it back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

Take it back out of the oven and then use a spatula to gently smooth the schmelty chocolate chips out.

Now sprinkle about a tablespoon of bacon salt (or however much to taste) over the top of that.

Put the whole sheet in the freezer for a few hours to set.  Remove from the freezer, peel the tinfoil off, and break the bark into pieces to serve (I like to dust another layer of bacon or sea salt over the top here, too).

Store in refrigerator.

Bacon Bark from Farmhouse38.com

Bacony Barky Goodness.

Bacon Bark from Farmhouse38.com

It’s just really darn good.

Chicken Defense

DIY chicken wire cloche plant protectors from Farmhouse38.comMore often than not, necessity is the mother of cute craft projects.  Case in point: these adorable chicken wire cloches (or plant jails, as I call them) are an easy craft project that have been cropping up all over the interwebs lately.  I wanted to make a version of my own and was forced into it yesterday in order to protect the baby romaine plants my neighbor had bestowed upon me.

DIY chicken wire cloche from Farmhouse38.com

Late season tomatoes and romaine seedlings from my neighbor’s garden.

Needless to say, we’ve got a lot of chicken wire laying around this place, and I was able to find some miscellaneous scrap pieces that would do the job quite nicely.  For the larger of these two cloches which is approximately 8 inches in diameter and 12 inches tall, I cut a piece approximately 24 inches in length and about 14 inches tall (cut it two or so inches taller than you want the end result to be).  I cut it so that there is a finished chicken wire edge along the bottom length, with all three other edges left rough.  Then I curled it into a cylinder, as shown below.  Overlap the two rough edges and then begin to fold in the sharp edges so that they wrap around each other and effectively staple the seam together.

DIY chickenwire garden cloche from Farmhouse38.com

Bend your raw edges in and around each other to ‘staple’ the seam closed.

DIY chickenwire garden cloche from Farmhouse38.com

You will then have a wire cylinder with a finished bottom edge, and a raw top edge.

At this point, and again many times in the process, you will need to gently mold the wire into an aesthetically pleasing shape.  It ain’t gonna be perfect, so don’t try.  Just make some semblance of a cylinder.  Next, you will bend the top, raw edge into the center to create a dome.

DIY chickenwire garden cloche from Farmhouse38.com

Gently mold the raw wire edge into the form of a dome.

Your cloche, for all intents and purposes is done, unless you want to add a handle.  For these, I used a small length of jute rope, wrapped the ends in thin wire, and wired the rope to the top of the dome.DIY chickenwire garden cloche from Farmhouse38.com

DIY chickenwire garden cloche from Farmhouse38.com

Oh, hey there, frog.

DIY chicken wire garden cloches from Farmhouse38.comI am so in love with these, but….will they be an adequate defense against the gobbling talents of my chickens?  They are pinned into the ground with landscape staples, but it will not shock me if my girls linebacker-tackle those things just for one beak-full of romaine.  Time will tell.  In the meantime, they look cute, right?

Autumn Scarf Wreath

Autumn scarf wreath from Farmhouse38.comAfter Halloween, and before Christmas, our front door always has a bit of an identity crisis.  This year, I solved it with this cozy wreath: fall colors and a little chalkboard love all tied off with a scarf.

I formed the wreath, itself, from grape and wisteria vine (but a craft-store-bought grapevine wreath would do the trick nicely), looped together with a little raffia-covered wire to keep the shape.  I scavenged a few small branches of sweetgum leaves from my neighbor’s yard, and since the leaves are still green here in SoCal, I hit these with a couple light sprays of paprika-colored spray paint to give them a hint of color, and to help preserve them.  I hot-glued the leaves in place, along with several sprigs of craft-store berries.

Autumn scarf wreath from Farmhouse38.com

Hi.

The little frame started out white, but I gave it a basecoat of the same paprika spray paint I used on the leaves, then dry-brushed a mint-color craft paint over the top.  I removed the glass from the front of the frame, then spray-painted the inside of the back of the frame with chalkboard spray paint.  With a white paint pen, I wrote my ‘Hi’, then I ‘seasoned’ the chalkboard by dry-rubbing it with the tiniest bit of watered-down white paint (to mimic the look of a well-used chalkboard, but hold up to the elements).

The pièce de résistance, of course, is the casually-tied scarf.  Cozy.

Festive Winter Votives

Festive winter votives made with epsom salts from Farmhouse38.comBring on the holiday crafts!  It has been far too long since glitter has infiltrated every surface of this house and given the Texan something to really grumble about.  For some reason, he does not like showing up to work with glitter on his face, and shoes, and computer bag, etc.  I don’t understand.  I just don’t understand.

My latest crafty obsession (for the holidays) is Epsom salt.  I have been using this stuff as fertilizer in the garden for a long while (plants love them some magnesium sulfate), and it is pretty hard not to miss the fact that it sparkles like snow in the sunlight.  So lovely!  Also it is pretty hard to miss all the holiday craft projects pinned on Pinterest that use it as such.

A little side note: something you should know about me is that I am a jar hoarder.  Not just the pretty, popular mason and canning jars, but every darned jar I can get my hands on.  I scavenge every jelly, jam, chutney, pickle, dip, salsa, and mustard jar.  Mustard jars….why do we have so many mustard jars?!  I digress.  My jars were just begging to be dipped in Epsom salt ‘ice’ for the holidays.

For this project, you will need:

-Jars or glass containers of your choosing

-Epsom salt

-White craft glitter

-Painter’s tape

-Clear gloss spray (as glue and finish coat)

-Sprigs of rosemary, tied into wreathes with bakers twine (or any other festive adornment of your choosing)

-tea light candles

Festive winter votives from Farmhouse38.com

A tiny fraction of my jar surplus.

DIY festive winter votives from Farmhouse38.com

The Texan really gave me a look when he saw this sitting on the counter. In very large letters, the Epsom salt bag reads: “For relief of occasional constipation.” Happy Holidays.

DIY festive winter votives from Farmhouse38.com

Because I wanted the jars to have a dipped look, I started by taping the tops down about an inch or so from the rim with painter’s tape.

DIY festive winter votives from Farmhouse38.com

Pour a healthy amount of Epsom salt into a low, wide container (I used a paint tray).

While the gloss or glue is still wet, quickly pat all sides of the jar into the Epsom salt.  Sprinkling the salt over the jar also works well.  When you’ve got an even coat of salt, then take your glitter and sprinkle it over the entire jar, letting it fill in between the salt granules for a little extra sparkle.  Give the jar a tap to knock off any loose stuff, and then hit the whole thing with a coat of clear gloss to help it all hold.  Let it dry, then peel off the tape.

DIY festive winter votives from Farmhouse38.com

Next, I sprayed the whole jar with a good coat of clear gloss spray (painting on Modge-Podge will also work).

DIY festive winter votives from Farmhouse38.com

I love the way the jar looks with a bit of naked glass showing at the top (instead of covering the whole thing in glitter salt). Pretty!

DIY festive winter votives from Farmhouse38.com

That naked edge just calls for some other seasonal adornment. A rosemary wreath looks about right!

DIY festive winter votives from Farmhouse38.com

Pour a bit of loose Epsom salt into the bottom of the jar to give your tea light a comfy spot to sit.

DIY festive winter votives from Farmhouse38.com

Sparkly!

DIY festive winter votives from Farmhouse38.com

Sparkly!

DIY festive winter votives from Farmhouse38.com

So sparkly.