How are you preparing for the aporkalypse?
Have you started hoarding spiral cut hams and slabs of applewood-smoked bacon to see you through the predicted pork and bacon shortage brought on by the summer's severe drought?
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When your salty stash runs out, turn to the TV for your bacon fix.
"United States of Bacon" follows California chef Todd Fisher as he crisscrosses the country in search of the most mouthwatering bacon creations. The show, which will air on Destination America (a Discovery Channel), is slated to premier in December and will run for 12 episodes.
The series is an offshoot of this past summer's three-part series, "United States of Food," and was launched after the bacon segment earned the network a four-slab, uh, star, rating.
"As a chef, bacon is among the foods closest to my heart. But with a bacon shortage looming, my quest to taste the best dishes in America takes on national importance," Fisher said.
"Bacon is undeniably, irrefutably one of the most popular foods in America," added Marc Etkind, a senior vice president for Destination America.
"What was once a measly breakfast side dish is now the garnish du jour, as the artistic centerpiece of traditional recipes and in avant-garde pairings with ice cream, jam and cocktails," Etkind said. "If only television screens were scratch and sniff!"
Beyond cheddar: The Midwest drought had a major impact on the apple crop as well. We're seeing smaller selection and higher prices at the grocery store. So when you get your hands on a nice, firm, shiny, red apple, you want to make the most of it.
Try pairing a luscious Gorgonzola with a tart apple like a Granny Smith or New Town Pippin or a sweet-tart Pink Lady. Pink Lady also is a good match to Kaltbach Cave-Aged Emmentaler AOC, suggests cheesemaker Emmi of Switzerland. Honey Crisps go nicely with Kaltbach Cave-Aged Le Gruyère AOC while Golden Delicious and Galas complement rich triple-creme cheeses.
Pairings don't have to end with fresh apples, either. The folks at Emmi say drinking apple cider with either of those cave-aged cheeses will enhance their flavor. Or enjoy a slice of apple pie along with a slice of Le Gruyère AOC to add a refined, savory note to the end of cozy cool weather meals.
Falling for fall cocktails: Chai tea is one of my cool weather comfort foods. I love starting the day with a tall steamy chai tea latte (made with skim milk, of course!). I recently came across a way to enjoy this spicy beverage in the evening, it's called an Autumn Chai Swizzle and this is how you make it: Brew a pot of chai tea; add 2 teaspoons raw brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Pour 3 ounces of hot tea into a mug and top with 2 ounces of Baileys Original Irish Cream. Add more brown sugar, if desired, and garnish with a cinnamon stick.
If you're not ready for warm cocktails yet (heck, we're still enjoying temps in the 70s), try this Ginger Apple Cooler.
Muddle four apple slices in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and 1½ ounces Ketel One Citroen, ½ ounce each fresh lime juice and simple syrup. Shake well and strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with 2 ounces chilled ginger beer and garnish with an apple slice.
Now, there's a way to have an apple a day.
Going for Gold: Good luck to chef John Reed of Customized Culinary Solutions as he heads to Erfurt, Germany to compete in the Internationale Kochkunst Austellung, also known as the culinary Olympics.
Reed, certified executive chef and former instructor at the College of DuPage, is part of a five-member team that will compete against international teams in a number of hot and cold food competitions.
Follow the team's progress at acfchefs.org then meet up with chef Reed at our Cook of the Week Challenge cook-off event Nov. 1 at the Hyatt Regency Woodfield Schaumburg. Reed will demonstrate a recipe that evening and talk about his Olympic experience. Details on tickets will be coming soon.
• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at firstname.lastname@example.org or (847) 427-4524. Be her friend at facebook.com/DebPankey.DailyHerald or follow her on Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram @PankeysPlate.