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Nearer the bacon rasher


In November I get hungry.
It’s in my DNA. There’s something about shortened days and dropping temperature that shifts my already hearty appetite into overdrive.
In December, I make Chex mix for the holiday season and I triple the recipe of the crispy, salty snack. Actually, by the time I’m done adding in extra of my favorite ingredients it should be classified as quadruple, as in quadruple heart bypass surgery.
My single favorite ingredient is the garlic bagel chip, so instead of three cups I use six. The same goes for the nuts and pretzels. And, to add my own personal touch, I toss in a bag or two of cheddar cheese fish crackers. It’s something Grandma used to do. For the cereal part of the concoction I pretty much stick to the recipe which, in a triple batch, means one box each of the corn, rice, and wheat Chex Cereal. In a nod to healthy eating, I always substitute whole-wheat instead of the garden-variety, un-whole wheat.
Of course, the seasoning gets amped up. I like it buttery, so instead of the 18 tablespoons of butter normally calculated for a batch this size I use 24, or three sticks. Instead of six tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, I always use four of Lea and Perrins and four of Louisiana hot sauce. For seasoning salt, I use six tablespoons of Lawry’s. Instead of a teaspoon each of onion and garlic powder– too bland in my estimation– I toss in about a quarter cup of cayenne pepper.
Since there is no way to get 40 cups in our microwave I bake it in the oven using every available pan in our kitchen’s arsenal. When finished, the two and half gallons, containing more than 10,000 cholesterol-choked calories, goes into an extra large bowl with a tight-fitting cover. There, from its salty, buttery and crunchy resting place, it calls to me, “Oh Brian, here we are… come and have just one.”
Of course, “just one” isn’t possible, I consume it by the fistful. Some are addicted to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes; me, it’s Chex mix.
Years ago, I used to leave the mix uncovered but our cats got into it. That set into motion a series of events that almost proved to be lethal for my dog Buzz, a hundred pounds of chowhound, also called a Rhodesian Ridgeback.
The felines tried to get into the new covered tub to no avail. They did manage to push it to the counter’s edge, however, where it toppled to the floor and burst open. The next morning, I came upon the scene of the crime and deduced what happened but was perplexed that nearly three-fourths was missing. The cats just can’t eat that much. Then it dawned on me Buzz was not around. He’s always around vacuuming up any crumbs shed from me like a bad case of dandruff. A quick search found him sleeping on the couch, looking for all the world as if he swallowed a basketball.
Buzz survived the ordeal, but was one unhappy puppy as he got his stomach pumped and his other end flushed. Then he spent two days in the hospital with the cone of shame to keep him from tearing at the IV in his leg.
Buzz is gone now, a few years, but the annual cooking of the Chex mix continues. We put it in tins and give it away as fast as we can, but it’s never quick enough because I just can’t pass it up without a nibble. And when we deliver it to friends, the tin gets opened and I’m eating it again.
There’s no escaping it.
Now it’s January, a time of remorse and diets.
February shines bright on the horizon as we’ve booked a trip to the land of the endless buffet, also called The Reef, an all-inclusive resort in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. We’ve been there before and love it. In fact, it’s where I want my ashes to be placed, near the bacon rasher. But before cremation, I want my stomach donated to medical science.