Cooking FAQs answered from the Men’s Only Retreat MORNC 2015

I returned early this morning (9/14) from the Men’s Only Retreat (MORNC 2015) held in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. I’m filled with ideas for new articles but before I get into the heavier stuff, I wanted to acknowledge my gratitude for all the men who attended the retreat – it was a warm and inspiring time for me and I hope others had a similar experience. If it is at all possible I hope I get the chance to attend the next one.

The drive to North Carolina was harrowing – bad weather dogged us the way there but cleared up for the duration of the retreat. It took 3 tries to force the car up the steep gravel mountain road to the lodge – one less person in the car and we might not have had enough traction to complete the trip. The upside was the feeling of complete safety in the lodge = no feminist will ever have the guts to attempt to scale such a treacherous path. The temperature stayed steadily on the cool side, further microaggressing any potential feminist interlopers.

Most of us helped out with the cooking and cleanup as communal activities. I helped prepare some of the meals over the four days and I fielded a lot of questions about the food preparation. Here are a few of them and my answers:

How did you get the bacon to turn out so well?

Most people fry bacon in some sort of skillet, or microwave it on paper towels, but when preparing large amounts of bacon (about 10 pounds overall in this case), baking it in an oven is the best bet. I used 4 large sheet pans, each large enough to hold about 2/3 of a pound of bacon at a time. I placed the bacon slices side-by-side, and baked them at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until the bacon was slightly browned with a dynamic mass of pinpoint bubbles on top of each slice.

Professional chefs recommend using parchment paper under the bacon but since we had none, I put it directly on the metal pans. It was a simple matter to use a metal spatula to loosen and remove the freshly baked pieces.

When using thicker cut bacon, one should increase the cooking time to 18 minutes. If you use a broiler pan instead of a sheet pan, cut the temperature down to 375 – the extra air circulation under the bacon can make it cook a bit too fast. Of course, oven performance can vary but the above guidelines are a solid starting point.

What was the recipe for the squash casserole?

I just made it up from scratch based on what we had available – normally I’d look for smaller squash – but if you want to try to reproduce it, here’s what I did:

Slice the squash into thick, quarter-sized chucks. and place in a Pyrex baking dish.

Cut the tomato in half, then squeeze the halves over the sink to force out the seeds (which can turn bitter when baked). Remove and discard the stem scar, then cut the tomato into quarter-size chunks. Sprinkle the chunks over the squash. Cut the butter into slices and top the squash mixture. Sprinkle the  rest of the ingredients over the dish and cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and serve.

What is the recipe for the pancakes?

I used the pancake recipe from with the following modifications:

First, I used Jumbo Eggs, the largest we could find, in the hope that the outsized eggs had caused the maximum amount of pain to the chickens’ vagina.

Sorry, of course I am kidding – chickens have cloacae, not vaginae.

I used a non-stick pan, so it was not necessary to grease it first.

I used salted butter instead of margarine. Professional chefs usually recommend using unsalted butter but I’ve never had a problem using the salted kind,

I couldn’t find any measuring spoons, so I had to estimate the amounts of the minor ingredients.

Although I kept the pancakes basic, one can add vanilla, cinnamon, bananas, sweet potatoes, etc, for more variety.

What seasonings did you use in the pinto beans?

As the large pot with 24 servings of beans started to boil, I added one thinly sliced Jalapeno, fresh garlic, chopped fresh yellow onion (left over from the previous day’s burgers), Ms Dash Southwest Chipotle Spice Blend, cumin powder, and a couple of splashes of Nakano rice vinegar; after the beans had simmered long enough to soften, I added salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Adding salt too early toughens the beans, and the pepper to early can scorch it. I usually add bacon or ham when I prepare beans but since we had a couple of vegetarians attending I wanted to keep the vegetable dishes free from meat.

It was a great time, and more articles are forthcoming.

Thanks again, everyone.


“Hot cake” by I (Potesara) – Self-photographed. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons –

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