Shortly after I made the aforementioned spinach salad with lentils and bacon, I used the leftover bacon grease in the cast iron pan to make pasta. Frugal!

One bundle of fresh asparagus, one can of chickpeas and half a yellow onion were quickly fried in nearly 2 tbsps of bacon grease (I know). I boiled some whole wheat spaghetti and added to toss in the pan alongside a handful of walnuts, but the dish was too rich for me. Even after adding the juice of a lemon for some much-needed acid, it still gave me a stomachache afterward. Bacon grease… in moderation. In moderation. Here I am, gravely suffering delicious cooking indignities so that you don’t make the same mistakes. Don’t be like me! Skimp on bacon grease.

But Amy Hempel? Never in moderation! I have found many other Hempel admirers in Portland… glad to see her ultra dark, beach-casualty, earthquake-spiked L.A. aesthetic transcends state borders.

On the morning she was moved to the cemetery, the one where Al Jolson is buried, I enrolled in a “Fear of Flying” class. “What is your worst fear?” the instructor asked, and I answered, “That I will finish this course and still be afraid.”


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