Matthew Koelzer emailed in response to the column about the best fries in town:

“My favorites are the fries at almost all of the Basque eateries in town. They have a different taste, with a slight sweetness in the after-taste. No need for anything but a light salting. Thanks for making my mouth water so early in the morning.”

•••

Bitsy Ming goes way back with the glory of potatoes and French fries:

“As a potato farmer’s daughter, I only eat fries without condiments, no ketchup. Why dilute their perfection? I also love chips especially Ruffles. I was so delusional in kindergarten, I shared that my father grew potato chips during share time. My teacher tried correcting me that he grew potatoes but I assured her I ate them straight off the plant on his farm.”

•••

Since I’m talking about food and never far adrift from thinking about bacon, friend Lori from son Kevin (I don’t think I’ve mentioned this and if I have, it won’t hurt to hear it again) suggests this method for the best bacon.

Lay your bacon on a rack on top of a cookie sheet after grinding fresh coarse pepper on both sides. Cook for 20 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees. Pay attention to the last five minutes because unwatched bacon can go super crispy critter on you in the waning moments. Best bacon I’ve ever had.

•••

Dee Holder responded to the column that suggested that the paper should have a feature next to the obits titled “Alive and Still Kicking,” for those people we haven’t seen in awhile but who are still operating on the right side of the grass.

”When I call my brother and ask how he’s doing, he says, 'I’m still kicking just not quite as high.'”

***

Mike Tasos responded to the column on tribute bands and favorite bands from our childhoods:

“A friend of mine recently died and he proudly wore his shirt ''I May Be Old, But I Got To See All The Good Bands.”'"

***

I love this time of year. Pretty much everything that could fall off the trees, has fallen off. Winter rye is green from all the rain, and if you don’t have winter rye or grass at all (I don’t blame you a bit), then the falling-off thing is no problem either.

This is the moment for the ultimate winter cleanup before spring comes. The time to cherry it out.

This is also a peak time for oranges. The tree next door to us is producing oranges so sweet that eating one orange leads to three. The cold nights have brought the oranges up to sugar.

Another neighbor has a grapefruit tree packed with yellow grapefruit. There is no shortage of grapefruit in the world but don’t dismiss them because during the time of year where everybody seems to have a sore throat, a glass of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice with perhaps a couple dollops of honey is just the thing.

•••

I listened to an amazing podcast courtesy of my friend Vince Roche. Few people have 90 minutes during the course of their day to listen to a lecture but if you’re in the car, I recommend Jeremy Rifkin's lecture on the “Third Industrial Revolution.” Here’s the link: https://youtu.be/QX3M8Ka9vUA

•••.

Every column should have a music recommendation because music, like peppered bacon, makes our lives better.

Andrew Duhon, the New Orleans version of Van Morrison with a much more interesting voice, came to town a couple of weeks ago. What a singer. His latest album is "False River." Here's a link to one of his songs, "Heart of a Man": https://youtu.be/5X6aT8mjYbE.

•••

This is no big deal but I've been teaching a writing class at the Levan Institute through BC for the last 10 years. It's geared for people who want to improve their writing chops. It's fun, we read stuff, write and talk. Six classes, Wednesdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m., beginning Feb. 20. It's $60 and held downtown at the Larry Reider Education Center. If you're interested, Google Levan Institute or call 395-4431.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at hbenham@bakersfield.com or 661-395-7279.

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