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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Do it Yourself and Know what's been Done

Pork Belly
 If you prepare something from start to finish, you know exactly how it's been done and what it takes to do it. This is as true in the office as it is in the kitchen.

Lately I've been cooking a lot. I'm on a diet that restricts sugar intake so I've had to make some things that I wanted to eat. Did you know that most bacon is cured with sugar? That's tough because bacon is also delicious (and without the sugar, totally acceptable in small quantities on my diet). So, the solution is to make my own bacon. I ordered a pork belly from the butcher and created a brine in which to soak the bacon. Half of the eight pound belly is going to be pepper bacon and half of it regular. After three days in the brine, the belly is removed, dried and then cold-smoked to produce that distinctive (American) bacon flavor.
Brine for the Bacon Cure

I also took some time to make a cheesecake, from scratch. Another one of the diet restrictions is on flour (mostly I can't eat white things), so instead of a typical cheesecake crust, I processed some almonds into almond flour and then filled it with the sugar-free cheesecake filling. I topped it with a homemade chocolate sauce. It was incredibly delicious. The worst part was waiting for it to cool completely after cooking.

Orange Almond Cheesecake
The whole point is that when you do things from the ground up, you get to know what's in them. You know every last ingredient of your food, if you make it yourself. If you create your own presentation, you know everything that's in it. There are plenty of pre-packaged presentations that you can grab for a few bucks, but they are the same as pre-packaged food. There's a lot of empty calories.

Pre-packaged presentations ramp up the production values. They have tons of glitz applied to make them look "professional" but the truth is most professional presentations are simple and straightforward. Look at the famous Apple Keynotes for which Steve Jobs was so famous. They aren't filled with flashy animations, but simple pictures and text. The real power comes from the presenter knowing exactly what's next in the presentation and speaking to that point.
Cheesecake topped with a chocolate sauce
 Don't look for the easy way out. It's only easy on the front end. The work you put in at the beginning will be rewarded at the end with a much better product, in no small part because you know every ingredient in it.

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