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the adventures of a MAD mom

smoking pork rindsCasey was lured into the diet with the promise that he could eat as much bacon as he liked.  He has always been a bacon lover –  I like to think it goes back to my pregnancy with him.  I had not eaten meat for 16 years, until during my pregnancy I had an incredible urge to try every BLT in the city, and beyond.  (the best, by the way, was in a restaurant in the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas – apple wood smoked bacon with chipotle mayo, arugula, heirloom tomatos and toasted sourdough – heaven). Casey has loved bacon since the day he tried it as a toddler.

Very soon into the start of the MAD, we learned about calculating label information. (that’s a whole blog for another day) That is when we found out that we had been giving Casey several additional daily carbs in the Nitrate Free Niman Ranch Cured Applewood Bacon we had been buying at Trader Joe’s. We had assumed that the zero carbs on the label meant zero carbs in the bacon, and were counting them as such.  Oh, no, no, no.  After careful calculation, there is actually 1 carb per piece, adding approximately 4-6 carbs to Casey’s daily intake that we had not been accounting for.  We were going to have to limit the bacon to 1-2 pieces per day in order to stay within his 15 carb/day limit.

This was a deal breaker for Casey.  He had had most everything he really loved to eat taken out of his daily diet.  Knowing he had unlimited bacon was what he was hanging on to.  And now this. 

We have a neighbor who has been making his own bacon for the past few years, so we asked him for the recipe.  Turns out making your own bacon is ridiculously easy.  Apart from finding the pork belly (which is not so difficult in Los Angeles), you can make it with ingredients found in most spice cabinets and the flavor choices are endless.  We exchanged the only ingredient where we could find carbs– the sugar – for stevia. 

 We began experimenting.  My husband Dave loves this kind of thing, so we spent a whole  morning making up different rubs, then packing up each 5 lb. piece for a week of curing time.  We made one batch with Turbino Sugar, and one with Stevia to see if we could taste a difference.  We could not, but with only 2 Tbsp. of sugar for 5 lbs. of bacon, and given that it is washed off after curing, the carbs would be just trace amounts in any case. 

In the mean time, Dave  researched the best way to smoke the meat once it was ready.  This began with a simple internet search, but turned into a mad Craigslist search for something called the Green Egg.  It turns out to be a highly desirable smoker that looks really cool, too.  After finding that there were apparently several hip smokers out there looking to place a cool green egg in their own backyard man cave at a bargain price, mine settled on a used “Oklahoma Joe” that can hold 20 lbs of bacon (maybe more if he can figure out how to double stack, he tells me).  This should do the trick.  Before he was able to lay his hands on this baby, however, our first batch was simply smoked in our back yard BBQ with the help of some apple wood chips and very low temperatures.  Our favorite, the Lemongrass/Lemon Thyme flavor was a hit with the whole family (except for my older son who does not eat bacon, because when I was pregnant with him we went to Italy and ate a lot of pasta – but that is another story for another time). 

making bacon in the oklahoma joe

Yesterday, we smoked our first batch in the Oklahoma Joe, and I can tell you that it was perfect.  Casey ate 6 pieces this morning, and gave it a big thumbs up.  It was fabulous, really, with a smoky flavor and just the right amount of seasoning.  The best news; our bacon has no nitrates and no carbs and therefore Casey is, again, one happy MAD dieter.

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