This is my first effort at making my own bacon. It is fresh from about two hours in the oven after spending seven days in a salt/sugar/pink salt dry brine in my refrigerator. It already tastes very good. (It's not that I'm not humble, I'm just surprised.) For the past year-and-a-half I have been learning how to make my own cheese, sausage, and beer. I'm also remembering how to make my own bread. It turns out that it is actually pretty easy to do all these things. And it really does taste better than store bought. Its more a matter of time than skill - and its a kind of time that doesn't demand constant attention. I just need to get the process started and then check in on it every so often. In the background is a big corn pot which is currently incubating about a gallon of goat milk into Chevre frais which is roughly a 24 hour project. Twelve hours to let the bacteria work and 12 hours to drain the whey.
I like doing this because its a way to remember where my food is coming from. My yard is too small for any serious farming and the neighbors would probably object if I installed a chicken coop but there's a whole other opportunity to grow things and make good food in my kitchen.
I also like doing this because I step out of instant time. Cheese and bread will take their time. No faster, no slower. To cure pork belly and turn it into bacon takes about seven days depending on the thickness of the meat. I'm not in charge of this time. I ruin things if I try to speed it up. The microwave is pretty much useless.
I like doing this because it connects me personally - my hands, my eyes, my body standing in this kitchen - with men and women across thousands of years who have also made beer and cheese and bread with their hands and their eyes and their bodies standing in their cooking places in many of the same basic motions, procedures and steps. It is ancient to make this food in this way.
I like doing this because it helps me to remember that all of this is still God at work.
Fr. Robert Capon said it better than I think I can in his 1969 classic, The Supper of the Lamb:
How much better a world it becomes when you see (God) creating at all times and at every time; when you see that the preserving of the old in being is just as much creation as the bringing of the new out of nothing. Each thing, at every moment, becomes the delight of His hand, the apple of His eye. The bloom of yeast lies upon the grape skins year after year because He likes it; C6H12O=2C2H5OH+2CO2 is a dependable process because, every September, He says, 'that was nice; do it again.
(pg 83, 1970 Pocket Books edition)
Anitra Kitts lives and writes in Northern California. Anitra is a graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary, a former member of the Oregon House of Representatives, a mother and a step-mother and a free-lance writer. Although she has heard many good things about Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Anitra hasn't yet had the chance to read it. On the other hand, Anitra is currently a big fan of Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn. Anitra's website can be found at www.grace-dancer.org.