Here's a new way to look at the magical materials in the concrete mix: like the ingredients in a cake. We've always used some essential ingredients in ordinary concrete. Like eggs in a cake mix, cement binds the material together, and reinforcement helps keep it together. Don't forget aggregate—which, like flour, gives the mix its bulk. And just as in a cake mix, water turns other ingredients into semi-liquids and causes chemical reactions in them.

Through the years, technological advances have allowed us to customize our products for customers, just as a well-known neighborhood bakery can. Pozzolans and fibers are like more eggs. Admixtures change the behavior of concrete just as baking soda and baking powder make the cake rise. Like cocoa, vanilla, and sugar, integral color gives concrete a real flavor. You might even say dry shake-on color hardener does the same thing for the surface of concrete as frosting does for a cake.

Many people cynically view Martha Stewart as an unrealistic perfectionist. However, we need to be just as meticulous with our quality control as she is in baking her recipes. We have to make sure our concrete meets the ultimate customer's strength and performance requirements. Martha can always re-tape a show segment, which isn't nearly as bad as our having to tear out concrete that's out of spec. Tear-out isn't even our worst-case scenario; unsatisfied customers, lawsuits, and even structural failures are, even if they aren't our fault. Sure, Martha's got a large staff to help her out. We should consider the contractor, engineer, architect, and testing lab technicians our staff.