Mack's Corner

This Week -

This week 1-19-16

The myth of Convenience

I was reading something in the New York Times and I saw the term "The myth of Convenience". It was talking about how much better local farmer's market food is than food shipped across the world and sold in grocery stores. It really applies to everything. 35 years ago I added a room in the attic of our house. I bought the wood at Tom Eubanks lumber yard(He also let me pick each one of them out), bought the nails and screws at Stewart Brothers Hardware, and the tools at the Sears Craftsman store. Today I would just go to one of the big home/hardware stores. The difference is that the home store wouldn't have had 1500 8ft 1x2's that I needed like Eubanks did. They wouldn't stand there at let me draw it out and explain the plan for an hour like I did at Stewart Brothers hardware. I don't think they would have replaced the 2 belt sanders I burned up like Sears did. But it would have been convenient, everything in the same place, one stop shopping. You got to love convenience. It's right there with Ordinary, Mediocre, Forgettable, Uninspired, and barely adequate...

One of my favorite places is the Ferry building in San Francisco. Every shop specializes in one thing and one thing only. They each take great pride in that one thing they do. They know all about it, usually they make it or grow it or at least went out a found it themselves. Here's some of the stores: Acme Bread, Cowgirl Creamery (cheese), Imperial Tea, Blue Bottle Coffee, Far west Fungi (mushrooms),  Hog Island oyster company, Prather Ranch meat co, San Francisco fish co, Frog Hollow Farm (pastry), Humphry Slocombe(ice cream), Recchiuti Confections (hand made candy), Dandelion Chocolate, Tsar Nicoulai Caviar, McEvoy Ranch Olive oil, Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant. The best grocery store in the world doesn't have what this place has, sure you have to buy everything separate and carry your stuff around from store to store and everything is a little more expensive and it's a hassle to find a place to park but have you ever tasted cheese from the Cowgirl Creamery, the girls will let you stand there all day and taste samples, or had fresh lobster mushrooms from Far west Fungi? How about Truffled Scrambled Egg with California Estate Osetra Caviar? Would you pay $12 for a taste of heaven? Or 5 different kinds of Oysters at Hog Island.  I would live there if they would let me. I could go talk bread with the bread guy or oysters with the oyster guy or cheese with the cheese girls or meat with the guy who grew the cow or sausage with the guy who stuffed it. Try doing that at Kroger, ask him if Morels or Porcinis go better with lamb? In an effort to save some time we've settled for much less.. Go eat at a restaurant where the chef owns it and cooks there every day, go buy vegetables at the farmers market from the person who grew them, get chuck to cut you a nice steak at Charlies meat market, buy your spices at Penzeys, find a real baker that makes bread every morning, get donuts at the donut store where they make them at 4am and you can smell it outside(why eat a donut that you can't smell?), buy chocolate covered strawberries at Dinstuhl's where you can watch them make them. Buy fish from Keith Thomas at Thomas Meat & Seafood (where it's actually fresh). Buy sausage from Porcellino's where it is actually made and have a pastry while you watch Kayla make them in the window...  Do the best thing, not the easy thing.

Gods like that: Somehow he knows everything there is to know about me, he specializes in me. When I talk to him, it's just the two of us, he never gets tired of it. God doesn't need convenience, he doesn't need to talk to us a million at a time so he can get it over with. He talks to just me at the exact time I need to hear it, he's never in a hurry. He only gives his best. He never settles for average or ordinary. For some reason I'm worth everything he's got..

I wonder if Lazy boy has a store in the Ferry building? I could sell chairs and have a place to sleep at the same time… Caviar sounds good for breakfast…

Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes:

When I was growing up we had a leg of Lamb every Easter no matter what. It was more important than Turkey at Thanksgiving and it's one of my favorite things. There are 2 rules to cooking a leg of lamb, after that it's easy.

Rule 1. Never bone-out a leg of lamb. Always, Always, Always cook it with the bone in. To Greek people boning out a leg of lamb is like boning out a rack of ribs in Memphis. No matter what your recipe says, leave that bone in, and only buy it with the bone in.

Rule 2. Trim as much fat as you can. If you think you've done it enough, do it some more..

1  5-7 lb leg of lamb
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Rub olive oil all over the lamb. Then rub lots of Salt & pepper all over it.
From here you're on your own. If you want to put rosemary on it or rub it with garlic. Add whatever you want. I like it with oil and Salt & Pepper only.

Roast in 350 Degree oven until the internal temp gets to 130 Degrees for medium rare (never more than 150 or it will be dry).. take it out and let it sit for 10 minutes before you cut it.

If a 7 pound leg of lamb is too much for you, try this:

Rack of Lamb: This is almost too easy.. No fat trimming!

1 or 2 racks of lamb (6 or more ribs) These are small. I get mine frozen from Charlie's Meat Market… get them to room temp before you start..

Salt & pepper all over
Pre heat oven to 200 degrees (I know this seems low, but trust me)

3 tbl olive oil in a hot pan
Sear the lamb on all sides

Put the lamb in the oven and roast till internal temp of 130 for rare or 140 for medium (never more than 150) .. let it rest for 10 minutes.. to serve, cut between the ribs.. If it's just you or you and one other person, forget the "serve" part, cut a rib and eat it right there. All food is better standing up, no plate, no fork, with a good friend..  Maybe a little Worcestershire sauce for dipping..

Last: Make stock!!! Put all those bones, or the one big one, on a baking sheet. Add olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 350 till nice and dark brown. Then put the bones, an onion cut in 4 pieces, cut up raw carrots in a pot and cover with water by 3 inches. Simmer at a small bubble simmer. DON'T LET IT BOIL. As "Stuff" comes to the top, skim it off. Also skim off any fat/oil that comes to the top. After about 3 hours, skim some more, then pour it throught a strainer. You should have a clear brown stock. I usually pour it through the strainer several more times. Pour it up in quart containers and freeze it. Next time you need stock, get one out. Put it in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil. Way better than that stuff at the grocery store.   


Posted by Mack Oates at 9:56 AM