Mack's Corner

This Week -

This week 3-22-16

Field Trip!!!

I've decided that I should have been a truck driver. The idea of getting up early, driving a few hundred miles, having breakfast at a truck stop about 9am, dropping off what ever I've got in the truck and then driving home really sounds great to me. I'm sure it's harder than that, but that's the dream. I think this is a hold over from taking field trips when I was in school. A field trip day was always the best day. It meant everything that I was worried about went away. I didn't know what was going to happen so it was an adventure, and I couldn't plan for it. It was freedom that I was forced to do. I was planning a vacation one year and trying to figure out how to book the airlines. We were headed west but everything wanted to go east first or have a 7 hour layover. One flight went to New York first, then Chicago then west. We would have been flying 8 hours and not gotten across the Mississippi river yet. One flight had us leaving at 6am (be at the airport at 4:30am!!!) and arrive at 11:50pm (midnight). I'm sure flying around the country, seeing the sights would have been fun in 1960 but I really didn't want to do that. I don't really like flying too much, it gives me a headache and I never can get comfortable. Plus it hurts my brain. I have this thing going on where I'm always trying to think of the most efficient way to do things, especially getting from one place to another. It's the non-stop traveling salesman problem running different paths, trying to figure out the quickest route and still hit all the stops. Going to the east coast first didn't seem to be very logical.. I told PK (wife) to check and see if there's a flight out of Little Rock. I guess if you start on the west side of the Mississippi, flights tend to go west, you wouldn't think a river would have such an effect on an airplane?? Anyway she found one, a one hour layover, but both legs of the flight were going west almost in a straight line, what a concept! And, best of all, I get to drive to Little Rock. FIELD TRIP!!!!! It's like being in the 6th grade again.  Leave early, stop and have breakfast some place, get to the airport early, get a newspaper and cup of coffee.. It was almost more than I could stand. Plus I get to drive for 2 hours and feel like I'm really leaving. I love a good field trip. I don't really care where I'm going..

God's like that: To me 99 percent of following God is the trip. I don't know where he's going, I don't know where he'll end up. All I know is that I want to go, front seat.. pass the donuts..

I wonder if we could start Hope2 in Oxford. I bet I could come up with a reason to drive down there almost every day. A Field Trip every day!!!!
Whoooooo Hooooo!


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

I like comfort food. Makes me comfortable! .. who knew?  Here's a few great ones from great chefs..

Grant Achatz is one of the great chefs of the world. His restaurant Alinea was NO. 26 in the world last year. Here's his Mac & Cheese:

Grant's Mac and Cheese


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 thick slices of bacon (6 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium onion, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups whole milk
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 pound extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (5 cups)


Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate.

Add the onion and bay leaves to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour until blended. Gradually whisk in the milk until the sauce is smooth. Bring to a boil over high heat, whisking constantly, and cook until thickened. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce gently for 30 minutes, whisking frequently. Discard the bay leaves.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and boil until pliable but undercooked, about 4 minutes. Drain the macaroni and return it to the pot.

Stir 4 cups of the cheddar into the hot sauce, add the bacon and season with salt. Add the sauce to the macaroni and mix well. Spread the mac and cheese in the prepared baking dish and scatter the remaining 1 cup of cheddar on top. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

The assembled mac and cheese can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before baking.


Cindy Pawlcyn's restaurants are all in Napa Valley. My favorite is Cindy's Backstreet, which if you don't know where it is, then you may not find it. She's one of the great chefs in Napa.

Penne with Asparagus, Sage and Peas


1/2 pound penne
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound thick asparagus, cut into 1-inch lengths
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups (10 ounces) shelled English peas or frozen baby peas, thawed
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
Salt and freshly ground pepper


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and asparagus and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the stock and boil over high heat until reduced by half and the asparagus are tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the peas and cream to the skillet and boil over high heat until the sauce has thickened, 3 minutes. Stir in the penne and cook until heated through. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, sage and the 1/2 cup of cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta to bowls and serve right away, passing additional cheese at the table.


Posted by Mack Oates at 10:52 AM