Mack's Corner

This Week --

This week 2-16-16

Se-VEEER-ly and pro-FOUND-ly

A few years ago Hope had the Principal's Academy for the Memphis City Schools. They always have at least one great speaker. That year it was a guy named Norman Kunc ( He had everybody intently listening, almost like listening through a door trying to hear what was being said in another room. It was very quiet, necks stretched trying to hear the next word.. Mr. Kunc has a rare gift, he's a great speaker and he has cerebral palsy(CP). The CP makes him not have very good control of his body or his speech. You can hear him but you can't always understand him. So when you don't understand the first word, you have to be sure to hear the next word to be able to figure out what he's saying. It takes concentration. He had me for a full hour and a half. His whole speech was about how to include people so that they feel like they were needed and important to the group, especially people who are different. For instance, playing musical chairs. Instead of the kid left without a chair be booted out of the game, the idea is to get every kid in to what ever number of chairs you have left. And it's up to the kids to figure out how to do it. So you start with 7 kids and 7 chairs, then 7 kids and 6 chairs, then 7 and 5... then 7 and one.. All 7 kids have to get in the one chair.  Now, having that big kid helps because he can be on the bottom. And having the little kid helps because he can be on the top. What if one of the kids is handicapped?  Doesn't matter, the kids have to figure it out.. problem solving, team work, everybody is included, everybody is needed because you have to have all 7 kids on the chair to win. All 7 win.. He talked about how people with disabilities are described. Somebody is "Se-VEEER-ly" handicapped or "pro-FOUND-ly" disabled. You never hear that when it's something we think of as good.. "Se-VEEER-ly" intelligent or "pro-FOUND-ly" athletic. His point was that people are different and they can be described in different ways, black, white, tall, short, handicapped, athletic.. But that's what they are, get used to it. When Macky (my son) was going to High school (Shrine School, all the kids are handicapped)  there was a class of kids that were a lot like Mr. Kunc. Mentally, they were regular kids, some very intelligent (smarter than me), but they all had CP and most were in wheelchairs. They saw their lives as mostly hopeless.  Their teacher was telling me about it and I had an idea. So I wrote a letter to the University of Cambridge in England explaining the situation and wanting to see if I could get a picture.  He had his Secretary call me to be sure they had it right, and about a month later I got a big envelope from Stephen Hawking ( ) with his picture inside and a short letter. We framed it and hung it up in the class room. The teacher told her class: "See this picture? .. He looks just like you doesn't he? ... Do you know who that is?. That's the smartest man in the whole world! He's very famous!..  he's just like you! " .. That changed the whole class. They saw Stephen every day .. Hope is a wonderful thing..

God's like that: He sees us as "pro-FOUND-ly" important. He has big plans for us no matter what has happened in the past, no matter what your abilities are, no matter what you're going through now, no matter what you can and can't do. He's got plans and you are part of it. Plus, you are "se-VEEER-ly" loved, even if you don't think you deserve it..  Nobody gets left out!

I told that teacher when she quits teaching that I get the picture back. It still hangs in her class today, she tells the story every year on the first day of school.


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

Parsnips!! Ever cook Parsnips? They look like white carrots. They taste mostly like carrots, just different, not as orange. So here's a couple of recipes that are very different, but would be great served together. And they are really easy. The hard part is cutting up veggies. I like cutting up veggies because it makes me think about it, slowdown, and be precise. And I get to work on my knife skills. Get a sharp knife. Always always make your first cut so that you make a flat side. So Carrots, down the middle longways. Onion, root to tip. That way you can put the flat side on your cuting board and it will stay still and not roll around. If you are cutting peppers, always cut in halg then cut from the inside out. The outside is slick and my cause your knife to slip.  If  you have a Mandoline and decide to use it, be very careful. It is by far the most dangerous thing in your kitchen. But it works great.

Nordic Winter Vegetable Soup


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 leeks, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup pearled barley
8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
4 cups water
10 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound baby spinach
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the onion, leeks and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the barley. Add the vegetable broth, water, thyme and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Add the celery root and parsnips and season with salt and pepper. Simmer over moderately low heat until the barley and root vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes.

Stir in the spinach and nutmeg and simmer for 5 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper and serve in deep bowls.

(((Remember: Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet. When you taste this it should have a balance of hot(Pepper), Sour(Garlic, bay leaves), Salty(Salt), Sweet(Onions, Leeks, Parsnips) .. Don't get stupid on this. Small amounts.. For more Hot I would add tabasco, Green if you have it. For more Sour I would add vinegar(any) or lemon juice, 1 tsp at a time. For more Salty I would add more salt. small amounts. For more Sweet I would add honey.. After you add anything, Taste, Taste, Taste. You are not trying to change the recipe, you're just trying to balance it. )))


Pear, Parsnip & Fourme d'Ambert Tartines


2 medium parsnips, thinly shaved lengthwise on a mandoline or with a vegetable peeler

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


Freshly ground pepper

Four 3/4-inch-thick slices of sourdough bread or eight 3/4-inch-thick slices of baguette, cut on the diagonal

1/4 cup crème fraîche (quick crème fraîche = 1 part sour cream + 1 part cream.. so for this 1/8C sour cream + 1/8C cream.. stir it up till combined)

1 Bosc pear—halved, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise

4 ounces Fourme d’Ambert, rind removed and cheese thinly sliced (This is a French blue cheese. Any blue cheese will work. If you don't like blue cheese, any Brie would work well too. You can get this a Murray's cheese inside Kroger) 


Preheat the oven to 350°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the shaved parsnips with the extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, tossing once, until the parsnips are tender and starting to crisp around the edges. Let cool slightly.

Preheat the broiler. Arrange the sourdough bread slices on a medium baking sheet. Spread equal amounts of the crème fraîche on each bread slice, then top with the pear slices, roasted parsnips and cheese; season with salt and pepper. Broil 8 inches from the heat for about 3 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Serve the tartines hot.


Posted by Mack Oates at 11:38 AM