Mack's Corner

This Week

This week 10-20-15

Vise Grips

I use to have a 65 VW bus/camper. It didn't have the pop-up top, but it did have the bed in the back and all the crank side windows. I loved it, it was fun, BUT!!!! .. it was hard to keep running. I thought it would be a great thing for weekend camping trips. I put a big stereo in it and painted most of the outside. It looked good and  sounded good. Problems: It was a VW so it was air cooled, no water. When you turned on the heat, engine fumes came in through the vents. So to stay warm and to keep from passing out you had to open all the windows and turn the heat up all the way. I also learned all kinds of auto mechanics that I didn't really want to know. There are 3 things that you have to have if you're going to own a VW bus. Duct tape, heavy wire, and most important, Vise Grips. One night we drove out to some friend's house for dinner. They lived kinda out in the sticks so there were several 2 lane roads with no street lights on the way. Got there, had dinner, left around 10:30p. We were going along fine when I shifted gears and heard a "Pop" and the clutch pedal went to the floor. It was in neutral, so we coasted to the side of the road, in the dark, cars rushing by, two lanes. The good thing was that I always carried all my tools with me, I had done this kind of thing before. I crawled under the bus with my flash light and there was the clutch cable dragging on the road. I pulled it up to the leaver on the pedal, and I was about an inch short.. What to do? I got a crowbar and pulled the clutch open and clamped the bar to the bus with one pair of vise grips. Now the cable would reach but the little end piece that held the cable to the pedal lever was broken. So I got my biggest pair of vise grips and turned it as tight as I could and with all my strength, clamped the cable to the clutch pedal. Then I wired the vise grips tight around the cable so they wouldn't drag on the road. I let the crowbar go and it held.. some days you just get lucky. We drove home. It turned out that I drove it that way for about a month. I actually had to cut the cable to get the vise grips off. I've still got those vise grips ... good tools

God's like that: He gives us lots of tools to fix our life. The Bible, friends, church, prayer.. lots of stuff. We just need to be sure to keep them close..

I sure wish they made a VW bus that worked. I think I'll keep my Triumph, I'm pretty sure it's going to start tomorrow.. but those Vise Grips are in my tool box ...


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

You guys know I love great food that only takes 1 iron skillet to make. Pot pie is one of my favorite things ever, but the thing that everybody hates is that they have to make a pie crust. That's really easy, but this is even better, you use bread on top instead. As in all of these recipes use you imagination, if you don't like something leave it out. Want to add something, do it. I noticed there a no pearl onions in this. So boil some pearl onions and add them. This is a pot pie.. i.e. add anything to the pot that you want. Got some leftovers in the fridge? Add them. As long as it makes more flavor, you are good. TASTE! TASTE! TASTE! .. remember Hot, sour, Salty, sweet. Keep those 4 in balance and it will be great.. I promise..
Skillet Chicken-and-Mushroom Potpie


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 onion, finely chopped

1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps thinly sliced

2 carrots, thinly sliced

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth

2 tablespoons Madeira (optional)

2 cups whole milk (any milk/cream works. Even sour cream)

3 cups shredded chicken (from a rotisserie chicken)

1/2 cup frozen baby peas

Eight 1-inch-thick slices of bakery white country bread (about 1 pound), crusts removed


Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large ovenproof nonstick skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion, mushrooms and carrots and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over high heat, stirring once, until the vegetables are just softened, about 1 minute. Uncover and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and paprika and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the stock and Madeira and cook, stirring, until blended. Add the milk and bring to a gentle boil. Stir in the chicken and peas and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

Arrange the bread over the chicken mixture, trimming it to fit snugly in a single layer. Brush the bread with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the bread is golden. Serve right away.


Posted by Mack Oates at 10:57 AM