Mack's Corner

This Week

This week 11-17-15


When I was in college writing "Assemblers" for a computer class  in college we had to write what the professor called "primitives" first. An Assembler is just a big computer program. It's very complex if you look at it as one big program, but simple if you break it down in to parts. The "primitives" were the most basic, simple, lowest level routines. Things like: when you hit "A" on your keyboard an "A" shows up on the screen (about 20 lines of code). Without this simple routine you can't type. You've got to have it. There were maybe 100 of these routines that were the foundation for the whole program. Then we moved up a level. At the second level you wrote routines that were just a series of these primitives: do primitive #3 then #6 then #24 then #8.. (that might be the routine to send something you've typed to the printer).. Then you go up to the 3rd level. Now you're only calling a series of the routines that are on the 2nd level.. and so on to the 4th, 5th,6th levels ..When you get up to the 7the level one command may be calling hundreds of primitives. That one command might do all kinds of things that look very complex, but really it's just a whole bunch of very simple things.. Cooking works the same way. My favorite book to show this is "The Escoffier cookbook and guide to the fine art of cookery for connoisseurs, chefs, epicures" By Auguste Escoffier. It has 2,973 recipes all numbered. Nice title huh? .. Every great chef has this book. It's a great reminder of how to cook. The first chapter, recipe #1 through #18 is stocks. Chapter 2 is sauces which all call for some sort of stock. So the recipe will read: make #20 (a roux) and whisk in #3 (brown chicken stock). By the time you get to chapter on the big stuff he's saying: make #234 (which is #23 & #6) and add that to #356 (which is #127, #145, & #122..(which are made from other lower level stuff). So when he says make #1256 that might be 2 days of work. The trick is to know how to make the lower level stuff. If you can do that, you can cook anything in the book, no matter how complex.

God's like that: We see life as being so complex because we look at what we want it to be when we finish. God wants us to look at the simple small parts at the beginning... We think: "I want my kid to be a great person when he grows up." Very hard, very complex, don't know where to start. God thinks: "Today, give your kid a hug, help them with homework, make a healthy meal for dinner." Simple, basic, easy..In "Raising Children 101" those might be #1,#12,#8.. Want to fix your life? It's doable if you learn the primitives..


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

Root-Vegetable Gratin

Use a mandoline to cut the vegetables into thin slices; they will turn tender when baked with chicken broth and a little cream.


2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
1 butternut squash neck (2 1/4 pounds) from a large butternut squash, peeled
1 medium rutabaga (2 pounds), peeled and halved lengthwise
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


Preheat the oven to 375°. Using a mandoline, slice the potatoes and squash lengthwise 1/8 inch thick. Slice the rutabaga crosswise 1/8 inch thick.

Spray an 8-by-12-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange half of the potatoes in the dish, overlapping them slightly; season with salt and pepper. Top with half of the rutabaga and the squash, seasoning each layer. Repeat the layering. Pour the broth over and around the vegetables.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour, until the vegetables are almost tender when pierced. Remove the foil and pour the cream over the gratin. Bake for about 30 minutes longer, until the liquid has thickened.

Preheat the broiler. Mix the panko with the oil and season with salt and pepper; sprinkle over the gratin. Broil 3 inches from the heat for 2 minutes, until golden, rotating for even browning. Let the gratin stand for 10 minutes, then serve.


Posted by Mack Oates at 1:10 PM