Mack's Corner

This Week

This week 01-13-15 The Easy way out
I was talking to a friend of mine last week about getting people to be their best. I used to teach Title 1 Math (remedial Math) in Jr High school and I had kids all the time who thought they were stupid. People had told them that all of their lives and so they lived up to it. Turned out most of them were just as smart as anybody else...  One summer a friend of my wife's asked me if I would tutor his daughter in High School algebra and intro Calculus. He wanted her to go to a big time college and she had to do well in math (lots of pressure). She went to a fancy prep school in town and did great in everything but math where she worked really hard to make a "C". Her teacher had told her she wasn't a very good math student and that she needed to work harder (more pressure). I needed a summer job so I said I would do it. The first day I told her how smart she must be to be able to do well in her other classes and that I just needed to tell her a few tricks and she would be a math wiz in no time. She had no confidence. We worked a few problems and when she got it wrong I told her how close she was to being right and when she got it right I told her she was a genius. I sent her home with home work and when we went over the problems the next time I told her the same thing. In a few weeks I was telling her she knew more math than I did and I started getting her to explain the problems to me. I would say "I didn't really get how to do that problem. Did you get it?" ... "Sure let me show you!" Then she would teach me. By the end of the summer when we had gotten 4 or 5 chapters in to calculus she was the teacher and I was the student.  The next year she got straight A's in math, it was her favorite subject. She went on to an Ivy League college where she majored in math and got her PhD in math... I was reading a book last week and there was this quote: "A lot of people take the easy way out. But, if they don't have the option to take the easy way out, they'll be surprised at what they can do."

God's like that: sometimes he puts us in hard places to teach how resourceful we are, to lead us in a different direction, to discover new talents, to build confidence, to trust and depend on him. He takes out all the easy ways and leaves the hard one. We just need to rise to the occasion.

I bet I could teach Med school or Quantum Physics. My students just need to be way smarter than me..


Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes - Living Well - Mediterranean Diet:

Stew is as old as camping out. Cowboys made it, people made it in wars since the beginning of time, pioneers made it .. all you need is fire, meat, broth/water, vegetables, salt and pepper and anything else you want to put in in it. The trick is to brown anything that will brown. It make a big difference in the flavor. So brown you meat in a really hot skillet. The idea is not so much to cook it, but to brown it. Same thing with vegetables. If you're adding onions, brown them. Potatoes, brown them. Carrots, brown them. I usually brown the meat, take it out and set it aside then brown all the vegetables together. Then put it all back together.. Stew is really simple and really cheap. Buy the cheapest meat you can buy. "Stew meat" should be the cheapest, but you may find a chuck roast that's cheaper per pound. Just cut it up in to chunks. 

Here's  Craig Claiborne's Beef Stew recipe. He is very simple in all of his recipes. He has 2 great cookbooks "The New York Times Cookbook" and "Southern Cooking". You can get them used on Amazon for about 75 cents + $3.99 shipping.

4 pounds lean, boneless chuck steak
¼ cup olive oil
 Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 cups coarsely chopped onions
6 tablespoons flour
4 cups dry red wine
2 cups water
4 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon thyme
6 sprigs parsley, tied in a bundle (optional)
6 large carrots, about 1 1/2 pounds, trimmed and scraped

Cut the meat into two-inch cubes.

Using a large skillet, heat the oil and add the beef cubes in one layer. Add salt and pepper and cook, stirring and turning the pieces often, for about 10 minutes. (((The big deal here is to get it brown, not cook it.)))

Add the garlic and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and stir to coat the meat evenly. Cook for 1 more minute. (((Flour is a thickener, a starch. It makes your sauce thick and nice)))

Add the wine and stir until the mixture boils and thickens. Stir in the water. Add the cloves, bay leaf, thyme and parsley. Cover closely and simmer for one hour.

Meanwhile, cut the carrots into one-inch lengths. If the pieces are very large, cut them in half lengthwise. Add them to the beef. Cover and continue cooking for 30 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.

Taste! Taste! Taste! .. Re-season with salt and pepper.
Serve the stew sprinkled with chopped parsley (optional).

See what I mean, really simple, really straight forward.

Here's another one that's totally different, but the exact same idea.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1' pieces
Kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper plus more for seasoning
5 garlic cloves, chopped
3 Serrano chiles, seeded, chopped
1 1x1-inch piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cups low-salt chicken broth
1/2 pound small carrots, scrubbed or peeled, halved lengthwise
1/2 pound baby red-skinned potatoes (about 1 1/2'-diameter), halved, or quartered if large
1/4 pound frozen, thawed pearl onions, halved
2 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk
Cilantro sprigs


(((Remember browning is not cooking, it's browning. Start with a hot skillet..)))
Heat 1 1/2 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Season beef with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches and adding remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp. oil between batches, add beef and sear, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer beef to a plate.

Brown all the vegetables, carrots, potatoes, and onions, about 5 minutes. Transfer beef to a plate.

Stir in garlic, chiles, and ginger and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add 1 tsp. pepper and turmeric; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add broth and reserved beef; bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of pot. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beef is tender, about 45 minutes.

Add carrots, potatoes, and onions. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 15–20 minutes. Stir in coconut milk.

Divide among bowls. Garnish with cilantro.


Posted by Mack Oates at 12:00 AM