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Mack's Corner

This Week

The Drive

A friend of mine gave me a copy of a recent Vanderbilt magazine. It had a picture of an old friend of mine from 40 years ago. When I was going to school there all of the athletes lived in the same dorms as everybody else. One of my best friends was Jeff Fosnes. He was on the basketball team and was in the sports page a lot. He was one of the "F-Troop" along with Butch Feher and Joe Ford. They won the SEC in 1974 and all 3 of them were in the 1000 point club. "Fos" was first team All-SEC his junior & senior years. He was also 6'6" and good looking and people recognized him all the time. He and I and 2 other friends played golf a lot, usually at the same place. But one day we thought we would try playing a different course. So we got there, paid the green fees and were walking out to the first tee when the club pro recognized Fos. He was so excited that he gave us all our money back and even gave us 2 riding carts for free. That was way cool, we always walked, carts cost too much. We got our stuff and went out where the carts were, loaded up and drove around the clubhouse to the 1st tee. The club pro had gotten everyone in the clubhouse to come out to the 1st tee to see Fos tee off. There were over 100 people standing on the first tee waiting for us! And they clapped as we walked up. The club pro said "OK guys you're up!" ….. Playing golf is hard enough and awkward enough when you're by yourself, I don't even like it when another group catches you and waits for you to hit while they watch and I sure don't want 100 people standing there. But there they were, nothing to do but step up and hit the ball. So one by one we teed up and hit the ball, every one of us, 280 yards straight down the middle of the fairway, perfect spot. We looked like we were going to play in the Masters the next week. Each one of us got applause, Fos went last, got applause, we waved to the crowd, got in the carts and drove down the fairway like we were all legends of golf. After we got 100 yards away, we all started crying laughing. We knew we had all just hit the best ball of the day, on the same hole, on the same shot, every one of us, in front of 100 people.  That would be like all 4 of us being asleep in bed and all being struck by lightning at 11:15pm and having 10 people in the room to see it. We should have just gone down and picked up our balls and driven back to the clubhouse and donated our clubs to the Good Will. We would never do it better than that. And of course on the next hole we proved it. I teed up and hit mine about 25 feet straight into the water like I was killing fish. We should have just stayed on that last tee and let them take pictures, then gone in for lunch. At the end of the day we all shot in the 90's. We never went back, why ruin a legend, those people would never see us again.

God's like that, he never has to figure out who we are or try to remember our name. He knows all about us, every detail. He doesn't just watch us one time and go back in the clubhouse, he sees everything we do and knows everything we think and still stays with us. When we mess up it's no surprise, when we do good he's proud. He never leaves, never. No reason to hide, where would you go? No reason to lie, he saw for himself. It's better than freedom.

You know the best thing about that picture of Fos is that now he looks way older than me. I wonder if he can still dunk, bet I could take him now…..


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

This looked so good I couldn't stand it, plus all my girlfriends love grits. It's the new Dark Chocolate….  This is from "Frank Stitt's Southern Table", one of the great cookbooks of the south. Frank's restaurant is The Highlands Bar and grill in Birmingham, maybe the best restaurant in the south … The hardest part of this is getting all stuff it takes. Other than that, its easy ..

Highlands Baked Grits

For the grits:

4 cups water

1 tsp salt

1 cup yellow stone-ground grits (any will work)

2 tbsp butter

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (Fancy Parmesan Cheese.. don't use that powdered junk. That's not cheese it chemicals)

Fresh white pepper to taste (plain black pepper will work)

1 large egg

For the sauce:

1/2 cup white wine

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

2 shallots minced

1 dried red chile pepper  or 1 tsp of crushed red pepper

2 oz country ham, scraps will work … or 3 slices of bacon

1 tbsp cream

8 tbsp butter

2 tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (Fancy Parmesan Cheese)

Salt & pepper

Juice of 1/2 lemon


For the Mushrooms & Ham:

1 tbsp olive oil

2 thin slices of country ham or prosciutto or bacon cut in to thin strips

1/2 mushrooms cut in to 1/2 inch pieces

1 shallot minced

For the grits:
In a large pot bring the water to a boil, add the salt. Slowly add the grits, stirring. Cook for 45 minute to 1 hour, stirring often.. until thick and tender. Be sure to stir all the way to the bottom ..

Remove from the heat and add the Parmigiano, white pepper and egg. Stir to combine ..

Pre-heat your oven to 375 … butter eight 4 - 6 oz ramekins or a medium size baking dish… Divide the grits among the ramekins or pour in the baking dish … Place the ramekins or the baking dish in a baking pan and add enough hot water to the pan to come half way up the sides of the ramekins or baking dish .. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes … Remove the foil and bake another 20 minutes until tops are crusty and brown ..

For the sauce:
Meanwhile in a medium sauce pan combine the wine, vinegar, shallots, chile pepper and ham/bacon and bring it to a boil. Cook until only 1 tbsp of liquid remains…. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cream. Whisk in the butter small piece at a time adding each new piece as the previous one is incorporated..

Strain the sauce in another sauce pan and add the Parmigiano, salt, pepper, lemon juice and Tabasco … keep warm

For the Mushrooms and Ham:
Heat the oil in a small sauté pan. Add the ham, mushrooms, and shallot. Cook until mushrooms are tender, 3 - 4 minutes.

To serve:
Unmold the grits from the ramekins or the baking dish (if you are using a baking dish, unmold the slab of grits on to a cutting board and slice them in to squares) on to plates.. Turn the browned side up .. Ladle sauce around the grit cakes and top with mushrooms and ham .. garnish with thyme leaves ..

The grits can be baked up to 1 hour ahead and reheated in a 400 degree oven …

The best thing about this is that it will work for breakfast, lunch or dinner or late night in your PJ's …



Posted by Mack Oates at 09:36