Mack's Corner

This Week

Maybe I can fail this week? Hope so!!

I read Wired, every issue, especially the back where they have real science. This story was about people who failed. In 1964 two astronomers at Bell labs, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson were trying to use a radio telescope to map the big parts of the universe where there is no light. They were trying to see in the dark. They made a receiver that was very sensitive with lots of amplifiers. But it turned out to be too sensitive. Whenever they pointed it to the sky they picked up a bunch of background noise. They were in New Jersey, so they figured it was coming from New York City. They pointed the scope at New York to see if it would get louder, but the noise went away. They pointed it back at the sky and there it was again…. They noticed one day that pigeons liked to sit on their telescope, so they thought they had better go look where the pigeons had been. Sure enough the pigeons had left droppings all over the telescope. That was it, they were sure. They cleaned up the telescope and re-pointed it and there was the noise again. They couldn't make it go away. For the next year they did all kinds of things, put aluminum tape on all of the metal joints, cleaned it over and over, but the noise never went away. They waited for the seasons to change thinking that something in the atmosphere was causing it, nothing. The noise made it almost impossible for them to listen for the faint radio echoes they were waiting to hear. The whole thing was a failure …… One day Penzais was talking to a friend about it and he suggested that he talk to Robert Dicke who was a radar whiz at Princeton. Dicke had done a bunch of work on radar systems during World War II. He had gotten interested in using his radar knowledge in astronomy. He was especially interested in the Big Bang theory which states that the universe was started from a giant explosion that threw cosmic shrapnel out from the point of the explosion (from the finger of God).  He figured if that was really true then there would be radioactive residue from the explosion all over the universe. The problem he had was that he could not find any of the radioactive residue with standard telescopes, so he was planning to build his own. In 1965 Penzias called Dicke to see if the radar expert could help explain the persistent noise that was messing up all of their research. When he explained it all to Dicke, Dicke turned to his team and told them to stop. He said "Boys, we've been scooped!" … He knew without any more research that Penzias and Wilson had found what he was looking for, even though it was not what they were looking for. Their failure was the answer to a different question…. In 1978 Penzias and Wilson received the Nobel Prize for Physics…

God's like that: We see failure as failure.. i.e. all is lost, the world is coming to and end…etc., etc …  God sees failure as changing course, moving in a different direction. We want to plan out our life and control it and know what's going to happen. If it doesn't turn out the way we want, we think we've failed. God wants it to be better than we planned, he wants to control it. His plans are better than ours. Our God is a big God, a really, really big God. He planned your life, by the second, before he kick started the universe.  Don't give up if you fail, just look for the next path …

I've screwed up a lot of things. I wonder if I can get a Nobel Prize for it?

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

First: Penzeys spices is open again!!!  418 Perkins Extended 440-8377 across the street from Booksellers(formerly Davis Kidd book store) by Cook and Love Shoes.. Yaaaaaay Go shop, keep them open in Memphis.


These are my favorite wings recipes. They are all Thai street food kind of things. This comes from my favorite Thai cookbook "True Thai" by Victor Sodsook.

BBQ Chicken Bangkok Style

15 - 20 chicken wings

1 can (14oz) unsweetened coconut milk

1 tbsp curry powder (Sweet curry powder from Penzeys

2 tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla) .. (Asian market on the corner of Winchester and Ridgeway across from New Direction Church)

6 cloves of garlic

1/3 cup of loosely packed chopped cilantro, including stems. (1/2 bunch of cilantro chopped, stems and all. Cut of the roots.)

2 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar

1/2 tbsp white pepper, ground (also at Penseys)


Sweet and Spicy dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup distilled white vinegar

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp Chinese-style Chili-garlic sauce, preferably Lee Kum Kee Brand (also at Asian market on Ridgeway… this is by far the best!!)

For Chicken:

Combine coconut milk, curry powder, fish sauce, garlic, cilantro, brown sugar, and pepper in a blender/food processor and blend until smooth. Put the wings in a large Ziplock bag and pour the marinade in on top. Marinate in the fridge over night. Turn occasionally…

Remove the chicken and discard the marinade. You can grill the wings or if you don't want to stand in the snow you can roast them in a 425 degree oven on a baking sheet for about 40 minutes, then put them under the broiler to crisp the skin.. (Don't leave if you put them under the broiler, they will burn quickly. Watch!)

For the Sweet and Spicy dipping Sauce:

Put the vinegar, Sugar, salt, Chili-garlic sauce in a pan and bring to a boil for 2 min. Turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes. Let it cool and serve at room temp. This will keep for several weeks. You can double this easy. This is great stuff and works on almost anything. I keep some in the fridge all the time …

This also works with any chicken parts, even whole chickens, just cut them up first.




Posted by Mack Oates at 10:34 AM