Mack's Corner

This Week

"OK, lean back for me…"

I used to be a volunteer Young Life leader.  We took kids to summer camp every year in North Carolina to a camp called Windy Gap. They had a "Ropes Course". A ropes course is a bunch of heavy rope and cables tied between trees. You get up in the tops of the trees (40 - 60 feet up in the air) and walk across the ropes and cables from tree to tree. Each crossing is a different kind of bridge. One was a "V" type bridge with ropes on both sides for your hands and a cable at your feet that you walk on. Another was a 2 cable bridge where you put both hands on one cable that is about chest high and stand on the other. Then you slide you feet sideways, apart then together as your hands follow. Some kids were scared to death the whole time, but this was easy for me because the whole way you're tied on to an overhead cable with 2 ropes that are clamped on to a harness that is strapped around your legs and the middle of your body. You couldn't fall if you wanted to. The reason there are 2 ropes is because when you move from one tree to the next you have to unhook the rope and reconnect on the other side of the tree. So you unhook one rope, connect it on the other side then unhook the 2nd rope and connect it. You're never disconnected from the overhead cable, so even if you did fall it wouldn't be more than 2 feet before the cable would catch you…. That is until the end …… At the end of the course you still have to get down… remember I'm 60 feet up in the air at the top of a really big tree, not the kind of tree you can climb out of. Of course I'm the leader so I have to go first to show everybody how easy it is. The ropes guy on the ground told me I had to go first because the first person sets the tone for the whole group. If the first person goes easy, everybody goes easy, if the first person is scared, everybody is scared…..They have a "Swing" to get you down!!! Remember the strapped in part? Those ropes are gone .. you climb out on a little wooden seat that's about 2 feet across and 10 inches deep. There's a girl there, who is one of the ropes wranglers, sitting behind the seat. She's 20ish, cute as she can be and weighs about 87 pounds. She and a seatbelt that looks like something they got off of a 63 Chevy are holding me in this little seat. That's all! Out in front of me are two giant trees with a big bar attached between them. Beside me is a big cable that's maybe 80 feet long attached to the bar. The bar is at the same level as I am and the cable sags from the bar to me. The girl says "Grab the cable and hook it to your harness." .. As I do, it almost pulls me out of the tree. She says "Don't worry, I've still got you." ... Then the really scary part.. she says "Reach out as far as you can and grab those 2 little ropes that are tied around the cable and stick your hands in the loops. (there are 2 small ropes with loops, tied to the cable. This makes it so you can't let go of the cable and get flipped upside down.) ..So now I've got my hands in the loops, holding on to the cable, leaning way out, and sitting right on the edge of the seat and she unbuckles the seatbelt! What a bad feeling,I thought I was going to wet my pants… Then in a calm sweet voice, like she's going to give me a big hug for doing so well, she says "OK, lean back for me…" Whooooooosh …… total free fall for 30 feet before the cable catches and whips me back up in to the air.. now I'm 80 feet in the air on the other side of the 2 trees…. Whoooooooosh ….  My knuckles are pale white as my hands hold a death grip. I'm sure my finger prints are embedded in the cable. When the swing finally stops and they get me unhooked, I wave and yell "Come on its easy…" then fall down 4 times, trying so hard not to pass out….. The kids all loved it..

God's like that: We feel so secure as long as we're in control. Then one day that control is gone and we're on the edge leaning out. What's going to hold you? God gives us his promises from his Word to hold on to. He says he will never let go. He didn't say it wouldn't be scary. He just said he would catch us… He's a really big God… Just lean back.

I discovered the trick the next year. As soon as she unbuckles the seatbelt, trust the cable and fly… it's way more fun..

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

Saint Patrick's Day

This s as Irish as it gets..

Beef and Guinness Pie:
Serves 4 main course
2 lb boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
1 cup Guinness or other Irish stout
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons drained brined green peppercorns, coarsely chopped (optional)
2 fresh thyme sprigs or 2 tsp of dried thyme
Puff Pastry (you can get this at the grocery store)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon water

4 (14-oz) deep bowls or ramekins (4 to 5 inches wide) or similar-capacity ovenproof dishes - You can also do this in any ovenproof dish, just be sure that the beef fills it up so that the puff pastry will lay on the top and be supported by the beef filling..

Preheat oven to 350.

Pat beef dry. Stir together flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Add beef, turning to coat, then shake off excess and transfer to a plate. Heat oil in a wide 5- to 6-quart ovenproof heavy pot (A large Iron skillet would work well) for over moderately high heat until just smoking, then brown meat in 3 batches, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes per batch, transferring to a bowl.

Add onion, garlic, and water to pot and cook, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pot and stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef with any juices accumulated in bowl, broth, beer, Worcestershire sauce, peppercorns, and thyme and bring to a simmer, then cover and transfer to oven. Braise until beef is very tender and sauce is thickened, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Discard thyme and cool stew completely, uncovered, about 30 minutes. (If stew is warm while assembling pies, it will melt uncooked pastry top.)

Put a shallow baking pan on middle rack of oven and increase oven temperature to 425°F.

Divide cooled stew among bowls (they won't be completely full). Roll out pastry dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch square, about 1/8 inch thick. Trim edges and cut dough into quarters. Stir together egg and water and brush a 1-inch border of egg wash around each square. Invert 1 square over each bowl and drape, pressing sides lightly to help adhere. Brush pastry tops with some of remaining egg wash and freeze 15 minutes to thoroughly chill dough.

Bake pies in preheated shallow baking pan until pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 400°F and bake 5 minutes more to fully cook dough.

(Stew (without pastry) can be made 2 days ahead, cooled completely, and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before using.)

If  you wanted you could also cut up a potato and 3 carrots in to 1/2  inch cubes, and add them in with the onions.

Happy Saint Pat's day …



Posted by Mack Oates at 10:02 AM