Mack's Corner

This Week

Speedy Cranks

Several years ago we hosted the Leadership Summit from Willow Creek Church. It was our first year to do it and they were very exact on how everything had to be done. They wanted the quality to be the same at every church (110 churches at the time). Being first timers we didn't know which things were really important and which things were just them just being picky, so we did everything. One of the things they insisted on was sending us a big screen and projector for us to show the broadcast. We had 4 big screens and several projectors but they wanted us to use theirs. The guy sending it called me and said "15 by 20 OK with you?" … "Sure, we can make that work ". Let me tell you a 15 foot by 20 foot screen is a big screen. They sent it in 3 big containers about 2 feet by 2 feet by 8 feet. The instructions consisted of one "Stick" drawing with a few arrows naming some main parts and 2 instructions: 1. Put it together. 2. Screw in the "Speedy Cranks". There were at least 30 parts and several hundred Speedy Cranks and all the parts look the same, but they're not. So the two of us just started putting it together, parts that looked like they fit together were put together. We screwed in speedy cranks and it looked OK until we got to the last 5 parts, then nothing fit. So we read the instructions again (I pretty much had that part memorized) and stared at the picture and started looking at the pieces for markings. There was different colored tape at various places that you would think would help you match green to green and red to red, blue to blue, but it never fit (after we got it put together, none of the tape matched. Maybe it was there to throw us off, maybe we were being tested, maybe it marked which pieces went in which box? I don't know, but it didn't mark which parts went together, then I saw it, a little "3" written in pen right next to a little "4" on another part. They were no bigger than a letter written in a book. But there it was. I looked at other parts, a little "5" and another little "5" and a "6". Why were these so little? Were they afraid it would be too easy to put together if the numbers were an inch high so you could see them? We took the whole thing apart and started matching little numbers. We had been working on it for 2 hours, after we found the little numbers we had it done in 10 minutes, obviously a conspiracy. The next problem was that the speedy cranks went on the back side and the screen snapped on to the front side, so we had to flip it over to snap the screen on to the frame. All put together it weighs 300 pounds and remember, it's 15 feet by 20 feet. Up it went. We're about half way to standing it straight up and it started sliding on the gym floor … the more we pushed, the more it slid… we were so close but we couldn't  get it up … so there we were pushing this thing all around the gym like we're using it to sweep the floor, I'm about to pass out, we're both doing a skip step trying to grab the bottom of the frame with our foot without dropping the whole thing, it looked like we're doing a new form of "River Dance". It still weighs 300 pounds and it's bouncing and bending and we're dancing and pushing and pulling it down against the floor and finally I got my foot around the bottom to hold it in place as we push it over. I think I strained every muscle in my back. All we could do is lay on the floor out of breath. We snapped the screen on and I went to find more people to stand it back up. I wasn't doing that again. It took 8 of us to get it on stage.  When it came time to take it down, I got 10 guys and we had it down and packed up in less than 5 minutes. Destruction is always easier!

God's like that: We can be so close to solving a problem but it just keeps moving away. The harder we push the faster it moves. We strain with everything we've got but we can't reach it. All we need is one more person, just one, to stand there and be the anchor, to keep it from sliding. That's what God expects. He put us here to be anchors for each other, to build each other up, to be the 3rd hand. Sometimes that means keeping somebody's kids, sometimes it means going to the Hospital to see somebody, sometimes it means going to a funeral. Usually you don't have to say anything or know anything, just show up …. 90% is Just showing up! …

I think I'll go practice putting in Speedy Cranks I've still got some  …


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

All the weddings are starting up soon and I've got a great wedding present idea for you. Almost every newly married couple needs this. They have to eat and they have to eat cheap and they have to eat simple. So this is one of my favorite cookbooks. "How to cook Everything, The Basics" by Mark Bittman. It's got step by step pictures, easy instructions, great food, everything you need to know. You too can be a great cook. The only other thing you need is an Iron skillet.. Here's a sample:

Smoky Red Bean Soup
(This is mostly keto. There's aprox 60g of carbs in this whole recipe. It's all from the starch in the beans. You could use black soybeans instead or cooked, browned mushrooms)

Time 1 1/4 to 2 hours mostly unattended .. 6 - 8 servings

1 1/2 cups any dried red beans, rinsed and picked over. (If you see any that look bad throw them away.. that's the picked over part) ((If you want you can put the beans in a pot of cold water and let them soak overnight. This will speed up the cooking.. some people say it makes them better??? ))
2 or 3 smoked ham hocks (you can get these at Kroger, might have to ask) or 8 slices of smoked bacon, chopped…. Vegetarian: leave this out and add 1 tbsp of smoked paprika)

1 onion chopped (just cut it up .. nothing fancy)

1 carrot (just cut it up)

1 celery stalk chopped (just cut it up)

2 bay leaves (optional .. don't worry about it if you don't have any)

1 tsp of fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried thyme (fresh at Kroger, dried at Penzeys)

Salt & Pepper

(If you use bacon, cook it for 4 min in the stock pot before you add everything else.. just want to brown it a little and release the bacon fat.. that's flavor)

Put everything and 8 cups of water in a stockpot (or large iron skillet) over medium high heat.

Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to a slow simmer (small bubble). If any weird stuff collects on the top, skim it off. ((This is why you want a slow small bubble simmer. If it were boiling it would homogenize all the yucky stuff into your soup))

Cook, stirring once in a while all the way to the bottom, until the beans are very tender and just starting to break apart and the meat on the ham hocks is falling off the bone.. about 60 to 90 minutes.. Add more water as needed. 1/2 cup at a time to keep it soupy, keep the small bubble …

Turn the heat off and remove the ham hocks to cool.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper … TASTE! TASTE! TASTE! … re-season

If you want you can make this smoother by mashing the beans with a potato masher or using an immersion blender (that thing you got for a wedding present that you don't know how to use)  or put them in a food processor…

When the hocks are cooled pick the meat off and add the meat back to the beans..

((( You could just put everything and the water in the pot, cook it for 90 min, season with salt and pepper and call it done…it's that simple!!!)))


For creamer, more elegant soup, add a splash of cream.

You can also season soup with vinegar instead of more salt.. add it 1 tbsp at a time and taste.

Lime juice and chopped cilantro would totally change the taste. If you were going to have this for a second time, that would be an easy change.

Other things you could add: Curry powder, chili powder, Tabasco, sliced avocado, chopped tomato, chopped and boiled potatoes, broken up corn chips…

((( It makes me crazy to use 1 rib of celery, so I would probably make this x4 and use a whole head of celery, 4 onions, 4 carrots, 6 cups beans, 24 cups water, 6 ham hocks and 1 lb of bacon, 1 package of thyme, 4 bay leaves, … just need a bigger pot. Then I would eat on it for a week and add something else to it every night to make it different… This will also freeze well. Don't waste anything!!!  When you're first married or just living lean this is how you cook. This will feed 2 people for a week for about $15 or 10 people dinner. )))


How about saving a kid's life!!

When you give Platelets it's like giving St Jude $700 - $1000. If we don't give them, they have to buy them.

Giving Platelets is like giving blood, it just takes longer (1 1/2 hours) and you get all of your blood back (so you can do it every week if you want) . I know it's a long trip to go all the way down to St Jude, but you may be saving a kid's life . plus you get to watch a movie while you're there. Call Kim at 901.595.2024 and she'll setup an appointment and treat you like family. Just tell her you're from Hope.

Directions: From Poplar, turn north on Third Street, then right on Lauderdale/Jackson Ave (first right after you go under the expressway). Enter through the north guard gate (you'll see the Danny Thomas Pavilion. Gold top).

Tell the guard at the gate that you are here to donate blood. The guard will instruct you where to park. You will then enter the hospital by the red side door closest to the blood donor parking lot. The Blood Donor Center is in the southwest corner of the hospital on the ground floor.

Appointment times are generally available Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 4:00pm. Except on Tuesdays they start at 9:15am.

See you this weekend. Bring a friend. It's going to be great!!!


Posted by Mack Oates at 10:38 AM