Mack's Corner

This Week

Sunglasses and Cake

My son Macky's birthday is the week after next (April 3rd). He'll have parties for weeks, starting today. Birthday's last for several weeks at my house. That gives me time to forget and recover on my wife's birthday and you usually get more presents. Before Macky turned 22 he went to The Shrine School. All the kids there were handicapped like Macky. They all had CP and were 18 to 21 years old, mentally they are all 3 to 4 years old. Every year PK (my wife) would take happy meals for everybody and big cake. She also gave all the kids sunglasses, they thought that was very cool. One year she and the teacher left to go do something and when she came back the kids all had on their sunglasses and cake everywhere, just laughing and giggling. You can't buy stuff like that, you can't set it up, you can't time it, it just happens. Macky won't remember it, but I will, for a long time.

My 2 favorite movies to watch on Macky's birthday are "Good Will Hunting" and "City of Angles" .. Don't ask me why, I don't know… Macky would rather watch baseball (opening day is 2 days earlier).

In "Good Will Hunting", Will turns 21. Will is a guy that's 20 years old who grew up in south Boston and is working at MIT as a janitor. A math professor puts what he thinks are unsolvable problems up on a chalk board in the hallway asking his graduate students to solve them, knowing he can't solve them himself. Will Hunting, just goofing off, solves them while he's sweeping the floor. After everyone finds out how smart he is, Will's problem is that he is afraid to leave what he knows. He's got a bad house, a bad job, a bad neighborhood…..etc, but that's what he knows and he can't leave it. His excuse to himself is that he's being loyal to his friends, but he's really just afraid to change. His best friend tells him one day that the best thing that could ever happen is for him to come by to pick up Will one day and find him gone, no note, not reason, just gone. Because then he would know that he was not responsible for Will still being there.

"City of Angles" about the angles being all over Los Angeles and one of them, Seth (Nicolas Cage) wanting to be human because he falls in love with Maggie (Meg Ryan). The real reason he wants to be human is so he can feel things and taste things and smell things, things he can't do as an angel. One little girl tells him she wants to be an angel so she can fly. But when she finds out that they can't feel anything she says "What fun would it be if you can't feel the wind on your face?" Seth is willing to trade being an angel just to touch Maggie and feel it, one time.

God's like that, we're like that. God gives us a way out but we won't go because we hate change, we're comfortable in our complaining. He surrounds us with life, with people to love, things to taste, things to smell, and we don't see it. Most people would see Macky's class as a sad place where kids have disease. God sees it as a place where the kids all love each other, life is fun all the time, and there's not a care in the world. Macky sees every day that way. I guess it depends on what's important. To Macky hugs and cake and laughing are a big deal.

I've got to go put on my sunglasses and smear cake on my face, it's time for Macky's 1st birthday party this week, along 800 friends. I think there's one tomorrow too, 6 next week and it's not even his birthday yet.


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

Puff pastry is one of the greatest things ever invented as far a food goes. It tastes great and it makes anything seem a little more special. Plus it's way easier than making a crust. Here's a great example. This would be a great thing to make for a bunch of people for a "Final Four" party ..

Mini Chicken Pot pies with Bacon and Marjoram

5 applewood-smoked bacon  slices

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

12 ounces peeled whole baby carrots  (about 2 1/2 cups)

1 8-ounce package slender green beans 

4 teaspoons chopped  fresh marjoram  or Thyme

1 3/4 cups low-salt chicken broth

2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon crème fraîche  - You can make crème fraiche by mixing half cream and half sour cream..

3 cups coarsely shredded chicken from 1 small purchased roasted chicken  (skin removed)

1 sheet frozen puff pastry  (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed - freezer section in the grocery store (Pepperidge farm) - get the sheets 

(Note: You can also make this as one large pot pie. Place the filling in a 9-inch-diameter deep-dish pie dish. Set the 12-inch pastry square over the filling, then fold down the edges onto the rim. Baking time will still be about 22 minutes.)

Preheat oven  to 450°F. Cook bacon  in heavy large skillet  over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Chop bacon. Add onion to drippings in skillet; sauté  until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Add next 3 ingredients; stir 1 minute. Add broth; bring to boil  over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high and boil until vegetables are almost tender and some liquid is reduced, about 8 minutes. Stir in 2/3 cup crème fraîche, chicken, and bacon. Bring to simmer . Season with pepper.

You can stop here! You are now 30 min from serving. If your party is in a few hours, just set the filling aside. If it's the next day, let it cool and put it in the fridge.

Divide the filling among four 2-cup soufflé dishes .

Unfold puff pastry onto work surface; roll out to 12-inch square. Cut into 4 equal squares. Top filling in soufflé dishes with pastry; fold edges down onto rims of dish. Brush  top of crusts (not edges) with remaining 1 tablespoon crème fraîche. Cut small X in center of crusts; pierce all over with fork. Bake until crusts are golden brown and filling is heated through, about 22 minutes.

You could also make the filling and divide it among several small aluminum tart pans (meal size). Cover with foil and freeze. When the puff pastry thaws just enough to unfold it, cut it in squares big enough to fit the tart pans. Then stick it back in the freezer. Now whenever you're ready to make one, pull out a tart pan, put a puff pastry square on top and bake at 450 for 25 min or until it starts bubbling.

This and a salad is great comfort food.



Posted by Mack Oates at 9:45 AM