Mack's Corner

This Week

Going back to the swamp

I had a hot date with my wife a few years ago (yes we have had a bunch since then, that wasn't the last one). We still had $50 left on a gift certificate for a restaurant downtown. The first time we went to this place everything was bad, well not really bad, just not very good. Maybe it was just a bad night, Maybe the real chef wasn't there??? Who knows? But this time the food was really good, the waiter was really good, desert was really good. I guess it was a good night, way better than I expected.  We finished dinner and we were going to see a movie at Peabody Place(closed now) but we were about an hour early. So we went to Jillian's (Closed now) to play video games. The games were easy, figuring out how to get points to be able to play was hard. They had these ATM's around that you put money into and it spits out a credit card that has points on it, then you put the card in the video games and points are taken out to play. First it wouldn't take my money, then I pushed the wrong button, then I found out I put money in the wrong place. You can't just push money in some crack in the box and expect it to understand. We went to the movie at the upstairs level and I walked up to the girl and said "2 tickets please". She looked at me like "Well here's Ferd and Freeda Farkle back from the swamp, come in to town to see the big city". So in her disgusted, how stupid are you voice she said "Sir you have to buy your ticket downstairs, we only take tickets." This reminds me of when my mom used to call me "Sweet Darling". That translates in to "I love you, but good grief you're dumb, Maybe you're not really my child". Switched at birth, stuff like that. So we went downstairs and got tickets and then came back upstairs and gave them to her. I thought she was going to pat me on the head. Then we went in and couldn't find the right theater, no way I was going back to go ask her although she probably saw me wondering around and wondered "What next". We found it, it was a good movie. And we did know how to get home. Back to the swamp.

God's like that: He puts us someplace for the first time, we get confused, don't know what to do, don't understand how things work and screw it up. We think we didn't like it, but really we just didn't like not knowing what to do. God gives us 2nd chances and expects us to do the same.

Maybe I'll go Alligator hunting today …..

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

If you like food or like to cook or like restaurants like I do, you have to read the food section of the Wednesday New York Times. You can buy it at any Starbucks on Wednesday (duh) … (I think this qualifies as vegetarian, not sure  about all the rules for that.) .. IT looks great. It calls for Polenta.. around here we call that grits, so it's really a southern dish.. Kids can help assemble this one..

Polenta/Grits and Broccoli Rabe Lasagna - New York Times Melissa Clark

18 dry lasagna noodles (from 1 package)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/8 teaspoon chile flakes, plus more for serving (optional)

1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes

2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon  salt

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil

1 large bunch broccoli rabe or just broccoli (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1 1/4 cups quick-cooking polenta a.k.a GRITS

1 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese

4 ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about 1 cup)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

12 ounces mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces

1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

1. Place the lasagna noodles in a large bowl of cold water to soak (if you are using no-boil noodles, you can skip this step). Lightly oil a 9- by 13-inch baking pan.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and chile flakes; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and the basil. Remove from heat.

3. Remove the tough lower stem ends of the broccoli rabe. Cut the remaining stems, leaves and florets into 1-inch pieces. Fill a pot with 8 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt. Bring water to a boil and add the broccoli rabe. Cook 30 seconds, then use a slotted spoon to transfer broccoli rabe to a bowl.

4. Slowly whisk the polenta/GRITS into the broccoli water. Simmer until polenta/GRITS are thick and creamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the mascarpone, 1/2 cup Parmesan and the butter, and stir until combined. Stir in the broccoli rabe.

5. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange a single layer of lasagna noodles in the bottom of the pan. Tear or break any pieces as needed to fit them in one layer, with no overlapping. Top with a third of the polenta mixture, half the tomato sauce and a third of the mozzarella. Arrange a second layer of lasagna noodles over the mozzarella. Repeat layering of polenta, sauce and mozzarella. Arrange a final layer of noodles over the cheese and finish with the remaining polenta and mozzarella. Scatter 1/2 cup Parmesan and the black pepper over the top.

6. Transfer casserole to the oven. Bake until cheese is golden and bubbling, 30 to 40 minutes. Let stand 20 minutes before serving. Serve with more chile flakes scattered on top, if you like.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

You could actually make this in the morning and put it in the fridge and cook it for dinner that night .. Probably freezes pre-cooked pretty well too..


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 9:21 AM