Mack's Corner

This Week

The 4 wheeler

We had a small red 4 wheeler a few years ago(I have a bigger green one now) that we use around the church almost every week. It's great for putting out cones or riding cross country when there's an event going on way out in the ball fields and you need to go get something back at the church. You don't have to worry about roads or traffic, you just ride up over the curb and go. The only maintenance we have to do is change the oil once a year.  To do that, I take it to the Honda place. I know I could do it myself, but it's only once a year and I kinda like them to look it over and adjust things. So I put it in the back of the pickup and haul it over there. Easy, right? You would think so, but I seem to have a problem getting it on the truck and keeping it there. I've done this about 20 times and I should have it figured out by now, but I guess not. One year I got it in the truck, had it tied down, started out of the driveway in to the street and the whole thing fell off the back. The tow rope that I had used to tie it in was the only thing holding it off the ground… So now I've got a big "Come-along". It's a tow strap with a big crank. I tie it in as good as I can and crank down the come-along as tight as it will go. That problem is fixed… The other problem is getting it in the truck. I've got a short ramp that's made for this very thing. It sits on the end of your tailgate with little arms. You're supposed to drive the 4 wheeler up the ramp and in to the bed of your pickup, how hard can it be? The incline is about 60 degrees. So to keep from doing a back flip you have to lean way out over the front of the 4 wheeler. You also have to give it enough gas to drive up a 60 degree slope and because it just barely fits in the back of my truck, you have to stop quickly to keep from ramming in to the back of the cab. Plus the ramp is exactly as wide as the 4 wheeler, it's easy to fall off the edge. The whole thing is like a circus act with nobody watching…. I got the ramp set, pulled up with the front tires on the ramp, leaned out over the handle bars as far as I could and gave it some gas. I was almost to the top thinking about needing to stop and grabbed the brakes. The front was in the truck, but the back tires were still on the ramp. Still leaning forward, I gave it some more gas……. Then I heard a clanking sound, like metal hitting the asphalt? What was that?  Who knows?… I leaned in and gave it some more gas, the back tires were spinning but I wasn't going anyplace. As I looked at the back tires I saw that the ramp was not there anymore…. Oooops! .. I was balanced on the back of my truck, half on, half off. The only thing keeping me up was the fact that I was leaning forward.  If I sat back the whole thing was going to flip. Of course I was only going to fall 3 feet but the 4 wheeler was going to land on top of me… All I could think of was the story in the paper that reads "Idiot falls 3 feet and dies from falling 4 wheeler, police are baffled". So there I was, all by myself, not really wanting anybody to see me like this, my life hanging by a thread, afraid to breathe. Sounds like a movie, doesn't it…  I very slowly started crawling over the front of the 4 wheeler, Indiana Jones would have been proud, inch by inch. As soon as I got off, it started to flip backwards. I held on till I got off the truck, then shoved it the rest of the way up…. Piece of cake.. I told you I had done this before…

God's like that: We get in places where we're just stuck. Can't go forward, can't go backward, don't really want anybody to see you like that, but you sure could use some help. God's watching. You can't do anything he hasn't seen before. He won't embarrass you. Ask him for help… When he sends somebody or changes things, don't walk away. You got stuck for a reason. Pay attention, God is always teaching …..

I wonder of Ringling Brothers needs a pickup truck balancing act … Maybe I'll just put it on my resume …


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

Suzanne Goin has a great cookbook "Sunday suppers at Lucques". It has lots of simple things. Many of her recipes call for making several simple things and then putting them together. Here's an example…. The recipe is Coconut flan with apricots and beaumes de venise, but I don't know where to get fresh apricots or Beaumes de Venise (sweet white wine) or several other things she calls for. So let's get rid of the hard part .. Here my version..

Coconut flan with or without sautéed fruit

For the caramel top (this is optional. If you're making this for kids skip it.)

1 cup of sugar

1/4 cup water

For the flan:

1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 12oz can evaporated milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 large eggs

1 cup dried shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened, whatever you like)

Pre-Heat you oven to 300

You need 8 ..1/2 cup ramekins (or if yours are bigger, like mine are, use fewer. You could also make this in single a glass baking dish, may have to cook it longer to get the middle to set .. this makes about 4 1/2  cups total)

For the caramel:
Put the water in a small sauce pan, then add the sugar on top. Put it on high heat. Stir it around just to get the bottom of the pan evenly covered with the sugar. As the sugar begins to bubble you can swirl the pan. DON'T STIR IT!!!!!!.... BE CAREFUL BOILING SUGAR IS VERY, VERY HOT!!! DON'T TOUCH IT OR TRY TO TASTE IT….As the sugar bubbles it will begin to turn brown/amber .. swirl the pan to even out the color. Once it becomes golden brown, remove from the heat and pour about a teaspoon of it in each ramekin, enough to cover the bottom. You can tilt the ramekin to spread it around… It's still hot!! Don't wipe the pan with your finger…. When you finish, run hot water in your pan to dissolve the left over sugar and clean the pan… let the ramekins sit. The caramel will harden…

For the flan:
She says to put everything in a blender, but I think it's better if you leave the coconut out and add it after everything else is blended. Then you have the long strands of coconut like you have in coconut pie … So put everything except the coconut in a blender and  blend..

Pour the flan mixture in to the ramekins about ¾ full. Add several tbsp of coconut to each ramekin. The mixture should be about 1/4 inch below the rim of the ramekin.

Put the filled ramekins in a large baking pan/dish and fill the pan with water so that it comes about half way up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan with foil and carefully place it in the oven. Don't get water in the ramekins. Bake for about an hour, the custard should be just set…

Remove from the oven uncover and allow it to cool in the water bath for 15 minutes… remove from the water and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

For the sautéed fruit (optional)… This is just like Bananas Foster

4 cups of any fruit you like, bananas, apples, peaches…etc

Half stick of butter

1 cup of sugar (brown, white, whatever you have)

You can add some cinnamon, but it starts to make everything look brown and kind of muddy.. Kids don't like brown and muddy.. I leave it out.
Put the butter and sugar in a skillet and stir. Add the fruit and spread it around. Let it cook, don't stir too much or you'll break it up. When the fruit is soft, about 15 min, you're done.

To serve: 
Run a knife around the inside edge of the ramekin. Put a plate on top of the ramekin and flip the whole thing over. The flan should release, it not, hold it tightly to the plate (ramekin on top) and hit the plate on a cutting board. You might need to run the knife around the edge again… You'll have a perfect little flan with a nice caramel top and sauce, serve the fruit on the side..

After you do this the first time, you'll be able to do without even thinking. Keep some Condensed milk and evaporated milk on hand and you'll have an instant dessert any time you need it …

Standard rules apply: this is best eaten at midnight in your PJ's with the fridge door open…. Make extra ..



Posted by Mack Oates at 10:05 AM