Mack's Corner

This Week -

This week 5-3-16

My end of the Deal

I was a volunteer Young Life leader in Memphis for 15 years. My first club was at Kingsbury High School, then later I started the north Memphis club which had kids from Kingsbury, Cyprus, Northside, and Tresvant and a few others. A young life club is like a church youth group without the church. We met once a week at somebody's house, took kids to camp, did fun stuff, told them about Christ. Most people were leaders while they were going to Memphis State and quit when they graduated, but I made a deal with myself and God that I would stay until I had a kid coming to club who was child of one of former kids. One generation. I'm not sure what I was thinking, but that meant I was going to be doing it at least 13 years even if I had a kid in club who had a baby that day.. But, that was the deal.  My wife was one of my junior leaders. We got engaged, got married, had a baby.. still doing Young Life, no kid yet. I took several hundred kids to camp, taught school for 2 years, Started working for a computer store.. still doing young life, no kid yet. I was starting to think I was going to have to back out of the deal. I had been doing it for 15 years, gone through 60+ junior leaders, taken kids to McDonalds 20,000 times, every vacation I had ever had was spent at camp with kids, I got home almost every night after 10pm, I had been to hundreds of high school football and basketball games and I was starting to fade.. Then one day I was picking up kids to go to club and a little girl that I had never seen before got on the van and said "Hi, are you Mack?".. "Yep, I'm Mack" .. "Well, my mom wants to know if you were the same one she had when she was in Young Life" .. "What's your mom's name?" .. "Yolanda Jones" .. I thought I was going to cry right then and there. I had made it, I had covered my end of the deal.. "That's her right over there." And there was Yolanda standing in the front yard 3 houses down waving. I almost couldn't leave, I was shaking so hard.. The little girl said "Mack, are you OK?" .. "I'm OK, what's your name?......."  As we drove off, I could see Yolanda's big smile and I waved..

God's like that: He's been waiting for you. Waiting for you to say " Hi, are you God? .. I just wanted to know if you were the same God my grandmother talked about? .. I'm ready!"

Some of my old Young Life kids are grandparents now, maybe great grandparents. They seem old to me.


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

These recipes have nothing to do with anything, I just liked them. Here you go.

Hung Huyuh's Clay Pot Rice

1 cup short-grain rice (7 ounces)
3 ounces mixed mushrooms such as oyster and stemmed shiitake, quartered if large (2 cups)
2 scallions, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 thick slices of fatty bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice (1/2 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil


In a bowl, cover the rice with water and let soak until the grains turn white, about 1 hour. Drain the rice.

In another bowl, toss the mushrooms and scallions with 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and season with salt and pepper; let marinate for 10 minutes.

In a small, enameled cast-iron casserole, clay pot or medium saucepan, cook the bacon over moderate heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the soaked rice and stir to coat with the fat. Add marinated mushrooms and scallions, the water and the remaining 1 teaspoon of soy sauce. Bring to a boil over moderately high heat.
Drizzle the oil around the edge of the pot so it runs down the insides.

Cover the pot and cook the rice over low heat until tender and the liquid has been absorbed, 10 minutes. Raise the heat to high and cook the rice, covered, until sizzling and a crust forms on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.


Laurie Colwin’s Creamed Spinach With Jalapeño Peppers

2 10-ounce packages whole-leaf frozen spinach (do not thaw)
4 tablespoons butter, additional for buttering pan
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup evaporated milk
 Black pepper
¾ teaspoon celery salt
6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into cubes
1 pickled or fresh jalapeño pepper, chopped, or more to taste
½ cup soft buttered bread crumbs (see note)

Heat oven to 300 degrees.
Meanwhile, cook spinach according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of liquid, and chop finely.

Butter a shallow 8-inch-square casserole dish or other shallow 4- to 6-cup baking dish. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a saucepan and add flour. Blend and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Do not brown. Add onion and garlic.

Add the spinach liquid slowly, then add evaporated milk, some black pepper, celery salt and cheese. Mix well and add jalapeño and spinach. Cook until all is blended.

Turn into the casserole dish, top with buttered bread crumbs and bake until lightly browned, about 45 minutes.

Note: To make buttered bread crumbs, combine 1/2 cup fresh soft bread crumbs with 1 to 2 tablespoons melted better and toss well.


Warm Yellow Wax Beans in Bacon Vinaigrette

2 pounds yellow wax beans, trimmed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces thickly sliced bacon, cut into lardons (1 cup)
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
10 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small shallot, very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped basil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper


Cook the beans in a large pot of salted boiling water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the beans and cool them under cold running water.
Drain well and pat dry; transfer the beans to a large bowl.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the vinegar, tomatoes, shallot, garlic and basil. Scrape the bacon vinaigrette over the beans, season with salt and pepper and toss to evenly coat. Serve warm.

The cooked beans can be refrigerated for 2 days. Bring to room temperature before using.


Cheese-Topped Guacamole from chef Gonzalo Martinez of Casa de Sierra Nevada

Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 medium tomato, diced
Tortilla chips for serving
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
2 Hass avocados, diced
1 cup shredded queso oaxaca or Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 small red onion, minced


In a shallow bowl, mix the avocados, tomato, onion, cilantro, mint, jalapeño and lime juice; season with salt and pepper. Melt the cheese in a microwave-safe bowl, pour over the guacamole and serve with tortilla chips.


Posted by Mack Oates at 11:14 AM