Mack's Corner

This Week


My best horse story happened when I took a bunch of kids to Young Life camp.  It was our day to ride but they had too many riders. That meant that the horse that nobody wanted to ride was being saddled up. I knew all of the Horse wranglers and they all decided that it would be a good idea to put me on this horse. The horse's name was "Blue". They told me the only problem with Blue was that I had to go through the last gate last because he was going to sprint home and that he was really fast. Really, really fast!  I said OK, how bad can it be??? The whole ride was fine, I stayed in the back, helped kids keep up… standard stuff. Then we came to the last gate. The setup was that everyone would go through the gate and slow trot their horse up this big field, away from the barn, the field was about ½ mile long. Then when everyone got in to the field the horse wranglers would tell everyone to turn their horse around and gallop back to the barn. There was a pretty big hill as you got closer to the barn and the horses would stop near the top, everybody would get off and walk their horses back to the barn. The only problem was Blue. He didn't understand "Stop"!  We were all set, I was going to ride through the gate last.  But, there was a little girl who was really scared. Her horse stopped just before she got to the gate and she sat there with her hands over her face and cried. Blue was ready to go!!!  The thing that I knew was that as soon as I took off , everybody was going to take off, including this little girl. I couldn't let him go, till she got through the gate with the wrangler. Blue and I went through the gate. I'm holding him back as hard as I can.  Blue and I are at a full gallop sideways, his left side going away from the barn, kicking and snorting, in a frenzy while the horse wrangler walks the little girls horse through the gate. Finally he gets her through and gets back on his horse and yells "GO!". I'm all ready, I'm leaning to the right, head down, tight grip, kick Blue and yell "Haaaaaa". All of a sudden I'm in midair all by myself, Blue is gone. I'm thinking I'll never hear the end of this from my kids, I'll have to walk back to the barn, look stupid, this will follow me the rest of my life, people will point at me, it will be in the news, I won't be able to show my face, I'll have to go live on an island……. Then a miracle happened!!! …. I looked out of my right eye and there was Blue, looking at me, he was in a full sprint already, He had reared up and turned a complete 360 to the left and taken off. All I could think was "I'm not going back without a horse!!!" So I grabbed his bridle and held on. Down he came all the way to the ground. The horse wranglers were falling down laughing, but I didn't care about them, none of my kids had seen it. I jumped back up as Blue was rolling back up to stand. I climbed on his side and let him pull me up. With one foot in a stirrup and still swinging my leg up I yelled "Haaaaaa" and off we went. I passed all the kids in a dead sprint about half way across the field, went over the top of the hill and back to the barn. Blue and I were standing there waiting for them when they got back, just like nothing happened. The horse wranglers were still back in the field, 2 of them had fallen off from laughing so hard……

God's like that: Sometimes you have to fight to hold on. Things change and you think you're all by yourself. But God hasn't left, grab hold. He didn't say it would be easy. Fight to hold on, fight hard, and he'll take you places you've never dreamed of ….

Maybe I'll join the circus and do that jump from horse to horse thing. Do you think they'll make wear those funny pants?


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

Andrea Reusing is one of the great chefs in America. Even better, she's one of the great chefs who still cooks in her restaurant "Lantern" in Chapel Hill, NC. Her cookbook is "Cooking in the Moment".

Shrimp, Pea, and Rice Stew
4-6 servings


1/2 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled, devined

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 cup minced shallots (about 4 large)

1/4 cup (or more) fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons jasmine or other aromatic long-grain white rice

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 Cups of frozen peas

1 1/2 cups finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 cup thinly sliced scallions

2 cups chopped fresh spinach


Place shrimp and salt in a colander; toss, rubbing gently to make sure all surfaces are evenly covered. Let sit 5 minutes; rinse in cold water and drain. Cut each shrimp in half lengthwise and then in half again crosswise.

Mix shrimp, shallots, fish sauce, pepper, and sugar in a large bowl. Cover and let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour, tossing occasionally.

Coarsely grind rice in a food processor, pulsing until the largest pieces are 1/3 of their original size, about 10 seconds.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add shrimp mixture. Sauté, stirring frequently, until all shrimp is pink and shallots have softened but are not colored, 3-5 minutes. Stir in rice. Gradually add 8 cups water, stirring constantly to avoid clumping. Increase heat to high; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, until rice is tender and broth has thickened, 20-25 minutes. Increase heat to high, add peas, and cook until peas are just tender, 3-4 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Stir in cilantro, scallions, and spinach.

This is one of those things that after you make it once you won't need the instructions anymore. Feel free to add your own herbs, and vegetables. If you don't like shrimp, cut thin strips of steak or chicken instead. Be sure it's thin enough to get cooked in 5 minutes. You could also use fish, or pork too. 

If I was single, this is the kind of thing I would be ready to make all the time. Use frozen shrimp instead of fresh. Use chopped lettuce instead of spinach, dried cilantro … way better than take out or frozen stuff in a box.


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



Posted by Mack Oates at 10:04 AM