Mack's Corner

This Week

Yogi, Golf, and The French Laundry

If you've ever seen the PBS special by Ken Burns on Baseball you may remember this. They told a story about Yogi Berra when he was still in school. He had just flunked a test and the teacher came up to him and said "Yogi you don't know anything, do you?" And Yogi said "Know anything? I don't even suspect anything!"  She was telling him that he wasn't very smart and he was telling her that he was smart enough to not get caught. She was talking about grades, he was talking about information. They both knew he was guilty, they just weren't sure of what. He knew the answers.  He was hoping she didn't know the questions.
I was thinking about Golf this weekend. It's a weird game. Most people that play Love it and hate it. It looks really simple, but it's really hard. You have to concentrate and also relax, but you can do both too much. You can hit the ball 300 yards in one shot and then take 4 shots to go 2 feet.
It's the only game I've ever played just for fun where I walk away mad most of the time. I was thinking about why people like it. Here's why! Every once in a while you are as good as the best player in the world. You hit 150 yard 5-Iron 2 feet from the hole, sink a 30 foot putt, hit a 300 yard drive right straight down the middle, just like the best PGA player in the world. For one shot, you are as good as it gets. Then you think "I wonder if I could do that again?" And sure enough 96 holes later you do, it never ends. God help you if you hit 2 great shots in a row, you may have to play for the rest of your life. The point is that you get to touch Greatness.

My favorite chef and by far my favorite restaurant is Thomas Keller and his restaurant "The French Laundry". He is thought to be the greatest living chef in the world, at least in the top 3. The French Laundry only seats 62 people, but it has 82 staff of which 20 are chefs. A 15 hour day is normal for the chefs. That turns into a 90 hour week. His drive for perfection makes them carry out details to the extreme. When they make something as simple as stock (most people put bones and vegetables in a big pot of water and simmer it for several hours, then pour it through a strainer to catch all of the big stuff, and you've got stock.) They wash the bones, blanch the bones, wash them again, soak them in cold water, put an exact amount of bones in an exact amount of water with an exact amount of vegetables. Then simmer, only simmer for 8 hours, skimming constantly. Then they pour off the stock, keep the bones, put them back in an exact amount of fresh water with fresh vegetables and simmer that for 8 hours. The 2nd stock is poured off and combined with the 1st stock. Then that stock is poured through a fine strainer until nothing is caught in the strainer. If anything is caught in the strainer, the strainer is washed along with the 1st pot and the stock is poured back through, as many as 20 times!!!  Making stock is supposed to be the easy part. They do this every day.  Everything is like that, precise, exact, details, details, details. It's just work! Nobody gets to be on TV, or have a faceoff with an Iron Chef. It's just work, in a small restaurant, in a small town. One of the chefs that works there said "Any chef in America would love to work here" Why? Why work that hard to be just one of the guys in the kitchen? (And these are big time chefs working there.) Because they not only get to touch greatness, they get to be a part of greatness and they all know it. Nobody else does food like Thomas Keller; this is as good as it gets, and he lets his chefs suggest different menu items and changes to the way things are made. They are as much a part of The French Laundry and it's greatness as Keller himself. Wouldn't you love to be a part of that? Wouldn't it be fun to say that soup, right there, that I just made, is the best soup in the world right now. I wouldn't care if it was the best PB&J. 
Just to know that I did it would be great.

God's like that: One of the things I've never understood about God is why he uses us to get things done. He knows we mess up everything, he knows he could do it himself perfectly, but still he uses us. This really is as good as it gets. We get to be part of what God does. We get to touch greatness. He lets us do it. Can you believe that? You don't even have to be Billy Graham or the Pope.

I had a woman tell me that some friends of hers came to church for the first time in years on Easter and they were greeted at the door by a guy with bunny ears on. It totally changed their view of what church could be. It took them from being very defensive to looking forward to the experience. Did God use that that guy with the ears? Absolutely!! Was that guy perfect? Not even close! Did he read his Bible that morning? I doubt it. Did he spend an hour in prayer before he came? No. So what did he have to do to have God use him? SHOW-UP!!! How simple is that? Want to be part of that? Want to touch Greatness? .. You don't even have to know the answers … 

Maybe I'll make a cup of soup for lunch today, and hit some golf balls… No questions please..

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

This is one of my favorite kinds of things because it reminds me of my Grandmother when she would let me help make dessert. It's a perfect summer dessert. I know people have "texture" problems with rice pudding, but I could eat this every day. Usually rice pudding is exactly that: Pudding with rice in it. But this is different. No eggs, no temperatures to worry about, none of that. A 4 year old can make this.. and it's great!!!

When you make this, smell the rice. Taste it before you add the coconut milk. It will be sweet, but you'll still get the flavor. 80% of the world lives off of rice. Go slow and taste it, go slow and smell it.. Get comfortable when you eat this… it's magic!

Coconut Arborio Rice Pudding

1 quart whole milk (only whole milk or Half&Half or cream.. no 2%)

1 cup arborio rice (about 8 ounces) Jasmine or Sticky rice will work too.  This is the same rice you use to make Risotto.

1/2 cup sugar

One 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 cup coarsely shredded unsweetened coconut (this is just a garnish, you can also use plain old shredded coconut… totally optional = skip it if you don't have it.)

In a large saucepan, combine the milk, rice and sugar with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Simmer over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender and suspended in a thick, creamy sauce, about 30 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice is very tender and the liquid is thickened, about 10 minutes.

Let cool slightly.

In a medium saucepan, toast the coconut over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and golden, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.

Spoon the rice pudding into bowls, garnish with the toasted coconut and serve. You can also serve this cold. It may turn in to a big clump of rice! But who cares? This is supposed to be fun .. That just means you can pick it up and eat it with your hands, even better

(Here's an idea, totally experimental, you are on your own, but I'm going to try it tomorrow night, just because it sounds cool: make 2 - 4 batches spread it out in a sheet pan about an inch, pack it in tight, no gaps. Let it cool in the fridge till it's nice and solid. Then cut it in to squares and pan fry it in butter (ya baby!) so that it's brown on both sides. Serve hot with powdered sugar (maybe regular sugar would be better) on top. I'm getting tingly all over.. Crisp outside, creamy inside, coconut, coated in butter.. Elegance on a plate.. just close your eyes and try not to pass out .. I'll let you know if it works.)


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 9:29 AM