Mack's Corner

This Week


Patty and Eli Morris used to live next door us. Eli was out of town a lot, so any time Patty had a problem she would come get me. It was usually little house repairs, lighting the water heater, stuff like that. One Saturday morning I got up, got the paper, saw a wood pecker, fixed breakfast, settled in to goof off. Patty came over all excited and said "There's a Grrrrrrr in the fireplace. What should I do?" Who knows what that means, how big of a deal can it be? So I went over and got down in front of the fire place and started to open the glass doors and "GRRRRRRRR". Now I've got both feet against the glass doors wondering how something that big got into her fireplace. It sounded like a big dog or wolf. I was praying it was just a raccoon. I put on her fireplace gloves, the big thick leather kind that let you pick up burning logs, thinking if I get a hold of this thing I don't want it to bite my hand off before I get it outside. I took my feet off of the door and started to open it again and "GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR" like a Grizzly bear, it was twice as loud this time and it's really mad and it's really big, maybe I should throw a piece of meat in there or something, maybe a big piece of meat. Then I started thinking … Do I really want to risk my life to get this thing out of the fireplace? Should I get Patty and the kids out of the house? Should I call the bomb squad and get one of those guys with armor to do this? Did that really sound like an animal? I wonder if that wood pecker is still out there? That sounded more like metal than an animal? ... "Patty go out there and see if that wood pecker is still on top of your chimney and scare him off if he is" …. "OK he's gone, I threw a rock at him". I started to open the doors… no "Grrrr". I opened them all the way, still no "Grrrr". I stuck my head in the fire place, no "Grrr". I got a flashlight and looked.. The "Grrrrr" was gone, it was the wood pecker on top of the chimney pecking on the metal cover.  Some times it helps to remember little things.

A friend of mine once gave me piece of salmon that was caught in Alaska 2 hours before she put it in my hand, flown here by the space shuttle or something. So I rushed home to cook it. I made a potato dish called Pommes Anna that's made of layered thinly sliced potatoes and onions to go with it. You start it on the stove and then put it in the oven to finish. While peeling the potatoes with a peeler I cut off the tip of my middle finger, about 1/64th of an inch deep, no blood, no pain, but no finger tip. I'll be more careful. Then I cut off the tip of my ring finger. It makes you wonder some times. (I've decided this is a good use for the word "irregardless". It's used when you do something dumb twice … Ex: The man ran into the door, then turned out the lights and irregardless of the fact that the door was still closed, he ran into it again. Now, it's not a double negative that sounds stupid, it's a double dumb that sounds correct ) ….. After you take the potatoes out of the oven, you put a plate on top and flip it over, like an upside down cake. The thing you have to remember is that the handle is really hot because it's been in a 350 degree oven….. So I burned the tips off of my other 2 fingers, my pinky was all I had left.  Irregardless!

God's like that: He probably uses "Irregardless" a lot when he's talking about us. He teaches us things, shows us how to fix stuff before it breaks, tells us answers to problems before they happen and we think it's not very important. He tells us little things to remember just to make life easier, but we usually know better.  Then when we get stuck, the last thing we do is ask God for help, like he's never done it before either. Good thing he promised not to leave…

Maybe I just need to wear those fat fireplace mitts all the time. I wonder how that works with peeling potatoes


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

Here's another great Gordon Ramsay recipe.

Cheese and Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb

2 racks of Lamb cut in half with 3 bones per serving



Olive Oil

Ingredients for the Crust:

4 slices of stale bread made into crumbs. (put some bread in your food processor and pulse till you get crumbs)

7 Tbs. grated parmesan (roughly 1/2 a cup)

Sprig parsley

Sprig thyme

Sprig coriander

Sprig rosemary

2 tablespoons English mustard (dijon)

splash of olive oil

Preparing the Lamb:

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. It should actually be 392 degrees, but don't worry about getting that technical unless you have a digital oven.

Place lamb on cutting board fat side up. Lightly score the fat layer with a sharp knife. Next, generously sprinkle the lamb with salt and pepper. Mop up the excess seasoning with the rack of lamb, ensuring it's thoroughly coated.

Heat some olive oil in an oven safe pan.(Iron skillet or any skillet that does not have a plastic handle) Seal the lamb by holding each side in the oil long enough to develop color (careful not to burn your hands). (Gordon Ramsay says, "it's simple mathematics, no color, equals no taste". Quite simple indeed! Make sure you brown that lamb.)

Transfer the pan with the lamb into the oven and bake for 7-8 minutes. Prepare the crust while the lamb is cooking. You want the internal temp on the lamb to be 135 give or take. (buy a meat thermometer. $1.50 at Kroger or get a nice electric one at Williams-Sonoma. If you get this kind, you can put it in when you put the lamb in the oven and leave it in. Don't leave the $1.50 one in, it will melt) Stick the thermometer in the side, right down the middle..

Preparing the Crust:
Place all of the ingredients for the crust except the mustard into a blender and pulse several times until it looks nice and green. Make sure you don't over do it with the olive oil, just a splash.Pour the mixture into a deep dish (bowl or plate) and set aside.

Putting it All Together:
Remove the lamb from the oven and brush generously with mustard. Dip the lamb into the crust mixture coating it completely. Dip several times to ensure an even coating. Allow meat to rest for a bit.

You can stop here… Right now you are 4 minutes from serving… this is why I love Great chef recipes. They cook the same way at home as they do in their restaurants. There's always a place where you can stop and know that you're 2 - 10 minutes away from being finished.

When you're ready to serve place it back into the oven for 3-4 minutes.

Easy, Fancy, Great flavor, Different … Great stuff..


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 8:50 AM