Mack's Corner

This Week

Algebra 101

When I started out in college I was majoring in math and computer science. I love computers and programming and I loved math until I got to calculus. I kinda need to know how stuff works from the ground up. At one point I was writing a machine language program that put an "a" on the screen when you hit the "a" key one the keyboard. Simple stuff but that's why I loved programming, I knew all the details, I knew how it worked. And that's why I hated calculus, nobody would tell me how or why it worked, it just did.. There used to be a T-Shirt that had a picture of a guy writing a long formula on a chalkboard and at the end of the formula it had " (Then a miracle happens) = 36". That's kinda the way I felt about calculus. But I took 3 semesters of it and Numerical analysis and Boolean Logic. Loved the logic, flunked the calculus, eventually passed …. I was getting tired of this flunk/pass routine and went to my advisor and asked her "What's the quickest way to graduate". She opened my folder, went through the courses I had taken, looked up and said "Secondary Education!" … I said sign me up … Then she said "Here's the problem … You're good for most of the senior and junior year courses, but you'll have to go back and take all the required freshman and sophomore courses."…. So there I was, first day of the new semester in Algebra 101, Dr. Wong… I was excited. I knew I would make an "A" and I thought there would be some pretty girls in the class. Everybody who majored in something other than math had to take this class. So I jumped from "revenge of the nerds" to something more normal. It felt good to think I might not be the dumbest person in the class…. The first thing Dr. Wong did was hand out index cards and tell us to write down all the math classes we had ever taken all the way back to Jr High school (middle school) … So we did … He took up the cards and sat at his desk and started going through them. Most went in to one stack and some in to another. I assumed the other stack was for people who had only taken Jr. High math and nothing else … Then he stopped at one card, mine.. "Mr. Oates, why you in this class?" … "Changed majors, it's required." … He nodded and kept looking through the cards. When he finished he stood up and walked to the center of the room and said: "Everybody on this side of the room (pointing right), if you have a question, you ask Mr. Oates. Everybody on this side of the room (pointing left), if you have a question, you ask me!". So that semester Dr. Wong and I taught Algebra 101, I never missed a class, It was great fun .. My friendship with Dr. Wong helped me later to graduate when I talked him in to giving me a "B" in Probability..

Gods like that: You would think that he would do everything by himself, but he doesn't. He uses us (You). Sometimes it's just talking to another person. Sometimes it's just showing up when somebody needs you. Or like a friend of mine, its brain surgery and being amazed at what you just did to save a kid's life, knowing it wasn't you. I look for God all the time, especially in bad situations. I know he's there, but I don't know if he's going to use me… Hope so! It's great fun ….

I wonder what the probability is that I still remember any calculus at all. I would bet zero …


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

One of my best friends is a vegetarian so I'm always looking for a good recipe for her. And it's still summer and the grill is still hot. So here's 2… You can do this on an outside grill or in the kitchen with a grill pan… add a little liquid smoke to the herb dressing (2 -3 drops) if you want the smoke flavor but don't want to go outside .. 

Spanish-Style Grilled Vegetables with Breadcrumb Picada from Bon Appetit

Picada is a Spanish flavoring made with garlic, herbs, and ground nuts.
Here, breadcrumbs stand in for the nuts.

On the grill:

3 large red bell peppers (about 1 1/2 pounds), stemmed, seeded, quartered

4 large Japanese eggplants (about 1 1/4 pounds), trimmed, cut lengthwise into 3 slices

4 medium green or yellow zucchini (preferably 2 of each; about 1 pound), trimmed, cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick slices

Extra-virgin olive oil (for grilling)

For the dish:

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)*

2 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano


Prepare barbecue (medium heat) or in a grill pan. Arrange vegetables on baking sheets. Brush with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill peppers, skin side down and without turning, until blackened and blistered, moving occasionally for even cooking, about 10 minutes. Enclose in plastic bag. Let stand until skins loosen, about 30 minutes. Grill eggplants and zucchini until charred and tender, turning and rearranging for even browning, 5 to 6 minutes. Place on foil lined baking sheet. Peel peppers. Transfer to sheet with eggplants and zucchini.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add breadcrumbs; stir until golden, about 3 minutes. Season breadcrumb picada to taste with salt; scrape into small bowl.

Place vinegar in another small bowl; whisk in 3 tablespoons oil. Mix in parsley and oregano. Season to taste with salt.

Arrange vegetables on platter. Spoon herb dressing over; sprinkle with breadcrumbs.


Eggplant Parmesan Deconstructed from the New York Times

1 large eggplant sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

Black pepper to taste

About 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling

5 garlic cloves

4 cups cherry tomatoes , halved

4 sprigs oregano

3 sprigs basil, plus 5 large leaves

5 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1/3 cup ricotta

2 ounces fresh mozzarella.

1. Place the eggplant slices in a colander over a bowl. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let stand 20 minutes. (this takes a lot of the water out of the eggplant) Drain and pat slices dry with a paper towel. Season with pepper.

2. Working in batches, heat some of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat (you will need about 1/2 cup total for frying, less with a nonstick pan). Add as much eggplant to the skillet as fits comfortably in a single layer. Cook, without moving, until undersides are dark golden, about 4 minutes; flip and cook 3 to 4 minutes more. Transfer eggplant to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining oil and eggplant.

3. Let the skillet cool for a few minutes. Return it to medium heat and add 3 tablespoons oil. Smash and peel 4 garlic cloves and add them to the skillet; cook until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and oregano. Cook, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spatula, until tomatoes start to form a sauce, 15 minutes. Add the basil sprigs and 4 tablespoons Parmesan; simmer 5 minutes longer.

4. While the sauce simmers, in a small skillet over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon oil. Mince 1 garlic clove and add to the skillet with the bread crumbs. Toast, stirring, until bread crumbs are just golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon Parmesan and a pinch of salt.

5. Arrange eggplant on a large platter. Spoon dollops of ricotta over the eggplant and top with sauce. Scatter bread crumbs over sauce. Top with mozzarella and garnish with torn basil leaves. Drizzle with oil and serve.

Makes 6 to 8 side dish servings or apps on a small plate.


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 10:18 AM