Mack's Corner

This Week

this week 

I get a lot of emails from people that have just about lost hope. I understand. If enough things go wrong it kinda makes you wonder where God is, wonder why God doesn't step in and fix it.

Several years ago, I think it was in March, I was thinking "God just show me that you're there. I don't even need you to do anything, I just need to know that you're really there." As I was leaving home to come to church on a Sunday morning at about 4:00am. I walked outside and the sky was perfectly clear, it was cold and there was a big crescent moon with Jupiter shining right off of the lower point. It was really pretty, and I thought "Well OK, I guess that's kind of a sign." I got in the car, and as I started it up, the radio came on, like it always does, and the guy on the radio said "How was that?" Then there was a 1-2 second pause and a song started playing somewhere in the middle. The lyrics were:

I've been running hot
You got me ticking gonna blow my top
If you start me up
If you start me up, I'll never stop
Never stop, never stop, never stop

I looked around and thought, "What?" "What did you say?" "Say that again!" But It was gone. The moon was still there, and Mick Jagger was on the radio, but the voice was gone. Do you think that was God?  Maybe? It sounded more like the morning radio guy. Did God make him say it just for me? Maybe? The timing was great. I thought it was good enough. I guess I could have said "OK do one more thing, just one more time and I'll really, really, really know you're really, really there, really, just one more!" Of course if I had started that I might still be asking for just one more, just one.

Every weekend is a little faith test for me. It's not because I'm going to church, It's because I'm going to church and I've got all of these people that I'm counting on to show up to help. People that I have to have to make church work every weekend. ConeHeads and Inside ConeHeads. Of course people have families that get sick or want to do something else, they have jobs that send them out of town, they have cars that breakdown of have flats, they have all kinds of things that mess things up. So when I'm looking for them to show up and I'm standing there by myself it takes a little faith. I usually just start, as if all of them are there with me and I can see them. As long as I've been doing this at Hope, 23 years, I've always had enough. People that have not been able to help for months will show up and say "Oh I don't know, I thought I would come." Is that a good enough sign? To me it's better than the moon and Jupiter and the guy on the radio.

God's like that: He gives us a bunch of signs, but, we just forget. It's that "What have you done for me lately" problem. Of course God would say, "Want a list?"  

We used to have a sign in front of the church when we were building the first building, now the youth center. It said "Hope is on the way." People would come up to me and say "You go to Hope don't you? I love that sign." It was just good to know.

How was that?
If you start me up
If you start me up, I'll never stop
If you start me up
If you start me up, I'll never stop

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

Just an FYI.. several people made the "Super Food Salad" from last week and loved it … Told ya!!! I don't put no junk on here!!!

So I'm on this vegetarian kick from last week… Here's two more from the New York Times food section (every Wednesday)..

Summer Corn Soup …. Kids can help with this one
TOTAL TIME - 2 hours (I know, takes too long.. do this with your kids or on Saturday morning.. then re-heat it)


12 ears corn (or about 2 pound of frozen corn)

1 onion (always buy Vidalia's if you can)

1 clove garlic

2 jalapeño peppers

2 red bell peppers

1 bay leaf

10 whole black peppercorns (or 5 grinds of fresh pepper or 1/4 tsp)

6 basil leaves

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 teaspoon butter

1 to 2 tablespoons salt, to taste

Black pepper

1/2 cup light cream or soy milk

1 tablespoon smoked paprika, optional.

1.Child husks corn. (or buy frozen corn)

2.Adult dices onion and minces garlic. Adult cuts jalapeños in half lengthwise, discards seeds and minces (wash your hands after and don't rub your eyes). Adult cuts bell peppers in half lengthwise, discards seeds and dices.

3.For the corn stock, adult cuts kernels off corn ears (Stand the ear of corn pointy side up and cut down, cutting the corn kernels off) and reserves cobs. (Child can help if he or she has knife skills.) In large pot, adult and child combine cobs, bay leaf, peppercorns, 1 pinch salt and 16 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes.

4.Child picks basil leaves from stems, and stacks and rolls them for chiffonade (line all the leaves up on top of each other, then roll them up like a cigar. Cut across the cigar to make thin strips). Adult helps child cut leaves.

5.Adult places stockpot over medium-low heat and adds oil. Adult adds onion, jalapeño and red peppers. Using a long-handled spatula, child stirs vegetables until onions are translucent and peppers are soft but not brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Child adds garlic and stirs 1 and 1/2 minutes more, until garlic is golden but not brown. Adult increases heat to medium, and child adds butter and corn kernels. Child adds a tablespoon salt, pepper to taste and stirs for about 4 minutes. Adult adds more salt and pepper to taste. Adult adds 6 cups corn stock (no cobs). Child stirs broth. Child then adds light cream or soy milk while adult stirs. Adult covers pot and lowers heat to simmer for 10 minutes.

6.Using an immersion blender or you can do this in batches in your food processor, adult purées soup coarsely, leaving some kernels partly broken or whole. Adult adds more salt and pepper to taste and, if desired, smoked paprika. Adult ladles soup into bowls. Child garnishes servings with basil.

YIELD 6 servings.

Tomato, Fresh Fig and Blue Cheese Salad
TOTAL TIME - 20 minutes


1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (nothing fancy)

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (any salt works)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons pine nuts (whole foods, fresh market)

1 large or 2 small ripe tomatoes, about 8 ounces, thinly sliced

1/2 pound fresh figs, cut into quarters (dried would work too)

1 ounce crumbled blue cheese, like Fourme d'Ambert, more to taste (any blue cheese works, not too strong)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (optional - not worth buying $5 of thyme for 1 tsp)

Black pepper.

Course Sea salt .. (you owe it to yourself to have some sea salt on hand for stuff like this. You can get several kinds at Pensey's. (Tell them I sent you and they will all look at you funny) Go over there and they will let you taste each one. Some will have a wet feel, some will taste very clean, some will be pretty cheap, some are stupid expensive. Don't buy the most expensive one, find one you like! This is for you only… Then every time you make a salad or eggs or steak, anything sprinkle just a little on the top, not much .. The idea is not to salt the food but to have little salt bursts in your salad or on your eggs. This will actually make you use less salt. For 2 reasons: 1. You know this is special salt.. 2. Too much ruins the effect. You just want enough so that you get a little surprise with each bite …)


1.In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar and salt. Whisk in oil. Slowly add oil and whish so that it turns a light brown color. You can also use an immersion blender or put the whole thing in a jar and shake it till it combines..

2.In a small skillet over medium-low heat, toast pine nuts, shaking the pan occasionally, until light golden, about 2 minutes. DON'T BURN YOUR PINE NUTS. Remove the pine nuts to a cool plate. DON'T LEAVE THEM IN THE PAN … If you are using dried figs, add a tbsp. of oil to this same pan and pan-fry the figs until they begin to soften. This will give you a hot-cold effect in you salad which I really like.

3.Spread tomato slices on a large plate. Scatter fig quarters and pine nuts over tomatoes. Sprinkle with cheese and thyme, drizzle with dressing and finish sea salt with pepper.

If you want to add some lettuce to this, it won't hurt my feelings.

YIELD 4 servings.


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, when they start at 9:15am.

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



Posted by Mack Oates at 7:37 AM