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Mack's Corner

This Week

Right Field 
When I was a kid I played little league baseball every summer. The first year my brother and I were the youngest kids on the team so we traded playing right field. In little league you always put your worst fielder in right field because there's never anything to do. Very few balls get hit out of the infield and when they do they never go to right field. You only have to pay attention when there's a left handed batter up, not many of those. I used to pull weeds, look for rocks, find bugs .. One game I even I even sat down on the grass… If a ball got hit to center field I was way too slow to help, so I mostly watched that first year, sometimes from the bench, sometimes from right field … The second and third year I moved up to first base then catcher and a lifelong friend of mine moved in to right field. He was a terrible baseball player, a little short round kid with no athletic ability at all, but a great kid and we all liked him. He couldn't hit, he couldn't run, he couldn't throw, and most of all he couldn't catch a ball to save his life. Thank goodness for right field….  The whole season he never caught a single ball, maybe not even at practice. Every time a ball was hit to him it was an automatic double, at least. Right field was safe for any hitter…. The last game of the year we had a chance to win the league. All we had to do was win that last game….  It was the last inning, we were in the field, 2 outs, we were up by 1 run, 2 men on base, I was catching, my brother was pitching and my friend was in right field holding his glove in the wrong hand… We just needed 1 out, just 1 …. My brother checked the runners and threw the pitch. Crack!!! The batter hit a long fly ball to right field. The runners took off … The whole team moaned. The coach closed his eyes. My brother bent over and put his hands on his knees. The game was over, we had lost the game and the league championship.. We all watched as the ball rose in the air. It might as well have gone 100 miles as go to right field.. then a miracle happened. Not just dumb luck, or will power, or coincidence, a miracle…   There he was in right field standing with his glove straight up in the air, head turned to the side, eyes closed, feet together, holding his breath .. One single baseball player, nobody else even close. One single pinnacle in a vast expanse … No Hope, none at all…  And the ball hit right in the pocket of his glove and stayed there. As soon as the ball hit his glove he turned around and started looking it. He knew he had missed it, he had never caught one before, didn't even know what it felt like. All he could think about was finding the ball and at least throwing it back in. But it was lost, in his glove …. We started running out to him yelling and laughing "It's in your glove, it's in your glove!!!" . "where??" .. "it's in your glove!" ..He was terrified, he didn't know why we were running out to him and he couldn't find the ball. Then he stopped and looked in his glove and there it was. We went crazy. We piled all over him in right field ..  It was a miracle, and he was a hero… He had never been one of those before either …
God's like that:  We always assume the worst and even after something good happens we assume it won't last or it really didn't happen.. We think we're out there by ourselves but God shows up every day. He's there just for you every day. Just hold your glove up!
Maybe I'll call my friend and see if he wants to go play catch. I've got my glove ready …


Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes:
If you can boil water, you can do this. This dish can be anything from a romantic dinner for two to a football party for 20 to a curl up by yourself quiet night at home … You can do the whole thing in the time it takes to cook the pasta …. This is from Rome. The story goes that pasta was introduced to Rome by the charcoal sellers who came down from Abruzzo. A "Carbonara" is a charcoal maker's wife… get it? carbon => charcoal .. A female carbon seller => "Carbonara"
A little history .. Really: It was first recorded after the second world war, when many Italians were eating eggs and bacon supplied by troops from the US. More recently, a restaurant in Rimimi Italy has claimed the original recipe was born during WWII. Powdered eggs and milk, and bacon were standard issue for the America troops and were widely used for bartering with the population. Italians would use those ingredients to make it. The dish became popular among American troops stationed in Italy.
Pasta Alla Carbonara from Saveur  Magazine:
1 tbsp Olive oil
5 oz pancetta OR Bacon (about 6 or 8 strips)
2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks (the yolks make it richer)
1 lb of dry pasta - something good like De Cecco… follow the instructions on the box for perfect pasta..
Salt & Pepper
1/2  cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (buy some real cheese, don't get that junk in the can. You are worth getting real cheese)
1/2 cup freshly grated Ramano cheese (if you want, just use 1 cup of parmesan and skip this … the ramano just adds a different flavor)
Get your Bowls/ plates warm in a very low oven…
Cook the pasta according to the box.. use the exact time on the box..
Hot skillet, add the oil… wait 10 seconds .. add the pancetta OR Bacon. Cook for 5 - 6 min till crisp .. Leave it in the pan .. turn off the heat..
In a small bowl crack the eggs and egg yolks and add 1/4 cup of water. Beat together with a fork..
Drain the pasta in a colander (or just use tongs and move the pasta from the boiling water in to the pan with the bacon. Don't worry about getting any pasta water in the pan. The little bit that gets in will help deglaze the pan… makes it taste better)..
Add the egg mixture and 1/2  of each of the 2 cheeses and toss like you would a salad so that the eggs and oil and cheese get all over the pasta.. the eggs will cook ..
Salt & pepper to taste … probably need a lot of salt…
Toss some more…. Serve with the remaining cheese …
Variations on this:
Add 1 chopped onion to the bacon and cook together.
Add 1 clove of garlic to the bacon.
When the bacon is cooked, add 1/2 cup of white wine (I like to use sweeter white wine for this. Believe it or not white zinfandel works well, but so does Riesling or gewürztraminer ) and scrape up all the brown parts on the bottom of the pan. Boil the wine down until almost gone … then add the pasta….
Add Cream instead of water to the eggs
Or do all 4



Posted by Mack Oates at 10:12 AM