Mack's Corner

This Week


I was slicing potatoes for a rehearsal dinner a few years ago. I had 10 pounds and I had to slice them very thin. The thing you use to do that is called a mandoline. They come in two types, cheap ones that don't work and expensive ones that do. The cheap ones have about 40 attachments, they're usually plastic, cost $19.95, and all of the blades are only sharp enough to cut your hands and nothing else. You can cut your hands to pieces slicing 1 onion, because you have to keep forcing it through the blade.  The expensive mandolines cost $150+ and cut everything like a hot knife through butter. They usually only have one blade, maybe 2, but nothing cute. Once you set it to the thickness you want, it stays right there, it never moves. You can only cut thin slices or thin strips, that's all. But that's really all you want it to do. After I cut myself about 20 times with a cheap one, slicing those 10lb of potatoes, I went a bought an expensive one and threw the cheap one and all the attachments in the garbage… The cheap ones are kinda the modern day Veg-O-Matic. My Dad got my mom a Veg-O-Matic one year for Christmas. You could buy it on TV.  It was invented by Samuel J. Popeil and later sold by his son, Ron Popeil and Ronco (get it Ron Popeil = Ron-co) in 1963… He sold a bunch of other junk on TV too. You probably have some of it in your attic. The Veg-O-Matic is actually featured in the Smithsonian Museum. The ad line was "Chop an onion without crying. Instantly slice your potatoes into fries. Simply select the blade for the task you want to complete, add your food and press down. Slices, dices, minces and more."  My mom had been begging my dad for one and when she got it, she really wanted it to work. The guy on TV would put a whole tomato in the Veg-O-Matic and push down. It would come out in perfect slices that he would spread out like a deck of cards over the palm of his hand… it was so easy… My mom slammed the daylights out of tomatoes and squished them to mush. There wasn't a single onion that would fit in a Veg-O-Matic, because it was so small. So you always had to quarter the onion first. Then when you put the onion in and got ready to push down the layers would slide out and you had to stop and put the onion back together. To Mom it was like a balancing act with a brutal ending. She would very carefully place the quartered onion in the veg-o-matic and slowly grip the sides. Then slam the thing down with all her weight trying to cut the onion before it had a chance to fall apart. It was scary.. It did work ok with potatoes but she had to stand in a chair to get her whole weight on it. I usually got to cut potatoes for her. She finally threw it away. It's probably worth a lot of money now.  If Dad had bought her a good mandolin I would probably still have it and it would still work…

God's like that. Simple, nothing cute, never changes, works every time, just like it was promised. Some people try to make a relationship with God hard, like you have to pass a test. Or strain real hard, or be super, super sincere…  You don't. It's easy, just ask.

I've had my mandolin for 22 years, one blade, works every time. Maybe I'll go cut some onions….


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

Rick Farmer and I did a cooking demo for The Hope Market years ago, here's one Rick did:

Spaghetti Aioli; serves 4 or so
8 oz spaghetti (Get good pasta like De Cecco in the Blue & Yellow box)

2 cloves garlic (chopped fine)

1/2 bunch scallions/green onions (white part kept separate from green part)

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

1/2 bunch Italian parsley - roughly chopped (flat leaf, not the curly kind like they put on the side of your plate in a bad restaurant)

1/4 c. Extra virgin olive oil (The olive oil is a big part of this dish so be sure you like the flavor.. doesn't have to be expensive.) Grape seed oil works too.
1/2 c pitted kalamata olives, or whatever olives you like (cut in half)

1 small tomato (chopped)

salt and pepper

Cook the pasta per instructions on the box.  If you use De Cecco it comes out perfect every time.

Heat olive oil in skillet, add crushed red pepper and cook until the pepper begins to brown a little.

Add the garlic and scallion whites. Cook until browned.

Add the parsley, olives , tomatoes and scallion greens and season to taste with salt & pepper.

Add the cooked pasta and continue to cook until warmed through. Be sure to coat the pasta with the oil …

Add freshly grated parmesan (or Pecorino Romano, its cheaper) cheese if desired. Don't use that powdered junk. Use real cheese or leave it off. Buy a hunk of good parmesan or Pecorino Romano and use small amounts. It may seem expensive, but it will last for months if you don't get stupid with it. Use it for flavor. It's NOT supposed to be eaten like cheddar. It's more like seasoning..

You can eat really well on pasta dishes like this by doing simple things like using good olive oil in small amounts, good parmesan in small amounts, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, olives one day then the oil they were kept in the next…..

Think of pasta dishes as "pasta only" and everything else as seasoning for the pasta. If the pasta is good, the dish will be good.

The best part: If you do this in a cheap iron skillet, you can do the whole thing, prep through clean-up in 15 min… When you're finished cooking, wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel and you're done.. 2 pans (skillet & pasta), 2 burners, 15 min, about $6 for 2 people…. Yummmmm


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 12:14 PM