Mack's Corner

This Week

Kitchen Confidential

One of my favorite books is "Kitchen Confidential". It's by and about Anthony Bourdain, the former chef at Les Halles in New York City. It's kinda crude, not bedtime reading for kids. There's nothing Christian about Anthony Bourdain. But, I really like him. He talks about the kind of people that he likes to hire as "line cooks".  These are the people that do all of the cooking in a restaurant. He says they have to have "Character" and they have to have "Integrity".  To him "Character" means that you show up every day, on time, and do your job. That's all. Just doing what you said you were going to do every time. Excuses for not showing up are open heart surgery or death. Anything less is not a good excuse. Besides that, any excuse is a sign of weakness. You just need to show up the next day, get yelled at, never do it again and start to work…. I've been a programmer for a long time and the programs that everyone likes the best are the ones that work, every time. They  don't have to be anything fancy, as long as they  work. It's like Starbucks every morning, McDonalds any place in the country, a good car, Memphis water. It's always there, it always works, it's always the same, it's always good. It just feels good knowing it's there. Character: Doing what you said you were going to do period!

"Integrity" means that they don't lie to him and they don't steal from him, much! That's all. If they do steal, but don't lie about it when they get caught, that's OK. He doesn't care what they do when they're not at the restaurant as long as they show up the next day, on time and do their job. Integrity is something you do by yourself. A chef has to make himself happy with his food because he has no idea who his customers are. A person that eats in 4 star restaurants thinks caviar and goose liver are the best food you can get, nothing better in the world. A customer that eats in West Memphis truck stops thinks caviar is bait and goose liver is cat food.  A chef knows if he made something right, used the best and freshest products, used the good stuff not the cheap stuff. That's Integrity. It's really just telling the truth, mostly to yourself.

God's like that: What if God's view of Character and Integrity were the same as Anthony Bourdain's? Most people would say it can't be, that God requires way more than that. It would be too easy. You wouldn't have to be perfect, wouldn't have to do anything special, just show up every day? Anybody could do that, Right? That seems simple enough. But!!! Remember: No excuses!!! You show up even if you're mad, if you're having a bad day, if you're kids are sick, if it's prom night, if it's poker night, if you're in the hospital, if you're too busy, if it's girls night out, if you don't have a job, if you're mad at God, if your spouse leaves you, if…… be mad, be angry, scream, yell, but you still show up.  "God I'm here."  And if you don't show up don't lie about it. You don't really think he leaves when you tell him not to watch, do you?  Show up every day, do what you said you were going to do, be honest with yourself... no excuses, no lies…..

I always wanted to be a line cook … probably too old now… cross that out. Still .. No Excuses!


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

Here's another on of Rick Farmer's recipies from our demo for Hope Market:

Fettucini with spinach and lemony broth;
serves 4 or so
8 oz fettucini (Get good pasta like De Cecco in the Blue & Yellow box)

8 oz fresh spinach

2 cloves garlic (chopped fine)

1 small tomato (chopped)

2 Tbsp 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.)

Juice from 3 lemons

1/2 stick butter (1/8 lb)

salt and pepper

Parmesan cheese for grating …..(Add freshly grated parmesan (or Pecorino Romano, it's 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.. It's worth the money to buy a good cheese grater or Microplane just for this. A little good olive oil and a little good cheese makes anything better… soup, scrambled eggs, pasta, oatmeal, rice, vegies, chicken….  

Cook the pasta according to the box instructions. If you use De Cecco it will come out perfect.

Heat the olive oil in sauté pan (not too hot), add garlic and cook until it begins to brown a little (Don't let it burn… this should take about 20 seconds. If you burn it, pitch it, wipe out the pan and start over.)  Add the spinach and tomato and cook until spinach is wilted (about 1 min). Add the lemon juice and butter and cook very briefly until an emulsion forms (you should get a thicker butter sauce about the consistency of ranch dressing). Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the cooked pasta and allow it to heat through, turning. Be sure the pasta is coated with the sauce. Grate fresh Parmesan cheese on top.
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….


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 8:38 AM