Mack's Corner

This Week

Precisely where you are..

I was watching my favorite chef Thomas Keller on the Today show one day. He was selling his new cookbook "Bouchon". It's written by my favorite cookbook writer Michael Ruhlman, it's a great book, I've had it for years. It's all bistro food, which is like eating at "The Arcade" in downtown Memphis except in Paris. Its blue plate special food from France. Chef Keller was telling everyone how easy everything is to make and that any home cook can pick it up in no time … That's kinda true. At least it looks easy. But this is Thomas Keller we're talking about. Just because its simple food doesn't mean it's simple to make. His recipes sometimes call for 1 baby carrot diced in a 1/16 inch dice. Or 1 tsp of diced onion, Or 1 tsp of celery.  Everything is very precise, very exact. To make beef stock he wants you to put in 12 peppercorns, not 11, not 13, not a teaspoon, 12!! … onion soup takes 4 hours to get the right flavor from the onions …. On it goes … you may say "well you don't have to follow it that close". You do if you want it to taste like Keller's onion soup, and I want it to taste like that. He's the one of greatest chefs in the world today and has been for years. I've tasted his food from his restaurant where he was actually there at the time. It's amazing. Why would I think I could do it better? Why would I think I could fix his recipe?..

I've seen Oprah exactly 2 times in the last 30 years. Both times have been her "My Favorite Things" show. I love this show, even I get excited and I'm not getting anything. The last show I saw they had all teachers in the audience and they all thought it was a show about teachers. They had been told to bring their best teacher stories. Oprah comes out and says "you thought this was a show about teachers but really it's "My Favorite Things" show!!!! …The place went nuts, women were crying, hugging each other, some had to sit down to keep from passing out. It looked like a Beatles concert in the 60's and this went on for 10 - 15 minutes. There were 4 men in the audience that had no idea what was going on, they were excited because all of the women were excited, but they didn't know why, they didn't understand where they were or why this was such a big deal. Then Oprah started giving out gifts and every time she gave out another one the place went crazy again. By the end of the show everyone in the audience had about $20,000 worth of stuff. Then the 4 guys understood where they were and why they were there.…

God's like that: He made us very precisely, exactly the way he wanted. There's nothing left out or thrown in. There's no mistake. He made each one of us for exactly for one purpose.  All we have to do is realize where we are and why we're here, then you'll get excited ….

Maybe I'll make some onion soup this week. I think I've got 12 peppercorns. Won't take more than 3 or 4 days.. I've got time..


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

This one is real easy, the kids can help and it's a perfect fall thing. This is from Mark Bittman who writes for the New York Times "Dining & Wine" section that comes out every Wednesday.

This is 3 different Jam recipes that are all made the same. Quick & Easy. Go to the farmers market and buy some fresh berries or fruit and start… Of course you can do this with almost any fruit that's not too juicy (i.e. don't use Watermelon, or Oranges). These all work: Strawberries, Apples, Blackberries, Kiwi, Pears, Raspberries, Bananas(Start with a little butter. Not much juice in bananas), anything fresh… You could make a different one every week. I love the idea of making a fresh jam of whatever the farmer's market has fresh that week..  All you need is a little more than a pound of fruit. If it has a big seed like a peach, or if you have to peel it or core it like an apple, get a little more. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar to taste and whatever extra flavors you want.. See below

Time: 20 to 30 minutes

For fig jam:
1 pound figs, stemmed and chopped
1 vanilla bean (optional - or ¼ tsp vanilla extract)
1/4 cup sugar, or to taste
For blueberry jam:
1 pound blueberries, picked over
1 3-inch cinnamon stick (optional - or 1/8 tsp cinnamon)
1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
For peach or nectarine jam:
1 1/2 pounds peaches or nectarines, peeled, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon peeled and minced ginger (optional - or a pinch or powdered ginger)
1/3 cup honey, or to taste. Or 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar..
1. Combine ingredients for any of the jams in a small-to-medium saucepan; fruit should be at a depth of a couple of inches. Bring to a boil over medium heat. (You might have to add a tablespoon or two of water to the figs, but hold off until you see how much of their own liquid they produce.)
2. Adjust heat so mixture bubbles steadily. If it looks too soupy, use a higher heat to reduce it; if there is not much liquid, use lower heat to avoid burning, maybe add a little water(just a little 1 tbsp at a time). Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is liquid but thick. Figs will take the least time, peaches the longest.
3. Cool and refrigerate mixture; all will thicken as it cools. Store, refrigerated, for up to a week. Remove vanilla bean or cinnamon stick before serving.

Yield: About 2 cups of jam.


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 9:49 AM