This Week

Mack's Corner

This Week

Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes - Living Well - Mediterranean Diet:

Polenta is Italian for thick grits/cornmeal. We already know what to do with grits, Right? Salt, Pepper, tabasco, breakfast. Or make cornbread with cornmeal. Well there's way more stuff to do with grits/cornmeal than that. Here's one from Martha Rose Shulman from the New York Times. She has lots of great recipes.

Roasted Root Vegetables With Polenta

2 large carrots (3/4 to 1 pound), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (quarter at the fat ends, cut in half at the thin ends, then cut in thick slices)

1 large parsnip (about 1/2 pound), quartered, cored and cut in 3/4-inch pieces

1 medium-size fennel bulb, quartered, cored and cut in 3/4 inch pieces

1 medium or large red onion, cut in large dice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

 Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

 Chopped fresh rosemary, thyme or sage, about 2 teaspoons (optional)

1 cup polenta (Cornmeal)

1 quart water

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan (optional but recommended)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan or a baking dish with parchment or foil. Toss vegetables with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add fresh herbs if using. Spread vegetables in an even layer.

Combine polenta/cornmeal, water, and salt in a 2-quart baking dish and stir together. Place polenta and vegetables in the oven. If you can’t fit both pans on the same (middle) rack, place vegetables on a lower rack. Roast vegetables for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or until soft and beginning to caramelize. Remove from the oven.

Continue to bake the polenta until it has been in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes and has absorbed the water. Remove from oven and stir in butter. Use a fork or a spatula to stir the polenta well, and return to oven for 5 to 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and stir again. Carefully taste a little bit of the polenta; if it is not completely soft, return to the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes.

Remove polenta from oven and stir in 1/3 cup grated Parmesan, if using. Immediately spoon polenta onto plates and top with a generous spoonful of roasted vegetables. Sprinkle on remaining Parmesan and serve.

Advance preparation: The roasted vegetables will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator. Once polenta stiffens, slice it and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Grill or sauté the squares, or reheat in a baking dish.


This doesn't have much to do with the Mediterranean Diet, but it's a fun dessert for Thanksgiving. Plus the kids can help, especially the swirl part. You can't mess this up!

 Chocolate Pumpkin Tart

For the chocolate cookie crust:
1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs

2 tablespoons sugar

Pinch of salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
3 large eggs

2/3 cup light or dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 cups bittersweet or dark chocolate, melted

To make cookie crust, combine cookie crumbs, sugar, salt and butter together in small bowl and mix with fork. Press into buttered 8-inch tart pan. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes. Set crust aside.

To make filling, combine eggs, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt in bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Add pumpkin puree and heavy cream and mix until incorporated. Measure 1 cup of mixture and set aside.

Set baked crust on sheet pan. Pour filling into crust. In bowl, combine melted chocolate with reserved filling. Spoon on top of tart and swirl into filling.

Bake until center is set and no longer appears shiny, 40-45 minutes. Let tart cool to room temperature and store in fridge until ready to serve.



Every time we've gotten a new parking lot I've called my friend Don to come stripe it. I can paint over old stripes, but doing it the first time over a big black surface with no lines takes an expert. Don is way past being an expert, he's an artist. Some how he always gets more parking places than they have on the computer drawing, and he points out places where the lot is not square, he'll show me where the drawing has 2 places and he can get 3… etc. All he uses is and measuring tape, a piece of chalk on a stick and a string. That's it! No computers, no lasers, just a measuring tape, chalk and string.. He's not cheap, but he's perfect.
With 2100 parking places I always had spots in the lot that needed to be re-striped, so when he came there was always a giant temptation to ask him to do that too. He had all the machines and helpers, but I had a self-inflicted guilt! I had my own $3000 striping machine that I bought. I even had free paint that a friend of mine gives us. So I really had no excuses other than being lazy.  I knew in the back of my mind that I had paid for the striping machine about 6 times over, but it was still sitting there ready to go and I bought it and free paint ..etc.. It was more than I could stand!!! The bad part is clean-up (at least an hour), so if I was going to do it, I was doing it big, 2 or 3 lots at least. I usually started with 20 - 25 gallons of paint. That will paint about 600 parking places, which is about 4 miles of stripes. I started on places that really needed it, but I never stopped because I ran out of bad places, I stopped when I ran out of paint. I used every drop of paint and every drop of energy..

God's like that: He gives us everything we need. No excuses. He does the hard part, all we have to do it follow in his steps. Some people think that if they helped someone 10 years ago that they're finished. That it was a high point in their life but now they're done. God doesn't work that way. If he's finished with you, you die, he doesn't really do retirement. Until then, you better look for something to do??

I wonder if they make white asphalt, then you could have inlaid stripes that would last forever. I bet that wouldn't cost much???? No big deal, Evan does all the stripes now, he actually knows what he's doing. You'll see some pretty stripes show up soon.


Posted by Mack Oates at 12:00 AM