Mack's Corner

This Week

Christmas Fresh

I always have one of those little Listerine PocketPaks at my desk. Don't want coffee breath. The problem I have is that the strip is the same color as the pak and it's hard to tell when the pak is empty. So if I don't get one on the first swipe, I just lick my finger and try again. They kinda stick to your finger if it's wet and you can get 6 or 8 of them. That can be a problem if you're not paying attention. All 8 go in to your mouth and that is a breath taking experience. Talk about being awake and having fresh breath, I can disinfect my toilet with one exhale. I don't need to take a bath for a week and Every room I enter turns "Minty Fresh".

I was thinking about Hope Christmas's past ….. 1998 was the year that we had 2 feet of snow and 6 inches of ice on Christmas Eve morning. Everybody was closed, churches all over town were canceling services and the news was on all day telling about how the whole city was shut down. But we were at Hope, ready to go. It never occurred to me that we might be closed. We must have had 2000 phone calls that day asking if we were still having Christmas Eve services. Of course we were, we don't cancel church, ever! All the diehards were up here ready to go. It made Craig so crazy that he went around and cut the word "NO" out of all the dictionaries in the building, really!!…. We were having church, no matter what!!!! The only problem was the 6 inches of ice in the parking lot. We were in the middle of building the South Hall and the general contractor was sitting in Craig's office with us. Craig said "do you know where you can get some sand?" He says "Sure, how much do you need? It comes by the truck load, 10 tons per truck..".  Craig looks at me and says "Do you think that's enough?" I said "No???" … Craig says "better get 2."  Then I got on the phone and started calling people to come help spread sand. An hour later I had 20 tons of sand and 60 people with shovels. After each service more people would stay and help. The first service was at 3pm, at 8pm we were still shoveling sand. We were the only church in town that had services, the only one.  3367 people from all over came to Hope that night 14 years ago. 6 services, 3p, 4:30p, 6p, 7:30p, 9p, 10:30p in what is now the youth space. I drove home a little after 2am on Christmas morning, Fresh snow everywhere, not a car in sight. My arms had a good pain from shoveling sand. My truck was warm, my hands were still cold. Christ was born..

God's like that: You wouldn't think that shoveling sand was a big thing as far as God was concerned, but it was that night. It was more important than the music or the sermon. It was the most important thing we did. Craig talks about it all the time, the difference those 60 people made. They made Hope smell like Christ, all over town, "Christmas Fresh".

Got my shovel ready … God I love this place..


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

This was in the New York Times. This is my favorite kind of thing. It's quick, tastes great, filling, easy. You could make this just for yourself or for 8. This could for sitting around the TV watching a game of an elegant dinner where you want to show off.. Guys pay attention !!!

Spaghetti Carbonara

TOTAL TIME 25 minutes



2 large eggs and 2 large yolks, room temperature

1 ounce (about 1/3 packed cup) grated pecorino Romano, plus additional for serving

1 ounce (about 1/3 packed cup) grated Parmesan

Coarsely ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 1/2 ounces pancetta or bacon, sliced into pieces about 1/4 inch thick by 1/3 inch square

12 ounces spaghetti (about 3/4 box)


1. Place a large pot of lightly salted water (no more than 1 tablespoon salt) over high heat, and bring to a boil. This is to cook the pasta …

2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks and pecorino and Parmesan. Season with a pinch of salt and generous black pepper.

3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the bacon, and sauté until the fat just renders, on the edge of crispness but not hard. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. Add pasta to the water and boil until a bit firmer than al dente (go by the instructions on the box. usually about a minute less than the package recommends). Just before pasta is ready, reheat the bacon in the skillet. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain pasta and add it to the skillet over low heat. Stir for a minute or so.

5. Very low heat, stir in cheese mixture, adding some reserved pasta water if needed for creaminess. Serve immediately, dressing it with a bit of additional grated pecorino and pepper.

4 servings

SO for 1 person: Boil the salted water, add the amount of pasta you can eat. In a skillet, fry 2 slices of bacon. When the pasta is ready, drain it and put it directly in the skillet. Let it cook a little, it may brown the pasta, it's ok. Whisk 1 or 2 eggs and some amount of cheese, whatever you like, in a bowl (I would use the same bowl I'm going to eat out of so I don't have to wash 2 bowls. Wash it out after you empty it in to the skillet. Don't want to eat raw eggs.). Add it to the skillet and stir till it all melts and comes together. Dump it in a big bowl. Add a few cherry tomatoes on top, maybe some Tabasco if you like it hot and you're ready… You could actually eat out of the skillet. Who's watching??


Here's another one from Andrew Carmellini, Locanda Verde

This one is pretty different because of the Juniper flavors and the grappa

Spaghetti Friuliano

TOTAL TIME 25 minutes



3 large egg yolks

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 pound spaghetti

2 tablespoons butter

1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced

4 ounces (about 1/2 cup) sliced ham or bacon or speck, cut into short ribbons.
(((Speck is a distinctively juniper -flavored ham  originally from Tyrol , a historical region that since 1918 partially lies in Italy .)))

4 cups shredded savoy cabbage

3/4 teaspoon ground juniper berries (Penzeys)

1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper, or as needed

1/2 cup grappa (optional ..)
(((Grappa is an alcoholic beverage, a fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy of Italian origin that contains 35%-60% alcohol by volume .. The flavor of grappa, like that of wine , depends on the type and quality of the grapes used, as well as the specifics of the distillation process.Grappa is made by distilling the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems (i.e., the pomace ) left over from winemaking  after pressing  the grapes. It was originally made to prevent waste by using these leftovers... Side note: Very strong, Like drinking gasoline. Use at your own risk. It's not for sissy's…and it's not cheap )))

1/2 cup grated fiore sardo or similar aged sheep's milk cheese, plus additional for serving (Whole Foods)


1.  Bring a large pot of salted water (2 to 3 tablespoons salt per gallon) to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and heavy cream.

2.  Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook until al dente (usually about a minute less than the package recommends). In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add onions and sauté until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add speck/ham/bacon and sauté for another minute. Add cabbage and sauté for 2 minutes. Add juniper, pepper and half the grappa. Stir well.

3.  When pasta is ready, reserve about a cup of the cooking water. Drain pasta and add to pan with the cabbage mixture. Add the egg and cream mixture and cook over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add just enough of the reserved cooking water to make a creamy sauce; all may not be needed. Turn off heat and adjust salt and pepper  as needed.

4.  Add 1/2 cup of the cheese and remaining grappa. Stir well. Serve with additional cheese.

4 to 6 servings

Same kind of thing, but very different flavors… Just as easy!!!


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 7:56 AM