Mack's Corner

This Week


I was thinking about Christmas with my family before I started coming to Hope. My mom was a life-long Episcopalian and the church she grew up in was very formal. One of the things we had to do was go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve. It didn't matter what was going on, we all had to go. The tradition was that the whole family had a big dinner Christmas Eve and then dressed up and went to Midnight Mass. We were always up for going at about 7pm. But after a big meal and sitting around all night the excitement went way down by 10:30pm. But there were rules, we had to go. The church we went to was downtown and one of the things they did was sing carols for 45 minutes before the service started. The whole choir would be back in a hallway where you couldn't see them. It was like the sanctuary was filled with angels singing. The only problem was that the carols they sung were from the 1400's in England and nobody had ever heard of them, they were like chants, no music just singing. It was impossible to stay awake. My mom kept waking us up and slapping us in the back of the head. After that 30 minute nap we were ready for action. The choir director had installed horns in the back of the church that stuck out of the wall about 5 feet above the main doors. They were connected to the organ so that the organist could play them while he was playing the organ and the choir sang. I don't know if he was deaf or just liked the sound of horns but they were at least 15 times too loud. It sounded like 30 - 40 horn players were about to start playing hail to the chief. Anyway right after the choir finished the soft carol chant and everybody was asleep, they would all appear at the back door announced by these horns. My mom would do a back flip in to the pew in front of us and then, in her formal church way, under her breath, start cussing the choir director. My brother and sister and PK (wife) and I would be laughing so hard we could hardly breathe. Then the Bishop would come in swinging incense in a little metal ball with a chain. Smoke would fill the church and make my dad cough. Then he would start cussing the Bishop. One year they had Holy Water too and the guy got my dad right in the face with it, water all over his glasses. We were laughing so hard I thought they were going to have to carry us out. If we had been drinking milk it would have been coming out of noses. On the way home we would talk about it all over again, even my mom and dad would be laughing. Christmas morning was almost a let-down after that….

God's like that: people want him to be so serious and formal. But he's not. He loves to hear us laugh and loves to see us enjoy life with him. How could it get any better than that? ……

Maybe I'll bring milk to church Christmas Eve… It should be fun ..


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

It's winter so I think about Apples.. Here's 2

This is from Andrew Zimmern's Kitchen Adventures

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Apples (I changed this to make it easy)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 Chicken thighs

Salt and freshly ground pepper

5 shallots, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

1 cup apple cider

1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth

1/2 cup Calvados (optional… Just add another 1/2 cup of apple cider)

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

2 Granny Smith apples-peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup raisins

In a large deep skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet. Cook over moderately high heat, turning, until browned all over, about 8 minutes; transfer to a plate.

Add the shallots to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add the cider, stock, Calvados and vinegar and simmer over moderately high heat, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.

Add the apples, heavy cream and raisins and bring to a simmer.

Return the chicken to the skillet and simmer over moderately low heat until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest piece registers 165°, about 15 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a platter. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.


Tarte Tatin with Crème Fraîche

4 pounds Golden Delicious apples-peeled, cored and quartered

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pinch of nutmeg

Pinch of allspice

Pinch of ground cloves

1 stick unsalted butter

3/4 cup sugar

14 ounces chilled all-butter puff pastry

Crème fraîche or whipped cream, for serving
(Easy Crème fraîche = 1 cup sour cream, 1 cup of cream, 2 tbsp sugar and a 1/4 to 1/2 a tsp vanilla … put it in a pan over low heat until the sugar dissolves …. This stuff is magic!!! )

First get a large bowl and fill it half full of water. Add a tablespoon of salt and stir it around until the salt is dissolved.

After you cut up each apple put it in the water. This will keep them from turning brown. When you finish cutting up all of the apples hold your hand over the edge, to hold the apples in the bowl, and pour the water out. Re-fill the bowl with fresh water, stir the apples around and pour all the water out again .. this will rinse off the salted water….

Get as much water out as you can.

Add the cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, allspice and cloves and toss to coat the apples.

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet (an Iron skillet would work great with this), melt the butter over moderate heat.

(All kids need to get away from this!) Add the sugar and cook, swirling the mixture (don't stir it!!! Just move the pan around to swirl it), until a deep caramel forms, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat. DON'T PUT YOUR FINGER IN THIS OR TRY TO TASTE IT! IT IS VERY, VERY HOT!!! … When the sugar starts to turn golden it will start turning darker quickly. Pay attention!!! Don't let it get too dark. It will burn…  (when it gets to the color I want, I usually run some water over the edge and bottom of the pan or put the pan in a water/ice bath to stop the cooking … the sugar will start to get hard, but that's ok. When you cook the apples it will get soft again.)

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Carefully, without touching the cooked sugar, arrange the apple quarters side by side in a ring around the skillet with the points facing in.

Fill the center with as many apple quarters as possible. Lay any remaining apples on top (the apples can be packed down as they shrink).

Cover and cook over moderate heat until the apples are tender, 15 to 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, on a lightly floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry about 1/8 inch thick.

Drape the pastry round over the apples and tuck in any overhang with a rubber spatula.

Make two 2-inch slits in the center of the pastry for hot air to escape.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and cooked through.

Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes.

If you used an Iron skillet you could serve it right out of the skillet with a big spoon… That will keep it warm and you don't have to worry about the flip part..
If you're feeling brave… Cover the tart with a large plate and very carefully invert the tart onto the plate.

Serve the tart in wedges with a dollop of crème fraîche or whipped cream. 

This is too easy.. the hard part is peeling apples, use a potato peeler..


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 10:11 AM