This Week

Mack's Corner

This Week

The Baby

For some reason we almost always have some sort of severe weather for Christmas Eve at Hope. One year it was raining so hard and the wind was blowing so hard that the ConeHeads (parking guys) gave up trying to park cars and just started helping people get inside. At the time we had a little covered walkway that really didn't help you stay out of the rain, it just put you 50 feet from the door… A family pulled up in their Honda Civic, the Dad got out, slammed his door, and ran around the car to the passenger side. Ten ConeHeads with umbrellas gathered around the passenger side as the mom got out with her newborn baby. When we saw the baby, we huddled closer. The mom, all in one motion, locked the door and slammed it shut with her hip.. locking the car, keys inside, motor running. The Dad looked at me and shook his head as if to say "what else could go wrong today?". I looked at him and said "Don't worry about it, just get your family inside." Then the ConeHeads, in one fluid motion, started taking baby steps toward the door huddled around the family. I ran to get my break-in tools. The best thing was that the car was a 1998 Honda. That meant the "Z" tool. I ran to get it and sprinted back, I wanted to have his keys out before he got back. I got to the car, jammed the tool down the side of the window, turned it and popped the lock up, less than 5 seconds. I pulled the keys out, and closed the door…. He came back out looking like he knew he was going to have to call a locksmith and pay somebody $50 and have to be there all night doing it and stand in the rain the whole time and get home late and why didn't they just stay home?..... I handed him his keys and said "Get everybody in?... Here's your keys." He looked at me stunned, everything had changed… He said "What the --- kind of church is this?" … I smiled and said "Welcome to Hope." … I wanted to ask him what kind of person brings a newborn to church in weather like this. Of course I knew. It's the kind of person who looks in to his baby's eyes and sees the wonder of God, the kind of person who wants to be at church to be near God, the kind of person who sees hope in baby Jesus….

God's like that: He's the kind of God who brought his newborn baby out in the cold, unprotected, for everybody to see. When he did, everything changed, no past… just what was to come, Just Hope ….

Luke 2 (KJ)
1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. 2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)  3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

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

I pulled out my 3 favorite Christmas recipes. You'll notice that even though they are different, they all have mostly the same ingredients.. The Bread Pudding is great for any time, I mostly have it around 2am in my PJ's with the fridge door open and a big spoon. The French toast is the best french toast ever and is great for Christmas morning … And the Eggnog, it's spectacular. You'll be ruined and won't be able to drink any other Eggnog…

Bread Pudding:

This is from "Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen", one of the greatest cookbooks ever written.

Any bread will do. Old hotdog buns, rock hard French bread, old Wonder bread, anything…. I use a 4in by 9in bread pan to do this but any 2 - 3 inch deep pan will do. Grease the pan with " Pam" or Butter, this just helps when it comes time to clean it.

Here's the most important part: Cut the bread up in to 1 inch cubes (I'll explain later) .. You need enough bread to fill the pan past the top..

3 eggs

1 1/4 cups Sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla

1 1/4 teaspoons Nutmeg

1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon

1/4 cup of melted butter (1/2 of a stick… melt it in the microwave, doesn't need to be hot, just melted)

2 cups of milk

Whip the eggs till frothy (if you doing this by hand, just whip them up, don't worry about the frothy part)

Add everything else except the milk and whip that… it will turn light brown..

Add the milk and mix .. (from here you can add ½ cup of raisins and ½ cup of roasted pecans if you want… I leave this out)

Pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes. Push the bread down to try to get it to soak up the eggs and milk. Let it sit for 30 minutes while pushing it every once in a while.. The bread will keep floating to the top, it's ok.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, if you forget to preheat, don't worry about it, just put it in. Cook for about 40 min - 1 hour .. till it's brown and puffy on the top. If it's not brown and puffy, leave it longer .. don't burn the bread!

Take it out and let it cool…. From here on you are on your own. Feel free to pick the cubes off the top (now you see why the cubes are so important). If you eat the cubes one at a time and never dish it out on a plate, it doesn't count. After all you're only tasting..Right!

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French Toast:

You may be thinking that you don't like french toast, but you've never had my french toast. You don't need any syrup so it's lower cal. AND it so easy! There are a few tricks… This is great for Christmas morning. Guys, get up a little early and make this and your wives will love you for it … All your kids will like it too … OR even if you're by yourself, make it just for you. The recipe is for 2 people (get it? Romantic Christmas morning breakfast..). You can multiply this as big as you want, I'll show you.

Christmas Morning French Toast:

2 eggs (4 people = 4 eggs, 8 people=8eggs..)

2 tbsp Sugar (4 people = 4 tbsp, 8 people = 8 tbsp..)

1/4 tsp Cinnamon (4 people = 1/2 tsp, 8 people = 1 tsp..)

1/8 tsp nutmeg (4 people = 1/4 tsp, 8 people = 1/2 tsp..)

1/4 tsp vanilla (4 people = 1/2 tsp, 8 people = 1 tsp ..)

4 slices of white bread (4 people = 8 slices, 8 people = 16 slices..) Any white bread will work (not sour dough). Even Wonder bread works fine. You can even slice up a loaf of french bread for cute french toast….

Butter & oil (veg oil, olive oil…any)

If you have a mixer, use it. If you don't, you can do this by hand. In a large bowl (big enough to put several pieces of bread in at once) mix the eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.. Trick #1: Wisk/mix until small bubbles form in the eggs. We want to get some air in the eggs. If you're doing this on a mixer, let it go for a while. This will make the toast fluff up….

At this point you are ready to cook, so if the kids are not up yet, stop here..

When you're ready to cook: Whisk the eggs one more time. Trick #2: Put 1/2 tbsp butter and 1tsp of oil in a WARM skillet, KEEP THE FIRE LOW!!!. (The oil will keep the butter from burning. It may still burn if you turn it up too hot. If you burn the butter, you'll smell it and see it. Wash out the skillet and start over..) Put 1 slice of bread in the egg mixture. This is your test slice. Trick #3: Let it soak a couple of minutes .. (Most people dip the bread in the eggs and immediately take it out. That's why their French toast is dry and tasteless). The bread will be soggy, try to keep it together. Use your hand, its ok. (KEEP ONE HAND DRY!) … Put it in the skillet. You will see the egg mixture cook on the side. Look under the toast to see if it is brown. As soon as it starts to brown, flip it over. Keep checking under the toast, looking for it to brown. When it's brown take it out. Taste it!!! Is it done? Do you need to cook it a little more? .. That was your trial run … Check your butter. Is it burnt? Pour it out if it is …. Now you're ready!!! More butter & oil … soak the bread 2 at a time and cook 2 at a time. As soon as you move 2 slices out of the egg mixture in to the skillet, add 2 more to the eggs …. You see how this goes: cook 2, move 2, add 2 …etc. You may NOT need to add more butter & oil after each batch …

You are now an official French Toast Short Order Cook … as long as you have enough eggs and bread you could make French Toast for 100… easy! 

To serve: Quickly!!! (no more than 30 seconds out of the skillet) dust the toast with powdered sugar or regular sugar and eat…. See what I mean, no syrup needed….

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EggNog:

I love real eggnog, not that weird stuff you buy in the grocery store (is there such a thing as artificial eggnog flavor? Who decided what it tastes like?), but real eggnog. The only problem is how do you make it? Like beer and blue cheese it's a mystery and probably a mistake. I'm sure this evolved from somebody trying to preserve milk by pouring whiskey in to it and realizing they had created milk punch. Then probably a bread baker adding some sugar and a few eggs for richness = eggnog .. If you've never had homemade eggnog then you have to do this, it's easy and the kids can help and it's really good. They will like it too!!!

Eggnog:

9 eggs separated (room temp)

1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar

3 cups of chilled whipping cream

3+ cups milk (whole milk works best, but any will do)

One washed out gallon milk jug and a funnel

Candy thermometer or instant read thermometer ($1.50 at the grocery store)

Separate your eggs. Get one small bowl and your clean mixing bowl. Break the eggs over the mixing bowl in to your hand. Let the whites slide between your fingers in to the mixing bowl. When you're left with just the yolk in your hand put it in the smaller bowl. Do that with each egg.

You can do this in one mixing bowl and one big "Folding" bowl as long as you do it in the right order. (the folding bowl, my term, is just a big bowl that you will use to Fold all of this together. Just get a bowl big enough to hold at least 1 gallon). To whip egg whites you need a clean mixing bowl and a clean whisk or beaters. If there is any fat like cream in the bowl, they won't form peaks. So we have to do the whites first.

Start whisking the whites slowly until small bubbles form, then you can whisk a little faster. If you're doing this by hand don't worry about doing it faster, just keep whisking. When peaks start to form (pick the whisk up out of the whites and a trailing peak should follow and flop over = soft peak) add 6 tbsp of sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, whisking it in as you go. The whites will start to look glossy…. Dump all of the whites in to the big "Folding" bowl..

Put the yolks and 3/4 cup of sugar in the mixing bowl…. In the old days we would have just whisked this together and added it to the whites, but you don't really want to be Rocky and eat raw egg yolks any more. So we need to cook them a little. Plus, I think it's better this way. So get a sauce pan and fill it 1/4 of the way with water and heat it to a simmer. Then put your mixing bowl over the water (not letting it touch the water) and whisk the yolk and sugar. You need to whisk it over the simmering water until it gets to 150 degrees (use your candy thermometer). Once it gets there, you need to keep it at that temp for 1 minute. DON'T LET IT GET PAST 160! Eggs turn in to scrambled eggs at 170. If it starts getting too hot, pick the bowl up off of the simmering water… Keep whisking!!!! …. You will end up with a very thick, pale yellow mixture.. Take it off the heat and let it cool. The best way to cool this is by getting a big bowl (can you tell I have a lot of big bowls) and put ice in the bottom along with enough water to cover the ice. Then set the mixing bowl in the cold water and whisk the eggs. It will cool down quick. Otherwise, stick the mixing bowl with the hot yolks in to your freezer.. you need them to be at room temp, keep whisking and checking, shouldn't take long … add this to the "Folding" bowl …   

Last, whip the cream. Cream doesn't need a clean bowl like the egg whites, it needs a cold bowl. So now that your mixing bowl has been in the freezer or on ice, you're ready. It may still have some whites or yolk in it, leave it, don't worry about it..  Put the cream in the mixing bowl and whisk. Again start slowly until it starts to form small bubbles and looks foamy. Then you can go faster.  Again whip until you get soft peaks, no more. (if you're doing this in a mixer, don't over whisk or you will get butter).. Add this to the "Folding" bowl…

With a rubber spatula or a big spoon and the Folding bowl, fold everything together. Run the spatula around the edge of the bowl and fold the mixture in to the middle of the bowl. The idea here is to mix it without pushing all of the air out of the Whites and Cream … keep folding until all of the yellow of the yolks is blended in to the whites…… Stir in the milk ….

(Normally this is where you would stir in 1 to 3 cups of Bourbon .. Add 1 cup, stir and taste it. Then add more if you want. Don't get stupid, too much ruins it…. It's perfectly fine to leave it out … At this point you're done… If you are making this for kids you can leave the Bourbon out and add it individually when you pour some for yourself.)

But remember we're doing this with the kids so without the bourbon you need check for thickness. If it's too thick to drink, add a little more milk (maybe a cup). Don't add too much or you'll start taking away from the flavor…

Now get a funnel and pour the whole thing in to the gallon milk jug. Always shake it up before you serve it, it tends to separate .. (it will deflate after it gets in the jug)

Serve with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top… After you taste this, you'll never buy that stuff at the grocery store again ..

Standard rules apply: drinking eggnog within a week of Christmas = zero calories. Christmas morning = negative 200 calories. Those negative calories mean you can have it with that leftover pumpkin pie you were thinking about  ..

 
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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!!!

Mack

Posted by Mack Oates at 10:02 AM