Mack's Corner

THis Week

The TV

One Christmas my grandparents bought us kids a TV. It wasn't a 97 inch 3D LCD, more like a 19 inch Black and white with rabbit ears, a Philco. It came with a little roll around TV stand that put it about 3 feet off the floor. The stand was very light and the TV was kinda heavy, so the whole thing was top heavy and unstable. But it was our very own TV and we could watch any of the 3 networks.   I remember hearing my dad trying to get the stand out of the closet after we had gone to bed. He wanted it to be a surprise but we all knew something was up.  I think he dropped it about 4 times. We knew it wasn't Santa because he wouldn't say stuff like that. He made enough noise to scare Santa off.  He set it up in the middle of the living room to make it the center of attention. When we got up at the required 6am and not a minute sooner, we were giddy. We turned on the Christmas day parade and started opening presents. Of course we also got footballs and other stuff to throw. So about 30 minutes in to Christmas we had hit the TV with the football 6 or 8 times, tripped over the power cord and bounced several other things off the screen. Then it happened!!! To finish off Christmas morning I ran in to the back of the TV and the whole thing tipped over on its face, stand and all, a 3 foot drop... boom!!!! Everyone was quiet.. I knew it was gone. I had broken the best present ever in less than 1 hour. I was going to have to explain to my grandparents why their special gift was in the trash. I was going to hear about this forever!!!!   My dad looked at me with his laser, "burn a hold in your brain", look. Remember he was already mad from getting the stand out of the closet last night. He walked over, still looking at me, my brain almost melted, and stood it back up,  turned it on, still looking at me like I had ruined Christmas for everybody in the whole world.. a few crackles and there it was, the Christmas Day parade, we could hear it and everything, all was right with the world, Christmas was saved, another miracle, I wouldn't have to go in to exile. The TV got moved to the next room, we got put outside and It was quiet in our house for a few hours..

God's like that: He gives us a special gift but it's special to us just for a little while. Then it becomes just another thing until we mess up and think that we've broken it. Will God still like me? Will God let me stay?  Here's the gift: There's nothing you can do to make God go away. The gift remains.. God forgives.. You can not break it!

I can probably find an old TV if you want to go throw a football around …

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

Here's another one from  "How to cook everything" by Mark Bittman.  For some reason people are afraid of soufflés. There's this myth that if you make a noise or slam the oven door it will fall .. it won't, but who cares, it's still good. A plain Cheese soufflé is the most elegant thing there is. The flavor is very mild and it's almost all air = no calories. Want to impress your girlfriend or make a romantic for 2 or just make it for you!!! It's easy. There are only 3 tricks and I'm going to tell you all of them …

Cheese soufflé

4 tbsp butter = 1/2 stick

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cups of warmed milk (whole milk works best …. Warm to the touch)

6 eggs separated (yolks in one bowl, whites in another… don't get any yolk in the whites bowl or it won't work)

Salt & pepper

Dash of Cayenne or any ground red pepper 

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (get the real thing, not that powdered stuff)

1/2 cup grated or crumbled Cheddar, Jack, Roquefort, Swiss, or whatever cheese you like that will melt (no hard cheese)

Pinch of cream of tartar (for the egg whites … optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 400

Butter a 2 quart soufflé dish or four 2 cup ramekins … trick #1: Butter the dish as good as you can, then butter it again..

To separate the eggs so that you don't get any yolk in the whites get a small bowl and 2 other larger bowls. Break 1 egg in to the small bowl. Scoop the yolk out with your hand leaving as much of the white as you can. Put the yolk in one of the other bowls with all the other yolks and pour the white in to the other bowl with the whites. If you break a yolk, pitch it and wash out the small bowl and start over… You will have one bowl with 6 yolks and one bowl with 6 whites..

First we're going to make a roux: Put the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. When it foams add the flour and turn the heat down a little. Whisk, Whisk, Whisk … cook for 3 min.

Second we're going to turn the roux in to a béchamel sauce: Whisk in the milk a little at a time to avoid lumps. Cook until the mixture is thick, 2 minutes… Add salt and pepper… Taste it, re-season, taste again…

Third = Add Stuff! …Turn off the heat and stir in the egg yolks one at a time, then the cayenne, then the parmesan cheese, then the other cheese ….

Put the egg whites in a mixer bowl along with a pinch of cream of tartar (this just helps hold the whites together .. its optional) and whisk until soft peaks form.. i.e. when you pick up your whisk out of the whites it will form a peak that falls over … you can also do this by hand with a hand whisk, just takes longer.

Trick #2: First put the egg yolk mixture in a big bowl. Stir in 2 heaping spoons of whites in to the egg yolk mixture. This will lighten the mixture. Then gently fold the remaining egg whites in. That means you dump the rest of the egg whites in and with a rubber spatula or a big spoon you scrape around the edge of the bowl and fold that in to the middle of the bowl by turning your spatula over, then scrape and fold, scrape and fold until the mixture is mostly combined… leave a few whites showing, you don't want to overdo this.. The idea is to keep as much air as possible in the whites, that's what makes the soufflé puff up.

Pour the batter in to the prepared soufflé dish or ramekins. Trick #3: fill the dishes to the top then using a metal spatula or the back of a knife smooth off the top so that it's flat. Now run your thumb around the edge of the dish to make a little trench all the way around the dish. This will give you a nice level pretty soufflé.

Once you get to this point you can hold this for up to an hour before you cook it, just leave it on the counter..

Bake the soufflé for 15 -20 minutes if you used ramekins, 30 - 40 minutes if you used a large soufflé dish … it should rise and be brown on top. Use a toothpick or skewer to stick in the middle as a tester. If it comes out quite wet, give it 5 more minutes .. if it is just moist, you're done … serve immediately ..

If you did this in the soufflé dish show it to your guests before you stick a spoon in it, it will fall as soon as you do. If it falls before you get a chance to show it, don't worry about it, just serve it and tell everybody how pretty it was.. too bad they missed it .. it really was pretty at one point …

The cool part is now that you know how to do it, you can flavor it any way you want. In the Third step where you "Add Stuff" you can add herbs, dry mustard, curry powder, nutmeg, diced tomatoes, chives, sautéed onions, cooked bacon, parsley, cilantro, grated cooked carrots, anything, just don't add a bunch of liquid and if it's something that needs to be cooked, cook it first (like bacon).

Candle light, a soufflé, a warm fire, and an old Christmas movie! How could it get better than that?




Posted by Mack Oates at 12:12 PM