Mack's Corner

This Week -

This week 4-26-16

Work smart, Think Hard!

A few yers ago one of the tram drivers told me I needed to get some speed bumps put in where the trams cross the road, just to slow people down a little bit. I thought that was a pretty good idea except getting the asphalt guys out here for one speed bump is kinda expensive. They charge you for the trip and the asphalt. So I found a plastic molded one online for cheap. It was bright yellow so everyone would see it and I could put it in myself and even move it if I needed to later.. 24 feet of speed bump. You can attach it to the parking lot in either of 2 ways, one way is to drill a hole and screw a lag bolt in to the pavement. I didn't really like this because It was out in the middle of the parking lot where there's no power and I didn't think my drills were big enough. The other way was to drive spikes in to the asphalt. I had seen the guys putting in the bumper curbs by the handicapped signs like this. They just got piece of re-bar and drove it in to the asphalt with a small sledge hammer, how hard could it be? So I bought the spikes. All I needed was a sledge hammer... went to the hardware store and bought the biggest sledge hammer they had, if small worked, then bigger works better, Right? So when the sky cleared I went out to "Install" the speed bump. 2 12foot yellow speed bumps and a box of stuff. I opened the box and there was 2 rolls of rubber sticky tape-like stuff and 12 spikes that were a foot long and 3/8 inch square, with a big head on top..a little bigger than I had planned .. I put the rubber sticky tape on the bottom to stick it to the asphalt and "started" the first spike with my carpenters hammer. I got it about 1/2 inch in and got the big boy, a 10 pound sledge, this would be easy because I was a stud! ... Wham! ..missed the spike, missed everything! ..Wham! missed again, Wham! Hit! Shook me to my toes...I guess railroad workers in the old days were better at driving spikes than I am ..  Maybe time to re-think this.. so I choked up on the handle, like 6 inches from the head and started pounding. After about 60 whacks I had it in there. Then I called 911 to come get me... After the EMT gave me 30 minutes of CPR and 3 tanks of oxygen, I was ready for spike #2.. Go ahead and call the hospital and my next of kin.. 5 min of hammering, 45 minutes of rest.. 5 minutes of hammering, 45 minutes of rest... 5 min hammering ...4 spikes in .. As I laid there in the parking lot I saw a bright light and a voice saying "So this is really hard huh? Come on!.. Work smart. Think Hard".. just kidding, no bright light, no EMT.. but my arms were gone, I couldn't pick up a pencil. I came in to answer some emails and I couldn't click my mouse.. I felt like Popeye ... The problem: I had 8 more to put in.. where's an old railroad guy when you need one? (5 of us finished it that Sunday afternoon .. The 2nd 24foot speed bump = drill holes and screw lag bolts in to the pavement.. too easy! Who Knew? Work smart, Think Hard!)

God's like that: There are a lot of things in life that look easy: raising kids, being married, finding a job, quitting smoking, being on a diet.. after all, they do it on TV all the time .. but it's hard. God knows it hard, God knows that you worry about it.. It's not a small thing to him... The rule is: If it's a big deal to you, It's a big deal to God .. tell him about it. If you screw up, tell him about it, be forgiven and go on... God's got plans for you and he's with you every step..

I think I'll have a spike driving contest after church one Sunday. About 12:45p. The winner gets a free ride to the hospital .. maybe one of you EMT folks will need to bring your truck to church that weekend..  


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

I was still thinking about that Jamie Oliver thing:
Jamie Oliver - Teach every child about food

Every person should know how to cook chicken, it's everywhere and it easy. Either you use an Iron Skillet and pan fry it in olive oil, or start this way and finish in the over (That's why you use an Iron Skillet, you can put it in the oven. No big handle in the way, no plastic to melt.) or do the whole thing in the oven. Here's 4 great, easy recipes. Easy enough for family dinner, good enough for candlelight or company..

Chicken Breasts With Tomatoes and Capers from Pierre Franey The 60 minute Gourmet

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 1/4 pounds)
 Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon, or 2 teaspoons dried tarragon
8 ripe plum tomatoes cut into small cubes (or one 28-ounce can of tomatoes, drained and chopped)
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup drained capers
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil and butter in a heavy-bottom skillet. Add the chicken breasts and saute over medium-high heat, turning the pieces often until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Add tomato paste, and let it cook for a few minutes, till you can smell it and it turns a little darker and sweeter, about 3 minutes. (((any time you use tomato paste add it to the pan first and cook it several minutes to bring out the sweetness, it will turn darker. Otherwise it will taste metalic. Try it: Taste it out of the can, then taste it after you've cooked it for 3 minutes... totally different)))

Add the shallots and garlic around the chicken. Cook briefly; add the tarragon, tomatoes, vinegar, capers, and wine. Stir to dissolve the brown particles adhering to the bottom of the skillet.

Blend well, bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer for 9 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

(((Taste! Taste! Taste! you are going for Hot, sour, salty, sweet balance. Do you have it? Does it need some heat = Tabasco, pepper... Does it need more salt? More sour = Vinegar, More Sweet = Honey.)))


Chicken Breasts With Feta and Figs from Marth Rose Shulman

4 5- to 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
 Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces feta, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
1 ¼ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
½ cup red wine
8 fresh figs, cut in small dice
1 tablespoon honey
 Rosemary sprigs for garnish (optional)

One at a time, place each chicken breast between pieces of plastic wrap or parchment and lightly pound with a mallet until it is 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Chicken breasts should be of uniform thickness.

Place chicken breasts in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss with rosemary, garlic and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Place oven on lowest setting, around 200 degrees.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or grill pan over high heat for 5 minutes. Add remaining olive oil to pan and reduce heat to medium-high. Turn over chicken breasts in marinade to coat them, then add them to the pan, rounded side down. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes on one side, until cooked halfway through.

Turn chicken breasts over and carefully arrange feta on top, dividing it equally among the 4 breasts. Sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves over feta on each breast. Cook 4 to 5 minutes more in the pan, until breasts are cooked through. Feta will warm but will not melt. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet keep warm in the 200 degree oven while you cook the figs.

Add wine to pan and scrape with a wooden spoon to deglaze the bottom. Boil wine until it has reduced by half, then add figs, honey and remaining thyme. Cook, stirring, until figs break down and begin to look jammy, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

(((Taste! Taste! Taste! you are going for Hot, sour, salty, sweet balance. Do you have it? Does it need some heat = Tabasco, pepper... Does it need more salt? More sour = Vinegar, More Sweet = Honey.)))

Serve chicken breasts with fig compote on side and garnish with rosemary sprigs.


Bobby Flay's Chicken With Roquefort

¼ cup clover honey
½ cup aged sherry vinegar
 Kosher salt and ground black pepper
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
¼ cup crumbled Roquefort cheese at room temperature
4 skin-on boneless chicken breasts, 8 ounces each
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Put honey in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until lightly golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add vinegar and cook until reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. This sweet deglazed sauce is called a gastrique. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
(((Taste! Taste! Taste! you are going for Hot, sour, salty, sweet balance. Do you have it? Does it need some heat = Tabasco, pepper... Does it need more salt? More sour = Vinegar, More Sweet = Honey.)))

Mix together the butter and blue cheese in a small bowl until well blended, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Using your fingers, gently loosen the skin from the chicken breasts and stuff about 1 heaping tablespoon of the blue cheese butter under the skin of each breast, smoothing the skin to evenly distribute the butter over the surface of the breast meat. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in large ovenproof sauté pan (Iron skillet) over medium heat until it begins to shimmer. Put chicken in the pan, skin-side down, and cook until fat renders and skin is golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Turn chicken and add four rosemary sprigs to pan. Place in oven and roast until breasts are just cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Remove pan from oven and heat broiler. Spread the remaining butter over the tops of each breast and place under the
broiler until golden brown and blistered.

Remove each breast to a plate, spoon some of the pan drippings over each breast and immediately drizzle with some of the gastrique. Garnish with rosemary.


Fast Tandoori Chicken from Mark Bittman

2 cups yogurt
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground coriander
 Juice of a lime
 Salt and fresh black pepper
1 ½ pounds chicken breasts
 Minced cilantro for garnish

Preheat broiler or grill. Combine yogurt, ginger, garlic, paprika, coriander, half the lime juice and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. If chicken breasts are whole, cut them in half. Dredge chicken in yogurt mixture and marinate 5 to 60 minutes, as time allows.

If you're broiling, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easier cleanup. Put chicken breasts on pan, underside facing up; reserve marinade that does not cling to breasts. Broil 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned. Turn chicken, and spoon remaining marinade over. Broil on smooth side another 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned. Garnish, add remaining lime juice over chicken and serve, spooning the cooked marinade over the meat and, if you're serving it, over rice.

If grilling, cut marinade by half. Cook 3 to 4 minutes a side, until chicken browns and is cooked through, at times brushing with marinade. Garnish, add lime, serve.


Posted by Mack Oates at 10:44 AM