Mack's Corner

This Week

THE Watermelon

When I was growing up the 4th of July meant one thing, Watermelon… My mom had told us so many bad stories about fireworks that we thought anybody who had ever touched a firecracker was missing a body part, so even when other kids had them, we mostly stayed away. In our house buying a watermelon was an event. It had to be planned for. It had to be scouted. It had to be timed… It was also a commitment. We had to clear a whole shelf in the refrigerator for a week and eat the whole thing in a day. There was no such thing as buying one of those little plastic containers of cut up watermelon, you had to buy the whole thing, and it only happened one time a year.  We never bought a watermelon at the grocery store, my Mom always said there was no telling where that had been. Most of those watermelons came from South America or someplace, besides there are rules about stuff like this. The trick to getting a good watermelon is not all that thumping stuff, or if the lines on it are dark green, or if the underside is real white or still greenish. The trick is who you buy it from. You have to buy it from an old man off the back of an old pickup truck, the older the man and the older the pickup the better. It can't be one of those big open-back trucks, it has to be a pickup. That way you know he was growing it for his family and he's just got too many. My Mom would start looking for this man in June. She would come home and say "I think I've found where we're going to buy THE watermelon!". Then several days before the 4th we would go buy it. Buying a watermelon is like buying a used car. But you don't really have to haggle over the price, you haggle over the melon. You never pick it out yourself, you let the guy with a PH.D in watermelon pick it out. If the man gives you one and smiles, that's the wrong one. He needs to give it to you like he's giving up an old friend. After you assure him that it will have a good home and family, then you can buy some tomatoes too, he'll give you the good ones if he feels he can trust you.  Having a watermelon in the fridge for a week is a hard temptation. You see it every day, you think about when you go to bed, its there first thing you see in the morning… still you have to wait. By the morning of the 4th that watermelon has reached epic, almost holy status. First thing,  everybody has to put on their swimming suit and go out in the back yard, you can't bring watermelon in to the house and you can't come in yourself until after you've been hosed off. My Dad would cover a table with newspaper and get this big knife that really was only used to cut watermelon. Everybody would huddle around the table to see the inside, to see if it was really a good one. He always split it long-ways in half and then again.  Crrrrrack… there it was .. Bright red, juice coming out on the newspaper, ice cold, hot summer day, running through the sprinkler, swimming suit on, not a care in the world, spitting seeds at my brother, juice running down my chest…. How could life be better than that?

God's like that: As complicated as life gets, God is pretty simple. Love God with all your heart and all your soul and all you mind and all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself…  That's it!

Go find an old man with an old truck and buy a watermelon today. The 4th is past, but it's not too late..


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

Onions … Vidalia's are at the grocery store right now!!

Michel Richard is one of the most creative chefs I've ever seen, maybe even weird. His restaurant is Citronelle in Washington D.C…

Here's his recipe for "Low Carb-o-nara" (((Get it? No pasta, just onions)))

4 oz sliced applewood smoked bacon

3 large onions (about 12 oz each)

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 large egg yolk

2 tbsp butter

Salt & pepper

2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese + extra for garnish

The onions in this are supposed to look like noodles ..

Put the bacon in the freezer, it's easier to slice when it's frozen ..

For the onions: cut the top off and peel, leaving the root intact. Put the flat side of the onion (the top side you just cut off) down on the cutting board. With the tip of your knife at the center of the onion (where the root is) make one downward slice…cutting a gash in the side which will cut all of the rings of the onion. Now turn it sideways and starting from the flat side cut 1/8 inch slices… separate the slices and you will have long strands of onions, use the long ones and put any short strands aside for something else…. You should have about 8 cups of loosely packed onions..

Put the onions in a steamer basket and place it over a pot of simmering water, cover and steam for 5 -6 minutes (if you don't have a steamer basket, anything will work, a big strainer, anything with holes in it or a big bowl in the bottom of the pot covered).. Steam until the onions are translucent, but still have a little crunch ..

Cut the bacon in to 1/8 inch crosswise slices.. sauté the bacon in a large skillet over med heat until crisp, about 5 min. transfer to paper towels, pour out fat and wipe out the pan…

In a small bowl mix ¼ cup of cream and the egg yolk..

Return the skillet to the burner..add the butter, let it melt, then the bacon, then the remaining ¼ cup of cream and simmer for 30 seconds. Then add the onions and 1/2 tsp of salt & pepper and toss and cook for 2 -3 min or until the onions are hot. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream/egg mixture and the Parmesan cheese… Taste and re-season.

To Serve: with a pair of tongs or a big fork, lift out each portion, letting excess sauce drip back in to the pan, and arrange a small mound on the plate. Sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese….. Be sure you have plenty of bread so you can sop up the left over sauce while you're standing over the stove  ..



Posted by Mack Oates at 9:12 AM