Mack's Corner

This Week

This week 09-22-15

Am I standing still?

One of the great adventures of working at Hope is changing light bulbs. It seems that every building has a room with light bulbs that are almost impossible to change. The original building, now the youth space, has the lights at the very apex of the roof, about 35 feet high. The first time I changed the bulbs in there I had a one-man, straight up, lift. It was a rental, old, and swayed. I had to extend it as far as it would go and stand on the sides of the basket as it swayed and the basket tilted. I knew I was going to die changing a light bulb….. If you look in the south foyer where the round coffee kiosk is, you'll see that the lights are 40 feet up and to make it more interesting there is all kinds of cross beams and trellis work to get around. Some of those lights take 45 minutes just to get in position to change them. I can't even talk about the chapel, we have to hire a guy with a special ladder that he made himself to change those bulbs, and there are 2 of them that even he can't get to… I was in the sanctuary Saturday changing bulbs down by the sound booth.  We've got a scissor lift that will get to the light fixture easy enough. The weird thing here is that the lights swing. Each row of 3 lights is hung on a bar that is hung from the roof. The distance from the roof to the bar is 10 or 12 feet, so there's a lot of swing. I was fine as long as I didn't touch the light fixture. But as soon as I did and it started to swing, it felt like I was the one moving and not the light. One light started moving so much that I almost lost my balance. I had to let go and look down at the ground just to find something that was not moving. Of course the ground was still, the lift was rock solid and here I was jumping around like I was standing on the top of a flag pole. I was perfectly still and calm as long as I kept my eyes on the on the ground…. The movement was all perceived…

God's like that: We hold on to stuff that's unstable and it feels like we're falling, like we're going to tip over. We lose sight of God. God doesn't move. God doesn't sway. God is the rock. He holds us in his hand. He will never let go, he does not move!

I wonder if I can create a new ride at Disney World, The swinging light fixture ride. All you have to do is change the bulb and not fall off. The ride itseld never moves.


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

Daniel Boulud’s Chicken Tagine

This recipe for an elegant North African stew comes out of the kitchen of Boulud Sud, Daniel Boulud’s sophisticated Mediterranean French restaurant in New York. I know this looks hard, but it's not. Peeling the tomatoes is optional. Really the whole thing is blanching the veg's, browning the chicken, saute the onions and garlic, then mix it all together to finish. These are all things you know how to do. You can do this and you'll love it.

The spice mix makes 11 1/2 tablespoons of mix. Way too much. I hate when thaey do that, then you're left with a jar of mystery spices. So I put out the the side what it should be for just the right amount. It's slightly off, but close enough. All in Teaspoons.  If you're going to make this x5 then the spice mix is right.

3 ½ tablespoons sweet paprika (2 tsp)
1 teaspoon garlic powder (1/4 tsp)
2 teaspoons cinnamon (1/2 tsp)
3 tablespoons ground coriander (1 2/3 tsp)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground turmeric (less than 1 tsp)
1 tablespoon ginger powder (more than1/2 tsp)
½ tablespoon ground cardamom (1/4 tsp)
2 ½ teaspoons ground allspice (1/2 tsp)

8 chicken thighs, approximately 3 pounds
 Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons spice mix
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Roma tomatoes
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
1 large white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 pinch saffron (optional. If you don't have it, don't go buy it, it's not worth it. It will mostly just changes the color)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium
3 tablespoons preserved lemons, approximately 2 lemons, roughly chopped ((Or just some lemon juice))
1 cup green olives, like Castelvetranos (optional .. use your favorite olives)
½ bunch cilantro, leaves picked and stems discarded.

Couscous or rice or pasta or grain for serving

Step 1: Combine the spices in a dry sauté pan set over low heat, and toast them gently until they release their fragrance, 2 minutes or so Watch, Watch, Watch.. Don't leave, this goes fast! (((Don't burn it! If you do, start over.))). Transfer to a bowl, and allow to cool, don't leave it in the pan!!!

Step 2: Preheat oven to 350. Season the chicken thighs with the salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of the spice mix, along with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.

Step 3: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat, and set a large bowl of ice water to the side. Core the tomatoes, and score an X on their bottoms. Boil the cauliflower florets in the water for 3 minutes, then submerge them in the ice water. Boil the tomatoes for 20 seconds, and chill them in the ice water as well. Remove the cauliflower when it is cold, and pat the florets dry. Peel the skin off the tomatoes, then cut them into quarters lengthwise. Trim away the seeds to make petals.

Step 4: Heat the remaining olive oil in a large sauté pan set over medium heat, and sear the chicken in batches, starting skin-side down, until the thighs are browned. Remove the chicken to a large Dutch oven or tagine pot. Remove all but two tablespoons of the fat in pan, then return it to the heat, and brown the cauliflower and add to the chicken.

Step 5: Reduce heat below the pan, and add the onion, garlic, ginger and saffron. Cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and chicken stock, and simmer until reduced by 1/3.

Step 6: Pour sauce over the chicken and cauliflower, cover the pot and transfer to oven for 20 minutes. Remove, stir in the tomatoes, preserved lemon and olives, then cover the pot again and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve the chicken in the pot, garnished with the cilantro leaves, with couscous. Reserve remaining spice mix for the next batch or another use. It keeps well in a sealed container.


Posted by Mack Oates at 1:30 PM