Help me find a cure for Crohn’s

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Hi everyone,

This is not the normal post for this blog. In fact, I have copied and pasted this post onto all three of my blogs in order to get the word out. I am only doing this once. No worries, the start of The 13th Samurai is on the way, as are new recipes and restaurant reviews for the food blogs.

So what am I asking?

The teenaged daughter of a co-worker has been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I won’t scare you with all the details, but suffice to say this was not in her college prep plan. I guess there’s never a good time, is there?

Several of us at work have come together and formed a team to raise money on this girl’s behalf. We will be walking several miles at a fundraiser in late September. Please consider using this link and donating a few dollars. A cure is coming; we want our dollars to help find it sooner rather than later.

Thank you.

D.J.

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2014 – the year in review

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TARDIS Mk VII

TARDIS Mk VII (Photo credit: Rooners Toy Photography)

(Sans a TARDIS, I have mentally jumped ahead one year to see what has happened to this blog. Kind of like making your New Year’s Resolution after the fact. Hmmm. This may merit further investigation.)

Well, 2014 was a heck of a lot better than 2013. And 2013 wasn’t too bad. This past year, the culinary-themed mystery novel (The Apple Pie Alibi) was completed, as was the sequel (Burger Bytes and Jail Breaks.)  And the newest cookbook is almost on the shelf (“Time to Pray – The Pastor’s Husband is Cooking Again”.)

It took some doing, but there was a new blog post every week. And the blogger himself actually interacted with other bloggers and food professionals, moving beyond the nice interview in the Dallas Morning News in late 2013. Exploding Potatoes has, in 2014, put more social in the social media construct.

And we had healthier recipes, smaller carbon footprints, less to no genetically modified anythings and greater emphasis on locally sourced, renewable fare. And wine. More wine.

Thanks for reading these past few years. WordPress tells me Exploding Potatoes has been read by people in over 90 countries. That tells me we all like to eat. And there’s nothing wrong with talking about that.

I can’t wait until 2015!

Grilled Sweet Potato Steak-Fries

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Grilled Sweet Potato Steak FriesFact 1: Like most of you, we have but one oven in our kitchen. Whoever decided Thanksgiving needed to be a massive feast of turkey, ham and a plethora of side dishes and desserts (all of which require the use of an oven) surely ignored Fact 1.

Fact 2: At Thanksgiving (one of the top 3 holidays food-wise here in the US) everyone wants to help cook something. My wife wanted to make her famous cranberry apple crunch dessert, my mother in law needed to saute aromatics to add to her slow cooker stuffing recipe. Okay, that one didn’t need the oven, but it involved the stove top, practically the same thing. Then my daughter was making pumpkin pie -that one definitely used the oven. Thank goodness my son and his girlfriend were cooking the turkey at their place, otherwise we’d be doomed (refer back to fact 1.)

But wait – what about the sweet potatoes? A true staple of the late November holiday; it must be done. And I’m the only one left standing without a whisk or spatula.

Fact 3: Look outside. The barbecue grill is sitting there, beckoning you to fire it up and cook those darn sweet potatoes. Never mind the cold weather; that’s what coats, hats and gloves are for, right?

This recipe, taken from my upcoming cozy culinary mystery The Apple Pie Alibi (shameless plug)  was easy to make, tasted great and had little to clean up afterward. Look at the ladies inside and tell me you don’t appreciate that last one! Anyhow, try this sometime -and don’t wait until next Thanksgiving.

What you need to start:

9×12 glass baking dish or something of comparable size to serve the potatoes once they are done.

4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges. I also cut the wedges in half (personal preference)

1/4 cup olive oil

1 gallon zip lock bag

2 Tablespoons cinnamon

2 Tablespoons salt

1 Tablespoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon black pepper

Aluminium Foil

Outdoor grill

What to do:

Place the potato wedge halves in the baking dish. Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the potatoes and, using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix together coating the entirety of the spuds.

Wash your hands. (Isn’t it fun to play with the food? I knew you didn’t use the wooden spoon! I didn’t, either.)

With dry hands, put all of the spices into the gallon zip lock bag. Close the bag tightly (well, yeah) and shake well.

Open the bag back up and put a good handful of the potato wedges inside. Close the bag back up and shake. Take the now-coated potato wedges and place in the baking dish. Repeat this operation until all of the potato wedges are seasoned. If your bag runs truly dry of spices, make a new batch. However, these amounts will last a while, even if the bag looks like it is empty. Judge by the potatoes coming out – not by the bag’s appearance.

Take your dish of seasoned potatoes outside to the grill. My grill is a gas-fueled version so I could just turn a knob and fire it up. If you are a traditionalist, I hope you have lit the charcoal well in advance. Maybe I should have mentioned this earlier, but I have to give you credit for grillmanship basics.

Place several sheets of aluminum foil over the grill grate to prevent the spuds from over-searing from direct contact with the flames. Now lay out the potato wedges on top of the foil, in a single layer. With the grill now fired up, close the lid and go back inside to witness the cacophony and help when possible. You can do it.

Ten minutes later, go back outside and using a spatula or tongs, flip the spuds over once. Close the lid and go back inside for a drink of wassail or something.

Take a paper towel and wipe out your baking dish. This will take most of the extraneous oil away, leaving you with a greased pan, perfect to serve the potatoes once they are finished baking. The treated surface of the baking dish will be just slick enough to keep the spuds from sticking to the pan.

By now (about ten minutes after the potato flip) it should be time to go back outside one more time and retrieve the now baked potato wedges. Place them in the baking dish and bring to the table. With luck there’s still room.

These potatoes are savory, with the sweetness coming mostly from the potato itself. No marshmallows required.

Happy Thanksgiving to all and thanks so much for keeping Exploding Potatoes in your bookmarks. And stay tuned for news about the first in a series of culinary mysteries, The Apple Pie Alibi. (Gotta end with another shameless plug, right?)

DJ sends.