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Home fries

Home fries by ted_major
Home fries, a photo by ted_major on Flickr.

Until recently, I’ve never really been able to make great home fires. I mean, they were okay–you can’t really go too far wrong with fried potatoes as long as you’re somewhere between under-cooked and burned. Thanks to this technique from Cook’s Illustrated by way of Smitten Kitchen, I have accomplished sublime home fries. (Unlike Smitten Kitchen, I think mine come out better in cast iron than nonstick; YMMV) The keys are to pre-cook the potatoes and cook the onions separately.


  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 Yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Put the potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl with 1 Tbs butter and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave about 5 minutes, shaking halfway through. Beware the steam build-up under the plastic wrap.

Meanwhile, sauté the onions in 1 Tbs butter over medium heat. When they’re soft and just starting to brown, turn them out of the pan into a bowl. Add another 1 Tbs of butter to the pan and cook the potatoes over medium heat until browned, stirring occasionally. Add the onions, salt, pepper, and optional smoked paprika.

Delicious with poached eggs.

Poached eggs

Poached eggs by ted_major
Poached eggs, a photo by ted_major on Flickr.

Techincally, they’re not really poached because they don’t come into contact with the cooking liquid. However, there’s no vinegar taste from the liquid and they keep a nice shape. (The pan also doesn’t need washing.)

  • Eggs
  • melted butter

Bring a pan of water to a simmer.

For each egg, you’ll need a square of plastic wrap and a piece of kitchen twine. Butter the plastic wrap and lay it into a ramekin or coffee cup. Crack an egg into the plastic wrap and then twist it shut and tie off with the twine. I like to leave just a little air space so that it floats–without the airspace, it can sinke and the bottom of the pan can melt the plastic wrap.

Put the wrapped eggs in to simmering water and leave them for about 6 minutes (less if you like a runnier yolk, longer if you like it firmer). Pull them out, cut the string, and turn out onto the plate.

Pumpkin biscuits

Pumpkin biscuits by ted_major
Pumpkin biscuits, a photo by ted_major on Flickr.

I was going to make a batch of sweet potato biscuits this morning, but the can of sweet potato I had expired last July (and it truly was expired–yuck). I decided to sub pumpkin instead and they turned out very well–even my kid munched on them.

    • 1.5 cups flour
    • 2 Tbs sugar
    • 1.5 tsp baking powder
    • .5 tsp salt
    • .5 tsp pumpkin pie spice
    • 1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
    • 4 Tbs butter (1/2 stick), softened (30 seconds in the microwave at 40% power does it for me)

Preheat oven to 425F (use convection if you have it.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix pumpkin puree and softened butter and add to dry ingredients. Stir to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured counter and knead a few times, then pat out into a rectangle 3/8″ thick. Cut into 12 squares. Cut into rounds if you prefer, or pat into 2 rounds and cut into 12 wedges like scones if you prefer, but cutting into squares is quick & easy and avoids re-kneading and re-rolling the dough.

Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Homemade energy gel, rev 1.0


  • 100 mL brown rice syrup
  • 50 mL raw honey
  • 50 mL molasses
  • 50 mL strong coffee
  • 1.25 mL sea salt
  • 5 mL vanilla extract

Update: How is it?

First, as to taste, I think it’s pretty good. However, it has a pretty strong molasses flavor. I like molasses. If you don’t like molasses, you’ll probably hate it. It might also be good with a bit of ginger & cinnamon (i.e., gingerbread).

Second, as to how it works, it seemed to help. I’ve never used Gu or other energy gel before, so I have no baseline comparison (and the placebo effect may have been in full force). However, I set out to do 12 miles and felt good enough to do 15.4 (my longest run to date). I will definitely be mixing up a batch for the Tashka 25k.

Sweet potato-sausage soup

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by ted_major
Based loosely on a recipe from Bon Appetit, modified to accomodate the awesome kale and sweet potatoes we have this week from Snow’s Bend and our oh so tasty(and  somewhat local) Conecuh sausage:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb smoked sausage (we used Conecuh spicy hickory–use what ever tasty sausage you have available), sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped (include some of the leaves for extra celery goodness)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups sweet potatoes peeled & diced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 large bunch kale, stemmed, torn & washed

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage; cook until brown. Remove sausage to paper towels to drain. Add onions to pot and saute briefly; add celery and cook until translucent. Add sweet potatoes and cook until they begin to soften, stirring often. Add broth; bring to boil, scraping bottom of the pot. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Mash sweet potatoes with a potato masher. Add browned sausage to soup. Stir in kale and simmer about 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Flank steak with ginger-lime salad

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by ted_major
We adapted this one from an appetizer recipe in the October Bon Appetit to make it into a main course.

  • flank steak, 1 to 1.5 lbs
  • kosher salt
  • 1 English cucumber, cut lengthwise, seeded & sliced thinly
  • 2 limes, juiced (divided)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled & finely grated (a Microplane classic zester works beautifully), divided
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • Romaine lettuce, washed & torn into bite-sized pieces
  • Asian sweet chili sauce

Score both sides of the flank steak by making shallow cuts about an inch apart in a diamond pattern. Sprinkle both sides with kosher salt, to taste. Set aside to let the steak absorb the salt. Next prepare the cucumber and put it into a bowl with the juice of 1 lime and 1 tsp of the ginger, plus kosher salt, to taste.

Make dressing for the salad by combining the juice of the other lime, the remaining tsp of ginger, freshly-ground white pepper to taste, and the olive oil. The ginger seems to act as an emulsifier to make a smooth vinaigrette. (Is it a vinaigrette if it doesn’t have any vinegar?)

Cook the flank steak using your method of choice to medium rare. We pan-seared it last night (it was raining), but next time we’ll use the grill, weather permitting.

When the steak is done, let it rest for 5 or 10 minutes under a tent of foil. Cut into thin slices against the grain. While the steak rests, wash and tear the lettuce and toss with the vinaigrette (you won’t need all the dressing).

Plate it up by layering lettuce, cucumbers, and steak. Drizzle with sweet chili sauce.

Hot Sauce

A small batch of hot sauce to use a few hot peppers from our CSA:

  • 2 hot peppers (I used 2 jalapeño & 2 habañero)
  • 2 baby carrots
  • 1 clove garlic
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Puree all ingredients together. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Shrimp with garlic, chipotle & smoked paprika

We cooked up some more of that lovely shrimp from Greene Prairie Shrimp tonight. Tonight we did a quick saute with butter & garlic, and since we served it with a tomato-avocado salad, I added some ground chipotle and smoked paprika. Yum!

  • 1 3/4 lbs shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp ground chipotle
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt, to taste

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the foam subsides, add garlic, chipotle, and paprika and saute briefly until garlic starts to color. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp turns pink, about a minute.

Grilled garlic-lime shrimp

The lime and garlic in the recipe are fairly subtle, so the quality of the shrimp you use is critical. We’ve been getting some really fabulous shrimp at our farmer’s market from Greene Pairie Shrimp, who raise shrimp in ponds fed by salt-water aquifers.

  • 1 to 2 lbs shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1 lime, zested
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • olive oil

Toss shrimp with lime zest, garlic, salt & enough olive oil to thoroughly coat the shrimp. Marinate for about half an hour. Meanwhile, preheat the grill. Use a gas grill if you wish, but they’ll be better cooked over hardwood lump charcoal. Thread shrimp onto skewers and grill. They’ll cook quickly, so don’t overdo it. Flip the skewers as soon as the shrimp turn opaque at the edges (they’ll be pink on the underside). Turn and cook until the other side is pink–about a minute for each side. Squeeze the lime over the cooked shrimp and serve immediately.

Tomato salad with anchovy vinaigrette

We adapted this recipe from the cover recipe from the August 2012 Food & Wine. Wow, was it good! The anchovies were surprisingly subtle–if I hadn’t known they were there, I’m not sure I could have picked them out, so don’t let them scare you off. We served it with garlic shrimp and a loaf of fresh bread, and it was a garlic party at the Major household tonight. (Note to self: if you make this combo again, zest the lime for the salad and then juice it for the shrimp, so you can use one lime instead of two).

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 anchovies, mashed with a fork
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • zest of one lime (or lemon)
  • 2 Tbs sherry vinegar
  • 1.5 lbs tomatoes, cut up however you like
  • kosher salt

In a small skillet, combine oil, anchovies, garlic, and zest. Heat over medium heat until it just starts to bubble around the edges and then remove from heat. Place the tomatoes in a salad bowl and sprinkle with salt. Stir the vinegar into the oil/anchovy/garlic/zest mixture. Pour over the tomatoes and serve.