Oven baked “Jo Jo” potatoes, or my love letter to gas station grub.

November 3rd 2013

I gotta say I ate some gas station food in my day…..one thing in particular was the fav.  Tater logs, basically a chicken fried potato, sometimes called “Jo jo’s”.  I remember my mom piling us into whatever 70’s station wagon we had at the time, without seatbelts (yikes), to get lemonade and 8 for $1 tater logs at “Stimpson’s” usually before we would drive up 28th street in Ogden, UT to see my grandparents and watch some “programs”.  My mom would go to this particular gas station because the fry cook there (my mom called him the “Chef” of course, as she is a lifer in the industry and felt he deserved the respect), I remember the times when we would actually go inside and talk to him directly!  Feeling so star struck, there he was rather chubby with a grimy white apron, a broad Cheshire cat smile and happy eyes. Visiting him was like visiting “gas station Santa” for me….when my sister Georgia got her driver’s license I remember many a night picking up food from the window and getting some sour “C” (probably not an ounce of dairy in the stuff) to go with them at 10 cents a cup, not sure why it was called sour “c” and honestly I don’t really wanna know!  Haha!  Stimpson’s has been closed for many years now, and I still to this day haven’t had tater logs that are quite as good as his, so today’s post is for a dose of nostalgia, I don’t advocate eating gas station food, as most of it is terrible for you and prefab…..but I do want you to think about the exceptional in the mundane, you have to cook with love, you can make something exceptional from the entirely plain if you do it with love and passion, Harriet Van Horne said “Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”  I don’t care how great or expensive your ingredients are if you find cooking a chore your dish won’t be good, the energy that you put into something is consumed by those who eat it.  That fry cook (Chef) loved what he did and that is why I will never forget his potato logs, nothing fancy for sure, but an example of being exceptional, where it is least expected, here is my ode to him, not fried, so slightly healthier, made with love and isn’t that really the point?  So here is my healthier, oven baked version…..eat the sour “c” at your own risk!
This makes a bunch….or in my house 4 servings:

  • 2 lbs. of russet potatoes cut into quarters, I used some small and odd shaped one that I got in my 5lb bag from WA.

  • ¼ cup flour (I used whole wheat “white”)

  • ¼ cup cornstarch (use all cornstarch if you want gluten free jo jo’s)

  • 1 tbsp. paprika

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 1 tsp. pepper

  • 1 tsp. garlic powder

  • 1 tbsp. parsley

  • 3 tbsp. Oil, I used camelina

  • Pinch cayenne pepper

Pre heat your oven to 375, in a large bowl toss your potatoes with the oil.  Combine dry ingredients and pour into potatoes, toss well making sure all potatoes are coated.  Place potatoes on baking sheet rubbed with oil or sprayed with cooking spray and bake 40 – 45 minutes, turning half way through.  Serve with dip of choice or au natural!  These are great for pot lucks, BBQ’s, or just dinner on a week night.  Also really fun to get kids involved in this recipe!  I topped mine with a little fresh dill that I had…mainly for food styling purposes, but if you have it, use it, but totally optional!