The Perfect Oven Baked Chip

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For some months now I have been working on creating the perfect oven baked potato chip. On Wednesday nights we always have fish and chips. There are a few secret tips which I stumbled upon as a surprise to myself, and now I am going to share them with you. I make potato and sweet potato, when I make chips.

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1. Cut Them Thick

The thicker you cut, the better the chips will stand up to the following steps – and in your baking dish. Above you see the mistake I made with the sweet potatoes, these should have been thicker.

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2. Par-Boiling Is Key.

It is also the step where you can go the most wrong and overcook the potatoes. First, you want to use water that is actually boiling and pour it over your potatoes.

Then you need to set a timer and when it goes off, get those potatoes out of the boiling water stat. For me, I give the white potatoes 12 minutes, and the sweet potatoes 8 minutes. Unless I have my cordless headset on and totally forget what I was doing, which is what happened this week, my bad!

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3. Let The Potatoes Cool Down.

You will get a much better crispy outer shell if you have the time to let the potatoes sit and cool. Preferably not in the container you are going to cook them in, because the steam will create water droplets which are Not Great for crispy. Preferably not in colanders sitting in the pots you just boiled them in, because that will take longer. I put my colanders on Ikea plates on the benchtop to let them cool.

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4. Use A Good Cooking Spray.

You can pick whatever kind you like – me personally I find the Rice Bran Oil spray does not seem to overspray as much as the Extra Virgin Olive Oil but that might be because I have increased in talent and skill at using these things over time. Make sure to spray the bottom of your cooking dish.

If you don’t have spray you can do this the old way – coat the bottom of the cooking dish in your choice of oil, then make sure every surface of the chip gets coated in the oil. Because these are chips, that can be a time consuming process. It is worth investing in a good cooking spray. Mine tend to last a couple of months.

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5. Add Your Spices!

We like plenty of cracked black pepper. Rosemary is great, parsley and paprika are our favourites. I do not put salt on ours before cooking these days because The Other Half is watching his sodium intake. I do put salt on mine once they are cooked.

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6. Cook in the oven.

I always cook mine at 200C (392F). I cook them for 60 minutes. I do not mess with them – no flipping the chips, no touching at all. Yes, that seems like a long time to cook them but we like ours crispy. I have taken them out at 40 minutes before and they have been fine. You can probably get away with 30 minutes, especially if you used a metal cooking tray instead of ceramic or glass. I would suggest you take one out at 30 minutes and try it to see if it is cooked how you like it.

60 minutes works best for me because they get 20 minutes on their own, then I put the fish in for 20 minutes on one side, and 20 minutes on the other. The end result is a perfect level of crispiness for us.

On this occasion, because I had smaller sweet potatoes than usual and cut some of those chips too thin, they got a bit too crispy. But guess what? Next Wednesday night, I get to try again, and I will make them thicker..

That is what I love most about cooking – if you get it wrong this time, you can learn from it and make it better next time.

UPDATE – And they did turn out better next week –

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The Secret Car

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While we were on our big adventure trip back in October/November, a thing happened with The Other Half’s car. The airconditioning stopped working. Of course, it was 38-40 degrees C at the time (almost 100F).

We had been talking about what to do with his car for over a year. It was reaching odometer readings that mean you need to do some work on it.

I still loved his car. He was not so much in love anymore. When he told me that – and he told me he often preferred driving MY Volkswagen Polo instead I said well I think it is time we figure out our finances and start looking at other options.

So one Saturday morning we dropped by our local VW dealer and had a chat. The Other Half was unsure about the new auto gearboxes and whether or not he wanted to stick with a manual car, so the awesome bloke gave us a Golf with the same gearbox we would have in a new Polo and we went for a drive.

About an hour later we’d put in an order for our new car. And about a week later it arrived. This car, you guys. This car is AMAZING. It can do things I would never have imagined, and things I actually cannot quite describe. For example –

– When you stop the car at the traffic lights, it automatically turns the engine off. Once you lift your foot off the brake, it turns it back on again.

– It can follow other cars. No, not like a private detective. It will match the speed and brake when that car brakes, so you can drive through city traffic without having to touch a pedal at all – accelerator OR brake..

There are so many awesome features I cannot even begin to type them all out.

I’ve been keeping it a secret from you for nearly two months now, and I am sorry about that. You are not the only ones. My parents found out when they discovered it parked in our driveway as a surprise, about a week after we first got it.

Ford XR5 Turbo, new car

Lethal Weapon TV Series

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Clayne Crawford and Damon Wayans star in Lethal Weapon

Starting Sunday 8pm on Nine is this wonderful new series which The Other Half and I have watched 10 episodes of, together.

Before I say anything about the show, I want you to understand how rare it is that we both LIKE a tv show because our tastes in television are so wildly different.

Out of all the shows we have watched together, there are maybe two that we both genuinely liked and enjoyed – Seinfeld because we watched all the episodes together and in order – and it must be noted, when you do that, Seinfeld becomes an entirely different show from Channel 10 just airing the same 20 episodes over and over – and The X Files.

Sure, he watched Breaking Bad with me because I asked him to, he liked it but he probably did not enjoy it the same way as I did. He does not love “real life drama” which is why The X Files kinda worked for us – that and the fact that we both loved Mulder and Scully.

I watched Rectify – a show I have talked about here on the blog before – and among all the fantastic performances by the cast, there was a standout performance by Clayne Crawford as Teddy, a very flawed man indeed. I hated Teddy at first. HATED him. Like I wanted to murder him myself. But somehow Clayne took this flawed character and forced me to love him. By the end of the series Teddy had become my second favourite character on the show.

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So when I heard that Clayne Crawford was playing Martin Riggs – one of the two lead characters on Lethal Weapon – I knew this was a show I had to watch purely because I had become such a fan of the work of Clayne on Rectify. I knew nothing about Lethal Weapon. I do not recall ever seeing the movies, and I still have not seen them. So I went into this show knowing nothing and expecting nothing.

The show did meet with rather mixed reviews in the USA. One reviewer wrote a love letter to the hair of Clayne Crawford. I completely agree, the hair is a sight to behold. Another reviewer spoke of how unlikely and unlike real life the situations were.

My feeling is, most of this show is meant to be fun. It is NOT meant to reflect real life in any way. Absolutely some of the situations are incredibly unrealistic but this is a tv show, not a documentary. The actors are clearly having a great time which is something I enjoy watching.

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So, if you can put your expectations aside and just sit back and watch and see if you enjoy it, this show might be one of your favourites this year. The show has been renewed for season two, so you can feel free to get a little attached to the characters. They will be around for a while.

My apologies for any delays 9 will create – NOBODY knows what time 8pm actually is in their world. It is a great mystery.

Men I Love To Watch, television shows

Edward Parry Motel, Tamworth.

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I was pleasantly surprised to receive an SMS confirmation from the motel about 2:30pm as we were driving from the Gold Coast to Tamworth. What a genius idea, to check in with your guests via SMS. I have noticed in Australia we are way ahead of the rest of the world with things like SMS appointment confirmation and SMS reminders. The SMS mentioned what time reception closed and to call if we would arrive after that time. I replied with our GPS ETA and received a reply wishing us safe travels. It was a lovely welcome before we even arrived.

I knew from the previous reviews to expect excellence and the team at Edward Parry did not disappoint. The owner was welcoming and helpful. The room was spotlessly clean though on first glance I did not realise just how clean it was.

That surprise awaited me when we returned back to the motel after dinner and I took my bare feet into the bathroom – after 6 nights of dirty tiles on the Gold Coast, the perfectly clean floors in the bathroom here made me incredibly happy. The cleaning staff here clearly know what they are doing and they are very good at doing it. The carpets were also spotlessly clean, as was every surface in the room.

There was another surprise of a small pool which I had not seen mentioned in the reviews. It looked gorgeous and I wish we’d had enough time to be able to experience it.

After an excellent dinner at the Longyard, we returned back to those great beds. There were 3 of us travelling together and this was the first time we shared a room on the trip, which meant for a slightly less good sleep than usual. That was not at all the fault of the beds, just due to people unused to sharing a room together. The beds were great and the pillows very comfortable.

The one tiny negative moment was the green soaps leave a rather scary looking splodge in the sink when dropped. Someone else managed to drop the soap in the sink before me and I saw this green substance and wondered if someone in our group was getting a cold. I carefully removed the substance with a tissue and then proceeded to wash my hands, and then I managed to drop the soap myself and make an identical stain in the sink. This was good news re nobody getting a cold! But I wonder if perhaps a different colour soap might be a better choice for the future?

The morning shower was great, perfect water pressure for me, and again everything was so clean. You do not realise how much that matters until you experience unclean, which we unfortunately just had experienced at our previous accommodation.

We were not here for long enough, is all I can say. We would have loved to spend more time in Tamworth – we had family who lived there for several years and visited the town many times. However we had to keep going and this was just a short overnight stop. Next time, we will return for a longer stay and a swim in that inviting pool!

Snoskred Travels 2016

Potato Bake

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This is a recipe I have been making for 20 years. It is NOT an every day recipe. This is something you can have on a special occasion. However if you happen to be my other half I will make a big batch of this for your weekday lunches, maybe once a month or so. He will get baked chicken with it. I think the other half would tell you that this is by far his favourite of all my dishes that I cook.

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You could easily swap out much of the cream for milk if you wanted. You could also steam and then whizz up some cauliflower and put it in with the milk/cream mix to make it stretch further and to add hidden veg. In fact if you were trying to healthy this up and make it a more regular menu planning option, you could probably replace much of the cream and milk with a chicken stock and veg mixture.

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Again like a lot of my recipes, I do not have specific amounts for you to use here. I used all of the lite cooking cream and maybe a cup of milk as this time I was making a huge batch for weekly lunches. This particular potato bake served us for dinner that night, 5 lunches, plus one extra leftover lunch. Into the cream/milk mix for every 1 cup of liquid you add 1 teaspoon mustard powder, i teaspoon chicken stock, and as much parsley and black pepper as you like. You can of course herb as you wish. Turmeric, Rosemary and Dill might be great in here too.

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On the bottom of your cooking dish put in a layer of the cream/milk mix, some bacon, and some leek. Then you will need potato slices to layer on top. The amount you need depends on how much of this you are making. You can also use sweet potato (yams) which I always do. You will need some bacon and leek. I used 6 rashers of short cut bacon and 1 leek chopped up and cooked.

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On top of each layer you add some more milk mix, bacon, leek, then layer again.

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I like to do a potato layer, then a sweet potato layer, then potato, then sweet potato. I keep going until I have layered all the potato.

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When you get to the top, add on some cheese. If your baking dish does not have a lid, I do recommend putting alfoil on top for most of the time you cook it in the oven. How long should you cook it for? I am of the opinion that you make this about lunchtime then put it on at 160C for at least two hours. The longer it cooks the longer all the flavours meld together.

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Before you serve it you will want to put a knife through and make sure the potato is cooked – you might find the outside area has cooked but the middle still needs more time. If that is the case, back into the oven with the whole thing. You might want to make this a few times and figure out how long your quantities take to cook. ;)

This dish is one I take whenever someone asks me to bring a side. Everyone loves it. I do a similar dish with chicken instead of potato, but that is a recipe for another day. :)

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Warning!

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I wonder if these messages are written strictly for us non-medical citizens, or whether medical staff actually read this kind of thing before irrigating a brain.

We are taking a Cat Break this week, but never fear, those kitties are posing up a storm for future Fridays!

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Gold Coast To Tamworth

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Having spent much of the previous evening packing, organising and cleaning, and once again waking at the crack of dawn, we were on the road by 7am. This actually broke part of my plan. I had wanted to stop at the Thursday Plantation near Ballina on our way down the coast, but it was Sunday and they did not open early enough for us to visit. We had 635km to drive today so we were glad to be on the road early.

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We did not stop until we got to Grafton around 10:30am. We went to the information centre just for a quick bathroom break. This turned out to be a great choice because there was an artist there painting Jacaranda trees onto magnets and they were selling them as well, so Sephyroth grabbed one of those to take back to the US with him.

We planned to have lunch in Coffs Harbour. I had a few great local options but in the end we decided on Mcdonalds. Sephyroth wanted to try the create your taste menu and I had not ever made one of these myself in the several years they have been doing this.

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When we arrived we all went to separate screens to order our orders. Somehow mine – with loaded fries and no drink at all – ended up at nearly $17AUD. I forgot to take a photo of my burger – the one you are seeing belongs to Sephyroth. I’ll be honest – after eating Grill’d twice in the past week this burger was very average and I would not create my own burger a second time. I’d much rather have a Quarter Pounder with cheese, or a Big Mac.

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Our next stop was the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre. We did the free skywalk and part of the walk down into the forest as well.

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Dorrigo was gorgeous and we spent about an hour here but it could easily have been a day trip by itself.

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After leaving Dorrigo we got stuck behind a Blue Holden Cruze whose speed was all over the place and they were often driving partly on the wrong side of the road. I can’t remember exactly but it was one of two things – either there was nowhere to overtake legally for over an hour though vehicles behind us did get impatient and overtake illegally – OR anytime we would get to a place where you could overtake, they would suddenly find the accelerator as a surprise to themselves. I believe it was the first one.

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We passengers did not mind so much because the scenery was beautiful, but I know The Other Half was getting annoyed with the inconsistent speeds. Finally at 3:31pm we managed to get past them, at long last.

I’m going to do a separate post for our Tamworth Motel, next week. Spoiler alert – the floors were SO CLEAN! After 6 nights of unclean floors it was sheer bliss.

Snoskred Travels 2016