11 January 2007

The RiotACT guide to singleton survival - Episode 3: The Potato

| johnboy
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With many of our younger readers heading off into the world to fend for themselves for the first time we thought this would be a good time to take you through the things you need to know if you’re going to stave off scurvy and impress people you’d like to sleep with, all with a minimum of cost and time spent cleaning.

Today I bring to your attention the humble potato.

Forget that atkins bollocks, as a starving young single trying to maximise your booze budget you need bulk carbs to keep life and limb together. Pasta and rice are also excellent but they come with a heavy cleaning load. Even if you run a rice cooker through the microwave you’ve got the cooker, the lid, and a really manky overflow plate to clean afterwards. Whereas to bake the potato requires but one ingredient, no water, no measuring, and just the one procedure.

You put it in a hot oven (~200 C)

If it’s got dirt on it give it a scrub under a cold tap. Put it in the oven (yes the oven, that funny looking cupboard in kitchen you shouldn’t try and keep books in) before you start doing the rest of your meal.

Take it out (use a glove, tea-towel, or tongs) after ~40 minutes (more is fine, the potato is a forgiving vegetable) and put it on a plate.

[Salad and BBQ’ing are to feature in upcoming episodes]

I recommend slicing it longways, half-way though, then squeezing along that long axis to open it up. Then slip in a wedge of butter and a dash of pepper.

I know this all seems incredibly simple but I swear I went out with a girl who thought she was the business as a cook and I had to do this for her several times before she’d believe it really is this simple.

Remember young singles, the potato is your low-cost, low-maintenance ticket out of starvation. With the money you’ll save you can afford more beer.

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IMHO, pink-skinned spuds are the best ones for baking.

A good cheap protein addition (brain food) is baked beans. If you have a microwave, you can cook the spud in a few mins (pierce skin first with a fork and turn over once), then heat the beans (put into a bowl with a plate for a lid so it doesn’t spatter all over the microwave). Add grated (or chopped up) cheese for extra yum factor.
I recommend planting a coupla flat-leaf parsley plants somewhere out the back (water every day at first with the water you run before it gets hot enough for the washing up), for an endless supply of flavour and garnish! When they go to seed, shake the seed tops over the ground for more plants.
Delia’s Mediterranean Roast Veg: Peel (or not – I don’t) and cut up pumpkin and spud, place in roasting pan with olive oil and unpeeled garlic cloves, turn to coat then strew with fresh herb sprigs (thyme and/or rosemary – scrounge if necessary, they are worth it). Hot oven 200C plus, turning occasionally, till tender and golden. Season with salt and pepper.

You get more mushrooms in a kg than you would meat, if that makes sense.

For cheap as meat, take aforementioned home-brew into the butchers with you.

Barter is alive and well when it comes to alchohol.

At $7.99 a kilo mushrooms aren’t the cheap meat alternative they once were (I can buy goat for $6) and with the drought there aren’t any freebies to be had in the paddocks or remaining pineforests.

Even at my poorest, I preferred to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the meat than substitute it. There isn’t a reasonable and cheap and convincing substitute for dead animal onna plate.

mushrooms! the vegetarian’s meat
full of protein
kidney beans are great too and can be used in a variety of meals

JB Can I request an episode on the myriad of cheap foods one can use as a substitute for meat? I remember once being too poor to even buy mince (which has been a staple for many a student I’ve known), so would consider myself available for consultation if required…

I just scrolled back through the photoes and feel obliged to commend the chef on the sparkly goodness of the oven. I disremember mine ever looking that fine; except for the first time I turned it on.

You’d spend a heap cooking a spud in the oven, on electrical costs.
Better to stick a bunch of them in a saucepan with cold water, a few peeled bits of garlic, and put the lid on.
Simmer until soft, then drain and mash the lot with a bunch of butter (or cream).

After mashing, whip it up with a fork (and more cream if needed, or milk if you are pretending to diet).

Very bloody nice. You can put it with soemthing boring like mince’n’onions and still have a meal for a king.

disposable grinder, but patience grasshopper, we’re getting to spices.

Pepper. Grinder or shaker?

Italian Pork if you must know, from the O’Connor IGA, made at Lyneham.

Heheh Are the bangers moroccon lamb?

The salad component in the photo is certainly über gourmet – it looks to be one of those ‘spensive Mesclun Mixes with added avo, mung beans and tom thumb tomatoes. I also suspect those sangers of being less than 50% sawdust too.

This would never have happened in any group house I lived in!!

Having some spike of metal (skewer, nail, car radio aerial)driven through your potato’s heart can speed up the baking process considerably [thereby increasing pub-time].

While it is theoretically appropriate to wash the spike after use, this was always regarded as an optional extra at my hovel.

Jb’s a good cook. He did my gluten free sausages just perfectly!

sausages salad and a spud ralph, eating cheap doesn’t have to mean eating badly.

VYBerlinaV8_now with_added_grunt10:49 am 04 Jan 07

To make your potatoe mash a bit more interesting, use a mix of regular and sweet potatoe. Costs a bit more, but tastes much better.

The last dish looks a bit gourmet.

You burn up a lot of electricity just to get one potato that way.
I’d cook a rice pudding or a cake at the same time to justify turning the oven on.
– My group house oven tip – put a sheet of alfoil on the bottom of the oven, and on the grill. Cleaning ovens is nasty, and even nastier in student group houses.

The spud looks great – don’t know about the rest of the crap on that plate though 🙂

wash cube boil (water salted to sea water saltiness) mash /w sour cream and butter or 2 raw eggs and butter (with skin on – rustic appeal) season w/ salt and pepper. Good stuff


when will surviving the bourbon frenzy be covered?

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