Five Alternatives for Jacket Potatoes
Enjoy a humorous homage to the humble potato with imaginative alternative uses including: weapons, batteries and a child’s toy.
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Ever since Sir Walter Rayleigh introduced the humble spud to the British Isles in the 1600’s we’ve been all over them like ketchup on chips. From boiling to roasting, frying to mashing, there’s not much that we won’t do to this, the most versatile of vegetables. For this particular article our attention will be focused upon the king of all cooking methods, baking.
It’s widely understood that the most bakeable varieties are: Maris Pipers, Desiree and King Edwards, although the correct way to cook them is often a hotly disputed subject. In my opinion the best and most efficient way to cook a jacket spud is to give it a good wash, prick the skin with a fork and microwave for 10mins prior to chucking it into a preheated oven for another 40mins. As mentioned, everyone has their own idea as to what makes the greatest baked potato and from covering in oil or margarine to wrapping in foil or rolling in salt, at the end of the day it’s down to personal preference.
So, as the cooking part is too hot to handle I’ve turned my attention to a few cheeky alternatives and below you’ll find my top five uses for potatoes.
If you’ve ever been hit in the head by a well-flung potato then you’ll know that it hurts. Imagine if you were able to use a sling shot or catapult to propel a spud at great speed – the results, in the wrong hands, could be devastating. Now, I’m not advocating the use of a potato as a mode of aggression, far from it, however, if you’ve got a spud in your pocket you’ve also got a pretty handy tool for your own protection. Top tip: take a few potatoes into the woods and practise throwing them against bottles or cans laid out on a fallen log. The more you practise the more your confidence and dexterity will improve.
Did you know that potatoes can convert spuddy chemicals into enough electricity to power a digital time piece? All you need to make this happen are a couple of large spuds, some wire made from copper, two galvanised nails, three crocodile clips connected to each other by wire and a small clock that uses a one or two volt battery. Put a nail into each spud, push the copper wiring into each spud away from the nail, crocodile clip the wire of one potato to the clock’s positive area, crocodile clip the nail in the other spud to the clock’s negative area. Now, use your final croc clip to connect the nail in spud one to the wire in spud two. Hey presto – we have lift off!
A hand warmer
The 5th of November is not just a date for letting off fireworks and celebrating anarchy, it’s also a time when jacket potatoes really come into their own. Wrapped in foil and placed around the base of a fire is the traditional way to cook spuds in the winter months and thanks to the potato’s heat conducting properties you can slip them into your pocket or hold them in gloved hands as an inventive way to keep warm. Insulated spuds will keep their heat for at least a couple of hours and after they’ve kept you warm on the outside you get to eat them and keep warm on the inside too. What could be a better food to take camping or on adventure holidays? Potatoes really are the traveller’s best friend.
A child’s toy
Cut a potato in half, carve it into shapes and dip it into paint – you’ve created a simple and artistic child’s toy that will provide fun for hours. Of course, there’s more fun to be had than just potato printing. How about using some cocktail sticks as legs and neck and hey presto, you’ve got yourself a pony. Remember Spudmatics? Of course you do. If you can’t find a Spudmatic gun online then try making your own spud shooter using a piece of metal pipe and a lot of puff. Note: A potato shooter works on the same principal as a pea-shooter but does require a lot of lung power to blow the potato from the piece of metal pipe. If you’re considering taking a home-made Spudmatic as protection on the streets of New York or on your safari holidays, I’d think again.
The most versatile food ever
Of course, as potatoes are one of the most delicious vegetables around there are literally hundreds of recipes and toppings just waiting to be tried and tested. My personal favourite is filling a jacket potato with butter, salt, mayo, cheddar cheese, bacon and putting a fried egg on top – delicious! I really do think I could come up with a different topping for every day of the year, how about you?
Biog: Chris is always looking for different toppings for jacket potatoes and eagerly anticipating his next adventure holidays in Mexico where chili con carne is at the top of every menu.