Potato Girls' Guide
Pack a Potato Picnic
Having had a good few days of glorious sun our thoughts are quickly turning to picnics and what to pack! Luckily we know that potato based dishes are one of the perfect things to take with us – mmmmm.
No soggy sandwiches for us we’ll be tucking into a delicious and easily transportable Spanish Omelette the classic Frittata no self respecting picnic should be without one.
But do you know the origins of today’s picnic? The word pique-nique, is of French origin, formed from piquer, the French for "to pick at food", and nique meaning something small or of no value. How wrong could this term be for one of the most glorious eating experiences (in our opinion). One of the earliest English definitions was in the Oxford English Dictionary "An occasion when a packed meal is eaten outdoors, especially during an outing to the countryside."
Normally reserved for country people and hunting parties on their estates it was further popularised by Dickens, Trollope and Jane Austen all writing about them and has become an integral part of British culture.
As the French would say Bon Appetit!
As we’re all watching our budgets here at Potato HQ so conversations have naturally turned to how we can make a difference to our budget by spending wisely. We're planning ahead each week.
Start by writing down your family’s favourites in a list and then when you’ve run out of ideas start with your carbohydrate source. So potatoes could be mash, chips, wedges, salad potatoes, jackets, we’re so lucky that potatoes are such a great versatile base for so many meals. Take a look on lovepotatoes for ideas for your planner.
Apparently we should be aiming for around 20 different dishes, but we like to think that with all these fab potato recipes we’re going to have many more choices.
We’ve downloaded our meal planners from office, but there are plenty of resources on the web so you should be able to find one to suit you. There are meal planning apps too if you’re tech savvy enough.
Plan what you’re going to eat when – fill in your planner with events so you don’t plan a meal when you’ve arranged to eat out for a family birthday, or note that will need something quick and easy when we get home when you’ll get back late because you’re travelling for work. Use these to decide what main meals you want when and if you need to cook ahead and have something in the freezer. Don’t forget to note breakfasts and lunches too.
Once we have our plans done we’re using these to go through our cupboards and freezers and make a shopping list. This way we won’t buy ingredients we don’t need, that could go to waste and won’t need to make frequent shopping trips during the week. We reckon this could save time as well as money!
Are you ready to plan with the Potato Girls? We’ve got our dietician Sian Porter to put a sample planner together so it’s a good place to start. Happy planning!
1/05/13 Living Below the Line - Are spuds the ideal meal base?
This week thousands of people across the UK, and in fact worldwide will be aiming to live on £1 a day or the equivalent for 5 days. In doing this they’re raising awareness of poverty, and raising money for a good cause.
The challenge led us to think about how great potatoes are and how any leftovers can be used for the next day’s tea. Potatoes are a starchy food, which means they are a source of energy, as well as providing fibre, vitamins and minerals, and they’re naturally fat free.
In fact, instead of pasta or rice, what could offer more mealtime variety than the humble spud! You can make wedges, chips, boil them, bake them in their skins, roast them, or mash them. Potatoes make a great base to add with other ingredients to a casserole type dish too, either whole or sliced.
I’m basing at least one of my meals every day this week on potatoes. Today’s has been the Veggie Cheshire Bake which I cooked up last night and brought in for lunch at work, tonight I’m doing the same so I can bring in this gorgeous Red Pepper Frittata I’m going to have it cold with some salad leaves now the weather’s warming up, and it will do for Friday’s packed lunch too.
I’ve a lot to do after work today so quite fancy crushed potatoes with tuna and sweetcorn when I eventually get back home for supper. Simple but effective - all I need to do is prepare the potatoes - and then add a tin of tuna and one of sweetcorn.
As a big fan of mash I’ll be whipping up some colcannon mash on Friday, leaving out the bacon, instead having with a nice big piece of salmon to accompany it. Leftovers will be perfect for making fishcakes to have next week – fish and colcannon bound together using an egg and dusted with flour, then popped in the freezer – I’ll pull those out when I next need a quick and easy meal and fry them off then serve with some peas and sweetcorn.
I can’t quite decide what to have on Saturday, a luxurious day for lazy cooking. Will it be wedges or chips, with a lovely poached egg? Or perhaps a jacket potato with cheese and beans! No contest for Sunday it has to be roasties Sunday dinner wouldn’t be the same without them!
Great for my pocket, and my waistline too. Now for tonight’s meal…
11/04/13 It’s April already?!
We’ve enjoyed the Easter break, with an assortment of activities carried out by the team, from cooking for whole families down to extended breaks being waited on hand and foot! Our trusted recipe book obviously goes with us everywhere, and our favourite over the weekend was this lamb dish which all goes in one pot straight in the oven.
One of our Potato Girls completed her 10k run through mud, rivers, lakes, over walls, down slides and even along dry normal terrain for a small part of the course!
And as if that wasn’t enough, a friend of the Potato Girls is off to Africa very shortly to dig a very large hole near Kisumu, the third largest city in Kenya. The hole will benefit local women farmers, to set up a community for fish farming, and is all for the benefit of Farm Africa [www.farmafrica.org]. Click and find out more about the Dig for Good project.
22/03/13 Happy Easter!
Well it’s officially Springtime! Pull those marigolds out from the back of the cupboard under the sink (we know that’s where you’re hiding them) and get your Spring clean on! While you’re at it, why not see what’s in your kitchen cupboards, and look out for lots of new seasonal ingredients to freshen up your meal repertoire? We all know that lamb comes in to season in March and April, so why not have a look at some of our lamb recipes here? Other ingredients to look out for in your local store include spring onions, watercress and rocket which you could use to make some of our lovely salad recipes.
Equally, if you’re preparing lamb, then try out our roast potato recipe – use fluffy potatoes such as King Edward or Maris Piper for best results. Try adding a dash of red wine vinegar to your potatoes half way through roasting.
One of the Potato Girls is doing a 10k obstacle run to raise money for charity this April, joined in the sporting arena by our Potato Boy, who is captaining our work’s football team in a corporate charity tournament in support of a local school for young people with learning disabilities, so no doubt the consumption of potatoes will be higher than usual in Potato Towers this month! If you’re doing something similar, or just like exercising, then check out our Potatoes for Sport section to see how you can benefit from eating more spuds!
24/02/13 What a Chiptastic week it's been
Well another successful Chip Week has gone by in the blink of an eye...we've all been so busy this week, being out and about all week is quite tiring. What a week we've had, there were the chip drops on monday to national radio stations, with mentions from Nick Grimshaw and Sara Cox on Radio 1, Steve Wright, Simon Mayo and Vanessa Feltz from Radio 2 and Nick Ferrari from LBC which makes the early start well worth it. Whilst half of the team were busy in London, another Potato Girl travelled to Sheffield to see the amazing creation of two Sheffield university students', to celebrate Chip Week; a dress made of chips! Sounds too good to be true doesn't it, but even better it was modelled by Sheffield's very own Miss Sheffield, Jade! Check out the photos on our LoveChipsUK facebook page. She did a great job and was so patient, even with over a 1000 chips being added to her dress and shrugged off the funny looks from bemused shoppers at Meadow Hall in Sheffield. She really did have a chip on her shoulder...Meanwhile we were shocked to discover this week that the 1 in 5 Brits think that chips are more British than the Queen! And that chips are the second most popular thing that Brits abroad miss (the first is British TV) chips even beat football!!! After several months of hectic work we've got 12 months to plan for the next one! We're sure it will come round in no time.
17/02/13: Chip Week is nearly here...
We can't believe that Chip Week is nearly with us! This time tomorrow we would have travelled up and down the country for the love of chips, doing various PR activities like chip drops to radio stations, for a sector that sees 25% of the British crop. Chip Week is a busy time for us and we hope you'll be celebrating and raising a chip fork or two. Our web page has some tasty chip recipes inspired from last year's yearlong celebrations, including the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics. We looked at the traditional British dishes and have given them a modern chip twist like leftover roast beef and chips, delicious and economical and how about chip 'n' chicken tikka wrap . Our friends at Love Food, Hate Waste have shared some of our recipes on their site and really worth a look. If you want to keep up with what the Potato Girls are doing this week you can check out our Twitter or Facebook pages. Happy Chip Week everyone! xx
30/01/13: Chip Shops Ahoy
One of the Potato Girls had the pleasure of being invited to be a judge at the National Fish and Chip Awards 2013 earlier this month. It's such an honour for Potato Council to be involved in the awards. Our involvement began during the first round of judging that took place back in the summer, when we were invited to the Lord Leycester Hotel in Warwick, to spend the day going through all the entries. Fast forward six months and we were in the Lancaster Hotel, being presented to by ten of the best chip shops in the UK. Hats off to all ten finalists, it must have been so nerve wracking for them all. On the night it was the Scots that came out smiling though. What a wonderful way to celebrate Burn's Night. Rory Bremner was the host of the awards and kept the audience entertained with his impressions. For details of the winners at the awards visit http://www.fishandchipawards.com/ or visit our friends at http://www.seafish.org/
18/01/13: Snowy Winter Warmers
Wow, it's a pretty snowy day out there today, so much so that we've been sent home to work at home, just incase we get stranded at work. So with a cupboard full of potatoes it's so very tempting to start making tonight's delicious potato meal to warm up, particularly when there are so many delicious recipes to chose from here. Maybe a Chili Jacket Potato with some extra lean minced meat...Yum!
Chip Week is really just around the corner (18-24 February). Have you checked out our website yet? www.chips.lovepotatoes.co.uk Here you can vote for your local chippy (provided they've registered for Chip Week that is) not only could they win the 'Best Chippy Chips' award but you could win a chip supper worth £150. And not forgetting your favourite independent pubs or restaurants. They could win 'Best Independent Pub/Restaurant Chips'. There's also some fun games on there too to have a play with on your lunch break. Be careful out there and wrap up warm.
02/01/13: Happy New Year From the Potato Girls
Firstly, we hope you had a great Winter break and you’re fully into the swing of 2013. One of the gang cooked roast potatoes for their future in-laws with a little twist – a splash of red wine vinegar half way through roasting and they were the best Roasties they’d ever eaten! Kudos points at Christmas are always a bonus (and knowing that fluffy varieties are best)! Thanks to Gary at Big Spud for this genius tip - here's a link to his wonderful recipe and other potatoey goodness! In case you haven't noticed our website has had a revamp, we have 'Best of' recipes and 'Best Roast Potatoes' recipe is on there if you want to take a look.
Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? Apart from the usual “lose weight”, “get fit”, how about cooking a new potato dish every week? We’ve got hundreds of quick and easy potato recipes, including this delicious Potato and Chickpea Curry which comes in at only 265 calories per portion and is ready in 30 minutes, so it ticks all the boxes!
The team are also flat out preparing for Chip Week which is in just over five weeks time and we’re rather excited about it! Keep an eye on the website about how you can get involved, win a chippy tea, and look out for local chippies and pub restaurants participating in promotions throughout the week.
24/09/12: Every Week Should Be Potato Week
There has been so much excitement here at Potato Towers, in the run up to Potato Week, which is only a week away. A whole week dedicated to potatoes, what more could a Potato Girl want?! We're so pleased to be celebrating the week with the launch of our new potato classficiation, making buying potatoes hassle free.
23/09/12: Baby its cold outside - Part two
We’ve begun a real obsession with wedges lately. They’re so easy to prepare so I suppose laziness is a part of it. Our favourite variety for wedges is the lovely smooth Desiree. So easy to cook too, just take a couple of medium potatoes wash them and cut them in half, half again and once again. And that makes 16 pieces, plenty for a couple of us. Some of us choose to toss the pieces on a baking tray that has been coated in a thin brushing of oil, but you could use a low fat spray if you're counting calories. Pop them in the oven at 180 they take around 30 to 45 minutes and allow you to prepare the rest of your meal, or tackle some of that dreaded housework. We love them as a rice alternative for chilli or as the perfect partner to a succulent steak.
18/09/12: Baby its cold outside - Part one
With the weather turning a little chilly, our thoughts are turning to winter warmers. And who can resist bangers with a delicious smooth mash and onion grave. Or maybe use the mash for a shepherd’s pie,or a classic Irish Colcannon or jazzed up with the addition of horseradish, mustard or apple to make the perfect partner to meat dishes. In fact I think we have mash mania!
12/09/12: We love potatoes for lunch...nom nom nom - Part two
Here’s another lunchbox filler idea from the Potato Girls - it saves food waste too, by using up the bits and bobs leftover in your fridge. These can make a satisfying frittata – sometimes known as a Spanish omelette. Simply fry an onion, add a potato cut into thin slices, we tend to use salad potatoes, but any variety will do really. Check out our recipes pages for a great frittata recipe.
When the potato and onion have started to cook add a few assorted veg. We love peppers – it doesn’t matter if they’re slightly wrinkly, soggy tomatoes and frozen peas, but posh suggestions include asparagus combined with feta cheese. Whisk up a few eggs and top with a sprinkling of cheese. Cook through and then finish your frittata under the grill. Great hot for tea and then cold in your lunchbox the next day.
07/09/12: We love potatoes for lunch...nom nom nom - Part one
Now so many of us are watching the pennies the packed lunch has become even more important. Soggy sandwiches aren’t the only option though we’ve found a little bit more planning is needed the evening before. Potatoes have become a regular part of our lunches and we’re really enjoying them. They won’t break the bank either thankfully.
Boiled salad potatoes cut into two and dressed with some ready made pesto out of a jar are so easy to throw into a plastic tub or lunchbox. We think they’re beautiful with a nice salad, plus a bit of feta cheese or with a bit of tinned tuna thrown in. We think these are lovely cold, but even better warmed through if you have access to a microwave as we do.