Danger Chips

From the Restaurant at Home cook book

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Don’t try this at home!

If you don’t have a deep fat fryer, we use a shallow one instead. Working with boiling oil without a thermostat though is dangerous, so we recommend you let us do this for you. And we don’t even need to place your kitchen in jeopardy as our danger chips can be cooked, frozen and reheated as oven chips. Here’s how we do it and how you shouldn’t:

Peel and cut Some potatoes into chip shapes (really). One large potato per person is about right. Soak them in cold water for an hour or so to remove starch, then drain them

Boil the chips in water until the surfaces start to flake. The chips should be penetrable with a knife

Drain the chips and leave them to lose moisture through steam. They need to be as dry as possible: water and hot oil do not mix well

Heat some oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat: this is the part which requires expert judgement. The oil needs to cover the chips and be lightly bubbling. Do not burn down your kitchen; let us do it for you (the chips, not your kitchen. We are insured, so we’ll burn down our own)

Fry the chips for 15-20 minutes, until crisp on the outside (armadillo!) and golden brown (texture like sun)

Remove the chips from the pan with a slotted spoon and place them in a baking tray. Don’t pat them dry: we need the residual oil for the baking

Season to taste and bake on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes

The chips can be left to cool and reheated, or frozen and cooked as perfectly crisp and seasoned oven chips. We can make them in bulk and bring them to cook as part of a meal, or for you to keep in your freezer and cook yourself

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Buck Dodgers in the 21st Century

07.11.14 (Day 320)

08.42

I tend to buck trends but this is one of those times when I’m being a bit responsible and facing up to things.

Me, myself and I are in the makeshift office in the kitchen of the safe house with Little Blue. Having spent several hours under the bonnet of the Android, we’re getting on well. Last night we watched some TV, downloaded a couple of movies, played chess and poker, organised my life a little so that it’s not quite so falling apart at the seams, then went to bed together to read a newspaper, a book and some magazines.

All of my files are where they need to be (saved or deleted) and the really personal stuff is hidden behind four levels of security. The Android only recognises my face and even if someone were to cut off my face, I have to blink to get onto the thing. The files within Little Blue are encrypted and only accessed with a password, PIN and pattern recognition. The Android didn’t come with most of this security; I’ve downloaded open-source apps and used some coding to tighten things up. I have nothing to hide – even though I’ve hidden a lot of files – but this is personal stuff and I’d like to keep it that way. It’s between me and Little Blue.

Processor, power and storage-wise, Little Blue is far from the best. It’s like a kid that needs to be taught things. The Android operating system is excellent though and it helps to know what goes on under the hood. And I know what’s in there. The little Android certainly wouldn’t be any good at high-end gaming but where thought is concerned, it’s very strong. With the Chess apps we use for example, it can beat me with my FIDE rating of 1900-odd. Storage isn’t an issue as everything is secure on The Cloud. The really important stuff is on my USB key, which itself requires a further three levels of security to be passed before the contents can be accessed. And the key can only be used with Little Blue and Little Blue only by me. So what’s so private that seven levels of security are required to access it? That’s for me to know and no-one else to find out.

I have business plans. Just lately I’ve allowed myself to descend into a bit of a rut (it wouldn’t be so bad if my friends could stop dying on me) but some words of encouragement from friends and other business owners have bucked me up. The business definitely has legs and bones; I just need to get it up and running and build on it. So apart from writing this, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last three hours. Now the host family are surfacing but I’m going to have to be a little unsocial today as I have to get things moving.

The business just needs one or two initial orders to start the whole word of mouth recommendation thing. So confident am I that this thing can work (and so are many friends) that we’ll prove ourselves for free. If someone wants to provide the ingredients to cook a meal, somewhere to cook it and serve it, we’ll do the catering for free. Just go to http://www.restaurantathome.net and contact us by email or phone.

Unless you’re one of the dads who wants to kill me because you think I’ve been up your daughters. I haven’t, shouldn’t and couldn’t. And although they may be the apples of your eyes, in most cases, I wouldn’t. What I did give them was help, advice, counselling, money and food. What we did was between me and them because they didn’t feel that they could approach their own parents. I wonder how many of the parents of kids I helped realise that their children were self-harming? Possibly a few but most are blinkered to the truth. Blinkers make for tunnel vision but instead of focussing on me at the end of that tunnel, these people would be better off looking at themselves and their children.

And some of those kids helped me in return. Some of them continue to do so. Some of them have even offered to help me out as soux chefs and waiting staff with Restaurant at Home. If their parents let them do so, or invite me into their homes. I hope some of the more judgemental ones might buck up and see sense. If they were to do so, they might gain a better understanding of me, what I’ve done and what I’m still trying to do.

And one of those things is trying to build a business. It’s a profit-making thing (hopefully; eventually) but it’s also a bit of a social enterprise: a way to work with the kids, some of whom are academically challenged and give them a vocation. My very own sister – The Courts – used to run the pass and head up my little team of waiters when we provided lunches at a local church.

I just need people to believe in me and buck the trend which is to mistrust me. Yes, I have a criminal record. Yes, I have a drink problem. Yes, I suffer depression but help me to buck myself up. Don’t dodge the issue. Talk to me. I’m an honest soul at heart who’s made mistakes in the past. Now I’m trying to get better but I need help. I could plaster over all of the cracks and hide behind a facade. I could lie – as some of those I’ve helped have to their parents – and in telling the truth, I could be shooting myself in the foot and denying myself business. I want people to buy from the person that is me; cracks and all.

I continue to pay for the mistakes I’ve made every day. I want to pay more back.

Today, for the past and future.