Monthly Archives: March 2010

Seniors’ week slogan: live life – certainly beats the alternative

Older man relaxing by the sea reading a book

If it feels good, do it!

I’m not sure about you, but the New South Wales Seniors’ Week slogan, Live Life, seems a bit, well, obvious given the alternative. This might cross the mind of many of our senior citizens. And what does this mean, live life? Sure, perhaps it is meant as  juxtaposition to pretty standard stereotypes of older people – frail, immobile, disabled. But I’d like to see something a bit more radical. Something like ‘live differently’ suggesting more than just breathing. My slogan for seniors’ week would be ‘Stuff it, just do it’.

The reality is that many older people are saying exactly that. They’re fit, they’re fun and they love their lives. We have friends well over 80 who ski, drink very strong martinis after a day on the ski slopes, laugh long and loudly, and in the summer spend much of their time on the golf course. This is not the sorry stereotype, but it’s real.

Don’t underestimate the ability of anyone at any age to reinvent themselves.

New South Wales Seniors’ Week from 21 March to 28 March is the initiative of the Department of Aging. It’s been organised for the past 52 years and aims to give recognition to the elderly citizens of our community. Hang on, a senior is anyone over the age of 60. Oh shit!

Roast potatoes recipe

Ingredients

1 kilo Sebago, Coliban or Golden Delight potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons plain flour

Method

Preheat oven to 200c.

Peel potatoes and cut into small pieces (6cm). Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a pinch of salt.

Bring the potatoes to the boil. When boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Potatoes should be partially cooked only.

Drain potatoes well and return to saucepan. Give the saucepan a good shake to rough up the surface of the potatoes. Remove and roll the potatoes in plain flour that has had salt and pepper added to it.

Add oil to a baking tray and heat in oven. Remove and add potatoes to the hot tray.

Cook potatoes in oven turning once so they are golden and crispy. Allow about 40 minutes. Serves 4.

Read about the different varieties of potatoes and how to cook with them for the best results.

Mash, roast or chip

Three varieties of potatoes: from left back, Golden Delight, Lady Christl, Valentina (front)

Three varieties of potato: Golden Delight, Lady Christl and Valentina

The potato is one of the staples of the Irish diet and on this St Patrick’s Day, there’s no better time to look at the humble potato and how to mash it, roast it or make the perfect chip.

The term, potato, is a bit of a misnomer as there are many varieties of potatoes and some are good for mash, others make great chips.

Mashed potato

My supermarket recommends Lady Christl for making mashed potato. Harris Farm recommend Desiree, Dutch Cream or Kennebec. First boil the potatos until cooked but avoid overcooking or they will become mushy instead of creamy. Drain and mash with a hand masher. You won’t need butter, cream or milk if you beat the mash with a wooden spoon. This will make beautiful creamy mashed potato without the added calories of the butter or cream.

Roasted potatoes

For roasting, Coliban, Sebago, Golden Delight or Valentina potatoes will do the trick. The secret is also in the preparation. Check out my recipe for perfect roast potatoes. It’s simple and effective.

Potato chips

The best chips are made with potatoes that have a low moisture content. A floury texture also helps to get the crisp outer layer and the soft, floury inside happening. Varieties King Edward and Desiree are great for making chips. Valentina is also good and makes great wedges (a variation on the chip theme). Coliban is another potato with a floury texture that is used for making French fries.

My low-fat oven chip recipe is great for those of us who are watching our waistlines and who isn’t these days!

Potato salad

Try the Kipfler potato which has a wonderful buttery taste. Nadine potatoes have a waxy flesh that holds its shape and colour (quite white) well after cooking and therefore is perfect for salads. Bintje has cream coloured potato with a firm texture that stores well and is available all year.

Best all-round potato?

If in doubt, you can’t go past Serbago which is widely available in Australia whether washed or unwashed.

Low-fat oven baked chips

Everyone loves chips, well, I certainly do but I eat them in moderation because deep-fried foods are not the best for us. Think Elvis!

Luckily I discovered a recipe for making low-fat potato chips which are very tasty and … low fat.

Oven baked chips

Preheat oven to 200c. Peel and cut potatoes into the chip size you prefer: wedges, french fries or thicker strips.

Rinse the potatoes in cold water then towel dry. The potatoes need to be really dry because this makes the chips crispy.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Spread the chips on the tray and either spray with olive oil spray or brush lightly with olive oil.

Cook for 10 minutes, turn the chips, then cook for a further 5 minutes until they are brown and crispy.

Read about the different varieties of potatoes and how to cook them for best results.

Home exchange makes travel affordable and fun

View over Sydney city from East Balmain apartment in Sydney Australia

The view over Sydney city from our apartment in Balmain

A growing trend in the baby-boomer age group (and those a wee bit older) is to organise house exchanges when travelling.

Each winter, Vernon in British Columbia sees an inundation of Australians and New Zealanders who have exchanged homes so that they can enjoy a month or more skiing mountains in the Okanagan Valley and beyond.

It’s a win-win situation as many Canadians want to escape the winter to enjoy the sunshine in Australia or New Zealand while the Aussies and Kiwis make the most of the Canadian ski fields.

It’s possible to swap houses with people from just about any country in the world. And as baby boomers retire, more people are exchanging for long periods of time – up to 12 months. It’s feasible to be away from home for a couple of years as retirees organise multiple exchanges in different countries around the world or within their own country for that matter.

So how does one go about organising a house swap?

There are a number of options that have worked for us:

  • word of mouth – this works best if there is an active home exchange network happening already
  • home exchange websites
  • advertisement in travel accommodation section of newspaper.

Numerous websites now abound on the Internet with listings of thousands of homes in every country of people who want to swap homes.

But it’s not just about the savings in accommodation costs, it’s the experience of becoming part of a community even if only for a short time. Neighbours introduce themselves (and often pick you up from the airport), you meet all kinds of people, you get to live in a home rather than a sterile hotel room, and generally, the locals are very friendly.

House swapping – it’s great stuff!

Contact Susie if you are interested in discussing a house swap in Balmain, Sydney.

You can see more images and get more details about our apartment on the house swap website, First Home Exchange.

Ski the world

Check out my new website, ski the world. If you are a skier, cross country or downhill, a boarder, or someone who loves the snow and have a favourite hill, let me know and I’ll add some information to ski the world. An image or two of the mountain would also be good!

Home page of ski-the-world.info website

Home page of ski-the-world.info website

Snow one day, surf the next

Skiing in Canada at Silver Star in February 2010

Skiing in Canada one day

Travelling half way around the world in one day can be quite surreal especially if you leave Kelowna in Canada in minus temperatures and snow and arrive in Sydney Australia to a steamy, hot summer.

Manly Beach on a sunny February day in 2010

Sun and surf at Manly Beach in Sydney Australia

The day before travelling home to Sydney, we were skiing in minus 8 at Silver Star. The day after arriving home, we were swimming in the ocean at Manly beach.

I am currently building two skiing websites devoted to skiing,  and www.ski-the-world.info and www.ski-biz.info. If you have a favourite ski mountain, let me know and I’ll include the details in http://www.ski-the-world.info.