How to Microwave a Potato

As this is a good art blog, you might be surprised to know that I do some of my cooking in my microwave (not all – promise!) I’m certainly not one of those people who thinks that a microwave is “cheating” – none of us always have time to cook a gourmet meal!

That that said, there’s a right and wrong way to cook foods in the microwave. And this is especially true with potatoes. While a baked potato can make the perfect snacky-meal, especially topped with chili or vegetables, no-one wants a hard, underdone potato on their plate.

In short, if you want your dinner quickly but want it to be tasty too, then a microwaved potato could be the perfect solution – but you need to do it the right way.

In this post, I’ll go through my simple process for cooking a jacket potato in the microwave. You might need to adjust the timings slightly depending on the size of the potato, but this method should be a good place to start.

How to Cook the Perfect Jacket in a Microwave

  1. The first step is choosing the right potato. Any size can be baked, but add an extra minute on for larger ones. Russet potatoes can do the job, but if you’re cooking more than one try to get them at around the same size.
  2. Now scrub the spuds all over to remove any dirt that might be left on the skin. I use a clean sponge for this, but some kitchen roll can do the job.
  3. Next, use a fork to poke holes in the potato skin. I do this at least four times on each side of all the potatoes. If you forget this, don’t be surprised if trapped steam causes your potato to escape!
  4. Microwave on full power for around four minutes. Then take the potato out, turn it over and cook for another four minutes. This is for a single potato: if you’re cooking more than one, add an extra four minutes for each additional spud.
  5. OPTIONAL: If you have a grill microwave, you can use the grill throughout the cooking to get a crisper skin. Be careful the skin doesn’t burn though. If you like the sound of a grill microwave, I bought mine after reading the excellent reviews on MicrowaveReview.co.uk.
  6. Remove the potato and use a knife to check it’s cooked all the way through. If it is, slice it down the middle and finish with chilli, beans or any other topping.
  7. Enjoy!

As you can see, this method is as simple as they come, but should give you consistently good potatoes. There’s also the option of finishing the potato off in the oven to give it a crispier skin, but if you’re in a rush the microwave-only method works well.

My personal favourite is baked potato with butter and chili for lunch. It only takes 10 minutes to make and is much nicer than a simple sandwich. You can even make it at work if you have access to a microwave.

If you try this method, I’d love to hear how it goes in the comments! If you have any tips or tricks for cooking a potato in the microwave it would be great to hear them too.

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The Art of Cleaning

There’s an art to keeping a home clean and tidy – especially if you live in a large household! There are too many jobs to get everything done at all times. So it’s all about trying to stay on-top of the most important jobs while still leaving time to enjoy yourself.

Over the years, I’ve found a number of tips that have helped my clean my home better and faster. From buying a cordless vacuum to creating a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly schedule, these have made a big difference to my cleaning workflow.

  1. Delegate when you can. If you live with children, it sometimes seems easier to do all the chores yourself rather than battle to get them to help. This is a mistake. There’s no reason why children can’t help with chores around the house, and it will make your life easier if they do.
  2. Buy a cordless vacuum cleaner. Cordless vacuums have come a long way since the early models. They are now almost as powerful as standard vacuums and have a much longer battery life than before. I bought a Dyson V6 Fluffy, which was recommended on this list of the best cordless vacuums: http://spotlessvacuum.co.uk/cordless-vacuum-cleaners/. Cordless makes vacuuming so much easier – I hate having to vacuum around a cord. It’s probably my best ever household purchase and I don’t know how I lived without it now.
  3. Clean just before it’s required. When I first stopped living with my parents, I would  leave chores until they it became so obvious that they hadn’t been done that I was forced to do them. Not only did this mean I was living in a state of constant mess, but cleaning is much more difficult when you let something get out of hand.
  4. Create a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly schedule…and then stick to it. Following on from the last point, I realised that I needed to have a schedule for when to clean. In the end, I used an app called Todoist to create lists of tasks that need to completed within certain timeframes. Everyday I look at the list and see what needs to be done. The key is to never put off a task on today’s list – otherwise they start to pile up.

Since I’ve started using these tips, my house has never been cleaner – yet I’m spending less time cleaning. If you’re sick of struggling to keep up with a list of daily chores, I highly recommend trying them.

 

 

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Hand Drawn Game Controller

For as long as I’ve been a gamer, there has always been an underlying sense in society that it’s a hobby for “nerds” or is a “waste of time.” In my opinion, gaming is much more than just something people do to waste time – at it’s best, it’s an art form.

There’s no denying that there are more productive ways to spend your time than gaming. However, the same could be said about any other hobby. It’s funny that people associate video games, which by their nature require mental engagement, with laziness, yet think it’s completely normal to watch hours of TV every evening.

A good game can take you to places you’ll never get to visit. It can open you up to experience you would never usually encounter. And it can make you think of things in a completely different way.

So why do people look down on it? I think many people associate gaming with just shooting games. These are obviously a popular genre, but focusing on them completely ignores RPGs, strategy, puzzle games, simulators and much more.

But what makes me think gaming is an art and not just entertainment?

I would challenge anyone to sit down with a game like Skyrim, a good gaming headset and mouse and some spare time, and NOT consider the world an artform.

skyrim

But it’s not just about whether games are art or not. Here are some other benefits to this unique type of media:

  • Games can open people up to interests they never knew they had. I was never interested in history at school, but playing Age of Empires was the start of a life-long fascination with ancient times.
  • Games can provide a competitive outlet that’s completely safe. E-sports are a real thing, people – and they are here to stay!
  • Games are inherently social when you play them online. I’ve made genuine friends from gaming that I would never have met without playing online games such as CS:GO and Overwatch.
  • They can develop reaction times and concentration.

These benefits, of course, depend entirely on the game being played. But the same could be said about any hobby or media.

The good news is that gaming is becoming more accepted as a way to spend your free time. Yes, it’s still important to exercise. Yes, excessive gaming is bad for you. But there’s nothing that compares to sinking deeply into a challenging, thought-provoking game.

 

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Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody

Samuel Pepys

Without doubt, my favourite meal of the day is dinner. It doesn’t matter how stressful the day has been, whether it’s gone well or badly, if I sit down with a glorious spread it takes all my worries away.

I’m not fussy when it comes to food, but there are a few things I enjoy. Simple meals, like a baked potato with some cheese and beans are great, while more exotic fares are even better. I love Philadelphia too, so I use this at every opportunity.

Being a food art enthusiast, I enjoy looking at the latest designs from top artists like Ida Skivenes. That’s why I was so excited to see that she has completed a set of evening pieces using Philadelphia cream cheese for dinners, and the results are very cute. Here’s an example (you can see the rest here):

 

philadelphia-art

This particular example is of a cute fox in a forest, but there are also apple trees, buses, rockets and a hot air balloon. I think what I really like about these pieces is the innocence of them – I can imagine sitting down for dinner as a child and feeling happy to have these infront of me! They obviously took a lot of work, but I think Ida has really outdone herself with the quality and simplicity of the designs.

What I really like about Ida’s work is that she truly believes food should be enjoyable and fun – it’s not a serious matter. This comes across in her work extremely clearly, and always makes her pieces a joy to view. If you get a chance, I highly recommend checking out some of her other work.

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I’ve always loved art, but I’ve never had anywhere to discuss it. My family and friends aren’t art-lovers, and my work isn’t related to it (sadly). For the most part, I’ve been happy to just enjoy art for what it is, but I’ve always longed for a place to talk about it…give my opinions…meet like minded people.

And that’s why I’ve created this blog – to have an outlet for my passion.

I don’t claim to be an expert. I’m nothing more than a knowledgeable enthusiast. What I’m good at is finding amazing art online and bringing it to people’s attention – and that’s the main aim of this site.

The focus of FigTreeArtGallery.com is on food and home related art. That can range from simple pictures of food and interior design, right up to more exotic forms of art.

If you have any suggestions for artwork I should include on this site, I’m always open to hearing them.

Enjoy the blog.

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