How do you sex-up your oven chips? | Alun Newman

Slightly later than originally planned a large family gathering has just left our home.

Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 11:47 am
Updated Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 11:47 am
Alun is envious of how his sisters cope with catering for big family parties. Picture: Shutterstock

We were fortunate as a team this Christmas holiday as we descended on others to consume their hospitality with relish.

It’s a sweet deal being the guest as you can turn up on the doorstep with fizz, wine and flowers and then sit back and let the hosts take the heat.

Even if you offer to help with the constant clearing up and laying of the table, you know you're not doing it right.

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Only the most relaxed and confident guests feel able to get themselves a drink or make a round of tea.

Over Christmas and New Year, I got to see (and judge) the different family coping styles with high volume catering.

One of my sisters is precise, organised. She’s incredibly neat thanks to high energy and a wonderfully tidy husband.

All eventualities are thought of and the catering level is set to be able to feed and water 30 people for at least 48 hours... even though there were only eight of us.

Whenever there was a catering decision about quantities, she would start to panic and ‘get another one/pack/set’, just in case.

Another of my sisters has a completely different approach. Left unhindered she thrives on rather impressive chaos management.

Fifteen people including young children and she didn’t bat an eye-lid.

She concocted a heady combination of ‘leftovers’ and some new food additions. There was more than anyone could eat, whihc was good news for her as more people were arriving the following day.

Before our catering event, I tend to cruise the web looking for brilliant ideas from food websites that offer much-needed inspiration.

So we did two mega-lasagnes.

You can’t go wrong, can you? Well, only if one family member turns out to be allergic to tomatoes.

We rushed to the shop for a microwave special. Who’s allergic to tomatoes?!

My wife instructed me to be more considerate and kinder as a new year's resolution.

While hunting for ideas on the computer, I found something that truly was a revolution.

It was an online group of ‘out-of-the-box’ thinkers who were dedicated to ‘sexing-up’ the oven chip.

Now, it had never occurred to me that this was a thing.

I’ve met the ‘chips are better in an air-fryer’ community that has a lot to say about crunch and where the chips stay true to form.

However, this was a revelation.

You take the frozen chips, toss them in a little oil and oregano and cook.

There were ideas in their hundreds.

You could have oven chips with harissa paste, garlic salt, crumbled feta and cucumber when hot, parmesan cheese, chilli powder, cumin and paprika.

If this is what the new year holds, bring it on.

So I tried them on our guests later in the evening accompanied by a turkey pie and a quiche the size of the moon.

No-one said anything about the fries other than a 11-year-old asking why I’d ruined the chips. I thought they were great.

For the event we hosted, it finished with another revelation.

Upon everyone retiring to bed my brother-in-law asked whether we had any fresh orange juice left over for him to take to bed.

Surely, everyone takes the standard glass of water? It would seem not.

He claims that water doesn’t quench his thirst and deal with potential dehydration as efficiently as orange juice.

He’s an engineer. Now that’s not a criticism, it’s more of a useful insight, potentially.

So, improved oven chips and orange juice on your bedside table...

This year is shaping up to be a belter.


Every year there are always gifts I didn’t know existed which become a personal fascination.

This particular gift stands out for me. A wonderful person I know was struggling to find the perfect gift for a new romance.

Often a tricky time if I remember rightly, which I don’t, so I’m guessing rather than recalling.

They were hunting around for a gift that communicates how important the new relationship is with the right balance of where the romance is ‘at’.

In the old days, flowers may have filled this void. Maybe a card with some thoughtful words. In this instance, the person in question decided to go for an item I didn’t know had been invented. They purchased the ‘Touch Bracelet’.

You have one for you and one for your partner. The bracelet looks like any other piece of wrist jewellery with one big difference. It has on it a small, inch-long, narrow slice of black, carbon-looking plastic. When rubbed, the other person's bracelet vibrates slightly.

Here’s the deal. When you are apart, if you’re in England and maybe they’re in Spain you rub your bracelet because you’re thinking about them.

When they’re near a Bluetooth connection their bracelet vibrates because it's a networked item (so romantic). Then they know you’re thinking of them. You can be on the other side of the planet and you're just one touch away! Wow.

Cute, new romance, beautiful tech at its best? Or so irritating it wouldn't last 10 minutes before you throw it across the room?

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.

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