creamy spinach dip

Just a quick post tonight as we’re feverishly cleaning the house up ahead of yet more people arriving plus making dinner plus trying to get an early night. We’re always full of good intentions but yet somehow always end up going to bed about 1am, then chatting and screaming for a good half hour, meaning we roll out of bed in the morning looking like a bag of shite and being knackered all day. But listen here, I did manage to do something constructive today. Well, two things.

Firstly, at work, part of my job is to edit and distribute the company internal newsletter. Because I work for a totally “rad and happening” firm, it’s always full of stuff like running groups and bake sales and other such activities, most of which I get out of breath just typing out. They’ve set up a walking group at lunch where people who don’t expend enough energy during the working day can go for a walk at lunch and burn off calories running away from muggers and doing the ‘Can yuz lend uz 20p flower’ Gauntlet outside of the building. All wholesome fun. They walked through a small petting zoo or something last week and so I got to put the (paraphrased) line in of ‘We even happened across a monkey on our travels’. All fine yes? Well apparently my next sentence of ‘That’s nothing – I came across a bear in the bushes in Leazes Park‘ would not have been appropriate for wider viewing. See? I’m learning moderation. M-O-O-N that spells moderation!

The other EXCITING thing is that I’ve gone and booked another holiday – this time we’re off for a week in Corsica. The villa we’ve hired is built for six people and is high up in the forest overlooking the sea. It’s genuinely beautiful, look:

Casa_Julia_LowRes_Sept14_SH_17 (1)

 

Doesn’t the thought of my hairy arse climbing in and out of that pool just add to the luxury feel? We can’t wait, and you’ll be glad to know there will doubtless be shenanigans to write about.

Speaking of writing, today’s excerpt from my trip to America book is a long one, detailing the day we went to Epcot…remember, you can buy my book here. The recipe is below this post so keep on scrolling!


Day Four: Segway? WAAAAY! (Epcot)

I need to get something off my chest – and it isn’t the remnants of Pringles caught in my chest hair that I sometimes save for the morning after (it’s where I put the bean dip that I can’t write about). Something is very wrong with this holiday. Every morning, whilst I brush my teeth and Paul ped-eggs his feet (something to sprinkle over our nachos later), we have the news playing. Now, as you all know, American news is awash with low-budget adverts, and the last two times we have been to America there has been one advert that gets under your skin. The Bob Dance adverts. They feature some booming fat guy and the most precocious, annoying, apple-cheeked little girl (Grace) ever committed to film. I could deal with that but the advert used to sign off with Grace mooing ‘BOB DANCE WHERE EV-VA-BAH-DEE RIDES’ in some bizarre off-key manner.

Today, Epcot, land of terrifying accents, loud shirts and a surprisingly fun kids adventure. But first, Segway! As a surprise, I had booked the Segway Around The World tour a while ago, and it was something we had both been looking forward to for ages.

A quick hop on the monorail to the TTC and another to Epcot, and we were at the park in plenty of time to er…visit the restrooms, take pictures of the golf-ball and try and spot the gayest looking legends ever. Not really the most fun way to kill an hour but in no time at all, we were being greeted by our trainer, an acerbic old lady from New Jersey was who brilliant – no Disney treacle and a good sense of humour.

Now, I have to confess – the weight limit for the Segway is 250lb and I’m not entirely convinced that I’m not about twenty pounds over that limit. Being the stunt double for Lisa Riley has its downsides, you know. So, whilst she was telling us all about how to steer, I’m sitting there imagining that as soon as I step on the Segway, it was going to beep, buckle and shriek out in a Johnny-5-like voice ‘No coach parties please’. However, I needn’t have worried, as there was no such issues. Either I’ve lost weight or they set the bar a lot lower than the machine can cope with. SO – if you fancy the Segway tour but are just above the weight limit, don’t fret. I feel I should warn you that there isn’t a tray to rest your pastries on, mind.

Handling a Segway could not be easier, as the machine does most of the balancing for you. You lean forward slightly to go forward, same going back, and turn left and right by tilting slightly. You do not feel as if you’re out of control, or that you’re going to fall, and it’s genuinely safe. Unless you’re the creator of the Segway, who decided to test its flying capability. It doesn’t fly. You start off navigating around some cones and a small hill in the Innovations Centre – there are no crowds watching and the instructor makes a game of it, so there’s no pressure or worries about what you look like. Once the handling is sorted, you’re off, across the park and into the World Showcase.

For both Paul and I, this was easily the best part, getting to go around the different countries before they fill up with crowds, because, and I’m a little ashamed to admit this, the last two times we have been to Epcot we have walked around the front of the World Showcase not realising all the little streets, rides and shops behind the main buildings at the front.

We wrapped up the tour at 11am, wheeling back into Innovations and getting to do the Segway parade where you wave at slack-jawed folks on the way past. I have to confess – I felt like the Bionic Man – shame I actually looked like the gay robot from Lost in Space. As a neat touch, you receive a special pin for taking part in the tour, which I can’t wait to get home and display.

On eBay. We were also told our Just Married badges would bring a few pounds on eBay these days, which is good news. No room for sentimentality!

After the tour, we planned to take it easy, with a few rides and a leisurely walk around the WS. We managed to get Test Track out of the way, which I remain undecided on. Part of me thinks it’s a great ride with superb theming, the other part of thinks it could have been so much more, much like Soarin’. Oh, speaking of Soarin’, I got to play the big macho husband for once. We were waiting in the queue when this swarm of Portuguese visitors started to push past Paul. This is my one massive bugbear with Florida – not tour groups as such, but the fact they always play ignorant and just try and squeeze past without so much as an excuse me. Anyway, I could see there was about twenty or so behind us trying to join the four in front of us. WELL. Not having that, so I stood my ground, and pushed right past the ones who had overtaken us. Of course, the tour guide starts up saying the ones behind us are with her group and that it wouldn’t harm to let them past.

I came back with ‘Then you four can go behind us, problem solved’. She didn’t like that one bit, but given me and Paul are the size of two hot water tanks, once we had spread out there was no getting past. With a resigned look on her face, she slunk behind us, and we got to claim a small moral victory. I would like to say at this point that I’m not normally that bothered about queue-jumpers, but I get sick of the lack of bloody manners involved, plus her Kevin Webster moustache didn’t help matters. So, I’m glad I stood my ground. Let’s move on.

We decided to take in the sights of the showcase, starting in Canada. But yet, how gutting is this – having made our minds up to get some lunch, we chanced Le Cellier to see if they had any free tables, only for the couple immediately in the queue ahead of us to ask the same question. And the response – to them? ‘Oh you’re so lucky, we do have a table, and this normally never happens’. Typical. Once I had finished grinding my teeth to dust and secretly cursing the old biddies in front of us, I tried, and got a snotty no. Ah well. Couldn’t get more disappointing, no? Only, have you SEEN ‘O CANADA’, the Canadian presentation presented by Martin Short? Bloody hell. Boredom she wrote. Once Paul had brought me back to life and packed away the defibrillator, we went outside only to find our first storm of the holiday was busy emptying all over Epcot. Of course, being British, we stepped out regardless whereas the Americans scattered about as if it was acid rain. Bah! Balls to that. We noticed the Kim Possible station and decided to give it a go.

Now, I am so glad we did – it’s excellent! I think it is geared more towards children but given Paul and I are big kids at heart, we loved it. You get a tricked-out (get me) mobile phone and are sent assignments to complete, such as finding codes or smoking out a villain. For example – caution, spoilers (hello sweetie) – in the UK, you get issued a little golf-ball that rolls out of a fake telephone box which everyone else passes straight by. Pop the ball in a tankard on display in one of the gift shops, and you get told to go behind the shop, where the window floods with water. It’s extremely well done and (I imagine) a good way of getting younger kids who would otherwise be bored by the World Showcase to have a good look around.

After we ousted the United Kingdom villain, we set off to France for our next mission, but decided to catch some lunch at Chef de France. I’ve heard some snotty comments about this restaurant but the food was lovely – onion soup, quiche and gateaux for me and Paul chose a croque monsieur.  With our bellies full, we waddled all the way around the park to get to Ellen’s Energy Adventure, which Paul had been clamouring to see all day long. Well. Frankly, I would have had a better time if Ellen herself had come down and tried to turn us both straight, because I’ve genuinely laughed more at a funeral.

I should probably explain that. When one of my ancient Aunties died, bless her, her husband decided he couldn’t live without her and threw himself in the Tyne, only for his body to be caught in the water intake station down the river, which was both beautiful and tragic at the same time. Anyway, when they did the service at the crematorium, they had her coffin on the proper conveyor belt but, in an unusual touch, they had his coffin on a decorating table just in front. Now, given I have a nervous laugh, I was already on edge, and coupled with the two thoughts that a) the table might give out and send the coffin cascading down the aisle and b) the body in the Tyne getting stuck just like the pig in The Simpsons where Lisa becomes a vegetarian being shot out of the dam outlet pipe. I know it’s macabre but I’m a firm believer in laughing at death, and I burst out laughing during the prayers. I blamed it on hysteria. I know, I’m going to Hell, but the sodomy most likely made sure of that. Anyway yes – Ellen – just don’t bother. I’ve had funnier bowel movements.

Tired and emotional, we made our way back to the Polynesian. We had the Wave booked for our evening meal at the Contemporary, but couldn’t face it, so we ended the evening watching the Electrical Water Pageant (and its absolutely amazing music) bustling its way around the lagoon from the safety of our hammocks on the beach, after watching the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom from the beach. All in all, a fabulous day – loved the Segway tour, plus seeing plenty of Epcot which was new to us, and gaining a new appreciation for life after nearly dying of boredom with Ellen.

So, all together now, what’s the bottom line Grace?

AAARGH!


 

So, tonight’s recipe. I thought that due to the fact we’ve had a lot of cheesy meat dishes recently, we’d go vegetarian with one of our fond memories of the trip – spinach dip. Cheesy spinach dip, obviously. Now in America we’d be eating this with a bin-liner of Doritos and a debillirator on stand-by, not least because it’s made with cream and proper cheese. Our lighter version still tastes great and by serving it with a lot of freshly chopped veg, you’re going to really up your speed food intake.

creamy spinach dip

 

you’ll need these to make creamy spinach dip

  • 600g of frozen chopped spinach
  • 500g of 0% fat-free greek style yoghurt (syn-free – check!)
  • a vegetable stock cube
  • a bunch of spring onions
  • your HEA of parmesan cheese
  • a tin of water-chestnuts (optional, because they’re BLOODY disgusting)

then…

  • cook your frozen spinach until it’s thawed
  • drain the liquid from the pan
  • squeeze the spinach to try and get as much water out as possible
  • squeeze it again, and put some bloody effort in
  • finished squeezing? NO. Keep bloody squeezing;
  • OK, now your spinach is KEEP SQUEEZING MAN, DON’T STOP, YOU’RE SO CLOSE
  • once the spinach is bone-dry, allow to cool
  • mix in the yoghurt, chopped spring onions, water chestnuts if you like them, your cheese and stir
  • stir in some black pepper if you like and put it in the fridge for a wee bit
  • serve with chopped speed vegetables

Delicious!

J

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