BEFORE I BEGIN. We have a major backlog of comments. I turned off notifications for the blog when I went away on holiday, forgot to turn them back on and just noticed I’ve got 78 comments to approve. Oops. If you have commented and you’re sitting there thinking what a rude fucker I am for not replying, I apologise profusely. I’ll work through them. OK? So calm down!
Gosh. Finally something to do with that slab of beef I’ve had chilling in the kitchen going a bit green. Yes, I set him to work cooking some roast beef for ma dinner. BOOM. He deserves to be put to work, anyway, for the cheeky crack he made about me in my new coat, which zips right up to under my chins. Upon seeing me (and remembering that I’m especially bearded at the moment) in my fancy new coat, he told me my ‘face looked like a seventies porno muff’. Nice!
I’m spending the evening looking at hotels and bits and bobs to do in Iceland. We’ve decided to give Air B&B a go.
I know, I know. We’re asking for trouble.
I’ve always wanted to stay at a B&B, because they’re usually somewhere beautiful and it doesn’t quite feel like you’re sleeping in the jizz-dust of 1,000 businessmen that have literally come before you. But I just can’t. For one, I have a shit poker face, and if I was shown into a room and I didn’t like it, the disappointment avalanching across my ashen face would immediately make me an enemy of the host and she’d spit in my breakfast. I can’t bear chintz and flimflam and unnecessary accessories (although that would make a good band name, no?) either, so unless it was a perfectly sterile room decorated in tiny nice things, I’d feel uncomfortable. Then there’s the small talk – I don’t want to be fussed over as I try not to die in my morning coffee or asked where I’m going / how I’m getting there or tutted at when I don’t take my boots off. I’d spend the entire time away agonising over any little offence I may have caused that I’d simply need another holiday afterwards to relax.
That said, I did once see a B&B on Four in a Bed where about two hundred cats roamed the property and it was pretty much a guarantee that you’d end up in bed with a hairy Persian sitting on your face – and well, that sounds good to me.
Speaking of cats, we took ourselves off to Mog on the Tyne (what can I say, I’m a sucker for puns – I’d eat my dinner in a clap clinic if it was given a pun for a name…something like Spotted Dicks or The Leaky Bucket) a couple of weeks ago. Mog on the Tyne is Newcastle’s first cat café and, with a rare afternoon off, Paul and I decided to try it.
It’s brilliant. The food is basic café food – paninis, quiche, brownies et al – but the focus lies squarely on the ten or so cats that mill around the place, fighting, purring or – as is always the case with me – showing their bumholes as you try to finish your brownie. The café is fitted out with all sorts of toys, climbing frames and beds and the cats seem perfectly content – of course they are, they’re getting made a fuss of. You have to pay a fiver each for entry (which is unusual, because in the Bigg Market, usually it only takes a Blue WKD and a ten-deck of Lambert and Butler to be guaranteed entry) (sorry) which pays towards the upkeep of the cats, and the food is reasonable quality. It was a charming way to spend an hour and I’d heartily recommend it if you’re a cat fan. Of course, if you’re not a cat fan, then you have other options available, such as having a quiet word with yourself regarding the direction your life has taken. Our favourite cat was seemingly everyone else’s – a beast of a pussy called Stan who had suffered a nasty road accident. Aye, he took the bend at Billy Mill roundabout at 50mph in a Ford Capri and lost control.
No, he got run over and although he’s fine now, he’s unable to put his tongue in his mouth, meaning he has a permanently dopey expression. I’ve shamelessly stolen a picture from another blog because all of my photos look like I’ve taken them using a potato (credit to fragglerocking.com – click here to read their report).
Now then! You can find more details on Mog on the Tyne at their website – www.mogonthetyne.com – give them a go!
Of course, the bonus of visiting Mog on the Tyne was that as soon as we got back, our cats were all over us like flies on muck. I felt like a husband cheating on his missus, especially as the cats kept sniffing the end of my fingers and recoiling (which to be fair, I do myself). Awkward.
Right, tonight’s recipe.
to make roast beef with french onion gravy, you’re gonna need:
- 1kg beef (silverside or topside) – tip if you’re a tightarse, scour the reduced sections in your supermarket on Monday morning, they’ll always be shifting beef
- 8 small carrots or four large ones or two massive carrots or one carrot as big as your leg – chopped
Sorry, can I just jump in here and say how much I hate logging onto Slimming World’s website to check syns? It’s the ‘Log in and Love It’ slogan. Love what? Using a website that acts and feels like it was built back when geocities was a thing? Love typing ‘olive oil’ into the syns checker and getting nothing but typing ‘artisanal rice crackers’ and getting Tesco’s entire stock inventory? Fucks sake.
- 1 celery stick, chopped
- 170ml white wine (6 syns)
- 600ml beef stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 500g brown onions
- 1 tsp honey (1 syn)
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 1 tbsp corn flour (1 syn)
Shit the bed! Eight syns! Yes, but the syns all belong in the gravy and unless you’re going to be drinking from the gravy boat, you’ll not get anywhere near eight syns. Hell, this serves 4 anyway. So calm down.
to make roast beef with french onion gravy, like a big bloody pansy, you should:
- preheat the oven to 160 degrees and heat a large casserole dish
- lube up your meat with a little oil and plenty of salt and pepper
- pack your meat in the warm, waiting dish and return to the oven to brown for about ten minutes
- meanwhile, spray a frying pan with a little Frylight and fry the carrots and celery for ten minutes, and it’s alright to spend five minutes shaking your fist at the sky at a cruel God who decided celery should be a thing
- plop your meat out of the pan, and slap it to one side
- pour the wine into the casserole dish and boil for two minutes over a high heat
- pour in the stock, return the beef and add the carrots, celery and bay leaves – you’ll feel like such a posh fucker using bay leaves
- cover and return to cook in the oven for two hours, turning the meat halfway – you don’t need to wait at the oven until exactly sixty minutes to turn it, this isn’t The Cube
- meanwhile, thinly slice the onions and heat a little oil in a large frying pan
- stir in the onions, thyme and seasoning to taste
- cover and cook gently for twenty minutes on a low heat until the onions are soft but not coloured (racist)
- remove the lid, increase the heat and add a little more oil and the honey and cook the onions until they caramelise, stirring often
- remove the thyme sprigs, brush the cat’s teeth with them or something
- when the beef is ready remove from the casserole dish and leave to rest
- reheat the onion mixture, stir in the corn flour and cook for one minute
- mix the onions into the casserole dish to make a thick gravy – you’ll want it thick enough that it runs down the side of your meat and makes your tatties sticky
- slice the beef and pour the gravy over the top – now, if you’re not good at slicing meat, let someone competent do it – Paul cuts meat like he’s shaving a fucking ice-sculpture with a chainsaw – we only get two slices a pop from our sourdough
- serve with a fabulous selection of superfree food, or, in our case, more roasties than ten decent people would eat
Get it down you!