Just a flash blog post – just to let you know that our cookbook is available for only £9.99 from Amazon! If you’ve been sitting on the fence or if you want to sort something for Mother’s Day, birthdays and all that jazz – why not treat yourself?! We’ll promise it’ll be totally worth it! We’ve got over 1,900 5* ratings so you know it’s all the good stuff. Just click the image below to be transported right there!
…and as always, a massive thanks from us to all of you – whether you’re a reader of the blog, bought the book or considering it – we couldn’t do it without you!
Howdo! Told you we’d be back with a bang, and this cheesy chicken kiev is something to behold. Might look a bit like a diseased foof but hey. We’ve been having a chitter-chatter amongst our various holidays about whether or not we should be aiming for low-syn / no-syn dinners in light of the blossoming success of the book and blog and you know what, nope: we are going to continue exactly as we are! Our food has always been about spending a few points / syns / calories and enjoying it – so here we go! A chicken kiev recipe and a load of sass!
First, a bit of admin!
Our cookbook continues to soar and sell and we couldn’t be happier – remember you can pick it up in most major supermarkets and bookshops and there’s always Amazon if you get stuck – if you have been so kind as to buy it, please consider leaving us a review on Amazon – we want to get to 2,000! You don’t need to have bought it on Amazon to review it either!
Next, we’re down in Southampton filming something secret at the end of the month and there’s two book signings lined up – please do come along and get your book signed, we promise to be filthy!
Right – before we get to the recipe, a long holiday entry to endure! If you’re in a rush for the chicken kiev, click the banner and be whisked straight there!
Gosh, it’s been a while since I typed out a holiday entry (and I’m more than aware that I have Hamburg to finish, ssh) but in the spirit of efficiency, I’m going to barrel this one nice and fresh. I’m actually typing a good chunk of this out on the aeroplane home, trying desperately not to incur the wrath of the poor bloke sat between us who has been trying to complete a level on his motorbike game for the last hour or so. Oh Bohuslav, love, if you’re reading this over my shoulder, let me have a stab. Like so many of my men, you’re pulling out a fraction early. Anyway, let’s start with the detail.
See, Paul and I have been together almost thirteen years now, and Valentine’s Day is always a bloody nightmare – it falls six weeks after Christmas and four weeks after Paul’s birthday, and trying to come up with something unique and special is an absolute pain in the arse. Paul, however, has been ‘good’ (for good, read ‘endlessly forgiving of my indiscretions and nonsense’) to me this last year, and I wanted to get him something decent. It was only after finishing Sky Atlantic’s recent Chernobyl docudrama that I remembered he had always wanted to visit Chernobyl and so, after a cursory moment of trying to find a cheap deal, I had us booked onto a package with travelcenter.uk which included flights, hotel and a twelve hour tour for a very reasonable £360 or so. I presented him with the detail and he was over-the-moon – I was seeing his face light up in a way that no amount of low-level radiation could ever do. He explained that Chernobyl had always been on his bucket list and wasn’t I a brilliant husband for arranging it. Naturally, I accepted this high praise with full modesty and grace and elected not to tell him I’d only really booked it because I wanted my back doors smashed in by any of the number of muscly Adidas-clad sentient frowns that appeared on google when doing my research into the Ukraine. He didn’t need to know that bit.
With his Valentines present sorted, I eagerly awaited mine. I got nowt. Not even a card. I smiled through the tears, increasingly used as I am to the disparity of effort.
Now, let’s discuss the elephant in the room, and I don’t (for once) mean my bouncy beloved. We’ve been asked two questions on our social media channels which demand an answer, namely why would we choose to visit a country not exactly known for its gay rights and then, why visit Chernobyl? The first is a tricky one – we don’t normally go places where we aren’t welcome – and the Ukraine political situation is genuinely horrifying to us as gay men – but unlike countries like Jamaica (where we’d love to go, but would never be welcome), there’s only one Chernobyl – and to get there, unfortunately, you do need to go via Kiev. We choose our holidays sensitively but our hand was forced on this one, and I’ll circle back to this point a little later. As to why visit Chernobyl? Far easier. I married a massively polluting, noxious pile of slag – when do you ever get a chance to visit its twin? To the holiday, then.
Normally I spend ages waffling on about our trip to the airport, but this time, I’ll keep it short. As we weren’t flying to Magaluf, Bristol or Ibiza, we couldn’t fly from Newcastle, and so our journey necessitated flights from Manchester and a car journey. I was still ‘tired and emotional’ from a week of excess before so it was up to Paul – in his new black Smart car, no less – to drive us to Manchester. The arse-end of Storm Ciara made it an arresting car ride, with Paul barely needing to touch the accelerator, instead allowing us to be blown all the way there. Wouldn’t be the first time. I was a quiet, considerate passenger, keeping my shrieking and fitful crashing of phantom passenger-side brake pedals to a minimum. I’ll say this, though: Mancurians – you’re lovely, but you absolutely can’t drive. Here’s a clue: when you’re changing lanes, try flicking the indicators on. I appreciate it’ll mean you looking up from your Love Island repeats on ITV Player, but go on, give it a go. Four separate times I came within a whisker of cheating on Paul simply by virtue of having the Smart rammed so far into the back of someone’s car that I could have whispered ‘it only hurts for a bit’ into the driver’s ear. Arses.
We arrived at the fabulously appointed (cough) Holiday Inn Express at around 11pm and Paul immediately set about shaving his head with the clippers he had brought from home. Halfway through I hear the bzz-bzz-bzzz of a set of dying clippers and a plaintive mew from the bathroom. He had cut about a third of his hair before the clippers had run out of juice. That’s fine, get the charger, but wait no – Paul had left the charger at home on account that the clippers ‘looked fully charged’. I silkily enquired as to when he had acquired the impressive ability to ascertain electrical charge of an object just by glancing at it, and what this meant for the Terminator franchise going forward, but was met with a volley of indignant ranting. Faced with the horrific thought of cutting about the Ukraine with someone who’s head looked like a wet egg rolled disinterestedly in pubic hair, I leant him my Mach 3 and gave him a skinhead. To be fair, he looked pretty fit with it, but it then meant I couldn’t sort my own hair out – something that wouldn’t have been so critical if I hadn’t still been sporting a mohawk that my best mate had clumsily cut into my hair in an act of alcohol-soaked mischief. I can make a mohawk work when everything else on my face is neat and tidy, but for the remainder of the holiday I looked like I’d stumbled early out of rehab. Ah well.
We woke bright and wheezy the next morning and made our way to the airport, way ahead of schedule. For once, it was the right decision – the security halls at Manchester Airport were absolutely rammed thanks to couples disappearing off for romantic breaks. You couldn’t move for people making moony faces at their beloved or kissing in that ‘look everyone, we have sex’ way that is for everyone else’s benefit. My boots, coat and suitcase all raised alarms and I was selected for a grope, so can’t complain, though I was hoping (as it was Valentines) he might have given me his number after effectively giving me a handy in the search for illicit substances. As it was, no idea why my boots and suitcase set off the alarms – presumably fashion related – but my coat contained four separate lighters. I tried to style it out by saying I was a one-man-tribute to Cirque du Soleil but he was having none of it.
Flight was with Ryanair and I can’t fault it – Paul had forgotten his headphones and was looking to me to keep him entertained, and I genuinely hope he liked the sight of me face-down in Star Trek: Picard for the journey. He cheered himself up by ordering a coffee and setting away with the task of spilling the tubes of milk all over his legs, and then dozed on my shoulder. Can’t recall any particularly exciting turbulence.
Unusually for Ryanair, they landed us at an airport in the same country as our destination, although things were complicated by the lack of a metro straight to the city centre. I’d read about tourist taxi scams on the flight over and, now officially part of The Real Hustle team, I spent a good ten minutes handwaving and no-no-noing at all the offers of taxis that came over. Normally I’m not so fussy but these cars looked as though they’d been parked outside the reactor when it went kaboom, and I’m sorry, but I do like living. Luckily, Uber has made it to the Ukraine, and a driver was promptly dispatched.
And, oh my word. Fit? This bloke, with his name like an explosion at the Boggle factory, was stunning. Bright blue eyes that had seen, caused and relished in death, black hair I’d be picking from my teeth for weeks after. He spoke no English – and quite right too – and we all squeezed into his Honda Menace in a thick sea of sexual tension. He kept looking in his rear-view mirror, presumably to work out why my mouth was hanging open and spittle was pooling on my moobs, and it was all I could do not to reach over, open Paul’s door and tumble him out, then beg a long life with a man who would never show me intimacy. By the time we arrived at the hotel I’d learned the Ukranian for ‘I’m on PrEP mate, it’s fine’ and started arranging the tablecloths for our wedding, but he simply gave us a curt nod and was on his way, ready to break more hearts. Sigh. I blame Paul.
Our hotel – ‘Tourist Hotel Complex’ – looked fairly swish from the outside and we were checked in with lovely smiles and warm wishes. We had chosen a twin room in a fit of worry and panic and so were given a room on the ninth floor. My god. It was…basic. I’m not one for fancy hotel rooms, given we mainly just spend our time in there sleeping off booze or entertaining the locals, but this looked like a hostel you’d see a messy murder taking part in. No, that’s mean – imagine your nana’s spare room that she keeps for best. Lots of rickety pine, magic-eye wallpaper and fussy bits. The bathroom was tiny with the lavatory tucked neatly into a corner in such a way that to have a tom-tit meant folding your legs up like an accordian. You may remember, I’m 6ft 2″ tall and not that far off wide.
Worse though – the shower. The one thing I really do need is a powerful shower to blast away the snail-trails and harsh living, but this, this was dire. I had enough time between the drops of water hitting me to dry off and cut my toenails. I’ve never had a shower where I’ve had to move to stay wet. To add insult to injury, there was about two minutes of tepid water before it started sputtering and went cold. I was foaming, but mainly because there wasn’t enough water to get rid of the body-wash nestled in my chest hair. Harrumph.
Now, this is getting a trifle long, and for that I apologise. We will revisit this next week! But now, time for a chicken kiev! I know that is an incredibly obvious first choice for a Ukraine recipe but I can’t see that we’ve done one before – so let’s try and make a decent slimming chicken kiev! Let’s go!
Look, we're fat, we can't be arsed trying to make it look pretty. It's a baked chicken breast, we're not miracle workers. You can serve it with chips, salad or glitter from your bum. Up to you. The recipe makes enough for two kievs.
two large chicken breasts
50g of Philadelphia Garlic and Herb (4 syns)
25g of golden breadcrumbs (4.5 syns)
if you like it super garlicky, add a teaspoon of garlic paste (syn free)
I mean, can you take a guess here, poppet?
preheat the oven to 200 degrees and get yourself a good non-stick tray
cut a big fancy gash in the side of your chicken and stuff it with half of the Philadelphia (you're making two, remember) and smidge a bit of garlic in there if you're using it
fold the gash lips over themselves a bit
beat the egg and dip the chicken in
roll it around in the breadcrumbs
bake in the oven until cooked through
you COULD save syns and calories by using your own breadcrumbs from your healthy extra, but don't, just don't - this is as close to a proper kiev as you can get
you COULD also use Quark and garlic but for goodness sake, get a grip
If you want more recipes like this, buy our cookbook! You can order it now and it’ll be with you soon – click here! There’s also a Kindle version for immediate reading!
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Enjoy! More chicken recipes? Have a look at our huge chicken index right here!
Everyone! Our cookbook has finally launched – after what feels like months of writing, planning, photographing and plotting. it’s here! Launched on 2 January 2020 and already a best-seller, to the point where we exhausted Amazon’s stockpile many times over.
I just wanted to write a little bit about what this means to me. I know I speak for Paul too when I say this, but damn it, I’m the writer, these are my words. All of my life I have loved to write: I’ve kept (and keep) diaries, I rattle off short stories when I’m bored, I’ve kept this beast of a blog going for almost six years. I never, ever thought the blog would swell to become what it is today – a clumsily edited, lo-tech, no bells and whistles lumbering collection of nonsense tales and excellent food. There’s just the two of us, both with full time jobs, but we’ve kept this going because the social side of things has been endlessly brilliant. Then, last year, we were approached to make a cookbook and, after much consideration (we looked at Disney holidays, saw the prices and then agreed we must write a cookbook) set about pulling it together. I thought we might sell a thousand copies or so, mainly to my mam (who actually hasn’t bought a copy at all because she wants a free one, the tight mare), but nope. It has soared. The fact that it is published, out and we’re getting so many good reviews and positive comments absolutely melts my heart. I have achieved a genuine, concrete life goal and whatever happens next, I can turn around and say we’re published, best-selling authors – and it means the absolute fucking world to me.
So – seriously now – we might be about the knob jokes, coarse language and cooking – but you have made two very chubby cubs very, very happy indeed. Thank you!
Now – because there was such a colossal spike in sales last week, Amazon are struggling getting so many copies out in one go! We’ve literally depleted their stocks – and so a few of you may be getting an email saying there’s been a delay. WORRY NOT. Our publishers have sent Challenge Anneka down with her lorry and a whole load of new books and these will be hitting in the next few days. As soon as there’s new stock, the delays will be updated and books will be on the way. We had no idea there would be such a surge and this came out of the blue – so please, if this is you and you’ve been told a delay of a few weeks, panic not! Yours will be coming as soon as possible, promise! THANK YOU!
If you’re keen to buy it from Amazon, you can order it now and it’ll be with you soon – click here! There’s also a Kindle version for immediate reading!
If you are struggling with waiting, then please, fret not! You can also order from:
We know Sainsbury’s have them at the moment but they are flying off the shelves so be quick!
Comments from people will follow but we’re hearing good things about the fact they’re family friendly, easy meals and the book looks bloody gorgeous!
So: if you have the book, please do leave us a review, tell people about it, get things made and join in on our social media channels – @twochubbycubs on IG and Twitter and we’re all over Facebook! We really want to hear from you and we REALLY want some reviews!
That’s me for now. But one more time: thank you to each and every single person who reads this, recommends us, kindly leaves us comments and being part of this fucking amazing show in whatever way you have been. You’re amazing!
With love from James (the bearded, handsome, shaved head one with excellent clothes) and Paul (pictured)
Cheesy sprouts and bacon as a side-dish? I know, but it’s Christmas, and the little fart-balls deserve some love. Get it made! I appreciate that I’m the side-dish that you really want under your tree this Christmas, but I’m otherwise engaged.
Before we get to the cheesy sprouts and bacon, a gentle reminder that our cookbook comes out in two weeks, and frankly, if you haven’t ordered it, then what’s wrong with you? 100 slimming recipes to help you lose weight with the typical twochubbycubs humour splattered across it like a hedgerow edition of Razzle. You can pre-order it for £10 by clicking on the tasteful banner below, which will open in a new window!
Now before we get to the cheesy sprouts and bacon I must warn you that there’s a long entry ahead from our latest holiday. Buckle up buckaroo, it’s a good one, but if you’re so inclined, you know what you need to do: click the banner to go straight to the recipe.
As ever: our holiday entries tend to be skewed a little more adult, so if you’re a sensitive soul, please, click the banner
I know, forgive us: we are on holiday an awful lot. But in our defence, we never made the mistake of fathering children and so we can fritter away our pound coins with literal gay abandon. Plus, the world is out there to be seen and there’s hardly any chance with my current lifestyle choices that I’ll be one of those older folks in leisurewear prancing around the Alps, so let’s take what we can before the rickets kick in. Continue reading →
Actifry Pigs in Blankets seems like such an obvious recipe that frankly I’m disgusted that Paul hasn’t come through for me and suggested this before. It’s stuff like this that really makes me question whether this marriage has legs. But then I remember that, to his credit, Paul has great legs – presumably because the lack of strain placed on them due to his marvellously sedentary lifestyle. Seriously, we’re one cold winter away from his arse actually bonding to the sofa.
Little heads-up – we are being paid by the good folks at Tefal for this post, but as ever, we will only tell you the truth. If a recipe turned out bobbins, we would say so: our integrity can’t be bought for less than five fingers. Figures. But this Actifry pigs in blankets recipe is possibly the easiest we’ve ever done, so there.
You know, though, if I may backtrack for a bit. Paul does get an awful amount of stick and mean barbs on here, and I just want to clarify for anyone reading who is concerned that the poor bugger is having a hard time of it. The thing is: he deserves everything he gets. Oh lord, I’m kidding, of course he doesn’t. It’s all done with the greatest affection, I promise you, and he gives as good as he gets, though normally only on my birthday these days. Forgive me some mawkish sentimentality: but when I think about the year we’ve just had – creating our cookbook, recording our podcasts (coming soon!), farting about in London in fancy publishers, mincing around Europe – it’s really been quite an adventure. Despite the fact I’ve woken up to his Think F.A.S.T sleeping face approximately 4,200 times since we met, I still look forward to getting into bed with him of a night-time, farting him away with my toxic bum and then wondering how easily I could convince a coroner that it was ‘for the many, not the few‘ if I held a pillow over his face until the light left his eyes.
To make it all the sweeter, we have a phenomenal 2020 planned. Aside from the release of a cookbook, a secret project and all sorts of exciting developments to run along side, we’re also resurrecting the Year of Holidays that we did a few years ago. We love to travel and thanks to the fact I never spaffed too indiscriminately in my early years, we aren’t saddled with baggage above and beyond our knock-off Calvin Klint suitcases. The blog is always at its best when I have something new to write about and so, next year, expect some high tales and frisky nonsense as we clatter about Europe and beyond. Long time readers may remember my honeymoon diaries from when we went to Disney ten years ago: well, it’s time to go back in May. We will still be pumping out recipes that you can enjoy, not endure (you’ll start hearing that a lot going forward, fair warning), but we’re going to mix a lot more adventure into the mix. Adventure eh? Yes! If you didn’t catch the bus – you won’t want to miss the boat!
Anyway. Before all of that, let’s enjoy the slide into Christmas – push out and it’ll hurt less, James.
Let’s get to the sponsored bit. Actifry have asked us to take part in their third spin class of the year, where you spin the wheel, choose a recipe from their (genuinely very good) app and make it for our “adoring” public. We were happy to oblige, and thankfully, the wheel finally landed on a recipe that was easy to adapt for our slimming audience. These Actifry pigs in blankets can be cooked without the glaze and if you swap out streaky bacon for strips of bacon medallions and chose syn free sausages, you could make them syn free. The glaze adds a few syns but listen: it’s Christmas. If you can’t push the boat out here, when can you? You’ve got all of next year to think about losing weight.
I’ll say this though. We’ve been using our Actifry for years, mainly for chips because: obesity, but it’s genuinely our favourite kitchen gadget we own. It does exactly what it is supposed to do, with minimal fuss. It doesn’t leave your kitchen stinking of fat and it’s easy to keep clean, given all but the base can go in the dishwasher. It’s like the antithesis of Paul. There’s plenty of cheaper alternatives out there but – and mind this is rare because we’re usually all about not needing to spend money to eat well – this is worth spending your money on, even if you get a smaller or older model. Buy cheap, buy twice, and plus I’ve seen the clip of some of the models you can get in B&M and it looks like someone’s parked a coke-ravaged R2D2 on your worktop. Nobody wants that, now do they?
Actifry pigs in blankets with a BBQ Jack Daniels glaze
Yield20pigs in blankets
Remember folks, you can make this syn free by swapping out the bacon, using syn free sausages and omitting the glaze. But you could also brush your teeth with the bog-brush and save on toothpaste: doesn't mean you should. Spend the syns and enjoy this!
Don't have an Actifry? Shame on you. But these can be done in the oven too, and we'll cover that for you!
twenty wee chipolatas (syn free if you pick the right ones, otherwise, syn accordingly)
twenty strips of streaky bacon - use bacon medallions if you absolutely must (syn accordingly if you use streaky bacon - 100g is 9 syns, and we barely used that)
For the glaze:
a shot (25ml) of Jack Daniels (we use the one with honey because we're fancy AF) (3 syns)
six tablespoons of BBQ sauce - we use Tesco's own brand because we're not fancy at all, despite what we said above, sorry) - (6 syns)
So for twenty pigs in blankets, made with the glaze, you're looking at just under two syns a pop, including the streaky bacon.
wrap each wee sausage in a rasher of bacon, or half a rasher if you've got big slices
if you're using an Actifry Genius like us, no need to remove the paddle
if you're using an older Actifry, remove the paddle
place them into your Actifry with the 'join' of the bacon face down
if you're using an Actifry Genius, set the cooking mode to '2' (breaded products) and the timer for ten minutes - selecting this mode means the paddle won't turn, which will keep your pigs in blankets together
for an older model, set yourself a wee timer for ten minutes
set everything away cooking, and in that ten minutes, whisk together your sauce and Jack Daniels
when the ten minutes is up, tip in your glaze and:
for the Genius, select cooking mode 1 and ten minutes, which will make the paddle turn and get everything coated and sticky
for the older models, carefully pop the paddle back in and set it away for ten minutes
serve to rapturous applause
These really are bloody lovely. The only reason we suggest not using the paddle straight off is if the sausages go tumbling about, they might lose their blankets!
Can do these in the oven too - on a roasting tray for ten minutes, then glaze the buggers and put them back in.
the Actifry app is absolutely worth downloading if you're stuck on recipes - there are tonnes on there, including our own!
take a look at Actifry's on Amazon - there's a model for every requirement these days - this'll open in a new window
Don't forget our cookbook!
All good book shops, including Amazon, Waterstones and WH Smith. Thanks to strong sales Amazon have dropped the price to £10, as have the others, and we heartily encourage you to buy it now!
If you click on that banner, you’ll be taken to the Amazon page where you’ll also be able to download a wee Kindle version with three recipes, to give you an idea of what is coming up.
How good is that? Want more Actifry ideas? Of course!
Looking for something more to do with your Actifry? Sure!
Mince pie porridge, because hot-damn if things aren’t getting Christmassy here at Chubby Towers. Cases in point:
Paul has yet to tire of me caterwauling my way through ‘Can’t Fight This Feeling’ from the John Lewis advert yet, even in spite of me constantly pointing out that thanks to his dry skin and always-fuming temper, he’s my very own Excitable Edgar
we’ve swapped out the candles for some frankincense oils – Paul wanted to try another Christmas oil, but I demyrrhed
you can fuck right off – that’s the best Christmas joke you’ll see this year, especially on this sham of a cooking blog
Those lights are from Amazon, by the way, and called Twinkly. You can set each colour, have them react to music and, more importantly, if you line them up just right (which we never do) you can spell out words. Unbelievably tempted to hang them in the window and autoscroll JC4PM to the neighbours. You can buy them here.
Anyway! We have some lovely Christmas recipes coming up this month, including this mince pie porridge, but more importantly:
I can barely believe it myself. I’m skedaddling down to London this week to pre-sign some copies and I’ve told it looks absolutely glorious in print. But that’s obvious, because there’s a picture of me in it. It’ll keep the kids away from the swearing. And now, even better, I can present our trailer! Yes, we have a trailer. For some inexplicable reason they’ve added banjo music to make it a touch Deliverance but that’s OK, because these days I only squeal when he wipes himself off on my curtains afterwards.
So in light of the above, I thought I’d take the opportunity to answer a few questions about the book itself, so you know what to expect. If you’re only here for the mince pie porridge, then forgive my waffle!
What’s in the book?
100 recipes that we used to help us lose weight – all the proper flavourful meals that we’ve always done, easily cooked, no stupid ingredients – meals that you’d want to eat even if you weren’t on a diet. They’re not flash, they’re not fancy: just food to be enjoyed, not endured. Yes, that made my teeth itchy too. But seriously, we’ve always been about good food here at twochubbycubs, and we know that this carried across into our book.
We’re damn proud of it!
The recipes are a mix of breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas, together with sides, snacks and drinks. There’s a few dessert ideas thrown in and – our favourite – a few meals for when you can’t be arsed with dieting anymore and want a ‘blowout’ – indulgent meals that’ll not completely ruin your day but absolutely worth spending your calories on. We’re realists here: being on a diet 100% never happens. Better to have something to keep you going!
Where can we buy it and how much is it?
All good book shops, including Amazon, Waterstones and WH Smith. Thanks to strong sales Amazon have dropped the price to £10, as have the others, and we heartily encourage you to buy it now!
If you click on that banner, you’ll be taken to the Amazon page where you’ll also be able to download a wee Kindle version with three recipes, to give you an idea of what is coming up.
If you’ve been reading us for many years, it really would mean a lot for you to buy our book and have us in your kitchen. The fact that we even have a book at all is beyond my comprehension – people actually going out and buying it blows my bloody mind.
Does it have the twochubbycubs’ humour?
There’s meant to be humour on this blog? Christ almighty, that’s where we’ve been going wrong. No, of course it does – each recipe is accompanied by a little tiny bit of blog or new writing which made us laugh as we go along. There’s some mild swearing, of course, but nothing that would require you to get on your knees in front of a holy man. Like you’d need an excuse.
Does it cater for vegetarians?
Yes: the paper in the pages can be chewed up and washed down with a glass of warm water, although that does create the terrifying idea of a photo of me emerging somewhere unpleasant. I jest: the recipes includes more than a few vegetarian ideas, and where meat is used, you can easily swap it out. Mind, you’ll struggle with the beer-bottom chicken, but use your imagination.
What about syns?
There’s no syn information in the book – quite right too, we’re not Slimming World, and syns are their intellectual property. Slimming World have always been excellent to us and we will continue to respect their decisions! That said, you’ll find that all of the recipes, bar a few ‘blow-out’ recipes, will slot nicely into any diet plan.
We have also included calories per serving, if you need it to work out!
Will the recipes make their way onto the blog?
Nope – the new recipes in the book will stay in the book, but we will continue publishing on here too. Like anything is going to shut me up.
Anything else coming up?
Yes, we can announce that French and Saunders will be playing us at the Edinburgh Wellbeing Festival at the start of February, as evidenced by this lovely photo below.
Actually, that’s not a bad picture, though fun fact, I had to stand three hundred meters behind Paul just to make sure the scale was correct and my giant five-head got into shot. Also, listen, I was tired, hence looking like I’d been stung by wasps. WASPS. ALWAYS WITH THE WASPS.
Listen – if you’re in Edinburgh, we would love you to come along and hear us gab and speak about writing a cookbook, keeping a blog going and how to enjoy your food whilst ostensibly dieting. We’ll also give tips on how to satisfy your partner and the best way to raise a cat. I mean I’m assuming we’re giving a talk, they might have just accidentally booked us to come push the hoover around, but who knows? Find out more here!
Oh and we absolutely will sign your rack if you get them out.
As for other stuff? Some excellent things coming up! Watch this space, at least before Paul’s gelatinous frame fills it.
Right, that’s enough nonsense and flimflam. Let’s get to the recipe!
See! That’s a bowl of Christmas right there: mince pie porridge for a cold hearted moo!
Look, you try making a bowl of porridge look exciting - you can't. But that said, this is warming, low syn and tastes so Christmas you'll be papping out tinsel afterwards. You don't need to add the shortbread on the top if you're feeling really tight with the old syns, but I like it - it adds an extra layer of taste and mouth experience.
Urgh, mouth experience. Even I winced.
50g of porridge oats (HEB)
150ml of skimmed milk (use some of your HEA) (or syn this at 2 syns)
1 level tablespoon of mincemeat (2 syns)
half a shortbread finger (2 syns)
I mean, it's porridge, what do you want?
but let me help
before you add the milk into the pan, toast very gently your oats - gives it a much better flavour
add the milk and cook til the porridge is done
add the mincemeat and stir through, topping with crumbled shortbread
Amazon have dropped the price of the book to £10, as have the others, and we heartily encourage you to buy it now!
Enjoy your mince pie porridge!
You want MORE ideas for breakfast? Sigh. A boy can only do so much, you know…
Curried cauliflower soup – and syn free to boot – perfect as the winter sets in and Christmas approaches. This is a dual purpose recipe: I wanted to find a soup recipe that took no effort at all AND used a vegetable that is cheap and abundant at the moment. Added bonus: it’ll make your arse so toxic that, should you be like me and have a husband who is constantly knocking on your nethers with Ole Blind Bob, you’ll be given a free pass. A free ass, if you will, though no-one’s ever thrown socks at my bottom. Pity. Anyway, the curried cauliflower soup will follow shortly, but first the usual balderdash.
One thing I haven’t mentioned on the blog lately is that I’ve been gallivanting quite a bit – a veritable blizzard of trips away and driving around the country snaffling a hundred service station sandwiches whilst owlishly ignoring my ‘Service Due’ spanner light on my car. One such trip took me to Birmingham to see Chernobyl Edition Paul who took me along to see Frisky & Mannish. Now, when someone recommends something to me, I’ll often nod and smile and die inside whilst I have to pretend to be interested in something awfully unfunny or just not up my street. If you ever meet me, you’ll see the exact ‘but I don’t care‘ face I pull the very second I ask you how you are and you reply with anything other than the most basic acknowledgement of the question. Honestly, it should be a crime to actually give a proper answer. In the North East we have this down to a fine art, which goes like this:
See? Didn’t even answer the question and then it’s off back down t’pit. Learn from that, people.
Anyway, it turned out his recommendation wasn’t duff at all, and after a few Youtube videos which actually made my insides ache we were booked and ready to go. Now, if you’ve never heard of them, they’re a musical comedy duo act who do shows which play on musical themes and mix pop parodies, jokes and some actual amazing singing. That’s a shit way of describing them, so let me simply encourage you to watch this:
It even won over my stone-hearted husband, who last laughed back in 2014, and even that was mainly acid-reflux.
Aside from spilling my beer as I sat down and creating a heart-stopping moment when Frisky came speeding out in massive heels and oh-so-almost slipped over, it was a genuinely fantastic show. You know how these things tend to go: there’s nearly always a ‘down bit’ where they try new material and not everything sticks. Not here: I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much at a live show, and I’m someone who ends up in paroxysms of laughter watching You’ve Been Framed. My benchmark isn’t high. I left that venue with my ribs aching like someone had spent four minutes slapping me about with a pair of fish slices to the key-change in Scared of the Dark by Steps. That’s a musical joke and you know it.
We were given a chance to meet them after and to their absolute credit, they remained entirely unfazed and positive even in light of being hugged by a giant sentient Sugar Puff and his glazed companion. I’d post the picture but I look like I’ve been awake for eight days and that’s not a treat for anyone. However, they were that bloody good that when I returned home I booked three more tickets to see them in Newcastle with Paul and someone who was sick of hearing me bang on about them. They loved it too, and it was great to see them playing to a much larger venue. Actually! Because I’m a narcissistic sod, I wanted to redo the picture I had taken from the other week and they were only happy to oblige:
I’m the one in the middle, in case you didn’t realise. Did I feel guilty about leaving Patrick and Paul outside in the pouring rain whilst I went full Annie Wilkes in the foyer? I did not. Worth it! They’re taking a break now but honestly, if you ever get a chance to see them, you absolutely must.
We also managed to squeeze in to see Jay Rayner on his Last Supper tour when we were both in Birmingham. I’m going to use that as a jumping off point for a fuller blog entry down the line but I’ll say two things now. Firstly, the man was an utter delight – hilarious, self-effacing and full of anecdotes you actually want to listen to. Which leads me to my next point: if you’re attending a show with a ‘question and answer’ element, don’t be that irritating raclure-de-bidet who thinks everyone in the room has come to hear your thoughts on the act as the show goes on. My word, she was bothersome – talking over everyone’s questions, guffawing in that ‘look at me look at me oh god won’t you look at me’ way at everything he said…the list could go on. I sure hope her heartbeat doesn’t.
Anyway, we’ll come back to Jay Rayner another time, but in the meantime, let’s do this curried cauliflower soup, shall we? I can’t pretend I’ve found a way of making curried cauliflower soup look exciting, but damn it’s syn free and delicious. What more do you want?
We're trying to spin our meals around whatever vegetables are currently in season here at Chubby Towers - plus, eating meat for every single meal is getting a bit tiresome on both the entrance and exit doors. What can you do with a cauliflower? Some people - we'll call them mental - pretend you can make steaks with them. You can't. You can no more make a steak with a cauliflower than you can make a lamppost with a giraffe. Get ahad of yerself, lass.
However, the good folks at Olive Magazine posted this recipe last year, and although we've adapted it ever so slightly for twochubbycubs and Slimming World, it didn't lose any flavour in our tinkering. We heartily recommend!
We've also included a tip to really speed things up if you're pushed for time, but honestly, there's very little to do here.
one large cauliflower - remove the outer leaves
few sprays of olive oil
one large white onion (we used the cannonball onions from Morrisons, but only because the name got me all a-frisk)
two teaspoons of garlic paste
one tablespoon of hot curry powder
one litre of vegetable stock (made from bouillon powder if you have it)
100g of fat-free Greek yoghurt
chop up your cauliflower into little cauliflowers - don't waste the stem either, chop it finely
save a few shapely florets aside
slice up your onion
in a nice big pan, gently sweat off your onion and cauliflower until nicely golden
add the garlic paste and curry powder and give everything a good stir and cook for a couple of minutes more
add the stock and allow to simmer gently for around 25 minutes, or until everything has softened up
if you like a thicker soup, simmer for a bit longer to take off some of the stock
allow to cool, add the yoghurt and then blend together with a stick blender
taste and if it needs salt, add it and reblend
For the top, I sliced the cauliflower florets nice and thickly and then in another small pan, fried them off in Worcestershire sauce - you want them to have a bit of a bite, but the Worcestershire sauce adds a lovely flavour - totally unnecessary though! I also added a bit of chilli oil because I'm not content unless my arse is melting like a summer ice-cream
want to speed this up - you can buy already chopped cauliflower in Tesco sold as 'cauliflower rice' - combine with a pot of chopped onions and you could have this done in no time at all
want more fabulous recipes of this scale and complexity - of course you do, you're wonderful - click away!
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This freezes well, I should have said – and what better way to say I want a divorce than present your partner with some freezer-burn soaked curried cauliflower soup? I ask you. You want some more ideas for soup? We got you – here’s all our syn free soups:
Firstly, let me apologise for something. This sausage, onion and potato breakfast hash looks like something my cat shat out when she was going through the change, and no amount of Photoshop trickery is going to make it look better. But here’s the thing – it was genuinely tasty and I’m sure in more capable hands it would look halfway presentable. But in my defence, I was up at 6am thanks to a combination of Paul’s snoring, Paul’s farting, Paul’s phone going 🎵rit dit dit do doo 🎵- that, with 28 added lusty attempts from him to get some morning marital love outside of his birthday, meant I was super bloody tired. Luckily, I don’t hold a grudge, and I told him I’d grown fond of his face over the last twelve years as I merrily doused the bed with petrol. So, although the sausage, onion and potato breakfast hash looks like shite, I absolutely recommend you give it a go.
Let’s get straight to the recipe with no more chit-chat then, is one of the many opening sentences you may expect from a food blog. However, of course not, it’s us!
Fair warning on this one. The next few paragraphs – whilst not explicit in any way – are a bit more adult than the normal nonsense I post. Bear that in mind if you’re a delicate flower.
I touched on the fact we’d spent a merry weekend surrounded by hurly-burly gay men in my last post, and I feel I should expand on the memory of that. Something I’ve certainly done with alarmingly frequency since being back, for sure. See, every year in Edinburgh, there’s an event called BearScots – which in turn begs a further explanation. For those that div-not-knaa, a bear is a gay man who can’t shop at H&M. It’s where the ‘Cubs’ part of the blog name comes from, for what is a young bear if not a Cub. The theme tends to be hairy, portly and bearded. We’re making the term Cub work bloody hard now we’re both freefalling into the other side of 35, but I’m not changing the name now – we’ve had tea-towels printed. Anyway, it’s a surprisingly international event that puts significant strain on the airframes of low-budget airlines from all over Europe. I’ve always fancied going but, as regular readers will know, I’m a horrendously shy person who hates being looked at. Paul’s even worse, remaining the only man I know who would enjoy waking up in a sealed body bag because at least he’d never have to interact with anyone.
However, we had our arms twisted by a very good friend of ours who promised to look after us and make sure we were tucked up in bed by 10pm with a cocoa. We rashly agreed – somewhat fuelled by alcohol at that point – and before you could say who’s bringing the rubber bedsheets we had rented an apartment with all the laissez-faire attitude to cancellation policies that you’d expect from two frisky tinkers drunk on two sniffs of the barmaid’s cloth. We managed to rope in a couple more to meet up there and in no time at all, we were driving up the A1 to Edinburgh. I say we, Paul was driving and I was feverishly working my way through the many cans of gin and tonic we’d elected to pack instead of toiletries and essentials. It was a long, subdued trip.
Because Paul was driving, the two hour journey took exactly two hours. No stopping for cigarettes, cottaging or a wee mosey around the giftshop, he’s all business. He could be a taxi driver, he’s certainly got the sitting on his arse complaining bit down pat. We met our friends at our fabulously appointed apartment, shrieked at the absolutely tiny shitter (seriously, next time you’re dropping the kids off, try doing it with your legs pressed entirely together), exchanged insurance details and then went out. The first night was CC Blooms and served as an introduction of sorts, just an excuse to have a drink and a catch-up. I admit to being nervous: I’m actually not too bad at being social, to be fair, but it can be quite intimidating walking into a bar with two hundred far more polished hot-takes of yourself. Still, again fuelled with alcohol, I threw myself right into it and can’t deny that I had a maaaarvellous time. Put it this way, I started at 8pm, had already been offered excess and shenanigans by 9pm, and was dressed like this by about 10pm
I know, so demure. They hurt like an absolute motherfucker taking them off, mind you. Paul got into the swing of things almost as quickly, which was lovely. He lost me for about an hour and a half when I ventured downstairs into such a sea of flesh that I ran the very real risk of appearing back upstairs like a spill of mayonnaise rolled in pubic hair. Actually, fair play to me, I kept my hand on my ha’penny all night. Every single person I talked to was an absolute treasure, though, and when Paul and I rolled back to bed early in the morning, I was a very content cub. Mind that also had something to do with the deep-fried Scotch pie that I had smushed into my beard, granted. We stole a pack of Frazzles from the kitchen on our way.
Now, some people can languish in bed fitfully sleeping with their hands smashing all over all day long, but not me – despite having 84% proof blood, I woke at my usual 8am and decided to take the air. Well, that, and I needed fags. Because I’m a prissy bitch, I only like a certain brand, and it took four shops and all manner of blank stares and curious expressions before I found what I was looking for. Not only did the homely wee newsagent provide me with the minty nicotine hit I was desperately craving but also took the time to kindly point out I had a Frazzle adhered to my sweaty bald head from the night before. No wonder I couldn’t get served, I looked as though I was bringing leprosy back.
The day was spent mooching about, feeling sorry for ourselves (now I’ve reached the age where I get hangovers, I start to sympathise with my mother’s short temper at Christmas) and then having a restorative afternoon tea which was terrifically fancy. Naturally, I managed to get Creme Patissiere in my beard and drop my tiny sandwich on the floor, though I maintain we made a good impression with the two lovely Norwegian bears who had decided to sit with us. I heard the words ‘Ukulturerte sviner’ but we can take that as them choking on a flake of puff pastry. We were joined by Patrick, all smiles and startled from the night before, and we left for a couple of pints in Dirty Dicks before nicking back to get changed for the big event. On our way back an absolutely stunning man (tall, bearded, bald, arms like Christmas hams) walked past with his wife (mousy, plain, only in it for the money, definitely having an affair) and attracted all three of our gazes at once. Paul and Patrick are subtle, I’m most certainly not – I span my neck that quickly that the resulting crack of my bones smashing brought the street to its knees. So vexed was the wife by this attention lavished on her husband that she yelled ‘ALRIGHT LADS, YOU CAN STOP GAWPING NOW‘. Only she said it in a broad Scottish burr so actually, it was entirely incomprehensible – for all I know she was hailing a taxi. The chap did smile though. He knew. He knew we would father his children at a moment’s notice.
The evening event was the big one – around 400 blokes packing into The Caves, an underground, multi-level gorgeous place normally reserved for weddings and fancy dinners. It tickles me absolutely pink to think of some wedding nana sitting down sipping her Asti Spumante in the same place where someone was having their ring tested in an entirely different way. The theme for the event was ‘TAPS AFF’ which I’m told means tops off, with everyone being encouraged to take their tops off, wear a kilt or some fetishwear and just have a bloody good time. This was my effort:
I know, the casting for the Bring It On reboot is spot-on. I look like the campest Goal Defence substitute you’ve ever seen, I appreciate that. And yes, I went without my knickers on, a mistake I realised later when the steamy underground air – raised by the exothermic reaction of so much panting and sweating – left my balls clattering around my knees like a set of 90s Clackers. Paul won’t let me post a picture of him in his kilt even though he actually looked great. Poor sport. My top was off before I’d even clambered out of the taxi, the chilly Edinburgh night air no match for my Geordie approach to weather. I break a sweat wearing an earring, let alone wrapping up warm. I shan’t go into detail because it was just eight happy hours of pleasantries, drinking and warm embraces. I’ll say this though: I’ve never – in my absolute entire life – felt more confident in my own skin, back-hair and moobs all included. We both went down well.
Serious bit now. The reason the event is such a success is – from at least what I can see when I’m not gazing at myself in my phone – no bitchiness. I didn’t see a single person looking miserable, or alone, or down at his shoes – just everyone having a bloody good time and mixing wonderfully. I’ve been lucky enough to mince through my life either not experiencing – or rather, not noticing – any hassle about how I look or what I’m doing – but as with most large social groups, you always get a few bad apples. They must have stayed at home turning themselves into bitter applesauce because there was none of that there and it was just absolutely brilliant. We made a tonne of friends who – shock horror – we’re actively staying in contact with. Hell, one especially charming fella is sending me something I absolutely can’t wear for work, and that’s very exciting indeed. Fetch the talc and Momma’s pryin’ bar.
Sunday was the wrap-up event where Mr Bearscots was crowned – a very deserving winner who had crocheted his own kilt – but I had my eyes on one of the runners-up (who luckily visited last week, so we were able to commiserate his loss together). Paul held me back from storming the stage and offering myself up as a consolation hole, which was very decent of him. And of course, because I’m me, I now definitely want to enter Mr Bearscots next year. If Miss Congeniality has taught us anything is that hilarious antics will ensue and I’ll end up being crowned to the strains of ‘One in a Million’ (easy joke there) after I do my ‘making 18″ disappear’ trick.
In all, then, it was an absolutely tremendous weekend, and I’m so glad we rolled the dice and went up. It helped having such lovely company, of course, and the fact that the whole event ran so perfectly is a credit to the organisers and the volunteers. We will be back, in a heartbeat, and we’re also signing up for Bears on Ice next year – the same type of event but in Iceland. Those of you who have been with us a long time may remember our previous escapades in the Land of Fire and Ice, if not, have a click through here and take a look – that’s part six of a six-part blog story of an absolutely amazing trip, with links to all the previous entries included.
Ah, what a time. And here’s Paul’s cheery hangover face, to finish you all off:
See, he does exist! For all his many, endless faults, I do love him so. You’ll note he’s wearing my hoodie in that picture, which he liberally coated in oil from his pizza. That was his face when I dared to raise it to him. I’m sick of living in fear, if I’m honest.
Now, speaking of living in fear, I’m terrified by how rubbish this looks. Well no obviously I’m not, but please forgive me. Onto the sausage, onion and potato breakfast hash…
This is actually a Nigel Slater recipe that we've tinkered with slightly to make it less buttery and better for your arse. Enjoy. We do spoil you.
6 syn free sausages
3 medium potatoes
First, squeeze the sausagemeat out of the casing into 3-4 roughly shaped balls per sausage (don't worry, it doesn't have to be neat)
Spray a medium sized frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium-high heat
Add the sausages to the pan and cook until browned all over
Meanwhile, peel finely slice the onion
Grate the potato (with the skins on) with a cheese grater
Drop the grated potato into a sieve and squeeze as much moisture out as you can
Add the onion to the frying pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, until starting to turn golden
Add the potato to the pan and cook for a further 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until golden
make four divots and crack an egg into each one, cover with a lid and cook for a few minutes until the egg has cooked to your liking
Got an Actifry or a Halo? PERFECT! Cook the sausages in the pan with the paddle removed, shaking occasionally, for 5-6 minutes until starting to brown. Then add the paddle back to the pan and then chuck in the potato and the onion, and cook for a further 10-12 minutes until done.
‘ey up duck! Listen, I’m not going to lie – we’ve had quite the hectic month including a weekend surrounded by about five hundred equally chunky, hairy and mostly nude gay men. You can forgive us for taking our eyes off the ball, though to be fair said ball was normally clattering off my chin alongside its brother. Oh stop.
Tonight’s recipe is for a peppercorn sauce to go with steak – it’s simple, but damn is it tasty. If you want to go straight to the recipe for peppercorn sauce, we understand – just click the big button below and you’ll be whisked right there. You snooty moo. Everyone else, we have part two of our recentish trip to Hamburg. We love feedback on our holiday reports, do send us a message!
You may or may not recall from the last entry that we’re combining two trips to Hamburg in one sexy trip report here – so forgive the back and forth of the highlights. Or don’t, you’ve already clicked the page and given me the ad revenue now, so what can you do?
Kunterbunt and Tom’s Saloon
During both visits, we took ourselves for a few drinks in the night. A lovely night was had by all, with particular reference to the two places above. We couldn’t walk past a place called Kunterbunt and not go in, could we? It was tiny inside and exactly what you’d expect a gay pub in Germany to be like – not especially good beer and colossal screens showing explicit, vanilla porn in 480p. I haven’t seen an arse that pixelated since the heady days of being a teenage boy with a dial-up connection and trying to bust one out to some knockoff X-Files photoshop. One video being screened depicted some long-since-dead twink getting boffed on the bonnet of a moving Land Rover to which I had nothing but admiration – I get distracted to the point of crashing just pushing my glasses up my nose, let alone having to do a three-clench turn on some leather-bound Adonis.
The barman – a charming, hyper-excitable bear – recognised us from the first visit and stationed us at the end of his bar so he could feed us knock-off Jagermeister and scream HOLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH at me every time I came back from the toilet. He was a delicious affront to my senses and even brought Paul out from his shell. We spent many hours in there and I made significant progress on my German oral – it’s always been a language I was keen to get my tongue around.
Tom’s Saloon was better, although I felt they ought to have had a whiparound for some pennies for the ‘leccy box – at some points it was almost pitch black and I didn’t know where to put my face. I’ll give you an insight into my hamfisted (steady) pulling technique here though: I caught the eye of, and received a smile from, an absolutely stunning older bloke who was dressed head to toe in leather. Unless it’s on exactly the right person I’m not usually a fan (there’s lots of blokes – me included – who look like a discarded back-alley sofa in leather) but this man, with his beard white as snow and arms like swollen tree trunks, spoke to me on a primal level.
Buoyed up with the confidence that too much booze and too little lighting can give to a fat bloke, I sauntered over to introduce myself with the classic line ‘I fucking love your outfit, mate’. Outfit, though. I mean, the poor bloke would have struggled with his talc and zips and buttons all evening and here’s me leering at him like he’s come tap-dancing down the stairs like Satine from Moulin Rouge. Which is ironic, actually, given I was the one left breathless. Once I’d apologised for my language faux-pas the ice was broken and we enjoyed an hour of pleasant discourse culminating in him giving me his number and me being invited back to Norway. I’m not suggesting I was keen but I had klm.com loaded before he’d even finished explaining his playroom layout.
You mustn’t worry, by the way, Paul was making his own fun. Which admittedly sounds like he was fapping at the bar, but please, have a bit of decorum – this is a family blog.
Tangentially linked to the above, we were left with a difficult decision when 4am rolled around and we realised that no Ubers were going to our hotel. We could walk, of course, but fat and unsteady through unfamiliar streets? What if we got kidnapped and subject to all sorts of nefarious unpleasantness – or worse, what if we didn’t? The solution was right in front of us – take a scooter.
See, Hamburg is one of those up-and-coming fancy tech cities and as a result, is utterly awash with electric scooters that you can unlock with your phone and zip around the cycle paths with. They’re really very handy because you can pop out of any U-Bahn station and glide gently to your next destination. As someone whose ankles swell getting off the toilet, they appeal greatly. But see: when you watch the locals use them, they make it look effortless – swishing past in efficient German clothing balancing all manner of things on their back and ne’ry glancing at where they’re going.
Us, exceptionally drunk, badly-dressed and with all the coordination of a plane evacuation, do not. We gave it a go though, with the memories of both Florida (where a Segway beeped alarmingly at me when I climbed on with scant regard for the weight limit) and Tokyo (where a motability robot actually shut down under my corpulent frame) totally ignored. We were quite something! We didn’t fall over once – perhaps the alcohol relaxed us to the point that we mastered balance and speed with no issue. I don’t doubt we looked like two wardrobes given life, but hey – we made the 4km back to the hotel with only one very quick diversion to avoid the police. Gangster as fuck, us.
When this popped up on our Google recommendations you best believe that we were first in line the second it opened. I mean, a tour of a chocolate factory coupled with the promise of free chocolate? Excited? I was dilated like a rejected bagel. I do think it doesn’t do to look too keen in situations like this, but damn, we had a coach party to get in front of and anyway, this was a hurried weekend: no time to lose!
The tour itself was actually – surprisingly – really interesting, with a host who flitted between German, French and English with the consummate professionalism you’d expect from someone who has spent years trying to keep the interest of forty people who really just want free food and a chance to rub themselves off in the molten chocolate room. No? Just me? Regardless, she seemed to take a liking to me – this always happens for I am simply irresistible and/or always volunteer questions and cheesy smiles – and kept inviting me to show off how easy it was to make chocolate. Either that or she was holding me up to the others as a stark warning about the dangers of calorie excess. Meh, I don’t care, I got more samples than anyone else and brought everyone together with effortless jokes and slapstick – they should send me to sort out Brexit.
The best part came in the room where you got to pour and then adorn your own chocolate bar. Having been so terribly burned by our ‘exciting tour’ of Cadbury World a couple of years ago I held no hopes, but no: it was a full size bar and – her words – any topping you could possibly want. Alas, I didn’t have time to google what the German for ‘brutal, relentless and don’t call me afterwards’ was and she brought out a tray of marshmallows instead. My bar was topped with sea salt, crunchy sugar and some other chocolatey detritus they’d swept off the floor, Paul went for something cloying and some heavy breathing. They were whisked away to cool whilst we were shown how cocoa beans were pressed, but I think she knew at that point she had lost us to hankering after our creations because she wrapped things up remarkably quickly.
I wish I could tell you that we kept the bars as gifts for when we returned home but I don’t think we were out of the gift shop before they were pawed clumsily into our Augustus Gloop mouths. Ah well. We tried.
St Pauli and the Reeperbahn
Hamburg has an especially salacious district known for sex and excess, so naturally my feet were twitching from the second we set down. We went for drinks in a bar just outside whilst things started to liven up, then decided to have a wander about once the sun had gone down. Not a euphemism. Well goodness me: all I can say is that I’m sure if you were a young straight lad you’d have a smashing time, however, there wasn’t much for the lightfooted amongst us. I felt more than a pressing concern for all the (admittedly usually stunning) ladies of the night who called to us (and literally everyone else with a cock) as we walked past. I wanted to cry out that it was ‘nothing personal, you’re beautiful, but I could cheerfully undercut your fees for anal’ as we wandered on, but Paul pointed out the many muscly man-thumbs who were patrolling the area with stern expressions on their faces. As if that would put me off, I’d end up slipping notes in their shirt pockets as they choked me out. We carried on through without engaging though – Paul’s hand on his ha’penny and mine on my wallet.
Paul and I rarely argue – especially for a couple who have been together for twelve years – but when we do, it’s always an absolute corker. Holidays, alcohol and my tendency towards out-of-the-country profligacy does tend to bring out the ire, though. I mean, can you imagine an argument spinning so far out of control that one of us ended up storming off in the dead of night, buying a full-price ticket for a plane ride home and getting all the way to the security gate at the airport before they finally backed down? Was such a thing possible? Imagine such a nonsense! Mahaha. It took several bags of Haribo and rounds of nuzzling to right that wrong, I promise you. Although it definitely didn’t happen, eh, Paul? We laugh about it now, even if I’m still pouring broken bits of glass into his coffee when he’s not looking.
We can’t recommend Hamburg enough: it’s an absolutely gorgeous, perfectly German city. We spent hours wandering out, buying snacks (including a 5am haul of pastries from one of the U-Bahn stations) and just soaking in the city and whilst it isn’t my favourite place in Germany (Berlin, which we are revisiting soon), it’s high up on places I’d cheerfully buy a flat to use as an occasional blowout pad. I’m sure that there’s all manner of historical and beautiful places to experience there that we didn’t touch on – though we did visit the art gallery and fell asleep walking up about ten minutes in – but what little we saw, we adored. As a bonus, flights are dirt cheap and hotels seem reasonable enough, so if you’re fancying a weekend away, do it!
A shout-out to srprs.me (we paid for our own holiday, so not an ad) – we can’t get enough of this. Paying someone else to send you on an entirely random, unscripted holiday is quite the risk but they have absolutely never failed us, always choosing unusual hotels in places we would never have considered. If you’re someone who likes to control-freak every aspect of your holiday then I implore you to roll the dice and give it a go – I bet you’ll be pleasantly srprsed. I’ll see myself out.
Now look, I'm not making a claim that this is exactly like a proper peppercorn sauce, but damn we got it close. We were inspired to make this after buying the Slimming World peppercorn sauce in Iceland. They do some lovely food, apparently, but lord knows this wasn't it. Hopefully you'll enjoy our version! This makes more than enough for four servings - Paul applies his sauce somewhat liberally, as you can see. Mind, that explains why I have the face of a 24 year old.
one really large onion
tablespoon of lazy garlic (if you like it particularly honking - feel free to dial this back)
handful of button mushrooms
beef stock cube dissolved in 100ml of boiling water
absolutely tonnes of black pepper from a grinder or, if you're a fancy bitch, use your pestle and mortar
100g of Philadelphia Lightest (4 syns)
firstly, divven't be adding salt to this recipe - the stock cube takes care of that
chop your onion and mushroom as finely as you possibly can - this is the fiddly bit, but worth doing right
sweat off the onion in a few sprays of oil on a low heat - you want them softened ever so gently
add the garlic and the mushrooms and continue to sweat (both the food, and you in general, because if you're anything like me you'll be chewing your gusset wanting yer dinner) a minute or two
add as much black pepper as you and your weak pelvic floor muscles dare
pour in the stock and whack the heat up, let it bubble away and reduce a smidge, then turn the heat down
add the Philadelphia and stir it through and allow to gently thicken
slop it over your steak and chips
Philadelphia Lightest is fine for this, but - shock - we used Philadelphia Light as that's all we had. I know, we're sluts, but it still makes a tasty Slimming World peppercorn sauce
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Canny eh! A peppercorn sauce done just perfectly! Right, you want some more recipes? Don’t we all. Let’s take a selection from the beef section. Here’s 28 beef ideas, all syn free!