slow cooker: beary beery barley beef stew

We’re having a quiet night tonight for two reasons – we’re both extremely tired due to us having different (but equally terrifying) nightmares last night that kept us awake – mine (Paul) involved a nuclear war, his had something about an old woman. I weren’t really listening. There’s nowt more boring than listening to someone else’s dreams.

Tonight’s recipe is naturally incredibly butch. I know it looks like something that fell out my arse, but trust me – this is truly delicious and just perfect for a cold night. If you have kiddiwinks and want to give them this, feel free to go ahead – the booze will boil off, and anyway, there’s not much tipple in here anyway so even the weakest lightweight won’t even have an eyelid flutter. This is also perfect for all the fans of slow cookers out there, which judging from our inbox asking for recipes must include nearly every one of you! 

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to make beary beery barley beef stew you will need:

  • 400g lean stewing beef, cubed – Musclefood have come through for us – you can get BUY ONE GET ONE FREE on their beef chunks (already cheap and no fat) by clicking here, entering the code TCCHUNKS at the checkout
  • 1 onion (brown works best here but a red onion will still be okay)
  • 500g mixed root vegetables of your choice (we used carrots, parnips and a turnip)
  • ½ pint pale ale (we used Brew Dog’s Dead Pony Club, and very nice it was too) (about 4 syns)
  • 100g pearl barley
  • 750ml beef stock
  • bouquet garni

to make beary beery barley beef stew you should:

  • chop everything up into chunks – the root vegetables should be no bigger than the size of your thumb
  • pour everything together into the slow cooker and heat on low for 8-10 hours
  • that’s it!

Enjoy!

date-wrecking asian garlic beef

Quick post tonight as we’re both knackered after our poor stay at the glamorous, salubrious Village Hotel just outside of Whitley Bay. We decided to spend a night there on the basis that “it can’t be that bad”, which is never a good reason to stay in a hotel. Now let me say this, I’m sure it’s lovely for weddings or it has rooms that blow the mind, but we were given a room that resembled Barbara Cartland’s bathroom, all bright colours and furnishings. The bed was that uncomfortable that we actually went for a drive at midnight as opposed to trying to sleep with the jizz-rusted springs digging into our back. We had a meal delivered by room service that was so forgettable I went for a bath halfway through my burger. It was very ‘god bless, they’ve had a try at least.’ I did feel bad for the room service people though – as soon as Paul ordered our meal I spent a good twenty minutes generously farting away under the duvet, with the effect that as soon as they knocked on the door and I barrelled to the bathroom, a veritable mushroom-cloud of trump went off in the bedroom. Paul tells me that the poor lass delivering our food physically blanched upon smelling, and I’m sure I heard her gagging away in the hallway.

You know what pisses me off though? The various ways they rip you off or let you down in places like this. For example, for £20, we could have been upgraded to ‘Upper Deck’ where such luxuries as Sky Movies and Starbucks coffee awaited. Choose not to upgrade, and your TV (I kid you not) picks up BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4, True Movies and Nickelodeon. Perfect if I want to watch the lass out of Cheers getting slapped about or Songs of Praise, but otherwise, fucking pointless. Not to mention the picture broadcast was so poor that I wasn’t entirely sure there wasn’t a tiny man behind the screen hastily drawing an approximation of what should have been on the screen at any given time. Why not just give us the normal TV channels rather than going out of your way to give a shit service? We had a drink in the bar – £13.50 for a gin (unbranded) and tonic (ditto) and a cider. I’m a tight Geordie, yes, but for that price I expect a hairy orchard-worker to come and squeeze my apples himself. Our room service cost £7 to be delivered (had they come in a taxi?) because we had two trays – fair enough, save for the fact that one of the trays held a tiny plate of cheesecake and could have easily been buried on the other tray. I’m surprised that they didn’t have the lift shake the coins out of our pockets as we checked out.

It’s foolish because all it does is create a shit impression – pay extra on top of your hotel stay and you’ll get what you paid for originally. It’s no surprise the hotel trade is dying on its arse with the likes of AirBnB chasing them – I’d sooner pay a flat rate and get everything than pay through the nose and then get asked for more.

Oh, and the coffee. I’d have got more taste and flavour if I’d pissed the bed and sucked it through the mattress.

Staff were lovely though.

So: recipe. I’m calling this date-wrecking because cor, it has a lot of garlic. Very mellow tastes though and it’s a good way to use up the beef strips like you get in, oh I dunno, our fantastic bloody deal with Musclefood? Remember? Forty quid of meat that you can enjoy all sorts of recipes with? Here, take a gander.

asian garlic beef

to make date-wrecking asian garlic beef, you’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed (or even better, use a little mincer – no, not Paul, one of these)
  • salt and pepper
  • 500g of beef strips (or any beef, cut into strips)
  • 1 onion, thickly sliced
  • 1 pack of mushrooms – any you like, we used those exotic mushroom packs you get in Tesco
  • 2 spring onions, sliced

and then to make date-wrecking asian garlic beef, you should:

  • in a bowl, mix together the sauces and lime juice
  • in another bowl, mix together the garlic and 1 tsp pepper
  • season the beef with some salt and pepper, spray a large frying pan with oil/frylight, and heat to medium high
  • add the beef and mushrooms (FINALLY I UPDATED IT) and cook until browned, for about 1-2 minutes and then set aside on a plate
  • in the same pan, spray with a little more frylight or oil and cook the onion for about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently
  • add the garlic and pepper paste and stir constantly for about thirty seconds – add a splash of water if it begins to ‘catch’
  • return the beef to the pan and stir well to combine
  • add the soy sauce mixture to the pan and stir until well combined
  • serve and top with the spring onions

We served this with greens, the recipe for which is coming tomorrow. What a tease!

Dead easy!

J

Mongolian beef

Firstly, big welcome to all the new subscribers! I’ve noticed one hell of a spike over the weekend – good to see you all! I hope you’re fans of knob gags and decent food, because that’s what you’ll be getting. Something I keep meaning to mention – if you leave a comment and I don’t reply or it doesn’t appear immediately, don’t worry, I’ve seen it – I’m just not at my desk to reply to it! But I always get around to it and because I’m an arrogant lover, I like hearing from you all. So, you know…

Here, can we all agree that the silly woman in that bloody Oral B advert can fuck right off with her ‘go pro with my toothpaste’ schtick? It’s been a long time since an advert annoyed me so. I can’t decide if it’s because of the way she delivers her lines like one of those gap-yah knobbers who inflect every syllable upwards like they’re asking questions, or whether it’s because we’re supposed to give the shiniest of shites about her dentist appointment? Perhaps it’s the fact SHE HAS NO FUCKING TOOTHPASTE ON HER BRUSH WHEN SHE’S BRUSHING HER TEETH. Plus the toothpaste must have one hell of an anaesthetic in it given she seems to paralyse one side of her face after brushing, the smug twatapotamus that she is. Anyway.

Today’s been the first quiet day in a long while, hence you’re getting a blog post. Yesterday we had to have our electrician around as an emergency because the bathroom lights (installed three years ago) had been merrily trying to set the house on fire. Drama! That’s all fixed, but I could have done without him knocking on the door at 9am (instead of the agreed 10.30am) as it meant I had to go from fast-asleep to fresh-faced within twenty seconds. Those days are behind me – I look like I’ve fallen face-first into a fire for a good half hour in the morning until I’ve freshened up with a shower and four tankards of coffee.

Lucky I didn’t have morning glory, though I suppose could have given him somewhere to hang his cabling. He barrelled into the bathroom before I had a chance to check whether Paul had left one of his trademark ‘freshly-ploughed field’ skidders on the toilet, so I just went back to bed and left Paul to deal with any potential embarrassment. We’ve had top luck with all of our ‘tradespeople’ so far, luckily. Certainly no-one has felt they’ve needed to do the whole ‘TITS AND FOOTBALL’ chatter that never washes with us, although I did manage to embarrass myself with the joiner who has been fitting out our wardrobes by asking him if he had wood. I should have just committed and leered at him instead of letting the tops of my ears go red.

So today we’ve had a lie-in – well, Paul did, I got woken up by one of the cats who, yet again, decided that the very first thing I needed to see when I woke up was her puckered bumhole glaring at me as she fussed about on the duvet. It’s not fair, Paul would sleep through a gas explosion whereas I wake up if someone sighs in Darlington. I reckon Sola knows that and decided that 9am was when she wanted her food, so I needed to be up. Ah well. After two hours of me making increasingly loud noises in the kitchen, Paul rolled out of bed and we were on our way to the cat and dog shelter.

Regular readers will know that Paul and I regularly walk dogs at our local cat and dog shelter, Brysons. It’s an easy way to get a bit of body magic and the dogs bloody love it. Brysons do amazing work with so little funding so we’re happy to help, plus we had a bucketload of extra donated food that my work had put in for, so all was great. We were given this little beauty:

tansie

Aww. I’m not a fan of small dogs – especially yappy breeds – but she was adorable, even if I did pick her up for a photo only for her to lick so excitedly at my face that her tongue actually went into my mouth. I don’t know who came off worse in that situation frankly, but if the bitch doesn’t buy me some flowers and arrange a second date I’ll be fizzing.

After the dog was walked, we decided (against better judgement) to have a spin out in the car and go to Dalton Park, which is a local outlet centre. We apparently didn’t learn our lesson from our jaunt to Royal Quays, which was incredibly disappointing (link opens in a new window). We need some new shoes, shorts and shirts before we go to Corsica, and apparently there is a Cotton Traders there which is suitable for our vast frames.

Well, honestly. What a heap of shite. For one thing, it was absolutely rammed to the point where we were struggling to park – and this was at 3.30pm on a Sunday afternoon. Who the hell wakes up on a Sunday and decides that what they really want to do on their day off is look around an M&S outlet centre, buy a factory-seconds bag of Turkish Delight and enjoy a sun-warmed fly-buzzed potato in Spud-u-Like? I was immediately seething at the temerity of everyone else for bringing their bloody children along. Shopping should be a pleasurable experience and not feel like I’m on Total Wipeout trying to reach the tills with screaming children snottily orbiting my ankles. BAH. Still, I spotted a ‘The Works’.

I love The Works, it’s like someone created a load of nonsense books for a bet and put them out to see if they’d sell. Crotcheting the Norfolk Broads with Wincey Willis? The Better Sex Guide with the late Wendy Richards? Painting with Mist? Absolute tut! That said, we somehow managed to spend £50 on yet more cookbooks that will languish on our shelves unread and unloved until we have a fit and decide to donate them to charity. I swear we keep our local Scope exceptionally well-stocked for books, no wonder the lady who runs the shop drives a Mercedes and has a Radley bag which I BET someone donated. Scandal!

The lady behind the counter at The Works decided that no, putting eight hardback books into seperate bags was an entirely silly idea and really we would best be able to manage by putting all the books into one carrier bag and then quadruple-bagging it, meaning I had to struggle around the bloody shopping arcade like Sisyphus, trying desperately to mask my hard breathing and tomato face. Great fun. 

We did pop into Sports Direct for roughly fifteen seconds which was fourteen seconds longer than we needed to be reminded of why we never venture in there. It was awash – nay, it was crawling – with the slackjawed masses you see in the paper for shoplifting buying themselves new accessories to match their grey sweatpants.  Men shouldn’t be allowed to wear those grey sweatpants that hug every wrinkle and vein, it removes all the mystery for Paul and I as gay men, like knowing your Christmas present in advance. 

We ducked next door into the Adidas outlet and asked (well, no, interrupted the chat about football between him and a co-worker) the first member of staff we saw whether they had any size 12 trainers in stock. Well jesus, you’d think we’d asked him why sheep don’t shrink in the rain, he looked so dumbfounded. It’s not the most unusual of questions to ask in a fucking shoe-shop but hey, clearly when God was handing out brains he was off getting a second helping of mouth, so that was that. We gave up at this point and went home, stopping for a consolation McDonalds on the way home. I know I know, but if you won’t tell Margaret, nor will we.

Tell you what though, if you’re itching to tell Margaret anything, you could give her the recipe for this bloody lovely Mongolian beef.

mongolian beef

We served it on instant rice, for shame, with broccoli on the side, but the star of the show really is the beef – sticky, salty and delicious. 

to make Mongolian beef, you’ll need: 

  • 450g beef steak, sliced thinly – now you can buy decent enough stuff from Tesco, but remember, we’re big fans of Musclefood and you can buy stir fry strips of extra lean beef from there that are perfect for this dish by clicking here)
  • 25g corn flour (4.5 syns)
  • ½ tsp grated ginger (remember to put it in the bloody freezer after, don’t be buying new ginger every time!)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (use a microplane grater for your garlic and ginger and your fingers won’t smell so bad – buy one from Amazon for £9)
  • 120ml low sodium soy sauce (seriously now, use low sodium because otherwise it’s gonna be too salty and bad for your ticker)
  • 25g brown sugar (5 syns) (worth it – makes it sticky – this makes enough for four) (don’t bloody use sweetener, it won’t work)
  • ¾ tsp chilli pepper flakes
  • 3 spring onions, sliced (remember – leave an inch or so of root and then pot them into water – the onions will grow again!)

to make Mongolian beef, you oughta:

  • place the beef onto a clean, dry tea towel (or kitchen roll) in a single layer and pat dry – you want it drier than a nun’s gusset
  • add the meat to a bowl and sprinkle over the corn flour – toss (the flour) until evenly coated
  • heat a little oil / frylight in a large pan over a medium high heat
  • add the garlic and ginger and stir for a few minutes until it is nicely coloured
  • add the soy sauce, brown sugar, red pepper flakes and 120ml water to the pan and cook the mixture for about two minutes to thicken, then pour into a jug and set aside
  • heat the pan to high, add a little more frylight / oil  and cook the beef until browned on all sides
  • pour the sauce back into the pan and cook until the meat is thick, shiny and just waiting to be slid into your mouth
  • add the spring onions, reserving some to garnish, stir and serve on rice with a bit of onion on top

That’s Mongolian beef. IT’S JUST THAT EASY.

Until next time, lovers.

J

beef in a honey and black pepper sauce

Remember me twittering on about our fancy lights? We’ve went and bought a new gadget – it’s a NEST smoke alarm. We need a new smoke alarm – we’ve been using our old one to prop the dishwasher up, and given the amount of vodka and aftershave in our house, it’s too risky not to have a working system. Now, this isn’t just a smoke alarm. It’s fancy. Real fancy. Our house is becoming the gadget city we always wanted, see. This smoke alarm hooks into my WiFi and will alert me if the batteries are low or if it detects smoke. And how does it do this? IT BLOODY WELL TALKS. Admittedly it’s in a plummy ‘don’t be scared, but you’re about to be cremated’ voice, whereas if I’m about to die, I want a fucking air-raid siren, not Joanna Lumley whispering me to the grave. If I’m honest, we only bought it because it a) works with our thermostat (it’ll thoughtfully turn the boiler off if it’s pumping out more poisonous smoke than the shelter outside a Mecca Bingo at the interlude) and b) it glows. It will momentarily glow green when you shut all the lights off so you know it works. It’ll glow red if you’re on fire. It’ll even glow white for 20 seconds in the hallway if you get up for a piss, which is handy if you’re like us and your bathroom lights are so intense that your helmet blisters as you urinate. 

Speaking of bright, they say you should always look on the bright side of life. I generally do. My days aren’t often filled with wonder and drama but they’re always littered with tiny moments of joy or laughter, and that’s a nice way to live. For example, I take great solace in, every day at one attosecond past five’o’clock, I hurtle out of my work office, straight to my car on the 11th floor of the car-park, throw ‘The Final Countdown’ onto Spotify and hurtle down the ramps as fast I can so that as my car pulls out of the car-park, ‘IT’S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN’ plays. There’s just enough time to do it as long as no-one gets in my way. That said, more often than enough, I’ll get stuck behind someone who’s as thick as a submarine door and is trying to operate the barrier by inserting her Boots Advantage card and calling for help on a box of Lillets. But it’s still good fun – a simple pleasure, but a pleasure none the less. I mean, that happiness normally dissipates a second later as I’m stuck behind some numpty in a BMW who thinks the indicator stalks are somewhere to rest her ankles when she’s got a client in the back-seat.

The reason I mentioned happiness is because I actually got myself upset earlier – and you need to realise, I have a heart of solid black granite. The only time I get upset is when Paul eats more than half of the Ben and Jerry’s. GOD-DAMN IT. No, I was reading an article on the BBC News (link) about a young Iraqi gay lad who was forced to leave his country simply because he was gay. His own dad told him that he would be happy for ISIS to chuck him off a tall building to his death, or burn him alive, simply because of his biological leanings. I couldn’t comprehend it. Men are being sent into the desert with their arseholes glued shut so that they die an incredibly painful death just because they like a bit of cock. All very distressing and we shouldn’t linger on the details.

What it did make me think though was how bloody lucky I am / we are to live in a country where being gay just isn’t a problem. Not really, not on the scale it once was. The fact that I can live with my husband in the middle of Menopauseville, Northumberland and no-one really bats an eye is testament to how far we’ve come. My nana, god bless her, told all the old wrinklies at the WI about my wedding and challenged anyone who had a problem with it. She literally took all comments on her whiskery chin. I can’t personally remember the last time I experienced any sort of homophobia.

Sure, there’s the well-meant but incredibly offensive comments – I was told once by a colleague that ‘my religion doesn’t agree with gays, but don’t worry, I can tolerate you’ – like I was a bad smell, or an ingrown toenail. I resisted the urge to snip back that I don’t agree with grown men in frocks putting their holy willies into little boy’s bottoms, but what’s the use. You also get a lot of people asking ‘how it works’, like there is a hidden user guide (a gayde?) that explains all the mechanics (when he pushes, so do you), but that’s fair enough. I don’t mind answering questions as long as you’re comfortable with vivid descriptions and use of the term santorum. It’s a given now that if I’m filling out a form, I’ll be able to choose ‘Civil Partnered’ or ‘Married’ as opposed to ‘Living with Partner’, which was simply a euphemism for being a chutney-ferret.

Actually, the most devastating thing about filling out forms these days is that I’ve gone up an age-bracket – I now fall into the 30-34 category. Sniff. Might as well order myself some piss-knickers now. Sigh.

iPad running slowly now, clearly don’t feel with my sass. So let me chuck you a recipe like the decadent bitch that I am.

beef in honey and black pepper sauce

you’ll need these (serves two fatties):

  • 2 tbsp honey (5 syns)
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 600g dried noodles
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 400g diced beef
  • 1 broccoli, cut into florets
  • half a cabbage head, chopped

 

and you’ll need to do this

  • soak/cook the noodles according to the instructions
  • put a pan of water on and boil the broccoli and cabbage for about 5 minutes, drain and set aside.
  • honey,  soy sauce, fish sauce, mirin and black pepper gets whisked together next, and set aside
  • into a pan goes a little oil or Frylight and heat until it starts to smoke
  • next, add the onion and reduce the heat immediately to medium-high
  • cook for about a minute
  • throw in the beef and cook it however you like it (we always prefer a bit of pink meat…)
  • empty the pan of the beef and onion and set aside
  • return the pan to the heat
  • final stage now – add the sauce mixture to the pan and thicken into a syrup
  • add the broccoli and cabbage to the pan, and stir
  • chuck in the noodles and the beef to the pan and mix well
  • enjoy!

Mmmm!

J

the steak bake

For most blokes, the idea of having a soaking wet bird angrily thrashing around on their face first thing in the morning would be an entirely wonderful way to wake up. Well, admittedly, we’re not “most blokes” but let me tell you, it’s not all that. Nevertheless, that’s how we started the day, with my cat bringing a bird in through our bedroom window and throwing it against my face. Normally we’re woken very gently by our fancy alarm clock that fades unnatural light into the room like a sunrise but clearly Bowser thought that was far too decadent and we needed a new alternative.

There was a LOT of screaming. I screamed, Paul screamed, the bird was screaming and the cat got such a fright at our apparently ungratefulness that he puffed up into Giant Cat Form, picked up his prey and took off with the bird in his teeth into the living room, leaving a lovely smear of blood across the floor from where it’s wing was hanging off. We spent the next ten minutes trying to remove Bowser from the room and rescue the bird and, after much flapping around (by all of us) and some judicious use of a tea-towel, I slingshotted the poor bugger out of the living room window. He survived for all of about ten seconds before Sola, our other cat, jumped from the roof (we live in a bungalow remember, she’s not THAT good) and tore his head off. In all, we’d gone from sleeping peacefully in our beds to watching a violent murder on our front lawn, with all the screaming and dramatics that entails, within fifteen minutes.

My heart was still racing as I backed the DS3 off the drive.

Of course, the fun didn’t stop there, as when Paul posted a dramatic recollection of the encounter on Facebook, he was immediately set about by someone telling him off for not taking the bird to an animal hospital. Paul was being terribly polite and British about the whole thing but I immediately weighed in on the argument to point out that ‘the Sparrow Ambulance was tied up attending to a coal tit with hurt feelings’ and that I lamented the fact I hadn’t had the foresight to fashion the poor bugger ‘a tiny sling from a spent match and a doll’s shoelace’.

I think we can agree that I won the argument.

Anyway, that’s America week over – what fun! To recap, we covered:

That’s a lot of decent dishes! Give one a try and report back. Our next theme will be budget week – we’re going to try and map out a whole week for around £40/£50, which is half our normal shopping budget for the week. That’ll be in a couple of weeks and I’ll break with tradition by putting a meal planner on here before it starts. You know, because I’m nice like that.

Anyway, tonight’s recipe is interesting and tasty, if you’re a fan of cat-food pressed into a bit of fake-bread. This isn’t one of our own recipes – we’ll gingerly call it a Slimming World classic – but people have been foaming at the gash over these “steak bakes” which tastes “just like the ones from Greggs”. Well, really. The only thing I get from Greggs is overcome with static electricity from all the bustling masses of polyester leisure suits. Remember, I’m from Newcastle – we’ve got more Greggs than we do bus-stops. A romantic day out here is a sausage roll from Greggs and a quick fingering in the cinema. Nevertheless, it’s the new ‘in thing’ amongst all the big groups so you know, I thought we’d take our foot off the gas and relax a little, and let someone else do the thinking. So this isn’t our recipe, no no, but you might enjoy it.

steak bake

Mmm. Appetising. Paul enjoyed it, but it felt like mush in my mouth – like someone had already had a bash at eating it. Look, I’m not fussy about what goes in my mouth (fact: I don’t have a gag reflex, and god knows many have tried to find it), but the meat in this stewing steak had all the structural integrity of a licked stamp. Plus the pattern on the thins reminds me of pitted keratolysis. Did it fill me up? Perhaps, but we served them with new potatoes out of the garden and peas, so I reckon it was probably those that filled me with goodness.

for a steak bake then, you’re going to need:

  • a tin of ASDA stewed steak (syn free, but you can find plenty others that are low in syns)
  • Kingsmill wholemeal thins (one ‘sandwich’ is a HEB)
  • an onion
  • an egg
  • tip: add worcestershire or chilli sauce

and you’ll need to:

  • warm through the delicious looking tin of Whiskas stewed steak
  • add in the chopped onion (cooked if you prefer)
  • spread over the thins
  • press down and secure the edges by pressing with your finger
  • wash the top with a bit of beaten egg
  • cook for around fifteen minutes.

Enjoy. It’s free for one. That’s one thin, not one packet of thins. Or: alternatively, go cook something…healthy. I dunno. I’m not your Master.

J

enchilada fries and a ginger nut

Gosh, it’s been five years since Raoul Moat, our local angry-faced ginger peanut, went on the rampage, shot a policeman and then spent four days shitting in a ditch in Rothbury, until the police came along and cut his hair with a shotgun.

I only mention it because he’s all over our local news again today, which makes a change from pissy-knickered biddies whingeing on about wind turbines. I remember it well – Paul and I were in our Quayside flat and we were out on the balcony, looking fitfully at the bushes below because we were sure that a rampaging murderer would be itching for a riverside view. Our local newspaper Facebook feed is awash with windowlickers saying ‘U CAN’T JUJE HIM HES A HERO’ and ‘U DONT KNOW HOLE STOREY’ and other shite. The walnut-muscled knob shot a fucking defenceless man in the face and the simpletons are making out like he’s misunderstood. Pfft. The human capacity for stupidity knows no bounds.

Hey, tomorrow our week long American week starts. We love a theme week here at twochubbycubs and it seems fitting, being July 4 tomorrow, to have a nice American-themed week. Admittedly we’re bound to cause international eye-rolling with our stereotyping but we’re basing it on our experiences when we were in Florida, where we quite literally had to actively seek out vegetables because the chest pains were getting too much. 

To go alongside this (and to give us a week off from writing) I’m going to post 7 days worth from our honeymoon book as we go along, so if you’ve already been a star and read it, I apologise. If not, buy it now, and keep us in pennies! It can be found here. If you’re a fan of my writing, you should hopefully enjoy it…

We’ve also picked and made contact with the winner of the competition to find all the famous faces – thank you to all who entered and your names gave me a good giggle. God knows where you think I’d hidden Thomas the Tank Engine mind. There will be another competition soon, and just for shits and giggles, I’ve hidden a famous face in tonight’s entry – it’s subtle, see if you can spot her. So here we go, because it’s getting late. These are enchilada fries and really it’s just an even fancier, syn-free version of burger in a bowl, with the added bonus that – unlike burger in a bowl – this doesn’t look like someone’s shot their bolt across a plate of mince and iceberg lettuce.

 

you’ll need these:

for the chips:

  • 900g potatoes

for the guacamole:

  • 180g frozen peas (defrosted)
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • handful of coriander leaves
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp quark
  • juice of 1 lime

for the tomato salad:

  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • juice of half a lime

for the sour cream:

  • 250g fat-free natural yoghurt
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp chilli pepper flakes

for the steak:

  • half a tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 800g beef (in whatever form you like – we chose diced)
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 80g grated reduced-fat cheddar

and you’ll need to do this:

for the chips

  • oh, come on now

for the guacamole:

  • add all the ingredients into a food processor, and blend until smooth

for the tomato salad:

  • mix all of the chopped ingredients together and season to taste

for the sour cream:

  • stir all of the ingredients together

for the steak:

  • heat the chopped tomatoes and puree in a sauce pan over a medium-high heat
  • when the mixture begins to simmer remove from the heat and stir in the beef
  • drain off the excess liquid and cook the beef over a medium-high heat to your preference
  • layer all of the ingredients onto a plate and enjoy!

J

beef stir-fry with udon noodles

It’s a more settled evening at The Cubs House – not least because James is working late so it’s just me and The Honeyz Greatest Hits belting out, interspersed with a little Alanis Morissette. It’s only when he’s not here y’see that I get to listen to some proper music. He says he can’t stand much of my music collection but I’ve definitely see him do Mariah hands to a few of Tracey Chapman’s catchier tunes. And as much as he complains he definitely knows all the words to a few Vanessa Carlton B-sides too. And what does THAT tell you?

We’ve actually got quite similar tastes in music which doesn’t cause too much bother except for a few distinct differences – I’m a real sucker for a miserable, piano song whereas he’ll go hell for leather with some indie crap that he’s found on Spotify. Most of the time though we work it out quite well – Barrowman and Eurovision is very much in whereas Muse is only on an off-day and out and about it’s very rare to see us both squeezed into the Micra without the Grease Megamix bursting out the speakers or some other jaunty tune. Just as an aside, I recently got a hire car to take me down to see the family and was given a rather fancy Mazda with a BOSE sound system. Well, believe me when I say I nearly shat myself when it powered up. Not only by the volume but also the bass which rattled my insides so much it practically blended whatever quark-filled monstrosity Magz instructed us to make through her own PRAVDA into pure liquid. I had to turn it down when I got to the A*Teens playlist because the rear-view mirror shook so much whenever Marie went anywhere over a high-C.

But anyway, that’s all a wholly different matter. We’re both actually much more relaxed this evening (well, I am anyway – he’s slumped over an ergonomic keyboard in the centre of Newcastle) at the good news that our bathroom isn’t like one huge giant Weetabix (HexB) gently crumbling into a bowl of skimmed milk (HexA) as we’d first imagined. An unusually hyper-aware James noticed last night a wet patch on our hallway carpet. I’d noticed it too but in this house a wet patch is either where the cats have started a dirty protest at something ridiculous or we’ve gone a little A-over-T with a glass of ginger ale. This was neither, and a quick throwing back of the carpet revealed an enormous wet patch underneath which got our heart racing, and most definitely not in a sexy way (not even a rugged plumber arriving on scene would quell the fear of opening our wallets). We’d had this before, just as we were getting the new bathroom in but was told then that it was probably fixed, unless it was something different. Well, this new patch that arrived instantly got us dreading the worst and images of ripping up the lovely tiling and eating into the Yankee Candle budget were the biggest fear. Turns out too that all home insurance companies are robbing bastards and won’t cover anything. Crooks! Thankfully after a quick once-over by our local, trusty plumber it turned out to just be a leaky overflow which was quickly fixed. New 4k TV budget remains untouched!

In my head that story sounded much more exciting. I do apologise. I certainly put more into it when I was explaining to my boss this morning why I needed the afternoon off. Ah well. I just wanted to give you a taster of what constituted high-drama in the Cub household.

And all this leads to something that is most certainly not dramatic but something of a showstopper. A really simple beef stir-fry dish using only a few store-cupboard ingredients, with a bit of meat (ooh er) and takes only a few minutes. It’s simple, but has loads of flavour. I’ll let the picture do all the talking:

beef stir fry slimming world

you’ll be needing these…

  • Dried thick noodles, or you could use Amoy Straight to Wok Udon Noodles (1 syn per pouch)
  • 225g beef steak (thinly sliced)
  • Pak Choi (chopped)
  • 100g beansprouts, three spring onions (sliced)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • ¼ tsp sesame oil (0.5 syns)

and you’ll need to do this…

  • add the noodles to a pot of boiling water and cook according to the instructions
  • drain the noodles and rinse well under cold water, and set aside
  • heat a little oil in a pan over a high heat and add the beef, stir fry until browned and transfer to a plate
  • in the same pan add the pak choi and bean sprouts until crisp but tender
  • add the noodles, spring onions, soy sauce, mirin and sesame oil to the pan and continue to stir until well mixed
  • return the beef to the pan, and serve

Enjoy!

cajun steak and cheese pasta

Our cat has betrayed me – normally he sleeps between the two of us if it’s a cold night but he’d gotten up early doors and gone out chasing mice. How the hell he manages to spend a night between the two of us I have no idea – we’re very much a ‘spooning’ couple, constantly intertwining our legs and arms and murmuring nonsense at each other. I actually woke up once with Paul having rolled on top of me, not in a ‘but it’s my birthday’ way but rather out of comfort, like I was an especially squashy lilo. Nevertheless, around 1am Bowser will be padding around our pillow and then crawls between us like a tiny potholer. How he survives I have no idea – the squashing I mentioned above must be bad enough, but the flatulence produced between the two of us vents out right where he sleeps. It must be like trying to sleep with your head stuck in one of those Dyson Airdryers you get in toilets, only one that blows out air that smells of turned corned-beef and death. I swear after a night of our easy chicken curry he’ll disappear under the duvet as a black and white tom and comes back a tortoiseshell who suffers night terrors.

 

Tonight’s recipe has the unfortunate problem of looking exactly like another recipe we did earlier in the week, but what can I say, we’ve missed carbs and we had some steak to use up. Isn’t that a first world problem right there?

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to make cajun steak and cheese pasta you will need:

500g penne pasta, 120g steak (sliced into bite size pieces) 1 onion (chopped), 1 green pepper (chopped), 1 clove of garlic, 300ml skimmed milk, 250g quark, 2 tsp Cajun seasoning, 120g extra mature cheddar (grated), 20g parmesan (grated), 50g chorizo (sliced), breadcrumbs (from half a wholemeal roll)

if you use the wholemeal roll and the cheese as your healthy extras (remember, this serves 4) this will be 3 syns per serving, 1.5 from the chorizo, and 1.5 from the milk.

to make cajun steak and cheese pasta you should: 

  • cook the pasta until al dente (like Al Murray, but less of a cock), drain and set aside
  • in a large frying pan or saucepan soften the onion and green pepper in a little oil over a medium heat for about ten minutes
  • add the Cajun seasoning and stir well
  • slowly pour in the milk and stir continuously
  • add the quark in small amounts and mix until smooth and creamy
  • in a separate frying pan quickly cook the steak and chorizo over a high heat for one minute
  • add the steak and chorizo into the cheese mixture
  • add the cheddar and parmesan to the mixture, remove from the heat and stir continuously until all the cheese has melted
  • add the pasta to the mixture and mix well
  • pour the mixture into a large casserole dish, top with the breadcrumbs and bake in the oven for ten minutes just to make it sticky.

Now this is proper stick-to-your-ribs cooking and we loved it, but for goodness sake, it serves four. Keep some for your lunch the next day. This with the rice bake from the other day is more than making up our carb deficit and it tasted delicious!

Oh, if you need a casserole dish, get a bloody Le Creuset one. We’ve had ours over two years now and yes, it is very expensive, but we use it daily – as a frying pan, to cook in, to roast in, and it’s never stuck or failed us. They’re £160 on Amazon at the moment. Click here and treat yourself! Do you need something so pricey? No. But you kinda want one…

Cheers!

J

beef chow fun

Let us return back to misty old Ireland for one more post about our holiday. There’s still a few gags I can bust out about the whole debacle.

The day for us leaving came around quicker than you can say ‘hot-tub indiscretion’ and we left the cottage at a bright and breezy 7am, taking a long video of the place to show that we’d done do damage. Ever the tightarse, me. We immediately ran into a problem – we had to take our bag of general rubbish down to a waste disposal centre as the bin lorries don’t operate up to the cottage. At 7am on a bank holiday weekend in rural Ireland, that’s quite hard. We spent thirty minutes driving around, with Paul wedged in the passenger seat with a honking bag of rubbish in between his legs, leaking nasty bin juice in my car. After several attempts at finding somewhere to ditch it (there, of course, being no bins anywhere) we eventually tied a five euro note to one of the handles and left it on someone’s drive. Well honestly, I wasn’t going to take it home as a bloody souvenir. Sorry Ireland.

Of course, thanks to my keen-as-mustard driving (plus the 85mph speed limit – so that’s 95mph in real money) and excellent navigation skills, we arrived at the port a good ninety minutes before we were allowed to board. Ninety minutes isn’t long enough to go anywhere and do anything so we ended up having a morose coffee in a service station served by someone who clearly used the same cloth for cleaning both his armpits and the grill-pan. Every time he leant over our table to pour a coffee I felt the skin on my face tighten like I was looking into a bonfire. There’s no excuse for body odour at all – a bottle of Mum can be picked up for a matter of pennies. Excessive sweating is fair enough – we’re all fat here – and it’s something I used to get so worried about that I’d barely put my arm up at school in case I had a wet-patch under my arms. For three years they thought my mother had been at the thalidomide until they saw my arm at full length reaching for an extra slice of chocolate and orange cornflake-cake at lunch and called off the doctors. We supped our coffee and, noticing that I had a few Euros scratching around in my pockets, I bought a scratchcard for €2. And won €4. So I bought a €4 scratchcard and promptly won €5. I chanced my luck, bought a €5 card and won another fucking €5. So I doubled down and bought a €10 scratchcard, with B.O Bill congratulating my excellent luck. I won fuck all. You may think I’m being melodramatic when I say I left the place in tears but I wasn’t upset, my eyes were just streaming from the vinegary heat-haze rippling from his armpit. I’ve never known the air in a café to shimmer.

The ferry crossing was uneventful – nothing more to report than the hilarity of watching people trying to light a cigarette on the deck when faced with a nice gale and the swell of the sea. By god they were determined, and I know the feeling being an ex-smoker, but it looked bloody hilarious. I swear you could drop a smoker behind the engine of a Boeing 747 going full-pelt and they’d still be tucking their head into their jumper and spinning the wheel on their lighter like a desperate suicide bomber. We tried to gamble but without any pound coins, we couldn’t, so we spent three hours playing Peggle and cramming as many free cans of Diet Coke as we could into my suitcase. If the ship had taken a lurch and I’d slipped over on deck I reckon the resulting explosion of fizz on my back would have sent me clear into the Irish sea like the gayest distress flare Holyhead had ever seen. Upon disembarkation (really) it was like we had cataracts – the fog was so heavy and dense that suddenly a 250 mile drive back to Newcastle at 50mph didn’t seem so alluring. We tried to book back into the Bangor Premier Inn for another night of unrivalled Welsh glamour only to be told that there was no rooms left. Bah. Obviously everyone had the same idea as us – get to a hotel and sleep out the fog which was blanketing the country. A desperate search on a shite mobile reception told us that there was two rooms left at a Premier Inn in Widnes, but due to us stopping to buy some sour strawberry laces and Paul needing his usual eighty nine pisses, we got there just a moment too late as a family checked in just in front of us. No idea if they’d had a room booked for months and were just there as planned, but I was so put out that I did a silent fart on the way out to foul their reception. And trust me, after a week of rich food and Irish treats, it didn’t smell of peaches.

We decided to head for Wakefield. The glitz! The glamour! The incest! I joke. A room was secured and comfort awaited but before we got there, we pulled over for our evening meal at a services. By, was that depressing. At 11pm on a Sunday the only option open to us was a Ginsters pasty, a Kitkat and a bottle of water. Delightful. I did spend a few minutes playing the slots despite knowing it’s a mugs game but actually, we won £20. Tell you what though, we left depressed. See, next to us was a middle-aged woman who was feeding £10 notes into the machine and spinning the slots for £2 a time. She was there when we went in, she was there as we played and she was there when we left – if she hadn’t spent over £200 I’d eat my hat. Whilst we were in WH Smith I was being nosy and keeping an eye on her (well, truth be told, I was waiting until she fucked off so I could empty the machine myself) and in walks her husband, rolling along like a disgruntled potato. He asked when she was coming out, she said ‘I’M ABOUT TO FUCKING WIN’. He had their tiny daughter with him and she looked knackered. Suddenly it wasn’t quite so funny. As we left, the mother was still there pumping the notes into the machine, and the dad and daughter were outside sitting in a car. Nearly midnight on a bank holiday. All I could think was what the money now sitting in the machine could buy the kid and how shit her homelife must be. Paul and I are lucky that we can chuck £20 into a slot, have a gamble and walk away if we lose, but this was the ugly side of things. Those machines are nothing other than pure evil – you can gamble £2 every five seconds or so and whilst yes, personal responsibility should kick in, that’s easy to say if you don’t have a gambling problem.  These machines are so good at getting you to risk a bit extra, to gamble your wins, to chase your losses. There’s a reason there’s always someone playing them. Bastards.

Anyway, onto lighter things. We spent the night in the Premier Inn Wakefield and only woke when poor Svetlanka brayed on the door like we were on the Titanic. We decided on one final naughty meal so nipped over the road to a Brewers Fayre. I’m not a fan of this type of pub – it screams ‘Access Day’ – but nevertheless, we ordered nachos, hunters chicken and something else so delicious that I’ve clean forgotten it. Well fuck me, we were back to English food alright – the nachos were a pack of Doritos with some guacamole shoved on it with all the care and panache that an arsonist applies petrol with, the chicken clearly died from thirst given how dry it was (I had to suck the beermat just to moisten me lips) and Paul didn’t finish his meal. That’s only happened three times in our relationship that I can recall and one of them was when I set the kitchen on fire making cherry samosas. We hurtled back up the A1, said hello to the brassy old tart known as the Angel of the North, and we were home. Cats welcomed us back warmly by showing us their pencil-sharpeners just in case we’d forgotten what they looked like and them immediately meowing to be fed. Don’t know what their problem was, we’d left a tin-opener.

Crap, the time. I’m going to do another post soon summing up Ireland and all the little extra bits, but I bet you’re all a bit tired of my shamrock-scented shenanigans. Tell you what you will not be sick of – this fabulous bloody recipe.

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Yummee! It’s essentially just beef and noodles but it tastes bloody amazing.

to make beef chow fun you’ll need:

ingredients: enough noodles for two people, a drop of sesame oil, 450g of beef frying steak, 1 large onion, 4 large spring onions, a bag of beansprouts, salt. For the marinade, you’ll need three garlic cloves, 2 tbsp of dark soy sauce, 1 tbsp of normal soy sauce (no need to get fussy, three tbsp of dark soy will do the same), 1tbsp of rice vinegar, 2tsp of grated peeled ginger (remember to keep the leftover in the freezer, it’ll keep – or use a tiny bit of dry ginger), 1/2tsp of cornflour (hence the syn), salt.

to make beef chow fun, you should:

  • make the marinade first by whisking together everything I’ve put above and put aside
  • slice the beef into thin strips, the spring onion into decent chunks, the onion into thickish slices and mince the garlic
  • hoy the beef into half of the marinade and chill, preferably overnight but for at least 30 minutes – keep the other half of the marinade aside
  • when you’re ready, cook off your noodles and once cooked, put into icy water to stop them cooking and sticking together
  • heat a good non-stick pan with your drop of oil or frylight, and using a slotted spoon, put your meat in to cook – fry nice and quick and hard, fnar fnar
  • put the beef to one side and throw in the onions – both the large onion and the spring onions and stir fry on hot for a minute or two, then add the beansprouts, the noodles the rest of the marinade and the beef and stir fry for a few moments more until everything is piping hot
  • serve hot and with chopsticks, unless you’re a clumsy oaf like me.

Enjoy!

J

takeaway style beef and broccoli

Yet again I find myself working late with nothing but a Wagamama menu to look at. I’m lucky to have a fairly interesting job and I do enjoy working in the city centre, but it’s an absolute ballache if I have to work late as the only places near me that deliver are Wagamama and Pizza Express. I mean, I COULD walk further, but I’m a lazy, lazy man. So – as I’m busy working – I’m pressing the button on a ‘saved’ blog-post – my fourth chapter on our visit to Germany. You can read the previous instalments here, here and here. Because we’re amazing, there’s also a recipe for takeaway style beef and broccoli at the end which is genuinely delicious. Enjoy! Normally skip holiday posts? Give this a whirl – feedback welcomed!


Now, I’m going to be honest, I lost my page of notes for the last day of what we did in Berlin, so I can’t go into any great detail – good riddance I hear you cry, this’ll be a short entry. Nope…

We woke on our last day in Berlin with a heavy heart, and only a small part of that was down to the amount of cholesterol and fats we had taken on during our short stay. Berlin was amazing – something happening on every corner, history all over the place, fantastic mix of people. Having all of the Christmas markets on only added to the atmosphere and neither of us would hesitate in going back. Heartily recommend. Nevertheless, we traipsed down to the checkout, gave our luggage to some hipster fucknugget who had left his little afro-comb in his afro (argh!) and wandered out to kill the time before we were to get our overnight train to Munich.

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One last look at the view…

First, Checkpoint Charlie, which took us about forty minutes to find. It shouldn’t have – if we’d just turned left instead of right as we breathlessly climbed out of the underground station, we’d have been there, but instead we walked for forever in a massive circle until we found it. Meh. I know it’s historically very important but I felt its impact was lessened somewhat by the McDonalds just to the side of it. Plus, they had a really ropey statue of a soldier with a bit of tinsel on his head. How respectful!

Afterwards, we spotted the Ritter chocolate museum on a map, and headed there. Again our sense of direction failed us, and we wandered and wandered and wandered, all passive-aggressive sighing and bitchy looks at everyone else who were clearly going exactly where they wanted to go and knew exactly how to get there. The smug twats. After gradually turning our feet to corned-beef in our shoes, and with the blood pouring out over the top of our socks, we FINALLY found Ritter World. Well, honestly, I was expecting Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, I got Billy Vanker’s Chocolate Camp. It was full of tourists and fat children jiggling about with sticky hands and gleeful expressions.

Paul immediately managed to cause international offence by declaring loudly ‘well you’d know all about that’ in response to young slave workers picking cocoa beans along the chocolate highway – he was actually talking to me in response to eating chocolate but the young Puerto-Rican couple in front of us looked pretty crestfallen. I’m surprised he manages to brush his teeth in the morning – whenever he opens his mouth his boot automatically falls in. We loaded ourselves up with 24 bars of Ritter chocolate, ostensibly to give to co-workers – we had the box open by the time I’d put my wallet back in my pocket.

A trip to an experimental computer art-gallery followed next – yet again our normally faultless navigation failing us, leading us into a proper run-down sink estate where I started my ‘protect everything in my pockets’ Macarena dance that I mentioned in a previous entry. In our defence, the art-gallery was tucked away down a side street full of chavs smoking weed. I felt like I was in a Paddy Considine movie.

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Oh! We did spot this. Goodness me.

The art gallery was, as you may expect, full of experimental videogames and controllers, and we had a whale of a time geeking out. It was smashing but the best part was the virtual reality headset at the end. Paul normally can’t manage anything like virtual reality – he gets dizzy looking at a magic eye puzzle due to his boss-eyes. Ah bless. He’s got lovely blue eyes – one blew to the East, one blew to the West. Kaboomtish.

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We did stop for one of these. My reflex action already had me on my knees until Paul pointed out it meant garlic bread.

Anyway, you think me writing about videogames is exciting? Well you haven’t heard anything yet, because after the videogame museum came the…font museum! That’s right! We saw this on tripadvisor and thought it would be right up our street, and indeed it was, being only a mile or so mince from the videogame museum. We’re sticklers for the right font – it really makes my face itch when I see screenshots that people have put on from their phone and they’ve chosen to use Comic Sans as their display font. Comics Sans should only be used in care homes to illustrate which tap is hot and which is cold, and nothing more. The museum was full of ‘letters’ – random letters from hotel signs, train stations, massive installations – some old, some new, some neon, some metal – it was really quite interesting! I don’t know if I’d pay the amount we paid to go around but I still got to crack a joke as I left and they shook the ‘suggested donations’ box at me – I said ‘Are you taking the P’. Well, as you can well imagine, how we all laughed – we were still chuckling and shaking our heads whimsically as Paul pulled me out by my fagbag. Spoilsport.

By this time the night was cutting in, so we wandered back to the hotel, picked up our suitcases and nipped into the closest restaurant for a last-minute meal before we got on the train. Well fuck me. We couldn’t have picked a more German looking place, it was like being in a themed restaurant. The waitress was wearing lederhosen, there was oompah-oompah music playing, the menu was full of words longer than this bloody blog post…you get the picture. I ordered something that sounded like a bad hand at Scrabble and received a pile of meat and potatoes which was absolutely bloody delicious. I washed it all down with a bathtub sized glass of German beer and suddenly the restaurant seemed like the finest on Earth. Paul had duck and a fizzy water, the great big puff. We settled the bill and waddled, clutching our stomachs full of fermenting beast, to the train station.

We were planning on driving to Munich but I’ve always fancied an overnight train journey, and it was around £200 for the both of us to have a private cabin. That makes it sound infinitely more grand than it was, but it was surprisingly roomy, with two bunkbeds, your own netty, a table to rest at and even a shower! A shower! On a train! The only time I’ve ever managed to get wet on a train is when I’m sitting next to the toilet on a Pendolino and it lurches around a particularly sharp corner.. Once the train pulled in, we were escorted to our ‘room’ by the train conductor, yet another officious looking man with a face full of woe who looked as though he’d push you under the train if you asked him anything. He assured us he’d ‘look after us through the night’ like some creepy fez-wearing Harold Shipman. I was left more than a little terrified. He shut the door and Paul immediately dashed to the toilet ‘to try it out’. I optimistically hoped that this meant testing out the flush or, at a push, having a tinkle, but no, it meant hearing the world fall out of his arse, punctuated by ‘OOOH THAT’LL BE THE CURRYWURST’ and ‘I’M NEVER HAVING SAUERKRAUT AGAIN’. Just once I’d like to be able to relax in a new environment for longer than ten minutes without having to hear my other half straining out a poo. It’s not too much to ask. Course, it gets worse – no sooner had he pressed ‘flush’ then the train conductor clicked the door open and asked whether or not we wanted food. Fuck food, all I wanted was a tank of oxygen, and he totally knew what Paul had just done because I saw his nose wrinkle. Frankly, I’m surprised his nose didn’t burn up like a dry leaf in a bushfire. He didn’t come back until the morning.

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The glamour! Look at that size of that toilet – now imagine how small the shower is, to the immediate right of the loo – then read on…

Mind you, it wasn’t just Paul causing embarrassment – about half an hour into the journey I remembered that we had a shower in the tiny bathroom and immediately undressed. The shower cubicle was approximately 80% the size of me but by gaw, I was determined. Through the human equivalent of pushing a beachball into a postbox, we managed to get me in, but I literally didn’t have space to move, so it was a case of standing there letting the water pool around my shoulders as Paul lathered shampoo into my scalp. Finally, there was a loud sucking noise and the water found a way through the dam of my back fat and down my bumcrack and disappeared. I win again! After ten minutes, Paul pulled me back out of the shower and back into the little living room area. Now this is where it gets embarrassing – in all the excitement of working the shower, we hadn’t realised that the train had stopped at a rural passenger station and was obviously taking on a few more people – us looking out the window could barely make anything out because our room was bright and it was night outside. This situation wouldn’t have been so bad had I been dressed, but I’m ashamed to say that at least six good, honest German folk on the platform opposite were treated to the sight of Paul changing into his nightwear and my hairy arse pressed up against the glass like two paint-filled balloons. We only realised our error as the train pulled away – probably ahead of schedule to save my blushes. Wars have started over less than my arse in a window, trust me.

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The rest of the journey passed without incident, although I had trouble sleeping through the rocking of the train. Paul was out like a light, but I remained fitful on the bottom bunk, sure that every creak and groan of the metal bed above was a sure sign that he was going to come crashing down on top of me and that I’d be smeared up the side of the train like a fly on a windscreen. I kept myself amused by writing up the first few days of the holiday and looking wistfully out of the window as the night turned black. Oh, saying as I indulged in some toilet talk before, I’ll add a bit more – the combination of good, rich German food and the rocking of the train meant that we were both full of wind – and when one wasn’t farting, wafting and laughing, the other one was taking up position. The poor bastards in the room next door must have thought a brass band was tuning up before a key performance. When we awoke in the morning, the air was so thick I almost swam to the toilet. Even putting on my glasses didn’t remove my blurred vision. I’m only thankful it was a no-smoking train else it would have been like the Paddington Rail Disaster all over again. At six there was a sharp little tap on the door and the conductor, barely hiding his wince, set down a tray of breakfast goodies on the table. It was the usual German fare – apple juice, jams, bread (the bread was fresh when brought in but after two minutes in the fetid air of our room, had gone a lovely toasted colour) and minced animal. They love their indistinct pâté, that’s for sure. Still, it was free food and I couldn’t waste a crumb, so I didn’t, and it was delicious.

The train pulled into Munich at around seven and we were unceremoniously dumped on the platform as the train hastened away, probably to be burnt to ashes thanks to our almost inhuman farting. We jumped onto the underground and after a short ride, we were at our hotel. The guy checking us in clearly thought we were checking him out, and he was posing and fluttering his eyes and being all coquettish. He didn’t have a fucking chance, he had more make-up on than Dame Barbara Cartland for one thing, and he gave us a proper ‘knowing’ leer when he realised that we were a married couple with a king-sized bed. I really hate that! He might as well offered us an upgrade, rimjob or felch for the amount of subtlety he was displaying. We gave him fairly short shrift and were allowed up to our room, where I’m disappointed to say we stayed for the rest of the day. Actually – disappointed is the wrong word, a holiday is for resting, and we had a lovely day in the room, ordering room service, watching the German version of Air Crash Investigation and sleeping. No word of a lie – we pretty much slept from 8am to 8am the next day. The room service was extortionate – €60 for two burgers, although they were the size of footballs and delivered with the usual German élan (i.e. no care at all – they crashed the tray down like they were delivering a verdict on England itself).

Mind you, that’s not surprising, given our hotel room probably smelled like the countryside of England did when we had the foot and mouth crisis and all the cows were being burnt. Fact: the foot and mouth outbreak started less than a mile from my house. I still blame my mother for feeding the dog Aldi stewing steak and starting it all off.

I’ll write more about Germany tomorrow, but in the meantime, speaking of well-cooked beef…

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This recipe is dead easy to make and only takes about fifteen minutes or so. It might be helpful to have all your ingredients prepared beforehand. Having the beef cut into smaller chunks means it goes further, and cooks faster.

This serves six people.

to make takeaway style beef and broccoli, you’ll need:

ingredients: 500g diced beef, 1 tbsp cornstarch, 2 tbsp + 60ml light soy sauce, 1 large onion, 5 cloves of garlic, 2.5cm cube of root ginger (grated/minced), 250g broccoli florets, few pinches of red chili flakes, 250ml beef stock

to make takeaway style beef and broccoli, you should:

recipe: in a bowl drizzle 2 tbsp of soy sauce over the diced beef and mix until it’s coated. Heat a large non-stick pan on a high heat, add Frylight (or use a drop of oil, like sensible folk) and add the beef in one layer for one minute, and then flip over for another minute. Put the beef to one side on a plate.

In the same pan and still on a high heat, add more Frylight (see above) and saute the onion, garlic and ginger for three minutes. Add the broccoli and two pinches of the red chili flakes and sauté for another three minutes.

In a bowl mix together beef stock, 1 tbsp of corn starch and 60ml soy sauce. When mixed and there are no lumps pour this over the broccoli mixture and mix to combine and cook for a further three minutes. Add the beef back into the pan, mix, and serve immediately over rice.