7777 week day five: cottage pie

It’s going to have to be a quick post tonight because we’re having computer problems and like pick-a-name-of-a-celebrity-famous-in-the-Eighties we’re having to format the hard drive. And reinstall Windows, of course. So that’s a fun evening.

We decided, after we got out of bed at an unseemly hour this afternoon that we would have a ‘trip out in the car’. That’s a sign we’re both getting old, not least because the three places we considered were a) a garden centre b) an outlet shopping centre and c) a castle. I fear we’re rapidly becoming one of those couples who drive to the seaside and then sit inside the car eating egg sandwiches before driving home again, the bitter resentment of each other thick in the air. I don’t understand that – there was an old couple yesterday who had driven to the same beach we were geocaching at, only to park their Nissan Incontinent facing away from the beach and then proceeded to eat their sandwiches. Surely you’d want something interesting to look at – I can’t imagine the ‘Pick Up Dog Shit’ posters were that enthralling. Perhaps they were enjoying the spectacle of two fat blokes bustling around in the undergrowth looking for a lunchbox with an ASDA smart-price notepad and an IKEA pencil in it. Who knows. Frankly, a trip out to the beach isn’t a success for me unless I’m still picking sand out from under my helmet four days later.

There’s an image, I hope no-one was eating mackerel.

Anyway, we decided to go to the Royal Quays Outlet Centre purely because there’s a Le Creuset outlet there and I wanted a salt-pig. Listen, I know my rock-and-roll lifestyle is getting too much, but please try to keep up. This meant a trip through the Tyne Tunnel where I immediately managed to cock everything up by missing the tiny basket for the toll as I drove through, leading to 50p rolling under the car. Now, I’m an exceptionally tight person, but even I didn’t think to get out of the car and retrieve it – I just made Paul find another one amongst the detritus in our ashtray and we were on our way. However, the driver of the car behind was almost out of his car and on the hunt for the pound coin no sooner had I pulled away. I was aghast – I mean, I’m stingy, but for goodness sake, he hurtled out of his car door like Usain Bolt looking for my 50p. I slowed down because I was trying to sync my phone with the radio and he hurtled past us at the entrance, pretty much cutting us up, so we spent the tunnel journey mouthing mean words at him – Paul mouthing TIGHT and me mouthing BASTARD in perfect unison. I hope he felt thoroughly ashamed – he was driving a BMW though so I very much doubt he had any sense of shame. Or pity. Or driving ability. Nobber.

However, catastrophe struck when we got to Royal Quays – the Le Creuset shop has gone! Where else will I buy my beautiful but overpriced kitchen ornaments now? The ladies on the checkout, who clearly saw our shaved heads and dirty shoes and assumed we were there to rob the place (though you’d be pretty hard-pushed to make a quick getaway with a bloody cast-iron casserole pot jammed down your boxers), always treated us with incredible disdain. But the deals were good so we kept going back. Alas, it is no more. We checked the information board and Paul suggested that we could get something nice from Collectibles. Well really. I’d sooner shit in my hands and start clapping than trawl through the tat in there. Not saying you can’t get nice stuff, but when your window display is a pyramid of Nicer Dicer boxes then we’re not going to get along. We left in a huff, didn’t even bother going to Cotton Traders to pick up a marquee-sized flannel shirt. Our wardrobe is almost exclusively flannel shirts in varying pairs of colours – it looks like a test-card when you slide the door across. Anyway, crikey, I said I wasn’t going to waffle…

BREAKFAST

sausage spicy eggs

Sausage egg bhurji

Because we er…slept in until past noon, we had to cobble together a breakfast pretty fast, so we actually took one of our recipes and jazzed it up a little. That’s right! We’re at full jazz!

Full jazz? But that’s impossible! They’re on instruments!

Yeah. Egg bhurji! It’s delicous. Scrambled eggs but with spice and flavour. Click here for the recipe (it’ll open in a new window) but note the addition before. We had four leftover sausages from when we made that coffin of meat on Monday, so when the onions (S), peppers (S) and peas were softening, we threw the sausagemeat in with them and cooked it through before adding the eggs. Served on a couple of slices of wholemeal toast, it was a delicious start to the day, although the resulting flatulence was terrifying. I didn’t dare put the indicator on when I was going through the Tyne Tunnel lest the car blew up – it would have been like that shite Sylvester Stallone disaster movie, Daylight.

LUNCH

CONFESSION TIME. Because we were so lazy and didn’t get out of bed until after 12, we didn’t bother with lunch – the breakfast served as our lunch. Isn’t that awful? I did have half a Twirl in the car and it was delicious.

DETOX WATER

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Peaches and mint

It’s really quite hard to make facetious comments about bloody water day in day out, so let’s skip to the good bit:

  • peaches – good for the eyes, which is important to us because we’ll need you to keep reading; and
  • mint – perfect if you’re the type of person who uses your breath as a weapon.

Actually, let me drive this point home – these ‘detox waters’ are a load of unscientific nonsense BUT, if you like flavoured waters and you’re often buying bottles of that Volvic ‘A Touch of Fruit’ stuff, make some of this instead and save the syns. ‘A touch of fruit’ doesn’t mean they’ve wafted a strawberry over your bottled water, it’ll just be a load of fragrance and sugar to make it taste sweet. Make your own and never look back.

BODY MAGIC IDEA – GIANT DOG WALKING

giant dog walking

I wish that this picture better conveyed the sheer size of this dog. I felt like I was walking a cow, albeit a cow that sounded like a steam engine as it chugged along. I’ve often mentioned that Paul and I like to help out at a local animal shelter and when we went today, we were given this gorgeous dog – Bear, a Caucasian Shepherd dog – only 11 months old and weighing in at over 8 stone. He’ll continue to grow until he’s three years old and he was already up to Paul’s waist.

He was utterly, utterly gorgeous – soft as clarts, hairier than the hairiest of my two arse cheeks and incredibly strong. He was on his fourth walk of the day, the poor bugger. Some silly bugger bought him and then dumped him when they realised they’d need to fit a rolling garage door rather than a dog-flap. We were walked by him for over four miles and he kept stopping to have his ears scratched and to look adorable. I can’t deny – we were on the verge of hiring a transit van and taking him home, although he’d probably consider both of our cats as nothing more than mere fortune cookies at the end of a big meal. I was dreading him having a shit – I only had a Morrisons carrier bag that they’d hastily given me, whereas going on the size of him I think I’d have been better off with the cover from a king size duvet.

Listen, I’ve said this before and I don’t care – if you have a spare afternoon, go to your local cat and dog shelter and volunteer to walk the dogs or stroke the cats. They’ll love it and you get free exercise and the chance to see beauties like this one.

The irony of twochubbycubs finally pulling a Bear isn’t lost to us, by the way.

DINNER 

Cottage pie with a swede and carrot top and roasted green vegetables

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to make cottage pie you will need:

  • for the vegetables – 20 brussel sprouts (halved and peeled) (S) and a head of broccoli (S), together with a couple of squirts of frylight, balsamic vinegar and salt
  • for the top: peeled and chopped swede (S) and three large peeled and chopped carrots (S)
  • for the mince: 500g of extra lean beef mince (P), one small stalk of celery (S), one red onion (S), two carrots (S), tin of chopped tomatoes (S), one garlic clove (S), beef stock cube

to make cottage pie you should:

  • mix the sprouts and chopped head of broccoli up in a good few glugs of balsamic vinegar, salt and frylight, and pop in the oven on the bottom shelf on 180 degrees
  • get your chopped swede and carrot boiling away in water. Once soft, rice the buggers or mash them hard. Ricers are brilliant, they make buttery smooth mash with no effort. We use this ricer, it’s never failed us and is reduced to £13 from £22
  • meanwhile, prepare your mince, which is nothing more than sweating down your finely chopped onion, carrot and celery in a bit of salt and a dab of oil, then putting in the mince and browning it off, then adding the chopped tomatoes and a stock cube, and letting it bubble down
  • when the mince is thick and the mash is ready, put the mince in the bottom of a pyrex dish and top with the mash, and then, if you’re feeling like a truly luxurious dirty girl, you can spread your cheese over the top, so when it comes out of the oven after thirty minutes on 180 degrees, you can peel off the top like a great big scab.

Mmm! Bet you’re hungry now. Actually, it was delicious. And gosh, it was a SW recipe which we tinkered with, and I didn’t even need to sieve my dinner before serving like I normally do with SW recipes! GOSH.

Just look at that. I said quick post and I’ve typed 1715 words and that’s without a lunch bit. This is why the book might take a while…!

DAY FIVE DONE.

J

BLTE bap, hot tuna salad and larb burger

So here’s the thing. I get a lot of people telling me to write a book, and I’ve always wanted to, but never really had the right idea or the inclination to do research and gain the appropriate knowledge. Then, as it happens, Paul decided to stroke my ego in the car today (and we weren’t pulled over in a layby flashing our interior lights at lorry drivers, which is normally what we’re doing in the car together – honestly, I hope Eddie Stobart’s drivers aren’t epileptic, it looks like an Eighties disco in our car) and told me I really should get on with it. Well, I love writing, I adore writing this blog (for the most part) and because I’m massively egocentric, what better topic to write about than what is happening in our lives? That would be great for me – but boring(ish) for you.

Here’s my idea: I am going to write a book – it’s going to be in the same format as what we’re doing now with the blog posts, but with fictional stuff interwoven amongst the nonsense. It won’t be a slimming book, simply because I don’t want Margaret coming after me with her Lynda la Plante weave all awry and her gang of Slimming World lawyers straining on the leash to do me in for copyright law. But I’ll put a few of my favourite recipes in there too. It’ll be like Bridget Jones Diary, only massively less successful. Renee Zellweger could totally play me though, if she put 180lb on and fell face-first into a fire. Naturally the blog remains at the forefront of my writing, and this side project will be something I’ll be tinkering on with for the next few months. In the meantime, if you fancy reading more of our writing, don’t forget we have a book on Amazon which is an account of our four weeks in Orlando: read about how I spent the first two days of the holiday tinted blue thanks to cheap sunscreen, or how I exposed my not unsubstantial arse to a crowd in a waterpark. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and by paying only £1.20, you’ll keep Paul and I in replacement ped-eggs. That can be found here.

Right, so with that announcement over, let’s start with day four of SP! Tomorrow I’m going to explain SP in a bit more detail and also tell you exactly what I think of it. I’ll give you a clue: I think it’s a load of horse’s arse. And I’m not even going to mark that as a protein, either.

BREAKFAST

blt slimming world

BLTE

The E stands for egg (P), obviously. Plus lettuce (S) and tomato (S). There’s not an awful lot to say about this, other than: 

  • we totally didn’t have two each *cough/splutter*
  • I got Paul out of bed to make this (because I was hungry) by setting off the smoke alarm and then hiding in the kitchen – he came dashing in completely nude like the world’s cuddliest fireman and then proceeded to tell me off for about five minutes, the whole while I’m standing there agreeing solemnly with everything he said and pushing the packet of bacon closer and closer to him. I know one day our actifry is going to burst into flame through overuse and we’ll both perish in the fire because we’ve played too many pranks with the smoke alarm. I bet Paul manages to die with a pious ‘see I told you’ expression on his face
  • there’s a certain type of wholemeal bread roll you’re allowed – I think it’s a Weight Watchers one – but we only had these little buns in the freezer and after waking Paul up by tricking him into thinking he was in The Towering Inferno, I didn’t have the temerity to tell him to go to the shop…so we just used these. They’re about the same size.

LUNCH

hot hot tuna salad

Hot, hot tuna salad

So good I named it twice, see. No, it’s hot in both senses of the word – hot because of the added chilli and also, served hot. Usually tuna salad is served cold and, to someone who doesn’t like fish, isn’t especially appetising. Hell, I’ll make Paul wash Little Paul in the bathroom sink before he gets his birthday gobble. 

Christ can I say as an aside I realise that this post is making it sound like Paul has an awful life, like some hairy Little Mo to my Trevor. Honestly, it’s not that bad, no-one needs to call Relate for us just yet. The only time he’s raised an iron in anger is when our ironing lady was off for two weeks having something done with her ovaries. Having them out I think, not wallpapered.

Anyway, yes, tuna salad:

to make hot, hot tuna salad you will need: 

several big fuck-off lettuce leaves (S) – I grow mine in the greenhouse and honest to God, it’s like Day of the Triffids in there at the moment. I’m lucky I have a retractable hose-pipe – if I get lost amongst the lettuce, I just pull myself free. Yep. You’ll also need two tins of tuna (P), two large sweet peppers cut into chunks (S), three shallots sliced thinly (S), two tomatoes cut into chunks (S), 1 tsp of black pepper, 1 tsp of garlic salt, 1 tsp of chilli flakes, 1/4 tsp of salt and a bit of oil.

to make hot, hot tuna salad you should:

  • mix the tuna together with all the spices and salt and set aside
  • fry the onion and pepper in a dab of oil or some frylight until soft
  • chuck the tuna in and heat through – why not add a bit of chilli sauce if you like your hoop to look like a deflated liferaft
  • serve up on the giant lettuce leaves
  • to eat, fold the lettuce into neat parcels and chew
DETOX WATER

mandarin water

Mandarin

My favourite water so far! It tasted like sunshine in a glass. Well no, not quite, but it’s just one ingredient:

  • mandarin – which is excellent for vitamin C, which is handy for preventing skin wrinkling. 

I assume Gordon Ramsay doesn’t like mandarins, because he has a face like an unmade bed. Don’t forget, if you want a gloriously ostentatious way of serving up your water (and don’t think for a second that come Eurovision night that isn’t going to be full of punch) you can buy one from Amazon. I will say this, we’ve certainly consumed a lot more water since we bought it, but that’s more because I’m such a tight-arse that I’m determined not to lose face and see it consigned to the back of the cupboard along with the lollipop maker and the ravioli crimper.

Haha, crimper.

BODY MAGIC IDEA – GEOCACHING

 geocachingday42

geocachingday42

Ah geocaching. I’ve rumbled on about geocaching before – it’s essentially a giant treasure hunt where no-one wins. But you don’t need to win a prize to enjoy it, it’s fantastic fun if you’re GIANT NERDS like us. People have hidden containers all over the world (and I’d bet my savings there’s probably at least five within easy walking distance from your house right now) and you use your GPS or an app on your smartphone to find them. Then you sign the book and put it back. It’s a great way of:

  • livening up a charming walk out in the country; and
  • making the British public think you’re loitering in the bushes with your knob out ready to strike.

See, part of geocaching is that you have to be subtle – some of the containers are hidden in plain sight, so you have to try and swipe them without people seeing, which can be difficult when you’re stumbling around in the trees like a flannel-shirted rapist. We had a lovely walk around a nature reserve and ended up on one of Northumberland’s fantastic beaches. Just look at that scene above. See, the North is so much more than child-beating and whippets. That picture of the rock at the top – that’s called a disco cache, where the logbook is hidden inside a container designed to look like something completely different. They’re extra hard – I’ve hid caches myself inside golf balls, birds nest and even a fake blob of chewing gum. It’s all free of charge and hey, if you’ve got kids, get them involved too.

Everyone I ever explain geocaching to wrinkles their nose and asks me what is the point, but it’s great fun. You’ll end up enjoying yourself, trust me. Visit www.geocaching.com, pop in your postcode and go and find the closest one to you.

DINNER 

larb burgers

Larb burgers

Told you I was getting the use out of my lettuce! Note: I used a carrot and ginger dressing from Tesco on this which works out at almost a syn for two tablespoons. But you can use fat-free vinaigrette if you dare not sacrifice a syn. 

to make larb burgers you will need: 

  • 500g of turkey mince or three chicken breasts (if you’re using breasts, then you’ll need a mincer – and how often as a gay man do I get to say that?), 3 shallots (S) (one thickly sliced, the other two thinly), 3 cloves of garlic (S), a few lime leaves (get them from Tesco’s world food bit), 1 small stalk of lemongrass, a dash of fish sauce, a bit of ginger (you only need a little knob to really taste it – and how often as a gay man do I get to say that), a lime (S), pickled cabbage (S I think) and the ubiquitous giant lettuce leaves (S).

to make larb burgers you should:

  • get your food processor or blender or what have you on the go
  • throw in the thickly cut shallot, garlic, lime leaves, lemongrass, ginger, fish sauce and a pinch of salt and pulse to a paste
  • add the meat and pulse so it’s nicely mixed up with the spices
  • shape into six burgers
  • heat a griddle pan with a drop of oil or some Frylight and get it medium hot
  • add the burgers and cook hard – you want to get some sear lines into the burger for that classy bitches look
  • turn over and repeat on the other side – we cooked them for seven minutes each side to really cook them through – always be careful with chicken
  • if they look a bit dry, throw some lime juice into the pan
  • in the same griddle pan, put the finely sliced shallots in to fry off in the juice of the meat and lime
  • once cooked through, assemble onto the lettuce leaves, add some pickled cabbage and the shallots, and serve (you can add dressing if you want, I found it wasn’t necessary.

Enjoy! Oooh it’s like you in a tropical paradise, right?

DAY FOUR DONE.

J

breakfast loaf, ploughman’s lunch and pizza topped chicken

So yes, sorry about yesterday and all, but we got sidetracked by the election, and anyway you got a competition so hush your gums. How do I feel about the election? Pretty annoyed, in all honesty, not least because it means I have to look at that smug, oily-faced knobber everytime I open the newspaper. I liked Ed Miliband but he had all the leadership potential of a carrier bag blowing in the wind, but he didn’t deserve that. Ah well. No politics chat. Five more years is plenty time for the United Kingdom to rue their decision. So yes, that’s that.

I keep receiving phone calls from various ‘Claims Management’ companies who have somehow got my number and are adamant that I’ve had an accident and must claim now. I’m not one of these people who get hysterical about it, ultimately people are just doing their jobs, but they are parasitic vultures and I do enjoy wasting their time. The amount of different scenarios I’ve had for my fictional accident is beyond belief. I had some cheery chap on the phone the other day for fifteen minutes asking me about my accident – I told him I was driving a car ferry down the A1 and hit a bridge. His response? He asked me for the registration plate of the ferry. I told him I couldn’t recall the registration plate and that I couldn’t check because one of my eyes had fallen out on impact.

Today’s call was a little shorter, I told him I’d hit a pollard. Admittedly, I’m not convinced English was his first accent, but I have a clear voice and clearly said pollard. He asked me to repeat. I said pollard. He asked again. Pollard. ‘Bollard Sir? You hit a bollard?’ – to which my reply was no, I’d hit eighties television star Su Pollard, who had strayed in front of my car whilst lighting a cigarette after turning on Durham’s Christmas lights. I mentioned that I felt her trademark glasses crack under my tyre and I couldn’t sleep for knowing there was so many Hi-De-Hi fans who’d never be happy again.

He hung up. No staying power at all, these cold callers.

BREAKFAST

daythreebreak

Breakfast loaf

I confess, this has to be singularly the most unappetising dish I’ve made yet. It tasted nice, but it looked like a foot that had fallen in the sea. In fact, that’s all I can see now. It’s 4 syns for the whole lot and it made enough for breakfast for the two of us and a few slices for snacking. Is it healthy? Christ no. To be frank, if I stop and think about it, it’s bloody revolting the amount of meat being used here…

to make breakfast loaf you will need:

8 Be-Good-To-Yourself sausages (1/2 syn each) (you might need more, I did, but I have a big loaf tin), four eggs, a chopped onion, around twelve rashers of bacon. You’ll also need a loaf tin.

to make breakfast loaf you should:

  • set your eggs away boiling – after eight minutes, take out, run under cold water and peel them
  • using your fingers, squeeze the sausage-meat out of their casing – you might want to really concentrate carefully at how this looks as you’re doing it because trust me, with this veritable mountain of meat, you won’t be experiencing this action for a few days – and into a bowl
  • gently fry off the onion in a dab of oil or frylight and set aside
  • line the loaf tin with the rashers of bacon, leaving some dangling over the top of the sides which you’ll then fold over the sausagemeat – make sure you cover the bottom of the tin too
  • spoon half of the sausagemeat into the bottom of the tin
  • place the four boiled eggs into the loaf tin on their sides
  • spoon over the cooked onion
  • get the rest of the sausagemeat and pack it into the tin, then fold the bacon over the top
  • you want your meat packed really quite tight – you’re creating a bacon wrapped parcel of goodness
  • cook in the oven for around forty minutes or until it is cooked through – you might need to drain a little liquid off
  • leave to cool, then slice and serve

You’ll also need to know this basic hands-only CPR:

  • place the heel of your hand on the breastbone at the centre of the person’s chest. Place your other hand on top of your first hand and interlock your fingers
  • position yourself with your shoulders above your hands
  • using your body weight (not just your arms), press straight down by 5–6cm on their chest
  • repeat this until an ambulance arrives

That bit about the using all your weight bit makes me titter. If I used all of my weight on someone’s chest they’d be taking the corpse into hospital in a fucking gravy boat.

LUNCH

daythreeploughman

this one’s easy.

ingredients: one egg, 2 slices of ham, 2 tomatoes, 40g reduced-fat cheddar, cucumber, handful of pickled onions, two slices of wholemeal bread (healthy extra), 2 tbsp fat free cottage cheese, one chicken breast

recipe: well now, really. This one practically makes itself. We George Foreman’ed the chicken breast. That is, we grilled it, not became so proud of it that we put our name on it. Have you seen my full name? It wouldn’t fit on a cucumber.

DETOX WATER

daythreewater

Lemon and ginger

I’m not a huge fan of ginger, unless we’re talking about mega-titted Geri Halliwell, who was my favourite Spice Girl. I always pretend to Paul that I’m too cool for that type of music but then he’ll catch me doing all the voices to Spice Up My Life whilst pottering around in the shed and the game is up. Tell you what, this detox water is playing havoc with my sleeping pattern – I’m waking up to strain the potatoes a good four times a night. I’m like the secret lemonade drinker, only the lemonade is cucumber scented and I’m spraying it all over the bathroom tiles in my sleep-addled state. So yes, enjoy that…this mixture is simple:

  • lemon – apparently very good for digestion, which is a good idea when you’re eating all this meat (honestly, if you’re not suffering with a logjam on the River Brown by the end of this SP week, I’d be amazed. I’m a whisker away from calling in those chaps who blow up old cooling towers).
  • ginger – good for motion sickness, which is handy to stop your head spinning from trying to get your head around this bloody SP malarkey.
BODY MAGIC IDEA – LOOKING THE BIZ WITH LIZ MCDONALD

daythreeliz

Well, this was absolutely disastrous. We had originally planned to give a ‘fitness DVD’ a go and had settled on trying to find that Charlotte Crosby’s DVD. She lost so much weight on her diet, but frankly, I don’t know if I can exist on a diet of jizz and cocaine, so we put that on the backburner. Then I remembered – my old flatmate bought me Beverley Callard’s Rapid Results from a Scope shop so many moon ago, and I’ve always kept it because it looks hilarious to see her tiny face peeping out next to the boxsets of 24 and Lost. I’m not fibbing either – you really can lose weight with Liz McDonald! 

We got about five minutes in and gave up. Why? Because it was ridiculous! For a start, we don’t have the level of fitness required to keep up with the lovely Bev, and secondly, neither of us could concentrate on the TV because of the fear of seeing some eye-watering camel toe. There’s something intensely troubling about trying to keep up with the squats with the Queen of the Rovers Return, especially as she was going through her ‘Kevin Keegan’ haircut stage at the time of filming.

Plus, I couldn’t take it seriously. I kept yelling ‘LIZ YA WHOOOOOREEE’ at Paul in my best Jim McDonald voice, together with ‘Catch yerself on, Elizabeth’ and ‘What about ye Paul’ even before the exercise started. See this is why we can’t go along to classes. Ah well. At least we tried! Imagine what it must have looked like to see two big fat benders yelling corrie quotes at each other whilst Roly from Eastenders did lunges on the telly.

BTW, I can’t begin to tell you how often Jim McDonald impressions get made in our house. The other Corrie impression that comes out all the time is Paul shouting LEEEEES like Janice Battersby used to. It’s like the last ten years never happened!

DINNER 

daythreepizza

Pizza topped chicken (makes two)

to make pizza topped chicken you will need:

1 small red onion (chopped finely), 1 red pepper (chopped), 2 small cloves of garlic (crushed), 2 tbsp stock, 1 tin of chopped tomatoes, 2 tsp tomato puree, 1 tsp oregano, two chicken breasts, 65g reduced fat mozzarella, few leaves of basil (finely chopped)

to make pizza topped chicken you should: 

  • slice the chicken breast in half horizontally, making sure not to slice through the entire breast, then fold open to make a butterfly shape and repeat for the other breast.
  • spray a large pan with Frylight (or add a teaspoon of olive oil for 2 syn) and fry the breasts over a medium-high heat until slightly browned and repeat on both sides.
  • place the breasts onto a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 20 minutes at 200 degrees.
  • meanwhile, in a saucepan, mix together the onions, garlic and stock and simmer for a few minutes until the onion is slightly softened
  • add the tomatoes, tomato puree and oregano and stir, remove from the heat
  • when the chicken breasts are cooked, spread a tablespoon or more of the tomato mixture onto each breast
  • add the mozzarella and cook in the oven for a further 5 minutes
  • sprinkle with the chopped basil and eat!

DAY THREE DONE.

J

leek, samphire, pea, mushroom and bacon frittata

Right, so remember we’re structuring the posts a little different this week – it’s pure diet. No sass. Oh fuck off, this is me, I can’t sign my name without a 500 word critique of someone’s hairy top lip and an anecdote about peas. I heard something I haven’t heard in years today: ‘Oh, you’ll know him, he’s gay too’. I mean, it’s a harmless enough comment and it was certainly meant with no malice, but it does tickle me. I like the idea of there being a gay psychic link that becomes activated the very second you turn to someone who shares the same approximate genitals as you (so to speak) and say, oh we’ll give it a go. A yellow pages but in lavender. I suppose it works on the same idea as ‘having a gaydar’ which I DO think there’s a grain of truth in. Paul and I can normally spot the other gay couples wandering around the garden centre or fingering the strawberries in Waitrose, but it never extends to anything more than a tiny smirk and a colossal leer at the cucumber in their trolley. Half the time I walk around like I’ve had a stroke because I’m trying not to wink at them.

In fact, this is what happens when you’re not looking. 

Anyway, hush. So how are we going to do this? Easy! I’m going to mark speed foods with a S and protein-rich foods with a P.

BREAKFAST

poached-eggs

Poached eggs on marmite toast with baked beans

Now come on, you don’t really need me to talk you through this, but it’s a HE of wholemeal bread (the small loaf, don’t be putting two eggs on a doorstep of bread and come crying to me next week) slathered with marmite, baked beans (P) and eggs (P). I can poach an egg properly no problem but time is always a factor, especially now I have to contend with the worry of not getting a reflection of my knob in the pictures (we’re always naked during breakfast, saves showering twice when I invariably spill my cornflakes into my chest hair). So we bought one of these egg-poachers – It’s the easy and lazy way to cook poached eggs in the microwave. £4.99 on Amazon, steal. You half fill each compartment, microwave for forty seconds, crack your egg in, microwave for another 30 seconds and you are done. Normally you get the runny yolk but I was sidetracked scratching Paul’s back this morning so forgot to take them out. Anyway, done!

Oh, be careful – whilst I’ve never experienced this, it can be slightly dangerous to microwave an egg. Perhaps prick the yolk. Up to you. If you happen to like goo blasting across your face in the morning, well then you’re my type of reader.

LUNCH

frittata SLIMMING WORLD

This makes enough for six servings, or if we’re being realistic about the type of people that we are, two servings and a bit leftover to pick at in tears whilst you hang that too-skinny pair of jeans back into the wardrobe. WE’LL GET THERE.

to make leek, samphire, pea, mushroom and bacon frittata you will need:

: one big bugger leek (sliced) (S), a handful of samphire (S), handful of sugarsnap peas (S), mushrooms (sliced) (S), salt and pepper, garlic, 30g of parmesan (optional – HEA choice but don’t forget this serves two/three) eight eggs and a frying pan that is a) non-stick and b) capable of going in the oven.

to make leek, samphire, pea, mushroom and bacon frittata you should:

  • slice and prepare your veg and chuck it all into a frying pan
  • cook off the bacon medallions under the grill (or normal bacon, but chuck away that fat) then chop and add
  • beat all the eggs into submission in a jug, adding a good sprinkle of salt, pepper and garlic (grated)
  • pour egg into the bacon and veg mix and give it a good shake and mix to let the egg soak through
  • pop onto a medium heat for around ten minutes or so until things start to firm up – the top will be runny though
  • add the grated parmesan here if you’re using it
  • whack it into the oven for ten minutes or so on around 180 degrees – you want it firm but not overcooked
  • leave to cool and then slice and serve with salad – it transports well so it’s good for lunch

top tip: you really can chuck any old shite into a frittata, it’s really very forgiving. Any flimflam you have sitting in the bottom of the fridge will easily taste delicious in a frittata. Get it done!

DETOX WATER

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Full disclosure – I really think detox waters are a load of piss. Well, not immediately, but they’ll get there. Your body is a detoxing machine! However, that said, drinking water is always a wonderful thing. Click here for the Kilner water dispenser. You don’t need one. You really don’t. But it’s summer soon. Cheaper alternatives are available, by the way. This water contains:

  • two sliced limes (S) (can help prevent kidney stones)
  • one sliced lemon (S) (because you don’t want scurvy, your legs will bend when you get on the scales)
  • half a sliced grapefruit (S) (strengthens the immune system)
  • pineapple sage leaf.

Pineapple sage leaf? Totally unnecessary. But it’s amazing. You may recall I started a herb garden a few posts ago and this little bugger is growing merrily away – the leaves taste like sweet pineapple and smell amazing. You could brew it in a tea, if you’re the type of arty-farty person who thinks such a thing is a sensible idea. 

The water was refreshing and ‘clean’. But then what do you expect, we have plumbed in filtered water and an ice-dispenser. FAT MEN LIVING THE DREAM. Of course, I needed it after my body magic…

BODY MAGIC – GARDENING

garden

I had timetabled four miles of walking for the body magic today, but when we got up it was absolutely chucking it down. I would have been drier had I swam to work down the Tyne. Plus the cows are back on the Town Moor, and they terrify me with their cold, dead eyes and shitty tails. So instead, we spent a good hour or so gardening – from top to bottom:

  • repotted our baby leeks
  • potted out our tomatoes into their automatic watering beds
  • trimmed back our lettuce monster
  • FINALLY planted all the early potatoes!

Google tells me that gardening comes in at around 300 calories for an hour of medium graft. Personally, I reckon 295 of that calorie spend comes from me constantly yanking up my trousers to stop the neighbours over the road being able to see my bumhole everytime I planted a potato. I live in perpetual and unending fear of my top of my arse-crack being exposed.

Never gardened before? You’re missing out. I’m no Charlie Dimmock, despite having her tits and then some. Even if you’ve only got a tiny bit of land to potter in, you can grow your lettuce and herbs easy enough. Tomatoes are more of a fart-on but worth the effort. But start small. Nothing tastes better than something you’ve grown yourself. 

Finally…

chicken curry

Does anyone have Margaret’s number? Seriously, I feel like ringing up and congratulating her. I’ve FINALLY found a Slimming World curry recipe that doesn’t taste like someone’s sneezed a curry stock cube onto some chicken and wrung a dishcloth over it. It was tasty, though I made some adjustments! And SP friendly. So without a moment of hesitation…

to make easy chicken curry with spicy broccoli you will need:

one red onion (chopped) (S), 2 garlic cloves (grated) (S), one chicken breast (makes enough for two) (P), 1 tbsp of korma powder, 6tbsp of tomato puree, 200g of passata, a half teaspoon of turmeric, 400ml of chicken stock, chopped red pepper (S), spinach (S), bit of coriander so you can pretend you’re out somewhere dead fancy. For the broccoli you’ll need some tenderstem broccoli (S) and a 1tbsp of tandoori curry powder

to make easy chicken curry with spicy broccoli you should: 

  • gently cook the onion, chopped red pepper and garlic in a drop of oil or a few squirts of everyone’s favourite pan-ruiner, Frylight
  • chuck in the diced chicken and cook hard and fast until there’s not a squeak of pink chicken
  • add everything else – powder, puree, stock and passata, bring to the boil and then reduce to a low heat and cook for twenty minutes or so until the sauce has thickened, throwing in the spinach for five minutes near the end;
  • whilst that’s happening, throw your broccoli into boiling water and cook the very life out of it for 3 minutes or so – you still want it firm, if you have to gum it to enjoy it you’ve gone too far;
  • drain the broccoli and whilst it is still damp, sprinkle that tandoori powder all over it
  • heat up a griddle pan – again, tiny bit of oil or frylight, and griddle the hell out of that broccoli for a couple of minutes
  • serve up – add a dainty bit of coriander that’ll sit mournfully on the side of your plate until the cat eats it.

Phew! Enjoy that did we? I hope so!

SPEED FOODS USED TODAY: red pepper, spinach, leeks, broccoli, grapefruit, lime, lemon, garlic, onion, mushrooms, samphire, sugarsnap peas (12).

Before I go, there’s a competition running this week. I’ll announce it tomorrow (if I remember) but it’ll reward those with keen eyes…

Please do share this blog as far and as wide as you can.

J

 

just to be the man who walked a thousand miles

Paul’s back tomorrow. It’s been odd without him in the house – the air smells fresher, certainly, and the toilet is remarkably un-pebbledashed, but it’s been quiet and my feet have been getting cold during the night. We very rarely spend the night apart – I can genuinely only think of 6 nights, in over eight years, where we haven’t been burbling sleepy nonsense in each other’s ears and dutch-ovening our way through the night. I’ll be glad to have him back, I’m about three days away from dressing in rags and wailing around the street in the rain like Eponine from Les Mis. In the meantime, a little bit about walking – I’ve walked for years.

I don’t know how well any of you know Newcastle, but there’s a town moor just outside the main city – a lovely, open field with a well-lit path cutting right across it. Well, to help improve my fitness, I’ve taken to walking across there into work and back in the evenings a couple of times a week – four miles in total. I’m not doing this to boost my weight-loss but rather to get back to a decent level of fitness. You don’t need to exercise for SW to work, but well, it can’t do any harm.

Of course, the town moor, by the very nature of its name, is also used by lots of other people, and has four unique problems – cyclists, walkers, dog-walkers and cows. Let’s take cyclists first.

A few years ago, you’d be lucky if a cyclist had anything more than two wheels and a handlebar as they went past you. Times have changed, not least because you can now sense their self-satisfied attitudes before you see them, drifting ahead of their bike like a breath on your neck. I’m not a fervent anti-cyclist – admittedly, I don’t see the point, but the ‘Professional’ cyclist does wind me up.

Now its not the helmet-cam that gets me cross, although it’s just so needlessly passive-aggressive – the Halfords equivalent of wearing a sign saying Telltale Tit on it. It’s not even the lycra, which clings to every wrinkle and takes away the mystery of whether a man has a matt or gloss finish. No…it’s the lights that wind me up – I used to cycle merrily in the dark along country roads with only the little reflector that came free with my box of Frosties lighting the way, with my long black coat and my shit goth black hair billowing behind me like the gayest Scottish Widow you’ve ever seen. Now you see cyclists coming towards you looking like a tiny mobile oil-rig, all shiny helmets (admittedly not the first time I’ve had one of them come at me of a morning) and blinking lights morse-coding ‘YES, I AM A TWAT’ on the front. It’s lucky I’m not epileptic, I’d be twitching halfway to Sunderland by the time I finished my walk.

Then see there’s other walkers – I’m an incredibly competitive person but also someone who is fundamentally lazy, a dangerous combination. I don’t like to be ‘outwalked’ by anyone, but I’m too fat and slovenly to move beyond a speed that could be best described as ‘god bless him, he’s trying’. If I see someone coming up behind me (admittedly not the first time I’ve had that happen of a morning, either) I’ll immediately try and quicken my pace, but I’ll sharp need to slow down as my trousers start smoking and the smell of bacon wafts around me.  I’ll lump joggers and runners in with this lot – fair play to anyone who wants to improve their fitness, it’s all good fun, but why do so many need to run towards you with that weird cum-face thing going on?

Dog-walkers are even worse, though. I don’t mind dogs, but only if they’re decent, dog-sized dogs – not cats that bark. As a rule, if you can lift up a dog with one hand, it’s too small for me. I like walking a dog to be a battle of wills, see. But by the by, it’s those people who let the dog run up to you and jump up on my work trousers – I don’t particularly like dogs I don’t know at the best of times, but I could really do without a muddy pawprint over my crotch. Oh how the owners laugh gaily as I shoo their little shitmachine away from me, all ‘OH HE’S REALLY NO BOTHER’ and ‘OH HOW HE LIKES YOU’. I’d love to reply ‘DO YOU THINK I COULD DROP-KICK HIM OVER ST JAMES PARK FROM HERE?’ but of course I’m too British so I just laugh nervously and call them rude words as soon as they turn their back. Keep your dog on a leash if you’re incapable of calling them back, it’s really that simple.

The final problem is cows. For eight months of the year, there are about two hundred cows milling around on the moor. No-one else seems fazed by them but they make incredibly nervous. I grew up in the country and was never fazed, but one day I was walking across the town moor with my headphones on, in a world of my own, when a cow ‘crept’ (I say crept, a cow weighs around 100 stone or so, so she did well) up behind me and nudged my side with her nose. I got such a fright that I actually screamed out loud like a jessie and well, now I’m terrified of them! There’s only one place in Newcastle for 100-stone beasts with insanely long eyelashes and pendulous titties and that’s the Bigg Market. I console myself by eating their brethren with a smug smile.

So yes, walking. Perilous. Recipes tomorrow when t’other half returns! I PROMISE.

J

baked cod with samphire

What a lovely day! An hour spent bellowing at my nana – not out of malice you understand, but remember, she’s tone deaf so you end up repeating things in incremental degrees of volume until you’re screaming NO THANKS I DON’T NEED A METRIC TONNE OF MINT IMPERIALS I’M ON A DIET like you’re trying a hail a taxi from the moon. Bless her, it would be quicker and easier for me to have my side of the conversation tattooed onto my body and relayed back to her via sign language than it is to have a two-way conversation punctuated only by the sound of her hearing aid whirring away like an old 56k modem. Bless her though, I’d not change a bit about her. Even the answers in her Puzzler are hilarious – when she doesn’t know, she just adds random letters in like someone upending a Scrabble board.

But, before we went to my nana, we spent three hours walking dogs! It was BRILLIANT. I love dogs (not as much as cats – it’s my ambition in life (or rather death) that when I snuff it, I lie in a living room with eighty cats picking away at my carcass and eight pouches of Bite ‘n’ Chew in my birds nest hair) but we can’t have one in our house. It wouldn’t be fair, as we both work long hours and I’d spend all day worried that the dog was looking out the window with a doleful expression on its face, waiting for our DS3 to come bouncing over the speed-bump/her at Number 2 at the bottom of our street. So. How to get some body magic in and meet new dogs? Easy! We rang up a local cat and dog shelter (Brysons of Gateshead) (I’m not sure if that needs apostrophising and now I’m stressing, so if it does, I’m sorry) and asked if they needed people to walk their dogs – and they do, so we did!

After spending ten minutes doing my normal parking routine of driving into a parking space, leaving it, driving back in at one degree less than before, checking the lines, driving out, putting my wipers on instead of my indicators and then finally driving in another bay just up the road, we were there, and after handing over ID (lest we stole the dogs, I assume) we were given Max (a spaniel, I think) and Scout (a greyhound). Off we trotted, with the greyhound almost immediately pulling me over. I’m a big guy, but this bugger was strong! Paul had worn a shitty pair of old trainers so he was fine clarting around in the mud, but I’d inexplicably chose Chelsea boots to wear, and I pretty much skated my way through the mud along the Bowes Railway. We spent ages trotting along with the dogs who were wonderfully behaved, giving them a good walk (and us some great body magic) and generally enjoying ourselves. The dogs seemed happy to be made of a fuss of and getting some fresh air, even if my dog (Max) spent a horrendous amount of time picking absolutely every bit of rubbish up off the ground and trying to eat it, followed by me trying to stop him – I don’t think we’d be able to take dogs out again if I returned it with a Panda Pop bottle poking out of his bumhole.

Here they are!

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Gorgeous little buggers. Great way to get more exercise and to help out a local charity. They also need cat cuddlers but I don’t think my heart can take it. Here’s our two, beautiful as ever. You’ll note the cat beds hanging from the radiator, spoilt little buggers.

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Bowser is particularly pleased, as he managed to get a whole piece of cod for his tea. Cod from the recipe below, which was also our meal this evening…enjoy!

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to make baked cod with samphire, you’ll need:

ingredients: 250g of halved cherry tomatoes, 100g of pitted black olives, two tablespoons of capers, two tablespoons of mixed herbs (not the mixed herbs – use thyme, dill and oregano), four cod fillets (frozen), tablespoon of olive oil, two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and a packet of samphire.

and to make baked cod with samphire, you should:

recipe: place the tomatoes, capers, olives and fish in a pyrex dish – fish nestled amongst the other ingredients rather than sitting on top. Make a oil from the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and herbs and drizzle over the top. Add salt and pepper. Put into the oven for 20-25 minutes (if frozen, if you’re using fresh go for 15 minutes and check if it needs longer). Five minutes before the fish is ready, boil a pan of water, chuck in the samphire for two or three minutes and sieve. Put that on a plate, add a piece of fish and some of the capers/tomatoes/olives. Drizzle over some of the liquid that was released when the ingredients cooked, and bloody well enjoy!

extra-easy: perfectly. There are syns, but you’re supposed to use them, and again I’ve been fairly conservative with the syn value here – the dish serves four, and the two syns is per serving, but you could lower the amount of olives and adjust the syns accordingly. It’s really not high though, and the ingredients are beautifully simple. Samphire can be tricky to find, and if you’ve never had it, give it a go. It’s got a strong, salty taste, but is delicious – you can eat it raw, but I prefer it blanched for a moment or two just to take the edge off. It grows by the sea and really adds to the fish dish!

Enjoy. What a day!

J