fresh spring rolls and dipping sauce

Was it my fresh spring rolls and dipping sauce that caught your eye? Well scroll on down, you filthy buggers. Fair warning, tonight’s entry is a little saucy.

Before we get to the recipe, I’m going to do something unusual. See, in the facebook group that accompanies this blog are a load of funny buggers, each more crass and hilarious than the last. I can rattle off a blue joke and a knob gag no worries, but well, I struggle to get women’s problems correct. It’s all so complicated, and well, if you get it wrong, you’re liable to end up with a clit around the ear and a flap in the face. Wah-wah.

Anyway, I decided it would be a gas to ask people if they wanted to write an ‘article’ for the blog – no catches, write what you want, and if I have a recipe but can’t be buggered to type up one of my usual why-use-one-word-when-forty-paragraphs will do, I can post one up! If you’re interested in having a go, let me know in the comments. Readers, please remember that these articles are people wanting to try their hand at writing a blog post but don’t have the confidence to set up a full blog. Be kind. If you’re thinking negative comments, keep them ssh. If you enjoy the article, let’s hear from you!

Tonight’s entry is by the charming Clarabell, who lists the ability to say the alphabet backwards and having a creepy double-jointed hand as her party trick. Don’t believe me? Take a look!

20160522_174459

Goodness. Least she never struggles to get the last Pringle out of the tube, eh? I’d better make sure that isn’t the image that shows up when you post this to facebook. Over to Clarabell…


sweatbox: a tale by Clarabell

Now, we’re all used to the candid craic from James and Paul about douche bulbs, all things in the downstairs department, and of course the post that mentioned bukkake…which I had to google. On a work laptop. Upon which I forgot to delete the history. Cheers guys! So I figured that with a gaggle of MAINLY female readers that my post would have to be about some nether region tale of the female variety. Something we’ve probably all experienced at one point. Perhaps not James and Paul. (James edit: NOT TRUE! I’ve been there and it was all very charming, but not for me. That’s what keeps the world interesting, different opinions, apropos of nothing I don’t like potted ox tongue either).

I’ve been fed up lately, I’ve been getting bouts of cystitis, antibiotics, thrush, cystitis….repeat. I’ve had a scan and there’s nothing wrong with me other than I don’t drink enough water, and have self-created this cycle of misery.

Resigned to buying the thrush cream, after the standard tactic of ‘ignore it and it might not be there’ stopped working, off I went to the local shopping centre, my purse hovering on the thick air in front of me. I’m in Asda but I can’t see what I want on the shelves, and I’m quickly narked that the chemist is the other side of the centre, only because when your regions are on fire, that’s a long walk to do, simultaneously avoiding the urge for a scratch, and walking like there’s stones in your shoes. But! In a flash of delight, I remember that they took out half of the checkouts, to make an optician that no-one goes in, and…. a PHARMACY! Whoop! There’s nothing like the delight of knowing you can get minge cream at the same time as your linguine.

I’d like some Canesten Oral Duo” I say bravely– pointing to the bottom shelf. Worryingly, he looks like he doesn’t have a clue what I’m asking for. He follows my finger to the bottom shelf, and picks up some Sea Legs, examines box, puts it back and repeats – he does this a few times with a box of Rennie, and some headlice solution, and eventually comes across the thrush ‘range’ glowing on the shelf like a barber’s pole in full red and white glory. I’m wondering at this point if he is the pharmacist, or whether he’s mugged the rightful medicine man of his Asda badge and strolled behind the desk in the manner of an imposter, hoping to get first nab of the nearby ‘Whoops’ range, but he comes across the requested item at last. Not literally, you’d really struggle to pick the box up if he did that.

“Is it for you?” he asks. Christ on a bike…look mate, it’s fifteen flaming quid…I am not about to raffle it off in the Slimmer of the Week basket I don’t say this, instead I go with “yes” and 100% resting bitch face. Oh but he isn’t finished, “have you used it before?”…panic! What’s the correct answer to this? ‘Yes’ and appear like some serial offender, someone who can’t control their rancid ways and lifting minnie?! Or ‘no’ and risk a declined purchase, or worse, some sort of lecture on best application practice and/or side effects?! I go with “yes” quickly followed up with “a while ago…” He gives a small nod. He knows I’m baking bread. Phew, home and dry, which is good because another customer has joined me and she has the smug privacy of a prescription, which is her ticket to a no question transaction.  What is it with these useless questions?

However, there can be none more useless than the question I once got asked buying antihistamines for hayfever, “drowsy or non-drowsy” I was asked! Really?! Erm..let me check my diary…nope, nothing on the afternoon, drowsy for me please, I’m fine to lounge around spaced out and sleepy, I was not planning on driving and the only ‘machinery’ I’ll be operating will be the telly, so yup, drowsy will do just do fine…ah wait, no consuming alcohol? Poop.

Anyway, Ahmed walks to the till, and promptly stops and stands above it doing jazz hands, and of course he just remembered he doesn’t know how to use it. Suddenly, “Doreen!” he shouts WAVING THE CANESTEN BOX IN THE AIR! “Doreen, can you ring this in for me please”! I swear the smug-prescription-holder does the smirking shimmy, that tiny little wobble that comes only with an inner titter.  I throw her some side-ways shade, which is code for ‘look lady, we’ve all been there, and you will one day (maybe soon after that prescription for antibiotics teehee!) also have to stand here and deal with this lovely bloke, showing the world his arm pit sweat patch whilst at the same time holding aloft the solution to your itchy snatch’.


Goodness me! I once had a flatmate who had perpetual thrush, brought on by the fact her extra-endowed boyfriend  seemed hellbent on hammering her cervix over her back-teeth. Not even kidding there, she showed me a photo he’d sent and what I thought was his arm holding the camera definitely wasn’t. At one point our fridge was more cranberry juice than anything else. I still can’t have a cranberry sour without thinking of her undercarriage. I remember we once had a full stand-up row over the fact I refused to boil tea-towels in a saucepan on the hob to sterilise them. Awfully judgemental for someone with a little too much glue on their envelope.

Now listen, before anyone starts writing their ‘ANGRY OF TUNBRIDGE WELLS’ letters and getting themselves in a tizz, don’t. I know it’s perfectly natural and I know people get all sorts of things but do you know, if we can’t laugh at ourselves, what can we do? Let’s not live in a joyless vacuum.

Right, to the food!

 fresh spring rolls

These are one of those tasty little dishes that look complicated to make, but they’re really not. We used Blue Dragon Rice Pancakes for these which SW say are one syn each (ridiculous) – you can buy rice pancakes from any Asian supermarket too. The joy with these is that you can ram them absolutely chock-full of speed vegetables and lovely free things. 

to make fresh spring rolls, you’ll need:

to make fresh spring rolls, you should:

  • get a plate and fill it with warm water, you’ll obviously not need a lot
  • chop all your veg up – this is where a mandolin will save you so much time and make everything neat and wonderful – click here to buy one of those
  • get everything ready to hand
  • take one pancake, push it into the water, allow to rehydrate a little
  • take out, shake off the water and lay it on a tea-towel or better, a nice clean worktop
  • if you imagine it in thirds, you want to place a big amount of filling at the top of the bottom third – or really, just below the middle of the pancake
  • fold in the sides
  • fold in the bottom
  • roll – keep it nice and tight with your hands (fnar fnar)
  • place on a chopping board and cut with a very sharp knife

You’re done! We served ours with a dipping sauce where we took low sodium soy sauce (6 tbsp), a couple of tablespoons of hoisin (4 syns), a few chilli flakes, a drop of honey (1 syn) and some passata. Stir and serve!

Although these are a syn each, these fresh spring rolls are very, very filling and a brilliant way of getting fresh veg into you. I’m a big fat pig and only managed four! If you wanted to keep it vegetarian, swap out the meat for cooked egg or mushrooms.

Enjoy.

J

taster night ideas for Slimming World

Looking for taster night ideas? There’s SEVEN recipes down below. I’m not surprised you want inspiration, nothing seems to strike fear into slimmers at Slimming World more than ‘we’re having a party next week, bring something along‘. Well, perhaps the words ‘let’s split the room in half, someone keep points, we’re going to do group activities‘. God I hate that. I’m too antisocial at the best of times but being forced to come up with a witty team name and shout out speed foods makes my throat hitch. For those not in the Cult of Mags, a taster night is where everyone is expected to bring along some food to share with the rest of the class and usually results in about twenty quiches and a box of grapes bought from the Co-op over the road by the lady who forgot it was on.

I struggle with taster nights because, as previously mentioned, I don’t like eating food when I don’t know how clean the kitchen it’s coming from is. Luckily I’m in a class now with people who do look familiar with a bottle of Ajax, but Christ, some of the sights I’ve seen in other classes, well I wouldn’t eat what came out of their kitchens even if it contained the antidote to a life-threatening poison I’d accidentally ingested. I don’t mind a slice of Slimming World quiche, I just don’t like to be twanging cat hair out of my teeth for the following week. Anyway, as ‘what can I make for taster night’ and ‘slimming world snacks’ appear quite regularly on the little index of what people search for to find this blog. Well, it can’t all be ‘chubby cub cum explosion’ (can’t remember that recipe?) and ‘fat men fuking’ (masturbation is no excuse for poor spelling, chaps).

Oh! A quick word. When a buffet is served up in class, try and allow the meek amongst us access to the food. A couple of years ago, in a class in Wakefield no less, Paul and I didn’t get any food because half the class – not the better half – dashed forward as soon as the ‘party’ began and formed one giant body of impassable bulk. It was like the Berlin Wall, only smelling faintly of chips. I’ve never seen food shovelled and devoured with such ferocity and I’ve seen Sicilian wild boars being fed. All I wanted was a (nothing-like-a) Ferrero Rocher and a few ‘JUST LIKE DORITOS’ crisps that I could have planed a door with. I had my revenge anyway – the wasabi peas that I put on the table thinking they were syn-free were actually about eight syns a handful. What can I say? My knowledge of the Mandarin language is a little rusty.

So, with all the above in mind, we decided to do a post on snacks, also fuelled by the fact it was Eurovision last night and we like to have a trough of food to work through whilst we watch our entry get annihilated. Before anyone says the UK will never win because ‘it’s too political’ and ‘no-one votes for us because of the war’, that was relevant maybe ten years ago and certainly isn’t now. Russia almost won it and well, that Putin’s been a bit of a tinker this year, has he not? We don’t win because we send absolute shite – po-faced, dreary, period-pain music with insipid staging and crap tunes. No doubt that Aldi Jedward can sing a tune and strum a guitar but they lost a singing competition where literally tens of people voted for someone else to be a winner. Why would that translate to success in the Eurovision Song Contest? EH? We need to send something amazing, with a massive chorus and an uplifting melody, not a song that would barely make its way onto the second CD in the Now That’s What I Call White Noise 87 compilation.

I was just sore because I had Poland and Italy in the sweepstakes, and did you catch them? Poland came dancing out like a crystal-meth Cheryl Cole and Italy’s act was so boring that I forgot about it whilst she was singing the words, which is quite something. I wanted Russia to win. That stage, that song (You Are The Obi Wan, You’re My Obi Wan…) and gasp, when that screen spun around…well, I loved it. Plus one of my work colleagues had Russia in the sweepstakes and I just know he’s going to be spend his winnings on delicious things for the entire floor. That’s right, isn’t it Alan? SHOUT-OUT FOR ALAN. Mahaha. Paul threw his weight behind Sweden, who I can’t really be mean about because the singer was only 8 and he has the angst of puberty to get through. He’s no Eric Saade (2011) with his exploding glass cages though.

As it happens, one of the worst songs managed to win – Kate Bush’s stunt double caterwauling about politics – and Ukraine took the prize, meaning Russia will be hosting the Eurovision next year. Boom boom. We’ve said it every year – we should go to the next Eurovision – and the fact that it is being held in Ukraine only sweetens the deal. If it had been Russia we’d have been conflicted – on one hand, we love the idea of a night of catchy tunes surrounded by every other gay man in existence, but on the other hand I prefer not to have my teeth kicked down my throat because I’m a rampant bummer. Ah yes.

Anyway come on now, let’s get to the recipes, shall we? This is the spread.

taster night ideas

Fancy, right? On view then:

  • Bánh Mì balls with a spicy dip
  • our teeny tiny teriyaki tasters
  • sandwiches filled with syn-free egg mayonnaise and tuna and cucumber
  • sweet potato crisps with four different types of houmous
  • baked new potatoes with cheese and bacon topping

Out of sight:

  • spicy couscous balls
  • gin and tonic lollies

Three caveats that I’m going to throw in before we begin:

TWEAK

  • some of these recipes are ‘tweaks’ in the truest sense of the word – especially the crisps – and it’s up to you whether you follow the rule of synning them or not – tweaks being when you use an ingredient in a way it isn’t intended to be used, such as slicing a sweet potato to make crisps. I will mention it where appropriate. My own view (which you can find here) is that it’s better to be eating something made from a healthy ingredient than a processed packet of crisps. It boils down to this – 100g of sweet potato is around 85 calories, 100g of Walkers crisps kicks in over 550 calories. I’ll be fucked if I’m synning sweet potato crisps at the same rate as normal crisps. If you feel the need to be all frothy and leave a comment castigating me for my temerity, please save yourself the finger strain, wipe the spittle from your lips and simply don’t bother – personal choice;
  • a couple of these recipes you’ll have seen before if you’re a long-time follower, but I thought it would be handy to put them all in one place; and
  • as usual, I’ve given syn values for a normal portion and I’ll mention when it uses up a HEA/HEB. If you’re eating the entire buffet, you’ll need to think about how many HEB/HEA’s you’re using! It’ll make sense as we go along. Basically, each recipe stands on its own. Right? Right.

taster night ideas #1: sweet potato crisps with four different types of houmous:

taster night ideas

to make the sweet potato crisps, you’ll need:

  • a couple of big sweet potatoes
  • spray oil – a few squirts of Filippo Berio’s olive oil is only half a syn, and that’s all you need
  • chinese five spice

to make the sweet potato crisps, you should:

  • to make the crisps, use a microwave, it’s much easier
  • get a big old sweet potato and cut it to uniform thin slices – this is where having a mandolin slicer comes in very handy, because it’ll take no time at all to do the slices – buy one here and never look back, not least because it makes your food look great when it’s all uniform
  • arrange the slices on a plate, squirt with some spray oil, dust with chinese five spice (or indeed, any flavouring you want) and rub it in
  • microwave on full power – it usually takes about six minutes, but keep checking every couple of minutes, and once they start to look dry, turn them over
  • keep a proper eye on them mind, because they can burn easily once they dry out
  • once done, take them off the plate, set aside, and do the next batch

to make the four way houmous, you’ll need:

  • a few small tins of chickpeas
  • garlic cloves
  • fat free cottage cheese
  • a lemon or two
  • sea salt

to make the four way houmous, you should:

  • the basic houmous recipe is simple enough – for enough to fill one of those little square bowls above, you’ll want to use one small tin of cooked chick peas (syn free), a nice round tablespoon of fat free cottage cheese, a garlic clove, pinch of sea salt and some lemon juice. Blend it together, adding a little more lemon juice if you like it runny or keeping some back if you prefer it chunky. It’s up to you. You will save yourself so much time if you get yourself one of these little express choppers that Delia Smith was always going on about between tumblers of Scotch – you can find one here – it’ll make houmous in no time
  • to make the different variations, you just add a few ingredients:
    • lemon and garlic (add an extra couple of garlic gloves, a squidge more lemon juice and decorate with finely grated lemon peel) (don’t take the pith, literally, as that is very bitter – just the top layer, please)
    • basil and parmesan (10 torn basil leaves, 10g of shaved parmesan, bit of salt) – up to you if you want to syn such a tiny portion of parmesan but bearing in mind you’ll be getting what, 2.5g of it, I wouldn’t bother
    • pickled red cabbage (just a few chunks of pickled red cabbage and some of the pickling vinegar added to give it colour
    • paprika and sun-dried tomato – I chucked in 1tbsp of sundried tomato paste (1.5 syns, but again, through the laws of dilution, it’s up to you if you syn it)

Easy! Of course, if you don’t want to fart on making the crisps, just chop up some peppers, carrots and cucumber and use them instead to dip into your houmous. If you want our little serving dish, you guessed it, it’s on Amazon!

taster night ideas #2: teeny tiny teriyaki tasters:

teeny tiny teriyaki tasters

This makes enough for 36 sticky teeny tiny teriyaki tasters (fnar fnar), if you make them bigger, adjust the syns per ball. There’s 12 syns in the overall recipe.

to make teeny tiny teriyaki tasters, you’ll need:

to make teeny tiny teriyaki tasters, you should:

  • in a large bowl mix together the pork and the beef mince with the egg yolk
  • using a tablespoon, scoop out a spoon-size ball and roll into meatballs – do this for all of the mixture (you’ll need about 36 – if you want, you could weigh out each ball at around 27g each…but life’s too short)
  • heat a large pan over a medium high heat and add a couple of squirts of spray oil or, urgh, Frylight, bleurgh
  • cook the meatballs until browned all over and cooked right through – you WILL need to do them in batches
  • place cooked meatballs onto a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm whilst you cook the rest
  • when done, mix together the soy sauce, white wine, sherry, honey and ginger in a small jug and pour into the same pan you used to cook the meatballs and reduce the heat to medium
  • cook for a few minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened
  • add the meatballs back into the pan and stir carefully to coat – I find it easier to tumble the meatballs in and then pick up the pan and gently slosh them around rather than trying to stir with a spoon
  • serve on cocktail sticks and sprinkle over the seeds – don’t sweat it if you can’t find these, you could easily leave them off and that brings the syn count to 1 syn for six – even better – but they look so pretty with the seeds on

taster night ideas #3: Bánh Mì balls with a spicy dip:

taster night ideas

to make Bánh Mì balls with a spicy dip, you’ll need:

  • 500g turkey mince
  • 1 onion (grate half of it, chop the other half)
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp of sriracha, (1 syn) (you can use any old hot sauce)
  • 1 egg
  • 25g panko (4.5 syns) (or use breadcrumbs from your HEB allowance)
  • ½ cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 5 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 100g quark

to make Bánh Mì balls with a spicy dip, you should:

Full disclosure: we got this recipe from the fabulous cookingforkeeps.com – her recipe can be found here and looks equally as delicious – we’ve tweaked ours for Slimming World!

  • preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  • in a bowl, mix together the turkey mince, onion (grated and chopped), carrot, spring opnions, garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, 1 tsp of sriracha, egg and the panko until combined
  • roll into 1″ size balls and place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper
  • cook in the oven for twenty minutes
  • meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together 1 tsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp sriracha and the quark to make a dipping sauce
  • slice the radishes and cucumbers as thinly as you can and skewer one of each onto a cocktail stick with the meatball

taster night ideas #4: little sandwiches:

to make little sandwiches, you’ll need:

taster night ideas

No need for a full recipe here, really. Take whatever bread you want from your HEB – we use Kingsmill Crustless Wholemeal bread, which you can have three slices of. Cut nice circles out of them, remember you eat with your eyes.

  • for the egg salad, boil up four eggs, break them up with a fork, add a tablespoon of quark, lots of black pepper, a chopped tomato and some spring onions
  • for the tuna – well, we’re old school, we just like tuna mixed with vinegar and served with cucumber. You could splash out and add a bit of Quark to bind it, I suppose…

taster night ideas #5: baked new potatoes with a cheese and bacon topping:

taster night ideas

to make baked new potatoes, you’ll need:

  • 1.5kg small salad-type potatoes
  • 100g fat-free fromage frais
  • 30g parmesan (1x HEA)
  • 4 rashers of bacon, all visible fat removed
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • chives

to make baked new potatoes, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200 degrees (or an actifry with the paddle removed is just as good – Amazon are selling them for £125 at the moment too!)
  • prick the potatoes with a fork, spray with a little frylight and bake in the oven (or actifry) for about 45 minutes
  • grill or dry-fry the bacon until crispy and chop into small pieces
  • mix together the fromage frais, parmesan and spring onions and set aside
  • when the potatoes are cooked, leave to cool for about ten minutes
  • make a cross in the top of each potato and squeeze the bottoms to open them up
  • spoon in a little of the fromage frais mixture and top with bacon pieces and chives

taster night ideas #6: spicy couscous balls:

couscousballs

Please note: that’s an old photo, it’s actually now 4 syns for all the balls, but you’re not going to eat them all yourself anyway, surely? I’ll nip back in time and change the photo later.

Not worth making a full recipe breakdown for this, because it’s so, so easy. I use two packets of Ainsley Harriott’s spicy sensations couscous, which come in at 2 syns per pack made up with water (so don’t be adding butter, you cheeky buggers). Add the appropriate level of water (whatever it says on the pack) and leave to absorb. Fluff with a fork. Beat an egg and mix it into the couscous, then squeeze as many balls as you can out of the mixture. Pop onto a tray and stick it in the oven on 150 degrees for an hour or so – you want to ‘dry’ them out. Cooked low and slow, you’ll be laughing. For a dip, make tzatziki – greek yoghurt (I use Tesco Finest 0% fat – no syns) mixed with cucumber cut into tiny cubes and mint. Stir, chill, eat.

taster night ideas #7: gin and tonic ice lollies

taster night ideas

Again, no need for a full recipe. We mixed 25ml of gin with a glass of diet tonic, poured it into a cheapy ice-lolly mould like this £3 from Amazon and added a slice of cucumber. Between six, it’s half a syn each. Of course, it’s easy to customise this, put your pint of whisky in, add lime, add fruit, don’t add alcohol, do what you like!

OK, I hope that’s given you some inspiration. It’s certainly made my fingers ache!

Do me a favour though – share this page in as many facebook pages as you can, because taster recipes is one of the main things people need. Spread the love! Leave me your comments below!

Oh it’s worth noting, we did have a couple of drinks to get us through Eurovision, see…

taster night ideas

J

four meals from a chicken: roast chicken dinner

Everyone likes a roast chicken dinner! Remember I said about taking a chicken, roasting it and showing you how to make four meals from it? Well, perhaps not four meals, but we’re going to have a good run at three and maybe a bit over. Listen, it’s all relative anyway – if you’re one of those folks who have to eat every last scrap and won’t stop until you’re having to undo the stitching, never mind the buttons, on your jeans…you might struggle to make it last. Best tip I can offer you? Get the biggest turkey or chicken you can find.

A big chicken? I much prefer a big cock. Oh I say!

Before we start with the main event, a roast chicken dinner, let me just say many thanks for all the lovely comments and well-wishes I received via Facebook for my birthday. You’re all too kind, though I hasten to say that if you really loved me, you’d buy our book and one of our freezer filler boxes of meat, even if you didn’t have the space. You could just put it straight into the bin whilst laughing gaily at memories of us. I jest, of course. Just send money direct via Paypal.

I’m not one of those folks who make a big fuss of their birthday either way – I have no time for people who go DON’T EVEN MENTION IT I’M TOO SHY or SAD or FEELING OLD. It’s one day out of 365 (366 this year, pedantic) that you can get people making a slight disinterested fuss out of the fact it’s been X amount of years since you came clattering out of a vagina. At the same time, the opposite annoys me too – if you shoehorn in the fact it’s your birthday into every conversation, chances are I’ll be hoping it’s your last and looking temptingly at your back as you walk down a flight of stairs. I received some wonderful cards and presents and ate more than was entirely decent. Expect significant weight gains this week!

We spent bank holiday Monday geocaching, which if you’re new to the blog and/or have anything resembling a social life you’ll never have heard of. It’s essentially dogging but with less sexual arousal and more digging around behind fence-posts looking for a tupperware box filled with trinkets and sadness. People hide containers and clever contraptions all around the world in beautiful places (trust me, you’ve never seen a bus-shelter until you’ve run your hands over every conceivable surface trying to find a film canister) and you use GPS to find them. It’s geeky as hell which is why it appeals to us. Actually, that’s a fib, the fact that it’s free of charge appeals to me more.

So that’s what we did all day – drove to a pretty village, loaded up our cache maps and tottered around screaming and shrieking as we found each one. We’re planning to hide our own, too, so if you’re a geocacher and you want a challenge, keep an eye on the blog. I’ve made it all sound terrifically dull but really, there are some clever ideas. For example, one of the caches consisted of nothing more than a tube, sealed at the bottom, stuck to the back of a fence next to a brook in the middle of nowhere. No way of getting the hidden container out until you realise that you had to fill the tube with water so that the cache would float out. Ingenious! Luckily, I had just enough piss in me to fill the container though I’d had asparagus so I pity the next fucker to get it. Again, I’m kidding. We fashioned a scoop from an empty crisp packet, filled it with water from the stream and did it that way. Ingenious! Other caches included a container hidden on a well, another you had to fish out of a mysterious hole in the ground and a few containers hidden in the forest behind HMP Northumberland. Well, the joke almost writes itself, but… it’s not the first time I’ve been on my knees in a forest being leered at by hard blokes whilst I desperately try and get my hands around a camouflaged package.

BOOM

In all we managed a new record of 43 caches and walked 11 miles, only stopping when Paul’s blister became one with his shoe. The weather forecast said it was going to rain and be miserable, so you can imagine how much joy wearing a thick, long wool coat was when the sun stayed out all day. I looked like the most fabulous Dementor ever stalking around in the woods.

Anyway, some pictures from the day:

geocaching 

Right, a roast chicken dinner then. I’m going to break with tradition here and rather than give you step by step, I’m just going to tell you how to do each part.

roast chicken dinner

how to make a perfect roast chicken dinner, Slimming World style:

  • mash: use decent potatoes like Marabel or Maris Piper, cook them in water with a beef stock cube added, push them through a ricer instead of mashing them, crack an egg yolk in if you want to be a decadent slut – the ricer is the thing that makes the mash, it creates wonderful smooth tasty mash instead of school dinner mash – buy one here
  • roast potatoes: using the same potatoes as the mash, drop of oil and crumble an oxo cube and put them into the Actifry (the new model is currently reduced by £120 on Amazon, get it whilst it’s cheap and never look back) or the oven – you don’t need to clart about putting them into the microwave and whatnot, they’ll come out perfect. Get an actifry! Do the same with your parnsips
  • sprouts, carrots and cauliflower – cook in the same pan, save the water to make the gravy with
  • cook your chicken – we always use the 30 minutes per 500g rule, plus an extra 15 minutes or so – remember, you want the juices to run clear when you finger her, it’s really simple
  • gravy – use ruddy Bisto – 1 syn per 1 level tsp of granules, so we use about 6 syns worth to fill a jug. You can make it yourself if you want blending onions and using Smash, but really, why bother? Have the real thing and be happy
  • yorkshire puddings – one syn each (makes twelve) – whisk together 50g flour, two eggs, 120ml milk and 40ml of water. Spray the holes of a tin with frylight and bake in the oven at 200 degrees for about 18-20 minutes

Easy! Save some chicken for the next recipe!

J

breaded chicken in a basil cream sauce

Yes, we’ll get to the breaded chicken in a basil cream sauce in a second. Maybe more than a second. Listen you know the rules, scroll on down to the picture if you don’t want my flowery guff beforehand.

I seem to have acquired a new enemy. I say enemy, rather just someone who clearly doesn’t like me and would cheerfully see me plummet to my death from the car-park like a slightly less camp Julie Martin from Neighbours. See, every day I park in the same spot on the same floor in the multi-storey near where I work. Not because I have to, just force of habit. Anyway, the last couple of weeks someone has got there before me, so I’ve started parking in another bay which has slightly better angles and less change of your car being smacked by some inconsiderate mouth-breather in a Saxo. Easy, no problems. However, it would seem that I’ve taken the space that someone else always used to park in. Oops. They aren’t allocate, I hasten to add. The first time I spotted there was a problem was the other day when another car was driving right up my arse as I trundled up the floors in the multi-storey car park. My first thought was “goodness me, Keavy from B*witched seems to be in a frightful hurry” but all became clear when, as I pulled into “my” spot, she went absolutely apocalyptic in my rear-view mirror, effing and jeffing and waving her arms around like she was interpreting a Russian argument for the deaf. Naturally I did a wry chuckle to myself and parked up primly and professionally.

Since then, if I beat her to “her spot”, I’m treated to the sight of her slamming her door, stalking across the car-park muttering and swearing to herself, before furiously click-clacking her way down the stairs. I’d understand if there was a shortage of spaces but it’s literally me and her on this floor alone. I’m not driving a coach either, there’s plenty of space even if she wanted to park right next to me. Her anger doesn’t seem to be subsiding either. Probably didn’t help that the other morning I cracked my window open a fraction and played ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ as she stormed past, a vision of pure rage. I might borrow Paul’s Smart car and park that in the bay instead, just so she can’t see it until the last minute. That’ll really piss on her chips. Mahaha. Listen, if I’m found in a pool of blood in the stairwell of the multi-storey in Newcastle with a Primark umbrella embedded in my skull, you’ll know who did it.

I do wonder who else is filled with rage whenever they see my moon face appear on the horizon. Certainly there’s a guy near where I work who must finish at the same time as I do. Whenever I see him, I can’t help but smirk. Let me explain. A couple of years ago I was walking to my car when I spotted a man with singularly the worst haircut I’ve ever seen. It was exceptionally styled and colourful and would have looked lovely on a runway model but it was on a bloke who looks just like me but if I’d fallen on hard times. Imagine me with a peacock at full plume on my head. It was such an absurd juxtaposition that I laughed and had to cover it with a cough. He didn’t see me, which is good because I’m not a total bastard and wouldn’t like to think I caused any distress. Anyway, since then, without fail, whenever I see him I have to suppress a laugh purely because of instinct, so every time he sees me he must wonder what I’m chuckling at and/or if I have really bad wind pains. I know, I’m a terrible person, but it’s become like blinking. Perhaps if he didn’t purse his lips at me that might help. I wonder if there’s a blog parallel to this one where he’s writing about the fat gopper in his oversized coat who comes mincing out with a face that looks permanently like I’m about to come.

Ah well, let’s get this recipe out of the way, eh?

breaded chicken with a creamy basil sauce

to make breaded chicken in a basil cream sauce, you’ll need:

Remember, this serves four, so although the above comes in at 17 syns, it’s 4 syns each. 4 and a quarter I suppose, but if you’re going to get in a strop about a quarter syn, then have a word with yourself and re-examine your life choices.

REMEMBER: THIS IS PANKO:

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THIS IS PAN K.O

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You can even buy panko on Amazon if you can’t be arsed looking, right here!

to make the hash browns, you’ll need:

  • 4 decent sized potatoes
  • Frylight if you’re so inclined, proper spray oil is always better
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 30g parmesan, grated (HEA)

to make breaded chicken in a basil cream sauce, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200 degrees and place a baking sheet in the oven to heat up
  • mix together the paprika and the panko in a small bowl – make sure to mix it well to ensure the paprika doesn’t settle at the bottom!
  • in another bowl, beat an egg
  • dip each chicken breast in the egg and then the panko, making sure to press down gently so the panko sticks
  • when each breast is coated, take the baking sheet out the oven, place the chicken on it and return to the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes
  • meanwhile, in a saucepan heat the oil over a medium heat
  • add the flour and mix to a thick paste – it doesn’t matter if it’s a little dry
  • add the chicken stock and whisk well, and then add the milk, basil and salt
  • whisk until all the lumps are gone and then continue to cook over a medium heat, stirring often, until it’s thickened
  • serve the chicken and pour over the sauce

to make the hash browns, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  • grate all of the potatoes (quicker to use a little machine like this)
  • place half the grated potato in a sieve and rinse well – this takes out all the starch so the hash browns go crispy
  • place in a bowl and rinse the other half of the mixture
  • to make sure you’ve done it right – rinse it all again!
  • lay out a clean tea towel and plop the grated potato onto it
  • lay another tea towel on top and squeeze down to remove as much water as you can and put the potato into a large bowl – I like to imagine that if my car-park woman was doing this, she’d see my face bulging in her mind’s eye
  • mix together the salt, pepper, chilli and garlic powder and parmesan and stir into the potato
  • line a baking sheet with some greaseproof paper and tip out the potato – spreading it out as evenly as possible and give a good pump of spray oil
  • place the baking sheet in the lowest rack in the oven and let them bake for about 20 minutes. After twenty minutes, move them to the top of the oven and cook for another 15 minutes – this helps crisp them up 
  • serve

Easy. It sounds complicated but honestly, aside from the time spent wringing out the tatties, this is easy to make and well worth it. Don’t be put off by the 4 syns, that’s nothing and well, it’s worth it for a decent meal, surely?

J

spicy orange chicken, takeaway style

James here. I have some devastating news to get to before we dish out the recipe for spicy orange chicken that you’re all after. After weeks of ‘it will be so much cheaper to run‘, ‘they go fast, honest’ and ‘well I’m not letting you slide that up there until you get me a Smart car’, I’ve folded like a cheap suit, prised open the wallet and given in. Paul now has a Smart car. I maintain my dislike of them – we’re two large fat men, it’s the equivalent of trying to squeeze a roast chicken into a travel kettle, but nevertheless, Paul deserves a car that doesn’t sound like it’s just finished the Dakar Rally. I’m not a petrolhead and I’m certainly not one of those people who need a massive car to try and compensate for their flea-bite willies, I can assure you – my favourite car so far was a crummy, rusty Citroen C2. As a parallel, there were so, so, so many middle-aged knobheads buying giant cars in the Mercedes showroom – don’t worry, you’ll see them soon in blisteringly high detail, beetroot-faced and gesticulating wildly in your rear-view mirror. But no, the Smart car just isn’t for me. It’s all about Paul. So on that note, let’s hand over to him for a wee bit. Oh! This is why we haven’t weighed in this week, we were at the car place on Thursday. Don’t worry, the Knobometer will be back next week. So yeah, Paul…

Hooray! Lots of excitement and excuses to run over the Londis over here at The Sticky Patch because the new car has arrived! Well, it’s half-arrived – they can’t actually find the car we’ve ordered, only that it is somewhere in Zebrugge.  Ah well, it’s not that terrible as they have let me have the exact same car but in different colours to use until they manage to track the other one down so it all sorted itself out. Of course, I’m totally gonna milk it so that I get a fancy free gift out of their accessories cabinet. There’s a trolley coin and fancy ice scraper in there with my name written all over it.

Of course, this happy event is tinged with sadness as it also means a (probably long overdue) tearful farewell to Betty the Micra, who I will always have a soft spot for as it was my first car. The wing mirror was hanging off and the boot went through a period of not opening aside from random intervals when the car was travelling over 70mph, giving the driver behind a fright as twelve bags of Tesco shopping would start cascading out. She absolutely reeked of several years of accumulated farts that no amount of Yankee Candle knock-offs from Aldi could put a dint in. But I loved her, warts and all.

The Smart is a fantastically fun car to drive – I still maintain that it doesn’t feel like a teeny tiny car when you’re in it (except over speed bumps when both ends of the car seem to go over it at the same time – I still can’t get used to it) and it’s a doddle to park, even with my glyphy eye. Plus, people really, REALLY hate being behind a Smart car so will aggressively overtake which then gives James a chance to practice his more colourful language. He’s not an aggressive driver, just a descriptive one. It’s pleasant that we now that we have two decent cars instead of one nice and one shit one. The neighbours have been unusually quiet today so I fully expect they’re all out now updating their own cars – they can’t be getting outdone by ‘the poofs’ (and I’m not even joking – they really will be). 

I love driving, I really do. It’s especially fun up where we live because there are plenty of winding, hilly roads to throw yourself about on, and only a handful lead to dogging spots. In fact, I only passed my test two years ago because to be honest I didn’t really need to drive when I was younger – I preferred to spend my minimum wage wages on fags and cider. I’m from a chronically dull place near Peterborough where fun doesn’t exist and where the roads are just long, straight parkways leading to other long, straight parkways, plus the nearest glory hole was only a fifteen minute walk away so I didn’t ever really feel the need to pass my test anyway. Not that I could have afforded it, I’m terminally underpaid. My childhood experiences of cars was never that exciting either – mother’s Megane had the Celine Dion album she owned on a permanent loop despite being so scratched it sounded like she was rapping her way through My Heart Will Go On. Add to that the fact I couldn’t see out the windows for all the fag smoke that filled the car from her coughing lips – even now I can’t recognise Peterborough without applying a blue smoke filter over the top. Getting out of the smoke-filled car was like coming through the doors of Stars in your Eyes, only I was coughing and spluttering rather than singing Marti Pellow. Ah good times. No wonder I like having my own car now.

Anyway, enough reminiscing. It’s back to James for the recipe. This orange chicken isn’t too spicy and a perfect substitute for a takeaway dinner.

spicy orange chicken

to make spicy orange chicken you will need:

This serves four, by the way.

  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into small chunks (of course, you can use the fabulous chicken breasts that we sell in our fantastic Musclefood deal – in which case, you’ll probably only need two to serve four – click here for those!)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated

for the orange sauce:

  • 325ml chicken stock
  • 250ml Tropicana Trop50 Orange Juice (2.5 syns)
  • 150ml white vinegar
  • 125ml soy sauce
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 2 tbsp sriracha (1 syn)
  • ½ tsp freshly grated ginger
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp honey (5 syns)
  • 2 tbsp cornflour (2 syns)
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes

to make spicy orange chicken you should:

  • in a bowl mix together all of the orange sauce ingredients
  • in another bowl, add 150ml of the orange sauce to the diced chicken, cover and allow to marinade for twenty minutes
  • meanwhile, heat the rest of the sauce mixture in a saucepan and bring to the boil
  • keep stirring until it begins to thicken a little, reduce the heat but keep it on medium and keep stirring
  • remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the sauce
  • heat a large pan over a medium-high heat and add a little oil
  • add the minced ginger and garlic and stir for about 1 minute
  • add the chicken and fry until cooked
  • pour half the sauce mixture over the chicken and stir well to coat
  • serve with rice and pour over the remainder of the sauce

enjoy!

J

butternut squash spaghetti sauce, plus weigh-in time!

Super quick post tonight because well, you’ve had plenty this week! I’M JUST ONE MAN 🙁 and Paul! Oops. First, let me get my cock out:

twochubbycubs

Ah, that’s better. We’ve lost 6.5lb of the 9lb we put on in New York, and the rest will be off next week. Our ankles thank us.

I also have a favour – a lot of you have bought our book, bless you. Could I trouble you for a moment more to leave a review for us? It’ll only help us and we ask for so little! You can find a link to the book right here – and for those who haven’t bought it yet, look at my sad face.

dawson-cryings

Pfft, I wish I had hair like that. 

Anyway, tonight’s recipe, yeah? Dead simple. Makes enough for four greedy chunkers!

butternut squash spaghetti sauce

to make butternut squash spaghetti sauce you will need:

  • 600g of butternut squash, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 6 bacon medallions, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 1½ tsp dried sage
  • 1½ tsp dried thyme
  • 200ml skimmed milk (use some of your HEA allowance, but remember this makes enough for four)
  • 500g spaghetti

to make butternut squash spaghetti sauce you should:

  • heat a little bit of oil in large saucepan over a medium-high heat
  • add the onion and cook for about 1-2 minutes
  • add the garlic and stir for about thirty seconds, then add the butternut squash, stock, sage and them
  • stir well and cover, and leave to cook for about 15 minutes 
  • meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the spaghetti 
  • when the squash is softened (you should be able to poke a fork into it – oh you flirt – with a little resistance), pour the lot into a food processor, add the milk and 50ml of water and add a bit of salt or pepper and pulse until smooth
  • heat a small saucepan over a medium-high heat and add the chopped bacon – stir frequently until crispy
  • drain the pasta and pop it back into the large saucepan, add the butternut squash sauce and mix together
  • serve and top with the crispy bacon pieces

It’s plain and simple but bloody tasty and easy to customise – add in mushrooms, peppers or deep-fried Creme Eggs. You could leave out the bacon if you’re feeling all wan and disappointed with life.

J

cheesy bacon burger fries

OK, so the recipe for cheesy bacon burger fries is a bit of a hybrid between two favourites – our tater tots recipe and our enchilada steak fries. Both wonderful recipes, but if you combine the two, well, it looks awful on a plate, but tastes delicious. Honest guv, promise. Scroll down if all you’re here for are the recipes. Sob.

Meanwhile, here’s part three of our Iceland trip! You’ll find parts one and two right here and here. Run, don’t walk. Remember, more travel stuff in our new book which can be bought for the tiny sum of £4.99 right here!

twochubbycubs go to iceland: part three

Tired from yesterday’s day of looking into cracks, dealing with spurting geysers and admiring a foamy gush, we decided to spend the day mincing about in Reykjavik, seeing the sights, buying tat. As you do. We filled up on an early breakfast and walked the thirty or so minutes along the seafront into the town centre. It feels so peculiar to be shopping and walking around with everyone at 10am, with the sky still inky black and the very first fingers of sunlight just poking through. We could cheerfully live there – we don’t need the light – already got arthritis, might as well go for rickets and get the fullhouse. We stopped (shamefully) for a coffee in Dunkin’ Donuts. I know, I know, eat local, blah blah, but in our defence they had a gorgeous selection of donuts and we wanted to nick their WiFi. The hotel wifi was crap – almost like being back in 2000 and trying to watch porn on a dial-up modem. That was an awful experience, let me tell you. We decided on a rough schedule of the National Museum, the church, shops and then Escape the Room. After finishing our coffee, tutting at children and other tourists, we were on our way.

We walked through the parks and headed up to the National Museum of Iceland, full of vim and joy and wonder from the beautiful snow-filled parks and the frozen lake, pausing only briefly to try and find a toilet. There were signs everywhere but no visible toilet block – presumably because, if Iceland was anything like England, as soon as you enclose three toilets in concrete and asbestos, you’ll have a seedy man with a hand-crank drilling a glory hole and putting his name on the wall. After much looking, we eventually found one of those tiny automatic toilets that look like a TARDIS, with the spinning door and scary buttons. Unlike England, you didn’t need to pay 20p for the privilege of pissing, and Paul was soon merrily enclosed in this tiny metal tube having a wee. He didn’t bank on me hiding around the back and screaming in his face as he emerged, but well, we like to keep things fresh. You’ll see these all over Reykjavik. We were at the museum in no time at all.

Well, let me just say this – for all that we heard that Icelandic folk were friendly, welcoming and pleasant (and, to be fair, they were for the most part), every last member of staff in the museum had a face like they’d seen their arse and didn’t like the colour of it. Clearly smiling and pleasantries were off the menu. I’ve never felt such guilt for asking for a bloody welcome leaflet.

I have a bit of a love/hate thing with museums. See I want to be one of those people in coats that smell of eggs that will stand and …hmmm and …oh I see over every exhibit, but try as I might, I just don’t have the attention span. It was all so very dry and boring for a country forged from fire and ice. I was captivated by the sight of some hipster twatknacker doing warm-up exercises in the ‘Vikings’ section. Why? He was making sure all eyes were on him as his silly little man-bun bobbed up and down. 

We did happen across a mildly interesting exhibition on women in the workplace, which afforded us the chance to titter at some exposed breasts and make blue remarks, but that was it. There was an old style Bakelite phone sitting on a plinth – Paul picked it up, looked grave and then shouted ‘NO DEAL’, much to the obvious hatred of the stern looking curator. We make our own fun, at least. We took a moment to look around the gift shop but again, the staff seemed so unwelcoming that we put down the little bottle of pink rock salt that we were going to buy and hastened on our way. You’d think judging by her pinched face and obvious expression of blistering hatred that she’d mined the salt herself using her teeth.

In Reykjavik, your eyes are always drawn to a church high up on the hill called Hallgrímskirkja, and despite misgivings about how steep the hill was vs how fat our English little bodies were, we set out to have an explore and a look. Perhaps it was the promise of an exceptionally large organ that enticed us. Forty minutes and much swearing later, we arrived, took the obligatory photos, marvelled at the fact that this church smelled exactly like an English church (foist, farts and cabbage soup) and had a reverent look around.

It was wonderful, it really was. I’m not a religious person – I’m not going down on my knees unless it’s to pick up change, give a blowjob or a bizarre combination of the two – but even I was captivated. The lighting, the architecture, the ten million girls shrieking into their hands and milling around – all wonderful. It was prayer time, so everyone was head-bowed and silent, bar for the vicar who somewhat ruined the placidity by bellowing urgently into his phone from high in the eves. He could have been giving a sermon, I suppose, though it rather sounded like he’d been stabbed in the throat and was calling urgently for help.

We waited until most of the tourists had filtered back out before walking up to the altar. I noticed that neither of us had burst into flames for our wicked sodomising ways, leaving me comfortable enough to inch forward to look at the ornate work on the lectern. I’d barely taken in a detail when a tiny mobile phone on a stick crossed my vision, close enough to part my eyebrows. Well, honestly. A tourist with a selfie stick. I find them pointless at the best of times – why would you go on holiday just to take a photo of your face gazing blankly into middle distance whilst blocking out anything pretty? That happens to me every time I look in the mirror to shave. That, and tears of sadness.

Naturally, Paul and I were so aghast that we spent the next fifteen minutes subtly following this poor lady around the church, making sure we were just in the background of all her shots, grimacing and gurning away. She eventually caught on when I tripped over the edge of a pew in my haste to get the top of my head poking into her shot of the font and her face. We made a sharp exit. I like to think we’ll be on a Facebook page far away – the two fat menaces of Iceland.

As we left, we noticed a lift that we’d missed in our haste to get inside – a lift which took you right to the top of the church tower (and that’s high – the church being the sixth tallest structure in Iceland). Perfect! After paying a small charge to keep the church going, we were in the lift and away, with only a momentary and startling stop halfway up, when the lift stopped and the doors opened on a solid brick wall. I’ve seen Bad Girls, I know this is how it ends, but before I’d had chance to scratch ‘FENNER’ into the bricks the lift rattled away and we were at the top.

Stunning. I could post all manner of fancy photos from the top of here but really, they all look very similar. This photo should give you a chance to see how colourful the houses are and how Reykjavik is laid out.

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Taking photos is actually quite difficult, as the little openings which provide the view have bars across them (presumably to stop you hurling yourself out through the shame of ruining someone’s photos), meaning you have to undertake a nail-biting manoeuvre of holding your phone in your hands over a 70m drop. I get the jitters stirring my tea, so seeing Paul waving his phone around had my arse nipping. Mind, not as much as the fact that, completely and utterly oblivious to where I was, I took a moment for quiet reflection and leant against the central column, only to have my eardrums blown through my skull by the giant bell no more than 3ft above my head ringing in 2pm. I said an exceptionally non-church friendly word at the top of my voice, removed my trousers from my sphincter and, somewhat dazed, went to find Paul, who somehow hadn’t managed to either drop his phone or shit himself. Truly, a miracle. Cheers Big G.

The next couple of hours were spent looking around the many, many stores that fill Rekjavic’s main shopping streets, though I’ll say this right now – if I never see another stuffed fucking puffin again I’ll be happy. Or a t-shirt that suggested fat people were great because they can’t outrun polar bears (yeah, but we can eat them, so you overlooked that one). We bought two figurines for the games room and, thanks to Paul leaving my iPad chargers in the old room and the maid being dishonest enough to keep it, a new charger from a knock-off Apple shop where again, we were met with abysmal customer service – waiting almost ten minutes for the bespectacled little spelk to finish his conversation and address the only customers for miles. Listen, don’t take my moaning as evidence that the Icelandic are a frosty (ha-de-ha) bunch, they’re not – aside from the odd knobhead, everyone was charming. 

We partook in a couple of traditional ‘street food’ items which were just bloody amazing – fries at Reykjavik Chips and a hotdog from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. The fries place we happened across just off the main shopping street and it was amazing, even though it was just fries and Béarnaise sauce washed down with beer. You get the fries piping hot in a paper cone with sauce dribbled all over them, and you take a seat at a tiny table with a hole drilled in to hold your cone, all served with beer. Something so simple but done right. The hotdog was a weird one – it really was just a bog-standard hotdog – delicious, but I couldn’t understand the fanfare bar the fact that the stand had apparently been there since time immemorial. Perhaps it was the fact that the guy serving officially had Dreamboat status – not our type, heavens no, but he had one of those faces that moisten knickers just with a glance. Bastard.

Once we were full and our wallets empty, we decided it was either time to Escape the Room or go back to the hotel for a Fat Nap. After a bit of deliberation, we decided our time would be best spent walking along to Reykjavik’s version of ‘Escape the Room’, where you’re locked in a room by a sinister figure and told you will never escape. After a short but arresting diversion via the offices of the Chinese Embassy, we arrived. The woman in charge was wonderful – full of good cheer and welcoming bonhomie. We were given a choice between prison, curing cancer or escaping the clutches of an evil abductress. Naturally, we chose prison. The rules were explained – no breaking things, no wresting lights from the ceiling or sockets from the wall, no oil fires – and then we were led into the room.

At this point, the lady in charge told us to get into character and act like we were in prison. Paul look suitably chagrined whilst I immediately skittered a bar of soap along the floor and bent over with a ‘what AM I like’ leer. What can I say, I’m like Pavlov’s dog. Once I’d straightened myself up, tucked my trouser pocket back in and scrubbed off the ‘WING BITCH’ tattoo from my neck, we were on our way.

I can tell you that we escaped, but it was close, with only a few minutes left on the clock. Paul derailed us immediately by finding a key, deciding it wasn’t relevant and putting it away, not realising it was a crucial part of the first clue. We had been given a phone so we can text our ‘captor’ if we got stuck – we only used it three times, and one of those was Paul accidentally ringing her with his buttocks. To be fair, she probably thought the sound of his cheeks slapping together and the odd, low, rasping fart was just his attempt at speaking Icelandic.

After emerging victorious, we were made to stand for a photo with some ‘AREN’T WE CLEVER’ signs – we didn’t buy them because of course, we look awful. We’re not the worst looking people in the world but we just can’t get a good photo together. Between my chins spilling down my chest like an armadillo’s back and Paul’s barely-tuned in eyes, we’re a mess. If we had children, they’d come out looking like Hoggle from Labyrinth viewed through the bottom of a pint glass. Ah well. She did at least have the good grace when taking the photo not to back away too far to get all of our bulk in.

Tuckered out, we headed back to the hotel, dispensed with all our flimflam and ate a very passable meal in the hotel restuarant. Dangerously, we ordered drinks and put them on our room bill rather than paying for it upfront, which made for quite the unpleasant surprise at the end of the trip. REMEMBER: ICELAND = EXPENSIVE.

We slept like logs that night.

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Anyway, let’s get this bloody recipe out of the way. You came here for cheesy bacon burger fries and who the fuck am I to deny you such pleasures? It serves four, easily, or two fatties. I tweaked the recipe from another blog for this one – link right here. I’ve made it SW friendly though.

IMG_2381

to make cheesy bacon burger fries you will need:

  • 1kg potatoes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • half a lettuce, chopped
  • 120g bacon medallions (have I told you how wonderful you are? If not, you are. Also, you can buy our big meat package with bacon!), chopped
  • 400g lean beef mince (just saying, but we also do a smaller meat package, see? Click here for that – you only need to use up a third of the bacon from here!)
  • 3 tbsp tomato sauce (where the syns come from)
  • 3 tbsp passata
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 3 tbsp malt vinegar
  • 100g mature reduced fat cheddar (40g being one HEA)
  • 200g quark

to make cheesy bacon burger fries you should:

  • cut the potatoes into chips however you liked them – we cut them into thin fries which worked great. crinkle cut would be even better!
  • cook them however you like – in an actifry (available for £99 for Amazon Prime Members right here), air fryer, halo, oven…however you want!
  • in a small bowl mix together the mustard powder and vinegar and set aside
  • whilst the chips are cooking, heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat with a little oil and fry the bacon until just cooked
  • add the mince and continue to stir and fry until cooked
  • add the tomato sauce, passata and mustard mix and some salt and pepper to the pan and cook for about 2 minutes
  • when cooked, remove from the heat and keep warm
  • heat the quark in a small saucepan over a medium heat 
  • add the cheese and stir regularly, making sure it doesn’t split
  • when the chips are cooked transfer them to a large serving dish
  • sprinkle over the the lettuce, mince and onions and cheese sauce- maybe layer them if you like! we meant to but I was a bit gung-ho

J

one pot Malaysian chicken

Recipe for one pot Malaysian chicken coming, but first.

We have our Christmas tree. Lark, I can actually hear the choir singing Hallelujah – or that might just be the buzzing from the faulty lights. Who knows? Who cares? Not me, until the tree goes up with a loud WHOOMPH and my face is melted off.

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Isn’t it pretty? Someone commented on our facebook group asking why we’ve hung some bath sponges on it and that’s a fair point, but actually it’s a trick of the lighting – they’re woollen clouds. Of course! Because nothing says Christmas like wool.

Every year the same argument, though. Paul wants new decorations, I insist we use the old ones until my spirit breaks and I’m buying decorations in a fevered haste. The tree – always a real tree. We did fuss about with buying an artificial tree a few years ago but, having had a real tree all of my life, it’s just not the same. All that bending of branches and adjusting angles sucks the joy out quicker than a Christmas colonic. We have no eye for detail – our trees just end up looking like we’ve wrapped Victoria Beckham in tinsel and stuck a star on her head. Plus, if I’m not picking tiny pine needles from every conceivable crevice – both in the room and on my body – until at least July, Christmas hasn’t been done properly. Way back when my dad would just sneak into a forest near our house and steal a tree, but Paul and I aren’t very good at being subtle and I don’t think his Micra can handle a soggy forest trail. 

We went to IKEA for the tree, having heard that they were only £25 – and you got a £20 voucher to spend instore too. Wah-hey! We got out of bed early (well, Paul did, he had to come and physically roll me out of bed – harder when it looks when you’ve slept in the wet-patch and you’re stuck to the sheet like PVA glue) and hustled down to IKEA on Sunday morning. As did, seemingly, every bugger else from Newcastle, Tyne and Wear to Newcastle, New South Wales. I’ve never seen so many people get excited amongst woodland without someone flashing their interior lights off and on and some van driver wearing fishnets wanking away against my wingmirror. We looked for a moment from afar, realised that we weren’t going to be able to a) get a decent tree and b) breathe in that sea of Lynx Africa and spent-tab-breath, and headed for Dobbies, where at least we could get a box of assorted Lindt chocolates to tide us over. We did nip into IKEA first for decorations. 

Paul hates shopping with me because I lose interest in what I’m doing almost immediately and then just end up getting catty about everything – my responses to the various decorations he held up? ‘Tacky’. ‘Cheap’. ‘AWFUL’. ‘Are we decorating the lobby of a forgotten Travelodge?’ I know, I’m a monster. Thankfully we managed to settle on a nice collection within ten minutes and we were back on our way.

Dobbies was so much easier and civilised – we selected a tree from the pleasant looking selection, had it wrapped by someone who decided to show me so much arse-crack when he bent over that I almost popped a 7ft Norway Spruce in there and paid for it within a few minutes. The only delay was in bringing me around from my heart attack at the cost – it’s a tree! Was I paying for its fucking ferry ticket too? Good lord. I bundled it into Paul’s car (we took both, I didn’t want to get sap in my car and nor did I want to be stuck under a tree all the way home – plus Paul will insist on playing Tracy Chapman in the car) and sauntered back to my car.

 

As I was walking back to my car, some beetroot-faced old fart started waving his hands impatiently at me because he wanted me to dash back to the car, vacate the space and allow his shitty Audi in, despite there being a great number of spaces a bit further away. He was keeping the traffic waiting rather than doing the decent thing and you know, dying in a ball of fire. Naturally, I ran over to my car (I say ran, remember, I’m fat, so really it was a ‘every third step a bit quicker’ shuffle), flung open the door and promptly sat and fiddled with the radio, read my phone, did my hair in the mirror…all the very important things. Listen, I know that doesn’t paint me in such a good light either, but I don’t care – he was so obnoxious with his hand-waving (mirrored by his wife, no less, who had one of those wrinkly pursed faces that looked like a Mini Cheddar Crinkly with a pair of lips rollered on) that he had to wait. It took him almost ten minutes before he screamed off, gesticulating wildly. I then, of course, smoothly reversed out, gave the guy behind me the space, and went cheerily on my way. I did spot him as I drove out the car park trying to manouvre his shitwagon into a tiny space next to the trollies. I barely had time to clasp my hand to my lips and shake my head in the internationally recognised gesture for ‘oh how terrible‘ before I was out of the car park.

Paul beat me home and managed to get the tree across the lawn and into the house himself. Decorating took no effort at all, given I sat and watched Paul to do it, interrupting occasionally to tell him where there were bald patches (mainly on the back of his head, though the shiny circle did look fetching with the reflection of the lights bouncing off it). He did do a smashing job. I contributed at the final moments by heroically placing the star on top because Paul couldn’t find the wee stepladder we keep for such occasions (well we certainly don’t use it for DIY, do we?). Together, we did it. He didn’t end up choking me with a line of tinsel, I didn’t wind up smashing jagged baubles into his eye-sockets. And isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Here’s a lovely Christmas recipe to be getting on with. It’s not Christmassy at all, but I needed a link. Jeez.

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to make one pot malaysian chicken, you’ll need:

This serves 4!

to make one pot malaysian chicken, you should:

  • mix together the oyster sauce, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, salt and pepper, then add the chicken, and marinade overnight or as long as you dare
  • when ready to cook, preheat the oven to 190 degrees
  • heat a large casserole pan over a medium-high heat and add a little oil
  • when the oil is hot, remove the chicken from the marinade using a slotted spoon (but don’t throw it out!)
  • add the chicken to the hot pan, and allow it to sear and char – stir occasionally
  • remove the chicken from the pan and set aside
  • add the mushrooms to the pan with a little more oil and cook until starting to brown
  • add the garlic and cook until turning brown (this won’t take long)
  • add the ginger, rice and 3 tbsp of the marinade and stir well
  • add the stock and the chicken to the pan and stir again
  • cover the pan and bring to a boil
  • transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the rice is cooked
  • remove from the ovnr, serve and garnish with the spring onions and chilli pepper slices

If you like the sound of this, why not make one of our other one-pot dishes, like this chicken and tomato risnotto? That’s tasty and easy to make!

sizzlin’ steak

I’m going to warn you, I’m in a right old grump today. But what’s new! I write better when I’m angry anyway.

You have no idea how much it pains me to write sizzlin’ in the title instead of sizzling, but Paul threatened to withhold sex if I didn’t acquiesce, and so here we are. In a perfect world there would be no need for unnecessary shortenings of random words, but it’s not a perfect world, and I’m not a perfect person. So sizzlin’ it is. Sizzling puts me in mind of those awful pubs where they bring your food out and slide it out onto a scalding hot bit of stone so it ‘sizzles’ and you’re supposed to sit there rapturous whilst your food bubbles. Perhaps it’s because I’m a curmudgeonly-old-before-his-type fart but I don’t get it – I’ve seen stuff heating up before, I’ve used a pan in my lifetime. If they brought it to the table and heated the food via some Rube Goldberg machine that involved flamethrowers and magnetite, I’d perhaps crack a smile. Those types of pub are always full of the same type of people:

  1. those who can’t eat their Sunday dinner without the application of three separate condiments that have to be brought to the table by some harried waitress with a lot more consonants than vowels in her first name;
  2. access day visits from dads sharing wan smiles and thin conversation with the top of their iPhone-engrossed children; and
  3. the elderly, fussing and gumming their way through a special menu printed in Times New Roman Size 32 so everything looks like this:

“puree of turnip served with turkey paste and parsnip wisps”

OK, so I exaggerate, but still. 

It’s been an uneventful day. We had two things in mind – go to Costco to see if they had the giant bar of Dairy Milk that was 10kg, £160 and came with a tray of prepped insulin on the side, and to Dobbies – our local garden centre. It’s a terribly posh garden centre, you can tell because the person blocking the exit tries to sell us an ‘orangerie’ on the way out, rather than double-glazing. An orangerie! Just the thing – I was beginning to grow concerned that my lemon tree was becoming a mite chilled in the North Sea air. Actually, confession: we’ve already got an orangerie, but because I’m not a pretentious tagnut, I call it a greenhouse. 

Costco, then. Costco on a Sunday. Four weeks before Christmas. Time to fight!

You witness this ugliness on Black Friday and during the sales and I just can’t get my head around it. I can’t! You see them on the television, queueing up outside of Next so at 5am they can rush in and have the pick of all the shit that no person wanted during the only time of the year pretty much guaranteed to empty your stock room, so what’s left is the absolute dregs. Wahey! I’m sure Aunt Marjorie will be delighted with her jumper stained with the greasy fingers of the desperate and the nonsensical. There was a guy on Look North the other day who had been queueing outside of Currys all night in anticipation of the bargains galore he expected from Black Friday. He was the only one who turned up. When they interviewed him on the television you could see in his eyes that he regretted his decision, but clearly didn’t want to back down, and he was later shown staggering shamefaced out of the shop after two hours (TWO HOURS! The only way I’d spend two hours in Currys would be if I’d had a cardiac arrest in the TV section, and that’s pretty bloody likely given how high their prices are). What had he picked up? I couldn’t see everything, but there were at least four graphics cards, two blu-ray players and some speakers. Not good speakers, I add. It was as if he was the sole contestant in the world’s most depressing version of Fun House – one where Melanie and Martina had long since died and Pat Sharp didn’t have a haircut that looked like Stevie Wonder had done it as a favour. He claimed to have spent £4,500, and all I could say to Paul was ‘Yes, but what price dignity?’. Takes all sorts.

It took us almost 45 minutes in Costco to pick up a wheelbarrow of tea-bags, a mountain of coffee and a box of Rice Krispies so big that I feel like I’m in a shit version of Honey I Shrunk the Kids every time I look at it. It then took us almost an hour to get out of the ‘Metrocentre’ area, which was awash with red-faced families in oversized cars all trying to cram into the same lane. Luckily, we had the audiobook version of Carrie to finish in the car, so we were fairly content, though god knows what passer-bys must have thought to hear some American woman screaming about dirtypillows and menstrual blood coming from our car. I’d love to be telekinetic but I’d definitely end up being sent to Hell afterwards – people who so much as blocked my way for a moment in Marks and Spencers would be sent flying up into the air-conditioning fans and turned to jam, or all those Audis that insist on cutting in at the last second and blocking the box junction outside of where I park – they’d end up crumbled into a cube no smaller than the dice from a Travel Monopoly set. The world would be on fire before the end of the week, I almost guarantee it. I already spend roughly forty hours a week looking crazily at the back of someone’s head and willing their brain to start leaking out of their ears. Sigh.

Dobbies was an absolute no-no, too. Quite literally, we got there, and there was no parking and no hope of securing a spot, given the place was awash with those fucking awful white Range Rovers (oh look at me, I’m driving a car designed for mud, all-terrain and exciting driving, and I only ever use it to ferry little Quentissimo and Angelica-Foccacia to their organic flute lessons) (bitch) and other such ‘luxury’ cars. We drove around and around and around and around until I felt like Sandra Bullock in Gravity and we admitted defeat. Paul and I did get a colossal serving of schadenfreude though with the sight of a spotlessly white BMW being completely and utterly trapped on the muddy overflow parking field. The silly arse behind the wheel kept spinning his tyres, sinking him even further into the mud, whilst his granite-faced wife looked coldly at everyone who went past laughing. Hey, it’s not my fault your husband is a useless tosser who doesn’t know how to pull a car from mud. We did, along with everyone else, smirk in that very British way when he got out of the car and started shouting at it. KNOB POWER ACTIVATE. I like to think he went home and had a good hard look at his life.

Anyway, that’s enough bile. I feel like someone who has shouted the anger out, and now I’m ready to give you a recipe. So without a moment more of hesitation, I present to you sizzlin’ beef. Sigh. SIZZLING. IT’S FUCKING SIZZLING. SIZZLE SIZZLE CRASH BANG WALLOP IT’S THE PRINCESS.

sizzlin' steak

to make sizzlin’ steak, you’ll need:

to make sizzlin’ steak, you should:

  • in a small jug mix together the bicarbonate of soda with 125ml of water and mix until well dissolved
  • pour the water and soda over the chopped steak in a bowl and leave to tenderise for an hour (but no longer)
  • meanwhile in a small jug mix together the worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, passata, honey and 3 tbsp water and mix well. set aside.
  • drain the meat in a sieve and pat dry using a clean tea towel or kitchen roll. 
  • if you want it to sizzle at the end, place an empty iron griddle pan in the oven and heat to 250 degrees
  • heat a large saucepan over a high temperature with a little oil and add the meat – it will froth and look gross but that’s fine – spoon out the steak after about 2-3 minutes, wipe the inside of the pan and then put the meat back in until it’s browned all over
  • remove the meat from the pan and place onto a plate
  • put the pan back on the heat and add the onions – stir fry for a few minutes until softened and starting to turn golden
  • remove from the pan and place into a bowl
  • add the meat back into the pan and pour over the sauce
  • bring it to the boil and reduce to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes – it should go nice and sticky
  • remove the pan from the oven and place the onions around the outside, and then spoon the steak into the middle – it should sizzle! (if you’re skipping the sizzling part, you can serve it as normal)
  • serve, and enjoy!

We served ours with a tit of rice, as you can see. We’re classy bitches, see?

J

sticky chinese chicken

I’ve just received a bastard speeding ticket from Corsica! We went in bloody September. You can imagine that I’m impotent with rage, although, fair dues, I was speeding – 78km/h instead of 70km/h. I’m tempted to appeal against it on the grounds that there was no possible way the car we hired could get anywhere near 78km/h – it struggled backing us off the driveway let alone speeding through the Corsican roads like we’d stolen it. Bah.

The last time I got a speeding ticket was for doing 53mph in a 50mph zone and it was all very British – slightly apologetic letter, strong grounds of appeal, nip along to a speeding awareness course and don’t do it again. This French ticket was full of French disdain – every last word in French, four different sheets of A4 in tiny writing with lots of aggressive red underlining – I can imagine that some paunchy-faced chief in an administrative office in deepest Roubaix scoffing at my infraction, spitting a wad of Gauloise-laced phlegm into a bin and ringing AVIS demanding my credit card.

Ah well. I was the one speeding, so I’m the biggest arse of them all. That’s one thing I can never get my head around – people who moan about getting caught speeding. You’re speeding! We all do it – I’m terrible for it – but you can’t complain about getting caught when you’re actively breaking the law. It’s not like taking an extra biscuit from the packet – you do run the risk of turning an old biddy into human jam on the front of your bumper if you lose control.

The speed awareness course was surprisingly good fun, though. The car-park outside was rammed full of Vauxhall Insignias, Audis (shock!) and various shittily-modded Acne Carriages belonging to the chavs. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly better things to do on a Thursday morning than sit in a hot room in a Holiday Inn with a load of chavs and salesmen, but the course itself was interesting enough. I thought I was going to have three hours of being told I’m a naughty boy for being a bit savage on my accelerator but once we got past the awkward talk and the dishwater coffee it was alright, though of course we had to spend a ridiculous amount of time introducing ourselves like we were on a shit gameshow.

Anyway – I’ve paid it, so I’m just going to sulk about it all night now. Here’s a recipe for any spare chicken you may have sitting around – it’s not exciting, it is just chicken and chips…but still! To make it a little more Slimming World friendly, chuck in some crunchy veg with the chicken. This is the kind of thing we have when we don’t want to cook – it’s just make a sauce, pour on, fry off. Easy!

sticky chinese chicken

to make sticky chinese chicken, you’ll need:

and to make sticky chinese chicken, you should:

  • mix all of the ingredients except the chicken together in a bowl
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and cook your meat according to how you like it – add vegetables towards the end if you have some
  • when everything is cooked, pour the sauce mixture over and bring it to a boil – this may only take a few seconds!
  • turn the heat down slightly and let the mixture boil and reduce
  • when everything is nicely coated and sticky, remove from the heat and serve immediately

Serve with chips, rice, veg…anything. Go for it!

J