Do you know, I very nearly called this post Potato Cakes (I Just Don’t Know Know) but had I typed that out, the song Baby Cakes would enter my head. Should this happen, the only reasonable course of action would have been to step outside, nip into our garden shed, tip the lawn mower on its side, douse myself in the petrol that runs out and set myself on fire because I ABSOLUTELY HATE THAT SONG. I hate it! Not just in a ho-ho-how-silly way like most people hated on that Crazy Frog song but in a ‘whoops, there goes the skin on my back, cascading over my skull as I cringe in on myself like an alarmed tortoise’ fashion.
You know what’s the real icing on this particular shitcake though?
The stupid head-bobbing action of the frosted-tipped Matalan-shirted, pouting primadonna on the right, pursing his lips throughout the whole thing. You’ve got no idea what black, boiling rage he stirs up inside me. Everyone has their Moriarty – I didn’t expect mine to be dressed like an fired ice-cream salesman.
Anyway, that’s all entirely by the by – I have every intention of this post being a quick recipe post, so let’s get straight to it. I happened across this recipe in a book by Antonio Carluccio – naturally his recipe calls for all sorts of butters and cheese so we’ve had to dial it back, but this is still a bloody taster dinner or, even better, leftovers-the-next-day meal. It sounds interesting, but honestly, make it and you’ll never look back. I do like Antonio Carluccio and it’s-sad-that-he’s-died-isn’t-it-mate – I love men with those big bushy eyebrows. I feel he’s what I’ll eventually end up looking like, although my eyebrows are already doing that awful thing where a couple of hairs on each side branch out looking for independence from the rest, pointing straight out in front of me just enough to get in my field of vision. Bastards.
The cheesy potato cake then. This is a load of carbs and cheese, but listen, that’s OK sometimes. Sometimes you need something heavy to sit on your stomach, and I’m not always available. This serves six very generously, so don’t balk at the amount of cheese. Trust me: I shagged a doctor once.
to make a cheesy potato cake, you’re going to need:
about 900g of potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed – or use leftover mash
200g of mozzarella – we actually used a smoked mozzarella from Tesco called Scamorza, which was tasty, but any will do (4 x HEA)
80g of extra mature lighter cheese (2 x HEA)
I used about 250g of chopped wafer ham, but you could use bacon, boiled ham, chicken, anything you want
a good pinch of salt and pepper
a bag of rocket, chopped nice and fine – use spinach if you want
one whole leek
top tips for a perfect cheesy potato cake
this is a good recipe if you’re making the creamy green veg medley that I posted yesterday – any leftover leek, chuck it in here
this recipe isn’t an exact science by any stretch – you can add anything you like into this – think of it as a ‘leftovers’ cake
get a potato ricer, for the love of God – mashing potatoes is a ballache and you invariably end up with lumpy mash – not with a ricer. Pop the cooked potato in, push it through and you’ll have perfect creamy mash (oh, and if you want to be super fancy, throw in an egg when you beat the mash together – lovely)! You can pick up a ricer from Amazon for just over a tenner and it really will change your life
we topped our cake with 25g of panko (dried breadcrumbs) (4.5 syns) for a bit of crunch – I’m trying to re-use ingredients in our recipes so you’re not left with any waste! You could just blitz a breadbun but honestly, worth getting some panko – most major supermarkets stock it
if you’re not planning on getting intercourse for a week, you could roast a whole garlic bulb and mash that in with the potato – oh I say!
the cheese is the thing that’ll make this dish – go for strong, bold flavours – trust me
to make a cheesy potato cake, you should:
if you haven’t already, peel, boil and mash your potatoes (preferably using a ricer, but I won’t shit the bed if you want to do it by hand)
heat the oven up to 185 degrees and get a cake tin out of the cupboard, lamenting that you’re not making something with butter, flour and sugar – I know babes, fkn snakes the lot of them
chopped up your cheese into little tiny cubes, chop up the ham into rags, chop up the rocket, thinly slice that leek – throw all of this into the pan with the mash, add the three eggs, a really good pinch of salt and pepper and stir
stir it like buggery! Stir it with all your might!
slop it into the cake tin with all the style and grace you’d ordinarily reserve for a crap behind your car door by the side of the road
smooth out the top, coat with breadcrumbs if you want, add more grated cheese if you dare
cook for a good forty minutes – though watch the top doesn’t burn
once it’s solid (it’ll not be rock solid when it’s hot mind, so use your common sense) take out of the oven and allow to cool
once cool, slice and serve – and this is lovely the next day
We just served ours with a simple green salad and Dynorod on standby to handle the inevitable carb-drop.
Want more lunch ideas? Goodness me, you’re keen, but here we go:
This creamy green veg medley is just the ticket if you’re looking to up your vegetable intake without incurring massive amounts of syns. You could easily spin it out into a cauliflower cheese but actually, we like it all jumbled up.
No chatter tonight – I’m keeping to my word of posting a few recipes nice and succinctly, so here we go! Don’t bitch on at me afterwards though! Fair warning: all of these steamed vegetables will make you fart like an absolute trooper. But hey!
We served our vegetables with a massive fat pork chop spread with two tablespoons of reduced fat red pesto (3 syns). We used our OptiGrill (press the chops button, away it goes) but you could just as cheerfully throw it under the grill.
to make our creamy green veg medley, you’ll need:
a head of broccoli
a head of cauliflower
a handful of sprouts
a big fat leek
110g of Philadelphia Lightest (1 x HEA)
40g of light extra mature cheddar (1 x HEA)
optional: 25g of panko (dried breadcrumbs) – 4.5 syns
This makes enough for two people, hence the two healthy extras. Panko is dried breadcrumbs and you can buy it in most supermarkets, trust me – but feel free to use breadcrumbs from your healthy extra bun. I don’t care, I’m easy.
Slice your leeks with ease with a mandolin slicer. We ours a lot – it’s perfect for slicing onions, leeks, peppers, carrots – even cheese. It’s a tenner and you can have the job of veg prepping done in the time it takes one Enya song to play out. Who needs fingertips anyway?
to make our creamy green veg medley, you should:
to be honest, it feels almost insulting to do this – it’s that easy
chop up your broccoli and cauliflower into little bits
quarter your sprouts
thinly slice your leek
tip all of them into a big saucepan with a good splash of water and lightly steam them until they soften – you don’t want them denture-ready, just not crunchy
drain them off and pop them in an overproof dish – mix in the Philadelphia, pinch of salt and pepper, then the mature cheddar, keeping a bit for the top (and add breadcrumbs if using), then pop under the grill for about ten minutes until it’s done and crispy!
How easy is that? You could use any veg you like – spring greens, peas, turnip, all sorts!
Looking for more vegetarian ideas? Click the links, you saucy bugger!
Bacon cheeseburger bites, if you don’t mind! Scroll down to the pretty pictures if reading gives you a nosebleed.
Happy New Year! Gosh, that was a slog wasn’t it? Feels like Christmas has been hanging around like a winnit on your knickers for absolutely bloody ages. I’m not a fan of Christmas – all that joviality, child’s laughter and general happiness leaves me gagging into a handkerchief. Everywhere is full of people walking entirely too slowly, breathing too loudly, snotting and sniffing and hacking away. Even the supermarkets offer no relief – people who wouldn’t usually be allowed unsupervised access to a box of crayons are suddenly flush with cash and put in charge of a trolley full of turkeys. If Paul and I ever win the lottery, we’re moving to the Pitcairn Islands with a live-in rent-boy. Would that be a mortgage-boy? Huh, that sounds less erotic.
Now, as it’s New Year, there’s been an almighty spike in subscribers and blog views: welcome. Take a seat: it’s reinforced. You want to lose weight and you’ve been told about us in the same furtive manner that schoolboys whisper about the school slapper (which was, ironically, both of us). Everything you’ve heard is true. We’re filthy, but full of fun. We never get straight to the point. We swear altogether too much and you’d be astonished how many tired references about anal we can shoehorn into a cottage pie recipe. However, know this: this is a personal blog, not a SW blog, and thus the content will never change! You can always skip straight to the recipe if you find your ‘tache bristling at the crudeness.
There is a slight change this year, however. Since starting this blog we’ve typed over 500,000 words: that’s a lot of typing. My fingers are so worn down that I’d struggle to pick up a penny from a tiled floor. Sometimes it’s a chore having to think up all sorts of shenanigans before the recipe so we’re shifting focus just a little – more recipes. Not less chat, you understand – just rather than having gaps between the recipes, we’re going to save the ‘long’ posts for a couple of times a week. More holiday entries, less moaning. I hope you understand that this keeps things interesting for us – this is like the bit in a marriage where you can’t face another serving of your other half’s sausage surprise so you start making coquettish winks to the postman. Makes sense: our postman is an absolute dish. It’s all I can do not to wait at the letterbox on all fours when I see him lumbering up the path. So yes: change is coming. But we all change, when you think about it, we’re all different people; all through our lives, and that’s okay, that’s good, you’ve gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day, I swear…
this is a blog of two gay lads which combines travel stories with our recipes – if homosexuality offends you, fuck off back to the stone ages and sort your crap haircut out whilst you’re there
we’re not Slimming World consultants – always seek advice from The Elders if you’re unsure
we don’t believe in outrageous levels of advertising – that’s why you’ll not see us begging you to subscribe, forcing you to ‘read more’, sticking hundreds of adverts to the point where you can’t read it or spamming your Facebook
we cook with proper ingredients, not just whatever we happen to be shilling at the time – if we recommend it, it’s because we use it, and you’ll never need to buy ‘special’ ingredients to make our stuff
when we do put an Amazon link in, if you buy anything through it, we make some money – it’s this that keeps Paul in gin and pregnancy tests; and
if you’re wanting to complain about the tone or style of the blog, please direct your complaints into a cat’s bumhole rather than our inbox – you’ll find it has much the same outcome
Right! That’ll do.
Oh, a further treat for you if you like – we designed a weight-loss tracker for the year! Click the image to download a pin-sharp A4 version ready just for you!
Right, that’s quite enough nonsense. Let’s do the recipe! If you can’t be arsed to read the recipe, we’ve actually done an entirely serious video recipe for you. Yes: serious. Now that’s a screengrab you can take to the bank.
Enjoy that? We’re spent.
to make bacon cheeseburger bites you will need:
500g lean beef mince
1 red onion, diced finely
80g reduced fat cheddar cheese
6 bacon medallions
handful of gherkin slices, finely diced
pinch of salt and pepper
you can get decent mince AND bacon (plus loads more!) in our fantastic Musclefood packs! Just click here to find out what deals we’ve got on!
we’d also recommend you invest in one of these cutiepies to help you out, especially with the faffy bits of chopping the onion and the gherkins!
to make bacon cheeseburger bites you should:
cook the bacon until it’s super crisp, however you like. We used our OptiGrill and it worked perfectly! You want it really crisp!
allow the bacon to cool down a bit, and then chop into little bacon bits (or do as we did and chuck it in a food processor)
preheat the oven to 175°C
next, get all of the ingredients together, chuck in a bowl and mix together
divide the mixture into 20-25 balls and lay on a non-stick baking sheet
cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes
serve with tiny baby gherkins, or anything else you like!
If you’re looking for similar party food, taster night ideas or snacks, why not try some of these?
Cheesy bacon chicken goujons. Cheese? Bacon? Chicken? I’ll prep the defibrillator for your stopped heart and Paul will fetch a mop for the slug trail you’re leaving. These are bloody lovely – normally we’d suggest dipping them into a ranch dip but frankly, as I don’t want to hasten your consultant to eternal slumber, let’s keep the syns low and serve with beans. We’ll get to the recipe in a moment, you understand, but first, nonsense. If you can’t be arsed to read, just click on the OVER-AGED RIPE STINKER below:
Thank god they’ve left. Someone had their make-up gun set to whore, am I right? Let us begin…hey, remember though, I love getting feedback on the holiday entries. I read them all!
We decided, given our somewhat alcohol-tinged gadabouting the previous night, that we would do the Very British Thing and have a day by the pool, only moving to eat, burn and bask. Normally we’re quite good at getting “out and about” when we go on holiday but you know what, sometimes all a boy wants to do is lie back, singe his titties and ogle the lifeguards. Actually, scratch that last bit – the lifeguards looked about 12 years old and would struggle pulling the plug out of an empty bath. I had no high hopes that if I suffered cardiac arrest from doing half a minute of gentle swimming that they’d be able to hoist my bloated corpse out of the jacuzzi area. I’d be left there for time evermore, bubbling away in the heated jets and turning into James soup.
So, on that alluring note, we decided (against our alcohol-souzed brains’ better judgments) to rise early and go downstairs for the buffet breakfast, which was thoughtfully included in our hotel booking. Good food soaks up booze, after all – but catastrophe. We got to the buffet floor only to find a queue of elderly people all sucking their teeth and murmuring. It was like a sequel to Cocoon, only with Spanish dubbing. By joining the queue we actually lowered the mean age of the queue by forty eight years. It was like being on the flight to Corsica all over again, where I was absolutely sure we’d accidentally boarded a pilgrimage to Dignitas. The queue shuffled as slowly as you can imagine it would (if you’ve ever tried doing your lunch shopping in Marks and Spencer when they’ve put the £10 meal deal on, you’ll catch my drift – that’s right, isn’t it Alan?) and when we eventually arrived at the front we were shouted at by some officious bloke on the desk who couldn’t understand my room number of 2002. He asked me to repeat it every which way possible – Paul was set to do some interpretative dance – before finally caving in and letting us through. Here, mate – I’m not that fucking enamoured with bright red overcooked Spanish sausages that look like diseased dogs’ dicks that I’m running a breakfast racket, alright?
Oh and you better believe that this repeated itself over and over throughout the holiday. Every morning the same problem, the same jobsworth man with a face full of woe, the same discussion. On the penultimate day I actually took a picture of the room number on our door as proof but Paul wouldn’t let me show it.
We sat down to breakfast. Actually, I sat down, Paul was dispatched to find coffee and orange juice. I can only presume he walked to Seville for the oranges because by the time he reappeared he’d grown a grey beard and a zimmer frame. Turns out he’d just picked them up by osmosis from being trapped in a crowd of the elderly at the omelette station. Coffee downed for fortitude we went for our food, promising each other that we would be healthy. Paul wandered off to the yoghurts and fruit station, I went straight for the gold – cooked breakfast. I know, Englishman aboard and all that shite, but I wanted something to line my stomach and a fucking Activia yoghurt and some sawmill muesli wasn’t going to cut it.
Now, do you know, this was actually a very good breakfast. I’ll refrain from listing all the delicious things they had, not least because I don’t want you getting a wide-on when I mention fried bread, fried bacon, fried eggs and fried milk (not even kidding). However, it was here that I met my holiday nemesis. I met me! I was reaching for the ladle for the beans when some fat fuckface actually pushed my arm out of the way to get there first. I followed his arm, slightly aghast, only to realise it was attached to the body of someone who was almost my double – same glasses, same shaved head, same beard, same build – honestly, if I ever needed a stunt double this would be my guy. I mean, it wasn’t a complete replica – his cheap trainers let him down and he was almost certainly wearing Lynx as opposed to my Tom Ford – but it was so close. He was 100% definitely on my bus too – I could tell by the way he was pursing his lips in a ‘yeah and what’ face at me.
In any other timeline, where Paul had blinked out of existence, it would have been at the very most ten minutes before we were having animalistic hot twin-sex over the hash-browns, but because he was rude, that was it, no chance. We made our way down the queue together, me behind tutting at his choice of fried egg over poached, me sighing theatrically when he put the mushrooms spoon in with the cubed potatoes, him huffing when I took the last bit of bacon. The tension was palpable. Also, he was one of those people who feel the need to tower their food at a buffet rather than eating like a normal person. I was hoping, praying even, that the sole of his Aldi trainers would come loose and send him crashing to the floor, but alas, God, you let me down again.
Now, it doesn’t end there. When I got back to our table and breathlessly (well, it was a long buffet) recounted my tale of meeting my double to Paul, he told me a similar story – he too had bumped into ‘me’ and then, to top it off, had then spotted him making his own way back to his table where he sat down with a ‘Paul’ – Mama Cass with a five o’clock shadow. Turns out we’d stumbled across an evil version of ourselves: just like when Sabrina the Teenage Witch met her evil twin Katrina. There’s a reference everyone will get! We christened them Jim and Saul and, much like the breakfast maître d’, they would haunt our holiday.
One thing we did notice: they were always miserable as sin. Every time we did spot them the bigger one had a face like he’d lost a fiver and found a pound and his long-suffering husband was trailing behind him like a condemned man. Paul and I have lots of faults, but we’re always bloody laughing.
With breakfast demolished and the chest pains subsided we returned for our room for Paul to ‘drop the kids off’. This took twenty five minutes, all time that I spent anxiously bouncing about on the balcony looking at all the sun-loungers disappearing under rolls of pink flesh. Have you seen videos on the tourists waiting for the bell so they can dash out and claim the sunbeds?
Actually, this is just over the road from where we were staying. I’d seen this video a week or two previous to the holiday and knew that we had no chance of a sun-lounger by the poolside. I kept trying to urge Paul to hurry up but ‘it was a slow mover up the charts’ apparently and we were in for the long-haul. So frustrating! By the time he had birthed, showered, dressed and suncreamed it was knocking onto 11am and yes, indeed, by the time we got down to the genuinely lovely pool there wasn’t a sun-lounger to be had. We wandered around ashen-faced before Paul let out a yell and made a dash as quick as a fat man with troublesome bowels dared – he’d spotted a couple leaving (possibly because we were blocking their sun) and their loungers were ours!
Anyway, here’s a video from our pool, together with our voices and faces and hairy shoulders. You poor sods.
What followed were a good few hours of relaxing, soaking up the sun and reading, mixed with a few little splashes in the pool. It was lovely, but I’ll be damned if I can make an interesting couple of paragraphs about it. So instead, let me touch on something else which I’ve mentioned before – don’t worry about your body when you’re on holiday! There were far too many ladies, bless, hiding their less than toned bodies behind giant towels or worse, sitting in a t-shirt sweating away. I know the feeling, I’ve done it myself – you’re worried that you’ll look awful when you step out in a bikini (OK I haven’t done that before) or go for a swim. Why though? Why giving a flying fuck what people around that pool think of you?
For a start, no-one is bloody looking anyway, and if they are it’s only to try and read the page of Take a Break that has been inked on your tit from lying out in the sun too long. Then there’s the small fact that, unless you are spectacularly unlucky, you’re never going to meet this same group of people ever again, unless you’re watching a Judge Rinder marathon. So for goodness sake, you spend so much money to get out there, let the wobbly bits, untanned streaks, saggy boobs and spaniel-ear-ballsacks hang loose. You’re a long time dead! The best looking people around that pool were the ones who walked with a bit of confidence, misguided or not. Schlepping around like a Babushka in your eighty-seven layers, face dripping with heat exhaustion, is never going to be a good look.
Now, let’s do the recipe and pick up this story next time. I can sense a lot of teeth gnashing going on. Least I hope it’s your teeth.
REMEMBER, leave us some feedback on the holiday entries!
Cheesy bacon chicken goujons. I mean, you just WOULD.
to make cheesy bacon chicken goujons you will need:
Oh god, look, just google panko. It’s a breadcrumb you can buy from most supermarkets. Or make your own. Technically this is 2.25 per serving, but if you’re going to shit the bed over quarter of a syn, why don’t you just go back to your ready-meals and crying into your Chat magazine?
to make cheesy bacon chicken goujons you should:
preheat the oven to 200ºC
lay a sheet of baking paper over a large baking sheet or tray
cook the bacon until it’s well done – we used our Optigrill which did the job perfectly but you can do yours however you like – make sure its really crisp!
Here for the mediterranean meatloaf? I’d expect nothing less from someone like you, if I’m honest. The good news is the recipe is typed up and ready for you to start running your fingers under the words in just a few paragraphs from now, but first: flimflam.
Firstly, glad today’s terrorist attack in London didn’t go as planned, even if some people were unlucky enough to receive injuries, it could have been much worse and we should be thankful for it. We live in uncertain times but don’t let it stop you from doing anything, life’s too short to worry. That said, imagine my distress when Facebook didn’t activate their ‘Safety Check-in’ function, leading to me fretting all day that my housebound Aunt in Oban had been caught up in the drama. She was good enough to check herself in as ‘safe’ during Hurricane Harvey, she must have been beside herself today that she couldn’t keep up updated!
Next – we’ve seen IT. We actually went to see it last Saturday night and it was excellent. Genuinely creepy – a couple of times I was left breathless and it wasn’t just from having to climb the stairs back to our seats in the back row after I’d been for a piss. People hold up the original TV series in high regard and I think it’s undeserving, no I do, Tim Curry played it campy and the book is far away from that. This take on IT, although it misses out huge chunks of the book, was just marvellous. Give it a go, even if you’re not a horror fan.
I was, however, reminded of why I hate going to the cinema: other people. You know in TV shows about ‘being the last person on Earth’ the lead character always has a dreadful time without anyone to talk to or socialise with? That’s my idea of heaven, though perhaps with keeping Paul around to act as a safety-valve for my balls. I spend so long fretting about having people in front of me looking at their phones, beside me smelling of wee, BO or Joop or worse, behind me with breath that could strip paint that I’m already an anxious mess before the movie starts.
Plus people have become so inconsiderate, no? I know that makes me sound like an old fart but I don’t care – there were three mouthbreathers who, when not sat looking at their phones set to nuclear-detonation levels of brightness, kept screaming theatrically and running down the cinema stairs as though they were terrified. It was incredibly distracting and the fact that they didn’t trip on the stairs, fall, break their necks and die is proof to me that there is no God. It was all I could do to tut into my popcorn and sigh like an asthmatic climbing stairs. And here, before you send me letters, I say that as an asthmatic. So don’t hold your breath for an apology, because if you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to.
Whilst we’re picking the scab of bad manners to see what bleeds out, another small annoyance. I walk into work across our local town moor most days. It’s a charming way to start the day – it clears my head, not least because my brain needs all the space it can get to reassure me the fact I can see my thundering heartbeat lifting up my fingernails isn’t a bad thing. However, it’s fraught with peril – cows, cow shit, dogs running around, cyclists bursting past like lycra-clad missiles of smugness (some, not all, naturally) and people running with the inevitable ‘I’m about to cum’ face that so befalls the casual jogger.
It’s OK, I know there’s a parallel blog somewhere where someone is kvetching about trying to get past some stumbling fat oaf sliding around on the cow shite in his cheap shoes. That’s fine.
Anyway, each day when I get to the gate I hold it open for three or so cyclists (in a vain attempt to hide my heavy breathing and spluttered gasps) to cycle through so they don’t need to stop and get off their bikes. I probably get thanked oooh….50% of the time, with the others cycling through as though I have nothing better to do then to stand there holding the gate open like the gayest fence-post you’ve ever seen. I’ve started theatrically calling ‘NO NO, IT WAS MY PLEASURE, YOU BUMBLING CLIT’ but I doubt they hear it over the hum of their own self-importance. You must understand that this isn’t a critique of cyclists but rather the ill-mannered who don’t say thank you. The urge to hold the gate open only to clang it shut at the very last second did enter my brain, but on the basis that I’m not a psychopath, it drifted back out.
Let’s see what next week brings, eh? Anyway, shush James, this was supposed to be a quick opening entry before we served up the mediterranean summer meatloaf, so shall we do that now?
3 tbsp Hellman’s Tomato Ketchup Sweetened with Honey (1½ syns – ordinary tomato sauce will do, just add on another 1½ syns)
2 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped (save the faff and get one of these minichoppers!)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
for the glaze
3 tbsp Hellman’s Tomato Ketchup Sweetened with Honey (1½ syns)
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard (1½ syns)
¼ tsp hot chilli powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp paprika
1 tbsp honey (2½ syns)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
to make mediterranean meatloaf you should:
preheat the oven to 200°c
in a large bowl mix together all of the meatloaf ingredients together by hand until well combined, and slop into a loaf tin
next, mix together all of the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and brush over the top of the meatloaf
bake in the oven for 45 minutes
let it rest for ten minutes (it helps to improve the flavour) then serve
These dinners are our favourite because they’re so easy! You know what else is easy? YOU. AND all of our other recipes – we’re nearly at 500! Click one of the buttons below to be magically transported to even more ideas!
Cheesy baked broccoli bombs, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t be put off by the thought of broccoli, it’s good for you and these taste fabulous. We’ll get to the recipe in a moment, but may I make a suggestion? Cook these along with the Thai chicken balls from yesterday and have yourself a wee picnic – they keep well in the fridge and they’re great for a snack! In short: never neglect the balls.
A quick serious post tonight as tonight’s tea is almost ready but do you know what I’m bloody sick of reading? Anti Slimming World rhetoric from personal trainers, ‘diet planners’, nutritionists and other such guff. I’m not going to say that some of what they say doesn’t make sense, that there aren’t holes in the SW logic, of course there is, but what vexes me is the obvious cheap shots they take.
See, maybe I’m old fashioned, but I’m a fairly big believer in setting up your own business on its own merits instead of taking potshots at others. Calling the diet crap or the company evil or the plan nutritionally bankrupt is a nonsense and people always back it up with the same hoary old lines that get trotted out every time this comes up:
“They don’t teach you portion control”
They do. They tell you to eat until you’re satisfied, but not to eat until you’re bursting. Christmas Full, I believe my old consultant calls it. They can’t control what you do outside of the class, but then see, nor can any amount of personal trainers shouting into a camera on Youtube.
“You can have 10 Muller-lights but you can’t have an avocado”
Yeah, true. On paper that sounds silly, and it’s something I’ll gently mock every now and then, but it’s bollocks. Yeah you can have 10 Mullers and stay within your syns, but people don’t. Why on Earth would you, for goodness sake? You can have avocado too – they’re high in syns because it’s a low-fat diet and it doesn’t matter a hill of beans whether they’re good fats, bad fats, trans fats or Fats Domino, they’re still fats. Slimming World works for folks because it’s a very simple way of keeping an eye on what you’re taking in. Are there better diets out there for losing weight? Possibly. Could they teach more about nutrition? Maybe. But that’s like saying that a learner driver should have a go at driving a double-decker bus – too much, too soon.
“Syns teaches people that some foods are negative”
It doesn’t, though. For a start, the ‘syn’ thing is a contraction of synergy, one of those awful bloody buzzwords that did the rounds back when Mags was a feisty young lass worried about the Jerry’s stealing her hair lacquer. I’m kidding, MMB. But Slimming World’s big thing is that no food is off-limits. Rather than saying you can’t have chocolate or vodka or hot sex, they say you absolutely can, but keep it within a syn bracket – and that’s no different to personal trainers saying ‘treat yourself with almonds’ or other stuff. SW teaches pleasure in moderation, and there’s no harm in that.
“There’s too much reliance on processed or Frankenfood”
I can see where people are coming from on this, because when you look around at some of the slop that people are eating – pasta’n’sauces blitzed into a ‘sauce’, Mug Shitz, Fryshite, Mullers, burgers served between two jacket potatoes, your heart does sink a little. But that isn’t SW’s fault. A lot of members seem to want to aim as low as possible on their syns and so will resort to shite like this. But you don’t have to do it – SW are big on the old ‘make it from scratch’ mantra, even if they have brought out those ‘delicious’ SW ready meals. People aren’t encouraged to keep their syns down at zero – quite the opposite! But it’s the choice of the members to eat the ‘zero syns’ food rather than spending a little of their allowance and having gorgeous recipes.
It’s actually one of the biggest bugbears I have with this site – we can put a wonderful, tasty, nutritionally perfect meal up that uses six syns and I can guarantee it’ll get hardly any likes. Stick up a roulade made with a wheelbarrow of Splenda and jam made from cut-out photos of strawberries blended with water and we’ll need to hook up a new server. But what can you do?
Oh, and as an aside, it’s astonishing the amount of people I see banging on about how nutritionally bankrupt the diet is, but then they’re busy flogging vitamins and shakes and powders and all that shite. Practice what you preach, or shut the hell up.
“They make money from people failing”
This is the one that bugs me the most. People make out as though the whole class structure is set up so that it keeps people going back time after time, barely losing weight. Presumably that’s because you get rebounders who follow the diet, lose weight and then stop going – then boom, all the weight trickles back on and they’re back. But here’s the thing – do you think the personal trainers don’t do exactly the same thing? Are they going to provide their services for free when their client gets skinny and toned? SW allow you to go back to class for free whenever you’re at target, so there’s your incentive to try and keep the weight off.
There’s lots of things I’d change about Slimming World – the classes need a mix-up because spending an hour clapping does my nut in, I can’t bear all the cutesy-poo language that gets used, I think some things are synned when they don’t need to be – so here’s what we do. We tinker with it a bit, and accept that if our weight loss slows, it’s because we’re moving away from the diet. But since we’ve started this blog all of our meals have been amazing – we choose to spend our syns on the food we eat – just like the plan encourages – and we’ll never look back.
I have no horse in this race. We’re not sponsored by Slimming World, we pay our membership fees like everyone else, and god knows this blog takes the piss out of the silliness more than most out there. But I’ve seen the difference the classes make to people’s confidence, figures, minds and life with my own eyes. SW isn’t perfect but how about all those people knocking it and making sly digs about the members just turn their eyes and focus on building their own business on their own merits? Even with its flaws it brings comfort and fun to millions of people – and I don’t think they should be knocked for that.
We’re not ashamed to say we love Slimming World. When you follow it, for the most part, it works. It’s easy to knock and it’s fun to tease, but stop trying to run it into the bloody ground.
Right, broccoli bombs anyone?
The recipe makes enough for eight or so.
to make cheesy baked broccoli bombs you will need:
1 broccoli, cut into florets
80g reduced-fat cheddar (2x HeA)
1 onion, finely chopped
25g panko (BREADCRUMBS. THEY’RE BLOODY BREADCRUMBS. Make yer own breadcrumbs if panko is too fancy for you) (4.5 syns)
Thai chicken dipping balls. Every time I say the title, it sounds filthier than the last. Don’t care. Listen, we weren’t going to post tonight as dearest Paul decided to crash his car (he’s fine, my wallet isn’t) but Musclefood called us to give us another discount – but only for 24 hours. So for crying out loud, if you want some cheap meat, get it now. Hopefully you dear readers will forgive us an advert right off the bat but it’s rare we do it and it’s only because it’s a flash sale that we’re sticking it in. If you don’t want to even look, click here and it’ll go straight to the recipe! See? Considerate!
Right, details are as below – Musclefood are giving us a 15/20% discount on our three main packages – you can see below the various offers and the links are here – they’ll open in a new window:
Right, shall we get straight to my balls? We’ve made these because they’re an easy alternative to the usual stuff trotted out at taster nights, but actually, they make for a bloody good snack too as they keep in the fridge! We’re the gift that keeps on giving, no?
put the chicken breasts into a food processor and blitz until they have a mince-like consistency (you can actually just use 500g chicken mince if you prefer, but doing it this way with breasts makes for a nicer taste and texture)
next, combine all of the ingredients together in a big bowl
Chicken parmo! We’ve done something similar but really cracked it with this one. A parmo is a dish originating from Middlesbrough consisting of a chicken breast smothered in breadcrumbs and cheese sauce. Plus other things – knowing Middlesbrough there’s probably about 5g of Golden Virginia scattered over it – but this is a close approximation. Bloody tasty too. But first…
Sorry, sorry – you guessed it, we’ve been away again, and it’s not as though I can announce it on here before I go because we’d doubtless get some reprobate with teeth à l’orange nipping in to steal our silver and verbally abuse our Alexa. I mean honestly. Plus, I’m writing this against the odds because I have a cat sat in front of me blocking half the screen and severely burned shoulders from too much sun. Before I get angry letters, I know I know: normally I’m super careful, but the drink overtook me. You’ll find out more about that holiday later down the line but let’s rattle off the next part of the Newcastle entry without a moment more of hesitation. If you don’t want to hear our holiday shenanigans, click on the SOUR GRAPES to be taken straight to the recipe.
Now when I last spoke to you we had been busy exploring the Victoria Tunnel and I had made a malicious, mean comment comparing this foisty cavern to Paul’s mother. I apologise for my humour: it’s a bit stuck in the eighties, it rarely makes people laugh and god knows Paul’s sick of hearing it, but that’s Paul’s mother for you.
We emerged blinking into the sunlight and full of zim for the day ahead. But first: MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Paul had decided to wear a snappy new pair of ‘yes, I am part of a senior citizen tour group of Milton Keynes’ cargo shorts (in a very fetching chyme colour) and the two hours of walking and sweating had left his thighs looking like a child’s skinned knees. Whilst it explained why the tour guide had asked the group if someone was cooking bacon at the back, it also meant we couldn’t easily explore. Well, no, I could, but it meant having to listen to Paul’s plaintive mewing about the paaaaaaaain. Oh, the pain. We doubled back to the hotel, levered ourselves into the Smart car and cut a dash straight to Byker Morrisons.
You must understand that I avoid Morrisons at the best of times – something about their lurid yellow signage and cluttered font makes my nipples ache – but the one in Byker is especially bad. You’ve never seen so much red flesh pressed into mixed polyester. We took a moment to peruse the medicine aisle for something that would cool Paul’s thighs – my suggestion of a Muller yoghurt was ignored (BUT IT’S SYN FREE) – and after much stumbling around the haemmorhoid creams and the clotstoppers, he found some lanacaine. We nipped into the gents (you know a supermarket is classy when they have that lovely lighting that makes it impossible to find a vein to shoot up with) and smeared it on Paul’s thighs like butter on a cellulite crumpet. They say you can still hear his satisfied groan bouncing around the arches of Glasshouse Bridge.
The day was ours once more. We parked the car back at the hotel and decided to try and find The Kiln, a restaurant hidden up in the Ouseburn. After a few arresting detours via a gym, a scrapyard and this particularly great bit of graffiti:
we found it. Bearing in mind it was hot and we’d spent all morning traipsing through a tunnel, we were starving and ready for our thirst to be slaked and so the sight of lots of bottles of beer all lined-up ready was enough to bring on a stiffy. However, that sharp went away when we were faced with incredibly dismissive and half-hearted service – we stood at the (quiet) bar for a good couple of minutes before we were served, weren’t offered the food menu, weren’t told where we could sit, weren’t advised on anything other than “£11” when we ordered two beers. Here, we’re the least demanding customers you’ll ever have and because we get anxious about causing a fuss we tip extravangantly, but even we have limits, and being treated like an inconvenience is high up that list.
Also, £11 for two beers? Local yes, but haway hinny, it’s Newcastle, not St. Moritz – if I buckled my ears enough I’d be able to hear the sound of a live Jeremy Kyle show rattling in the Byker Wall. Nevermind…
We paid and, sensing that we couldn’t have been less welcome had I shat on the bar, we made our way outdoors, taking the only free seats (after moving the previous occupants dishes out of the way) next to a particularly loathsome set of students. Listen, I’ve made it my thing this year to stop judging folk, I am trying, I promise. But Jesus Christ Almighty. These weren’t decent students, fun students or you know, normal students, but rather the rah-rah-raaaah set. Some walking shitshower was loudly describing his poster project as ‘mere organic foreplay for the main thrust of the movie’ – Paul had to hold me back from drowning myself in the half inch of hipster-hops I had left. Someone else was going on and on about her periods in that inexcusable ‘look at me, saying something controversial so you have to look at me, but oh my god don’t look at me’ way. Here’s a thing, pet: no-one cares what sloughs out of you, no-one is impressed by your edginess, and your glasses look like you’ve rushed out of an eye-exam halfway through. Fuck off.
We supped up and left – I took my time though as I wanted to make sure I had a fart queued as I stood up. I left them to chew that over. In the interest of balance, the online reviews of the Kiln are exceptionally positive, so maybe we’d crashed a wake or something.
Luckily, the next two places were infinitely better. First, the Free Trade Inn. I love this place – it used to be our local when we lived on the Quayside and is just a great pub – dirt cheap, no fussiness, the occasional local who looks as though he’d punch your nose through the back of your head if you sneezed and blew the head off his pint from across the room – spectacular. Nothing better than a room full of malcontent and meanness, though I tend to switch to pints instead of campari when ordering. Up until recently they had adopted a pub cat called Craig David. You’ll notice a past tense there. Life’s cruel. It also have a terrific view, see?
We had a couple of gins and tonics there and stumbled down the stairs, a bit squiffy at this point, to The Tyne, a pub under the arches of the bridge above it. We were starving by now, so I sent Paul in with strict instructions to order something a) bountiful and b) healthy. He ordered us nachos for two that almost filled the table and the vietnamese loaded fries that we ripped off a week or so ago.
There was also some sort of citrus beer involved, and things start getting a little hazy at this point, like a badly-tuned TV. I heartily recommend both pubs though – The Tyne also a free jukebox which Paul had to hold me back from. I’ve had two bad experiences with free jukeboxes, would you believe:
my friend and I got into a proper physical (one-sided mind, I’m a gentleman) scrap with two busty lesbians in a gay bar when we ‘accidentally’ switched the machine off and on again when we couldn’t bear to hear sapphic-superanthem ‘Left Outside Alone’ by Anastasia for the eighth time in a row; and
different friend, similar situation, only this time I queued up Abba song after Abba song in a bar where the inhabitants had one full set of teeth between all twenty of them – it was very much a Meat Loaf, Foreigner and Whitesnake bar – not a drunken rendition of Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight) sort of place. We escaped into the night, drowned out by shouting and Anni-Frid caterwauling her lips around Knowing Me, Knowing You.
Probably for the best that Paul kept me back.
We ended up sharing our outside table with a few other pleasant, decent young people with an adorable dog, though I could have done without them vaping away next to me as I ploughed my way through the nachos. Difficult trying to get the guacamole to chilli ratio just right in a cloud of custard-flavoured steam, I find.
Now, let’s leave it there – we’re already nearing 1500 words again and we need to get the recipe out!
Chicken parmo, then. Dead easy.
to make proper cheesy crunchy chicken parmo you will need:
to make proper cheesy crunchy chicken parma you should:
preheat the oven to 200°c
spray the chicken breasts with a little oil and plop onto a baking sheet
cook in the oven for about 10 minutes, then remove
butterfly the chicken breasts by cutting through the side until nearly all the way through, then spread open like a book (they might be pink in the middle – that’s fine)
in a bowl, mix together the Philadelphia and garlic, and a good grind of both salt and pepper
spoon the mixture onto chicken breasts and spread about
in another bowl, mix together the panko and parmesan, and sprinkle evenly over each of the chicken breasts
return to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden
Given it’s normally served with chips, red sauce and a fingering, we had to dial it back to make it more friendly for dieting, so we’ve served ours with a portion of our amazing roasties and some beans. Champion.
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Here for the chicken cordon bleu burgers, which are so-called because god-knows-why? I understand. Far too many Slimming World burger recipes out there that have all the texture of an old gym mat. This, however, does not, and you know why? We use chicken breast minced up ourselves rather than that watery muck you get in the supermarket that they cheekily call turkey mince. But first, speaking of mincers, it’s part three of our trip around Newcastle. Don’t want to read it? Scroll down to the food pictures…
When Paul first invited me to explore a foisty, smelly, starved-of-oxygen tunnel that has welcomed thousands of men from the 1930s onwards and now exists cobwebbed, abandoned and occasionally leaking, my first thought was that he could have warned me his mother was visiting and the second was ‘Classic Peterborough’. However, once I’d finished dry-heaving into my eggs benedict and Paul had reassured me that we weren’t about to be visited by his Mother Inferior, I realised he meant the Victoria Tunnel. Thank the Lord. We dressed in suitable tunnel-exploring attire (i.e. my work shoes and a thin coat – we’re Geordies remember, we won’t put on a second layer until at least two layers of skin have died in the cold) and we were on our way – by happy coincidence the tour started a mere five minutes away from our hotel. Naturally, we were five minutes late.
What is the Victoria Tunnel then? It’ll cause no gasps at all if I tell you it’s a tunnel, because, well, it is – but it has an interesting history. It was originally built in the 19th century to transport coal from a coal mine at one end of Newcastle (Spital Tongues, which I’ve always thought was a glorious name because it sounds like one of the made-up diseases you’d get in Theme Hospital) (which was a far better game than Theme Park and I’ll kick the tits off anyone who disagrees) down to the Tyne, where waiting boats would take it away. I had desperately hoped that the tunnel was used to get rid of the after-effects of burning coal in a boiler because then I could have used the killer line ‘…not the first time filthy slag has been deposited on Newcastle’s Quayside’ but it wasn’t to be. When Hitler started getting a bit rumbustious in 1939 the tunnel was hastily converted into an air-raid shelter, capable of taking thousands of men at once at the drop of a hat. But aren’t we all?
After the war finished and victory was declared the tunnel was closed until 2008 when a load of lovely folks – most if not all in some form of knitwear, I imagine – applied for a grant from the lottery, carefully repaired the tunnel and opened it up to guided tours. It’s listed as the number one attraction for Newcastle on Tripadvisor and I find that absolutely charming: I think of the money that gets spent on massive multiplex cinemas or exciting galleries and then look at this wee little tunnel full of absolutely nothing and it seems to captivate everyone who enters. I reckon that’s down to the volunteers who run it, and so, I’ll pick up my story back at the beginning of the tour.
We were warmly welcomed by a chap whose name I’ve already forgotten (purely because these days it’s all I can do to remember to blink) who sat us down in the waiting area around a table seemingly filled with furious looking people. Admittedly we were late by a moment or two (we’d made up some time power-mincing down the bank) but each pair of eyes conveyed the strong message that if either of us collapsed with heart difficulties down in the tunnel, not a single soul would attempt resuscitation. A couple of the kids looked like those awful children who speak in elongated vowels and whose triple-barrelled surname would wreck every form they ever completed. With my beard smouldering from the sheer force of ill-will we were experiencing, we turned our attention to our tour guides who were explaining the health and safety rules – no smoking (sensible), no going off on your own (correct), no entombing folks you don’t like down there forever (Fenneeeeeer!) and no eating. Paul looked stricken – he had a packet of Polo Mints burning a hole in his pocket. I told him to keep schtum. The reason there’s no rats or spiders down in the tunnel is because there’s no food for them to feast on, something which caught me by surprise as I’ve never seen someone from Newcastle walk more than 300m without dropping Greggs crumbs around them like greasy dandruff. We set off.
The tour begins at their visitor centre out on Lime Street and involves a short walk around the Ouseburn Valley, taking in sights such as Seven Stories and the chimneys. I used to live down on Newcastle’s Quayside a decade ago and the gentrification of the Ouseburn Valley was in full swing – I like to think that the ruffians were so taken by my fetching Florence and Fred shirts and effortless style that they thought ‘we could do that’. The river Ouseburn runs down through the burn and trickles out into the Tyne. Way back when, the riparian businesses (long since gone) dotted around used to tip all manner of chemicals and literal shite into the river, where it would eventually flow out to sea to bother some far-off Scandinavian country. The glitz! It had previously been a pretty overgrown burn under the bridges with a couple of decent pubs about and any manner of drugs available. I’m told. Now it’s still a bit ramshackle, possibly by virtue of being in close proximity to the rougher parts of Byker (if Newcastle was a slender runner’s leg, Byker is its gravel-filled knee), but full of galleries and pubs and quirky (for quirky, read ‘mildly hipsterish’) places to eat.
That’s not me jogging, in case you’re wondering.
We don’t just have fancy bridges in Newcastle, y’knaa.
Newcastle Council spent £4.7m to install a set of gates at the end of the stream to, amongst other reasons, keep the water level high to make the place look more attractive. Naturally, this barrier worked for a few months, and then…didn’t. It remains permanently open now, allowing the water in the stream to disappear into the Tyne twice a day, which in turn leads to the attractive sight of a smelly, almost drained river-bed to enjoy as you walk to the entrance of the tunnel. I’ve done a bit of research into the barrage to see why it hasn’t been fixed and it turns out that it does still work, but they just keep it open otherwise silt builds up behind it and stinks the place out. Dammed if you do, dammed if you divvint.
I’m digressing again. Our companionable host talked us through an excellent potted history of the area and led us up to the entrance of the tunnel on Ouse Street. We were given a hard-hat and a torch and you need to believe me that I’ve never felt so butch. I was a hi-vis jacket away from drinking too much and striking the children. We both struggled with getting the hat on – Paul because he has silly sausage fingers and couldn’t get the strap to loosen and me because I have a colossal, elephantine head. You know that thing David Cameron has where his face looks as though he fell onto a high-pressure tyre-inflator? I have that, and subsequently every hat causes me difficulty. I finally managed to extend the strap far enough to balance the hat on my head (just) and into the tunnel we went.
The turtle couldn’t help us.
You’ll float too.
Can I just stress how unflattering the light is? Paul doesn’t normally look like he’s fashioned from Trex. I like the angry eyebrows my glasses shadow has given me though. Please send us a stamped addressed envelope if you want an A2 laminated version to practice your snail-trails on.
Now, I’ll say this. It’s very hard to make a tour of a tunnel interesting via the medium of text – we walked for about 90 minutes, stopping and starting to hear stories from our two tour guides. Historical tours have a tendency to be dry, I find, with too much focus on the ‘facts’ of the matter, but this one was smashing because it told you of the people involved and their stories. It makes all the difference. What paints the better picture: someone droning on about brick density or someone telling you how, when everyone was sheltered in the tunnel, an incendiary bomb hit one of the sugar tanks in a nearby factory and the resulting fire resulted in a load of caramel being made? Which was great for the rationed, starving kids – at least until the diseased rats started chewing on it. There was an especially ghoulish part towards the end where they told the tale of three chaps who were caught at one end of the tunnel whilst an out-of-control coal-wagon (itself almost the exact size of the tunnel) hurtled towards them from the other end. Our guides turned off the lights for thirty seconds so you were stood in absolute blackness contemplating how it would feel to hear the rumble of your own approaching, almost-guaranteed death.
I have to confess the dramatic moment was somewhat ruined for me by the sound of Paul crunching a Polo approximately 8mm from my ear. In the dark it sounded like a horse snacking on gravel and even though I couldn’t see them, the heat registering on my face told me we were the focal point of the group’s angry stares once more. Meh.
We walked up a steep slope (fear not, fellow fatties: the slope, though steep, is short and we managed it with hardly a problem, though the guy in front did have to put up with me shallow-breathing in his ear for the next ten minutes) to be told about further tunnels that lay ahead, sadly out-of-bounds, and how the toilets worked and illness spread. It was fantastic. We made to walk back out of the tunnel with Paul and I, usually the cow’s tail (always at the back), leading the way. Naturally, I banged my head on a particularly low part of the tunnel at the top of the slope, leading to the sight of my hard-hat bouncing merrily away into the darkness. It made such a cacophony of bangs and crashes that, for the third time that morning, the skin on my neck started crinkling from the ire of the crowd behind. It didn’t help that each ‘for goodness sake’ tut from behind sounded like someone firing a musket.
Thoroughly chagrined but pleasantly informed, we all made our way to the exit where, after tipping the guides and assuring everyone in the group that we’d never meet again, we all dispersed. I did plan on writing up the full day but, having spent 1700 words telling you how we went into a tunnel and back out again, I’ll not bore you further.
The Victoria Tunnel is open for guided tours only and tickets must be booked in advance. We took the two hour tour and the time flew by – the volunteers are incredibly knowledgeable and made the whole thing very interesting indeed. You can find more information by clicking here and I strongly encourage you to do so. Don’t be put off by the idea of a long walk, it’s not bad at all, though you may struggle if you’re claustrophobic, although one of the guides will whisk you straight back to the entrance if you start getting the heebie-jeebies. It thoroughly deserves its number one spot on Tripadvisor!
OK I know, gush much.
Let’s get straight to the food. This makes enough for four burgers, see.
Got a bit of a wide-on for our chips? Of course you have. They’re Actifry chips. Not Actifaux from Aldi, not the Airtower or the Hairdryer or whatever you’ve managed to hide in the pram dashing out of Wilkinsons, but a good old fashioned Actifry. Get decent potatoes, use a teaspoon of oil and a teaspoon of worcestershire sauce, and you’re sorted. Life’s too short for shit chips man, buy an Actifry whilst they’re cheap.
to make chicken cordon bleu burgers you will need:
4 wholemeal buns (HeB), sliced (yes, we’ve used a brioche bun for the photo because, well let’s face it – they taste nicer. If you do the same, remember to syn it!)
if you’re using chicken breast (which you should, because it tastes better!) chuck it into a food processor and pulse until it has a mince-ish consistency. This won’t take much doing – be careful not to over do it
mix together the chicken, panko, paprika, salt, pepper and seasoning into a bowl and mix well
divide the mixture into four and squash into burger shapes
next – cook the burgers. we used our Tefal Optigrill for this and it worked a treat but you can do them under the grill too
for the Optigrill, press the ‘Burger’ button, wait for it to heat up and cook until the light is Red
otherwise, preheat the grill to medium-high and cook the burgers until they’re done, turning halfway through
add the lettuce to the bun, and top with the burger, then the cheese and then the ham
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You wanted summer recipes, so here’s two: summer salad with fried feta and a tomato and nasturtium consommé. But first, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The searing hot, radioactive, giant ball of gassy matter that pumps out offensive levels of heat and that could kill us all. That’s right, my husband – he’s currently in bed, so I’m going to discuss the sun. For those in Scotland:
this is the sun – it’s the thing that turns you from that milky white colour to freshly butchered mince in 8 seconds.
I hate it. I’ve discussed at length the many things I hate about the great British summer but, because I’m a) tetchy and b) fat and c) sweaty, I’m going to moan about it again.
Literally everywhere you turn. Now I’m not daft, I know bees are important and without them we wouldn’t have pollination and food and existence and, perhaps more importantly, this gif of a bee giving a high-five:
but even so. Just once I’d like to spend more than eight minutes outside without something biting me, swarming at me, worrying me or just giving me shitty looks. I took this salad outside yesterday to take a decent photo in the light and I swear I’ve come back without at least one full layer of skin thanks to all the bites. I know I’m irresistible but I’d love to enjoy a meal outside without the both of us swearing and screaming like the table is on fire and we’re eating petrol sandwiches. The situation escalated surprisingly quickly when Paul knocked over a bottle of limoncello syrup – you can imagine how the wasps and bees reacted to that. Hopefully they’ve got smashed off their tits and are comatose in a hedge somewhere, the vespine equivalent of a teenager celebrating getting his fingers wet. I know of a friend who foolishly went camping in summer at Kielder Forest and was sent back to Newcastle by a roaming gang of midges. And we’re Geordies, you understand, we’re geet hard as ‘owt. Pfft.
Dogs die in hot cars. True, and you always get a satisfying story in the papers of some idiotic clot who dashed into a clinic to get her vag steamed only to leave poor Fido sizzling away on the parcel shelf, who then came out to find some hero has smashed all the windows in the car and called her a c*nt on national TV. I’d be tempted to let the dog out and do a big steaming shit all over her steering wheel, claiming the dog did it out of distress. But that’s not all – getting into my car at the moment is like trying to make yourself comfortable in an active volcano. I climbed in yesterday, peeling layers of skin off my hands as I did so, and found that the car was registering 34 degrees. 34! I turned the engine on expecting the car to blow up and leave me smeared across the street like fat jam. Paul’s car is even worse thanks to his asthmatic air-conditioning – I had to check whether he’d bought a new air-freshener yesterday but the smell of cooking bacon turned out to be the seatbelt clip sinking into my tit like a hot knife through butter.
Increased neighbour interaction
Most – though not all – of my neighbours are decent folks now, especially since they’ve had five years to come around to the fact that two gay men living on their street doesn’t mean we’re going to have all-night orgies and an amyl-nitrate fountain put in the front garden. About half of them actually stop to talk to us now, would you believe. That’s acceptable, but it means we also see the other half a lot more. Take this morning. I was awoken at 8am by the sound of my neighbour yanking and swearing at his shitty Lidl lawnmower to try and get it started. You need to understand that there’s only two reasons I ever want to be woken up on a Sunday before 11am: either I’m sleepshopping naked in ASDA and I’ve got my cock resting in the bananas or Paul has managed to convince the entire first team squad of the Newcastle Falcons that I’m their pre-game warm-up.
He eventually managed to get his £7.99 lawnmower going (and bearing in mind he’s one of these type of folks who’ll spend £35,000 on a car then never take it out of third gear) and I was left trying to dose whilst he whirred and spluttered and farted around his postage-stamp lawn. At 8am. On a Sunday. When he is fully retired and could do this at any time during the week. You can imagine my good humour, can’t you? I did a terribly British thing of getting up and slamming the window shut, but that in turn made the room boiling hot so I had to get up. Paul slept on. You know when they detonate those giant cooling towers and they crumble to the ground in a cloud of dust and excitement? You could stick Paul on a camp-bed right in the epicentre of the blast and he’d still only fart, turn over and start grizzling about his lumpy pillows. The fat bastard.
Go out and enjoy yourself
Oh fuck off. I can enjoy the oppressive heat when I’m lying baking on a beach in Corsica, somewhere where I can dash into the sea to wipe away my sweaty boob rash and to peel my scrotum away from the sides of my ankle if it gets too much, but what can we do here? As I said, we can’t sit in the garden because we’re like cocaine for insects and we can’t go out in the car because it’s like driving a convection oven down the motorway, so what is left? Standing outside trying to surreptitiously peel clothing out of fat rolls and going ‘ooooh this is nice, bet it won’t last‘ like every other Brit? I don’t want to go outside. I want to stay inside where it is cold and air-conditioned and lovely and yeah I might get rickets but so fucking what, I’ll look bloody hilarious running for a bus. Beer gardens are full of boorish hooray-henries vaping and existing, public parks are awash with children screaming and laughing and even the cold, dark of the cinema is ruined by the kids being ‘on holiday’. Bah.
We need a decent plague and for him upstairs to turn the air-conditioning back on. By him upstairs I mean Paul, and, as we live in a bungalow, even that tortuous analogy doesn’t work. Let’s blame it on the heat.
Recipes then – summer salad with fried feta and a bonus recipe for a tomato consommé. I realised there was no point in sticking the tomato consommé on as an individual recipe because no bugger will make it, but hey, let’s roll the dice.
to make summer salad with fried feta you will need:
250g reduced-fat feta cheese (4x HeA)
2 tbsp plain flour (4 syns)
4 tbsp panko (or any other type of breadcrumb, but panko works best) (4.5 syns)
1 egg, beaten
any sort of salad stuff you want to throw together
You will need a fair few sprays of oil on this one – for each portion I’m going to say 10 sprays of a decent spray oil – so unusually, I’m counting the oil as an extra syn (5 sprays for 0.5 syns). It’s up to you, though. We use a spray oil dispenser from Amazon and top it up with decent quality olive oil – you can see the one we use right here (it’s dirt cheap). You could use Frylight but why would you – it’s shite. Plastic, nasty shite, plus it’ll mess your pans up. God knows why it is constantly recommended.
Those lovely looking pink onions? I’ve posted the recipe for them before right here (it’ll open in a new window) – they’re amazing. Soaked in vinegar, the sharpness melts away and they look amazing in a salad. Any time you have a red onion approaching the end of its life, follow this recipe!
Our salad consisted of a yellow pepper sliced and turned into matchsticks, moonblush tomatoes (made from our recipe here – we’re really using up the old favourites), a few black olives which I don’t syn so shoot me, peeled and sliced cucumber, rocket, sliced red onion and sliced pickled red onion. Make your salads interesting – it’ll serve you so much better – lots of flavour and textures.
to make summer salad with fried feta you should:
prepare the salad
cut the feta block into four equal pieces
dredge each block into the flour, then coat in the egg, and finally roll about in the breadcrumbs so it sticks (roll the feta, not yourself)
next, heat a small frying pan over a medium-high heat and spray some oil (save your pans and get yourself one of these)
whilst the feta is frying, gently spray a little more oil over the top so they brown when you flip them, which you’ll need to do do after about five minutes
when golden, serve on top of the salad so it’s just slightly soft in the middle
Delicious! Now onto the consommé – this is delicious but only if you’re a big tomato fan. I didn’t syn the drop of olive oil I used but up to you whether you include that! This is a clear(ish), pure tomato soup served cold. Very refreshing!
to make tomato and nasturtium consommé, you’ll need:
2kg of tomatoes – red and ripe – soft is fine, we bought a giant box for a couple of quid from our local garden centre
2 shallots, chopped
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce (or tamari) and 1/2tsp of tabasco
either a big handful of nasturtium flowers or, if you can’t get them (and you should bloody grow them because they’re amazing for you AND for the bees – they add pepperiness and you can eat both the flowers and the leaves), a big handful of basil
some decent salt flakes
a squirt of decent olive oil (optional)
a couple of pretty little tomatoes or nasturtiums and chopped chive
This will serve four people a bloody big bowl of soup. It’s a faff timewise to make but worth it if you’re a fan of tomatoes and you want to try doing something different.
If you’re a vegetarian, remember to swap out the Worcestershire sauce for a veggie equivalent.
to make tomato and nasturtium consommé, you should:
chop the tomatoes into quarters, removing any particularly beefy stalks
tip the lot, together with the shallots, tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and basil/nasturtium into a food processor and blitz it – you might need to do it in stages – season with salt and then blitz again – you do not want a smooth paste, you want it lumpy
now the tricky part – I found it so much easier to do this over the sink – put a large pan into the sink and then you’re going to want to take a large piece of muslin cloth and tip the tomato mixture in – tie the cloth up so the mixture can’t pour out of the sides and then find a way to suspend it over the pan so that the juices can drip through overnight (oh you flirt!) – I just tied my cloth to my tap which hangs over the sink
if you don’t have muslin cloth, use a very clean tea-towel – we’re not talking about the Congratulations Charles and Diana tea-towel that you wipe your minnie with when no-one is looking but a good fresh tea-towel – maybe use two – try not to get one that you’ve washed with fabric conditioner though eh, because the smell of Lenor is going to be off-putting