We had to revisit this mushy pea curry, and I shall tell you why. We’ve been it making a bit of a resurgence in Slimming World circles and frankly, it always looks like someone’s strained a hot pile of meconium through a tramp’s sock. It had to be done better, surely? For this recipe, we’ve taken inspiration from the excellent Hari Ghotra and omitted the chicken we previously used in order to make a lovely vegan meal. I know, we’re shocked too. This ‘recipe reacharound’ will be an ongoing feature here on the blog, where we take some of our older recipes and revisit them to make them better.
Spoiler warning, mind: it still looks like a shitty nappy. But mushy pea curry tastes good, I swear.
Now, because it’s a recipe reacharound there won’t be a full post to go with it, though I will say this in reference to the post the original recipe accompanied: I bloody miss writing up our holiday entries. Paul and I are currently collecting old travel photos from our holidays for a Secret Project and it isn’t half giving us wanderlust. Without wanting to sound like a pretentious prick but doubling down on that anyway, there’s a whole world out there that we want to explore and thanks to COVID, we can’t. Still, mustn’t grumble. Ireland was a surprisingly amazing holiday for us: Paul got bit on the head by a horse, we were interrupted shagging in a hot-tub by a farmer (sadly not a porn-style farmer with thick arms and needs his wife can’t meet, but rather someone who looked like he cured the BSE crisis singlehandedly by eating all the poisoned cows) and we nearly careered off the Cliffs of Kerry caterwauling to Diana Ross in our car. What a week.
What’s encouraging to note from the holiday entry is that even back then we were thieving little bastards: shove us into a situation where we can snaffle freebies and we’ll be walking out with backpacks full of diet cokes and bumholes full of muffin. We have no shame when it comes to that sort of thing and don’t put any stock in the argument that it ruins it for everyone else. We both came from poor families (mine financially, Paul’s emotionally) and those feelings of hunger never truly wash off. Our most recent experience on a ferry over to Vancouver Island was exactly the same: we paid for the premier upgrade and ate so many pastries that every time I pooed over the next few days a cheese straw came curling out.
Ah, precious memories.
“I don’t know how appropriate it is to have a semi whilst clumsily navigating around the Bangor ring-road…“
I’ve since learned his name.
Right, to the mushy pea curry! I mean, look at it….
This mushy pea curry is perfect for Slimming World, mainly because it's syn free but also because looking at it might put you right off your dinner. Season to taste. The original recipe demanded all sorts of spices and whatnot but honestly, as a side, this will do the trick. We have cheated by using pastes for the garlic and ginger and curry powder, but listen, we're in a rush.
That said: don't skimp on the spices and chilli: if it doesn't hurt, they're not doing it right.
300g or so of fresh, ripe tomatoes, chopped roughly
one large onion, finely chopped
one vegetable stock cube dissolved into 200ml of water
two teaspoons of garlic paste
one teaspoon of ginger paste
three fresh green chillis chopped so fine, or some green chilli paste
400g of marrowfat peas
one teaspoon of hot curry powder
salt and pepper
sweat the onions off in a little oil
blend the onion, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, chillis, curry powder and stock together
allow to thicken a little on low heat for ten minutes or so
chuck the peas in - if they're from a tin and not fresh (and let's be honest you lot, I know our readers, they'll be tinned) you can add the delightful pea-water in with it
thicken for a wee bit more and mash slightly until you get a thick, pea curry
season to taste
It's that easy. Serve it atop a naan, she won't mind, she misses human interaction.
you can bulk this out with peppers or, if you need meat as much as I do, fry off some finely chopped chicken breasts when you do the onion
the longer you leave it the thicker it gets, which is always a good thing
you can use chopped tomatoes from a can - this isn't a beauty pageant
our slimming cookbook can be ordered online now – full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 2400 5* reviews – even if we do say so ourselves: click here to order
our new diet planner is out now and utterly brilliant – you can order it here – thank you to everyone so far for the positive feedback!
We love Hari Ghotra and just noticed she has a curry cookbook out - she has never let us down on a recipe yet - click here to order!
I know right! You’re all gonna be cutting a dash to the kitchen to make that for the wee’uns aren’t you? AT LEAST WE TRIED.
Anyway shush! More veggie recipes? Fill your boots!
Your chicken dopiaza will follow in a moment. But first, I was listening to a very interesting podcast all about regret this morning on my way into work. It was particularly befitting, as I was regretting my choice to walk in, regretting my choice to wake up in the morning and especially regretting letting someone go in front of me at the gate to the town moor, as it then meant I had twenty minutes half-walking-half-hanging-back otherwise their lycra-clad lumpen arse was filling my field of vision. I don’t have many regrets – what’s the use? I’m not Doctor Who, can’t turn the clock back (trust me, if I could, I’d go back fifteen years and tell myself not to cut off all that fabulous hair I used to have, even if a good third was missing from setting it on fire lighting a cigarette from a gas hob), so why worry? But that said, because I’m in the mood to write tonight, let me tell you about just a few things in life that I do lament.
#1: meeting Paul
Eeee no, of course not, I’m joking. We fit together like the square and the l shaped in Tetris. I very much doubt there is another man with cracking tits out there who would cheerfully put up with my arse-of-death and histrionics every morning.
#2: spending three years of my life looking like the bastard offspring of The Scottish Widow and Bubble from Big Brother 2
Let me explain. I’ve always been an up-and-down-dieter: sometimes I’m fat, sometimes I’m thin, sometimes when we touch the honesty is too much. But, after losing a hefty amount of weight in my teenage years, I couldn’t overcome the acute embarrassment I had about my big fat wobbly body – despite being only 13 stone – and so I dressed for about three years solid in a giant black wool coat that a friend bought me (little did I know) from the ladies section of C&A. I adored that coat – long, swooshing and magnificent – I’d cut about the village I grew up in like the gayest spectre of death you’d ever seen. I was by no means a goth: I was too clumsy for eyeliner, too cheerful for Livejournal poetry. But what people mistook for vivacious fashion sense (dry cough) was actually masking the desire to hide my body away in the biggest cloak I could find. Looking back at photos I’m left mortified – in 99% of them I’m wearing 28″ waist jeans and a coat that you could comfortably cover a Renault Passat with in a cold frost. In short: I look like a twat. You know what compounds the look though? I found a black bucket hat in a hedge one day and loved it that much that I took it home, washed it and never took it off again. I honestly shiver when I see it now.
And yet you know, it’s funny: I couldn’t give a toss what people think of me now. I wear what I want, most of my holiday photographs have some form of nudity in it with either my fat arse or my rack on show, and you know what? I’m all the better for it.
#3: I wish I’d bothered learning to drive sooner
I grew up in a tiny village in the middle of Northumberland with one bus connection and a kitchen outlet store. It wasn’t exactly a den of homosexuality, though I did alright on that front due to the various ‘friends from school’ I had over. But still, whenever I drive home nowadays and see all those lorries parked up, all those fun little country lanes, all those crashes with van drivers where someone gets rear-ended or has their bumper pushed in from the back…well, it’s hard not to feel like I’ve missed a glorious opportunity. But see I moved out at 18 into the centre of Newcastle and the need to drive never really came up – now it’s my most favourite thing in the world. I’d cheerfully be a lorry driver if I thought my back was up to lifting suspect rolls of carpet into ditches, but no, that time has passed. I only learned to drive at the age of 27, though I fear I’ve subtracted eighteen years of my life due to damage to my heart from getting so wound up about other drivers since then. Life’s a balance.
#4: buying cheap batteries
I let Paul convince me that buying 64 AA batteries from IKEA would be a safe bet, simply because we go through them at such a rate of knots that people think we’re road-testers for Ann Summers – which is ridiculous, because all of our sex-toys are wired straight into the fuse-board. They’ll be fine, he said, slipping lurid packets of bright yellow into our trolley. Well they’re bloody well not. I seem to spend a good third of my day sliding the plates off the back of my keyboard, remotes, magic mouse, doorbell, ped-egg and Xbox controllers because the batteries inside couldn’t power a mouse’s kettle. It’s like they’re filled with mist. What makes it worse is that our Nest smoke alarm is battery-powered. It doesn’t just beep – oh no – it shrieks, in that cold robotic voice – THE BATTERIES ARE LOW. PLEASE REPLACE THE BATTERIES, which is just what you need to wrench you from sleep at 4am in the morning. Oh and if you ignore her she ups the ante considerably: she decided to warn us that there was smoke in the hallway the last time we were in Lidl, meaning us screaming back home in the Smart Car only to find it was just her malfunctioning. Internet of Things will change your life they say. Aye, they’re not wrong: I’ve developed generalised anxiety disorder every time I hear an electronic chirp. Twitter is hell.
#5: arguing with sucker-lipped thick idiots on Facebook about manners
I know I’ve mentioned this before but honestly, I can’t help myself. I’m in a group which asks people to say please and thank you when they request help from others. The fact that it even needs to be specified boils my piss as it is, but I’m always first to point out if someone’s being an ill-mannered dick. The amount of folks who think it’s appropriate to hold up some knock-off yoghurt and say SINS without so much as a kiss-my-arse is mind-boggling. I appreciate that we’re not in church but good manners costs fuck all. Put that on a tea-towel and wipe your fadge with it. So as you can expect, I end up in all sorts of arguments with people with faces dusted with Wotsit-powder and lips like a bee-stung arsehole who say stuff like WE ARE NOT KIDS (but you are! You always are! Just because you’ve got two babies and an Elizabeth Duke pay-as-you-go engagement ring doesn’t mean you’re not 17) and THIS IS WURST THAN SCHOOL (how would you know?) and then THE ADMIN R WORSER THAN HITLER. That’s the best one: you’re compared to a man responsible for the gassing of millions of folks simply because you’ve got the cheek to expect a please before helping out. And THAT’S my regret: that I bother arguing. Have you ever tried arguing with a thick/entitled person on the Internet? You’d get a more reasoned discussion by lifting up the cat’s tail and bellowing direct into her pouting vulva. All they do is respond with an attempt at insulting you (it’s hard to take offence when you can’t decipher their spelling) and then so many crappy emoticons that it’s like watching The Emoji Movie in a haunted hall of mirrors. You can’t make someone see sense – you can lead a horse to water, but you have to strongly resist the urge to push their head under until all you’re left with is a bloated cadaver, a neck tattoo of a badly-spelled take on the name of a Love Island contestant and a scum of Paul’s Boutique foundation floating on the water.
So yes: I regret trying to encourage people to use manners.
And you know, that’s about it. It really is. As I said, what’s the use in regret? It gets you nowhere, you can’t change what has happened and most of all, it tethers you to the past when you should be moving forward.
Speaking of moving forward, let’s do this chicken dopiaza recipe – if you’re here for a good curry recipe, a chicken dopiaza is absolutely perfect. Promise you that this is easy to make, tasty and very customisable! It’s quite a mellow dish but you can make it as spicy as your little ring will handle!
You’re here for the aubergine and tomato curry of course, but first, I have some truly shocking news.
We’ve joined a bloody boot camp. A boot camp! Yes, like all the other New Year New Me fitness wankers. Weirdly, I feel I should explain our actions. We eat reasonably well but we simply don’t do enough exercise. We enjoy the gym, but I find I tend to stumble in my own drool on the treadmill as it faces the boxing class and well, if there’s a particularly brutish looking man getting battered around the ring, I find the emergency stop button being pressed by something other than my hands. Paul’s the same: enjoys the gym, but is very conscious that there’s a McDonalds, a KFC and a Dominos on the way home. It’s altogether too easy to think that you’ve worked up such a sweat punching the number for a Kitkat Chunky into the swimming pool vending machine that really you ought to have a treat. What can I say: I tried but I was weak and backsliding, and now the Devil has come home in the form of swollen ankles and breathlessness when I blink too much.
So: if crippling obesity doesn’t give me pause enough to do more exercise, what will? The lure of money – or rather, the fretting and angst that potentially losing money brings. I’m not going to name the company that I’m boot-camping with as I don’t want it to look like we’re pushing them – we’re not – but they offer a money back guarantee as long as you stick to the classes. If you don’t, you lose your money. All very fair and a great motivator for someone as tight-arsed as me – I’d climb Everest if I thought the guy in front of me had dropped a fiver out of his pocket when reaching for his oxygen tank. We’ve handed over a not insignificant amount of money and committed to six weeks of hell, all in the name of having slightly less fat on our arse when we roll into summer. Paul trembled at the thought of exercise, I sobbed at the thought of having to put my gym trainers back on.
We bit the bullet though and it was with a heavy heart and far heavier tits that we pulled into the car-park on an industrial estate at 9pm, something we never usually do unless we’ve pre-arranged a meeting with a lorry driver whose ‘wife just doesn’t understand him’ and ‘anyway it’s not gay if I don’t touch yours’. At least I think that’s what they say, my ears are usually muffled by thighs at that point. I had visions of walking in and everyone collectively gasping until someone rushed over and threw a blanket over us like one might do with a screeching budgie. I knew we’d attempt one exercise, find it all too much and then skulk out the emergency exit with our ears wringing. Typo deliberate, and I’m quite proud of that. But no: the crowd didn’t consist exclusively of people who looked like they’d been whittled from walnut, but rather an excellent mix of weights, sizes, ages, oxygen saturation levels and fitness. There were no shitty looks, no whispers, no redirections to a dark corner ‘for the best’. In fact, we were treated marvellously – we chuckled our way through the disclaimer (swollen ankles? I don’t know, they’re usually behind my ears out of sight, ho ho) and had our photos taken, front and profile like a mug-shot. Which is fitting, because my gym outfit was a crime to all things sartorial. I don’t care, I’m there to sweat and go blue, not pull. Judge me on my gasping, not my Lidl exercise socks.
Before we even had a chance to change our mind our class was ushered in and it began. What followed was dreadful in the best possible way – great fun, a good mix of exercises and excellent leadership – but you need to understand it’s hard to concentrate when you’re certain you’re about to shit out your own heart through over-exertion. I have genuinely never moved so much in my life: you could set me on fire and I’d still keep a slower pace than I did that night. We ran, we jumped, we threw a ball around, we did lunges and push-ups and press-ups and burpees and kicking and although we couldn’t do many, we bloody tried, and surprised ourselves with exactly how much we could do. There was no pressure: just firm encouragement, which was exactly what we needed. I could have done without the Now That’s What I Call Wrapping A Vauxhall Nova Around A Lamppost playing so loudly but if anything, it kept you moving if only to move away from the speaker.
The biggest revelation: we actually had fun. We both came out (surprise!) full of praise and looking forward to the next one. Who would have thought it?
But, by god, am I paying for it now – I can barely move. I’ve moved muscles that up until Monday night were still worried about the Millennium Bug. I’ve got aches in parts of my body that I didn’t know I had – who knew that the underside of a tit could ache so much? I feel like I’ve jumped out of a moving car. Yesterday wasn’t too bad but today I actually got stuck on the toilet for five minutes. Sat down no problem, sacrificed my dinner to the Sewer Gods without breaking a sweat, tidied up and made to leave only to find I couldn’t actually pull myself up. What to do? Spend the day with a cold nipsy in the vain hope someone would a) rescue me and b) not be repulsed enough by the fetid air that they would decide it was better to leave me to my fate? Unlikely. I had to hoist myself up using the towel rail like an old lady who had taken a tumble in the kitchen. Not just me though: I received a text from Paul this afternoon with the sorrowful phrase ‘I’m stuck on the stairs’ – like a cow, he had gone up the stairs no bother, but coming down meant bending his legs in such a way that was simply impossible. He had to shuffle down on his arse. Watching him walk across our lawn to the house was hilarious – he was walking so gingerly you’d think we’d stuck land-mines in the snowdrops.
Still: another session tonight at 9pm. If anyone wants to visit me in hospital afterwards, I’ll be in the Cramlington cardiothoracic department. You’ll be able to spot me by my cheap shoes and blue lips.
Right, let’s do the recipe for this aubergine and tomato curry, yes? That’s what you’ve come for, after all. It’s an aubergine and tomato curry from Meera Sodha’s Made in India book, adapted slightly for Slimming World. I can’t tell you enough how much I love this book – most of the recipes can be adapted if you’re feeling virtuous but they’re absolutely gorgeous exactly as they are. Plus, I’m yet to find a recipe in there that hasn’t been nice and easy to make. I genuinely recommend: you can buy it from Amazon right here!
to make an aubergine and tomato curry, you’ll need:
1 large onion, chopped
1 green chilli, chopped
4cm knob of ginger, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
300g cherry tomatoes, halved
½ tsp ground turmeric
1½ tsp ground cumin
1½ tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp tomato pureé
1 tsp sugar (1 syn)
2 large aubergines, quartered and cut into half-cm slices
One gadget we swear by is a good Microplane grater – this’ll make mincing the garlic and ginger a breeze! No I know, I recommend them an awful lot, but it’s because it is worth having. You’ll use it a lot!
Yeah, we used one syn of sugar in the recipe. Divide between four and that’s quarter of a syn. I mean, really.
to make an aubergine and tomato curry, you should:
plonk a large frying pan over a medium heat and spray in a little oil (Frylight ruins non-stick coating, so use this instead!)
add the onion and cook until it’s turning a bit golden, which’ll take about 6-8 minutes
add the green chilli, ginger, and garlic and cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently
add the tomatoes to the pan and then stick the lid on
leave for about ten minutes for the tomatoes to soften
add the turmeric, cumin, coriander and tomato pureé to the an and mix well
when it’s looking a bit sloppy, add 150ml of warm water and then the aubergine slices
stir gently until the abuergine is nicely coated, the stick the lid back on again
cook for another 15-20 minutes over a medium-low heat – you’ll know it’s done when you can cut the aubergine with a wooden spoon
Enjoy? Why not click the vegetarian recipes I’ve provided below and live like a Queen?
Beef mince biryani – I’m sure there’s a billion ways of doing this recipe and this is probably the common as muck version but hey, sometimes you just fancy something spicy. Our takeaway has stopped taking our calls since Paul used to stand by the letterbox on all fours whenever the hunky deliveryman, with his baleful brown eyes and arms that promised the world, came to the door. Think that’s bad? He once put ‘Will nosh for extra dough balls‘ on our Dominos order when he was drunk and then made me answer the door. Don’t get me wrong, it’s factually correct – if anything it’s a slight understatement – but still. I wouldn’t mind but I opened the door to a lovely wee lady who looked like Sandi Toksvig trying to solve a particularly tough crossword.
Anyway, as promised, we’re going to go straight into the recipe, no messing about. We all know foreplay is a waste of time anyway, surely? Hello? Is this thing on?
Just so you know, we served this with our perfect chicken korma recipe – you know why it’s perfect? Because we don’t stir a friggin’ Muller Light into it. Why? Because we’re not simple. For scooping we used Broghies – they’re one syn crackers that can be found in most Icelands around the country by now. If they’re not in yours, run into the shop, bundle whatever old lady is in your way into a chest freezer and demand that the manager stocks them immediately. They’re perfect for dips! And no: we’re not on commission.
We found this recipe at mytamarindkitchen and I 100% a look at their blog because the food is absolutely amazing. Tweaked this for Slimming World. Let’s go.
to make the perfect beef mince biryani, you’ll need:
five ripe tomatoes chopped up – can’t be arsed, use tinned tomatoes, but come on now
a teaspoon of coriander, cumin and chilli powder – now, if you don’t have spices, go to your world foods bit in your supermarket and buy them in bulk – so much cheaper – keep them sealed in a good tin though
I cheated here and used a garam masala grinder rather than making my own – was only a quid in Tesco – used about 10 good grinds
a bay leaf or two (don’t stress if you don’t have them)
one big fat onion, chopped nice and fine
500g of extra lean beef mince – or use turkey mince for even lower calories (though it’ll not change the syn value)
350g of basmati rise
half a tin of cooked green lentils
1 clove of garlic, minced
a good couple of handfuls of peas
1 inch of ginger, minced
half a teaspoon of turmeric
100ml of beef stock
one green chilli
optional extras for your mince biryani:
one lemon and one lime
a pinch of (shiver) saffron
chopped mint and coriander
top tips for your mince biryani:
we cook our rice in our Instant Pot – you absolutely don’t need one, you can cook rice just fine in a pan – but if you have a pressure cooker have a look into it – rice is a doddle! Instant Pots are quite hard to come by at the moment due to a stock shortage and, whilst we love ours, we’ve heard good things about the Pressure King Pro – only £70 on Amazon at the moment
if you’re mincing your garlic and ginger, use a microplane grater – you don’t need to peel the garlic or ginger and it’ll save your poor wee fingers
oh and whilst we’re on about ginger, buy a big knob of it and put it in the freezer when you’re done with it – it grates just fine frozen and it’ll save you buying it fresh every time
and listen, if even that’s too much for you, you can buy ginger and garlic paste in most major supermarkets now – in the same jar – for a quid or two – just use a tablespoon for half a syn!
to make the perfect beef mince biryani, you should:
soak your rice in cold water for a good half hour, and then cook it through until it is almost cooked(I like to add the turmeric to the rice as it cooks, to give it a yellow sheen) – you want a bit of bite left
heat your oven up to about 175 degrees and get a good heavy pan out of the cupboard – you’ll need one that has a lid and can go in the oven
spritz with a few sprays of oil, grind the masala into it and heat until it smells amazing
add the garlic and ginger and the chopped onion – cook the onions until they take on some colour, but don’t burn them
then add a pinch of salt, the chilli, cumin and coriander and cook off – add the stock here so it doesn’t catch and to to get all the good stuff off the bottom of the pan
add the tomatoes and fry until they’ve softened down – then add the mince and peas and cook until that’s cooked through and has absorbed most of the moisture in the pan
the easy bit now – layer the lentils over the top followed by the rice
optional: add chopped mint, slices of lemon and lime and if you’re super fancy, you could dissolve the saffron in hot water (about 25ml) and pour that one
cook in the oven for about twenty minutes with the lid on so it can steam
once you’re happy with it, clap your hands and eat your dinner!
There. I hope that leaves you satisfied and smiling!
What? You want more curry and spicy ideas? Of course you do. You love having a bumhole that looks like a shocked mouth. Here we go then:
Creamy thai red chicken curry – look, it’s a bit of a ‘cheat’ meal in that it uses curry paste but so what, it’s better than a slap in the face with a wet willy, no? And look – no preamble this time, we’re going to go straight in. Unlubed. Pucker up.
Actually, before we get to the recipe – just a quick reminder (and you’ll see these for the next few weeks!):
If you’ve enjoyed our recipes or nonsense and only if you can afford to donate a couple of quid, please do! The response has been absolutely phenomenal and honestly, nothing but a massive thank you for both me and Paul to all those who have chipped in. Every last penny goes to Bryson’s Animal Shelter. Please do forgive us our advertising – but it’s for a good cause!
Right! Recipe. Let’s do this. This makes enough for four, serve with rice.
to make creamy Thai red chicken curry you will need:
Roasted rainbow aloo gobi if you please, and syn free to boot! You know sometimes you make a vegetarian dish and it’s OK but you’re left craving meat like a sex-starved nun? This wasn’t the case with this – in fact, it was so tasty and colourful we ended up making it again the next day. Then had the leftovers the day after. By that point the neighbours were banging on the window sure, so fetid and thick was the fart-air billowing from under our door, that someone had died. So, make it, but be warned: your leather cheerio will turn black and die.
You know, it’s a wonder I don’t get asked to write the recipes for Woman’s Weekly. Anyway, before we get to the pure sex that is the aloo gobi, you’re going to have to endure a night out with us, as it’s part four of our Benidorm trip. We’ve even got videos for you! Don’t want to read all our shite? That’s fine. I’ve put in a shortcut button. yes, for this one, you just need to click on the OLD MONA WHO’LL LET ANYONE CHUCK THEIR PAINT ON HER FACE below:
Possibly the classiest photo we’ve ever had on here and I’ve used it to make a spunk joke. Eee, what am I like. Shall we continue?
When you last left us we had endured a breakfast buffet, met our doubles and sizzled by the pool for far longer than could be considered reasonable for a travel blog. Remember that time, we had hope in our eyes.
We used the day to plan for the night ahead, with an eye to having a bit of dinner somewhere local to the hotel and then heading out to a place we’d heard excellent reviews about – the Showboat, just up the road. Dinner was so awful that I can’t remember where we went, only that it was exactly like the slop you get in lay-bys from people who’ve used their food hygiene certificate to wipe their arse with. I’ve been told you can eat well in Benidorm and it’s undoubtedly true, but every single place we looked at within about half a mile’s mince from the hotel were full to the brim with people pointing at pictures of egg and chips on the laminated menu. If my memory serves me correctly, Paul had a hot-dog and I had a club sandwich. Presumably the Club the sandwich referred to was the Cavern Club because this sandwich tasted like it was made back in the sixties – I’ve never had to dip a sandwich in my pint before to moisten it.
Showboat, then. I’m not too sure how to couch my experience of the place, really – not least because we drank 11 pints each over the course of the entire evening. People in our facebook group were treated to some wonderfully awful videos, I can assure you. Let me say that the staff were lovely, the venue was clean and the toilet, far from the Trainspotting homage I expected, was spotless. We’d shuffled in at 8pm and had the place to ourselves – the entertainment such as it was started at 9pm so we decided on a game of pool. There was one pool cue and well, the lines on the table weren’t especially clear.
Like playing at The Crucible!
I won, because I always do when it comes to pool – Paul’s flipper-arms make holding the cue difficult – and then it was time to get a round in and enjoy the first act: a Tina Turner impersonation. Here’s the thing: when your opening gambit is a declaration that despite appearances, you’re not actually a man in drag, then it rather sets the tone. She (and she was a she, I could see no Nutbush City Limits under her straining skirt) was really good! She belted out a few of the classics, though I did feel sorry for her when she tried to get the audience up on stage – the front two rows looked like they couldn’t manage to breathe unassisted let alone jive through Proud Mary. She gamely pressed on.
We don’t need another hero. We just need someone to call a nurse.
Things reached a pinnacle when it came to River Deep Mountain High – one of my favourite songs. You know it – it has a great lead-in and then straight into Tina singing. I was all ready to stand up and clap and throw my knickers on the stage (the size of the fuckers meant they’d probably come back down in someone’s tapas in Valencia) but there was a problem – she uttered the first line and then stopped. Completely forgotten the words. I was devastated: I was itching to see her strut/stumble through my favourite, and it wasn’t to be. I yelled out that she must leave Ike before he did any more serious damage and, taking this on board, she carried on and saw it through to the end. Towards the closing notes I saw our doppelgängers arrive and take seats near the front. We exchanged glances. Tina shuffled off. More drinks for everyone.
Then came Stella Artois. A drag act. I’m going to hold my hands up here and say outright, I’m not a huge fan of drag unless it’s done superbly well. This guy wasn’t. Actually no, let’s rewrite that a bit: I don’t mind drag acts, but I don’t like the fact that some people seem to think it gives them a licence to be an abrasive, nasty arsehole. Stella was absolutely in this second category. They opened with a few gags which actually did make me laugh (and listen, I’m not a hard person to please, I’m probably the only person in Britain who’ll happily sit through You’ve Been Framed) and then boy oh boy did that show degenerate quickly. It’s pretty bad when you’re hearing material stolen from Peter Kay’s early work, it’s even worse when it’s from Bob bloody Monkhouse. I think if the crowd hadn’t been (barely) lapping it up he’d have started a Vera Lynn singalong.
That’s when things just got worse and worse. I’m all for a coarse gag – as evidenced in nearly every single post on here – but make it funny. I thought we’d reached a low point when he was talking about his arsehole but then the racist stuff followed. We’re not just talking like the naff racist gags you expect in a flat-roof social club but just vile shit about blowing up mosques and *clutch my sides* not seeing a white face in Birmingham. Jim and Saul were slapping their knees and sloshing their campari all over their shoes at the ‘humour’ whereas I was hoping to find blood in my urine just to cheer myself up. The show lasted an hour during which we anaesthetised ourselves with a lot more booze and making videos for the group. Not going to lie, we were thankful when they tottered off the stage, though I admit I was fretful about whether or not she would get back to Peterborough in time to put tea on for Paul’s brother.
I’m kidding, he looked nowt like Paul’s mother. She’s got a much more pronounced beard.
Anyway, Stella fucked off, and I thought the entertainment was over the night but then, WHAM! On came a George Michael tribute act. He was so much better! He looked more like George Osborne than George Michael but he could belt out a tune and that’s all that matters. He did all the classics: Fast Love, Careless Whisper, Faith, shot his load up the cubicle door in the gents, the lot. It was great fun. At one point he asked the crowd for their favourites – I, buoyed by more alcohol units than is sensible for a man of my obesity, shouted LAST CHRISTMAS. He immediately sniped back that that was a stupid suggestion because it was September, to which I shouted back that he was supposed to be dead, so all bets were off. He sang Freedom with a proper sulk on.
We left, though I took a moment to step on my double’s foot as I walked past. I like to think my weight on his foot dislodged a fragment of his doubtless infected toenail which shot straight to his heart, leading to a full cardiac arrest later in the holiday. Fucker shouldn’t have stolen my beans and/or looked like me. After a long stumble down the street, we were in bed, snoring and farting the rest of the night away.
Anyway, we made a supercut of the night for your viewing pleasure. You have no idea how long it took to make this faintly appropriate for the blog – the amount of bits we had to cut out just so we didn’t get shut down / put on the front pages of the tabloids, well, you’ll never know.
Oh and if you’re wondering how we were feeling the next morning…
I know, imagine waking up next to that breathing at you from across the pillows. To be honest, you’ve got the far better view out of the two available to you at that point.
Part five will surely come, but first, we really ought to crack on with the aloo gobi, yes? Before I go – all of that above and the sentence I’m most pleased with is the WHAM remark. I chuckled away to myself with that one.
REMEMBER, leave us some feedback on the holiday entries!
This makes enough for easily four people, whether as a side or a full main. You could chuck some red peppers in to increase the colour still further. I got the basic idea from my absolute favourite Indian cookery book, Made in India by Meera Sodha. There’s not a recipe I’ve made yet that hasn’t been absolutely gorgeous, so hats off to her. You can buy the book dirt cheap on Amazon! She recommends making this as a light salad and serving in a poppadom with crushed peanuts, but as I can almost hear Mags clutching her Facebook-raffle-prize pearls from here, I’ve slimmed it down a little.
to make roasted rainbow aloo gobi, you’ll need:
500g of new potatoes – if you get Jersey potatoes or similar, they’ll be nice and yellow
600g of cauliflower – to make it rainbow, buy rainbow cauliflowers – Marks and Spencers sell them – they come in yellow, white and purple
two large red onions
one big bastard bag of spinach
1 tin of chickpeas
three cloves of garlic, minced (use one of these bad boys – you’ll save your fingers and you don’t need to fart about peeling the garlic)
1 tsp of cumin seeds or half a teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
salt and black pepper
spray oil, but not Frylight, because you’re so much better than that muck
red pepper optional
Let’s quickly talk about oil, for those that haven’t been with us since the beginning. Here’s the thing: we don’t like Frylight. It’s pushed too hard in a lot of recipes and it tastes like poo. We prefer to use a good olive oil (and if we’re absolutely honest, we don’t syn it – never have) but for the sake of you lot, we always factor the syns in. Most of the time for blog recipes we recommend using a spray oil – you’ll get enough from 10 sprays and that’s 1 syn according to the calculator. Divided between four, up to you if you syn such a negligible amount. We use one of these filled up with olive oil but listen, you can buy spray oil in the shops. Just look for the Frylight, knock them over, choose something decent. It’s your body – why eat plastic crap if you don’t have to do so?
to make roasted rainbow aloo gobi, you should:
preheat the oven to 180 degrees
chop your new potatoes into similar sized chunks
pick the cauliflower apart into chunky little florets
arrange them both on a baking tray, spritz them with a few sprays of oil, scatter over the garlic, chilli, cumin/cumin seeds and then season with a lot of salt and black pepper
into the oven they go for thirty minutes or so, turning them every now and then
meanwhile, thinly slice your onion and pepper if using, then gently sweat them in a few sprays of oil – cook them slowly mind, let them sweat and golden and caramelise
add the chickpeas (drained, obviously) then the spinach so it wilts down
Slow cooker beef keema, yeah, that’s right, slow cooker beef keema. You want it. We have it. You’ll find the recipe under all the following nonsense. Meanwhile, we’ve dropped Droptober because well, busy. Let’s embrace Homovember.
Hallowe’en has been and gone, and hopefully the only fright you’ve experienced is the site of your own toes as your gunt shrinks ever inwards.
For the first time in ten years since Paul and I got together, we decided to embrace Hallowe’en instead of spending the evening sat behind the sofa with the lights off, watching Coronation Street on the iPad with the brightness and volume turned right down. No, in the spirit (oh h oho) of taking part, we stuck up some perfunctory bits of tat from Poundland (probably getting lead poisoning whilst doing so) and put a pumpkin outside, shockingly not with the word C*NT carved in it. We’re getting better at this being social lark.
We wanted trick-or-treaters to knock on the door and take our chocolate. Perhaps that’s too far – we certainly had chocolate, but Paul had eyes like a kicked dog when I told him they were for any guests. That didn’t stop me eating three Freddos and a Fudge when he went to the bog, though. We didn’t dress up because apparently my suggestion of answering the door as Fred and Rose West was a little too “near-the-knuckle”. I’m not sure what Paul’s problem is, I’ve got a pair of my nan’s Blanche Hunt glasses that would have looked resplendent on him.
Best of all, we ever went to the trouble of setting up a light system for the house – all of our outdoor lighting is controllable by colour and timers so we had the house flickering like a fire with occasional bursts of white light like a lightning bolt. It was all very brilliant and took an hour of tinkering with our router and swearing incoherently at the iPad to get it all set up.
So, what did we get, perched as we are on a lovely corner of a cul-de-sac full of expensive houses all ripe for trick or treaters? Absolutely zip. Bugger all. Sweet fanny adams.
Actually, that’s not entirely true, we did get two teenage girls (very rough – they looked like they were on their third pregnancy of the year but only their first toothbrush) who stuck their hands out and said ‘trick or treat’ – a quick glance revealed that they hadn’t bothered with any sort of costume bar eight inches of poorly-applied foundation. We asked for trick and they kissed their teeth at us and tramped away over our lawn.
There were several children in groups who visited the streets but avoided our house altogether. I admit to being distraught. It was all I could do to choke down every last bit of chocolate and sour jellies that was left in our fruit-bowl.
Of course, like all things, Hallowe’en was a lot different when I was young. Because money was tight, my costume was a bin-liner (because nothing says BOO like ‘NO HOT ASHES’ spread across my arse) and my pumpkin was a turnip. Have you ever tried to carve a turnip? It’s like cutting a diamond with a butter knife. It’s why I associate Hallowe’en with carpal tunnel syndrome. My sister wore a bed-sheet with some red paint on it. Back in modern time, Paul and I couldn’t use our black bedsheets because people would think we’d come dressed as an badly tuned TV channel.
Most of the people in our village were knocking on 90 and thus, no sweets, fucks or hearing were given, but we always hit the jackpot when we visited the only footballer in our village, who gave us all a tub of Quality Street each. It’s tantamount to my obesity that this remains one of the fondest memories I have of growing up in Backwater, Northumberland.
Back in the now, I did find it interesting that after all the gash-crashing and naval-gazing that’s been happening over the ‘terror clowns’ ‘epidemic’ recently that so many parents thought it would be wise to dress their children up as frightening beasts to terrorise the neighbours, mind you. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, after all.
I’d welcome a clown jumping out at me to give me a fright – I just don’t shock that way. They’d get an entirely non-plussed reaction and a shoulder-shrug. No, if you really want to scare me, dress up as my bank manager and tell me Paul’s spending on the First Direct card. You’d need to bring me around with salts. I’d love to have a flasher jump out of the bushes, too, if only so I could ask if he wanted me to blow it or smoke it. Nothing cuts a man down quicker than a jibe at his wee-willy-winky.
The idea of ghosts certainly don’t scare me because I don’t believe in such a thing. I think, once you die, that’s it, though I’ve already told Paul that if the afterlife does exist I’ll be haunting him relentlessly – whooing and booing every time he reaches for some consolation ice-cream or, worse, a new lover. I’ve told him to at least let the sheets cool first, though I don’t doubt he’ll be asking the funeral procession to pull into a layby on the A19 on the way to the crem to take care of a lorry driver.
You know why I don’t think ghosts exist? Simple. If you could bring comfort to the living by letting them know you’re in a better place, why wouldn’t you just do it? Why go through the rigmarole of knocking over vases or hooting in the night? Worse, why would you deliver your message through rancid vile grief-exploiters like Sally Morgan or other psychic mediums? I don’t know about you, but I’d want my comforting messages to be passed directly to the target rather than over the lips of some permatanned Liverpudlian on Living TV. I’d love to think my dear nana is giving us a sign – perhaps that whistling in my ears and high-pitched ringing isn’t tinnitus after all but rather the ghost of her 1980s NHS hearing aid coming over time and space? Doctor Eeee-No. Bless her.
Right, enough of this nonsense, let’s get to the recipe, shall we? It’s a bit of a cheap recipe in that, rather than using a delicate blend of spices measured out individually and carefully toasted, I went for a spice mix that had the name GEETA on it just so I could shout SANJAY across the aisles in Tesco. Plus, it’s 4 syns for the spice mix which split between four is only a syn. Obviously. Actually, we doubled this recipe up because we’ve bought a massive slow cooker to replace our small one and this made enough for eight big servings. The recipe below makes enough for four. The idea for the recipe came from a blog called Jam and Clotted Cream, found right here – I’ve spun it so it is more suitable for us chunkers.
One more thing. You could just chuck everything in the slow cooker at once, but browning the mince and softening the veg in a pan first makes it so much better. Don’t be lazy!
one packet of Geeta’s Tikka Paste (80g) (can buy these in most Tescos, but just swap for a different tikka paste if you want – check the syns though) (4 syns)
400g of chopped tomatoes – now listen here, use whatever you want, but slightly more expensive tomatoes always taste nicer, trust me
1 beef stock cube
200g of frozen peas (adjust if you want, but I love loads of peas)
to make slow cooker beef keema, you should:
Before we go, let me change your life:
Watch this video and you’ll never look back when it comes to chopping peppers. No more seeds splashed all over the counter, no more fannying about. Admittedly, if you chop your food like a complete div, this might not help you, but for anyone else…
finely chop your onions and peppers and sweat those bad-boys down in a pan – which makes sense, as you’d have a hell of a job sweating them down in a washing up bowl
once they’ve softened ever so, throw in the mince and cook it hard until there’s no pink, only brown – ‘no pink, only brown’ being the name of our fourth twochubbycubs book, incidentally)
add the minced garlic and ginger and stir
add the chopped tomatoes, beef stock cube and tikka mix, stir, then slop it all into your slow cooker and cook that for at least six hours on low
half an hour before you want to get eating, put all the peas in – you can put them in at the start but they’ll moosh right down
serve with rice and sides – we served ours with our onion rice from way back when
Bloody lovely. As someone common would say, ‘that’s right nice, that’. Here, was this not enough for you? Then get those glassy eyes cast over even more recipes by clicking on the big ole buttons below!
Normally I’d just shove the old cock thermometer onto a post but you know what, we’ve had so many lovely comments from you lot that we’re actually putting a recipe on too. But no chat. What is this, a knitting group? I read about a knitting group in America called Stitches and Bitches and do you know, I almost took up knitting just so I can set up the same. I’m forever thinking of names for businesses that Paul and I could establish – a gay wine bar called Bottoms Up, a café of Slimming World meals called Guntbusters, a cigar shop called Buttsuckers…list goes on. It’s how I entertain myself in between screaming wildly at Audi drivers on the A1 (I smile, with murder on my mind) and dreaming about a double page spread in Pick Me Up with my giant trousers held aloft.
Before I get to weigh-in, a curious thing. A couple of weeks ago I was walking to my car along Stowell Street in Newcastle when I noticed what looked like a binliner just chucked on the pavement. Once I was closer and my boss eyes has focussed, it turned out to be a young lad, lying on his back, eyes rolling to the back of his head. Of course, me being first aid trained, I immediately set about dithering and flapping and fussing, asking him what was wrong, no response, turning him over, no response, then calling for an ambulance. No sooner had I asked to speak to the ambulance service then he leapt to his feet and ran off, albeit somewhat shakily. Odd. Perhaps it was the thought of my bristly top lip brushing the top off his coldsores during mouth to mouth that managed to ‘revive’ him. Who knows. But see, I received an email a few months ago warning me (and others, I’m not that important) about a fella who would pretend to be unconscious up until the point he heard you call an ambulance, then he’d fuck off like Usain Bolt. No attempt at nicking your stuff, no rudeness or threatening behaviour, just lying prone, pretending to be unwell, then shooting off. I didn’t think anything more of it until it happened personally to me.
The reason I mention this is because it happened again today. Sort of. As I was walking back to the car, I noticed someone lying on the ground. Everyone walking past him – probably a good twenty or so people, despite him lying right in their way. I actually had to umm and aah a moment before I went to help, but luckily, someone got there ahead of me. They wrapped him up in a coat, and I took my leave. I’d be interested to know whether it was just another scam. What I can’t understand is the people who walked past. Now look, I’m a realist, I know some people are out to scam and others are unpredictable and wild, but for goodness sake, surely we’re not at the point where we can’t give a prone body lying in the street the benefit of the doubt? I actually saw two people step over his legs like he was rubbish. Maybe he’s done it to them before, maybe they’d been warned, or maybe it was some poor sod taking a bad reaction to god knows what. Made me feel a bit sad, though. Still a human being.
Eeeh well. I feel better for getting that off my chest.
Speaking of my chest, it’s looking a bit smaller than ever…
Ah yes! Considering we were aiming to lose 2lb a week, we’re quite happy with how this is going, thank you very much. Unusually, Paul lost more than me, but I put that down to the fact I had two pints of Guinness yesterday. Tsk. Paul got his half stone award, I’m 2lb away from a stone award. We’re doing well – that cock thermometer will be spurting in no time!
Tonight’s recipe, then – easy peasy beef curry. We had a pack of the beef chunks left over from our Musclefood box and this seemed like an appropriate place to use them. I do love a curry, but if you don’t like it super spicy, don’t worry – just leave out the chilli pepper and use the mildest chilli powder you can find. Or even leave it out, give that a try. This serves four, very easily.
I can’t begin to tell you how sick I am of slow cooker week. Everything tastes the bloody same! I appreciate it’s convenient, I appreciate that it probably saves money, I understand that it saves time…but for goodness sake, I feel like I’m in a Wiltshire Farm Foods advert. And let me tell you, if that was the case, I’d give Ronnie bloody Corbett a smack on the chops because I find his hamster-like face upsetting and the fact that he’s hawking mush to old ladies for a vastly-overinflated price to be quite infuriating. Plus he’s got eyebrows like a seventies porn vagina. No, I like my food to have texture – most of the meals to come out of the slow cooker have less structural integrity than a passing fancy. I’ll rattle one more recipe for you tonight and then it’s back to business – proper bloody food that requires a working set of teeth to get through. As a rule, the only meals you’ll need a straw for going forward are the vodka-and-lemonades that Paul and I sometimes swap our dinner for.
Where have I been anyway? Who are you, my mother? I can tell you’re not because you’re not asking me to fix your iPad. No, the ear pain I mentioned last week became a cheery infection and knocked me for six. For four days it felt like I had been kicked in the head by a pissed off horse. It was all I could do to stay in bed demanding ice-cream and comfort from poor Paul, who had to take over all the duties within the house. Actually, he does them anyway, just this time with me being ill he wasn’t allowed to complain about it. The poor bugger. He’s a trooper though and I don’t give him his dues often enough. LOVE YOU DEAR.
So what’s been happening this week? I managed to get into a proper argument with some pallid-faced swamp donkey on facebook who tried to peddle her Juice Plus shite in my group. She private messaged me to tell me that the fact I’d deleted her snake-oil post told her that I hate women and people who try to make a go of themselves. Honestly – I could eat a tin of alphabet spaghetti and shit out a better argument than that. I don’t hate women (except Mylenne Klass…and I don’t hate her, she just makes my skin shiver) and I’m all for entrepreneurship, but as well you all know, I can’t bear the idea of vulnerable folk being duped into buying worthless, untested medicines on the scientific advice of a hairdresser from Worksop. What I can’t get my head around is the fact PEOPLE FALL FOR IT. Why?! I can understand folks who are seriously ill buying a pill in the vain hope of it helping, but spending hundreds of pounds just to shift a bit of weight? Bah! Are these the same people who buy laptops from a car boot sale and get them home to unwrap a cardboard box full of bricks? Or the people who get an unsolicited phone-call from Microsoft telling them they need to buy antivirus software at a cost of two bajillion pounds? Honestly. How do these people sleep at night? Penniless, I presume. Anyway, the argument rumbled on for ages, with Juice Plus curing her of depression, suicidal thoughts, liver disease, tennis elbow, easy living and fast cars (apparently it didn’t cure her of her verbal diarrhoea or dirty mouth), until I copied our chat in with the Juice Plus representatives and left it at that. I know nothing will come of it because Juice Plus is a dishonest pyramid scheme sold by numpties and dolts, but meh, made me feel better.
Now, my next piece is going to feel like an advert for Amazon Prime, and well, although I’m going to stick a link on the bottom, this isn’t really an advert at all. Just an observation. Paul and I are members of Amazon Prime, and have been for a very long while. I can’t remember the last time I paid for it because every time something is late, they stick an extra month on the membership. We’ve become accustomed to ordering something on a whim and having it turn up the next day, which is handy as it gives us no time for buyer’s remorse. Hence the cat tower. Hence the all-in-one breakfast sandwich maker. Hence the shit-you-not Teasmade. A bloody Teasmade, I ask you – I don’t even drink tea in the morning. I don’t get out of bed unless I’m having a palpitation just from smelling my morning coffee. Anyway, we got a little email the other day with the news that Amazon Prime Now has launched in Newcastle. What is it? You order something on Amazon, and it’s delivered within two hours for free.
Well fuck me. The only thing from turning Paul and I into perfect spheres with weak ankles is our inability to muster up the energy to drive to ASDA of an evening to buy ice-cream. Now it’s delivered by Amazon within enough time for Paul and I to have quick marriage-friendly nookie, make tea and watch Emmerdale. It’s too convenient. It’s not without flaws, though. You can only select from a range of groceries and flimflam via their App, which is proper hokey. I put ‘dip’ into the search box and it suggested some taramasalata, tzatziki and er, industrial strength cat-nip. One whole kilogram of the stuff. A kilo of cat-nip delivered within two hours! Unless you’re fighting a fucking tiger in your box-room, who the hell needs that? Nevertheless, we persevered and placed an order full of Slimming World friendly things – the usual Haagen Daaz, Goodfellas pizza and bags of Skittles. Look, we had to spend thirty quid, and I wasn’t going to spend it on bloody quinoa. I bet Mags is sucking on a Bensons and Hedges quite furiously with the thought but you know, I’ve got to let my (apparently Geography-teacher-esque) hair down.
What followed was a tense 80 minutes where we watched, in real-time, our order being picked from somewhere on an industrial estate in Gateshead – all terribly exciting. When the screen updated to show ‘MARK’ had picked up our order and was beetling up the A1 to our house, well, we were agog. It’s a bloody miracle, technology. We had it on the big TV in our living room like the shittest, cheapest version of 24 you can imagine. The whole process fell down at the end though, because the driver turned onto our street and spent five minutes trying to find our house. I’ll give you a clue, mate – it’s the only one that’s not attached to any others, plus we were flashing the lights from green to red whenever he backed his van out of sight. The groceries were all nicely chilled and the ice-cream was spot-on. It took eighty eight minutes from beginning to end, and that includes 5 minutes of the driver being unable to find the only house in the street to be named after a sexual consequence.
Would I recommend it? Yes. Amazon Prime is amazing, anyway, if you’re a big Amazon shopper. Yes it costs £79 a year but you get plenty of perks with it. Plus, you can always sign up for a trial and then cancel. But don’t forget to actually cancel. Otherwise you’ll be one of those turds who complain about getting money taken out of your bank account for something you’ve asked for. This two hour thing is dangerous for Paul and I though – we already dish out way too much of our monthly pink-pound disposable income to Amazon – I can’t help feeling that eventually I’m going to be paying them my wages direct and they’ll be sending a box van of goodies every month, probably branded Amazon Instant, with a picture of a smiling man sucking the pound coins from my pocket on the side. Ah well. If you did want to try it, you can do so here.
I still can’t believe it. I’m easily impressed, but jesus, Amazon stuff delivered within two hours for nowt. I remember ordering pornography online back when we first got the internet and actually taking time off from school just to sit by the letterbox for about two weeks in case my father accidentally opened my post and wondered who the hell had sent him RUGBY CUM BATH 2: SCRUM, BUM AND ORAL FUN on DVD. I might have made that title up but you get the drift. I feel I should hasten to say that my parents weren’t lax when it came to supervising my internet security…I was just better at it. Honestly, you parents out there who think the kids can’t access what they want on the internet, you’re so wrong.
Finally, Paul, being a sod and knowing I didn’t have the iPad with me on my commute into work on Friday, started streaming Enya’s new album through the car speakers. Yes, I could have turned it off, but then I have to listen to myself swearing at people and I shame myself, so I left it on. Jesus, how does she do it? It’s like she records one song and then changes the key, layers it on top of another song, and plays it backwards. She’s the aural equivalent of a malfunctioning self-checkout. An ex of mine used to be absolutely obsessed with her, almost to the point of being unable to come without me whispering LET THE ORINOCO FLOW in his ear as we made love. I say made love, he was a means to an end, so let’s not romanticise it too much. Anyway, I spent most evenings at the age of seventeen being forced to smile politely as he showed me the Irish tinker caterwauling her way through videos that looked like something even a gap-yah student would deem too pretentious. Christ it’s no wonder I’m so mentally fragile.
Let’s do the chicken coconut curry. I actually typed cocknut curry there. I can’t decide whether that actually might look better.
Where to start? Firstly, if you’re here for the recipe, have a good scroll down and you’ll find a recipe for good old mushy pea curry, which although it does look like someone’s already eaten it for you, is tasty, cheap and slimming. Trust me. If you’re here for the long haul, enjoy the first part of my rambling about our recent few days away in Ireland…
You may remember me mentioning that we had no plans and were planning a last-minute holiday away wherever we could find a cheap deal to a decent place? Well let me tell you – don’t bother. The only available flights were to places which you just know will be full of bald English men with red shoulders reading The Sun and eating full English breakfasts at 4pm. Bleugh. I don’t like flying – the thought of flying somewhere with such little reward just ruled going abroad at last-minute completely out. So, the night before we set off, we booked a holiday cottage in the absolute middle of nowhere in the Ring of Kerry, Ireland, and at 5pm the next day our car was packed, Paul had been picked up and we were on our way in no time at all. I normally hide away the sat-nav for reasons below but intrigue got the better of me as to how far I had to drive and the sat-nav was plugged in and on the dash within ten minutes.
Sat-navs are great in principle but I always end up putting mine sulkily away in the glove box after approximately five minutes. We bought a proper fancydan version in the sales but see, I hate being told what to do when I’m driving and struggle with the authority it commands in the car. I always have good intentions of listening to it and indeed, it’s never failed to guide us where we need to go, but I still have an inherent distrust and because Paul always sides with the sat-nav, it causes arguments. Plus, it only has two male voices, Daniel and Kevin. Kevin is a sarcastic knobhead so he immediately gets turned off but Daniel has been upgraded to this weird breathy version who almost whispers the commands at us like some robotic milk-tray man. I don’t know how appropriate it is to have a semi whilst clumsily navigating around the Bangor ring-road but there you have it.
We arrived in Bangor at around ten and, due to being full of wine gums and other sweets, went straight to bed. We’d elected to stay at a Premier Inn but this is always a mistake – not because they’re uncomfortable, quite the opposite actually – I’ve always had a great night’s sleep at a Premier Inn – but rather I spend all night scheming and plotting about how I might make my money back under their ‘Guaranteed Good Night’s Sleep’ promise. The problem with that is, I’ve always found the staff so nice and disarming that I immediately become charming and submissive and don’t dare mention any perceived problem with the room. Bah. We sped down towards Holyhead in the morning and we were at the dock in plenty of good time to sit and wait in the gales and mist before it was time to board the ferry.
Oh! Before I carry on with the tale, let me mention Paul’s idea of breakfast. As we didn’t have time to hoover up an all-you-can-eat-breakfast at the Premier Inn, I bustled him into Holyhead ASDA with the direction of getting a breakfast snack for us. This is what he came back with.
Haway. In case you can’t make it out, it was a little packet which contained a cheesestring, a wrap so dry I could have shaved my three-day-stubble with it, a sachet of knock-off tomato ketchup and (unlike in the picture above, which I’ve nicked from somewhere to illustrate my post) some sliced rolled chicken. It was unspeakably vile. I opened the packet and I swear it hissed when I pulled the lid back. The car smelt like someone had shit out a corpse on the back seat. We got fifty yards down the road before I pulled over and Paul, now with a considerable flea in his ear, had to dispose of the ‘meal’ in the nearest bin. Honestly Holyhead, get your act together. I had tears in my eyes as we drove past McDonalds to the ferry port, let me tell you. Anyway…
You know what I love about the English? The very second they perceive anyone to be at any sort of advantage to them, they start bitching – and this is compounded if they’ve paid extra. Let me explain. Paul and I paid an extra £10 each way on the ferry to be given priority boarding, disembarkation (is that a needlessly clumsy word or what) and access to the Stena lounge. It is the ferry equivalent of first class and we only bought it because the seats in the lounge looked moderately comfortable and there was promise of free snacks. Accordingly, when we drove into the port, we were asked to drive into one of two ‘Premium’ lanes. We parked up and had the windows down only to hear the whisker-faced woman, putting the Tena in Stena Line, in the Audi (shock! horror!) to my right immediately start bitching to her husband that ‘they had paid extra’ and ‘why where we in the second premium lane and they weren’t’ blah blah. He looked amazingly henpecked. She went on and on and on about the perceived injustice of people boarding ahead of her and only stopped when I put my window back up and we both started laughing at her. I think her mood soured further when we did indeed board first – a whole lane ahead of her – and I gave her and her watery-eyed husband a dainty handwave as we drove past. Stupid old mare that she was – it’s not as if those in Premium were going to sailing over on the fucking QE2 and the rest of the passengers were sailing on a floating door.
Once we were loaded onto the ferry, we dashed up the stairs to be the first couple into the ‘Stena Plus’ lounge. Part of the ‘premium’ booking is access to this lounge which is controlled by a surly miss and a set of glass doors. We had to give our surname and were ushered in to avail ourselves of the free snacks, which consisted of those little packet of shortbread that you get in cheap hotels and a few cans of Diet Coke. There were some bottles of wine available for those who were already shaking and slurring at 9am in the morning, plus tea and coffee. Once they had allowed all of the steerage passengers onboard and shut them behind the metal gates, we were on our way.
And good lord, what a crossing. We were warned by the captain (via the ship’s loudspeaker, not personally – I mean we’d only paid an extra tenner and that had to cover the forty cans of Pepsi that I’d secreted away into my rucksack) that the crossing was going to be rough due to the strong winds and turbulent seas, and he wasn’t kidding. The Stena Plus lounge is situated at the front of the ferry and the waves were cresting over the top of the prow as it bobbed up and down. It was awful – it was all I could do to eat my cooked breakfast and fret about whether I’d put the handbrake on, envisioning my car rolling around on the car deck and the weight of our car-snacks causing a frightful Herald of Free Enterprise incident. It was a long four hours – I spent most of it snaffling snacks and gambling in the arcades. Oh and another moan! If you have kids, you don’t automatically have the right to use any machine you want or to have people who are altogether more sensible than you to get out of the way just so your crusty-faced little shitmachine can ‘have a go at driving’. I know, awful, but some pompous little knobhead with a bristly-little tache and his child took a look into the arcade, saw Paul and I playing Mario Kart Arcade Edition and said to his child ‘DON’T WORRY DARLING, YOU’LL BE ABLE TO HAVE A TURN ON THESE KIDS MACHINES WHEN THESE FULLY GROWN MEN HAVE FINISHED’. Honest to God, fully grown men. It was all I could do not to pick up his child and toss him into the Irish sea. I wouldn’t mind but we all know that children don’t actually play the machines, they just sit making silly noises and taking up space. Frankly, parents should be made to lock their children in the car and they can spend the ferry crossing on the car-deck, well out of the way. The ferry journey passed, eventually.
Now we managed to get all the way to the Ring of Kerry via Holyhead, a ferry and seemingly eight years of twisty roads absolutely fine and without incident, and we were a mile away from our cottage when it all went wrong. We arrived at the right ‘area’ and that’s where we were told to switch off the sat-nag (typo intended) and open up the owner’s own directions which would guide us merrily to our cottage in enough time to get the hot-tub going and allow us an hour to flick disdainfully through her CD collection and make snide comments about her glassware.
Well, did they fuck. For a start, she had worded the directions as though as we were in Lord of the Rings, all ‘go over the brow of the hill and make a turn (which direction? which hill?)’ and ‘drive on until you feel a chill’. They were crap. You need to understand how remote the area was – imagine in the pitch black trying to find a remote cottage with not so much as a blinking light anywhere to be seen. It took us three hours – THREE HOURS – of steaming around the countryside along farm tracks screaming and swearing at the perceived injustice of it all. I like to think what the poor horse in the field nearby thought of it all when he saw our car appearing over the crest of a hill for the eightieth time and the last few syllables of a swearing tirade against the Irish, Tom Tom, cottages, Citroen, Enya and Guinness as we sped past. No wonder he got his revenge later in the holiday (that’ll be in part 2).
Completely lost and on the verge of driving the car into a peat bog and setting it on fire, we found an isolated little cottage with a light on and knocked on the door. Now imagine that. You’re a lady, alone, cooking your evening meal, when two burly bald blokes come mincing up your track and braying on the door asking for directions to ‘Cum Bag’ (which was our approximate pronunciation of the name of the cottage, which was in Gaelic). The poor lass probably thought she was starring in her own Vera adventure. She took an age to find directions but eventually, helpfully, she sent us on our way. Buoyed with confidence, we shot off and within five minutes we’d taken another wrong turn, driven the car up a forty-five degree incline into a farmer’s field and were left spinning the car around in the mud in the pitch black, with Paul outside of the car bellowing directions on where I should reverse and me unable to hear him as I was revving the engine so hard out of sheer, unadulterated anger. Haha. Just to add a cherry on top of this my reverse sensors were blaring away making out there was an obstacle behind me until we realised it was mud on the sensor.
Aaah. We headed back to the road, sulked for a good fifteen minutes and then decided to go back to the start and try following her directions one final time. We were at the cottage, parked up and steaming, within ten minutes. God knows how, why or what we were doing wrong, but we managed it without a hitch. I was fizzing and it seems like a good point to stop the tale and move onto the recipe…
Mushy pea curry. Yes, I know, it sounds revolting, but most people will eat a chickpea dahl and this is quite like that. I’ve added chicken, somewhat unnecessarily, but that’s me all over. It’s syn free and you’ll be able to get a good few chapters of my book completed as you sit on the thunderbox firing this out for the next two weeks.
to make mushy pea curry, you’ll need:
two tins of mushy peas, one tin of baked beans, a few mushrooms, a tin of chopped tomatoes, two onions, three garlic gloves (minced), a chicken breast, a red pepper, 1tsp of hot chilli powder and two tbsp of curry powder, as hot as you like. You’ll also need a decent pan. You’ll also need a drop of oil and some salt.
For the rice, you’ll need long-grain white rice. Duh.
cut the chicken up into small pieces and the mushrooms into slices
put the tiny drop of oil into the pan and chuck the onion, mushroom and peppers in there with a bit of salt, and on a medium heat, leave them to sweat down a little
after ten minutes or so, pull maybe a quarter of the onion/pepper out and set it aside in a dish – you’ll use this for your rice;
throw the chicken into the hot pan and cook it hard and fast on a high heat;
now throw in everything else (bar the rice and the quarter of the onion mix, obviously) and mix well – leave it to simmer for half an hour or so
for the rice, add a cup full of rice (literally a cup full – take a cup out of the cupboard, fill it with rice, tip that into a pan with the onion/pepper you set aside, using the same cup add two cups of water into the pan, bring to the boil, turn it down to simmer and leave it for around fourteen minutes – covered with a tight-fitting lid – on a gentle simmer. Tasty, fluffy rice