pina colada cheesecake – syn free too!

Do you like pina colada cheesecake, and walks in the rain? Well shut up. There’s a cracking recipe coming up from the lovely Rebecca – but first…over to another competition entrant with what I believe is one of the best stories you’ll read this year. Originally posted in our Facebook group to rapturous support, it’s one of those stories that will make you smile, with a sweet little twist at the end. Over to Andie…


I shall try and keep this brief, but it’s kinda hard to fit about four decades of being transgender, doing nothing about it and then doing EVERYTHING about it into a few sentences.

So, in a nutshell, I’ve known I was trans since I was six or seven. I’m now 44. I went through my teens, 20s and early 30s thinking I was not quite a transsexual but much more than a crossdresser. I had no plans to transition – I was far too scared.

By my mid-30s, the feelings began to grow and, by the time I was 40, it was clear I wasn’t happy living my life as a “bloke” anymore.

So I began to evolve slowly, wearing more feminine but rather androgynous clothes and shoes, getting my eyebrows waxed, shaping my fingernails. Little things. Every time I took another step, I’d tell myself that was the final step. But, ha ha, then I took another and another, such as laser on my facial hair (now long gone) and treatments to bring back my head hair (I was as bald as a Chubby Cub this time last year!)

JAMES OBJECTION: not bald, just smooth. There’s a difference!

I started using phytoestrogens – plant-based estrogens – to give me a bust. All they gave me was a deep vein thrombosis. I could easily have died. And I joined Slimming World. I was overweight and wanted to lose 5st. I wanted a more female body and figured that, if I was slim, that would be a good start.

I did well, losing 4st 3lb. I caught the Body Magic bug, too. I started cycling, beginning with 30-mile charity bike rides and then going further and further. I’m now doing 300k rides and do my first 400k in September. And, after my DVT, I decided that, if I was going to tweak my hormones, I needed to do it properly. So I asked my GP for a referral to my local gender clinic. That was three years ago. And so began a long process of waiting, counselling and blood tests.

Two years ago, I won my group’s Man of the Year title.

While it was lovely to win an award voted for by the other members, I also felt like a massive fraud because I’ve never truly felt male.

I came out to my group a few weeks ago and, a week later, turned up “en femme” for the first time. The support I received was incredible – both from my consultant and all the other members – even the rugby-playing, pint-swigging blokes. No judgment – just love.

Then I was nominated for Woman of the Year. Just to be nominated meant the world to me. I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d win the title. But, last Thursday, I did win. I was in total shock – I still am!

I put photos of my Man of the Year and Woman of the Year wins on the Two Chubby Cubs Facebook group with a little write-up – and was astounded by the love I received from the members – almost 2,300 “likes”, and hundreds of comments – every single one of them positive. Thank you so much, everyone! A couple of other trans Slimming World members got in touch, too, so I hope reading about my journey can somehow inspire them.

Not only was it great to win an award voted for by members of the group I’ve been attending for over four years but it felt like I was being accepted and validated. And that was an incredible feeling because I’ve had a fair bit of transphobia in my time, from blokes on the streets laughing at me to pure hatred from transphobic rad-fems on Twitter.

It’s not been easy, and it won’t be easy. Being trans meant I lost my long-term girlfriend – and then my fiancée. I’ve lost a couple of friends. I’ve also had the reaction from my family to deal with!

But I don’t regret for a second coming out and starting my transition. It’s still early days – I only started my HRT three months ago – but feel a damned site happier having done so, and I know I won’t get to old age sitting in an armchair as an old bloke, sad, bitter and full of regret.

If you want to know more, see my blog, http://andiepasdedeux.com, or follow me on Twitter, https://twitter.com/andiepasdedeux, or Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/andiepasdedeux


I know what you’re all thinking – I’d be muttering under my breath about the fact she has two stickers too. FOAMING HUN. Isn’t that the best story though? I welled up a little reading it – any story about a positive transformation is a winner in my book. I encourage you to look through the blogs and the twitter and support Andie! Meanwhile, ding ding: competition entrant time!

And now, double-whammy, time for a recipe entry too! I’ve been reassured that this piña colada cheesecake doesn’t taste of eggs, sadness and sweetener. If it does, don’t worry, I have her email address, I’ll sharp sign her up for emails about fisting. Pervert.

pina colada cheesecake

pina colada cheesecake

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pina colada cheesecake

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 8 slices

You make the base first, then follow it up with a topping. Sounds like the way most of my Saturday nights turn out. Now listen here, I know you lot can be frightfully judgemental, but the chickpeas thing works well - remember, there's such a thing called chickpea flour!

Yeah, you should probably syn the grilled pineapple if you're a SW rule-follower. And possibly syn the blended chickpeas. But then you should do a lot of things and you don't, do you?

The beauty of this is that you can make it for taster night, then take them a packet of grapes and eat it yourself. Always thinking ahead. Note it requires an overnight chill.

Ingredients

  • tin of drained chickpeas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp truvia
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pot of 0% activia vanilla yogurt
  • 1 large tub of Muller light Greek style coconut and vanilla yogurt
  • 1 small pot of quark
  • 1 package of gelatine crystals/powder
  • 10 drops of coconut flavouring
  • chunks of pineapple with the edges blowtorched to look pretty

Instructions

  • make the base by blending the chickpeas and eggs in a blender and pour into a loose bottomed cake tin and bake at 120 degrees for around an hour, it should be a dark golden brown on top, don't worry if it puffs up a bit like a cake, it'll sink back down when you cool it, a few cracks on top are ok too
  • soak the gelatine in 4 tbsp of cold water for 10 minutes then warm the mixture up to dissolve the gelatine
  • then mix with all the other ingredients until you have a smooth liquid - I find it easier if everything is at room temperature
  • pour over the cooled cheesecake base and let it set overnight in the fridge
  • decorate with chunks of pineapple that you've blowtorched to full effect
  • lovely!

Notes

  • a blowtorch in the kitchen is never a bad thing to have - though we just use my cigar lighter because I'm so butch (this is James writing, to be clear) but look! You can have a lot of fun with this - who needs fingerprints?
  • technically, according to SW, you should syn the pineapple because you've heated it slightly. Because, as you know, adding heat turns it into a pineapple fritter.

Want more desserts? So demanding!

Tasty!

J

a proper old fashioned trifle – two ways to syn!

We had to make this – we’ve seen someone passing off a frozen yoghurt with crushed berries on the top as a ‘traditional trifle’. That’s about as much of a traditional trifle as I am confident around a fusebox / football discussion / vagina. Sometimes it feels like we’re screaming into the wind trying to encourage people to eat proper food, but nevertheless, here’s a rare beast: a twochubbycubs desserts. Yes, it has syns, but it’s easy to make, tasty and you know, proper food. Before we get there, two things:

  • wouldn’t normally stick an advert here but Amazon have a proper cracking deal on Morphy Richards soup-makers at the moment, including this £100 model down to £40. If you’re looking for one, now is the time to get it! Prices correct at the time of writing (18 March). Click for that – it’ll open in a new window!
  • and – this is also a holiday entry – boo – so if you’re here just for the food, click the button below and head straight there!

Yeah that’s right. Moany bag! Let’s do it.


 

click here for part one | click here for part two | click here for part three | click here for part four

The last time you left us we were getting pulled off by the police. In my imagination, because the officer looked like Javert’s lumberjack brother. I almost certainly would yield when we came face to face. BOOM: culture/anal reference right off the bat! We went to bed shortly afterwards (unaccompanied, sadly) and awoke the next day as fresh as a daisy. We ordered breakfast: croissant, coffee and amyl nitrates to bring me back round when they put the bill down, then off we went. For the sake of your eyes, we’re going to wrap up the two days left in Stockholm in one concise entry.

Museums

We spent the morning wandering about the Vasa Museum (a museum about a famous Swedish warship which was the best of its time, until it sank six minutes into its maiden voyage), the Nordiska Museet (a museum of Swedish history) and the Fotografiska, an art gallery. You know where we stand of those: usually eight steps away from the exit, moving swiftly. Don’t get me wrong, there were some interesting pieces to look at – there was a great exhibition of x-rays to gaze at and diagnose myself with (I knew my uterus was hurting, I just didn’t know why) and it gave me an always-welcome opportunity to stare disdainfully at people whose legs were thinner than my wrists and shoes more expensive than my car. Why do so many art aficionados always look so brittle? You’re not living in squalor in the Bohemian bedsits of 19th century Paris, love, have yourself a sandwich and fuck off.

We did find something a bit vag-esque outside though. Hence the faces. Also, Paul perfecting his Jayda Fransen face. Only, he’s not banned from Facebook, unlike that vile racist shitbit. Mahaha!

The Nordiska Museet was slightly more entertaining, not least because a lot of the exhibitions had buttons to press and TVs to gawp slack-jawed at in that uncultured fashion of ours. We know what we are. There was an exciting moment when Paul attempted to crawl through a small door made for a child only for his arse to catch on the frame of the door and wrench a good portion of it away. We made our excuses and left, with no-one around to witness our embarrassment.

The Nordiska Museet

We did get a chance to dress up, mind, and I think we can all agree that I make a Santa that you’d happily allow to empty his sack onto your best duvet cover, no?

See? And look, Paul makes a sexy secretary elf!

You’ve never been wetter, have you?

Speaking of wetness, the Vasa Museum was an absolute bust. Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing that they managed to salvage and restore the boat, and it looks mightily impressive in the grand hall, but…OK, deep breath now…sigh…

…if I wanted to see an old, creaking wreck that resulted in the death of an immeasurable amount of seamen, one that was barely held together and had succumbed terribly to the harsh ravages of time, something that just didn’t work and was 95% rust and rot, something that appears preserved in time but smells of foist and rot…you’ve guessed it…

I’d go see Paul’s mother! Eh? You having that? Hello?

Eee she’s lovely really, you know, and I give her some awful stick on here – she was absolutely cracking as Zelda in Terrahawks, too.

After paying polite respects, we left.

Subway stations

You may laugh, but we spent the next three hours tootling about on the subway system taking pictures of the stations. Partly because we needed to rest our cankles but also because Stockholm’s subway stations are awash with art – some painted in very dramatic fashion, some stations themed, some looking like the entrance to Hell. It was terrific: cheap, fun and, rather unlike the Tyne and Wear Metro, we weren’t asked for a tab, money or used as a soft spot to rest a carving knife. It makes me realise that, as much as I love the UK, we could do everything so much better by spending a bit of money to make things a little less shit. The artwork on our Metro extends to some toerag writing INCH everywhere and PUT ARE CUNTRY FURST stickers left by spittle-lipped wankers. Stations, bar for a couple in the centre of Newcastle, are grey and dingy and threatening. Luckily, the Metro only runs for 5% of the time before being cancelled, so you get plenty of time to appreciate the squalor. Here’s three of our favourite Stockholm shots, and if you’re wanting to try it yourself, here’s a very handy guide to the best stations!

Fun fact: this is the exact same viewpoint as one of my sperm.

N3rdsbar

Cruising over, my phone suggested that we were near to a place called N3rdsbar – a videogame themed bar full of vintage games consoles you could actually play, Nintendo artwork and a toilet full of retro instruction manuals. Paul thought I had the shits when actually I was just finally figuring out how to get past Grimace’s Highlands in MC Kids. Anyone who disagrees with me that MC Kids was one of the best NES games out there can go burn in a fire.

Silly me, that’s not how you spell Count!

I’ve never felt more masculine in my life.

It was fantastic – they even had a full range of videogame themed cocktails, including a ladder of multi-coloured shots called Rainbow Road. Imbued with nostalgia and more than a little pissed, we put our card behind the bar and settled down for a game of Mario Party 2 on the N64, signalling for more drinks and shots and beer and wine and burgers whilst making the absolutely fatal error of not asking the prices and forgetting we were in Stockholm, where you get charged forty quid just to wipe your arse after a plop.

£310 later…

Yep. Not our proudest moment. A brilliant night though, only tempered with what happened next – we were just deciding what to do when my phone flashed up with a text from our lovely neighbours who look after our house – emergency! That’s all it said, with a short message asking me to give them a call. Naturally I start catastrophising – clearly the cat had been run over, or had somehow worked out how to get the chip pan out and start a fire. Perhaps we had been burgled – the thought of some rough scally running his fingers around in my underwear drawer usually gives me pause but not when I’m on holiday – but no, no notifications from our Nest alarm. I tried to call back but in my heavily drunken state couldn’t remember how to dial internationally, or indeed, how to form words consisting of more than strings of vowels and slurred Ss. When I eventually got through I was inconsolable and speaking gibberish (I was worried and drunk, be fair!) – my poor neighbour, it must have been like the calls Bryan McFadden still gets from Kerry Katona when there’s been a 25% discount at Oddbins. Eventually it transpired that our outdoor tap had burst in the cold and was spraying water everywhere, necessitating a quick call to my dad to establish what a stopcock was (do I look like someone who has ever said that word?) and then a second call to the previous owners of the house to find out where the stopcock was, then a third back to our neighbours who were dispatched to turn off the stopcock in our bathroom. The thought that Paul might have left a skidmark on the toilet before we flew to Stockholm that had been sitting baking for four days was enough to sober my mind and it was with that image that we decided to cut short our night out and head back to the hotel – we were flying to Oslo in the morning anyway, so perhaps a clear mind for international travelling would be wise.

As a side-note, we really do have excellent neighbours – well, the ones that look after our house, anyway. They’re like surrogate grandparents – I don’t think I’ve ever met a more cheerful woman and her husband keeps me in vegetables and stories. There’s still a few living near us who don’t speak to us even when we speak to them, but you can imagine how little that concerns me. Ignorance wears tan corduroy. Five years we’ve lived here and never been so much as a bother – we even employ a gardener just to keep our lawns short even though frankly, I couldn’t give a monkey’s jot what our garden looks like. Anyway…

We did, however, stop for hot-dogs on the way home.

I genuinely can’t remember the last time Paul looked at me like that.

Still, we were home in good enough time…

Night night!

We awoke the next day to absolutely wild weather – a proper winter storm. It was amazing – certainly puts our Beast from the East into keen perspective – it was like stepping into an untuned television. Would we get away to Norway? Were the trains running? Of course. Indeed, our fretting about whether or not we would be able to even get to Oslo in light of the heavy snow, blowing winds and freezing temperatures were relieved as soon as we got to Stockholm Airport and saw that not a single plane was showing as delayed. Very much business as normal. Now I’m not daft – I know that their infrastructure is designed to cope with harsh weather and ours isn’t, and I’m not going to be one of those curmudgeons who goes on about how we can’t handle snow…

…but at the same time, Newcastle Airport shuts up shop if someone so much as sneezes in Durham. Why? It was snowing that hard in Stockholm that we had to take a husky-ride with Santa just to get to the plane – which made a refreshing change from being packed into a tiny sweaty bus with two hundred other people, chewing your way through someone else’s armpit hair as you careen around the runway. Everywhere you looked there were bearded blokes in hi-vis jackets throwing snow about and bellowing at each other in some mysterious language. It was like an LSD-infused wet-dream for the both of us, and we almost missed our flight, so taken were we with the view from the window. We boarded with about three minutes to spare, with the Chief Flight Attendant giving us a look that would have emptied a lion’s cage. I gave her my best ‘but we’re British’ smile but she was having none of us, and ushered us to sit down.

Hejdå Sverige

Our plane – Norwegian Air – was clean, spotless and, more excitingly, came with free Wifi. I had managed to forget to download anything interesting to my phone and the thought of having to make polite conversation with Paul for an hour filled me with dread. I’m sure he felt the same. Paul’s role on the plane is to occasionally order me drinks and smile indulgently when I pick at his sleeve and ask him whether he thinks the chimes from the stewardesses means the cockpit is on fire or whether we’re making an unscheduled, atomised stop in Uzbekistan. The poor bugger spends so much time taking out his earphones and putting them back that his Radio 4 podcast sounds like the poshest dubstep ever. The flight was wonderfully smooth and we were descending into Oslo in no time at all. Quite literally: we seemed to go from about 33,000ft to being on the runway in the time it took me to put away my Camembert-ripe feet and do up my laces. Even the stewardess seemed surprised – she barely had time to finish her shave.

We were through security with all the brisk efficiency you expect from the Norwegian, and, one short train trip later, we were at our hotel. That’s an excellent place to leave not only our luggage but also this post – until we meet again…

…as an aside, what an absolute joy it was to jump countries: from hotel to hotel took us less than five hours, including the flight. If you’re looking at a Scandinavian trip, we heartily recommend Norwegian for internal flights – without luggage (we travel light) the flights were about £30 each and there’s a flight every hour. Can’t get vexed!

Seems like a good place to leave it!

REMEMBER FOLKS: we love feedback on the holiday entries! It makes my day! So please do leave a comment to gee us along!

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Right, the trifle then! We’ll give you two options here – the proper way and the lower syn route. We recommend the proper route – it’s tastier – but if you must, you can make some swaps for a lower-syn end result. But…

slimming world trifle

slimming world trifle

a proper slimming world trifle

Prep

Inactive

Total

Yield two bowls

If you're looking for something sweet at the end of a meal, have a Polo. But if you're still itching for dessert, make one of these dead easy trifles! Still well within your syns limit, they make a nice change from shattering your teeth on frozen yoghurts or trying to pretend your 'sponge cake' tastes of anything other than sweaty hot arse.

This makes two big bowls or, if you're fancy, serve them in a nice glass like we did.

Ingredients

Proper route:

  • a bag of frozen raspberries
  • two Tesco trifle sponges (7 syns)
  • one sachet of Hartley's sugar free jelly - we used raspberry (1.5 syns)
  • six tablespoons of light squirty cream (1 syn)
  • 200g proper custard (light) - (7 syns)
  • 10g of hundreds and thousands (2 syns)

That's a total of 18.5 syns - so for each trifle, just over nine syns. But it makes a big, proper dessert. Worth it!

But if you're worried about syns, you can drop it by either:

  • leaving out the sponge and replacing it with more fruit (-7 syns)
  • replacing the custard with banana and custard Muller yoghurt (-7 syns)

That brings each dessert to just two syns. But really.

Instructions

  • break up your sponge cake into tiny little pieces and line the bottom of your bowl with it
  • optional: you could drizzle on some creme de cassis if you wanted, 25ml is 3.5 syns!
  • build up a tight layer of frozen raspberries - pack them in so they can't roll about
  • make up your jelly and gently pour over the raspberries and sponge until it just covers the fruit
  • leave to set
  • top with custard (yes!) or Muller Yoghurt (booo), then the cream, then the hundreds and thousands

Enjoy!

Notes

Courses dessert

We don’t have a great amount of desserts to offer, but have a look…

J

proper dessert alert: the chubby cheesecake

Chubby cheesecake! Yes that’s right. I’ve been away and/or revising lately but here’s a cracking recipe to make up for it. It’s delicious and it’s made with decent ingredients and you’re not going to make it, taste it, hoy it in the bin and then drown yourself in eight full tubs of Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s ice-cream until your significant other finds you dead with a chocolate fish stuck up your nostril and marshmallow in your moustache. Yes, your moustache.

I’ve never considered SW desserts essential. They’re crude and unspeakably plain. You may remember we tried to make the ‘delicious’ half-syn roulade a couple of years ago, with the end result being something I wouldn’t use to wipe my cat’s arse with. There seems to be a fundamental belief that by stirring a sack of sweetener into a yoghurt you’ve suddenly created tiramisu that would make Jesus weep. It just doesn’t work.

Here’s the thing. You’re never going to get a diet dessert that doesn’t taste like arse unless it’s fruit. You’re going to have to spend some syns to get something halfway between ‘full diet’ and ‘full fat’. Fat-light, if you will. With this in mind, we took our favourite dessert – the cheesecake – and researched ways to make it lighter without using sweetener and tears. Cheesecake is normally made with buttery biscuits on the bottom. Delicious, buttery biscuits. The filling is usually full fat cream cheese and sugar. The end result is perfection. So how to cut that down? Bake it. A decent, stodgy, slightly wibbly-wobbly cheesecake with a crunchy bottom and lots of taste. Yep, it has syns, but not that many per portion – and we found that this actually serves well as a ‘breakfast’ cheesecake in the morning, so have a slice for breakfast.

Before we get to the recipe, though, why not have a quick gander at this flowchart to see if you’re ready?

Yes, it’s all so clear now! OK, let’s not fart about for a moment more. To the Chubby Cheesecake! We owe a debt of gratitude to rachelcooks.com for the original recipe which we’ve bastardised and made our own – hers is an excellent website if, like us, you’re looking for decent food as opposed to slop. We’re calling it chubby because, like Paul, it wobbles gently when you put your finger in it. This makes nine servings. Nine! 

to make a chubby cheesecake, you’ll need:

for the base

  • 160g of bog-standard oats (4 x HEB) (hence using this for breakfast!)
  • 25g of butter (gasp!) (9 syns)
  • 25g of sugar (brown makes it crunchy but white is fine) (5 syns) (nurse! NURSE!)
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of milk

for the filling

  • 600g of cottage cheese (fat free)
  • 200g of fat-free Greek style yoghurt (the thick stuff) (ooer missus) (slut)
  • two tablespoons of maple syrup (4 syns)
  • 3 large eggs
  • couple of drops of vanilla essence

for the swirly bit

  • tablespoon of honey (2 syns)
  • pinch more of cinnamon

BUT I DON’T LIKE COTTAGE CHEESE OMG I HATE YOU.

Shut up. You can’t taste it. It adds the creaminess without getting you blue-lighted to hospital with grey lips. You’ll barely be able to know it is there. But if you hate cottage cheese, you mustn’t feel like you need to leave us a comment telling us. We get that all the damn time. Substitute something else in. Quark. Extra-light Philadelphia. Cocaine. Whatever makes it worth for you.

You’re also going to need an eight-inch square deep cake tin. Something like this. Oh and a blender – we use our super-fancy Magimix but then we would. Have a look and tell me you wouldn’t want that in the kitchen. But listen, a bog-standard stick blender will do the job just as well.

Final point, if you make this with vanilla essence, it’ll be lovely. However, I’m not a fan of vanilla, so I used custard flavouring from Lakeland. It makes it taste like a dirty big egg custard. Feel free to mess with the flavours and make it exactly how you like. Christ, I’m going to have a nosebleed soon if I don’t get on with it.

to make a chubby cheesecake, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line the cake tin with non-stick baking paper
  • mix together all the base ingredients with the melted butter and press it right down into the bottom of the tin – really push it down
  • into the oven it goes for a good fifteen minutes – you don’t want the base to burn but you do want it to crunch up a bit (it’ll soften again with the topping on, so this is a good way to stop it getting too mushy – and actually, it tastes lovely mushy too)
  • whilst that is baking, hoy all the filling ingredients into a food processor or a bowl and blend the buggery out of it – you want it smooth, mixed and lovely. We use lovely big farm eggs so it goes a golden yellow
  • out comes the cake tin, pour the filling over the top
  • get yourself a little sandwich bag and pour the honey and cinnamon into a corner of it – mush it together with your hands and then cut off a tiny bit of the corner, allowing you to drizzle it all over the top of the cheesecake
  • I’m not artistic so I just allowed it to drop all over the place
  • into the oven for a good forty minutes – you want it to stop being jiggly in the middle
  • take it out and allow to cool completely before cutting it up into nine bars
  • enjoy!

If you want to serve it like us, heat some raspberries up, lightly break them up and pour over the top. The cheesecake is stodgy enough to take the tartness of the fruit. This keeps well in the fridge in a sealed container and yes, does lovely for a bit of breakfast!

Want more dessert ideas other than this chubby cheesecake? Why not? Click the buttons and live!

breakfastsmallsnackssmall dessertsmallslowcookersmallovernight-oatstastersmall

J

cranachan – a perfect Slimming World dessert that totally isn’t overnight oats

Cranachan? Yes, that’s right, it sounds like something you’d rub on an irritated cha-cha but it’s not! It’s lovely. But first: nonsense.

In what I’m sure is karma for eating naughty synned things, I’ve just knocked an entire Sherbet Fountain across my glass desk, into my keyboard, into my mouse, onto my monitor – great! Everything is going to be sticky and covered in white streaks for months now – or well, until the cleaner comes. She’s going to think I’ve got one hell of a coke problem although Christ, she ought to know better – she’s ironed enough of my X²L shirts to know my body isn’t being ravaged by drugs. I expect the cat will be along later to sample the spillage and I’ll find her off her tits rolling around showing her minnie off to the neighbours. What fun we have.

Anyway, that’s a completely unrelated opening to what I’m going to talk about today, which is Scotland. Why? Because tonight’s dish is a bastardisation of a Scottish dessert which no doubt I’ll have some incoherent feisty Scot bellowing at me about and, more simply, I bloody love Scotland. If Paul and I could live anywhere in the world we’ve both agreed it would be Glasgow – Edinburgh is lovely, but I like a shade more menace when I’m ordering a crème de menthe in a social club. The accent is amazing – and that’s coming from a Geordie – everything sounds slightly angry and inquisitive but every single insult is hilarious. Even as simple as calling something mince – we have shite, but mince is perfect.

The landscape is beautiful – I love the fact you can trot anywhere in any direction and within an hour be somewhere completely different, not only in location but also feel, sound and sight. I’ve never had a disappointing trip up North and when we drive past the sign welcoming us to Scotland I’m always cheered, not least because I’m usually busting for a piss at this point and I know there’s a shitter in Jedburgh. Most of our holidays were in Scotland as a child, wild camping around the coast and enjoying many a summer having the first two layers of my skin chewed off by midges. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got midges down here and they’re a mild annoyance, but in Scotland they’re armed with knives. I remember my parents optimistically scanning their camping guidebook and selecting what sounded like a charming place somewhere near Glencoe. When we turned up, announced in advance as always by the spluttering engine of our car and the blue smoke pouring from both the exhaust and my parents nostrils, the place was an absolute dump. Literally, a dump: there were abandoned cars, old fridges, massive mud piles, the works. It was exactly the place where you just knew the car of the family who had arrived before you would be ablaze in a woods nearby with their skins hanging up in the owner’s living room. You could have crashed a plane into this campsite and improved it. Naturally, my dad dickered about the price for a bit and was all ready to set the tent up when my mum put her foot down and demanded we leave.

You know the worst thing? I’m fairly sure the place was called Red Squirrel and when I look at it now online, it looks bloody idyllic. Harumph. But anyway, enough reminiscing, I promised Paul this would be a super-quick post as he wants me to ped-egg his feet. We bought one of those fancy motorised versions so I’m fully expected to be diagnosed with popcorn lung from inhaling the microdust of his shaved feet for an hour.

Oh: as a final thought – we’ve never met a Scottish gay who hasn’t been hung like God was trying to give him a third leg and ran out of time before he put the foot on. I’m just saying. Is it something in the water? Goodness me!

So yes: cranachan. This Scottish dessert is usually made with double cream whipped thick, but alas, I reckon if I put that into a recipe it’ll be the very thing that tipped poor Mags back onto three bottles of Taboo a day. So – forgive me Scotland, I know not what I do – I’ve replaced it with Greek yoghurt. The rest of the ingredients remain though – whisky, honey, oats and raspberries. It’s like a fancy overnight oats recipe – one you might whirl out if you were trying to persuade your husband to give you a bit of the other. You could leave the whisky out, but it really is a key part of this, and it doesn’t overpower the dish so it’s absolutely worth doing. Up to you how you want to portion this out – up the oats, reduce the greek yoghurt, add more raspberries, or throw it all in the bin and have yet another Vienetta. I don’t mind! I saw cranachan on Come Dine With Me a while back and made a note to find a recipe – it’s thank to Caroline at Caroline’s Cooking for the inspiration. Let’s do this then – this makes enough for one big glass as shown below – scale up or down if you are making more or eating your dinner from a dustbin lid.

cranachan

to make cranachan, you’ll need:

  • 40g of oats – the better quality the better, like Quaker, but you can just use normal porridge oats if you like
  • a big handful of fresh raspberries
  • 100ml of thick Greek yoghurt – but make sure it is 0% fat and syn free (or as low as possible)
  • a teaspoon of honey (1 syn)
  • 25ml of whisky (3 syns)

We’re not massive whisky drinkers here at Cubs Towers so we just bought a tiny bottle of Haig Club, which I now know is David Beckham’s brand. I mean, how embarrassing. Now, there’s no easy way for me to link to Amazon in tonight’s post, so why don’t you just buy my new book instead? I promise it’ll make you laugh at least once. Promise.

to make cranachan, you should:

  • toast off your oats in a pan – they don’t brown, but you want them heated through so they smell nutty
  • crush your raspberries lightly with a fork – don’t mash them, whatever you do, god no – so that the juice runs a little
  • combine your yoghurt, oats, honey, whisky, raspberries and honey in a glass and stir, or if you prefer, layer it all in all fancy like
  • serve with a couple of raspberries on the top and some of the oats
  • lovely!

This was a lovely, filling, unusual dessert that is easily customisable to your tastes. It’s overnight oats but a bit more grown up and we loved it!

Looking for more dessert, drinks or snacks ideas? Click the buttons!

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J

rainbow peppermint meringues – taster night idea

Was it the mention of my rainbow peppermint meringues that brought you here? You’ll find them just below. But first, a word from old Gobshite McGee – me.

Oh, before we start, I haven’t put a plug in for our books for bloody ages. We have two! One is a full recount of our month long honeymoon in Florida so many moons ago and be found by clicking here – the other book is a massive, giant collection of all of our articles from the blog and can be found by clicking here. If you’ve read them and enjoyed them, I’ll dance at your wedding if you leave me a lovely review. Already married? Then unprotected anal it is.

Here’s an odd thing. There seems to be a rash of people posting pictures of themselves in dresses on facebook and then asking total strangers how they look, only with the caveat of ‘no nasty comments’ but ‘honest replies please’. How does that work? For a start, don’t ask strangers how you look because frankly, there’s too many arseholes out there who will be cruel just for the sake of it. But, if you are going to seek the validation of strangers you’ll never meet then at least be prepared to accept that some people will have different opinions and that they aren’t the Devil Incarnate for saying your dress is a bit tight under the gunt.

Personally, I couldn’t give a flying toss what people think I look like – I described my own body as looking like a landslide of hairy Trex just the other day – and it’s a very liberating place to be. I spent years hidden behind a giant black coat like the Scottish fucking Widow when I was younger because I was ashamed of my man-boobs and having to buy my school clothes from the adult section in BHS. But life’s too short to care – no-one ever, in the throes of death, turns to their loved one and says ‘yes, but Suzanne from Warrington thought I looked fab-hun-xox in my Primark bikini‘, after all.

That said, I did have a rather mortifying moment the other night when Paul, in his haste to get all of our holidays photos on Facebook, accidentally uploaded a completely nude photo of me getting into an outside bath in Cornwall which sat in our photo albums before the sound of retching from all around the North East finally reached us and I hastily deleted it. Not because I’m ashamed as such but really, I could do without my friends and co-workers knowing that my arse-cheeks look like someone stood on a pumpkin and rolled it in cat-hair.

Not that such privacy is everyone’s concern, though. I had to remove a couple of distant friends from my facebook because every nuance of their tedious lives was played out via passive aggressive memes, hospital check-ins and barely legible statuses about ‘standin on mi one agin’. The hospital check-in is the most baffling – big status about waiting in A&E or ‘PRAY FOR MY LITTLE MONIQUA-MARIELEIGH’ then, when people invariably comment asking what’s wrong (whts up hun??) they are either ignored or worse, the old ‘inbox uz hun‘. I hate it – mostly because it’s just attention-seeking, but also because I’m incredibly nosy and not finding out leaves me massively unsatisfied, like being interrupted by someone coming home unexpectedly just as you reach Batter Splatter Point. One for the gentlemen, that.

God, I miss the heady days of logging in and out of ICQ (3536698204, oh yes*) to get someone to notice you, or changing the MSN Messenger tagline to some kind of meaningful lyric to really show you meant business. Such innocent times indeed.

Anyway, enough reminiscing. I wanted to do something with a rainbow theme as it’s Gay Pride month and well, after my post last week was followed up by the absolutely awful events in Orlando, I thought it might be a nice idea. So many lives lost because some knobhead couldn’t handle the fact he liked a bit of cock. Great work, you callous shitbag. I hope the 72 virgins waiting for you are all rough, hairy powertops with vein-canes like those snake draught excluders nanas used to put under the door.

Actually, you know, it’s shit like that that reinforces what I was saying about not caring what others think of you – life’s too bloody short. You never know what’s coming round the corner.

OK. I have no idea how to segue onto my recipe here so let’s literally draw a line under this post.


There we go. Right, I’ve used this rainbow painting thing before to make macarons and they looked amazing, but saying as Margaret Elnett doesn’t like us having flour, I thought I’d swap it for the lighter meringue. Also, when I took a moment to look into making ‘lighter’ meringues I happened across a very unusual substitute for egg whites that I just had to try out – chickpea water! You know when you buy a tin of chickpeas from the supermarket and all the chickpeas are sitting in that weird pre-cummy chickpea water? Don’t slosh it down the drain – oh no – use it for this recipe!

Of course, if you wanted to, you can use egg whites. Also, I have a feeling that these could be made with Stevia or whatever that fine granulated sugar is and therefore possibly syn-free, but fuck that. If you’re reading this thinking OH MY GOD I COULD USE SWEETENER well, take yourself to the foot of the stairs because that won’t bloody work. They come out looking like loft insulation and taste like anus. Use your bloody syns – so much better to have a little bit of something good than it is to have a tonne of something disgusting. Not that some people take that on board given the amount of ONE-SYN LEMON MERINGUES I see that look like something I’d use to scrub the grout in the shower with. Anyway, sssh. The original recipe for the chickpea meringues came from another blog, right here, so credit to them!

rainbow peppermint meringues rainbow peppermint meringues

to make rainbow peppermint meringues, you’ll need:

  • 125ml of chickpea pre-cum (i.e. the water from the chickpea tin) (real name for this stuff is aquafaba, fact fans!) or the whites of three large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons of caster sugar (18 syns)
  • a teaspoon of lemon juice
  • a pinch of salt
  • a few drops of peppermint essence, but don’t go mad
  • food dyes (see my note below)
  • an icing bag or a strong sandwich bag
  • two trays with greaseproof paper cut to fit

This recipe makes around 40 little meringues so for the sake of argument, we’ll say that each meringue is half a syn each.

A couple of notes:

  • I didn’t actually use peppermint essence – I used two drops of rhubarb and two drops of custard flavouring that I had from my cupcake days – feel free to experiment but don’t add too much extra liquid in
  • this won’t work with liquid dyes, they’ll all run – you need gels. You can buy these from supermarkets but I buy mine online right here – they are used for colouring massive amounts of icing and are very strong – use sparingly!
  • you can use a hand mixer or a stand mixer (this is the beast we have – fancy, right?)

to make rainbow peppermint meringues, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 100 degrees celsius – you’re cooking low and slow
  • get a decent bowl out of the cupboard or your mixing bowl ready – make sure the bowl is absolutely spotless, dry and grease-free – if you’re not sure, cut a lemon in half and run it around the inside of the bowl before giving it a good dry – the meringue will not form if there’s even a speck of grease or wet on there
  • tip in the chickpea water / egg whites, pinch of salt, lemon juice and whatever flavour you want and start mixing until it starts looking foamy
  • add half the sugar and keep mixing until soft peaks form
  • add the rest of the sugar and keep mixing – it will take a while but eventually you’ll be left with thick, glossy white peaks that stay put even when you remove the mixers
  • the old trick is to hold the bowl upside down above your head which is fine if you want anyone passing to think you’re a bellend
  • put the bowl to one side and concentrate
  • before you start with the colours, get your trays, put a dab of meringue between each corner of the greaseproof paper and the tray just to hold them in place whilst they cook
  • get a large glass or something to hold your icing bag (because we’re careless with money and buy any old tat, we actually have an icing bag holder – right here – take a look so you know what I mean) – you want to make it so you can paint the inside with dye and then tip the icing in, so anything that will hold the bag open will do
  • using something like a long piece of uncooked spaghetti, dip into the different food dyes and paint a stripe of dye up the inside of the bag – not a massive stripe, just a thin stripe – then repeat with whatever colours you want to use, leaving space between the stripes
  • DON’T WORRY – it’ll look crap at this point, but the finished effect is great, just make sure the stripes are spread out and go as far into the bottom as you can
  • gently fill the icing bag with the meringue then lift out, cut the very tip off the bottom of the bag, twist the tip to stop it leaking out and to push the meringue down the bag
  • gently squeeze the meringue out – onto the trays in small, gentle dollops – finish each with a little flick of the wrist to get the peak, and remember to leave a bit of space between them, though they don’t need much
  • pop in the oven for an hour or so then after an hour, unless they are soft to the touch and need longer, just turn the oven off and leave them in there until they’re completely cool

Serve!

Listen, that recipe sounds complicated but it’s an absolute doddle – the key is to paint stripes on the inside of the icing bag (or sandwich bag, whichever you’re using), cut a tiny bit off the bottom and pipe. You’ll cock up a couple of them, so what? Don’t go too mad with the colour though – discreet swirls look better than a psychedelic pigeon shit splattered on a tray.

You can either save these for yourself (tasty!) or take them along to taster night and make poor Sandra from Warrington look ashen-faced as she puts her Slimming World quiche down next to your wonder!

For more taster or dessert ideas, click the icons below!

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Enjoy,

J

* not my ICQ number, so if ICQ is even still a thing, don’t be messaging some poor bloke in Utah asking how many syns are in a Hartley’s Jelly Pot. He won’t have a fucking clue!

low syn chocolate mousse

desserts! The tricky stage of any meal on a diet. Normally, Paul and I would keep it restrained, with maybe just a tub of Ben & Jerry’s each to slobber down as we shriek our way through some reality TV in our knickers. 500g of B&J Cherry Garcia is 37 and a half syns, which actually, isn’t TOO bad if you’re craving a massive sweet treat. But this low syn chocolate mousse also hits the spot.

Now, I’ve had a bad day today – full of sweets, and I was given my flu jab yesterday by someone who I’m not entirely convinced wasn’t Harold Shipman and who might as well have used a fucking bayonet, so my arm hurts. Paul however came to the rescue and made me chocolate mousse Slimming World style. I’ve marked it as 4 syns for the lot but it’s not even really that, as the recipe makes four servings with one option and a bit of cream, so you could fudge the numbers and go for 2 syns. But then, why cheat yourself when you can treat yourself? Christ, I just vommed.

to make low syn chocolate mousse, then:

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Two easy treats! If you’re being very good, the jelly is the way forward, and so easy to make. We buy bags and bags of the frozen fruits from Sainsburys – it’s a great way of upping your superfree for an easy finish! The chocolate mousse is equally as easy. You don’t need to fanny about putting it in a piping bag, but I think Paul wanted to use my fancy piping bag stand from Lakeland. Any excuse to ratch about in my baking cupboard! With thanks to Emma on the comments, the jelly is actually 1.5 syns a sachet, but divided between four pots means less than half a syn a jelly – so go for it!

Final question – does anyone know why cats go so mental if you place a strand of cooked spaghetti on their backs? Sola goes tearing around the house like she’s in riding around a wall of death. Mind, we’re having a bit of bother with both cats – Bowser keeps trying to get his end away but we cut off his space-hoppers when he was young, and Sola is having nothing of it and insists on trying to claw his eyes. But then we found them both snuggled up in an old shoebox this morning without a care in the world. They’re the Trevor and Little Mo of our street.

Anyway! Enjoy.

J