christmas clear out: saucy chicken noodles

Saucy chicken noodles if you don’t mind! I’m not convinced calling this little streak of recipes a Christmas clear-out was a good idea, you know. All it makes me think of is the Boxing Day strain – you know what I’m talking about. When you have to perform the equivalent of trying to drive a car made of meat through a hula-hoop. Anyway: straight to the recipe, and remember, we’ll be back in fighting form soon, just as soon as we’re done with the Personal Project!

Oh one thing! Did you know we have a facebook page? We do. You get regular recipe updates and it’s where we post all of our nonsense videos to boot. Make sure to sign up! Click here, it’ll open in a new window: www.facebook.com/twochubbycubs

The recipe, then…makes enough for two! We almost didn’t post this, it doesn’t look good in the photo, but you know, sometimes you just need a plate of noodles to get on with. Might not win any competitions but so. Get it down you!

chicken noodles

to make saucy chicken noodles you will need:

for the chicken:

for everything else:

  • 300g dried noodles
  • 3 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp honey (1 syn)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • pinch of white pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced (save your fingers!)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 small onion, quartered and then sliced
  • 2 spring onions, julienned
  • 2 chilli peppers, sliced
  • handful of basil leaves
  • 6 baby corn, quartered
  • 2 tsp mirin (1 syn)

Now I know that looks like a load of ingredients but most of it, you’ll have in the house or can pick up cheap in the supermarket. Don’t be alarmed!

to make saucy chicken noodles you should:

  • this doesn’t take long to cook, so it’s best to prepare everything first and keep close by
  • mix together the chicken marinade mix into a thick paste, and using your hands work it into the chicken chunks – set aside for about twenty minutes to marinade
  • cook the noodles according to the instructions, drain, and rinse with cold water. set aside.
  • in a small bowl, mix together the soy, fish and oyster sauce with the honey, 2 tbsp of water and white pepper – set aside
  • heat a large pan over a medium-high heat and add a little oil
  • add the chicken and stir frequently until cooked – removed from the pan and set aside
  • pour the mirin into the pan to deglaze
  • add the garlic and ginger to the pan and stir for about twenty seconds
  • add the onion, spring onions, chilli peppers, basil and baby corn and cook for about two minutes
  • add the noodles to the pan with the chicken and mix well – cook for another 1-2 minutes
  • serve

This is one of those recipes that looks complicated but do you know, once you have everything chopped and sliced, you can just chuck it in the pan and it makes itself!

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crispy chilli beef – well, sort of, because this is Slimming World after all

Crispy chilli beef! Yeah, kind of. Look you’re never going to replicate the chilli beef you get from the takeaway because they fry it in oil – like all delicious things – and obviously we can’t do that. But this is a good, tasty effort! Before we get to that, of course, Paul had the idea that he would like to bookend our Newcastle trip report with his views on the North East. I nearly died of shock – the poor sod never wants to write our posts – so who am I to complain? He’d love feedback and I hope his billet-doux leaves you satisfied and smiling. That said, if you’re not wanting to read, that’s fine – like I do for all the longer entries, I’m including a shortcut button for you. That’s right – this time just click on the GRUMPY NAG to go straight to the food.

I thought she’d never leave, you know? Someone should tell her about her moustache. You could use it to strain soup. Right, shall we get on?


part one | part two | part three | part four | part five | part six | part seven

It’s well-known on this blog that when James and I first met, we had a couple of dates and I, completely on a whim, moved straight to Newcastle to be with him. At that time I was living in the living hell that is commonly known as Portsmouth, renting a room in a mansion from a pair of sadomasochistic dungeon masters. I’m not even joking with that one, I’m actually surprised that story hasn’t made it into a blogpost yet.

The strangest thing for me though was that I never heard of anything coming out of Newcastle. No news, no excitement, nothing at all. All I knew of it was from Byker Grove and even then I was only giving it half my attention because there was no doubt a tin of Campbell’s meatballs in the microwave on the go for me. I knew it had Geordies (obviously) and some sort of past industrial history but that was it. Until that point, I made a promise (and my good friend Glenn reminds me of this often) that I would never live ‘in the North’. Don’t get me wrong – I’m probably the most common person you’ll ever meet and absolutely not a snob, but I just had this vision in my mind of unrelenting grey skies, rusting machinery everywhere and misery.

How pleasantly surprised I was then when I actually visited the place. It absolutely astounded me. For my first journey up we got the train; I remember getting off and seeing this little scale model of the city on a plinth just outside the entrance. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was lit up and everything. I thought maybe it’d been dropped by the planning department and should probably keep off it, but no – it was art. It was public art! Just something small and insignificant and probably ignored by most people who walked past it but I was genuinely speechless. This might all sound very over-the-top and dramatic but I promise it’s true. See, I grew up in a place called Peterborough which, except for a big ass cathedral, pretty much just exploded forth in the 60’s and 70’s into a New Town haemorrhage. It’s totally devoid of any sort of culture. Utilitarian. Dull. Brown. Ring roads. You get the idea. Portsmouth was even worse.

So we came out the Central Station and saw this little plinth. We walked down to the Quayside and there was more. There was a vampire rabbit over a door. An archway that lit up like Tetris bricks. Another arch that would sing to you in a weird Geordie accent as you went through. A statue of a bloke floating in the air. It was amazing. And the place was absolutely immaculate.

We arrived down onto the Quayside, I saw the Tyne Bridge for the first time, and just in the distance, nestled against the big curve was the Sage (which looks like me on my side). I was absolutely mesmerised. This place was gorgeous. It was modern, it was clean, it was NICE! I knew then that I immediately wanted to move here. It was a place that I’d actually want to leave the house for and explore, rather than to just go to the supermarket. We stopped at the Pitcher and Piano (which gives a cracking view out onto a tilting bridge!), I actually scribbled out my resignation letter on a sheet of notepaper I scrounged off the barman there and then and he kindly faxed it off for me. I’d forgotten all about that until now. I mean, look at us way back when…

I really want you to know how taken in I was with the instant beauty of ‘The North’ (James here: I’m fairly sure he’s talking about me, but don’t be blue)

Look how young we were! Aaaah.

I still get it now. When I visit Peterborough I’m sad to say that I’m appalled by it. It’s dirty, dull, dreary. It’s like going back behind the Iron Curtain. There’s no ‘life’ to it. The last time we visited we had to go to Milton Keynes to find something to do. That just ain’t the case in Newcastle. As you’ll read in our posts, I’ve lived here for ten years (James for 32) and we’ve STILL only scratched the surface of things to do here. We’ll never get bored.

Even though we don’t really live in Newcastle anymore (but we’re only up the road) you can ‘feel’ the atmosphere. Even in the ‘rough’ parts you get it – I tell my friends that live in Ashington all the time that there’s just an energy to it all, as wank as that sounds, but there is! There’s something in the air. The people are nicer up North too, not just politer, but nicer. Their default setting is to be cheerful and helpful rather than dour and suspicious. I love it.

Newcastle has everything you need – it’s got the beautiful town centre, an ugly bit of town centre (sometimes I do miss concrete), the seaside is only a few miles away, the nice seaside is only a few miles more, a big-ass Angel, rolling countryside that goes on forever, and an airport if you want some proper sun. What more do you need?

If I had to recommend somewhere to visit around here other than Newcastle (of course) would be the bit around South East Northumberland – you’ve got Northumberlandia, a giant woman made out of rubble, the fantastic mining history over in Ashington (the Woodhorn museum is fascinating), a gorgeous beach over at Blyth (not a 99 in sight! Just watch out for doggers) and some wonderful countryside-villagey stuff up near Alnwick including a brilliant bookshop in an old train station, a dramatic castle and a fancy garden. Vindolanda’s also nearby for some fancy learnin’, and if you want to see a dishy 20-something studmuffin dress up as a Roman soldier.

Oh, and did I mention the accent? It’s brilliant. Jokes are funnier coming out of a Geordie. It’s a scientific fact (probably).

Come. You won’t be disappointed.

 


Full disclosure – we’ve copied this one from Auntie but have made it a bit more SW friendly!

crispy chilli beef

crispy chilli beef

to make crispy chilli beef you will need:

  • 350g of minute steak, cut into thin slices (you can get some in our new ‘build your own’ Musclefood hamper!)
  • 2 tbsp cornflour (2 syns)
  • 2 tsp Chinese five-spice
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 4 spring onions, sliced (keep the green bits and the white bits separated)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (save the faff and get one of these)
  • thumb-sized bit of ginger, cut into matchsticks
  • 4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce (2 syns)
  • 2 tbsp Hellman’s Tomato Ketchup sweetened with Honey (1 syn) (normal tomato sauce will do, just add on another syn)
  • 250g wholewheat noodles, cooked according to the instructions

to make crispy chilli beef you should:

  • put the beef in a bowl and toss with the cornflour and five-spice
  • heat a wok or a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat and add a really good spray of oil (don’ let Frylight wreck your pans, use this instead)
  • add the beef and fry until nice and crisp
  • scoop out the beef and add in the peppers, half the chilli, the white bits of the spring onion, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for about 3 minutes
  • in a small jug, mix togehter the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce and tomato sauce along with 2tbsp water and pour over the veg
  • stir well and let it bubble for about 2 minutes
  • add the beef back to the pan, stir well and serve over the noodles, and sprinkle over the green bits of the spring onions

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steak, feta and veg wraps – more lunch ideas

I know, wraps again. This blog has more terrifying wraps than a Madonna comeback album, though I flash my fadge in skintight leggings far less than that old bugger does. But listen, there’s method in my madness – I thought that saying as you might have went and bought a packet of wraps to make the last delicious recipe, you might have some left over, and so, here we are. At least I’ve saved you the ignominy of coming up with some dire alternative use for your spare wraps like the barely-breathing idiots who write into those lifestyle magazine Top Tips pages.

Case in point, I once saw someone who had unspooled a load of VHS tapes, taken the ribbon out and hung them in her doorway like those multi-coloured strips of plastic you used to see in poor people’s houses to keep the smell of chip fat out of their living room. Nothing says glamour like trying to serve a tray of Findus Crispy Pancakes through a mouthful of TDK 240. Actually, much to my eternal chagrin, I’m sure one of my grandmothers had this in her kitchen until the end of a Superking Yardstick Ultra caught the plastic and set it away.

Actually, there was one worse than that – I might have mentioned it before so longtime readers give yourself a minute – pick your teeth, flick your bean, sing a song – but someone had actually taken the time and effort to write in and explain that when they had tired of having a beer fridge (I mean there’s your first clue as to the type of person writing in) in their living room, they had taken the plug off it and affixed it to their bathroom wall. Why? Who knows. Who thinks that a big nicotine-yellow FOSTERS fridge hanging above their hundreds of half-empty bottles of Tresemme is just the place to keep their tampons and bog roll? I mean honestly.

And, oh god, there’s more – this is like picking a scab. I wanted to find you a picture of the fridge on the wall and I happened across an absolute belter – some dreary bugger who makes his own jigsaws by shredding family photos and putting them back together. I don’t know about you, but I don’t get much joy about the thought of seeing my poor mother descending through the shredder and then trying to sort her fizzog from my bank statements. What possesses people?

Anyway, just a quick post tonight, not least because I’m absolutely itching to get in the bath with my Chat Fame and Fortune magazine and find out what Devinaha from Runcorn’s knicker-stains says about her upcoming future.

to make steak, feta and veg wraps you will need:

To make steak, feta and veg wraps you should:

  • mix together the red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, parsley and oregano and pour over the steaks, coating them well
  • mix together the yoghurt, lemon juice, cucumber and mint sauce and pop in the fridge
  • next – prepare the meat and veg – we used an Optigrill for this bit and it was cracking! Just slap it on and go, and you can even chuck it in the dishwasher afterwards. You can of course use a normal grill and a pan and it’ll still be dead tasty
    • if you’re using the Optigrill, simply press the manual button, set to Red, preheat and then add the peppers and courgette and cook for about 5 minutes. Then, press the steak button, slap the meat on and cook to your liking, remove to a plate and then slice
    • if you’re using the grill, heat to medium-high and spread the vegetables out on a tray, cook for about 5 minutes each side, turning frequently. Then, preheat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and cook the steak for about 3-4 minutes each side, remove to a plate and then slice
  • take a wrap and layer with the yoghurt dressing, steak, courgettes, peppers and feta and fold up, and repeat for the other four
  • enjoy!

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the perfect Slimming World Big Mac

Big Mac in a bowl? Big Mac tater tots? What happened to a plain old Big Mac stuffed firmly into your mush until the grayus runs down yer chin? Well, on Slimming World, that dirty Big Mac will cost you 25.5 syns and a threatening midnight call from Commandant Bramwell. Something needs to pay for her timeshare in Magaluf and the second-hand, nicotine-tainted Subaru Impreza (private reg: MMB 4EVA), let me tell you.

So, us being generous Cubs, decided to finish our American holiday entries with a Slimming World Big Mac which weighs in at an altogether less unseemly 6.5 syns. You could have four! But don’t, you greedy bugger. Before we get to the recipe, indulge me for another few minutes as I give you a happy ending to be proud of, as it’s part seven of our New York trip!

slimming world big mac

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

We decided that it was imperative we be at the airport in good time lest we be late and miss our flight – I mean, can you imagine being stranded in New York? I’d feel like little Kevin McAllister, only without the shenanigans and inappropriate touching. As such, rather than clart about with the trains, we hailed a taxi. Our taxi driver was colourful with his language, going to great lengths to tell us what’s wrong with most Brits (we don’t tip, we’re too hoity-toity, Paul’s too fat, that sort of thing) and speeding through the streets like he’d stole the car. When it came to paying the fare I made a gag about asking Paul if he had twenty cents so we could give the exact fare and I swear to God, I thought the driver was going to shoot my face through the back of my head. I don’t like to exaggerate but I’ve never seen such ire in a man’s eyes – and I’ve gone in dry on more than one occasion. Just saying.

Naturally, with Speedy McMoodytits at the wheel, we arrived at the airport thirty minutes before check-in even opened, meaning we had to sit around forlornly by the front doors with our suitcases. It’s about the only time I miss smoking, at airports – it gives you something to do between getting fingered by some terse security attendant and spending the rest of your ‘foreign money’ on expensive tat for work colleagues. Do you know, I don’t think I’ve successfully managed to pass through an airport without buying a giant Toblerone since I was eighteen and got my first job? There’s always sarky remarks about originality but hey, at least it wasn’t a giant bag of wax fruit sweets that every other fucker brings back from their holiday.

I remember the first time Paul and I flew long-haul together (to Orlando, the tales of which you can find in our honeymoon book, which I’ve told is attractively priced on Amazon and available at the touch of a button on the very device you’re reading this on now). We were committed smokers at that point and the thought of nine hours in the air filled us with terror and dread.  We spent almost an hour mainlining fags outside of Manchester Airport then, once we had landed, it was literally the only thing we could think of. Fuck Mickey Mouse I cried, we’ve got emphysema to nurture. Naturally, Paul had lost the lighter and we spent a tense fifteen minutes trying to buy matches before some kind soul wheezed to our aid. It’s embarrassing, looking back.

Anyway, without smoking to pass the minutes, we occupied ourselves by streamlining our hand luggage and eating the bags of sweets I’d bought for my parents. It’s what they would have wanted. Finally time moved forward just enough for us to be granted permission to check in. The guy behind the counter was another grumpy sort who spent more time than I thought was decent fannying about with my passport. I resisted the urge to touch his hands and say ‘I’m sorry, I’m married, but I can send a signed photo by Fedex’ but he looked as though he’d snap my fingers.

What followed was the longest three hours of my life. Is there a more surprisingly awful, boring airport than JFK? I assumed that, being an exit hub, it would be full of vibrant shops and classy eateries for the carefree tourist to spend their money in. Nope. We had a Starbucks and watched the planes for a bit. Then we had a McDonalds and watched the planes for a bit. I enjoyed twenty-five minutes of furiously looking at my iPad whilst it failed to connect to the public Wi-Fi. We both went for a shite just to pass the time but found ourselves unable to commit the dirty deed because yet again the toilets only had a metal postage stamp for a door. I hate making eye-contact with anyone, let alone when I’m trying to birth an otter. Bah!

After looking around the duty free shop for the fourth time (why? Perhaps we thought there was an undiscovered wing to explore just behind the Smirnoff stand? Or that they rotated the stock on an hourly basis?) we succumbed and bought some aftershave: Paul some cloying Issey Miyake stuff, me some classy Tom Ford. I’ve come a long way since spraying my Mum’s bottle of Mum under my boobs before PE, I can tell you.

Finally, it was time to board. As usual, four hundred people leapt up at once as though fearful the plane might accidentally nip away before they’d had a chance to fuss about with the safety cards and put their duty free in the overhead bins. We hung back – we’re too fat to move safely in crowds – one of us trips and we’re taking people out on the way down. When we eventually made it to the final beep-beep check of the tickets and passport, a very stern lady with ice-blonde hair and a face that had never seen sunlight told us to stand to one side.

They then took our passports and tickets away from us whilst people walked past tutting at us as though we were terrorists. I mean, fair enough I hadn’t shaved, but I wasn’t a complete disaster.  For almost five minutes we waited whilst they let other people past. My arsehole was nipping so much I was surprised the two kilos of coke stuck up there didn’t fall out. Paul remained calm – as usual – I could hurl a burning pan of hot oil into his ear and he’d still yawn and look impassive, though he might feel a bit sad that he wasn’t getting chips.

Finally, we were given new tickets and told we had been moved from our original seats. We’re not fussy so didn’t say much and rejoined the queue. It was only on boarding that we were told we’d been upgraded. Hooray! Premium Economy is the lowest class we’ll fly because we’re fat and snotty (just kidding: it really is just because we’re fat) so anything higher was always going to be great. A genuinely lovely end to a fantastic holiday.

Quick thoughts? It was great being able to lie down properly on an overnight flight, although I didn’t like not being right next to Paul – I find it hard to sleep unless some of his fat isn’t rolling over me and the sound of him choking on his own neck is lullabying me to the land of nod. Having my own ‘pod’ was a novelty though – I spent a good forty minutes pressing every switch, turning on every light, opening every little drawer (a drawer to put my shoes in: how clever!) and carefully secreting every freebie into my bag. It was only when the Captain announced that someone was draining the power from the engines that I stopped whirring my chair, charging my iPod and frying myself some chips.

slimming world big mac

BYEEEEEEE LOL MISSING U HUN

The stewardesses came around shortly after take-off and asked everyone if they would like anything to eat. Paul, much to my horror, said he was full and only wanted a vodka. I was foaming. Everyone knows you need to make the most of this type of situation, even if it makes you look like a grasping harlot. I ordered a gin and tonic and a full meal (despite having already had a three course meal in the airport – ah well, I had plenty of time to sleep it off).

Here’s the thing – this is why I can’t have nice things. I was served a wonderful array of dishes but to me, they were nothing special and the portion sizes were tiny. I appreciate this is just me being a big fat pig but it seems the more you pay for food, the less you get. Don’t get me wrong, I put it all away in record time and did a discreet celebratory burp into my pillow for good measure, but I don’t like being served a big white plate with a shaving of radish on it and a flea-bite of cheese. I could have breathed my dinner into my lungs. I did make Paul watch me eat a delicious chocolate melting pudding, though – I stared right in his eyes and smacked my lips. That’ll teach him.

The night flight passed smoothly, soothed as I was by the sounds of my fellow fliers sleeping soundly and farting long into the night. Paul woke up at one point thinking the landing gear was coming down until I explained it was merely the mechanics of my chair straining under my bulk.

I was disappointed by the toilets – I wasn’t expecting someone to come in and wipe my taint but really, it’s not very upper class to be standing in someone else’s piss whilst you slap on the Elemis eye-cream. I know that on Emirates’ A380 you can actually have a hot shower whilst you fly. I can’t conceive of something I’d rather do less at 38,000ft – I know that as soon as I undressed and climbed into the shower we’d hit extreme turbulence and I’d end up shooting out of the bathroom with suds in my hair and my cock a-flapping whilst everyone screamed around me. It’s what happens when I get changed at the gym, why should it be any different in the sky?

We landed in good time and, unusually, were through security in no time at all. We did the usual things – updated Facebook to show off our fancy flying, texted my mother to tell her that I hadn’t made an unscheduled stop into the sea and that she could cancel the hearse, then made our way through grey London for our Virgin train back home. As you’d expect with a train journey, it was entirely uneventful, and we were home in no time for a good sleep.

That’s that! New York – done. It’s somewhere we’ve always wanted to go and it was made all the sweeter by Paul not knowing about it in advance. Normally I can’t keep a secret for toffee but somehow I managed to pull off a full holiday without giving the game away. The people, for the most part, were friendly, and everything we visited was absolutely worth it. I can see why people go back – we’ve only scratched the surface of what the city has to offer.

We’d move there in a heartbeat save for the fact that a decent flat in a nice area is over a million quid and well, we don’t have that sort of money hidden down the sofa (feel free to buy more copies of this book though, it might pay for a lamp or something). I think my favourite day, of all of them, was walking around Central Park – nothing much happened but it was so beautiful and so New York.

We travelled with Virgin Trains (reasonable), British Airways (excellent) and stayed at the Wyndham New Yorker (lovely, but ask for a newer room – our room was a bit old-fashioned and stuffy. We liked it, but you might not).

Onto the next holiday…


Right! Yes. THIS MAKES FOUR! If you want fewer, just reduce the amount as you need to.

slimming world big mac

to make a Slimming World Big Mac, you’re going to need:

  • (this makes enough for four, mind you)
  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 6 wholemeal rolls (use 4x as a HeB each, and then syn the remaining two at 12 syns to make the middle bun)
  • half an iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • sliced gherkins
  • 4 slices of reduced-fat processed cheese (12 syns)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced

for the special sauce

  • 4 tbsp extra-light mayonnaise (2 syns)
  • 2 tbsp reduced-fat thousand island dressing (1 syn)
  • 4 tsp chopped gherkins
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt

We used a proper bun for the pictures and don’t even care – if you’re using white buns with sesame seeds, you’re looking at about 12 syns, and even then it’s half the syn cost of a proper one. AND you can reduce the syns further still by swapping out the cheese for some of your proper HEA cheese, but if you’re going to do this, you’ve got to do it properly, see?

Two things we used to help with this recipe, neither of which are critical to the recipe but they do help: our Optigrill and our canny little burger maker (dirt cheap)!

to make a Slimming World Big Mac, you should:

  • bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and add the chopped onion – simmer for 30 seconds, then drain and set aside
  • next, mix together the sauce ingredients in a bowl, including 2 tbsp of diced onion, and set aside
  • add salt and pepper to the mince and then divide into 8 balls (just over 60g each) and flatten into burger shapes – they don’t need to be perfect, and remember, McDonalds burgers are normally thin!
  • if you’re using the OptiGrill: fire it up and select the ‘burger’ option – when the light goes blue simply whack the burgers on, close the lid and cook until the light is orange
  • otherwise – preheat the grill to high and cook the burgers until done – remembering to flip over
  • whilst they’re cooking, toast the buns
  • next – assemble the burger – you want it in this order:
    • bottom bun
    • tbsp special sauce
    • tbsp diced onion
    • chopped lettuce
    • slice of cheese
    • burger
    • bun half
    • tbsp special sauce
    • tbsp onion
    • lettuce
    • gherkins
    • burger
    • top bun
  • forget you’re on a diet
  • turn into poo

How nice is that? For the full McDonalds experience, try and eat your burger whilst eighteen kids off their tits on e-numbers and sugar run screaming around your ankles whilst neck-tattooed dads stare glumly at you with their dead, soulless eyes.

Big thanks to @TEFALUK and @Foodies100!

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super quick and easy chicken saag aloo

Chicken saag aloo – we’re talking about a dish that takes about ten minutes to make from beginning to end, as long as you’ve got a hot pan and a filthy mouth. God knows that’s you lot covered. No time for shenanigans so let’s go straight to part five of our New York entry. Buckle up. I’d really welcome feedback on the holiday entries!

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

We decided to break with looking around the busy city and to take a nice walk along what is known as The High Line – a disused railway line that runs for a mile or so around Manhattan and affords lovely views of the Hudson and various arty-farty establishments to poke about it. We didn’t really have much of an excuse, it was only a ten-minute walk away from the hotel and boy did we need some ‘fresh air’. New York is amazing but you don’t realise how built-up it is until you look at your partner and he’s milk-white from lack of sunlight.

It was charming. I hate to use that word because it’s what pretentious knobheads use to describe tiny coffee places where they serve the coffee in a flat cap but I mean it. We went early enough so that it wasn’t completely awash with hipsters and pretty much had the place to ourselves, save for a few joggers. I was pleased to see that the ‘I’m about to cum’ face that British folk adopt when they run seems to have made it over the pond. Seriously, why pull that face? Running isn’t that exciting. At least, I can’t remember it being so – admittedly the last time I ran was back in 1997.

The High Line is full of little activities and things to do. We happened across a tiny park with stepping stones and tunnels to climb through, which then allowed you to pop your head up through the path to frighten passer-by’s. Great fun, until you realise that the tunnels probably weren’t designed to accommodate some twenty-stone Geordie with a fat arse and cheap jeans trying to turn around in there – it was like trying to turn a sofa around in a lift. I managed to get in alright but every time I moved backwards my coat scrunched up on top of me, stopping progress. It was only after my plaintive cries reached my dear husband – and in turn, once he had stopped laughing and taking pictures of my jammed arse – that he reached into the tunnel and pulled my coat free, allowing me to scuttle back out.

Later, Paul spotted a statue with the instruction ‘kiss to receive water’. Naturally, being Paul, he bent down and mimed performing cunnilingus on it so that I had a classy photo to put in the album. He was tutted at by someone who was more beard than man but hey, we have fun. We stopped at the end for a bagel and coffee and discussed where to go next, before deciding on the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Because we’re fat, we got a taxi. I’ve never heard my own feet say ‘phew’.

We arrived at the 9/11 Memorial Museum and were glad that the snaking queues we had witnessed a day or two before had dissipated and that actually, it wasn’t too busy.

It’s funny. We’ve all seen the footage on the TV or in print but until you’re there, it’s truly impossible to put it into perspective. To imagine the size of the buildings, the sheer amount of people caught up in it, the absolute terror that must have ensued. The museum itself was surprisingly sombre and tasteful – I admit I’d expect a certain amount of ‘America is Great’ bombast, but there was none. Just recollections, pieces of the building, subdued reconstructions and hushed tones.

One beautiful piece is a wall of almost 3,000 pieces of fabric paper painted in different shades of blue – it’s a tremendous sight with a sobering quote in the middle: ‘No Day Shall Erase You From The Memory Of Time’. Very true. Behind the wall is a room full of the unidentified remains of people caught up in the attacks, where they will lie forever until they are positively identified and taken by families, something which made even granite-faced me dab at my eyes. I’d encourage anyone visiting New York to have a look – it makes for a depressing hour but some things should never be forgotten. We moved on, and, because I want to change back to our normal tone of writing, let me draw a line under this.


Fancy! Next on our list was the Grand Central train station. You’ll have seen it before in so many movies – it’s a fabulous, colossal train station full of period detail and busy people. You may remember seeing it in such famous Lindsay Lohan movies such as ‘Just My Luck’, or infamous Lindsay Lohan movies such as ‘Yes, I’ll Let You Eight Guys Ride Me Like A Train for some meth’.

We decided to take a headphones audio tour of the station and do you know, it was one of the best things we did in New York. I know that sounds ridiculous but it was just the right mix of getting in people’s way, hearing interesting facts and having sights that you would never have known to look at pointed out to you. Case in point: the ceiling of the main concourse. Who ever looks up when they enter a train station? You should here – it’s a gorgeous astronomy map with glowing stars. That’s fascinating in and of itself, but see the ceiling was almost hidden from view by years of tobacco smoke and pollution. It took twelve years to clean it and restore it to its natural beauty, with one tiny square left to show the difference.

I made a mental note to contact Paul’s mother on my return to see if she wanted to hire the same cleaners to try and get the fifty-eight years of Samson roll-up smoke peeled from her ceiling (it’d be like using a spatula to clean the grill pan), but then promptly forgot about it when our audio tour guided us to the whispering walls.

Seriously, what fun. Under the main concourse is a dining area and part of that, near the Oyster bar, is the Whispering Wall. Due to the way the tunnel is built, sound whispered in one corner of the giant room travels all along the arch and can be heard a good ten metres away across the room. It’s a bloody weird effect.

Naturally, I stood in one corner and sent Paul to where I thought the whisper could be heard across the tunnel. Well, look, I can only apologise to the little Chinese lady who was very startled to have the ghost of a Geordie whisper the word c*nt in her ear from apparently nowhere. Turns out Paul was standing in the wrong place. In my defence, it was hilarious. We sharp moved on.

By some amazing coincidence our audio tour ended with us being taken into the gift-shop. Fancy! We were taken by all the lovely cartographic items and ended up buying six metal subway signs to sit above the doors of our house. Which, yes, sounds shit, but trust me when I say it looks good. It adds that New York sophistication to stumbling to the shitter to drop the kids off at night, trust me.

Next on the list of things to do was lunch, and, I’m ashamed to say this, we ate in a TGI Fridays. All those wonderful places and we ended up somewhere where a chav takes a hot-date in the hope of getting his fingers dipped. In our defence, it was the one in Times Square and we only went there because at this point, our feet were more blood than shoe, but it was grim. Because they don’t have to try, they absolutely didn’t. The food was bland, the drinks were sickly sweet and the waiter so full of false bonhomie that I could have asked for a blowjob instead of a dessert menu and he’d have sunk to his knees just to see me smile. His name tag was ‘Will!’, which I imagine took immense willpower (pun intended) not to put eight exclamations after.

We did leave a substantial tip though – the place was awash with British families taking a break between smacking their children and complaining to eat something similar to the Iceland muck they have at home. Past experience tells me that they won’t leave a tip because ‘it’s not right, we don’t have to do it, blah blah’ and frankly, that’s just shitty. Our lunch might have been shite but see, that wasn’t the fault of Smilin’ Will.

After lunch we waddled over to the Rockefeller Centre. You’ll know this place, too – it’s where they put the massive Christmas tree and ice-rink every year. We had paid for a day and night pass, which allows you to see the views during the day and then return later to see the same view but in inky blackness.

It was wonderful – there’s only so many times I can write about going up a tall building and making it faintly interesting for you, dear reader, so just let me say that being able to sit on a bench 70 floors in the air in the winter, looking out over New York, was just lovely. We had a romantic moment (which makes it sound like I noshed Paul off, but no, we just had a cuddle) and stayed up there a while.

As we left we were shepherded through a room of interactive lights – if you stood on the floor, certain ceiling lights would come on and your movement would be tracked. I suppose this is modern art. Paul exclaimed that it was ‘just like I’m in a video game’ and my reply of ‘Yes: FATRIS’ was a little louder than I had anticipated, leading to lots of shared guffaws amongst everyone. I do worry that I come across as such an arse to poor, put-upon Paul, but listen, he gives as good as he gets, don’t you worry.

Having satisfied ourselves of the view and done about as much marvelling as one can do before your face caves in through smiling, we made our way back through the building and back out onto the streets. After a little idle wandering we spotted a nearby church, and, never missing the opportunity to sit down and let my chafing thighs cool, we went in. If memory serves me right, it was St Mary the Virgin’s church and it was utterly beautiful.

Unusually, we didn’t burst into flames the second we stepped over the threshold and nor were we cast out for being sodomites. Religion, am I right? The church was gorgeous – beautiful stained glass windows, comfortable pews, perfectly ornate detailing, just lovely. It was heart-warming to know that the donations and money raised was going straight into keeping this prime piece of real-estate looking pretty so that all the homeless folk outside could at least have somewhere charming to rest their heads between starving and freezing to death. Hmm.

We sat in the pews for more time than is entirely decent, trying to discreetly rub our throbbing feet and not shallow-breathe on the necks of the people in front, who were bowed in prayer. I’m not a religious person but even I said a quick prayer for one of those feet-spas that all mums had in the Nineties that bubbled a bit of Radoxy-water around their hairy toes.

The serenity of the moment was shattered somewhat by the sound of a clearly mentally-ill woman bursting through the doors, running down the aisle screaming and then falling on the floor.  She was treated with all the compassion and understanding you might expect from the Church – pinned to the floor by the security guard’s knee, shouted at by some hurly-burly prick clutching a bible and then unceremoniously picked up and thrown back out into the street like a piece of rubbish. It was all very inelegant, though it did cause enough of a distraction for me to break wind, which, with my cheeks firmly pressed against the wood of the pew, sounded like a little helicopter landing. Sweet relief! Air befouled, we moved on.

Unfortunately, my notes for the day end here, which leads me to think we just went and got progressively more drunk during the rest of the day and then stumbled back to the hotel at some indecent hour. I have a faint recollection of being in a late-night pharmacy buying Doritos and spinach dip. Hey, we know how to party! We definitely ticked off the ‘buy a slice of New York pizza’ activity though, and I know this because there’s a photo on my phone of Paul fast asleep with a chunk of crust sticking out of his gob. We’re a classy pair, you know.


Right, let’s do the chicken saag aloo! You can cheerfully leave out the chicken and make this into a veggie dish. Why not? You’re the boss! This makes enough for two big bowls. Why chicken saag aloo? Simple. You may remember dear El Ehma from my work? She’s never cooked a meal that didn’t have freezer burn, but she’s really taken to saag aloo. I promised to make a version that she can follow and well, Joe Wicks has a recipe ready! You remember me mentioning Joe Wicks and the fact that we’ve found a whole load of recipes in his book that are perfect for Slimming World? Well we did, and you can buy it here. You can buy his book here and it is one I genuinely recommend.

chicken saag aloo

to make super quick and easy chicken saag aloo, you’ll need:

  • 700g new potatoes
  • a bunch of spring onions
  • two cloves of garlic
  • a little knob of ginger, haha
  • 2 tbsp of garam masala
  • two large chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 big handfuls of spinach leaves
  • squeeze of lemon juice

For the ginger and garlic, grate them finely using a microplane grater. It’s the one gadget we use all the time – you can use it for parmesan, peppers, garlic, ginger, lemon…all sorts! Click here and save!

All of our hampers have massive amounts of chicken in – but actually, here’s a switch: you can now choose what you want to go in your hamper – so if you’re not a fan of chicken, say (unlike me), hoy some more beef in there. Up to you. To help you, we’ve updated our Musclefood page so it has all of the syn values on there – click here for that – it’ll open in a new window.

to make super quick and easy chicken saag aloo, you should:

  • cut the potatoes in half, pop them in a microwave dish and cook them for three minutes – then let them rest – and cook again for three minutes – drain and set aside
  • thinly slice your spring onions and cook them off gently in a few spritzes of olive oil
  • once they’re softened, add the ginger and garlic until golden
  • add the potatoes
  • add the garam masala
  • stir everything then add the thinly sliced chicken breasts with a few splashes of water and cook everything through, with a pinch of salt and pepper
  • cook hard and quickly until the chicken is cooked through then add the spinach and allow to wilt down
  • serve with a squeeze of lemon

Easy!

Want more recipes? Natch. Click the buttons!

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J

spicy szechuan beef, and the coach trip continues, god help us

Spicy szechuan beef? Delicious. Coach trip holidays? Awful. If you just want the recipe for spicy szechuan beef, scroll on down to the picture. If you want part two of our awful holiday story, then you’re in luck because look – part two, right away!

click here for part one, god-help-you

When you last left us we were just sliding off a sweaty bus like how corned beef slides straight out of the tin, with an oozing plop. My shirt had been ruined by the blood and brain matter leaking from my ears and Paul was about one sassy remark away from stabbing someone in the eye with a Snickers bar. I’ve never been happier to leave a bus – we could have been touring a fat rendering factory and I’d have skipped off that bus with less relief.

Cadbury World, then. You’d think that as two confirmed fat bastards we’d be walking around a chocolate factory with tented trousers and a quickening heartbeat, but it was crap. It was your typical British experience – far too expensive, far too many people, duff displays, every opportunity to shake some more money from your pockets gladly taken. Our bus arrived for the 1.30pm entrance in good time but we still had to wait for over an hour in a queue full of fractious children and beetroot-necked adults. I asked how long we’d have to wait but realised it looked unseemly pressing for quick entrance to a chocolate factory.

We decided to nip over to the gift shop – I’d heard such wonderful things about this place – that the chocolate was super-cheap, that they practically force-feed you chocolate and other sweets, that you get tugged off using a handful of Crunchies, but no, it was entirely meh. Don’t get me wrong, things were cheap, but I’ve got a Cadbury’s outlet within stroke distance of where I live and it’s cheaper there and I get to look disdainfully at all of the reprobates buying their court suits from the Burtons outlet. We bought a tiny Bertie Bassett doll and a painted plastic duck, handed over altogether too much money to a cashier who didn’t so much look bored as pig sick of her life, and rejoined the throng.

I should make it clear – one good thing – we didn’t have to troop around the factory with the rest of the coach trip. We successfully managed to distance ourselves, although not by the 300 or so miles I would have liked. We could still hear a lot of them quarrelling and snarling in the distance, like chavvy Langoliers.

The queue finally moved forward and we were given four chocolate bars each to be getting on with, with an extra one to apologise for a ‘closed exhibit’. More on that a bit later. I did ask whether we could have a bag only to be met with a look that would stop a clock. Apparently such a thing was beyond the wit of man unless I paid something silly for a fancy tote bag. I don’t want a tote bag, I don’t do yoga. We were left to stuff the chocolate into our pockets (along with the gifts we bought earlier) which meant, given we’d been superheated on the coach, everything immediately melted and made putting my hands in my pockets a terrifyingly shitty experience.

We wandered around the jungle bit which explained where the cocoa came from, we enjoyed the god-bless-them-they’re-trying acting parts and hell, we were both glad of a sit down in the little theatre. Again, though, because we were packed in there like level 999 tetris pieces, it was hard to relax. There’s a bit with big scary signs saying ‘people with heart, back or neck problems should stand up’ which got us both quivering with excitement and hypertension but it amounted to nothing more than the ‘pews’ shaking a bit and making our tits jiggle. You just know there’s hidden camera footage somewhere on xtube of this.

Then…that was it, really. There’s a whole section where you can see the factory and machinery which makes and packages the chocolate but er, it was all closed down. So you’re left squinting at some dusty machines trying to figure out if they splurted the yellow bits into creme eggs or packaged up the Love Hearts. It’s about as exciting as I’m making it sound. Both Paul and I are massive geeks when it comes to production lines and factories, we find them endlessly fascinating, which is lucky as our TV is seemingly permanently tuned to How It’s Made. Nuclear war could be declared and we’d be oblivious, though if you needed to know how they mix paint we’d be cooking on gas.

We kept walking in the vain hope we’d find something to do. There’s an outdoors bit with a big 4D cinema, which I’m sure would have been just amazing only there was a massive queue (gasp) and we needed to be back on the Boat of Charon by 4pm. So, that was that. We queued up to experience the Cadabra (a little too close to cadaver if you ask me, although that seems fitting given we were bored to death) ride where you sit on a little guided car and experience the thrills of 90s animatronics whirring by. It was like being at Disney, only not at all. We deliberately pulled the most miserable faces we could when the camera went off which at least gave us a chuckle when we bought our photo at the end of it (£10, which I was overjoyed to pay).

Now, here’s the thing. I’m kvetching about the cost of stuff here because it’s a blog post and we have to try and be faintly entertaining, and the moaning about money is part of our schtick. But we hide it very well when talking to staff or other people because christ, no-one likes a proper moaning minnie. The reason I mention this is because we ‘made a friend’ –  the very second we gave up and sat outside to wait for the bus, another traveller made a beeline for us with his face full of woe. He then spent the next five minutes moaning at us about what a waste of money the trip was, how ripped off he felt, how it was the worst thing he’s ever experienced in his life. You know when someone looks as though their face hasn’t seen a smile for a good few years? This was him. The type of guy to complain if you hung him with a new rope.

Oh and I just couldn’t be arsed. Let me put this in perspective – if he paid anything like us, the whole journey – bus travel, hotel stay, dinner, breakfast, a trip to Cadbury World and a trip to a safari park would have cost less than £80 for the whole weekend. The way he was going on you’d think the driver had co-signed him on a fucking mortgage and made him buy the bus. I feigned explosive diarrhoea and we left him to his sobs. I can’t abide it. I know I’m a negative nancy but by god I put a good fake face on when needed. The fact that we had to hide from him meant that we had to hide in the toilets for a good twenty minutes and then, when 4pm rocked around, we sprinted onto the bus before he had a chance to give us the old watery-eyed gaze.

The hour long trip to the hotel was as bad as the six hours that preceded it. Kids screaming, this time sugared off their tits. Parents arguing. The couple in front continuing to give me enough reason to contemplate running screaming to the front of the bus, grabbing the steering wheel and driving us straight into the Gas Street Basin. Thankfully, we pulled into our hotel before I completely lost control. There was more awed oohing that I can ever imagine has happened before as our eyes fell upon the Birmingham Airport Holiday Inn.

We all checked in, moving like cattle at the slaughterhouse. I asked about dinner, expecting a couple of hours window forus to drift downstairs and get something to eat, only to be told that all of the coach party would be eating in the same place – a meeting room away from the main restaurant at 6pm sharp. I retorted whether they expected us to wear an orange jumpsuit to complete the prison feel but it fell on uninterested ears. We slinked to our room – perfectly pleasant – and had a lie down until 6pm. We decided to brave it.

We lasted less than a minute. We opened the door to the meeting room, saw everyone sitting in rows like Hogwarts: The Borstal Years, was pushed out of the way by someone with more make-up than sense carrying four blue WKDs, then we turned on our heel and fucked off. No way was I going to top the day by listening to people smacking their lips and clacking their teeth as they snaffled from the trough.

Stuck with nothing to do and no change of clothes for a decent night on the town, we decided to spend the rest of the night in the room watching Eurovision on the tiny television, which was shite. We ordered room service: a burger, a pizza, some dips, a bottle of Coke and a bottle of house white wine. £75. I hadn’t realised that I was paying someone to press the fucking grapes. Our room grew steadily hotter thanks in no small part to the air-conditioner which couldn’t have blown the froth off a cappuccino and at 11, we called down for a fan. Nineteen years later a small fan was brought to the room.

Naturally, the fan had a fucking blade missing, meaning it was unbalanced and when turned on it clattered and scattered all over the table. It would have been quieter to build a wind turbine. I asked for another fan, another was brought – this one didn’t work. Didn’t switch on. I called down for a third fan and finally a working fan arrived. Pfft.

We spent the night tossing and turning in the sticky heat and, at around 4am, we both kicked off the duvet, sat upright in bed and decided we were going to go home. We would hire a car in the morning and drive back in air-conditioned comfort. Soothed by this thought, we fell into a fitful sleep.

In the morning we went down and told the driver that we had been called urgently back to work – he was really quite lovely – but even seeing the coach sent Paul into violent tremors. Once we knew that we were free the morning became all the more sweeter. We went for all-you-can-breakfast in the hotel restaurant which was very tasty and marred only slightly by the fact there was a bodybuilding competition on at the hotel and thus it was full of preening peacocking men strutting around in vests and mooing on about egg-white omelettes.

Paul and I enjoyed a bit of mischief when this very well-to-do fart sat down on the table next to us and started harrumphing about our giant stack of food. He was, but of course, a Daily Mail reader, so we sat and exaggerated our liberal viewpoints – going on about how wonderful immigration is, how terrific Corbyn will be as a leader, how they should fund the NHS until money pours from the drip stands – and he went more and more red in the face as we continued. Paul kicked me under the table when I started waxing lyrical about how fantastic Europe is lest it proved too much for the poor chap and he pitched forward angrily into his beans.

Full, we Ubered our way to Birmingham Airport, made our way to the Hertz exchange and picked up a Qashqai. The lovely lady (and I’m not being sarcastic, she was charm personified, especially when faced with our dour faces) wouldn’t let me haggle though, even when I worked in a ‘family death’ and ‘having to cut our holiday short’. Bah. We drove back in no rush, enjoying a good singalong, and realised that our holidays will only ever work when it’s just us vs the world.

Coach trip, done. Now let’s never talk about it again. Common decency prevents me mentioning the company we used but actually, they were the only part of the holiday that worked well, so fair play.


Right, shall we get to some spicy szechuan beef, then? A doddle to make, low in syns and you can add all sorts of other veg in. The recipe makes enough for four. Let’s do this.

to make spicy szechuan beef you will need:

  • 400g beef (steak, diced or strips will do you just fine)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp cornflour (1 syn)
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 large carrot
  • 500g rice noodles
  • 3 spring onions, sliced

for the sauce

  • 1 tbsp sriracha (½ syn) (it’s hot sauce_)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp honey (2½ syns)
  • 2 tsp cornflour (2 syns)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (2 syns)

Our hampers have beef strips in – but actually, here’s a switch: you can now choose what you want to go in your hamper – so if you’re not a fan of beef, say (unlike me), hoy some more chicken in there. Up to you. To help you, we’ve updated our Musclefood page so it has all of the syn values on there – click here for that – it’ll open in a new window.

to make spicy szechuan beef you should:

  • make sure the beef is sliced into thin strips – if you’re already using stir fry strips they’re fine as they are. diced beef will be best cut in half (it also makes it go further!)
  • place the beef in a large bowl
  • mix together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, chilli flakes and cornflour in a bowl and pour over the beef – allow to marinade while you prepare the rest of the ingredients
  • thinly slice the red and green pepper and garlic (or just use the chopped stuff if you can’t be arsed) and pop into a bowl
  • peel and grate the carrot and place in the bowl with the peppers and garlic
  • next, mix together all of the sauce ingredients together in a jug
  • cook the noodles according to the instructions, drain and then rinse with cold water to stop them cooking – keep aside until you need them later
  • next, heat a large frying pan over a medium high head and add a little oil
  • add the beef and cook for a few minutes until only a little pink remains
  • add the peppers, garlic and carrots to the pan and cook for a few more minutes
  • add the sauce to the pan and cook until thickened slightly and everything is well coated
  • add the noodles to the pan and stir to mix (bit of a faff-on, mind – use a couple of forks to pull the noodles apart and get it well mixed)
  • serve and sprinkle over the spring onions

Done and done! Looking for more fakeaway recipes or stuff to do with your meat? Aren’t we all. Click the buttons!

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J

amazing Slimming World chicken satay stir-fry

Here for the best ever Slimming World chicken satay you’ll ever put in your mouth? Of course you are. But you know the drill by now. Grin and bear it. Push out, it’ll be easier.

Only a quick word from us tonight – I won’t lie to you, we’ve got a giant Ritter Sport from the local Lidl to get through and an episode of 24: Legacy to watch. I know, we’re so cosmopolitan. If it makes you feel any better Paul will be massaging and ped-egging my feet whilst we watch TV until it looks as though it’s been snowing on our black settee.

But, we couldn’t let you down, so we’ve GOT A MAN ROUND TO SATISFY YOU. And good God, look at his length! Yes, we’re leaving you in the very capable of hands of Big Dave who we will hand over to to provide tonight’s yak. If you want to contribute and get your blurb up here, send it in to us! I loved this entry, not least because I related so hard I almost had a mind-melt with the author. Also, please: we love feedback on our guest writers – I want to encourage those who want to tell a story to have a chance. Our next entry will be the next part of our France shenanigans, by the way….


a life of losing weight – by Dave

I have been on a diet since I was 5!  It was the School Nurse who started it. Her main duty was as Nit Nurse; “Nitty Norah – The Bug Explorer” they were universally named, and their job was to hunt out headlice. We did not have the BMI in those days and I don’t even remember having a weighing machine. She took one look at me, towering above the rest of Primary 1, dug out the three children hiding behind me and issued me with a letter to take home. It was just a folded piece of paper but I would no more have looked at it than I would have complained had Nitty Norah pulled hairs out by the roots. Which she did. I think she wanted more than one outcome for investigating the fat kid. Oh, wait a minute, we did not have “outcomes” in 1950’s health care so she must have been the sadistic old biddy we thought she was.

Letters were scarce in those days too, especially those scrawled in green crayon on a sheet torn from an exercise book (jotter to my Scottish fans) so my mother took it and clipped me round the ear as a note from school must be about bad behaviour, and proceeded to scrub my head with Derbac, and then crippled any surviving lice by tugging the nit comb through what hair remained. Of course I did not have nits but a note from a nurse warranted the full treatment. She then sat down with a fag and a cup of tea to read the note.

Without a word about the epistle, next day she accompanied me to school to find out the meaning of “David is obese”. Another thing about the 50’s was without the internet and with libraries being designed and run to keep the working classes AWAY from books the use of the term “obese” was surrounded in medical mystery. After having the diagnosis explained she was advised to make me drink a large glass of water before each meal and that would reduce my food intake. No advice about “healthy diet” or “calories” as these were only invented in the 60’s when we had “never had it so good”, in the words of our then Prime Minister, Harold McMillan. That was the era we abandoned vegetables that needed to be boiled for hours to have any prospect of successful mastication. Does anyone remember ‘woody carrots’?  Not a music hall performer but carrots had a core like firewood that did not respond to boiling.  We now had “Mother’s Pride, white sliced bread. Processed to rid it of all those Nasty nutrients. Better access to butter and cheese.  Money to be able to indulge in toasted tea cakes and milky coffee at Ibbotson the Baker and ice cream with red sauce at Meschia’s Ice Cream Shop.

The water trick might have worked for that shrivelled old stick Nitty Norah but not for a growing boy. Add to that mix, mother’s history of seven years in hospital with TB. Tuberculosis was seen as a disease of poverty, neglect and general poor parenting. None of those applied to my mum but the shame of TB was akin to that of AIDS in the 1990’s and as doctors always knew best any protestations were meaningless. So mum was determined her boys were not going to be hungry or dirty. Therefore the growing boy just continued to grow.

Another diagnosis of the time was the infliction that was “a phase”, so friends assured us it was just “puppy fat” that I would shed as I aged. “Phase” was applied to my chronic pain, sexuality, religion and move to Scotland, all of which I am still waiting to grow out of, 65 years on.

My next diet I undertook at 16 and 24 stone when I entered the world of work in a dairy laboratory , became friends with a fat girl and found everyone at work was on the magical Yoghurt Diet. Yoghurt was a new part of “having it so good”, it was also very sour to our tastebuds so it needed three spoons of sugar per pot to get it down. So the Yoghurt Diet failed. As did the next great discovery of the 70’s – the Grapefruit Diet. On that you ate what you wanted but provided you had a grapefruit that gobbled up all the fat. Grapefruit was really sour, four teaspoons of sugar.

It was around this time that calories made their way to the north of England in the form of the 1000 calorie diet. So everyone had a wee book in which one could look up the calories and try to assemble three meals and supper out of your 1000 calorie allowance. This time, with deprivation and starvation I shed 6 stone and the tailor-made lab coat that I wore everywhere to cover my bulk. It was WHITE, we still had not discovered how to hide fat with dark colours, vertical stripes and a coat worn open at the front to fool everyone into thinking you were only the width of the gap between the buttons.

I learned that only a dedicated masochist or catwalk model could keep to this diet. I think that must have been when the “Kleenex and Capstan Full Strength” diet was born so the weight went back on.

Over the ensuing years I followed “The Cabbage Soup diet”, “Canadian Air Force diet”, “Raw Egg and Milk diet”, “Atkins”, “Paleo”, “Caveman”, “GQ”, “Vogue” “Autotrader” etc., etc. ad nauseum. I have applied creams to cellulite, suffered hypnosis and acupuncture, worn electric pads, tight cords, rubber suits (no, hang on, that was fetish, not weight loss) but as it all comes under the heading of sadomasochism I am still counting it. It has all WORKED, I have lost the combined weight of everyone with the KY4 post code. And put it back on again!

Fast forward, or for fellow fatties – proceed at your best pace. Mine is on a pair of exercise pedals so I don’t get far, it is now 2016 and my latest cruise left me feeling hot and uncomfortable when squeezed into my penguin suit. As I am fairly immobile these days it is all to easy to have biscuits and coffee to alleviate boredom which, added to an activity log spanning Holly and Phil, through Judge Rinder, ending in a vigorous watching of the late night Holly City is not a recognised diet. I am well prepared for fluctuations because as a regular cruiser I have penguin suits in various sizes. In fact, my wardrobe goes from French flares to a Mumu. The various sizes allows me to glare with righteous indignation at other men in their DJs who claim they are still wearing the suit they bought for their wedding. They do not appear bothered by the fact that the trousers now fasten at the pubes and the bow tie is draped round an open neck shirt in the belief that they will resemble Hugh Grant while they perspire their way through the late night buffet.

So, time to shed the pounds and try to gain control of my blood sugar as my medication has crept up to 9 tablets a day yet without the required control. My brother had just lost four stone with Slimming World and his daughter also lost three. I was surprised when we enjoyed a cruise together at just how simple it seemed and how much he could eat. I had never been much for groups, particularly slimming clubs as I knew I was a fat frump and did not need to be shamed by the fact. That would DEmotivate me. But in the course of my work I met so many people who enthused about Slimming World. So in desperation, and in secret, I crept into the Kelty group. Having taken the step I did not want anyone to know in case they tried to undermine me, either by running down the idea of a group or of trying to feed me up. I am sure you have all experienced “on a diet? you don’t need to diet!” or “go on, I am sure you can allow yourself a treat!”, “you are on holiday, diet when you get home!”

I was immediately impressed that newbies met in a small group while the “losers” were getting weighed. Alun, our consultant, was a gift. So unassuming, engaging, encouraging (I won’t say much more as he blushes easily). There were four of us joined that night so we had a bond and at least knew a couple of names. I work with “group theory” so was very aware of how difficult it can be for new people to join an established group. No worries, everyone was friendly and encouraging and we had a laugh. Some nights we were almost sick with laughter. One particular group, one of ladies, late 70’s was dismayed the week she did not lose. “But I have been so good, I kept to the plan, I even had my legs waxed!”  Well it went from bad to worse, ribbing about how hairy her legs must have been if she was hoping it would  add to her weight loss, jokes about Brazilians, etc.  That became the pattern for groups, lots of fun, great support and regular activities to keep us connected. Inventive “quizzes ” about speed foods, super foods and syns, food tastings, awards and what SlimmingWorld group would be complete without “stickers”.

Alun has a wee army of half a dozen volunteers, each one just as cheerful, friendly and willing to share experience and give encouragement. They run the shop, do the memberships, records, weigh in and sell tickets for the weekly raffle. The raffle income provides for free tea and coffee and the raffle prize, always a selection of foods and equipment related to a SW recipe for the week. The pop up shop sells SW books, magazines and SW snack bars.

Alun is a frustrated showman. Every group is a performance as group members egg him on and always manage to find new ways embarrass him. It is all in good sport and no one is ever personal or cruel. This week he was trying to convey the message that when a woman is at a certain part of her menstrual cycle she may appear to retain or put on weight but will still lose over time.  This to a group of worldly wise women but with Alun trying to avoid saying period, menstruation, time of the month or cycle. We are all very fond of him and would like to adopt him 😉

So I started my journey ten weeks before Christmas at something over 20 stone. I managed to lose 22lbs in that time and have never eaten so well and so varied. I began to feel great, move better and get my blood sugar under control with only TWO tablets per day. So by the cruise leaving New Year’s Day my clothes were fitting comfortably. Now, cruise officianadoes will tel you that you can expect to put on one pound in weight for each night of the cruise.  So this was a seventeen night cruise – 17lbs on. When I got back I went to Group with a bit of foreboding as I had eaten so well on the cruise but as far as possible had kept to the SlimmingWorld plan. I lost a further 2lbs!  I tried my best to convince Alun that I should be credited with 19lbs the 2 I lost plus the 17 I did not put on. He might be charming but he is tough so I did not get more stickers.

So I have signed on for another 12 weeks. I am not far of my 2 stone and hope to pass 3 by April. So to anyone who is swithering I would totally endorse SW and say when you join, please, if you can, stay to Group. Many people just come to weigh in but Group helps keep you on track and in between meetings we have this Facebook group.


Thanks to Dave for that, even if he did give me a run for my money on the old word-count-a-meter – we don’t often get the male side of things mentioned when it comes to Slimming World. The magazine entries are always the same, full of charming young men who have lost 15 stone and are pictured holding their Farah slacks out in front of them with a ‘I SHIT YOU NOT’ expression on their face. Then invariably we’ll get the paragraph about it being daunting stepping in front of loads of women. Pfft. I walk into every class singing like Cilla at the start of Surprise Surprise. Articles for men usually involve some po-faced guide on checking your balls or sticking a finger up your arse to tickle your prostate and frankly, it’s hard enough to eat a Rocky Road Hifi bar without that streaky image in my mind.

Right, let’s do the recipe, shall we? I’ve seen chicken satay before done with sweetener and powdered peanut butter and I just think, why bother? Use proper ingredients, a few syns, and have a dish that is worth writing home about. You’re on a diet, not doing time for manslaughter. Enjoy your food!

Slimming World chicken satay

to make amazing Slimming World chicken satay stir fry you will need:

  • 4 chicken breasts, sliced thinly
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (optional)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • handful of sliced spring onions

Time for a bit of promo: you can get so many big, plump, juicy chicken breasts in our various Musclefood deals! Take a look at our summer box – it’s got 24 ruddy breasts, bacon, sausages, mince, beef…all sorts, lovely and cheap!

for the seasoning

  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½tsp turmeric
  • ½tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (any will do – used Tikka)
  • ½tsp salt
  • ½tsp pepper

for the satay sauce

  • 2 tbsp reduced fat peanut butter (8 syns)
  • 2 tsp honey (2 syns)
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1½ tbsp rice vinegar (cider vinegar will do)
  • 1½ tbsp sriracha
  • 150ml light coconut milk (7.5 syns)

to make amazing Slimming World chicken satay stir fry you should:

  • tip the sliced chicken in a bowl and sprinkle over the bicarbonate of soda (it helps to tenderise it – it’s what the takeaways do!) and leave it to do it’s thang for 20 minutes
  • meanwhile, mix together in a bowl all of the ingredients for the seasoning and set aside
  • do the same in a separate bowl for the satay sauce and set aside
  • sprinkle over 2tsp of the seasoning mix over the chicken and mix it all in so the chicken is well coated
  • pour the rest of the seasoning mix in with the satay sauce, add 125ml of water and stir well
  • heat a large pan over a medium-high heat and add the onion and garlic, cook for a few minutes
  • add the chicken and stir fry until cooked
  • reduce the heat to medium and pour in the satay sauce and cook for another few minutes until it thickens
  • serve (rice is nice with it) and sprinkle on the spring onions

Enjoy. I mean, come on now, how easy was that? Want more things to do with your breasts? I understand. Click the buttons below!

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Mwah!

James, Paul and Dave

half a syn black pepper steak stir fry

Here for the black pepper steak stir fry? Well hold your water.

Porky Light anyone? Mahaha. My facebook is awash – nay, alight – with posts about the fact that it looks like those delicious Slimming World half syn sausages called Porky Lights might be 4.5 syns as opposed to 0.5 syns. You know what? GOOD. It’ll serve all those folks right who went out to ASDA and bought pallets of the bloody things as though each sausage came with £100 and half an hour of cunnilingus from a man with three tongues. That isn’t forward planning, that isn’t taking advantage, it’s sheer bloody greed, and the way they paraded their hauls like it was something to be proud of just made my teeth itch. Of course there’s the odd reason to legitimately bulk-buy (perhaps you live far from a supermarket) but doing it just because you saw some other immoderate slattern stockpiling makes you an absolute arse. So yeah: boo bloody hoo. I just hope the next revelation is that Fibre One bars give folks a Tom Selleck moustache and tits like two fighting ferrets. I can’t stand bloody greed.

Anyway, hiiiiiiiiii. How the hell are you? You’ve literally never looked better. Have you been away? No? Well, given we have more holidays per Thomas Cook, we have been away on our second holiday of the year. Remember this?

Our first holiday was a few weeks ago but I didn’t take my iPad with me, so I’ve got long handwritten notes to type up. I know, I’m so old school. I feel like Angela Lansbury tip-tapping my way at the keyboard! So let’s pretend this holiday is the first one and the first holiday will be the second holiday, and so on. I know, I don’t understand it either. So: take a seat and enjoy the first entry of our holiday in gay Paris.

Well, it certainly fucking was when we minced off the plane, anyway…

Paris, then. Why Paris? Because, like Billie Piper, we want to. Actually, that’s a lie right from the off – when I first suggested a lovely romantic weekend in Paris Paul shot me down with protestations of how rude everyone is and how we’re simply not cultured enough to get by, as though my idea of sophistication is being fingered in a bus-shelter by the sea. Which is a cheek, because I know some lovely shelters with some beautiful views. Tsk. I talked him round by reminding him that there’s delicious pastry everywhere and good food is the law.

I’ve been to Paris several times over with mates and have done the usual suspects – Arc de Triumphe, Eiffel Tower, four million art galleries, being tutted at by all and sundry, and so we were keen to avoid going over old ground, though we’d revisit a couple of the classics because why not.

We drove up to Edinburgh Airport, stayed overnight in the Ibis Budget Hotel by the airport and took the early morning easyJet (7.00am) flight down to Charles de Gaulle. We stayed for three nights in a deluxe room at the 5* rated Hotel Square, a ten minute theatrical flounce from the Eiffel Tower and pretty much almost in the Seine.

The days before our trip were filled with weather angst, as the news became increasingly full of grim warnings of massive storms and the ridiculously hyperbolic weatherbomb. Weatherbomb for goodness sake. That sounds like a crap movie you’d get on the SyFy channel. The Daily Mail took a break from demonising the poor, gays, ethnic minorities and Jeremy Corbyn to froth at the gash about travel disruption, impassable roads and widespread mayhem.

Naturally I managed to work myself in such a tizzy that I was allowed to leave work early (they were probably sick of me standing looking mournfully out of the window like a sailor’s widow gazing at the sea) in the hope of being able to leave Newcastle before dark, imagining some frozen tundra we’d need to navigate like Nanook of the fucking North just to get to Edinburgh Airport, where we’d doubtless find planes dropping from the skies like snow.

Well. Does it surprise you to know that the most eventful incident to hit our travels was Paul spilling an entire bag of Poppets over the floor of my car? The roads were clear, the wind mild, snow nowhere to be seen. Dolly was literally a storm in a teacup and I was furious to be swept up in the hysteria.

We arrived at the Ibis Budget Hotel in good time after a brief but exhilariting accidental turn onto the Edinburgh Tramline – Paul had to wrest controls from my hand as I was too busy doing Alan Bradley jokes to realise what had happened. In my defence they really ought to make the big red light a bit bigger. I mean, honestly. We were checked in by a scarily efficient and pleasant chap who pressed the room card into my hand with slightly more touching that I’d expect and then we were off to the room, a vending machine Toblerone clutched in our sweaty hands.

It turned out that Paul, for reasons entirely unbeknownst to either of us, had booked us into a hotel room with a tiny main bed and a bunkbed over the top. I was terrified, not least because he hurled his not insignificant frame into it like one would leap from a burning building. I’ve made the joke about metal screaming before but honestly, it sounded like when the Titanic snapped.

The glamour!

Once we’d had holiday shenanigans (normal anal but you use Piz Buin rather than lube) Paul retired to the bed above. Well. That was it. No chance of a good  sleep when I have the sure and certain knowledge that at any second Paul’s ample gut would prove too much for the fixtures sending him, and the metal bed, cascading down onto my head.

As it happens, we did survive the night (obviously: imagine if this was part of my last will and testament), though by the time Paul climbed back down the screws of the bed had been pressed into diamonds. We tidied up, took as many small towels as we could fit under my coat and stole away into the clear, crisp morning. Storm Dolly my big, windswept arse.

For once we were experimenting with not turning up at the airport eight years before we were due to fly, and what a difference. There was no sitting around in a Wetherspoons smiling wanly at stag do knobheads, nor did we need eight toilet visits just to pass the time. I did get stopped at security for a pat-down by a big, burly, bearded Scottish brute. He rubbed my legs, my thighs, my arms and my shoulders. Once he was satisfied I wasn’t smuggling anything but a throbbing erection, he let me go. I promised to call but you know how holiday romances are. Paul, meanwhile, was struggling with our carry-on, the passports, my iPad, his belt and shoes and my giant coat. He’s a dear.

Due to Doris causing havoc the day before, our flight was full and we were encouraged to check our carry-on into the hood in exchange for speedy boarding, which we duly did. I like to think we have a nice gold star for being “helpful, polite” on our easyjet profile. It’ll be next to the cholesterol soaked heart for “fat bastards, ensure sitting next to skinny woman”. Speedy boarding was smashing though, I couldn’t believe the speed and efficiency that we descended fifteen steps and then stood packed into the boarding stairs for twenty minutes.

Nothing to say about our easyjet flight, you know how much we love them and this flight was no different. I’ve never met a member of easyjet staff who haven’t been wonderfully polite and helpful. As a bonus, I went for a wee mid flight only to stand next to the pilot – outside the loo I mean, he wasn’t letting me shake his drips off for him (this isn’t Emirates, you know). The guy looked about sixteen, I almost went over the tannoy to ask if someone had lost a child. I’ve never felt so old. He must have been a boy racer though because we landed in Paris twenty minutes ahead of schedule with a landing as smooth as the pilot’s face.

Our good spirits at successfully surviving another plane journey were soon dashed by the snaking queue at immigration. Almost four hundred people waiting to dash into France and put sticky fingers all over their shiny art and culture and what do they have? One very bored, very angry young man checking each passport individually. One person. One. A queue to enter a house fire would have moved quicker. After eighteen years we finally reached the front and the cheerless arse made a big point of looking at my passport photo, then at me, then back to my passport, then to my face again, then to a watercolour approximation that was being painted of me whilst I stood there, then back at my face. I tried to explain that since joining the queue I’d celebrated two birthdays and grown a ZZ-Top beard but that was hardly my fault, but my French failed me. Paul had a similar experience – I wanted to apologise for bringing such beauty to his world but the security guard had a gun and I like my lungs unperforated.


Now, that seems like a good enough place as any to leave it, I think. I’m prone to waffle for too long on our holiday entries so I’m trying to be a bit more concise. You’ll notice, of course, that I’ve spent 1,600 words and we’re not even through security yet. Ah well. Do you have somewhere you need to be? This black pepper steak stir fry makes enough for four, served with rice! Yum.

to make black pepper steak stir fry you will need:

  • 400g beef strips (beef chunks will do – just slice in half)
  • 2 spring onions, sliced

for the marinade

  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (cider vinegar will do!)
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce

for the sauce

  • 4 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp honey (1 syn)
  • 2 tsp cornflour (1 syn)
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt

for the stir fry

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

Don’t like your fingers smelling like a shoe? Then mince your ginger and garlic using a fine microplane grater and live like a queen – remember you don’t need to peel your garlic or ginger when you’ve got one of these, and it’s so cheap too!

to make black pepper beef stir fry you should:

  • mix together the marinade ingredients, pour over the beef, mix and marinade in the fridge for fifteen minutes
  • meanwhile, mix together all of the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl
  • in another bowl, mix together the onion, yellow and green peppers
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium high heat and add a few sprays of oil
  • add the beef and let it sear for 1 minute, then start to stir until both sides are browned but it’s still pink in the middle
  • reduce the heat to medium and transfer the beef to a plate – set aside
  • add a bit more oil to the pan and chuck in the onions and peppers and stir, cook for a couple of minutes
  • tip the vegetables onto a plate and set aside
  • add a bit more oil to the pan and add the ginger and garlic, give a quick stir and then add the sauce mixture and stir continuously, allow it to come to the boil and keep stirring to make sure there aren’t any lumps
  • add the beef and vegetables and give a good stir
  • serve – rice is good, noodles would work well too
  • sprinkle over the spring onions

Done! How easy was that eh? Remember you get beef strips in our Musclefood deal which you can use here – have a look, it’s a great set of deals and you get chicken and beef and sausages and oh my to go with it.

Looking for even more recipe ideas? Click the buttons – especially the Fakeaways button – below!

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Enjoy!

J

lemon and garlic chicken

Lemon and garlic chicken if you don’t mind! Sorry that you’ve had two Instant Pot recipes on the bounce, but well, it’s a new gadget and we have to make a fuss about it. Remember though, we’ve included a non-pressure cooker recipe to go with it. I have to say I’m impressed – my memories of a pressure cooker involve my nana making marmalade in something that looked like a Dr Who villain whistling away on the job just itching to explode. I remind you she was tone deaf and this model was made long before such trivialities as a safety valve existed.

I used to be sitting doing a jigsaw with her and you’d know you only had a few minutes before certain death because the table would be shaking and jittering as a result of the build-up in the kitchen. I mean Christ, the whole thing could have gone kaboom and I doubt, save for the eight kilos of seville marmalade splattered around the room, she would have even noticed: might have registered as a light tut on that NHS hearing aid of hers. Bless.

Anyway, before we get to the recipe, can you remember last year when we asked for guest writers to come onboard (it’s OK, I’ll put a towel down) and rattle off some words on whatever topic they wanted? It was a great success – I get sick of reading my own nonsense, trust me – and we’re running it again this year. If you’re interested in writing for the blog, and please, don’t be shy – everyone has a story in their head and this is a good chance to let it out – get in touch. Leave me a comment below and I’ll get back to you. Worried you’re not funny? Don’t be. Don’t have to be. Write what you want!

Our first guest writer is Dixie Normous – boom boom – and she would like to talk to you about stupidity. Please: I’m a leathery old fucker who can take abuse and threats against me, but please be nice to our guest writers who may not have the unblinking confidence that I exude from every open pore. Over to Dixie…


Stupidity

When you die you don’t feel anything. The pain is felt by those around you. The same thing applies when you are stupid. Normally I don’t cope well with dumb people. But we all know that one person who isn’t stupid but just comes out with that odd gem that makes everyone stop and look at them before laughing so hard they all snort. Take my sister-in-law (please). She’s a smart kid, but fuck ME she comes out with some dumb shit. One of her particular classics was when she described Bedlam as ‘where Jesus was born’. The wheel is spinning but the hamster is dead.

At work we have a board on the wall that is covered with dumb shit that people in the office come out with. One of mine is up there when, following a proper shit meeting with a customer where I ended up giving them not only the partridge but the bastarding pear tree too, I came out with the immortal “why do I feel like we just got done at both ends?”

The internet also has a board for dumbaases. It’s called Twitter. Anyone who is anyone will have seen JK Rowling making mincemeat out of that slimy knobcheese Piers Morgan, and she’s bloody clever with it. But sadly, most people are not. I wanted to share something which someone tweeted to me yesterday.

I had been at the football. PNE had drawn at Wigan and it was a crap game. After the game I went to check Twitter and some Wigan fan who was giving it the big one at my mate spotted my profile picture (which was me on my horse) and goes “is that horse ok with you on its back you fat fuck?!” I penned a huge, articulate response (well as much as your tweet allowance dictates) about how he was so unoriginal bla bla bla but then the Devil in me came out and I deleted it and simply wrote “No. I ate it.” He didn’t reply.

Just goes to show “stupid is as stupid does”. Bet he had a cock like a flea bite.

Dixie Normous


See? It’s not just me who can make poison come out of the keys like soap through a sponge! Big thanks to Dixie Normous – round of applause please, if your hands don’t look like potted beef from all the fucking clapping at class.

It may not surprise you to know that I get into a lot of online arguments myself. I can spend many a happy hour puncturing the enthusiasm of some Juiceplus Scammer, pointing out that they’re not selling a miracle drug and living the dream of a billionaire, they’re peddling shite multivitamins and eating store-brand Cheerios in their soiled pyjamas like the best of them.

Anyway, I once got into a particularly vitriolic argument way back when in the day when The X-Files was a big thing. His name was Shepherd (now come on) and he looked like the little scrote in the Bomfunk MC’s Freestyler video, only this bellend’s dreadlocks were matted with flies, semen and dirty. He argued with me because I didn’t want Mulder and Scully to get together (Noromo for life, fuckers!) and here’s the freaky part – he called my house phone late at night to argue with me. I was 15! He was a fully grown adult who was thankfully in the US – I imagine if there hadn’t been the Atlantic between us my face would have been made into a tasteful lampshade by now. I had to call BT and have him blocked before my poor mother picked up the phone to hear some loon shouting REYES HAD NOTHING ON SCULLY NOTHING YOU C*NT at her. She’d only think it was my nana on the Aldi sherry again.

So yes: careful who you argue with.

Can’t pretend this is our own recipe, so full credit goes to predominantelypaleo.com – we’ve adjusted the recipe a bit to make it suitable for Slimming World! I know lemon and garlic chicken may not sound right but trust me, it makes a thick, tangy sauce that you’ll love on your breasts. Actually, we used boneless thighs – thought we’d mix it up a bit. Worked like a charm! Makes enough for four. Yeah that’s right.

to make lemon and garlic chicken you will need

  • 500g-1kg chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 185ml chicken stock
  • 1tsp dried parsley
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • juice from one lemon
  • 4 tsp cornflour (2 syns)

Three things:

to make lemon and garlic chicken you should:

  • switch the instant pot to saute, add a bit of oil and chuck in the onions, cook for about 5-10 minutes or so until they start to brown
  • add everything else to the pot minus the cornflour, and give a good, gentle stir
  • put the lid on, make sure the vent is set to ‘sealing’ and press the ‘poultry’ button – it should cook for fifteen minutes at high pressure
  • when finished, allow it to either release pressure naturally or use the ‘quick release’ (we did the latter because we couldn’t wait)
  • use a mug or a small pot to scoop out a small amount of liquid and stir in the cornflour
  • remove the chicken from the pot (tongs are best for this), stir in the cornflour mix and whisk or stir until thickened
  • serve! We had rice, topped with a couple of chicken thighs and then spooned over some sauce – lovely!

if you don’t have a pressure cooker – you can do this on the hob, just follow the same instructions as above but use 225ml of chicken stock, and cook in the oven at 190 degrees for 2 hours. Two hours you cry? No I know, but better the chicken is cooked, see. Don’t want you having the splatters do we!

Looking for more things to stick your chicken in? I can’t blame you. More recipes below, as ever.

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J

 

marinated duck salad and james’ new year’s resolutions

Marinated duck salad, if you don’t mind! I know, in these times of tight purse-strings and even tighter gusset-elastic, duck may seem like an extravagant choice. And it is. If you want to swap it out for chicken, I’ll never tell. If you want to swap it out for that chicken they sell in Iceland that looks like those polystyrene packing noodles that your parcels from Amazon get shipped in, you go right ahead. What price dignity? Anyway, we’re only having duck because our friend thoughtfully gave us a load of freshly killed meat from when he’s been out hunting. Listen, I’m not a hunter myself, but I don’t want to upset anyone who turns up on my doorstep covered in blood shouting about THE BOOORDS. He asked if I liked duck – I replied that actually, I prefer a cockatoo – and I bet he’s still chuckling now at my lightning wit and horrendously dated jokes. Either that or he’s shot himself in the face.

Now I touched yesterday on New Year’s Resolutions, didn’t I? Here’s an odd thing – I could have sworn I typed up our resolutions last year and I was going to update you on how they went, but look, if it is easier, I’ll just print out our Jacamo order history – another X has managed to sneak onto our clothes labels. Our order forms look like a Spot the Ball competition in a busy bookies. Pretty soon we’ll need to buy two 2XL shirts and just stitch them together round the back. Still, we haven’t taken up smoking or hard drugs, so at least we’ve got that going for us, eh? Without a moment more of hesitation, here’s my resolutions:

To be more sociable

This is such a hard one for me. I’m not agorophobic or enochlophobic (I’m trypophobic and hydrostructuraphobic at best) but see I just hate everyone. Perhaps that’s a smidge too far. Hate is a strong word. Dislike, maybe. Yes, everyone starts out being disliked by me but once they reveal themselves as warm, lovely humans, I’m alright with them. As a result, I struggle with being social. I like staying at home with Paul, sitting in my comfiest underwear, cock and balls sticking to the leather on the settee, eating crisps and watching TV. I’m happy in my own company. Whenever I do force myself out I always have a great time but it’s just getting there. My saying no is as much of a reflex action as my knee kicking out when tapped with a hammer or me ignoring the pains in my left arm as I shovel more food into my gob. But yes: will try harder.

Who knows? Maybe a twochubbycubs meet-up could be on the cards?!

It isn’t, by the way. You’d all be so disappointed. You’d spend all night wondering who had let two cows into the pub only to realise it was us, waspishly drinking our ale and looking furious. We were once stopped in ASDA (the glamour!) by someone asking if we were the chubby cubs (probably assumed we were by the giant marrow and bottle of Astroglide in our shopping basket) to which we stuttered, went red and just said ‘yes but we’re just here for some hummus’ – eee, they’ll be talking about that for years to come I’m sure.

To be less fat

Goes without saying, doesn’t it? I’m tired of all my clothes only-just fitting. I’m tired of the cats looking at me with ‘don’t you think you’ve had enough’ eyes every time we crack open a new tub of Ben and Jerry’s. They’re a fine pair to judge my eating habits, given they both spend a good half-hour licking away at their bumholes of a morning. I don’t know what’s in Whiskas Bite and Chew but they should make a bloody lip-gloss out of it. I know we’ve said so many times before that we need to lose weight but hell, we both feel so old and immobile – and we’re only in our early thirties for goodness sake. I’m not kidding when I say Paul has taken to having a nap before he goes to bed.

How to do it? I do think if we stuck at Slimming World 100% we’d get there, because the diet works. But see, I have strong reservations (which I’ve often voiced) about stuff like avocados being synned, and as a result, I’m going to have to tweak my own take on the diet to get by. Don’t worry though: our recipes will still be 100% Slimming World friendly, nothing is changing on that side. The main thing for us is to get moving: there are days when I get up, drive to work, sit at my desk, drive home and sit on the settee and don’t move a bloody muscle. That’s not good! I can’t pretend we’re going to end up at the gym every night or lifting weights (unless 1kg of chocolate counts) but I’m at least going to try and get my step count into four-figures.

To take up a bad habit

You know that bit in Grease when Rizzo does that impression of Sandy, saying how she doesn’t drink, or swear, or rat her hair, and that she gets ill from one cigarette (cough cough cough)? God, that’s me at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to undergo a transformation like Sandy does at the end – not least because if I clad my body in skin-tight leather I’d look like part of the DFS sale – but I need a bad habit. I don’t class drinking as a bad habit, more a necessary evil. Drugs fuck with my dicky-ticker and I gave up smoking (for the most part) many years ago thanks to Allen Carr and the shocking site of a year’s worth of cigarette ends billowing up from the drains outside. Oops. Paul bought me membership to a cigar lounge in Newcastle so perhaps that can be it – I think I’ve tipped into the age-appropriate level to carry off the look.

Now, in the interests of keeping the blog entries slightly more manageable and a bit shorter for folks, we’ll cut it there – we can talk about Paul’s resolutions tomorrow, once he has had them cleared and approved by me. HA. Let’s get to the marinated duck salad!

Final thought: don’t forget we have a new book out. It’s huge, it’s meaty, and it’ll leave you satisfied and smiling. There’s quite a bit of unblogged writing in there too – full travel tales for New York and Cornwall, a white wedding (including a mixture of Eurovision and sex) and a whole chapter about my penis. I mean, come on. If that doesn’t lure you in, perhaps the fact that it’s only £4.99 for over 110,000 nicely-chaptered words might tempt you. £4.99! JK Rowling must be shitting the bed with fear. Anyway, if you want a piece of us in your bed at night, click here and fall in love all over again!

marinated duck salad

to make marinated duck salad you will need:

  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey (1 syn)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 duck breasts (skin removed)
  • 400g noodles (we used somen but any will do)
  • 5 spring onions, sliced lengthways
  • 1 cucumber, deseeded and julienned
  • 2 carrots, peeled julienned
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce (3 syns)
  • pinch of sesame seeds (optional – 25g is 8 syns, but we used such a tiny amount we counted it as only 1 syn) (what are we like?)

Can’t be arsed clitting about julienning the carrots and cucumber? Do you think life is too short to be standing over a carrot making it into tiny matchsticks with a knife? With YOUR reputation? Please. Get yourself a £5 julienne peeler and be done with it. It makes your food look pretty!

to make marinated duck salad you should:

  • in a small saucepan, mix together the cider vinegar, honey and soy sauce and add 100ml of cold water
  • bring to the boil, stirring continuously, and then remove from the heat
  • allow the marinade to cool
  • meanwhile, slice the duck breasts diagonally and pour over the marinade, and leave for at least an hour (but overnight is best)
  • prepare the cucumber, carrots and spring onions and set aside in a large bowl
  • cook the noodles according to the instructions, refresh under cold water and set aside
  • heat a little oil over a high heat in a large frying pan, take the duck out of marinade (use a slotted spoon) and pour away the marinade that’s left over
  • cook the duck for about five minutes in the pan, stirring frequently
  • mix together the noodles and vegetables along with the hoisin sauce and serve, topping with the duck slices
  • sprinkle over a few sesame seeds (if using them) and enjoy!

If you love anything stir-fry, give some of these a go!

and don’t forget, there’s over 400 recipes on here for you to choose from! Click one of the buttons below to find another! Remember, if life gives you duck, make a marinated duck salad!

poultrysmallfakeawayssmallvegetariansmall    soupsmall

Cheers thanks babe. Eee, hopefully this will silence our one critic who scolded us yesterday for having the cheek and temerity to post a burger on New Year’s Day because ‘people are struggling’. Pfft. Struggling not to put the whole thing in their gob at once. If anyone else would like to provide feedback, my arse is just waiting to be kissed. Mwah!

J