speedy mexican lasagne and día de las madres

Mexican lasagne, yes, but first: happy Mother’s Day! Yes, it’s that time of the year again where mothers all around the country have to smile wanly through being woken up early and eating a poorly made fry-up just because their spawn have put a macaroni approximation of Mother on a card and can’t wait to give it over. A day where boxes of Dairy Box go through the roof, the Ambassador has a run on his Ferrero Rochers and there’s someone stabbed to death over a bunch of Tesco flowers at quarter to four. With my birthday on Wednesday I was hoping to come to some sort of arrangement with my mother where we don’t bother with cards and presents for each other but sadly she beat me to it. Bah! I know, my generosity warms your heart, no? I love my mum to bits – she’s me but twelve stone lighter and with a better moustache. I’ve typed many words over the years about how supportive she’s been, how honest she is, how hilarious I find her, how generous she can be, and well, we don’t need to go to that well again.

So, to mix it up, I thought I’d share a memory about my mother (I was going to call it a mummory, but that sounds too much like mammory, and Christ that wouldn’t be appropriate…well, perhaps for Paul’s story) and Paul would do the same. I’m even taking off his leash so he can type out his own words, bless him. You know, he always frets that he isn’t funny when he writes his bits so if you’re reading this, do me a favour and show him some love. Now, I know I always describe my childhood as some dystopian timescape where I was left foraging for seeds whilst Father toiled in the sun for pittance, but actually, it was full of laughter. I’ll give you one memory plucked from deep within.

James’ memory

I’ll open with a confession: my sister and I were horrible people sometimes growing up. But all kids are, even yours, so please don’t sit in judgement, you’ll only break the seat. We grew up in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere and fighting and bickering and bullying was the only thing to do. My sister and I had a mortal enemy (well, no, we would be friends with her one minute and then, following a fall-out over a Madonna CD or something we’d all be bickering) in the village who we used to call by a very mean name to do with her top lip. She’d give as good as she got, mind, and we were forever fighting. Things came to a head one day on the school bus between my sister and this girl and there was an almighty scrap. Hair was pulled, there was lots of screaming and shrieking, but once I calmed down the fight itself was the usual girlfight. We were all unceremoniously chucked off the bus and made our way back to our own houses to calm down.

My mum comes into it at this point. She was busy watching Countdown when we snuck in, only to have the phone ring and it to be the mother of the other child ranting and raving. Now given we all used to fight with each other no one child was in the wrong, and my mother wasn’t having all the names being thrown at us via the phone. On went the comfortable shoes and out she strutted with a face like thunder, Lambert and Butler furiously clamped between her teeth as she departed. At the other end of the village was the other mother and they’d agreed to meet in the middle. Gasp! It was like a duel at sundown. We followed as surreptitiously as we could, hoping to see a flurry of fists and fag-ends and hair pulling, but it was all terribly anticlimactic – they shook hands, agreed their offspring were all little bastards and agreed to become alcoholics together and run away like a budget Thelma and Louise. We then both got the top layer of skin smacked off our arses and sent to bed.

Pfft. Oh and as a quick aside, who could forget the time I went careering off my bike, landed on my face tearing my lip open and I suspect breaking my nose, and she came running across four farm fields and a motorway with merely a teatowel to staunch the blood loss. No trip to the hospital either! No wonder I’ve got a nose that constantly whistles.

Right: over to Paul.

Paul’s memory

James loves me telling this story – I sometimes have to go through it as some sort of bedtime story to help him drift off but if anything it just makes him more awake through chuckling. This story takes place back in…oooh, I reckon about 2002-2003. I was a fresh-faced yet acne-pitted sixteen year-old on a residential weekend for some youth worker event. Me and my friend James (not my James, he was just whoring himself in Newcastle at the time) had been nominated to attend which was pretty much just an underage piss-up over at Loughborough University with a couple of workshops on during the day to make it seem a bit more legit. I had a whale of a time! Now, because my family were so poor, I was sent away with no more than £5 in my pocket – thankfully everyone else was kind enough to let me share their bottles of 20/20 and the odd Superking.

Anyway, when I returned home I did the usual thing of firing up the Compaq and dialling-up onto AOL to check on my Faceparty etc to see what had happened when I was gone. Mother, in all her Littlewoods-outlet-glory, was on fine form and almost as soon as I’d walked through the door (a fog of Lambrini fumes behind me) started arguing about something. Mother has this great knack of when she’s in a huff managing to pull an argument out of nowhere and flogging it and flogging it and flogging it until you just admit whatever wrongdoing she’s pinned on you just to get her to piss off. This argument started with something innocuous like me leaving the milk out (easily done), but then managed to snowball into a multitude of other things. I think she was just getting a weekends’ worth of whinging out of her system, like lancing a boil. So on it rolled –

“You drink far too much fackin’ squash. It’s no wonder you’re so fat! A pint! A fackin’ pint of squash!”

“I can never get you trousers, I have to go all the way to BHS for ‘em! They ent cheap, yer know!”

“And you nicked my Fleetwood Mac CD” – for some reason she was convinced that I’d stolen her Fleetwood Mac CD. Bear in mind that I was sixteen at that time and hadn’t even heard of Fleetwood Mac. What did she think I’d need with ‘Rumours’?! Anyway, it turned up years later in a DJ Sammy DC case of my brothers but she’s still convinced that I snuck in during the night after hopping on the midnight train from Newcastle to slip it back in.

This went on for a few hours and I was getting pretty tired (I was also likely still pissed) when she come around to “and I know you’re on that internet, speaking to them mens” – that’s a direct quote by the way, the Fens have a lot to answer for. I feigned outrage at such a suggestion, as I hurriedly minimised as many Gaydar chatroom windows as I could and ‘brb’d all the busily-wanking 40 year old blokes. I wasn’t prepared to put up with such slanderous accusations so I leapt out of that chair in preparation for a mega-strop out the back door. She must’ve been just as frustrated as I was and grabbed her flip-flop to give me a slap across the arse with it (as was the style at the time) and duly did, but in a state of pure rage I pushed her onto the sofa. I didn’t have a clue what to do next so I thought that I’d made it that far, I might as well do *something* so I grabbed her flip flop and slapped her on the arse back just as hard as I could. They still talk of the Phantom Slap that ricocheted round Yaxley to this very day, inbetween gazing cluelessly at aeroplanes and interbreeding. Her face was an absolute picture and it was completely worth it. I think it was a mixture of shock, bit of pain but also trying to understand what had just happened. Before she had a chance to retaliate I ran screaming from the house and spent a week living between friends houses so she could fucking find that CD and stop bloody whinging.

Back to James.

Bless him, he loves her really. The way one might miss the ache of an ingrown toenail once the doctor has removed it. Speaking of cheese, let’s do this mexican lasagne. Why is it Mexican? Who knows. I had refried beans in a Mexican restaurant a while back and, having spotted they’re free on SW, and inspired slightly by that meat’n’beans mince you get in ASDA, here we are! This serves six – we served ours with wedges done in the Actifry before you ask: the new Actifry is dropping in price again on Amazon!

mexican lasagne

to make mexican lasagne you will need:

  • 1kg beef mince
  • 16 pitted sliced green olives (3 syns)
  • 1 tin of refried beans (free!)
  • 3 tbsp of taco seasoning
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp sliced jalapeños
  • half an onion
  • half a box of lasagne sheets
  • 160g grated low-fat cheese (4x HeA)
  • 4 tbsp low fat sour cream (6 syns)
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced

You get so much beef packed into our freezer filler with Musclefood that’ll give you a tingle somewhere intimate just thinking about it! Treat yourself: you can’t beat our meat. Don’t worry, it’ll open in a new window!

to make mexican lasagne you should:

  • preheat the oven to 180°c
  • brown the mince in a large frying pan
  • meanwhile, chop up the green olives in a mini-chopper
  • tip the chopped olives into a bowl and then add the cherry tomatoes, jalapenos and onion and blitz to make a salsa
  • (you can do the above two steps by hand if needed)
  • add the chopped olives to the mince along with the taco seasoning, salsa and tin of refried beans, and stir well to combine
  • spray a little oil around a 9″x 13″ baking dish
  • add one third of the mince mixture to the dish and top with lasagne sheets
  • sprinkle over a quarter of the cheese
  • spoon over another third of the meat mixture and top with lasagne sheets and a bit of cheese, and then do that once more
  • sprinkle over the remaining cheese, cover with foil and bake for 1 hour
  • remove from the oven and add the diced tomato
  • drizzle over the sour cream and sprinkle over the spring onions and extra jalapenos
  • enjoy

Good news with all that spice too: you’ll have plenty of time to re-evaluate your life as it thunders back out of you later on!

More recipes you say? Of course.

poultrysmallbeefsmallporksmalllambsmallfakeawayssmall lunchsmallpastasmall

J

ooey gooey Slimming World risotto cake

Here for the fabulous layered risotto cake? Listen, we’d expect nothing less. But fair warning, it’s a savoury cake, so calm your boobs. Like us, you want something gooey, starchy and warm in your mouth, and you know that we are the guys who will give it to you without questions. No-one can pretend that this is going to be super-healthy for you as a day to day meal, but it’s low in syns, full of flavour and surprisingly easy to make. A perfect family dish. But first…oui oui! Let’s head back to France, my loves!

click here for part one  | click here for part two

You may remember we’d had a rather drunken night in the hotel the night before? Well, we had booked a tour of the Paris Catacombs in a gin-soaked fit of YEAH FUCK WAITING IN LINES that would normally leave me hyperventilating with the extravagance. As we stepped out of the hotel a passing Frenchman asked if I had a light for a cigarette so I passed him my American Express card, which was smouldering like a spent match. We Ubered our way over to the catacombs entrance and were immediately glad of the fact we had booked a private tour – the queue was already out the door and away down the street.

Serious tip: if you’re planning a visit, pay the extra and get on a tour. I looked on TripAdvisor and lines of four to five hours are common, with the added bonus of the organisers shutting the catacombs without notice and making you queue all over again the next day. We paid about £140 through getyourguide (paying extra because it was last minute) but the ability to just turn up and go in was brilliant. I do think that it’s usually worth paying the extra for these things when you’re on a short break because your time is as valuable as your money.

We were met by our tour guide Ari, who I instantly recognised as the actor who played Philip Martin in Neighbours, who counted us in and explained we would see bits that others don’t get to see and that the whole thing would take about an hour and a half, capped off with the return to the summit up a tight, narrow and exceptionally steep staircase of eighty eight steps. Paul and I both gasped audibly at this point, causing the group to stare at us with utter disdain and the tour guide to radio ahead to have an ambulance on standby.

The tour involved lots of walking and staring at the neatly stacked bones of millions of dead French folk. Sounds awful, yes? It wasn’t, it was utterly fascinating. Knowing that these tunnels were build so long ago, in such cramped and awful conditions, and that there are literally hundreds of miles of them, was a sobering thought. Even I stopped cracking jokes when met with a pile of skulls and bones bigger than my house. There’s lots of hidden things too, such as a miniature hospital carved into the limestone and a facsimile of a seaport that some intrepid miner had created. Mind-boggling. You forget, and it’s really terribly sad, that all of these bones belonged to living people with families and jobs, and they’ve been interred beneath the city without a name or a memorial other than to have hundreds of thousands of tourists ignoring the no flash rule and photographing themselves pulling silly faces in front of a stack of legs. When I die I want to be stuffed and sat in a chair (in a tee-shirt covered in blood with IT WAS MAGS WITH A SHARPENED COCK-SHAPED SHAGALUF LIGHTER scrawled across it) at the local Slimming World class, a reminder to everyone that there’s bigger things to worry about than spending half a syn on a sausage.

I’m going to post a few pictures now, but do feel free to scroll on by. Spin that wheel quickly if bones creep you out.

“Wherever you go, death follows the body’s shadow”

To give you an idea of how cramped it can be – but it is far more open when you’re in the crypts. Well, you need space to stretch your legs when you’re dead.

To give you an idea of how tall this pile is, I’m 6ft 1″, and I took this on my tip-toes with my arms outstretched above my head. Think how many ‘people’ are in this photo alone.

Miles upon miles of bones stacked like this – beautiful, creepy and amazing all at once. Oh, and it was good of Paul’s mother to drop in:

“yer yer y’know Bejewelled 3 yer HOW de yer get credits yer yer WELL ‘E GOES ON ABOUT JIMMY FACKIN’ SAVILLE ALL THE TIME COUGH COUGH SPLUTTER COUGH”

We were joined briefly and awkwardly by some lovely but super-flighty woman who asked us a stream of random nonsense – were there tarantulas down here, did I think the air smelled funny, what do the bats eat? Paul made the fatal error of not looking at her blankly and gesturing to his ears to pretend he was deaf, and she was away, jolly-hockey-sticking about her holidays in Paris and her homes in Berkshire and all other such terribly interesting flimflam. I made as though I wanted to take a picture of a pile of skulls and disappeared to the back of the queue, where I was able to look at her high-heeled shoes with disdain. Who thinks that high-heels are just the ticket to wear to an underground crypt full of puddles and mud and cobbles? I could barely make the distance and I was wearing my usual Build-a-Bear shoes! I mistook the clattering of her shoes for some of the bones reanimating like the old Scotch video-tape adverts.

The tour lasted a good two hours and I have to confess, towards the end, I was beginning to wonder if it was a cruel joke and they were planning on leaving us down there. I don’t care who you are, you lose the ability to sincerely go ‘eeee never’ and ‘goodness’ at yet another pile of bones. I’m just being honest. Everyone was respectful but you could tell the mood was turning and it was with barely hidden relief that Ari told us we were at the end of the tour and freedom was that worrisome flight of stairs away. Paul and I loitered at the back so that no-one would be treated to my especially fragrant arse in their face as we ascended and fuck me, we nearly died. I know it’s not a terrific amount of stairs but it was steep and very, very tight, plus you can’t stop to admire the view / hyperventilate. Thankfully our group had spilled out onto the street and only a couple of eyebrows were raised at our beetroot faces and shaking legs. You’d think we’d escaped from Alcatraz via Ben Nevis – it was all I could do to pretend I was interested in some tatty nonsense in the gift shop whilst I desperately tried to replenish my oxygen levels. I know for next time: bring a spare tank of oxygen ‘just in case’.

We managed to get our breath back and our resting heartbeat back to its usual 166BPM after four hours and by that time we were bloody starving. Nothing sobers the mind about your health like a shocking burst of exercise and so we thought it only right to have a small side salad with our colossal pizza. Don’t worry, we’re not pigs, we left it. We had ducked into the first promising little bistro we came across and it’s only a slight exaggeration to tell you our pizza was the size of a conference room carpet. You know you’re in trouble when it takes eight waiters coming in like pallbearers to fetch your dinner. We sat and ate our quarter-tonne of dough whilst people watching, our favourite thing. Paris is so stylish, isn’t it? Even the roadsweepers looked graceful as he tried to brush a dog-shit into his little sweeper, leaving a cheery doughnut-smear on the path just by our table. I wish I could say it put us off our lunch but fuck it, you know we’re fat bastards.

We paid the bill, as ever unsure as to whether to leave a tip on the table or don’t tip at all because it’s rude to tip, so we settled on slipping the waiter a note (of money, I mean, not our phone number scrawled in lip-gloss with ‘we’ll be gentle’ underneath) as we left. We’re just so smooth. We wandered for a bit just to take in the scenery. Well, no, that’s what normal folks do, we however spent a good fifteen minutes trying to find a toilet so Paul could ‘drop the kids off’. He was, apparently, too embarrassed to ask where the lavatory was at lunch and so it was that, yet again, I found myself loitering outside an automatic toilet for longer than could ever be considered reasonable. This time, determined not to be arrested for being a sex pervert, I went off into a tiny little bakers and bought us both something gooey and delicious. Paul emerged a good while later, having deposited something gooey and absolutely not delicious, and was delighted to see I’d rewarded him for his foul behaviour by buying him a treat. I hope he’s not like a dog – I don’t want him stopping at every toilet we see thinking he’s going to get a tarte aux pomme for his trouble. Anyway, enough toilet talk (we’re just going through the motions!) (eh?).

We Ubered back across the city to visit the The Centre Pompidou, despairing as we arrived at the site of a colossal queue snaking around the building. Why? Why can’t WE be the only tourists visiting Paris? It seemed so unjust. We were about to move on when, seized by a combination of rashness and swollen ankles, I decided that we really just ought to queue. Paul was aghast, but I promised him an ice-cream when we were inside. As it happens, the queue moved quickly, not least because we were afforded the chance to snark on every single stereotype about drippy artsy-fartsy folk whilst we waited. See:

  • nobody wants to listen to you play two notes on a didgeridoo over and over and over whilst slapping the ground with your foot – that isn’t expressing yourself, it’s being an annoyance, and that’s why people were avoiding you;
  • nobody wants to see the black soles of your filthy feet whilst you walk around ‘being free’ and giving people flowers;
  • nobody is going to buy your bangles and trinkets, they look like fire-damaged electrical cord, you lunatic wench;
  • no, I don’t want to donate to your cause;
  • no, I don’t want to fill out a ‘survey’ where we’ll get to the end and you’ll ask me to donate anyway;
  • no, I don’t want to hear anything other than Paul reading the ice-cream menu aloud.

It was like this:

Anyway, after fourteen weeks of waiting, we were in the building. Paul got himself a Magnum and I had a prim bottle of water so I could sip it and look thoughtfully at the art. If only I’d grown my beard I could have stroked it in that bloody aggravating manner people have.

Now: I’m sorry. I know we’re going to sound like philistines. I know. But it was boring. There were some pieces of art that did jump out at me and I enjoyed having a gander at those, but personally, I found the mix of modern art (wank) and the more traditional pieces to be very tiring indeed. I know my faults and having very little interest in gallery art is one of them. There was an exhibition by Cy Twombly there that looked like something a troubled child might do with a box of Crayola and the threat of violence. I’m about as artistic as the stuff you bleed from a radiator but even I thought I’d do a better job with an Argos pen.  People were gazing at each painting and I felt like I was going mad – that I wasn’t seeing some revelatory twist to the paintings that everyone else was experiencing. One lady looked like she was about to come and all that was in front of her was a white canvas with some blue squiggles on it. I’ve never been more perplexed in my life. In fact, I was trying so hard to work it out that I bumped into Paul sending him stumbling over the little black tape on the floor which in turn set off an alarm and caused a very gruff security man to shout at us. A French couple, clearly sharing a moustache, spat at us as we left.

The view from outside, over the streets of Paris, was lovely, mind. Oh, and it was good of Paul’s mother to drop in:

“well ofcourse ‘e don’t fackin’ listen see yer yer I mean I’ve told ‘im and ‘e still goes on a-mean it’s not right yer hockle hockle phlegm yer”

There were two exceptions to the pile of wank, though. There was an installation of contemporary art from the old USSR which was interesting – I didn’t quite have an epiphany but at least I wasn’t scratching at the walls to be let out. Lots of hammers and sickles and people saying ‘but yes of course’ and ‘how daaaah-ring’. I nodded my way through. The other piece was a giant ultramarine painting by Yves Klein and I was only struck by that because I’d love a car in the same shade.

Hmmm yes, yes I see what the artist is trying to say: every man is an island, time is fleeting, don’t oversalt your pasta and the oppressive commercialisation of the modern age is terrifying.

We did give it a good try, though – we went into every exhibition, we read all the little wee leaflets, we tried not to look like thick Geordies abroad, but I’m guessing we failed. We stepped into a tiny cinema on the second floor which was screening a tiny arthouse movie. We took our seats and promptly fell asleep, our bodies glad of the chance to sit down and digest all that dough from earlier. We woke a good twenty minutes later when the bombast of the closing credits brought us round. We left, shame-faced, although I’m sure we’ll be listed on some tosser’s Tripadvisor report in no time at all: “My children, Persephone, Hedge-Fund and Hugo Chinnery-Pissflaps, were paaasitively screaming to watch the Hungaaaarian tilt-shift documentary on corn-growing but it was simply ruined by the two rubenesque leviathans farting and snoring in the corner. Can’t recommend”. Pfft.

Seems like a good point to leave it, actually. So much more to come! Remember, I’d truly love your feedback!


Anyway, you’re lucky to get a post at all – I’ve been playing Breath of the Wild pretty much non-stop since last Friday. Can’t begin to tell you how amazing it is. If you’re on the fence about getting a Nintendo Switch and/or this game, you need to get off and take action.

This recipe then: it’ll serve eight if you have it with a side-salad or four as a hearty bowl of yum. Customise it however you want – stuff it full of asbestos for all I mind – it’s just a fun way of presenting the food and also, perfect cold night fare. It lasts well in the fridge too so champion if you want it for lunch. Let’s do this! We found this recipe in a Sicilian cookbook which a friend bought and I coveted so badly I had to Amazon Prime Now it. We’ve adapted it for Slimming World. Oh, and it’s known as a rice timbale, but I much prefer an ooey-gooey risotto cake, and, as I’m the fat bugger in charge, that’s what we’re calling it. Although this does serve eight, I’m going to err on the side of fat caution and syn it as though it makes four servings, so you can have a canny big serving.

to make an ooey-gooey risotto cake, you’ll need:

  • 500g of arborio/risotto rice
  • two large onions, cut finely
  • two cloves of garlic (minced, using one of these bad-boys for speed)
  • 175ml of white wine (optional, leave it out if you want – if adding, add 1.5 syns per serving)
  • 500ml of good passata – don’t be tight, buy a decent brand – we used a passata with basil in for a bit of oomph, but you’re really looking for something made from cherry tomatoes where possible – though don’t shit the bed if you can’t find it
  • 900ml of chicken stock (or veggie) made up
  • 50g of fresh parmesan (10 syns)
  • 240g of light mozzarella (4 x HEA)
  • 600g of spinach
  • a jar of those big roasted red peppers (optional)

to make an ooey-gooey risotto cake, you should:

Think of this recipe as nothing more than making a risotto, taking it a wee bit further than you normally would when cooking it, then assembling it into a ‘cake’.

  • whack the oven onto 180 degrees and carefully line a cake tin (if you don’t have one, you could do this in a pyrex dish just as easy) – I used a square cake tin like this one but really, anything that’s deep and about 8 or 9 inches across (I’ve said that before) – we line our tins with greaseproof paper and a top tip, if you have some metal (NOT PLASTIC) bulldog clips to hand, use them to clip the paper in place once you’ve lined the tin
  • get a big heavy pan out (preferably non-stick) and gently fry off the onion and garlic in a few sprays of olive oil until they’re softened
  • chuck in the rice and allow to toast gently – couple of minutes at most until it crackles
  • if you’re using wine, throw it in at this point and allow to simmer off for a good three minutes (stir to make sure things don’t stick)
  • add the passata, pinch of black pepper, salt and two thirds of the stock
  • now the boring part – it’ll take about twenty to thirty minutes, but you want the mixture to bubble away on a medium heat with you stirring every now and then, topping it up with stock when the liquid gets low, until you have a nice thick risotto – remember, you want to bubble away past the point of normal risotto – you want a good ‘firm’ risotto – add in 40g of the parmesan, stir and set aside to cool
  • prepare your spinach by chucking it in another pan with a splash of boiling water – keep it on a medium heat but allow the steam to wilt the leaves right down – then sieve and chop it finely to remove as much liquid as you can and make sure you season with a bit of salt and pepper
  • assembly time: put half the risotto in the bottom of the cake tin, flatten it out the best you can, then top with the mozzarella (sliced, obviously), spinach and red peppers (they open up like a book) – don’t worry about neatness, just chuck it in any old way
  • put the rest of the risotto over the top, sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan, and cook in the oven for about twenty five minutes
  • once everything is lovely and golden and bubbling, remove and leave to stand for a good ten to fifteen minutes to firm up
  • dish up and fall in love!

Now, like I said earlier, customise this to your heart’s content. Change the risotto, change the filling, add more veg, add meat (cooked slice bacon would be lovely), use a different cheese. It would also look slightly prettier in a round cake tin rather than a square tin, but make do with whatever you’ve got. If it all slops apart, don’t worry, you’ve still got a delicious dinner! Keep some for lunch the next day. To sex it up, I’d add some chorizo to the risotto, but remember to syn it or your consultant will be farting through your letterbox.

Want more recipes? Of course you do. Click the buttons below and crack on!

fakeawayssmall lunchsmallpastasmallvegetariansmall

Enjoy!

J

PS: we’re currently changing the ‘share this buttons’ – so if you’re wondering where they’ve gone, just hold on, they’ll be back!

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!

poultrysmallbeefsmallporksmalllambsmallfakeawayssmall

Mwah!

James, Paul and Dave

the best bbq pork sandwiches ever, I kid you not

Look at the sandwich. I mean, look at it. It’s amazing. Beautiful. I’d say epic but then I’d need to punch my own teeth down my throat because the word epic is shorthand for dickhead. But considering how easy it is to make and how tasty it is, you have no excuse NOT to make the best BBQ pork sandwiches ever. This is ‘junk food’ but done absolutely right.

But first, the always fragrant Chriss took up our challenge to write for the blog, and I include her entry below, not least because my wrists hurt from typing so much about France. Remember folks, if you want to write something for us, do get in touch – it’ll be your time to shine! Oh, for those in the South, a ‘mam’ is a mother.


times past by Chriss

I love reading the stories James tells about his childhood, mainly because they’re very similar to my memories of growing up in a little Northern town.

Some of my happiest memories are of time spent with family doing everyday stuff that I probably didn’t rate it at the time. Like walking down to the allotment my dad shared with my grandad and my uncles to ‘help’ with the weeding and play hide and seek with my cousins. My dad is one of 10 kids, so I had loads of cousins since each of dad’s siblings had 2,3 or 4 kids. Here’s an interesting fact for you; my mam met my dad when her sister married my dad’s brother!

My grandad was never short of ‘willing volunteers’ in the allotment on a Saturday afternoon. We would walk down there with my dad and if he had his homemade wheelbarrow (made from an old wooden pallet and some pram wheels) my 2 sisters would hitch a lift while me and my brother walked either side. When we got there we would sneak off and steal gooseberries or strawberries, or a nice stick of raw rhubarb while the ‘menfolk’ did all the hard work. I spent most of my time looking for ripe tomatoes in the greenhouse. My nanna and grandad were lovely. Grandad Pipe (my other grandad was Grandad Dredger) used to play trombone in a colliery band and was rode his pushbike to the allotment every day until he broke his ankle aged 82 and was told he had to give up his bike. He wasn’t happy about that. He had a really dry sense of humour, had time for everyone and never forgot our names even though there were dozens of us.

Nanna made the most amazing rhubarb and ginger jam. She always did a huge spread on Boxing Day for all the family which must have taken at least a week to prepare! On Saturday afternoons when we all descended on her house, she would send us down to the chippy at the bottom of the street for 4 bags of chips with scraps that she managed to share between us all, along with an endless supply of bread and butter for butties. It’s sad how families grow apart when they lose their central meeting point. I know we have to grow up and most of us are in contact through Facebook, but it’s not the same as the halcyon days at Nanna and Grandad’s house.


I enjoyed that trip down memory lane, not least because it’s unusual for me to have any sort of trip down any sort of lane without it ending with me bent over the bonnet of a Punto whilst a disinterested plumber tries to fluff himself to full-mast.

Thanks to Chriss for her contribution!

An unusually prescient entry too – I spent yesterday back in my old village where I grew up, wandering about and reminiscing myself. My mum always tells me off when I write about my childhood because I make it sound as though I grew up in a Dickensian workhouse, eating carpet lint and weeds to get by. WE WEREN’T THAT POOR, she cries, spluttering her words through the asbestosis she picked up working down t’pit.

If family are the ties that bind then surely the home is the anchor, keeping everyone together however far they drift away. Ties, whether familial, blood or friendly, link us to a past and give us a reason to return there, to indulge ourselves in some nostalgia and relive memories long since faded. Now, with my uncle dead as a doorpost, my very last link to the village disappears and I’m left with no other reason to go and visit a place I spent 17 years of my life.

Well, aside from needing a bit of fresh air.

So, with Paul at the gym and me not wanting to risk my see-sawing neckbones, I tramped around Horsley, the village where I grew up, for a good three hours. I started off following the path where I used to walk our useless dog – he’d run off if he heard a loud noise, and his idea of a loud noise was a gate crashing or a sheep baaing. See I must have walked that path about 700 times but I’d forgotten so much – the lovely view of the Tyne Valley, the fact you can’t put a foot down without stepping in some animal shit, the distressing reality that there were no less than three gates to climb over. Where I previously used to vault them with reasonable ease, now, with my considerable bulk and ageing joints, it was like someone trying to push a settee out of a second floor window. Elegant and graceful it was not. I pushed myself over and made to cross the A69.

Wandering down the lane back to the village brought memories anew – the time my sister and I, together with a friend who we cruelly nicknamed Beaky because of her overbite, got stuck in a treehouse because we were convinced there was a bull in the field below. We had another friend who we called Heinz and the fact I can’t explain the meaning on here should give you a slight indication as to how cruel the intent behind it was. Anyway, it wasn’t a bull and it wasn’t a treehouse – it was an old tent that we’d wrapped around a few branches so we could sit awkwardly for hours – and we were rescued by a farmer several hours later.

I know everything changes, but there’s comfort in familiarity, and seeing the two pubs standing relatively unchanged was pleasing. Until, at least, I realised that the top pub had been closed and was in the process of being turned into flats for busy-bee couples who would never know the thrill of asking what wine they had behind the bar and being met with a gruff reply of ‘WHITE OR RED’. My faint memory of the top pub involves cooking fresh and on-point back in 1957 and a carpet that looked like a magic-eye puzzle. The other pub offers fancy food, long drinks and, according to Tripadvisor at least, short shrift. Not my scene.

I took a moment to doubleback on myself and walked to the house where I grew up, but it didn’t look right. Different flowers in the garden, new paint on the walls. Where was the pond with the whirring pump that never worked properly, just occasionally spitting out water and/or going on fire? The log pile full of fuel for the coal fire that we had to light even in the height of summer if we wanted hot water (we had an immersion heater, but you’d think it ran on solid gold the way my parents reacted when they heard you flick it on) had gone too – replaced doubtless by fancy central heating. Yeah, instant heat is fine, but you can’t beat a proper coal fire – even if it does set the cat on fire when it sparks. I left when I spotted someone watching me with uncertainty from the top window. She had a cheek, that was MY bedroom, and I bet at least 80% of all available surface in that room still has my DNA splattered across it. Seriously, if she stood there ovulating for long enough, I’d become a father. I left, taking a moment to check if my buried treasure was still there.

Back in the car, with swollen ankles and heart pain that wasn’t completely related to exercise, I bootled off home. To my home, far away, with the certain knowledge that I’ll probably never step back into the village again. We quoted this when we talked about Peterborough and it remains a favourite of mine: “it is impossible to step into the same river twice”. How true.

Fuck me, that ended in an oddly melancholy way, didn’t it? LET’S TALK ABOUT PORK. Pork with sauce slathered on it and turned into the best bbq pork sandwiches you’ll ever bloody eat. Plus, the whole thing is a piece of piss to make.

We found this recipe at krumpli.co.uk and adapted it ever so slightly for our own tastes so all credit goes to them. They have some great recipes so go check them out!

best bbq pork sandwiches

to make the best bbq pork sandwiches ever you will need:

  • 1kg pork joint (all visible fat removed)
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • a jar of sauerkraut
  • cocktail pickled onions
  • 1 cucumber
  • 4 wholemeal rolls (4x HeXB)

Now, confession, we used the mixed seed rolls from Lidl because frankly, they’re nicer in a picture and taste better. If you’re wanting to stick to SW, make sure you serve these sandwiches in whatever bun you can have as a HEB. The bread isn’t the star of the meal anyway!

There, I’m sure that’ll stop the smart-arses going OMG U UZED RONG BUNN U FATT FUKIN KENT.


for the meat rub

  • ½tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp ground fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • ½tbsp black pepper

Don’t fret if you don’t have everything here, it’s all about balance anyway.

for the sauce

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 100ml passata
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp black treacle (8 syns)
  • 1 tbsp mustard (1½ syns)
  • ¼tsp tabasco sauce

I’m synning this at two syns per sandwich, given you don’t eat all the sauce AND it makes enough for four massive sandwiches with plenty left over.

to make the best bbq pork sandwiches ever you should:

  • mix together all of the meat rub ingredients and rub into the meat – get right in there
  • wrap up or cover and leave in the fridge for four hours
  • heat a saucepan over a medium heat and add a few squirts of oil
  • add the onions to the pan and cook for about ten minutes, until slightly brown
  • add the garlic and cook for another minute
  • add in the rest of the sauce ingredients and cook until reduced by about a third
  • remove from the heat and allow to cool
  • pour the sauce mix over the pork joint and allow to sit for another hour but NOT in the fridge (you might want to cover it)
  • when ready, lift the pork out of the sauce and set aside on a plate

Pick a route – Instantpot (pressure cooker) or slow cooker. I know it goes without saying but we can’t recommend our Instant Pot enough – this is the fifth time we’ve used it and we bloody love it. It’s currently cheap on Amazon. But if you’re wanting a more slow roast of your meat and want a slow cooker, there’s also a cracking deal on those. Have a look!

For the Instant Pot:

  • add 100ml water to the sauce, stir and pour into the InstantPot
  • sit the trivet in the pan and place the pork on top
  • cook for about 27 minutes at high pressure, with a 10 minute natural pressure release
  • meanwhile, preheat the oven to 230°c
  • when the InstantPot has finished cooking and the pressure has been released, lift the pork off the trivet, place in a dish and cook in the oven for about ten minutes to help brown off the sauce
  • meanwhile, set the InstantPot to saute and cook the sauce so it’s reduced by half and thickened

For a slow cooker:

  • cook the pork in the sauce for a good four hours or so on high – you want it cooked through but not pulled pork level – easy to slice is what you’re after

Then, either way:

  • spread sauerkraut on the bottom half of each roll
  • when the pork is cooked, slice into thick slices and dip into the sauce, shaking off any excess
  • make up the sandwich by layering the pork with sliced red onion, picked onions and cucumber

Enjoy! I can’t tell you how bloody amazing this was. I know it’s a daft thing to say but if you don’t like cucumber or onion or whatever, just leave it out. Also, this makes enough for four MASSIVE sandwiches – you could easily make six or even eight normal sized ones! But none of us got to where we are by using half measures, eh…

Looking for more ideas of what to do with your pork? Oh you filthy mare. Click the buttons!

porksmall     slowcookersmalltastersmallsoupsmallbbqsmallonepot

J

caprese sausage stuffed pasta

It’s the return of the vag-pasta! Our caprese causage stuffed pasta makes good use of that weird shaped giant pasta!

Yeah that’s right, it’s a while since we used it and before I get anyone sending me frothy messages saying it’s not like a vagina, well, of course it’s not, but how many do you think I’ve seen in my life? Been there, done that, dry-heaved into my t-shirt. But see it’s what Paul calls this pasta so let’s just crack on with sausage caprese stuffed shells.

My goodness me. I opened the last post with a comment on the shitstorm surrounding this Porky Lights fiasco and here I see it has escalated into people appearing in the papers claiming they are devastated and had their diets ruined because the seven sausages they were eating for dinner might have had a slightly higher fat content than they expected. Listen, if you’re eating seven sausages in one sitting, you’ve got bigger fucking problems than a smidge more grease smacking on your lips. I work from home on a Friday so I was treated to even more hullabaloo from crinkle-faced mouthbreathers whingeing on. I think I’d rather be in the papers because I’ve been discovered wanking through a letterbox than holding up an over-done sausage the same shape as my downturned mouth and claiming my life was over. What happened to perspective?

OH and another bloody rant, if you don’t mind. If you drive and fiddle with your phone whilst you do so, then you’re an absolute and utter shit. A moron. A self-important, overly-entitled, preening cock. You’re a boil on society’s arsehole and everyone you come into contact with merely tolerates your presence. You’re about as liked as finding a hot streak of blood when you wipe your arse. If I saw you in the street I wouldn’t slap you, but it’s only because shit splatters.

The reason for my ire? Someone went into the back of me yesterday at a set of traffic lights (and I mean I’m used to having my crumple-zone pushed in from the rear, but at least buy a bloody drink first to grease the wheels) because he was BUSY PLAYING WITH HIS PHONE. I don’t think I’ve ever been so angry – the good thing about being tall and fat with a shaved head is that when you come hurtling out of a car with a face full of piss and vinegar the other person tends to back down pretty sharp, and I’m bloody mortified now that I reacted so aggressively. I didn’t hit him, but a proper red mist descended (probably an aneurysm brought on by the shunt) and I called him all sorts of very naughty words in an unexpectedly manly Geordie accent.

To the bloke’s credit he admitted straight away he was on his phone and apologised profusely and our insurance people are sorting everything out but FOR CRYING OUT LOUD just pull over. No-one is important enough to think they should be allowed to break the bloody rules and I genuinely hope that if someone is sitting out there reading this and thinking there’s no harm in using your phone that the next stop you make in your car is a dead-stop into a wall. It takes a bloody moment or two to pull over and deal with whatever you need to do and that way you don’t become a MASSIVE PULSATING DISEASED TWAT.

AAAAAARGH. Get me back to bloody France man! Speaking of which…

click here for part one 

Smooth segue, eh! I’m the Astroglide of blogging. You left us at the airport after we’d just passed through security. We found our bags and made for the train station. Paul asked me why I was walking slowly and I explained that I was just bracing myself for his inevitable ‘landed in a strange place, must have a crap’ moment. He astounded me by informing me, with all the subtle discretion of a football manager shouting instructions to his team from across a pitch, that he’d been for a ‘tom tit on the plane’. He’s learning, folks. I’d anticipated having to spend at least fifteen minutes loitering outside the gents whilst he strained and grunted but nope – we were straight onto the train, then the Metro, then a short mince to our hotel.

Now, wasn’t this grand? The Hotel Square in Paris – 22 rooms and featured in the Luxury Small Hotels guide to boot. I’m not sure how easy it is to get in that book – maybe it’s one of those scams where anyone can pay to look prestigious – but the hotel was gorgeous. Very clean, very modern. Big room with a bed big enough to roll around in and eat croissants. The only thing I wasn’t so keen on was the bathroom, given it was a very grand marble affair with mirrors surrounding the shower area. I’m not shy with my body but even I pale at the sight of reflections of my hairy arse coming at me from all sides of infinity. Paul came in to pick up a toothbrush whilst I was freshening up and it was like eight hundred of him had walked in going “how long you going to be, turns out there’s another train waiting at the station ready for dispatch“.

Here’s a photo so you can see what I mean. How embarrassing though I managed to get my face into the shot! Eeee I can’t get over it!

We had planned a very quiet first day and so it was that the only thing on the agenda was an Escape The Room. You know we love these: you’re locked in some weird room with a scary backstory and given sixty minutes to get out before disaster strikes. In London you’re locked into an abandoned cinema. In Iceland you’re put away in a jail cell on death row. They’ve opened one in Dewsbury where they take away your swimming costume and push you into the base of a divan bed with only a box of Tramadol for company. It’s all terrifically exciting. This one, however, was by far and away the best. We Ubered (I don’t know if that’s a verb or not, and I don’t care – it’s easier than saying ‘took an Uber’) over to the venue and after much confusion, found our way in.

We were met by the lovely Lucas who told us, in broken English far better than my pidgin French, what the situation was. We were to be stuck inside an out-of-control Paris Metro and we had to stop it before it crashed. Exciting! What really did make this fun was that the room was an actual Metro carriage and, whilst it clearly wasn’t going all end-of-Speed on us, it did rock side to side and brake and move. It was amazing! I like to think Paul and I have these things nailed now and we know what to look for but we were defeated at the very last step by the fact we were both recovering from head-colds – part of the clue revolves around sniffing bottles to identify smells to work out an exit code. We were supposed to smell cherries – all I could smell was Parisian soot and Vicks Sinex. Lucas had the good grace not to mention the fact that every time I had bent down to pick up a clue a good thirty percent of my arse was on show thanks to my inability to pack a belt, though doubtless we’ll be on some French version of You’ve Been Framed somewhere accompanied by bouncy accordion music.

Ashamed of the fact we had failed in our duties (but buoyed by the fact it was bloody good fun) we wandered the streets until we realised we were both hungry and that we really ought to eat. Well, you know Paris – you can’t move without happening across somewhere delightful full of lovely things to eat (I don’t think there was a single point in the holiday where I wasn’t either stuffing my face with pastry or brushing the crumbs off my coat) and it took no time at all to spot a little cafe down by the Seine which looked busy and promising. We bustled in, Paul ensuring that his coat dragged across as many tables as possible and me knocking into chairs and tables and ankles like a lost bull. One day, just once, we’ll enter a restaurant without it looking like we’re there to fake an insurance claim.

Our waiter (curt tones, face like a hundred miles of rough road, eyes that had never known joy) came over and barked at us to order. Our French is poor but we do try, but by god he gave us no leeway for error. Every fumble was tutted at – not necessarily in a rude way, just it was clear that he didn’t have time for our stumblings because he had to go back to watching emo arthouse movies and smoking. We ordered a starter consisting of various Corsican meats and cheeses – we had loved Corsica so and, given it cost a billion pounds to go there last time making it unlikely we’ll revisit, this was an easy way of reliving some memories.

The waiter had no sooner seemed to disappear through the doors into the kitchen when he immediately re-appeared holding aloft a platters of meats and breads. He set them down, adjusted them just so, took a moment to think what was missing and then blurted ‘le fromage’ and disappeared anew. A minute or two later he returned with the cheese board and goodness me, It was a challenge and a half. I like a strong cheese but even I was defeated by two of the monstrosities on this plate. I’m not exaggerating even for a moment when I tell you that I was entirely convinced one of these cheeses was actually alive. I had to leave it. Our waiter, his face full of French woe, asked if anything was wrong, to which I gave a British ho-ho and explained that I hadn’t realised I’d ordered the pickled smegma fresh off the chef’s helmet. Spread it on my bread? It was all I could do not to hurl it into the traffic outside. The only thing that stopped me was knowing Paris is on a critical terror alert and I’d end up banged up in Guantanamo Bay with bamboo being slid up my urethra.

Paul, having experimented with a somewhat French dish as a starter, decided that was quite enough of that nonsense and ordered an Italian burger. I was mortified. At least I made an effort, I had a croque Madame so French it was smoking a Gauloise when it was dropped in my lap. I’m not shy of trying new things – snails I have no problem with (who would have thought, me, a pro at swallowing unpleasant mouthfuls) and I wasn’t going to bother with frogs’ legs. I’ve had them before and it was like eating the meat from the used toothpicks at the end of a group dinner.

I made the right choice, lunch was lovely, and we lingered over coffee whilst we people watched the good folk of Paris and (quelle surprise) half of China flit about in that hurried way I’ll never understand. I find it incredible that all of these people have places to live and sleep and shag and eat and work and play and yet everything works like a well-oiled machine. I adore cities, I find them endlessly fascinating, and I could merrily sit and watch all day long. However, the waiter, possibly tired of watching us make a Gin Fizz last half a day, brought us l’addition with a cheery ‘you pay now’. I didn’t dare refuse, the sight of his ashen-face crumpling in on itself would haunt me forever more.

We decided to rough it and take the Parisian underground back to the hotel, only we had no sooner made it down the stairs when a large chap (imagine Shadow from Gladiator only with milk for eyes and a diseased foot) hurtled towards us asking us to donate. Donate to what? The Burns Unit that would need to tend to my eyes as the sight of his crispy foot sizzled against my retinas? We bid a hasty (as hasty as two fat blokes can) retreat back up the stairs and sent for an Uber.

As ever, our driver was lovely, he handed us a bottle of water, pointed out as we dashed through that we were in the tunnel where the Queen Fiat-Unoed poor Diana out of existence and offered us some sweets. He also had the kindest, more soulful eyes I’ve ever seen and he had the good grace not to notice me winking salaciously at him in his rear-view mirror. I begged Paul to let me put ‘Drove like a pro and melted my heart’ on the Uber review but alas, that was dashed. Muhammad, if you ever want to take either of us, or both of us, or a bit of one and some of the other, up a one-way street, do get in touch.

As we were knackered, we decided to have an early night and a few drinks in the room. I say a few drinks, it was rather impromptu – I went for an after sex decontamination shower only to hear the sound of Paul opening the minibar. Uh-oh. Worse, I barely had time to wash the Molton Brown out of my bumcrack before I heard the hiss of a bottle of fancy water being uncapped. I vaulted out of that shower like I was the winning horse at the Grand National and hurtled into the bedroom shouting EUROS ITS BLOODY FIFTEEN EUROS PAUL FIFTEEEEEEN like a man possessed. Paul explained he was thirsty but pfft, I’m Geordie. I didn’t speak to him for the rest of the holiday.

No, I jest. Once we had broken the seal of that minibar, the whole lot came out. We had a great night indeed, mini bottles of alcohol scattered everywhere, peanut crumbs in the bed, eye masks on, condoms blown up like water bombs in the bath. We sent down for another cheese board at 11pm to cap the night off and then away to bed with us.

When we woke the next morning, we were horrified. We tidied up until that room was sparkling like a new pin and stumbled out into the light. I wanted to throw myself over the desk of the charming lady on reception and wail je suis désolé! pardonne-moi je t’en supplie! in the hope she might take a dent off the minibar tab but all I could manage in reality was a gruff, Phil Mitchell-esque good morning and a couple of black peppercorn scented farts in the lift.

I’ll leave you to digest that image and get straight to the next recipe, eh?


caprese sausage stuffed pasta caprese sausage stuffed pasta

to make caprese sausage stuffed pasta you will need:

  • 6 sausages (we used the ones from our Musclefood deal – they’re just half a syn each AND they come with the added bonus of not being stockpiled by jibbering morons!)
  • ½tsp fennel seeds
  • 500g conchiglioni (you know the ones – the GIANT  pasta shells)
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • few handfuls of spinach
  • 4 tbsp chopped basil
  • 140g reduced fat mozzarella ball, chopped (2x HEA)
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • balsamic glaze (just reduce some balsamic vinegar in a pan, easy peasy)

If you’re using different sausages, remember to syn them however they are. Technically this dish comes in at just less than a syn each, actually, so hoy a bit extra cheese on. I’ll not tell Mags, though she’ll be too busy hammering nails into the Porky Light farmer’s tractors to give a toss.

to make caprese sausage stuffed pasta you should:

  • preheat the oven to 190ºc
  • spread half of one tin of chopped tomatoes across the bottom of a 9×13″ pyrex dish, or any, I don’t care
  • cook the giant shells according to the instructions, and then drain and set aside
  • meanwhile, slice the sausages as best you can (it doesn’t have to be neat) and then cut each slice into quarters
  • add some oil to a large frying pan and stick over a medium high heat
  • add the sausages and stir to cook until no pink meat remains – give them a chop up with the spatula to break it up, or gently press a masher over the top
  • add the rest of the chopped tomatoes, the spinach and half of the chopped basil and cook for about five minutes
  • remove the pan from the heat, and spoon in 1 tbsp the mixture into each of the shells and pop them into the pyrex dish
  • top with the mozzarella and sliced tomatoes and bake for twenty minutes
  • remove from the oven, top with the remaining basil and drizzle over the balsamic glaze

After some more grub? just click one of the buttons below to get even more ideas!

porksmallfakeawayssmall pastasmall sausagessmall   onepot

J

pea and coconut soup: a perfect Slimming World lunch

Here for the pea and coconut soup? At least you’re not going to have to battle through paragraphs of my tut tonight, because it’s a quick post! Well, fairly quick. If the thought of pea and coconut soup makes you feel a bit unsettled, don’t worry: I felt the same, but this was one of the best soups I’ve ever tasted. But first…

Funny how a smell can take you back, isn’t it?

I only mention it because Paul bought some Citrus Fresh Head and Shoulders at Costco (so we’ve got enough shampoo now to see us through three nuclear winters – and I remind you, neither of us have hair) and the smell alone transported me back to a summer fifteen years ago. I was holidaying in Montreuil-sur-Mer with a good friend. It was boiling hot and I was having to shower in a shower block that looked like the origin site for whatever plague happened in The Walking Dead. You had to chew your way through the flies to get to the showers. Anyway, I happened across a shampoo in a Carrefour somewhere and never looked back.

You need to remember this was in the days when I had long, flowing black hair all the way down to the small of my back – it used to smell of farts, no-one understanding me and shit weed, though I always kept it in remarkable condition. This stuff was a bloody revelation – I came waltzing out of that shower block a new man. You know in the Herbal Essences advert when some liver-lipped strumpet fair creams her knickers when she washes her locks? Imagine that, but with Meat Loaf’s stunt double instead.

Anyway, having just washed my beard with it, it’s like I’d been transported back fifteen years back to that shower block. I could feel the verrucas forming on my feet like barnacles, my bowels rumbling with mild gastroenteritis. Ah, to be young again. I have the same smell-trip experience with Calvin Klein’s Crave, which reminds me of time spent in London with an ex, trying not to bring my Iceland ready meal up as his unwashed mother talked dirty down the phone to a punter. She was a sex-chat operator: thank God they were phoning, because if they’d seen her sitting there with a litre of Iceland Choc-Chip wedged in between her boobs clipping her toenails and talking about her fanny being ‘hot’, they’d sharp have lost their lob-on.

Ah, memories. Aside from that, it’s been a terribly uneventful weekend: we’ve had a joiner around building things, we’ve had the gardener around to trim the bushes and we’ve had an electrician in to fit another kitchen light. It’s been exhausting watching people work.

That said, I did manage to embarrass myself at Costco. See, we’re a big fan of Avex water bottles – they’re the only ones we’ve had that don’t leak – but we’ve managed to lose six of them. So, of course, we went to Costco to bulk-buy a new set. However: disaster!

When we got there we discovered that they’ve changed the design to include a weird rubber nipple to drink from. Awful. How did I embarrass myself? Because I loudly told Paul that ‘I didn’t want those ones, they’ve got a nip on’ just as the two Asian ladies who were handling and admiring them turned to look at me with complete disgust. I tried to explain what I meant but in the absence of the original bottles to show as comparison, what could I do? I dug myself a hole trying to apologise despite there being absolutely no racist intent behind my comment before Paul dragged me away and into the freezer section to cool down. Good lord.

Oh, as a final note, we managed to spend £270 in Costco. We went to buy water bottles. As a tight-arse Geordie this upsets me to no end, although we do now have 192 tins of Branston Beans, enough dishwasher tablets to dissolve a body on eco-boost mood, more tea than the SS Agamemnon and, inexplicably, an entire collection of Thomas the Tank Engine books. We can’t help it, it’s Costco, they have a way of making you think that actually you DO need to buy 96 toilet rolls at once, and it gets us every time.

Anyway, this was only supposed to be a quick post because I wanted to get this recipe up here – it’s absolutely bloody amazing. Considering it takes no time at all to make, it tastes divine and is very good for you. We got the recipe from Anna Jones’ new book, A Modern Way To Cook, which has been a bit of a revelation – veggie recipes you’d actually want to eat. Paul almost made me put it on the bonfire outside when he saw how insufferably smug a lot of the writing is, but the recipes themselves? Tip-top. I’d recommend: buy it here. This soup really does take no time at all. Let’s do this. This makes enough for four big bowls of soup. Oh: and it freezes, so perfect for portioning up.

to make pea and coconut soup, you’ll need:

  • a bunch of spring onions
  • 1kg of frozen peas
  • one decent veggie stock cube, or if you’re fancy like us, you’ll use bouillon powder – made into 850ml of stock
  • a good bunch of basil, coriander or both – and we used dry because we didn’t have fresh basil in – 1tsp of each
  • a lemon
  • 200ml of Blue Dragon coconut milk (7 syns)

to make pea and coconut soup, you should:

  • get a good heavy-bottomed pan (heavy-bottomed pans will spread the heat better but won’t allow things to catch) (and fat bottomed girls you make the rocking world go round!)
  • slice up your spring onions nice and fine
  • put the coconut (every fucking time I type coconut I type cocknut – god, that would be interesting as a soup ingredient, no?) milk into the pan on a medium heat and then tip the spring onion in
  • cook for a couple of minutes until the onion has softened a bit
  • tip in the 1kg of peas, add the stock and bring to the boil – then allow it to simmer for three minutes or so then remove from the heat
  • chuck in all your herbs and the juice of your lemon and then blend the bugger with a stick blender
  • serve up, adding a few fresh leaves on top, some black pepper and if you’re super fancy like us, a drop or two of basil oil, but that’s just being decadent

Enjoy! This falls between 1.5 syns and 2 syns – it’s seven syns overall and I’m not going to count that extra quarter syn per serving. If you want to, do it, but haway. Also, if you haven’t got a stick blender, don’t worry – get one, but don’t spend a lot of money on it. We’ve got a cheapy stick blender and it does the job perfectly. Only a tenner on Amazon, see?

I hope someone makes this and enjoys it – it’s a bloody revelation in our house! Paul made a joke about The Exorcist as I brought it in (it’s famously barfed up by little Linda Blair as she’s possessed by the Devil) and I think it’s worth mentioning, we can’t be held responsible if you summon the Devil in and/or start playing ‘Hide the Crucifix’. Fair warning.

More recipes? Of course. Click the buttons below!

soupsmallvegetariansmall   snackssmall dessertsmalltastersmall

J

zingy basil chicken – a perfect Slimming World fakeaway dish!

Here for the zingy basil chicken? Hold please.

Do you ever have that moment of horror that you absolutely shouldn’t have done something the very second that you’ve just done it? I’m experiencing that now. We had Chinese takeaway for tea last night and there was some leftover egg foo yung. We like to kid ourselves that we’re being healthy by ordering what is essentially an omelette, as if that cancels out the shredded beef and duck pancakes and chicken balls that we gorge on. Anyway, I only realised there was leftover egg foo yung when I was clearing the kitchen down from last night (I know, that’s terrible, leaving a mess all day, but we were tired) and spotted we hadn’t opened one of the containers – the one that had the egg foo yung in. So I’ve been nibbling away at that this evening whilst I fart about clearing up and just as I took the final swallow, I realised that I was eating an omelette that has been sat on the side of our warm kitchen all day after its perilous journey in an overheated car last night from a takeaway who I genuinely can’t bear to check their hygiene star rating because they’re so cheap and quick. On top of that, I can’t be entirely sure that the cats won’t have had a good lick at it too.

In short, I’m fucked, aren’t I? My belly is already doing a cancan of revolt and I have waves of nausea rolling over me like a sulphuric tsunami. I don’t know who is in for a rougher night: my nipsy, Paul’s nose or our toilet. Wish me/him/the good folk at Armitage Shanks good luck.

To be fair, I didn’t have a very good start to the week either, given I spent most of it filing my tax return. Who would have thought that the Little Blog That Could would require me to declare my income? I did ask an accounting friend if I could write off gin as an expense for anaesthetising me to deal with all the nonsense but apparently not. Still, it felt good submitting my taxes like a Good Citizen and knowing that I’m keeping Theresa May in leather. Brrr. I’ll say this though: the entire process, once I’d got my unique number, my special log-in, my paper treasure map, stool sample of eight wise men and temporary membership of the Freemasons, it was all very simple and easy to follow. If any blogs out there need some advice on submitting their tax returns, I’m happy to answer questions…

We’ve solved another mystery, by the way. For a good two weeks our cat has been steadfastly refusing to use his cat-flap. We thought he was just being stubborn – he’d sit by the front door looking strained and fractious and keen to be outside but completely blanked the cat-flap. Paul, soft as shite as he is, would always hasten to the door to let him out. I, however, refused to be a bloody bellboy to my own cat. It’s bad enough that Paul made me drive thirty miles back home the other week because he had forgotten to put the cat’s water fountain on, I’ll be damned if I’m going to be a bouncer too. Anyway, no amount of cajoling or puss-pussing or gentle toeing of his rump with my boot (I’m kidding) could get him near that cat-flap and tonight, finally, we know why. I was busy reading the post in the kitchen and waiting for The Archers to come like the old-before-my-time-fart that I am when suddenly there was an explosion of hissing, clattering and yelping. I didn’t immediately react – I’m used to such noises from Paul if I eat the strawberry creams from the Quality Street tin – but then my attention was demanded by Cat 2 who, startled as she was, had leapt claws-out up my leg. It was a proper farce. Turns out Cat 1 was engaged in a fierce and swift battle with a random cat who had poked his head through the cat-flap, presumably to try and sneak food, only to be met with Bowser Balboa going at his face like Sweeney Todd. You’ve never seen a more clumsy fight than two cats fighting through a cat-flap – one face would disappear only to be followed by a unsheathed paw, then half a cat would appear again only to get smacked, all the while Cat 2 is trying to get at the bone marrow in my leg through sheer fright.

The whole debacle only lasted moments but my ears are still ringing and I have no feeling below the knee on my right leg. It came to a halt when I, in that very manly way you’d expect from me, threw a leaflet for Sky television at Cat 1 with a shriek. What do I do here? I can’t shoo the other cat away, it might be starving, but I can’t have a cat who refuses to go outside. Thoughts on a postcard, please. Also, if anyone has an industrial sized drum of Savlon and enough plasters to wrap an Egyptian king up, I’d be most grateful.

Finally, before we get to the recipe, drum-roll please (don’t worry: you can just slap your gunt against your lap, though I imagine that’ll be more of a squelch than a rat-a-tat-tat sound)…

Artboard 1

How pretty, right? That took me four months in Illustrator. Well, no, it felt like it. I wish I was one of those stylish people who can fart about designing on a Mac for a living like those achingly hipster bellends you always see looking bored on The Apprentice whilst five suited arseholes bellow at each other about Pantone colours. But I’m not. I can write but design is beyond me. Anyway, the plan is to squeeze in twelve holidays in one year – short breaks doing different things, all in the name of funny blog stories and seeing a bit more of the world. People seem to enjoy our travels and you know what, why the hell shouldn’t we? Life’s too short. We have no vices so we need to spend our money on something. It’s worth noting that we’ve set a budget for each of the twelve trips and anything we don’t spend will be going onto the next holiday! Mind, it won’t trouble the normal running of the blog, we’re still going to be posting our nonsense and recipes as we go along – just with a bit more travel stuff before the recipes as and when we remember! Once I can be arsed, I’ll create a proper travel section of the blog where our recent trips to Cornwall, New York, Corsica, Switzerland, Peterborough, Berlin, Glasgow and Scotland will be in one handy place! Eee I know, we spoil you. We’ve set some targets and rules too:

  • find a geocache at each venue, preferably in an unusual place
  • try the regional dish of the place we’re staying
  • make a Slimming World friendly version of that dish for the blog
  • diet like hell between the holidays but eat and drink what we like when we’re away
  • buy a tacky bit of nonsense for our Room of Tat
  • buy a second tacky bit of nonsense for our Box of Tat which we’ll give away at the end
  • aim for places we haven’t done before and types of holiday that don’t automatically appeal
  • save as many Avios points as we can to pay for the flights of the 12th holiday – we will go as far as our Avios can take us (in business class, we’re too fat for long-haul cattle unless they strap us to the underbelly of the plane)

It isn’t going to all be abroad either – if you can think of somewhere unusual or lovely in the UK, or indeed, if you think of anywhere or any type of holiday that could be fun, let us know!

I do want to stress, because I know there’s going to be a lot of you picking fretfully at your pinnies and thinking we’re giving up the blog to do this – we aren’t! It’ll just give us more excuses to write! Let’s get to the recipe then, eh?

zingy basil chicken

It’s worth noting that we served ours with boring old white rice – you could flesh it out a bit by adding some speed veg or having it with noodles, but for a very quick, easy dinner, this can’t be beaten.

to make zingy basil chicken you will need

  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (use a microplane grater, save your fingers and don’t bother taking the skin off – here’s a cheap one!)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1¼ tsp sriracha
  • ½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp cornflour (½ syn)
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • handful of basil leaves, chopped

Now, it’s been a while since we mentioned it, but you may know that we have a fabulous range of deals with Musclefood, including a couple where you get twenty four (or so) big breasts as part of the deal. That’s a lot of chicken! We genuinely love Musclefood chicken – it’s big, it doesn’t leak water like a sieve and it actually tastes of chicken as opposed to ennui and regret. You can view all of our Musclefood deals here, and don’t worry, it’ll open in a new page.

Don’t worry, the fish sauce doesn’t taste fishy. It doesn’t even smell like a tramp’s foot, which is what I had always assumed. It just adds a nice note to the dinner, if you’ll forgive me such a froufrou term.

Oh and I know there’s half a syn in the entire dish. But that’s an eighth of a syn per serving – it serves four. If you want to syn it, have a good hard look at your life and ask yourself if you’re living it to the full.

to make zingy basil chicken you should:

  • in a small bowl, mix together soy sauce, sriracha, fish sauce, cornflour and chilli flakes along with 1tsp water
  • heat a large pan over medium-high heat, add a couple of squirts of spray oil and cook the diced shallot and garlic for about thirty seconds
  • add the chicken and keep stirring frequently until cooked
  • when the chicken is cooked, add the sauce to the pan and cook for a further minute, making sure the chicken is well coated
  • remove from the heat and stir in the basil
  • serve

Eee, now how easy was that? More recipes you say? Fuck me, you’re keen:

poultrysmallbeefsmallporksmalllambsmallfakeawayssmall

Cheers!

J

ham, pease pudding, roasties and er…rumbledethumps

Yes, rumbledethumps. It sounds like a coy euphemism for getting nasty but actually, it’s a very pleasant side dish of cabbage and potatoes. If anything, having cabbage tends to exclude any possibility of having nookie-noo later thanks to all the resulting flatus. But give it a go!

Just a very quick recipe tonight thanks to Paul and his big fat arse. No, let me finish. See, for about four months now, our computer chair has been slowly breaking under our combined weight/bouncing/spinning/wanking. One of the arms snapped off a few weeks ago but that’s alright, as long as you hold yourself stiff (and god knows I’ve got plenty of experience keeping myself stiff in front of the Internet) you can still type. But about a fortnight ago the hydraulics started failing and we would end up sinking, ever so slowly, closer to the floor as we typed. That’s fine until you realise you’re typing with your eye-line just over the top of the keyboard and your neck sounds like a cement mixer.

Things came to a head last night when Paul leaned back in the chair to contemplate my offerings of Chinese or Indian when there was a tremendous crack and the entire back of the chair came away, sending him hilariously to the floor, rolling on his back like a stuck turtle. Paul falling over anything always cracks me up and I spent a good five minutes clutching the settee and laughing until my vision went blurry and I had to sit down. I think it’s because he makes a proper comedy fat-person noise when he tumbles – the sort of noise a bouncy castle would make if you drove a car into it. I’m a terrible husband, aren’t I?

So yes, picture me now, sat here, legs bowed under me, no back support, the gentle hiss of air escaping as I’m lowered further and further to the floor, and you’ll understand why I must hasten to the recipe! On we go…

rumbledethumps

To be honest, this meal is just a collection of nice things so although I’ll cover the other three bits, rumbledethumps is what I’ll focus on. It’s a lovely side of potato, cabbage, onion and cheese, and let’s be honest, everything is better when covered in cheese. Nearly everything. No-one like a brie lollipop, just sayin’

ham

Nothing more fancy than Waitrose’s Pulled Ham Hock (I think Paul did that yesterday when he fell out of his chair) pressed into a nice shape with a ring-press (think he did that too) (you can buy a mould here) and topped with a tablespoon of piccalilli. The ham is syn free and piccalilli is half a syn per tablesspoon but I never syn it because I’m a frightful slut.

pease pudding

We buy our pease pudding from a lovely local business called Pete’s Puddin’ – it comes in bog standard flavour, Newcastle Brown Ale flavour, Cheese and Pickle flavour and best of all for someone like me who would happily main-line the stuff straight into my veins, Marmite flavour. I bought the stuff because I was so taken with his puns (and also they were selling it in Sausology, another local business) and never looked back. It’s amazing – you can find buy it yourself here: http://www.petespuddin.com/ 

I know pease pudding isn’t for everyone but we bloody love it and the flavoured versions are almost guaranteed to give you the proper fanny gallops if you try them. I’m not recommending this product because we’re getting a kickback or money or half an hour with a rough-handed lorry driver in a pool of pease pudding, no, I’m recommending because it’s bloody delicious. Plus, it’s good to support a local industry, and you cannot get any more local than buying pease pudding from the market in the centre of Newcastle. Well, unless Denise Welch was stottin’ a stottie offa Cheryl Cuuurl’s heed next to you, haway man pet etc. No, you haven’t tuned into Vera.

Oh, and it’s syn free.

roasties

We often have these tiny roasties – if you’ve got an Actifry, and if not, why not, just cut your potatoes up nice and small, whack on some worcestershire sauce and two oxo cubes and set them away. If you don’t have an actifry, cut the potatoes up, make a thickish liquid with two oxo cubes and a splash of water, tumble the potatoes around in it and cook in the oven until scrummy-yummy. Scrummy-yummy? Yes, I vomited into my mouth on typing it too.

rumbledethumps

Best to use leftovers for this but let’s just say, for the sake of argument, you can’t be arsed and/or you’re too fat to leave leftovers. That’s us. This makes enough for four people as a side, so you know what, I’m going to use butter again! I’m using a few odds leftover from the rosti so hopefully you’ll have everything in. So you will need:

  • 750g of potato, peel them if you’re fancy – or use a mixture of potato and cubed turnip, chop into cubes
  • 500g of cabbage, any old cabbage will do, but we used savoy, sliced super thinly
  • 25g of reduced fat butter (7 syns)
  • two fat onions, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G, sliced thinly
  • 120g of strong mature cheddar (4 x HEA)
  • a good handful of chopped chives
  • lots of black pepper and salt

If you’re wanting to make this quick, use a mandolin slicer to cut the onions and cabbage – it’ll be done in less than a minute. The one we use is here! Only a tenner, too!

To make rumbledethumps you should:

  • boil your potato or tatty and turnip mix for about twenty minutes until soft and then mash – don’t mash it too finely, just give it a quick going over – a knee-trembler, if you will
  • meanwhile, melt that delicious butter and gently cook the onions and cabbage, oh so slowly now, until everything is soft and cooked – takes about the same amount of time as the potatoes and don’t be shy of adding a drop of water if things start to stick
  • tip the butter, cabbage and onion into the mash mixture and stir like a bugger, adding two thirds of the cheese and a good few twists of salt and pepper
  • drop the lot into a wee oven dish and top with the rest of the cheese and some chives
  • cook for about fifteen minutes or so and then plop it onto your plates with everything else!

Eeee, what a handy way to use up spare veg. Cabbage and turnip are always in the bargain bins at tesco so help yourself!

Looking for more veg ideas? Meat ideas? Anything at all? Click the buttons!

vegetariansmallpoultrysmallporksmallfakeawayssmall pastasmall

Enjoy!

J

swiss potato and gooey cheese rosti

This swiss potato and gooey cheese rosti is the mutts-bloody-nuts, I don’t mind telling you. Someone might need to slide you along the kitchen floor like a snail after your dinner – it’s that tasty. Easy to make. But, like the big pricktease that I am, I’m going to make you wait for a moment whilst I waffle on about my usual flim-flam.

See, I was going to talk about the whole pushchair v wheelchair legal case last week when it was y’know, relevant. Have you heard of it? Let me summarise. A chap took FirstGroup to the Supreme Court on the grounds of discrimination after he was unable to board a bus due to the disabled space being occupied by a pushchair. Frankly, I’d like to take bus companies to court based on the fact that I’ve never alighted from a bus without the smell of foist, BO and stale fags soaked into every fibre of my clothing, but that’s by the by. The ruling means that drivers have to do more to help accommodate disabled folk. Good.

Why am I mentioning it? Because I’m astounded that it even had to go to court. Surely good, common decency tells you that you move your pushchair and baby out of the way so that someone who has fuck-all choice as to where they sit can actually travel? Is that not blindingly bloody obvious? And yet when I read online discussion forums about the story they were awash with people saying ‘you can’t wake a sleeping baby’ and ‘it’s not fair expecting a parent to move, they might be tired’! What the hell is all that about, is the baby made from aged nitroglycerine? I know that every baby is special to their parents but the Earth span before the baby and it’ll sure as hell continue afterwards. Perhaps if the pushchair wasn’t the size and build of a Russian Army tank you’d have less of an issue. Buy a smaller pushchair. Put the baby in a sling. Carry it in a papoose. Stuff him safely overhead in the overhead locker bins but be careful as contents may have shifted during transit. If you choose to wheel around a pushchair bigger than Paul’s smart car then be prepared to fold it away if you need to.

Before I get people complaining, just to be clear, if the child has difficulties or it’s a special needs wheelchair then of-bloody-course they should stay on.

There were cries of ‘if disabled people want to be treated equally, why should we make exceptions for them’, which makes me steam at the ears. We’re not talking about laying on a special bus full of blowjobs and cocaine, we’re talking about letting someone ride public transport exactly like everyone else. That’s not an ‘exception’, that’s bloody right! I’d hazard a strong guess that the absolute majority of wheelchair users use their wheelchairs because they have to, not because they fancied being eye-level with everyone’s arses for the day. It’s not like it’s a fairground ride, for goodness sake.

You see it with mother and baby parking spaces too. I can see the merit in them – I absolutely can – but I’ve seen several times over people trying to justify parking in disabled spots because the mother and baby spots were full. Why? If your child is disabled, absolutely fair enough, but if not, park in a normal bay away from other cars and crack on. People managed to get out of cars before without much difficulty. My mother used to haul me and my sister out of our battered old Ford Escort with one hand, the other hand being preoccupied with lighting a Lambert and Butler or smacking our arses for fighting / shouting / breathing noisily. Didn’t do me any harm, and she managed to do it without leaving the car next to her looking like it had been used for a drag race. My arse cheeks did, but that’s beside the point.

I understand the point about ‘not wanting to walk with children across a car park’ but haway, it’s a two minute trundle across Tesco car park – you’re not walking the Hindu Kush. Keep your children smartly to your side and you’ll find it a breeze.

Ah, what do I know, I don’t have children. If I did they’d be raised like Jane and Michael Banks from Mary Poppins and they’d say spit-spot all the time and smoke pipes. And, let me tell you this – if I had them in a pushchair and someone in a wheelchair came aboard the bus, I’d cheerfully strap my children in their pram to the back of the bus and let them ride like the Beverley Hillbillies. It’s just time people stopped being so precious.

Bah. Right, if you feel the need to send me angry words, don’t worry, you needn’t rush to do so.

Oh and as an aside, hasn’t The Archers been delicious recently? Hearing Rob fall apart has been wonderful! Let’s get to the recipe though, eh? I was inspired to make this from something gorgeous that I put in my mouth in Switzerland. He was a potato farmer called Luca and he smelled of Gruyere. Boom boom. This makes one giant rosti which will serve four – I put a quarter on a plate with some sausages and sauerkraut. You know what the best part about this rosti is? It uses butter! Proper butter. Yeah, it adds syns, but not much at all! Plus it’s so easy. Even you could do it! You will need to plan ahead though because step one of this recipe involves doing something the night before!

swiss potato and gooey cheese rosti

to make a swiss potato and gooey cheese rosti you will need:

  • 900g of good floury potatoes, like Maris Piper
  • salt and pepper
  • 25g of reduced fat butter (7 syns)
  • 120g of Gruyere cheese (or cheddar or whatever you like) (4 x HEA) (this serves four, see)
  • a bunch of chives, chopped finely
  • two teaspoons of olive oil (4 syns)

You’ll also need a good pan, about nine inches. If you find nine inches a bit of a struggle, you can use a slightly smaller pan, and just tell people it’s nine inches. It will need to be ovenproof, mind.

to make a swiss potato and gooey cheese rosti you should:

  • this is the key bit – boil your unpeeled whole potatoes for ten minutes in boiling water and then leave to cool overnight until they’re absolutely cold and dry
  • coarsely grate your potatoes – peel them first if you like, but I didn’t bother – I just grated them with the peel on. Now, grating potato is a ballache but we used our Magimix and were done in less than a minute – and look, it’s so pretty!
  • mix the grated potato with a good few crunches of salt and pepper – I really went overboard with the pepper as I don’t think you can have too much, and add the chopped chives for good measure
  • heat your pan on a medium heat with one teaspoon of oil – I use a little wee pastry brush to make sure the whole pan is coated in the oil
  • add half the potatoes and press them down with a spatula, making sure it’s pressed down tight and right to the edges
  • take half of the butter and cut it into tiny slivers, poking these slivers down the sides of the rosti around the pan – leave the rosti to cook for about 5 minutes or so until nice and golden underneath
  • spread the cheese over the top of the rosti, keeping about an inch away from the edges, then cover with the rest of the potato – think of it like making a cheese sandwich – press everything down
  • now the tricky part – how to turn the rosti. You might want to get someone to help you if you’re a clumsy fucker like me but it’s actually not too hard
  • get a flat plate and place it over the top of the frying pan and then quickly flip the pan and plate over, so you’re left with the rosti now the cooked-side up on the plate
  • add the rest of the oil into the pan and gently, oh god so gently, slide the rosti back into the heated pan
  • repeat the butter trick with the rest of the butter and cook for five minutes or so until golden whilst you preheat the oven to 190 degrees
  • transfer the pan into the oven and cook for about fifteen minutes just to finish off the colour then, once it has cooked, take it out and cut into quarters
  • serve with whatever you like – buttery, cheesy rosti goodness awaits!

Now see, I know I’ll get people not trying this because it uses syns, but it’s not many and it’s bloody worth it. You could use frylight, but then you could just eat the foam out of your cushions too. Get it made!

Looking for more inspiration? Click the buttons and get buttering your muffin!

poultrysmallbeefsmallporksmalllambsmallfakeawayssmall lunchsmallpastasmall

J

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cranachan

to make cranachan, you’ll need:

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

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

to make cranachan, you should:

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

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

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

dessertsmallslowcookersmallovernight-oatstastersmallsoupsmallnaughtyfooddrinkssmallbbqsmallonepot

J