droptober recipe #2: pepper, herb and feta salad with roasted mushrooms

Looking for the pepper, herb and feta salad with roasted mushrooms recipe? Well who can blame you? It’s below. But first…

It’s been a long day. Not content with filling our house with buttons that automatically buy our shopping, we’ve invested in an Amazon Echo – essentially an always-listening little personal assistant (like Siri) who can automatically turn our heating up, turn our lights off, play music, that sort of forward-thinking thing. However, because it’s voice-activated, my day has been spent listening to Paul bellow incoherently at the Echo: ‘ALEXA: TELL ME A JOKE’ was good, ‘ALEXA: WHAT’S THE WEATHER LIKE’ was even better, but ‘ALEXA: Siri thinks you’re a snotty slaaaaaag’ yielded little worthwhile result and when I shouted ‘ALEXA’ and farted into the speaker, it just shut itself off.

I do like to imagine that somewhere deep underground there’s a team of Evil Amazon Folk listening to our every move, because frankly, unless they like lots of shrieking over Forza Horizon, copious amounts of farting, ancient Janice Battersby impressions and arguments about who was the best Doctor Who, they’re in for a disappointing time.

We received lots of helpful suggestions for our October idea – i.e. where we post one recipe a day all through October – but Droptober was the one that won out above all others. Whether you’re looking to drop some weight, drop some baggage or just drop a load of steamy piss through your knickers due to laughing and age, we’ve got you covered. Now remember, some of these will be lovely short posts like this, so no leaving moaning comments for the lack of text!

This works very well as a lunch – make it the night before and it’ll keep until the morning. Normally whenever I do a veggie post people treat it as if I had admitted I’d murdered a child and completely blank me, but please, do actually give this a go – it’s very tasty! This made enough for two lunches once served with some cooked bulgur wheat.

pepper, herb and feta salad with roasted mushrooms

to make pepper, herb and feta salad with roasted mushrooms, you’ll need:

  • a packet of any mushrooms you like – I used chestnut mushrooms but only because they were the first ones my languid, tired body fell upon in Tesco
  • either a jar of those roasted peppers in brine or two large sweet peppers
  • a massive handful of mint
  • a lemon
  • 130g of reduced fat feta (which is 2 x HEA, but this serves two remember, so calm yer tits)
  • salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce (which I know isn’t technically veggie, but I’ve been told (by some pallid, shaking, wincing from the sunlight vegetarian that you can buy a veggie-friendly equivalent) (I’m kidding I’m kidding, she had to write it down and even then her fingers snapped like breadsticks when she tried to grip a pencil)
  • bulgur wheat, quinoa or couscous cooked however you fancy it

to make pepper, herb and feta salad with roasted mushrooms, you should:

  • cut your mushrooms into quarters and tumble them about in a couple of spoonfuls of worcestershire sauce, with a pinch of pepper and salt
  • stick them in the oven for about twenty minutes on say 190 degrees until they’re nice and roasted and all of the mushroom juices (urgh) have leaked out
  • whilst the mushrooms are cooking, chop up your mint – get all of the leaves together and wrap them into a cigar shape – then finely slice – much easier
  • if you’re roasting your peppers, cut them in half, stick them under the grill and cook until blackened – or – be a good dear and buy the jar from Tesco – cut into chunks
  • crumble your feta any old how – you’re making a salad here, not a work of art
  • toss the peppers, mint and feta in with a tablespoon or two of lemon juice from your lemon and a pinch of salt and allow to marinate whilst the mushrooms roast
  • once the mushrooms are done, it’s a quick assembly job – cooked quinoa or what on the bottom, peppers and cheese next, hot roasted mushrooms on the top

Done! If you’re not a fan of mushrooms, swap them out for a plain chicken breast. You monster.

OH ONE FINAL THING: we’ve added Pinterest and other share buttons to the end of these posts – if you need them, you’ve got them!

Looking for more veggie ideas, or do you want to make sure at least something’s been killed for your dinner? Click the buttons below. Let’s go crazy and put all sorts button on here!

vegetariansmallpoultrysmallbeefsmallporksmalllambsmallfakeawayssmallpastasmall

Cheers guys!

J

sweet and sour cucumber salad

Coming for the sweet and sour cucumber salad? Well, it’s not exciting, so calm down.

Now see, I wasn’t going to post tonight because I’ve come home to an empty house (Paul is out at a rally or on a Raleigh or is just rally, rally tired or something), the cat has left another half-rat on the kitchen floor and I want to do some baking. But, this is a recipe blog, is it not, and who am I to deny you such simple pleasures? We both always struggle with lunches and I see a lot of people asking for ideas, so here is a cheap and easy idea. I’m writing the New York entries up, by the way, and they’ll be online fairly soon, which has to be good news if you’re a fan of our holiday reports. Someone certainly is, we’ve sold an insane amount of our book lately – just saying, but feel free to join them by clicking here!

I’m not sure we’re going to have any more holidays this year because we’re saving up for a six week jaunt to America in 2017, travelling around in a decent car like the aching hipsters that we are. I know I know. We did watch a TV show about how to do Benidorm on the cheap the other night, which included such gems like get your water from a mountain spring and spend your day at a timeshare sales pitch in order to get a few packets of crisps, a cold meat platter and presumably, devastating dysentery. Benidorm, though. Listen, I’m not a snob, sometimes I’ll shop at Aldi and not take my Waitrose bags with me after all, but I just can’t imagine enjoying myself in Benidorm, and I’m of the mindset that you don’t get many holidays a year, you’re better off spending them somewhere where you’re not going to be looking at ‘ENGLUND 4EVUR’ tattooed in the crinkles of a fat chav’s neck.

Before you all start, I know there are decent places in Benidorm and of course there is, but in order to persuade me to go someone suggested looking up an act called Sticky Vicky. Let me state that, as a practicing homosexual (fuck that, actually, I’ve mastered in cockology), there couldn’t have been a less inviting prospect.  Sticky Vicky’s whole act seems to be that she puts things up her twaddle-dandy that REALLY shouldn’t be in there. You name it, she’s coated it in a dull patina and pulled it from her box – lightbulbs, streamers, razor blades. BLOODY RAZOR BLADES. Well not bloody in the sense that they’ve cut her, she’s clearly very talented, but for goodness sake. I’m quite possibly the polar opposite of a prude, but even I draw the line at watching a sexagenerian slopping the contents of a First Aid box out of her minnie whilst I sip warm Stella Artois and smile wanly. And hey, before you all start writing hate mail, I went to Ayia Napa once – even the flight there was so rough the oxygen masks came down.

Plus, by all accounts, the main ‘place to go’ is awash with ENGLAND bars and ENGLAND places to eat so well, what’s the point? Might as well nip to Blackpool so I can sit on a beach that is 37% cigarette ash. OOOH I got sidetracked. Let’s get back to the sweet and sour cucumber salad so I don’t lose track of time.

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Now, you can use a spiraliser like we did to get the pretty ribbons, or you can use a grater. Hell, you can go at your cucumber with a samurai sword for all the shits I give. It’s your life. If you want a spiraliser, I can recommend the one we use. At the time of writing, that’s £30 instead of £70. Is it worth it? Depends how cylindrical you like your dinners. This will make enough for four normal folk or two big bertha lunches.

to make sweet and sour cucumber salad, you’ll need:

  • for the salad:
  • one cucumber so big that when you scan it through the self-service checkout even the computer calls you a slut
  • or you know, two normal sized ones
  • or three tiny ones, but yeah, size doesn’t matter (cough: it does)
  • one chunky carrot
  • a few thinly sliced spring onions

 

  • for the dressing:
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil (6 syns)
  • half a teaspoon of dill – dried is fine
  • 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, or any fancy vinegar you have
  • 1 tablespoon of honey (2.5 syns, or put a bit of sweetener in and save the syns, but let’s be honest, a bit of honey is so much nicer than the scrapings off a scientist’s shoe)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced finely, and yes, I know a bloody good mincer right here
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • a good grind of salt and a good grind of pepper

and to make sweet and sour cucumber salad, you should:

  • run the carrot and the cucumber(s) through the spiraliser, grater or Ken Dodd’s teeth 
  • put in a bowl with the finely chopped onion
  • put the dressing contents in a bowl, whisk like mad, pour over the top, and give everything a nice coating
  • serve

Although I’ve pitched this at 2 syns, it’ll actually work out less if you’re dividing between four because a lot of the sauce sits at the bottom of the bowl once the cucumber noodles are dressed. Recipe adapted from a somewhat more sugary Simply So Healthy recipe. SEE, ALWAYS LOOKING OUT FOR YOU.

J

garlic, bacon and chicken pasta

We’re both feeling quite melancholy as we witnessed something pretty awful today – a bloke having a massive seizure in the middle of IKEA and then screaming and thrashing as he came around. We’re both first-aid trained but when we got there, the staff were doing everything right and were bloody marvellous. What annoyed us more than anything, though, was the table full of old people practically snapping their necks to get a good look at the poor prone man on the floor. Not affording him any dignity or discretion, it was like they were waiting for the last number on their bingo cards. Vultures the bloody lot of them. Hopefully they were found face-down amongst the ANÖOS toys later on. Why are people so shitty?

So it brings me to two things, two pleas, really. And yes, it’s not the usual fun and games and piss-take that we normally bust out, but it’s so important. First – learn basic first aid. Take an hour to watch a few Youtube videos – you’ll find a whole raft of videos by the marvellous St John’s Ambulance right here. No-one is expecting you to give someone a tracheotomy or put in a catheter, but basic first aid makes all the difference. Would you genuinely know what to do if that bloke had been in a room with you and you alone and he had started having a seizure? What if a baby started choking or a kid came to you with a broken arm? We’re lucky – we’ve both been trained because of our jobs – but it’s such a frightening position to be in that I’d hate to have to do it without the facts. If you’re in employment, why not ask your HR if they’ll get you on a training course? You just don’t know when you’ll need it. As a moment of sweet relief, here’s a post about the last time James went for first aid training.

Second short plea? Get yourself on the organ donation register. If you’ve got strong, sensible views against it then all the best to you and we’ll say no more – it’s personal choice. But if you’re not on it as an oversight or because you haven’t got round to doing it, here, sign up now. It’s odd – the issue has come to our attention via the same disease – cystic fibrosis, with a friend of mine losing a good friend to it and one of our lovely lasses in our group posting on behalf of her friend who is slowly losing her lungs. I’d love to think that when I die, they take whatever they need from me. My eyes are fucked, so there’s no point there. Heart is probably shot and doesn’t beat so well, and lungs have been blackened by years of parents who thought nicotine was a suitable replacement for fresh air (I kid. Sometimes they used to wind the window down in the car). My skin is good, though, so graft away, and my brain – assuming it’s not being turned to sponge by some dastardly CJD prions (I ate a lot of cheap beef back in the day), is fairly sharp. They could take my balls if they wanted, they’re in decent shape, and hell if you want my willy, it’s there, though years of growing up alone in the country with nothing to do means it’s like a well-worn tyre now. I jest I jest. Trying to inject some levity. Go on. Sign up on the register. I promise you that if I die before you, and given my calorie intake and sloth levels of exercise, it’ll probably happen, you can take what you want.

OK. So let’s do the recipe.

chicken and bacon pasta

 

to make the garlic, bacon and chicken pasta, you’ll need:

  • 400g pasta of your choice
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 bacon medallions
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 50oml passata
  • ½ tsp paprika

 

to make the garlic, bacon and chicken pasta, you should:

  • cook the pasta according to the instructions – drain and rinse with cold water and set aside (this is a trick I learnt recently – works a treat!)
  • in a large frying pan heat some oil over a medium-high heat, add the onions and cook until softened, stirring frequently
  • meanwhile, chop the bacon and chicken into small pieces and add to the pan, reduce the heat slightly and cook until they meat is browned all over
  • add the paprika and garlic to the pan and cook for about thirty seconds, stirring constantly
  • add the passata to the pan, stir and cook for about fifteen minutes until the mixture has thickened
  • add the pasta back to the pan, stir through and heat for about three minutes
  • serve!

quick carbonara (sort of)

Going to rattle off a quick lunch for you today – it’s carbonara, but without the double cream and lovely cheese and egg – instead, using a bit of Quark and egg yolk to mix it through. Before I get to that, and I’ll need to be quick as I’ve got a Doctor Who appointment in fifteen minutes, I confess myself disappointed. See we’ve been furiously buying new books to populate our massive bookcase and I thought, you know, let’s have a trip down Memory Lane. It can’t all be Nigella Lawson and Bill Bryson books. So I nipped onto Amazon to buy the two books I used to love as a nipper – Martin’s Mice by Dick King Smith and My Best Fiend by Sheila Lavelle. Well, honestly. I appreciate I’m viewing them with the jaundiced eye of an adult, but they’re bobbins. I’d finished both books in the time it took to fill my bath. 

And that saddens me. Obviously there are things we experience as a child that we don’t want to feel again as an adult – getting your bottom wiped, or the gentle caress of a whispering vicar, but wouldn’t it have been nice to have at least enjoyed a book that used to bring me so much joy. It also means I’m stuck on new books to buy, because I can’t face having my heart broken again by some insipid story or turgid bit of fiction. Paul’s easy enough – he buys intellectual books full of big words and covers that look like they’d give chartered accountants an erection. To demonstrate, I looked at the last two books we bought from Amazon: I shelled out for a second-hand copy of Delia’s How To Be Frugal, Paul spent his hard-earned money on ‘Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain’, a book that frankly sounds so boring that I drifted off halfway through reading out the title and started thinking about cats. Put another way, we have two magazine subscriptions that get delivered here – one is Viz magazine, the other is Private Eye. Tsk. Snob. I have everything Stephen King has ever published, Paul has a book on tunnels. I suppose they say opposites attract.

Anyway enough of that – tonight’s recipe:

sorta carbonara

to make cheat’s carbonara, you will need:

  • 200g pasta (we used tagliatelle)
  • 6 bacon medallions chopped neatly (you can use up your bacon from our meat box deal with Musclefood – click here for that!)
  • three tablespoons of Quark
  • 30g parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons of fromage frais
  • bit of cheddar
  • two egg yolks

to make cheat’s carbonara, you should:

  • boil the pasta and cook the bacon off
  • mix together everything else
  • then mix EVERYTHING together

I know, simple, but still…!

J

honey and heat noodles

We’re out tonight – so PREVIOUSLY SAVED RECIPE ACTIVATE. We won’t let you down! We’re aiming hard not to miss the 85 recipes a day before Christmas but sometimes, life overtakes us! Seems fair enough though. If you’re busy and you want something quick and easy, this will do nicely. I know some people find spices difficult – if that’s the case, you could omit the noodles and just dress them with sesame oil, but you’ll need to syn that. Add some quorn for an even better big meal!

This dish takes less than five minutes to prepare.. It’s as simple as this – spices mixed with honey and oil then used to dress noodles. I mean honestly, even you can’t mess that up. This often does us for a quick lunch if neither of us can be arsed to cook – surprisingly often! Just make sure you put it into a decent Tupperware box where the oil won’t leach out and stain the container! You could dress this up by adding some stir-fried vegetables or other such nice things, but honestly, keeping it simple will really pay dividends!

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to make honey and heat noodles, you’ll need:

  • whatever dry noodles you enjoy, as long as they’re syn free
  • 1 tsp of sesame oil (three syns)
  • 1 tbsp of honey (two and a half syns)
  • 1 tbsp of worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp of rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of low sodium soy sauce
  • a tsp of peri-peri mix and a 1/4tsp of ground chilli
  • pinch of paprika

to make honey and heat noodles you should:

  • mix together everything but the noodles
  • cook the noodles
  • mix the noodles in with the spices
  • serve!

Christ I’ve got a cheek calling that a recipe but really, it’s quick and tasty. You could bulk it out with tomatoes, onions, meat, anything, but just in its pure form it’s really very nice!

J

no fussin’ tomato soup

Watching old episodes of 999 instead of doing what I’m supposed to do tonight, and I love this classic bit of British understatement. A chap who was a passenger in a stunt plane had a calamity when, at 10,000ft, during a loop-de-loop, his chair worked loose and he FELL OUT OF THE PLANE. He survived, and the show cut to him talking to camera where he says ‘I realised something had gone wrong when I wasn’t in the plane anymore’. You think?! Jeesus. If that was me you’d have been able to spot me across three countries as my carcass, and the stream of faeces where I’d shit myself, fell to Earth.

A friend in our facebook group pointed out something today – we’ve been going for OVER A YEAR. We started this blog on September 20, 2014 – quick, go back and look at our lack of humour and earnest WE WILL LOSE WEIGHT THIS TIME prose. The first post is right here. Looking at the blog stats, we’ve published 250 posts and I’ve had over 2,000,000 views – that’s averaging over 5,000 views a day, and recently, it’s been sitting around the 7,000 – 8,000 mark. We’ve got twenty two thousand followers on Facebook, 7,000 or so in our group and over 3,800 folks who have actually signed up to let me enter their inbox on a daily basis. If the average post is around 1,000 words which is what I am for, that means I’ve sat here and typed out 250,000 or so words about us two fat buggers who don’t really do anything at all. 

To me, that is absolute fucking insanity. I’ll tell you why. 

We never see anything through. Our house is a shrine to unfinished projects, passing interests and enthusiastic but ultimately pointless endeavours which have bubbled away to nothing – for example, we have:

  • a £200 GPS receiver which we bought to go geocaching and then put in a drawer when we realised we didn’t have the batteries for it – never been used;
  • ten disco caches – essentially kooky little containers that we were going to hide all over Newcastle…and didn’t;
  • a second computer which we bought to help us enter competitions faster when we were going through our comping phase;
  • a £450 stand mixer when I was going through my ‘baking’ phase (although to be fair, I’d love to bake, it just makes me too fat);
  • two wonderful pairs of walking boots which still have the tags on;
  • see above, but with wellies;
  • see above, but with trainers, gym kit, a gym bag;
  • a scrapbook which contains two Metro tickets and a receipt for M&Ms;
  • a year long contract with David Lloyd which we used for a month – though in our defence we quickly grew tired of pipe-cleaner men strutting around the place looking at themselves in the mirror;
  • a pair of brand new bikes;
  • jigsaws, after Paul saw a nice one in a dentist’s reception and thought he’d give it a go;
  • a full suite of decent DIY equipment, which we studiously ignore…

…and so on. We started the blog with the aim of rattling off a few recipes and giving me an outlet to practice my writing (I used to have another blog about health anxiety called shake, rattle and droll, a title I was so proud of it was almost a shame to cast off my health anxiety and thus stop using it), and here we are a year later with over 200 recipes and lovely folk all around the UK, and indeed outside the UK, sending us lovely messages and reading about Paul’s helmet on facebook. It’s a mad world. 

Anyway, the reason for all this babble is just to say – thank you. Seriously. I’d write and chuckle away to myself even if no bugger in the world read what I wrote but the fact that so many do really cheers my butter-filled heart. I might come across as a brassy, bolshy, confident tart on here but I’m actually quite shy. Put me in a lift with strangers and I’d prefer to stick my finger in the exposed wiring than make ‘polite conversation’. So each comment, each like, each share, each thank you – that makes it worthwhile. OH GOD I’M WELLING UP.

Unusually, no picture for tonight’s recipe, because I only made enough for one bowl, and really, there’s not much call for a recipe because it’s as easy as Jordan – but we’ll do one anyway:

to make syn-free tomato soup:

  • as many ripe and squishy tomatoes as you can get – go to a market at the end of the day and you can pick up crates of the buggers for next to nowt;
  • one strong onion;
  • one small potato;
  • two cloves of garlic

And that’s it! All you need to do is to slice the onion, fry it in a little oil, add the cubed potato and grated garlic and then chop up all the tomatoes and throw them in a pan. You don’t need to add stock, the tomatoes will have enough liquid in (if they are ripe) to make a soup – and leave to cook low and slow for as long as you can. Better it takes four hours on a low heat than one hour on a hot ring. Haha, ring. Just keep an eye on it. When it comes to serving, just blend it with a stick blender and if you’re boring or you don’t like your poo to look like a sesame bun, sieve it to get rid of the seeds and skin. By adding nothing but simple things, it tastes so much nicer. 

Enjoy! Tomorrow (hopefully) I’ll type up more Corsica shenanigans, though as I say that a little alarm is ringing to suggest there’s something I’m supposed to be doing tomorrow night too. Hmm.

J

curried chicken salad

Let’s see if we can actually do a quick post. No waffle. Tonight’s meal idea is actually good for a quick lunch, or for hoying onto a jacket tatty for a quick dinner. Not a fan of celery? Leave it out and put a bit of chopped onion in. Don’t like curried things? Well, tricky, but add paprika instead. Not a fan of me? Then simply kiss my arse. Doing well on the 85 recipes deal mind!

curried chicken salad

to make curried chicken salad, you’ll need:

  • 85g fat free natural yoghurt
  • 20g dried apricots, chopped
  • 3/4 tsp curry powder
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped (we got 13 breasts in our box from Musclefood)
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 1/2 mango, chopped

A little tip – chop everything up nice and fine – small chunks are always better.

and to make curried chicken salad, simply:

  • mix together the yoghurt, apricots, curry powder, lime juice, cayenne pepper and salt in a small bowl and set aside
  • in a large bowl mix together the chicken, celery, spring onions and mango
  • pour the dressing mixture over the chicken and toss to coat
  • serve on whatever you like!

DONE. Still 200 words mind! 🙁

J

chicken chopped salad – and buying a bloody sofa

They say that moving house is one of the most stressful things a couple can do – well, that’s bullshit. Listen, we moved the entire contents of our flat to our new home in a Citreon C2. You’ve never lived until you’ve hurtled down the A1 with the threat of a chest of drawers tumbling off the roof of the car and littering the road with boxer shorts and buttplugs. Actually, moving was quite a charming experience, especially once we had a bonfire of all the old biddy furniture in the back garden – who would have thought that ulcer dressings and boxes upon boxes upon boxes of expired Solpadeine would go up like Piper Alpha? Not me!

No, moving house was easy. It’s decorating that’s really turning my teeth to dust as I grind them with impatience and anger. Today Paul and I went sofa shopping, see, and quite genuinely I’d rather spend the afternoon having various items of kitchenware roughly inserted into my anus in a display window in House of Fraser rather than repeat it. It was just awful, with each shop bringing a fresh horror.

We made the mistake of starting in DFS, where we were immediately accosted by someone fresh out of nappies and with more product in his hair than there is on our freshly plastered ceilings. I reckon he took longer on his hair that morning than I’ve spent cumulatively on mine my entire life. And I used to have long, luscious hair, like a fruity Meat Loaf. His opening gambit was ‘So are you thinking of buying a sofa?’. I resisted the urge to throw my hand to my mouth in mock surprise and go ‘Heavens no, I’ve come to have the car’s tyres realigned and my brake fluid changed, how DID I end up in here?’.

I can’t bear nonsense questions like that (and I’m never rude to shopworkers, mind, they’re just doing what they’re told) – I’m hardly going to be renting a sofa for a weekend, am I? We shuffled around the store until his Lynx Africa got too much for my sensitive nose and we bid him goodbye, promising to ‘come back later’. Honestly there’s more chance of Princess Diana ‘coming back later’ than me.

Next was Barker and Stonehouse, which is pretty much the antithesis of DFS in terms of ‘style’ but I found it ghastly, not least because I immediately felt incredibly out of place in my George jeans and painting hoodie. There are some beautiful pieces of furniture to be had, but it all felt a little bit overpriced, and the only assistance offered amounted to nothing more than such an angry glare from an bumptious oil-slick of a man that I actually thought I’d trod muck in on my shoes. Perhaps he was looking disdainfully at our B&M carrier bag full of hot chocolates, but what can I say, I like a bargain. I got a quick snipe in as I left that ‘perhaps if I was opening an upper-class brothel, I’d consider it’, but it fell a little flat.

The next shop was some ‘Sofa Warehouse’ or suchlike – the only thing I remember about it was that, when I enquired about leather sofas, he immediately showed us to this god-awful brown number that looked like the first turd after a bout of severe constipation…and had cupholders in it. I’m sorry but no, cupholders in a sofa is strictly the domain of people who put tomato ketchup on everything they eat and who breathe loudly through their mouth. I mean honestly, I don’t even have a tattoo of a loved one’s name in copperplate on my neck. I bet the same people who leave comments like ‘RESIPEE PLZ K THX HUN’ under my food pictures have cupholders. Is it so difficult to strain forward and pop your can of Monster down on a coffee table? We made our excuses there and then.

And so it went on. We visited almost ten different places and each one was absolutely rammed full of awful shapes, awful textures, awful colours and awful people. There was one settee that looked like it had been stitched together by Stevie Wonder at gunpoint – about eighty different textures and patterns all stretched horrendously over some cheap metal legs. It looked like a corrupted MPEG of a colonoscopy. Who buys stuff like that, seriously? I wouldn’t burn that in my garden.

We did eventually find a settee we like, but then being tight-arsed Geordies, we dashed home to see if we could find it cheaper online and via Quidco, which we’ve dutifully done, but no – it’s cheaper in store! So that means tomorrow we’re going to go back and haggle like we’ve never done before. The sales assistant looked hard-faced (although it was hard to tell under her fifteen inches of Max Factor – she sneezed at one point and I swear half her cheek fell onto her blazer) but I reckon I’ll be able to get £200 off the asking price and free delivery. That’s my goal.

Tell you what though, you couldn’t pay me to deal with the general public – we witnessed some appalling behaviour from families with children today, including one set of parents who let their litter tip a fucking settee over and ignored the somewhat plaintive cries of the poor assistant who clearly knew that a call to a claims solicitors was mere moments away. You also get arseholes coming in like me who fake-smile at you, take a free cup of coffee and then spend thirty minutes clumsily pawing their way through the fabric selection book before hurtling home to order it online and put a hammer in the nail of the coffin of your job security. In my defence: I’m always super-polite and I’m never, ever rude. Plus anyway, I’m going back tomorrow so she’ll be getting her commission.

Christ though, it’ll be ten weeks before delivery. Ten weeks! What are they doing, pulling it with their hair from Penzance? Bah! That leaves nearly no time at all for the cats to completely destroy it before Christmas comes and we have to host family. 

Anyway. That was my day. When we came back, we threw together whatever shite we could find in the fridge and the cupboard and fashioned together a ‘chicken chopped salad’ of sorts, made up of various bits of nonsense. It was tasty, but does it require a recipe? I’m not sure. I’ll give you a picture though, so be happy.

chicken chopped salad

 

our chicken chopped salad contains:

  • healthy extra amount of light mozzarella (65g each)
  • two chicken breasts, cooked on the grill and coated in lime juie
  • four boiled eggs, sliced
  • diced crunchy iceberg lettuce
  • two rashers of bacon which Paul dutifully turned into shoe-leather on the grill
  • sliced beef tomatoes
  • tin of black eyed beans
  • tin of sweetcorn
  • sliced red cabbage

You could make this veggie friendly by omitting the chicken and bacon and replacing it with peppers, mushrooms, sofa cushions, horse farts, anything. I don’t often cover salads but it did make for a nice photo and a quick dinner, so here we are. Enjoy! 

Oh dressing: we just mixed some fat free yoghurt with mint from the garden. Easy!

J

BLTE bap, hot tuna salad and larb burger

So here’s the thing. I get a lot of people telling me to write a book, and I’ve always wanted to, but never really had the right idea or the inclination to do research and gain the appropriate knowledge. Then, as it happens, Paul decided to stroke my ego in the car today (and we weren’t pulled over in a layby flashing our interior lights at lorry drivers, which is normally what we’re doing in the car together – honestly, I hope Eddie Stobart’s drivers aren’t epileptic, it looks like an Eighties disco in our car) and told me I really should get on with it. Well, I love writing, I adore writing this blog (for the most part) and because I’m massively egocentric, what better topic to write about than what is happening in our lives? That would be great for me – but boring(ish) for you.

Here’s my idea: I am going to write a book – it’s going to be in the same format as what we’re doing now with the blog posts, but with fictional stuff interwoven amongst the nonsense. It won’t be a slimming book, simply because I don’t want Margaret coming after me with her Lynda la Plante weave all awry and her gang of Slimming World lawyers straining on the leash to do me in for copyright law. But I’ll put a few of my favourite recipes in there too. It’ll be like Bridget Jones Diary, only massively less successful. Renee Zellweger could totally play me though, if she put 180lb on and fell face-first into a fire. Naturally the blog remains at the forefront of my writing, and this side project will be something I’ll be tinkering on with for the next few months. In the meantime, if you fancy reading more of our writing, don’t forget we have a book on Amazon which is an account of our four weeks in Orlando: read about how I spent the first two days of the holiday tinted blue thanks to cheap sunscreen, or how I exposed my not unsubstantial arse to a crowd in a waterpark. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and by paying only £1.20, you’ll keep Paul and I in replacement ped-eggs. That can be found here.

Right, so with that announcement over, let’s start with day four of SP! Tomorrow I’m going to explain SP in a bit more detail and also tell you exactly what I think of it. I’ll give you a clue: I think it’s a load of horse’s arse. And I’m not even going to mark that as a protein, either.

BREAKFAST

blt slimming world

BLTE

The E stands for egg (P), obviously. Plus lettuce (S) and tomato (S). There’s not an awful lot to say about this, other than: 

  • we totally didn’t have two each *cough/splutter*
  • I got Paul out of bed to make this (because I was hungry) by setting off the smoke alarm and then hiding in the kitchen – he came dashing in completely nude like the world’s cuddliest fireman and then proceeded to tell me off for about five minutes, the whole while I’m standing there agreeing solemnly with everything he said and pushing the packet of bacon closer and closer to him. I know one day our actifry is going to burst into flame through overuse and we’ll both perish in the fire because we’ve played too many pranks with the smoke alarm. I bet Paul manages to die with a pious ‘see I told you’ expression on his face
  • there’s a certain type of wholemeal bread roll you’re allowed – I think it’s a Weight Watchers one – but we only had these little buns in the freezer and after waking Paul up by tricking him into thinking he was in The Towering Inferno, I didn’t have the temerity to tell him to go to the shop…so we just used these. They’re about the same size.

LUNCH

hot hot tuna salad

Hot, hot tuna salad

So good I named it twice, see. No, it’s hot in both senses of the word – hot because of the added chilli and also, served hot. Usually tuna salad is served cold and, to someone who doesn’t like fish, isn’t especially appetising. Hell, I’ll make Paul wash Little Paul in the bathroom sink before he gets his birthday gobble. 

Christ can I say as an aside I realise that this post is making it sound like Paul has an awful life, like some hairy Little Mo to my Trevor. Honestly, it’s not that bad, no-one needs to call Relate for us just yet. The only time he’s raised an iron in anger is when our ironing lady was off for two weeks having something done with her ovaries. Having them out I think, not wallpapered.

Anyway, yes, tuna salad:

to make hot, hot tuna salad you will need: 

several big fuck-off lettuce leaves (S) – I grow mine in the greenhouse and honest to God, it’s like Day of the Triffids in there at the moment. I’m lucky I have a retractable hose-pipe – if I get lost amongst the lettuce, I just pull myself free. Yep. You’ll also need two tins of tuna (P), two large sweet peppers cut into chunks (S), three shallots sliced thinly (S), two tomatoes cut into chunks (S), 1 tsp of black pepper, 1 tsp of garlic salt, 1 tsp of chilli flakes, 1/4 tsp of salt and a bit of oil.

to make hot, hot tuna salad you should:

  • mix the tuna together with all the spices and salt and set aside
  • fry the onion and pepper in a dab of oil or some frylight until soft
  • chuck the tuna in and heat through – why not add a bit of chilli sauce if you like your hoop to look like a deflated liferaft
  • serve up on the giant lettuce leaves
  • to eat, fold the lettuce into neat parcels and chew
DETOX WATER

mandarin water

Mandarin

My favourite water so far! It tasted like sunshine in a glass. Well no, not quite, but it’s just one ingredient:

  • mandarin – which is excellent for vitamin C, which is handy for preventing skin wrinkling. 

I assume Gordon Ramsay doesn’t like mandarins, because he has a face like an unmade bed. Don’t forget, if you want a gloriously ostentatious way of serving up your water (and don’t think for a second that come Eurovision night that isn’t going to be full of punch) you can buy one from Amazon. I will say this, we’ve certainly consumed a lot more water since we bought it, but that’s more because I’m such a tight-arse that I’m determined not to lose face and see it consigned to the back of the cupboard along with the lollipop maker and the ravioli crimper.

Haha, crimper.

BODY MAGIC IDEA – GEOCACHING

 geocachingday42

geocachingday42

Ah geocaching. I’ve rumbled on about geocaching before – it’s essentially a giant treasure hunt where no-one wins. But you don’t need to win a prize to enjoy it, it’s fantastic fun if you’re GIANT NERDS like us. People have hidden containers all over the world (and I’d bet my savings there’s probably at least five within easy walking distance from your house right now) and you use your GPS or an app on your smartphone to find them. Then you sign the book and put it back. It’s a great way of:

  • livening up a charming walk out in the country; and
  • making the British public think you’re loitering in the bushes with your knob out ready to strike.

See, part of geocaching is that you have to be subtle – some of the containers are hidden in plain sight, so you have to try and swipe them without people seeing, which can be difficult when you’re stumbling around in the trees like a flannel-shirted rapist. We had a lovely walk around a nature reserve and ended up on one of Northumberland’s fantastic beaches. Just look at that scene above. See, the North is so much more than child-beating and whippets. That picture of the rock at the top – that’s called a disco cache, where the logbook is hidden inside a container designed to look like something completely different. They’re extra hard – I’ve hid caches myself inside golf balls, birds nest and even a fake blob of chewing gum. It’s all free of charge and hey, if you’ve got kids, get them involved too.

Everyone I ever explain geocaching to wrinkles their nose and asks me what is the point, but it’s great fun. You’ll end up enjoying yourself, trust me. Visit www.geocaching.com, pop in your postcode and go and find the closest one to you.

DINNER 

larb burgers

Larb burgers

Told you I was getting the use out of my lettuce! Note: I used a carrot and ginger dressing from Tesco on this which works out at almost a syn for two tablespoons. But you can use fat-free vinaigrette if you dare not sacrifice a syn. 

to make larb burgers you will need: 

  • 500g of turkey mince or three chicken breasts (if you’re using breasts, then you’ll need a mincer – and how often as a gay man do I get to say that?), 3 shallots (S) (one thickly sliced, the other two thinly), 3 cloves of garlic (S), a few lime leaves (get them from Tesco’s world food bit), 1 small stalk of lemongrass, a dash of fish sauce, a bit of ginger (you only need a little knob to really taste it – and how often as a gay man do I get to say that), a lime (S), pickled cabbage (S I think) and the ubiquitous giant lettuce leaves (S).

to make larb burgers you should:

  • get your food processor or blender or what have you on the go
  • throw in the thickly cut shallot, garlic, lime leaves, lemongrass, ginger, fish sauce and a pinch of salt and pulse to a paste
  • add the meat and pulse so it’s nicely mixed up with the spices
  • shape into six burgers
  • heat a griddle pan with a drop of oil or some Frylight and get it medium hot
  • add the burgers and cook hard – you want to get some sear lines into the burger for that classy bitches look
  • turn over and repeat on the other side – we cooked them for seven minutes each side to really cook them through – always be careful with chicken
  • if they look a bit dry, throw some lime juice into the pan
  • in the same griddle pan, put the finely sliced shallots in to fry off in the juice of the meat and lime
  • once cooked through, assemble onto the lettuce leaves, add some pickled cabbage and the shallots, and serve (you can add dressing if you want, I found it wasn’t necessary.

Enjoy! Oooh it’s like you in a tropical paradise, right?

DAY FOUR DONE.

J

breakfast loaf, ploughman’s lunch and pizza topped chicken

So yes, sorry about yesterday and all, but we got sidetracked by the election, and anyway you got a competition so hush your gums. How do I feel about the election? Pretty annoyed, in all honesty, not least because it means I have to look at that smug, oily-faced knobber everytime I open the newspaper. I liked Ed Miliband but he had all the leadership potential of a carrier bag blowing in the wind, but he didn’t deserve that. Ah well. No politics chat. Five more years is plenty time for the United Kingdom to rue their decision. So yes, that’s that.

I keep receiving phone calls from various ‘Claims Management’ companies who have somehow got my number and are adamant that I’ve had an accident and must claim now. I’m not one of these people who get hysterical about it, ultimately people are just doing their jobs, but they are parasitic vultures and I do enjoy wasting their time. The amount of different scenarios I’ve had for my fictional accident is beyond belief. I had some cheery chap on the phone the other day for fifteen minutes asking me about my accident – I told him I was driving a car ferry down the A1 and hit a bridge. His response? He asked me for the registration plate of the ferry. I told him I couldn’t recall the registration plate and that I couldn’t check because one of my eyes had fallen out on impact.

Today’s call was a little shorter, I told him I’d hit a pollard. Admittedly, I’m not convinced English was his first accent, but I have a clear voice and clearly said pollard. He asked me to repeat. I said pollard. He asked again. Pollard. ‘Bollard Sir? You hit a bollard?’ – to which my reply was no, I’d hit eighties television star Su Pollard, who had strayed in front of my car whilst lighting a cigarette after turning on Durham’s Christmas lights. I mentioned that I felt her trademark glasses crack under my tyre and I couldn’t sleep for knowing there was so many Hi-De-Hi fans who’d never be happy again.

He hung up. No staying power at all, these cold callers.

BREAKFAST

daythreebreak

Breakfast loaf

I confess, this has to be singularly the most unappetising dish I’ve made yet. It tasted nice, but it looked like a foot that had fallen in the sea. In fact, that’s all I can see now. It’s 4 syns for the whole lot and it made enough for breakfast for the two of us and a few slices for snacking. Is it healthy? Christ no. To be frank, if I stop and think about it, it’s bloody revolting the amount of meat being used here…

to make breakfast loaf you will need:

8 Be-Good-To-Yourself sausages (1/2 syn each) (you might need more, I did, but I have a big loaf tin), four eggs, a chopped onion, around twelve rashers of bacon. You’ll also need a loaf tin.

to make breakfast loaf you should:

  • set your eggs away boiling – after eight minutes, take out, run under cold water and peel them
  • using your fingers, squeeze the sausage-meat out of their casing – you might want to really concentrate carefully at how this looks as you’re doing it because trust me, with this veritable mountain of meat, you won’t be experiencing this action for a few days – and into a bowl
  • gently fry off the onion in a dab of oil or frylight and set aside
  • line the loaf tin with the rashers of bacon, leaving some dangling over the top of the sides which you’ll then fold over the sausagemeat – make sure you cover the bottom of the tin too
  • spoon half of the sausagemeat into the bottom of the tin
  • place the four boiled eggs into the loaf tin on their sides
  • spoon over the cooked onion
  • get the rest of the sausagemeat and pack it into the tin, then fold the bacon over the top
  • you want your meat packed really quite tight – you’re creating a bacon wrapped parcel of goodness
  • cook in the oven for around forty minutes or until it is cooked through – you might need to drain a little liquid off
  • leave to cool, then slice and serve

You’ll also need to know this basic hands-only CPR:

  • place the heel of your hand on the breastbone at the centre of the person’s chest. Place your other hand on top of your first hand and interlock your fingers
  • position yourself with your shoulders above your hands
  • using your body weight (not just your arms), press straight down by 5–6cm on their chest
  • repeat this until an ambulance arrives

That bit about the using all your weight bit makes me titter. If I used all of my weight on someone’s chest they’d be taking the corpse into hospital in a fucking gravy boat.

LUNCH

daythreeploughman

this one’s easy.

ingredients: one egg, 2 slices of ham, 2 tomatoes, 40g reduced-fat cheddar, cucumber, handful of pickled onions, two slices of wholemeal bread (healthy extra), 2 tbsp fat free cottage cheese, one chicken breast

recipe: well now, really. This one practically makes itself. We George Foreman’ed the chicken breast. That is, we grilled it, not became so proud of it that we put our name on it. Have you seen my full name? It wouldn’t fit on a cucumber.

DETOX WATER

daythreewater

Lemon and ginger

I’m not a huge fan of ginger, unless we’re talking about mega-titted Geri Halliwell, who was my favourite Spice Girl. I always pretend to Paul that I’m too cool for that type of music but then he’ll catch me doing all the voices to Spice Up My Life whilst pottering around in the shed and the game is up. Tell you what, this detox water is playing havoc with my sleeping pattern – I’m waking up to strain the potatoes a good four times a night. I’m like the secret lemonade drinker, only the lemonade is cucumber scented and I’m spraying it all over the bathroom tiles in my sleep-addled state. So yes, enjoy that…this mixture is simple:

  • lemon – apparently very good for digestion, which is a good idea when you’re eating all this meat (honestly, if you’re not suffering with a logjam on the River Brown by the end of this SP week, I’d be amazed. I’m a whisker away from calling in those chaps who blow up old cooling towers).
  • ginger – good for motion sickness, which is handy to stop your head spinning from trying to get your head around this bloody SP malarkey.
BODY MAGIC IDEA – LOOKING THE BIZ WITH LIZ MCDONALD

daythreeliz

Well, this was absolutely disastrous. We had originally planned to give a ‘fitness DVD’ a go and had settled on trying to find that Charlotte Crosby’s DVD. She lost so much weight on her diet, but frankly, I don’t know if I can exist on a diet of jizz and cocaine, so we put that on the backburner. Then I remembered – my old flatmate bought me Beverley Callard’s Rapid Results from a Scope shop so many moon ago, and I’ve always kept it because it looks hilarious to see her tiny face peeping out next to the boxsets of 24 and Lost. I’m not fibbing either – you really can lose weight with Liz McDonald! 

We got about five minutes in and gave up. Why? Because it was ridiculous! For a start, we don’t have the level of fitness required to keep up with the lovely Bev, and secondly, neither of us could concentrate on the TV because of the fear of seeing some eye-watering camel toe. There’s something intensely troubling about trying to keep up with the squats with the Queen of the Rovers Return, especially as she was going through her ‘Kevin Keegan’ haircut stage at the time of filming.

Plus, I couldn’t take it seriously. I kept yelling ‘LIZ YA WHOOOOOREEE’ at Paul in my best Jim McDonald voice, together with ‘Catch yerself on, Elizabeth’ and ‘What about ye Paul’ even before the exercise started. See this is why we can’t go along to classes. Ah well. At least we tried! Imagine what it must have looked like to see two big fat benders yelling corrie quotes at each other whilst Roly from Eastenders did lunges on the telly.

BTW, I can’t begin to tell you how often Jim McDonald impressions get made in our house. The other Corrie impression that comes out all the time is Paul shouting LEEEEES like Janice Battersby used to. It’s like the last ten years never happened!

DINNER 

daythreepizza

Pizza topped chicken (makes two)

to make pizza topped chicken you will need:

1 small red onion (chopped finely), 1 red pepper (chopped), 2 small cloves of garlic (crushed), 2 tbsp stock, 1 tin of chopped tomatoes, 2 tsp tomato puree, 1 tsp oregano, two chicken breasts, 65g reduced fat mozzarella, few leaves of basil (finely chopped)

to make pizza topped chicken you should: 

  • slice the chicken breast in half horizontally, making sure not to slice through the entire breast, then fold open to make a butterfly shape and repeat for the other breast.
  • spray a large pan with Frylight (or add a teaspoon of olive oil for 2 syn) and fry the breasts over a medium-high heat until slightly browned and repeat on both sides.
  • place the breasts onto a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 20 minutes at 200 degrees.
  • meanwhile, in a saucepan, mix together the onions, garlic and stock and simmer for a few minutes until the onion is slightly softened
  • add the tomatoes, tomato puree and oregano and stir, remove from the heat
  • when the chicken breasts are cooked, spread a tablespoon or more of the tomato mixture onto each breast
  • add the mozzarella and cook in the oven for a further 5 minutes
  • sprinkle with the chopped basil and eat!

DAY THREE DONE.

J