caramelised Vietnamese pork and rice

I bet you’ve stumbled here expecting caramelised Vietnamese pork and rice? Makes sense, given the title, and look, you’ve only have to scroll through a few paragraphs to get there. Can I share something that I’ve learned over the weekend? There’s nothing quite as stressful as trying to give a cat medicine that he doesn’t want to take. I’d sooner run into a burning building and have a boxing match with a drunk Hartlepudlian woman than go through this again. He needs to take it because he’s had an allergic reaction to something and is pulling out his fur, the poor bugger. Naturally, because we’re caring sorts, we rushed him to the vets, handed over a billion pounds to the absolutely dishy trainee vet behind the counter (oh! to be a cow in difficult labour!) and were given a course of tiny pills to give to the cat, who would ‘eat them with no fuss, all cats do’.

Like hell they do. I’d have more luck getting Bowser to learn to tap-dance. This is a cat who shat in his own cat-box to stop us taking him to the vets to stop his own sickness. He was foolish, we just bundled him in with his sister and they spent twenty minutes tumbling around in the back of the Smart car until we arrived at the vets and had to pull them apart like old Velcro. Sola is fine, she just spends her day showing off her fanny in the window or sleeping anywhere where we’ve put down clean clothes. I don’t know what it is to own a shirt that doesn’t look 80% mohair.

First we tried the obvious route – slid out a packet of finest Whiskas Bumholes-‘n’Ash and hid the tiny pill inside. He ate every last bit, bar the atom-sized piece of cat-food with this pill on it. There was a haughty arrogance to his walk as he strutted off, dropping hair everywhere he went. Next we tried luring him in with good ham – Sainsbury’s Extra Special Ham, no less – and despite him usually wolfing this down so fast he manages to take your fingernails with him at the same time, he completely ignored it. I gave it to Paul instead, telling him to man-up and spit out the cat-hair afterwards.

Next came the nuclear option – Dreamies. Have you ever seen a cat around Dreamies? I can only assume they contain whatever the cat equivalent is of crack-cocaine because I swear, my cats would be out turning tricks in the street if they knew there was a packet of Dreamies to be had. They’ve been known to get inside our kitchen cupboards just to push the little pot onto the floor before. This time we used our brains, secured the tablet to a Dreamie with a bit of spit, and hid it in amongst a pile of other Dreamies.

Yep, he ate all but one, then went back to furiously licking his willy. He did the same with tuna fish, he did the same with cream and he’ll do the same with whatever suggestion you lot have for me. In the end we had to find a video on Youtube on how to pill your cat and I swear, our relationship will never be the same. He looks absolutely fucking furious – and this is what he usually looks like:

Paul had to hold him and I had the unfortunate job of prising his mouth open to drop the pill in – then he spat it out – so rinse and repeat. Ah well. Only thirteen more to go. I would have genuinely preferred the vet had given us suppositories at this point.

So, aside from pushing pills on the cat all weekend, what else have we done? Finally organised our bloody spice cupboard, that’s what! Anyone else on Slimming World knows the pain of their spice cupboard – a mysterious Null full of eight jars of ground ginger and dried sage that was last wheeled out for the ‘GOODBYE DIANA 4EVA IN OUR HARTS’ vol-au-vents. The amount of times we’ve bought stuff in Tesco only to find we actually had several bottles of it already cluttering up our kitchen, man, it beggars belief. So we emptied it out, like so:

Then, with a quick trip to IKEA and the purchase of all these pretty magnetic jars for the side of the fridge, we now have this:

Pretty right? They’re nice and sturdy so they’ll stay on there until the cleaner knocks the turmeric to the floor with her Henry Hoover and ruins our carpet. But that’s OK, we’ll cross that P45 when we get to it. I posted this online last night and people went wet with delight, which I wasn’t expecting given it’s just jars, but if you’re wondering:

You have no idea how long it takes to scrutinise our highly-reflective gloss surfaces for stray knob-shots, you know. Let’s get to the food, eh?

caramelised Vietnamese pork and rice

caramelised Vietnamese pork and rice

to make caramelised Vietnamese pork and rice you will need:

  • 500g minced pork
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tsp grated ginger (save your fingers and invest in one of these – great for garlic too!)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bird eye chili, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (4 syns)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • rice or noodles (whichever you prefer)

to make caramelised Vietnamese pork and rice you should:

  • cook the rice or noodles to however you like it – the main bit doesn’t take long so you can probably cook both at the same time
  • meanwhile, heat a little oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat
  • add the onion, garlic, ginger and chili to the pan and cook for 2 minutes
  • add the mince and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until it’s cooked through
  • add the maple syrup and the fish sauce and stir it in only once
  • leave it to cook, untouched, for about 2 minutes – this helps it to caramelise
  • stir, then cook again for another thirty seconds – and then do two more times
  • remove form the pan and serve over the rice or noodles
  • sprinkle over the spring onions and eat

Want some more ideas? Just click one of the buttons below!

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J

buffalo chicken and bacon toasted cheese sandwiches

Buffalo chicken and bacon toasted cheese sandwiches. If sandwiches were gay, this one would be a powertop with a vein-cane like a draught excluder. And we’re off! BUT FIRST.

If I see one more gay pride rainbow or business logo turning rainbow-coloured, I’m going to scream. Or theatrically flounce, at the very least.

Hear me out before you start lighting the pitchforks and assembling the L.G.B.T.Q.A.I.S.P.T.S.D.R.O.F.L.B.B.C.R.A.D.I.O.O.N.E unicorns to put my windows through. I have no problem with gay pride, hell, I’ve done my bit for the gay community simply by being born and fabulous. No, it’s the fucking comments that get left by other people that do my nut in.

OMG WHEN CAN WE HAVE A STRAIGHT PRIDE PARADE‘ being the main one, although there’s normally a few more spelling mistakes and flecks of spittle involved. They are, almost to a point, middle-aged men or women who think they’re being original and edgy asking the same question that gets asked every single time there’s any reference to Gay Pride.

It’s such a pointless, doltish comment to make, and it’s nearly always followed up by someone you know pronounces England with three syllables saying ‘it is PC gone mad‘ or ‘BECAUSE THE WHIRLED IS HETROPHOBIC‘. It isn’t heterophobic at all – anyone can come along and support, wave a flag, have a good time. But see there’s a key difference – everyone is welcome whereas us gays, and all the various iterations that involves these days, are still excluded or prejudiced against in certain ways, both big and small.

For example, we have to really think about where we go on holiday. I’d love to go to Russia, but when you see videos of young lads being kicked, beaten and punched for being gay uploaded onto Youtube and the swill of comments underneath in support, it puts you off. Brazil sounds like a fun place to visit, but less so if you’re a transperson – then you’re running the risk of being beaten to death in the fucking street surrounded by people who won’t help you simply because you’re not some shitty version of normal. Least you’re safe in our progressive country where Pride isn’t needed – well, unless you’re getting an Uber (thrown out for being gay), or perhaps you fancy a stay in a B&B but oh wait you can’t because you’re bummers and the owners are good tolerant Christians. Need a drink to settle your nerves? Fine – but don’t go out with your lesbian friends otherwise you’ll be jumped by a gang of fifteen men who’ll knock your teeth out. That was three months ago, by the way.

Hell, I’ve told you before about my ex, haven’t I? He spent two months building up the courage to come out to his parents because he was so imbued with happiness at being in his first gay relationship and wanted to be open about it. They responded by ramming a screwdriver against his throat, telling him he was ‘wrong’ and then locking him away in his house. Imagine how fucked up that would make you feel – all because you love someone of the same gender. I know of at least two other similar stories in my circle, and I’d hazard a guess that if you asked most queer folk they’d have a similar ‘cheery’ story. Do you think there are many young teenage straight lads out there who agonise for months – years even – about telling their dad they love a girl? Do you reckon the streets are awash with straight people holding hands and being told by perfect strangers that they’re sick, immoral, nasty or perverted? Nope.

That’s why Pride is needed: the more something is celebrated, the more something is held up as a perfectly acceptable way of living life, the less of an issue it becomes. Your ‘straight pride’ is every fucking day that you go through without some judgement being cast on how you live your life.

I’m amazingly lucky – I have fantastic parents who have been nothing but supportive right from the get-go and as a result, I’ve always felt comfortable talking to them about anything. You don’t understand what a difference that makes – imagine being unable to talk to your parents about who you love or what you’re confused about. Imagine what it must feel like to know they think of you as a disappointment or less of a person just because of a biological setting no more able to change than your eye-colour or your skin tone. Paul has the same, sort-of – his dad was marvellous about it and his mum made retching noises and ignored him for a few weeks, but she’s alright now, even if I might as well not exist for all the interest she shows in our life. I remember a few weeks after I came out to my mother (she may have been drunk, it was just after I got in from school) telling me that if I needed lubricant or condoms I ought to tell her and she’d buy some and leave it outside my bedroom, like I was ordering the express breakfast in a Travelodge. I didn’t have the heart to tell her at that point that me and my ‘good friend’ who would stay over for weeks at a time were already merrily boffing away and we would go through condoms like an Amsterdam hooker.

Anyway, it’s not all bad. Paul and I were discussing only the other day how far things have come for us (usually the wall behind the bed, thank God for wipe-clean Dulux Endurance paint, that’s all I can say) and how easier it is for us to be gay. Not many people bat an eyelid when I introduce him as my husband, although there’s always a few startled gasps that so much beauty shouldn’t be in one room together lest we collapse in on ourselves like a rainbow-black-hole. There’s the option to tick civil partnered on every form and most places will refer to him as my husband rather than ‘my friend’. Even my nana, back when she wasn’t ash, embraced us as a couple, only stopping occasionally to ask who was the woman. The answer of course being Paul, because he does the dishes, makes the dinner and iron the clothes, if he doesn’t want two black eyes and his pin money taken away.

Enjoy Pride, folks. But more importantly, enjoy your life, however you choose to live it, and don’t stop to give a second thought to a single person who thinks any less of you based on who you love. They’re the ones who’ll end up alone. Frightened, alone and looking back at a life filled with hatred and bile and realising they’ve wasted it, and the only thing waiting for them is blackness and fear.

I saw on a t-shirt the very thing I’m trying to say but encapsulated in only two sentences, rather than the usual 1,000 word burble you get from me.

Gay Pride was not born of a need to celebrate being gay, but our right to exist without persecution. So instead of wondering why there isn’t a straight pride movement, be thankful you don’t need one.

Oooh, get her.

Right, now, I was going to do a rainbow recipe, but I can’t be arsed. You’ve had a ranty polemic instead, be happy. No, instead, I’m going to introduce you to one hell of a dirty treat – amazing buffalo chicken and bacon toasted cheese sandwiches – yes, you’ll need a syn, but then what do you expect from two sinful gays?

buffalo chicken and bacon toasted cheese sandwiches

This makes four sandwiches! FOUR! Scale back if you need to. We used our Optigrill for this recipe and it worked a charm, but it can be done just as easy under the grill or on a George Foreman. No expensive kit needed. Though, it makes it easier. If you’ve bought an Optigrill on our recommendation, have a look at our other recipes:

to make buffalo chicken and bacon toasted cheese sandwiches you will need:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 8 slices bacon medallions
  • 8 slices wholemeal bread (this’ll be your Healthy Extra B choice)
  • 135ml Frank’s Hot Buffalo Sauce (1.5 syns)
  • 50g Philadelphia Lightest (2 syns)
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 80g reduced-fat red Leicester cheese, grated (2x HeA choices, so half an A choice each)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • salt
  • pepper

If you’re looking for a decent place to buy chicken and bacon, you can build them into your own slimming hamper at Musclefood! Come take a look at our hampers or build your own. No longer do you need to suffer with breasts that turn into prawns once all the water has leaked out and bacon with less meat than a sparrow’s knee!

to make buffalo chicken and bacon toasted cheese sandwiches you should:

  • we used the Optigrill for this recipe and it was champion but you can use just a normal grill or a George Foreman and it’ll still be as good. first, cook the chicken:
    • on the Optigrill, press the Chicken button, wait for it to heat up, slap the chicken on and wait til it’s done, then set aside
    • otherwise, heat the grill to medium-high and cook the chicken until done, then set aside
  • next, cook the bacon – same deal as before:
    • on the Optigrill, press the Bacon button, wait for it to heat up and chuck on the rashers – it’s that easy. You want them to be quite crispy
    • otherwise, put the bacon under the grill and cook until crispy
  • pour the Frank’s into a large bowl and microwave for thirty seconds
  • stir in the grated cheese and philly, it should melt a bit but if not don’t worry about it
  • next, shred the chicken breasts by pulling apart with two forks, it doesn’t need to be perfect, just get it ripped up
  • add the chicken, sliced spring onions, salt and pepper to the bowl and mix in well
  • dip the slices of bread into the egg and ensure it’s well coated and gloopy
  • top four slices of the eggy bread with the cheesy-chicken mixture, topping with two slices of bacon and then the other slices
  • next, finish off the sandwiches:
    • press the Manual button on the Optigrill and select Red, when it’s heated add the sandwiches to the plates and close the lid until nicely cooked and the cheese is melting out the sides – about 2-3 minutes
    • otherwise, heat a large frying pan over a high heat and cook the sandwiches one-by-one for about three minutes per side, flipping halfway through
  • inhale it

Come on, get this made. Get it made and enjoy it like life! Want more ideas? Click the buttons below!

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J

meatloaf stuffed with bacon jam and honey tomato sauce

Meatloaf stuffed with bacon jam? Topped with tomato sauce sweetened with honey as opposed to some watery old passata and the tears of the terminally disappointed? Yes! Not going to lie, this is an amazing recipe. I had to stand a good eight inches back from the cooker as I made it, if you get my drift. However, sound the klaxon, boop-boop:

We’ve been asked to do a recipe featuring Hellmann’s Tomato Ketchup Sweetened with Honey, so here it is. Easy enough to do because everyone likes meatloaf and tomato sauce is always a winner, but see we’ve done meatloaf before so how to make it different…stuff it with bacon jam. Oh my!

But first, the usual flim-flam. I couldn’t think of a natural link between tomato ketchup and our usual blog content – there’s not many hilarious stories about tomato ketchup that’ll have people slapping their knees and wheezing into a paper bag, after all. Then it struck me: let’s revisit the ‘trivial things that annoy me’ post – we did it in 2015, I’m sure we did it in 2016 but I can’t be arsed to check, so here’s the 2017 list!

Paul buys far too many bottles of ketchup

See! I bloody well managed to link the recipe and the blog content after all! Just call me Mark Zuckerburg. We’re not a couple who feel the need to drown our dinner in condiments, not least because we season our food properly in the first place, but see it’s always nice to have something to dip your sausage into. It’s why I married Paul. However, he takes it too far: our little spinning cupboard in the kitchen is actually canted to one side because of the weight of the 87 bottles of sauce currently wedged in there – he buys a new bottle every single time he goes to the supermarket “just in case” – in case of what? Nuclear war? I’ll be far too preoccupied with shitting my lungs out than having a seasoned bloody chip. Shopping with him has become a passive-aggressive two hours of him putting a bottle in the trolley and me taking it back out again. I’d rather he came home and told me he was having an affair with my mother rather than see him surreptiously pulling another bottle out of the bag for life.

Oh and mother, don’t you dare.

Black car badges

These:

I may have adjusted the picture slightly. Anyway, you’ll see them everywhere now, I can guarantee it. A black fadge-badge like the one pictured isn’t too bad on a black car, but I’m seeing it on all sorts of acne-carriages that barrel around on the road with their rubbish mods. What looks (arguably) passable on a decent motor looks like an embarrassment on a car that sounds there’s a bee stuck in the engine. We all know that certain cars attract certain types of driver – I feel like this little embellishment is just another way of reassuring you that yes, indeed, the person behind the wheel is a pulsing sphincter.

Vaping

I know, I know it is healthier than smoking. I know it’s a great thing to do if you’re trying to give up the fags. But do people need to be so…theatrical about it? Walking past a bus-stop these days is like being stuck in the middle of a chewing-gum flavoured hurricane, with blasts of vapour from all around. I’m tempted to chuck a load of gold and silver tokens in the air and pretend I’m in the crystal dome. You see people billowing out clouds like they’re a Chernobyl cooling tower and it just looks ridiculous. Yes, less ridiculous than coughing out your last in a hospital bed, but ridiculous none the less. I saw a wonderful little meme on Facebook that simply said how hilarious it was to walk past all the hard meatheads standing outside of pubs vaping away and stinking of strawberry shortcake. Now, before you think I need to be told how much better it is that people vape, please don’t, because…

I also hate people who smoke in cars

It’s fine if you are by yourself, though I do worry that if you were to drop your tab into the crack of your boobs, you’re not going to be looking where you’re going as you try and fish it out. No, it’s only a problem for me if you’ve got kids in the back. It’s the height of selfishness.  Both of our parents smoked like chimneys on every car journey when we were growing up – it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve realised Northumberland doesn’t have a faintly yellow patina to every vista.

Ridiculous packaging

Yes, it’s an obvious thing to moan about, but let me give you an example. We were told to bring a calculator to my last exam as we’d need to add up international fees, all very basic, but I can’t add up under pressure. Hell, I can barely remember to breathe in and out. Naturally, I forgot to pick one up from the cupboard at work, meaning a last-minute dash to Argos to buy a calculator. £15! They had none of the basic models in stock (of course) and so I had to buy a calculator that I’m fairly sure I could hack Sellafield with. Anyway, on my Tube ride over to the exam hall I set about trying to extricate the calculator from its sealed plastic packaging. Could I hell. I wrenched at it with my fists, I tried to chew my way in, I tore a nail trying to open the bloody thing up. I went four stops before I had to give up, not least because the sight of me sweating and fumbling in my rucksack was understandably making people anxious.

No, I had to go out of my way to go and buy a pair of bloody scissors in order to open the calculator with. Scissors are a surprisingly difficult thing to track down at the last second and even those came with a stupid cable tie attaching them all together. The sales assistant clearly sensed my anguish because she at least offered me a bag, though I turned it down thinking it would probably involve me doing a full turn on the Krypton Factor assault course and naming the top forty capital cities in the world.

Oh, and it turns out I didn’t need the calculator after all. Imagine my cheeriness!

Now, the other thing that annoys me is food blogs that don’t get to the damn point, so, after that 1,000 mince around the gardens, let’s get to the moment you’re all waiting for: american meatloaf stuffed with bacon jam and honey tomato sauce!

meatloaf stuffed with bacon jam

to make american meatloaf stuffed with bacon jam and honey tomato sauce (phew), you’ll need:

to make the meatloaf:

  • 500g of lean beef mince
  • 500g of lean pork mince
  • one large red onion
  • 1 tbsp of dried mustard powder
  • 1 tsp of thyme
  • 1 tsp of onion powder
  • 1 tsp of garlic – fresh or powder
  • a good pinch of salt and pepper
  • a good mix of cherry tomatoes
  • 8 tbsp of Hellmann’s Ketchup Sweetened With Honey (4 syns)

to make the bacon jam for the middle:

  • four large red onions
  • 700g of unsmoked bacon, no fat
  • pinch of salt
  • 125ml of water
  • 4 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp of Hellmann’s Ketchup Sweetened With Honey (2 syns)
  • pinch of pepper

Now, of course, you can use any ketchup for this recipe – but the reason Hellmann’s Ketchup Sweetened With Honey works here is that it replaces the sugar you’d usually use to make the ‘jam’ and is half the syns of regular ketchup. Plus, sweetened with honey rather than extra sugar means it contains 30% less sugar than the ‘market leader’. We all know who that is, don’t be coy. Oh and it actually tastes decent, so fair play to them for that. You can buy it in Tesco for £1.89 but it’ll roll out all over the place as we speak.

This meatloaf recipe might look difficult to make but it really isn’t, but start with the jam first, eh? This makes EASILY enough for four and could stretch to six, and we served ours with green beans and skin-on mash, as is tradition.

to make american meatloaf stuffed with bacon jam and honey tomato sauce (phew), you should:

to make the jam:

  • do you have a chopper? One of these mini chopper things I always bang on about – if so, get it out, save your poor wrists, but if not, that’s fine
  • peel and chop your onions nice and fine – we’re talking really diced, but it isn’t going into an art gallery, make it as messy as you like
  • grill all the bacon until nice and crispy whilst you’re doing that
  • once you’ve got the bacon crispy and it isn’t so hot it sears your flesh, cut it up so it’s about the same chopped size as the onion
  • get a good, solid-bottom pan and spray some oil in – or use olive oil, I’ll never tell – add the onion, bacon, water, vinegar, ketchup, salt and pepper
  • cook slowly and gently for a good forty minutes – keep checking on it, add a dash more vinegar or water if it needs it, or some ketchup, until you have a nicely reduced jam
  • this isn’t going to be the smooth jam you see on a scone, no, but this is sticky, delicious bacon-goodness
  • keep to one side

to make the meatloaf:

  • get the oven on to 180 degrees and line a loaf tin (or just spray it with oil if you’ve got a decent one)
  • slap everything from the meatloaf list (save for the ketchup and tomatoes) (dice the red onion nice and fine first mind) into a big bowl
  • you can cheat and use chopped chives rather than onion if the thought of chopping more onion drives you to drink
  • mix – mix by hand and my goodness, don’t you stop for one moment – it’s very theraputic, get all that frustration and anger out by making sure you have the perfect mixture
  • if the meat is dry, add an egg – if it’s too wet, add breadcrumbs – but you’ll be able to ‘tell’ when it’s firm and ready
  • slap a good half of it into the loaf tin and press it down
  • make a channel for your bacon jam – I pressed the side of a glass into the meat to give a nice uniform look but honestly, no-one is going to care how it looks
  • spoon and press down as much jam as you can, being careful not to go right to the sides

meatloaf stuffed with bacon jam

  • press the rest of the mince on top of the jam – think of it like trying to create a core in the middle – make sure you press everything down nice and firm mind
  • spread your tomato ketchup over the top of the loaf, then slice the cherry tomatoes and arrange them in a sexy, pleasing manner
  • cook for a good hour or so – cover it with tin foil if the tomatoes start to burn – the internal temperature should be over 70 degrees if you have a meat thermometer to hand
  • remove from the oven, allow to cool for a good ten minutes or so, then serve!

meatloaf stuffed with bacon jam

It really is easy to make – you’re just slapping together a load of ingredients and baking it – it just looks like a long recipe typed out!

Looking for nutritional info? Based on the average lass’s intake of 2000 calories…

meatloaf stuffed with bacon jam

Not bad eh! If you want to find out a little more about the ketchup, you can speak to Hellmanns on Twitter  or via their Facebook page. If you want more recipes, click on the buttons!

 

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See? I can do a sponsored food post without it being boring and buy buy buy! Let me know if you have concerns! But this meatloaf man, amazing…

J

all day breakfast poutine – an amazing breakfast idea

All day breakfast poutine you say? What is poutine? A Liverpudlian telling you who is running Russia? No. It’s fast food from Canada, usually consisting of sausage, chips and cheese smothered in gravy. We’ve given it a lighter spin because we’re just so good like that. But first…

I alluded yesterday to being in pain. I still am. Let me set the scene – I’m late for work and fresh out of the shower, nude, dripping (as I can only imagine you are too, dear reader, at the very thought). I hurtled into the kitchen to try and make a cup of coffee that wouldn’t take two layers of skin off my lips. I stepped over a cat to reach for the milk jug (the niceties must be observed, even at times of great urgency) and OOOH – a big shard of glass went right through the bottom of my foot. I screamed incredibly theatrically (who knew?!) and then launched into a fit of angry swearing whilst my foot dripped blood onto our freshly-cleaned floor. I don’t know what annoyed me more – the fact that SOMEONE (IT WAS PAUL) had clearly broken something and then not cleaned up properly OR the fact I’d just paid the cleaner to completely bleach our floor and now it looked like Carrie White’s gym knickers.

The cat, by the way, sat staring at me impassively, my cries of pain clearly nothing to him. I got my revenge later by giving him a pouch of Conshita cat-food from Lidl – which he also ignored.

I wish I could tell you that I made like Bear Grylls and pulled it straight out but it had slid into the pad of my foot and disappeared, probably on a fantastic journey straight to my heart. I sat on the sofa and picked away at the hole, trying not to cry, but no joy. I couldn’t stand on it because every time I put my foot down, it sank in a little more just to drive the point home. Luckily, my work are used to my Calamity James hijinks and took my blubbering and woe with good humour. I rang my doctors to see if they could maybe extract it and they coldly told me to go to a walk-in centre. We did both chuckle lightly at the irony of attending a walk-in centre whilst I was all but hobbled. Off to Wansbeck Hospital I went. I confess myself disappointed that they didn’t send the air ambulance to pick me up from my front garden, whilst I rolled around clutching my leg like I was on 999.

Upon arriving at the hospital I was somewhat distressed to see that they have decided that car-parking is a folly and that really the huge expanse of tarmac previously used for cars would be the ideal place to build some more identikit houses instead. I took a small diversion via Ullswater and ended up in their satellite car park, where I was pleasantly surprised that parking was a mere £4 for the day. I have a faint recollection of previously having to feed notes into the car park meter like a junkie at a fruit machine, so £4 wasn’t too bad. The trek to the walk-in centre was no problem at all once I’d lost all feeling in my foot and my shoe had filled with blood, and I took the small obstacle of visiting entirely the wrong department at entirely the wrong end of the giant hospital in my stride. My blood-soaked, glass-stabby stride.

From there everything happened ridiculously quickly. I was shown to a chair in the waiting room, asked to wait mere moments before being seen by a triage nurse, and then sent to x-ray. I was actually quite disappointed as I was really getting into Homes under the Hammer and wasn’t in a great mood to shift. However, my foot needed to be irradiated to make sure that I hadn’t splintered whatever was in there in my ham-fisted attempts at self-surgery. The very charming x-ray man asked me to lie on my side, which immediately exposed the top of my arse to him due to my badly-fitting trousers, and zap zap zap, my foot was x-rayed. Then x-rayed again because I had moved. Then once more for luck, and once again because we both agreed that ending the x-ray on an uneven number would be bad luck. I bet my foot glows now. I might have a midnight walk tonight dressed all-in-black so all people can see approaching them in the dark is a green disembodied foot mincing towards them, like Michael Flatley has joined The Blue Man Group. I digress.

I did have to wait for a bit whilst they tried to work out what was stuck in my foot and how it managed to penetrate my leathery soles. I was surprised myself, I’ve stepped onto a fire before and not realised for a good ten seconds. The x-rays were inconclusive – I could tell they were being polite and that actually they couldn’t see because it was like trying to find a diamond in a sea of hairy margarine – so they sent a very lovely man in to squeeze my foot.

His opening gambit? ‘This won’t hurt a bit’. Pffft. For a start, I’ve heard that line before as I’ve been climbing into bed and I’ve been left unable to shit properly for two weeks. Also: LIES. IT REALLY HURT. He was an absolute gentleman and very funny, but let’s be honest, anyone sticking a needle into an open wound on your foot is never going to rocket up your best friends list. Although, he was dishy, so…hmm. Anyway, after a good ten minutes gouging and squeezing and pressing, out popped the shard and believe me when I tell you it was relief all round. Relief for me because the pain subsidised. Relief for him as he didn’t have to look at the wound anymore. Relief for the security who were on the verge of evacuating the wards and sending my stinking trainers to the high level isolation unit.

You’ll be pleased to know that I’m alright now. It hurts a bit but I’m a big boy and I was super brave. I know I say this every single time I post anything hospital related but the NHS is just terrific. I was seen, x-rayed, talked to, treated and dispatched all within the morning. Every single member of staff, from the receptionist to the cleaners to the nurses to the x-ray man to the guy squeezing my foot, were all polite, cheery and full of happiness. I tried to make a point of saying how grateful I was but it never seems enough! I hobbled back to my car thinking about how shit it would be to have to pay for our medical treatments like they do in America. One x-ray of my foot would be $70, for goodness sake. Given I seemingly had five, I’d have expected a blowjob and a bumtickle included before I handed over $350. Still, not as though the people running the country are likely to force privatisation on us, is it? Ah fuck.

The recipe, then. All day breakfast poutine! I apologise to our good friends in Canada for what will be a total bastardisation of a national favourite – we know you’re suppose to use french fries but this was easier. So suck it, ay. I’M SORRY I’M KIDDING PLEASE LET US LIVE WITH YOOOOOU. This makes enough for four big bowls of fun, but you’ll need to add a couple of extra fried eggs.

to make all day breakfast poutine you will need:

  • 1kg potatoes
  • 6 low fat sausages (our Musclefood sausages are perfect!)
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g fat free cottage cheese
  • 300ml chicken gravy (4 syns, we usedBisto Chefs Specials Chicken Gravy with Sage & Onion)
  • pinch of salt

Listen, I know I say to dice things below, but don’t shit the bed over accuracy. It is what it is. Breakfast. You’re just going to turn it to poo anyway, doesn’t need to look beautiful. Also, watch your sausages. Make sure you pick low fat sausages and check the syns, or Mags herself will be coming round to scrawl FAT BASTID on your front door.

to make all day breakfast poutine you should:

  • cook the sausages however you like them (we cook ours in the actifry with the paddle removed), then set aside to cool
  • meanwhile, dice the potatoes into 1cm cubes, spray with a little oil (this will make the job easy) and sprinkle over a little salt
  • cook the potatoes by either dumping into the actifry for thirty minutes, or spread out evenly onto a baking sheet and bake at 190ºc until browned, turning frequently
  • whilst the potatoes cook, slice each sausage lengthways into three, and then slice across the width so you’re left with tasty sausage chunks
  • next, prepare the ‘curds’ by plopping the cottage cheese into a sieve and give a quick rinse so you’re left with the pearls – leave to drain until you need them
  • heat a large frying pan over a high heat and spray with a little oil, and fry the eggs to your liking
  • make up the gravy and set aside
  • when the potatoes are cooked, tip into a big bowl and mix in the sausage pieces and three quarters of the cottage cheese
  • divide onto four plates, top with a fried egg and the remaining cottage cheese, gravy and a little bit else of what you fancy (we used chives!)

Tastebuds aching for more? Just click one of the buttons below to find more tasty recipes!

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J

rich and tasty guinness BBQ meatballs

Guinness BBQ meatballs – yes, Guinness. This is a nice, hearty, manly meal which is sure to put hairs on your chest, which at least will be a pleasant distraction from whatever sauce you’ve managed to slop down there. I love a Guinness, although ordering one in a pub round here normally means deafening tuts and COPD-esque sighs as people are delayed getting to their fizzy piss pint.

As an aside, before we get to the recipe, I want to hear from anyone out there who works for canal boat holiday sorts – we’re looking to get something booked in but goodness me, is it expensive. Some help appreciated!

Right, the recipe…

to make guinness bbq meatballs you will need:

for the meatballs

Now, this is where I’d traditionally link to our Musclefood deal which has lots of mince in – but actually, here’s a switch: you can now choose what you want to go in your hamper – so if you’re not a fan of pork, say (unlike me), hoy some more chicken in there. Up to you. To help you, we’ve updated our Musclefood page so it has all of the syn values on there – click here for that – it’ll open in a new window.

for the sauce

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ tsp sriracha (or any hot chilli sauce will do)
  • 250ml guinness (4.5 syns)
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp honey (5 syns)
  • 1 tbsp cornflour (1 syn)
  • 80g tomato puree

to make guinness bbq meatballs you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200°c and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper
  • mix together all of the meatball ingredients until well combined
  • roll out the mixture into about 20 meatballs and place on the greaseproof paper
  • bake in the oven for about thirty minutes
  • meanwhile, mix together the cornflour with 2 tbsp water until dissolved and set aside
  • place a saucepan over a medium high heat and add a little oil
  • add the garlic cloves and stir for about thirty seconds
  • add the rest of the ingredients and the cornflour mixture into the pan and whisk to mix
  • bring to the boil, and keep whisking, then reduce the heat to a simmer
  • cook for another fifteen minutes, whisking regularly until the mixture has thickened and reduced
  • when the meatballs are cooked, remove from the paper and stir gently into the sauce to coat
  • serve

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J

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!

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J

instant pot pork and sweet potato chilli con carne

Here for the pork and sweet potato chilli? Then read on!

We have a new gadget! We have bought ourselves an Instant Pot, which is simply a fancy pressure cooker that also does slow cooking, rice and yoghurt, amongst other things. Pressure cooking allows you to cook things a lot quicker whilst retaining the moisture and is perfect for chillis. Currently, if you were looking at one, they’re reduced to £95 on Amazon.

Good news: just because we’ve bought one (and highly recommend) doesn’t mean you’ll need to buy one. We’ll always give you a non pressure-cooker method too. I can’t stand it when blogs start doing recipes just to shill products and frankly, we ain’t that type of blog. We don’t accept bungs for bollocks, unless they’re the sort slapping off our chin.

We are, however, a travel and food blog, and because we’re gearing up for our many holidays this year, I’m taking the opportunity to tie off a few loose ends from last year – posting the bits we forgot to post and so on. Newcomers to the blog – we often post these massive entries detailing where we’ve been and we’re told that they are hilarious. So blog entries aren’t normally quite this long…to that end, here’s part five of our trip to Cornwall last year.

twochubbycubs go to Cornwall – part five

part one | part two | part three: Land’s End | part four

I wish I could pretend things improved with Cornwall, but they didn’t. Disappointment, rudeness and expense lurked around every corner. Don’t get me wrong, there were some charming people and pleasant vistas, absolutely, but it didn’t compensate for my growing sense of rage. This is evidenced by the fact that my notebook, where I usually write down my thoughts of the day and which in turn gets turned into these blog entries, consists of page after page of angry faces and lots of instances of the word ‘bah’. Because of this, I’m going to break with tradition and just do a summary post of all the other scraps of our Cornwall trip that I can’t bring myself to put into flowing narrative.

Padstow

We love Rick Stein – he’s a cheeky-faced cooking wonder and we watch everything he’s in whenever he’s on the telly. I could listen to him describing Russian phone-box repair and still feel a quiver of excitement. It’s not some weird daddy-fetish, he’s just wonderful. With that in mind, Padstow seemed like an obvious place to spend a fresh Spring morning.

Nope. First of all, I’ve never seen so many Audis, BMWs and Mercedes cars in one place. Secondly, same sentence again but replace cars with braying Jigsaw-wearing idiots. We parked up – eventually – took a stroll around the quaint ten-a-penny tea-shops, the lovely seen-it-all-before craft shops and the ‘oh I get it, it’s Seahouses but for people with a buy-to-let portfolio’ restaurants. It left me cold. I don’t think I have an inferiority complex – I’m not worthy of one – but the sense of snootiness and unbridled tra-la-laing wasn’t for me.

We decided that, as we didn’t stand a chance of a walk-in appointment at any of his fabulous restaurants, we’d treat ourselves to fish and chips from Rick Stein’s fish and chip shop. Naturally, it was all very to-do, but fair play, it was delicious. We ate them on the harbour and it was only their deliciousness that saved me from pitching forward into the sea to end my misery. Though, just saying, I can get a pizza, kebab wrap, large chips, can of pop (oh how I hate that), salad, curry sauce AND pot of pink up here for the same price I paid for one fish and chips down there. That said, Rick’s chips didn’t come with a side hockle of phlegm like the ones round here do.

We left, disappointed.

Newquay

…and I thought Padstow has bad. Sweet Jesus. I’m sure Newquay is fabulous in the summer when you can get a tan to go with your stab wounds but in the pissing rain on a cold afternoon, good heavens no. I’ve seen grim working towns – I went through Sunderland once on the train – but this takes the biscuit. If you’re from Newquay and someone is reading this to you please don’t get yourself in a fuss (think of your invariably high blood pressure); I’m sure the bit where you live is lovely and I’m just being a horrendous snob.

We should have known not to trouble ourselves with Newquay at all when we parked up only to have someone offer to look after our car ‘for a reasonable fee’. I was tempted to enquire what this service would get me and what the possible repercussions of failing to take it up where but his yellow tooth frightened me and so we moved on. We found another car park a little further down and set out for adventure.

We found none. We walked to the beach only to be met with sea fret and the smell of fish. I can absolutely see why it would be just so in the summer, however, so please don’t think it’s all bad. We climbed to what I assumed was the main street only to be met with what is increasingly becoming a sad, common sight in the United Kingdom – a row of bookmakers, discount stores and charity shops. I would have been made up if I had wanted to bet on a horse and buy myself a cardigan someone had died in back in 1977. There was a shop nestled at the end called Fat Willy’s which did tickle me (they often do), but it sold surf supplies and there isn’t enough lycra in the world to make me look good on a surfboard.

We decided to try our luck in the bright lights and glitz of the amusement arcade next door. I’ve looked it up on Google Street View and it doesn’t seem to have a name. I presume that’s because they don’t want people on the internet revealing what a massive bloody swizz it is. My nana had more grip in her arthritic fingers than the bloody claw machines in here. I spent four pounds trying to win a Luigi plushie only to give up when I realised I’d have more chance winning the fucking thing if the machine wasn’t switched on. I’m all for a competitive edge but Christ, give us the faintest glimmer of hope, eh?

Things turned nastier still when two girls, both seemingly sharing the same set of teeth, started following us around making eyes at our pocketful of jingling change. You know when you get that feeling that something isn’t right and you’re either about to end up on The Real Hustle or Silent Witness? That was one of those moments. Paul nudged in a set of cherries and I could see sheer avariciousness in their eyes. I clutched my murse theatrically to my side and we made a quick escape.

I know it’s a weird thing to get vexed about but these places are for children, surely? Why not let them have some fun and win a toy without prising £20 out of their parents’ wallet? Why must every other coin be glued down on the coin-pusher or fruit machine rigged to pay out on the twelfth of never? Another tiny example of grasping UK. Pfft.

We spent another forty minutes looking around the shops before both deciding that we’d given it a chance and were justified in going home, despite paying for four hours of parking. Oh, and as a final point, if you were the woman serving us in the little pasty shop on the corner, a bloody smile goes a long way. I felt as though I’d made a mortal enemy for having the check to order two lamb and mint pasties. You know when someone gives you a look of hatred that chills you to the core? That’s what we got as thanks for our custom (and before anyone says it, I’m always unfailingly polite when I order, no matter how poor my afternoon is going). Brilliant. I wouldn’t have minded so much but even the bloody pasties were awful – I’ve had morning farts with more taste to them.

We left, disappointed.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan

We kept seeing signs for this place as we beetled about and knew nothing about it. We didn’t bother to research and when, on the fourth day, I loudly exclaimed that we should go to Heligan, Paul simply replied ‘What, Newquay?’ – kaboomtish.

Once we’ve stitched up our sides and located the Lost Gardens of Heligan in the Sat-Nav (so they’re not that lost, just saying) we were on our way, and it felt like no time at all until we were pulling up aside a Saga coach tour. It was fortunate that these elderly day-trippers were so slight as it made pushing them out of the way of the entrance all the more easier.

Oh I’m kidding, before anyone rings Age UK. They were still stumbling off the bus by the time Paul and I had completed a full lap of the grounds and got back in the car.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan are, according to the sweaty nerds at Wikipedia, one of the most popular botanical gardens in the UK. They were bought by a fancy sort back in the 16th century and immediately divided into lots of lovely sections, such as a ‘jungle’ and a rhododendron garden. The moment I spotted that on a sign I burst into ‘I Beg Your Pardon, I Never Promised You A Rose Garden’ until Paul saw fit to stick twigs in his ears to stop me. Poor sport. Anyway, the gardens fell into disrepair until they were restored in the early twentieth centuries, and now, here in modern times, they’re only a reasonable entrance charge away.

Now let me tell you this: I have been miserable throughout these Cornish entries. Nothing has managed to make my heart soar or my eyes sparkle. There’s barely been a moment where I haven’t been thinking longingly about the five holiday days I’d used up at work to take this trip. But these gardens were amazing.

I’m not exactly sure what pleased me so much – it was just a garden, after all, albeit a massive one split over many acres – but it was terrific. For a start, it didn’t cost the Earth. I’d become so accustomed to handing over wads of notes that it was a pleasant surprise to be told it was a very reasonable £13.50. Then there was so much to see and do – everything clearly laid out and mapped in the little handbook they give you. We spent hours just drifting from scene to scene – we had literally stopped to smell the roses and it worked a treat with cheering us up.

It helped that we had the place mostly to ourselves, save for the odd walking group and gaggle of tourists trampling in the flowers. This meant we had time to read the excellent information boards and talk to the staff, who I’m sure would have rather we left them be so they could crack on with the gardening. I can prove that we at least absorbed one fact: Heligan remains the only place in the UK that grows pineapples – albeit very small ones – in horse poo. Fascinating stuff! Along similar lines, Lands’ End in Cornwall is the only place in the UK where you can spend over £20 and get absolutely fuck all back for your money. What a time to be alive!

We took ourselves down to the animal area and sat for a good half hour watching birds from the little lookout they’ve installed then wandered gingerly down the very steep slope to the ponds. We spotted that somewhere amidst all the flowers and trees there was a rope bridge and so we spent a good twenty minutes hunting that out, managing to miss it twice despite it being signposted.

Well, goodness me. Didn’t we look a sight. I’m sure folks far more light-footed than me could trip over this bridge with dainty steps but when we both lumbered on the metal shrieked and the rope audibly stretched. I couldn’t relax, waiting as I was for a loud TWAAAANG sending us plummeting to the pond below. I say plummeting, we were six foot in the air, but come on, dramatic licence. As the bridge had sagged quite considerably under us it became quite a chore to pull ourselves up to the other side, a situation not helped by some red-faced little urchin crying out that he wanted a go. This was tough. Luckily, Cornwall Fire and Rescue came to our aid only forty minutes later.

Nah I’m kidding, we made it across, but we were bloody knackered. Of course, we’d also forgotten that the steep slopes coming down which once seemed to fun and hilarious to slide down would become an awful slog going back up. We took our time but it was with a shameful amount of huffing and puffing that we had to stop twice on the way up. To cap off our embarrassment, we were overtaken by a woman pushing herself along in an off-road wheelchair up the hill. I felt so ashamed.

We finished our afternoon by having a mince around the forest, where lots of giant curiosities were hidden. I came across a large hand deep in the undergrowth, which wouldn’t be the first time. Paul was taken by surprise by an erection poking out of the bush, which wouldn’t be the first time either. It really was wonderful and it was with a big genuine smile that I declined the offer of annual membership as we left. Perhaps if you dug it up and put it somewhere south of Hexham, I’d consider it.

We did stop by the farm shop with an eye to buying a range of meats and cheeses but the prices of everything in there sharp put paid to that idea. Listen, I’m not averse to slapping down the cash for good food, but these prices were little more than a tourist trap. I asked for the price of a small wedge of Little Stinky only to be told it was more than a tenner. I leant over and whispered confidentially that ‘I only want to buy the cheese, not rent the cow’ but her stern, weathered face was having none of my japery.

We left, disappointed.

But only at the farm shop – the actual gardens themselves were an absolute treat and I can wholeheartedly and without reservation recommend a trip.

Honourable mentions:

Mevagissey Model Railway – we loved this. It was like falling into Roy Cropper’s wet dream. There was more than a hint of foist about the place but the owner was knowledgeable and welcoming and it was very much a ‘British’ piece of entertainment. Well worth a visit, although I wouldn’t pencil out a whole afternoon for it.

Lappa Valley Railway – we turned up, decreed it far too expensive (although looking right now on the website it seems a lot cheaper, so best not write it off in case I was just having a mild aneurysm or something) and cleared off. I do still get a tickle from the fact they have an event called a ‘Steam and Cream’ for the over sixties. I thought most trainspotters just jizzed straight into the same quilt they’ve had since they were 14?

The Chapel Porth Hedgehog – I can forgive the National Trust for charging me to visit a beach when I’m presented with an ice-cream like the Chapel Forth Hedgehog. For those wot div not knaa this is Cornish ice-cream which is then smothered in clotted cream and them dipped in honey-roasted hazelnuts. It’s served with a warm smile and fifteen minutes of CPR. Bloody amazing. Beach was nice too.

Overall

If you’re reading this entry and feeling apocalyptic that I’ve dismissed Cornwall as an awful place full of chintz and nonsense and bloody rude people, please, take a moment. There’s no need to be so quick to anger. Holidays are unique to everyone and I just didn’t ‘feel’ Cornwall. I can see its many merits mind – I like the fact that the air feels crisp, for one. The views are wonderful but as I’ve previously touched upon, I live in what I believe to be the most beautiful county in all of the United Kingdom – Northumberland. I have beauty on my doorstep.

Remember, opinions are like arseholes – everyone has one. It’s just unfortunate that I’ve made a hobby out of talking out of mine.


Gosh – that was a long one, wasn’t it? Did you enjoy it? Please do give me feedback on these holiday entries – I know they’re lengthy but it’s the thing I enjoy writing the most! Let’s get to the pork and sweet potato chilli though without another moment of hesitation.

to make pork and sweet potato chilli you will need:

  • 500g pork mince
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • ½ tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 400g pinto beans
  • 300g sweet potato, cut into small chunks

to make pork and sweet potato chilli you should:

Instant Pot method

  • press the ‘saute’ button, add a bit of oil and then add the onion and red pepper
  • cook for about three minutes until softened
  • next, add the pork mince and stir to break it up and ensure it cooks evenly
  • after a minute add the chilii powder, cumin, oregano and garlic and stir
  • add the tomatoes, pinto beans (with water) and the sweet potato and stir until well combined
  • ensure the vent is set to ‘sealing’ and cook on high pressure for ten minutes

Bog standard in the oven job method:

  • saute off the onion and pepper in a deep heavy pan until soft and lovely
  • add the pork mince and stir to make sure it is broken up and cooked evenly
  • after a minute add the chilii powder, cumin, oregano and garlic and stir
  • add the tomatoes, pinto beans (with water) and the sweet potato and stir until well combined
  • cook in the oven for a good hour or two – low and slow – or bubble away on the hob for 40 minutes, making sure it doesn’t catch

Serve with rice! Simple, honest dinner! Can’t get vexed.

Looking for more recipe ideas? But of course!

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Enjoy!

J

hot and sour slimming soup – don’t be put off by the title!

Hot and sour slimming soup? But of course! However, I demand your attention for a minute more.

I mentioned previously about a family situation that was taking up our time – my uncle died yesterday after a long, brave fight with various issues. Now, I’m not mentioning that because I want people to send me messages wishing me well or that they’re thinking of me, which is sweet, but death is death, it comes to us all, and I’m dealing with it in my own way.

It’s been on the cards for a couple of years – we’ve had that many premature dashes to the hospital as ‘he won’t last an hour’ that I’ve actually been half-tempted to throw a blue light on top of the Smart Car and pick up patients on the way. Actually, the Smart Car would make for a shit ambulance, wouldn’t it? Unless it was a dwarf needing a corn plaster we’d be buggered.

No, the reason I mention it is because, like I’ve said so many times before, I wanted to praise the NHS. Every single person – with no exceptions – that I have dealt with (and I know the same goes for my mother) at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary has been an absolute delight. Cleaners full of smiles and chatter at 2am in the morning, nurses rushed off their feet but never too busy for a smile, doctors making sure that the terminally ill shuffle off with comfort and compassion. For the last two weeks my uncle has been in the Critical Care or High Dependency Unit fighting for his life and not once has anyone shown us anything less than courtesy and good humour as we visited. Even my black-as-pitch jokes about nipping shut his oxygen tube to save the NHS’s strained budget were met with laughter, rather than cold looks and being asked to step outside by a stern consultant.

We are so, so, so lucky to have an NHS, and we’re luckier still that the folks serving the public – from the very top of the ladder to the very bottom – have their hearts open and pure dedication running through. They were tremendous when my nana died and they’ve been wonderful this time around as well. More praise is needed. And more money. Lots more money. To the folks that make the difference.

One day last week Paul and I were in that hospital on ‘dead alert’ (as it were) from 10am to 4am the next day. Let me tell you, that’s more than enough time to think about things. Hell, we spent long enough in the little room where they sit the relatives in case of ‘bad news’ that I can recreate it wholly in my head. You know when Sherlock Holmes (modern) visits his mind palace? I’m like that now, only with more leaflets about pressure sores and Alzheimers fluttering across my vision. That’s perhaps one thing they could improve – the waiting room has those awful pleather sofas that invariably make a big sucking farting noise when you hoist yourself up and everything is painted that slightly diseased yellow so favoured of the old NHS – weirdly, it’s the colour of the white ceiling immediately above Paul’s mother’s favourite chair. The ‘nicotine lacquer’ effect, I believe.

It was a very sad room made worse by the fact that we were joined, for what was the longest hour of my entire life, by a chap who just wouldn’t shut the fuck up. He entered the room just as I had laid down on the sofa to try and fall asleep on Paul’s lap (what can I say: I find the smell of chaffed thighs and knobs soporific). He exclaimed loudly and backed out the door, clearly thinking he’d interrupted me mid-blowjob. Because, yes, who doesn’t get aroused in the ‘is he dead yet’ room? Nothing gets me more rigid than posters urging me to think F-A-S-T in case of stroke. Anyway, once he was sure that we weren’t indulging in some grief-based fellatio, he took a seat. And that was very much that: no further chance of sleep.

I heard about his maladies, I heard about his travel to the hospital, I heard what was wrong with the NHS, I heard about his taxi driver friend who had just had a heart attack, I heard about the price of fuel and I can faithfully recount details of the last seventeen passengers he had picked up in his taxi. He didn’t pick up on my social cues – my polite but firm nodding, my glazed eyes, the fact that I’d stuffed my ears with pages from a 1997 copy of Take a Break from the reading rack. I did have a titter at someone’s answer to the arrow-word – (NAUTICAL TRANSPORT (9) was answered as M-O-T-E-R-B-I-K-E) – I rather thought it had to be one of my nana’s old issues where instead of thinking things through she’d just jam any old word in as long as it had roughly the right amount of letters. Even, sometimes, when it didn’t: MURDERERER was a favourite of mine. Anyway, sensing this chap was one of those dear fellows who could talk underweater if he had to, we moved downstairs.

A&E at 1am in the morning is an interesting place, isn’t it? A waiting time of four hours and I reckon 70% of the people waiting were smashed out of their face. Lots of bloodied noses, black eyes, bust lips. How I pity folk having to deal with all that dross. I can’t bear being around drunk people when I’m sober, I’d be Harold Shipman-ing the lot of them before anyone could say ‘check for an air bubble’. We spent the rest of the evening drinking piss-poor tea and staring moodily at our phones. I played Super Mario Run until my already boss-eyes went awry. A very long night.

Ah well, it’s all over now. Like I said, no need for sympathy, we’re fine, it’s very sad but nowt that can be done. Life goes on. Well, mostly.

Right, let’s get to the hot and sour slimming soup. Why slimming? Dunno. Something to do with the vinegar! Can I make a plea with you? Don’t be put off by the appearance of this dish – give it a go, it’s a really tasty, quick soup full of nutrients and taste. This makes enough for four full bowls so although technically it should be 0.75 syns, you can bugger off if you think I’m including the quarter syn. Half syn per portion!

hot and sour slimming soup

to make hot and sour slimming soup, you need:

  • 6 shittake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 60g bamboo shoots, cut into matchsticks (that’s half of a small tuna-sized tin, drained)
  • 2 pork chops, all visible fat removed
  • 100g firm tofu, cut into matchsticks
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • 4 tbsp white vinegar
  • 3 tbsp cornflour, mixed with 4 tbsp water (3 syns)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 spring onion, chopped

to make hot and sour slimming soup, you simply must:

  • chop the pork chops into small strips about half an inch long, and quarter of an inch thick, and set aside
  • in a large saucepan, bring 1.2 litres of water to the boil, crumble in the stock cube and stir until dissolved, and then add the soy sauce
  • add the bamboo shoots, mushrooms and pork to the pan, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about three minutes
  • add the tofu, pepper and vinegar to the pan and bring to the boil again
  • stir in the cornflour mixture and keep stirring until the soup has thickened a bit
  • turn off the heat and pour in the beaten egg, stirring gently but continuously so it doesn’t scramble into one big manky lump
  • pour into bowls, sprinkle on some spring onions and eat!

Looking for more soup ideas? More ideas on meat? Things to do with tofu – well, you’re shit out of luck, it’s the first time we’ve used it. Even so, click the buttons below!

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Enjoy!

pork and apple burgers with blue cheese

Did you miss us? I know, we’re just awful people. You’ve probably been logging on every day, typing through your tears, crying into your pillows, wailing and sobbing and bawling about our lack of posts. For that I apologise. But see, we just needed a proper break from the blog just to freshen up and do some back-end stuff, which isn’t a euphemism for anal sex, unusually. Most of it is done, second book is almost finished, all is well in the world.

One mistake we’ve made though is declaring that we really ought to watch Lost again. See, we have a big fancy TV and that Sky Q service that gives you everything you need and more for a vastly overpriced sum every month, yet all we watch is Police Interceptors (and that’s more because it’s the only way for either of us to see how our nieces and nephews are growing – aaah, they look so grown-up in their ASBA ankle-bracelets and Madidas tracksuits). Lost took over our lives a few summers ago to the point where both of us feigned having swine flu just to stay at home and see what happened next. That was back in the day when I used to work for an organisation which class a full day’s work as turning up before 11 and nicking off at 3pm. No wonder they shut the place down…

…anyway, as a result of our foray back into Lost, we’re losing time all over the place. Every night becomes ‘one more, just one more’ and I’ve taken to calling Paul ‘Hurley’ on account of his big fat tits. Poor guy.

We’re still fat, by the way. We did toy with the idea of relaunching the blog as a Weight Watchers blog for shits and giggles but I didn’t want to be responsible for eight hundred heart attacks at once – I’ve seen how angry some of you get over Iceland running out of curry sauce, let alone us taking the recipes away. I swear to God I’ve seen a poor Iceland worker covered in so much spittle by a venting Slimming Worlder that I nearly wiped his face down myself with my sleeve. We’ve accepted that this year is a bit of a write-off and that we will shallow breathe our way to New Year, but we have something nice planned for 2017 which really will provide some focus…

My health anxiety made a brief but unwelcome reappearance when I went to the loo only to notice a load of blood in the water. Frightening. Naturally, I had diagnosed myself with advanced and terminal bowel cancer by the time I had wiped my nipsy and it was only after eight hours of hyperventilating and worried emailing that Paul remembered we’d had about four bowls full of red pepper soup the night before and his er…droppings, were equally as scarlet. So at least I can add that to the list of diseases I’ve beat this year.

We took the recipe from the BBC Good Food website. I had to persuade Paul that he liked blue cheese after all when he did one of his usual 180 degree spins on food – he’s as bad as our cats. We bought 84 pouches of Whiskas a few weeks ago as the cats seem to love it only to find that the very first pouch was completely ignored, meaning we have 83 pouches to take along to the cat and dog shelter to give to cats who don’t have a rod stuck up their arse. Anyway, Paul was simply adamant that he didn’t like blue cheese because ‘it smells like off-cock’ (to be fair, he’s right on that point) until I reminded him that he’d managed to put away half a wheel of cheese at my mum’s Christmas buffet last year to the point he constipated himself over the New Year. Suddenly, when faced with that enticing detail, he remembered he DID like cheese after all. It’s the little things.

Right, to the recipe then…this really is an easy dinner to make – serve with a side salad or, more realistically, a load of chips, and you’ll be in Fatty Heaven.

pork and apple burger with blue cheese

to make a pork and apple burger with blue cheese you will need:

Can I make a recommendation? If you make a load of homemade burgers, get yourself a little burger press. This is the one we have – there’s plenty of cheaper models out there too but this has the advantage of not looking like your kitchen has been fitted out by Fisher Price. Plus, it’s only a couple of quid more. You get nice uniform compressed burgers that don’t fall apart in the pan.

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to make a pork and apple burger with blue cheese you should:

  • mix together the pork, diced apple and paprika
  • leave to chill for twenty minutes to firm up
  • divide the mixture into four and shape into burgers
  • add a little oil to a large frying pan and put over a medium-high heat
  • add the burgers and cook for about 6 minutes each side
  • when cooked, lob into a bun with a bit of lettuce and crumble over the blue cheese

Done! It’s as easy as that. You could make a few extra burgers and freeze them if you please. Looking for more meal ideas? But of course. Click the buttons below!

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Enjoy! Ah, I’ve missed you guys.

J

droptober recipe #14: one-pot pork and rice

Very quick post tonight, folks – one-pot pork and rice, just another one pot meal that we had left over! James is cooking so unusually, you’ve got the other Cub coming on your screen. Lucky!

I’m dead excited today because they’re putting up the Christmas decorations in our town – I mean, they look shite but it’s a sure sign that Christmas is on it’s way and it’s my favourite time of year! I love it all and there is literally no limit to how much Quality Street I can eat. Seriously, I try to warn people but they don’t listen and then bitch on when it’s just fudge left in the tub.

We’ve promised ourselves this year to put up some lights on the outside of our house (I know, the pinnacle of class) because it’s something I have ALWAYS wanted to do. And, because I know that the super-bright LEDs you can now buy with super-epilepsy mode is sure to piss off Nos. 1-5 on our street. Christmas is always a lovely affair here at The Sticky Patch, we never skimp on our trees and despite our complete lack of design skill we actually do a pretty good job of it. It’s certainly a step-up from what it was like when we were younger, with the cheapest possible tree from the Freemans catalogue sitting in the corner of the room doing a fantastic impression of an impending bonfire with its three sets of lights wired into the same plug. Mother would be eggwashing some frozen sausage rolls in the kitchen with a light dusting of fag ash and my sister and I would be sent away with an Argos catalogue and a strict limit – we had to write down exactly what we wanted, price, page number and catalogue number and a running sub-total. If it weren’t in that catalogue you couldn’t get it. Magical times.

What you can get, however, is this simple recipe for one-pot pork and rice. Serves four optimistically, two realistically. Listen, it looks like shite, I know, but it tastes good, I promise!

one-pot pork and rice

to make one-pot pork and rice you will need:

to make one-pot pork and rice you should:

  • squeeze the meat out the sausage casing so you get about 4 ‘balls’ from each sausage and roll into a perfect ball
  • heat a large casserole dish over a medium-high heat, spray with oil (save your pans and get one of these) and cook the balls until they’re done, then remove from the pan and set aside
  • add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook for a further five minutes, until softened
  • add the cumin, coriander and rice to the pan and stir well
  • pour in the vegetable stock and the chopped tomatoes and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan
  • simmer for ten minutes until the rice is done
  • gently stir the meatballs into the rice, and serve

 

if you’re looking for more tasty recipe ideas, just click the buttons below!

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J