roast peach, parma ham and Gruyère salad

Don’t worry yer boobs: the roast peach, parma ham and Gruyère salad will follow shortly, so try and keep your girdle on. But first, it’s part two of our trip to Copenhagen, land of swearing children and amazing sandwiches. But even before we get to that know that this might all be cut short again by my new office chair collapsing under me – we finally caved and bought a new one after almost a year of crippling back-ache and slowly sinking into the carpet as we typed/wanked/twanked. However, in our haste to get out of Costco before spending our annual wage on bulk-buying baked beans and Pepsi Max Cherry, we bought a cheap office chair without looking at the instructions. How foolish: there’s a weight limit of 15 stone. I’m closer to being a straight black lady than I am under 15 stone. The whole thing is creaking ominously under my arse. It’s like the time we went to Disney and took a Segway – the weight limit was a good four stone under my weight. Did it anyway. You’ve never felt guilt until you’ve made an autonomous self-balancing scooter shriek with pain.

click here for part one

When you last left us I was barrelling down the plane stairs on my arse like a low-budget Indiana Jones skit and Paul was looking disdainfully at me. No concern, ever. I could have been sucked straight into the engine and he would have merely tutted and wiped the resulting James-jam off his face.

Let me tell you, that certainly wouldn’t have been the first time.

Oh, and I forgot to post our typical photo from the aeroplane, so here we are. I know it’s a pretty pat photo but hey.

After our recent experience of waiting approximately four years to clear security at Charles de Gaulle airport, we were naturally concerned about clearing security, not least because my bladder was at full ‘strain’. I couldn’t go on the plane – it was an old easyJet plane with the packed in seats and once I’m sat down, that’s me for the entire flight come hell or controlled descent into high water. However, thankfully, the wait was minimal indeed and, rather unlike our visit to France, the customs people were cheerful and didn’t look at us visitors to their fine country as though we’d swam up through the sewer. Oh and the best bit about Copenhagen Airport? You have to walk past all the people waiting to board the flight back home after their holiday. Don’t you lie to me, you love it as well: getting to grin and wink and do the ‘WAHEY I’M ON HOLIDAY’ walk whilst they stand there looking as though they’ve been told they’ll be sat in the cargo hold for their flight. It doesn’t work the other way – when I’m stuck in the queue for my flight back home I’m silently wishing everyone traipsing in with their bright sunglasses and cheap suitcase an awful holiday. I know, I’m a sod.

That said, Copenhagen Airport does have a down-side (at the moment, at least) – they seem to land the plane in Belarus, given how long the bloody trek was to get our suitcases. I swear halfway to the luggage hall I had my passport stamped and my pockets searched. I’d made the fatal error of not wearing a belt ‘for comfort’ meaning I had to do the hike in that awkward ‘trying not to let my trousers fall down’ gait that all of us men know. I desperately tried to get an erection just to hold my trousers up but all the blood was rushing to keep my heart pumping, for shame. I had to beg Paul to go on ahead without me whilst I decamped to the toilet to dispense of what felt like Kielder Water from my bladder. I’ve never felt relief like it, I swear – the entire English rugby team could have rushed into that cubicle and tugged me off and it would have still paled in euphoria to that piss, I can tell you.

Seven stone lighter and considerably less sloshy, I resumed the hike through Lithuania, caught a ferry and undertook a seven hour taxi ride to arrive at the luggage hall where OF COURSE, Paul was nowhere to be found. He’s a hard man to miss, given he looks like a pillbox in Jacamo slacks. I searched high (in that I looked up) and I searched low (in that I sat down) and waited fifteen minutes. I had his phone in my fag-bag so I couldn’t call him, so waiting it was. He appeared twenty minutes later, flustered and beetroot red, to tell me he’d gone back to look for me, like I was a cat in a house fire. How the hell we missed each other I don’t know, but I can only presume that the gravitational effect of two large, planet-esque bodies approaching each other at equal speed on opposing travelators caused a fat-rift in space and time. I pushed him a little further and it turned out that whilst he had been looking for me, he’d also decided to get himself a hot-dog on the way. Did he get me one? Did he balls. It’s OK, we’re starting divorce proceedings soon.

Having located our luggage we made for the exit, jumped on the local train to Ørestad station and then switched to their wonderful, driverless Metro system to take us a few stops to Bella Center St station, where our hotel loomed large in the distance. Their metro system is amazing – driverless, reliable and cheap. We bought a three day Copenhagen Card allowing us unlimited use of their transport systems for about £80 each – seems expensive until you realise that it includes entry to all sorts of tourist places around the city, including Tivoli Gardens, which would normally cost £15. I’m telling you this because we completely bloody forgot about the pass and paid full price everywhere. I had to put Paul on the game for a night just to fund our shenanigans, but he came back in desperate need of lip-balm and owing £240.

It amazes me that other cities get transport so perfectly right. The metros (and trains) were spotless, they turned up exactly when they were supposed to and you didn’t need to sell a kidney just to get into town. Compare that to Newcastle’s Metro System – it costs a bomb, the trains always smell like a cheesy cock and the only perk you get is that you might not be punched in the teeth by some smackrat off his tits on spice. Oh, and that’s only when the bloody system is working. I follow our local paper on Facebook and I swear I read at least two stories a week where the rail infrastructure has failed because it’s too hot, too cold, too windy, too icy, too busy, too quiet, 2Unlimited or Tupac Shakur. I’d no sooner rely on that to get me to work than I would a bicycle made of steam.

Anyway, I digress. As ever.

Paul had picked the hotel and, as usual, I had no say in the matter. It’s the only way these things work – he has to pick the hotel otherwise I spend so long dithering and umming and aahing that we’re desperately trying to secure a booking somewhere as the plane taxies down the runway. I worry about picking the wrong place, see – it only takes one bad review on Tripadvisor and I’m comparing the place to Beirut and stroppily demanding somewhere else. Which, on reflection, is daft: I couldn’t care less where I eventually end up, but see, there’s always some new hotel, some better hotel,  just waiting around the corner. That’s why I keep checking out…forty points if you get the reference. The only input I have now is for Paul to call out the price, the star rating and then, once he has the nod from me, he books it. No fussing about! It works for both of us.

For our few days in Copenhagen Paul had picked the  AC Hotel Bella Sky and I swear he’d only picked it because, well, look at it (apologies for the quality, Paul took it on his Nokia 3310):

It looks like two cornflake boxes squaring up to one another for a scrap, doesn’t it? Even more confusing is, as you walk towards it, the perspective shifts and the walkway that joins the building at the top looks as though it’s at a forty-five degree angle. It hurt my eyes looking at it, although the bountiful clouds of weed smoke drifting over from a nearby bus-shelter took the edge off somewhat. Fair play to Paul – once we were inside the hotel it was gorgeous – very modern and stylish, which is exactly what I like from a hotel. I don’t want ‘home comforts’, I want to spend twenty minutes trying to figure out how to turn the light on and what all the little switches next to the bed do. I was especially taken with the plug socket, who seemed positively delighted to see us:

The chap who had checked us in – Lego haircut, charming smile, come-to-bed-and-destroy-my-hole eyes – had followed up our request for a high floor and gave us a room on what used to be the ladies-only floor. Tsk, honestly, you offer one blowjob in exchange for a better room and you’re pegged for life. There was an awful amount of pastel pink in the corridors but the room was swish and fancy and just look at the view:

I know, right? I’ve never seen such an extensive cruising ground. As ever, Paul tested out the facilities, I grimaced for a good twenty minutes and then we had a wee sleep, tuckered out from our luggage-hall shenanigans. We’ll pick this up next week – I apologise that once more I’ve eked out 1500 words and we’ve only just arrived at the hotel. What are we like? The next holiday entry will be a bit of a change of pace – instead of detailing our adventures chronologically, I’m going to write about key places we visited. Hopefully that’ll plug my verbal diarrhoea, but who knows? Until then, I welcome feedback always.

Finally, did you know we have three books out, all of which contain our travel stories from times gone by? Why yes! In proper paper form and Kindle, no less. Have a look and take us on holiday – we’ve got over 170 5* reviews between them!


Shall we do the roast peach, parma ham and Gruyère salad, then? You know we should. Here’s the thing: if your idea of a salad is a bit of lettuce, half a tomato and a cucumber with a splash of vinegar, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Dinners like that leave me wanting. But if you make a proper fuss from your salad and use interesting ingredients, then they’ll become a proper meal. This, would you believe, is a Heston Blumenthal recipe. I’m not his biggest fan – he looks like a thumb with glasses on – but this turned out tip-top. We’ve tinkered with it to make it SW friendly. This makes enough for one, but double, triple or quadruple it accordingly. Fatty.

roast peach, parma ham and Gruyère salad

to make roast peach, parma ham and Gruyère salad, you’ll need:

  • a decent handful of rocket
  • 30g of good Gruyère cheese (HEA)
  • 3 slices of decent parma ham (1.5 syns)
  • 25g of balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • one large peach
  • one tablespoon of Tesco Honey and Mustard Light dressing (1 syn)

to make roast peach, parma ham and Gruyère salad, you should:

  • pop your parma ham in the freezer whilst you do the initial bits of this recipe – it’ll be easier to slice when you get to it
  • dress your rocket leaves in that dressing – obviously – don’t go mad though, it’s meant to be very light
  • just lightly boil your vinegar (said that before) until it goes thick and fairly stiff (said that before) – you don’t need to do this if you want
  • take your peach and slice it in half, removing the stone, and spray it once or twice on the flesh side with good olive oil
  • get a decent non-stick pan and get it up to medium heat, placing the peaches flesh-down so they lightly caramelise, then remove; OR
  • use the grill on your Optigrill to grill them – press temp control until it is red – but don’t close the lid – just ‘sear’ the bottom of the peaches
  • either way, once they’re cooked, slice the peach thinly
  • thinly slice your Gruyère – I recommend using a potato peeler for this, saves the faff
  • slice up your parma ham
  • assemble on the plate as shown above
  • drizzle with your balsamic glaze if you want

If you have leftover Gruyère, you could always make our bloody amazing cheesy rosti!

That’s it! A gorgeous salad with lots of different textures and tastes. Some SW hardnuts will probably tell you, between blowing flakes of eggy brownie at you, that you should syn the peach because you’ve heated it up. Up to you – personally, I think it’s bollocks. If it makes you feel better, put it in the fridge to cool down and that’ll cancel out any hot syns, making it fine. See how silly it gets? 300g of cooked peach is 5 syns, and you use nothing close to that here, plus it isn’t cooked through. Frankly, I wouldn’t syn it for all the tea in China.

Happy? Want more ideas? Something fancy? Click the random buttons below!

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Cheers all. Remember to please leave me feedback if possible on the holiday stuff! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

J

summer salad with fried feta and a tomato consommé

You wanted summer recipes, so here’s two: summer salad with fried feta and a tomato and nasturtium consommé. But first, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The searing hot, radioactive, giant ball of gassy matter that pumps out offensive levels of heat and that could kill us all. That’s right, my husband – he’s currently in bed, so I’m going to discuss the sun. For those in Scotland:

this is the sun – it’s the thing that turns you from that milky white colour to freshly butchered mince in 8 seconds.

I hate it. I’ve discussed at length the many things I hate about the great British summer but, because I’m a) tetchy and b) fat and c) sweaty, I’m going to moan about it again.

Insects

Literally everywhere you turn. Now I’m not daft, I know bees are important and without them we wouldn’t have pollination and food and existence and, perhaps more importantly, this gif of a bee giving a high-five:

but even so. Just once I’d like to spend more than eight minutes outside without something biting me, swarming at me, worrying me or just giving me shitty looks. I took this salad outside yesterday to take a decent photo in the light and I swear I’ve come back without at least one full layer of skin thanks to all the bites. I know I’m irresistible but I’d love to enjoy a meal outside without the both of us swearing and screaming like the table is on fire and we’re eating petrol sandwiches. The situation escalated surprisingly quickly when Paul knocked over a bottle of limoncello syrup – you can imagine how the wasps and bees reacted to that. Hopefully they’ve got smashed off their tits and are comatose in a hedge somewhere, the vespine equivalent of a teenager celebrating getting his fingers wet. I know of a friend who foolishly went camping in summer at Kielder Forest and was sent back to Newcastle by a roaming gang of midges. And we’re Geordies, you understand, we’re geet hard as ‘owt. Pfft.

Cars

Dogs die in hot cars. True, and you always get a satisfying story in the papers of some idiotic clot who dashed into a clinic to get her vag steamed only to leave poor Fido sizzling away on the parcel shelf, who then came out to find some hero has smashed all the windows in the car and called her a c*nt on national TV. I’d be tempted to let the dog out and do a big steaming shit all over her steering wheel, claiming the dog did it out of distress. But that’s not all – getting into my car at the moment is like trying to make yourself comfortable in an active volcano. I climbed in yesterday, peeling layers of skin off my hands as I did so, and found that the car was registering 34 degrees. 34! I turned the engine on expecting the car to blow up and leave me smeared across the street like fat jam. Paul’s car is even worse thanks to his asthmatic air-conditioning – I had to check whether he’d bought a new air-freshener yesterday but the smell of cooking bacon turned out to be the seatbelt clip sinking into my tit like a hot knife through butter.

Increased neighbour interaction

Most – though not all – of my neighbours are decent folks now, especially since they’ve had five years to come around to the fact that two gay men living on their street doesn’t mean we’re going to have all-night orgies and an amyl-nitrate fountain put in the front garden. About half of them actually stop to talk to us now, would you believe. That’s acceptable, but it means we also see the other half a lot more. Take this morning. I was awoken at 8am by the sound of my neighbour yanking and swearing at his shitty Lidl lawnmower to try and get it started. You need to understand that there’s only two reasons I ever want to be woken up on a Sunday before 11am: either I’m sleepshopping naked in ASDA and I’ve got my cock resting in the bananas or Paul has managed to convince the entire first team squad of the Newcastle Falcons that I’m their pre-game warm-up.

He eventually managed to get his £7.99 lawnmower going (and bearing in mind he’s one of these type of folks who’ll spend £35,000 on a car then never take it out of third gear) and I was left trying to dose whilst he whirred and spluttered and farted around his postage-stamp lawn. At 8am. On a Sunday. When he is fully retired and could do this at any time during the week. You can imagine my good humour, can’t you? I did a terribly British thing of getting up and slamming the window shut, but that in turn made the room boiling hot so I had to get up. Paul slept on. You know when they detonate those giant cooling towers and they crumble to the ground in a cloud of dust and excitement? You could stick Paul on a camp-bed right in the epicentre of the blast and he’d still only fart, turn over and start grizzling about his lumpy pillows. The fat bastard.

Go out and enjoy yourself  

Oh fuck off. I can enjoy the oppressive heat when I’m lying baking on a beach in Corsica, somewhere where I can dash into the sea to wipe away my sweaty boob rash and to peel my scrotum away from the sides of my ankle if it gets too much, but what can we do here? As I said, we can’t sit in the garden because we’re like cocaine for insects and we can’t go out in the car because it’s like driving a convection oven down the motorway, so what is left? Standing outside trying to surreptitiously peel clothing out of fat rolls and going ‘ooooh this is nice, bet it won’t last‘ like every other Brit? I don’t want to go outside. I want to stay inside where it is cold and air-conditioned and lovely and yeah I might get rickets but so fucking what, I’ll look bloody hilarious running for a bus. Beer gardens are full of boorish hooray-henries vaping and existing, public parks are awash with children screaming and laughing and even the cold, dark of the cinema is ruined by the kids being ‘on holiday’. Bah.

We need a decent plague and for him upstairs to turn the air-conditioning back on. By him upstairs I mean Paul, and, as we live in a bungalow, even that tortuous analogy doesn’t work. Let’s blame it on the heat.

Recipes then – summer salad with fried feta and a bonus recipe for a tomato consommé. I realised there was no point in sticking the tomato consommé on as an individual recipe because no bugger will make it, but hey, let’s roll the dice.

to make summer salad with fried feta you will need:

  • 250g reduced-fat feta cheese (4x HeA)
  • 2 tbsp plain flour (4 syns)
  • 4 tbsp panko (or any other type of breadcrumb, but panko works best) (4.5 syns)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • any sort of salad stuff you want to throw together
  • spray oil

Notes

You will need a fair few sprays of oil on this one – for each portion I’m going to say 10 sprays of a decent spray oil – so unusually, I’m counting the oil as an extra syn (5 sprays for 0.5 syns). It’s up to you, though. We use a spray oil dispenser from Amazon and top it up with decent quality olive oil – you can see the one we use right here (it’s dirt cheap). You could use Frylight but why would you – it’s shite. Plastic, nasty shite, plus it’ll mess your pans up. God knows why it is constantly recommended.

Those lovely looking pink onions? I’ve posted the recipe for them before right here (it’ll open in a new window) – they’re amazing. Soaked in vinegar, the sharpness melts away and they look amazing in a salad. Any time you have a red onion approaching the end of its life, follow this recipe!

Our salad consisted of a yellow pepper sliced and turned into matchsticks, moonblush tomatoes (made from our recipe here – we’re really using up the old favourites), a few black olives which I don’t syn so shoot me, peeled and sliced cucumber, rocket, sliced red onion and sliced pickled red onion. Make your salads interesting – it’ll serve you so much better – lots of flavour and textures.

to make summer salad with fried feta you should:

  • prepare the salad
  • cut the feta block into four equal pieces
  • dredge each block into the flour, then coat in the egg, and finally roll about in the breadcrumbs so it sticks (roll the feta, not yourself)
  • next, heat a small frying pan over a medium-high heat and spray some oil (save your pans and get yourself one of these)
  • whilst the feta is frying, gently spray a little more oil over the top so they brown when you flip them, which you’ll need to do do after about five minutes
  • when golden, serve on top of the salad so it’s just slightly soft in the middle

Delicious! Now onto the consommé – this is delicious but only if you’re a big tomato fan. I didn’t syn the drop of olive oil I used but up to you whether you include that! This is a clear(ish), pure tomato soup served cold. Very refreshing!

to make tomato and nasturtium consommé, you’ll need:

  • 2kg of tomatoes – red and ripe – soft is fine, we bought a giant box for a couple of quid from our local garden centre
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and 1/2tsp of tabasco
  • either a big handful of nasturtium flowers or, if you can’t get them (and you should bloody grow them because they’re amazing for you AND for the bees – they add pepperiness and you can eat both the flowers and the leaves), a big handful of basil
  • some decent salt flakes
  • a squirt of decent olive oil (optional)
  • a couple of pretty little tomatoes or nasturtiums and chopped chive

Notes:

This will serve four people a bloody big bowl of soup. It’s a faff timewise to make but worth it if you’re a fan of tomatoes and you want to try doing something different.

If you’re a vegetarian, remember to swap out the Worcestershire sauce for a veggie equivalent.

to make tomato and nasturtium consommé, you should:

  • chop the tomatoes into quarters, removing any particularly beefy stalks
  • tip the lot, together with the shallots, tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and basil/nasturtium into a food processor and blitz it – you might need to do it in stages – season with salt and then blitz again – you do not want a smooth paste, you want it lumpy
  • now the tricky part – I found it so much easier to do this over the sink – put a large pan into the sink and then you’re going to want to take a large piece of muslin cloth and tip the tomato mixture in – tie the cloth up so the mixture can’t pour out of the sides and then find a way to suspend it over the pan so that the juices can drip through overnight (oh you flirt!) – I just tied my cloth to my tap which hangs over the sink
    • if you don’t have muslin cloth, use a very clean tea-towel – we’re not talking about the Congratulations Charles and Diana tea-towel that you wipe your minnie with when no-one is looking but a good fresh tea-towel – maybe use two – try not to get one that you’ve washed with fabric conditioner though eh, because the smell of Lenor is going to be off-putting
    • you can buy fine muslin cloth from amazon for a couple of quid – so much easier
  • the longer you leave it the better it will be, but DON’T SQUEEZE THE BAG otherwise your consommé will be cloudy (it’s natural for it to be a bit cloudy or yellow, but don’t make it worse)
  • in the morning, add a tiny dash of olive oil (1 tsp – 2 syns, up to you if you syn that tiny amount between 6) and gently simmer the liquid for about quarter of an hour – don’t boil it
  • season to taste with a bit of extra Tabasco sauce or salt if needed, then refrigerate until ready to serve
  • when serving, decorate with a few thin slices of the nice looking tomatoes or a couple of nasturtium flowers and chives and serve as cold as can be

Done! Enjoy! Want more veggie or lunch ideas? But of course you do. You know what to do by now!

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J

fancy but quick fresh tuna niçoise salad

Summer is looming and your consultants will be frothing away with stuff like ‘if it swims, it slims’ (and yet they still refuse to put semen into the syns directory, I could be ingesting at least 20 syns a day!) – so in honour of that, here’s a nice fresh tuna niçoise salad. Nice and easy to make and you can take the extra in for lunch the next day. But first.

We’re in the slightest of pickles.

I’ve mentioned before that we have some excellent neighbours and a couple of well…how to say it, less pleasant ones. Nothing too offensive you understand, no-one’s smearing dog shit under my door handles or playing Now That’s What I Call Profound Hearing Loss at all hours of the day, thank God, although we do have one distant neighbour who seems to have been building a tiny brick wall for at least a year. A year! I’m so shite with DIY that I call our handyman over to change the lightbulbs in our bathroom but I reckon even I could get the hang of bricklaying if I had a bloody year to go at it.

Anyway, aside from one odd soul bellowing at us because we had the temerity of allowing dandelions to grow on our pristine lawn, they’ve all been very quiet recently, which is lovely. Until the sign arrived. Yes see, Paul thought it would be a gas to have a giant ‘VOTE LABOUR’ sign delivered for the front garden – a proper yellow and red affair, nice and prominent – in the vain hope that anyone driving onto our street at 2mph might be suddenly swayed by this spontaneous piece of politicking. It’s about as subtle as a kick in the fanny with a steel-capped shoe.

I agree with the sentiment – I’m Labour through and through – and so it was hastily erected. Well. We’ve had looks. We’ve had shaking heads. We’ve had so much tutting that I thought the cat was eating chewing gum. Nets have been twitching as we walk past and there’s been so many pained expressions it’s like living on Hernia Avenue. However, it stays – it’s important to make a stand on these things before it is too late, after all.

Things came to a head the other day, though. I spotted two of our neighbours standing in our garden peering over the fence. Confused as to what they might be doing in our garden (picking dandelions) I trotted out and enquired as to how I could help. Turns out they were speaking to our neighbours on the left and didn’t need my intervention. I resisted the urge to point out it was slightly presumptuous to let yourselves into someone’s garden to have a chat – clearly they thought I was at work. I was so frustrated I let myself into their house and helped myself to their pension books.

I was letting myself back into the house when the old chap caught up with me and plucked fitfully at my sleeve – you could tell he wanted to get something off his chest. I gave him a beatific smile and asked how I could help. He wants me to take down the sign. It blocks his view. Now, the ‘view’ that he is talking of is the side of my house, but nevertheless, I’m always one to show willing. He explained that he could see it every time he looked out of the window and it was causing him distress. I, politely as I could, suggested it ought to stay because it was our garden and really, from his angle, all he’d see is the edge of the sign 50m away from him – I haven’t exactly put a wind-farm up. We did the dance of being super polite with each other but then he played his trump card – he was having heart issues and could barely walk.

I resisted the urge to reassure him that Jeremy Corbyn would make sure that the NHS was well-funded and send him on his way, and instead, being a kind neighbour, I’ve relocated the sign into our back garden where at least he can’t see it. I feel like I’ve been played, though. I keep switching between being a good neighbour and leaving it where it is and being a bad neighbour and having something like this installed in the garden:

I don’t know why they don’t ask me to design the manifesto cover.

Anyway, I’ll let you know of any further developments. Let’s do the tuna niçoise salad, shall we? Before we do I should point out that this is a recipe straight from Joe Wicks’ Lean In 15. We’re not following his diet, but his book is absolutely full of easily adapted slimming recipes and we’re adapting a few for the blog. To think I only bought the book because I was so taken by the sight of him on TV. I’m not saying he’s good-looking, but I’d crawl on my belly through a mile of broken glass just to listen to him fart through a walkie-talkie. You can buy his book here and it is one I genuinely recommend.

This makes enough for two big bowls – scale up or down as appropriate.

fresh tuna niçoise salad

to make a fresh tuna niçoise salad, you’ll need:

  • two eggs
  • 150g of trimmed green beans
  • 2 x 300g tuna fillet steaks (or, if you want to save money, a tin of tuna each)
  • 60g of cooked puy lentils (we buy Merchant Gourmet ones from the shop – 2 syns for 250g) (half a syn – and then it’s between two, so really quarter of a syn per serving)
  • two big handfuls of spinach leaves
  • 25g of sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped up (1.5 syns, then divided up by two)
  • a little balsamic vinegar

By my reckoning, it’s a syn per serving. Easy. You may spot that rather than using balsamic vinegar in its usual form we’ve used balsamic vinegar pearls. Exactly the same only they burst on your tongue and are delicious. Naturally, Slimming World’s syns database doesn’t have them. They’ve on Amazon though, not too bad, and they add a nice dimension to dinner!

to make a fresh tuna niçoise salad, you should:

  • boil your eggs for about eight minutes then drop the green beans in with them and boil for another minute or so – you want the beans to have a bit of crunch and the eggs to be slightly softer boiled than pictured (I was distracted making this by our fit postman)
  • to cook the tuna, squirt a good non-stick frying pan or griddle with a few sprays of oil (coconut oil if you have it) and get it nice and hot and carefully place the tuna steaks to cook
  • if you like your tuna raw in the middle like I do (but again, I was distracted) then cook only for a minute each side – or cook it through for a couple of minutes if you prefer
  • take the tuna out, season with black pepper and a bit of salt
  • assemble your salad by mixing the green beans, tomatoes, spinach and balsamic in a bowl, stirring it all together, then plate up with the tuna – sliced thinly if you like – and the egg cut in half
  • enjoy!

Looking for more ideas? Click the buttons below!

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Have a great bank holiday all!

J

easy wedge salad with a blue cheese dressing

Don’t worry, if blue cheese dressing makes you gag more than a unkempt knob, just swap it out for feta. Feta? I barely knew her!

Readers, dearest readers, we apologise. We’ve been so lax with our recipes lately, I know. But what with all our gallivanting and nonsense I just can’t commit to a 1,000 word essay every day! Did you know I fret if I don’t post? I do. However, the recent system of posting a big entry on a Saturday (and occasionally a long entry during the week if you’re lucky – well, I am married) has been working a treat for me. Quality not quantity, see.

So here’s what we’re going to try and do. Because we’re a diet blog first and foremost, we’re going to commit to posting recipes more often, keeping the silliness that you love about us but keeping the big bastard entries for a weekend, when you’ve got time to enjoy them rather than hurtling through swearing at me for rambling on whilst you try to stop your dinner burning and the cat being killed.

That said, you know me well enough to know that I can’t keep my gob shut, so don’t expect the nonsense to stop during the week. Chances are I’ll stick to it for a few days and then upload a 6,000 word polemic on the people who fight at the Whoops counter at ASDA. Other rules of the blog stay the same – we aren’t going to drown you in adverts for stuff we don’t really use (BUY THIS SWEETENER! BUY THIS XANTHUM GUM! BUY THIS MOULD! BUT DON’T TELL THE TAX-MAN SSSSHHHH), we’re not going to spam you to buggery, we’re not going to load our website with hidden adverts and ‘read more’ buttons and other shite and our recipes are going to be made with proper ingredients, regardless of whether it means spending a syn or two. You’re only on this Earth once – spend it eating decent food or get the fuck out.

So, shall we begin? This is a recipe that I overhead on Modern Family, a show which simultaneously makes me laugh and feel sad – I love Jay, I want to be Jay, but I’m sick of Mitch and Cam’s storyline being ‘fight fight fight’. Show us some love. I’d love a wardrobe of Cam’s shirts, mind you. This uses a more unloved part of the lettuce – the crunchy bit! But teamed with a good dressing, it’s an easy win!

Dressing makes enough to drown your lunch or for a more modest two portions.

to make easy wedge salad with a blue cheese dressing, you’ll need:

  • one big iceberg lettuce
  • a big handful of cherry tomatoes
  • one small red onion
  • a couple of rashers of bacon, fat removed
  • 70g blue cheese (35g is a HEA, this makes enough for two) crumbled up (remember you can swap it out for feta if you prefer)
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1/2tsp of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp of lemon juice
  • dash of skimmed milk
  • 60g of fat-free natural yoghurt

Now, this is where I’d traditionally link to our Musclefood deal which has lots of bacon 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.

to make easy wedge salad with a blue cheese dressing, you should:

  • make the dressing by whisking together 50g of the blue cheese with the worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, milk, salt and pepper and yoghurt – season to taste
  • not going to lie, we didn’t fart about whisking the dressing by hand, we just threw it all in this mini chopper thing that Delia recommended inbetween gin trebles
  • fry off your bacon and then cut it into wee little squares
  • half or quarter your tomatoes
  • finely chop your onion
  • then assemble – cut your lettuce into big wedges, top with the dressing, bacon, tomatoes and onion and the remaining crumbles of blue cheese
  • enjoy – I know, the thought of enjoying a salad may make your boobs wobble with fright, but persevere
  • the dressing will keep in a bottle of a couple of days

Want more lunch ideas? Want more ideas full stop? Click the button below!

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Enjoy!

J

carrot, mint and ginger salad – a quick and easy Slimming World lunch

Here for the carrot, mint and ginger salad? Can’t wait to get chomping? Well, haud yer wheesht, because as ever, we have some flimflam.

You know what I hate? Facebook’s Timehop service. Those whose internet experience amounts of replying positively to Nigerian Kings and typing ‘dancing jesus website lolz’ into google may be unfamiliar with it, so let me explain, as it’s very simple. Every other day Facebook will find a photo of you from many years ago and show you it in the vain hope you’ll go AAAH HOW LOVELY and post it. Not me. No, all I see is my youthful looks staring back at me accusatorially, demanding to know what Present James has done with his life to warrant wrecking Past James so horrifically. Occasionally the brightness of the iPad is bright enough that I can see my own current face reflected back on my young previous face and I feel like Dorian looking ashen-faced into his portrait in the attic. I know we all change (“We all change, when you think about it, we’re all different people; all through our lives, and that’s okay, that’s good, you’ve gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be“) we all age, but I swear I’m not ageing so much as I am melting into a hairy, gelatinous landslide of fat. It’s like the slowest Doctor Who regeneration ever – only I’m turning from James van der Beek into Chewbacca’s stunt double. Paul would be Billie Piper, he has the three-cock-gob. So yeah, Timehop can fuck right off.

I did something yesterday which I haven’t had to do for a long time – no, it wasn’t fumbling my way around a vagina and nor was it paying my driving test examiner to pass me despite the blood congealing on my frontbumper – no, I had to learn something. See, I’ve plodded on in my job for many years (and thoroughly enjoy it, mind you) (that one’s for HR) but recently they’ve very kindly agreed that I can broaden my responsibilities and have sent me for training. This means lots of revision and travelling and attending training. Fine for most people, but I struggle to concentrate – I get distracted and tired mid-piss, for goodness sake.

Nevertheless, I gamely headed to London yesterday, making sure I get in as many people’s way as possible as I farted about trying to find my way to Canary Wharf. Unusually for me, I managed to get there without much difficulty or upset, and I took my chair as the lecture began. I’d bought myself a nice new notebook and Paul’s Christmas present to me, a fancy fountain pen. I can’t write in Biro because we were forced to use ‘proper pens’ at school – you can imagine how difficult that was for me as a left-handed eejit. Every essay I wrote was a collection of smudges, stains and wrist-stamps. I had that much black ink on the side of my hand that my doctor thought I had frostbite. I’ve mastered the art now and as long as I take my time and don’t over-excite myself, I can write coherently.

The one thing I didn’t have was a wee desk. This made the whole thing quite difficult – try writing notes whilst you’re balancing a slides handout, A4 notebook and colour examples on your knee, especially when you have to write all cack-handed anyway due to being all sinistra (did you know that was the latin root of sinister, so, left-handed people are evil? Makes sense, I had no compunction about breaking wind on the escalators on the Tube yesterday). On top of that I have the anxiety of not wanting to write too much but also not missing anything, and every time I set my pen down, the lady next to me immediately started writing. It was like that duelling banjos scene from Deliverance, only with a far less troubling outcome. In the end I managed to pay attention and have six beautiful pages of notes to coo over. After the lectures, the worst part of all: networking.

I can’t network to save my life. I know it’s an acquired skill but, despite the three years of this blog, I hate talking about myself and have a bit of an inferiority complex when it comes to talking about what I do. I had it in my mind that I’d make up a bewildering, breath-taking back-story, but instead I spluttered my tea and stumbled my words. I must have looked like a simpleton. It didn’t help that whilst I was talking to the vert first victim I’d picked to talk to, I dunked my cookie into my tea only for it to fall in, meanly I had to gamely drink my tea with floating crumbs bobbing around on top whilst they chatted about what they do. Next time I’ll just pick up a cookie and go hide in the toilets like everyone else.

Ah well. I might as well be remembered as the cookie guy as opposed to the heavy-breathing-notes-taking man, I suppose. Networking finished, I realised that I had three bloody hours to kill at Kings Cross before my train, thanks to my penny-pinching ways of buying a non-transferrable ticket. I couldn’t even get into the First Class lounge as you’re only allowed in there two hours before your journey. It was rush hour, there wasn’t a single place to sit anywhere in the station, my bag was too heavy to go anywhere exciting, so I just sat outside and people watched.

I know it’s an unoriginal thought, but Christ, London is so busy. Where do all these people, scurrying about like ants on a sugar pile, live? Where do they work? I like to imagine all the threads of their lives crossing over this way and that, all in one giant tangle, and then my head starts hurting so I move my thoughts back to thinking about chips. I spent 30p to have a pee, which I still think is outrageous even now – if I have to pay to piss, then surely I should have the option of saving my money and being allowed just to piss on the tracks instead? Bastards.

After an hour or so I attempted to make my way to the First Class lounge only to be caught up in a giant mass of people all thundering for a train whose platform had just been announced. You know in old cartoons when they’d start fighting and disappear into a comedy smoke bubble with flailing limbs popping out? It was like that, only with a lot more cheap aftershave and hooraying. I was deposited out five minutes later all dazed and confused and, after a brief interlude where I was pushed around Little Waitrose by a heaving queue of focaccia buyers, stumbled into the First Class lounge.

I wish I could say there was respite to be had but no. It was busy, as you’d expect, but that meant it was full of the type of businessmen who need you to know how important they are by bellowing loudly into their phones. On top of this, I kept getting icy stares and extremely loud sighs and harrumphs from an older lady who seemed to take great offence to the fact I’d sat next to her in the only spare seat in the lounge. I didn’t let her know that I took great offence to the fact she’d seemingly put her make-up on four times over, so why was she giving me such cold looks? She soon stopped when I stared right back. I was tempted to do that thing of putting two fingers on my lips and flapping my tongue through but I didn’t want to be bundled out before I’d managed to secrete as many free bags of crisps as I could into my bag. As it happens, I decided to leave soon after I came in as it was all so very stuffy. I people watched for a while longer, made my way through the 5kg of Corkers crisps I had in my bag, and then got the train. Aside from having someone who was clearly unwell jibbering away across the aisle and the train being delayed thanks to ‘problems with the tension’ (I presumed it was sexual tension from seeing me dashing aboard in my Jacamo coat and sensible shoes), it was an entirely uneventful ride home. Job done. Until the next time…

Final thought – Paul has been raving at me about an online internet station that plays all the old nineties music we like without any crappy DJ linking the songs together. I mean, seriously, he hasn’t shut up about it, but I kept dismissing his bold claims because his Spotify playlist consists of Tracy Chapman, more Tracy Chapman and Now That’s What I Call Amyl Nitrates. However, he left the SONOS player open and I stuck on the previously played tracks – and they’re all brilliant. I mean, haway, the song that is playing right now is Ain’t No Doubt by Jimmy Nail, a man who is nothing more than a steel-capped workboot given a tongue and lips. The station is Pride Radio 90s. Yes, the rainbow face made my eyes bleed too, but we can overlook the trivialities, can’t we.

Proper final thought – can you lot calm the fuck down over these Fiber One bars? Jesus Christ man. I’ve seen so many fights and arguments with grown women calling each other worse than child-murderers for having the temerity to buy a few boxes of these in the supermarket. Why? They taste shite, they’re tiny, they’re full of chemicals and you’d get more flavour sucking on the doormat. I swear it’s very much a Slimming World thing – something gets ‘recommended’ on facebook by a couple of people and then hundreds of adults start storming the supermarkets like the boxes came with half an hour of cunnilingus by Tom Hardy. I’ve seen photos where people have bought 30 or 40 boxes and I just think, Christ, have some bloody dignity. It’s not about ‘saving some for other people’, you have as much right to buy them as anyone else, but you’re only buying them because you’ve seen others doing the same. Don’t be a bloody sheep, especially not one who is brawling in ASDA and calling others ‘fukin greedee slags’ all for the sake of a shit bloody brownie.

BAH!

Right, with all that out of the way, let’s get this recipe done, eh? You might be thinking that a carrot salad is boring, but if you’re a fan of carrots, I can guarantee it’s worth a go. I made this for a lunch but you could easily use it as a side on one of our dishes that don’t have the third speed in it. You could add cooked noodles into this to bulk it out, if you wished. You know how Slimming World have launched those little salads in Iceland that you can have for your lunch? Think of this like those, only fresher as you’re making them yourself. Yes, it has a couple of syns, but absolutely worth it. We used two packs of Marks and Spencers rainbow carrots (£3 for two packs) but you can use bog standard carrots if you want. We won’t tell. This makes enough for three hearty portions.

carrot, mint and ginger salad

to make carrot, mint and ginger salad, you’ll need:

  • around 400g of carrots, baby ones are better, peeled
  • two shallots
  • fresh mint (or dried, but fresh always better)
  • a little knob of ginger (about half an inch), peeled and grated
  • tablespoon of mustard seeds
  • juice of half a lime
  • tablespoon of olive oil (6 syns) (you could use lemon flavoured oil here, be lovely)
  • good pinch of salt and black pepper

to make carrot, mint and ginger salad, you should:

  • chop your carrots into strips or, even better and far quicker, julienne them using one of these – much easier and you’ll get nice uniform strips
  • thinly slice the shallots
  • it’s much nicer if you toast off your mustard seeds – chuck them in a dry pan on a medium heat for a minute or two, just until you get the scent of them, and then take off the heat
  • grate your ginger nice and fine (yep, I know, predictable, but please, buy a mincer for your ginger, then just freeze a big lump of ginger and grate it as and when you need it straight from frozen!
  • mix everything together in a bowl and top with fresh mint and give everything a good tumble with your fingers

This can go a bit watery if left after a while, that’s fine – just dress it when you want to eat it. You could add sliced peppers and noodles, remember. This would work very well as an accompaniment to curries!

Right, that’s all done. If you want more veggie dishes, lunch ideas or other such nonsense, click the buttons below! You know you want to.

fakeawayssmall lunchsmallpastasmallvegetariansmall sausagessmall  Enjoy!

J

droptober recipe #10: rainbow superfood salad with yoghurt dressing

I bet you’re all clammy with the thought of a rainbow superfood salad, aren’t you? Who could blame you? Let’s be honest, none of us got to where we are by eating edamame beans and rare grains, did we? Not unless they were deep-fried and served as a garnish on a kebab. If that’s the case, what type of bloody kebab shop are you going to, you fancy fucker? Our local is Kebabylon and a meal isn’t complete unless you’ve pulled enough of the cook’s back-hair out of your dinner to make a tiny brillo pad to scrub the grease off your chins. But er, yes, the recipe will follow, but first some unimaginable nonsense.

Today has me sat in the house waiting for our Sky engineer to come and fit us a new Sky Q box. Why this requires a) an engineer visit and b) me to take a day off work is an absolute mystery. I do have someone coming to finger my guttering at some point in the afternoon but really, when don’t I? I semi-dilate when anyone with rough hands and a beard drives past the house. Paul sent me a text message ten minutes after leaving the house this morning to say “no need to suck the engineer off, we’ve already arranged a sizeable discount on the Ultra HD package”, which I think is a bit below the belt. I mean, he’s got a point – I’m a cheap bastard and I’d do full unprotected anal if it meant free fibre broadband for a year, but still. Give me some credit. Oh and speaking of Sky, it’s lucky I checked the ‘before we visit’ letter which mentions the need to know our Wifi password. Our Wifi password, as it turns out, was WELOVEBIGCOCKS8669! – I’ve just changed it to something entirely innocent – fancyafelchyouhunkybucketofspunk apparently didn’t meet the security requirements. Who knew? I did toy with leaving it unchanged for a laugh but felt that it would look like a clumsy attempt at a come-on – long-time readers must recall that this is one of my fears with having workmen in the house, that every sentence sounds like I’m trying to set away some cheesy porn-style scenario. I’m such a clutz, I can barely pass over a cup of tea without putting my cock in it. Aaaah well. We’ll see what time he turns up.

It’s also a very sad day in our house. For years we’ve been saying we need to buy a Roomba to replace the old Roomba that broke and went beetling into our garage, never to return, when we moved house. But they start at £400, we’ve got a fancy Dyson Digital vacuum anyway AND we have a cleaner, so we couldn’t really justify it. Until last Thursday night when we were pissed out of our nut on Waldhimbeergeist and lemonade (I don’t know either: it was a random bottle of something from Lild – could have been industrial bleach for all we knew, but it tasted nice and had a raspberry on the front so we rolled the dice and got smashed). It’s amazing how alcohol changes your justification for spending money and as a result, we had a Roomba delivered by the good folks from Amazon on Saturday morning. How we gazed admiringly at it, knowing it would scoot about during the day time terrorising the cats and pulling the odd bit of hair and crushed cat treat from our carpet. We could finally relax with the gentle hum of the robotic whirring to sing us to sleep.

Nope.

Turns out Roombas can’t function on black carpet. Our house, bar the kitchen, is either black carpet or black tile (don’t worry, it goes tastefully with the Misty Mountain grey on the walls: may I remind you we are homosexual) and as a result, the Roomba senses these black patches as ‘cliffs’, throws a bit of a strop, spins a bit and then beeps forlornly. Putting him down on the living room carpet must feel like, to him, being hurled into a black hole of no escape. We placed him into the kitchen for a laugh (our kitchen floor being black and white square tiles – our kitchen has an American diner theme, it’s very fancy) and it was hilarious – I’ve never seen a robot actually have a fit but the poor fucker was jitterbugging and stuttering all over the place. I had to put a small pile of ground Diazepam down on the white tile just to calm him the fuck down. Anyway, back into the box and returned to Amazon with a naturally furious email about there being no mention of the Roomba’s sense of existential dread.

Perhaps it’s a good thing. Our house is too connected. One of my colleagues expressed some reservations about our ‘House of Connected Things’, citing concern about security and the ability for folks to hack our home. Really, I know it’s more a pressing worry that I’m not going to turn up at work of a morning because I’ve been killed in my sleep by Amazon Alexa instructing a rogue Roomba to come and hoover all of the oxygen out of my lungs whilst I sleep. We buy our gadgets and nonsense because we don’t have children to spoil and they’re great, but I did think to myself as I walked into the house, said clearly “Alexa, please turn on the lights” only for her to turn one light on and start playing Bill Bryson, how much time are we actually saving here? It’s a novelty being able to turn our heating on from the sofa by telling Nest to ‘turn the hallway down to 9 degrees’ but again, it’s no hardship at all to get up and turn the thermostat down. Actually, that bit is a lie – we get these things because we’re bone-bloody-idle, so anything that minimises our movements is no bad thing.

I have discovered one excellent thing about Amazon Echo though – I can say “Alexa, play The Archers” whilst I’m having a crap and it’ll start playing the latest episode through the house speakers. An episode of The Archers is just the right length to enjoy when you have a shaggy brown dog scratching at the back door. However, as we don’t have a speaker in the bathroom, I have to “Alexa: turn it up” about eight times until it gets loud enough for me to satisfactorily hear it from the bathroom. The downside to this is that the Alexa gets so loud that once I’ve finished my business and moved back to the living room it is playing too loud to hear me shouting “Alexa: shut the fuck up” at it, meaning I get locked in an increasingly loud, shrill and vicious circle trying to make myself heard over the sound of POOR OLD HELEN ARCHER fussing about her joint bank account. I can’t imagine, in the entire history of The Archers being on air, anyone ever seeming to react so violently to Rob being slow-clapped off the cricket team. My poor neighbours must think I have the most exciting time paying my sewer-tax with all the yelling and middle-class braying that goes on.

Ah well. On that classy note, let’s sign off for the day. I’ve just discovered that you can play the original Rollercoaster Tycoon on the Mac so I thoroughly expect to be hearing this for the next eight hours. Does this take anyone else back?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT45kiI5FYw

Now let’s take a look at today’s recipe, shall we? Rainbow superfood salad. It’s a salad idea for lunch. These usually go down like a shit in a lift but please, give it a go – it’s easy enough to make and, for a salad, tastes bloody good. The dressing is syn free, as you’d expect, and the whole bowl is full of crunch and goodness. As with all of our recipes, do mix it up – if there’s stuff in here you don’t like, just swap it for something else. Can’t be arsed finding farro? Don’t blame you (though it’ll be wherever the quinoa or couscous is in your supermarket), swap it for another grain or leave it out entirely. Not a fan of feta? Then you’re a sick bastard and you should be ashamed: feta is lovely! Pfft. This recipe is a hybrid of one that I found here and a Marks and Spencers superfood salad which I had to stop buying because each visit to the supermarket at lunchtime was becoming more dangerous: I was one shuffling old biddy fumbling about the meal-deals away from mass genocide. Enjoy!

rainbow superfood salad

to make a rainbow superfood salad, you’ll need:

  • 100g of farro (before you all send me messages saying what’s farro: it’s like quinoa’s fatter cousin and can be found in the same place in the supermarket – feel free to swap for couscous)
  • one small red onion
  • one red pepper and one yellow pepper
  • half a box of edamame beans (you can buy these in Tesco’s fruit and veg bit – or swap them out for chickpeas)
  • half a small red cabbage chopped up nice and fine
  • pomegranate seeds (either from a fresh pomegranate – which I really struggle with as I’m mildly trypophobic, or buy them from the supermarket in a little pot)
  • 45g of feta (which is one HEA)
  • for the dressing, just mix some mint sauce into natural fat free yoghurt – I know, we’re not fancy here

to make a rainbow superfood salad, you should:

  • cook the farro according to the instructions on the packet – but you don’t want to cook it to mush and you definitely want to make sure you’ve washed it well afterwards so it doesn’t go all starchy
  • I cook my farro in chicken stock because I’m a cruel, murdering meat-eating bastard, but feel free to use veggie stock – it just adds another note of flavour
  • chop everything up into small chunks and then scatter through the cooked farro
  • season with salt and pepper if you so desire
  • see above for the dressing
  • this will keep cheerfully in the fridge for up to three days, but only as long as you don’t dress it – once it has been dressed, get it eaten

Done! I’d love to think this rainbow superfood salad wasn’t dismissed out of hand because it’s a bloody gorgeous lunch – don’t be put off by the ingredients, just swap them out for stuff you don’t like, but if you’ve never tried edamame, pomegranate, cabbage or farro in a salad, give it a whirl! For more ideas on what to put in your mouth, click the buttons below!

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Please remember to share using our fancy buttons below!

J

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!

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Cheers guys!

J

tomato panzanella with haricot beans

The tomato panzanella with haricot beans will be with you shortly, don’t worry.

Apologies for the lack of posts this week, but see real life got in the way and I didn’t have much time to sit at my desk typing away – normal service should resume next week.

We’ve hired a car for the weekend. Now, hiring a car when you’re young free and single may bring to mind a fancy sports car or a top-end muscle car, but no, not for the Cautious Cubs, oh no no. Because we’re a) tight and b) stingy, we just went for the cheapest option which has landed us with a Ford Fiesta. Nowt wrong with a Fiesta but it doesn’t exactly get the blood pumping, does it? It doesn’t help that it comes in ‘Aged Pubic Grey’.

The guy serving was clearly on the same bus as us so there was lots of knowing looks at us ‘going away for the weekend’. Luckily, he wasn’t one of those prickly gay men who get uppity and peacocky around other gay men, so all was well. He had the good grace to look ashamed when he handed over the key to our temporary Ford Tedium, though he brightened up when he asked how we got to the rental place and I pointed at Paul’s smart-car and explained that we’d come over in a rollerskate.

I hate driving unfamiliar cars – I like the comfort of knowing what every knob does (in my car he usually sits in the passenger seat telling me how to drive) and how to turn on the air-conditioner. Some silly fool has set all the radio channels up the incorrect way, with Radio 2 being on the number four present and all the other channels being full of Now That’s What I Call Tinnitus. The indicators don’t make a pleasing clicky-clack like mine and to top it off, it’s an automatic. Nowt against automatics you understand, but it isn’t proper driving unless I’m wearing out the clutch and over-revving like I’m the lorry driver in Duel.

Oh a final thing I need to say – sorry, but boring legal bit here. We’re happy for you to share our photos in your groups and links to our blog everywhere you can, that’s grand, no problem at all. However, we’ve had an incident where some greasy-faced spunkguzzler decided to make our recipes into a book and sell them for profit. Let me make one thing clear: we will pursue the rights to our content to the very end. The photos are ours, the content is ours, and we do it for free for a reason – to help those who can’t afford to go to SW. Don’t be a cheeky twat – we will come after you!

Anyway, no time for chitter-chatter as we’ve got stuff to sort. We will be blogging again next week with lots of new recipes, and we’ve even got a theme week planned. I’ll leave you with this quick recipe for a panzanella to use up any tomatoes you have kicking about – perhaps you have some spare from the previous recipe! We found the recipe on another blog – right here – so full credit to them. Naturally, we’ve give it a bit of a Slimming World tweak. Makes enough for four light lunches.

tomato panzanella with haricot beans

to make tomato panzanella with haricot beans, you’ll need:

  • as many tomatoes as you dare, warm from the sun not cold from your heart/fridge
  • a red onion
  • a few basil leaves
  • two teaspoons of olive oil
  • however much bread you want – so if you’re having four portions, use 4 x HEB allowance
  • a tin of haricot beans (or butter beans), easy to find in the supermarket (they’ll be near the sweetcorn)
  • one orange pepper
  • one red pepper
  • tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt and black pepper

to make tomato panzanella with haricot beans, you should:

  • cube up your bread allowance and put into a bowl with the oil and some salt and pepper
  • swish it around, rough and tumble, so everything has a bit of oil
  • put onto a tray and slide it elegantly into the oven – maybe for ten minutes or so until it’s just nice and toasty but not actually toasted
  • if you can’t be arsed to fart about, just toast the slices and then cut them up after
  • meanwhile, thinly slice your peppers and onions, drain your beans (that’s not a euphemism, you filthy tart) slice your red onion nice and fine and shred those basil leaves – you don’t need to be elegant here, just cut it up any old how
  • quarter your tomatoes – lots of different sizes and colours
  • chuck everything bar the bread into a bowl, add the vinegar, mix it all up and leave until you want your meal
  • add the breadcrumbs at the last moment and give it a mix
  • serve!

Lots of speed foods and lots of flavour. Enjoy! Looking for more ideas? Take your pick…

vegetariansmall  sausagessmall  seafoodsmallbreakfastsmallsnackssmall dessertsmallslowcookersmall

J

roast beef and mustard lentil salad

Now, before we get to the roast beef and mustard lentil salad, I want to discuss something. Serious faces please. Fingers on lips. Not those lips. Not those fingers. Good lord, contain yourself.

After yesterday’s post I received a comment about how tired someone was because of ‘all the advertising’ on our blog. Fair enough: everyone’s entitled to an opinion, of course, and you’ll note that I approved the comment where I could have just deleted it. It’s a discussion worth having, after all. It’s been on my mind a little.

Here’s the thing – take a look at other food blogs – you’ll see tonnes of little adverts all over the page. I could do the same thing and quadruple my blog income in a shot. But on our main page, I’ve got one little google advert at the top. It’s not spread all over the place, it doesn’t slow the page, it doesn’t detract from the content. It could, very easily, but we chose to have a clean blog which is easy to access over something buggy and full of ads. When we email out to subscribers we could send a snippet rather than the full blog meaning that you had to visit the page and thus, drive up our adsense – but we don’t do it, because it would be crap for you. That’s the reason there’s no pop-up whenever you load the page asking you to subscribe, that’s why we don’t send out spam, that’s why there’s no ‘read more’ button which loads more ads. It’s about making it good for the reader not the writer.

How most blogs make money is via affiliate marketing – if I recommend Musclefood, I get a very small commission. Same with Amazon. That’s why, when we do a recipe with mince in it, I’ll stick a link in to Musclefood and if a recipe calls for grated garlic, I’ll mention the mincer. I don’t mean Paul. But this is the thing: we do use Musclefood for meat and we do own the few gadgets and Amazon products that I mention. I’m not just shilling for the tiny bit of money it makes me, I recommend them because I believe in them. I’ve always been totally transparent about the advertising, too – I don’t hide it away. We mention our books occasionally because I’m bloody proud of the fact I have a book – of course I should be! But that’s about the extent of the adverts.

Our blog operates to a very simple template – 1,000 words or so of preamble and nonsense, one decent photograph of the food, a very simple no-fuss breakdown of the recipe and then a couple of links to other posts on the blog. It takes me about 90 minutes to type up the ‘story’ and to try and add the funny bits. Sit and type out 1,000 words, try to make it faintly funny, see how long it takes you. We spend a couple of hours over the weekend researching and planning the recipes. We have to buy new ingredients and unusual ingredients because we like to have different styles of recipes spread out over the year. Paul spends an hour or so cooking the meals, I spend a few minutes photographing, then typing. I then spend 20 minutes or so publishing the blog in our various mediums. That’s a lot of time for two blokes who work full-time in demanding jobs and who, let’s face it, are bone-bloody-idle.

And there’s the cost too – we had to buy a proper server for the blog to sit on – that costs a fair chunk every year. New ingredients cost money. Photography software costs money. As much we don’t struggle for money, I’d much rather spend that money putting my fat arse on a beach somewhere than talking about servers with some chap in Wisconsin.

So why do we do it? Because we fucking love it! We adore all the wonderful, lovely comments we receive. We love hearing from folks who have cooked one of our meals and been pleasantly surprised that slimming food could be so delicious. We eat so well because we’re constantly trying new things. We’ve met amazing folk in our groups, on our facebook page, via here. Everyone’s got a story and we love to hear them. I love to write, so this is a perfect outlet for my verbal diarrhoea – and we’ve got a very unique thing in that we’ve got a perfect diary of our last two years. Paul could barely cook before we started and now he’s confident in the kitchen. It’s great!

We’re not going to stop any time soon despite all the effort it takes. But the balance for that is that in the big blog posts, you might get a couple of text links to ingredients and a mention of Musclefood. It’s easy ignored and I think a decent exchange for the work we do. When we’ve got a Musclefood sale on, you’ll get a paragraph, but it’s always delineated from the post by blank lines. Skip over it. It’s easy to forget that we’ve already done over 350 recipes which are all indexed by syns – you couldn’t buy a cookbook with that many recipes in it, and we give it away for free. Always will be!

I hope that clears things up! I am sorry to moan, but there just something in the wanky, passive-aggressive comment that pushed a button.

To make things worse, here’s a salad! It’s syn free, full of taste and made up of only a few ingredients – it’s an excellent way to use up any roast beef you have kicking about, but you can also throw sliced beef in there for no syns. We’re talking proper roast beef though, not the processed stuff as that sometimes does have syns. Before I do, though, I’m obliged to mention – because it’s possibly the last day we’re running this, our current Musclefood deal. If you’re already frothing at the gash at the thought of ONE advert, just scroll on by.


Remember: our Musclefood deal is running with 10% off but ending soon. Canny deal – even if you don’t want it, share it with a friend!

FREEZER FILLER: 5kg (24/26) of big fat chicken breasts, 2kg (5 portions of 400g) less than 5% fat mince, 700g of bacon, 800g of extra lean diced beef and free standard delivery – use TCCFREEZER at checkout – £45 delivered!

BBQ BOX: 5kg (24/26) of big fat chicken breasts, two Irish rump steaks, 350g of bacon, 6 half-syn sausages, twelve giant half-syn meatballs, 400g diced turkeys, two juicy one syn burgers, two bbq chicken steaks, free delivery, season and 400g seasoned drumsticks (syn-free when skin removed) – use TCCSUMMER at checkout – £45 delivered!

Remember, you can choose the day you want it delivered and order well in advance – place an order now for a couple of weeks time and they’ll only take the payment once the meat is dispatched! Right, that’s enough of that. TO THE RECIPE.


roast beef and mustard lentil salad

to make a roast beef and mustard lentil salad, you’ll need:

  • lots of leftover roast beef
  • a can of green lentils
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • a wee bunch of spring onions
  • a lemon
  • a spoonful of wholegrain mustard (this might have syns from recollection – 1 syn – but shared between four)
  • a bag of bistro salad leaves – the ones that have the little strips of beetroot in that make your poo an alarming red – or use any other salad leaves

to make a roast beef and mustard lentil salad, you should:

  • nice and simple this one – chop your tomatoes into quarters, thinly slice your spring onions and put a nice bunch of salad leaves on your plate
  • empty your tinned lentils into a microwavable bowl and cook for about three minutes in enough water to cover them, then drain
  • stir the mustard through the lentils while they are warm and then allow to cool
  • time to assemble – leaves on the bottom, mix of beef, lentils, spring onions and tomatoes on the top
  • dress with the juice of a lemon and some of the zest – no oil needed, perhaps a pinch of salt!

You know, I wasn’t going to do this but hell. You can use one of these to grate the lemons – it creates a nice fine zest and then you can use it for every other recipe we do! You can even see the zest in the photo. HARRUMPH.

Anyway, enjoy!

If you’re looking for more beef recipes, you could do no better than having a look on the links below! I’ve also thrown in some vegetarian recipes because, although this isn’t a veggie recipe, there’s lots more salads in there!

beefsmallvegetariansmall

J

subway the cubs way

I wasn’t going to post tonight because well, I can’t frankly be arsed, but the fear of letting you all down is just too much to bear. Plus Paul’s out at his Let Me Talk To You About Jeremy Corbyn event and there’s nowt on the TV, so here I am. Just a quick informative post with no chitter-chatter though.

We’re trying hard to save money from now until Christmas, with the idea that we can squirrel away a decent nest egg to pay for the ten holidays next year. Listen, I know that sounds ridiculous and a very OH LOOK AT ME thing to say but we both work hard and well, it’s the joys of having no children or expensive drug habits. Anyway, most working days I invariably forget to take my lunch in and end up in Subway which is right next door and has a handsome Polish man. I’m just saying. I get the same boring old salad and because I’m weak and backsliding, I end up getting the crisps and a drink with my salad for a ridiculous £4.90. That’s £24.50 a week and £98 a bloody month. Insane. I don’t need the extra syns from the Doritos, my tits already slurp under my shirt in this heat.

So, I’ve decided to start making my own and see if it works out cheaper. My usual order is (deep breath) double plain chicken, no cheese, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, no onion, olives, gherkins, jalapenos (gives me an excuse for fifteen minutes on the crapper later in the afternoon) and southwest dressing. Problem is, the lettuce is always watery iceberg lettuce and the tomatoes are chilled which makes them taste of exactly nothing. The Southwest dressing alone is 4.5 syns per serving and because the staff in the shop love me and my regular custom, they always go into a minor paralysis as they’re pouring it on, making my lunch more dressing than salad. Eee, it’s no wonder I’m so fat.

I spent Sunday evening preparing the following:

to make this:

subway cubway salad

Which when divided up, makes this:

subway cubway salad

I had to use a big lunchbox for the rest because Paul’s took the small lunchboxes to work with him and never brought them back. It’s alright, I’ll kneecap the fucker when he comes in. I reckon that comes in at around £10 for five proper salads and it takes no time at all. Plus, I’m not at risk of ‘accidentally’ buying the Doritos or wasting syns. I was going to post a list of the various syn values for salad but I don’t want Mags hammering nails into my car brakes for eating into her profits. So…

Enjoy!

J