velvety leek, potato and cheddar soup – instant pot or hob

Velvety leek, potato and cheddar soup – because frankly, it’s Autumn, and clitting about with consommés and gazpachos can fuck right off. You want a soup that’ll put hairs on that big old chest of yours and get stuck when you strain it through your Kevin Webster moustache. So here we are. Sorry for the lack of posts but well, you can probably guess that we’ve been away. Anyway, before we get to the fabulous leek, potato and cheddar soup, you’ve got the next part of our trip to Benidorm to smile politely through. If you can’t be arsed with reading all them big words, don’t fret, just click on the handy shortcut button below to be whisked straight to the pictures. Yes: just click on the mirror below.

Phew. We’d all had enough of her cockadoodie attitude, am I right? Let’s go back to a sunnier time…

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

You know, rather than prattle on about the last two days of the holiday, and bore you to tears with a 300 word monologue about the different types of toast we have, I’m going to do what we did with the Cornwall entries (good God the horror) and recount the memorable bits rather than go at it chronologically. I know what you’re thinking: James, you’re fabulous. Assume that the bits in between were taken up with us swimming in the pool, crisping in the sun or dozing.

Whenever we mentioned online that we were going to Facebook we were met with two things: aghast responses and ‘GO TO THE OLD TOWN’. I harboured a strong hope that the Old Town was actually Barcelona but no, apparently it’s the ‘nice part’ of Benidorm, in much the same way that the Isle of Arran is the nice part of Glasgow. Ah I jest, Glasgow, we love you and would move there in a barely-detectable heartbeat. So, hunger thoroughly satiated by way of the breakfast buffet (room 2002, two-thousand-and-two, dos-mil-y-dos, aaaah for fucks sake) and our hackles risen by the sight of our doubles mincing about the yoghurt station, we set off with the faint aim of walking to the Old Town, taking in what we could during the day.

Oh! Before I get there, can I quickly discuss this?

A lift that judges you.

The lift had a bastard ‘FAT PERSON’ monitor on it. When the two of us got in it went straight to cock-level, which sounds about right for us, until you realise the lift was built for ten people. I mean, we’re fat, but not quite that bad. I think if we had risked it after a particularly bountiful breakfast it may have started shrieking “¡ayudameMis cables!” in hysterical robotic tones. Anyway, the day was young.

It began with a crushing disappointment. We had seen no end of elderly couples whizzing around on double-seater mobility scooters, looking to all the world like particularly gelatinous takes on the future humans from Wall-E (only with far more fag-scorched winceyette). We wanted in on the action, if only because it would have made for an hilarious video of the two of us careering through the streets like the tank chase from Goldeneye. Completely unashamed we wandered into the first mobility scooter hire place and started trying out the various models. All good fun until some harried little Spanish lady came hurtling from out the back and started shouting at us in Spanish. I tried to placate her that, even though I’m hilariously obese, I’m not the easily forty stone or more that I’d seen the mobility scooters having to shuttle around outside. She has having none of it – apparently you need to be registered disabled (fair enough) or old (see previous comment) to hire a scooter. I caught a glance of Paul’s haggard face in the rear-view mirror of the Leviathan-shuttle nearest to me and wondered whether we could pass him off as over 55. Gloria Estefan wouldn’t have accepted it though, so we slunk away.

We carried on walking, dropping into the odd shop on the way. One thing I can’t understand is how all of the tatty shops selling cheap towels, tatty ornaments and fridge magnets and t-shirts with ‘I LOVE COK’ and ‘YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE CRAZY TO ENJOY BENIDORM BUT IT HELPS’ and other shite manage to keep going. There are hundreds of the buggers – probably one for each family that landed. Surely there can’t be a demand for it? I’d like to live in a world where there wasn’t demand for one of these shops, let alone a whole neighbourhood of them. But nevermind. We nipped into the cheap cigarettes store just to see how much baccy costs now – nothing confirms your decision not to smoke like seeing the fact that you’re spending more on tobacco than you do for a good dinner. Plus catching the yellowing eyes of the walking dead shuffling around buying their Lambert and Butlers, coughing out lung mist all the while. This was clearly ground zero for the coughing plague that would accompany us on the plane home. We did have a titter at the fact that the 200 Lambert and Butlers came with a free bottle of Jägermeister sellotaped to the front. Hey, know your market. Listen, we’re not being snobby about smoking – we once had a drawer in the kitchen that was full of tobacco and Rizlas, that’s how dedicated we were – but if you’re going to smoke, try something with a bit of taste. You never know, the Marlboro Reds probably came with a well-aged Châteauneuf-du-Pape attached. I tried taking a picture of the fags but got roundly reprimanded (again!) by the lady behind the till, who shouted ‘NO PHOTOS’ with such ferocity you’d think she was guarding the nuclear codes as opposed to a cancer factory. Pfft. We left empty-handed, but at least able to move more than twenty yards without our lips turning blue.

Fags.

Just round the corner from the cheap fag shops was a cheery little minigolf course. Five euros for eighteen holes – you can’t get vexed at those prices, can you? I confess we only went in because it looked as though there was a gay bears convention behind us in the queue, and hell, if there’s one thing we both enjoy it’s having several bearded men lining up behind us all desperate to sink their balls into an easy hole.

Oh I know, we’re so nasty. But seriously, they looked like they’d all just finished lumberjacking and fighting oil-rig fires. I could barely bend to pick up my ball without poking out my own eye.

As usual, things between Paul and I became immediately competitive – whereas I’ll always beat him at pool, Monopoly and growing a beard (he doesn’t so much grow a beard as frighten it away), he nearly always wins at minigolf. I just don’t have the patience, I hate golf. It’s so tedious and arbitrary and pointless. At least with rugby you run the risk of being accidentally penetrated in an especially violent scrum. With golf what’s the most exciting thing that can happen? Someone with pipe-cleaner legs, clad in whatever shite was heavily discounted at the garden centre, comes and primly tells you off for not wearing the right shoes? Pfft. I’m yet to meet anyone who has been seriously into golf who I haven’t suspected of being on some sort of register. Maybe I’m jaundiced because we have a golf course at the end of our street and I’m forever having to dodge Audis and BMWs piloted by triple-chinned moonface fuckheads not concentrating on their driving because they’re too busy thinking about their stroke / hypnotised by the rancid pattern on their trousers.

Action shot! I can’t recall the balls being quite so ovoid, though.

Anyway, I digress (if I ever become rich and famous and in need of an autobiography, that’ll be the title – and the book will open with me being born and then 1000 pages of bitchy comments about the hospital canteen and Paul’s mother). The mini-golf course was actually good fun – very much a file under ‘god bless, they tried’ sort of affair, but good fun none the less. Paul struggled with a tricky shot through a windmill which almost gave me a victory but I was distracted on the eighteenth hole by the sight of one of the bearded gentlemen bent over to tie his shoes and that was it for the day. Paul cruised to an easy victory and made sure I knew it. Personally, I thought it was a little churlish of him to gloat – it’s hard to concentrate on your stroke when you’re desperately trying to engineer a situation where you could feasibly fall over and expose your rear like a cat on heat. As we left Paul noticed a mechanical bull and asked if we should have a go. Fearful of the hydraulics wheezing asthmatically and then enveloping us in thick blue smoke, I declined. I bought us both a knock-off Spanish Magnum instead and we moved on.

Someone has to do it, I suppose.

We stopped briefly at an Ale-Hop shop (very much like a Tiger, if not a Tiger under a different name) where I desperately tried to find a hat to find my giant head. It’s my eternal struggle and one I’m yet to beat. I’m a reasonable looking bloke, I think, but I have a head like the Bloaty Head patients from Theme Hospital. Every hat I try on is always about four inches too small, sitting on top my balding expanse like a fey little affectation rather than the sun protection I so desperately need. When I was much younger I found a natty little Kangol bucket hat in a hedge that fitted perfectly – no idea where it came from (although it did have J. Merrick scrawled on the inside) but by god it saw me through so many summers, until one fateful day when it blew off my head into the English Channel. I like to think it served its purpose and moved on to rescue some other elephantine-bonced poor bastard. Mind you, for as much as I struggled to find a hat…

…Paul was suffering more trying to find a bra to protect his poor heaving busoms.

Poor guy. He’s a busty double-D, if anyone has one spare they can pass to him.

Right, here’s the thing. As usual, I started out with good intentions about keeping it succinct but I’ve actually managed to hit the 3000 word mark. I’ve cut that out for the next two posts but hey, let’s get to the recipe. I appreciate I can’t keep your attention for too long, what with all the shiny things in the world to look at. Until next time…

REMEMBER, leave us some feedback on the holiday entries!


This soup, then. You don’t need an Instant Pot to make it, you absolutely don’t, but it’ll make it so much quicker if you have one. Before you ask, yes, you probably could do it in a soupmaker too, though I’d have reservations about adding cheddar in case it sticks to the bottom. Your choice. The Instant Pot is currently pretty cheap on Amazon, mind you. This makes easily enough for six people.



to make leek, potato and cheddar soup you will need:

  • 3 leeks
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1½ tsp dried thyme (or two sprigs of fresh if you’re fancy)
  • 1½ tsp oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 125ml light white wine (4½ syns)
  • 3 vegetable stock cubes
  • 4 medium-sized potatoes, diced into 2″ chunks
  • 110g Philadelphia Lightest (1x HeA)
  • 40g reduced-fat cheddar cheese (1x HeA)
  • 2 bacon medallions (optional, just if you’re feeling SUPER fancy)

Look, if you can’t find light white wine, just use any old slop you have kicking about. Use mouthwash for all I care. I’m not your boss!

Broghie

Wondering what on Earth that broghie thing is? Hard to describe! But it’s just the thing for dipping and adding crunch – like a prawn cracker in consistency only without the oil and fat and fishiness that comes with it. We’re using them a lot for satisfying the crunch that we miss from bread – and they’re only a syn each. You’ll see them in a few of our recipes because we’re well stocked up – bigger Iceland stores sell them, and they’re popular in Ireland – just like I wish we were! We’re not getting paid to promote them, just something that I saw on Facebook and wanted!

to make leek, potato and cheddar soup you should:

  • wash and finely slice the leeks – if you’re not too clumsy, get one of these and do it in seconds!
  • press the ‘saute’ button on the instant pot and add a bit of oil
  • add the leeks to the pan and stir regularly until softened
  • add the garlic, stir and cook for another 30 seconds
  • turn off the instant pot and add the thyme, oregano, bay, wine and potatoes to the pan
  • dissolve the stock cubes in 1.25l of boiling water and add to the pan
  • give a really good stir, then cook on high pressure for 10 minutes
  • meanwhile, cook the bacon until it’s super crispy and chop up into little bits
  • when it’s finished, use quick release and stir in the philadelphia and cheese
  • use a stick blender to blend the mix until it’s smooth
  • serve in bowls and sprinkle over some of the bacon bits

If you haven’t got an instant pot don’t fret – you can do this on the hob just as easily. Chuck the leeks into a giant pan until soft, add everything else (except the cheese), bring to the boil and them simmer until tender, add the cheese then blend with a stick blender. Simple!

Enjoy that? Of course you did, you saucy bugger. Want more? Click.

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Goodnight for now! Remember to hit the share buttons below if you’ve enjoyed the recipe!

J

lentil and vegetable soup – instant pot, hob or slow cooker

This lentil and vegetable soup looks like vomit. It does. I know that, you know that. But it was so tasty! I urge you to give it a go! We’re going straight to the recipe tonight as we’re out and about, so here we go!

lentil and vegetable soup

to make instant pot lentil and vegetable soup you will need:

  • 1 large onion, finely diced (if you can’t be arsed with all this dicing, and who could blame you, you could chuck it all in a food processor. We use this one because it looks cute!)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 stick of celery, finely diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 100g dried lentils (any type)
  • ½ tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 40g spring greens

If you haven’t got an instant pot yet then what is wrong with you? Save time and effort for more important stuff. Get yours from Amazon right here and help sling a few pence commission our way. WE’RE VERY LOW ON GIN.

to make instant pot lentil and vegetable soup you should:

  • add a little oil to the instant pot and press the ‘saute‘ button
  • add the onions, carrots and celery to the pot, give it a good stir and cook for about 6-7 minutes, stirring every now and again
  • add the garlic and cook for another minute or two
  • throw everything else into the pan except for the spring greens and give a really good stir
  • press ‘manual‘ cook on high pressure for ten minutes, and then use the quick release to get to it quicker
  • stir in the spring greens and leave for a couple of minutes
  • serve!

You don’t need to use an instant pot for this, it’s just easier and quicker. You could do it in a slow cooker too, just throw everything in at once (except for the spring greens) and cook on high for 4-5 hours on high, or 8-10 hours on low.

Don’t expect this one to look amazing because frankly it won’t, BUT it does taste really nice. Even Paul loved it and he hates pretty much everything that’s in it. Plus, it’s crammed full of good stuff!

Feeling angelic? Don’t worry, we’ve got tonnes more recipes for you to help shift that gut. Just click one of the buttons below to be transported to even more ideas!

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J

syn free split pea and ham soup

Ready for the syn free split pea and ham soup? No worries. You can use an Instant Pot, slow cooker or a hob. But I need to moan first! If you want to go straight to the recipe and skip the writing, it’s simple: just click on the MISERABLE COW just below. Go on, why not.

It seems a little unfair and rash of me to wish to strike all children from the face of the Earth like a mincing King Herod, but see, I was stuck behind a car full of someone’s crotchgoblins this morning for 40 minutes whilst the traffic slugged down the A1, choking as it was with the massive load of extra cars on the road now that you and your lovely children are back on the road. 40 minutes is a long time to fake enthusiastic waves and wan smiles at snotty-nosed children for whom looking out of the back window and pulling faces is infinitely more fun than sitting still and being silent. I was already in a poor mood because:

  • it’s Monday;
  • it’s Monday;
  • it’s still Monday; and
  • thanks to the children of Earth collectively going back to school today, I had to leave the house at 7.30am instead of 8.30am and that meant getting out of bed early.

There’s only one reason gay, childless men get out of bed early and that’s to fetch the lube from the chiller. Our normal routine consists of a gentle alarm going off at 7 which we snooze for two ten minute period before my phone alarm goes off, announcing the time in a cold, robotic voice. That’s Paul’s cue to get out of bed, put the coffee on and go for his shower. I’ll deign to rise about 7.40am, once I’ve been assured that there’s a warm coffee and a hot shower waiting for me. Stay longer than that and I’ll get a cold reception and a frozen willy. I can then lounge about luxuriantly for an hour or so, cultivating my daily farts and working on my yawns, whilst Paul dashes about feeding the cats and dismantling the alarms like he’s on an automatic lock-in on the Crystal Maze. It’s marvellous.

But no, not anymore. Now I have to rise, shower, shave and shite (forever careful not to get my hands mixed up, I think work would disapprove if I turned up with a Dirty Sanchez and a bleeding arse) as though there’s a bomb strapped to my gunt and only getting onto the A1 before half seven will defuse it. It’s just awful. You know who is to blame? Your children. No it’s really that simple: I’m sure they’re lovely and all, with their moon eyes and higgedly-piggedly baby teeth, but you really ought to have just stopped at that seventh Campari and not given in to your carnal urges so many years ago. That way the roads would be clear, I’d be able to bask in my own bed-sweat until a reasonable hour and everyone would be happy.

Actually, let’s just build a lane on the side of each road for gays without children. I can use some of the pink pound that my pockets are so awash with. Perhaps call it the Marmite Motorway, or the Backseat Driver Lane. Pink Lane. We’re nearly there. We’d have hard shoulders every 100 yards with AA men built like hi-vis hot water tanks to tend to our exhaust pipes and steamy radiators. Ah, a boy can dream.

Anyway, I posted something along all of the above in our group this morning and got roundly supported by all those who could tell I was being facetious. I don’t actually hate children. How could I? They’re going to grow up and be the ones spooning cabbage soup into my mouth and putting me in front of Countdown. I received a terse riposte from a stern looking woman with eleven o’clock shadow telling me that perhaps my mother should have kept her legs shut.

Pfft: good luck with that. I’ve been telling her that for 31 years and it still hasn’t made a difference.  They don’t call her Can-Can-Christine for nowt, you know.

Speaking of split peas, let’s rattle off this recipe. Can you tell we are trying to use our Instant Pot more? It’s because we will forget how good it is until we use it again, then we can’t get enough. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you we made this soup three nights in a row. It’s beautiful, and a cheap, easy soup to make. Admittedly it doesn’t photograph well: I’m more than aware it looks like I’ve already ate it all, passed it and photoed it, but please, trust me when I tell you it’s tasty. There’s an added bonus – if you leave it overnight to go cold it sets like gorgeous pease pudding, which you’d expect given it’s made from split peas. Don’t know what pease pudding is? Get out of my life.

As always with our recipes, you don’t need to buy an expensive bit of kit to make them. An Instant Pot (or any pressure cooker) will make this recipe quick and easy, but you can do it in a slow cooker or even on the hob. We cover all possibilities below. We do recommend an Instant Pot simply because they’re a doddle to use and we’re finding more and more uses for it – you can buy the one we use here. Or at least have a look, and start leaving clues around the house or office for loved ones that you need to let off steam, or some such other shite.

to make instant pot split pea and ham soup you will need:

for the stock:

  • 800g-1kg ham joint (if using gammon remember to soak it overnight to remove some of the saltiness)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

for the soup:

  • 500g dried split peas
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  •  2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf

Hey, if you buy a bigger joint of ham and don’t want to use it all in here, you can use some in our carbonara quiche or proper egg and ham quiche!

to make instant pot split pea and ham soup you should:

  • this needs to be done in two stages – don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it looks, I promise!
  • chuck all of the stock ingredients into the instant pot along with 2.5 litres of cold water. Cook under high pressure for one hour, and then use the natural release method
  • Lift the ham out of the pot and strain the rest so you’re left with the liquid – this is the stock you’ll need for the next bit…
  • next, add all of the soup ingredients into the instant pot along with 1.5 litres of the stock that you’ve just drained off
  • use a couple of forks to pull apart the ham, this won’t take much doing. chuck that in the pot too
  • cook for twenty minutes at high pressure, then use the quick-release method to get to it quicker
  • eat!

you can make this without a pressure cooker if you want to:

  • place all of the stock ingredients into a large stockpot with two litres of water and simmer for two hours
  • lift out the ham joint and strain out all of the solids so you’re left with just the liquid stock
  • next, heat a frying pan over a medium high heat with a little oil and cook the carrot, celery and onion from the soup ingredients until softened (which’ll take about five minutes), add the garlic in the last 30 seconds or so
  • slow cooker: put the veg into a slow cooker along with the bay leaf, peas and stock and cook on high for 3-4 hours (or low for 6-8). Add the shredded ham about half-way through
  • hob: just let everything bubble gently away together, keep an eye on it, until thickened!
  • eat!

We make sure that all our recipes are easy, just like us! Click one of the buttons below to find even more recipes!

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J

spicy carrot coconut soup – instant-pot or hob!

Spicy carrot coconut soup – done in the Instant Pot in a matter of moments but can also be done old-school on the hob or in the slow cooker – awaits you, if only you bear with me for a few minutes. Good news: it’ll be a short entry tonight as Fat-tits has wheeled out the BBQ and we’re going to do our best to pretend that summer didn’t fuck off back in May and enjoy a nice pink-in-the-middle-see-you-again-in-thirty-minutes beefburger. It’s the British way.

We can only get to our BBQ because we’ve spent the good part of four hours clearing out the shed and ferrying various bits back and forth to the tip. Long-time readers know that I love going to the tip – not just because of all the hi-vis-clad blokes wandering around sweating in the sun and bellowing obscenities on the wind, but also because I love seeing what people are chucking out. It’s why I couldn’t work there – I’d spend so much time tutting at people’s questionable tastes that they’d think a woodpecker had taken up residence in the staff shelter. For example, I saw someone manhandling out of the boot of her Picasso a giant piece of pink, glittering wall-art that simply said ‘DREAMZ’. I don’t know what made me wince more – the mistaken ‘Z’, the mistral font or that awful pink colour that is solely reserved for cheap plastic vibrators, limousines “slagwagons” and those awful velour tracksuits that not a single body in all of existence has ever looked anything approaching decent in. 99% of the time they look like a saveloy sausage with legs. Just sayin’.

Anyway, because it was literally the first thing I put my hands on in our wardrobe, I was also wearing a hi-vis shirt, which led to an awkward moment when someone asked me where best to put an office chair and I had to explain that I didn’t work there. Don’t get me wrong, I’d have played along save for the fact I was getting eyeballed at the time by one of the proper workers who was checking I wasn’t throwing my cardboard box (containing onion peelings, I’m so sorry) into the general waste. I’m glad he didn’t ask why I was wearing hi-vis – my reply that it’s purely for role-play between me and Paul (I’m the road worker, he’s the pothole) would have likely offended.

Now it’s all cleaned out, take a look at my shed:

See? I will have order. All the beans stacked in order, facing the right way. Even that tower of shit-tickets is tidy. I have absolutely no idea what that skidmark is but it’s terribly frustrating – it looked like someone crawled in and died on the carpet.  Our cats are prone to killing all manner of things and depositing them somewhere where they’ll know we will be super grateful to find them, like in a shoe or underneath the settee. I’m not even kidding on that one, I dropped my phone between the sofa cushions the other day and when I reached in to get it, I pulled half a rat out by the tail. Why? Was my cat keeping it for winter? Does he think he’s a squirrel? You can be assured that he was chased out of the cat-flap with the threat of my Dr Martens up his bumhole for that trick.

Oh, and apropos of nothing, you can see on the top there the see-through toaster, Instant Pot and the Optigrill XL – see, we do own the stuff we peddle!

Now, I didn’t want to come on here just to talk you through my visit to the tip, but the story does link somewhat organically into what I actually wanted to discuss by virtue of both venues being awash with bright, unwanted rubbish. See, I went to Sports Direct on Friday. I’m not being snobby, it’s just generally not a shop I’d ever have reason to go in – it’s not like we need specialised clothing for sitting watching TV and occasional dogging. Perhaps some knee-pads, but I can buy them at the garden centre when I pick up our shirts. However, a friend of mine needed to exchange one highly-flammable and very rustly sports outfit for another highly-flammable and very rustly sports outfit, only this one in red. This, inexplicably, took her a good twenty minutes of cooing and picking things on and off the rails, looking around for sizes unknown to man and generally taking an age to do anything. I was there that long I could feel my teeth furring up through the miasma of Mugler Angel in the air. I can’t stand shopping at the best of times but god knows I hate shopping somewhere where I’m clearly unwanted – I could see staff looking at my straining belt and 27XL shirt and trying to decide whether to cone me off or call security.

Eventually El Ehma decided on a slightly lighter shade and we traipsed over to the exchange desk, only for some sweaty-necked oik to barge past us and slap down a pair of trainers on the desk. To her credit, the lady behind the counter didn’t do much as wince, though it would have been tricky to register such a facial movement as she’d taken the highly-inefficient step of wearing all the make-up she owned at once. He wanted a refund because “the tag cut into his foot”. I had two instant rejoinders to that one:

  • it’ll distract from the tag cutting into your ankle, ho-ho; or
  • are you sure it isn’t diabetes?

but see Emma is slight and whilst I reckon I could get a few seconds head-start by throwing her in front of someone’s fist, he’d be able to catch up with me on the stairs, what with my game ankle. So I kept schtum. The assistant looked at the trainers and within the passing of a second, declared that she wasn’t going to take them back because a) they were fine and b) they’d clearly be worn. Worn? It looked like the fucker had water-skiied behind a tractor to get to the shop. They weren’t so much ‘worn-in’ as ‘fit for the fire’. You’d have second thoughts putting them in the charity bin in the supermarket car-parks, put it that way. What followed was a good ten minute shouting match between the customer and the manager who had clearly hurried up from the smoking shelter outside, judging by the blue-smoke drifting lazily from his man-bun. We heard all the usual cliches – ‘hardly worn them’, ‘not fit for purpose’ and then my personal favourite, ‘what about my human rights?’. Because good men laid down their lives so someone had the right to blow spittle all over an exchange desk and return their favourite Nick trainers whenever they fancied.

Sensing that the manager wasn’t going to acquiesce and/or his ankles weren’t going to last, the man scooped up the trainers and stalked off, ranting and raving about rip-off this and fuck-off that. I’ve genuinely never seen someone go so red – if I’d had one of those weight-watcher wraps I could have made a Slimming World pasty* from the heat alone – I was all set for some cardiac action, but no. We exchanged our items with minimal fuss and made for the exit, only to see him stood outside warning folk not to go in, like some sweaty, tracksuited Cerberus. We left him getting shouted out by a street-performer angry that all of the fuss was distracting the crowds from watching him hammer nails up his nose. I’m not even kidding.

* sorry, but corned-beef wrapped in a wrap isn’t a pasty. A pasty is made from delicious shortcrust pasty and gravy. Whilst I’m sure these are delicious, they’re hot sandwiches.

Christ, I said this would be a short entry – I’m sorry. It was longer than either of us expected, wasn’t it? I hope I didn’t bruise your kidneys, ma’am. If I can sum up my ramblings it’s this: be nice to customer service folks. It isn’t their fault, they have to follow company procedure, and you catch more flies with honey than vinegar anyway. I can’t bear people being rude, especially when they’re in the wrong.

Anyway, come on, that’ll do. Shall we get to the spicy carrot and coconut soup? Yes, we should. This is an Instant-Pot recipe but I’ll provide two methods for cooking it, so if you don’t have an Instant-Pot, don’t fret a jot. You don’t need one. It makes things quicker and easier, but honestly, this recipe is a doddle either way. To give you an idea of how delicious it is – I dislike both carrots and coconut, but I loved this! I wanted to try a carrot take on our pea and coconut soup (also amazing) and we found this on a blog called platedcravings and have adjusted it for Slimming World. It serves four.

spicy carrot coconut soup

to make spicy carrot coconut soup, you’ll need:

  • a few sprays of olive oil (up to you if you syn it, it’s 0.5 syns for seven sprays)
  • one large onion, chopped neatly
  • one clove of garlic, minced
  • a little knob (half a thumb) of ginger, minced
  • about 500g of carrots, peeled and chopped into pound-coin size discs
  • good pinch of salt and pepper
  • 200ml of blue dragon coconut milk light (7ish syns)
  • 500ml of good chicken stock (or veg)
  • two tablespoons of hot sauce (1 syn) – any hot sauce is fine, or Sriracha

Few things to make life easier, but you don’t need these to cook with:

  • a microplane grater – it’ll make short work of mincing garlic and ginger – with garlic you don’t need to peel it and ditto ginger, which you can keep in the freezer until the next time you need it;
  • an Instant Pot – we love ours, but only because it’s so quick to do everything, and I’m finally over my fear of them; and
  • a stick blender – you really don’t need anything fancy – this £5 little blender will do the same as any expensive blender!

to make spicy carrot coconut soup in an Instant Pot, you should:

  • press the saute button, spray the cooking pot with a bit of oil and saute the onions for a few minutes until soft – add the ginger and garlic and keep going for a minute more
  • tip in the carrots, a pinch of salt and pepper, and saute for a couple more minutes
  • stir in the stock, coconut milk and hot sauce
  • cook on high pressure for six minutes, then let the pressure release naturally for five to ten minutes, then quick release
  • use a stick blender in the pot until it’s smooth as silk – season with salt and pepper

To cook it on the hob, saute everything off in the pan and gently simmer until the carrots are softened – then blend away! It’ll take longer but it’s still a doddle!

Want more ideas for soup and lunches and veggie goodness? Click the buttons below!

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Enjoy!

J

cooling summer gazpacho – full of goodness

Here for the gazpacho? I have bad news – it’s right at the bottom of tonight’s blog entry, and, for the first time in ages, it’s a new holiday story! You may remember we’re doing 12 holidays this year? If not, we are, and whilst we have a few already under our sleeve waiting to be typed up, you can join us in Paris, having a wet weekend in a seaside caravan and er…on a coach trip. That didn’t end well…

Does it feel like forever since we whisked you away with us, seeing the world and tripping the light fantastic? Weeks since we popped you in our suitcase like the optimistic bottle of lube that all married couples bring along? Pfft. Listen, we can’t bring you – I’m a tightarse Geordie: I need the lube but I don’t need the extra luggage charges for being overweight. We travel the world with one Amazon Basics trolley-bag between us. We’re light-packers, which is halfway to what we were always called at school. Well you know what they say, if the cap fits, bend over…OH AND REMEMBER, I really LOVE feedback on the holiday entries. It makes me happy!

So where are we off to? Unless you’re especially slow-witted, you’ll have spotted Copenhagen on the banner there. Copenhagen – Denmark’s capital and only a mere two or so hour flight from Edinburgh. We chose it for one reason: Rick Stein went there for a ‘long weekend’ and sold it so well that we had the tickets booked an hour later. We’re shallow, but at least we’re honest.

No need to fuss about with the pre-holiday details – we were flying from Edinburgh (again), we argued over who should drive (again) and I won, meaning a nice steady drive up into Scotland in the evening after work. As a treat I had finished work early and created a wee little picnic (in a proper hamper, no less: remember, I am gay) full of exciting treats from Lidl. Paul’s partial to a bit of brie so I went overboard with the brie and grape sandwiches, packing four a-piece. We could have been dashed from the road into a ditch en-route and still had enough food to see us through the cold months. Be prepared – that’s the Scouts motto, isn’t it? I wouldn’t know, I never went. Frankly, unless they gave out badges for tossing off the local farmhands, I’d have been wasted.

Paul finished work late meaning it was getting dark as we set off and, unbeknownest to him, the cheese sandwiches had been sweating merrily away in the back of my car for a good few hours. Please, you mustn’t worry – I have an iron stomach, and Paul needs to lose some weight so a bout of the shits would be just the ticket. We drove for a good ninety minutes or so before deciding to find somewhere nice to sit and eat our nicely-warmed-through picnic. Paul spotted a layby that looked out over the sea on the other side of the road and I dramatically swung the car across the A1 and parked up. The view was marred by a lorry that was parked facing us (to be fair, he was on the right side of the road) but we thought nothing of it.

Until he started wanking merrily away. Not subtly, not with the little curtain drawn, but rather standing crouched over in his cab, pumping merrily away. He knew we were there and could see – I can only assume he was an exhibitionist – but that takes some balls, doesn’t it? Taking a gamble that the two lads in front of you are homosexual and might have a passing fancy in what you’re busy choking. I wonder what gave the game away? I removed my ‘BEEP IF YOU’RE A FELCHER‘ bumper sticker ages ago, but I can only assume it was the sight of Paul daintily spreading Boursin on the water-biscuits that set him away.

Look: I’m no prude. Nor is Paul. We’re both very open about our predilections and normally the sight of a lorry driver putting on a show like the world’s sauciest Punch and Judy act would at least give us significant pause. Had it been a decent looking fittie in a hi-viz jacket then the lights of our car would have been flashing away like we’d accidentally lit a box of fireworks in the glove-box. But, no, this guy looked like the type of man you just know puts his hard-drive in the microwave every time the police drive up his street. We primly packed away our sandwiches and the rest of the picnic into the boot and drove on.

We spent the night at the Dakota Edinburgh, with me having decided to upgrade us into a nicer hotel than the Soviet-Bloc experience we had endured at the little ibis back in February. That’s not fair, it was perfectly pleasant. I was over-the-moon to arrive there at 10.30pm – thus not getting the benefit of the nice room at all – but we had a good sleep and were through Edinburgh Airport in no time at all the next morning. No-one sat next to us on the plane meaning we could spread out, the take-off was smooth and the drinks were being served in record time. All good.

The flight takes a couple of hours so, whilst you’re here, let me regale you of a few facts that I learned about Denmark and Copenhagen. It’s OK, you can have a light nap, I’ll give you a prod when I’m done. Oh and if my notes are wrong, please don’t think ill of me, I’m not putting myself out there as an alternative to Lonely Planet. Firstly, there’s no real substitute for ‘please’ – it’s just not said. This horrifies me, I pride myself on good manners – someone could set my lips on fire and I’d still compliment them on their choice of matches. Remember when I got locked into a thank you war with my neighbour? I bought them a framed photo of where they got engaged, so they bought us some wine, so we bought them flowers, so they bought us chocolates? It’s still going on, albeit with ever diminishing returns: yesterday they pushed 5p through our letterbox, tomorrow I’ll nip over and smile disinterestedly through their window.

They were the first country to legalise pornography (in 1969, which seems fitting), which makes perfect sense when you look at some of the blue-eyed, blonde visions of perfection wandering around. Porn is so much more elegant with the Danish – with the British I end up focussing on their awful B&M wall-art and spotty bottoms. Plus there’s a definite lack of sexiness in the sound someone from Birmingham makes when having an orgasm – it sounds like two cats fighting to the death in a lift-shaft. I’m sorry Birmingham but it’s true: I’ve been there, done that and stained my t-shirt.

Of course, the downside of this sexy boom is that they’re also the country with the highest recorded rate of sexually transmitted diseases. They don’t mention that in the inflight magazine, do they? All them seraphic smiles but they’re all baking bread in their knickers.

Now this one I like: children are encouraged to swear in English. There’s plenty of swearwords in Danish from the unimaginative pis af to the slightly more colourful sut røv, pikhoved which means suck ass, dickhead, which frankly sounds like a step-by-step guide to staying the night at Chubby Towers. However, children are naturally told not to swear in Danish in public and to swear in English instead. I find this absolutely hilarious: I was itching to hear some wee dolly-dimple drop her toy and call it a fucking useless c*nt but it never happened, alas. We did see one lad fall over in the street and exclaim ‘SHIT’ very loudly, but Paul and I assumed he was British and immediately set about tutting and shaking our heads.

Finally, I read that they have a concept of ‘kvajebajer‘ – eating humble pie. The idea is that you don’t take yourself too seriously, you laugh at yourself, and accept you are there for the merriment of others when you go tits-up. Make a mistake? You ought to buy everyone a beer and get over it. I love this. Everywhere Paul and I go there’s calamity, we’ve birthed a blog from the very idea, and you know, if you can’t laugh at yourself, what’s the point?

Anyway, that’s quite enough about Denmark. Come back to us, we’re still on the plane. Flicking through the inflight magazine – it gives me something to do between elbowing Paul to stop him snoring and brushing the skin flakes off my knees that were slowly drifting down from the scalp of the gentleman in front  – Copenhagen seems like the place to be. It looked absolutely chøc-a-bløc of hip places to eat and fun places to drink. Photos show achingly-cool young folk having a whale of the time, looking effortlessly stylish perched on upturned beer crates or lying on the deck of a floating home. You could almost hear their collective shriek when we stepped off the plane in our ASDA trainers and shirts with all manner of plane food dripped down them.

The landing at Copenhagen Airport is a slightly unusual one in that there doesn’t appear to any airport at all and the pilot has decided, somewhat rashly, to set us down in the North Sea. This leads to the arresting sight of water looming closer and closer until you’re quite sure you could pop the window open and grab a 99 from the ice-cream seller on the beach as you hurtled past at 500mph. Naturally, I stayed stoic, merely plucking erratically at Paul’s sleeve as I prepared for an entire Airbus A320 to be crumpled through my soft tissue. Luckily, at the last second, a runway appeared and we glided elegantly to a smooth stop. I, somewhat forlornly, removed my armbands and we left the plane.

Naturally, nothing is that simple – I actually made a spectacular entrance by tripping halfway down the plane stairs and crashing all the way down to the tarmac on my arse. Thank god it’s so well-upholstered. We saw a fleet of fire engines go burring past, presumably mistaking the crash-bang-wallop of my bulk cascading down the stairs for the sounds of a fully-fuelled aeroplane crash. Velkommen!


There we go – we’re off! Do you enjoy our holiday entries? I know they’re long and quite a bit to get your lips around, but you can manage, because you’re filthy! Shall we get to the gazpacho? But of course! I found this recipe via a chef called José Andrés and it’s the perfect summer soup. Yes, it doesn’t look great, but if you’re a fan of fresh tastes you’ll bloody love it. This serves four and I heartily recommend it!

to make gazpacho, you’ll need:

  • one large cucumber
  • one large green pepper
  • 700g of ripe tomatoes (if you’re buying them in the supermarket, spend a bit extra – or at the very least, leave them on your windowsill for a few days to ripen
  • one glove of garlic (minced: using a microplane grater – that way you don’t need to peel – but any grater will do!)
  • one tablespoon of olive oil (6 syns)
  • 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar – you can buy it in most supermarkets and it’s just as cheap as normal vinegar

to adorn the top:

  • 150g of cherry tomatoes, ripe and tasty, halved
  • two radishes cut into matchsticks
  • two spring onions finely sliced
  • a good chunk of cucumber, cubed
  • a load of cress
  • lots of black pepper

to make gazpacho, you should:

  • chop up the veg of the main soup and mix it all together with your hands, together with a good few twists of salt and pepper
  • seal it in a zip-bag and leave to marinate for ages – I waited overnight
  • in the morning, blend everything together until nice and smooth – we’ve got a Nutribullet for this kind of thing and it works an absolute charm – but you can do the same thing with a £5 blending stick, so don’t fret – add a few ice-cubes if you’re serving right away
  • adorn the top with the chopped veg above, or whatever you fancy
  • the key is to serve it as ice-cold as possible

Very, very good for you! If you’re on the fence, get down and try it. Nothing ventured nothing gained!

You want more veggie recipes? But of course. We’ll look after you. Take our hand. We won’t even shiver at your papery skin and clammy hands.

lunchsmallvegetariansmall    slowcookersmalltastersmallsoupsmall

J

pea and coconut soup: a perfect Slimming World lunch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

to make pea and coconut soup, you should:

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

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

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

More recipes? Of course. Click the buttons below!

soupsmallvegetariansmall   snackssmall dessertsmalltastersmall

J

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!

golden lentil and barley soup – look, I tried, OK?

I don’t think I’ve ever put a less appetising picture up on this blog (actually, that’s a fib, remember the time we accidentally uploaded a giant pulsing sphincter? No? Click here for that, it’ll open in a new window) than this golden lentil and barley soup. It looks like someone has already taken a stab and eating it and then chucked it back up for someone else to have a go with. But see, we do like to support our vegan members, with their milk-white skin and gunshot eyes, and this looked so appetising on the blog where I took the recipe from. Usually I take a recipe and adopt it for Slimming World myself but this required no changes so full credit and awe go to yupitsvegan. I’m sorry that I turned your delicious looking golden lentil and barley soup into a pile of tramp’s truffles.

Anyway, just a short entry tonight because it’s our anniversary. We’ve now been married six years. We both thought it was five as it happens and were shocked when Facebook’s lookback feature showed us both relaxing in the double bath six years ago. I mean, where does the time go? In May it’ll be our proper anniversary from when we started, how can I put this delicately…fucking, and that’ll be ten years. Ten years and we’re still dead romantic – only the other morning Paul murmured lightly, as I cuddled him, that I was ‘like a George Foreman grill’ – I keep him lovely and warm. D’aww. I recounted this whimsical tale of love into our facebook group only for someone to say ‘Is it not because you drip when he puts his meat in?’. Brrrr. Although it made me laugh, it does show a lack of understanding of the general mechanics of our shenanigans. Mind the romance doesn’t just flow one way, you know, look at the heartwarming notes I leave in his lunchbox (and I apologise for the naughty word, it’s rarely used on here):

15800214_10155862434106509_8151582915147000597_o

If that offends you, it shouldn’t, it definitely says fat aunt. Promise. *cough*

Now, rather than leave you unsatisfied and wanting more, I’m going to put the very first entry from our honeymoon book on here – it deals with our wedding day! The glitz. My writing style has changed somewhat since then but hopefully you’ll still get a taste of us…


Way back in 2009, also at Disney, I proposed to my stout little barrel of a man and he gleefully accepted. I think it was the fact we were in the middle of a lake and I’d be watching an awful lot of Dead Calm recently that hastened his positive reply. We got honked at by a passing Disney ferry whose inhabitants thought I was down on my knees doing something other than proposing. The nerve. I mean, it wasn’t Christmas! Zip forward to 3 January 2011 and the day before our wedding. Well, the glamour started right from the off with one of the cats deciding to do a dirty protest in the car whilst we ferried him over to my sister to look after. You’ve never seen someone wind a window down quicker than us that day, and because the cat is fearless and would have jumped, he stayed in his messy box all the way to my sisters. It was with tears in our eyes (and Vicks under our nose) to see our pooey little furball depart, but there you have it.

We spent the evening before the wedding in our first treat, a room at the Hotel du Vin in Newcastle. You may think Newcastle is purely the land of bust noses, bare flesh and broken hymens, but we’re more than capable of bringing the class, and this is one of the nicest hotels in the area. I mean, it has a cigar bar attached, for heaven’s sake. Our very first surprise of the honeymoon? We were upgraded to the best suite in the hotel, the Dom Pérignon suite. It was bloody beautiful. It’s the honeymoon suite and I was overjoyed, especially as I had only paid £68 for the room through my shrewd discount plans. A massive thank you to the staff of the beautiful Hotel du Vin, that’s for sure. The room had two bathtubs in the living room, and I think we were in the room for a grand total of two minutes before they were full of bubbles and we were laid in them watching Deal or no Deal on the giant TV and feeling like kings. The bed was wonderful too – it felt like it was 9ft wide – I could lie in it, stretch myself out and STILL not touch the sides. Sometimes I wonder why Paul married me.

There was NO late-night prodding awake with a bed this big.

After a meal on the Quayside and a romantic stroll back to our room, we settled down to sleep – our last night as bachelors! Here’s a sweet fact for you – in all the time we’ve been together, we’ve never had a night apart. A good start to the marriage methinks! And so…to the wedding!

We had decided a couple of months previously not to have a big do at all, and just a small registry office affair followed by a good dinner. I wish I could say it was for any other reason than the fact we’re both terribly selfish and Northern and thus the idea of spending money to facilitate other people having a good time appals us. Plus, I wanted to avoid the horrid old clichés of a civil partnership. Bah! I’m not casting aspersions on anyone else’s wedding but it suited us to have a small, tidy, manly do. So we did. Well, we did toy with the idea of dressing up like the sisters from Shakespear’s Sister’ Stay video but we were talked out of it. We became Husband and Husband in Newcastle Registry Office, presided over by an official who was the spit of Annie Lennox, and watched over by our immediate family and good friends.

The deed is done! Don’t you think the Argos CD player really sets off the room? 

As an aside, my gran was there, and she’s brilliant – despite being 87, she’s thoroughly accepting of our relationship and is always asking after Paul when I call up. I mean, there are limits to her acceptance – I didn’t dare explain what fisting was when she asked me one day after seeing the word on my phone (I might add, someone had texted it in a joke to me, I’m not that FILTHY). It still felt a little bit too formal for me, as I’m not used to someone addressing a suit-clad Paul without adding ‘the defendant’ afterwards. We decamped to SIX, the faffy little restaurant on top of the Baltic. It’s very posh. NOW, we’re not a posh lot, and class McCains as a ‘fancy potato style’ but you have to let your hair down once and a while, even if (as is the case in all the males at the table) you don’t have any.

So, a suitably lovely meal was had, only enhanced by the snotty waiter looking down his nose at us and rolling his eyes when I ordered a couple of bottles of reasonably-priced champagne. Well, reasonably priced for them – paying £65 for a bottle of fizzy cat pee gave me such a cold sweat that I had to excuse myself to the bathroom to calm my shakes. My nana, bless her, didn’t really fancy anything on the menu (I can’t blame her, I’ve never heard two bits of chard, a sliced tomato and a bloody drizzle of balsamic vinegar described as a French Salad before) but they were very good and cooked her up her own individual meal. I stopped short of asking them to put a glass of Banana Complan on ice, though.

After the meal, we went to the pub for an hour, then everyone dearly departed, and our honeymoon officially started. Yes! Back to the flat to really put the bed through its paces by er…putting the suitcases on it and tipping our wardrobe into them. I have to say, it wasn’t the first type of packing that I had planned for the wedding night. We slept, butterflies in our stomach (SIX would call them an amuse bouché) and in no time at all, we were in a taxi being bellowed at by a rather brusque taxi driver who wanted to know the far end of a fart and when it came from. Honestly. I spent the entire trip to the train station trying surreptiously to take a photo of his face on my phone so I would be able to identify who had burgled our house when we were away. Thankfully, that didn’t arise.

Straight onto the train, into the first class carriage (where you too can travel in style with an extra doily and a few crappy biscuits) and we were disappearing over the Queen Elizabeth bridge, saying goodbye to Newcastle from the bridge. Now here’s a tip for you. If you’re coming into Newcastle (or indeed leaving) from the South on the train, don’t look slackjawed to the right and admire all the bridges, but instead, look on the other side of the river, up the Tyne. As you cross the bridge, there’s a little wasteground, and it’s always full of men out ‘badger-hunting’. Yep – whereas most people are taken by the beauty of the moment, Paul and I spent the first minute of our honeymoon journey playing ‘Count the Cruiser’. What larks!

In no time at all, we were in London, our seedy capital. Kings Cross is lovely, yes, but in no time at all we had tubed our way to Victoria and onto the Gatwick Express, heading for the giddy heights of the Gatwick Hilton. What a place! After spending seven years navigating to the hotel from the train station (seriously, we spent so much time walking there that I almost gave up and set up base for the night), we were checked in by a clearly-couldn’t-care-less-customer-divvy and in our room. Grim. I’m not a hotel snob but after spending the night in the Hotel du Vin only two nights ago, the Hilton’s tired brown sheets and tiny bathroom didn’t exactly enamour the soul. After spending only a moment admiring the view (car-parks are just SO fantastic to gaze at), we trekked back to the airport and checked in super-early (is it still Twilight Check-in if it is during the day?) with Virgin Atlantic. We had pre-booked our seats in the bubble but no sooner had we dumped our bags than the lady behind the counter told us we had been moved. Argh! I was too busy trying to work out the best way to hide her body to take in what she was saying, but – hooray for thedibb – when I was back at the hotel I checked online and we were RIGHT at the front of the bubble. Get in! Not only do I get to look down at the cattle-class, but I was going to be on first-name terms with the pilot. OK, maybe not THAT close. And we don’t look down our noses at anyone…well…not much.

We spent the evening in the hotel, watching a home movie entitled ‘Britain’s Fattest Man’ starring Timothy Spall. It was very good, even if we didn’t feel a shred of shame stuffing a pork-pie into our gob the very moment he had his fat chopped off. A good nights sleep was had, and we were ready for day 1.


God, I’m absolutely itching to rewrite that, you know. Not least because it refers to my nana in the present tense instead of the past and I’m fairly sure she’s still Voldermort-ed. However, if you’re a glutton for punishment and you like sentences that never end and punctuation used like confetti, you can buy the rest of the honeymoon book right here.

Right, let’s deal with this delicious looking dinner, shall we? Mmmm! Get ready to gag! No I’m kidding, it looks like slop, but honestly, it tastes bloody lovely! Please don’t be put off!

golden lentil and barley soup

Look, to make up for that picture, here’s some similarly coloured cats:

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Why can’t we have a cat like that one in the middle? Why must we have one that licks his knob all day and another who scrapes her minnie-moo on the floor? For fucks sake.

to make golden lentil and barley soup, you’ll need:

  • a few sprays of olive oil – frylight if you must, but just don’t do it to yourself
  • one large onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic or a reet good sprinkling of the powdered stuff
  • a fiddler’s thumb of fresh ginger (about an inch) (or powdered, about half a teaspoonful)
  • as above, but with fresh turmeric – can’t get fresh turmeric? Don’t shit the bed – just use about 1/2 teaspoon of the powdered stuff, I’ll never tell)
  • one large carrot – thinly sliced
  • pinch of cumin and the same again of coriander – don’t like your meals with cumin? Then don’t get so excited! Hello? Is this thing on? Hello? Nah, leave it out if you’re not a fan
  • 1200ml of decent vegetable stock / bouillon
  • 150g of red lentils
  • 100g or so of dry pearl barley
  • two tablespoons of tomato puree
  • salt and pepper to taste

You know what’s coming don’t you? You just know it! Buy a mincer to take care of your garlic, ginger and turmeric in no time at all. Also, chop your carrots quickly and uniform with a mandolin slicer, but for crying out loud, be careful. I’ve got fingers like snapped Matchmakers thanks to mine.

to make golden lentil and barley soup, you should:

  • chop up your onion nice and fine and then cook off in a bit of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan
  • once the onions have softened, add the minced garlic, turmeric and ginger and stir on a medium heat until everything smells lovely
  • add the coriander and cumin together with the chopped carrot and continue to cook gently until everything has softened a bit
  • add the pearl barley, lentils and stock – bring to the boil then drop it to a simmer

A quick note: take the time to wash the pearl barley more than a few times. Stick it in a sieve, get the hot water running, and rinse rinse rinse. Stops it going gloopy. Right, where were we…

  • cook uncovered for about 25 minutes until the lentils and pearl barley are cooked through – longer is fine, but you might need to top the liquid off with more stock
  • add the tomato paste and salt and pepper to taste, stir through and cook for another minute or two
  • serve – oh we added a drop of chilli sauce on the top but that’s up to you, see

If anyone asks, just reassure them that it’s hearty and delicious and syn free!

Looking for more soups? Try these!

Looking for more recipes overall? Click some buttons!

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Enjoy!

J

no fussin’ tomato soup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

to make syn-free tomato soup:

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

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

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

J

cabbage, sausage and kidney bean soup

Can we get something right straight off the bat? Man-buns. There’s a simple test – if you are male, and you’ve tied up your locks like some weird hairy sphincter on top of your head, you’re a cock. And not a nice cock, mind – we’re talking a fishy old schlong. In fact no – if you had a sphincter in the middle of your head, that would actually make you an arse. I can’t bear it. It doesn’t so much as make my skin crawl as force it inside-out through cringing. Back when I had long hair, the only ‘style’ I succumbed to was brushing it, and that was only when I felt there might be a boiled sweet in amongst the tangles. There’s an advert on TV now for Trivago which ends with a supposedly-dreamy shot of a woman asleep in a man’s arms as he carries her down a hotel corridor to bed. He wouldn’t be bad looking, but because of the man bun, you know that night is going to end with her face-down on a pillow and him accidentally calling her Patrick at the height of climax. There’s no masculinity, no ruggedness – a weak, effete affectation which should only end up one way – in an acid bath. Too far? I say not far enough!

Tonight’s been a bit of a wash-out – I was originally supposed to be out for dinner with work colleagues to say goodbye, good luck and thanks for all the laughs to one of the partners I work for, but thanks to the incompetence of Northumberland Council and their inability to fit a bloody toilet correctly that didn’t happen, as I was summoned to my gran’s house. Water was leaking through the ceiling again where they incorrectly fitted the toilet. Well they didn’t fit the toilet on the ceiling, obviously. Anyway, it turns out it had been leaking since Wednesday and she had been patiently waiting for the council to come out, completely unable to use her upstairs loo, and having to totter down the stairs and to the outside loo (it’s a really old house, we’re not that Northern) every time she needed a tinkle in the dead of night. I mean for fucks sake, she’s a very slow mover – she can go upstairs with a fiver in her purse and by the time she’s made it back downstairs it’s only worth £4.50. So this was a crap situation, and after my sister and I spent a bit of time bellowing at the council, they remedied it. Bloody ridiculous. I had an image in my head of her sat on the outside toilet, Puzzler in hand, frozen in time like Jack Torrance at the end of The Shining. Thankfully that didn’t happen, although…

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Haha. We did get to spend some more time with my sister and lovely nephew though. I stand by everything I said earlier about children being red-faced poo-factories with all the charm of an ingrown toenail, but my nephew is the exception to prove the rule. Although, that said, the first thing he did when he heard we were on the way was immediately void his bowels – but then Paul does the same thing when I tell him we’re out of Muller Lights so isn’t life a rich tapestry.

Paul and I were chatting away in bed last night before sleep, discussing what we could do with the blog next. Our next idea that we’re going to build into the recipes is to have one recipe a week from a European country. Easy to begin with – we have Armenia first on the randomised list, but Kosovo is the third. Going to be a steep learning curve but well, our Slimming World journey is all about new flavours and learning to cook – so look forward to that!

Tonight’s recipe doesn’t look all that. In fact, if I’m being searingly honest, it sorta looks like something you might happen across in the pan of a public toilet after a heavy night. I know. But it tasted really good, and it’s our soup of the week – cabbage, kidney bean and sausage broth!

Mmm. How inviting! Look, you try making cabbage soup look appealing. If Roald fucking Dahl couldn’t manage it, I sure as hell can’t. So stop being so judgemental, sheesh.

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to make cabbage, sausage and kidney bean soup, you’ll need:

ingredients: 1.5l of chicken stock, half a big white cabbage sliced thinly (see tip below), eight grilled weight-watchers cumberland sausages (1/2 syn each) cut up into chunks, three tablespoons of tomato puree, two garlic cloves very finely grated, 1 shallot sliced, 1 teaspoon of dried basil, 1 teaspoon of celery seeds (or use fennel seeds) (or omit altogether, I’m not your keeper) and 1/2tsp of dried thyme – you’ll also need a tin of kidney beans.

tip: I bang on about this all the time, but if you’re a clumsy oaf like me in the kitchen, get yourself a decent mandolin. They’ll slice things perfectly for you, and you just need to be a bit careful not to slice off your fingertips. I bought mine for £10 from Amazon and the link is here – you’ll never look back. Honest, you’ll thank me for it. Along similar lines, I use a microplane grater for the garlic (and it can be used for parmesan too) and you can find that for less than a tenner on Amazon, here. You can do the job with a knife too, you don’t need fancy equipment for Slimming World – but they do make things easier!

to make cabbage, sausage and kidney bean soup, you should:

recipe: saute the garlic and the shallots for a few moments on a high heat – don’t burn it though. Then, tip everything in bar the sausage and beans, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add a bit of salt, your ticker can handle it. Chuck in the sausage and beans, and cook until the cabbage is soft and cooked. Done!

It’s more of a brothy soup – lots of liquid, but tastes good. If you like your soup so thick you could artex a ceiling with it, you’re out of luck – but if that’s what you like, try my super-speedy soup.

extra-easy – yes, and only one syn! Cabbage is a superfree food and a much maligned vegetable – don’t rule it out! It serves four, and the sausages are the syns – but what’s one syn between friends?

Enjoy, enjoy.

J