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

garlic puy lentils with roasted tomatoes and horseradish cottage cheese

I know: garlic puy lentils with roasted tomatoes and horseradish cottage cheese – what a mouthful! Plus there’s lemon breadcrumbs as a topping too. We’re fancy here at twochubbycubs. It does make me sad, though – whenever I post a decent vegetarian recipe it’s like I’ve posted announcing myself as a dog-fiddler or something – tumbleweeds all round. I just feel like the vegetarian side of Slimming World is sorely lacking and it doesn’t need to be. I’m a huge meat-eater: not only literally, but euphemistically and sexually as well. However, swapping out one meat-packed meal for a veggie recipe saves a canny bit of money and is probably better for your shitpipe in the long run. Oh hey, what does a vegan zombie eat?

GGGGGGGGGGRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAINS

I’ll be here all night.

I’ve been doing all sorts of behind the scenes stuff on the blog this weekend – all terribly boring – but I notice that I’ve never finished off posting our New York stories! We have a few hanging threads like this so the next few posts are going to be the remaining holiday posts from last year with the aim of getting everything nice and lined up for the holidays ahead! Does that make sense? Of course not. But just put a smile on and bear with me. We went to New York in February 2016.


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

One of the things you apparently must do when in Central Park is a trip on a horse-pulled carriage. A quick look on tripadvisor would tell you that it’s simply a quick way to have your wallet emptied by toothless crones running scams but hell, we like to live life on the edge and anyway, any activity that meant we were moving without having to use our feet was good enough for me because at this point in our holiday the bottom of my feet looked like something unpleasant that had been run over. Pouring blood out of your shoe isn’t a great look.

We wandered around a bit trying to catch the eye of one of the swarthy looking gentleman in charge of the horses but to no avail, meaning we eventually had to go up and ask for a romantic half hour trip. Well, Paul did, I didn’t want to be witness to seeing how much money had to change hands. No, I was busy watching the horse who, upon seeing me and Paul shuffling towards it, looked absolutely terrified by the thought of having to pull us two lardarses. I suppose it’s the equivalent of me nipping outside and pulling a bus with the hairs on my arse. We climbed aboard. The horse immediately filled his nappy which I think was possibly a protest, but it really did set the scene.

Luckily, our driver’s grasp on the English language didn’t extend further than telling us the price and shouting at his horse meaning we were free to enjoy ourselves without making painful small-talk but actually, the whole thing felt awful. He kept yelling at the horse, seemingly for going too slow, which felt rather cruel given the poor bugger was pulling the equivalent of a Skoda Octavia behind it, then when he wasn’t shouting at the horse he was bellowing incoherently into his mobile. Perhaps he had another horse on the line. Either way, between the dirty carriage, world’s angriest jockey and poor, frightened horse, it was awful. About as relaxing as trying to solve a Rubik’s cube whilst someone sets your trousers on fire.

After about ten minutes of this we motioned that we would like to disembark and cut our 45-minute trip short. Of course, he was furious, but hey, at least it gave him a chance to shout at us rather than the horse. I like to think that made us equal, my equine friend. He stuck his hand out for a tip after arguing with us for five minutes and I had to really resist the urge to give him a high-five and tell him to fuck off. It was a tempting thought but I didn’t fancy Paul having to scrape half of my face from the tarmac path afterwards. We bustled away and he shot off with the horse, shouting and ranting until he was nothing more than a speck on the horizon. Even now, when I shut my eyes, I can hear “estúpido caballo de mierda” over and over…

Well, that left us in rather a pickle. We’d planned a nice easy jaunt around Central Park, letting the mane take the strain (boom boom), but now we were in the middle of nowhere somewhere near the top of the park with the horrifying thought that we’d need to explore under our own locomotion. But, you know what, that’s exactly what we did – and it was terrific.

We spent a good few hours just walking slowly through the park – taking little side paths, exploring nooks and crannies, unusually, not dogging – it was lovely. We saw some lovely things:

This was my favourite. Not just because they’re fellow Back-Door-Deirdres, but what a sentiment to live a life by. How rare we stop to sit and enjoy the good times, instead we wait until it is too late and mourn them instead. Hohum. Hey, I’m absolutely itching to get a plaque made for a bench in our local park that says ‘JAMES AND PAUL’S BENCH: because doubtless you’ll need a rest, you big fat fucker’ – I can’t see the council signing off on it, though.

We also spotted what Paul’s mother would look like if she was a sheep:

yer yer ‘ere ‘ow do I get that fackin’ Flash player werkin’ I mean he don’t faaackin’ listen

Spotted Ed Sheeran! Actually that’s a fib, got no clue who it is. Just wanted a picture of a couple because every picture of Paul and I one of us is staring moonily at the camera and the other is squinting.

At one point we decided to cut out of the park to grab a coffee from Starbucks (don’t worry, there’s one every four buildings so you’re generally OK). We sat and read the papers and people-watched. I declared, as I always do on holiday no matter where we are, that we should really sell our house in England and move here. I could be a writer with a tiny balcony on which to type my stories and Paul could go and serve beer somewhere where his fatness would be appreciated and welcomed, like a leather fetish bar. We could tell fabulous tales of our metropolitan life, start a food blog, eschew Slimming World and all the pointless rules about not eating avocados…basically, live the dream. We’d get to 55 years old and, having made a pretty penny selling stories and blowjobs, we could jack it all in, mortgage our property and open a little cigar bar in the gay district and call it ‘Big Brown Butts’. We’d laugh uproariously and drink beer and develop a decent salt-and-pepper beard before one of us died from emphysema and the other was reduced to giving handjobs on the subway to make money. Oh my.

Paul immediately burst my bubble by waving the property section of the free paper in front of me where an apartment about the size of our bathroom cost more than our entire house. I might add: we own the most expensive house on our street – it’s no wonder all the other neighbours look furiously at us as we skip mortgage-free to our cars in the morning. That put paid to our dreams and, a little deflated (I mean come on, Big Brown Butts is an amazing name for a gay cigar bar, yes?), we made our way back to Central Park, giant waste-paper-bin-sized coffees in our hands.

As we re-entered the park we noticed a terrific fuss at one of the entrances and a lot of shrieking. Turns out it was a gay wedding and they were pulling up at the gate to have some pictures taken. Aww. We’ve come a long way, baby. The gay man in me (Paul, usually) felt a bit of pride that it was all so accepted and lovely, but then also, the gay man in me winced a little at their completely white suits. We’re talking Gareth Gates in the video for Unchained Melody, here, only without his Jordan-torn foreskin* dripping down his leg. Listen, that wouldn’t have been so bad (and I’m far from a dedicated follower of fashion in my ASDA shoes and Bet Lynch coat) but they’d overdone the fake-fan to an especially luminous degree. Their long white bodies topped with a bright orange face gave them the odd appearance of looking like cigarettes from a distance. Now, there’s an obvious joke there, but I’ll be the better man and not make it.

* Can anyone else remember that? Jordan claimed to have fucked him so hard that his tight foreskin ripped in two. How the fuck have I remembered that? No wonder the poor bugger had a stutter – it was probably fear of round two with that tangerine tart.

We stayed back for a bit whilst they fussed about posing before we both got bored and, realising that there was no way of getting past without interrupting their photo, we walked back up a bit to another entrance so that we could walk back down behind them. See, we can be considerate, especially when fellow chutney-ferrets are involved. We did rather think that once we got back to where they were they’d be finished and we could walk on by, but no, when we got there they were releasing doves. I wanted to stick about in case they wheeled out Elton bloody John (although, given his predilection for olive oil, they could have just slid him down the street) but the day was drawing to a close and we really had to get going. As a result, we should probably apologise to our orange friends who have a set of wedding photos with Paul and I bustling away behind them in our discount coats and me with Frappuccino froth in my ‘tache.

We wandered for ages more – just taking our time, enjoying the crisp, Winter air and the magic of being in Central Park when it was a bit snowy and cold, looking desperately around for the bird lady from Home Alone 2 (though on reflection that was fruitless, as she was at home in Peterborough dropping cigarette ash into Paul’s brother’s dinner) and just having a nice time together. It was all very romantic. Paul was clearly swept up in the romance as he allowed me to buy some food from a street vendor – I wish I hadn’t bothered. They were selling those giant doughy pretzels that I loved so much in Orlando – the ones where when you bite into them you’re rewarded with cheesy goodness and warmth. Pfft. I could have given myself a full body shave with this one it was that dry and tough. I almost went back and bought another so that I could fashion a pair of snow shoes out of them but didn’t want to hand over any more to the grasping charlatan behind the cart.

Mind, we did walk with some style.

Eventually, as dusk gave way to night, we found ourselves at the giant ice-rink. We had no intention of strapping blades to our already swollen, sore feet – that would just be ridiculous. Naturally, we ended up doing exactly that ten minutes later after a lot of ‘it would be silly not to’ and ‘I’m sure it’ll be fine’. It was, for me – I can ice-skate, despite it looking like a wardrobe is thundering around the rink – but Paul has all the co-ordination you’d expect from someone who is twice the weight he should be and has eyes that move entirely independently of each other. It was like that poor horse from earlier had strapped on a pair of blades. Like Bambi, but with something terrifying pressing on his brain stem. We couldn’t skate for long – our ankles were bending as though made from playdoh – but it was a good laugh. Paul did almost take some poor child’s fingertips off when he skated perilously close to her fallen body but luckily, all was well. We decided to stop before we injured someone irreversibly and, after spending about fifteen minutes trying to take off the skates without everyone hearing our rasping, heavy, exhausted breathing, we were back on our way.

Thankfully, without realising it, we’d walked almost to where we started and were able to get an Uber straight back to the hotel. I say straight back but the journey took almost fifty minutes thanks to traffic and tourists. Tchoh. Tourists. Our Uber driver, unusually, wasn’t a frightening ranting racist but instead a perfectly erudite young man who displayed excellent taste by telling us he wanted to move to Scotland and live on an island. We traded stories and the time flew by. We tipped generously, staggered to our room and put our heads down for a quick nap before going back out.

Nope, in what is becoming a running theme for our holidays, we knacker ourselves out so much during the day that we fall asleep early evening and sleep right through. I woke up at about 11 and tried to shake Paul awake so we could go out and get some scran in the city that never sleeps, but he just grumbled something uncouth at me, farted heartily, then went straight back to sleep. After a moment’s furious sulking, I did exactly the same.


Right, let’s get to the lentils! A veggie recipe, yes. But you know, it’s cheap to make and it tastes delicious. In fact, this was a triumph! I’m making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS. It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction. This makes enough for two hearty bowls and I’ve adapted it from an Anna Jones recipe from her book A Modern Way To Cook, which you can pick up here. It’s the first vegetarian book I’ve bought with decent recipes in, so fair play.

garlic puy lentils

to make garlic lentils with roasted tomatoes and horseradish cottage cheese, you’ll need:

  • 250g of cooked puy lentils (we buy Merchant Gourmet ones from the shop – 2 syns for 250g)
  • five cloves of garlic
  • a few sprigs of thyme (if you don’t have fresh, don’t shit the bed, just use dried)
  • a veggie stock cube
  • 400g of decent cherry tomatoes – there’s some amazing cherry tomatoes out in the shops right now – don’t buy cheap and don’t put them in the bloody fridge, keep them in the sun
  • a teaspoon of lemon juice
  • a wholemeal bun (60g) (HEB)
  • 100ml of fat free cottage cheese
  • 2tbsp of horseradish – we use Colmans and it comes in at 1 syn per tbsp

Now, the original recipe calls for you to cook your own lentils in stock, with four cloves of garlic and a tomato, plus the thyme, until they’re soft. If you like, you can do that. But we’re all about express today.

to make garlic lentils with roasted tomatoes and horseradish cottage cheese, you should:

  • mix your horseradish into your cottage cheese and set aside
  • cut your tomatoes in half and squirt them with a spritz or two of olive oil – but don’t go mad, the tomato flavour is more than enough
  • take your cloves of garlic, don’t worry about peeling them, and put them on the same tray as the tomatoes
  • roast them in the oven for maybe 30 minutes
  • once they’re done, prepare your breadcrumbs – whizz the bun into crumbs and then, in a bowl, pour the lemon juice over the crumbs and shake them about – you want just a flavour of the juice, not to soak them, then pop them in the oven to crisp
  • peel your garlic cloves and mush them up
  • reheat your cooked lentils by pouring them into a pan, adding 2ooml of stock, the mushed garlic, a few sprigs of thyme, salt, pepper and then cook it right down – nice and quick
  • assemble on the plate – lentils, then tomatoes, then cottage cheese, then the crumbs!

Delicious! I know no-one will make this but hey, worth putting it out there! Want more veggie recipes? Click the buttons below!

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Enjoy!

J

roasted grapes and goats cheese stuffed sweet potatoes

Are you silently heaving into your gunt about the thought of these roasted grape and goat cheese stuffed sweet potatoes? Listen, they’re delicious. Sweet, yes, of course, but they make for a lovely side dish. In America they make a weird casserole of sweet potato and marshmallows, and that’s a step too far, but we’re all about something different remember – if you always stick to the same dishes then what is life for? The recipe follows below, but first, through a bit of a haze of self-prescribed pain relief (more on that tomorrow), let us reflect for a moment.

You know who I never talk about on here? My sister. Yes, I do have one, but she’d take my face off if I revealed her to the world. But it’s her birthday and so I’ve been thinking about her today. She could not be more of my opposite, as a thin, pretty, tiny, blonde girl. When we stand together now for family photos it looks like Robbie Coltrane holding hands with Polly Pocket. But, in the rare spells where she wasn’t:

  • rifling through every conceivable hiding place in my room to find anything illicit;
  • stealing money from the massive whisky jar where my mother put her coppers;
  • setting things on fire;
  • throwing a video box-set off my mum’s head;
  • sending fake letters from the school in order to get money to nick off to London to see Madonna in concert;
  • covering each square inch of her carpet in detritus and Culture Club memorabilia;

she was actually quite darling.

Memories? I know that these posts always descend into some weird Catherine Cookson-esque writing where we scrabbled together potatoes from the field and all shared one shirt, but indulge me for a bit. We didn’t have a great lot growing up and the village where we spent our formative years was about as exciting as having a tooth pulled. Remember Horsley? The village of less than 200 where you could buy a kitchen from a kitchen outlet centre but a pint of milk was beyond the wit of man? Where the one time I added a bit of masking tape to our village sign to change it to HORSEEY it was deemed such an outrage that it made page two of the Hexham Courant? And don’t forget when I edited the Wikipedia page for the village, said Tosh Lines from The Bill was living in the woods and shouting at the clouds, only to make the Hexham Courant again and be described as an Internet Vandal? Pfft. Well, we weren’t exactly spoiled for thrills and excitement.

Memories then. I remember making a go-kart with her, but whereas other kids had lovely fancy things, we tied a plank of wood to our skateboard, upon which we sat either side and set away down the steepest bank away from the village, the road to Horsley Cottages. Problem was my sister weighed the same as a mouse’s fart and I was a ten-tonne-tessie, meaning we had to adjust it so there was about half an inch of wood for my sister to sit on and I was six foot away from the skateboard ploughing through the hedgerow, coming out looking like Carrie after a particularly nasty fight with a blackberry bush. By god though we’d pick up some speed, flying down that road in the care-free, danger-be-damned way of children, completely unable to brake. I remember rocketing around a corner only to find a Northumbrian Water lorry coming straight towards us on this single-lane road, requiring me to lean heavily to one side and pitch us into a stone wall. How my mum laughed as she picked gravel out of our face.

What else? We were certainly quite entrepreneurial. We had two businesses. In the summer we’d go around everyone’s gardens picking all of their soft fruit, then wander about selling it back to the neighbours. It was quite the racket – we’d steal gooseberries out of Nancy’s garden only to sell them to Elsie in exchange for the chance to nick her raspberries, then the raspberries would be traded for apples, then the apples would be stotted off the roof of the old lady we used to dislike tremendously because she’d stop us playing in the phone box. We weren’t exactly Jane and Michael Banks, you understand. Our fruit picking landed us enough for a sweet weekend in Largs, playing the bandits whilst my parents worked keenly on their smoking.

We also ran – with staff, mind you, made up of the other urchins and ruffians of the village (we were one step down from The Mandelbaum Gang) –  a proper little ‘odd jobs’ company. We would wash cars, weed gardens, mow the grass, and reap the rewards. I say rewards, all the old biddies were notoriously tight with their money, but hell there wasn’t much to spend the money on so we made do. We did spend two hours washing and waxing some bewhiskered old dolt’s car only for her to press 50p into my hand to share amongst four. Pfft. We returned in the dead of night and covered her car in mud. Yes, I know, we should have been taken in hand, but still. We also stuck a potato in the exhaust of the vicar which launched itself off with an almighty bang, causing a very unsaintly curseword to bellow from his lips. I dobbed him into Jesus next time I was forced to pray.

However, and this is awful, our most lucrative gig came in the form of Mr Tines. We were asked to clean his house – and mind you, we did, despite it being filthy – and keep him company. Not in any especially creepy fashion, I hasten to add, although we did once turn his stairlift off for twenty minutes because we thought he was coming to kerdiddle us. WE WERE KIDS I STRESS. He asked us to try and wallpaper his bathroom. We were thirteen and fourteen respectively. The whole place ended up looking like a tidal wave of Solvite has washed through. My parents had to come down and put it right, oops. But this guy used to give us lots of pound coins as payment and boy, did we think we were well off. Even more so when we discovered he inexplicably had a stack of easily 500 ‘Explorer’ tickets, which allowed you to travel anywhere within the North East. He never left the house and was more than happy to gift them to us, albeit we used to take five for every one offered, and collectively the village children went all over Northumberland – it was fantastic! They didn’t expire, either, meaning we had unlimited travel for a good two years.We’d tell our parents we were playing in the woods when we’d actually be in Carlisle or at Newcastle Airport. Me and my then beau, Big Lee, must have had awkward teenage sex within 200 yards of every station on the Metro line. I saw him the other day from afar, and he’s skeletal to the point where he looks like a haunted hair comb. Clearly I’ve spoiled him for all men. I wanted to rush over, sweep him into my arms and tell him ‘BUT LEE, WE WILL ALWAYS HAVE OUR SUMMER IN SHIREMOOR’ but well, the time has gone.

As an aside, Mr Tines also used to have the most amazing, random nonsense stuffed into his cupboards. Case in point: we found a tiny fitness trampoline in the coal bunker which was immedately deployed into the back yard. My sister jumped on, took one bounce and pitched herself smartly over the wall, into the road, onto her face. Oops.

Summers passed in a blur of bike rides, fighting and Dr Pepper. Can you imagine children who were so delighted by finding Dr Pepper? And secret smoking – I don’t think there was a piece of furniture in our house that didn’t have cigarettes secreted behind them. Our childhood house has long since been sold, but I do wonder what the new owners thought when they eventually got round to dusting the tops of the door-frames and five nine-year-old Lambert and Butlers came tumbling down. Let’s not forget the time she ran away from home in a squall of teenage fury: she, rather cleverly, didn’t run away at all, just hid in the false ceiling of our washhouse like she was Anne Frank. There was plenty of food and drink in there and who would think to look amongst the suitcases? She came down three days later and even my mother couldn’t hide the relief that she hadn’t hitchhiked to London to make a name for herself. She certainly did better than I did when I ran away – I left a carefully annotated map with a set of ‘directions’ on my bedside table and I think my parents picked me up three miles down the road, where I’d stopped because my ankles were swelling.

Happy times. As usual, I’ve painted a bleak picture of some dire childhood filled with impecuniosity and petty crime, which means I’ll get an angry text from my mother later (I get them for two reasons: if I use the Big C on the blog or if I make out like she was Fagin) – but actually, nothing could be further from the truth. My childhood was full of laughter and love, and my sister was responsible for at least a quarter of that.

That is, when she wasn’t turning her eyelids inside out and licking the undergunk to make me vomit.

Ah what a time to link to the recipe!

to make roasted grape and goat cheese stuffed sweet potatoes you will need:

  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 200g seedless black grapes
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 80g soft goats cheese (2x HeA)

Slimming World tell you you really ought to syn the grapes if you’re cooking them. If you think you should syn a handful of grapes because you’ve introduced them to some heat, then by all means do. 3 syns per 100g. But, if you choose this, you won’t impress our KERRUH:

to make roasted grape and goat cheese stuffed sweet potatoes you should:

  • preheat the oven to 175°c
  • stab the potatoes with a fork and wrap tightly in tin foil
  • bake for between 45 minutes to an hour, until soft when you poke it
  • remove from the oven, cut a gash down the middle and allow to cool for a bit
  • meanwhile, whack the oven up to 230°c
  • spread the grapes out over a non-stick baking sheet and spray with a bit of oil (don’t let Frylight knacker your pans, get this instead!), roll them about a bit to help coat them a bit and them spread them out again
  • roast for about 25 minutes, or until they start to burst
  • remove from the oven and allow to cool
  • scoop out the flesh of the potatoes, taking care to keep the skin intact and place in a bowl
  • mash together the potato flesh, salt, pepper and most of the goats cheese, reserving some to dot on the top
  • spoon back into the potato skins
  • top with the roasted grapes
  • place back in the oven to warm through if needed

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J

swiss potato and gooey cheese rosti

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

swiss potato and gooey cheese rosti

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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J

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:

d8pcbgk

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

droptober recipe #8: syn-free tomato ketchup

Just a recipe for syn-free tomato ketchup today – no time for chit-chat because we’re getting shit done. I say getting shit done, we’re actually trying our best to work through 87 episodes of Police Interceptors and Jeremy Kyle before the Sky man gives us a new box on Monday. I’m not having him judging me based on the fact that most of our TV recordings have the word ‘Benefits’ in the title somewhere and have all been recorded from Channel 5 HD. What can I say? I’m a sucker for seeing bumblebee-teeth (yellow, black, venomous) in blistering high-definition.

So, syn-free tomato ketchup. I did have a look around for a syn-free version and indeed, Slimming World have their own take on the tomato ketchup, but naturally, they add artificial sweetener. So it’s syn-free but tastes like shite (in my humble opinion). Other recipes use passata which is fine, but if you can get your hands on proper tomatoes from the market or grown yourself, all the better. This recipe comes from Jamie Oliver, a man who thoroughly divides our house. Paul hates him with a passion, whereas I think he’s a sweet-natured fella with his heart in the right place, even if his tongue isn’t.

To the recipe then. To be clear, this recipe does contain 50g of brown sugar which should be synned at 10 syns. But it also makes about six bottles worth of the size you can see in my picture. Given there’s probably about 10 servings per bottle, it works out at less than a tenth of a syn per dash. If you’re the type of person who puts ketchup on like you’re trying to hide the food you’re eating underneath, perhaps you ought to syn it. Your choice. You’re an adult, after all, though even if you used every last bit of sauce in one meal, it would still only be 10 syns. So…?

It does use a lot of ingredients but you ought to have most of them kicking around in the cupboard and yes, it is one of those recipes that you could just use a bit of Heinz and syn it – but damn if it doesn’t taste good! We made a batch with red tomatoes and another with orange, hence the colour difference. We added a bit more vinegar to the orange sauce and reduced the sugar – made for a more ‘sweet and sour’ taste. Listen, I know, we’re amazing.

syn-free tomato ketchup

to make syn-free tomato ketchup, you’ll need:

  • 1 large red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ½ bulb fennel, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 stick celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • some spray olive oil
  • a little knob of ginger, about the size of your thumb, minced using one of these to save time
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, also using the tool above
  • ½ fresh red chilli , deseeded and finely chopped (feel free to leave out if you’re not a fan of ringsting)
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks chopped (if you buy a plant, stick it in water afterwards and it’ll cheerfully grow again)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • good pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 kg yellow, orange or green tomatoes , chopped, or 500g cherry or plum tomatoes, halved plus 500g tinned plum tomatoes
  • 200ml red wine vinegar
  • 50g soft brown sugar

to make syn-free tomato ketchup, you should:

  • make sure you’ve got a heavy duty pot for this – non-stick and decent size
  • give the pan a few squirts of oil then add everything solid bar the tomatoes – the onion, fennel, celery, ginger, garlic, basil stalks, pepper, salt, cloves and coriander seeds
  • cook gently for about fifteen minutes until everything is softened slightly, then add the tomatoes and 350ml water and allow to gently simmer, like a loved one taking a huff because you recorded over her soap operas
  • allow to simmer until it has reduced by half – can take a while, but there’s no rush here
  • once reduced, throw in the basil leaves and whoosh the sauce with a stick blender – or allow to cool and do it in the food processor, whatever is easiest
  • Jim recommends sieving the sauce twice and I agree – it’s a fart on but it makes for a much smoother ketchup
  • return to the heat and add the vinegar and sugar – stir well and again, allow to simmer for ages until it’s really reduced down and gone nice and thick and gloopy – this took a couple of hours for me, stirring every now and then – no need to rush these things
  • once you’re happy, and you know it, and you really want to fucking show it, decant the ketchup into your sterilised bottles
  • to sterilise bottles, according to the BBC:

Wash the jars in hot, soapy water, then rinse well. Place the jars on a baking sheet and put them in the oven to dry completely.

  • keep in the fridge until you need a bit of ketchup in your life – it’s that easy!

Our bottles are cute, but you can use anything glass as long as you sterilise it first. We have fancy Kilner ones because of course we do, and you can buy a set on Amazon for a reasonable enough price by clicking here. They have the added bonus of allowing you to look like a right hipster sod by drinking your smoothies from them too! LOVE YOU.

RIGHT. Must get back to the TV, Paul’s eyes have become unfocussed from so much flashing lights. If you want more recipes, click some of the wonderful buttons below, and have a smashing weekend.

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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

spinach and wild garlic pesto pasta

Hello! Check out the recipe below for spinach and wild garlic pesto pasta.

Work’s been super busy and I make no apology for the lack of posts. It’s all I can do not to tear my car into the central reservation of an evening. Sometimes I think I’d like to give up working and stay at home wearing the same underwear for four days on the trot (you know the type, male readers – change them when you’ve got to fold them with a karate chop) but I know it would end in ruin, not least because I couldn’t possibly be one of those people who prepare dinner for their husbands and push the hoover around inbetween arguing on Facebook in barely-English and playing Bejewelled. I watched fifteen minutes of Jeremy Kyle the other day and it was eye-opening – at least, eye-opening in the sense that I almost held open my eyes and poured hot metal into them rather than watch the show. I just can’t understand it. Going on TV all cankles-blazing to yell incoherently to your other half whilst some smug envelope-ripper alternates between blowing spittle in your face and cowering behind his security guards, who stand on the stage like they’ve fallen off the back of a lorry in a blizzard of creatine and can’t remember the syllable for ‘HELP’. It’s repellent. If you thought your partner was pounding himself into your sister / mother / crudely-drawn approximation of a vagina sprayed on the side of a bus shelter, why go onto national TV to get ‘the troof’? Is the lure of a night’s stay in a Travelodge with all the Taybarns’ beige food and Bellabrusco you can manage really so strong? It must be!

Oops. Side-tracked. Anyway, some GOOD NEWS for you readers. We finally managed to get around to updating our recipe page. This might not sound terribly exciting until you remember our previous bank of recipes was just a giant list and made for a rubbish read. So we put our thinking caps on, loaded up photoshop to make some snappy graphics, and split all the recipes out via their key ingredients. This means if you’re stuck for inspiration on what to do with your pork (PUT SOMETHING ON THE END OF IT) or your breasts (PUT THEM AWAY, THEY’RE FRIGHTENING), you can see at a glance what to make. Give it a go by clicking here. I have a request – share that link wherever you can. I see so many posts from people saying they need recipe ideas and there’s over 300 in there! Thanks.

Tonight’s recipe is a bit fancy but hey, if I can’t let my early onset male pattern baldness down once and a while, what can I do? It uses wild garlic which is growing abundantly outdoors at the moment. Take a walk into any woodlands and you’ll find, amongst the spent custard-catchers and dog muck, strong scents of garlic wafting up from the ground, also known as ramsons. They have big, smooth flat leaves and right about now, tiny white flowers. They’re distinctive but still, be careful – don’t be picking anything you’re unsure of, I can’t have anyone’s death on my conscious, not least because I don’t want my facebook feed full of wailing and ‘SHARE IF U MISS HER IGKNORR IF YOUR GLAD SHE DEAD’ pictures. Do step away from the well-worn paths so you’re not getting a plant with a lacquer of dog piss too. You can find more information here on the BBC website, which includes the fact it’s also known as Stinkin’ Jenny. Which let’s be honest, would totally be my drag name if I ever went that way.

Now look, if you’re not a fan of stumbling about in the woods looking for plants and risking life and limb in the search of a few leaves, then you can swap it out for spinach and some grated garlic, and we won’t tell. You can even lie and still tell your other half that you’ve been out hunting for pleasure in the woods, although you might want to clarify that this doesn’t mean you want to be back there later in the evening bent over a Vauxhall Astra’s bonnet whilst a barely interested plumber tries to fluff himself to half-mast. Is it just my world that requires these clarifications? Good lord. It really is worth hunting out the wild garlic though – for one, it’s free, which will appeal to all those misers who are tighter than two coats of paint, and secondly, it’s so very tasty! Admittedly, be careful not to do what I did when I was a young’un. Buoyed with the excitement of a walk in the woods, I filled a carrier bag with wild garlic leaves and flowers and took it into school to show my teacher, who, with all the enthusiasm of a teacher one week away from seeing the devil children out of the door for the final time, told me to stick it in my locker and stop showing off.

Showing off? Christ I know we were a poor family but I think even I could have done better than some bloody garlic on Show and Tell. I could have brought in my Kerplunk with the sticks missing, for example. Short game.

Anyway, it stayed in my locker for eight weeks, heating up nicely in the summer holiday, then rotting down into a putrid, gloopy mess which slicked down between the lockers and out onto the carpet. When they re-opened the classroom a couple of days before school came back the smell was so overwhelming that they had to put the classroom AND the adjoining classroom out of use for a week or so to air it out. It’s amazing, even then I had the ability to befoul a room with my odours. Anyway, who’s laughing now? Not the teacher, she smelled like a freshly cut dump for two weeks whilst the residual smell permeated her every pore. WHAT AM I LIKE. So yes: by all means pick the garlic, but don’t bloody store it anywhere you wish to breathe the air of. Oh, and if you’re concerned that a diet of flowers, leaves and garlic is going to leave you skinnier than a vegan’s dog, throw some plain chicken in there. It’s that easy. This makes four servings. It assumes that you’re using 4 x HEA (i.e. one per person/serving).

spinach and wild garlic pesto pasta

to make spinach and wild garlic pesto pasta, you’ll need:

  • 200g of spinach
  • a clutch of wild garlic leaves, washed, and a bunch of the flowers from the top
  • enough pasta for four people
  • 180g of ricotta (90g is one HEA, who knew?)
  • two tablespoons of good olive oil (12 syns)
  • 60g of parmesan (2 x HEA)
  • salt and pepper
  • chive flowers if you have them

to make spinach and wild garlic pesto pasta, you should:

  • cook up your pasta
  • boil your spinach and garlic leaves for a minute or two – you want it softened but not mush
  • blend the spinach and leaves together with the oil, pinch of salt and pepper, together with 50g or so of the parmesan
  • you don’t want it looking like soup – keep a bit of texture
  • add the ricotta and stir it through
  • stir into the pasta
  • decorate with chive flowers and garlic flowers and a bit more parmesan

This keeps really well for a lunch the next day.

You can find all of our vegetarian and pasta recipes by clicking on the icons below!

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Enjoy!

J

fresh spring rolls and dipping sauce

Was it my fresh spring rolls and dipping sauce that caught your eye? Well scroll on down, you filthy buggers. Fair warning, tonight’s entry is a little saucy.

Before we get to the recipe, I’m going to do something unusual. See, in the facebook group that accompanies this blog are a load of funny buggers, each more crass and hilarious than the last. I can rattle off a blue joke and a knob gag no worries, but well, I struggle to get women’s problems correct. It’s all so complicated, and well, if you get it wrong, you’re liable to end up with a clit around the ear and a flap in the face. Wah-wah.

Anyway, I decided it would be a gas to ask people if they wanted to write an ‘article’ for the blog – no catches, write what you want, and if I have a recipe but can’t be buggered to type up one of my usual why-use-one-word-when-forty-paragraphs will do, I can post one up! If you’re interested in having a go, let me know in the comments. Readers, please remember that these articles are people wanting to try their hand at writing a blog post but don’t have the confidence to set up a full blog. Be kind. If you’re thinking negative comments, keep them ssh. If you enjoy the article, let’s hear from you!

Tonight’s entry is by the charming Clarabell, who lists the ability to say the alphabet backwards and having a creepy double-jointed hand as her party trick. Don’t believe me? Take a look!

20160522_174459

Goodness. Least she never struggles to get the last Pringle out of the tube, eh? I’d better make sure that isn’t the image that shows up when you post this to facebook. Over to Clarabell…


sweatbox: a tale by Clarabell

Now, we’re all used to the candid craic from James and Paul about douche bulbs, all things in the downstairs department, and of course the post that mentioned bukkake…which I had to google. On a work laptop. Upon which I forgot to delete the history. Cheers guys! So I figured that with a gaggle of MAINLY female readers that my post would have to be about some nether region tale of the female variety. Something we’ve probably all experienced at one point. Perhaps not James and Paul. (James edit: NOT TRUE! I’ve been there and it was all very charming, but not for me. That’s what keeps the world interesting, different opinions, apropos of nothing I don’t like potted ox tongue either).

I’ve been fed up lately, I’ve been getting bouts of cystitis, antibiotics, thrush, cystitis….repeat. I’ve had a scan and there’s nothing wrong with me other than I don’t drink enough water, and have self-created this cycle of misery.

Resigned to buying the thrush cream, after the standard tactic of ‘ignore it and it might not be there’ stopped working, off I went to the local shopping centre, my purse hovering on the thick air in front of me. I’m in Asda but I can’t see what I want on the shelves, and I’m quickly narked that the chemist is the other side of the centre, only because when your regions are on fire, that’s a long walk to do, simultaneously avoiding the urge for a scratch, and walking like there’s stones in your shoes. But! In a flash of delight, I remember that they took out half of the checkouts, to make an optician that no-one goes in, and…. a PHARMACY! Whoop! There’s nothing like the delight of knowing you can get minge cream at the same time as your linguine.

I approach the counter, there’s a pharmacist (identifiable by not being in day-glo Asda attire) fannying on with those little plastic mesh baskets that the prescriptions are homed in before dispensing, and very engrossed in it HE is too. Yes, he’s a he. Urgh. Oh well, in the spirit of “he’s heard it ALL before”, I man up and he eventually stops fussing and walks over, asking the age old idiot question “are you being seen to?”…am I being seen to?! By who?! Unless you’ve started employing invisible colleagues, then no…there’s only you there, and only me this side of the counter, and so no, I am not being seen to! Shop assistants, bartenders and pharmacists really need to drop the “are you being seen to?” line. What we all know is that you are trying to feign perplexion at my presence, as some sort for cover for the fact that you effectively ignored me for a good few minutes whilst procrastinating at your work – in this case the vital work of rearranging plastic baskets.

I’d like some Canesten Oral Duo” I say bravely– pointing to the bottom shelf. Worryingly, he looks like he doesn’t have a clue what I’m asking for. He follows my finger to the bottom shelf, and picks up some Sea Legs, examines box, puts it back and repeats – he does this a few times with a box of Rennie, and some headlice solution, and eventually comes across the thrush ‘range’ glowing on the shelf like a barber’s pole in full red and white glory. I’m wondering at this point if he is the pharmacist, or whether he’s mugged the rightful medicine man of his Asda badge and strolled behind the desk in the manner of an imposter, hoping to get first nab of the nearby ‘Whoops’ range, but he comes across the requested item at last. Not literally, you’d really struggle to pick the box up if he did that.

“Is it for you?” he asks. Christ on a bike…look mate, it’s fifteen flaming quid…I am not about to raffle it off in the Slimmer of the Week basket I don’t say this, instead I go with “yes” and 100% resting bitch face. Oh but he isn’t finished, “have you used it before?”…panic! What’s the correct answer to this? ‘Yes’ and appear like some serial offender, someone who can’t control their rancid ways and lifting minnie?! Or ‘no’ and risk a declined purchase, or worse, some sort of lecture on best application practice and/or side effects?! I go with “yes” quickly followed up with “a while ago…” He gives a small nod. He knows I’m baking bread. Phew, home and dry, which is good because another customer has joined me and she has the smug privacy of a prescription, which is her ticket to a no question transaction.  What is it with these useless questions?

However, there can be none more useless than the question I once got asked buying antihistamines for hayfever, “drowsy or non-drowsy” I was asked! Really?! Erm..let me check my diary…nope, nothing on the afternoon, drowsy for me please, I’m fine to lounge around spaced out and sleepy, I was not planning on driving and the only ‘machinery’ I’ll be operating will be the telly, so yup, drowsy will do just do fine…ah wait, no consuming alcohol? Poop.

Anyway, Ahmed walks to the till, and promptly stops and stands above it doing jazz hands, and of course he just remembered he doesn’t know how to use it. Suddenly, “Doreen!” he shouts WAVING THE CANESTEN BOX IN THE AIR! “Doreen, can you ring this in for me please”! I swear the smug-prescription-holder does the smirking shimmy, that tiny little wobble that comes only with an inner titter.  I throw her some side-ways shade, which is code for ‘look lady, we’ve all been there, and you will one day (maybe soon after that prescription for antibiotics teehee!) also have to stand here and deal with this lovely bloke, showing the world his arm pit sweat patch whilst at the same time holding aloft the solution to your itchy snatch’.


Goodness me! I once had a flatmate who had perpetual thrush, brought on by the fact her extra-endowed boyfriend  seemed hellbent on hammering her cervix over her back-teeth. Not even kidding there, she showed me a photo he’d sent and what I thought was his arm holding the camera definitely wasn’t. At one point our fridge was more cranberry juice than anything else. I still can’t have a cranberry sour without thinking of her undercarriage. I remember we once had a full stand-up row over the fact I refused to boil tea-towels in a saucepan on the hob to sterilise them. Awfully judgemental for someone with a little too much glue on their envelope.

Now listen, before anyone starts writing their ‘ANGRY OF TUNBRIDGE WELLS’ letters and getting themselves in a tizz, don’t. I know it’s perfectly natural and I know people get all sorts of things but do you know, if we can’t laugh at ourselves, what can we do? Let’s not live in a joyless vacuum.

Right, to the food!

 fresh spring rolls

These are one of those tasty little dishes that look complicated to make, but they’re really not. We used Blue Dragon Rice Pancakes for these which SW say are one syn each (ridiculous) – you can buy rice pancakes from any Asian supermarket too. The joy with these is that you can ram them absolutely chock-full of speed vegetables and lovely free things. 

to make fresh spring rolls, you’ll need:

to make fresh spring rolls, you should:

  • get a plate and fill it with warm water, you’ll obviously not need a lot
  • chop all your veg up – this is where a mandolin will save you so much time and make everything neat and wonderful – click here to buy one of those
  • get everything ready to hand
  • take one pancake, push it into the water, allow to rehydrate a little
  • take out, shake off the water and lay it on a tea-towel or better, a nice clean worktop
  • if you imagine it in thirds, you want to place a big amount of filling at the top of the bottom third – or really, just below the middle of the pancake
  • fold in the sides
  • fold in the bottom
  • roll – keep it nice and tight with your hands (fnar fnar)
  • place on a chopping board and cut with a very sharp knife

You’re done! We served ours with a dipping sauce where we took low sodium soy sauce (6 tbsp), a couple of tablespoons of hoisin (4 syns), a few chilli flakes, a drop of honey (1 syn) and some passata. Stir and serve!

Although these are a syn each, these fresh spring rolls are very, very filling and a brilliant way of getting fresh veg into you. I’m a big fat pig and only managed four! If you wanted to keep it vegetarian, swap out the meat for cooked egg or mushrooms.

Enjoy.

J