syn free ham and potato hash plus new york: part one

The recipe for ham and potato hash can be found below all the following guff. Long time readers know that when I start talking about a holiday…well, I tend to go on. I’ve got five New York entries to get through, though don’t expect them one after the other, I’m a little behind…if you’re a fan of my holiday writings, don’t forget all of our previous entries on Germany, Ireland and Corsica can be found in our Amazon book, found right here. Our book – a collection of all the many, many articles from our blog – keeps us in holidays. Just saying!

twochubbycubs go to New York, part one

Before we get started on the actual travels, the exciting part – this was a complete surprise for Paul. We weren’t planning on taking any holidays after Corsica and Iceland being so close together, but I was driving home from a first-aid course when an advert for Expedia came on espousing cheap deals to New York. I drove on for another mile or so mulling it over, pulled into a layby, booked the time off work and emailed Paul’s lovely boss to get clearance. I left the small detail of actually booking the holiday until a few days after. I’ve mentioned before how easily led I am by advertising – thank fuck an advert didn’t come on for haemmorhoid cream else I’d have squatting down in a bus-stop feverishly applying Preparation H to my bumhole in the manner of a man spreading butter on a crumpet. Having managed to secure the time off for the both of us and after many, many “trips to ASDA” for poor Paul to get him out of the house so I could use the computer, I found a really decent deal with British Airways staying in a nice central hotel for six nights. Booked it there and then. Paul then had to endure ten days of me looking at him excitedly and dropping ‘a big secret’ that he probably thought he was getting divorce papers in the post. As if! I’m saving the divorce papers for when he’s paid off his half of the car.

That’s clearly a joke – I’d never divorce a man so perfectly squashy and who turns the shower on for me every morning so I don’t have to stand for a moment in a chilly bathroom. You might think he gets the shitty end of the stick (depends how careful he’s been with the old douche-bulb I guess) but read the above paragraph and think again!

Going to America always necessitates a full-on panic about travel insurance for me – I don’t want to fall ill in America, find out my travel insurance is void because I didn’t inform them someone once hurt my feelings in 1996 and then bankrupt my friends and family as they try and pay for my hospital treatment in a country which, for god knows why, doesn’t have decent free healthcare. Listen, I know my family, they’d just send someone out on an economy flight to fill my drip-bag with Cillit Bang and stop my heart. Fuckers. I spent a good hour on the phone to a very helpful lady at Coverwise who went through my various worries – do I declare heart palpitations four years ago? Yes. Do I declare obesity? Only if I need help getting in and out of bed – not quite there yet. My hair is thinning and I look like Steve McDonald drawn Castaway-style on a beach ball – apparently I don’t need to declare that. She then proceeded to take my payment but accidentally deleted all the details we had just decided upon, so we had to do it all again. Great times.

The night before the holiday I told him we were going away somewhere mysterious and to pack a suitcase. Naturally, Paul, being a keen and conscientious worker, immediately started fretting about meetings and out of office nonsense, until I told him it was all fine and that I’d been masterminding this scheme right from the off, like an evil Judith Chalmers. All he had to do was pack some clothes, find his passport (I told him we’d need it for car hire within the UK so he didn’t twig we were going abroad) and get to bed, as we had an early train in the morning. He sensibly did the right thing, although we did have a minor panic when we realised that I need a new passport very soon – thankfully, we were just within the limits for USA travel. I’ll be sad to see that passport go – it’s about the only ID I have where the picture doesn’t look like it should have a caption underneath saying ‘…jailed for eighteen months for public indecency’. Doubtless when I get a new passport I’ll be back to looking like a sandblasted puffer-fish. I’ll definitely need to get my hair cut before that day comes – the last time I want happening is someone at easyJet saying ‘Aaah Mr Trump, we’ve been expecting you’.

Off to the train station at ridiculous-o-clock then. This necessitated a taxi drive with the world’s most vocal taxi driver, who had an opinion on everything from my suitcase (“not very butch” – fuck off mate, if anyone can make a four-wheeled suitcase work, it’s me) to Uber. Uber, he took pains to tell me, was a danger because “anyone can drive them, they’re not vetted” (which was rich, as he looked like the type of man for whom Incognito Mode was the default status on his browser) and that “their cars aren’t checked, they could be death-traps”. This one really struck a chord with Paul, who texted me to point out that the driver’s rear-view mirror was gaffer taped to the roof of the car. I pleaded with him not to say anything lest we got bundled out at high speed on the Seaton Burn roundabout. Instead, we just spent the journey nodding politely and making ‘hmm’ and ‘mmm’ noises until, after seemingly taking us via Darlington, we arrived at the station and boarded our train.

What to say about the train journey that I haven’t covered before? It was entirely uneventful. I was given a cup of tea that had cleaning products in (thank god for the travel insurance!) but luckily, I spotted, or rather smelled, the problem before it had a chance to burn through my throat and cascade down my chest, ruining my nice shirt. The train had to take a long diversion at some point and the trip ended up taking five hours, but it was quiet, comfortable and, with it being first class, we had more biscuits than is possibly decent. It does vex me a little that they take the meal service off in first class during the weekends – frankly my train journey isn’t complete unless I’m eating something microwaved and slopped on a plate. Paul got up to go for a poo at some point and disappeared for twenty minutes. Naturally, I was so concerned it was all I could do to put down my iPad, pause the Youtube of the Crystal Maze that I was watching, and glance down the corridor. Had he alighted at a passing station, tired of looking at my angry face across the table from him? Had my still-awake-but-really-comfy-snoring angered him so? No. Turned out, being a wonderful husband, he’d walked/stumbled to the other end of the train, bought us two double gin and tonics each and a grilled cheese sandwich. As delighted as I was with the nourishment and booze, I couldn’t mask the alarm in my eyes, but he reassured me that it had only cost around £780.45 for this little treat. Good old Virgin!

On the train I told Paul we were going to Heathrow, so he knew at that point we were off abroad. We transferred onto the Heathrow Express, arrived in plenty of good time to nip into the terminal, buy some wine gums and play on the fruities before climbing inside those automatic toilets that whisk you around to various parts of Heathrow. Our destination? Why, the wonderful Thistle Hotel of course, which you may remember we weren’t particularly overtaken with joy with last time (by the way, that links to one of our favourite recipes, too)? Listen, it’s convenient and Paul loves that POD system, so that’s why we chose it. Naturally, our room was the size of a small shoebox and I had to spin around in the shower to get wet, but eh, it’s a bed. We had a Dominos and watched Vera. Vera is very much a guilty pleasure for us, although I can’t tell you what it looks like because I spend most of the time wincing against her attempt at a Geordie accent. Very few people in Newcastle actually substitute ‘pet’ where a full stop would normally go, but by god she does it. They were filming around where we live a few weeks ago so I fully expect a shot of her solving crime whilst my filthy car drives past in the background with me squinting to see what’s going on. I should have shouted ‘HERE MAN VERAH PET HAS THERE BIN A MOORDA PET HAS SOMEWURN HAD THEIR HEED CAVED IN EH’. Authentic!

I revealed to Paul that we were off to New York as we approached the ticket desk in the morning (well, it would have been tricky when she asked where we were going and he said he didn’t know his final destination) and of course, he was delighted. As we were in Terminal 5 it felt altogether too busy and crowded for a ‘thank you’ bit of bum-fun, so we just settled for oral instead. I’m kidding, we’re not that raunchy. It was a handjob. OK enough. We were given our tickets and the old problem of finding something to do early in the morning at Terminal 5 reared its head. We settled for an expensive, tasteless breakfast, a good poo and an hour of aimlessly wandering around smelling aftershave I wouldn’t use to clean a litter-box and avoiding a rather excitable woman who was determined we ‘sample her Baileys’. I noted with relief that we weren’t flying on a Dreamliner, which I was absolutely sure was the plane that had come up when I’d checked. I texted a friend to explain that I wouldn’t be making an unscheduled, on-fire stop in the Shetlands and boarded.

The flight was lovely. Smooth with no turbulence, aside from a moment of panic on my side as we were taking off and it felt as though the plane was struggling. It wasn’t, of course, but naturally my anxiety around taking off qualifies me as a fully-trained aeroplane pilot and I felt I had to tell Paul we were clearly going to crash. We’ve only flown British Airways once before and the last time was ruined by having a stewardess whose only regret in life was not being born into the Schutzstaffel, but the crew were amazing on this flight. Seats were comfortable, drinks were plentiful to the point I had seven miniature bottles of gin sitting on my table, and when they were taken away, the big bear steward, clearly feeling the rainbow connection, bought us four more. We dozed and watched movies (I watched Spectre, Paul watched bloody Ghost) and, aside from a moment where the inconsiderate oaf behind us decided to use the back of my chair and my hair to hoist himself up, it was lovely. He apologised, though I think my surprised shriek probably put me on a watch-list somewhere. We landed in JFK.

American security though, jeez. I’ve done it plenty of times to know that you don’t crack jokes and that they aren’t exactly forthcoming with the charm, but this was a whole new level. When he asked me to put out my fingers for scanning I honestly expected him to rap me on the knuckles with a wooden ruler. I’m here to spend money in your wonderful country, please don’t greet me like I’ve shit in your dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not expecting an elaborate song and dance routine or a free cake with every stamp of my passport, but haway. Of course, by writing this, I’m sure I’ll immediately be put on a list that means the second I land in the USA I’ll be greeted by someone shining a light in my face and sticking a gloved finger up my bum. Listen, all I ask is that you tweak my nipples a bit first, get me going.

That’s us, then, on American soil. I’ll continue with the next part sometime soon! Let’s get to the recipe. You’re probably hungry now.

ham and potato hash

to make ham and potato hash, you’ll need:

  • one large white onion
  • one large green pepper
  • one garlic clove, yes, you guessed it, minced using a fabulous little mincer I know
  • three decent sized potatoes, preferably something waxy
  • pinch of salt and pepper and a tiny pinch of dried thyme
  • four thick slices of ham

to make ham and potato hash, you should:

  • cut the potato put into dice-sized chunks and boil them until they’re soft and fluffy but not mushy – drain and set aside
  • meanwhile, cut up the pepper and onion and soften them in a dab of oil or a few squirts of squirty oil on a medium heat
  • once they’ve softened, add your minced garlic, salt, pepper and thyme
  • cut your ham into chunks and throw them in
  • add the potatoes
  • stir – you’re not trying to create one large mass of potatoes so just be gentle
  • stick under the grill to toast it off – hell, you could even add a bit of cheese as long as you take it from your healthy extra

This is remarkably easy to make and tastes lovely – try and keep all your chunks the same size for uniformity. We served ours with a side of sticky sprouts, the recipe for which I’ll put on soon! No more typing. I’m tired! Enjoy.

Oh one more thing. If you’ve enjoyed this little tale about America, remember we did a full on America week with American recipes – you can find them here!

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