boozy bangers and mash with amazing gravy

Here for the boozy bangers and mash with a gravy that’ll blow all other Slimming World gravy out of the water? Fine. But first…

I am pleased to announce that, after nine months of worry, tension and angst, we have finally chosen our new car. Well, my new car. Paul’s still ‘driving’ around in that ‘Smart’ ‘car’ of his, looking to all the world like a sunburnt wine-gum squashed into a lego car. After months of putting it off, I bit the bullet and went to the car dealership to see what the crack is. First thoughts? So much hair gel. Second thoughts: I’d rather spend my Saturday chewing toenails than have to go through the ignominy of pretending I give a toss about cars. We were greeted by an exceptionally exuberant man who bustled over to greet us before I’d even had a chance to park up.

Before we could start the dance of finance, he had a look around my car to make sure it was in a good working order for a part-exchange. Well, no, he had a glance and took me at my word that all was well. That really made the £400 that I’d just paid for the ‘obligatory’ service seem like good value, I can tell you. He commented that I keep a pristine car – I thanked him, neglected to tell him it’s because we’re always ‘wiping it down’ and prayed to myself that he didn’t sit on the back seat. The cushions in the back are like a Twinkie. Don’t get the reference? Click here and feel ashamed.

He took us inside and offered us a drink, having the good grace to laugh when I asked for a whisky to take the edge off getting fucked. He brought us some grey coffee instead which I tipped into a plant-pot on his desk when he wasn’t looking, only for it to start dripping out of the bottom and onto the floor. He didn’t notice, thankfully – he was probably lost in my eyes.

I knew we were on shaky ground when the portly chap (I’m going to call him George, not because that was his name, but because he looked like a George) grasped my hand, called me by entirely the wrong name and then asked what type of car I want. You need to understand, readers, that I know nothing about cars. I know how to drive one, of course, but what is horsepower? Why is a petrol better than a diesel? Why is there always so much blood and matted hair on my front bumper? It’s useless knowledge to me, like where to buy skinny jeans or how to stimulate a clitoris. Irrelevant data. To me, clitoris sounds like the name IKEA would give a coat-hook.

Anyway, dear George, to his credit, didn’t laugh when I said ‘something colourful’ and ‘a bit fast’. Those were my sole requirements. My previous research, so far as I’d glanced at Auto Trader, turned this up:

Fancy, but Paul had pointed out that I wasn’t Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, didn’t need a car with an automatic amyl-nitrate dispenser and anyway, it was over £500 a month. I appreciate I’m a tightarse Geordie but there’s fuck all way I’m spending that sort of money per month on a Citroen, unless it comes with a feature that automatically changes my number plate and flashes the interior lights whenever Paul and I pull into a layby of an evening. I asked if there was anything similar with an onus on lots of tech in the car and he hastened us over to look at the C4 Cactus.

Why? God knows. I’d rather get the bus, especially as this car was the colour of a dying man’s lips. Sensing I wasn’t swooning and completely ignoring the fact it’ll only be Paul and I so we don’t need a family car, he plopped me into the driving seat and leaned across to show me the ‘latest tech’. I mean, come on – you know someone’s clutching at straws when he’s feigning astonishment at the radio as though he was Marconi himself. I resisted the urge to be sarcastic and clutch my pearls when he mentioned the air-conditioning, and, knowing he was onto a loss, he got us back out and showed us an altogether more sensible solution, the new C3.

Imagine that but black. Tsk, racist.

Now this was more like it – it pretty much looks like a DS3 but designed by Fisher Price, but that’s fine – I’m a fan of bright colours and spend more time angsting about people banging their car doors into mine than I do blinking, the air-bumps on the side were a big ‘yes’. Even if they do look like someone’s stuck a particularly hi-tech jamrag on the side of the car. I selected the black and red version and so the negotiations began.

I like to think I’m pretty good at negotiating, but only for about 15 minutes. I simply can’t be arsed to haggle. I see Martin Lewis chirruping away on the telly about arguing for a better deal but sometimes, what price dignity? I did knock about £80 off the monthly amount but once George had gone an especially lurid shade of crimson and was looking at his own wallet with watery eyes, mumbling about having to feed the kids, I collapsed like a wet cake. I don’t doubt for a second that I could have maybe squeezed an extra ten quid or something off a month but it was hot, I was tired, I hate having to do the dance and that was that. I signed there and then and was told my car would be here in two weeks, thanks very much.

It actually turned up four days later – hooray – and with Paul away throwing himself at Jeremy Corbyn at the Durham Miners’ Gala, I picked it up myself and decided to go for a drive up to Coldstream. I’d never been before but I knew it is a good seventy miles of twisty-turny country road away from my house. It was a great drive – the car was responsive and zippy, my driving was top-notch and there was a minimal amount of people in my way all the way to Coldstream. I had, quite literally, just driven past the ‘Welcome to Coldstream’ sign when the in-car phone rang, almost forcing me to crash into a coach full of elderly folk in sheer shock – it was so bloody loud.

It was Paul asking where I was. He was home, see, but hadn’t thought to take a key with him. To make matters worse, he was “hot” and “tired” and “had been in the sun all day and was feeling faint”. The one set of neighbours we trust with a set of keys (i.e. the only ones who wouldn’t let themselves in to have a bloody good gawp) were out, of course. Thinking the poor bugger had sunstroke I performed an entirely illegal u-turn in the middle of the road and set straight back off for home, at an altogether terrifying speed.

All legal, I must say.

But certainly far faster than I should have been driving, and all in the name of love, with the thought of Paul’s scalp crisping up like a salad crouton rattling in my head. Naturally, he turned his phone off, so I couldn’t get hold of him, which led to even more panic as I thought he was slumped on the doorstep shallow-breathing. As opposed to his usual stance, slumped on the settee shallow-breathing. I overtook lots – and lots – of old dears, all perched as usual right up against the steering wheel, all doing a committed 40mph no matter what the occasion. There may have been swearing. I may have bellowed myself hoarse. I was definitely putting the c*nt in country road. But by god, I got back within the hour, just in time to see Paul relaxing with a cold drink and flicking through his facebook notifications.

Turns out the neighbours had come home about five minutes after his call to me and he’d put his phone onto charge, completely neglecting to tell me.

You can imagine the laughs we had about the whole misunderstanding, can’t you? How I chuckled as I ironed his face.

So yes, that’s my new car. It’s very nice, it goes like the clappers in comparison to my old one and I’ll never miss it in a car-park. All good.

Now, tonight’s recipe. Boozy Bangers and mash. I know that’s a wank title, I know. It’s sausages and mash but more importantly, it has an AMAZING gravy. Can we talk about gravy for a second? I made this for our facebook page:

I genuinely can’t stand it when you see a delicious looking roast and then someone pops up with ‘omg make sun-free gravy by blitzing (always fucking blitzing, how exactly are you blitzing your peas you spittle-flecked moron, dropping a bloody bomb on it?) a tin of mushy peas, or eight roasted onions, or some other AWFUL slop. That’s not gravy, that’s a grave injustice. A war crime.

Gravy is low in syns and given that so many people have more gravy on their plate than carbon atoms, you might as well get the good stuff. Make your own or use instant at a pinch. It’s a syn per teaspoon of powder. Unless you’re having a bath of gravy, how much do you bloody need? Drives me up the wall, which is fine because I’ve got that fancy new car, but still. So here’s a recipe with PROPER DELICIOUS GRAVY. We are going to be steering away from ‘pretend’ food (to be fair, we don’t do it much to begin with) as a blog and I’m sure you’ll come with us!

boozy bangers and mash

to make boozy bangers and mash you will need:

We get asked a lot about how good our mash looks. We don’t add anything, you know – it’s just good potatoes riced with a potato ricer once cooked. The one we use is only a tenner and can be bought here!

to make boozy bangers and mash you should:

  • bring a large pan of water to the boil and the potatoes – cook until soft and then mash, to however you like it (we like to chuck in some wholegrain mustard but not everyone is as classy as us)
  • whilst the potatoes are boiling away, make a slit down the sausages and squeeze out the meat into 3-4 equal-ish balls. don’t worry about rolling them into neat balls, they’ll be fine as they are
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add a little oil
  • add the sausages to the pan and fry until cooked, then remove from the pan
  • add a bit more oil to the pan if needed, and then add the chopped garlic
  • stir for about 30 seconds, then reduce the heat to medium-low and add the sliced onions
  • cook the onions until they begin to caramelise, stirring now and again. Don’t worry if they stick a bit – that’s good
  • after about 15-20 minutes, add the stock and the guinness to the pan and bring to a simmer for about 10-15 minutes, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pan
  • in a little bowl, mix together the cornflour with 2 tbsp COLD water (it MUST be cold), and slowly dribble into the gravy, stirring constantly, and when you’re happy with it take it off the heat
  • dish up the potatoes and sausages, and pour over the tasty gravy
  • enjoy

See now come on, that’s a proper dinner right there! No? Want more? Get more!

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Beep beep (Richie!)

J

slow cooker cottage pie

Super quick post tonight of slow cooker cottage pie – Christmas party was last night and we’re both proper rough! Straight to it!

slow cooker cottage pie

to make slow cooker cottage pie you will need:

I’m going to say this is syn free – if you want to syn the 0.25 syn of milk, then do. If you’re looking for a decent slow cooker, the one we use is reduced on Amazon right now, and pretty to look at!

to make slow cooker cottage pie you should:

  • add the onion and mince into a hot pan and brown off
  • add the carrots, tomatoes, garlic, peas, tomato puree, celery, worcestershire sauce, thyme and stock and stir to combine
  • decant into the slow cooker and cook for as long as you like on low – a few hours is best to really meld the flavours
  • four hours before you want to eat, cut the potatoes into large chunks (no need to peel) and cook in a large saucepan until tender.
  • drain, add the milk and quickly crack in the egg – mash furiously so the egg mixes in well and doesn’t scramble (don’t use the egg if you’re pregnant – treat yourself to some butter instead)
  • use a spatula or ladle to flatten the meat mixture in the slow cooker so it’s level
  • gently spoon in the mashed potato and smooth off with a fork
  • cover and cook on low for three hours
  • about half an hour towards the end, sprinkle over the grated cheese
  • cover with a tea towel so that it doesn’t touch the food but is taut across the top – this helps to absorb moisture
  • serve!

Easy!

Want more ideas? Click the buttons below!

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Enjoy!

J

best ever spaghetti bolognese

Yes! The best ever spaghetti bolognese! Well no, you can do so much better by adding things like bone marrow or bacon or delicious dates but I don’t want to be responsible for any weigh-in-ladies getting slapped around the chops, so this is the best you can do within a reasonable amount of syns. We have done a syn free version way back when which you can find here.

Anyway, we weren’t going to post today but see we were discussing in bed this morning our old crushes. Everyone has them – that one celebrity that makes you damp and uncomfortable in the minnie-moo area. Because Paul’s common, most of his were characters from Eastenders because seemingly that was all that was on in the smokehouse where he grew up. Mine are a little more cultured. Pffft. Without further delay:

Paul’s old crushes – then and now

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What can we take from this? Well, it certainly explains why he calls me Sonia during sex and makes me do a little turn on the trumpet to kick things off. It also demonstrates that, if you were lucky enough to have teenage Paul rub one out over the thought of you, you are blessed with immortality and NEVER AGE. Seriously, aside from the chap on the bottom who has upgraded his weirdly phallic beard into a decent sculpted affair and Sean from 5ive looking slightly more boss-eyed, no-one has changed!

Bonus mentions for: the fat Di Marco from Eastenders (who I couldn’t put into the pictures because there’s not a recent photo of him – luckily he hasn’t died. Well no, his acting career has. Bitch). Reese from Malcolm in the Middle.

James’ old crushes – then and now

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Mine are a little more obvious, no? I ummed and aahed over that picture of Tyrone there – just to be clear, the actor is two years older than me so I’m SURE he’s over age then. AND I WOULD HAVE BEEN LIKE 16, SO GIVE ME A BREAK. Anyway Paul and I both agree he’s aged well and we were both aghast and stiff when that evil walking Afro was setting about his nethers with the hoover extension. Bears and BDSM, what can I say. Viktor Krum was quite possibly more a case of being in love with his red jacket and furry muff than anything to do with those strong, Slavic eyebrows and jaw. He does however seem to have aged into someone you’d see on the front page of a local paper being sentenced for ripping off old ladies for bogus roof repairs. Pity. Oh and Travis Fimmel – now there’s an interesting one. I just can’t think what attracted me about the top left picture as a young’un – I remember I used to pass a giant billboard for Calvin Klein’s Crave on the way to college and there’s just something that caught my eye. That kind of look is the antithesis of the type of man that Paul and I find attractive – which makes it all the more curious that he now looks like someone we’d both let sit on our face and pedal our ears. Eee, isn’t lust fun.

Bonus mentions: Rhino and Shadow from Gladiators. I swear they’re about 60% responsible for my homosexuality. Not because of their looks, as such, but rather their costumes. Good lord. Thank goodness we didn’t have 3D TV’s back in the day – we would have needed to move the settee back a good half a foot. I vaguely remember liking Toadfish from Neighbours but a quick look at google images reveals that this couldn’t have been true given he used to look like a tiny version of Penn from Penn and Teller – or, nineties fans, the Head of the Witches Council from Sabrina. I never had much time for the dreamboats like Harvey from Sabrina or Billy Kennedy from Neighbours. Too pretty. I used to enjoy Janice’s bit on the side in Coronation Street (Dennis?) – he’s a bit of a gay icon! Oh and Krycek from The X-Files. And Mulder! And poor Pendrell! I’d go on, but it’s too difficult to type with the keyboard constantly being nudged away from me. So let’s do the recipe!

I’m putting this recipe up so you have a reason to use up the rest of the wine you might have used for our previous recipe for dirty macaroni. But come on. We both know you drank it, you filthy lush.

best ever spaghetti bolognese

to make the best ever spaghetti bolognese you will need:

to make the best ever spaghetti bolognese you should:

  • bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions – although for fucks sake, it’s spaghetti – boil it, eat it – if you can’t manage that, perhaps it’s time to give Dignitas a call
  • meanwhile, heat a large pan over a high heat and add a little oil

Just jumping in for a second – we get asked a lot about what pans we use that are non-stick enough not to need loads of oil. Now, I know there’s loads out there made from ceramic or teflon or whatever, and they’re probably alright, but we bought some Le Creuset casserole dishes a few years ago and genuinely use the big casserole dish every single day – without anything sticking and (gasp) we clean it in the dishwasher. They are expensive – very expensive – but absolutely and utterly worth it. Buy cheap and buy twice, after all. Amazon currently have a discount – why not treat yourself?

  • add the mince and cook until browned
  • remove the mince from the pan using a slotted spoon into a bowl and set aside
  • in the same pan quickly cook the onions for 3-4  minutes
  • add the chopped garlic and cook for another 2 minutes
  • add the chicken stock to the pan to deglaze (i.e. get your wooden spoon and scrape all the tasty bits off the bottom of the pan) and stir the onions often until the stock has reduced by half
  • add the wine to the pan and do the same again
  • add the bay leaves to the pan and the passata, bring to the boil
  • reduce the heat slightly and cook until it has thickened slightly, which will take about 6 minutes or so. add salt and pepper to taste
  • remove the bay leaves, add the mince and the spaghetti to the pan and mix to combine
  • serve with lots of black pepper, parmesan from your HEA and some basil leaves

DELICIOUS.

If you’re looking for more pasta or beef recipes, click on the links below!

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Now I’m off to put my greengrocer’s tabard on for Paul.

J

taster night ideas for Slimming World

Looking for taster night ideas? There’s SEVEN recipes down below. I’m not surprised you want inspiration, nothing seems to strike fear into slimmers at Slimming World more than ‘we’re having a party next week, bring something along‘. Well, perhaps the words ‘let’s split the room in half, someone keep points, we’re going to do group activities‘. God I hate that. I’m too antisocial at the best of times but being forced to come up with a witty team name and shout out speed foods makes my throat hitch. For those not in the Cult of Mags, a taster night is where everyone is expected to bring along some food to share with the rest of the class and usually results in about twenty quiches and a box of grapes bought from the Co-op over the road by the lady who forgot it was on.

I struggle with taster nights because, as previously mentioned, I don’t like eating food when I don’t know how clean the kitchen it’s coming from is. Luckily I’m in a class now with people who do look familiar with a bottle of Ajax, but Christ, some of the sights I’ve seen in other classes, well I wouldn’t eat what came out of their kitchens even if it contained the antidote to a life-threatening poison I’d accidentally ingested. I don’t mind a slice of Slimming World quiche, I just don’t like to be twanging cat hair out of my teeth for the following week. Anyway, as ‘what can I make for taster night’ and ‘slimming world snacks’ appear quite regularly on the little index of what people search for to find this blog. Well, it can’t all be ‘chubby cub cum explosion’ (can’t remember that recipe?) and ‘fat men fuking’ (masturbation is no excuse for poor spelling, chaps).

Oh! A quick word. When a buffet is served up in class, try and allow the meek amongst us access to the food. A couple of years ago, in a class in Wakefield no less, Paul and I didn’t get any food because half the class – not the better half – dashed forward as soon as the ‘party’ began and formed one giant body of impassable bulk. It was like the Berlin Wall, only smelling faintly of chips. I’ve never seen food shovelled and devoured with such ferocity and I’ve seen Sicilian wild boars being fed. All I wanted was a (nothing-like-a) Ferrero Rocher and a few ‘JUST LIKE DORITOS’ crisps that I could have planed a door with. I had my revenge anyway – the wasabi peas that I put on the table thinking they were syn-free were actually about eight syns a handful. What can I say? My knowledge of the Mandarin language is a little rusty.

So, with all the above in mind, we decided to do a post on snacks, also fuelled by the fact it was Eurovision last night and we like to have a trough of food to work through whilst we watch our entry get annihilated. Before anyone says the UK will never win because ‘it’s too political’ and ‘no-one votes for us because of the war’, that was relevant maybe ten years ago and certainly isn’t now. Russia almost won it and well, that Putin’s been a bit of a tinker this year, has he not? We don’t win because we send absolute shite – po-faced, dreary, period-pain music with insipid staging and crap tunes. No doubt that Aldi Jedward can sing a tune and strum a guitar but they lost a singing competition where literally tens of people voted for someone else to be a winner. Why would that translate to success in the Eurovision Song Contest? EH? We need to send something amazing, with a massive chorus and an uplifting melody, not a song that would barely make its way onto the second CD in the Now That’s What I Call White Noise 87 compilation.

I was just sore because I had Poland and Italy in the sweepstakes, and did you catch them? Poland came dancing out like a crystal-meth Cheryl Cole and Italy’s act was so boring that I forgot about it whilst she was singing the words, which is quite something. I wanted Russia to win. That stage, that song (You Are The Obi Wan, You’re My Obi Wan…) and gasp, when that screen spun around…well, I loved it. Plus one of my work colleagues had Russia in the sweepstakes and I just know he’s going to be spend his winnings on delicious things for the entire floor. That’s right, isn’t it Alan? SHOUT-OUT FOR ALAN. Mahaha. Paul threw his weight behind Sweden, who I can’t really be mean about because the singer was only 8 and he has the angst of puberty to get through. He’s no Eric Saade (2011) with his exploding glass cages though.

As it happens, one of the worst songs managed to win – Kate Bush’s stunt double caterwauling about politics – and Ukraine took the prize, meaning Russia will be hosting the Eurovision next year. Boom boom. We’ve said it every year – we should go to the next Eurovision – and the fact that it is being held in Ukraine only sweetens the deal. If it had been Russia we’d have been conflicted – on one hand, we love the idea of a night of catchy tunes surrounded by every other gay man in existence, but on the other hand I prefer not to have my teeth kicked down my throat because I’m a rampant bummer. Ah yes.

Anyway come on now, let’s get to the recipes, shall we? This is the spread.

taster night ideas

Fancy, right? On view then:

  • Bánh Mì balls with a spicy dip
  • our teeny tiny teriyaki tasters
  • sandwiches filled with syn-free egg mayonnaise and tuna and cucumber
  • sweet potato crisps with four different types of houmous
  • baked new potatoes with cheese and bacon topping

Out of sight:

  • spicy couscous balls
  • gin and tonic lollies

Three caveats that I’m going to throw in before we begin:

TWEAK

  • some of these recipes are ‘tweaks’ in the truest sense of the word – especially the crisps – and it’s up to you whether you follow the rule of synning them or not – tweaks being when you use an ingredient in a way it isn’t intended to be used, such as slicing a sweet potato to make crisps. I will mention it where appropriate. My own view (which you can find here) is that it’s better to be eating something made from a healthy ingredient than a processed packet of crisps. It boils down to this – 100g of sweet potato is around 85 calories, 100g of Walkers crisps kicks in over 550 calories. I’ll be fucked if I’m synning sweet potato crisps at the same rate as normal crisps. If you feel the need to be all frothy and leave a comment castigating me for my temerity, please save yourself the finger strain, wipe the spittle from your lips and simply don’t bother – personal choice;
  • a couple of these recipes you’ll have seen before if you’re a long-time follower, but I thought it would be handy to put them all in one place; and
  • as usual, I’ve given syn values for a normal portion and I’ll mention when it uses up a HEA/HEB. If you’re eating the entire buffet, you’ll need to think about how many HEB/HEA’s you’re using! It’ll make sense as we go along. Basically, each recipe stands on its own. Right? Right.

taster night ideas #1: sweet potato crisps with four different types of houmous:

taster night ideas

to make the sweet potato crisps, you’ll need:

  • a couple of big sweet potatoes
  • spray oil – a few squirts of Filippo Berio’s olive oil is only half a syn, and that’s all you need
  • chinese five spice

to make the sweet potato crisps, you should:

  • to make the crisps, use a microwave, it’s much easier
  • get a big old sweet potato and cut it to uniform thin slices – this is where having a mandolin slicer comes in very handy, because it’ll take no time at all to do the slices – buy one here and never look back, not least because it makes your food look great when it’s all uniform
  • arrange the slices on a plate, squirt with some spray oil, dust with chinese five spice (or indeed, any flavouring you want) and rub it in
  • microwave on full power – it usually takes about six minutes, but keep checking every couple of minutes, and once they start to look dry, turn them over
  • keep a proper eye on them mind, because they can burn easily once they dry out
  • once done, take them off the plate, set aside, and do the next batch

to make the four way houmous, you’ll need:

  • a few small tins of chickpeas
  • garlic cloves
  • fat free cottage cheese
  • a lemon or two
  • sea salt

to make the four way houmous, you should:

  • the basic houmous recipe is simple enough – for enough to fill one of those little square bowls above, you’ll want to use one small tin of cooked chick peas (syn free), a nice round tablespoon of fat free cottage cheese, a garlic clove, pinch of sea salt and some lemon juice. Blend it together, adding a little more lemon juice if you like it runny or keeping some back if you prefer it chunky. It’s up to you. You will save yourself so much time if you get yourself one of these little express choppers that Delia Smith was always going on about between tumblers of Scotch – you can find one here – it’ll make houmous in no time
  • to make the different variations, you just add a few ingredients:
    • lemon and garlic (add an extra couple of garlic gloves, a squidge more lemon juice and decorate with finely grated lemon peel) (don’t take the pith, literally, as that is very bitter – just the top layer, please)
    • basil and parmesan (10 torn basil leaves, 10g of shaved parmesan, bit of salt) – up to you if you want to syn such a tiny portion of parmesan but bearing in mind you’ll be getting what, 2.5g of it, I wouldn’t bother
    • pickled red cabbage (just a few chunks of pickled red cabbage and some of the pickling vinegar added to give it colour
    • paprika and sun-dried tomato – I chucked in 1tbsp of sundried tomato paste (1.5 syns, but again, through the laws of dilution, it’s up to you if you syn it)

Easy! Of course, if you don’t want to fart on making the crisps, just chop up some peppers, carrots and cucumber and use them instead to dip into your houmous. If you want our little serving dish, you guessed it, it’s on Amazon!

taster night ideas #2: teeny tiny teriyaki tasters:

teeny tiny teriyaki tasters

This makes enough for 36 sticky teeny tiny teriyaki tasters (fnar fnar), if you make them bigger, adjust the syns per ball. There’s 12 syns in the overall recipe.

to make teeny tiny teriyaki tasters, you’ll need:

to make teeny tiny teriyaki tasters, you should:

  • in a large bowl mix together the pork and the beef mince with the egg yolk
  • using a tablespoon, scoop out a spoon-size ball and roll into meatballs – do this for all of the mixture (you’ll need about 36 – if you want, you could weigh out each ball at around 27g each…but life’s too short)
  • heat a large pan over a medium high heat and add a couple of squirts of spray oil or, urgh, Frylight, bleurgh
  • cook the meatballs until browned all over and cooked right through – you WILL need to do them in batches
  • place cooked meatballs onto a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm whilst you cook the rest
  • when done, mix together the soy sauce, white wine, sherry, honey and ginger in a small jug and pour into the same pan you used to cook the meatballs and reduce the heat to medium
  • cook for a few minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened
  • add the meatballs back into the pan and stir carefully to coat – I find it easier to tumble the meatballs in and then pick up the pan and gently slosh them around rather than trying to stir with a spoon
  • serve on cocktail sticks and sprinkle over the seeds – don’t sweat it if you can’t find these, you could easily leave them off and that brings the syn count to 1 syn for six – even better – but they look so pretty with the seeds on

taster night ideas #3: Bánh Mì balls with a spicy dip:

taster night ideas

to make Bánh Mì balls with a spicy dip, you’ll need:

  • 500g turkey mince
  • 1 onion (grate half of it, chop the other half)
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp of sriracha, (1 syn) (you can use any old hot sauce)
  • 1 egg
  • 25g panko (4.5 syns) (or use breadcrumbs from your HEB allowance)
  • ½ cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 5 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 100g quark

to make Bánh Mì balls with a spicy dip, you should:

Full disclosure: we got this recipe from the fabulous cookingforkeeps.com – her recipe can be found here and looks equally as delicious – we’ve tweaked ours for Slimming World!

  • preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  • in a bowl, mix together the turkey mince, onion (grated and chopped), carrot, spring opnions, garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, 1 tsp of sriracha, egg and the panko until combined
  • roll into 1″ size balls and place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper
  • cook in the oven for twenty minutes
  • meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together 1 tsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp sriracha and the quark to make a dipping sauce
  • slice the radishes and cucumbers as thinly as you can and skewer one of each onto a cocktail stick with the meatball

taster night ideas #4: little sandwiches:

to make little sandwiches, you’ll need:

taster night ideas

No need for a full recipe here, really. Take whatever bread you want from your HEB – we use Kingsmill Crustless Wholemeal bread, which you can have three slices of. Cut nice circles out of them, remember you eat with your eyes.

  • for the egg salad, boil up four eggs, break them up with a fork, add a tablespoon of quark, lots of black pepper, a chopped tomato and some spring onions
  • for the tuna – well, we’re old school, we just like tuna mixed with vinegar and served with cucumber. You could splash out and add a bit of Quark to bind it, I suppose…

taster night ideas #5: baked new potatoes with a cheese and bacon topping:

taster night ideas

to make baked new potatoes, you’ll need:

  • 1.5kg small salad-type potatoes
  • 100g fat-free fromage frais
  • 30g parmesan (1x HEA)
  • 4 rashers of bacon, all visible fat removed
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • chives

to make baked new potatoes, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200 degrees (or an actifry with the paddle removed is just as good – Amazon are selling them for £125 at the moment too!)
  • prick the potatoes with a fork, spray with a little frylight and bake in the oven (or actifry) for about 45 minutes
  • grill or dry-fry the bacon until crispy and chop into small pieces
  • mix together the fromage frais, parmesan and spring onions and set aside
  • when the potatoes are cooked, leave to cool for about ten minutes
  • make a cross in the top of each potato and squeeze the bottoms to open them up
  • spoon in a little of the fromage frais mixture and top with bacon pieces and chives

taster night ideas #6: spicy couscous balls:

couscousballs

Please note: that’s an old photo, it’s actually now 4 syns for all the balls, but you’re not going to eat them all yourself anyway, surely? I’ll nip back in time and change the photo later.

Not worth making a full recipe breakdown for this, because it’s so, so easy. I use two packets of Ainsley Harriott’s spicy sensations couscous, which come in at 2 syns per pack made up with water (so don’t be adding butter, you cheeky buggers). Add the appropriate level of water (whatever it says on the pack) and leave to absorb. Fluff with a fork. Beat an egg and mix it into the couscous, then squeeze as many balls as you can out of the mixture. Pop onto a tray and stick it in the oven on 150 degrees for an hour or so – you want to ‘dry’ them out. Cooked low and slow, you’ll be laughing. For a dip, make tzatziki – greek yoghurt (I use Tesco Finest 0% fat – no syns) mixed with cucumber cut into tiny cubes and mint. Stir, chill, eat.

taster night ideas #7: gin and tonic ice lollies

taster night ideas

Again, no need for a full recipe. We mixed 25ml of gin with a glass of diet tonic, poured it into a cheapy ice-lolly mould like this £3 from Amazon and added a slice of cucumber. Between six, it’s half a syn each. Of course, it’s easy to customise this, put your pint of whisky in, add lime, add fruit, don’t add alcohol, do what you like!

OK, I hope that’s given you some inspiration. It’s certainly made my fingers ache!

Do me a favour though – share this page in as many facebook pages as you can, because taster recipes is one of the main things people need. Spread the love! Leave me your comments below!

Oh it’s worth noting, we did have a couple of drinks to get us through Eurovision, see…

taster night ideas

J

syn-free crisps and dip

Here for the crisps and dip? They’re a wee bit lower down, but you won’t have so much to read through tonight to get to the recipe because, to use a Geordieism, I’m STOTTIN’ MAD. It took me two hours to exit the multistorey car-park this evening – not because I fell down the stairs or I got lost trying to find my car, no, because some bumhole thought it would be a smashing idea to block the one-way road off with roadworks and then not put any provisions for people wanting to leave in place, leading to about 300 office workers all trying to leave at once from eight different directions down a one way street. All it would have taken is some preferably-fit bloke in a hi-vis to guide the traffic out or indeed, a set of traffic lights, but no.

To make things worse, I got into my car at 5.05pm and needed a piss by 5.07pm. Of course, I was in a completely static line of traffic so I probably had enough time to get out, go home, have a piss, send that away for testing, discuss why it sometimes smells of coconut with a doctor and then begin a course of antibiotics, but I couldn’t take the risk that as soon as I stepped away and nipped to the gents that the line of traffic wouldn’t start up and I’d end up with a ticket for abandoning my car. 

Have you ever had to look around your car and gauge what you could realistically piss in? I have, and let me tell you, in a reasonably clean DS3, there’s not many options. There’s an ashtray and an oversized glove box, and neither of them are waterproof. A Doritos bag seemed like the only option but even then, I’d need both hands to turn the tight corners and I didn’t want a crisp packet of urine balanced on my dash. I knew there was an empty Orangina bottle in the boot but I couldn’t remember if it was glass or plastic, and well, I’ve spent my life avoiding getting a gash on my helmet, let’s not start tonight.

Nevermind, I managed to hold it in, and after an extended period of muttering away to myself in a very British fashion and embarrassing my friend on the radio, I managed to get away, although not after losing my temper with some doddery old bugger who pretty much reversed into my car in his haste to try and cut in front of me. It’s surprisingly awkward when you shout at someone and then have to sit in front of them for another forty minutes, trying desperately not to meet the eye of the old bugger you yelled at in haste. 

Anyway, I’m home now. I did win £400 on a slot machine so that takes the edge off. You may or may not remember that I practice safe gambling through Quidco. More on that here, but I remind you that if you’ve got an addictive personality, it’s not a good route to go down. I’m a tightarse Geordie so no chance of me getting a gambling addition!

Remember too, we’re running a competition to win £50 of Musclefood meat! Go take a look.

Right, let’s crack on. 

crisps and dip

I’ll pop this here, see the bit about tweaking below, but remember, this is how we feel about tweaking.

TWEAK

to make crisps and dip, you’ll need:

  • a few big potatoes
  • whatever flavouring you like – I used Worcestershire sauce but you can use salt and vinegar
  • 250g tub of fat-free cottage cheese
  • a few big dollops of quark
  • parmesan – use your HEA allowance
  • chopped chives
  • salt and pepper

Honestly, slicing potatoes evenly is a fart-on. Buy a mandolin slicer, it’s one of the things we use most in the kitchen for slicing up veg and it’ll save you a tonne of time. They’re here and cheap. Tight-arse.

to make crisps and dip, you should:

  • slice your potato nice and thin and even, like Good King Wenceslas did (and I bet he didn’t have a load of people having a shitfit at him over whether it’s a bloody tweak!)
  • season them – few sprays of olive oil, worcestershire sauce, salt
  • place in the oven but keep an eye on them – rather than lying them flat, place them standing up between the ‘rungs’ of a cooling tray, that way you don’t need to clart about turning the buggers
  • once they’re nearly done, take them out, leave to cool and then put them in the microwave in a couple of batches – keep an eye on them though, they can burn quite quickly, you’re just trying to dry them out
  • blend the cottage cheese, parmesan and quark together – I use my Nutribullet for this, but you can just use a hand blender, you don’t need owt fancy (though I use my Nutribullet a surprising amount)
  • top the dip with chopped chives
  • serve

Are these a taste explosion? No, not at all. Whilst they were decent enough, I’d prefer to syn crisps. Should you class these as a tweak? Depends. If you’re chopping one potato up, then I wouldn’t bother. If you’re slicing up a sack of potatoes bigger than a taxi, then yes, it’s a tweak, and yes you should syn. Slimming World will tell you to syn this – it’s up to you how you want to play it.

I’m not your boss!

J

four meals from a chicken: roast chicken dinner

Everyone likes a roast chicken dinner! Remember I said about taking a chicken, roasting it and showing you how to make four meals from it? Well, perhaps not four meals, but we’re going to have a good run at three and maybe a bit over. Listen, it’s all relative anyway – if you’re one of those folks who have to eat every last scrap and won’t stop until you’re having to undo the stitching, never mind the buttons, on your jeans…you might struggle to make it last. Best tip I can offer you? Get the biggest turkey or chicken you can find.

A big chicken? I much prefer a big cock. Oh I say!

Before we start with the main event, a roast chicken dinner, let me just say many thanks for all the lovely comments and well-wishes I received via Facebook for my birthday. You’re all too kind, though I hasten to say that if you really loved me, you’d buy our book and one of our freezer filler boxes of meat, even if you didn’t have the space. You could just put it straight into the bin whilst laughing gaily at memories of us. I jest, of course. Just send money direct via Paypal.

I’m not one of those folks who make a big fuss of their birthday either way – I have no time for people who go DON’T EVEN MENTION IT I’M TOO SHY or SAD or FEELING OLD. It’s one day out of 365 (366 this year, pedantic) that you can get people making a slight disinterested fuss out of the fact it’s been X amount of years since you came clattering out of a vagina. At the same time, the opposite annoys me too – if you shoehorn in the fact it’s your birthday into every conversation, chances are I’ll be hoping it’s your last and looking temptingly at your back as you walk down a flight of stairs. I received some wonderful cards and presents and ate more than was entirely decent. Expect significant weight gains this week!

We spent bank holiday Monday geocaching, which if you’re new to the blog and/or have anything resembling a social life you’ll never have heard of. It’s essentially dogging but with less sexual arousal and more digging around behind fence-posts looking for a tupperware box filled with trinkets and sadness. People hide containers and clever contraptions all around the world in beautiful places (trust me, you’ve never seen a bus-shelter until you’ve run your hands over every conceivable surface trying to find a film canister) and you use GPS to find them. It’s geeky as hell which is why it appeals to us. Actually, that’s a fib, the fact that it’s free of charge appeals to me more.

So that’s what we did all day – drove to a pretty village, loaded up our cache maps and tottered around screaming and shrieking as we found each one. We’re planning to hide our own, too, so if you’re a geocacher and you want a challenge, keep an eye on the blog. I’ve made it all sound terrifically dull but really, there are some clever ideas. For example, one of the caches consisted of nothing more than a tube, sealed at the bottom, stuck to the back of a fence next to a brook in the middle of nowhere. No way of getting the hidden container out until you realise that you had to fill the tube with water so that the cache would float out. Ingenious! Luckily, I had just enough piss in me to fill the container though I’d had asparagus so I pity the next fucker to get it. Again, I’m kidding. We fashioned a scoop from an empty crisp packet, filled it with water from the stream and did it that way. Ingenious! Other caches included a container hidden on a well, another you had to fish out of a mysterious hole in the ground and a few containers hidden in the forest behind HMP Northumberland. Well, the joke almost writes itself, but… it’s not the first time I’ve been on my knees in a forest being leered at by hard blokes whilst I desperately try and get my hands around a camouflaged package.

BOOM

In all we managed a new record of 43 caches and walked 11 miles, only stopping when Paul’s blister became one with his shoe. The weather forecast said it was going to rain and be miserable, so you can imagine how much joy wearing a thick, long wool coat was when the sun stayed out all day. I looked like the most fabulous Dementor ever stalking around in the woods.

Anyway, some pictures from the day:

geocaching 

Right, a roast chicken dinner then. I’m going to break with tradition here and rather than give you step by step, I’m just going to tell you how to do each part.

roast chicken dinner

how to make a perfect roast chicken dinner, Slimming World style:

  • mash: use decent potatoes like Marabel or Maris Piper, cook them in water with a beef stock cube added, push them through a ricer instead of mashing them, crack an egg yolk in if you want to be a decadent slut – the ricer is the thing that makes the mash, it creates wonderful smooth tasty mash instead of school dinner mash – buy one here
  • roast potatoes: using the same potatoes as the mash, drop of oil and crumble an oxo cube and put them into the Actifry (the new model is currently reduced by £120 on Amazon, get it whilst it’s cheap and never look back) or the oven – you don’t need to clart about putting them into the microwave and whatnot, they’ll come out perfect. Get an actifry! Do the same with your parnsips
  • sprouts, carrots and cauliflower – cook in the same pan, save the water to make the gravy with
  • cook your chicken – we always use the 30 minutes per 500g rule, plus an extra 15 minutes or so – remember, you want the juices to run clear when you finger her, it’s really simple
  • gravy – use ruddy Bisto – 1 syn per 1 level tsp of granules, so we use about 6 syns worth to fill a jug. You can make it yourself if you want blending onions and using Smash, but really, why bother? Have the real thing and be happy
  • yorkshire puddings – one syn each (makes twelve) – whisk together 50g flour, two eggs, 120ml milk and 40ml of water. Spray the holes of a tin with frylight and bake in the oven at 200 degrees for about 18-20 minutes

Easy! Save some chicken for the next recipe!

J

easy peasy beef curry – weigh in week two!

Normally I’d just shove the old cock thermometer onto a post but you know what, we’ve had so many lovely comments from you lot that we’re actually putting a recipe on too. But no chat. What is this, a knitting group? I read about a knitting group in America called Stitches and Bitches and do you know, I almost took up knitting just so I can set up the same. I’m forever thinking of names for businesses that Paul and I could establish – a gay wine bar called Bottoms Up, a café of Slimming World meals called Guntbusters, a cigar shop called Buttsuckers…list goes on. It’s how I entertain myself in between screaming wildly at Audi drivers on the A1 (I smile, with murder on my mind) and dreaming about a double page spread in Pick Me Up with my giant trousers held aloft.

Before I get to weigh-in, a curious thing. A couple of weeks ago I was walking to my car along Stowell Street in Newcastle when I noticed what looked like a binliner just chucked on the pavement. Once I was closer and my boss eyes has focussed, it turned out to be a young lad, lying on his back, eyes rolling to the back of his head. Of course, me being first aid trained, I immediately set about dithering and flapping and fussing, asking him what was wrong, no response, turning him over, no response, then calling for an ambulance. No sooner had I asked to speak to the ambulance service then he leapt to his feet and ran off, albeit somewhat shakily. Odd. Perhaps it was the thought of my bristly top lip brushing the top off his coldsores during mouth to mouth that managed to ‘revive’ him. Who knows. But see, I received an email a few months ago warning me (and others, I’m not that important) about a fella who would pretend to be unconscious up until the point he heard you call an ambulance, then he’d fuck off like Usain Bolt. No attempt at nicking your stuff, no rudeness or threatening behaviour, just lying prone, pretending to be unwell, then shooting off. I didn’t think anything more of it until it happened personally to me.

The reason I mention this is because it happened again today. Sort of. As I was walking back to the car, I noticed someone lying on the ground. Everyone walking past him – probably a good twenty or so people, despite him lying right in their way. I actually had to umm and aah a moment before I went to help, but luckily, someone got there ahead of me. They wrapped him up in a coat, and I took my leave. I’d be interested to know whether it was just another scam. What I can’t understand is the people who walked past. Now look, I’m a realist, I know some people are out to scam and others are unpredictable and wild, but for goodness sake, surely we’re not at the point where we can’t give a prone body lying in the street the benefit of the doubt? I actually saw two people step over his legs like he was rubbish. Maybe he’s done it to them before, maybe they’d been warned, or maybe it was some poor sod taking a bad reaction to god knows what. Made me feel a bit sad, though. Still a human being.

Eeeh well. I feel better for getting that off my chest.

Speaking of my chest, it’s looking a bit smaller than ever…

twochubbycubs

Ah yes! Considering we were aiming to lose 2lb a week, we’re quite happy with how this is going, thank you very much. Unusually, Paul lost more than me, but I put that down to the fact I had two pints of Guinness yesterday. Tsk. Paul got his half stone award, I’m 2lb away from a stone award. We’re doing well – that cock thermometer will be spurting in no time! 

Tonight’s recipe, then – easy peasy beef curry. We had a pack of the beef chunks left over from our Musclefood box and this seemed like an appropriate place to use them. I do love a curry, but if you don’t like it super spicy, don’t worry – just leave out the chilli pepper and use the mildest chilli powder you can find. Or even leave it out, give that a try. This serves four, very easily.

easy peasy beef curry

to make easy peasy beef curry you will need:

  • 1kg diced beef (why not use some beef from our big box? You know that’ll leave you satisfied and smiling. Click here for a look at our excellent meat deal!)
  • 250ml beef stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin and one of turmeric
  • 2 tsp grated ginger (not ground!)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (for both the garlic and ginger, you can use your fabulous microplane grater, oh what fun! Seriously though, one of the best things you can get for the kitchen – click here)
  • 2½ tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 chilli pepper (optional)
  • 1 big old beefy tomato (optional)
  • 1 handful of rocket or spinach (optional)

to make easy peasy beef curry you should:

  • in a small bowl, mix together all the dry spices and the lemon juice into a paste and set aside
  • heat a large pan over a high heat and add a little oil (GASP) or frylight (BOO)
  • add the beef, stir and cook until brown (you might need to do this in two batches) (for once, browning your meat is a good thing)
  • remove the beef from the pan, turn the heat down to medium, let it cool a little, add the spice paste and stir around the bottom of the pan for about half a minute
  • return the beef back to the pan and stir for about a minute so that it’s well coated with the paste
  • add the tomato puree, beef stock and chilli pepper (if you’re using it), bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover
  • cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes
  • optional: about fifteen minutes before the end, cut your tomato into chunks and chuck that in, with however much rocket or spinach as you dare
  • remove the lid and cook for another fifteen minutes to thicken

We served ours with brown rice and peas – cook the rice, but chuck peas in at the same time. Couldn’t be easier!

Here’s to week three! Don’t forget, we have a book! I’ll dance at your wedding if you buy a copy from here!

J

slimming world breakfast muffins

No, sadly not breakfast muffins that are full of blueberries or chocolate that you already slick around your mouth, causing embarrassment. Honestly, have a word. These breakfast muffins are savoury and apparently perfect for breakfast on the go. That’s an alien concept to me, not least because I’d hate to get into the lift at work with parmesan in my beard and four eggs on my breath. It’s one thing I’m always paranoid about – being smelly. There’s so little excuse to honk of BO or to have breath that can bleach hair, and I’m always going to great lengths to avoid that. I’ve got mouthwash in the car for example so after lunch, I give myself a quick rinse and let everyone on the office think I’m a secret alcoholic. But, if perhaps you’ve got your breakfast routine down pat, you’ll enjoy these muffins.

Posting very early today as we’re about to go out and deliver leaflets, after I somewhat rashly promised my consultant that we’d deliver 400, forgetting that on a weekend the amount of exercise Paul and I do amounts to exactly diddily-fucking-squat. I only said I’d deliver them because a) I like my consultant and b) I absolutely love nebbing in people’s windows and gardens. I drove past our old house in Gosforth just a couple of days ago and I was pleased to see that the shit landlord had yet to fix the drainpipe that hung over the window or even taken the space invader that we stencilled onto the front door. To be fair, we got revenge for his absolutely abysmal upkeep of the property and taking advantage of two young, naïve lads – we always used to put our cigarettes down the drain by the back window. By my calculations, given we were both on twenty a day, I reckon that’s at least four thousand little Swan filters blocking his pipes and tainting the water supply. No wonder the water used to run brown. I’ve given up now, mind. What-am-I-like. Don’t feel too bad for him, he was an absolute monster and a fibber who didn’t look after his properties. I had never seen load-bearing black mould until then.

So yes, the recipe!

slimming world breakfast muffins

to make breakfast muffins, you’ll need:

  • four large eggs
  • your HEA of any cheese you like, but the stronger the better
  • 300g of fat-free cottage cheese
  • good pinch of salt and pepper

That will make the basic muffin mixture – it’s not an exact science, either, just combine a bit more cottage cheese if it’s looking slack or crack another egg into it. You can chuck anything into these, so just use what you have – I added:

  • chopped baby leeks
  • chopped peppers
  • chopped bacon (leave out for veggie)
  • chopped tomatoes (if you’re using tomatoes, squeeze out the seeds first – just use the flesh)
  • chopped enokitake mushrooms

Really though, this is a good opportunity to use up all that shite cluttering the bottom of the fridge. I can’t really do a recipe because it’s genuinely just mix everything into a bowl, put into muffin cases and cook until they’re nice and firm and brown. I often find that with Slimming World muffins/quiches they come out as though someone’s cooked them in the sea – over-salted and wetter than Jordan checking into a Premier Inn with a footballer. If you cook off anything with a lot of moisture, like mushrooms or leeks, you’ll be OK. I cooked mine for around forty minutes on 180 degrees, just keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t catch. Also, if you’re using muffin cases, you’ll need to give them a spray first with Frylight or olive oil. If the egg leaks, it’ll dry like cement. They’ll cheerfully keep for a couple of days and they freeze well.

Enjoy! And if you’re in the Gosforth area, keep an eye open for two smartly-dressed fat blokes nosing around your garden and tutting at your poor choice of hallway wallpaper. 

J

quick carbonara (sort of)

Going to rattle off a quick lunch for you today – it’s carbonara, but without the double cream and lovely cheese and egg – instead, using a bit of Quark and egg yolk to mix it through. Before I get to that, and I’ll need to be quick as I’ve got a Doctor Who appointment in fifteen minutes, I confess myself disappointed. See we’ve been furiously buying new books to populate our massive bookcase and I thought, you know, let’s have a trip down Memory Lane. It can’t all be Nigella Lawson and Bill Bryson books. So I nipped onto Amazon to buy the two books I used to love as a nipper – Martin’s Mice by Dick King Smith and My Best Fiend by Sheila Lavelle. Well, honestly. I appreciate I’m viewing them with the jaundiced eye of an adult, but they’re bobbins. I’d finished both books in the time it took to fill my bath. 

And that saddens me. Obviously there are things we experience as a child that we don’t want to feel again as an adult – getting your bottom wiped, or the gentle caress of a whispering vicar, but wouldn’t it have been nice to have at least enjoyed a book that used to bring me so much joy. It also means I’m stuck on new books to buy, because I can’t face having my heart broken again by some insipid story or turgid bit of fiction. Paul’s easy enough – he buys intellectual books full of big words and covers that look like they’d give chartered accountants an erection. To demonstrate, I looked at the last two books we bought from Amazon: I shelled out for a second-hand copy of Delia’s How To Be Frugal, Paul spent his hard-earned money on ‘Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain’, a book that frankly sounds so boring that I drifted off halfway through reading out the title and started thinking about cats. Put another way, we have two magazine subscriptions that get delivered here – one is Viz magazine, the other is Private Eye. Tsk. Snob. I have everything Stephen King has ever published, Paul has a book on tunnels. I suppose they say opposites attract.

Anyway enough of that – tonight’s recipe:

sorta carbonara

to make cheat’s carbonara, you will need:

  • 200g pasta (we used tagliatelle)
  • 6 bacon medallions chopped neatly (you can use up your bacon from our meat box deal with Musclefood – click here for that!)
  • three tablespoons of Quark
  • 30g parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons of fromage frais
  • bit of cheddar
  • two egg yolks

to make cheat’s carbonara, you should:

  • boil the pasta and cook the bacon off
  • mix together everything else
  • then mix EVERYTHING together

I know, simple, but still…!

J

slimming world moussaka

Good evening. Hey, it’s been a while since we chatted, just you and me. Well, that’ll have to wait – The Returned is back on TV tonight and I can’t wait to get a glimpse of that Frenchman’s knob lose myself in the mysterious world of the returning dead and impossibly pretty girls saying ‘Poob’. Ah yes. Paul is making moussaka, so I’m simply going to write until either a) it’s 9pm or b) my shoulders hurt or c) Paul forgets to bring me my hourly coffee and I have to set about his face with a claw hammer. He’s in good spirits today because he’s left his job – don’t get me wrong, he loved it, but it’s a new adventure see? I’ll touch on that another time because tonight I want to chunter on about our holiday. Can I remember the details? Of CORSICAN. It’s exactly that level of shit-hot humour you bloody love.

The last time I wittered on about Corsica, I told you about how lovely the villa was, how appalling my French was and how I managed to make a complete tit of myself in the middle of a French supermarket only to be shouted at and admonished by a merrily-whiskered lady behind the till. I’m not going to write chronologically about what we did going forward because frankly, we spent an awful amount of time sitting around doing nothing other than eating bread and relaxing in the sun.

That was my first downfall. See, I managed to burn myself in the sun. I’m always so careful to protect myself against the sun (health anxiety, remember), and despite previous times when I’ve turned myself blue by applying too much sun-screen, I slicked it on with gay abandon. Listen, I’m a Geordie – we don’t do bronzed and golden, we do either Philip Schofield’s hair white or alarming-boil-red. There’s no middle ground. I’m a big guy and I take a lot of sunscreen to cover me (I did think it would be quicker to use one of those hoses so dramatically employed in decontamination chambers) but I thought I had it licked. Nope. After three hours of merrily splashing around in the pool and sizzling gently on the sun-lounger, I noticed that my right buttock was a trifle sore.

This isn’t uncommon – I use my bum-cheeks most of the day, so a little tenderness can be expected. Normally Paul just needs to tilt me to relieve the pressure. But no, this was a more serious pain – I had managed to half of my arse a charming post-box red. You genuinely don’t realise how much your arse touches something until it feels like it’s been pressed against the door of an industrial kiln for a few moments. Every sit was uncomfortable, every walk a mixture of chaffing and sadness. Plus, in my mind, my arse now resembled a block of Neapolitan ice-cream, only far less delicious. Paul had to spend five minutes gently kneading my buttocks with after-sun to bring comfort – it may have looked slightly erotic if it wasn’t for me yelling that he was catching my arse-hair in the metal clasps of his watch.

Now now, don’t get preachy, most men have a hairy button, it’s just a fact of life. Paul was once climbing naked into the shower when I ran into the bathroom and clipped a clothes peg to his bum-hair for a laugh. I managed to just nip his sphincter in the peg mechanism. Well, honestly. I’ve never heard him scream so loud – there would have been a less dramatic response had I shot his foot off with a sawn-off shotgun. He didn’t speak to me for the rest of the day and it was only after I bought him a 1kg bar of Dairy Milk from Amazon and allowed him to delete all my favourite programmes from the Sky Planner that his frostiness melted. 

That was me injured. Paul’s turn now. Dotted around the pool were three metal ‘hammocks’ which were shaped like open metal balls suspended from a frame. You can see them here:

Casa_Julia_LowRes_Sept14_SH_02 (1)

Lovely yes? I declined to get into them as I was worried the chain would snap under my weight and well, I hate to hear metal scream, but Paul is lighter and more daring so flung himself into one with gay abandon. As if we could manage any other kind of abandon, dearie me. He swung around for a bit until he realised he was going to struggle to get out, given he’s only got little legs and the ball shape didn’t lend itself to an easy exit. I watched as he valiantly declared he’d found a way off only to swing the entire frame over and land, quite literally, flat on his face, with the frame of the hammock smacking his on the back of the head a moment later. I couldn’t tell if the loud ‘ooof’ came from me, his mouth or the air escaping from his fat, but it was hilarious. Me being a conscientious, kind-hearted husband couldn’t do a jot for laughing – indeed, I laughed so much from the deep-end of the pool that I almost drowned myself (that’ll teach me) and he lay for a good few seconds before laughing and moving. I’d be a shit paramedic – anything faintly slapstick and they’d be declaring death whilst I stood around slapping my knees with merriment. Perhaps it was karma from when something similar happened to me in Dobbies – we just don’t do well with hammocks.

Once we’d wiped the tears from our eyes (mine tears of laughter, his tears of blood and ocular fluid) we took a moment to decide what to do and decided on a spot of lunch. I was clearly so upset and fraught with the worry that Paul’s skull was filling with blood from his massive internal injury that it was really all I could do to take myself off for a long shower whilst Paul set about cutting up cheese and putting rocket in a bowl – well, it makes it easier to scrape into the bin later on. It was just as Paul was bending down (naked, remember) to get something from the crisper drawer when our rep appeared at the open living room door with a loud ‘HELLO’. Paul, mortified, spun around on his heel and clutched a tea-towel to his genitals (the same tea-towel I later saw him cleaning my wine glass with – which explains why I wondered if we were having Brie with our sauvignon blanc later on). Paul doesn’t do exhibitionism (even though he should, because he’s lovely), unlike me. I’m not fussed when I’m on holiday, I’ll cheerfully flop it out if it saves me carrying my swimming knickers to the beach.

I don’t swear ‘swimming knickers’ I hasten to add, I just like how that sounds in my head’.

What followed (I had taken a moment to stop murdering Cher’s greatest hits in the shower in order to gleefully listen) was a toe-curling exchange where Paul, frozen behind a breakfast bar with only a tea-towel and a packet of Pringles to hide his modesty, had to exchange polite conversation about how to turn off the pool alarm and where to leave the towels whilst the rep looked absolutely everywhere but his body. The rep was lovely mind, don’t get me wrong, and he had the good grace not to shout ‘YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO LET CATTLE IN’ to me as I came out of the shower towelled and pleasant. He then explained that as a gay nudist he had seen it all before, as though Paul was some spectacle designed to be peeped at through a hole in the door. In another world it may have been the beginning of a raunchy Xtube video but not ours – Paul was so shocked and frightened that he had to have half of my sandwich just to calm down. 

I appreciate that this reads like some campy seventies farce but, as Mags is my witness, it’s the truth. Worst part of it all? Paul was so distracted by not accidentally showing the rep his lid that he paid no attention as to how to turn off the pool alarm, and MAN was that alarm sensitive. Each morning we’d be woken by it screeching away if a leaf tumbled in or a water-molecule split. I swear I sighed once in bed at the other end of the villa and it was away, wailing and blaring like a rape alarm. Our poor neighbours. Whilst we couldn’t see anyone nearby – it was forest that surrounded us – we knew there were people close-by by the laughter and sound of cars crunching over gravel. Knowing us, we were probably perched at the end of a housing estate or a nursing home and several dozen Corsican families were being treated daily to the sight of our naked buttocks (mine a fetching red) as we climbed in the pool. Ah well. Not like we’ll ever see them again. 

Final tale before I sign off for the night. We did a very British thing indeed. Perhaps not British, actually, but rather the domain of the bone-idle. We decided halfway through the holiday to have a trip along the island to the port town of Bastia, a good three hour drive away (taking into account Paul’s need to stop every thirty minutes for a dump as we entered somewhere new). We planned the route the night before, made a couple of sandwiches for the car, set the alarm – all ready. We were in the car and making excellent time by around 8am. We’d researched local museums and excellent restaurants to try on our day out, oh what a lovely day. Hmm. The reality of it was that we drove for three hours and then couldn’t find a parking space. Not one. The French seem to park their cars like they’re dashing into maternity wards and haven’t a moment to lose. Every side street is an obstacle course of Corsican Corsas, with cars parked parallel, flush and across the road. I couldn’t understand it and the rage built up in me to such an extent that I yelled ‘WELL FUCK THIS’, did a 76 point turn in the middle of a one-way street and immediately revved the hell out of Bastia. Bastia? More like BASTARD. 

It might have been a lovely town full of curios and wonder, but all we saw of it was the back of a tour bus and the interior of a very large supermarket where we stopped for a calming round of bread and cheese. We’d managed the equivalent of driving to Durham from London, stopping at a Tesco Extra, buying a loaf of bread and driving home. The drive home was fairly silent – Paul slept, and I spent most of the time with my eye twitching and a renewed dislike of the world.  I did switch the radio on but frankly it sounded like I’d tuned into a cockfight so that was snapped off in anger too. 

I was at least reassured that when recounting this tale to a friend that she had done exactly the same, right down to the stopping at the supermarket on the way back. Phew.

We’ll leave it there. French Zombies are here. Before I go, tonight’s recipe is a Slimming World friendly moussaka. You’ll enjoy it! Bit of a clart on making it, no fib, but it’ll be tasty. Serves 4. You could make it with beef mince – lucky we chuck in three big bags of extra lean in our Musclefood deal, found RIGHT HERE (and don’t worry, it opens in a tidy new window so you won’t lose me forever).

slimming world moussaka

to make slimming world moussaka you’ll need:

  • 500g of extra lean minced lamb if you can find it – our butcher does lean lamb and we use that, but they also sell it in Tesco
  • 60g of extra mature cheddar, grated (2 x HEA)
  • 500g pasatta
  • 2 medium aubergines, cut into slices and dipped into lemon juice to stop them going brown
  • a couple of large potatoes
  • 1 bog standard carrot, diced finely
  • tin of tomatoes
  • 1 courgette, diced finely
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed and minced (yep: USE ONE OF THESE MAN, YOU’LL SAVE SO MUCH)
  • 1/2 tsp of ground chilli, 1/2 of cinnamon, 1/2 of rosemary if you can find it, 1 tsp of oregano and 1 tsp of thyme
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • beef stock made from a decent stock cube
  • half a tub of bloody Quark
  • 2 tbsp of fromage frais (make sure syn free else Maggie May will be livid)
  • bit more cheese, just to make it nice

and then to make slimming world moussaka you should (deep breath):

  • actually, look, it isn’t so bad, so get on with it
  • peel, slice and par-boil the potatoes until they are soft with a hint of rigidity, like a randy old bloke’s schlong;
  • take your slices of aubergine and stick them up yer arse and grill them in a fancy griddle pan or normal pan until they’re charred
  • hoy a bit of salt on them
  • cook your onions in another pan until soft, then add everything else in – mince, spices, garlic, courgette, stock etc – and cook for thirty minutes low and slow until it’s really thick;
  • whilst doing that, beat together the Quark, fromage frais, some cheese, salt and pepper and the yolk of an egg into a thick pale yellow sauce
  • assemble – mince mixture, then aubergine, potato, bit of white sauce (fnar fnar) rinse and repeat – you might not get many layers if you have a big dish, but so what? Just do what you can
  • throw cheese on the top and put in the oven for around half an hour, making sure it doesn’t burn
  • add more cheese at regular intervals until you’re satisfied and smiling
  • serve!

Coo, I’m knackered.

J