Slimming World coleslaw. It might not be the most exciting of dishes but if it’s done right, you’ll slather it on thicker than me with the KY in the Eagle back in the noughties. Worst game of Cluedo ever. My character would be Rear Admiral Brown.
It’s bank holiday weekend, so I won’t keep you long, but I need to give you an order: watch Happy Valley.
I know I’m years behind with this recommendation but see, it’s been floating around on our Netflix Watch lists for ages and I’ve been put off because, inexplicably, I thought it was a comedy starring Raquel from Coronation Street, and frankly, that sounds awful. Plus I’m fairly sure that Happy Valley is a euphemism for the bit between your balls and bumhole. The taint, if you prefer. The Bridge of Sighs. The chin-strap, if you’re that way inclined. DMZ if you’re political. Baker Street if you’re a fan of the Underground and appreciate that it’s the stop where the pink line connects with the brown. Look, we could go on, but let’s not cheapen what is otherwise a classy, genteel blog.
No, we finally gave in and watched it and it was bloody amazing – rocketing right up the list of best things we’ve seen on TV to nestle at the top amongst Breaking Bad, Juliet and Sawyer’s love story on Lost and Ben Cohen’s wank-video. That wasn’t on TV, I know, but we streamed it via Chromecast because some things are worth watching in 65″ ultra-HD. I asked Paul if we could load it into our Samsung VR but apparently that’s too close to actually cheating. Back to Happy Valley: Sarah Lancashire is an absolute revelation and the drama is incredible. If you’re stuck on something to watch, give this a go!
Not in the mood for a twelve part drama? I understand. Why not watch this fifteen second video which shows you how we’re dealing with people who gawp into our garden as they walk past?
If you're looking for something to slather onto a burger in this BBQ season, give this a go. It's very, very easy to make and you can customise it, but don't be tempted to leave out the tahini to save syns - it adds a really nice, subtle creaminess to the coleslaw. You can find it in most supermarkets and it isn't very expensive as it'll keep for ages. At 5 syns for a tablespoon, I'm synning it at 1 syn per portion because this makes enough coleslaw for four people and I'll be damned if I'm putting 1.25 syns.
half a red cabbage
one large red onion
five big tablespoons of fat-free Greek yoghurt (free)
one tablespoon of tahini (5 syns)
gosh, this isn't going to take long
thinly slice the red onion
peel the carrot and turn into matchsticks
thinly shred the red cabbage
mix everything together, adding a bit of salt just before you serve (you can add it before, but it'll cause water to come from the cabbage - perfectly fine, but less attractive)
Just here for the peanut butter pork skewers? Don’t blame you, and the good news is that we’re going to go straight to the recipe! I, unsurprisingly, love a bit of pork: whether it’s bacon, ham or a good love-length, I’m all about it. Remember folks, buy the best meat you can afford in a dish like this, because it’ll make all the difference to your dinner!
Oh, before we do get to the recipe actually, I learned three animal facts today which I need to share:
queen bees carry the sperm of their suitors around inside them for months before fertilisation takes place: pfft, amateur. It only takes me about an hour before I’ve turned it into more moustache;
the baby of a horse is a foal – up until today, I would have told you entirely seriously that a baby horse is a pony. Apparently not, and every single person I’ve asked about this have looked at me as though I’m touched in the head and said ‘foal’ really, really slowly. Harumph; and
if a cow comes running towards you, the best line of attack that you have is to punch it square in the face as hard as you can – now I know this because I’m terrified of the cows on the town moor and they’re back for a fifth year. I can tolerate them if they stay at the other end of the town moor crapping all over the cycle path but recently they’ve become bold and started staying on the path. You better believe that if they come charging towards me with swishy tails and shitty arses, they’re going to get a left hook
Actually no, let’s be honest, there’s going to be about twenty seconds of screaming and flailing and power-mincing on my behalf, then they’ll bugger off to literal pastures new. I’m thinking I might use the punch defence when Paul gives me his come to bed eyes when I’m not in the mood, although, with his home and away eyes, it’s hard to tell whether he’s coming onto me or having a seizure.
Let’s do the recipe for the peanut butter pork skewers, what what.
We know the syn value might shock you a bit but trust us - this one is definitely worth it! And, it's only 4 syns a skewer (less if you reduce it a bit) - have one of these with loads of other BBQ stuff and you'll still have plenty of syns left. They're there to be used!
750g pork fillet, cut into chunks
4 garlic cloves
½ red onion
1 red chilli
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
zest of 1 lime
60ml lime juice
200g crunchy reduced fat peanut butter (40 syns)
thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely grated
cut the pork into skewer-size chunks
next, chuck everything else into a food processor and blend until nearly smooth (a few small chunks is fine) - be prepared to add a little water to thin it out if it's too thick
slop the mixture into a bowl and add the pork chunks, and give a really good mix
cover with clingfilm and leave to marinade for at least 30 minutes
skewer the pork chunks - we reckon you should get about 10, especially if you chuck some peppers on the skewers too
cook over the barbecue for a few minutes each side, or under a hot grill
look - we know that 40 syns is a lot BUT remember that this makes LOADS - and it's totally worth it! It's a PROPER satay that's sticky AND crunchy!
you can reduce the syns if you like by adding some veg and making it go further, or use less peanut butter (it won't be as nice though)
we cooked these on the barbecue but you can do them under a hot grill too
if you're using wooden skewers remember to soak them first to stop them burning. We always prefer metal skewers as they help to cook the meat better - we used these ones from Amazon
Because putting a bit of mince in a wrap does not equal sausage rolls. Honestly, we weren’t going to bother with a sausage rolls recipe but having seen people passing off wraps stuffed with mince as sausage rolls, we felt we had to. Remember, Slimming World is about eating proper food, not pretend food, using your syns to eat something someone on a diet would eat, as opposed to pretend fake-food. The proof, as they say, is almost certainly in the pudding.
Although that pudding will probably be a smear of cinnamon and a photocopy of a chocolate bar wrapped in a Weight Watchers wrap and called a cinnamon swirl. Maybe on other sites.
Anyway, a quick word before we get to that recipe. Keen observers may have noticed that our recipe / blog output has slowed down a bit the last few weeks. There’s a reason for that but alas, I can’t go into it! We are trying to balance it back out, but at the moment we’re working during the day, coming home and going out to work on something else. But the end is in sight, and we have some cracking recipes coming up. So do bear with us, please! Remember, if you need inspiration, we have:
The recipe for the sausage rolls isn't much of a recipe at all, so we thought we'd bulk it out by including a veggie alternative that isn't just using vegetarian sausages, although you can do so. The veggie version is called pea pastizzi and comes from Sabrina Ghayour's FEASTS book that we keep banging on about!
to make the meaty sausage rolls (makes ten)
100g ready rolled light puff pastry (20 syns)
whatever six sausages you like - we use syn-free sausages from Musclefood, but you can use anything here
one red onion chopped
a pinch of garlic
to make the veggie pea alternatives (makes ten):
100g ready rolled light puff pastry (20 syns)
two large fat garlic cloves
one large onion, chopped fine
300g tin of marrowfat peas
1 tablespoon of curry powder
1 large egg
pinch of salt
for the meaty sausage rolls:
preheat the oven to 200°c
squeeze the sausagemeat from the sausages and fry in the pan with the finely chopped onion and garlic - the little bit of fat will soften the onions, so no need to add oil
add a good twist of pepper
take your puff pastry, roll it out - I prefer to actually roll it out a little thinner than it usually is, but you know, up to you
cut into ten squares
spoon the cooked sausage meat into each square and fold over the sides into a nice roll shape
wash with beaten egg and into the oven they go for 20 minutes or so to cook nicely
if you want, cut them in half again when cooked for 1-syn taster night sausage rolls
Easy! Do you see what I mean though - it's an easy recipe! Cook off the sausagemeat, add into puff pastry and cook.
for the veggie pea alternatives:
soften the onions by cooking them off in a little oil, adding the garlic as they get nice and golden
add the peas, curry powder, pinch of pepper and a good dash of dalt
allow everything to cook for about five minutes and soften and mash gently
do as you did above - roll out your pastry, spoon in your mixture, fashion into rolls, egg-wash the top and whack them in the oven for twenty minutes or so
as you have no doubt noticed, FEASTS is my favourite book at the moment - every last thing we've cooked from there has been a delight - you can pick it up cheap on Amazon
Here for the harissa steak sandwiches, which are nothing more than the perfect low-syn dinner you deserve? Then you’re in the right place…but first…
I was planning on doing a more general Room 101 type post – and I’ll come back to that a little down the line – but upon writing my notes it struck me the amount of ‘internet pet-peeves’ appeared on my list. So, instead of a wider picture, take my hand as I pull you down a very specific tunnel of anger: e-annoyances.
Actually, first on the list, adding e- to any noun or verb. This isn’t the nineties anymore, Pat Sharp has long since got rid of his mullet and even Jim Bowen has died. Let’s all move on, shall we? We’re not going to e-meet, e-grieve or e-felch.
Next is vaguebooking. If you’re checking in at a hospital it should be the law that you have to give everyone every scintillating detail of what you’re in for. You want people to know you’re there, so don’t leave them hanging – even if you’re having a team of doctors giving you a smear test using a block and tackle and a diving helmet it doesn’t matter, put pictures up. Or: shut the fuck up about it. This is compounded by those imbeciles who check in and then don’t respond to the countless ‘is everything alright’ posts that invariably trickle in. There’s a special place reserved in Hell for you: I can only hope the doctor doesn’t warm his hands beforehand.
Along similar lines, anyone posting ‘karma will get you’ or ‘omg can’t believe what I’ve heard’ or any other vague statement designed to make them look faintly interesting whilst revealing their own crushing existential crisis, they can go jump in the sea. This seems to be common amongst those who believe shaving off their eyebrows and reapplying them using a highlighter pen is a good look.
Normally synonymous alongside the above is use of the word haters. There ought to be a reality check button on facebook to clarify that no, you’re not actually important enough to have haters. No-one is, unless you’re someone like professional shitgibbon Katie Hopkins, and look what happened to her. Why would you imagine that people are actively going out of their way to ‘hate’ you when most people simply pass you by? It’s exhausting: and, let’s say for the sake of argument that you do have haters, are you really ‘showing the haters’ by finally beating level 344 of Candy Crush? Haway.
They’re the same folks who usually upload jpeg images of Marilyn Monroe with the (incorrectly attributed) quote “but if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best” scrawled across it in Mistral. To compound things, the jpeg is usually accompanied with eight levels of tray-icons from being screenshotted from every mobile device known to man – I swear I’ve seen Marilyn Monroe (as viewed through a potato) with Super Mario Land playing in the background. This particular quote makes my teeth itch whenever you see it stretched badly over some canvas in B&M, nevermind seeing it on facebook too.
Whilst we’re here, if you’re having to put something like ‘Only God can judge me‘ on your facebook wall, then chances are you should be judged as you’re having to pre-empt people calling you out. I wish I was God: I wouldn’t hesitate on slurring the word biiiiiiiiiiiiitch out as you tried to put on your shoes.
Curveball time: if you’re writing ‘kitteh‘ or ‘doggo‘ or anything other than the actual name of the animal, and you’ve mastered not shitting your pants and solid food, then you deserve nothing more than everlasting shame and I hope your life is full of always thinking you’ve left something switched on at home. There’s simply no need for it. Cats and dogs are cute as they are without adding some ridiculously asinine mispronunciation on top of it.
Shall we cover leaving speeches? We see it ever so often in our facebook group – people flouncing out but having to put a big speech in just before they do to explain their departure. Why? Do they imagine all 70,000 of us are sitting there ashen-faced, looking at each other with pleading eyes, all desperate to know why Shelly Mamov5 McGee has forsaken us? It’s always done with altogether too many emojis and hysteria to be taken as constructive criticism anyway.
And finally, why the joint profile names, people? Surely it’s quicker just to upload a brief statement explaining who cheated who? #awkward, right?
RIGHT. That’s quite enough of all that, my blood pressure can’t take it anymore. Let’s do the harissa steak sandwiches!
Now, for these harissa steak sandwiches, you have a choice: you can serve it up in your normal bread bun or, if you are feeling fancy, you can pop it in a ciabatta - you can have a Schar Gluten Free White Ciabatta Roll as a healthy extra, after all!
But here's the thing. Gluten free food is expensive and it can be a proper pain in the arse to find if you are following a gluten-free diet. That's annoying when you want to cook with it, but what if gluten free was the only bread you could have and you had to do without because some div on Slimming World was too frightened about just having a breadbun? Before you pick it off the shelf, have a think.
Before anyone tells us off, first of all: how dare you. We used a bog standard ciabatta for this. No regrets.
a couple of thin skirt steaks - or whatever steak you want to use, but skirt steak is super cheap
3 tbsp of harissa paste (you can buy it in most supermarkets, and it's 1/2 syn per tablespoon)
whatever breadbun you want to use (a Schar Gluten Free White Ciabatta Roll is your HEB, but so is a bog-standard brown breadbun)
a bag of mixed salad leaves
fresh ground pepper and salt
two red onions
4 tablespoons of white wine vinegar (or use normal white vinegar, if you don't have it to hand)
pinch of chilli flakes
tsp of honey (1 syn)
make the pickle - dead easy, slice the onion into thin half moons, pop in a bowl with the vinegar, chilli and honey - and leave to soak for thirty minutes or so
rub the harissa paste into the steak and lie flat on a plate, leave for an hour or so to marinate
next bit is dead easy - cook your steaks however you like - we like it still mooing, as you can see - and grill your ciabatta / breadbun
thinly slice your cooked steak
make up your sandwich - hot meat, pickled onion and green salad - yum!
It's as easy as that!
this recipe is from FEAST by Sabrina Ghayour - I adore this book, as I adore all of her cookery books - the food is gorgeous and it has never failed us - dirt cheap too!
we used our Optigrill to cook the steak, but anything will do - just as good in a pan, no need for anything fancy - but the Optigrill you can just whack it under and leave it to cook
Sausage and white wine risotto, if you don’t mind!
We’ve come to the end of our second bootcamp and can’t quite believe it. For two lads whose idea of exercise was a casual Sunday wank or rolling over in bed so our sleep apnea doesn’t suffocate us, I’d say we’ve done really rather well! I’ll talk about it more in due course but honestly, if you’re out there thinking you can’t exercise, get yourself moving! I mean…I haven’t died, yet…
Just a quick recipe tonight to keep you going – but this is delicious! You may know our approach to risottos – just chuck everything in and leave it to cook itself. Might not be 100% authentic but by god, it’ll leave you satisfied. Without further delay…
Sausages, booze, and stodge. This sausage and white wine risotto is THE perfect dinner idea that you've been waiting for! Robust, meaty and just a little bit fruity - just like us. Even though it's full of rich ingredients this is just one syn and a bit each and one of the tastiest things we've ever made!
We've adapted this and made it a bit skinnier from our 'spirit daddies', The Hairy Bikers. Their original recipe is in the brilliant 'Meat Feasts' book - you can get a copy at Amazon! Don't forget to check out their website for more tasty ideas.
4-6 sausages (see notes)
1 litre chicken stock
1 large onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
300g arborio rice
125ml white wine (5 syns)
60g parmesan, grated (2x HeA)
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
cook the sausages however you like them, and then slice and keep to one side
meanwhile, heat a large pan over a medium-high heat and spray in some oil
add the sliced onions and cook until starting to turn brown - remember to stir them about regularly
once the onions have started to lightly caramelise, reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic, herbs and rice and stir well
add the wine and give a good stir, and then pour in the stock and stir again, and then put the lid on the pan
cook for twenty minutes - no need to stir!
gently drag a wooden spoon through the rice - if it falls back in 'waves' it's at the right consistency - cook for a few minutes more if it's not
stir in the sausages slices and sprinkle over the parmesan
serve and sprinkle over the parsley
you can cook the sausages however you like - we used our Optigrill - but however you like it will do, just make sure they're cooked!
Slimming World tiramisu – that might fill you with horror at the thought of someone whisking an egg into a tub of Splenda and smiling wanly as they try to pretend they’re eating anything other than their own crashing disappointment, but don’t worry – you’re in good hands with us. That said, instead of a wordy post tonight, because we’re on the subject of awful desserts, I present to you our recipe for Slimming World doughnuts. Worth sticking with until the end, it explains our stance on desserts and Frankenfood ever so well…
Christ, that thumbnail. I look like Moby with dysentery. Trust me, it’s worth a watch. Let me know what you think! Let’s get straight to the Slimming World tiramisu. We know that desserts is the one thing we lack on here – well, that and modesty, so we’re working hard to put that right. This Slimming World tiramisu could be lightened by using jelly instead of sponge and sweetener instead of cocoa, but you know what else you could do to save syns? Keep your gob shut.
That’s Bowser, by the way. Or as we call him, Kittler.
Tiramisu, but done properly, like it ought to be. Yes, we've replaced a few of the heavier ingredients but with smart substitutes to make this a proper tasty dessert. It's OK, I dry-heaved at the use of the words proper tasty too. Let's get to it.
two nice glasses, like the ones shown, or stick it all in a pyrex dish. Hell, you could serve it from the cat's dinner-bowl for all we're going to judge
6 sponge fingers (you'll find them in any supermarket baking aisle) (6 syns)
25ml of strong black coffee (syn free) or if you're better than everyone else, use 25ml of Tia Maria or similar coffee liqueur (3.5 syns)
180g of ricotta (90g is a HEA)
one of those large pots of Muller Greek Style coffee latte yoghurt
50g of chopped hazelnuts (25g is a HEB)
1 tsp of cocoa powder (1 syn)
SO, as this makes two, this will either be just over 5.5 syns each if you use coffee liqueur or 3.5 syns if you use plain coffee. Also, you could adorn it with something other than hazelnuts - fruit maybe - to save your HEB! If so, knock another syn off.
take your glasses, put them on and read this bloody recipe
cut the sponge fingers up and layer them in the bottom of the glass
spoon over the coffee or the coffee liqueur and allow the sponge to soak it up with a big old slurp
mix the ricotta with enough of the yoghurt to get a nice thick mix - if you're feeling extravagant, add a pinch of coffee into the mix so you get wee pockets of coffeeness - yeah, coffeeness
spoon over the top and lightly shake until it is level
pour the hazelnuts into a bowl, top with cocoa and move them around until each one is coated - then pour over the top of the tiramisu
A syn-free deep-dish slimming world lasagne? With my reputation?
Do you know, in all the time we’ve been doing this, we’ve never just done a straight-up plain lasagne? We’ve done a slow cooker lasagne (amazing), a chicken and pea lasagne (ignored) and a cheat’s lasagne. We’ve served it in a cup. We’ve made a Mexican version. But someone asked us the other day for a bog-standard version and could we hell as like find one – so here we are! Although classic us, we have tweaked it a little: we found a recipe that uses wraps in one of Davina McCall’s books and thought that we would give it a go instead of dried pasta sheets that either always go slimy or don’t cook enough. It works a bloody treat!
Just a recipe post tonight as I have lost my voice. You might assume that this doesn’t stop me from typing – and you would be right – but it does preclude me from summoning Paul every ten minutes to make me a cup of tea or to rub my feet, so it’s a no-no-Nanette for long posts. I’m not going to lie, I’m tired of feeling under the weather – feels like one of us has been ill for ages! Still doing boot camp though, which probably isn’t the best idea when you’ve got a chest infection and you’re eating reheated red lentil dahl for lunch. Last night I spent so long clamping my own arsehole shut and trying not to spray lung-croutons everywhere that I barely had time to do my squats. One of our exercises involves falling onto the floor, hoisting our legs in the air and staying there. It’s taken eight classes to stop me from automatically moaning and reaching about for the phantom bottle of poppers.
Let’s get straight to it, then… syn-free deep-dish slimming world lasagne! This is makes enough for four large servings.
This doesn't need to be served in a deep dish - just make it like a normal lasagne, if you don't mind - it serves four people and uses wraps in place of pasta. I know, I know, we're scum, but listen, it works really well. This is Davina McCall's recipe, and you don't argue with the Queen.
This serves four and uses your HEB and HEA .- but it's absolutely bloody worth it, and you get loads!
It might look like a lot of ingredients but honestly, this is quick to make! Also, top tip: if you're using a circular dish, before you start cooking stick it upside down onto a wrap and cut out around the dish the perfect shape - your wraps will now fit lovely and snug!
three Weight Watchers White low fat wraps (one wrap is a HEB - so as this serves four, you'll use just under your HEB allowance, but easier just to say you've used it)
500g of 5% beef mince
two large red onions, chopped finely
one large pepper, chopped finely
two garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp of dried oregano
1 beef stock cube
two tins of chopped tomatoes
one large bag of spinach
one courgette, grated
180g of ricotta cheese (2 x HEA)
pinch of nutmeg
220g of Philadelphia Lightest (2 x HEA)
teaspoon of wholegrain mustard (1/2 a syn - up to you if you want to syn an eighth of a bloody syn!)
cherry tomatoes to go on the top
pop the oven on 180 degrees (fan)
start by making the mince layers for your lasagne - gently fry off the onion, pepper and garlic for a few minutes in a few sprays of oil
add the mince and beef stock cube and cook until browned
add the chopped tomatoes and oregano together with a pinch of salt and pepper
allow to simmer and bubble until it has reduced right down to a thick mince, which is also my name for Paul
start on the middle layer whilst the mince is cooking - first step, wash your spinach - don't dry it too vigourously
tip your spinach and grated courgette into a pan with just a tiny splash of water and wilt it down over a low heat (if you leave the lid on, the spinach will steam and wilt much quicker
once everything has wilted down, take the spinach over to the sink and squeeze as much liquid out of it as you can
seriously, keep squeezing - top tip is to put the spinach on a chopping board, put another chopping board over the top and squeeze the two together - get every last bit of moisture out!
finely chop the cooked spinach and tip back into your pan together with the ricotta and nutmeg - stir until the ricotta has softened and the spinach is mixed in, then set aside
layer your lasagne in the deep dish: half of the mince mixture, followed by a wrap, followed by the spinach and ricotta, then a wrap, then the rest of the mince, then another wrap
make the white sauce for the top by popping your philadelphia into a pan, add the mustard and soften it over a low heat - add a splash of milk if it is too thick, but it should be fine
pour over the top, add halved cherry tomatoes and grate some extra cheese on top if you want more, though do syn it!
cook for a good forty minutes and then enjoy!
if you're looking for a place to get excellent low fat beef mince, try our Musclefood Freezer Filler: you get loads for the price together with excellent chicken and bacon! I mean, what's not to love? Click here to order
if you're struggling to find a deep dish, have a look in TK Maxx - we found ours in there. A deep cake tin will do exactly the same job, or throw it in a normal Pyrex dish - there's no need to spend a lot of money here!
Coursesdinner, low syn
Mind we’ve got some bloody amazing, different pasta recipes – let me show you some syn-free suggestions!
We had to make this – we’ve seen someone passing off a frozen yoghurt with crushed berries on the top as a ‘traditional trifle’. That’s about as much of a traditional trifle as I am confident around a fusebox / football discussion / vagina. Sometimes it feels like we’re screaming into the wind trying to encourage people to eat proper food, but nevertheless, here’s a rare beast: a twochubbycubs desserts. Yes, it has syns, but it’s easy to make, tasty and you know, proper food. Before we get there, two things:
wouldn’t normally stick an advert here but Amazon have a proper cracking deal on Morphy Richards soup-makers at the moment, including this £100 model down to £40. If you’re looking for one, now is the time to get it! Prices correct at the time of writing (18 March). Click for that – it’ll open in a new window!
and – this is also a holiday entry – boo – so if you’re here just for the food, click the button below and head straight there!
The last time you left us we were getting pulled off by the police. In my imagination, because the officer looked like Javert’s lumberjack brother. I almost certainly would yield when we came face to face. BOOM: culture/anal reference right off the bat! We went to bed shortly afterwards (unaccompanied, sadly) and awoke the next day as fresh as a daisy. We ordered breakfast: croissant, coffee and amyl nitrates to bring me back round when they put the bill down, then off we went. For the sake of your eyes, we’re going to wrap up the two days left in Stockholm in one concise entry.
We spent the morning wandering about the Vasa Museum (a museum about a famous Swedish warship which was the best of its time, until it sank six minutes into its maiden voyage), the Nordiska Museet (a museum of Swedish history) and the Fotografiska, an art gallery. You know where we stand of those: usually eight steps away from the exit, moving swiftly. Don’t get me wrong, there were some interesting pieces to look at – there was a great exhibition of x-rays to gaze at and diagnose myself with (I knew my uterus was hurting, I just didn’t know why) and it gave me an always-welcome opportunity to stare disdainfully at people whose legs were thinner than my wrists and shoes more expensive than my car. Why do so many art aficionados always look so brittle? You’re not living in squalor in the Bohemian bedsits of 19th century Paris, love, have yourself a sandwich and fuck off.
We did find something a bit vag-esque outside though. Hence the faces. Also, Paul perfecting his Jayda Fransen face. Only, he’s not banned from Facebook, unlike that vile racist shitbit. Mahaha!
The Nordiska Museet was slightly more entertaining, not least because a lot of the exhibitions had buttons to press and TVs to gawp slack-jawed at in that uncultured fashion of ours. We know what we are. There was an exciting moment when Paul attempted to crawl through a small door made for a child only for his arse to catch on the frame of the door and wrench a good portion of it away. We made our excuses and left, with no-one around to witness our embarrassment.
The Nordiska Museet
We did get a chance to dress up, mind, and I think we can all agree that I make a Santa that you’d happily allow to empty his sack onto your best duvet cover, no?
See? And look, Paul makes a sexy secretary elf!
You’ve never been wetter, have you?
Speaking of wetness, the Vasa Museum was an absolute bust. Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing that they managed to salvage and restore the boat, and it looks mightily impressive in the grand hall, but…OK, deep breath now…sigh…
…if I wanted to see an old, creaking wreck that resulted in the death of an immeasurable amount of seamen, one that was barely held together and had succumbed terribly to the harsh ravages of time, something that just didn’t work and was 95% rust and rot, something that appears preserved in time but smells of foist and rot…you’ve guessed it…
I’d go see Paul’s mother!Eh? You having that? Hello?
Eee she’s lovely really, you know, and I give her some awful stick on here – she was absolutely cracking as Zelda in Terrahawks, too.
After paying polite respects, we left.
You may laugh, but we spent the next three hours tootling about on the subway system taking pictures of the stations. Partly because we needed to rest our cankles but also because Stockholm’s subway stations are awash with art – some painted in very dramatic fashion, some stations themed, some looking like the entrance to Hell. It was terrific: cheap, fun and, rather unlike the Tyne and Wear Metro, we weren’t asked for a tab, money or used as a soft spot to rest a carving knife. It makes me realise that, as much as I love the UK, we could do everything so much better by spending a bit of money to make things a little less shit. The artwork on our Metro extends to some toerag writing INCH everywhere and PUT ARE CUNTRY FURST stickers left by spittle-lipped wankers. Stations, bar for a couple in the centre of Newcastle, are grey and dingy and threatening. Luckily, the Metro only runs for 5% of the time before being cancelled, so you get plenty of time to appreciate the squalor. Here’s three of our favourite Stockholm shots, and if you’re wanting to try it yourself, here’s a very handy guide to the best stations!
Fun fact: this is the exact same viewpoint as one of my sperm.
Cruising over, my phone suggested that we were near to a place called N3rdsbar – a videogame themed bar full of vintage games consoles you could actually play, Nintendo artwork and a toilet full of retro instruction manuals. Paul thought I had the shits when actually I was just finally figuring out how to get past Grimace’s Highlands in MC Kids. Anyone who disagrees with me that MC Kids was one of the best NES games out there can go burn in a fire.
Silly me, that’s not how you spell Count!
I’ve never felt more masculine in my life.
It was fantastic – they even had a full range of videogame themed cocktails, including a ladder of multi-coloured shots called Rainbow Road. Imbued with nostalgia and more than a little pissed, we put our card behind the bar and settled down for a game of Mario Party 2 on the N64, signalling for more drinks and shots and beer and wine and burgers whilst making the absolutely fatal error of not asking the prices and forgetting we were in Stockholm, where you get charged forty quid just to wipe your arse after a plop.
Yep. Not our proudest moment. A brilliant night though, only tempered with what happened next – we were just deciding what to do when my phone flashed up with a text from our lovely neighbours who look after our house – emergency! That’s all it said, with a short message asking me to give them a call. Naturally I start catastrophising – clearly the cat had been run over, or had somehow worked out how to get the chip pan out and start a fire. Perhaps we had been burgled – the thought of some rough scally running his fingers around in my underwear drawer usually gives me pause but not when I’m on holiday – but no, no notifications from our Nest alarm. I tried to call back but in my heavily drunken state couldn’t remember how to dial internationally, or indeed, how to form words consisting of more than strings of vowels and slurred Ss. When I eventually got through I was inconsolable and speaking gibberish (I was worried and drunk, be fair!) – my poor neighbour, it must have been like the calls Bryan McFadden still gets from Kerry Katona when there’s been a 25% discount at Oddbins. Eventually it transpired that our outdoor tap had burst in the cold and was spraying water everywhere, necessitating a quick call to my dad to establish what a stopcock was (do I look like someone who has ever said that word?) and then a second call to the previous owners of the house to find out where the stopcock was, then a third back to our neighbours who were dispatched to turn off the stopcock in our bathroom. The thought that Paul might have left a skidmark on the toilet before we flew to Stockholm that had been sitting baking for four days was enough to sober my mind and it was with that image that we decided to cut short our night out and head back to the hotel – we were flying to Oslo in the morning anyway, so perhaps a clear mind for international travelling would be wise.
As a side-note, we really do have excellent neighbours – well, the ones that look after our house, anyway. They’re like surrogate grandparents – I don’t think I’ve ever met a more cheerful woman and her husband keeps me in vegetables and stories. There’s still a few living near us who don’t speak to us even when we speak to them, but you can imagine how little that concerns me. Ignorance wears tan corduroy. Five years we’ve lived here and never been so much as a bother – we even employ a gardener just to keep our lawns short even though frankly, I couldn’t give a monkey’s jot what our garden looks like. Anyway…
We did, however, stop for hot-dogs on the way home.
I genuinely can’t remember the last time Paul looked at me like that.
Still, we were home in good enough time…
We awoke the next day to absolutely wild weather – a proper winter storm. It was amazing – certainly puts our Beast from the East into keen perspective – it was like stepping into an untuned television. Would we get away to Norway? Were the trains running? Of course. Indeed, our fretting about whether or not we would be able to even get to Oslo in light of the heavy snow, blowing winds and freezing temperatures were relieved as soon as we got to Stockholm Airport and saw that not a single plane was showing as delayed. Very much business as normal. Now I’m not daft – I know that their infrastructure is designed to cope with harsh weather and ours isn’t, and I’m not going to be one of those curmudgeons who goes on about how we can’t handle snow…
…but at the same time, Newcastle Airport shuts up shop if someone so much as sneezes in Durham. Why? It was snowing that hard in Stockholm that we had to take a husky-ride with Santa just to get to the plane – which made a refreshing change from being packed into a tiny sweaty bus with two hundred other people, chewing your way through someone else’s armpit hair as you careen around the runway. Everywhere you looked there were bearded blokes in hi-vis jackets throwing snow about and bellowing at each other in some mysterious language. It was like an LSD-infused wet-dream for the both of us, and we almost missed our flight, so taken were we with the view from the window. We boarded with about three minutes to spare, with the Chief Flight Attendant giving us a look that would have emptied a lion’s cage. I gave her my best ‘but we’re British’ smile but she was having none of us, and ushered us to sit down.
Our plane – Norwegian Air – was clean, spotless and, more excitingly, came with free Wifi. I had managed to forget to download anything interesting to my phone and the thought of having to make polite conversation with Paul for an hour filled me with dread. I’m sure he felt the same. Paul’s role on the plane is to occasionally order me drinks and smile indulgently when I pick at his sleeve and ask him whether he thinks the chimes from the stewardesses means the cockpit is on fire or whether we’re making an unscheduled, atomised stop in Uzbekistan. The poor bugger spends so much time taking out his earphones and putting them back that his Radio 4 podcast sounds like the poshest dubstep ever. The flight was wonderfully smooth and we were descending into Oslo in no time at all. Quite literally: we seemed to go from about 33,000ft to being on the runway in the time it took me to put away my Camembert-ripe feet and do up my laces. Even the stewardess seemed surprised – she barely had time to finish her shave.
We were through security with all the brisk efficiency you expect from the Norwegian, and, one short train trip later, we were at our hotel. That’s an excellent place to leave not only our luggage but also this post – until we meet again…
…as an aside, what an absolute joy it was to jump countries: from hotel to hotel took us less than five hours, including the flight. If you’re looking at a Scandinavian trip, we heartily recommend Norwegian for internal flights – without luggage (we travel light) the flights were about £30 each and there’s a flight every hour. Can’t get vexed!
Seems like a good place to leave it!
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Right, the trifle then! We’ll give you two options here – the proper way and the lower syn route. We recommend the proper route – it’s tastier – but if you must, you can make some swaps for a lower-syn end result. But…
If you're looking for something sweet at the end of a meal, have a Polo. But if you're still itching for dessert, make one of these dead easy trifles! Still well within your syns limit, they make a nice change from shattering your teeth on frozen yoghurts or trying to pretend your 'sponge cake' tastes of anything other than sweaty hot arse.
This makes two big bowls or, if you're fancy, serve them in a nice glass like we did.
a bag of frozen raspberries
two Tesco trifle sponges (7 syns)
one sachet of Hartley's sugar free jelly - we used raspberry (1.5 syns)
six tablespoons of light squirty cream (1 syn)
200g proper custard (light) - (7 syns)
10g of hundreds and thousands (2 syns)
That's a total of 18.5 syns - so for each trifle, just over nine syns. But it makes a big, proper dessert. Worth it!
But if you're worried about syns, you can drop it by either:
leaving out the sponge and replacing it with more fruit (-7 syns)
replacing the custard with banana and custard Muller yoghurt (-7 syns)
That brings each dessert to just two syns. But really.
break up your sponge cake into tiny little pieces and line the bottom of your bowl with it
optional: you could drizzle on some creme de cassis if you wanted, 25ml is 3.5 syns!
build up a tight layer of frozen raspberries - pack them in so they can't roll about
make up your jelly and gently pour over the raspberries and sponge until it just covers the fruit
leave to set
top with custard (yes!) or Muller Yoghurt (booo), then the cream, then the hundreds and thousands
you can, of course, have whatever flavour of fruit, jelly or yoghurt that you fancy
Apologies for another extended break! I know, we’re awful. But in my defence, we’ve been briefly away down South (I know, I’ve got some nerve) and well, I can’t deny the fact that I’m feeling blue. Too much to do, too little time to do it in! Paul’s been unwell, the cat has broken her tail and now the worst news of all: Jim bloody Bowen has floated off to the big two-berth caravan in the sky, only a century away from the big 180. Gutted. Honestly, I know Stephen Hawking was a hero and a gentleman and a bloody great mind but I’m more upset about Jim – I bloody loved Bullseye. You might assume it’s because he championed darts – one of the few sports out there where a bloke with a fabulous rack can have a chance at being a champion. You’d be right.
I think I’m upset it’s because it’s another fragment of my childhood that has peeled away and exposed the fact that I’m getting older. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he has died unsullied and innocent as opposed to so many other eighties stars: if it had come out he had been finishing on a double-top of the children, that would have been too much to bear.
But Bullseye was a part of my childhood in much the same way that staring mournfully out of the window was, or getting road tar on my white Nick trainers. It lived on throughout recent years thanks to Challenge TV, where it’s always 1989 somewhere, and Paul and I loved to watch two unemployed perms from the Tyne Tees Television district winning a speedboat of an evening. We always joked that everyone in the audience – all blue rinses, lemon cardigans and beige bags clasped tightly to their chests – would all be dead by now. How we laughed. Too many legends dying, and it’s only going to get worse. I’m keeping a close eye on my beloved Anneka Rice.
That said, I would have loved a go on the Prize Board: there’s something elegant about winning a trouser press, a Soda Stream and a sewing machine for the wife on a throw of a dart. But perhaps someone more mature than me can explain something: why was a decanter and tantalus seen as the height of good taste back in the eighties? Nearly every show featured one as a prize, and you’d see Jackie from Anglia Television (“‘ospital cleaner, Jim“) throwing her darts like a severed marionette to try and win one. Can someone explain the appeal? Whilst we’re here, were televisions with a remote on a string really a thing? Eee, it’s a different world. I remember when my nana in Darlington had a TV with a box you had to put money into just to watch, with someone visiting every week to take away the quarter-tonne of 50p pieces. Simpler times. Now they just rob you via the licence fee, am I right, eh? Hello? Is this thing on? Fucking wants to be, I paid for it.
Not arsed about Ken Dodd though. Something about him left me cold and nervous, in much the same way as my mother can’t abide Lionel Blair. I’ve seen that woman storm out of a room in a fury before when he cha-cha-chaed his way into Dictionary Corner on Countdown, looking to all the world like the result of incestuous fraternisation between Gail from Corrie and a runover E.T costume. I asked about at work to see if anyone else shares these irrational celebrity dislikes and the results were varied and illuminating: for one colleague Keira Knightley leaves her cold (“stupid lollipop head”), another flies into a blistering tirade at the mere mention of Gary Barlow. That I can understand: Gary is the colour taupe assuming a human form.
Ah let’s be honest, it’s all irrelevant anyway: we’re going to be irradiated ash by May. Can anyone else see this Russian crisis ending any other way than a nuclear bomb being dropped on one of our major cities? I know, deep in my heart, that I’ll nip out to get some milk and end up piddling myself in the street like that lass from Threads before every atom of my face is blown into the North Sea.
Still, must get on.
Speaking of a spicy burst of heat that’ll result in a crowd-clearing, fiery blast, let’s do the recipe for dynamite baked beans. I can’t take credit for this one, t’s from one of my favourite recipe books: Tasty, by Tony Singh. It’s available on Amazon for 55p! We have been trying to find a decent recipe for livening up baked beans for a while and this is just the ticket. A hearty, farty recommendation. This makes enough for two portions, but do just scale up if you prefer more.
Don’t worry folks, we even prepared a video if you can’t be arsed to read!
We’re trying to do a good mix of video recipes that are simple and shenanigans! Let us know what you think!
Looking for a syn-free breakfast or a gorgeous side? Try our spicy baked beans! They're gorgeous - easy to make, can be done in bulk and they freeze well! Top with a fried egg for something deliciously different!
1 tin of baked beans
2 small red onions, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2.5cm piece of ginger, finely chopped
1tsp green chilli, finely diced
1 tsp garam massala
150ml beef stock
spray a frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium-high heat
add the onions and fry until the start to soften and go golden brown
add the garlic and ginger to the pan and cook for another five minutes
add the chilli and stock, and give a good stir
add the garam masala to the pan, stir and simmer until thickened
add the beans to the pan and stir
cook for a few more minutes until the beans have warmed through and serve with a fried egg!
want to make this fancy? add cubed bacon - smoked is ever better!
if you can't be arsed clitting about with garlic and ginger, just buy a paste! You can buy it from Amazon or most major supermarkets - a good tablespoon will do it!
We’ll get to the recipe for chicken and mushroom pie in a moment, but first…
One downside of this bad weather has been the fact that, for the third time in about eight years, I was forced to take a bus to work. A bus! I’m not one of those lazy snobs who call them peasant-wagons or walks around with my nose so high in the air that my snot freezes but you must understand that I can’t bear public transport. It’s not either people (for the most part) but rather the fact I like the Fortress of Solitude that is my crappy little DS3. I like to be able to sing without worrying that the bus driver is going to take such offence that he’ll drive us straight into a river. I like to be able to fart without having to go for the rigmarole of breaking wind and then looking owlishly around at everyone else as if to say ‘is someone burning hair?‘. I like to be able to colourfully swear at other people without the fear of having my teeth introduced to my uvula. And, let’s be honest, there’s no better feeling than a little toot on an impotent horn when someone cuts in front of you, no? MAKES ME FEEL LIKE A BIG MAN.
However, I can’t drive in snow, and frankly, another day cooped up working from home with Paul breathing noisily (indeed, at all) next to me was going to tip me over the edge, and so it was that I traipsed out into the snow and slush at ungodly-o-clock on Friday morning to do something I haven’t done in years: treat another human being with civility before 10am.
I arrived at the bus stop just in time to see a bus-full of sad faces sliding away down the street, a good ten minutes early. That’s fine, it would give me a good opportunity to wonder at my own nipples turning into masonry bits in the Baltic cold. I barely had time to consider throwing myself under a passing car like a modern Emily Davison before I was joined at the bus-stop by another group of people who look equally as pissed off as me that we had to go to work. Everyone had that thin-lipped, furrowed brow thing going on, possibly because they were all sharing my thought that everyone in that bus-stop had better not jump the queue. Naturally, none of us said a word to one another. I was positively itching to turn around, place my palms out in a welcoming gesture and say ‘Now you may be wondering why I’ve called you here today’ in a rich, pleasing baritone, but sadly no. We waited in silence for twenty six years.
Just as my lips were turning black and peeling away, salvation appeared: a bus! A lovely, shiny, green beacon of hope, belching diesel fumes as it slipped its way up the street. Given I was first at the bus stop I appointed myself Chief Bus Wrangler and stood in a nice prominent position to get the bus to stop. It didn’t. Well it did, more than a few yards down the road, and when I climbed on board the driver shouted at me for not sticking my hand out. Our bus-stop is served by one service, on a street with no shops or places of note. What did he think all eighteen of us were standing by the side of the road for? Perhaps he thought it was an impromptu meeting of the Timetable Worshipper Aficionado Tribe, or TWAT for short. Surely he could have taken a quick glance at my brisk office attire (which is the same as my gardening outfit, only I change my shoes) and assumed we would want a lift into town? Pfft.
It wasn’t even a ‘oh silly you’ telling off but a full-on bark at me – it seems unusual for a passenger to be thankful of the spit-guard but I was that morning, because I reckon I would have been spittle-flecked in no time at all. I apologised profusely, told him ‘I don’t usually get the bus’ (don’t worry, I came up with nineteen better retorts in my head later) and then, in my flustered state, managed to lock my phone. That’s bad because I now held him up for another minute or so whilst I tried desperately to get their stupid buggy app to open so he could see that I wasn’t trying to scam the bus company out of a few quid by getting on for free. The temperature behind me must have dropped suddenly because I could hear quite the cacophony of tutting, which I took to be their teeth chattering.
The bus ride itself was uneventful – I mean, it’s a bus journey, what more do you want me to say about it – but it afforded me the opportunity to be simultaneously burnt and frozen at the same time. Due to someone smelling of vegetables and cigarettes sitting beside me, I was pushed up against the side of the bus, meaning my left leg was resting straight on the nuclear reactor that is the bus heater. You’ve never lived until you’ve felt your bone marrow boiling in your leg. The pain was tempered by the fact that someone in front of me thought it was sensible to have the window open because, you know, who needs to worry about their sperm count? To be fair, I don’t: as long as it doesn’t come out like a line of Crest toothpaste I couldn’t care less. The combination of burning and freezing left me feeling like a chicken breast being defrosted in the microwave. Great! Thankfully, someone ignored their Britishness, got up, slammed the window shut. We all thanked him silently.
This only left one other concern. Condensation. I’ve never really considered it before, but when I’m moving my hands around on the window to get rid of the fog that has built up, I’m smearing my hands around in other people’s saliva, amongst other things, aren’t I? Is my science correct? I mean, my bus originates from Blyth – that spit is going to be 80% knock-off Golden Virginia, isn’t it? No wonder I was gasping for a tab when I got off, though I’m probably the first person in the world to develop emphysema from osmosis.
Sigh. At least this whole experience didn’t cost the Earth, eh? Only £18 for two days.
I console myself with eating good food. These one pot chicken and mushroom pie is just the ticket for a warm winter night! Get it made! And look – we’ve even got a video guide for you to cook along to! Let us know what you think – or, just scroll down for the text. We’re not really arsed.
one pot chicken and mushroom pie with proper pastry!
You might be tempted to forgo this recipe if you're trying to save your syns, but remember, you get 15 syns a day: and what better thing to spend them on then something tasty and delicious? This is a chicken and mushroom pie made in a frying pan which then goes in the oven: one-pot dish AND wonderful!
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1 leek, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp tarragon
200ml chicken stock
105g Phildelphia Lightest (1x HeA)
2 good handfuls of frozen peas
150g sliced mushrooms
4 potatoes, diced
150g ready rolled light puff pastry (30 syns)
2 eggs, beaten
So, cut into four, this pie is 7.5 syns per serving. But cut into six and served with veg, it's only 5 syns! And it's worth it for that pastry, that sauce, that taste!
add the potatoes to a pan of cold water and bring to the boil
reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potato is soft, then drain
meanwhile, spray a large oven-safe frying pan with a little oil and add the sliced leek
fry gently over a medium-high heat until soft
add the garlic and cook for another minute or so
add the chicken, mushrooms, tarragon, stock and philadelphia to the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
add the potato and peas to the pan and cook for another five minutes
remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool
next, preheat the oven to 180°c
drape the pastry over the top (cut off any excess) and crimp gently around the edge
brush with the beaten egg and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden
remove from the oven and allow it to rest for a couple of minutes
dig in, serving with whatever the hell you want
top tips for making chicken in a frying pan pie
leftover roast potatoes will work like a dream in this too!
if you want to make a smaller pie you can do - just halve the recipe and use a smaller pan