Hello sorry yes we haven’t died and to celebrate we’re posting an Irish stew recipe that we cobbled together in our pressure cooker.
Of course the real peril with posting an Irish stew recipe is that we’ll invariably get messages telling us that Irish stew shouldn’t have this, that or the other in it – and listen, we love feedback, but please do not be that person. We’re calling it an Irish stew because it’s a stew and it has Guinness in it and frankly, that’s enough for us. You ought to be grateful that I didn’t open this blog entry with some crass joke about the last time an Irish Stu filled my hole and left gravy around my gob, but thankfully we aren’t that type of crass blog.
Oh hi! Normally I’d use this little pink paragraph to extol the wonders of our newest cookbook DINNER TIME, walking you through some of the dinners available, telling you how good the food is. Well, not today. All I’m saying is that if you haven’t pre-ordered it, we’re going to tell Goomba and he will sit in his crate looking all mournful and sad like he’s in an RSPCA advert. How could you do that to him? Those big baleful brown eyes scanning the horizon for the postman bringing new toys as celebration for our book sales, but he never arrives. That Sarah McLachlan song ‘…in the aaaaarms of an angel’ song swells in the background as his little granny-lips quiver. Honestly, you’re a monster for even allowing it. You can put right your absolute shadiness by ordering it here
Of course, when I said we haven’t died at the top of the post, the grim reality is that of course, we actually nearly have. I mean yes there may be a touch of hypochondriac melodrama on that sentence but here is how the last couple of weeks have unfolded. We returned back from Canada in a pressurised cylinder of 400 people’s farts, coughs and sneezes into a Heathrow airport so rammed and so busy that I physically cheated on my husband seven times just trying to squeeze past people in the queue for Pret a Manger. We then spent the flight back to Newcastle being lightly coated in a miasma of spittle and snot made worse by two sneezing children whose parents were taking a ‘hands off’ approach to parenting, leaving them free to clamber about the seats and coughing in people’s faces. See if that had been my mother I’d have been put in the overhead lockers, albeit not for any sort of punishment but because she’d have wanted to keep her precious cargo of 800 duty-free Lambert & Butler buckled in next to her in case of emergency.
Either way, I got properly ill. Not COVID, I tested, but just the sort of ill which demands you lie in bed wailing and scratching at your throat and falling asleep during Four in a Bed and waking up delirious in the middle of Question Time and wondering why the fuck Priti Patel is reviewing someone’s breakfast. Can you imagine Priti Patel running a B&B? She’d seal you in a windowless room, weld the door shut and spend the evening pushing fancy chocolates into her smirking gob whilst you scrabbled for oxygen. She’s John Kramer in a Karen Millen pencil dress.
Anyway, a few days later Paul started attention-seeking coughing and revealed that he had one-upped me (well holidays do always bring us closer) and had caught COVID. This meant pushing him into our bedroom, bringing the TV in so he had something to occupy himself with and me bringing him all manners of snack trays. However, a few days later, I caught it too, we reunited in the hallway as though we were Desmond and Penny from Lost – and that’s where we are now. Me in the middle of coughing and spluttering and feeling lousy – in particular is the fuzzy-headed brain thing I’ve got going on – Paul emerging from the other end of his COVID like Andy Dufresne popping out of the sewer pipe in The Shawshank Redemption. Luckily the pipe was just full of Covonia and not faeces.
So the good news: as someone who had convinced himself he would die the second he got COVID, I don’t feel half as bad as I thought. It’s been more knackering having to keep on top of my health anxiety and reassure myself that my tonsils aren’t about to go septic or my sinuses aren’t going to jam up like someone squirted expanding foam up there or that my cough isn’t one hack away from needing to be put on an iron lung. COVID, so far, feels like a bad cold – and make me thankful indeed for two things: I gave up smoking seven weeks ago and I had my vaccines and booster. Now some people – usually those with a degree from the University of Life (i.e. as dense as a Boxing Day dump) on their profiles – may leap to say that the vaccines and boosters do not work given both Paul and I caught COVID in the end. It ought to go without saying that this is bollocks: the vaccine lowers the chances of serious complications and touch wood, that’s very true. The first time Paul had COVID was dreadful – partly because I couldn’t see him, partly because he was a perfect sphere – whereas this time around he’s just been a sniffly-snotty mess. That’s as good a reason as you should need if you’re still sitting on the fence a year later. Think of your poor bum!
So, assuming this COVID doesn’t turn into something terrible, we are at least back in the country and cooking again, with all the blog entries that entails. Which is nice. To that end, shall we cut to the chase and sort out this best ever Irish stew? But of course.
How about that bowl of Irish stew to put hair on your gebs?
Lovely lovely Irish stew ingredients!
Chuck all the ingredients in for this Irish stew and you’re laughing
Now we've used an Instant Pot for this because we're fancy and it saves farting about with the hob, but this will do just fine cooked in a heavy-duty iron pot for a few hours. We've portioned it up as four large servings at around 390 calories a time - we usually just have ours in a bowl but feel free to serve it with whatever.
As ever, calories are approximate and do rather depend on your mix of vegetables and what have you.
Finally, see the note on lamb!
400g lamb - we used chopped lamb neck which you can get from most butchers - it's a dirt cheap bit of meat too so won't break the bank
two large onions
one teaspoon of minced garlic
one teaspoon of tomato puree
about 400g of chopped carrot
300g of chopped celery
tin of chopped tomatoes
400g new potatoes, halved
330ml bottle of Guinness
400ml of beef stock
pinch of dried chives, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper
slice the onions into fine half-moon slices and then:
if using an Instant Pot, select saute and fry them gently until golden, adding the garlic and thyme a minute or two before everything is done
if on the hob, well, same as above, but on the hob
tip all of the other ingredients into the Instant Pot and set to pressure cook on low for about 30 minutes, making sure the valve is set to seal - once done, allow to vent pressure and serve
if making it on the hob, put everything into the pan and allow to bubble away on a medium heat for at least a couple of hours until everything has thickened
serve with whatever you like
lamb neck is cheap and tasty, but if you're not a fan, swap out for diced beef
if Guinness isn't up your street, just use more beef stock
Disclosure: the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Which is handy, because my head is full of cotton wool and leaking out of my ears
Was it the turkish-style lamb bulgur pilaf that brought you here? Well, bless you, it is a wonder and a delight and I promise it’ll leave you happy. But, in a rare case of no admin and no chat, we’re going to get straight to part two of our This Time Next Year story. Why? Because I like gabbing and you like reading. As ever, let me know your thoughts! But if you did want to go straight to the turkish-style lamb bulgur pilaf, we won’t hold it against you – just scroll straight to the pictures.
Also: buy our book. I mean here’s a banner and everything.
chapter two: “alreet Davvy pet, we’re still fat”
When you last joined us, we were bright orange, dressed like the Thénardiers and ready to face Davina. Hands held and with strict instruction to walk straight forward, smile like threatened cats and walk over to Davina after a brief pause, the doors slid open, and in we went.
Not quite. See, in my haste to make sure we stopped on the mark, I forgot to watch where my feet were going and clattered my left Dr Marten into the door, knocking it off its track. Cut, go again. I apologised profusely and tried to explain that I can’t move more than two metres without knocking something over, but everyone was terribly kind and reassured me that I hadn’t caused a scene. We all knew that I had, of course, but I styled it out with my best ‘what AM I like’ face that I normally reserve for confessing my affairs or mowing down cyclists. Take two then. The music went, the lights went up and the doors opened again, albeit slightly shakily. Out we strode, pinballing off each other’s fat. Quick pause to give the audience time to clap and for the camera crew to pull back on the focus, then we walked over to the sofa to sit with Davina. I say audience: for the first bit there was only a scattering of production staff sitting on rickety chairs – the applause and the crowd reactions were filmed later and slotted in. It’s a weird feeling having to react as though there’s a few hundred people applauding you when all you have in front of you is a bank of cameras and someone who barely looked up from her Puzzler when we walked in. Anyway.
First comment: that was a very, very flimsy sofa. I know this, because I’ve got it at home. Not the actual sofa from the show, I’m not that quite tight that I’d steal large furnishings from ITV, but it was from made.com and I knew from sitting on it at home that it barely took my weight without protest. Add Paul onto that and it was a recipe for us appearing on It’s Alright On The Night with a pizzicato score highlighting our calamity. However, it didn’t fail us, though I could see a flash of alarm cross Davina’s eye when a large crack sounded when we sat down. His name is Paul.
Second comment: Davina was unutterably lovely. We can’t say a word against her, though I did tell my mother that she was a proper diva, swearing at the runners and kicking off about the temperature of her water. My mother is a huge fan and I live for moments of mischief, but had to put a stopper in that fib when her eyes filled with tears. Never meet your heroes, even by proxy. Davina asked all the right questions, made us relaxed and chatty, and we genuinely forgot about the cameras (which you must understand is a novelty for me, my lips are always puckered in a pre-emptive pout) until the chat was over. We’re talking fifteen minutes at most. We made our pledge a couple of times to camera, Davina was pulled out of our gravitational pull and then we were ushered backstage.
It didn’t end there though. Unbeknownst to us, they wanted to do a bit more filming, and the idea was awful – they wanted to film us standing almost nude on a little rotating platform in front of a green screen, with the idea being that they’d repeat the process at the end of the year and then do a morph of us transforming into our skinnier selves. I was mortified: as previously mentioned, I’m fairly body confident, but I was absolutely not ready to stand in front of ITV in my knickers with my boobs hanging out. Paul was even less keen, but hey, we were committed at this point, so off we trundled to the backstage studio. We were given a robe that didn’t fit to wear whilst they farted about with the camera, and then it was my turn to be filmed spinning around like a whirling dervish. All I can remember thinking is how I wished I’d worn better underwear: unless I’m out for a shag, my underwear looks like something you’d wrestle from the teeth of a rabid dog. I don’t so much get the value out of them as break their spirit.
So it was then that I stood on the rotating platform, arms splayed out like I was pretending to be an aeroplane, the cameras started rolling, and round I went. This bit took at least ten minutes and I was under strict instruction not to lower my arms otherwise the tracking would be knocked out. Have you ever tried to hold your arms up for that long? I was sweating like a glassblower’s arse by minute three and by the halfway point, I had to ask them to stop. At least I was on brand as a fat, lazy fucker. Paul lasted no longer, though he pretended to have an inner-ear infection to abort the spinning. He totally hammed it up when he got off the platform too, lolling around the studio like he was at sea. He only righted himself when he saw a little table of sandwiches nearby, but I had to slap them out of his chubby hands and tell him ‘what would Davina say’ – that would become the recurring theme of the next year. All done, we were sent back to the hotel and, after a moment to decant all the towels in our suitcase, made our way home. We stopped halfway in some grotty Little Chef (or similar) and had beans on toast whilst we took in the commitment we had made. A year. A year to lose ten stone each. That’s quite the commitment, especially to someone like me who doesn’t like to look more than three hours in the future. I do remember the waiter giving us a peculiar look – presumably because the sweat dripping off the both of us from being on the wheel had run through our make-up, leaving us looking her that crawled out of the well in The Ring. We didn’t care. We were excited. We were set. We were determined.
We were at Cadbury World the very next day. See before we had committed to This Time Next Year, we had decided to make 2017 the year of twelve holidays – partly because we were sick of being sat in the house, partly because I wanted some fresh material for the blog and, if we’re honest, mostly because holiday dickings are always the best. The one rule was that each holiday had to be a different ‘experience’ and as part of that, we had paid for a ‘mystery tour’ on a coach. I shan’t bore you with the details – you can read part one here and part two here (they’ll open in new windows) – but I will tell you that I’ve never been so close to smashing the emergency exit open and tumbling myself out into motorway traffic. We ended up at Cadbury World in Birmingham and so the very first video we recorded to Davina in our video diaries (more on that in a moment) was one of us talking about how committed we were whilst the Cadbury mascot appeared in the background and Paul had two Double Deckers sticking out of his shirt pocket. I mean, we had our resolve, but they were giving out free chocolate: we’re only human.
The video diaries – part of the commitment was that we were to do a video once a week, always opening with ‘Hi Davina, it’s week XX on our pledge to lose ten stone each, and we’ve...’ followed by some quick story of our weight loss, any successes, any failures. They would then cherry pick any interesting bits to put together in a compilation to show at the end. By week three we were butchering the intro so much that the production staff called up to tell us off – apparently my effortless humour and deadpan delivery of ‘alreet Davvy pet, we’re still fat‘ wasn’t quite what they were after. We filmed ourselves doing all manner of exciting things:
sitting on our sofa talking to the camera;
sitting in the kitchen talking to the camera;
sitting in the car talking to camera;
sitting in the garden talking to camera; and
talking to the camera whilst standing on a set of scales with ‘gasp’ faces
They didn’t say, but there were definitely some hushed meetings behind the scenes at ITV to try and give us our own prime-time show, I just know it. It turns out that when you don’t move much as a rule, creating exciting videos is bloody hard work. A couple of highlights off the top of my head include doing an eighties fitness routine with a DVD of Beverley Callard in a leotard. We covered ourselves in neon paint and did a full recorded twenty minute workout. Thankfully, it never saw the light of day: it was as horrendous as you can imagine. We looked like a Blue Man Group reunion, if the Blue Men had spent their down years bed-bound through crippling obesity. It’s no wonder the roof tiles came loose later that year – forty stone of pure fat thundering around is going to trouble any structural integrity. Still, the neighbours enjoyed it – we’ve never seen Number 2 peer through her curtains with such intensity before. The dry-heaving was a mean touch, though.
Also in the mix were some shots of us swimming, because of course there had to be. That meant Paul holding his breath underwater with a waterproof camera and me diving in like I was jumping from a burning ferry. The sly fucker filmed it in slow motion too, which meant the sight of my body hitting the water and spreading like Baileys poured into lemon juice. They wanted shots from underneath with me swimming over the top of the camera which necessitated Paul sinking to the bottom of the deep end and filming upwards. As previously mentioned, I’m a big lad and it looks terrible – not too unlike when the boat crashes into the harbour at the end of Speed 2. Paul was down there so long he got the bends and had to be taken away in an ambulance. We changed tack the second time around and Paul filmed me from the spectators bit above the pool, but that was a bust too – because I’ve got such a hairy back, I just looked like a roll of discarded carpet slowly bobbing along. Funnily enough, they didn’t use those clips.
Indeed, quite possibly because we were making such a sham of doing our own videos, they sent their own crew up to our house for the day to film us cooking in the kitchen to show off the twochubbycubs angle of our story. Well, for this to work, you need to know how we normally cook in our kitchen. We select a meal, I dispatch Paul into the kitchen with a flea in his ear about making sure it’s delicious, then I spend the time whilst he’s cooking eating chocolate and turning the SONOS off in the kitchen so I don’t need to listen to his awful music. We are very much not a team. But that didn’t matter, they wanted some ‘us’ shots, so we all crowded round into our tiny kitchen – that’s me, Paul, a sound man, a camera guy and a researcher asking us questions – whilst we struggled through cooking Mongolian beef and answering questions. Paul put a knife through his fingernail which meant stopping to plaster his fingers, I got in the way, it was utterly calamitous. None of the camera crew fancied eating the beef either, which was upsetting: blood only adds flavour, after all. They decided to mix it up by having us sat in front of our Mac ‘answering questions from our adoring fans’ but that fell over because the only questions we ever get in our inbox are ‘wear can i find recepeas hun’ and ‘am allergic to air wot can i have’, which makes our brows furrow so much that it’s hard to look cheerful. I’m the absolute master of the cheesy ‘aaaah well’ smile to camera though (if anyone watched The Middle, me and my Paul refer to it as Frankie Hecking), but they wanted more!
So, change of plan again – they crammed us all into our tiny hallway (good natural light) and the researcher, close enough to my face that I could have sneezed and blown his moustache off, asked us questions. Now, you may know this, but it’s very common in ‘reality shows’ for people to be asked a question framed in such a way that their answers are pretty much scripted. For example, they will not ask ‘how do you feel about your weight loss so far’, but rather, ‘would you agree that your weight loss has meant you’re the biggest best person in the world’ – then ask you to repeat part of the question in your answer. It’s why you get so many people on The Apprentice looking like such utter bellends in their bits to camera. That, and they’re total bellends. They asked how we were finding it (easy, but mainly because we weren’t really trying), how had we supported one another (I helped Paul tie his laces of a morning, he lifted up his belly for oral) and where we saw ourselves in the future (McDonalds, day one after filming the last bit).
Oh! I forgot about the fridge. They wanted some shots of the interior of our fridge, which necessitated a quick trip to Waitrose (where we only shop if there’s a chance someone is going to judge our fridge with a clipped sneer) to stock up on all manner of things that looked healthy. They then put a little camera inside the fridge, pressed record and shut the fridge door. The idea was that they would get a selection of shots of the two of us individually opening the fridge, looking happy and joyous and loudly selecting something healthy with a big smug grin on our face. ‘OOOH A PEPPER’ said I, and ‘GOSH LET’S HAVE AUBERGINE CURRY IT’S A TASTE EXPLOSION’ says Paul. Works in principle and not the worst idea. I failed at the first attempt, pulling out a bag of something and then realising I had not one single fucking clue what they were. The first take of me ends with me holding up a bag of what I now know to be cobnuts and saying ‘what the fuck are these? to Paul off-camera. They didn’t use those bits either.
A final roll of the dice saw us all dispatched to a nearby beach to film some outdoor shots. They’d done some research as to good filming locations and selected one just down the road from us, but I didn’t have the heart at this point to tell him that the sand-dunes become a giant cruising ground at night. That’s not even exaggeration for this story, they truly do – you drive along that road at the right time of night and you can see countless gently bobbing heads glinting in the moonlight. It’s beautiful, in a way. However, the sunlight was on our side – just – so I kept schtum. What followed was an hour of filming us tramping along the beach, holding hands, looking wistfully out to sea together. They had us draw a love-heart in the sand at one point, but Paul got in a huff when I stumbled over his initials. It was all terrifically twee (and surprisingly exhausting, filming the same bits over and over whilst walking on sand), but they didn’t use any of that footage either. Presumably because although I’m talking intently to camera, my eyes keep drifting to just behind shot where some old princess was skipping through the dunes with a bottle of poppers.
We all bid goodnight to one another at that point. It had been a fun day indeed and we learned ever so much about filming and cameras and drones and boom-mics. Paul and I sat on the bench by the beach for a bit and realised that, in all honesty, we hadn’t been taking things as seriously as we ought to and that this was month four and we had only lost a token amount. We needed to up our game. We needed to try harder, otherwise the whole thing was a sham. We agreed to really knuckle down, to work together to hit our goal. Paul mentioned that we should head back, and I told him I’d make my own way home after I’d collected my thoughts. I arrived back a couple of hours later, brushing the sand off my knees and elbows, and together, we came up with a plan to get us to the end. We were going to do this.
OR WILL WE? Spoilers, we sort of do, but that’s for next time.
Now that’s quite enough of your schtick young lady. Let’s do the bloody recipe for turkish-style lamb bulgur pilaf and get it out of the way.
This turkish-style lamb bulgur pilaf is a one-pot dish by the way, perfect for you as a lazy slattern!
And you don’t need to jizz all over the turkish-style lamb bulgur pilaf, but maybe it helps?
Two things to take away from this dinner, please. You can get 10% fat lamb mince from Tesco, or any decent butcher. You can use the normal stuff too if you like, just remember to syn it. Swap it out for beef if you prefer.
And, more importantly, this is a ONE-POT dinner - sound the alarms! That'll save your busting thighs now won't it?
Oh and technically it's 1.25 syns a portion. But go away.
500g 10% fat lamb mince
10g mint leaves
2 red peppers
260g bulgur wheat
4 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp dried oregano
1 beef stock cube
2 tsp sumac (see notes)
2 tbsp baharat (see notes)
2 dried bay leaves
160g fat-free natural yoghurt
preheat the oven to 200 degrees
heat a large, oven-proof casserole dish over a medium-high heat (or use a frying pan) and spray with a little oil
add the lamb mince to the pan along with the oregano, bay leaves and baharat and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently
meanwhile, slice the top off the peppers, remove the core and slice into rings, and slice the tomatoes into wedges
add the peppers and tomato to the pan and give a good stir
put the dish in the oven, uncovered, and cook for fifteen minutes (if you're using a pan, tip into an ovenproof dish)
dissolve the stock cube and tomato puree in 400ml of boiling water, stir, and set aside
when ready, remove the dish from the oven and stir through the bulgur wheat and tomato stock
cover with a lid or foil, and cook in the oven for another 15 minutes
remove the dish from the oven and leave to stand covered for another ten minutes
strip the mint leaves from the stems and roughly tear into smaller bits
fluff up the bulgur and serve onto plates
drizzle or dollop on the yoghurt and sprinkle over the mint leaves
finally, sprinkle over the sumac
nah, we'd never heard of baharat either - if you can't find any just use equal parts cinnamon, paprika and ground cumin
the sumac is optional - if you can't find any a little bit of lemon zest will do the trick
beef mince also works well in this one - cook in exactly the same way
absolutely loving all the kind words from you about our amazing new cookbook - please leave a review or order yours here!
our first slimming cookbook can be also ordered of course – full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 5000 5* reviews – even if we do say so ourselves: click here to order
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LAMB PILAF? On a bloody Slimming World blog? Yes, and it’s quick lamb pilaf too, and it tastes good, so calm your boobs Susan and read on. As ever with our blog, the recipe is right at the bottom – if you’re in a rush, just scroll right down to the photos and the quick lamb pilaf will be waiting for you. However, fans of the writing, there’s a cracking post to follow, so pop your cankles up, lock the kids/dogs in the cupboard under the stairs and I’ll be right with you.
Oh! Though. Two bits of very quick news:
our new cookbook – Two Chubby Cubs: Fast and Filling – is now due for delivery on December 31 2020 – meaning you can start the New Year with all good intentions! Preorder it now and you’ll get the Amazon price guarantee, so you’ll always pay the lowest price. If you loved our last cookbook then I promise this keeps up the pace and there are some genuinely bloody amazing recipes in this one. You think the last book was colourful? This improves on it in every single way; and
we had a minor blip with our Facebook group – but it’s back online now – feel free to join!
Well, hasn’t this been a long three weeks? Maybe not for you – maybe you’ve spent your weeks with your ankles up by your ears picking the fluff out of your toenails, or perhaps you’ve been toiling so hard that you’ve barely had time to swipe the shine off your foof. But all of that must pale in comparison when you realise that I’ve had three weeks without Paul, and as a direct result I’ve had to make my own coffee and meals several times over. I know: we all have a cross to bear, but even so.
You know when circumstances just conspire against you in fun and unexpected ways? That’s me. I set off to Liverpool in the back of September to stay for a couple of days with mates (support bubble mates, before anyone writes a letter). Readers with a long memory may remember passing references to Paul 2 or Limited Edition Paul, but for this article, he shall be known as Tall Paul (as he is 6ft 4″, whereas my homunculus husband is a trifling 5ft 7″). I had planned to stay for four or five days to play cribbage and agonise over what should be done with the way of the world and then return home, triumphant and whistling from the rear, to the arms of my beloved.
However, just as I was packing away my forty seven t-shirts, various tchotchkes and as many lighters as I dared lift from every conceivable surface, catastrophe struck: my Paul received a warning that he had to self-isolate as he’d been near someone who had tested positive for COVID. I was as surprised as you are: Paul isn’t exactly known for his gadabouting and his idea of being social is opening the curtains on his day off, so how could this be? We’re still living in a hotel so chances are it was someone just passing through, but doesn’t matter: he had to bunker down for ten days.
Now, perhaps you’re thinking, surely I must have dashed to my car and drove back to mop his brow and tend to his every whim? Well you’d be wrong, I was in the middle of watching an Agatha Christie and although watching any programme at my friends’ house is an exercise in trying to make out anything remotely distinctive through the fog of smoke and cacophony of shrieking and lament, I was eager to find out who did it. Turns out the murderer was in us all along.
No, it’s because we’re living in a one-bedroom hotel room that we both – jointly – decided I must stay away for the sake of our marriage. Paul and I rarely argue but that’s because in between his working and my flights of fancy, we are together approximately eighteen minutes a day. This works, because it gives us enough time for a cuddle, bum and a blistering critique of his technique after. On holiday we are amazing and can spend weeks together without complaint, but that’s normally because we have new things to distract us from the cruelty in each other’s eyes.
But cooped up together in a one-bedroom flat without the possibility of leaving? We’d genuinely kill each other. Between Paul’s stunning ability to pull facts from eight years ago out of his arse and my propensity towards the melodramatic, it would only take a mild disagreement about who gets the firm pillow before it spilled over into bitter recriminations and me trying to post his head through the toaster. So, for ten days more, I was to stay in Liverpool whilst Paul locked down in Newcastle.
And you know, it was just fine. Paul, confined to what was effectively a fancy jail cell, built some Lego, scratched his bum and availed himself of all the naughty things in my bedside drawer that I tell him not to play with. I had a gay old time – the days flew by – and within the week had grown accustomed to the mild film of spittle that was being left on my face every time I asked someone especially Scouse for directions. Not every vowel needs strangling, just sayin’. I’m kidding, I love the Scouse accent and Liverpool is a terrific city.
However, with two days to go, my friend also gets a self-isolation warning on the app. You couldn’t write the script, could you? Common decency and the fact I’d been using Tall Paul’s toothbrush to ped-egg my feet in the bath meant that I couldn’t risk travelling back to my Paul in case my lungs were full of excitement. This meant a further stay whilst we anxiously waited to see if my lips would turn blue with something other than the effort of doing my shirt buttons, but thankfully no and, after a total of 22 days, I was able to come home and back into the flabby, comforting arms of my husband.
Here’s the thing: for all that I endlessly rag on Paul via this blog, for all that I tease and make him out to be a crabby, contumacious old sort, he’s alright really, and not being able to see him when I wanted was very much a trouble I hadn’t anticipated. Those that know me say that I suffer with contrarianism, that is, as soon as I can’t do something I very much want to do it. You may disagree with that analysis, but that’s fine, because then I’ll deliberately disagree with you and that proves me right. It’s why things like lockdown rankle with me (though I stick to the rules rigidly, because The Greater Good) – I can merrily sit on my bum for days on end and never see anyone but the instant I can’t do it, I’m arranging things left, right and centre and then going Max Tittylip that my plans are out.
And, you know, I really, really missed him. My hosts were truly amazing, each and all, and you must understand that I’m alway glad of an opportunity to sit on someone else’s sofa, but there’s a lot to be said for coming back and burying my nose in the hay-scented fleshpile that is Paul. I missed his innate skill of being able to recall some random quote from a Changing Rooms episode from way back when and reduce me to laughing tears with some naff catchphrase. I like the way his tongue appears at the corner of his mouth when he’s trying to concentrate in spite of my endless prodding. He’s the kindest, most selfless, most considerate barrel of fat you’ll ever meet, and by God he doesn’t get the credit he deserves on here.
It’s not all roses – and that’s mainly because the fat bastard eats them before I get a chance – for example, I don’t like that sometimes when he’s watching TV his jaw slackens and he looks like his mother, the Waltzers Queen of Peterborough. Plus he messes up his personal pronouns in a way that makes my shoulders lock into my ears with annoyance. He gives me a hard time for accidentally piddling around the toilet in the bathroom but has no shame in leaving the pan looking like someone hurled a tin of uncooked brownie mix in from a moving car.
But yeah, I missed him. A couple of times when I sat in front of the Mersey, listening to my Billie Eilish tapes, looking over the river to the hills beyond and knowing he was only a three hour drive away (actually more like seven, given my tendency to stop and get something down on paper at every service station on the way) was a bit of a wrench. We reunited last night in a blur of knock-off Doritos (clearly he hadn’t missed me enough to get name-brand) and The Cube and it was tremendous. Lovely. But that’s to be expected, as I do love him dearly. I mean look what a power couple we are.
Anyway, look, that’s quite enough of that mush. I’ll be back to calling him all sorts and tampering with the brakes on his Smart car lickety-split, I promise. Actually, given the Smart car’s brakes extend to nothing more than pushing a carrier bag out of the window at speed so it acts as a makeshift parachute, that bit will be easy!
The super quick lamb pilaf, then. You’ve waited long enough and endured all of my nonsense, and for that I’m grateful. As grateful as you will be for this delicious quick lamb pilaf? Abso-friggin-lutely. Let’s do this!
Turns out that despite being a delicious dinner to make, the quick lamb pilaf doesn’t photograph too well. Ah well. Bear with.
Serve the quick lamb pilaf with naan breads. Which translates as bread bread, fact-fans.
Just to add to our woes, the quick lamb pilaf photo here went all washed out. But you know what, you’re turning it into poop, let’s not fret too much about the looks.
Lamb mince doesn't get nearly half as much love as it should. It's so much more tastier than beef mince, and is dead easy to cook. Try and get the lean stuff if you can, if you can't find it in the supermarkets a local butcher is a good bet. You slip someone enough spare change and you'd be amazed what they can do with a mincer.
This makes enough for two very large portions. Maybe a bit more for your lunchbox.
This is another recipe inspired from Hello Fresh - we've made a couple of changes to slim it down. We've been customers for a few months while our house gets rebuilt, and, I won't lie, writing a cookbook totally bloody drains you. We love it, and you probably will too! Click here if you want to give them a go, you'll get £20 off your first box. We also get £20, because damn it.
400g lean lamb mince (4 syns)
2 red onions
1½ tbsp ras-en-hanout (you can buy this in all supermarkets, it's not rare, it'll be with the spices)
1 tbsp turmeric
300g basmati rice
600ml chicken stock
2 garlic cloves
20ish mint leaves
half a lemon
400g tin brown lentils
3 handfuls of baby spinach
150g fat free natural yoghurt
spray a saucepan with a little oil and place over a high heat
add the lamb mince and cook for 5-6 minutes, until browned
meanwhile, peel and thinly slice the red onion
add half of the onion to the mince and cook for another 5 minutes
add the ras-el-hanout and half of the turmeric, and cook for another minute
add the rice to the pan and stir, then add the stock and stir again
reduce the heat to medium and cook for ten minutes, covered, then remove from the heat and set aside for another ten minutes
as the pilaf is cooking, peel and mince the garlic, finely chop the minute leaves and drain and rinse the lentils in a colander
spray a frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium heat
add the remaining onion and cook until softened, about five minutes
add the spinach and cook for another couple of minutes until wilted, then add the garlic and lentils
cook for 1-2 minutes until the lentils have warmed through, then set aside
in a bowl, mix together the yoghurt with half of the mint and remaining turmeric
remove the lid from the pilaf and stir and fluff up
gently stir in the lentil mixture, remaining mint and a squeeze of lemon juice
serve in bowls, with a dollop of minty yoghurt
ras-el-hanout is a fantastic spice mix, if you get it you will love it. You'll find it nearly all spice bits in supermarket, but if you really are struggling you can use garam masala or curry powder
lean lamb mince will taste best in this, but beef mince works well too - cook in the same way.
can't be arsed to track down a mint plant? Use a tbsp of mint sauce in the yoghurt instead and a tbsp in the pilaf, we'll never tell
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You have come for the lamb and mint burgers – I nearly did too. But in order to get to the lamb and mint burgers, you’ll either need to scroll through a tale of DILFery OR jump straight to the picture of two men nearly kissing. Either way, I’m going to make you work for it.
They say never meet your heroes, and nor should you reuse your opening joke from a similar blog entry two posts ago, but sometimes you have to take a risk that the man you’re meeting off the Internet isn’t going to brutally attack, sodomise and chop you into bits. Much to my chagrin: I could do with the easy weight loss a leg amputation would bring. Following hot on the heels of my recent jaunt to meet Paul II, the chap behind our roast potatoes recipe, we rolled the dice again and agreed to meet another mate for the first time. His name is Andy, and if you’re a member of our Facebook group, you’ll have seen his arse more times than you’ll have seen our recipes. He was up to see Suede and had decided to make a weekend of it and thus, plans were afoot. We were going to meet Saturday Night, but then I realised Sunday was far more appropriate.
We had arranged to meet in Newcastle’s cigar lounge for a few drinks and a catch-up, but then Paul came along (as did Andy’s wife) and thus we had to find a new venue to accommodate everyone. I shan’t call it cockblocking, even though that’s clearly what it is. We settled on Newcastle’s premier ‘why yes, I am vegan’ hotspot (although technically it’s Gateshead) ‘By the River’, which is a charming collection of shipping containers full of pop-up boutique eateries and fancy places to drink. It’s wank, aye, but good wank: the type of wank which doesn’t take forever and rewards you by just leaving your pubes looking like an iced-bun. By The River, if you want to use that in your advertising, my fees are entirely reasonable. Gateshead has a rough reputation – some of which is deserved (there’s more than a few places where if you’ve got a full set of teeth in your head you’ll be beating the street’s total) and some of which isn’t, but By The River at least feels safe.
We were late but they were later still and on entirely the wrong side of the river so, whilst they minced over the swing bridge resplendent in their winter wear (She’s In Fashion), I went in and ordered a couple of beers.
“We only serve our beers in 2/3rds, no pints” said the charming lady behind the bar, and who then stuck her hand out for £11 – for not even two pints. When I asked whether I was renting the pub for the evening and whether I only needed to pay 2/3rds of the bill, she gave me a look that turned my beer flat and jostled her hand at me again. I love to make friends. I took my sunkissed tangerine press beer and Paul’s grapefruit and hops liquor nonsense (surprised it didn’t come with a tampon floater) outside just in time to meet Andy, Sarah and their children. A baby (she’s a roight good babby she am!) and a young lad. I’ll say this now – what an absolute treasure their children are. Absolutely Beautiful Ones. You have to understand that I’m coming at this as someone who dislikes children immensely and would think nothing of dropkicking the little buggers into the Tyne if they so much as slightly inconvenience me in any way. It’s testament to Sarah and Andy’s excellent parenting that the lad, So Young, was able to sit and be cheerful through ten hours of our nonsense, and was content to nurse his Jaegerbomb and twenty deck of Lamberts whilst the adults chatted.
We sat by the river for about half an hour chatting like old friends before we realised that the baby’s lips had turned blue and she had icicles hanging off her nappy and thought it would be wise to head indoors but, met with a sea of shaped beards, brittle wrists and occupied seats, we were forced to decamp to the Wetherspoons over the bridge. I’m not a fan of Wetherspoons for political reasons and because the owner looks like Professor Weetos mid-CBT, but nevertheless, it’s cheap and cheerful and at least the baby would have a chance to thaw. Finding a table for six proved difficult, not least because Captain Potato Paint was sat at a table for six and refused to move. He wasn’t sat with anyone and yet refused to swap over, taking a fair bit of joy in watching us crowd around a tiny table. Prick. With any luck, he’ll have pitched himself into the Tyne on his way home.
Eventually a table came clear and, with a final shitty look at the melt who wouldn’t move, we took our seats and started drinking. Here’s a cute thing: we posted our table number into our facebook group and mentioned if people wanted to send us a drink or two, they could. They sent a bloody table’s worth of booze – gins, whisky, pints, shots, pitchers of lurid cocktails and, of course, some smoothies and a lemonade for the little one (Paul). That was amazing, and if you sent us a drink, thank you – but it gets even better. People, knowing what fatties we were, sent food. So much food. We had 12 trays of halloumi fries, seven bowls of mushy peas, a token salad and so many biscuits. Whilst We Are The Pigs and Can’t Get Enough, even we can’t manage that much. At one point both the ‘Chef’ and the bar manager came over to ask whether we actually wanted the drinks and food that people had sent and tried to guilt-trip us because we’d caused a run on the bar. Fancy, a pub having to serve drinks and food! They both had a right strop on – presumably the Chef’s microwave had reached critical mass and was threatening to become the next Chernobyl, but even so – people paid for the food, you give it to them! I blame BREXIT.
A good few hours passed in delightful company and let me tell you, conversation never felt strained, save for when we were trying to work out the nuances of Sarah’s Sam Allardyce accent. The baby was getting restless at around 10pm (I’ve never seen a baby call for her own Uber before) and the decision was made to return back to their Premier Inn with us two in tow. What followed was a smashing game of car Tetris which saw the delightful Ahmed (5*) trying to fit a baby, pram, two fat blokes, a small child and his Switch, one rugby-build bloke and one wife with a better beard than all of us into a Vauxhall Zafira. To his credit, once we’d strapped Sarah onto the roof like the granny from The Beverley Hillbillies, popped the baby in the glove box with a rusk and I’d persuaded Andy to sit on my face and wriggle, we were away.
The Premier Inn was a wonderful establishment with kind staff, a bottomless bar (well until I turned up) and cheery receptionists who were just so eager to please. The rest of the evening was spent messing about, talking Trash and laughing until about half one, when we definitely chose of our own volition to leave the bar. We were waved off warmly by the staff and even had a long conversation outside with the kind, good-natured receptionist and just charming security chap. Paul and I jumped in an Uber home and although the driver seemed not to mind detouring into Gosforth Racecourse so we could all go for a piss, he hid his disgust well behind a cloud of our piss-steam. A good night indeed!
Tell you what though, what a pleasure it was meeting such a lovely group of people. I’m not one for overwrought writing but sometimes you just know when you’ve made good friends – so well done Sarah and Andy, you’ve melted our hearts. They’ve made the catastrophic error of inviting us to their wedding later in the year – sounds like a gas save for the fact I love being the centre of attention and if Sarah thinks I’m not turning up in a size 36 white wedding dress with mascara smeared on my face and Astroglide smeared up my arse then she’s got another thing coming. Probably Andy, to be fair. Up my bum, hopefully. We haven’t been to a wedding since the last time when we got drunk and I tried to fuck to the strains of Gina G. How am I gonna beat that?
And finally, before the recipe, a moment of congratulations for me, if you don’t mind. I’ve managed to type 1400 words or so and never really made clear what an absolute fucking DILF this man is:
There’s just something about his looks that appeals to me, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. We’ll Stay Together again!
Right, speaking of tasty meat, shall we do this lamb and mint burgers recipe? Let’s get your dripping from your mouth instead of your blurter.
A lamb doner kebab burger. At this point, we might as well serve you our recipes with a pint of WKD and a quick fingerblast behind the bins. But the theme has been ‘late night fakeaways’ and well, you don’t get any more ‘I’ll regret this in the morning’ than a kebab, improperly stuffed or no. Now, as a naan bread is well out of the question on Slimming World, we’ve stuck it in a burger bun. Definitely not because we had a spare bun to use, oh no. This is the last fakeaway recipe for a bit, so fans of vitamins, nourishment and not sending an aspirin after your dinner can rejoice.
But first, a plea. Those of you who actually read the bawdy filth that prefaces the recipes may remember a post I did a while back imploring you not to be frightened of exercising in case someone looks at you or judges you. That point still stands: go out there and don’t give anyone a second thought. But since the New Year, I have become aware of a special breed of knobhead that has arisen – the ‘I was here first and I’m better than anyone who has just joined’ shitgibbon. For example, at the gym I go along to to breathlessly pant on all manner of machines, there’s two guys who sit at the machines and only actually move whenever they see someone looking at them. Then it’s full grunt, full lift, full raaar, and then dismissive looks at anyone else who is trying to lift or move or exist. You know the type: veins on their forehead that looks like roots of an oak tree, arms like condoms full of walnuts, fake tan applied unevenly and streakily leaving them looking like a distressed armoire. They’re the type of bloke who is so roided up that when they go for a slash they still manage to piss on their hands despite only gripping their shrunken badonkadonk with one finger. I don’t understand it: the posturing and the peacocking and the ‘look at me lifting some arbitrary amount of weight in front of a mirror in my best Jacamo buy one get two free shorts that my wife bought me to encourage me to go to the gym so she can have my brother around for wild sex’ posing.
Honestly, it’s all I can do to focus on Air Crash Investigation and not die on the treadmill. Here’s the top tip: ignore them. It’s quite honestly the worst thing you can do to them – they crave the attention of being ogled, whether you’re doing it aggressively or surreptitiously. Let them get more and more wound up until they stomp out and hopefully wrap their finance-deal-beamer into a tree.
To get away from that today I thought I’d try swimming, but sadly, the pool was also infected with this rot. That and children, though you have to allow the children their noisiness and rambunctiousness as it is a Saturday, I suppose. With Paul advising me that he wouldn’t be joining me in the pool as quite honestly he’s got enough verrucas to keep him going and that he didn’t fancy the inevitable naegleria fowleri infection from the communal showers (well, it is Ashington, you know), I was left alone. Fair enough. Get in, paddle about it a bit and then move into the slow lane to try and do some lengths. I’m not a great swimmer – I look like Artax dying in the Swamp of Sadness from The Neverending Story but with a hairier back – but I can tick along as a reasonable speed and with minimal gasping. I do enjoy watching the lifeguards fretting about having to pull me out of the water if I start flailing, however. So, I’m merrily tootling along with a rudimentary breaststroke, with a couple of blokes in front of me keeping pace, and all is well with the world. As well as it can be when you’ve got someone’s arse pistoning away in front of you, that is, though the chlorine burning my eyes dulled that image a little. All of a sudden there’s a great wave and some absolute fucking bellend goes rocketing past, forcing everyone to swim out of the way. He hits the wall, does that ‘oh look at me’ spin in the water, and sets away back for another length, again causing a wave of water for us poor slowpokes. This continued for a good few minutes before the lifeguard blew her whistle – the power – and told him that he was in the slow lane and if he wanted to swim at such a lick, he would need to move into the fast lane immediately to the left. His reply?
“I AM SWIMMING SLOWLY, THIS IS MY SLOW STROKE”, spat out with such venom I’m surprised the water around him didn’t start to bubble. What a pompous, entitled arse – it was clear he was going as quick as he could but by god he wanted everyone to feel that he could go that much bit quicker. Also, he seemed oblivious to the fact that it’s tricky to look intimidating when you’re wearing a tight, bright pink swimming cap that is pulling your eyebrows up to a permanently surprised look and have combined it with a nose-clip to turn your voice into a high-pitched whinny. Everyone in the immediate vicinity looked at him and the lifeguard made him move over, where he huffed and puffed down the fast lane whilst shooting shitty looks at anyone who went past him. There was no way I could keep up, of course, but you better believe that every time we drew parallel in the lanes, I was shouting the word cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu*nt under the water at him. That made me feel better, as I like to think there was at least a slight revenge. If God existed, he would have been sure to suck the drawstring of his swimming shorts into the filter on the bottom of the pool and kill the bastard off.
Everywhere I go, murder follows. Still: I managed twenty lengths overall, and that’s not bad at all for a bloke who is losing more and more of his buoyancy as the year progresses. Swimming doesn’t feel the same when you don’t immediately follow it up with a Kitkat Chunky and a packet of crisps from the vending machine, however. Paul rejoined me at the car and opened with the line “you know, I wish I was a woman: I’d never stop putting things up my fanny to see if it would fit” – and that’s where we’ll leave it for now.
The recipe, then. Lamb doner kebab burger, if you please. We’ve actually done this recipe before way back when but it looks so awful in the photograph, and frankly, didn’t taste that exciting, we thought we’d do it again but better. Here’s the thing: unless you’re getting your butcher to mince the lamb for you, you’re not going to find 5% lamb mince in the supermarket. You’re just not, and anyone who tells you that you are is a filthy lying bastard. So: buy lamb chunks and food process the hell out of it to make a ‘mince’ instead. It’s that easy! To the lamb doner kebab burger, then…
to make the lamb doner kebab burger you will need:
4x wholemeal rolls (4x HeB)
200g lamb steaks (see top tips below)
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
sweet chilli sauce (0ptional) (remember to syn it, though)
any toppings you like (we used red cabbage, lettuce, rocket and onion)
60g fat-free natural yoghurt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp mint sauce
top tips for lamb doner kebab burger:
you don’t have to use lamb steaks – diced lamb would do the trick just as well, or mince (just mix by hand instead of in the food processor)
if you’re really not a fan of lamb you could use beef mince
a good food processor will make easy work of this. If you don’t have one though you could use lamb mince, just mix it all by hand instead
you could use pitta breads instead of rolls if you wanted a proper kebab!
Warm and spicy shepherd’s pie on the menu tonight. Two things: it really ought to be a cottage pie because we’re using beef mince and secondly, should it be shepherd’s or shepherds’ pie? Oh it confuses me, but at least you guys aren’t getting the blog delivered in text speak. So shush. For tonight’s story you’re coming back with us to Stockholm but listen, we’re not going to stay too long – it’s just I’ve had this ‘typed up’ in my head all day and I want to spurt it out. It’s only one memory – a two hour trip, in fact – but because it was great fun, here it is. As ever, if you’re here just for the food, click the button below to be whisked straight to it.
Do you know, even though I’ve included that button and made it super clear how to get to the recipe, I’ll still get emails from people saying luklushun were recipea plz. I think I could cheerfully nip over to their house, cook their meal and then press their faces into the gravy and they’d still look blank-eyed and slack-jawed, mouthing the words carent c it sorry over and over. But I digress. Enjoy my mini holiday entry, those of you with some dignity.
I’m actually going to cheat and jump forward to the next day – we spent most of the evening before just wandering around drinking before retiring for an early night, and as this isn’t an Ibsen play, I don’t think you need that level of blisteringly boring deal. So, power-mince through time with me ’til the next morning when, having applied for a small loan in order to buy a coffee and a pastry, we wandered out into the streets.
What joys awaited us then? Of course: a museum dedicated to what life is like if you’re a blind person. Admit it: that was your second guess. We had seen the Invisible Exhibition advertised in the inflight magazine on the flight over and despite the scant details, we knew we had to give it a go, and so it was that we were found heading towards the Osynlig Utställning at 10.30am in the morning.
Our journey on the bus was marred a little by having some chap stare at us the whole way – every time I looked up from cooing out the window at how pretty the city was I’d meet his fixed, cold gaze. This went on for a good twenty minutes and he didn’t return my smile or respond to my scowling. Even when I started doing that thing where you stick your middle finger up and slide it over your cheek in a subtle ‘fuck off’ fashion he didn’t stop staring. Very disconcerting, and, of course, when it came to our stop he jumped up and made his way smartly off the bus in front of us, though thankfully he disappeared in the opposite direction as went off to find a coffee that wouldn’t immediately bankrupt us.
That took altogether longer than expected: turns out there’s not a great amount of cafés open down at the docks on a Sunday morning, though we managed to finally locate a watery attempt at coffee by walking into a gym and standing looking at the receptionist for ten minutes whilst she dithered about with her paperclips as though we didn’t exist. Here, I know we’re fat and thus about as welcome in your fancy spa-gym as a verruca outbreak, but pay us some heed. Sulking but caffeinated, we made our way to the exhibition.
The premise then: experience life without sight. The first shock was the price of admission – they definitely saw us coming. Or rather, they didn’t. Actually the entrance fee was very reasonable – I just wanted to set up that laborious joke. We were the only ones there and had to stow our coats, watches and indeed, anything with a light, into a locker. I joked that ‘but I light up a room just by being there!’ but they must have been a deaf-mute because they didn’t immediately fall to the floor clutching their sides. The tour began with a kindly chap showing us how to use a Braille keyboard which, of course, I grasped straight away and typed out my name – it came out as Jimas, and rather than admit my error I just took that name and ran with it for the rest of the tour, feigning some vague Arabic origin story. Paul mastered it effortlessly, of course, but see he’s got a terribly boring first name which is hard to get wrong. If his name was a colour it would be the shade of piss-weak tea.
Our young host left us at this point and we sat at the table until a cry of ‘Jimas and Paul’ bellowed out from across the reception. Part two of our tour was ready: forty minutes being led around a pitch black room stumbling around various ‘scenarios’ to see how you would come without sight. Our guide arrived and OF COURSE it was the bloke from the bus who I thought had been staring wildly at me but had actually just been looking at me without seeing me. The relief I felt when he explained in his opening speech that he was totally blind was immense. He hadn’t seen me mouthing ‘fuck off’ to him for half the bus journey. Or had he? Was this a ruse? Was he going to trip me up in the darkness? Paranoid!
He led us in. What followed was a genuinely bizarre but, no pun intended, eye-opening experience – lots of different rooms to be led around in the blackness, guided only by his excellent instruction. Stuff like sniffing spice jars in the dark to season a meal (at first I thought he was giving me poppers – what can I say, when in a dark room…), operating the taps in a bathroom, putting on music. There was a room where we were encouraged to feel various statues to identify them – The Thinker by Rodin, Atlas holding up a globe and then, with much shrieking from Paul, he identified that he was in the throes of giving Michelangelo’s David a rusty trombone. Later rooms involved crossing a ‘busy street’, walking through a forest at night (♬ you gotta have faith-a-faith-a-faith ♬) and sitting down in a café where you were able to order drinks and snacks from the guide. I was all for a glass of tap water and getting the hell out but, because Paul is hilariously obese, he ordered a tube of Pringles. He could not have ordered a noisier bloody snack if he tried. Have you ever had to sit in the pitch black, all senses bar your sight heightened, listening to your partner crunch his Pringles, smack his lips and make awkward small talk with a guide who was probably itching to get out? I have. I took to making ‘wanker’ signs at Paul and mouthing ‘c*nt’ at him whilst he chewed.
It occured to me as we left the ‘room’ that there’s bound to be an infra-red camera up in the eaves watching us in case of someone falling over or a fire breaking out, meaning that me being horrible to my other half in the dark will all be documented and put on the staff newsletter. However, as we left, Paul confessed that whenever the guide had been talking, Paul had been pulling faces and spreading his arse cheeks at me. Classic Jimas and Paul, right? Once we’d settled up the bill for the Pringles and said a thanks to the guide, we scuttled out.
Let me say this on a genuine note: it was great. No pun intended, it was eye-opening – so disorientating being in the dark but interesting in all of the different ways life can be made easier for blind folk. The guides were charming and the exhibition really well set out – if you’re ever in Stockholm, and in the mood for something entirely different, give it a go!
Right, let’s do this recipe eh? We were looking for a more unusual, warming take on the shepherd’s pie and this recipe came through! You might be feeling a bit unsure about adding spice to such a classic but trust me when I tell you it’s bloody amazing. This makes enough for four massive portions – could very easily serve 6, but we’re fat and greedy. We didn’t get here by eating salad, after all!
to make a warm and spicy shepherd’s pie, you’ll need:
800g potatoes, diced into 1cm cubes
500g lean lamb mince (or beef)
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 tbsp garam masala
400ml lamb (or beef) stock
1 tbsp gravy granules (2½ syns)
200g frozen peas
1 tsp turmeric
juice of half a lemon
top tips for making warm and spicy shepherd’s pie:
Goodness, I meant to post this lemon, garlic and rosemary roasted lamb recipe over Easter, but I completely forgot. I’m terribly sorry. I was only reminded to do so as I drove through the countryside yesterday and saw the cute little buggers prancing about finding their feet and trying out their little baa? Yes, I was so struck by their cuteness that I thought I must tell you all how best to cook them. Ah I’m kidding, I’ve had this recipe typed up for ages. If lamb isn’t your thing, that’s fine – remember, we do an awful amount of vegetarian recipes too. We cover all bases here at twochubbycubs! Look, I’ll even break with tradition and put the vegetarian button in right at the front! No excuses!
Right, with that out of the way, let’s get to eating! But first, the next part of our caravan tale! Would we have a comfortable sleep? Would Paul become Patient Zero on a super-gonorrhoea outbreak? Would I get change from a £20 note for any transaction? Read on!
REMEMBER OUR CAVEAT! Loads of people out there love caravanning. If you’re one of them, don’t get sand in your vag just because it didn’t look like it would be our cup of tea. Everyone has different tastes, remember! Also: the staff were amazing, each and all. Everyone was enthusiastic and cheerful and exactly the right sort of person you need working a holiday park.
When you last left us, we had emerged from our caravan, blinking feverishly against the one ray of sunlight that had managed to penetrate the completely overcast skies, and headed to the bar / arcade / moneypit. I think I had touched on the fact it was like being in a Joop-scented sea of badly-inflated balloons wearing fake tan and Matalan trainers? Clive James once described Arnold Schwarzenegger as looking like a ‘a brown condom stuffed with walnuts’ and it’s all I could think of. But anyway, let’s not go for the low-hanging fruit, eh?
We spent an hour in the arcade which, to be fair to them, was very decent indeed. It goes without saying that it feels as though most of the machines are rigged to buggery but that’s par for the course in places like this. We decided to see how many tickets we could rack up, knowing that as two grown men we’d be able to smash it no problem at all. I’d seen a cute, if most likely highly flammable, Mario plushie in the ticket redemption box and damn it, I wanted it.
After a few goes on the ‘Deal or no Deal’ interactive game, where we won a few hundred tickets and only had minor trauma from seeing Noel Edmonds, then moved onto a ‘shoot the hoops’ game where Paul, with his boss-eyes, managed to not only miss the hoop but also ricochet a ball off the wall and straight off a passing child. Thankfully the kid’s parents were too busy smacking their other child to notice and Paul managed to placate the poor bugger with a few tickets. I won the jackpot on the ‘drop the ball into a tube’ game which meant another 1000 tickets dispensed into our waiting hands. What can I say, if there’s one thing I excel at, it’s handling the balls until we get to the money shot. Boom boom!
We attempted to play the fruities but I sharp realised we’d have more financial success if I just threw my pound coins into the sea. I don’t get how people spend all day in front of these things – I get a cold sweat if I lose a fiver, for goodness sake. The kid next to me was pumping his coins into them like he was feeding the electricity meter for Las Vegas and I couldn’t help but worry for his future. I wanted to slip him the number of Gamcare but didn’t fancy having some wardrobe-sized brute think I was propositioning his child and putting me in intensive care.
We did, however, hit the jackpot – Paul found a broken machine. It was a simple enough set-up – one of those crane machines where you move a crane with all the grip of an arthritic vicar’s handshake and pick a toy – only with this one you were guaranteed to win a prize, namely a little token with varying amounts of tickets on it. Here’s the thing: it wasn’t recognising when you won something so it kept letting you play, picking up more and more tokens. I’m not ashamed to say we absolutely rinsed the machine for about 4000 tickets, stopping only when Paul couldn’t fit any more of the little blocks into his pocket. We reckon we had about 6,000 tickets between us and boy, did we walk through that arcade like we were Rockafella. It might be a slight exaggeration to say we strutted, but our mince was definitely on point. We talked about plans for the future, what the riches so crammed in Paul’s pockets could bring us, happy times.
I resisted the urge to shout ‘DERRRUCK WE’RE AFF TO BENIDOOORM’ like the slobbering Rab C Nesbitt stunt-double from the Postcode Lottery advert.
What bounty did we claim I hear you shriek? Are we rolling around in pound coins like Scrooge McDuck? No. Here’s what we managed to trade our haul in for:
a slightly off-model Thomas the Tank Engine, now with 40% less asbestos fibres;
a little foam aeroplane
a little pig moneybox which Paul promptly dropped and they wouldn’t let us replace;
a bag of Starmix. Not a big bag, oh no, but one of the little bags you dish out at Hallowe’en if you’re a tightarse
PFFFT! To get the amount of tickets we’d ‘acquired’ you would have easily needed to spend over £100. I was spitting with rage. There was a prize up there that needed 14,000 tickets – I assume if you decide to go for that prize a loan advisor will come and have a chat with you next to the Mario Kart ride. Britain man, always trying to shake you down.
We decided to go for a calming drink and watch the entertainment ahead of the ‘PRIZE BINGO’ that we’d seen so many mentions of around the site. Paul found us a seat at the back – a good choice as the Lynx Africa and Charlie Red fumes had sunk to the floor – and I ordered us two pints of Stella. Well, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, right? Did the Romans beat their wives? I should have asked them to stick a cocktail umbrella and a sparkler in it for Paul as ‘my wife’. I took my seat and watched the entertainment, which consisted of lots of little children dancing and shrieking, off their tits on e-numbers and sensory overload. It frightens me how much energy children have and only reinforced exactly why we’ll never get one. I feel inconvenienced and hard done to when our cat meows too much of a morning, imagine having some screaming urchin smashing his fists on the kitchen table and knocking coco pops everywhere. BRRR.
Still, people were happy, everyone was having a good time and it was pleasant enough, until they brought out the mascots – from what I could tell, with my eyes scrunched up through cringing so hard – they were ‘lifeguards’. Lifeguards with normal sized bodies, of course, but those giant plastic faces.
I’m sorry, but these models were terrifying. Faces all weirdly shaped and big glassy dead eyes. Thinking about it, from the perspective of a small child, they probably look cute and heartwarming but to me all I could think of was the knock-off Frozen characters who came to a town event near me last year. Look at this picture and tell me they aren’t absolutely fucking terrifying:
Seriously? I can only imagine they’re from the rarely mentioned Frozen sequel where a mumps outbreak sweeps through. They look like the massively off-brand toys you win from a funfair run by thieves. Basically, if Bill Clinton fucked the Queen of Arendelle, this would be the result. I ought to stop. I just think these would be the last faces you see before death took you in its cold caress.
I winced and shuddered for the next half hour before the next big event was queued up. Now, let me warn you, the next bit is horrific.
Let me just describe a moment of the entertainment to let you decide whether you think we’d enjoy it. You know that awful song ‘Baby’ by Justin Bieber? The one that goes
“And I was like baby, baby, baby oh Like baby, baby, baby no Like baby, baby, baby oh I thought you’d always be mine“
Yeah? Annoying little shitrat, isn’t he? But that’s by the by. The only person in the world now who doesn’t think Justin Bieber is a putrid bellend is himself. Anyway, imagine that song being sung live by two people but changed slightly to advertise the prize bingo, so it now becomes:
“It’s nearly time for bingo, bingo, bingo ooooh Prize bingo, bingo, bingo oooooh Prize bingo, bingo, bingo ooooh Try out for a house or a liiiiiiiine”
I’ve genuinely never been closer to glassing myself. Paul had to pin my hands to the table so I didn’t try and ram a bingo dobber down my ear-drums. It was excruciating cheese. Through teeth so gritted you could strike a match off them, we stayed and endured twenty minutes more of the entertainment before finally getting to the bingo. The room fell silent as though someone had died on stage. I took a final gulp of the gassiest pint of Stella I’ve ever tried and had to suppress a burp as I didn’t fancy having my nose knocked through to the back of my head for causing a disturbance. Numbers were called, it was all super tense, but then someone shouted bingo and the tension was released in a sea of hissed ‘lucky bitch’ and ‘fucking sneaky c*nt’ – and mind this was just for a bloody line where you could win some tat from the gift shop. You know the folks you see on the People’s Postcode Lottery that I mentioned before, mooing on about winning whilst spittle and wind rattle through their badly-fitted dentures? This was them wrought large.
The battle to win a full-house proceeded but I can tell you now, even if I’d managed to get every single number on every single card including the prices for the beer on the table menu, I still wouldn’t have shouted house. There was no way the person who did shout house wasn’t going to be bundled into a giant wicker man on Berwick beach and set on fire. We didn’t even bother to stay to see which snaggletooth secured the ‘prize’ and instead, headed to the fish and chip shop to pick something up for dinner.
Christ, that was an experience. We ordered what I thought was a fairly simple order for a fish and chip shop to carry out – in that we ordered fish and chips – but we waited there almost twenty five minutes whilst they fussed about. It was the first day of opening, I understand, but I hadn’t factored in waiting for the potatoes to grow when I placed the order. At least Paul and I were able to entertain ourselves by admiring the very dishy security staff. I was tempted to push over a fruit machine in the vain hope of being pinned to the ground and ‘accidentally’ penetrated.
After waiting for ages, the fresh-faced young lad who had served us emerged with a full beard and handed over our dinner. All very nice, bar the curry sauce looked exactly like the holiday trots. I put that in the caravan bin so we were able to enjoy the smell for the rest of the holiday.
And so: to bed.
The recipe, then. I’m just going to give you the recipe for the lemon, garlic and rosemary roasted lamb by itself – you can serve it with whatever you like but the next recipe I post will be for sunshine potatoes and a pea crush, so perhaps hold your lips together until then. If there’s only a couple of you I’d still make this recipe, as I have a recipe for leftover lamb coming down the line too. And look – it’s worth using the syns for this. A decent leg of lamb serves eight. The olive oil is 18 syns so technically that’s about 2 and a bit syns. Given most of the marinade ends up in the bottom of the serving dish and not on the meat, I’m going to syn this at 1 syn per serving (if the leg serves eight). Up to you how you do it! This needs prepping in advance – at least an overnight dish.
Here for the lamb tagine? Yes, that’s well and good, and perhaps you can’t wait, but if you have five minutes, why not take a moment to read part two of our trip to Switzerland?
I apologise for the length of the last entry – I’ll try and keep it a bit more sensible this time around. This actifry lamb tagine can very easily be made in a normal pot, by the way, just simmer for the same amount of time. Can’t go wrong. I’m typing this up when I actually should be knuckling down for some last-minute Christmas shopping as I have exactly nil Christmas presents bought. Oops. Ah well, lumps of coal and stern looks for all. I might send Black Santa from the previous post.
But anyway, enough grousing. Let us step back a week or so ago to a point where two fresh-faced, handsome men, stylishly dressed for the city and with hope in their hearts, stepped off the Geneva-bound easyJet flight from Newcastle. You’ll see us right behind them, sweating our tits off, pulling our balls free from the inside of our thunderthighs and exclaiming ‘IT’S RIGHT COLD’ as we stumble down the steps like a cow with advanced BSE.
The first thing we did in Geneva was have a stare-off with some Aldi version of Annie Lennox who was quite insistent that she should cut in front of us in the queue at security, for reasons I couldn’t ascertain from her scowling face and bleached grey hair. You could say she was a Thorn in my Side, but actually, I’d just call her a rude bitch. I don’t mind an elbow in my back-fat if it belongs to Paul but not someone who is jump the queue. Tsk. Paul and I made sure to stand beside each other, pressed firmly together, like Trump’s Wall but made from Tesco jeans and fat. My, she couldn’t half tut though. Imagine my concern.
Security waved us through – yet again, no stamp – why? I want stamps in my passport. I appreciate that means that I’ll probably need to travel somewhat further afield than what Newcastle Airport can offer me but still. Rumour tells me that I’ll get a stamp if I travel to Benidorm, but alas, the stamp will be on my nose by an orange chav with Naf-Naf shoes. Pfft. We made our way out of the airport and decided to have a sandwich and a coffee in one of the many pleasant eateries dotted about the concourse. Well, honestly – in what will doubtless be a running theme throughout these entries – it was so bloody expensive. We had been warned but we waved off the concerns and cautions with the haphazard air of the seasoned traveller. A sandwich and a small coffee? £13. I wanted to lean over the counter and ask if the sandwich came with someone to sit with me whilst I ate and regale me with Swiss fairy-tales but alas, my French doesn’t extend to lusty sass.
That’s another thing about Switzerland – you’re never quite sure whether you should be speaking in French, German, Italian or some bizarre hybrid of the lot. We both give speaking in the native language the old college try but it’s bad enough when you’re trying to summon the French for cheese and ham baguette from the distant memory vault of Year 9 French, it’s even worse when you have to try and build in a Germanic back-up plan. Shamefully, we both did rather more pointing and apologising in English this holiday then we’ve ever done before. We managed to receive disdain from so many races that I felt like Nigel Farage.
Having finished our sandwiches and drib of coffee, neither especially amazing, we made our way to get the train from the airport into the centre of town. I’d looked it up online and spotted that it was a mere 5 minute ride and, even with the Swiss propensity to take the normal price of goods and services and then square it, it was never going to cost that much. However, Paul had spotted somewhere on the Internet that tourists to Geneva were given a free ticket to travel in, saving us, oooh…£4 at best. He wouldn’t be shaken from the idea that we simply had to have this ticket and so it was that we spent a good thirty minutes scouring the airport for this mythical free ticket machine. I was thrilled, as you can imagine, given I was full of warm cheese and bitter coffee, and anyway, this is a man whose primary motive for buying a new car was because his old car was dirty and needed new tyres. He’s not exactly Martin Lewis, you know?
We eventually found the fabled free ticket machine, however, of course, it was located back in the arrivals bit and we’d already gone through the customs channel, meaning we couldn’t nip back through. Conversation somewhat strained, we made our way back to the train station, I bought us two first class tickets and we were on a train in no time at all. My simmering rage was tempered when the train turned up – it was a double-decker train! I know that’ll be of no excitement to anyone with an active sex-life but to me, it was thrilling. There’s something captivating about climbing up stairs on a train to me – it gives me an opportunity to make grand staircase exits as I leave the train, for one.
As you’d expect, the train was comfortable, luxurious and clean, putting everything that barely trundles around our rail network to shame. There’s something pleasing about sitting in a train where you’re not greeted with a rolling wall of shit-vapour everytime those automatic toilet doors open, for one. We were perturbed by the scenes outside the train window though – I was expecting fastidiously clean streets and charming buildings but instead we were treated to a heavily graffitied jet-fuel depot and lots of suspicious looking men in stonewash denim. Happily, the train pulled smartly into a tunnel and all that was soon forgotten, deposited as we were into Genève-Cornavin station.
This was more like it. Our first true glimpse of Switzerland. First impressions? Very few fat people. I’m not sure why but it was noticeable – no-one clutching handrails on stairs and gasping, no-one shuffling with pained feet – everyone walking briskly and stylishly. I immediately felt bad and made to cover my man-boobs and sweat patches in my Scottish Widow coat. I don’t normally care, but who wants to be the cow pat a field of flowers?
We consulted our phones – thank the lord for google maps – and realised that it was an easy fifteen minute walk to our hotel, the Hotel N’vy, which you can gaze adoringly at by clicking here. Don’t worry, it’ll open in a new window. As we trundled along we were both struck by how clean it all was – yes, perhaps some of the buildings needed a gentle Karchering, but there wasn’t a pick of litter to be seen, nor the other unfortunate city sights that trouble Britain, such as smashed up phoneboxes or the homeless. I assume that’s because Switzerland treat their homeless like humans rather than inconveniences and shysters like we do in the UK.
Seriously, the amount of comments I read on our local rag’s facebook page about Newcastle’s homeless appalls me. Stuff like ‘they spend all their money on drugs so I don’t give them anything’ or ‘they’re all scammers’. You know, if you don’t want to donate or help, that’s fine, we’ve all got our reasons, but please don’t wear your arseholery like a badge. No-one is impressed. Frankly, if someone wants to put the quid or two that I’ll drop in their pot on some smack to get them through a winter’s night, so be it, good for them. I’d do the same thing if I was on the streets – not as if I’d get much for selling my body, for sure, though perhaps someone could cut me open and sleep in my belly like Leonardo di Caprio does in The Revenant with that antelope. If I’m being conned, at least I took a gamble.
Anyway, sidetracked, sorry. We made it to our hotel without getting lost once which is a bloody miracle given neither of us can find our arses with our elbows. Honestly, our sex life is just a long series of pointed directions – up a bit, down a bit, left a bit, no no, come down a bit, to me, to you – our neighbours must think we’re moving a large sofa around a tiny room with assistance from the Chuckle Brothers. Someone once suggested that we use the ‘scratch and sniff’ approach to lovemaking in the dark: pfft, that would work, save for the fact Paul’s arse smells like a stable fire where the horses didn’t make it to safety.
The receptionist was an absolute delight – couldn’t speak a lick of English, unusually, but we managed to laugh our way through the reservation and she took my American Express with skilled panache. Funny how the language barrier never stands in the way of payment, eh?
We were lucky, too – despite us arriving at around 11ish in the morning, they’d already prepared the room (the usual: reinforce the toilet, plastic sheeting on the bed, make sure the telly can receive Tipping Point and The Chase) and we were ushered upstairs with our luggage by some friendly chap in a lovely hat. He didn’t hold his hand out for a tip which was fortuitous as I only had notes of 100 Swiss Francs (about £80) and in Switzerland that would have only just been enough to get him to hold the door open. He left us to our room where, you guessed it, Paul’s holiday traditions took place – a look in the minibar, the stealing of anything small and portable into our freshly emptied suitcase, and yes, an eye-watering poo. I’d barely got the cap of my complimentary bottle of sparkling water before I heard rapturous groans and heavy splashing from the lavatory, followed by “JUST MAKING ROOM FOR THE FONDUE MY LOVE”. Isn’t he a treat? I don’t think I’ve ever been in a hotel room with Paul for longer than fifteen minutes before it smells like a rendering plant and I can barely read the minibar list through my streaming eyes.
I’d like to tell you that we bustled straight out of the door to enjoy the city but actually, once Paul had finished his poo and had a shower, the early start caught up with us and we decided to spend the day ordering room service and sleeping. We like to spend a full day exploring the city but we needed to be fresh and ready for that, and frankly, we’ve both been working super hard lately. We needed the rest. At some point, in between the drunken sleeping (we raided the minibar, and by god we’d truly pay for that later) and ordering of burgers and chips and sandwiches, Jingle All The Way came on the TV. Aaaah, it doesn’t get any more Christmassy than that, does it?
Let’s pick up the rest of this in our next entry. I apologise that I don’t move on very quickly when I’m typing up holiday entries, but I just love writing about them! I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts. To the recipe, then.
We’ve taken this from the MyTefal app, but modified it slightly and gave it a sexier name. We know it’s not a real lamb tagine. Deal with it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t normally need a lot of encouragement to get my hands on a dishy Moroccan, but here we go. I don’t know how they can get away with calling it a lamb tagine, either, given it’s a very ‘dry’ dish. This makes enough for four or so chunkers.
to make actifry lamb tagine you will need:
900g diced lamb
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp paprika
5 tomatoes, quartered
1 yellow pepper, deseeded chopped into large chunks
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
salt and pepper
Actifry’s are back under £90 on Amazon – I don’t expect they’ll stay that way so if you’re sitting on the fence, get one now by clicking here! It’s bloody Christmas, treat yourself.
to make actifry lamb tagine you should:
place all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well, leave to marinade for 30 minutes
cook in the actifry for 27 minutes
Doing this in a pot? You’ll need to do it a little differently – brown off the lamb first by cooking in a bit of oil. Add about 100ml of lamb stock to the pan and allow to gently bubble along with everything else until thickened and lovely. Serve with rice. Or hoy it all in a slow cooker. Hey, each to their own, am I right?
Looking for more ideas on what to do with lamb? Click the buttons below!
A pronto lamb tagine? Well, yes, it’s a one-pot meal left over from one-pot week, and you can find it below. It’s one of those meals that no matter how you photograph it, it looks like something our cat did on the carpet when we changed his catfood for the cheaper variety. We’re currently locked in this exact battle of wills with our cats – we want to see if we can get them on cheapy cat food for a bit so we bought a sachet of Conshita or something from Lidl (I know) to test. They sampled a bit and seemed to enjoy themselves so we went and bought a crate of the stuff. Of course, this was a step too far and they immediately took such great offence at our penny-pinching that they’re refusing to eat. We’re also refusing to budge. They won’t go hungry, there’s plenty of dry food and mice and whatnot to be had, but I swear they both sit there smirking as I scrape the untouched catfood into the bin. We’ve got an Amazon Dash button for Whiskas on the fridge (very clever stuff – you press the button, Amazon automatically orders you a box of catfood and delivers it the next day – I’m not kidding, look!) and I reckon it’ll be three days before they’ve started pressing it themselves.
ANYWAY where have we been? Well, I’ve been in gay Glasgow on a sort-of business trip and Paul’s been stuck at home, aimlessly masturbating and wailing around the house like Victoria when Albert died. I did take my iPad with me with an eye to creating some new posts but actually, after I had finished work and navigated Glasgow, I couldn’t be arsed. Plus The Fall was on and I was too busy admiring Whisperin’ Agent Scully to hammer out a blog.
However, we’re going to try something new for the next month – a new post every day in October. Let’s have 31 days of new recipes and ideas and really concentrate on getting our slimming done right. Are you with us? You should be. I know October is traditionally given over to giving up smoking but listen, smoking makes you look cool and better you put a cigarette in your mouth than a family sized bar of Dairy Milk, am I right? I’m kidding: don’t smoke, folks, it makes you look common and everyone thinks you stink. I’ve been racking my brains to try and think of a decent, snappy title that combines October with recipes or losing weight and can I balls – if you can think of one, do leave a comment. One thing to stress though: there will be nights when it is PURELY a recipe we’re posting – so no guff beforehand! I always feel guilty if I can’t squeeze out a few paragraphs but no more! Something is better than nothing, after all…!
I can’t help but notice there’s a rash of strops and gashcrashing going on via the facebook groups about the fact that Slimming World are changing the rules on sweetener, which I believe is now synned at 1/2 syn per tablespoon. Quite bloody right! When you see people making cakes (sorry, how silly: vanilla scented omelettes) that have 75g of this shit in and then eating the whole lot because ‘ITZ JUS LIKE A PROPA CAKE HUN XOXOXOX’, you can see why SW stepped in and stopped it. That’s why we don’t have many cakes and biscuits on this blog – not because we can’t bake but because the reason these things taste so nice is because of the butter and because of the sugar. Sweetener, quark and the tears of a fatty is never going to beat that! Naturally we’ve had over-reactions, with people saying they’re going to leave because SW keep changing things, which is the equivalent of shooting yourself in the head because the logo for BBC2 has changed. Plus, if you HAVE to have it, it’s only 1/2 syn in a tablespoon. You’re allowed 15 syns a day. So that’s thirty tablespoons and frankly, if that isn’t enough to get by on, you’ve got bigger problems than getting Splenda out of the folds in your neck.
Finally, just a big thank you to all the wonderful kind comments and likes on our last post – I was so tempted at the end of it to say we were packing up and no more posts as a joke – I’m glad I didn’t. Judging by your outpouring of love (or was it just wind?) I’d have finished a few of you off – and not in that ‘rubbing ink off your hand’ way, if you get what I mean. To the lamb tagine! This serves four fatties and can be done all in the one pot as long as that pot has a decent lid and can go in the oven. If it can’t, you’re fucked. No, obviously not, you’ll just need to transfer it, but you can definitely manage that!
OH COMPLETELY AS AN ASIDE: do you need a laugh? This is a genuine goldmine. It’s as old as Paul’s mother but far more entertaining – read the reviews people have left for this portrait of Paul Ross. Click right here. It’s rare that I laugh 😐 but these had me absolutely creased. It’ll open in a new window, no need to shit the bed. You know we’ve got a good sense of humour, it’ll not let you down.
to make pronto lamb tagine you will need:
500g lean diced lamb
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, quartered lengthways and chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp ras-el-hanout spice mix
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin chickpeas, drained
100g dried apricots, chopped (10 syns)
600ml chicken stock
to make pronto lamb tagine you should:
preheat the oven to 180°c
heat a casserole dish on the hob over a medium-high heat and add some oil
brown the lamb on all sides and then remove from the pan and place onto a plate
in the same pan, add the onions and carrots and cook for about three minutes
add the garlic and cook for another minute
stir in the spices and chopped tomatoes and stir
add the lamb back to the pan along with the chickpeas, dried apricots and and stock
stir well, bring to a simmer and cover with the lid
cook in the oven for a couple of hours, though make sure it doesn’t boil dry – add more stock if it does
serve with rice!
How easy was that? If you’re after a few more lamb recipes, click the buttons below, but you can indulge yourself with beef, chicken and pork too!
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:
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).
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)
2 medium aubergines, cut into slices and dipped into lemon juice to stop them going brown