I’m fully aware that we’ve had a bit of a run of lemon and oregano recipes but here me out with this grilled chicken – I’ve still got tonnes of that oregano my mate gave me and well, it’s coming up to Bank Holiday and time to get the BBQ out. So if you don’t like it, please feel free to pucker up and kiss my bum!
Just a very quick post today as lots to do, but I want to make a special plea to you lot following my bee-facts on Tuesday. If you’ve got a moment or two, pot up some nice bright flowers and stick them outside. Nothing fancy: a few flowers in a rusty beans can will do the job, hell, you can stick a lupin in your fundament for all I care, but let’s save the bees. We’re surrounded on our street by pristine laws of immaculate grass and mm-precision borders and it makes me sad: where are the bees to land if not on our dandelions? We’re deliberately letting the garden grow a bit wild, if only because it makes us laugh when some of the neighbours wince as they walk past. Now they know how I feel when I catch sight of their chinos and Daily Mail.
Seriously, it makes an amazing pesto for this recipe: spinach and wild garlic pesto pasta (3 syns). Though I recommend you choose the leafs away from the path, otherwise you’ll be accompanying your dinner with a light drizzle of dog piss.
This recipe for lemon and oregano grilled chicken is fresh from Martha Stewart's website, but that's OK, she probably stole it off someone else anyway. #topical
This recipe couldn't be easier, so even your hamfisted attempts at clarting about in the kitchen can't end in disaster. Make the marinade, leave it to sit and then grill it! BBQ or normal grill, who cares - end result is tasty chicken!
DON'T be tempted to skip the oil, for goodness sake. It adds a bit of succulence and for crying out loud, if you're having a BBQ, better to spend the syns on something tasty than an arseholes-and-eyelashes burger from Aldi? Yes?
as many chicken thighs as you want, though this makes enough marinade for about eight - boneless is better, but if you're alright with the thought of a bone in your mouth, and let's be honest we've all read the graffiti in the bogs which confirms that fact, go with the bone
2 tablespoons of grated lemon zest
120ml of lemon juice (fresh, mind, don't you be cheap about this)
2 tablespoons of olive oil (12 syns, which I've dividing between eight)
two tablespoons of fresh oregano if you have it (finely chopped) or dried if you're a Dismal Deirdre
good pinches of salt and ground pepper
fresh oregano sprigs if you're that way inclined
look, there's two ways of approaching this - make your choice:
I'm a hussy: OK, leave the skin on the chicken, it's tasty, but you should syn it...should...but well, you know...
I'm a nun: take off the skin, throw it in the bin, sob silently into your sleeve at what a monster you've become
whichever way you choose, prick the chicken all over with a fork
the next step is to combine all the ingredients together and give those chicken thighs a good rub, you saucy minx
leave to marinate for as long as you dare
BBQ for however long it takes for the juices to run clear and the internal temperature reaches over 74 degrees in the thickest part of the chicken
you can, of course, grill in the oven - same rules apply!
Serve with salad!
nothing fancy to report here, but if you're sick of chicken thighs don't worry - you can use chicken breasts just as well - we recommend Musclefood's chicken because it doesn't shrink away to an epiglottis-sized piece of nothing when you cook it. We have secured a deal with them which includes a crazy amount of chicken, along with other syn-free meats, and I suggest you take a look right here (oh and full disclosure, we get a tiny bit of commission: but remember our rule, it we don't rate it, we don't sell it)
we've got a Weber BBQ and love it - this one, actually - but honestly, you don't need to spend a lot of money on a BBQ - as long as it gets hot, that's all you need
buy a meat thermometer for your BBQing though - seriously - unless you're a fan of spending all weekend trying to stop your innards falling through your hoop! Amazon do a proper cheap number here!
My question to you is simple: why aren’t you making this? Want more chicken ideas? Then I, being a merciful Lord, will oblige:
Chicken and chorizo jambalaya: because you need an easy chicken recipe, and we need an easy life. So, not only have we found you possibly the easiest chicken recipe we’ve ever done, we’ve even done you a video!
We get a lot of feedback with people mentioning that it’s a faff on having lots of different deals all over the place and that they want just ‘pure’ meat, as opposed to flavourings and rubs and meatballs and sausages. So, with that in mind, we’ve revamped our Musclefood offering so that you can buy different sizes of our popular Freezer Filler deal – all three sizes will save you money on buying it in the supermarket and of course, it’s all syn-free. Up to you how you cook it!
So here it is: the ULTIMATE FREEZER FILLER SELECTION! There’s three packs here for you to choose from so there’s something for every budget. If you haven’t ordered from us before then what are you waiting for?! You’ll save a fortune compared to getting the same amount of stuff at the supermarkets, and not only are you getting a bargain but it all tastes nicer too. The chicken breasts are HUGE and won’t shrivel when you cook them, the beef isn’t like chewing on a dry tampon and the mince isn’t mushy! Seriously, give it a try – we promise you won’t look back! Everything in these packs are syn free!
You’ll save a fortune ordering from us compared to getting the same amount of stuff at the supermarkets and the bigger the pack, the more you save. Fill up your freezer and it’ll last you for ages!
Full disclosure: we get a small commission for the meat we sell – it doesn’t change the price you pay, but helps keep us in the gin, buttplugs and fancy living lifestyle we’ve grown accustomed to.
Now for a sneak inside my box – here’s what you get in our deals. We did try and get Musclefood to call the boxes ‘mouse’s ear, wizard’s sleeve and hippo’s yawn‘ but apparently, that’s too off-brand:
This super easy chicken and chorizo jambalaya is a one-pot, quick cooking marvel: it tastes good, it's low in syns and if you're shite in the kitchen, you'll be able to knock this together without breaking a sweat. It's an all round good guy!
2 chicken breasts, diced
1 onion, chopped
200g frozen peas
1 red pepper, chopped
2 tbsp Morrison's No Fuss garlic paste (1 syn) (or mince your own garlic, you fancy sod)
100g chorizo, diced (12 syns)
1 tbsp cajun seasoning
250g long grain rice
400g tin of plum tomatoes
400ml chicken stock
if you haven't already, dice and chop up everything that you need to and set aside
spray a large pan with oil and pop over a medium-high heat
add the chicken and cook until no pink remains
next, add everything else and give a good stir - give the tomatoes a bit of a squash with the edge of the spoon so they break up a little bit and spread out
add the lid to the pan and simmer for 25 minutes
we used garlic paste for this because we ran out of proper garlic - if you're using garlic cloves you can knock a syn off
I think, if someone held a gun to my head and demanded I pick one meal to eat for the rest of my life, I’d go for quiche. You have no idea how much I love it – I grew up on my nana’s cooking and her idea of quiche was two eggs, bacon that was still oinking and more salt than the Dead Sea. It was delicious, not least because it took away the taste of her apple pie. I’m not sure if it was a result of growing up in the war (she fought a pivotal role in the Transvaal Rebellion) but she was never lavish with her ingredients – she remains the only woman I ever met who could turn a postage stamp sized bit of pastry into eight full fruit pies and a batch of sausage rolls. The apple pie didn’t so much have a filling of apple as a light dusting. I would love to be able to bake like that – absolutely no measurements, timings or fuss: just 100% pure instinct.
That leads me to my simple point that I want to make before getting straight to the recipe: don’t fall into the trap of following recipes slavishly – everything we post is merely a guideline. Don’t like an ingredient? Leave it out (though use common sense, you’ll struggle to make tomato ketchup if you use Weetabix and tears, for example) and put in something you actually want to eat. Recipe not looking quite right? Cook it for a bit longer. Use cheaper meat if you’re short on cash. Don’t stress about the little things – and never more so then in this chicken, leek and bacon quiche recipe, because you can chuck any old shite into a quiche and as long as you season it well, you’ll be laughing.
This chicken, leek and bacon quiche is perfect for either using up all manner of leftovers from the fridge or specifically for a tasty, lovely lunch. You can add anything you like - add more cheese, some mushrooms, pepper, red onion...anything you like! Easy to make too.
two chicken breasts - grilled, poached or baked - cut into cubes or shredded
a few rashers of bacon
one large yellow pepper
one chilli pepper
one leek - get a big one, mind, you want it to leave you wincing every time you pick it up
lots of salt and pepper
180g of ricotta (2 x HEA)
40g of extra mature lighter cheddar (1 x HEA)
eight or so eggs (if you're using whole eggs) or 12 egg yolks (so much nicer!)
30g of parmesan (1 x HEA)
NOTE: so this makes enough for eight wedges, but let's assume you'll eat two wedges. That's one HEA.
cook off the leeks, pepper, bacon and chilli together in a pan until the bacon is cooked and the leeks have softened
add the chicken
mix together the ricotta, cheddar and the eggs - now this is where you need to use your judgement - you may not need as many eggs if you have big eggs or less mixture - you want a good thick 'sauce' when it is all beaten together
I prefer to use egg yolks only because it makes a lovely rich quiche, but can work out pricey for eggs - if you go down this route, don't waste the egg yolk - make these peppermint meringues!
mix everything together in one bowl and add a good pinch of salt and pepper
slop it all into a good non-stick dish - I like to grate half the parmesan into the bottom of the dish before putting the mix in, then top the quiche with the rest of the cheese
cook in the oven for about 35 minutes, or longer if it is still wobbly
We’ll get to the recipe for chicken and mushroom pie in a moment, but first…
One downside of this bad weather has been the fact that, for the third time in about eight years, I was forced to take a bus to work. A bus! I’m not one of those lazy snobs who call them peasant-wagons or walks around with my nose so high in the air that my snot freezes but you must understand that I can’t bear public transport. It’s not either people (for the most part) but rather the fact I like the Fortress of Solitude that is my crappy little DS3. I like to be able to sing without worrying that the bus driver is going to take such offence that he’ll drive us straight into a river. I like to be able to fart without having to go for the rigmarole of breaking wind and then looking owlishly around at everyone else as if to say ‘is someone burning hair?‘. I like to be able to colourfully swear at other people without the fear of having my teeth introduced to my uvula. And, let’s be honest, there’s no better feeling than a little toot on an impotent horn when someone cuts in front of you, no? MAKES ME FEEL LIKE A BIG MAN.
However, I can’t drive in snow, and frankly, another day cooped up working from home with Paul breathing noisily (indeed, at all) next to me was going to tip me over the edge, and so it was that I traipsed out into the snow and slush at ungodly-o-clock on Friday morning to do something I haven’t done in years: treat another human being with civility before 10am.
I arrived at the bus stop just in time to see a bus-full of sad faces sliding away down the street, a good ten minutes early. That’s fine, it would give me a good opportunity to wonder at my own nipples turning into masonry bits in the Baltic cold. I barely had time to consider throwing myself under a passing car like a modern Emily Davison before I was joined at the bus-stop by another group of people who look equally as pissed off as me that we had to go to work. Everyone had that thin-lipped, furrowed brow thing going on, possibly because they were all sharing my thought that everyone in that bus-stop had better not jump the queue. Naturally, none of us said a word to one another. I was positively itching to turn around, place my palms out in a welcoming gesture and say ‘Now you may be wondering why I’ve called you here today’ in a rich, pleasing baritone, but sadly no. We waited in silence for twenty six years.
Just as my lips were turning black and peeling away, salvation appeared: a bus! A lovely, shiny, green beacon of hope, belching diesel fumes as it slipped its way up the street. Given I was first at the bus stop I appointed myself Chief Bus Wrangler and stood in a nice prominent position to get the bus to stop. It didn’t. Well it did, more than a few yards down the road, and when I climbed on board the driver shouted at me for not sticking my hand out. Our bus-stop is served by one service, on a street with no shops or places of note. What did he think all eighteen of us were standing by the side of the road for? Perhaps he thought it was an impromptu meeting of the Timetable Worshipper Aficionado Tribe, or TWAT for short. Surely he could have taken a quick glance at my brisk office attire (which is the same as my gardening outfit, only I change my shoes) and assumed we would want a lift into town? Pfft.
It wasn’t even a ‘oh silly you’ telling off but a full-on bark at me – it seems unusual for a passenger to be thankful of the spit-guard but I was that morning, because I reckon I would have been spittle-flecked in no time at all. I apologised profusely, told him ‘I don’t usually get the bus’ (don’t worry, I came up with nineteen better retorts in my head later) and then, in my flustered state, managed to lock my phone. That’s bad because I now held him up for another minute or so whilst I tried desperately to get their stupid buggy app to open so he could see that I wasn’t trying to scam the bus company out of a few quid by getting on for free. The temperature behind me must have dropped suddenly because I could hear quite the cacophony of tutting, which I took to be their teeth chattering.
The bus ride itself was uneventful – I mean, it’s a bus journey, what more do you want me to say about it – but it afforded me the opportunity to be simultaneously burnt and frozen at the same time. Due to someone smelling of vegetables and cigarettes sitting beside me, I was pushed up against the side of the bus, meaning my left leg was resting straight on the nuclear reactor that is the bus heater. You’ve never lived until you’ve felt your bone marrow boiling in your leg. The pain was tempered by the fact that someone in front of me thought it was sensible to have the window open because, you know, who needs to worry about their sperm count? To be fair, I don’t: as long as it doesn’t come out like a line of Crest toothpaste I couldn’t care less. The combination of burning and freezing left me feeling like a chicken breast being defrosted in the microwave. Great! Thankfully, someone ignored their Britishness, got up, slammed the window shut. We all thanked him silently.
This only left one other concern. Condensation. I’ve never really considered it before, but when I’m moving my hands around on the window to get rid of the fog that has built up, I’m smearing my hands around in other people’s saliva, amongst other things, aren’t I? Is my science correct? I mean, my bus originates from Blyth – that spit is going to be 80% knock-off Golden Virginia, isn’t it? No wonder I was gasping for a tab when I got off, though I’m probably the first person in the world to develop emphysema from osmosis.
Sigh. At least this whole experience didn’t cost the Earth, eh? Only £18 for two days.
I console myself with eating good food. These one pot chicken and mushroom pie is just the ticket for a warm winter night! Get it made! And look – we’ve even got a video guide for you to cook along to! Let us know what you think – or, just scroll down for the text. We’re not really arsed.
one pot chicken and mushroom pie with proper pastry!
You might be tempted to forgo this recipe if you're trying to save your syns, but remember, you get 15 syns a day: and what better thing to spend them on then something tasty and delicious? This is a chicken and mushroom pie made in a frying pan which then goes in the oven: one-pot dish AND wonderful!
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1 leek, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp tarragon
200ml chicken stock
105g Phildelphia Lightest (1x HeA)
2 good handfuls of frozen peas
150g sliced mushrooms
4 potatoes, diced
150g ready rolled light puff pastry (30 syns)
2 eggs, beaten
So, cut into four, this pie is 7.5 syns per serving. But cut into six and served with veg, it's only 5 syns! And it's worth it for that pastry, that sauce, that taste!
add the potatoes to a pan of cold water and bring to the boil
reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the potato is soft, then drain
meanwhile, spray a large oven-safe frying pan with a little oil and add the sliced leek
fry gently over a medium-high heat until soft
add the garlic and cook for another minute or so
add the chicken, mushrooms, tarragon, stock and philadelphia to the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
add the potato and peas to the pan and cook for another five minutes
remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool
next, preheat the oven to 180°c
drape the pastry over the top (cut off any excess) and crimp gently around the edge
brush with the beaten egg and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden
remove from the oven and allow it to rest for a couple of minutes
dig in, serving with whatever the hell you want
top tips for making chicken in a frying pan pie
leftover roast potatoes will work like a dream in this too!
if you want to make a smaller pie you can do - just halve the recipe and use a smaller pan
Taster night five spice chicken skewers – there’s a lot of love in Chubby Towers for these – but as it is Valentines Day tomorrow, we’re having a night off! So no blog post, just a wee bit of admin – first of all a message, then the recipe.
That’s right folks: try another new and lovely recipe! You might find it sticks in your throat at first, but just relax, you’ll be fine, and you’ll end up enjoying it! And now, a recipe…
to make tasty five spice chicken skewers you will need:
400g chicken breast or thighs, thinly sliced
250g pineapple, cut into chunks
1 red pepper, cut into chunks
1 green pepper, cut into chunks
1 onion, cut into wedges
1 tbsp five spice
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp black pepper
100ml soy sauce
8-10 wooden skewers (soak in water to stop them from burning)
top tips for making tasty five spice chicken skewers:
you can also cook these under the grill instead if you’d prefer, set it to medium-high and cook for ten minutes, turning frequently
yeah, technically you should syn the pineapple if you’re following the plan to the letter, but lets be honest – it’s not a huge amount of pineapple, it’s not getting mashed down or owt, no magical sugars are being created and frankly – life’s too short. We didn’t bother. You can if you like.
Cherry coke chicken thighs await you in a moment – and good news, this is just a quick post, but first…
Aaargh! I don’t know why I inflict facebook groups on myself, you know. With pancake day approaching, the pages are awash with people suggesting they can make “delicious syn-free pancakes” from blending oats, frying them in frylight and mixing with yoghurt and sweetener. Why? yeah, you might save a few syns, but what price dignity? What price the crap that you’re putting into your body in the name of trying to get a syn-free dinner? I know it’s personal choice and that’s all well and good but I bet there’s the same amount of calories, or close, in the amount of oats you’ll use, plus oil, plus sweetener, then there is in a couple of proper pancakes. And even then, why not enjoy your food? You’ve got one body and you’re here only once – why not enjoy your food? Have good food and eat a bit less and I guarantee you’ll enjoy it all the more. 15 syns to spend on making the stuff you’re eating enjoyable, tasty and memorable.
Ah I dunno. I can’t get my head around the mentality of thinking spending syns on your dinner is a bad thing but sitting cramming a chocolate bar into your mouth “because you can” is the way forward? Frankenfood and nonsense is totally against Slimming World anyway, and let’s be fair, I’m hardly their most ‘anal’ fnar fnar follower. You need this to be a lifestyle change, not a quick fix. When people lose all the weight will they be eating oat pancakes and “sausage rolls” made from wrapping a manky sausage in a wrap? No. Then what happens to that weight loss? But hey, what do I know? Follow SW’s rules, they know what they’re doing. Mostly.
Let’s do some cherry cola chinese chicken! The cherry cola adds a nice glaze and using chicken thighs keeps the meal cheap and easy. Let’s be honest: if there’s one thing you love, it’s some cheap and easy thighs. Right?
to make chinese diet coke chicken you will need:
8 skinless and boneless chicken thighs
150ml diet cherry coke
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp ginger, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ tsp chilli flakes
top tips for chinese diet cherry coke
we used diet cherry coke but you can use what you like – normal diet coke, Dr Pepper, etc.
A rare beast tonight! With The Governess still unwell and me struggling away at the helm, we’re going to go straight to the recipe without a moment of delay. Enjoy!
This makes enough sticky sesame chicken for four people. This is known as General Tso’s chicken in America, if you’re curious. You can leave off the sesame seeds at the end if you absolutely must but they add a nice crunch!
to make instant pot sticky sesame chicken you will need:
Lemon chicken, if you don’t mind – but I do mind, because it’s my favourite dish and I want it now. James is still laid out with illness and, in between dabbing his fevered brow and attending to his every need *cough*, we still have to get a blog-post out. However, luckily, the other half writes out his holiday entries well in advance so when times are dry for things to write about, we can whack one of these up. To that end, if you’re here for the recipe and the recipe alone, click the button below to be whisked straight there. Or scroll until you see the food. I imagine that’ll pose no difficulties for most of you.
Thank goodness they’ve gone. I bet they own more television remotes than books, you know. Let’s go back to Stockholm!
Look, if we carry on at the rate we’re going, we’ll never leave Stockholm. We’ve got three more days there and frankly, if I keep spending 1000 words describing the type of coffee I enjoyed, we’ll never get anywhere. So let’s try something different: I’m going to write about the highlights of the trip in a loose, fudged-together timeline. If you’re like Rose and are displeased, I invite you to stop being such a surfitta-lit. Best not to google that one, though.
Skyview at the Ericsson Globe
First on the list was a trip on the Skyview – an external lift that goes up and over the Ericsson Globe arena down in the imaginatively named Stockholm Globe City district of Stockholm.
It’s like a Bond film without a budget!
You’ll know the Globe, I bet: it’s hosted the Eurovision Song Contest at least twice (fun fact: for three days after these events they don’t actually need to power the lifts – they rise up on the fug of amyl nitrate of their own accord) (and mysteriously, all the previously stuck doors just ease open to allow easy access) and there’s been all manner of big stadium concerts in there. And Shania Twain. We learned this fact by having to bear witness to the same Shania Twain five-second advert on loop whilst we stood in the queue for ten minutes waiting for tickets to be the first to board. No man should ever have to endure that much Shania Twain – I felt like I was 14 again, listening to my sister play ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’ for the eighty-seventh time. She’s a hard to please witch, isn’t she – Shania, not my sister: frankly, if there’s any rocket scientists out there with a car and fine hair, get in touch. I get impressed by a bloke who can eat his dinner without spilling a third of it on the carpet, much lower standards. We were second in the queue with only a wee Chinese grandma in front of us so we were guaranteed admission to the first pod and then we could be on our way.
Only, no; she bought tickets for 22, and out of the McDonalds over the road came a tour-bus of selfie-sticks, expensive winter wear and Marlboro Reds, pushing us back into the third pod. That meant twenty more minutes of Shania looping. If I close my eyes now I still see her fabulously-conditioned hair and Polo-mint-teeth burnt on my eyelids. Keeping things in perspective, I spent those twenty minutes staring at the suspension cable of their pod in the vain hope so much venom would melt the steel. It was our turn soon enough and I mean, it was good fun and affords you a pleasant enough view of the city, but nothing that the (much cheaper) TV tower earlier hadn’t done the day before. Plus, the clean freak in me wanted to open the pod and run a squeegee along the windows, they were absolutely hacky.
Twenty minutes is a long time to spend looking over the top of a mall and some distant buildings, though we were at least entertained by the three teenage girls who spent the entire twenty minutes posing in front of their phones. I swear, they couldn’t have looked out of the window once. Just how many shots do you need of:
sucking invisible spaghetti;
thousand yard stare;
oh my god spontaneous shot of me I promise but actually, it’s taken twelve minutes;
McDonalds eyebrows; and
GROUP OF GIRLS RIGHT hadehar
for your friggin’ Instagram? You know how I take photos of us? I point the camera somewhere north of our staircase of chins, and click take photo. Done. It’s that simple.
The ABBA museum
Next, the ABBA museum. Well, it had to be, didn’t it? We made our way via Sweden’s excellent underground rail system. First of all, they must have known I was coming because they put up some especially camp warning signs.
No mincing please
Secondly, our journey was greatly enlivened by the fact that a woman, clearly off her tits, stood up, started shouting in Swedish and then pissed herself at great length. Was it my aftershave? I don’t know, but we had to all get off at the next stop – her to clean herself up, me to wring the bottom of my jeans out. Poor lass pissed like a bloody racehorse. Luckily, we were close enough to walk to the Abba museum and it only took us ten minutes of sliding around on the ice to do so. Now, remember me telling you that Sweden is eye-wateringly expensive? I was in full gush when I paid for our tickets here: £44 for two. £44 to enter a museum! That’s not £44 for a sit down meal and a chance to try and talk Agnetha round, no no – just to give you access to the turntable. I mean, I know they’ve got to make their Money Money Money, but come on.
We paid up and went in and boom: something to make it all worthwhile. Who the hell knew that Benny was such a DILF back in the day? I mean now he looks like someone you’d see arguing with trees but back then, fuck me – lucky I hadn’t spotted him yesterday, or else it really would have been The Day Before You Came. I was quite taken – all sorts of shirtless photos and videos plastered the walls – at least I had somewhere to hang my multi-language headset, I suppose.
He’d be Benny, Paul and I would be the Jets
And actually, despite the shafting at the start, the museum was excellent – very thorough, detailed and interactive. Almost too interactive actually: there were booths you could nip into and do karaoke without people being able to hear you. We elected to give Mamma Mia a bash and thought we sounded great until we listened back later on via their website and it sounds like a livestream from a condemned abattoir. You know how you think you can sing in the shower? You can’t. I’m surprised they didn’t ask us to leave.
Make just one swap in this photo and it’ll match the thumbnail of at least two of our xtube videos. Just saying.
It only got worse – we rounded a corner to find the next exhibition was where you could get up on stage and sing along as the 5th member of ABBA whilst they superimposed the other four alongside us. FLABBA, if you prefer. I said we couldn’t, but the museum worker was very persuasive – she literally said you can dance, you can jive. I tried to explain that I dance like my feet are on fire and she replied ‘Dancing Queen’. I retorted by calling her a homophobic blonde bitch.
I jest, on we went – there was no-one about anyway bar her and I’m sure she’s seen two eighteen-stone Geordies pretending to be Abba before. Who hasn’t? I’m sure it was a storyline in an episode of Vera – if it wasn’t then it bloody should have been, because we absolutely murdered the song. Of course, no sooner had we started caterwauling and shuffling around like sad bears in a rubbish zoo than a gaggle of other gay men – all stylish and shrieking – came round the corner and started giving us bitchy appraising looks. Honestly, the collective effect of them pursing their lips at the same time pulled at my eyelashes. The curator had the good grace to at least shut the music off after a minute rather than making us do a full set. We slunk off stage like the fat national embarrassment that we were and we hadn’t even went through the exit doors before André, B’Michael, Brandonael and A’Joseph were belting out Does Your Mother Know.
The rest of the museum was awash with dresses, videos, quizzes and all sorts of memorabilia. Yes: far too expensive, but worth it. I mean, it’s Abba.
Putting at least one syllable into country singer
Eating and drinking
We spent more than a couple of lovely hours in the Ardbeg Embassy tasting all the various beers they had to offer. Listen, when a beard with a man hanging off it offers you a giant glass of ‘Just Don’t Call Me Brett’ or ‘Cellar Troll’, you just don’t say no.
Always wondered what happened to Casualty’s Clive Mantle, and now we know – he’s ordering a pint in Sweden
What started as a ‘quick drink’ became an elongated ‘work our way down the list’ until we were a) smashed and b) poor. Fifteen quid for two pints, remember.
Drunk and beholden to our empty stomachs, we ventured out to find food, only to stumble into the first place with an open door that we found – Sally’s, next door. It was delicious. You know how good food tastes when you’re steaming and hungry? That, but coupled with big doughy flatbreads and good cheese – you need to understand that I haven’t had bread for several months at this point and I’m not kidding when I say my side of the table lifted up a fair few inches when they brought it out. Almost spilled my wine.
I want this again.
Oh and because it was Christmas, I had the reindeer carpaccio for starters. They even stuck a little red tomato on the plate in what I thought was a rather cruel jibe at poor Rudolph. Christmas is cancelled and I’m turning it into poo.
This was better than it looks.
The 3am graffiti
At some point we were tucked up in bed, doing our best to keep the hotel awake with our beer-smothered snoring, when I got up for a gypsy’s kiss and noticed that for the first time in the entire holiday, it was proper snowing. Not that stupid vicar’s dandruff sort of snow we get, but big thick flakes of it, all settling merrily on the ground. You need to understand that we went to Iceland, Switzerland and Copenhagen in winter and saw barely any snow so this was a big deal, so much so that I woke up Paul by throwing water in his face (accidentally, I knocked over his bedside glass in the excitement – I haven’t taken to waterboarding him in his sleep – yet) and got him out of bed. We dressed in all the fabulous winter attire we had brought and thought we wouldn’t need and dashed out to play in the snow like the two big kids we are. The city was asleep, we had to place to ourselves – I managed to sneak in some free advertising:
I was going to try and put other SW blogs on there but I didn’t have time to draw out the eight adverts necessary to go with it.
We made our way down into a small square that was absolutely pristine with snow – a complete blank canvas.
This IS…ART ATTACK!
It took less than a nanosecond before we were both studiously working on writing out the most offensive swearword we could in the biggest letters our legs would allow. Unhappily, I was only a third of the way through the ‘N’ when two police officers came over to see what all the gleeful screaming was about. You’ve never seen someone turn a nine foot capital ‘N’ into a ‘B’ and a tiny ‘S’ quicker than me that night – I was like Michael Flatley on ice. They asked what we were doing and I lied through my teeth to try and explain we were making a giant version of our logo – it was only when I showed them twochubbycubs on my phone that they understood.
Now in a normal situation both Paul and I would have been well-up with being bundled into the back of a van by two tattooed, bearded, uniformed men and roughly manhandled, indeed, we call it a successful night at Washington Services round here, but not that night – it was that cold that my testicles were rolling around in my scrotum like peas at the bottom of the freezer. Any ejaculate would have slid out like a Mini Milk, so even I didn’t bother making the ‘whatever can I do, officer’ fluttering eyes/arse at them.
A mite embarrassed, we returned to our beds.
Paul does have a chin – he has a collection, actually – it’s just the lighting
Seems like a good place to leave it!
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Let’s do the lemon chicken recipe then. This makes enough for four large portions, and if there’s anyone who can handle a large portion, it’s YOU!
to make our best ever lemon chicken fakeaway, you’ll need:
four chicken breasts, big and fat, cut into chunks
3 tbsp of light soy sauce
2 tbsp of rice vinegar
pinch of salt and pepper
175ml chicken stock
75ml lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
2 tbsp of honey (5 syns)
1 tbsp of cornflour (1 syn)
top tips for our best ever lemon chicken fakeaway:
if you’re using fresh lemons – and you should – pierce them a couple of times, stick them in the microwave for fifteen seconds and then juice them – you’ll get so much more juice – we use one of these, but you can just use your hands – not posh!
serve with rice or whatever you like, and we can confirm this freezes well!
to make our best ever lemon chicken fakeaway, you should:
in a bowl, add the chicken chunks to the soy sauce and vinegar and make sure every piece is covered – longer you leave it, the better it will be
when you’re ready to cook, cook the chicken off in a pan until it is cooked through
mix together the chicken stock, lemon juice, honey and cornflour and then tip into the pan with the chicken and cook until it has all thickened up
serve with rice and finely grated lemon rind
Easy peasy! We’ve done loads of fakeaways lately, take a look:
Now, you can have a mixed chow mein, or you can keep it simple with a plain chicken chow mein, but either way, this is possibly my favourite recipe that we have done in a while. Mixed chow mein is easily the one dish I order most from the Chinese takeaway – well, that and trapped wind – and so to make a perfect replica of it, well say no more fam. Or something. Scroll down for the recipe, or…
Indulge me for a moment. I had a right strop the other day about that stupid TUI advert with the silly woman hyperventilating through ‘Ain’t Nobody’ like an anxiety attack given a melody. Well, working from home on a Monday means that I have to run the gamut of daytime advertising – I like to have the TV on as background noise because a) it blocks out my tinnitus and b) daytime TV makes me feel better about my own life choices. For example, on a Jeremy Kyle catch-up this morning, they were arguing about whether someone had shat in a fridge.
Just let that sink in for a moment. I can’t conceive of any situation in my life that might end up with someone shitting in my fridge. Can you? I mean, we have one of those giant American fridges, you could take the shelves out and build a rudimentary portaloo, but even then I don’t know a single soul who, however drunk they got, would think that was a viable option for relieving themselves. So not only do you have a gaggle of inbred mouthbreathers with a shitty fridge, they think the best thing to do to clear it up (use Flash and warm water, surely) is to go on national TV to be soaked in indignant spittle and to show off your Thorntons Fudge Selection teeth to a judgemental nation. I could have a bomb up my arse and Jeremy Kyle could hold the defusing code and I’d still rather die than sit in the back with Graham awaiting my turn to bound on effing and jeffing. The mind boggles.
But anyway, this isn’t about Jeremy Kyle. I want to kvetch on about adverts again. Top of the list is the Nationwide adverts, and I don’t care that I bank with them, they can take all my money away if it means I’m never subjected to Toni Collette’s stand-in and Sharon Watt’s double singing their cutesy-poo wee ditties and playing the keyboard. Why? Some clever sort will doubtless say the advert works because I have remembered it but that’s like saying Anusol is wonderful because I once bought a tube of it back in 2008. It’s a negative memory: I don’t buy it now just for the nostalgia. This advert has done the opposite – it’s made me get off my fat arse and finally get around to switching banks over to First Direct who, although they overdo the ‘bants’ side of things, at least don’t have adverts that make me want to push my face into a thresher.
Next on the list: WHAT’S THAT? YOU HAVEN’T CLAIMED FOR YOUR MIS-SOLD PPI? You know the one, smarmy streak of piss in a shiny suit asking you whether you can afford to miss out on thooousands of pounds. Gladstone Brookes, I believe – you would think with all the money they’re raking in from charging a significant fee for something that people could easily do themselves that perhaps they’d fund a better advert, but no. I hate his incredulous tone and overacting and stupid beady eyes to the point where I’d like to kick a hole in my TV and send them the invoice. With knobhead protection insurance included, of course.
Surely the king of irritation – an almost superhuman level of advertising thrush, if you will – is the friggin’ Shpock advert though. For a start, shpock is a shite name for a company – the fact I had to google it to work out how to spell it says enough. What kind of word is shpock anyway? It sounds like something that would be forming in a drip on the end of a diseased penis – look at that, you’ve left a smear of shpock all over our bedspread, for example. According to their advert, it’s like having a boot sale in your pocket. Well whoopity-doo. The last time we went to a car-boot sale it was dreadful – people selling used ashtrays and dirty clothes and urgh. If you go by their advert the app will be full of fancy bikes, cars, beautiful people and distressed furniture. I loaded it up to try and shift my giant shirts and found it awash with such levels of illiteracy that I thought I’d somehow switched my language settings to Russian. There wasn’t a thing on there I would even entertain having in my house, and that’s just the sellers. It was deleted quicker than the time I accidentally downloaded Snapchat. I mean, I’m not a 14 year old girl.
OK one final gripe. Gambling adverts. Why are these allowed? Have you tried watching ITV2 or Challenge or Sky Sports in the evening? You can’t move for flashy adverts advertising betting or bingo sites and frankly, you’d be absolutely buggered if you had a gambling problem. They don’t allow adverts for cigarettes, so why something as addictive as gambling? And it’s always such a bullshit advert – sexy people playing in glamorous virtual casinos, all sultry stares and coquettish laughter and massive wins. I’d admire any company that portrayed the grim reality of someone sat in yesterday’s clothes, unshaved, unwashed, desperately clicking the spin button over and over and over in the hope of winning back a tenth of what they’ve been encouraged to gamble away if only so they can keep the wolves away from the door for another few days. They say that ‘when the fun stops, stop’, and then they play their adverts over and over and over. How does that work then?
In fact, I’d go as far to say that these are the worst adverts of all. They have the power to absolutely destroy lives, and they’re sandwiched repeatedly between bloody Love Island repeats. As if that shower of shits wasn’t bad enough.
I feel better for that! Right, let’s do this mixed chow mein. Remember, you can use whatever meat you want – we used leftover pieces from all the fakeaway recipes we’ve been cooking lately, and of course you could use prawns but why would you? They’re bloody awful. It’s as simple as that. This makes enough for four massive portions – we portioned it up (for once) and put some in the freezer.
Have no fear though, we took it back out again ten minutes later and ate it. I mean, we’re not called twochubbycubs for nothing, you know. Let’s do this. Don’t be tempted to leave out the oil – between four, it’s 1.5 syns each – think how many syns your normal takeaway would be. It’s worth it for the taste. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but it really isn’t!
to make a mixed chow mein, you’ll need:
whatever meat you want – we used scraps of beef, some char sui pork and two chicken breasts, but honestly, there’s no rhyme or reason – if it’s already cooked, you’ll just need to warm it through in the instructions below, but if it is raw, make sure you cook it well
two or three nests of dried noodles
two cloves of garlic, minced
one large onion, chopped
1 bag of beansprouts
one bunch of spring onions – sliced thinly
1 teaspoon of sugar (1 syn)
1 teaspoon of white pepper
1 tablespoon of sesame oil (6 syns)
one large red pepper, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
4 tablespoons of light soy sauce
5 tablespoons of oyster sauce (free – yes, I was surprised too – and it doesn’t taste fishy, don’t worry)
1 teaspoon of cornflour (1 syn)
So in total that makes eight syns: 2 syns each for a giant portion!
top tips for a mixed chow mein:
track down sesame oil – it’s worth it as it adds a lot of nutty taste
mix the cornflour with 1 tablespoon of the dark soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the light soy sauce, 2 tablespoon of the oyster sauce and pour over whatever meat you’re using to marinate for a few hours
cook your noodles according to the instructions and then when cooked, run under cold water to stop them sticking
heat the oil in your pan and either heat your cooked meat or cook off your raw meat
take the meat out and throw in the onion, minced garlic, pepper spring onion, pepper and beansprouts and cook high and hard to soften everything
add the meat back in with the remainder of the wet ingredients (and the marinade you have left over, if you’ve kept it) and then add the noodles – stir everything through until the noodles are piping hot, then serve
want it saucier? Don’t we all – just add more oyster sauce!
How good does that look, honestly? Want more fakeaway recipes? Hit the links below!
Syn-free chicken jalfrezi – our streak of ‘what you pick up after a night out’ (aside from undetectable chlamydia, hussy) meals continues without any sign of stopping! But before we get to it, an important message. Long time readers of the blog will probably have heard this before, but bear with me – it’s Time To Talk day.
What’s Time to Talk Day I hear you mutter, in that alley-cat hiss of yours. It’s really terribly simple: it’s a day put out there to encourage everyone to talk about mental health, to hopefully try and reduce the stigma and suffering of anyone out there with mental health issues. It’s about being open and honest and non-judgemental and it’s a day that shouldn’t be needed, but sadly is.
Some of you may know that I (James) have a mental health problem: I have health anxiety. Whilst in all honesty it hasn’t bothered me significantly for a good couple of years now, it’s only because I have built my own systems for keeping it in check. Health anxiety is when your brain becomes consumed with the idea that there is something fatally wrong with you: a headache is a brain tumour, pins and needles in your arm is the beginning of motor neurone disease. At my worst, I was convinced I was going deaf and blind because my vision was a bit shaky and I was struggling to hear. Even my ovaries ached at one point.
Health anxiety is an especially cruel beast because anxiety forces the body to react in a ‘fight or flight’ mode all the friggin’ time – so your muscles ache from sitting tensed up, your head hurts from your mind going a-mile-a-minute, your eyes are irritable because you’ve been up all night fretting – and then all of those aches and pains feed back into your worries and you become sure that you are actually suffering with an illness and it really can’t be all in your head and anyway, what do the doctors know because fuck it, I’ve found my disease on google. It’s an endless, cruel, feedback loop.
Only it isn’t endless, not at all. At my worst I thought that my life was over – even if I wasn’t actually physically ill, my mind would never rest again – I’d be alright until the next crisis and then back to wobbling and feeling like warmed through shit. You have no idea how exhausting it is dying every single day. However, right now, I barely worry. I barely give twinges and aches and pains the slightest thought, and if I do concentrate on them, it’s because they actually hurt and they’ll go away. Which, touchwood, they always do. I’m actually a very healthy young man who has been supremely lucky in his life not to be beset by something tragic. I concentrate on that now, rather than wishing my life away. Hell, I knew I had overcome the worst of my health anxiety when I went for a shite the other day, noticed it was almost bright red and, rather than sorting out my will and ringing for an ambulance because my bowels were turning into a cancer-soup, simply remembered I’d knocked back a whole jar of pickled beetroot the night before. See: now I’m just a fat fucker, as opposed to a dying one.
So what helped? It’s hard to actually say, because what helped me may not help you. That’s the way things are – no two minds are the same (plus my mind is probably riddled with prions turning it to crumpet thanks to my mother’s predilection for cheap beef in the 80s). But, put succinctly, I trained myself not to care. I took the view that if I had MS or Parkinsons or motor neurone disease or toxic shock syndrome or blood cancer or feline aids or mad cow disease or a club foot or rabies then sitting rocking in my chair in front of Jeremy Kyle and sobbing wasn’t going to fix a damn thing. I had all of those and that’s that. So, before my legs turned to playdoh and my mind became a mist of memories, better to get out and enjoy things again. And that’s what I did: I forced myself out. I forced myself to socialise, I forced myself to ring the doctors ‘tomorrow’, and then made sure that tomorrow never switched from future to present. I’d go a bit further and a bit longer before giving in.
Of course it was hard – at times impossible – but progress was made. If you’re convinced in your mind that you have leg weakness, for example, pick up a football and punt it as far as you can, preferably through a neighbour’s window so you have to leg it afterwards. If you think you can’t remember, pull up the best ever sex you’ve ever had from your wank-bank and visualise it in explicit, squelching detail. I guarantee you’ll remember some small detail, but don’t feel down on yourself, that’s just what God gave you. Test yourself not by thinking about what you can’t do but instead what you can. Positive reinforcement instead of negative. It sounds wank and like I say, may not work for you – but when I got to the end of a week without ringing the doctors I felt ten times better than the ‘relief’ I felt from hearing a doctor telling me for the nineteenth time that I wasn’t leaving the surgery in a body-bag. Try it.
The other factor that helped me was having a decent support network. I’m very lucky: I have a husband who would sit and be patient with my wailing and whingeing – he never rolled his eyes at me or told me I was being stupid. He never shook me like that hysterical woman from Airplane. He may have wanted to – I cringe when I think I used to wake him up in the dead of night because my heart was racing (from anxiety, not the heart disease I then suspected) but he was lovely and kind and patient and exactly the type of rock you need to build a stable future on. Plus he’s fat and squashy, which acted like a stress ball during the worst of it.
I told my mum what was happening at the time and, although more blunt and honest with me, she was also incredibly supportive. She reassured me it would pass, that my worries would ease and my mind would clear, and it did. Mums are always right. Nearly always. I told a few friends but not many – I’m far more private than my 2,000,000 words and counting personal blog suggests – and it was interesting how many of them also suffered with mental health or knew someone that did. It isn’t the ‘just me’ problem you may think it is, you know, and the more that we are honest and open and brave about discussing it, the less power it has. The less shame is felt. More people will talk about it rather than bottling it up thinking it is something to be ashamed about. You wouldn’t feel embarrassed about going out with a broken leg, unless someone wrote that you were a bellend on your cast. Why feel bad about a broken mind?
I’m rambling, which is probably a symptom of my early-onset dementia. But if you take anything from this nonsense, it’s this – if you’re unwell at the minute, open up to someone – a friend, family, a co-worker you can trust. Don’t have those? Look at websites like Time to Change for resources, or www.mind.co.uk, or talk to the doctors. Yes, it’s a bit of a crap-shoot at the moment with the NHS’s approach to mental health, but we know who to blame for that. But something is better than nothing. If you’re on the other side of the coin, feel good – and be prepared to listen. Don’t tut. Don’t roll your eyes. Be honest with the person pouring out their heart to you – you don’t need to patronise or say ‘there there’ (because what the fuck does that even mean?) but feel free to be candid (but not cruel). Never tell someone they’re worrying over nothing and to buck the fuck up, because that isn’t how it works – no-one chooses to be mentally unwell and there isn’t a switch.
But, to end on a ridiculously cheesy note: there’s always hope. It might be hidden under a pile of black, steamy turd, but it’ll be there, and it’ll come through. Recovery might take weeks, months, years or never, but you’ll cope. You always have so far.
CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN SWIM EVERY SEA! And to think you just came for a syn-free chicken jalfrezi. I am sorry, but that was important. Let’s do the recipe, shall we? It’s a piece of piss, no doubt about that. This is a recipe by Simon Rimmer so yes, unfortanately, that means you’ll be getting….RIMMER? I BARELY KNEW ‘ER. Eh? You having that? Hello?!
to make a syn-free chicken jalfrezi, you’ll need:
one onion, peeled and chopped
one teaspoon of chilli powder
three teaspoons of tasty, tasty turmeric
a good pinch of salt
four big fat chicken breasts, the kind of dirtypillows yer mother would tell you off for, chopped into chunks
one tin of chopped tomatoes
one teaspoon of freshly grated ginger (see my comment about your knob down below)
if you’re using ginger, don’t keep buying fresh – buy a big knob and keep it in the freezer until you need it, then just use a microplane (no need to peel) to get what you need without even needing to defrost – we love our microplane, as well you know, and you can buy one here
it might look like a lot of spices but these are all staples you should have in – remember, don’t buy in the spices aisle at Tesco, go find the world foods aisle and you’ll get so much more for the same price
to make a syn-free chicken jalfrezi, you should:
spray a good decent heavy pan with some oil and gently sweat the onions and garlic off until the onions are golden
mix the chilli, turmeric and salt together in a bowl and then toss the chicken pieces in – make sure they get covered evenly
put the spicy chicken in the pan and cook through – a good ten to fifteen minutes
stir the tomatoes, ginger, cumin and coriander into the pan and reduce the heat until it’s bubbling nicely
cook with the lid on for about twenty minutes until it has reduced down and if it’s looking a bit too thick, add a splash of water
now: if you’re feeling decadent, you add butter at the end: 25g is nine syns, so between four that’s just over 2 syns each! Just stir it in before serving, together with the juice of a lemon
serve with chips, rice or panache
Easy and syn free! I mean, what more could you desire?