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
Let’s keep this strictly business this week shall we? The recipe is a reacharound of the Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese, it’s fabulous, it’s wonderful, it takes no time at all and tastes bloody good. I’ve hurt my shoulder trying to sneak a giant concrete garden ornament into the rubble bin at the tip so it hurts to type. In my defence I didn’t want to pay £2.50 because that seems like an outrageous amount to someone like me: the Queen blinks against the sudden light when I pull a fiver from my wallet. Plus I was giving it the Barry Big Bollocks lifting it out of my Golf like I was Geoff bloody Capes so if anything, it was my hubris that felled me in the end. But isn’t that always the case, eventually?
Luckily, we have the second part of the Paul story to entertain, so over to my slender counterpart. You can read part one here, so you can. Paul doesn’t believe in skimping on the detail, so do just scroll to the photos of the Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese if you’re in NO BLOODY MOOD for his nonsense and flimflam.
You know what would make my shoulder hurt a little less? Seeing some pre-orders on our amazing new book! 100 fast dinner recipes for all occasions! You can order it here
So really, the next five years or so carried on in the same sort of way. James would cook sometimes and he even taught me how to make a delicious risotto – still one of my favourites. Pretty early on we started going to Slimming World. James had a lot of success in his teen years following SW and knowing I was self-conscious about my weight (actually having access to food and not having to walk 10 miles a day meant the weight piled straight back on again…) we gave it a go. And that go lasted for a good 5-6 years. We tried a few different classes as we moved about but always returned to the same one because it was so super friendly and the consultant was a right laugh. No shade to Slimming World but we didn’t really enjoy the classes. It just wasn’t our cup of tea and our consultant did her best. We fell into the same pattern of turning up, getting weighed and then making an excuse to leave so really our fiver went on standing on a pair of scales, which of course we could do for free at home. A year or two after joining Slimming World though we started to try a bit more cooking, mostly for financial reasons (Papa John’s ain’t cheap) but also we knew that if we didn’t we’d just balloon more and more. Social Media was starting to become a thing so we joined a few of the Facebook groups and started making all the standard fare that used to be doing the rounds. You know the stuff. Curry Loaf. Quiche. Fanta Chicken. If it was about 10 pixels across and badly cropped we made it. We laugh about it now but that was the height of our abilities. And so, twochubbycubs was born! Initially it was more of a place for James’ writing but, for some reason we still can’t figure out, it really started to take off. Fuck knows why, because for the first couple of years the stuff we put out was absolute shite. But it did! And so along with that, out of necessity, we needed to be able to cook.
So, that brings us to the recent times. If you’ve been following us for a while you’ll know that a few years ago we appeared on ITV’s This Time Next Year. It was by chance that we spotted a post in our Facebook group where the production company were looking for people so on a whim we just did it. We knew that weight loss would need to be our thing – by that point we’d ballooned to nearly our biggest size, both well over twenty stone. The process was pretty quick, we had a few interviews and then got the news while we were on holiday in, er, Berwick, that we were going on! Of course we then spent the next month or so absolutely stuffing our faces like never before – thinking that we may as well take advantage before it’d all be taken away for us forever.
The challenge was to lose twenty stone between us, in a year. We got off to an okay start – doing the same things we’d always done – joined Slimming World, stayed for the class, stopped eating takeaways. And that was really it. The losses, as always at the start, were pretty massive but it wasn’t long before they levelled out and we started to become a bit despondent. But the truth is, we didn’t know what else to do. We knew that exercise would help us but we were too big at that point to do anything comfortably, and it was at the bottom of our list of priorities. We’d absorbed all the bad habits that slimming classes drum into us – like eating a giant plate of potatoes or pasta (with us, usually both) and thinking that because it was “Free” we would automatically lose weight. We were falling behind on our weight loss, massively, which became all too apparent when we were booked in for a DEXA scan and I was told that, halfway through our challenge, I was still 50% fat and off the centile charts. We were gussied up to do something about it but still a bit clueless, so we started restricting. We cut out the ten-a-day Muller Lights, switched to skimmed milk and stopped eating cheese. Naturally, all this meant was that we’d both binge on the sly because our meals at home just could not sustain us, and we’d taken out all the deliciousness and joy from eating. By chance, James stumbled across a local company that ran HIIT classes (I think it’s the same as Cross Fit, but without having to pay to licence it) that promised that if you lost 20lb in six weeks they’d give you your money back. He signed us both up immediately and told me, ON MY BIRTHDAY OF ALL DAYS (where I had already finely curated my birthday takeaway for the night) that we were going, and we were going to stick with it. I wish I could say that was the worst birthday I’ve ever had, but the birthday I spent with him in hospital having his willy-hat lopped off probably takes the title.
I won’t lie, I was absolutely dreading it. The thought of going to a warehouse in the middle of an industrial estate to EXERCISE. In my condition?! No. I raced through all the excuses but ‘er indoors was having none of it. We were going.
Fortunately, the first session wasn’t the fresh hell I was expecting. The place was clean, tidy and modern and the staff lovely. I actually recognised the trainer as being the bloke who used to always give me extra chips in canteen at work and never charged me for it (and still to this day I tell him it’s all his fault I got so fat). Because the classes were aimed at people losing weight (and it being just two weeks after Christmas it’s fair to say we were all in a pretty poor condition) they were, thankfully, quite easy to begin with. Lots of squats, wall sits and easing you into exercise, gently at first. Well, would you believe it – I bloody loved it. Well, when I was actually doing it I wanted to die and seriously considered faking having a heart attack so I could get out there (I’m not joking), as soon as we finished singing Freed From Desire (our groups theme song, for some reason….) I felt great! The weight was melting away, and each time I hit the 20lb target, usually landing a few pounds over.
The saving grace of this was that we enjoyed the exercise – and I’ll come back to this later – and if we hadn’t had found that, we would have failed in the first few days. Having the exercise we enjoyed and also importantly getting the results from it made the food a little less terrible. There was also the important fact that we were due to go on the telly in just a few months, where the lovely Davina was expecting her stage to creak a hell of a lot less. Those last six months we really, really went for it. We did the HIIT classes three times a week, and we went to the gym for the other four days for no fewer than three hours at a time. We (to borrow a phrase from the nineties) caned it, and we got the results. By the time we made it to the studio in the May time we hadn’t quite hit our target (I was short by 2.5 stone and James 1) but we felt and looked much better so we didn’t mind. If we had started our fitness part earlier we would have easily hit our target, and probably a lot more (we were still overweight, but only just). We made the promise on that sofa that there was no going back. We were never going to get fat ever again, and the changes we made were there to stay, and we were only just beginning, baby. We left there and went back to the hotel and ordered ourselves a celebratory Papa John’s that we’d been fantasising about for the last six months. So high on our success were we that we ordered a small pizza each and didn’t even finish it. The next day on the way home we went to a Little Chef and I had a yoghurt.
It didn’t last.
Two days after getting home from the studio, fresh in our H&M gear (that we could now fit into) we minced to Tesco to stock up on chicken ‘n’ broccoli, but outside they were handing out vouchers for some Kelly’s ice cream. We bought 4 tubs that day, just as a treat you understand, and it was a bargain after all it’d be silly not to….and ate all four that day. Delicious, mind.
Ever mindful we’d had six months of terrible food and an excruciating exercise regime we promised ourselves that we’d have the occasional treat but we’d stick to it. A few months before we had booked a dream holiday to Canada for six weeks – another thing to aim for, and we were determined we were going to be just as slim as we were for it as we had been on the telly. We signed back up for a six-week programme at Elite and got back on it. By the time Canada came along we were back at our telly weight.
Canada, of course, was awesome. Throughout the whole holiday we’d tell each other, “we’d never have done this if we were still fat!” (which caught more than one bearded Canadian bloke off-guard). And it’s true. Like I said up there, being fat impacts on every single part of your life, and we were realising now what things we would have avoided. Even simple things like not wanting to go up an observation tower because the lift was quite small and people would tut because you’d be taking up too much space. All sorts of daft stuff.
We did six weeks in Canada and, naturally, we did pile on the pounds when we were there. We started off well but by week two we were eating every treat, all the poutine, trying out all the different flavours of crisps… but we promised ourselves that when we got back we’d get back on it, and we’d shed it all. It was just a treat for ourselves anyway, and we were on holiday after all.
When we got back we did indeed get back on it. Back to Elite, back on the brown rice. We hit the 20lb target again and felt pleased, but without having the shadow of the TV programme hanging over us the motivation was gone. We stopped going to the gym as often and when we did we’d slack off. A few weeks later we went on holiday to Tokyo. Already by that point, which was only two months after being on the telly, I was all too aware that the weight was piling back on and I was “big” again. Granted I wasn’t as big as I had been, but was still big, and in somewhere like Japan that meant REALLY big. Naturally we had to try all the local delicacies, and the unusual restaurants we just had to visit, and the bars, and all the different KitKats (plus a melon soda which I swear has heroin in it) just made things worse. After Canada I started in a new job which was okay but was bullied terribly which only got worse after we came back from Japan. Comfort eating became a fast friend, as did all of the bad habits, and in less than a year I was only a few stone off where I had been at the start of the year.
Something that became ever apparent at this time is my absolute total lack of willpower. I have none. James attributes a lot of it down to being a “poor kid” and if something is there I have to have it before it’s gone. When I get an idea in my head that I want something, I have to have it, and nothing will bring me down. Trust me, I’ve tried everything. I started leaving my wallet at home so that I couldn’t buy stuff, but instead I’d just use the contactless on my phone. I uninstalled that but so I just switched to saving up odd bits of change. I would make up excuses to go to the supermarket for something and sit in my car stuffing my face, and load up on other stuff that I’d hide in my car so I always had a stash. A very destructive habit.
When the TV programme finally aired, I was pleased but also embarrassed and ashamed. I had people coming up to me congratulating me for what I’d achieved, but it was clear that I didn’t keep it up. We were back shopping for clothes at the garden centre and moping around. We did Elite a few more times but we didn’t stick to it. Once or twice we missed the 20lb target. We just couldn’t get back into it, no matter what we tried.
Alright Paul we get the bloody point about the bloody gammo, Christ. More from Rusty Bloodvessel next week. For now, we turn to the instant pot spaghetti bolognese which will delight and surprise you. Don’t have an Instant Pot? Then who the hell do you think you are? Don’t worry, we’ve done a normal method too. Oh, and Paul typed the recipe up, so if there’s errors, we can blame him.
Of course if you don’t cover your Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese in half a Ped-Egg’s worth of cheese then why bother
Overhead shot of Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese, ruining my camera with steam
Nevermind the Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese, you should have seen the word that appeared before OFF on the machine
650 calories I hear you cry for Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese and of course you're right that seems like a lot but does it really? For a massive bowl of pasta and wine and meat and the ease of cooking it all in one dish? Plus, to be fair, this probably serves six - we're just greedy fat pigs. If you have leftovers, you can turn that into another meal, see below the recipe for that!
All calories are approximate and worked out via the NHS calculator. So shut yer gob.
400g lean beef mince
40g diced chorizo
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
125ml red wine
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
set the instant pot to saute and add a splash of oil
add the onion and cook for a few minutes until softened
add the garlic, stir and then add the mince and chorizo cook until browned
add the chopped tomatoes, passata, red wine, salt, pepper and oregano to the pan and give a good stir
break the spaghetti in half and add to the pan along with 850ml water - make sure the spaghetti is covered as much as possible (push it down with a wooden spoon if not)
cook under high pressure for ten minutes, then quick release
give a good stir and leave to cool for a few minutes - don't worry if it looks a bit watery, it'll soon thicken up
huge apologies to the entire nation of Italy for this one, which is probably illegal there. Still good though.
add whatever you like into this - bacon, mushrooms, spinach - whatever you have lying about, chuck it in
the wine won't get your kids pissed but if you'd still rather avoid it just add the same amount in extra water instead
Not got an Instant Pot? You can cook it pretty much as is on a hob, but add the spaghetti straight into the hob rather than doing it on its own - the spaghetti cooks in the sauce and it's just laaaahverley
twochubbycubs: Dinner Time is our new book and it's out in May and it's so good I could bubble - genuinely our best work yet - you can pre-order here!
of course if you like your meals fast and filling, book two will scratch that itch: order yours here!
perhaps you want to go back to where it all began - our first cookbook which is a joy untold: click here to order
our diet planner will keep you on track and there's twenty six recipes in there for good measure: here
we have an Instant Pot Pro because of course we do - you can find it here but other variants of the Instant Pot are cheaper still and they're all marvellous bits of kit
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, as Goomba has developed a love of eating things off the work surfaces and we're currently missing a teaspoon
Got leftover Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese? Crack three eggs into it, and bake it in the oven topped with cheese and tomato!
Leftover Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese can be baked with eggs into a loaf
Looks like a scabby knee but the leftover Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese tastes good baked like this
Gonna level with you, our SEO bollocks is saying I need to say Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese a few more times to get a green light. I personally think I’ve said Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese enough times but they are saying this Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese needs more Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese references. Pah! I’m too busy thinking about Instant Pot spaghetti bolognese to concern myself with matters like that.
I feel I must apologise right from the get go with this recipe reacharound for Instant Pot (don’t worry, non-pressure-cooker method also included) lemon and garlic chicken stew: if there are far more spelling errors and lapses in grammar than you might expect, then blame Paul. Our Mac keyboard, after years of fighting bravely against splashes, spurts and sploshes, has given up the ghost. Well not entirely, but the enter key has stuck down and is refusing to budge. Paul, in the absence of me clucking around and making recommendations, ordered a new keyboard which ‘is just as good’. It isn’t. It’s like he’s bought it from Fisher Price. The keys are tiny and rounded and just terrible. This may work when you have the deft twiglet fingers of Paul Anderson, but I don’t so much type on a keyboard as fist it into submission. It’s left me typing like my Nana sending her first email and to top it off, the keys don’t squelch like the old one did. It was like typing on a sauna sponge towards the end.
It serves me right for leaving him unattended, of course. But needs must: I go away for a few days every month to stay with friends in Liverpool which gives Paul a chance to enjoy an unadulterated bathroom floor / marital bed, which he does so enjoy. He pays lip service to our eternal love by sending messages to say he misses me terribly but we both know he has the time of his life without me, even if most evenings seem to end with him sobbing into a rough effigy of me made from my back hair and dipped in beef dripping.
One of the best things about these little trips away is that I get to have a good long drive, and all the fun that entails. I’ve said it before, and been loudly and angrily reminded at least nine times a week since, that I enjoy driving. That’s not a lie. But see I also very much enjoy willies, yet if I were to have sausage every night I might switch to a fish supper. Too much of a good thing can be tiresome, but luckily the 180 miles or so to Liverpool is just the right amount of road to cover off all my favourite driving moments.
I should open by saying that I am, these days, a very considerate driver, or at least I do try my very best to be. For a few years after passing my test I drove everywhere as though I’d just stolen the car but nowadays I’ve come to the realisation that you’ll get where you need to be far less stressed and with fewer cyclists to peel off the bonnet if you just stick to the rules of the road. The same seemingly doesn’t apply to other drivers however, and there’s two patches of the A1 where this becomes a problem. For a local example, just outside of Durham there’s a four mile patch of roadworks where switching lanes is forbidden and there’s a strict 50mph limit.
That doesn’t stop seemingly every single regional sales director in the North East getting into their company-owned BMW or Audi (and listen I know that’s a lazy stereotype, but tell me I’m wrong) and appearing two inches from my back bumper, waving their arms around dramatically as though they’ve just opened the glove box to find a box of wasps swarming out. Given I’m generally behind another car and therefore there’s nowhere immediately apparent for them to dash into, I find it bewildering, and it’s honestly all I can do to remember not to take my foot off the accelerator and let the car slow down just a shade. This seems to excite them even further and obviously must be discouraged. And hey, I’m not averse to having an angry man rammed up behind me, but I do ask that they buy me a drink first. I mean I don’t but I’m trying to sound classy.
180 miles, according to Google, should take around three and a half hours: but it never does, and I’m never quite sure why. Four hours can pass and I’ll be no further than Darlington, looking bewildered at Waze to see if I’ve somehow routed myself through Aberdeen via a selection of farm tracks. I blame service stations: they’re like the sirens of the motorway to me. For those interested, you’re looking at stopping at Durham, Barton Park, Wetherby and Birch Services if you’re wanting a cup of tea without the chance of diphtheria to keep it spicy. Barton Park is a good one because no-one ever uses it, presumably put off by the fact the owners have set the prices of fuel as though they roleplaying in a Mad Max movie. I digress.
I love it all me. The chance to get indignant with the ladies in WH Smith when I buy a can of Monster and a Freddo and have to hand over my car keys in part-exchange with a promise to settle the remainder after. The truckers all wandering around in filthy hi-vis gear looking like they’d punch you through a wall if you dilly-dallied for a moment at the Greggs counter. The opportunity to peruse the absolute tat they inexplicably sell alongside the fags and chocolate: a light-up beanie hat, a book about equine diseases, a DVD boxset of walks around Kromer. Hell, I even like a quick toilet stop (any excuse to stretch my legs) (up past my ears) because there’s always a degree of joviality and hur-de-hur whilst waiting in the queue to do some 3-D printing. Plus, I refuse to smoke in my car so if anything, I treat the rare bursts of driving as a break from smoking rather than the other way around. Explains why I’m always gasping for air by the time I’m circling J22 on the M62.
Still, if I get bored on the way down, whoever is in charge upstairs (or more realistically, no-one) will throw some dramatic weather at me for the drive. I could leave my house in the middle of a heatwave and inexplicably end up peering owlishly through a snow-covered windscreen by no later than two hours in. It’s as inevitable as day following night: I don’t think I’ve had a single journey westward where I haven’t thought of calling Paul to finally tell him the PIN on our bank cards just in case I lose control of the car and tumble away into the fields. I mean, it would give me the opportunity to press the big red SOS button that sits behind the interior lights – I’ve been itching to do it but I’m petrified that it’ll automatically call the emergency services and they’ll dispatch an air ambulance out to me, only to find me perfectly alive and furiously trying to light a cigarette in the helicopter’s downdraft. Though to be fair, knowing my car, it’ll probably just start playing ABBA Gold.
That’s the other thing I enjoy: the chance to listen to my music and have a right good singalong as I do. If I have Paul with me he’s always tutting and clawing melodramatically at his ears with forks whilst I effortlessly segue between Steps, Billie Eilish, Muse, some Swedish Eurovision entry and Chapter 42 of Red Dragon narrated by Alan Sklar on Audible. When I’m by myself I get to go full me and I can’t deny it is amazing. Many a time I’ve been caterwauling away as I leave a car park to the bemused faces of coaches full of people clapping and wondering whether I’ve got a fox shredding through my back tyres. The world is a stage! By the time I arrive at any destination I’ve got a voice like I’ve been gargling glass but it’s worth it.
There’s a whole another entry to be written about the other things I do in the car to entertain but I shall save that for a couple of weeks from now, because LORDY this is a long one. For the record, it took me a modest five hours twenty-eight minutes to get home today, and that’s not bad going at all.
To the recipe for the lemon and garlic chicken stew then. This is a rare reacharound where we haven’t had to change too much for the recipe – indeed, all we have done is up the onion content to make the sauce a bit more ‘stew-like’, but this is a genuinely delightful dinner that must be recognised.
Only 370 calories for this lemon and garlic chicken stew with rice too!
Definitely use chicken thighs for this – cheaper, and it flavours the lemon and garlic chicken stew perfectly
Five photos and this was the best one: Paul loves his lemon and garlic chicken stew
Now look, if you don't have a pressure cooker you mustn't fret because this is easy enough to make in the oven, and we've catered for your failures in the recipe bit. But if you do have an Instant Pot at home, this is the perfect recipe for it: you chuck it all in and let the machine do the hard work. And if you're the nervous sort who pales in terror at the idea of a pressure cooker fret not: we are going to do a guide to them shortly. We were gifted our newest Instant Pot by the company, but you'll see from previous entries that we have been long-term devotees. Let's do this.
750g of chicken thighs
two onions, chopped finely
5 cloves of garlic, minced
185ml chicken stock
1tsp dried parsley
¼ tsp paprika
juice from one lemon
4 tsp cornflour
white rice - we used about 100g each
select saute, add a bit of oil and chuck in the onions, cook for about 5-10 minutes or so until they start to brown
add everything else to the pot save for the cornflour and give everything a reet good stir
put the lid on, make sure the vent is set to ‘sealing’ and press the high pressure and select fifteen minutes
when finished, release the pressure (it's perfectly safe)
cook the rice however you want it
scoop a cupful of liquid out and stir the cornflour in, making sure there's no lumps
remove the chicken using tongs and add the cornflour mixture into the rest of the liquid, stirring until the sauce is thickened
serve the chicken on top of the rice with the sauce poured over
No pressure cooker
saute the onions in a casserole dish, then add everything (plus another 50ml of stock) bar the cornflour and cook on low for about two hours in the oven
once the chicken is cooked, add the cornflour and allow the sauce to thicken
just one note - don't be tempted with chicken breasts - you want thighs. If you're fussy, you can buy the boneless and skinless thighs in all supermarkets now
we've done some terrific things with chicken in our second cookbook which you will love: order yours here!
we honestly can't fault the Instant Pot - we use the Instant Pot Pro because it does everything we need and doesn't look like Sputnik - you can find it here but other variants of the Instant Pot are cheaper still
get yourself a good set of silicone-ended tongs, they'll steer you well and they are perfect for cheekily grabbing your partner's nipple during frolics and fun times - we use these
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, as my mother is demanding a decent care home when she hits ninety. She won't be getting one, but the fuel to get my car down to the river to push her in ain't cheap.
Pulled pork: one of those things that happen to the best of us when we’re locked down and not much to do. Seriously, mine is about to drop off. However, I picked up a shoulder of pork in the reduced bit in Morrisons for £1.60 and, after leaving it sweating in my car for about six hours, realised I had to save it. So, pulled pork burgers it was. The benefit of this recipe is that you get enough pulled pork to make a thousand other things with – wraps, pasta bakes, I even stuck some in a cheese toastie the other day. We’ve used an Instant Pot to speed up the pulled pork but you can make it in a slow cooker just as easily.
Quick mention: our planner has now been finalised and is being printed – if you want a diet planner with tonnes of room to record your thoughts, plenty of us pointing at you, 26 recipes…all sorts – you can order it here (it’ll open in a new window), and I heartily promise you’ll love it!
However, before you get to the pulled pork recipe, there’s a hell of a long entry to read and/or scroll past. See, I’m very conscious that I haven’t been writing much (well, I have, but nothing I can share with you, yet) and, god love you all, you guys do seem to enjoy my scribbles. So, rather like the writers of Doctor Who at the moment, I’m scrambling through my old writings to see what I am yet to publish. I’m not so arrogant to think you’ll all be chomping at the bit to read, but if you have ten minutes, what follows is part two of our trip to Niagara Falls. Which is a tiny, tiny part of our massive book on our trip, bits of which I have scattered around on the laptop. I always enjoy writing the trip reports, so I hope you like them.
As an aside, I recently pulled together a load of clips from Canada for Paul so we can look back and shake our heads and be thankful I got over the gastroenteritis I was suffering from at the time. You can find the video here:
I know, we’ve never looked better. To the next chapter then!
Niagara Falls, then. We decided to have a stroll along to see it from the side. There’s an option to ‘cross the rainbow bridge’ and see it from the American side, but why bother? Plus the phrase rainbow bridge makes my teeth itchy, because I’ve seen it used in conjunction with dogs dying on Facebook and it’s nearly always accompanied by a trite quote and a Minion. We stopped for a moment to get the biggest ice-cream I’ve ever seen in my life from a place called Sweet Jesus. It was bigger than my head, and I had to apply for planning permission for my fivehead. Paul fibbed and told them it was his birthday so they gave him an extra scoop and stuck a candle in the top.
I’m glad, for a fleeting ten minutes, we were able to provide everyone with the stereotypical sight of two morbidly obese blokes eating enough ice-cream to feed a Christmas orphanage. I went at that ice-cream like a sex-starved sailor going at a portside snatch. It’s a bad job when someone who had been poured over a mobility scooter like hot wax gives you a withering look at your excesses.
The Falls, then. Here’s a revelation. Like so many things in life, including 90% of my Grindr dick appointments, it doesn’t look as big in real- life as they’ve made it look in photos. Presumably because they’re not pressing so hard into their pube fat-pad that they’ve got diamonds forming in their thumb-print. Don’t get me wrong, the main falls (i.e. the one you’ll know, the Horseshoe Falls) is 800m across, it’s not exactly an emptying bath, but I dunno – I expected bigger. Story of my life.
Favourite fact? In 1901, a 63 year old schoolteacher named Annie Taylor climbed into a barrel and set away, only to be washed over the falls. Oops. They found her barrel a few hundred meters downstream and out she popped, exclaiming that “no one ought ever to do that again”. Talk about an action nana! My nana, at least before we returned her to the Earth in a cloud of smouldering winceyette, used to get out of breath spreading butter on her toast in the morning. Best part is, Adventurous Annie didn’t get paid for her exciting adventure. I’d have been furious and sulked in my barrel for at least three days.
Oh, and 90% of fish that get swept over survive AND have some cracking Instagram shots afterwards.
Speaking of Instagram shots, some random ones to punctuate the words:
The waterfall was pretty. I wish I could do it justice with words but frankly, it’s a lot of water sloshing over a giant crack, and I covered that with my bubble-bath tale. But, because I’m an uncultured queen, I gazed at it for about five minutes, wondered how it would feel to be swept over the edge and then was ready to move on. Once you’ve got a picture (and trust me, that’s an adventure, given the sheer amount of tourists standing in front of it doing wistful looks into the distance) you’re kinda done. Worth the trip to say you’ve done it, but well. We stayed for another ten minutes watching the lights change and then went to find a pub.
A bar called Spyce came to the rescue (although I did wince at the weird Y in the name – love, Jaymes) and we were soon settled right behind a live singer with a flight of beer that extended to the sky. It was tremendous – lots of locally brewed beers and ales all with puns in the title. That’s my dream, right there, and we were having a great time until the singer started with his Tracy Chapman covers. Paul was dilating with pleasure and me? Well, if you have been a long-term reader you’d realise I’d sooner have extensive pulsatile tinnitus than listening to that warbling hellcat and so, we nicked off to the arcades. She absolutely infuriates: two chords on her guitar and no hope in her voice.
After a long night of pissing away the beer and altogether too much in the arcades, we went to bed. Our bathroom still looked like a pre-go-kart game in Fun House, only we didn’t have a walking mullet offering us the chance to win a ruler with a calculator in it. Gutted.
We awoke the next day, surprisingly refreshed for two lads with a surprise 2am Grindr visit from the floor below. My beard looked as though someone had spilled PVA glue on the floor of a barbershop but you know, a hot shower and a quick apology prayer to God soon put that right. We decided to do a few tours and so, after a keen breakfast buffet, we went out to find the information desk. We found it after a fashion which necessitated me having a strop, taking up smoking and a brief interlude where I considered going home, and joined the queue of about six groups.
We were there FOR NEARLY A WHOLE FUCKING HOUR. I’ve never known such unbelievably slow service. I don’t know whether the cashier was physically getting up and driving each customer to the various lookout points but it would have been quicker to wait for the waterfall to erode to the point where we just fell in. Christ almighty. Grim British Resolve meant we couldn’t move but we were entertained at least by the little Chinese lady in front who, after fifteen minutes of flapping her arms about, was smartly stung by a wasp right on the end of her nose. The first aider in me wanted to step in and help but the selfish, mean bastard in me overruled that and was glad to take her place when she had to step out crying. Pfft: amateur hour.
We arrived at the front after stopping to celebrate our 12th and 13th wedding anniversary in the queue (the Chinese lady had returned at this point, and I like to think the tears in her eyes wasn’t just venom leaking out) and were busy being served when some chap started proper kicking off in the queue because he thought a gaggle of Chinese ladies had pushed in. They hadn’t, they’d just done the entirely sensible thing of going off whilst another member of the family stayed put). He was giving it great classy guns, shouting in their face in loud Australian whilst they look confused and scared. I shouted oi but kept my face to the ticket lady, which gave her such a start that she sped her way through dispensing the tickets and drawing on our map and sent us on our way. I’d have stepped in but a) I wanted my tickets. There’s no b) – I’m horrendous.
Our first tour necessitated a bus-trip up the road, which I was eternally grateful for as up until that point I’d barely had a chance to sit down and send my eighty thousand texts and Instagram shots. Paul has so many photos of me taking photos of myself in his phone that we’ve almost reached Inception levels of vanity. The tour wasn’t even of the falls themselves but rather a wee bit down the river where the waters boil and swirl in a narrow gorge, and you’re taken over this water in a charming little cable car that the attendant took great care to tell us was ‘ancient’ and ‘rickety’ but ‘had never had an accident’. Hmm. I’m fine with heights but thundering water scares the bejesus out of me – Paul was happy as larry but it was all I could do not to rainbow-yawn over the side. I definitely drowned in a previous life – I get the willies when you take the plug out of a bath and the tiny whirlpool appears, for goodness sake.
It was beautiful, to be fair, and we got some cracking photos, but boy was I glad to be off. We spotted an iHop over the road and, buoyed up by excellent memories of Disney-times past, we made our way in, only to be curtly told that they shut at half two. It was half one. I reassured them that an hour was probably more than enough time for us to choke some dry pancakes down and then immediately resolved to order something I knew would need to be cooked fresh. Bastards.
We were shown to our seats by a man whose face betrayed the fact he’d had to battle for every erection he’d ever had and who then proceeded to serve us with all the enthusiasm of a prostitute’s eighth blowjob of the day. I mistook his grave attitude and dour face for an attempt at deadpan humour, and was badly mistaken: he was just a miserable fucker. He took our order without a please or a thank you, looked like he was about to cry when I asked for a refill and Christ, when Paul asked for some ketchup, you’d think he’d asked to borrow the waiter’s shoes. I’ve never seen such a downcast expression and, may I remind you, I used to have summer holidays in Darlington.
Now, you might be reading this thinking he was having a bad day, perhaps he didn’t want to deal with two jolly Englishmen wanting sustenance, and that’s possibly true: but fake it, mate. I don’t need a half-hour rimjob when I come into a restaurant but a degree of civility and a look that doesn’t suggest I trod dog-shit into the carpet will suffice. Things came to a head when I very gently pointed out that my steak philly sandwich had clearly been served straight from Alexander Fleming’s lunchbox, given the amount of mould growing on it, and he took the baguette, rubbed it on his pinny to check I hadn’t just painted the mould on myself, and took it away without a word of an apology.
Well, fuck that for a game of soldiers. It’s not like I have high food standards: I just prefer my sandwiches to be cold and emotionless, not sentient and able to move of their own volition. We slapped ten dollars on the table to pay for our drinks and walked straight out. I imagine he’s probably still there, looking at our empty seats with those big watery eyes and wondering where it all went wrong. We jumped on the bus and made our way to the next tour, a walk behind the falls.
Of course, before we could do that, Paul let me know that he needed a waterfall of his very own: from his anus. Smooth bit of writing, that. We nipped into the gift shop so that he could strangle a brownie and I was left to mince around looking at the tat on show whilst he took care of business.
I love a gift shop, especially a naff one, and I can spend a lot of time fingering lumps of wood with Niagara on and the exact same shirts and jerseys we’d seen literally everywhere else but with Niagara stencilled across them in Lucinda Handwriting. I was cooing to myself and wondering just how they sell enough china replicas of waterfalls to make it worthwhile giving them their own stand when I heard the thunder of a pair of George trainers rushing towards me. Paul skidded to a halt with a face that said ‘deportation imminent’ before clutching my sleeve and pulling me out of the shop as though it was about to blow up.
I cast a stricken glance over my shoulder as we rushed for the exit only to see about twelve Orthodox Jewish women waving their arms and shouting at us. It was only once we’d hyper-minced to the relative safety of a Baskin Robbins stand that Paul, breathlessly, clued me in as to the cause of all the tumult. He’d seen the queue for the gents stretching well into the bank of ‘I wish my husband got me as wet as Niagara’ XXXXL shirts and decided to instead nip into the ‘accessible toilet’, which was open for all. Not the disabled toilet, mind you: the genderfluid shitter.
In he had dashed, unbuckling his kegs as he jostled towards the trap, only for the door to burst open in his face to reveal a woman crimping off a hot turd and, inexplicably, another eleven or so ladies all bent around her watching what she was doing. Mortified, Paul starts putting his cock away, they all start shrieking and screaming, and out he dashed with a bright red face and a turtle’s head poking out. I’ve never seen him move so fast, and this is a chap who appears like the Tardis if he so much as hears a Toblerone being snapped. We never found out why they were all in there, why they didn’t lock the door or whether the Shitting Lady felt better after dropping the kids off, and we’ll never know. One of life’s little mysteries. We took the opportunity to join our tour ‘Behind the Falls’.
Now, admittedly, I could have guessed from the name, but a tour ‘behind the waterfalls’ wasn’t exactly much to write home about. You can look at a waterfall from many interesting perspectives: from the air to appreciate the scope, from a boat to take in the noise, from the edge to gain a new found love of life. What isn’t interesting is viewing a waterfall from behind. Think about it: you’re led down a couple of dank tunnels only to experience the ‘fascinating’ sight of water thundering down in front of you in a window sized hole. I felt like a Toilet Duck on curry night. You could have held up a badly-tuned television for the same effect.
Inexplicably, hundreds of tourists were snapping pictures of this astonishing vista as though it was the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and as a consequence, we couldn’t move because of all the mouth-breathers getting their photos just-so. It was awful, and I do not recommend. Half an hour we were down there and the only respite from the misery was me suffocating myself with the poncho, initially for a joke but then with a certain sincerity in my eyes as my lips turned blue. I took a picture and sent it to a friend who is well into suffocation play: fair took his breath away.
We hustled to the next tour – the famous one, mind, the Maid of the Mist. You know it: get on a boat with nine thousand other tourists, bob towards the bottom of the falls and get wet. I’m not doing it justice – it was fantastic and awe-inspiring and terrifying and wonderful – but again, it’s still just a waterfall. We’d seen this friggin’ waterfall from the air, from the side, from behind and now from the bottom. At this point I felt so close to the falls that I almost unlocked my private Growlr pics for him.
Oh: memory unlocked! When I was at school, a friend of mine appeared on 999: International when the boat he was on at the top of the falls broke down and started drifting towards the edge. That’s frightful luck, isn’t it? We all put it down to the fact his family and indeed, himself, were so astonishingly fat, and it led to all manner of ‘he’s fat, he’s round, he bounces on the ground’ songs for a good few months, until he kicked a window out on the school bus on the way home and ran away. Honestly, kids can be so cruel. Me especially. I was driving the bus, and this was only last year. His drifting boat was rescued by the hydroelectric workers just up the river, as it happens.
We docked up, and went for another beer. See, there’s a problem with Niagara: once you’ve got cooing at the waterfall out of the way, you’re stuck in a town that doesn’t have an awful lot going on for it. Cultured folk might drive on and visit one of the myriad beautiful villages nearby but well, we aren’t cultured, unless you count what’s growing on Paul’s taint. Which we ought to have looked at but hey, free Brie. So, to give all the people who buy Chat to sit on their coffee table something to do, they’ve built a strip of the most magnificent shite imaginable. It’s like Blackpool, only you don’t get given a cocktail of naloxone and Imperial Leather upon entry as a precautionary matter. Look it up: that joke works so much better than you imagine.
Here in Newcastle we have a seaside town called Whitley Bay. It’s just the ticket if you’re a stag party wanting to work on your STD catalogue and the beaches are terrific if you enjoy basking in a fetid mix of dimps and dog turds. To compensate for the lack of sunlight, vitamins and wholesome fun they tried many things: carnival rides which collapsed, arcades which take your money either through rigged machines or getting mugged by someone in a tracksuit with teeth installed by the council, summer festivals consisting of a stand selling knock-off Ella-with-Mumps dolls and tiny fried doughnuts – but nothing has ever worked. There’s always an air of gloom and poverty hanging over the place and hell, that’s Niagara for you, only with a giant overflowing bath in the middle.
Of course, we absolutely fucking loved it. There’s nothing more attractive to me than shite attractions with ridiculously high entrance prices: it’s why I married Paul, and gave away my soul. What follows in the next post will be a mince through some of Niagara’s premier entertainment choices. Strap in, give yourself a quick spray of your B&M David Beckham aftershave, and enjoy…once we come back. Which given my posting history, will be sometime in 2022.
To the pulled pork then. You can throw anything in with this, in all honesty, but we found this works well.
I mean just look at that. Perfect for Slimming World, given it’s only half a syn.
This stage is important – don’t be tempted to skip it.
This is a dead easy pulled pork recipe, which pretty much makes itself. The Instant Pot makes this a one pot, quick dinner but you can do it in the slow cooker if you prefer.
Again, use this as a rough guide, but there's really no exact science here. We used treacle because we like the taste, but you can swap it out for brown sugar. Up to you, but the syns are negligible when split between the easily eight portions this makes.
1.5kg of pork shoulder, fat removed and cut into chunks about the size of your fist
well not your fists, a normal person's fists
two tablespoons of treacle (4 syns)
two teaspoons of salt
few good grinds of black pepper
one teaspoon of smoked paprika
one teaspoon of garlic powder
one teaspoon of onion powder
one teaspoon of ground mustard
a good pinch of chilli flakes (leave out if you don't want your arse troubled)
300ml of chicken stock
more than a fair few shakes of mushroom ketchup (we use Geo Watkins' ketchup here, but if you can't find it, add Worcestershire Sauce)
Speaking of Geo Watkins, they were excellent enough to send us a personalised bottle to try - we use it all the time, but shamefully, it hasn't come up in recent recipes! We do recommend it - it's like a more savoury Worcestershire sauce. Paul hates mushrooms but loves it!
place your pork chunks into a massive bowl and tip over the dry ingredients
add the treacle - if you do it from a spoon, try and cover the pork all over as it slowly, slowly, slowly drips
get your fingers in - you want to rub the ingredients in as much as possible - I take five minutes or so here, and then have a cigarette after to calm down and feel ashamed of myself
then, depending on whether you're doing this in an Instant Pot or not...
click 'Saute', add a fair glug of oil to the bottom and when hot, sear the chunks of pork on all sides - you'll probably need to do it in two batches
once done, add the trivet, then the stock, then the pork
seal the Instant Pot and set the pressure to high for 75 minutes
go play with your ha'penny and come back once it's done, letting it vent naturally
once safe to do so, open the Instant Pot, drain the liquid (but keeping about 100ml aside), shred the pork with two forks, tip the passata and the leftover liquid back in
hit saute and let everything bubble away until the sauce has reduced right down - make sure you keep stirring
serve however you want - we put ours in burgers with a brioche bun, cheese, lettuce and pickled red onion - but we're fat
as above, but you're gonna wanna add the passata right at the start, and leave it to burble away for eight hours
shred the meat and if there is still too much sauce, throw it all in a big pan and cook it right down
pulled pork freezes well, and can be thrown into all sorts
remember - our slimming cookbook is now generally always at £9.99 and can be ordered online now - full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing! Click here to order
Here for the bacon and butternut squash dahl? Of course: because the bacon and butternut squash dahl is amazing. You’ll find the recipe for bacon and butternut squash dahl down below, but before we get to the bacon and butternut squash dahl, you’ll have to endure a few words from your fearless leader. And Lisa, you may be saying bacon and butternut squash dahl an awful lot, but that’s because I can’t be arsed to scatter the references to bacon and butternut squash dahl throughout the article properly to hit the SEO target. What am I like!
Morning all! Having been woken up at 8am by my other half grabbing my morning thickness in his sleep and loudly going ‘Oooooh MY‘ like an especially somnambulant Kenneth Williams – and then having the poor grace to turn over and ignore it – I’ve decided to wake early. And not just so I could ‘realise my full potential’ all over his pillow out of frustrated spite. Good luck prying your face off that when you wake up, you jolly little butterball, it’ll be like pulling a cheese toastie out of a car-boot Breville.
There’s the classy writing you’ve all been missing during these times of uncertainty and woe. And what truly preternatural times these are – normally the biggest decision I have at the corner shop is whether I can eat four Kinder Buenos on the short drive home so I don’t have to share with Paul (readers: I can, and a pack of knock-off Wine Gums), now I have to worry about picking up a deadly virus with my bits and bobs. Fun!
In my last blog post I spoke of being hopeful and being kind, and all that applies ever more so now, but I won’t lie and say everything has been just peachy for me. I’ve always been entirely open and honest about my mental health – for there is no shame in it – but long days without the usual focuses of work or the familiar anchors have meant that there’s been times when I’ve been inside my own head too much. And listen: I have a giant fucking head, there’s room for us all in there as long as you like endless Doctor Who music and creaking Simpsons jokes. Curiously, I’ve managed to keep a lid on my health anxiety, taking the somewhat fatalistic view that I’ll probably get it and might die, but that does take some effort.
Anyway. I’m feeling much better now. Why worry about what you can’t change during a pandemic – going out, getting the bits you need, Paul – and concentrate on the good things. Little victories, my Good Friend Paul calls them, and so it is I will share with you my tips for getting through when you’ve got a face like a slapped arse and a head full of apathy.
Get a hammock or go outside
I can’t begin to tell you how much I love our hammock. Now I appreciate this will alienate those without a garden so I’m caveating it by saying, go outside. But, having finally assembled the bastard with Paul ‘helping’, I can’t recommend it enough. I lie outside and get a full dose of Vitamin D (sadly not euphemistically, and boy, am I missing that) and feel like a new man. I do feel for the neighbours though: I’m not shy about my body and so I tip myself into that hammock in just my boxer shorts and it must look to all the world like someone left two tonnes of bread mix out to prove in the sun.
There’s also the small matter of getting into it. Again, I am a man of heft and very little grace, and I essentially have to tip myself in. This is quite the acrobatic feat for someone for whom getting into a sex-sling requires two strong men to hold the frame and an army instructor bellowing encouragement. It would be easier to air-lift me in but I feel inappropriate ringing the air ambulance. More than twice I have thrown myself in and rolled straight back out the other side onto hard concrete, but I still persevere.
And honestly, I feel so much better for it, despite the sun bleaching my eyebrows blonde to the point where they disappear and remove my ability to look surprised.
Oh: added bonus. Being secreted into my hammock gives me the opportunity to eavesdrop on some of the conversations my neighbours have. So far, I’ve heard them slag off Paul, his car (fair game), our broken fence (broken by their tree) and us in general. Mind, I’ve also heard one of them describe the virus as ‘nothing more than a common cold, so this is all over the top’. She’s in her seventies, exactly the type who people are staying in to protect, and that’s her attitude. I’m not saying I get excited when I see an ambulance pull into the street but…
Stop reading the news
I mean, within reason – still keep the occasional eye for the bigger headlines: is Trump dead yet, when can we get back to shenanigans and firkytoodling, when can I get 5G in my local area and has the price gone up due to lockdown? But otherwise, what is there to say? At the start of this I was feverishly (poor choice of words, granted) reading the news for updates and all you see is woe and misery, plus Priti Patel, a sneer given sentience and an expenses account at Jigsaw. Nobody needs that negativity in their life. Stop reading it, and this just becomes a fancy stay-at-home holiday. You can’t complain about getting wet if you keep going out in the rain, after all.
Do something you’ve been unable to do before
With most of us having the obligation of going into work not looking like Worzel Gummidge halfway through the 12-step programme, we’re now afforded an amazing opportunity to experiment with our looks without judgement from those we shouldn’t care about. For example, a good friend of mine is letting her roots come in so she can turn her hair grey, something I’ve been badgering her about for ages. For my part, I’m growing out my beard, and have successfully navigated the difficult period of looking like someone you’d throw pennies at to keep me away, into the luxurious Saul from Homeland beard that I’ve been craving.
I’ve even got quite a bit of grey in there, which makes me look terribly distinguished, albeit it’s probably only spilt Activia. I’m longing for the days when art galleries reopen and I can walk around stroking my beard and saying hmm, quite, but what of the human nature?
Write a list of all the shite you’ve been putting off
Not saying you should actually do anything on there, but there’s a grim satisfaction of seeing all the chores and tut you’ve been putting off. However, if you’re feeling as keen as mustard, break each chore down even further into smaller targets, and work on them. For example, I’ve been wanting to learn a new language for years. Years! So I’ve paid for a course of lessons. Don’t get me wrong, that’s as far as I’ve got (and indeed, am going to get) but it did make me feel better just ticking off a tiny bit of progress.
Speaking of progress…
Meet your new diet assistants – order a new twochubbycubs planner!
The time to ourselves has given us plenty of time to finalise our diet planner – which is available to order now! The planner has 26 slimming recipes, all of our nonsense, inspirational quotes (written by me, so you can really guess how they go), weekly challenges, 10 pages per week to complete AND, best of all, colouring in pages to keep you distracted featuring us! And look how bloody adorable they are. Even I went ‘aww’ and my heart is made of granite.
You can order it here (it’ll open in a new window), and I heartily promise you’ll love it!
OK, there’s probably more I can write, but frankly, I need the loo so let’s barrel out this bacon and butternut squash dahl and be done.
The ingredients for bacon and butternut squash dahl, with Paul guest-starring.
Serve your bacon and butternut squash dahl with warmed pittas
Finally, an easy dish of bacon and butternut squash dahl you can get down pat!
This bacon and butternut squash dahl is a dirt-cheap meal to make - we use our Instant Pot Duo because honestly, it's easy just to chuck everything in and let it do the hard work, but a dahl is equally as happy burbling away on the hob on the lowest possible heat. You can swap the coconut milk for stock if you like, but this serves eight so I wouldn't worry about the syns.
Chernobyl soup: it cooks itself! No, stop it, we won’t have any jokes about Chernobyl in here, this is a tasteful blog. However let me tell you this: the soup looks like something you’d find in a layby nappy, hurriedly thrown from a moving car by some frazzled parents, but it tastes bloody good. If you’re looking for something very quick, cheap and easy, then nip over and I’ll sort you out, and we can have the soup after. It’s a simple enough combination of stock, veg and sausage with paprika. It uses an Instant Pot but fret not – you can make it on the hob just as easy.
Why are we calling it Chernobyl soup anyway? Because it was part of the meal we had at the Chernobyl Power Plant Workers’ Canteen, and so, with the confident ease of someone who has played the up-a-bit-down-a-bit-push game all too often, let’s segue straight to part two of our Ukraine holiday report. Look! A fancy banner approaches – click it to whisk straight to the recipe – and this is a VERY long entry, so I won’t even hold it against you.
Chernobyl, then. Our holiday package came with a twelve hour tour, which at 5.30am in the morning, pulling on sodden Dr Martens and wishing for death, felt like an awfully long time to stand around looking at dusty, toxic relics from a bygone era – we can do that easily enough by Skypeing Paul’s mother, and she’s only slightly less radioactive. We were up early as we had to be at a random hotel by 7am and we had no idea of the Metro schedule. After spending forty minutes feeling each individual drop of water hit me from the shower, we bustled out, asking the hotel concierge to call us a taxi. He gave us an earnest smile, coughed into his beard and pushed us outside to wait. Perhaps we were cluttering up the lobby or detracting from the entrance to the ‘Gentleman’s Club’, I don’t know. Anyway, we waited for a while until what would turn out to be a recurring theme of this holiday turned up: a car that looked like it was put together by my nephew in a fever dream. Rusted? I could see the petrol flowing through the door. No way were we getting in that, so the next ten minutes were spent stealthily hiding from both the very angry looking taxi driver and the concierge, who seemed bemused that we had disappeared into fat air. We stayed around the corner until the taxi driver drove off in a cloud of toxic blue smoke and the concierge went back to extracting new flavours of phlegm from his lungs. Paul called an Uber Exec in a fit of excitement and thankfully, a car that hadn’t been witness to seventy years of history rolled in, accompanied by yet another beautiful Ukrainian man whose name I’d never learn but whose eyes I’d always remember.
Honestly, long term readers of this blog will know that I have a real thing for taxi drivers – I think it’s simply any lust that allows me to sit down and rest my legs, to be honest – but it’s getting to a point where Paul’s having to pop a meter on and hang a Magic Tree off his knob if he wants to get his leg over.
The driver was cold and efficient and dropped us where we needed to be with a grunt. We gave him a tip of 5, 667,344,667 Ukrainian hryvnia (about £2.10) and sent him on his way. There were several white minibuses all boarding tour groups and of course, the anxiety of having to get on the right bus was overwhelming. Imagine my distress if I’d hopped on the wrong bus only to be taken to a gulag and passed around like life-raft chocolate. After I’d double-checked that this wasn’t happening, and hidden my disappointment from Paul, we climbed aboard. There’s always a worry about shared tour groups that you’re going to get onto a bus and find yourself sandwiched between folks who want to talk to you about Jesus and others who snack with their mouths wide open. Luckily – for the most part, ssh – this was a decent group – and once our tour guide (Cynthia, the doll beloved by Angelica from The Rugrats, electrified, made human and given an action-jackson gilet) jumped on, we were away.
She explained a few things: we were to buy snacks en-route because, obviously, nowhere to buy them in the Exclusion Zone. We had to try for a tom-tit at the petrol station because you really don’t want to be flaring your bumhole in the wild open air (she phrased it better, admittedly) and the toilet facilities were ropey. Don’t pick anything up. Don’t eat the berries. Buy some wet-wipes for your hands and dog treats for all the wild dogs that have set up home. We then had to sign a very official looking document (well sort of – the Ukrainian flag still had ‘shutterstock’ printed across it where they’d lifted it from google images, but top marks for theatre) to say we understood the risks of entering the Exclusion Zone and that we would be subject to punishment if we broke any of the rules. One of those rules? Don’t enter any abandoned structure. Just remember that. After twenty minutes, we pulled into the petrol station. I wish I could tell you the name because it was hilarious but I’d get wrong. So I can’t.
Whilst Paul busied himself trying to work out the coffee machine I took the role of class swot and went for a shite, bought my snacks and wet-wipes and then went outside to stand by the bus. Well no, I wanted to smoke, and as nonchalant as the Ukraine seemed to be about health and safety, I didn’t fancy sparking up in a petrol station. Oh and I know I shouldn’t smoke, but something has to take the bitterness of my words away. Luckily, my COPD-Club of One became three with the addition of two other Northerners, Vicky and Natalie. It took me a while to understand they were from the UK because with their strangled vowels and hissing sibilants I’d just assumed they were local engineers here to fix the bus. We bonded immediately over the sight of a dog and Paul’s ashen face at trying to drink a takeaway coffee consisting entirely of milk foam and cherry syrup, and then we were on our way. It was a good hour drive and I could tell Paul was itching to chat excitedly, so I shut my eyes and listened to my Billie Eilish tapes.
I can’t get enough of her, by the way. Imagine being eighteen and having a Bond theme out? The only thing I was responsible for at eighteen was an especially virulent outbreak for gonorrhoea. Well, it was the noughties after all.
An hour or two passed with very little to look at outside of the window save for the oncoming traffic, which the bus driver seemed to be taking a personal affront against given he was driving on both sides of the road at once. After twenty minutes of wincing, I nodded off, only for Paul to shake me from my slumber when we reached the first control point, where we told not to take pictures under any circumstances. There were a few burly mean-looking blokes hanging around so I’d cracked the emergency exit and slithered off like Tooms before our guide had finished telling everyone to behave. Our passports were checked, some tat was bought (I bought a gas mask, for reasons, not realising it was to fit a child – I look like one of those videos on Youtube where people put elastic bands around a watermelon when I wear it) and we were cleared to go exploring.
I should say at this point: we were given little Geiger counters to clip on, but at no time are you really in any major danger as long as you’re sensible. I did start clicking like the girl from The Grudge at one point but that was deliberate to shit Paul up.
This video, from the recent Chernobyl docudrama, explains what happened – and honestly if you’ve got ten minutes, watch it – amazing acting and you’ll never feel more like you could run a nuclear powerplant. Alternatively, cut to the ten minute mark, absolutely terrifying:
Now, since the reactor went boom, there were two exclusion zones set up – one 10km around the plant and another 30km. Both are safe for a day as long as you’re not snorting lines of dust, but you do have to be careful. You can’t explore yourself and must stay with a tour guide. Our tour started in a little village in the 30km zone, with us all tramping off the bus to walk around. Of course, it is eerie – a whole village lost to the forest – and we took some shots, walked around respectfully and went back to the bus. That was just a taster. Someone on the bus asked whether or not the dogs you see roaming around were the same dogs from thirty years ago and we all had to politely ball our fists in our mouth to stop laughing. Bless her, though I do like the idea of an irradiated Cujo wandering around looking for some glowing Bonio. That was a whistle-stop tour and the bus drove us to the next destination: the plant itself.
Perhaps you might not think it interesting to spend an hour looking at a power-plant, but in all honesty, the tour was captivating – we stood just outside the Containment Chamber which houses the incredibly radioactive remains of Reactor 4 and it’s mind-blowingly huge – an incredible piece of engineering when you consider it’s the largest man-made moveable object in the world. After Paul. Our tour guide showed us pictures of how it used to look and how it looked after the explosion and usually I zone out at stuff like that but she was terrific – and standing in front of something so destructive was genuinely terrifying. Brrr.
We drove on, with the next stop being Pripyat, the town built for the families of the workers of the powerplant. 50,000 people lived here in what looked to be a gorgeous town – then in the two days following the explosion, those who didn’t die were evacuated. This number rose as the Exclusion Zone grew to over 300,000. The bus turned a corner and we were on the Bridge of Death, where residents of the town gathered to watch the fire in the distance, all of them not knowing that they were watching their lives burn out in front of them. Everyone on the bridge died within days, captivated by the electric blue smoke pushed out by the reactor burning. The bus didn’t stop, which was entirely the right decision, and we parked up in the centre.
Our tour guide made a very stern face and told us we weren’t, by law, allowed to explore the buildings – partly out of respect, partly out of the fact they are unsafe structures, partly because they’re radioactive. If we were seen by the police who patrol the area we would be tossed back out with a flea in our ear. So, very clearly, if she saw us exploring inside the buildings, the tour would stop. Lucky, then, that she followed up this strict message by saying she would stay outside and do her paperwork, and if we wandered off…
So we explored five main points: the swimming pool, the school, a block of high rise apartments, the fairground and a nursery. I won’t go into all of them bar to tell you the common theme – imagine if someone pressed pause on an entire city. Everyone had to leave everything behind, soaked in radiation, and despite promises about returning, never could. You’re walking through a ghost city and it’s one of the must vaguely unsettling feelings I’ve ever felt. For example, in the high-rise buildings, you can walk up all twenty floors (and we did, with Paul gasping the entire way) and walk into people’s flats to see snapshots of their lives left to the dust: board games halfway played, pots left on the cooker, beds half-made and photos of loved ones cracked and fallen. It’s safe – so far as walking around buildings that haven’t been maintained for thirty years can be – but it’s absolutely haunting. When I’m uneasy or anxious I get an ache at the bottom of my back like someone is pressing on my spine and that feeling never left me. The faint taste of metal was a distraction though.
There’s so many photos out there of the various places you can visit so I won’t put my own up here, but have a look at our Instagram shots for a selection:
The floor full of children’s gas-masks was what got me though – tears actually welled up in my eyes when I realised that I shouldn’t have paid £20 for one from the gift shop and instead, just lifted one from here. Quick going over with a wet-wipe, job done.
One thing slightly irritated me – in quite a few places, you could tell things had been set up to make it ‘creepy’ – dolls with gas-masks on, faces half-buried in the soil. Chernobyl is dark tourism in its purist form – you don’t need to make a spectacle of it. Says the two lads who paid to tour it. That’s a fine looking high horse, fella.
We spent about two hours touring Pripyat and then it was back to the power-plant where we would join the current workers on site for lunch. We had another radiation check before going in – climb inside a little scanner, press your hands and wait for the beep – and then took a place in the queue (after I managed to fall up the stairs in my haste to get fed – they probably thought the reactor was having another wobbly when they felt the tables shake). We were warned that the ladies serving were miserable and christ, were they right – I’ve never been served lunch with such malice. I wanted to ask if I could swap my rye bread for a brown bun but it wouldn’t have surprised me if the bewhiskered babushka had pulled me over the counter and held me face down in the soup until my legs stopped kicking.
Lunch wasn’t bad mind – a little salad which I left because I’m not vegetarian, a soup which looked like someone had already digested it for me but tasted wonderful (see recipe below), a breaded (I think) piece of pork (I think) served on sticky rice (I think) and a lovely little muffin that I keep under my tongue even now so I can have a few more stabs at chewing it. This sounds like I’m being mean for the sake of it, and I am being facetious, certainly, but it honestly wasn’t bad at all. I made the mistake of scooping some mustard up off and putting it in my soup, not realising that this wasn’t mustard but something that must have been scrapped off the side of the blown reactor. Hot? I didn’t want to lose face, though ironically I did lose face as it burnt through my cheek. We made our way back to the bus, stopping (the group) to pet all the dogs milling around the plant and stopping (me) to smoke with all the workers in the vain hope I’d be squirrelled away as the office entertainment.
Next stop was something I hadn’t expected – a stop at the DUGA radar installation and the accompanying secret Soviet base. I adore stuff like this – incredible feats of engineering built for menace. I tried to take a photo to try and encapsulate the sheer size and freakery of this place and failed – it’s 500ft tall and half a mile long of tarnished metal, long-silent wires and rusting joints. At some points, you can stand under it and look up and it is all you can see. I’ve mentioned my phobia of dams before – part of that phobia is that dams look so unnatural and man-made set in usually beautiful countryside. This was the same with the DUGA station – so unnatural, so weird. That phobia of large structures is called megalophobia and I can’t deny that as excited as I was to see it, that little knot of anxiety was back in my spine. You can hear it creaking in the wind which is unsettling enough, and knowing it needs to come down soon but has to be taken apart by hand due to the radiation…nope. It was used to listen out for ballistic missile launches – I can’t help but think if Comrade Paul Anderson had his hands on it, he’d be using it to check my WhatsApp. Brrr.
The rest of the tour involved lots of little stops at various points – the working town where the current workers live (had to check we hadn’t turned off and ended up in Gateshead for a hot second), the memorial to the fallen, the little robots they attempted to use to shift the burning, highly radioactive graphite off the roof. The radiation was so intense that the robots only worked for moments before cutting out – they had to send humans up onto the roof to do what the robots couldn’t. Think on that for a second: so radioactive it fries a robot, so they sent these ‘bio-robots’ onto the roof instead. One minute to chuck as much rubble over the side as you can, and that’s you done, never to serve again. Fall over onto the graphite and you’re dead. Brush against it, and you’re dying. The thought of having to do something so intense made my spine hurt again: you’re talking to the man who fell up the stairs on his way to get soup, remember.
Though I have a confession: throughout the tour the guide kept telling us we would get a chance to meet the Roberts who helped with the clean-up exercise. I thought it was going to be a meet and greet of two blokes called Robert and spent a while on Wikipedia trying to work out who she could mean. Nope. Robots. I was a trifle disappointed.
Throughout the tour we spoke with the various folks on the bus with us – some were more engaging than others – and we made friends with the previously mentioned Natalie and Vicky, and then later Reiss and Sharlette (which made for an awkward moment when they both said that’s not how you spell my name when I was trying to find them on Facebook), a lovely couple who had come along on the same flight, with the same company, having watched the same documentary as us. I’ll circle back to these lovely four in the next blog entry but haven’t we come a long way since Paul and I pretended to be Armenian so that we didn’t have to make small-talk on a previous tour?
And that’s it – the driver got us all back on board, we cleared the checkpoint and then he cranked up the heating so we all fell asleep. I woke myself up with a fart so noxious (and I pray, silent) you’d be forgiven for thinking I was smuggling rubble back with me. It’s OK, I shut my eyes and went back to sleep with the lullaby of dry-heaving behind me to whoosh me to sleep.
So: would I recommend it? Absolutely. I knew Paul would enjoy it because he’s always been a fan of desolation, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. Your experience will depend entirely on the skill of your tour guide – ours was incredible, the right balance of humour, knowledge and pathos – and we tipped her well. The bus – awash with jokes and jibes about radiation on the way there – was silent coming back. They played a video of what the town was like on the drive back, which was an especially timely touch. It’s fascinating to see an entire town held in a time bubble and utterly incomprehensible to realise what an evacuation on that scale would actually mean. It was almost so much worse, too – had the core hit the water pooled underneath the reactor, almost all of Europe would have been rendered uninhabitable by the subsequent nuclear explosion.
As a footnote: the official Soviet death-count for Chernobyl, as of today: 31. Official studies actually put the numbers up near 90,000.
And there’s me grumbling about my weak shower.
To the Chernobyl soup, then. If you have an Instant Pot this is truly the work of minutes, but if not, fear not: you can make it on the hob just as easy. This makes enough for four servings of Chernobyl soup, which I really ought to call veg and sausage soup, but hell. To the recipe!
Yeah I should have cleaned that bowl first. But I was too busy playing with my gas-mask.
God I hate writing about ‘us’ in the third person, but I couldn’t get the title to work. I promised you an update, a salacious one, and then merrily forgot to update because a) we’re unspeakably lazy and b) we’re surprisingly busy and c) my tonsils have decided they want out and are rebelling against me. Lots of people are suggesting going to the doctors but I don’t want to explain why each tonsil has a perfect imprint of a bellend pushed into it like wet clay. So I’m riding it out, but you best believe I’ve lived on nothing but fags and ice-cream for the last three days. I’m looking after me.
SO OUR ANNOUNCEMENT.
We’re on the telly! For a change, it’s not some blurry footage of me getting bummed in a lorry park either, which at least my mother is thankful for (though no-one forces her to hold the camera, just sayin’). Nope, we’re on THIS TIME NEXT YEAR, Tuesday 5th, 8pm on ITV. See if you can spot us in the trailer below (I’ll give you a clue, we’re the ones who look like Jeremy Spake’s stunt doubles wandering in from the cold).
There’s blog stories a-plenty coming about this, but the basic conceit is that you go on the show, pledge to do something significant and challenging and then you have a year to do exactly that. You go see Davina for a wee chat, film yourselves throughout the year and then come back a year later to reveal all. It’s a lovely programme and, how could we not? We applied and they turned down my original pledge to taste-test a chap from each town in the UK with a population over 5,000, but we got talking about weight loss and this snowballed into ‘THIS TIME NEXT YEAR, DAVINA, WE WILL LOSE TWENTY STONE BETWEEN US’.
Well, we had to:
Crikey. No spoilers, of course. You’ll have seen we have lost a little weight, but did we do it? Did we make a big change? Did we do the right thing by our readers and follow our own recipes and lose weight? Are we proof that not synning avocado, not drowning everything in Frylight and not making apple turnovers and cream horns from Quark and wraps will help you lose weight?
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:
Beef mince biryani – I’m sure there’s a billion ways of doing this recipe and this is probably the common as muck version but hey, sometimes you just fancy something spicy. Our takeaway has stopped taking our calls since Paul used to stand by the letterbox on all fours whenever the hunky deliveryman, with his baleful brown eyes and arms that promised the world, came to the door. Think that’s bad? He once put ‘Will nosh for extra dough balls‘ on our Dominos order when he was drunk and then made me answer the door. Don’t get me wrong, it’s factually correct – if anything it’s a slight understatement – but still. I wouldn’t mind but I opened the door to a lovely wee lady who looked like Sandi Toksvig trying to solve a particularly tough crossword.
Anyway, as promised, we’re going to go straight into the recipe, no messing about. We all know foreplay is a waste of time anyway, surely? Hello? Is this thing on?
Just so you know, we served this with our perfect chicken korma recipe – you know why it’s perfect? Because we don’t stir a friggin’ Muller Light into it. Why? Because we’re not simple. For scooping we used Broghies – they’re one syn crackers that can be found in most Icelands around the country by now. If they’re not in yours, run into the shop, bundle whatever old lady is in your way into a chest freezer and demand that the manager stocks them immediately. They’re perfect for dips! And no: we’re not on commission.
We found this recipe at mytamarindkitchen and I 100% a look at their blog because the food is absolutely amazing. Tweaked this for Slimming World. Let’s go.
to make the perfect beef mince biryani, you’ll need:
five ripe tomatoes chopped up – can’t be arsed, use tinned tomatoes, but come on now
a teaspoon of coriander, cumin and chilli powder – now, if you don’t have spices, go to your world foods bit in your supermarket and buy them in bulk – so much cheaper – keep them sealed in a good tin though
I cheated here and used a garam masala grinder rather than making my own – was only a quid in Tesco – used about 10 good grinds
a bay leaf or two (don’t stress if you don’t have them)
one big fat onion, chopped nice and fine
500g of extra lean beef mince – or use turkey mince for even lower calories (though it’ll not change the syn value)
350g of basmati rise
half a tin of cooked green lentils
1 clove of garlic, minced
a good couple of handfuls of peas
1 inch of ginger, minced
half a teaspoon of turmeric
100ml of beef stock
one green chilli
optional extras for your mince biryani:
one lemon and one lime
a pinch of (shiver) saffron
chopped mint and coriander
top tips for your mince biryani:
we cook our rice in our Instant Pot – you absolutely don’t need one, you can cook rice just fine in a pan – but if you have a pressure cooker have a look into it – rice is a doddle! Instant Pots are quite hard to come by at the moment due to a stock shortage and, whilst we love ours, we’ve heard good things about the Pressure King Pro – only £70 on Amazon at the moment
if you’re mincing your garlic and ginger, use a microplane grater – you don’t need to peel the garlic or ginger and it’ll save your poor wee fingers
oh and whilst we’re on about ginger, buy a big knob of it and put it in the freezer when you’re done with it – it grates just fine frozen and it’ll save you buying it fresh every time
and listen, if even that’s too much for you, you can buy ginger and garlic paste in most major supermarkets now – in the same jar – for a quid or two – just use a tablespoon for half a syn!
to make the perfect beef mince biryani, you should:
soak your rice in cold water for a good half hour, and then cook it through until it is almost cooked(I like to add the turmeric to the rice as it cooks, to give it a yellow sheen) – you want a bit of bite left
heat your oven up to about 175 degrees and get a good heavy pan out of the cupboard – you’ll need one that has a lid and can go in the oven
spritz with a few sprays of oil, grind the masala into it and heat until it smells amazing
add the garlic and ginger and the chopped onion – cook the onions until they take on some colour, but don’t burn them
then add a pinch of salt, the chilli, cumin and coriander and cook off – add the stock here so it doesn’t catch and to to get all the good stuff off the bottom of the pan
add the tomatoes and fry until they’ve softened down – then add the mince and peas and cook until that’s cooked through and has absorbed most of the moisture in the pan
the easy bit now – layer the lentils over the top followed by the rice
optional: add chopped mint, slices of lemon and lime and if you’re super fancy, you could dissolve the saffron in hot water (about 25ml) and pour that one
cook in the oven for about twenty minutes with the lid on so it can steam
once you’re happy with it, clap your hands and eat your dinner!
There. I hope that leaves you satisfied and smiling!
What? You want more curry and spicy ideas? Of course you do. You love having a bumhole that looks like a shocked mouth. Here we go then:
We’re having to take a bit of a break from the blog to concentrate on an exciting personal project – but rather than leave you sitting there with a sulk on with no new recipes, we’re going to use it as an excuse to pump out some recipes with no guff. Trust me: some of the recipes coming up will leave you dripping like a St Bernard’s chin.
Can I ask a favour, though? If you’ve got someone who is doing this infernal diet alongside you, share our stuff! The buttons at the bottom will instantly share to Facebook and Twitter. Help us to help them – god knows they need it.
You can make this recipe in the Instant Pot or on the hob – if you’re using the hob, you’ll need a good non-stick casserole pot. Let’s go! This makes enough for four.
to make lazy cabbage bowls you will need
1 savoy cabbage, chopped roughly
250g beef mince
250g pork mince
1 onion, diced
3 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp maple syrup (4 syns) (you could also use honey, brown sugar or even sweetener, but just make sure to check the syns)
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp mustard powder
Looking for an Instant Pot? Still on the fence? Don’t be, you’ll give yourself piles. They’re having stock problems at the moment but stop fretting – the Pressure King Pro is a decent replacement. Cheap on Amazon at the moment, too!