recipe: chicken and rhubarb stew

I hope by now that you trust us enough to take a gamble on a recipe if we recommend it: this chicken and rhubarb stew demands this of you. Most people use rhubarb for tarts or crumbles, but if those tarts fancy a savoury dish, what can you offer? Try this chicken dish. The astringent nature of the rhubarb is tempered by being cooked low and slow with some honey and chicken and the end result is something approaching a hot and sour sauce. Please, read the recipe and try it: rhubarb is everywhere at the moment and it’s always nice to try something new. But before we get to the chicken and rhubarb stew, we do, but of course, have a blog post to slog through. If you’re itching to get straight to the chicken and rhubarb stew, then just scroll to the recipe photos (and get some Canesten on that itch, you utter jezebel).

Mind, we didn’t have a choice when it came to cooking with rhubarb: we don’t grow it, but our neighbours have an allotment and by all accounts, they’re over-run with the stuff. So much so that I was sitting on our settee a couple of nights ago when the letterbox clattered and a long pink stalk came poking through. Our neighbour was posting his spare rhubarb, which was very thoughtful, but it didn’t half remind me of the time when we used to have a ‘special access door’ installed for our gentlemen visitors.  Glory days indeed! We lost that contraption in the house fire – it was either save that or save the cats and although a box of matches fell out from under Sola’s tail as she hurtled out, I feel I made the right choice. Probably for the best, the black hallway carpet was starting to look like a badly-tuned television channel towards the end.

Anyway, I’m not here to talk about our lickerish indiscretions of old: I’m here to make an official twochubbycubs announcement. We were going to take an advert out in The Times but this seemed like an easier route: we’d be lost amongst the ridiculous birth and marriage announcements. I did once see a Rafferty Rocket in there, mind you, though you’ll never convince me that isn’t the name of a sex toy you’d order from wish.com.

See, an announcement is always going to be one of four things, isn’t it:

  1. Paul has finally tired of being slagged off something rotten on here, pulled his size three socks up and set off to storm out the front door*, hoping to get there within two days with his tiny bandy legs
  2. we’re releasing a third book full of more amazing recipes, wit and comedy
  3. we’re having a baby
  4. we’re getting a new pet

* Actually, to be fair to him, I’m the ‘storm out and slam the front door’ one in the marriage. The last time I did this I slammed the door so hard it cracked the wall all around the front door. Worse, we have a novelty emergency money box affixed to the wall next to the door which looks like one of those ‘in an emergency, smash here’ boxes where they keep the fire hammer on trains. As the door clattered this fell off the wall, sending a lovely cascade of pound coins showering to the kitchen floor. It’s difficult to maintain a surly face when it feels as though the house itself celebrated your departure by cashing out like a jackpot spin in Las Vegas. Anyway. Where were we? Ah yes, why those four scenarios are just silly.

Well:

  1. Paul knows where his bread is buttered, and given his immoderation towards calorie intake, that’s more than likely a full loaf of Toastie Thick hidden in his rucksack which is hanging in the hall: he’ll never leave. He lives for my bi-annual compliment, that boy
  2. can you imagine us doing such a thing – don’t you think you’ve had enough? Mind, never say never…
  3. there’s more chance of me eschewing cock for good than ever entertaining the idea of having a bawling poo-machine littering our slightly-singed carpet, thank you

So, that really just leaves number four, doesn’t it? Well, in that case…

goomba

Meet Goomba, our incoming Springer Spaniel puppy!

See, long-time readers of the blog (and occasional readers of the books, where I swore blind we would never get a dog) will know we have wanted a dog for ages. Well, no, Paul has wanted a dog since time immemorial – the only pets he was allowed growing up were the more resilient dickies in his unwashed hair – and I’ve always been the sensible one saying no because we work full-time away from home.

But now, with the relative success of the books and the fact that coronavirus has meant working from home for me, we’re in a position to finally give a dog the life it deserves. We’ve spent the last few months applying to take in a rescue dog, getting our hopes raised and dashed over and over by charities that never got back to us or decided, for whatever reason, we weren’t suitable. That’s their prerogative of course, and far better they are choosy with rehoming because the last thing any rescue dog needs is more upheaval, but even so it has been an incredibly demoralising process. I think a stumbling block was trying to find a dog that was accustomed to living with cats: doubly so when you consider that 50% of our feline contingent spends her days plotting ever more horrible ways to kill us. It says a lot that I could empty Sola’s cat carrier one day and remain entirely unsurprised to find a gun in there. The only reason she hasn’t killed us in our sleep is surely because she can’t reach the cupboard to get her cat food out herself. The second she learns how to operate the portable stepladders we have in the garage, we’re fucked.

So, mainly because I could see how much Paul wanted a dog, I set about finding a puppy and, in an especially serendipitous moment of canine oestrus excitement, a good friend’s bitch gave birth to eight puppies at just the right moment I was looking. I don’t mean I was actually looking when she gave birth – I imagine it would look like pushing a guinea pig through a loose pack of ham – but I was ever so excited. I arranged everything and, would you believe, managed to keep the entire process secret until the moment we drove up to pick our dog from the litter. That really is something, you know: I’m as appalling at keeping secrets as Paul is efficient at unveiling them. I’m probably the only husband to sit down ashen-faced and confess to an extra-marital indiscretion before the blood has even pooled in my nethers. He was terribly excited, and this isn’t a man who excites easily: he could win £100,000 on a scratchcard and still complain he’s got silver fingernails. But it was genuinely lovely to see his enthusiasm.

Picking was difficult because of course all puppies are tremendous and wonderful, but we spotted one particular puppy who had taken one look at us and decided to reverse himself under the sofa. After a little reassurance and a quick piss on the floor, Paul was ready, and he chose the shy puppy that had hidden away. And, readers, honestly: take one look at his gorgeous wee face, with that smudge marking on his nose, and tell me Paul made the wrong choice? We already had the name picked out – all of our pets have Nintendo related names (Luma, Sola, Bowser) and Goomba was the perfect fit for this one. I mean I wanted to call him Keith, but Paul said no, the poor sport. Dogs with human names will never not be hilarious to me.

So, that’s our news. I think you’ll agree it was a corker. Goomba joins us late in July, and if you think we’re going to be one of those couples who talk about their dog all the time: you’re right. I’m even thinking of going all in and changing the email subscription title to pupdates. Yeah, you like that, don’t you? Ahem.

Shall we get to the business of chicken and rhubarb stew then? Let me say one thing before we get to it: taking a picture of chicken and rhubarb stew and making it look at all sexy and tasty is an impossibility. It’s a brown slurry. But readers, you just need to believe.

chicken and rhubarb stew

There, a chicken and rhubarb stew: it won’t win any awards, but it’s damn tasty!

chicken and rhubarb stew

Served with rice, this chicken and rhubarb stew is way under 500 calories: it doesn’t take Vera to work that one out. Pet.

chicken and rhubarb stew

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

This chicken and rhubarb stew uses rhubarb to make an almost sweet and sour sauce, and it's beautiful for it. Even if you're not a fan of rhubarb I implore you to try it: if you like plum sauce for example, this will be a winner. This is a recipe you'll need to taste as you go along, adding honey if it needs to be a bit sweeter.

This chicken and rhubarb stew came from a blog called whereismyspoon - I encourage you to go take a look, although reading it on a mobile is a chore due to the video adverts. I know we all have to do what we have to do to get through life, but please, bloggers: video adverts which you can't get rid of - especially ones with music - can get in the sea. That aside, there's some delicious recipes on there. We've tweaked this slightly to our tastes.

This comes in at 280 calories per serving and makes enough for four. Serve it with a decent portion of rice and it'll still be under 500 calories too. Syn wise? Probably quite low, but Slimming World syn honey don't they? Even so, I doubt it's more than two syns a pop. Calorie counts are approximate, using Nutracheck.

Ingredients

  • eight boneless and skinless chicken thighs (don't use breast, you want the slightly gamier taste of thighs here)
  • 400g peeled, chopped rhubarb
  • two large white onions
  • two teaspoons of garlic paste
  • one teaspoon of turmeric
  • one tablespoon of black pepper
  • one tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 750ml of chicken stock
  • five tablespoons of honey
  • four tablespoons of lime juice

Salt to taste. But not too much, you.

Instructions

  • you'll need a good casserole dish - see notes
  • fry the chicken thighs on both sides for a few minutes on a high heat until golden brown, then remove
  • lower the heat a little and then, in the oil used for the chicken, add the chopped white onion and allow to soften and go slightly golden, before adding the pepper, garlic paste and turmeric
  • give everything a stir and cook for a minute more 
  • add the rhubarb and tomatoes, give everything a good stir
  • add the stock, honey and lime juice, stir
  • add the chicken back to the pan
  • bring to the boil, then reduce to a low simmer
  • allow to bubble away gently for as long as you can - we cooked ours for ninety minutes, only occasionally deigning to stir the contents every now and then
  • do taste as you go along - add more lime if it's a bit too sweet and more honey if it's a bit too sour - rhubarb is a tricky thing, but don't forget it'll mellow as it cooks
  • serve with rice to applause and declarations of love

Notes

Recipe

  • this freezes really, really well, so feel free to double up the amounts and batch cook
  • this would absolutely work in a pressure cooker - follow the steps until simmering, and then cook on high for about 15 minutes then release
  • please don't be tempted to use chicken breasts, I can't stress that enough people

Books

  • our second book sold like absolute hot-cakes, which is no surprise when you look at how much we all love a cake - it gets excellent reviews and you can do no better, trust me: order yours here! 
  • a plea: if you have bought any of our books, please do take a moment to leave a review on Amazon, we will love you forever and it helps us out so much
  • the first book is a bit cheaper and still an incredible bible if you're looking to lose weight with delicious recipes: click here to order
  • our planner will help you on your way - loads of space to keep track of your weight loss and lovely pictures of us to be getting on with: here

Tools

  • gonna talk to you about casserole dishes - we have had the same Le Creuset pot now for nine years and use it weekly, and it has never failed us: I can feel confident recommending to you that if you have the spare cash, it's an investment worth making - Amazon often have them on sale here
  • if you're using fresh limes, top tip - roll them under the palm of your hand for a little bit, and then pop in the microwave for five seconds - you'll get so much more juice out of them. Failing that, use one of these even if it does look a little like a tool a doctor would be struck off for using on you

Oh! Bonus tip. Don't chuck your shredded lime out once you've got the juice from it - pop it in a dish with some water covering it, then microwave for about three minutes. CAREFULLY remove the dish when done. But the steam will loosen all the dirt on your microwave, making it easy to wipe clean. Eee, I'm like Kim Woodburn, aren't I?

Courses dinners

Cuisine chicken and other stuff I dunno what to put here I never do get off my back jeez

Looking for something a bit more traditional to use up your rhubarb? Try this – click the image to go straight to the recipe!

Goodness, we used to take some bloody low-res photos back in the day, didn’t we?

Until we all meet again, stay safe and well,

Jx

recipe: posh frittata with asparagus and smoked cheese

Posh frittata today, and only a quick post mind you, but I did think it was important to try and post a recipe once and a while on this recipe blog of ours. If you’re waiting for the next part of my NC500 story, know that it is coming as soon as I’ve managed to remember where I went and why I spent so much time swearing at things. I’m not kidding: I keep a little electronic notepad on my phone of anything I can think of to write about and one day it seems I forgot to update it bar one succinct entry: ‘fucking motorhomes’. Now, I don’t think I briefly took up mechanophilia on my travels (real thing, look it up) (in Incognito mode: ask your partner how) but hey, Paul was away and my little Golf does have a cute little rear, so who knows? But yes, that’s coming, I promise, but today is all about the posh frittata. You may realise that we do post a lot of quiche recipes here but as readers of the books will know, you can blame my mother and her eighty-seven chickens for that. I’ve got eggs coming out of my arse, and they have to go somewhere.

Speaking of books, may I make a small plea? Amazon reviews really make a difference for us – if you’ve bought the books and would like to leave a review, we’d love you forever. We have some book news coming soon! But in the meantime, here’s a banner to take you straight there

Paul and I have been ratching about the UK a bit of late – I feel it only fair that he is afforded the chance to look at his phone in a different location once and a while – and it feels weird. I’m still not used to seeing large groups of people without thinking they’re all going to be tumbled into a mass grave a few weeks later like the foot-and-mouth cattle. It’s been fifteen months since the start of the first lockdown (I think, my memory of the time is a little hazy) and, all things being well, we’ll be dancing out properly on 21 June. But it all seems so unlikely and alien that it is hard to get excited about it. Plus let’s be fair, the current Government will probably allow us out for an hour, decide that’s quite-enough-of-that-young-lady and then send us back into the cellar for another year or two to stare at our shoes and draw eyes on oranges for company.

That said, I don’t see why anyone is concerned: you’d think coronavirus was over the way so many people are going on. Masks seem to have become an optional part of shopping again* with people wandering around coughing and sneezing with gay abandon. I can take that though: people were gross before coronavirus, this isn’t new. But those idiots, of which I know thousands of words have already been committed to, who walk around with a mask over their chin instead of their mouth and nose do my head in. It’s such a pointless anti-effort that I can only assume they’ve read that coronavirus bursts from their blackheads and they’re saving us all from that.

*you must understand, I have zero interest in you telling me why masks are useless, or why I’m a sheep. That said, if someone can tell me why the word sheep doesn’t seem correct when referring to a single sheep all of a sudden, that would be tremendous: I’ve just spent five minutes trying to remember what the single form is before deciding I’m clearly having a stroke.

I was in Sainsbury’s the other day and a charming wee woman was standing in front of the cherry tomatoes, agonising over the choice of three different varieties as though she was choosing which child to send to the mines. Naturally, as a calm and patient soul, I stood two metres away waiting for her to get her shit together and finally pick, before I noticed she was pulling her mask down over her chin, picking up each punnet of tomatoes and sticking her nose right in to sniff them. She repeated this a fair few times, making sure to catch the dew of the tomatoes on her nose-hair and moustache each time, before my theatrical sighs and foot-tapping clearly spurred her into action and she wandered off. Of course, as a terribly British person I didn’t say a word to her face and instead penned a snotty anonymous tweet about it, then hastened into her spot to check for myself that Sainsbury’s hadn’t started dusting their tomatoes with sniff. I mean, I know it’s a middle-class supermarket, but sadly not. I did make sure to catch up with her later in the store and fart near her head as she was bending down to select something off a lower shelf, so I consider myself the winner.

Of course, the way out of all of this nonsense is vaccination. If you’re anti-vaccination I won’t use this blog to try and change your mind, because personal choice and all that, but I do beg of you that you at least do some proper research into these things before you rule them out. Taking medical advice from someone who has ‘University of Hard Knocks’ on their Facebook profile and ‘none of ur fukin buzniss’ listed as their employer, for example, is never a good idea. No, my point about vaccination is for anyone out there who is worried about having it due to health anxiety, something I’ve talked at inexhaustible length before. As you can imagine, for someone like me who is a fretter, getting injected with something new is always going to mess with my head. But a degree of research beforehand, a stoic sense of ‘well something has to kill me, and I’m not giving him the satisfaction’ and the angst of not being able to immediately tell people I’ve been vaccinated on Facebook got me past my doubts.

For the record, I’ve had both jabs now, and both times the process was amazing. Turned up, was reassured by someone very friendly, less than a minute wait, quick jab in my arm and a nice sit down. I didn’t feel a thing both times, with the second time especially painless – I had to ask her if she was sure it had gone in, which admittedly is something I’m used to. Luckily, she said I was the best she had ever had and we all laughed awkwardly. Due to NHS budget cuts I didn’t get a sticker or a lollipop which naturally I was fuming about, but you make do. After the first jab I felt like crap the day after, but nothing a couple of ibuprofen and wearing Paul into the ground didn’t solve. The second jab gave me a headache, but that gave me the chance to theatrically wail in the bedroom and turn my back to the sunlight which is always welcome. Now, fully vaccinated, I feel tip-top and ready to spend the rest of my days wincing when anyone coughs and reflexively asking people stay three metres away at any given time unless they’re entering me. I know the rule is two metres, but I’m a contrary bitch.

Oh look at that: I was planning on a succinct entry for the posh frittata, and instead I’ve waffled on ever so. But let’s be honest, you expected that as much as I did. Please do get your vaccine, though. Remember, it’s not all about keeping yourself safe, it’s about making it safe for others who can’t.

To the posh frittata, then.

posh frittata

Looks bloody good in the pan, does the posh frittata!

posh frittata

Tried to get a good cheese pull shot of the posh frittata but it was having none of it.

posh frittata

And here is what the posh frittata looks like inside! SO CLASSY

posh frittata: asparagus, spinach and smoked cheese frittata

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 big wedges

The inspiration for this posh frittata came from a book called The Picnic Cookbook which I impulsively bought in a garden centre as an assuagement to my feelings of FOMO - Paul was treating himself to eighty-seven new Yankee Candles and I wanted something. Why he buys those bloody things I don't know: I don't allow them to be burned in the house because they make the place smell like a nursing home, but he likes to collect them. I'll have the last laugh though: when he invariably dies before me I'll cram his piano-box coffin with them and when he goes in the incinerator, the whole of Newcastle will be choked on a miasma of A Child's Wish, Summer Roses and Rendered Fat.

We have made a few changes in this posh frittata - they suggest blue cheese but why would you - and for once, we're leaving out the butter they suggest. You don't need it, and that's that. As with all quiche/frittata recipes you can add all sorts in. Don't be shy. Do read the notes on this one!

This comes in at 375 calories for a massive quarter, or, I believe, syn-free if you use your HEA. 

Also: we cooked ours in our oven-proof frying pan because we couldn't find our silicone tin.

Ingredients

  • 400g of new potatoes - don't need to peel them, but do dice them into fairly uniform chunks
  • 200g of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1cm chunks
  • four fat spring onions, cut into slim chunks
  • a big bag of spinach leaves (150g or so - you know the one, you cook it down and it leaves you with a postage stamp square of spinach)
  • eight large eggs
  • 160g of smoked cheese, cut into dice (your healthy extra of smoked cheese is 40g, if you're on Slimming World)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • preheat the oven to 180 degrees and lightly oil a good quiche tin - there's a link in the notes to the one we use
  • boil the new potatoes and asparagus chunks for a couple of minutes until softened but still with a bit of bite
  • their recipe calls for you to fry off the spring onion, but I don't think you need to do it
  • in a large pan with a dribble of water, and over a medium heat add the spinach leaves and pop a lid on - let the spinach wilt in the heat until it's all done, then finely chop
    • spinach tip - to make sure you get all the water from the spinach, get two equally sized chopping boards and sandwich the spinach between the two - then push down on the chopping board on top so all the water is forced out - then chop it finely, pile it back up and repeat a couple of times - so much easier
  • in a large bowl, crack the eggs and beat them with a good pinch of salt and pepper, add the rest of the ingredients and give everything a bloody good stir
  • slop it into your quiche tin and stick it in the oven for about forty minutes or until a knife pushed into the middle comes out clean
  • if it needs longer and the top is catching, cover it with foil and keep cooking
  • allow to cool and serve with salad

Notes

Recipe

  • you can swap the smoked cheese out for blue cheese as suggested
  • peas make a great addition - throw a couple of handfuls in with the potatoes when they're cooking
  • bacon and chicken can also be added if you desire

Books

  • we couldn't be prouder of our second book: it's technicolour, the recipes are banging and the reviews are amazing: order yours here! 
  • if you're struggling for funds, the first book is a bit cheaper and still utterly glorious: click here to order
  • we've also got a planner: here

Tools

  • we use a smart silicone dish for this posh frittata - this has never failed us once!
  • this freezes perfectly - cut it up, wrap the pieces in foil and take one out the night before for lunch
  • feel free to tip the mixture into several smaller tins to make individual quiches

Courses snacks

Cuisine picnic

Done! And if you’re looking for another frittata recipe, why not click the image below to be taken to another of our favourites?

Stay safe!

J

recipe: curried sprout risotto – no, seriously, hear us out

Curried sprout risotto: I can already hear you all gasping and dry-heaving into your mailboxes. And yet, you mustn’t: the sprout may be a little ball of farts, but cooked well and with flavour, it makes for a lovely, soft, oniony dish. If your only sprout experience comes from Christmasses past where your mother put them on to boil a day or two after Easter, then I beg you to reconsider. Here, we’ve turned it into a risotto and served it with spicy jerk chicken from our newest cookbook – and that’s exactly what this should be used for: a base. Bit first, a couple of bits of admin as ever, then the curried sprout risotto recipe is all yours, I swear it.

Firstly, thank you to everyone for buying our book – it’s still doing so well and frankly, having an extension put on the house where I can smoke expensive cigars and type out my stories like Lynda La Plante has never seemed so possible. Please keep sharing your photos, reviews, telling your friends etc. For all those that haven’t yet got it, it’s available right here on this link!

Secondly, I apologise, but this is a long, long entry! It occurred to me the other night that we haven’t done a good ‘writing’ post in such a long time. So, here we go – but please, if you are hungry, scroll down to the recipe! If you honour me by reading it, I would absolutely love your feedback and comments. Don’t be shy! Here we go.

I’m about to tell you a story that I haven’t put to paper, for reasons each more inexplicable and bewildering than the last (I forgot), and will subsequently detail over four blog entries. It was a simpler time: Brexit was confirmed but we all thought it would disappear as elegantly as a magician’s trick on an ill-lit stage. There was nothing more infectious troubling the world than my laughter. Paul’s face wasn’t the haggard shell that haunts me now as I drift off to sleep. Our cats were young, with full bellies and bad attitudes and, in Sola’s case, ovaries: something she’s never quite forgiven us for taking away. It was 2017, we had returned from a mortifying trip to Copenhagen (where Paul shat out an egg with me dying of fremdscham at the side, and of course, the time I used chøc-a-bløc in a blog recount of our holiday, a writing standard I don’t think I’ve topped since) and were just settling down to ignore our ever increasing obesity when I received a text from a friend. It wasn’t the usual ‘you best go get checked love, it’s dripping from the end’ text either – it was, for the want of a less hyperbolic phrase – a text that changed our lives.

It’s here that we start the story of the time we went on This Time Next Year.

chapter one: “oh, so much cum”

Copenhagen, for all the laughs and jolliness the holiday recaps portrayed, was an awful holiday. It was the first time we’ve ever been away where we weren’t able to enjoy ourselves properly. We were simply too fat: we’d reached a critical mass where going on rides was a no-no. Eating in public was an exercise in embarrassment and self-consciousness. We couldn’t walk across the city – a city known for beautiful, lithe people, mind you – without worrying about what people thought and whether our ankles would make it. Older readers may remember a bit in the Vicar of Dibley where Geraldine, laden with three Christmas dinners, hops into a taxi which takes her about fifty yards down the road. We did pretty much that one evening, bellies so bloated that we got a taxi what would take a reasonable person three minutes to walk. I’ve always been fairly body confident but that was the absolute first time where my weight was making me miserable. Paul took a photo of me over dinner (presumably taking a census of the bread rolls that were left for later interrogation) and I look like two people cosplaying as a bearded horse. I’m literally widescreen. Paul was equally fat and equally as miserable. We rowed constantly, both unhappy with ourselves and taking it out on the other.

I mean, you’d struggle to run me up a flagpole, wouldn’t you?

Now, you must understand, us arguing on holiday is almost a tradition, though it’s usually over me opening my legs like the gates on a level crossing whenever a passing bearded Daddy-type walks past. But these were absolute humdingers, and for comparison, Paul once left for the airport to fly home from Hamburg after we had a ruckus in a backstreet gay bar. That’s not a euphemism. The only thing that stopped him actually flying home (after spending hundreds on a ticket) was the fact he’d forgotten to strop back to the hotel first and pick up his passport. So holiday arguing is de rigueur and normally, once we’ve cried into a few pastries over breakfast, we’re fine. Not this time. Things came to a head on the final night: me throwing stuff around the room, him shouting and bawling like his arse was on fire and his hands were in mittens. Realising that – for once, I wasn’t in the wrong, we had a good chat about what had happened, and confessed to each other how unhappy we were with how far we’d let ourselves go. Such a dramatic revelation was tempered a little by the fact we were sharing a giant Toblerone from the airport at the time – though perhaps it tells you of our greed that we bought a Toblerone from our departure airport as opposed to one from our returning airport.

But what could we do? We knew how to lose weight: we ran twochubbycubs at that point and dieting wasn’t some elusive mystery. Calories in vs calories out. But it’s all such a bore, isn’t it, if we’re honest. We’d had eight or so years at this point, attending Slimming World classes and developing piles on the plastic chairs and wishing for death as Sandra and Enid and Derek and Elsie and Sandra again all recounted their tales of how they couldn’t shit and birthday parties where they ‘had been really good and just sucked an ice-cube‘ all night. That’s not being good, that’s wasting an opportunity. The only thing that was sticking for us was cholesterol in our arteries, clad on the sides like seams of fridge-cold butter. We couldn’t bear the idea of another twelve months of standing in someone else’s verruca-prints and discussing Muller Lights. But without a class, what is there? The frightening prospect of taking responsibility for our own actions, and I think the fuck not. Never have, never will.

Then, as I say, we got a text. My good friend Sarah – someone I had worked with for a few years and made such an impression on that she knitted a fabulous little Bobomb for our house – had seen a calling card for a show on ITV called ‘This Time Next Year’ and sent it over. The premise was astoundingly simple: you turn up, pledge you are going to do something dramatic within a year, Davina McCall smiles and asks you lots of questions, then you disappear behind a door. This part is filmed but not aired at the time of recording. A year later, you come back, walk back out of the door and Davina has a scream and everyone claps and you’re briefly the star of ITV prime-time. Then, through the magic of editing, they splice the two films together and make a show of it so it looks as though you disappear behind a door and then come straight back out again a changed man. Or men, in our case. If you look on discussion forums discussing the first series you get numbskulls actually thinking the ‘change’ has happened there and then, as though Dumbledore was putting in a nightshift at Celador and just magicked away your fat. I mean, it’s surely not the most taxing of concepts, but to look at digitalspy back in 2017 you’d think the viewers were being tasked with cracking Gödel’s completeness theorem using only a broken abacus and six of their webbed fingers.

Realising that this was an opportunity we may never get again – and once I’d explained the gist of the show to Paul through discussion, then animation, then puppets and finally one of those ‘pick a number’ folding papers people used to make in school to choose their boyfriends – I emailed the production company. Sensing that one look at our humourless faces may send us straight to Deleted Items exile, I tried to make our application as funny as I could, describing myself a ‘spherical Geordie prone to shrieking’ and Paul as a ‘lighthouse in M&S slacks’. I also attached a couple of photos of the two of us, including that awful one I mentioned above. We must have caught their eye as we received a call a couple of hours later – first with a researcher who asked us lots of questions about whether we had been on TV before (me, no, but Paul yes, being wheeled in a pram through some flood water and throwing himself in front of the Chief Executive of the local council’s car during a pension strike) (not on the same day), whether we had been in trouble with the law and why we would be a good fit. A couple of Skype interviews followed that where we were asked what we wanted to pledge – we both said we wanted to lose four stone each.

Four stone! In all honesty, we could have both spared twelve stone a pop and still rarely have felt the cold. I genuinely can’t remember the exact weight, but I know I was over 26 stone and Paul 25 stone. The researchers went away and discussed with the production company and came back to make us an offer: lose ten stone each. Quite the upgrade but, faced with the very real possibility of us joining together like little globs of mercury when we made love, we agreed. Contracts were signed, confidentiality clauses agreed, and a date set for a week or two in the distance where we were to travel to London to film the ‘before’ portion of the show. We barely had time to get nervous, but you better believe we made the most of that week, wanting to be the heaviest we could possibly be when we got on the scales before the year of dieting commenced. We’re talking ordering two separate takeaways of an evening, grabbing a McDonalds every time we went for the paper, that sort of sluttish behaviour. And oh, it was glorious: a week dedicated to fattening ourselves up like Christmas turkeys. It wouldn’t have come as a surprise to me if I had walked in on Paul brushing his teeth with a Cadbury’s Flake. The night before filming we drove down to the cheery little Premier Inn in Borehamwood where we were all stationed and we stopped at every single services on the way. That’s ten, for the record, and we snacked at each one. By the time our little Micra pulled in at the hotel two of the tyre pressure warnings had come on. We were, quite literally, bursting at the seams: the fly on my elasticated jeans had come open for reasons, unusually, not relating to my traditional ‘welcome to the roads of Britain’ blowjobs I hand out to lorry drivers with especially consonant-heavy first names.

We slept fitfully: partly the worry of being filmed the next day, partly the angst of not knowing whether we would be able to squeeze in a Premier Inn breakfast before our taxi picked us up at 7.30am. You mustn’t worry: we did, and did so handsomely, knowing this would probably be the last ‘unhealthy’ meal for a very long time. Our taxi came and whisked us to Elstree, where we were given a fancy BBC badge (ITV were borrowing their studios) and made to wait in the security guard office until someone came and picked us up. They forgot about us. Paul didn’t seem to mind as he spent most of the time anxiously looking out of the window in the hope of seeing his teenage wank-fantasy Martin Fowler strolling up to set. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he had left the show in 2007 – it was just nice to see Paul with some light behind his eyes. A runner eventually noticed that the security guard’s hut was full of fat people and came to whisk us to the green room in a blur of yahs and small-talk. Actually, that’s doing her a disservice, she was utterly lovely and put us at ease immediately. I remember seeing a Holby City ambulance and being amazed by how run-down everything looked behind the scenes, though I suppose the BBC mustn’t be seen to be splashing the cash on paint and decent carpets in these times of austerity.

Our green room was immediately behind the set and although we had arrived first, we were to be the fourth story filmed. This meant spending most of the day making small talk with people. Now, I’m excellent at small talk and can cheerfully chat away to most folks without a pause, but this was different. The people in the green room were absolutely terrific but they had all such important stories: someone was wanting to face the outdoors again after a fire had left her with significant burns. There was a couple who were trying one last bout of IVF before giving up on being parents after years of unsuccessful attempts. A young boy with artificial legs who wanted to play a proper game of football. Actual heroes, laughing and smiling away and all hiding their nerves with too many cups of the free (and bloody awful) coffee. We felt like shams: we were there because we’d eaten too many sandwiches over the course of our married life and neglected to move enough to counter it. But the camaraderie was great and though I’ve forgotten their names (and cut me some slack, it’s 50/50 on whether I remember to breathe out these days), I won’t forget how we all relaxed one another and cheered when each pairing disappeared off to make-up, wardrobe and then onto filming.

Our time came soon enough. Another brief chat with one of the production staff who ran through the questions we would be asked, where to stand on stage, how to definitely not say fuck or bugger and don’t do it as a joke because fuck me, that bugger is tired, that sort of thing. Then into wardrobe where they pressed the clothes we brought from home and stuck a sanitary towel in our underarms to stop us sweating. I’m a big guy, I asked for a maxi-flow. The clothes thing – they wanted us to bring our own clothes because they knew we’d look awful in them, so when the big reveal happened later and they had dressed us with decent, stylish clothes, it would look so much better. That’s why, if you watch the video, we are wearing dreadful polyester shirts picked straight from the two-pack pastel selection from ASDA. Then straight into make-up which I absolutely fucking loved, not least because the chap doing my make-up was a gorgeous, massive bear, camp as tits and utterly indiscreet. I got asked for my number somewhat surreptitiously (don’t worry, so did Paul, what a cad) and he described his previous visits to the North in glorious technicolour as he powdered my face: ‘oh but there was SO MUCH CUM‘. I had to ask him to calm down because I was laughing so much my foundation was falling off like Tango-coloured snow.

When they had finished making us look halfway presentable (which involved turning us a very, very orange shade which is then cancelled out by the studio lights) we were sent back into the corridor, ready to be installed behind the doors waiting for the big moment when they slid open and revealed our corpulent, crumpled selves to Davina and the audience. However, you know my husband: he can’t pass a toilet without some sort of crisis and as a result, piped up that he just needed a wee. No problem, he was dispatched to a nearby lavatory and I took up waiting outside. He was gone mere moments before we heard a crash and a sound not unlike a cow being branded by a farmhand with an essential tremor. I poked my head round to find him lying on the floor like a piss-soaked turtle – he’d rounded a corner a bit too sharpish and fell over at the urinal. With little time to spare and a face as red as a freshly-slapped arse, he was whisked to wardrobe where, with not enough time to change his clothes, they went over him with a hair-dryer and pushed him back out. We like to think it was water on the floor from a leaking urinal, but he stank like a city-centre back-alley. Davina wasn’t crying with emotion that day, it was pure ammonia fumes.

Clothes smartened, make-up touched up, mics fitted and refitted when they realised my belly was accidentally turning off the mic-pack when I sat down, we were taken to the back of the stage. I can’t remember anything that the runners were saying at that moment and was instead concentrating on making sure I was standing on the right side of Paul and holding his slightly scented hand to keep us both calm. My own bumhole was chewing out the seams of my pants, but no time for panic.

The lights went up, the doors slid open, and in we went.

More on that next time!


Goodness, that was a LOT of text, wasn’t it? But see, when I have something I like writing about, it flows like a poo half an hour following consumption of a newsagent egg sandwich. To the curried sprout risotto, then!

See, the curried sprout risotto isn’t as bad it sounds!

Well no, maybe it looks poo, but it’s tasty!

curried sprout risotto

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

Normally with a risotto we throw everything in the pan and let it bubble away on its own with the lid clamped tightly over it. Not this time. Possibly due to my swirling contemplativeness, I found much merit in standing by the hob stirring the buggery out of it whilst looking sadly at the kitchen tiles. Either way will work though, I suppose it just depends on your ankles.

Take a look at the notes: I've added a few ideas to liven it up if you wanted to push this into a main all of its own.

Ingredients

  • one large white onion
  • 200g of baby sprouts
  • one clove of garlic, minced
  • pinch of salt and curry powder
  • around 800ml of good quality or so help me God I'll do time vegetable stock
  • 200g of risotto rice

Instructions

  • chop the onion finely
  • with the sprouts, cut off the stems, remove a couple of the other layers and then chop finely into lovely little lunules
  • gently sweat off the onion and chopped sprouts in a little oil until the onions have gone lightly golden
  • add the curry powder, garlic and salt and cook for a moment or two more
  • add the risotto rice and stir it through so all the grains are moistened (eww) and then add a ladle of stock at a time, cooking on medium, allowing the liquid to almost disappear before adding another ladleful
  • keep stirring until the rice is cooked through
  • serve with whatever you want

Notes

Recipe

  • if you wanted to add meat, cubed bacon lardons added with the garlic would be a good choice, but don't add extra salt
  • we served ours with our jerk chicken from the book - rub and cook

Books

  • absolutely loving all the kind words from you about our amazing new cookbook - please leave a review or order yours here! 
  • our first slimming cookbook can be also ordered of course – full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 5000 5* reviews – even if we do say so ourselves: click here to order
  • our new diet planner is out and utterly brilliant – you can order it here – it'll keep you going through the next six months!

Tools

Courses risotto

Cuisine twochubbycubs

Enjoy! Want more risotto recipes? Sure!

Mwah!

J

recipe: bacon and tomato rigatoni – syn free

Bacon and tomato rigatoni – it’s a quick meal to throw together with the added bonus of some aubergine in there so you can ‘get your speed’ and all that pap. Full confession: this is inspired by a Hello Fresh meal we had. We’re trying out Hello Fresh whilst we’re stuck at Chubby Towers Adjacent because there’s not much of a kitchen here and it was getting to the point where we were on first name terms with the entire roster of the Just Eat delivery drivers. It sounds amazing eating takeaway every day but once Paul’s lips had turned blue from the effort of shaking the drips off after a piss, we needed to change. We aren’t being paid by Hello Fresh – indeed, somehow, Paul managed to be the only person in the entire world to pay full price for his first box – but we will keep you informed as to how we go. So far, so good! Don’t you fret, though, the meals on here will always be Slimming World friendly, and this bacon and tomato rigatoni is a good example of that! Take a look:

bacon and tomato rigatoni

Oh, and this bacon and tomato rigatoni is excellent for lunches!

Anyway. How are you all coping with the kids being at home during these difficult times? Because, frankly, it must be bloody awful for you. I have made no secret on here that I am terrible with children. They can’t tell good jokes, they’re rubbish at fetching things and they command your attention all the time. I’ve already got myself for that. Babies get angry and poo all the time (and seem destined to get troubling maladies like cradle cap – a friend of mine had a baby recently and I genuinely thought she had popped out a giant rice crispie), toddlers bump into things and shout, children need clothes and feeding and teenagers – from my own experience – are whirlwinds of emotions and Lynx Africa. Nope.

The reason I mention children is that I overheard an absolute belter this morning. A very prim and proper looking family (you know the type surely, Dad will be an accountant in a failing regional firm, mum will spend her evening writing lengthy diatribes about perceived supermarket injustices on Mumsnet) were in front of me when I went to collect breakfast. There was ever so much noise as you’d expect with two children in tow, with the youngest shouting Mummy over and over again and being largely ignored save by me who tutted and made a show of turning up the volume on my earbuds*. This went on for at least five hateful minutes before he shouted MUUUUUUMMY one last time and then loudly declared that he ‘needed a big shit’. Well: they are looked mortified and I had to feign a good old corona-cough into my elbow to mask my laughter. If I had a child, that’s the kind of kid I want.

* nothing makes me feel older and in the way than trying to change songs on my Samsung Earbuds. You have to tap three times to move back a song, and double tap to move forward. I just can’t get the hang of the tapping, and as a result I’m left walking down the street swearing furiously to myself whilst tap-tap-tapping at my ears like a fucking woodpecker. Honestly, I long for the days of my JAMP3 player where I had to agonise over which twelve Limp Bizkit songs to put on it and then cut about town holding what looked like a radon detector in my hands.

Children is something that will never happen, though. Can you imagine the resulting mess that would come about from Paul and I blurting into a test-tube together and getting it fertilised? If we were lucky we’d end up with a child who inherited my humour and height together with Paul’s fabulous eyebrows and exhaustive intellect but readers, we’re not lucky. The little bugger would get my “designed by Frank Gehry” nose, Paul’s pig-trotter feet, my total irrationality and some bizarre combination of the very worst of all our features. In short, our child would look like a badly-faxed photo of Ann Widdecombe, and that’s something this world doesn’t need.

I’ll concede on one aspect of having children around that I would like: taking them to magical places like Disney. I bet that’s an amazing feeling seeing their faces light up with joy and wonder. But see, that feeling would soon sour when we left them in the car with the window down whilst we went shrieking round the teacups. It’s just too much responsibility for a man for whom keeping a basil plant alive for two weeks is his crowning achievement in fatherhood.

Luckily, I have a nephew who I can deign to visit on occasion, and he’s really not bad for a mewling bespectacled hellion, though I’m reminded that I made the correct life choices within four minutes of being in his presence. If children came with an off button I’d be far more inclined to consider one, but the endless volume is really too much for my old ears.

Anyway. That’s quite enough chatter for now. Shall we get to the bacon and tomato rigatoni? We ought to: it’s really very good.

bacon and tomato rigatoni

If you’re not a fan of bacon in the bacon and tomato rigatoni, swap it out for chorizo!

bacon and tomato rigatoni

You can all sorts of vegetables into the bacon and tomato rigatoni, but this works jut fine as it is for Slimming World.

1 vote

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bacon and tomato rigatoni

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

We seem to have hit a bit of a run with pasta recipes here at twochubbycubs but I shan't apologise for it. No no. See, quick meals you can throw together with whatever shite you have in the fridge is our raison d'être and frankly, this bacon and tomato rigatoni is very much one of those. We have, of course, tweaked it slightly for Slimming World. But damn does it taste good!

Ingredients

  • 2 aubergines
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 300g plum tomatoes, halved
  • 80g reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled (use your HEA!)
  • 400g dried rigatoni
  • 120g bacon medallions, diced
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp dried crushed chillis

Instructions

  • first, preheat your grill to high and bring a large pan of salted water to the boil
  • as those are heating up, halve your aubergines lengthways, then slice slice each half into centimetre long strips, then slice the other way for cute little 1cm cubes
  • spread the aubergine cubes out onto a baking sheet into a single layer and spray with a little oil, and sprinkle with a little bit of salt
  • place under the grill and cook for about 10 minutes, then turn and cook for another ten minutes
  • as that's going on, cook the pasta according to the instructions
  • meanwhile, spray a large frying pan with a bit of oil and place over a high heat
  • add the bacon and cook for 5-6 minutes, until crispy
  • reduce the heat to medium high and add the onion, and cook until soft (about 4 minutes, stirring frequently)
  • add the garlic and the chilli flakes to the pan, stir, and cook for another minute 
  • add the tin of chopped tomatoes and stir
  • reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • once the aubergine is cooked, stir it into the pasta sauce
  • meanwhile, place the cherry tomatoes onto the same tray you used for the aubergine, spray with a bit of oil, and crumble over the feta. Pop under the grill for 4-5 minutes
  • when the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the tomato sauce with the grilled plum tomatoes, and stir
  • serve to gasps of amazement

Notes

The dish

  • diced aubergine really helps to pad this out and make it go further, and tastes bloody lovely
  • you can swap out the bacon for chorizo if you like

The books

  • our slimming cookbook can be ordered online now – full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 2400 5* reviews – even if we do say so ourselves: click here to order
  • our new diet planner is out now and utterly brilliant – you can order it here – thank you to everyone so far for the positive feedback!

Tools

  • nothing fancy needed for this recipe, but if you need some new lunchboxes for work, the SISTEMA ones we use are currently on sale at time of writing - click here!

Courses dinner

Cuisine pasta

Tasty stuff! Once you’ve had your fill of syn free bacon and tomato rigatoni, why not spin the wheel on our other pasta dishes? Here’s links to ten syn-free dishes!

Enjoy!

J

syn-free butterbean houmous – perfect for lunch

Syn-free butterbean houmous awaits you today, with an apology because there’s absolutely no way of taking a photograph of a plate of syn-free butterbean houmous without it looking like Smash that someone’s already had a crack at eating. But it tastes lovely and makes a decent change from the chickpea houmous that we also recommend. That’s enough about houmous. Very quickly, I’m doing alright. Lots of lockdown langour at the moment – there’s only so much staring sadly out of the window one can do before he becomes a lighthouse keeper – but I’m getting on with things. As per the last few entries we’re opening with a tale as old as time before we get to the syn-free butterbean houmous, but you’re free to scroll down to the food pictures if you’re in a rush! Always welcome feedback on the holiday entries, and must apologise for this one, as it is a little more adult than the previous entries.

Little bit of admin first, of course: our fabulous new planner comes out next month, and if you’re needing inspiration, a kick up the arse, sex-tips (maybe not those) or other flimflam, you’ll find it all in our beautiful new book! You can order it here – I know, how terribly exciting! Now, come back with me to Canada…

part one | part two | part three

Next on the list of attractions that time forgot, a mirror maze! Piece of piss this one, though: how hard can a hastily assembled mirror maze consisting of a few boards of plywood and some scotchy IKEA mirrors be? Please. I spend most of my day cats-bumming my mouth into my phone camera, a few tricksy mirrors and party-bus lighting wasn’t going to hold me back. I paid the lady, Paul went ahead, and in I stumbled into hell.

A little side-story for you. After Canada, we flew to Tokyo for a few days “to rest”. Whilst there we came to learn of a gay sauna exclusively for the larger gentleman – you would actually be turned away if you rocked up with a six pack and a BMI that didn’t need an extra digit on the calculator. Skinny and toned folks were sent next door to use the sauna for the slim. It was heaven: we’ve always been about the larger chap. Sex holds little allure for me unless there’s a strong risk of one of us clutching our arm and Jim Robinson-ing our way through to climax. Oh! They also fluffed you and measured your cock when you turned up and if you were over a certain size, you’d get a King Kong sticker to wear somewhere on your ample frame. They gave me a Goomba sticker and a lollipop.

Anyway, the way this sauna was set up was a giant dark maze – the idea being that you would stumble around until you slid into another fatty-boom-boom and made sweet, slappy love. Or, in my case, a breathless handjob whilst I tried not to pass out from the heady combination of poppers and having to climb more than two flights of stairs. It was great fun, if not a little disorientating.

Paul and I crashed around in the dark (though I went down well, figuratively and literally, because I was a good foot taller than everyone else there) and had a great time. At one point I decided to try and find a new nest of immorality and so I set about exploring in the dark. After a few false starts grabbing the wrong type of knob I managed to find a promising door. I yanked it open only to reveal the other sauna on the other side, well-lit, with lots and lots of skinny, beautiful Japanese fellas sitting around nude. The sight of my hairy, wobbling frame bursting through the door caused instant dismay, looking as I do like a badly-shaved McGrimace with a bouncing erection. I’ve never seen so many sets of lips purse at once – it was like someone had sprayed lemon juice into the room. I gently gave everyone a nod, did a little curtsy (my knees had been weakened by earlier activity – I had forgotten to bring my kneeling pad from the garden) and carefully shut the door. I know my place, and it isn’t amongst men who look like they’ve been whittled from marble by God himself.

Anyway – I mention this sauna because that’s what this mirror maze was like: endless corridors, albeit with less fat businessmen grabbing at my bumhole like a sliding mountaineer might grab at the cliff-edge as he tumbles. I panicked. I knew Paul had managed to escape relatively easily but I just could not figure it out. Small kids were running around my legs and making a quick exit as I blundered about leaving fingerprints on the glass and crying. OK, I may not have cried, but I won’t pretend that I wasn’t struggling to keep my shit together as I was surrounded by eight identical versions of myself. For someone whose camera is permanently on selfie mode you may think that this is my idea of nirvana but I assure you, seeing all my imperfections wrought large in octuple was soul-destroying. I have a friend whose sole reason for existence seems to be pointing out the fact my nose has more angles than a shattered protractor and having this presented to me from all sides really stabbed me deep. Like he does.

At one point I stopped trying to exit and just gazed at my haunting visage, lit by cruel blue LED and strobing green, and wondered where everything had gone wrong with my life to leave my face looking like a bag of broken china. I stood for a good few minutes before the owner must have spotted me looking glum and sad and turned the emergency lights on, leading me straight to the exit where I was met by Paul. To his credit, he had the decency to notice I’d had a full existential crisis and so took me gently over the road to get a burger, where all became right with the world and really, it was just the lighting that upset me. Yes.

Existential ennui overcome and drowned in saturated fat, we made for the final attraction of the night: an arcade that promised a ghost train and a 6D rollercoaster. Not 4D, no no, six dimensions of thrills. It barely managed three. We were the only ones on-board and once the shoulder-holders came down, we realised that actually, it didn’t move – it was a simulator. The 32” ALBA screen in front of us degaussed and we were off, the distant chimes of the Windows 95 start-up sound seeing us into the ride. It. Was. Crap. Give me ten minutes and I can knock together better animation in Paint 3D. The ‘six dimensions’ came from the seat rocking gently to the side about five seconds after the on-screen cue and a tiny spray of what I am sure was hydraulic fluid in my face when we went underwater. I’ve had more thrills and spills washing my poor nipsy on a Japanese toilet.

The ghost train was no better. We shunted off through various neon-painted cardboard ‘frights’ – cardboard graveyard, cardboard fun- house, cardboard 25 Cromwell Street. At one point a spring burst out with absolutely nothing on it. The only scream that the ride elicited from me was afterwards, when the busty young lady at the front asked if we wanted to pay half price and go again. I demurred, claiming my heart could only take so much excitement, and we instead set about winning enough tickets on the Wheel of Fortune machines to claim a glorious prize. An hour later, with handfuls and handfuls of tickets, we dashed up to claim our prize just to find we only had enough for a tacky painted fish (since lost) and some chewing gum. Best $120 we’ve ever spent.

All in all, an absolutely fucking brilliant night. We also squeezed in a round of crazy golf and half an hour in a weird door maze but I fear I’ll lose you forever if I don’t wrap this chapter up soon. All you need to know about the golf is that I won. I always win. Paul has prism lenses in his glasses that afford him four holes to aim for instead of the customary one and thus is at an immediate disadvantage. Thinking about it, that’ll be why we’re still, 12 years in, playing the ‘up a bit, up a bit, no down a bit, just push it in’ game of an evening.

Niagara done, we retired to bed, and with the burger and mouldy iHop platter from earlier rustling around in our bellies, were soothed to sleep by the sound and scent of a thousand farts.

We arose the next day in a grim state. I’d been fighting off a nasty cough for about a week and had woken up with a throat like sandpaper. Understand that’s par for the course when you’re a frisky bitch like me, but Christ I felt dreadful. We decided to reach for the antibiotics: but this meant a visit to the Canadian doctors. All very easy – trip to Walmart where the surgery was, a quick signing of a few forms and then I simply needed to pull together every piece of jewellery, money and property I own to hand over to the receptionist who took the lot and asked for more. In a perfect circular loop-back to the time we paid $180 for a course of antibiotics for Paul’s poorly ear back in Florida, here we paid $280 for a ten minute chat with the doctor and some amoxycilin. He had the sheer brass neck to make a loud disapproving noise when I explained that ‘otherwise I was in good health’. Great: I have a face that exudes illness.

Worst part of all of this? No sooner had I paid for my antibiotics and checked with my travel insurance company who no, of course not, wouldn’t cover the cost (too small of an expense – I was tempted to go ram my head through the plate glass window out of sheer fucking spite) than I immediately felt better. The shock of paying so much for a few pills was clearly enough to reboot my system. If I ever get some awful terminal disease, I’m going out to buy a BMW.

The rest of the day was spent driving back to Toronto and finding our AirBnB, before meeting our “just a friend”, who I’m naming Bhalu as he was cute and cuddly. We’ll come to Toronto in another blog entry, because see, that’s how holiday entries work, but I need a good closing anecdote.

Which I haven’t got. So let’s stumble around the word count and take a moment to bow our heads in sadness, because there was one casualty of our trip to Niagara: the sex-hat. Back in Montreal I successfully pulled The Hottest Barista in Town and he gave me a lovely cap to go with my troubled bumhole. The one hat I’ve ever had in my life that doesn’t look like a comedy Christmas cracker sized hat on my giant moonhead. The one that I was wearing because it reminded me of a happy time when I was used like Sooty by someone with hands with size of banquet gammons.

Paul left it in the fucking rental car. He had tried it on whilst he was driving and because I didn’t want a rim of dead skin and sun-tan lotion left on it, I had plucked it from his head and hurled it in the back. You may think the onus was on me to retrieve it but no, it would have been on my head had he not touched my things and ruined my life. I’m not one for sulking but you better believe I was at maximum tittylip for a good hour or so after that. Paul offered to go buy me a hat but it could never have been the same if it wasn’t gifted to me by The Dreamy Barista to make up for the blood pooling in my knickers.

Sigh


Right, let’s get to the syn-free butterbean houmous, shall we? Looks alright!

butterbean houmous

The Northern Lights are dancing!

butterbean houmous

Čajet dan čuovgga!

butterbean houmous

Suppose you’ll be wanting the recipe for this syn-free butterbean houmous, aye? Gosh, I remember when you were far less maintenance…

syn-free butterbean houmous

Prep

Total

Yield 4

Sometimes you just need something to dip your finger / crudites / nipples into without guilt or remorse, and that's where this syn-free butterbean houmous comes into it. You can make it syn free by leaving out the oil, but given this makes enough to serve four, we'd be tempted to demand you drizzle a bit of flavour oil on the top and soak up the syns (6 syns). But again, we aren't your parents. 

Ingredients

  • one large tin of butterbeans
  • one clove of garlic (chopped garlic is fine)
  • one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • good pinch of salt
  • one reserved tablespoon of the weird butterbean pre-cum that they come in the tin with (aquafaba, if you want to be technical)
  • couple of tablespoons of natural yoghurt

If you're using oil, add it at the end (6 syns).

Instructions

  • I mean, haway. Do you want to have a guess, pet?
  • stick all the ingredients in a blender
  • blend
  • loosen it up by adding more yoghurt or the aquafaba from the butterbeans
  • season to taste

Syn-free butterbean houmous, done.

Notes

  • the one thing I’m going to push here is our Kenwood Mini Chopper. It makes very quick work of this dip. It’s cheap on Amazon. Not essential but I will say this – as people who use a lot of gadgets, this is probably one of our favourites
  • we buy our flavoured oils from Yorkshire Drizzle, in this case, a lemon oil. You can take a look at their range here: it'll open in a new window. We haven't been paid to promote or anything like that, they're just a bloody good company and we love them very much
  • remember - our slimming cookbook can be ordered online now - full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 2400 5* reviews: click here to order
  • our new diet planner launches soon: you can order it here (it’ll open in a new window)

Courses dips and sides

Cuisine I hardly think that's any of your business

Looking for more dip ideas? We got you covered:

Enjoy!

Jx

cheesy sprouts and bacon side-dish

Cheesy sprouts and bacon as a side-dish? I know, but it’s Christmas, and the little fart-balls deserve some love. Get it made! I appreciate that I’m the side-dish that you really want under your tree this Christmas, but I’m otherwise engaged.

Before we get to the cheesy sprouts and bacon, a gentle reminder that our cookbook comes out in two weeks, and frankly, if you haven’t ordered it, then what’s wrong with you? 100 slimming recipes to help you lose weight with the typical twochubbycubs humour splattered across it like a hedgerow edition of Razzle. You can pre-order it for £10 by clicking on the tasteful banner below, which will open in a new window!

chicken, chorizo and seafood paella

Now before we get to the cheesy sprouts and bacon I must warn you that there’s a long entry ahead from our latest holiday. Buckle up buckaroo, it’s a good one, but if you’re so inclined, you know what you need to do: click the banner to go straight to the recipe.

As ever: our holiday entries tend to be skewed a little more adult, so if you’re a sensitive soul, please, click the banner

I know, forgive us: we are on holiday an awful lot. But in our defence, we never made the mistake of fathering children and so we can fritter away our pound coins with literal gay abandon. Plus, the world is out there to be seen and there’s hardly any chance with my current lifestyle choices that I’ll be one of those older folks in leisurewear prancing around the Alps, so let’s take what we can before the rickets kick in. Continue reading

cheesy pea soup – yes, just like The Fast Show

Cheesy pea soup sounds revolting, and what better way to open a blog entry about food than with that line? I know, we’re awful, we took a month off to concentrate on a few things – most notably for me (it’s always me, James, who writes the blog) was half-heartedly walking away from a career in law, only to be tempted back in with the promise of working from home one day a week and condensing all my hours into one day in the office. Well, as someone who likes to sit at home and pick his bum, how could I refuse? It gives me a bit more time to write the cookbook and ogle at our gardener. Speaking of cookbook…

chicken, chorizo and seafood paella

It’s been a sad day near Chubby Towers with the passing of one of our neighbours. It’s inevitable, yes, when the average resident took their pension before the Boer War, but still, nobody likes to see a private ambulance trundling into the street early in the morning, do they? Especially when they park in my parking spot, but I didn’t think it was the time to cause a fuss. I’ll send a parking fine later with some white lilies. It did cause a slight moment of discomfiture when I realised I knew the name of the lady who had passed, but not her husband. The only time he’s ever talked to me was to ask me to remove my Vote Jeremy Corbyn sign, which to be fair to him I’d only put up to be mischievous given we live in a sea of Tory voters. You have no idea how much I want to put a pole up and hang a BEAR PRIDE flag up, if only so we get a few confused questions from the less enlightened. There’s one neighbour on the street who I hope to tempt over to the dark side and literally nailing my colours to the mast might just do it. Me going out in stretched hot-pants and wearing a permanently surprised look hasn’t done it yet.

Anyway. Not knowing the name only became an issue when it came to sending a Deepest Sympathy card. How do you address such a sensitive card when you don’t know the name of the recipient – it’s not like I can do my usual name-fudge and pop ‘soz she’s popped off, Chief‘ on the envelope, is it? In the end, after much agonising, I put ‘Sorry for your loss’ on the card (which seems incredibly disingenuous, as though the poor chap has mislaid his car keys or dropped a bank card down the drain) and signed it ‘Love James and Paul’, which I also immediately regretted because it looked piss-taking. Least I didn’t stick a xoxo on there. Sympathy and human emotion is just too much hard work. In retrospect, signing the card in glittery silver Sharpie probably wasn’t the most elegant move either, but look, it’s all I had to hand. I live in a very camp house.

I can’t imagine we’ll be invited to the funeral.

Which frankly, is a shame: I look splendid in black and I’m all for a wake buffet. Hell, we accidentally gatecrashed a wake in Oslo and only realised our error when we were shooed out by some hurly-burly bearded Norwegian whilst we filled our pockets from the koldtbord. Honestly, the grieving can be so touchy. Only been to three funerals in my time. My nana’s was a particular highlight: both Paul and I suffer from nervous laughter and even though I was genuinely distraught, the absurd sight of her coffin right in front of me whilst the entire church lurched through the eight-hundredth verse of All Things Bright And Beautiful really tickled me. Half of the congregation was made up of her equally elderly friends who were all on the last double-digit breaths of their life – I’m surprised we didn’t lose any. Plus, despite being 31 years old at the time, I still guffawed when the lavender crowd burst out in raptures about the purple headed mountain. Me too, loves. The vicar kept getting her name wrong too, which added an air of tension between the sobs – she didn’t even look like a Norman. I bit so much of my cheek that I can stay lying on my front when Paul wants a blowie.

It has got me thinking about what I want when I die. No fancy funeral, big coffin, lots of jewels – none of that. Nope, sell off all my chintz and bibelots, stuff me full of fireworks and pop a pipe cleaner somewhere indecent as a fuse and then push me out to sea. I want people to remember me how I lived – damp, colourful and usually on fire. No fake solemnity, no wailing, no dabbing daintily at your eyes whilst you remember times past. It’s an open invite to you all that, should you read in the paper of me dying in some tawdry fashion (it’s more inevitable than you can imagine), you can all come to the service. Just make sure you stop by Iceland first because fuck me, it’s going to have to be a good buffet.

What might not make it onto the buffet is this cheesy pea soup, which is a bloody shame because considering how quick it was to make, the fact it is syn free and actually tastes bloody good, it doesn’t deserve to be betrayed by the fact it looks like something Grotbags would cough into a handkerchief. Please, give it a go, and if you don’t like it I’ll take a personal responsibility for your loss. Hell, I might even send you a With Sympathies card. Written in silver Sharpie, natch. Snatch.

cheesy pea soup cheesy pea soup

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cheesy pea soup - syn free, and tasty, I swear

Prep

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Total

Yield 4 big bowls

There's no way I can make that look appetising and for that, I'm sorry. Unless you like sink trap soup. But it's one of those meals that looks appalling but tastes nice, like moussaka, or Paul. Plus it's low in fat, like moussaka, or unlike Paul.

This does take no time at all to make however, uses only a few ingredients and is just the thing for those summer evenings when you have nothing in and the takeaway menu is just a shade out of reach.

Ingredients

  • one big old lettuce from the shops, or garden, if you please
  • 400g of frozen peas (I used petit pois - not for any culinary reason, but just because I couldn't be arsed to find the proper peas at the back of the freezer)
  • two large cucumbers
  • one large bunch of spring onions
  • 1 litre of chicken stock
  • 80g of extra mature cheddar (two x HEA, but this serves four) (and listen, you can totally get away with adding 160g, I'm just being polite)

Instructions

  • slice your spring onions - including all the green stalk - and gently fry off in a little oil
  • cut the lettuce and cucumber up roughly - it's all getting blended so no need for neatness
  • once the spring onions are softened, add the stock, lettuce, peas and cucumber and boil for about 10 minutes until everything has softened but still stays green
  • carefully blend the soup with a hand blender
  • stir in the grated cheese until everything is thick and tasty
  • serve adorned with cress and cheerful wishes (and a lot of black pepper)

Notes

Courses soup

Cuisine syn-free

Enjoy that? Of course you did, you saucy bugger. Want more? Click.

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J

eggy bread cups – a syn free breakfast idea

Syn free eggy bread cups – possibly one of the easiest recipes we’ve ever done, but if you’re looking for a quick, healthy breakfast, fill your boobs. Not a typo.

So, here’s the deal folks. We need to knuckle down and focus on our fabulous cookbook, which is coming out in December.

Coming up with eighty-six jokes about willies per paragraph is taxing on the old fingers, I can promise you. But we can’t leave you without something to read of an evening, and as a result, I’ve decided to publish a chapter from the other book we’re writing, a memoir of our month in Canada last year. Our travel blogs, like your dear writer, always go down well.

Canada has been on my mind a lot lately, so it’s always nice to revisit it. Seems like a lifetime ago, but it’s only been nine months. Anyone got a contact for Bernard’s Watch? Anyway.

If you’re here for the eggy bread cups recipe, scroll right to the bottom and you’ll see it right there!

We landed at Toronto Airport in double-smart time and, after a restorative coffee and a mental note of all the airport shops available to us for the end of the holiday ‘get rid of the Canadian money because I’ll be buggered if it’s getting added to the drawer of mystery money at home’ dash, we made our way to the car rental place to pick up our motor for the brief trip to Niagara. I had asked for an exciting car, something with a bit of zip, something that an NHS dentist wouldn’t drive. They gave me a Nissan Qashqai that, if it were represented by a sound, it would be that little sigh you make when you bite into an apple and it’s soft. I mean, it’ll do, but. Toronto to Niagara is about a two hour drive if you drive like Paul, about an hour if you drive like me. By drive like me I mean furiously, with scant attention to road-signs, other users and the fact I was falling asleep at the wheel because I was so, so tired. Who would have thought that thirty days of travelling would catch up with me so suddenly?

Luckily, Canadian motorways are wide, many-laned and never particularly busy, so I was able to get some shut-eye for a good few miles before Paul’s screaming and wrenching at the steering wheel rudely brought me around. He can be a very selfish passenger. Oh, I should preface this by saying I asked him to drive but he couldn’t because he was tired. But we couldn’t play loud music because he had a headache. He also wouldn’t talk to me to keep me awake because he was sulking because I wouldn’t let him wear my sex-trophy hat. So actually, had we rolled the motor and shuffled into the afterlife, he’d have only had himself to blame.

After our brief sojourn onto the hard shoulder Paul made me stop for a coffee. I immediately poo-pooed this idea because the last thing I need when I’m trying to nod off is caffeine and instead made a swap for a Dairy Queen Dime Bar Blizzard. Listen, if you’re at a computer, look into flights to Toronto right now and get one of these into you. I’d cheerfully push the Scottish rugby team off my bumhole to have another bash at one of these. It’s worth losing a foot over, I promise you. It’s like they blended a whole bag of Dime bar miniatures with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food and rubbed it across my prostate for a solid ten minutes. I’ve never had a dessert give me a full stonk-on.

Back in the car, absolutely smashed off my tits on the sugar, the rest of the drive flew by in a blur of metal and me screeching along to Cher. Paul laughed as his ears bled.

Our hotel was the Sheraton by the Falls. It’s called that because of the amount of old people I pushed over in my haste to get in (there was a much, much better joke there originally, but in this age of hysteria, I pulled it). Gosh no I’m kidding, it’s a wonderful hotel that overlooks the falls – if you’re fancy and pay for an upgrade you can gaze out of your window at the majesty of the falls. Which sounds just lovely and indeed it is, but it comes with a significant downside. Being so near so much thundering water means everything is ever so slightly damp. It’s like a hen-party with an aged male stripper. This in turn creates an overwhelming smell of foist in the room, which admittedly was alleviated a little once Paul and his toxic arse settled in. Something to consider if you’re planning on booking it: great views, deathly smell. twochubbycubs in a nutshell!

We farted about in the room for a bit – the usual, you know, Paul has a dump, I have a browse through the porn channels and lament that yet again, the Hilton have failed to cater for us delicate souls who can’t get off unless there’s stuff on there that would make a jury wince, then made to go out. I got as far as the bathroom before I realised – through a haze of Paul’s effluence – that the bath was one of those fancy doohickies with bubble jets and all sorts of fancy buttons to pulse your sphincter and make your boobs jiggle. I couldn’t let that go, so promptly set the taps away, adding just a drop of Molton Brown for that luxurious black pepper scent. Nipped out to give Paul some ‘we’ve been married twelve years, let’s get it out of the way’ disinterested attention, and came back to the bathroom to wipe the shame off my hands only to find the room absolutely awash with bubbles.

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Bubbles.

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It was fantastic. I climbed into that bath and entirely disappeared into a cloudscape of gently popping bubbles. I’ve never felt gayer. With my head just poking through the bubbles I looked like the campest meringue you’ve ever seen. I must have been cooing and oohing too loudly because Paul came in (maybe he thought I was finishing myself off? Cheers, Mr ‘And I’m Done’, for the concern) and shrieked. Nothing spoils a peaceful moment like one of Paul’s shrieks. He explained that we’d probably be charged for wrecking their plumbing and pointed to a tiny sign on the wall which implored folks not to use bubble bath with the jets turned on. Please. The sign was the size of a postage stamp: you’re talking to someone who needs all his focus to hit the bowl when he has a pap. The bubbles showed no sign of abating – possibly because I still had two of the jets focused on my cock – so I dried off and out we went, deciding to worry about that problem later in the night.

That’s enough for now. Part two coming soon! Let’s do the syn-free eggy bread cups!

eggy bread cups eggy bread cups

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syn-free eggy bread cups

Prep

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Total

Yield 4 eggy cups

The cheek of us calling this a recipe, honestly. But sometimes, you just want something quick in the morning so you can spend all your time outside pushing a couple of weeds around so you can surreptitiously gawp at the one hot neighbour pushing his lawnmower around with his shirt off. No? Just me? OK, quick and easy so you can get back to your stories.

Ingredients

I'm making the recipe enough for two egg cups - enough for one person, I think you'll agree. Scale up accordingly.

  • two slices of whatever bread Slimming Would have decided is alright for you that week (your Healthy Extra B choice)
  • two large eggs
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  • get a deep muffin tray and spritz it with some spray olive oil
  • cut the crusts off your bread and then cut each slice into two
  • layer the two halves into one of the muffin spaces and crack an egg into the middle
  • give a couple of grinds of salt and pepper
  • repeat as many times as you like and then cook in the oven for fifteen minutes (runny) or twenty (firm)

Notes

  • gussy these up by adding a sprinkling of cheese
  • I threw a load of cherry tomatoes into the muffin tray to let them roast whilst the eggs cooked
  • we're a huge fan of silicone in this house - you can just pop these right out once cooled - Amazon have a good selection but you don't need to spend very much
  • remember we have a cookbook coming!

Courses breakfast

Cuisine dunno, what am I, an atlas

I know, it’s a travesty but damn these eggy bread cups were good!

Want more breakfast ideas? I remain your loyal servant:

J

cajun steak dirty rice, and time to feel proud!

Here for the cajun steak dirty rice? Bless your soul. The recipe is down the bottom, but first, an apology for the time between posts. I’ve been either:

  • on the pop;
  • in a crisis;
  • in a crisis whilst on the pop;
  • on my knees;
  • on my knees, drunk, causing a crisis; or
  • at a Pride event, see above.

But I’m all sorted now. Of course, the other thing gobbling me up is this cookbook of ours. You know, we’ve got a cookbook coming out, with all our new recipes in it, plus a delicious spurt of sassiness. Click the banner to pre-order! And remember if all you’re here for is the cajun steak dirty rice, get scrolling!

Whoops. Posted this the other night, but hit the schedule button rather than publish. So pretend it’s Monday, won’t you?

*hic*

I wasn’t going to post tonight, but I sent Paul into our bedroom an hour ago to pick something up off the floor only to find him fifteen minutes face-down with his arse in the air. Now you might reasonably think, oh, James, your luck is in, but I must remind you of one salient fact: I’ve been married ten years. The only time Paul puts out these days is when he’s angling for a surprise holiday or wants a few minutes lying prostrate so he can finish his book. No, the poor guy is all tuckered out because we’ve been down in Birmingham (at this point, I’m considering getting a second job down there, given I’m like a yoyo between the two cities at present) for Pride and I made him drive all the way down on Saturday and all the way back today. I’d have driven, but it’s a Smart car, and honestly I’d sooner drive a hearse full of ashen-faced mourners to the wrong funeral than that orange little rustbucket. So we can forgive him his sins, for now, and I’ll continue on my high horse, thank you.

Pride came out of nowhere for us this year – we’d been invited down by a good mate and were umming and aahing (not least because I was hungover from Wednesday in Leeds) until we watched a particularly gruesome episode of Chernobyl and decided life’s too short, let’s go. Packed my best rainbow knickers (I really ought to wash them, but I’m waiting for the Daz Doorstep Challenge to make a return just so I can see Danny Baker blanch when I hand over my barely foldable keks), told Paul to book a hotel and tickets and away we went.

Paul doesn’t travel well with me on long journeys when I’m the passenger. It’s like having four personalities in the car:

  • the shrieking me who holds onto the door handles and winces every time we go around a corner like I’m on that rollercoaster from Final Destination 3;
  • the shrieking me who sings along to every last song (I choose the music) – Paul’s recently been told he’s going deaf and actually, I’m not entirely convinced that it isn’t a lifestyle choice he’s made;
  • the shrieking me who litters the bottom of his car with crisp packets, coke bottles, whatever I’ve found in my bag, whatever I’ve found in his glovebox (the man has a surprising amount of baby wipes stashed in his car – I’d be worried, but no-one’s going to approach a Smart car pulled up in a layby, let’s face it);
  • the shrieking me who reaches over and beeps his horn for him (not a euphemism, see earlier comment) because he’s altogether too polite and frankly a car journey for me isn’t complete until I’ve started bringing up lung from screaming at anyone who gets in the way.

So understand, the four hours it took us to get to Birmingham – well, I had a whale of a time, Paul less so. The important thing is I enjoyed myself.

We checked into a Premier Inn in the city centre and, after a moment or four hours to enjoy the glamour and to pack away the towels, we minced out to meet our friend, who you may recall from an earlier post. He was easy enough to spot, given he’s the epitome of our ideal man and well, we were semi-flaring within 100 yards. What followed was a terrific amount of drinking, diversions and some mild peril. It was a great night, though in a great example of him never being off, Paul ended up engaged in political debate with two drunk fellas who wouldn’t leave us alone. That’s what I’m told, I was experiencing an X-Files-esque lost period of time in the gents. We parted ways around 2ish and after a brief interlude (actually lasting forty minutes) where I sat and chatted with a homeless fella who offered to show me his leg ulcer, went to bed. Sunday was better still – back out and on it, this time joined by Andy’s long-suffering but lovely girlfriend, a good friend from Facebook, Paul II and his husband and two of Andy’s friends. Another great night! To share details would be lurid but there were some fabulous twists and turns and fun was had by all. The best kiss of the night wore lipstick.

But that’s not why I’m writing. I’ve touched on the importance of Pride many times over – including this fabulous article – and all those things stand. But what did strike me, as we wandered around, was how happy everyone was. Bar one overweening queen who looked my husband up and down and did the ‘yes, I know who you are’ gambit, there was not a blot of bother. We live in a country that is becoming increasingly fractured, and for the first time in my entire life I’m worried about where the rights for LGBT+ folks are going – you’ve got ministers supporting the banning of tolerance teaching in schools, an American president who sits proudly with the bigoted bastard in charge of Brazil and, more so, the far right given a voice that remains unchallenged. All this for something as immutable as eye colour or the size of your feet. It’s easy to sit on the outside looking in when you have the luxury of not being the one getting looked down on, but we need Pride more than ever. Yes, it’s overly commercial, yeah there’s something arguably cynical about HSBC and Argos changing their logo to a rainbow, but damn, it’s always a pleasure to see so many people having a good time without any second thoughts. Even nicer to see lots of families bringing their children along and showing them a world full of colour, and doubly more important when there’s protests outside from ‘caring parents’ who ‘don’t want their kids to see deviant behaviour’. Pfft. My mother was incredibly supportive of all my fabulousness growing up and I turned out perfect, right? Hello?

As an addendum, given with the miracle of time-travel (i.e. the advantage of forgetting to post for a week), we’ve also just returned from Northumberland Pride, which is like Birmingham Pride but done on a budget befitting a much smaller enterprise. Brum had Faithless, we had Lorraine Crosby (star of 1993’s hit single I Would Do Anything For Love, But I Won’t Do That) (that being trading on past glories) (I’m kidding, she’s great). Brum had a pub full of bears and an attitude full of sin, Northumberland Pride had a cake stand and some hashtags. But it was smashing, actually, partly because I got drunk and didn’t manage to make a fool of myself, partly because we both took full advantage of all the caterers. We even camped overnight, breaking Paul’s camping cherry and also his lower back. He’s such a diva, honestly. If you can’t get comfortable on a single deflating £14.99 airbed from Argos whilst yesterday’s sweat and spittle drips on your face, then you just aren’t trying.

Support your Prides, people. Go out and have an amazing time. If you’re worried about your husband not feeling comfortable with all that rampant homosexuality, don’t fret, I’ll look after him. We can add another S-fluid onto the tent of dreams.

Right, all that schmaltz aside, shall we get to the recipe in hand? Cajun steak dirty rice! Easy to make and will definitely get you some action if you serve it in your best lingerie. Apologies for the photos – we took them outside in the dark, so had to artificially lighten them.

cajun steak dirty rice cajun steak dirty rice cajun steak dirty rice

cajun steak dirty rice

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 4 servings

An absolute classic, why? Because it's so damn good! Piece of piss too, and everyone loves it. An easy way to sneak some veg into your kids if they're that sort. A little bit of prep is needed but it's all worth it. This works great on its own or even as a side. Have it for breakfast for all I care. 

Ingredients

  • 200g long-grain rice
  • 400g steak
  • 4 bacon medallions, diced
  • ½ red, yellow and green pepper, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 6 mushrooms, diced
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 2 tsp cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce (optional)

Instructions

  • cook the rice according to the instructions, and set aside
  • spray a large frying pan with some oil over a medium-high heat and slap in your steak
  • cook the steak to your liking, remove from the pan onto a plate and leave to rest
  • wipe out the pan and add a little more oil and place back over the heat
  • add the bacon and onion and cook until the bacon is done
  • stir in the cajun seasoning along with the worcestershire sauce (if using)
  • dissolve the stock cube in 200ml of boiling water and keep aside
  • chuck the peppers, carrots and mushrooms along with the stock and give a good stir - cook until most of the liquid has evaporated 
  • once most of the liquid has evaporate throw in the rice and stir until well mixed and warmed through
  • dice the steak and stir into the mixture
  • serve and sprinkle over the spring onions

Notes

  • You don't need fancy or expensive steak for this, any will do
  • If you can't be arsed to cook rice just use the microwave pouches, cook in the microwave towards the end and stir into the pan with the vegetables - make sure you check the syns though
  • Stop ruining your pans with Fry Light! All it does is evaporate off and leave a sticky, gungy mess. Use one of these instead
  • No-one has time for dicing a carrot so do we what we did - use a julienne peeler, and then simply slice across to get easy, small diced bits
  • You can find cajun seasoning in most supermarket along with the herbs and spices, but to be honest any spice mix you have gathering dust will do. We've done this with piri-piri and fajita mixes and it comes out just as good! 
  • WE HAVE A BLOODY COOKBOOK COMING OUT REMEMBER! Yessss: click here for sexiness!
  • Any meat will do in this if you haven't got any steak - diced chicken and pork work especially well, or even sausages! Divvn't be shy, pet. 

Cuisine cajun

Want more random ideas? Click any of the buttons below to be whisked away on on adventure through time and eating!

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JX

cheesy hammy breakfast soldiers – oh, and hello Liverpool

Here for the cheesy hammy breakfast soldiers? Who can blame you: it’s like breakfast but someone tickling your molly at the same time – it’s that good. But fair warning: there’s a big entry in front of it.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it, since I really got my juices flowing and spaffed a long article all over your keyboard? Listen, I know you might not be in the mood for a long entry – you’ve turned into such a frigid cow since the days when you used to have me in your bed every night – so if you’re not in the mood to read, simply click the entirely random set of teeth below to be whisked straight to the cheesy hammy breakfast soldiers.

They say, in life, never meet your heroes. Well no, they say it somewhere on Pinterest in between all the inspirational quotes and pictures of satchels. Anyway, last Thursday, I went to Liverpool for a day out to do exactly that.

Imagine my disappointment when I realised Cilla passed away in 2015 after a quick breakdance routine down a flight of stairs. Actually, that’s a fib. My eyes couldn’t have been drier on that day, and you’re talking to someone whose eyes are ruined from squinting owlishly at the most appalling porn on a mobile when Paul’s fallen asleep.

The original plan was to go down on the 4.30am train but, as with all my plans, it all fell apart at the last moment with the appearance of Storm Gareth. Gareth! Who the fuck is in charge of naming storms these days? If you were told Storm Hercules was approaching, you’d batten down the hatches, lock the cats away and get in the Anderson shelter. Well, you would, I’d be outside in the garden with my bum-cheeks spread and ‘DON’T STOP EVEN IF I USE THE SAFE WORD’ carved in my jiggly-joggly bumcheeks. But Storm Gareth? No disrespect to any Gareth folks that are out there but the name suggests a storm that couldn’t blow the froth off a pint of piss-weak bitter. It’s like being menaced by a headache called Susan or shaken down for money by Lil Dwayne. Pfft.

However, two things: I’m prone to catastrophic thinking and I’m a tight-arse Geordie: there was fuck all way I was going to miss the escape rooms and cinema that had all been paid for simply because Storm Gareth had Selby-ed my train. So, after begging mercy from the man upstairs, praying to the good folks at First Direct and sweet-talking the husband to ignoring my demands for a frugal month, I was on a train travelling down the night before.

And what a journey! I’ve never known such opulence as the Transpennine First Class. I wasn’t expecting luxury given I was travelling on a converted bus, but fucking hell. The clues were there: the fact that first class was cheaper than standard class should have given it away. No reserved seating – I had my eye on the one individual seat but this was immediately taken by some bampot with a face like a bee-keeper’s apprentice, forcing me to share a table. Now look: I’m a social guy and I like a conversation but only on my own terms – on a train, unless his cock is nudging against my knees under the table, I’m never going to be keen.

So of course, I was immediately joined by a chap who wanted to talk about business and nonsense and his marriage, and this was all before I’d finished fussing around in my bag and making sure I had easy access to the four bags of Haribo that I’d spent eighty quid on in WH Smith. I feigned polite interest until I managed to detangle my headphones then gave him a ‘long day mate, just gonna relax’ smile to get him to shut the fuck up. He didn’t. He was lovely, don’t get me wrong, but by the time we reached Durham and I’d taken my headphones out for the eighteenth time I was four blinks away from smashing his teeth out with the wee red emergency hammer which was tantalisingly close.

Luckily, the train manager provided him a distraction when she came around with the ‘free food and drinks’, which amounted to a cheese muffin that had survived the Cold War and wine: red or white. I had to pinch myself to remember I wasn’t on the Orient Express, truly I did. I ordered white wine and was pushed into a cup of tea to go with it (the perfect pairing!). Must have made her day because she clearly poured the white wine from the same kettle as the tea. Warm? I could have made a Pot Noodle with it. I had five more glasses because it was free, of course. Chatty Man stopped his nonsense once we were past Darlington (amazing what the sight of an impoverished war-zone can do for a good mood) and I was left in relative silence for the rest of the journey.

Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram decided to have a shitfit at this point meaning there was literally nothing to do, so the three hours just flew by. There was a curious moment when a businesswoman sat next to me, then got up and sat across the aisle ten minutes later and started crying. I tried to catch her eye to reassure her that one day she too could smell as good as me (Maison Margiela, Across Sands eau de parfum, since you were wondering: I’m giving the Tom Ford a rest) but she wouldn’t look at me. I thought about changing my Wifi Hotspot name to ‘sorry love, that’ll be the cheese muffin and hot wine’ but that seemed like altogether too much hassle, so I left her to her wracked sobs.

I want to qualify that last sentence though: I’m not a monster. If I had a chance to do my ‘there there’ voice and ask if she was alright, but there was a very clear ‘everyone leave me be’ vibe. Hmm. Now I’m thinking about it, I hope she’s out there with a smile on her face and not floating in the Mersey. Contact me if you’re reading this: I was the chap in leather who was spilling over into your seat. Perhaps that’s why you moved, maybe it was me shallow-breathing through my nose, perhaps you were upset I never offered you one of my Starmix. Who knows?

The train dropped me off in Liverpool and after a short argument with Google Maps (I don’t trust technology) I found my hotel, had a lovely plate of the very best Iceland microwave bits they could find, read my Point Horror book (it was the best friend all along!) and after checking Paul hadn’t killed himself in my absence, went to bed. I actually didn’t make it that far, I fell asleep fully clothed because I couldn’t be arsed to take my boots off. Which sounds lazy, until you realise I was wearing these:

Once all laced up and tight, it’s actually quicker to saw off my own legs than it is to clit about trying to untie them enough so they can slip over my cankles. I woke up bright and literally breezy the next day with Storm Gareth making the windows rattle and after picking newsprint off my face, went to meet my mate.

Remember a few posts ago there was a foul-mouthed recipe for roast potatoes and a guide to a buffet that would have made your gran blush? Well, that was the chap (Paul II) I was meeting up with – thrashing out negotiations for payment for his blog post Theme Park style (wouldn’t work through, I have tiny hammy hands, he has hands like a water-swollen badger corpse). What better way to immediately test a friendship than to try an escape room together?

Boy, were we good. We’re both massive fans of the escape room format (as previously discussed) but it’s always a risk doing one with an unknown personality – and you never know which personality either of us is likely to have on any given day. However, Team Myra and Ian’s Cassette Mix were a delight, even if the name made the room host wince. The theme was time travel and although I spent the first thirty minutes taking it far too seriously and desperately searching for a button to plummet me back twenty years, we escaped with a good thirteen minutes to spare.

And mind, this room was hard. A tiny central room which opened up four times over to reveal scenes from different times, meaning one minute you were fumbling around trying to work out the moves to Saturday Night Fever (or, as I call it, cock-throat) and next you were working out morse code to discover where the nukes were dropping. It was very well done indeed and the combination of someone being excellent at maths and sweating (Paul II) and the other being great at words and getting in the way meant we absolutely nailed it. Before we went in we were full of bravado and told the Host that she mustn’t give us clues and that we were super-clever. We only caved once, and to be honest I think that was more her stepping in before we ended up wrestling on the floor with him trying to extract my Mind Stone.

A brief tour of Liverpool followed and I’ll say this: I had in my head some dystopian town, full of homelessness, graffiti, no-go areas, low value shops and gruff, barely literate shufflers. I realise my error now, in retrospect: due to the addition of Liverpool Cathedral, it’s actually classed as a city. Silly me! No I jest: what a beautiful place – I was very pleasantly surprised.

Speaking of pleasant surprises, Captain Marvel was next. We were temporarily held up by some pipe-cleaner in a Burtons suit who not only pushed in front of me in the popcorn queue but then who proceeded to hand me his card to tap it on the contactless point. If I’d been less tired and emotional I’d have thrown his Vanquis card straight into the nacho cheese pan and let him suffer the third degree burns needed to it out. It was bad enough paying a trillion pounds for two fizzy worms, let alone repeating the process for him.

There’s always a frisson of excitement going to the cinema with someone new, isn’t there? Are they a talker? Will they want to share your sweets? Will they spend half an hour asking ‘who is that’ and ‘why are they talking’ and ‘why is that cat on fire?’ etc? I was fearful as to whether I’d be able to hear Captain Marvel kicking off over the sound of his nose whistling – it was like being sat next to an idling bus – but all was well, with only minimal dipping into my sweets bag (not a euphemism, readers – or for good measure, Paul I). Captain Marvel was a perfectly pleasing romp with simply the best angry pussy committed to film since Teeth.

We then had a wander around some of the finest shops known to man (dressing like I was on remand and trying to turn my life around had never seemed so possible!) and ended up down on Albert Docks, where I was furious to discover that they had taken away the This Morning weather map. I mean honestly: it served as a handy paedo-holding pen if nothing else. I blame Alison Hammond. For everything that has gone so astonishingly wrong in my life. A quick restorative coffee and a ham and cheese toastie in Costa and it was time for Escape Room 2. Again, we made lots of small talk with the very handsome cub behind the counter (my heart sank when he mentioned his wife) (and then rose again when I remembered how many times I’ve had ‘don’t tell the wife’ muttered emotionlessly into my ear) and asked that we weren’t given many clues. Old pros, you see.

Well fuck me: we were terrible. The room was Viking themed and terribly clever, but some of the clues were a little too abstract for my tastes. We spent the first twenty minutes shrieking and banging cups about before things started to click into place – you always know you’re onto a winner when a bookshelf slides open revealing another two rooms to complete. But boy, did we need help. What started out as ‘only raise your hands if you’re desperate for a clue’ became such a farce that I’m surprised she didn’t dash in to see if I was standing on an exposed electrical wire.

At one point you had to climb into a Viking barge and row in unison to the soundtrack of a man shouting commands. In theory, easy, but see it required me to perch on a tiny seat with Paul II (we need a better name) immediately behind, and well, we’re both husky gentlemen. My back fat hindered his forward stroke (story of his life) and his Honey Boom-Boom frame blocked my backwards movement (story of my life). What should have taken a matter of moments took nearly four minutes of solid rowing, though I imagine that was due to the hostess spending three minutes and forty seconds silently dry-heaving at the sight of us sweating and panting through mild exercise. We’d have looked like two bouncy castles attempting coitus.

However, we did escape, and with plenty of time on the clock. She was very positive about our efforts but there was a glint of second-hand embarrassment in her eye that suggested we’d be on the staff Christmas Party blooper-real. Ah well. We never needed anything spelling out – except how to use the defibrillator – and actually, for two fat blokes still grappling with each other’s idiosyncrasies and personality traits, we did alright.

We finished off the day with a cocktail or two in Revolution. Fun fact: I haven’t been in a Revolution since before Paul I days, and the very last time I was there I gave an old-fashioned to my married manager. Funnily enough, he said don’t tell the wife too, especially pertinent since she worked in another team across the floor. Come again? Yes.

I’m beyond this current trend to put all sorts of tat in with a cocktail. I ordered something sickly sweet – a Cherry Hot Karl or something – and it came with slush and a scattering of rainbow drops. I’m comfortable enough in my sexuality not to be phased about carrying the drink equivalent of twink night in a sauna through a crowded bar but there was a guy sat next to us with arms as thick as my legs – fraction less stretch marks though – and I could feel his judgement. I loved it.

In no time at all it was time to say goodbye / get the fuck back to the train station so he didn’t miss his connections. The walk was no problem for him: he’s six foot four and can cover distance surprisingly quick given his gazelle like pins – but I had to hide my agony as my feet were flayed in my boots. It was unusual being the short one and I now have a newfound appreciation for Paul I’s vista of having to look up all the time. I like an ass in my face, don’t get me wrong, but not when it’s billowing out breakfast-scented death as it galumphs up a flight of stairs.

It had been a great day with a marvellous friend but now it was over, he was on his way back to the land that vowels forgot and I was left with an hour to kill in twilit Liverpool. I decided to spend that hour pooping in John Lewis (he didn’t mind) and spraying myself with industrial levels of expensive aftershave before realising, far too late, I was a good distance from the train station with only minutes to spare. Power-mince? I sashayed so hard I brought the paving slabs up. I made it with moments to spare and enjoyed a lovely trip home, with only an hour to spend in York despondently waiting for a connection that never came.

Still: at least I had the total absence of free snacks and drinks to cheer my soul whilst I waited. Pfft.

And that folks, was my day trip to Liverpool. It’s been a while since I did some proper writing so I apologise for the length, but you bloody loved it. Next time I visit there’ll be more culture, more umming and aahing at galleries, more cooing at national treasures. Aye rights – it’ll be more escape rooms and Infinity War. Yasss!

Suppose we ought to do a recipe, eh? Let’s knock out the cheesy hammy breakfast soldiers – just something super easy for breakfast that is better than your usual pap.

cheesy hammy breakfast soldiers

cheesy hammy breakfast soldiers

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cheesy hammy breakfast soldiers

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Yield 2 people

Aye it's a cheese toastie, but hey, let's call it breakfast soldiers and just get on with it. Fussy knickers. This makes enough for two, or if you're like us, one person with double portions. And yes, they're called cheesy hammy breakfast soldiers, but that's because the thought of having a soldier for breakfast amuses me.

Ingredients

  • four slices of whatever wholemeal bread you can have on your SW diet (2 x HEB)
  • 160g of grated mature cheese (oh I know - you don't need that much really, you could get away with saving half for your other HEA)
  • good quality ham
  • bit of dijon mustard
  • 5 eggs

Instructions

  • boil four of the five eggs to however you like them
  • smear a bit of mustard on half of the bread, add ham, add most of the cheese, add the other slice of bread so you're left with two sandwiches
  • beat the remaining egg and add the rest of the cheese then dip the sandwiches in
  • fry them in a dry non-stick pan until the cheese melts and the crust forms
  • cut into soldiers and serve with your boiled eggs

Notes

Courses breakfast

Cuisine twochubbycubs

Delicious, right? Get it in you, quick! Oh you can make it fancier AND make your wee stink – try the asparagus stuffed ones!

Looking for more breakfast ideas?

Mwah!

J