Just a super quick post to mention that we have started doing video recipes – we plan to do a new video from either the book recipes or the blog recipes every week, but no promises! We get a lot of people who mention that they aren’t very good cooks and are nervous about trying new things. We want to show you that our recipes are an absolute doddle to make and require very little in the way of complicated cooking or mystery ingredients.
We aren’t flashy and we’re just filming in our kitchen using an iPhone so there’s no high production values but hell, that’s us in a nutshell!
We have typed out the captions for those that need them or may find it easier to use them – and the full ingredient lists can be found in our cookbooks, though if you watch the video you can pretty much guess what goes where.
It would really mean a lot if you would subscribe to our channel and like our videos – it’s quite difficult gaining momentum on Youtube these days so anything is helpful! And finally, if you have any feedback on things we could do better or stuff you want to see, please do let us know!
To the recipes then!
Mongolian Beef (from book one)
We had to do it really. You don’t need to stick to beef – people have tried mushrooms, chicken, pork, all sorts. What you will note from our recipe is that there’s no sweetener in there – because why would there be? Use proper ingredients!
Balsamic chicken (from book two)
The only tip I’ll give you for this recipe is to use the best tomatoes you possibly can – a good mixture of colours and flavours will stand you in very good stead!
A nice trickle of pre-orders at the moment ahead of launch of our new cookbook in May – having seen the final drafts and signed off on all the recipes a few days ago, we can promise you it is absolutely glorious. Very us. You can order it here – thank you!
Today’s retrorecipe is something slightly different. I’ve realised that there’s a lot of sport to be had from looking at old recipes and mocking the fact that they put everything in jelly or use the word ‘puff’ far more than could ever be considered decent, but there’s actually a lot of very good recipes out there which have fallen out of favour that simply need rescuing and brought up to date. Plus there’s the small matter of us wasting food by cooking stuff only for Paul to shove it away and pronounce that he isn’t eating it, like he’s Newcastle’s answer to Violet Beauregarde. That’s my drag name right there incidentally: Violent Noregarde.
This coconut chicken is an absolute doddle to make and comes from Betty Crocker’s ‘Buffets’, which promises menus, recipes and planning tips for easy and successful home entertaining. Now my first confession: for years I have imagined Betty Crocker as some homely nana bustling around in her American kitchen, keeping an apple pie cooling on the window and swatting at her sticky-fingered grandchildren with a broom. Kind of like my nana but she doesn’t have Fifteen-to-One playing at a volume that brings the roof tiles clattering off when someone buzzes in. However, a quick bit of googling to see what she looks like reveals the whole thing to be a sham: she’s a made-up figurehead representing a massive conglomerate who just so happens to look like my husband in a nice dress. I confess myself seriously disappointed and to make matters worse, it turns out there was never an Aunt Bessie, despite all the cloying marketing and ‘just like my nana used to make’ advertising. Which, to loop around, wouldn’t be true anyway: my nana used to make Yorkshire puddings that you could climb inside and enjoy a hot bath of gravy – I’ve never had an Aunt Bessie Yorkshire pudding that wasn’t as flat as a witch’s tit.
I’m just amazed it’s taken me thirty-six years to realise the scale of corruption in the home baking world, I truly am. I know a lie takes the elevator whilst the truth takes the stairs but even so: madness.
Second confession: this book is absolutely glorious. A relic of its time absolutely (make sure there is one ashtray per every two guests is an especially timeless tip, with presumably a few tanks of oxygen kept to one side for after) and very much a ‘whilst your husband goes and works, you stay home at occupy yourself with doilies’ tome, but still glorious. By way of example, there’s four pages, including diagrams, detailing how best to set up your buffet to promote good flow. There’s a map if you’re having a circular buffet, those who fancy a three-sided buffet are literally catered for and, best of all, a double-line buffet plan. Not to be sniffed at.
We can’t very well talk about buffets if we don’t mention the one buffet that I absolutely do not miss: the taster nights. I know we have talked about this a lot over the years but good lord if we didn’t see the worst of humanity (maybe overegging the pudding a bit) at those events. Long time stalwarts will know it’s where everyone attending Slimming World is encouraged to bring a snack to place on the decorating table and everyone titters and chortles their way through eating watery quiche and plucking dog hair from their teeth. The type of meeting where you’re looking to see if those are sesame seeds on the prawn toast or nits. We were lucky – our class was on the outskirts of the posh part of Newcastle (Edinburgh) and so it was fairly civilised but I always remember a couple of weeks we spent attending a class in a flat-roof social club whilst on holiday. I’m not saying it was rough but when we got up to eat we took our chairs with us in case the scrap man swiped them. I’ve never seen, either before or since, such fervent desire for a Tupperware box of golden vegetable rice that had been sweating in someone’s handbag for the best part of eight hours. Possibly the only buffet I’ve attended where everyone brought their own knives without knowing the event was catered.
Thankfully, Betty Crocker’s buffets are a far more decadent affair – you can tell Betty has a bit of money because ‘she’ also recommends having one member of staff (hired or otherwise) per six guests to dispense drinks and to replenish snacks. Maybe this is where Fanny Cradock’s Sarah moonlights at night, when she’s not busy being scolded/scalded by Fanny during the day. You won’t need any staff to assist with this coconut chicken because it’s luckily very easy to make – handy, it’ll give you time to rearrange your ashtrays just so. Perhaps the best bit of the book is how bewilderingly comprehensive it is: she has thought of every buffet situation you can imagine. They start off obvious: ‘A Mother’s Day Buffet‘ opens the book, though if I served my mother a gooseberry tart and a ‘summer’ cocktail for Mother’s Day I’d be likely to get it thrown back in my face. My mother’s idea of a cocktail is putting her usual six Jack Daniels shots into a mist of diet coke and sticking a cigarette in it for decoration.
We then travel the world a little: ‘A Hungarian Style Dinner‘ gives us an apple strudel and some buttered noodles, a ‘Scandinavian Coffee Party‘ suggests ‘jam sandwiches and cookies’ which sounds delightful and even Ireland gets a mention with ‘An Irish Dinner‘, a stunning festivity consisting of Irish coffee and bread. You rather get the sense that ‘Betty’ is phoning it in at this point but fret not, she pulls it out of the bag for the ending. If you have ever agonised at night what to serve at an ‘Out of Town Guest Buffet‘ (usually clumsily-administered poppers in my case, and if they were halfway decent, I’d make them some toast after) then the answer is here: a marinated cauliflower and broccoli salad set in aspic BECAUSE OF BLOODY COURSE IT IS. We end on my personal favourite: a ‘Soup and Sandwich Late Supper‘ (presumably for the times you don’t want to wake Iris and instead microwave your own soup) where Betty suggests that when you get home of an evening stinking of shame and sambucca, you should set about making scotch shortbread and creamy split pea soup. I mean goodness me, it’s all I can do not to void myself into the wash-basket after three sniffs of the barman’s cloth – where does Betty get her stamina from?
All the above sarcasm aside, it really is a terrific book that I will be taking more than a few recipes from. Given we only let people into our homes if they’re punching a hole in something (walls, ceilings, my bumcheeks) we tend not to have many buffets but with this handy guide, perhaps that’ll change. Shall we do the coconut chicken then? No, we must.
We served our coconut chicken with a traditional puck of Uncle Ben’s (ANOTHER LIE) rice and some chilli sauce
You can use any chutney for this coconut chicken – anything you want
So desiccated coconut - aside from being one of those ingredients I actively avoid because I can't spell it (desiccated I mean, I can manage coconut) - is one of those things I say I don't like until I actually eat it and realise it's like eating a Bounty bar. If you're not a fan of coconut however then you're shit out of luck here and I suggest you leave right now, before you fall any deeper.
You'll forgive me if I don't make any obvious jokes about chutney stuffing in this recipe, because that would be childish and immoral.
I apologise for the somewhat uninspired photography - I was in a rush because as I was serving up, Goomba was staring at me with his big sad eyes like he was Link's nana from Windwaker and that only means one thing - he needed to be let out. It was very much a plate up, photo and go affair otherwise we'd have another kitchen disaster to handle.
We used fig chutney from Tesco here because it was the first chutney Paul spotted on the shelf, but you can - and perhaps should - use a red onion chutney or similar.
Finally, as ever, all calories are approximate and worked out via the NHS app. Your experience may differ. If that's the case, sorry.
four large chicken breasts
chutney of your choosing - we used Tesco Finest Fig & Balsamic chutney here because we are fancy bitches
two large eggs
100g of desiccated coconut
salt and pepper
We served ours with microwave rice and some chilli sauce because we were in a rush, see. You will also need some cocktail sticks and preferably a big rolling pin. What can I say: size-queen for life, me.
bring to mind someone who you absolutely hate: the type of person who if you accidentally ran them over, you'd reverse back over them to make sure the job was done
whilst you're thinking of them, take a knife and cut your chicken breasts in half horizontally - through the breast so it can open like a book
place onto some greaseproof paper and cover with more greaseproof paper
still got your enemy in your head - excellent - take your rolling pin and bash the absolute buggery out of those chicken breasts, imagining it is the skull of your nemesis, flattening them so they're easy to roll
hiding your 'excitement', remove the greaseproof paper, smear a good tablespoon of chutney in the middle of each breast, ignoring the fact it now looks a bit like a beskiddered gusset
carefully roll the breasts up in a nice spiral and secure them with cocktail sticks
they can sit in the fridge for a bit until needed
once you're ready to cook, carefully dip them in beaten egg (seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper) and then roll in the desiccated coconut
cook - you can bake in the oven but we put ours in our Instant Vortex Airfryer (cocktail sticks removed) for twenty minutes, until the chicken was cooked through
serve with rice
please make sure the chicken is cooked through before serving - at a minimum you want an internal temperature of at least 75 degrees celsius to be safe - see our notes under tools
twochubbycubs: Dinner Time is our new book and it's out in May and has over one hundred meal ideas for every single evening event you can imagine - you can pre-order here!
our second book, glorious in its rainbow spine, is perfect for every other meal occasion: order yours here!
Disclosure: the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Which is handy, as Goomba is going to the groomers next week and if he's anything like his Dad, will tip the groomer generously in the hope of being roughly tumbled about in the back room by the lad clipping his hair
The reacharound this week falls to our sausage stroganott supper from 2016, when we both had ice on our feet and a love of alluring alliteration apparently. That blog entry is a corker, even if I do say so myself, detailing a day we spent in Iceland, traipsing around the spitting geysers and turning blue on a flight of stairs. There are parts that seem almost an abstraction now: tourists all rammed into coaches, people sitting down with strangers for dinner. Hopefully this year will see more travel, even if it is forever tainted by the angst of someone coughing near you and not knowing if you’re going to end up hissing away on a ventilator. Anyhoo.
Those who enjoy our photos on Instagram may have noticed a small change in my husband of late – and I’ve certainly referenced his weight loss a few times on here. To that end, in the spirit of a reacharound and also wanting to give my wrists a rest from typing, I asked him to write a blog article about his weight troubles. He duly did, and ever one for detail, somehow managed to spin it out over 8,000 words. I can’t exactly criticise: I’ve never managed to type up a holiday blog without spending 2,500 words detailing my trip to the airport, taking in some random tut about shoelaces and eighty-seven allusions to sucking off truckers. However, you mustn’t fret: despite Paul having a face that has never been knowingly troubled by a smile, he’s actually a very funny writer. If you don’t like the thought of my husband guiding you around his fat bits, scroll quickly to the photos of the food. For everyone else, here’s Paul.
Alright! It’s me, Paul! Don’t worry, I’m not dead. I’m gonna tell you all a story about me. I apologise if some of this you’ve already heard!
I really wanted to avoid calling this whole thing a story about my “JoUrNeY” but there really ain’t any other word for it, so indulge me this one time. I know, I know. I’m typing this all out in the middle of one hell of a health kick so I’m really hoping that by doing so it’ll be one more nudge to keep me going.
See, I’ve always been fat. Always, for as long as I remember. I know I’ve said this before but my earliest memory is creeping downstairs (I would’ve been about 2-3 I think) and filling this small, green plastic bowl with chocolates and biscuits from the cupboards (and then tuning in for watching ITV Schools. Remember those? I loved ’em). Even when I was at nursery I knew I was fat and was self-conscious about it. Our nursery had a swimming pool (don’t be fooled, I’m common as muck) and I can remember not wanting to go into the water because I just knew I was too fat. This you can then copy and paste for the next 34 years. It’s only after you lose weight that you realise just how being overweight impacted on every single part of your life, and it’s quite sad for me that for nearly every milestone I can recall, my weight has factored somewhere in it.
Now, before I start, I don’t want this to sound like it’s turning into fat shaming or anything like that – my experiences are my own and this is in no way meant to shame anyone into wanting to lose weight. We all have our own reasons for doing what we do and being what we are, and this is mine. Please don’t read this and think that I’m judging anyone at all for anything because I promise I’m not. This is just my journey (oh fuck I said it again) and my reasons and justifications and experiences are all unique to me. Just thought I needed to put that before anyone starts with the angry tweets.
Throughout my entire childhood and well into adulthood (actually, even to this day) I’ve placed a ‘limit’ on myself, especially when it comes to physical stuff about what I can do, but also what I’m willing to do in order to preserve my dignity, and it’s fair to say the limit is set pretty damn low. One of the best things that happened to me at school was breaking my arm and needing an operation because it meant I had 8 weeks off PE (which I managed to stretch to the whole four years…eeh). My education around food was absolutely non-existent. I had a basic idea that fruits and vegetables were good and burgers were bad but it didn’t really stretch much beyond that. Food tech was all about making bread rolls and a fruit salad and something called COSHH and that was all. Education at home was even worse than that (I once lived off Freschetta pizzas for months. Best half-year of my life). Again, copy and paste this part throughout the rest of my life until my early thirties (stay tuned for that).
Food education was one thing. Exercise, another. I did briefly join a gym in my teenage years (I had to lie about my age and say I was sixteen) which, weirdly, came about because I was jealous my mate fingered someone on a bus, and I thought I’d never get to that. Of course, you can guess what end of that arrangement I wanted to be on. And I did quite well at the gym! I really enjoyed it. I would go every day after school for a few hours at a time and didn’t mind it at all. I can’t really say that my strength, stamina or fitness really improved that much though I can only imagine it must have, because back at home I was still being fed the same shite so it probably counteracted each other. But regardless of that I did enjoy it but couldn’t really tell you why. I barely lost any weight (I think it was less than a stone over the year) and my confidence didn’t improve at all, and I didn’t really enjoy doing the exercises (though it was a cute little gym, above a WHSmith) and the sauna was incredibly cruisey which was nice. The routine was something new that I latched on to and it became a part of just a thing I did and so it was easier to keep up. I couldn’t afford to go to the gym after that initial year (poor kid innit) and as soon as I did stop going any promises I made to myself that I’d go jogging or lift tins of sweetcorn of course went out the window and after a week I was back to exactly where I was before I even started. A few years later when I got a job I did join another gym (the nice one I went to before turned into a ladies only one) but I didn’t go a single time. I didn’t even go to the induction. I just could not get myself into that headspace to get into it. It seemed like a chore. And I couldn’t be fucked.
The only time I did manage to lose weight after that time and before meeting James was solely out of necessity. In a trademark act of teenage stupidity I made a sudden move to Portsmouth, of course failing to factor in that I would have rent and bills to pay in one of the most expensive areas in the country on a minimum wage. I lost weight because I could not afford to eat, and nor could I afford to travel to work. I had to walk 4-5 miles a day to a train station that was cheaper to get a season ticket to, and once I’d paid for the essential things on pay day (rent, season ticket, phone top-up, fags) I’d not only have spent my entire wages, but another £100 on top. If I did a few extra shifts I could sometimes make enough for a £40-50 shop but of course, being me with no education or experience of cooking that didn’t go far at all. I survived pretty much on the biscuits in the staff room and whatever I could ponce from work after all the patients had been served their dinner (I’ll never forget the kindness of Dariusz who would always try and save me a whole meal. Thank you, Dariusz! Also, if you’re reading, I totally would).
I lasted about 9 months and lost nearly twelve stone in weight. Thankfully, being young and nicotined up I could get by without feeling too ill (compare that with today where if I don’t get my routine Fruit Corner as near as 12pm as possible I get the shakes). I did feel the benefits of losing weight. For once in my life I felt a little bit attractive and had a few men on the go (whatamilike) and reasonably fit (as fit as you could be with 40 roll-ups a day sitting on your lungs). But still, I didn’t have the knowledge about eating so my default would always be junk, like pizzas, crisps, chocolate. I still couldn’t cook a single meal other than mince ‘n’ mash. I couldn’t even make cheese on toast. I promise I’m not exaggerating. So while I was as slender as I had ever been (but still not skinny) it was only temporary. But that part of my life came to an end, because who came mincing up the driveway one day in a rugby kit that had never seen a grass stain?
So this little mincer came into my life and the, rest, they say, is history.
Good place to leave it! The blog post I mean, not my husband. Although make me an offer. At this point in the marriage I’d trade for a halfway decent sandwich.
Genuinely feel like this sausage stroganott reloaded plate might be one of the best photos yet
The sausage stroganott reloaded comes in at 195 calories which is absolutely nowt – fact
We're insisting on calling this stroganott because I just can't do another 'Strong Enough / Stroganoff' series of jokes again. I know I know, but I'm tired. It's OK though, I don't need your sympathy - there's nothing you can say or do for me. I'll see myself out. The original recipe didn't actually take too much tweaking, more's the pity, but we've added a few bits and bobs.
We served ours with braised red cabbage and mashed potato, but those aren't factored into the calories so make sure you add them on if you copy the plate completely. As usual, calorie counts are approximate using the NHS calorie checker, so don't shit the bed if you work them out a little higher. Only 195 calories for the sausage stroganott though, that's a bargain!
eight sausages of your choice - we used Richmond meat-free sausages because they were reduced and we're tight as a tick's nipsy
one large white onion, sliced finely
one big handful of mushrooms, chopped finely (any will do, we used a forest mix) (and feel free to leave them out, swap them for pepper)
one large red sweet pepper, sliced fine
four rashers of streaky bacon, chopped
pinch of salt and pepper
one clove of garlic
one teaspoon of paprika
250ml of beef stock
couple of tablespoons of gravy powder
firstly, we appreciate this is no more a stroganoff than it is a plate of chips, but the naming conventions of the twochubbycubs accords demand it
fry off your sausages - we used our Instant Dual Drawer, took fifteen minutes, then slice and set aside
whilst they cook, fry off your onion, bacon, mushrooms if using and pepper until softened
mince and add the garlic and cook for a minute or two more
add the paprika, sausages, stock and a pinch of salt and pepper and allow to bubble away for a few minutes
add gravy to thicken
serve up with whatever you want
a note on the mushrooms - Paul isn't a fan, but if you use decent mushrooms like the forest mix we suggested, they add good flavour and don't taste overwhelmingly of mushrooms - so do try
on a slimming regime and want 100+ ideas for meals that taste amazing - then try our Fast & Filling cookbook: order yours here!
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Got leftover sausages? Use them in our sausage and boston beans recipe from earlier in the month – click the image below to be whisked straight there!
Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure!
I feel I must apologise right from the get go with this recipe reacharound for Instant Pot (don’t worry, non-pressure-cooker method also included) lemon and garlic chicken stew: if there are far more spelling errors and lapses in grammar than you might expect, then blame Paul. Our Mac keyboard, after years of fighting bravely against splashes, spurts and sploshes, has given up the ghost. Well not entirely, but the enter key has stuck down and is refusing to budge. Paul, in the absence of me clucking around and making recommendations, ordered a new keyboard which ‘is just as good’. It isn’t. It’s like he’s bought it from Fisher Price. The keys are tiny and rounded and just terrible. This may work when you have the deft twiglet fingers of Paul Anderson, but I don’t so much type on a keyboard as fist it into submission. It’s left me typing like my Nana sending her first email and to top it off, the keys don’t squelch like the old one did. It was like typing on a sauna sponge towards the end.
It serves me right for leaving him unattended, of course. But needs must: I go away for a few days every month to stay with friends in Liverpool which gives Paul a chance to enjoy an unadulterated bathroom floor / marital bed, which he does so enjoy. He pays lip service to our eternal love by sending messages to say he misses me terribly but we both know he has the time of his life without me, even if most evenings seem to end with him sobbing into a rough effigy of me made from my back hair and dipped in beef dripping.
One of the best things about these little trips away is that I get to have a good long drive, and all the fun that entails. I’ve said it before, and been loudly and angrily reminded at least nine times a week since, that I enjoy driving. That’s not a lie. But see I also very much enjoy willies, yet if I were to have sausage every night I might switch to a fish supper. Too much of a good thing can be tiresome, but luckily the 180 miles or so to Liverpool is just the right amount of road to cover off all my favourite driving moments.
I should open by saying that I am, these days, a very considerate driver, or at least I do try my very best to be. For a few years after passing my test I drove everywhere as though I’d just stolen the car but nowadays I’ve come to the realisation that you’ll get where you need to be far less stressed and with fewer cyclists to peel off the bonnet if you just stick to the rules of the road. The same seemingly doesn’t apply to other drivers however, and there’s two patches of the A1 where this becomes a problem. For a local example, just outside of Durham there’s a four mile patch of roadworks where switching lanes is forbidden and there’s a strict 50mph limit.
That doesn’t stop seemingly every single regional sales director in the North East getting into their company-owned BMW or Audi (and listen I know that’s a lazy stereotype, but tell me I’m wrong) and appearing two inches from my back bumper, waving their arms around dramatically as though they’ve just opened the glove box to find a box of wasps swarming out. Given I’m generally behind another car and therefore there’s nowhere immediately apparent for them to dash into, I find it bewildering, and it’s honestly all I can do to remember not to take my foot off the accelerator and let the car slow down just a shade. This seems to excite them even further and obviously must be discouraged. And hey, I’m not averse to having an angry man rammed up behind me, but I do ask that they buy me a drink first. I mean I don’t but I’m trying to sound classy.
180 miles, according to Google, should take around three and a half hours: but it never does, and I’m never quite sure why. Four hours can pass and I’ll be no further than Darlington, looking bewildered at Waze to see if I’ve somehow routed myself through Aberdeen via a selection of farm tracks. I blame service stations: they’re like the sirens of the motorway to me. For those interested, you’re looking at stopping at Durham, Barton Park, Wetherby and Birch Services if you’re wanting a cup of tea without the chance of diphtheria to keep it spicy. Barton Park is a good one because no-one ever uses it, presumably put off by the fact the owners have set the prices of fuel as though they roleplaying in a Mad Max movie. I digress.
I love it all me. The chance to get indignant with the ladies in WH Smith when I buy a can of Monster and a Freddo and have to hand over my car keys in part-exchange with a promise to settle the remainder after. The truckers all wandering around in filthy hi-vis gear looking like they’d punch you through a wall if you dilly-dallied for a moment at the Greggs counter. The opportunity to peruse the absolute tat they inexplicably sell alongside the fags and chocolate: a light-up beanie hat, a book about equine diseases, a DVD boxset of walks around Kromer. Hell, I even like a quick toilet stop (any excuse to stretch my legs) (up past my ears) because there’s always a degree of joviality and hur-de-hur whilst waiting in the queue to do some 3-D printing. Plus, I refuse to smoke in my car so if anything, I treat the rare bursts of driving as a break from smoking rather than the other way around. Explains why I’m always gasping for air by the time I’m circling J22 on the M62.
Still, if I get bored on the way down, whoever is in charge upstairs (or more realistically, no-one) will throw some dramatic weather at me for the drive. I could leave my house in the middle of a heatwave and inexplicably end up peering owlishly through a snow-covered windscreen by no later than two hours in. It’s as inevitable as day following night: I don’t think I’ve had a single journey westward where I haven’t thought of calling Paul to finally tell him the PIN on our bank cards just in case I lose control of the car and tumble away into the fields. I mean, it would give me the opportunity to press the big red SOS button that sits behind the interior lights – I’ve been itching to do it but I’m petrified that it’ll automatically call the emergency services and they’ll dispatch an air ambulance out to me, only to find me perfectly alive and furiously trying to light a cigarette in the helicopter’s downdraft. Though to be fair, knowing my car, it’ll probably just start playing ABBA Gold.
That’s the other thing I enjoy: the chance to listen to my music and have a right good singalong as I do. If I have Paul with me he’s always tutting and clawing melodramatically at his ears with forks whilst I effortlessly segue between Steps, Billie Eilish, Muse, some Swedish Eurovision entry and Chapter 42 of Red Dragon narrated by Alan Sklar on Audible. When I’m by myself I get to go full me and I can’t deny it is amazing. Many a time I’ve been caterwauling away as I leave a car park to the bemused faces of coaches full of people clapping and wondering whether I’ve got a fox shredding through my back tyres. The world is a stage! By the time I arrive at any destination I’ve got a voice like I’ve been gargling glass but it’s worth it.
There’s a whole another entry to be written about the other things I do in the car to entertain but I shall save that for a couple of weeks from now, because LORDY this is a long one. For the record, it took me a modest five hours twenty-eight minutes to get home today, and that’s not bad going at all.
To the recipe for the lemon and garlic chicken stew then. This is a rare reacharound where we haven’t had to change too much for the recipe – indeed, all we have done is up the onion content to make the sauce a bit more ‘stew-like’, but this is a genuinely delightful dinner that must be recognised.
Only 370 calories for this lemon and garlic chicken stew with rice too!
Definitely use chicken thighs for this – cheaper, and it flavours the lemon and garlic chicken stew perfectly
Five photos and this was the best one: Paul loves his lemon and garlic chicken stew
Now look, if you don't have a pressure cooker you mustn't fret because this is easy enough to make in the oven, and we've catered for your failures in the recipe bit. But if you do have an Instant Pot at home, this is the perfect recipe for it: you chuck it all in and let the machine do the hard work. And if you're the nervous sort who pales in terror at the idea of a pressure cooker fret not: we are going to do a guide to them shortly. We were gifted our newest Instant Pot by the company, but you'll see from previous entries that we have been long-term devotees. Let's do this.
750g of chicken thighs
two onions, chopped finely
5 cloves of garlic, minced
185ml chicken stock
1tsp dried parsley
¼ tsp paprika
juice from one lemon
4 tsp cornflour
white rice - we used about 100g each
select saute, add a bit of oil and chuck in the onions, cook for about 5-10 minutes or so until they start to brown
add everything else to the pot save for the cornflour and give everything a reet good stir
put the lid on, make sure the vent is set to ‘sealing’ and press the high pressure and select fifteen minutes
when finished, release the pressure (it's perfectly safe)
cook the rice however you want it
scoop a cupful of liquid out and stir the cornflour in, making sure there's no lumps
remove the chicken using tongs and add the cornflour mixture into the rest of the liquid, stirring until the sauce is thickened
serve the chicken on top of the rice with the sauce poured over
No pressure cooker
saute the onions in a casserole dish, then add everything (plus another 50ml of stock) bar the cornflour and cook on low for about two hours in the oven
once the chicken is cooked, add the cornflour and allow the sauce to thicken
just one note - don't be tempted with chicken breasts - you want thighs. If you're fussy, you can buy the boneless and skinless thighs in all supermarkets now
we've done some terrific things with chicken in our second cookbook which you will love: order yours here!
we honestly can't fault the Instant Pot - we use the Instant Pot Pro because it does everything we need and doesn't look like Sputnik - you can find it here but other variants of the Instant Pot are cheaper still
get yourself a good set of silicone-ended tongs, they'll steer you well and they are perfect for cheekily grabbing your partner's nipple during frolics and fun times - we use these
Disclosure: the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Which is handy, as my mother is demanding a decent care home when she hits ninety. She won't be getting one, but the fuel to get my car down to the river to push her in ain't cheap.
Here for the super quick chicken and spinach curry and can’t wait until we give you the ingredients so you can look at them and order a takeaway instead? Well I’ll need you to calm your tits, Susan, because there’s the little matter of some blog nonsense to get your laughing gear around first.
As neither Paul or I have any current life outside of looking after our dog, we shall of course go straight to Goomba news. He’s fine: 13 weeks old now, got teeth that could open a tin of corned beef without breaking a sweat and fully capable of scenting a room with the rich smell of shite with the tiniest farts you can imagine. It’s a bad job when I have to ball Paul’s streaked knickers into my mouth and huff just to let my vision clear.
We’ve been able to take him walking for twenty minutes a couple of times a day, which is just the right amount of time for him to pretend he doesn’t need to offload some freight, fuss about on the field and then send a fax right outside the neighbour’s front door when we’re twenty feet away from the house. It took a solid two weeks of training to get him to that point, but we nailed it. And I’ll say this: I still can’t get past the way that he eyeballs us as he does it. I’ve since learned it is because he feels at his most vulnerable when he’s dropping the property value and is looking to me for reassurance. He’s out of luck: I’m usually bent over dry-heaving into my elbow, but this behaviour does go some way to explaining Paul’s need to leave the door open and announce his efforts (“oooh, I don’t half feel lighter, ooooh, when did we have Cheerios, oooh, call the plumber”) when he goes.
I’m sorry, you don’t come to our food blog to read about our dog’s bowel movements, do you? So forgive me for that, although it will doubtless initiate eighty-seven private messages telling me how awful I am for letting the dog poop on grass or not brushing his ears or not rigging up an oxygen tent in the spare room lest his lungs pack in from climbing over the doorstep. Honestly, and I say this with a touch of hyperbole admittedly, I’ve never known an activity elicit such feedback as owning a dog. I could announce tomorrow that I’ve been smacking Paul about and nursing a merry hard drug addiction to less controversy and ire. Which is silly: I’m no good with needles and the thought of making my own dinner leaves me aghast.
It’s not a complaint, though, as people mean well, but it just leaves me paralysed with choice and options. I’m indecisive at the best of times – or am I? – and you must understand that any decision I eventually make is normally backed up by eighteen months of feverish googling and pained expressions as I discover a counterpoint opinion to something I’d finally accepted. But, I know such advice is given with good intent and therefore I can take no real issue with it, even if I do now have four different harnesses for Goomba because each previous one has been debunked to the point you’d think I was strapping him into a brazen bull when I took him out. Honestly, between this and Paul’s tendency to buy fifteen new toys for the dog every time he goes out – he has that poor-kid-to-comfortable-adult character trait where he can’t leave a shop with both arms the same length – we’re about two weeks from declaring bankruptcy.
One cheery update is that we have found an excellent doggy day care centre where Goomba can socialise with other dogs a couple of afternoons a week. Even cuter is the fact that he doesn’t get to go into the big dogs school yet but rather ‘Little Legs’ club because he’s so wee. I had to chaperone Paul on the first day just in case they assumed he was joining as well. I can see now why parents get so anxious and fretful about their children going to school for the first time: would Goomba fit in, would he be bullied, how many tabs do I need to stick behind his ear so they think he’s cool – all the usual presentiments that come with new experiences.
We needn’t have worried. At the induction he was placed with a tiny pug who immediately chased him about the garden for a few minutes until Goomba realised that she wasn’t a threat. Indeed, he did such a volte-face regarding his opinion on this pug that he set about chasing her and then, somewhat embarrassingly, mounted her. There’s something a touch unseemly about discussing payment plans with a trainer whilst your dog is jabbing his lipstick into thin air with a lurid leer immediately over her shoulder. Goomba isn’t a big dog by any means but sexual intercourse between a Springer Spaniel and a Pug is going to be the equivalent of trying to park a bus in a tissue box.
He’s since been back a few times and is absolutely loving it, which is a relief, as it does free up some of my day-time for occasionally remembering to work and to attend to my chores. Thursday was an especially productive day: I had a builder round to look at the side of our house (still covered in paint and varnish from the shed fire) and we mutually agreed that it hadn’t magically disappeared in the five months since someone last came round to look at it. A dishwasher repair man then managed to fix the leak in our dishwasher and Paul and I had a giddy forty minutes of clean plates before realising it was still pissing lemon-scented detergent all over the kitchen floor. I called Goomba in from the kitchen and momentarily thought he’d developed rabies.
Looking sharp, though.
But most exciting of all was the surprise appearance of a group of tree surgeons that I had clean forgotten I’d arranged who had come to remove a couple of dead trees from our garden. Well of course they’re from the garden, they’re not likely to be growing in our utility room now are they. The tree at the back was in danger of falling over and crushing that which I hold most dear – my car – so that was an easy decision, but the tree at the front goes some way to masking us from the gaze of some of our less cheerful neighbours. Though, to be fair, it’s perhaps not that startling that the tree is dying given one of those aforementioned neighbours spends so long staring daggers at us that I’m surprised she hasn’t burned straight through it like Homelander.
Thusly I did get to spend a merry hour watching very talented blokes cutting the tree down and feeding it into the chipper, although they did nix my request to have a go at it myself. Probably wise: I’m an inherently clumsy person and I’d have only ended up tumbling in face-first after tripping over my own shadow. They did such a terrific job and, even better, left without taking payment – the ideal situation. I did agonise for a few moments before calling them back and pressing a bundle of notes into his hands like a nana giving pocket money. The garden seems a lot lighter now, which is handy as it matches my wallet.
And that’s us for now. Before I get to the quick chicken and spinach curry recipe, just a quick word of apology. With us having to look after Goomba so much and get him settled him, we’re very conscious that we haven’t been quite as active about replying to messages and comments as we normally are. If you have contacted us, or tagged us in a story, or made our recipes – we thank you, and apologise for not replying. Happily, we’re back on an even keel now and that ship should right itself shortly. Thank you for persevering with us, I know we’re awful.
Oh – a double apology! My phone is taking absolutely gash photos at the moment. Looking to get it fixed, but yeah, bear with.
The chicken and spinach curry tastes a lot better than it looks, I swear
Now you get to see the chicken and spinach curry from a different angle, I do spoil you.
So, a quick chicken and spinach curry - we've done a great number of these over the years but this one is enlivened with some mango chutney and the fact it takes no time at all to cook. I'm sure it would be made all the better by a long, slow simmer but if you're already tearing about like your arse is on fire, rest assured it's all done in around twenty five minutes.
Calorie wise this comes in at (roughly) a modest 665 calories per person (with rice) and the recipe serves four. Freezes well too. We work out calories using Nutracheck's app which is terrific, but please read the notes about that.
This is a Hello Fresh recipe which we have tweaked to make more slimming friendly. Normally we would stick in a referral link here but I can't in all good conscience: we're having serious issues with the quality of Hello Fresh at the moment, with lots of the vegetables turning up already past their best and items missing from each bag. If that improves, we will recommend them once more because lord knows they are convenient, but for now, hold off if you're considering it.
300g basmati rice
2 onions, finely diced
2 garlic cloves
1 green chilli
500g diced chicken thighs
4 tbsp korma curry paste (we use Patak)
4 tbsp tomato puree
1 chicken stock cube
200g baby spinach
2 tbsp mango chutney
1 bunch coriander
bring a large saucepan of water to the boil with ¼ tsp salt
when boiling, add the rice and cook for 12 minutes, then drain in a sieve and return to the pan with the lid on until ready to serve
meanwhile, finely dice the onion and peel and grate the garlic
halve the chilli lengthways, deseed and finely chop
spray a large frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium-high heat
add the diced chicken and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, until golden
add the onion and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until softened
add the korma paste, garlic, tomato puree and half of the green chilli to the pan, stir and cook for one minute
add the passata, 200ml water and crumble in the stock cube, and simmer until thickened (about 6-8 minutes)
meanwhile, roughly chop the coriander (stalks and all) - unless you're the sensible sort like me, where you'll scrape it immediately in the bin)
add the spinach to the pan a handful at a time and cook until wilted, about 1-2 minutes
simmer until everything has reduced slightly, which will take about 3-4 minutes
add the mango chutney and half of the coriander to the pan and stir well
stir the remaining coriander into the rice and serve along with the curry, and sprinkle over the remaining chilli
rice: if you follow our advice to the letter, you'll have perfect rice - but remember rice is a fickle thing indeed - if you measure out enough for four people you'll get enough for nine hundred, or you'll take a look at the end of the boil and see that there's only three grains of rice in there and they're all sticking their fingers up at you
feel free to use chicken breast but thighs are so much tastier and worth the insignificant extra calories
up the amount of spinach as high as you want too - we love spinach here and could cheerfully double or triple the amount
not sure on syns for this - it won't be high, I think the only thing to syn would be the mango chutney and the chicken thighs, so I'd hazard a guess around 4
three of our favourite bloggers now have either a book out or a book coming, and we encourage you to support them as much as you can:
The Slimming Foodie has a book out now which is full of recipes that'll make your heart sing - good slimming food which, like us, uses proper ingredients rather than crappy pretend recipes - order it here; and
Slimming Eats has a book coming out at the end of the year and again, we can't recommend her enough if you want good slimming food that tastes amazing - you can pre-order here
Sugar Pink Food also has a recipe book out and lord is she the Queen of food that looks like it shouldn't be good for you but is really bloody stunning - give her a whirl here
both Pip (Slimming Foodie), Siobhan (Slimming Eats) and Latoyah (Sugar Pink) are the kindest, most decent people you could hope for when it comes to other bloggers and it really would mean a lot to us if you could support them. They've both been at this for such a long time (like us) and really know their stuff - so go for it!
we are getting a few comments that calories that people have worked out on Nutracheck are slightly different to our total and wondering why - the reason is simple - we may use different brands to you. For example, there's a 60 calorie difference between Tesco and Waitrose chicken thighs, presumably because that extra smugness of the Waitrose chicken adds extra
to that end, make sure you're adding your recipe as you go along if you use Nutracheck, although if you're happy with the rough estimate, more power to you
I think that’s us done for the day, but if you were needing a different curry idea, may I suggest clicking the image below to be taken to another delicious dish?
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 twochubbycubsannouncement. 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:
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
we’re releasing a third book full of more amazing recipes, wit and comedy
we’re having a baby
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.
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
can you imagine us doing such a thing – don’t you think you’ve had enough? Mind, never say never…
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…
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.
There, a chicken and rhubarb stew: it won’t win any awards, but it’s damn tasty!
Served with rice, this chicken and rhubarb stew is way under 500 calories: it doesn’t take Vera to work that one out. Pet.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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?
Cuisinechicken 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?
Hiyaaaaaa! Urgh, stop. Before we get to the super-quick chicken kebab wraps, I’ve got a tale to spin to you. It involves Germany, and it’s a holiday post. If you’re here for the recipe, click the heart below and it’ll dash you straight there. Otherwise, settle in – it’s a long one, but you can take it. Meanwhile, cookbook coming along lovely, thank you: we’re now locked in and ready to go! You can pre-order it here.
Goodness, it’s been a while since I rattled out a holiday post – not because we haven’t been gallivanting, mind you, I’m always working on my suntanned wattle – but it’s been an age since I could sit and type something other than recipes. This holiday post takes us all to Hamburg and is unusual in that I’m combining two separate trips into one. The first time we went was back in April courtesy of srprs.me (more on that later) and I booked the second one in one of my atypical ‘go fuck yourself’ huffs. Some people spend days poring over brochures and cooing at hotels.com before they pick their next adventure – with me, you just need to wait until someone cuts me up on a roundabout or I stub my toe on the settee and I’m straight onto easyjet.com filling in my API with rage-a-tremble fingers.
This trip was our fourth with srprs.me – a simple concept where you pay a travel agent a discreet sum of money and they book you a holiday somewhere exciting and wonderful. You don’t find out until you’re at the airport, where you scratch off a scratchcard, enter a code on their website and find out your gate number and destination. It’s all terrifically exciting and indeed, we videoed our last reveal in the hope of sharing it with you all. However, the 4am start and general rattiness of me being at Newcastle Airport betrayed us and when our destination of Malaga was revealed, I announced ‘for fucks sake, fucking MALAGA’ and promptly knocked my coffee over with that touch of the dramatic I know you all love. In my defence, I was confusing it with some super-rough beach resort that I vaguely remembered seeing on those 90s reality shows like Fingerblasts Uncovered where walking flesh-envelopes of fake-tan spilled Blue WKD into their nethers and gurned to camera.
It was actually a superb place, since I mention it. But no, this trip was to Hamburg, and quite honestly, I knew nothing about the place other than it was in Germany and sounded delicious. A quick google reveals some interesting details: it has one of the largest seaports in the world (I shan’t make an awash with seamen joke), the most bridges of any global city and, every three months, hosts the Hamburger Dom.
Coincidentally, on my second trip, so did I.
It was the trip to the airport on the second trip that bears discussion, so we’ll start there and from now on, I’m just going to flit between the two without further clarification. Our flight was 6.45pm from Manchester Airport and, after a fitful morning, we set away at 12 noon, planning on stopping for lunch somewhere fancy en-route. Six hours to travel 180 miles of motorway – even in a Smart car laden with two fat blokes – surely no problem?
So you’d think. But every single citizen of the United Kingdom had clearly decided to go out for a leisurely crash of their cars at precisely 12.01 and what should have been a simple, uncomplicated jaunt became a nailbiting exercise in clock-watching, screaming myself hoarse at the backs of lorries and listening to Paul’s music. It was the last part that almost finished me off – I’d promised not to say one word about his music in exchange for him doing the long drive (I was tired from having my hair cut) and my god, in all honesty, wrenching the steering wheel from him and swerving us under an Iceland articulated lorry has never been so tempting. So much sad guitar chords and female warbling. The only thing that stopped me was the indignity of being cut out of the wreckage of a Smart car whilst chewing my way through a Sara Lee gateaux that had wedged itself up my arse.
The gates closed promptly at 6.15pm and I’ve seen enough sweaty-jowled businessmen being shouted at on Airline to know easyjet are merciless with their deadlines. For years I’ve watched that programme taking sweet satisfaction from families being denied their holidays or some person missing out on a liver transplant because they’d parked too far away to make check-in, but now I was at risk of missing out, I was manic. We threw our keys at the meet and greet parking people, apologising profusely at 200mph for being in a rush, and sprinted through fast-track security and the departures lounge.
I say sprinted. I don’t sprint. I’ve got good long legs that allow me to move with purpose and my general size and my face all-a-tittylip means people will get out of my face with minimal need for cursing under my breath and punching old folks to the ground. Paul, on the other hand, moves with all the urgency of a man selecting a slice of toast for a weekend breakfast, and I grew ever more furious with him as he delicately tip-toed around folks and ‘ever-so-sorry’ allowed people to get in front. Things came crashing to a head as he slipped over on an incline and fell fat on his face with an almighty moo.
I am, I admit, a terrible person. An awful husband, a cruel lover and a heartless soul. I burst out laughing. My weakness, if you ever need to make me laugh, are random jerky movements and people falling over and hurting themselves. Others watch stand-up, I watch You’ve Been Framed with a smirk and a semi. We didn’t have time to spare so he picked himself up, looked at me with a face that made it clear I’d have to spend twenty minutes later making pained expressions of fake remorse, and off we went. We made it to the gate with one whole minute to spare, according to his now heavily-scuffed smart-watch.
Thank god we made it though, otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the subsequent twenty-five minutes of standing at the gate peering at our plane and wondering why we couldn’t get on. That was never explained, though it did give me plenty of time to smile coquettishly and have a mutual eye-wank with a lovely German bear a couple of steps down the queue. Ah, German men. There’s something so alluring about an accent that sounds like they’re coughing up gravel even when they’re “whispering sweet nothings” into the back of your neck.
Our flights were uneventful – prompt, comfortable and with minimal fuss – though my trip was made all the more comfortable by the four gins I downed, ignoring the fact that the bill came to more than I’d paid for our flight ticket. We’re on holiday, such extravagance is to be encouraged. Clearly easyJet has its knockers – she served me the drinks – but damn I love them. We landed, breezed through security in that almost effortless manner we currently enjoy thanks to being part of a fantastic union of shared responsibilities and agreed border processes – what absolute melt would begrudge that – and then we managed about four hundred meters before we sat down and had a sandwich.
See, there’s another reason why we love Germany. So. Many. Sandwiches. I know they all come from the same processing plant and have probably sat there so long you could escape from prison using the bread as a file, but I care not: they’re delicious. It’s like living in a sandwich buffet and I’m all for it. My choice was a sandwich with so much smoked cheese and ham in it that I had to call for special assistance just to lift my fat-ass back out of the seat. My apologies, I should really call him by his first name, Paul.
Paul’s sandwich had an entire section of Lidl pressed into it:
The German public transport system is another joy, once you get around the fact the map looks like a Michael Bay action thriller where some sap has to cut just the right wire to defuse a bomb. I’m sure it’s easy to follow and indeed, after forty minutes sweating, crying and deciphering the beast we managed, we were on our way, but jeez does it make you realise how shit our system is. We’ve got two lines on our Metro system in Newcastle and trains that still have George Stephenson in the cab. But mustn’t grumble: you pay £5.20 to be told by a pleasant soothing voice that the trains are delayed and you can expect to arrive three stops short by the summer equinox.
The hotel that srprs.me had chosen was a delight – the Hotel Jufa, down on the docks. Ostensibly a ‘maritime’ hotel, though the lack of filthy-handed sailors was a disappointment, it was full of ships to play on and curious little tchotchkes alluding to the port. That’s all well and good, but I’m not Alex Polizzi (there was a PUUUUBE, DAAAARLING) (hi Adam) and there’s no need to review the hotel here save to tell you the three most important facts:
the breakfast buffet was plentiful, varied and everything fabulous about a German breakfast;
the room had decent air-conditioning and none of those silly double mattresses which are two normal mattresses zipped together – very important when you’re our combined weight and turning over in your sleep means both beds careering to either end of the room; and
it had a homophobic shower. Seriously, hoteliers, sort your shit out so I can sort mine. Mind, I made the most of it…
Hotel done, we’ll switch to the various activities we took part in – no chronological order, mind you, this isn’t Sherlock.
The Saw Escape Room by EscapeDiem
You know how much we love escape rooms, yes? It had been a while since Original Flavour Paul and I had done one and well, what extra level of tension could having all the instructions in German add?
Turns out, a lot. But: what a fantastic room. Based on the Saw movies, you start off in the bathroom from the movies – filthy toilet (and yep, you need to put your hand in) and all. Clever tricks abound – heat sensitive paints, heartbeat locks, false rooms…all marvellous. Then the twist halfway through: you had to go inside the walls. There was a tiny vent to crawl through – now I’m not claustrophobic so I was generally fine with that – but then you had to loop back over yourself and climb up. They’d built a multi-level maze in the walls in the almost pitch black.
Scary, but doable, yes? Well think of me for a second – I was lodged in a wall, barely able to move, with Paul – all many, many stone of him – perched right above me with only a thin sheet of plywood holding him up. It wasn’t Jigsaw or being stuck I was scared of but rather being reduced to atom-wide jam by the weight of the clumsiest fucker alive crashing down on me. It actually felt like a Saw movie, especially when I slashed Paul’s throat for getting the combination wrong at the end. Lolz – caught up in the moment wasn’t I! We escaped the room with a couple of minutes to go and our already strained marriage in tatters.
A museum devoted to life in miniature: sounds deadly dull, but it was bloody brilliant. Tonnes and tonnes of teensy-tiny recreations of cities with working trains and tiny interactive models: we loved it. Me for the sheer mechanics and level of detail, Paul because he actually felt like a normal sized human for once. I galloped through like Glumdalclitch’s daddy, Paul went tip-toeing through the roses, letting himself into the matchbox-sized houses and taking a breath on a bench made from four cocktail sticks and a pin.
He’s not even that short, you know, but it makes a change from the fat jokes. Poor Paul, I love him really.
It was fun though: I’m all for an exhibit where there’s buttons to press and this place was awash with them. For example, you pressed a button and a tiny version of a concert started playing, complete with miniature lighting rigs and hundreds of wee humans bobbing to the beat. There was a scale version of Hamburg Airport with planes taking off (disappearing neatly behind a curtain of cloud) (cotton wool) and if you pressed the button and waited, a UFO would touch down. I mean, haway! If that was the UK, each exhibition would have an out of order sign and the only buttons you could press would be on the chip-and-pin machine as you paid your £44 entrance fee.
Actually, the UK was represented with a tiny version of London, replete with lots of top-hat wearing guards and a ding-donging Big Ben. Newcastle wasn’t featured, which was a shame, because I’d have loved to have pressed a button and seen Gemma-Marie, Marie-Marie and Lisa-Marie rolling around pulling each other’s hair in a puddle of their own foamy piss. As I said, the attention to detail was really quite terrific.
Now, honestly, we’re almost at 2000 words. Let’s cut it short there and come back another day.
You came for the quick and easy chicken kebab wraps, didn’t you? Who could blame you? We’ve seen loads of hot-takes on our recipe for chicken doner kebabs, but this is the easiest one yet. Inspiration came from quite genuinely the best fast food we’ve ever had, pushed down into our gullets at 4am on a crisp Hamburg morning. Because I was drunk and a walking horn at this point, it was a case of finding anywhere that was open, dispensed food and was staffed by sultry looking men with a kebab shaver. Wasn’t hard to come across one, though we did have to pretend it was raita when a customer came in. This is something that takes no time to throw together – you could probably make a marinade yourself with lots of ingredients but honestly, pick one of these sauces up for 60p and hoy it in the cupboard for when you just can’t be arsed.
We've done wraps so many times over, and make no apology for it. If you're controlled and sensible you can keep a load of wraps in the freezer and defrost as needed - then chuck any old shite in there. The sweet raita is what makes this dish though - don't be afraid to get it made. This makes loads - freeze any leftover meat! Enjoy our chicken kebab wraps!
For the wraps:
whatever wraps SW have decreed syn-free as your healthy extra
five chicken thighs
one packet of Blue Dragon Sweet Chilli & Garlic Stir Fry Sauce (10 syns)
one small red onion
one small white cabbage
half a cucumber (if you're looking for something to do with the other half, pop it up your blurter)
For the sweet raita:
250g fat free greek yoghurt
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp mint sauce
pinch of salt
dice up your chicken thighs into very small chunks - doesn't need to be uniform, but go nice and small
marinate the chopped thighs in the sauce and leave as long as you like
when it's time to eat, tip the marinated chicken into a hot pan and cook it quickly - keep stirring so it doesn't stick, but you want the sauce to get nice and sticky
whilst that's cooking, shred your cabbage, thinly slice the onion and chop your cucumber
make your wraps by adding a slick of raita to the wrap, add your meat, chopped veg and wrap away!
speed this up by using shop-bought raita
this makes enough for four big wraps with plenty of chicken left over - you can freeze the chicken once cooked
we served ours in a folded up naan bread, but we don't count our syns with bread
if you have some time, pop the sliced onion and cabbage in a bowl with some vinegar for twenty minutes - it'll soften the cabbage and take the sting from the onion - just rinse everything off before you serve
Chicken taco wraps! Remember we’re old school here at twochubbycubs. We use wraps for making wraps as opposed to making apple pies and panty liners with them. But if you want the recipe for chicken taco wraps, you’ll need to hold onto your nonny for a second because, as usual, nonsense follows! Scroll down to the food photos if you’re not quite ready for me to spice up your life with my shenanigans.
First, a gentle reminder. We have a cookbook coming out – 100 recipes of slimming classics (but none of the use sweetener, use fry-light shite) that’ll help you see your bajingo again when you’re naked. They won’t let us use that as a strapline. It’s coming along terrifically and we promise it’ll scratch the itch you have. Which saves you buying natural yoghurt, which be fair, you’d only eat anyway. Click to pre-order and say you’ll be there at launch day!
Happy Father’s Day, everyone! Usually I’d write a post about my dad but he’s terribly shy and stoic and wouldn’t enjoy the fuss, and this isn’t a love thing, so I’ll just say that he’s an amazing dad who never once rolls his eyes when his 34 year old son rings him because he needs a washer changing or a shelf putting up. By the same token, our mutually respectful relationship means I don’t judge him too vociferously for not turning the keypad noises off on his phone or watching him stab at the iPad like a chicken hunting corn. He’s always been there for me, providing me with a haunting visage of the looks I can expect when I hit sixty. Thank God my deleterious lifestyle choices will shuffle me into the Earth by 54 at best.
Anyway, how have you all been? Well? I’m asking as though I’ll read the replies when you all holler. It’s been terrifically busy at Chubby Towers – the disadvantage of writing a cookbook is that we’re having to cook so many new recipes and write them up that I’ve barely had time for my nine hour daytime naps and ‘let’s have another round of The Office, seasons 2-7’. It’s a chore being us. But we’ve managed to fit a few exciting things in, one of which was a trip to see the Spice Girls.
Well, one of us. Spice Girls is to Paul what water is to a rabid dog, so he bailed out after eight months of me geeing him along and instead, Paul II replaced him. There was no chance he wouldn’t do it – Spice Girls is to Paul II what water is to a chip pan fire, if I may torture that analogy for a second more. A hotel was secured, a train driver was cautioned that he would be dragging especially heavy cargo and I managed to accidentally leave work early by 28 minutes, so all was well. I say that, the plan was for me to come home, pick up my stuff and be straight out, but I got collared by one of the (very few) sweet neighbours on our street who asked me to nip her back passage and take a look at her abelia bush.
Frankly, it was the best offer I’d had all day and I needed practice at making the elderly happy, so off I went. She kept me there for thirty minutes despite my ‘must get on’ and ‘time goes by’ schtick but honestly, she was so lovely and a proper nana that I didn’t want to go. I did point out that it was nearly the weekend, love, but she didn’t pick up on it – I was wasting my time. I’ve been hankering for a substitute nana since mine was Endgamed and she could be the one. Although she didn’t have a television operating at Chernobyl-disaster levels of volume so I’m not sure. Once I managed to get away I quickly shaved my noggin and off I went.
The trip to the Stadium of Light was an ordeal and a half, not least because as someone with (albeit the faintest possible trace) Newcastle United running through my veins (thanks to my parents), it feels wrong. This was compounded by the Metro carriage being full of loud, shrieking Geordies wearing lip-readable skirts singing all the wrong words to every Spice Girls song they could imagine. Paul II is quick to anger and I could see the rage building in his yellow eyes and, as for me, I would have been glad of a tunnel so I could pop my head out of the window and shave away my ears at 60mph on the brickwork. It was a long journey, though livened up by Paul II’s surprise that the North East has a) fields and b) horses. Well aye: we always need somewhere to knock together a Catherine Cookson adaptation at a moment’s notice if Robson Green’s gas bill needs paying.
After a slow walk of life to the stadium (Paul II has weak knees, I have thick thighs) where we were accompanied by a lass telling us she had shaved her whisker biscuit for a Nelly concert, we found our seats. I’d picked spectacular seats for sure, even if they were high enough in the stands to require oxygen. Well, ticketmaster did – we were sat down above the entrance with an unobstructed view and even better, nothing in front of us bar a precipitous drop and a view of everyone’s dandruff as they wandered in. I was dispatched to find alcohol because once Paul II has sat down it’s a four man job to get him up again and I’m delighted to report that I politely asked them to move over and only managed to stand on eight feet on the way. I’m told she’ll walk again but her dancing career is fucked. That’ll be the last time, lover.
The concert was terrific, mind you. Absolutely mint. People had been making pointed comments at me for a couple of weeks about sound quality but come on, for four ladies in their seventies they did an absolutely cracking job. All the classics with a load of album tracks in the middle which I sang along to despite not knowing the words or the key. But when does that ever stop this boy with song in his heart? You have to sing if you can’t dance! I admit to my Emotional Response Unit faltering a shade when Viva Forever kicked in and everyone was singing. I may have got wet eyes, much like Paul II when Let Love lead The Way came on and everyone picked up Posh’s bits. I was schooled by Paul II who knows every single word to every single Spice Girls song and who also sang along, which must have been a treat for everyone around us to have two giant gay bears bellowing and screaming like cows in a Foot and Mouth fire.
Oh! Something kinda funny happened though – events were livened up still further by a fight breaking out a few rows behind us between a few lasses who all had the look of ladies who know where the best local dogfights are held. The video is worth a watch, if only to see the chunky mama in green fall down between the concrete of the row and the seats in front like the thick blue line in Tetris. She was escorted out by all manner of chaps in hi-vis (when they came sprinting up the stairs next to me I thought one of my wishes had come true and instinctively started pushing out) (though I wouldn’t be the first person to leave that stadium suckered to their chair like a Garfield toy on the window of a Vauxhall Zafira; the dancers were very handsome indeed) and that was that. Fancy fighting at a Spice Girls concert though. Listen, girls – who do you think you are? We’re all sore Posh was too busy clipping out her ingrown toenail to turn up, but keep your shit together – the lady is a vamp, remember, and she has David Beckham to enjoy.
Any sense of excitement and joy was immediately tempered by the queue for the Metro though. In an astonishing bit of not-like-me, I’d forgotten that 50,000 people would be trying to get home. Naturally, as we had taken our leisurely time leaving (stopping for a piss in the gents only to be confronted by what looked like the Saturday night divas from the bingo hall all sitting in the urinal) (thankfully, though only just, sitting not a typo) we were position number 49,890 in the queue. We contemplated trying to wave down the Spice Bus but it didn’t happen, so we pooled our resources and found the most expensive Uber trip ever back to town and told him to take me home. Traffic was bumper to bumper and I was bursting for a piss – I had tears in my eyes at the end that had nothing to do with the optimistic Magic Tree hanging on the dash. Taxi driver was a treat though – complimented my glittery bear shirt and everything. Right back at ya, driver!
Paul II also stayed for the day after and we filled it with food and escape rooms. I’m saying absolutely nowt about our performance in the second escape room because honestly, it’s not worth my life. Ah balls to it – I wanna be honest. We escaped with ten seconds to spare, and in our defence the very last action of the room involved an actual sprint to the exit. We were doomed from the start, not least when Paul II had to get down with me to retrieve all the balls I’d spilled on the floor. But we performed admirably, with absolutely no mistakes made.
And that was that! Spice Girls concert done with my mate and a great couple of days away from looking at a computer screen with bile in my eyes. When the Spice Girls come back for their eighty-seventh reunion tour, be sure to see them if you wanna have some fun. They’ll never give up on the good times, it wasn’t certainly wasn’t too much and there is no denying – they were so much better than I hoped!
To be honest, calling this a recipe is a bit cheeky - but you know sometimes you just want a quick dinner? This is one of those meals. Grill the chicken however you like it - add some spice, if you prefer, but I like it naked. This is meant to show you how quickly you can make something up!
4 wholemeal wraps (use your HEB)
2 chicken breasts
8 tbsp salsa (4 syns)
4 tbsp guacamole (6 syns)
180g reduced fat mozzarella (use your HEA)
chopped iceberg lettuce
This makes enough for four wraps, one each, 2.5 syns! But I appreciate it's hard to stop with wraps, so don't be surprised if two become one!
cook the chicken however you like - we grilled ours in an Optigrill
lay out the wraps and dollop 2 tbsp of salsa mix and guacamole onto each one and spread out (like you're topping a pizza)
sprinkle over the chopped lettuce and diced chicken and top with the grated mozzarella
Here for the sundried tomato, chicken and parmesan couscous? Something for the weekend, madam? Sir? Well regardless, it’s here, but continuing the theme of less blog posts but more quality writing, the next entry is a long one – feel free to scroll down to the food pictures if you’re short on attention / time / desire to read 2400 words about a camping trip.
It was my birthday last week (29, again, thanks – sure) and, confession time, I don’t handle getting older very well. Due to a mixture of being ill, a general lingering sense of disenchantment and work commitments, I took a strong and stable decision to postpone any celebrations until later in the month. I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday on Brexit Day, either. I think this is why Theresa delayed it.
This led to me trying to fill the void with all manners of tedious activities including clearing out the garage, which I’m totally doing because I want some extra space and not because I want to move the gloryhole into there as our knees are wearing a tread in the carpet. We’ll touch on that in another entry but all you need to know was that on one Saturday morning, we were to be found Sorting Out Shite in the garage. Well, I was, I’d sent Paul to try and find somewhere to store all of his nonsense / sentimental keepsakes.
Now, you must understand, for as much as I love camping, Paul loves the act of complaining about it even more: he’s got a bad back / legs / attitude and no amount of sleeping out in the wild will cut the mustard for him. Paul’s idea of roughing it is a hotel without a bidet to wash his knot with and full room service. He’s all fur coat and no knickers, that one, and has certainly changed from the days when his mum used to put Netto washing up liquid in his bath because they were too poor for Matey.
So, for years, every time I suggested we go camping, it would immediately be shot down or a ‘compromise’ offered where he stayed in a nearby hotel, appeared on command for cuddles (or to check there wasn’t another man in my tent) and then fuck off. Well, I wasn’t having that: either shit or get off the marriage, I say. Hence on this Saturday morning, tent in hand, I decided that I ought to take myself off into the wilds of Northumberland – alone mind you – to have a night to myself. It was a glorious sunny day, the sky was full of hope and my heart full of joy, so after a quick mince to Argos for the essentials (air-bed for two, sleeping bag for two, night-light you could flag a plane down with) and Morrisons for the even more essentials (twelve packets of crisps, bottle of gin, six cans of tonic and blue Rizlas) I was set to go.
However, in my search for a carrier bag for my snacks, I noticed our greenhouse was now overflowing with garage stuff, and that just couldn’t do: I spent the next two hours clearing that out until events came to a screeching (quite literally) halt with the appearance of a spider that I genuinely could have boxed with. I’m not too bad with spiders as long as I can see them but this was a big, mean looking bastard and it came hurtling from under the table I’d just sledgehammered with the look of a neighbour whose bin I had knocked over. To be honest, had I been bent over at the time, this could have been a #metoo moment. Paul, alerted by my more-screaming-than-usual, came out to see what the problem is, then went immediately back inside, smartly closing the door, and taking a position at the bedroom window to peek at me through the blinds as though fearful the spider itself could have crowbarred the door open.
I’d made such good progress at this point that, after my heart resumed its normal beat of 180BPM, I dashed back in and valiantly set about the area with a shovel like I was beating out an oil fire, cracking two floor tiles as I went – but I got the bastard. It was certainly the first time I’ve ever felt a spider fight back. You know in Infinity War when Scarlet Witch is using her powers to hold back Thanos? That was this spider. I do hope its children were watching – I left the carcass on the floor as a warning. That and I couldn’t lift the bugger because adrenaline had left me weak. That all wrapped up, I was in the car and heading for God Knows Where in no time, just as the heavens started to open with that indecisive rain where it’s wet enough to make your thighs chaff but not enough to warrant putting the windscreen wipers on. Of course.
After a good solid hour of yelling and shouting and foaming at the gash about being stuck behind weekend drivers (seriously: why do you have a car with a three litre engine if all you’re doing to do is drive it to your hospice appointment at a speed so low I’m surprised the reversing lights don’t come on – why? Who hurt you? Me, if you don’t get out of the friggin’ way, you lavender-haired shitemare), I pulled into Wooler. Found a charming little campsite only to be immediately and snootily told that oh no, chortle chortle, they don’t allow tents. Yes, I can see the concern – the last thing you want on a campsite is people camping, after all. I mean, where would all the aforementioned arseholes park their Range Rover Evoques? I gave a harrumph of disgust and spun on my heel as gracefully as a fat bloke in size 12 Dr Martens can manage, swishing my none hair at the same time. You know, it’s been over 15 years since I had long hair and if you look carefully, I still instinctively push my hair out of my eyes when I’m concentrating or arguing. Fun fact.
All was not lost, though – a little down the road I found somewhere quiet and flat to pitch my tent and, after Youtubing how the hell you put up a tent, set about it. You might expect that I’d struggle with such a task, but it was easy! I had two ropes to pull and up the tent popped, legs locking themselves and boom, done. The only tricky bit was forgetting to bring a hammer, but it’s OK – one of the advantages of being so burly is that most things bend underfoot and I had that tent secured in no time. Trickiest part was inflating the air bed – it was a manual pump (aren’t we all?) and boy did that take some doing. I was wrecked – in any other situation I’d have given up there and then but damn it, I won’t be beaten by a velour covered mattress with all the structural integrity of an old man’s scrotum. I huffed, puffed and almost blew my house down but by god after ten minutes that bed was as taut and firm as my coldness towards my husband.
All set up, I set about reading the book I’d brought along for all of thirty seconds before my feet start itching and so, I set off to explore a rural village in Northumberland in the hope of finding somewhere for a drink. Well now. It was a pretty village absolutely, and I’m a confident guy, but wearing rainbow sheen DMs paired with this understated t-shirt:
gave me a touch more pause than I usually have. The pubs didn’t look terrifically welcoming and perhaps not the place for a cheeky crème de menthe. I’m sure everyone was going to be very friendly but I’d forgotten my douching bulb and if we were going to go full Deliverance in Wooler, this wasn’t going to be the night. I mooched about, bought some petrol station sandwiches and somewhat disgustingly sober made my way back over the hill to my tent to set about enlightening myself. I noticed a caravan parked nearby but they left soon after, presumably after they realised they’d be kept awake by my snoring and farting.
I had the snazzy idea that if I needed emergency lighting I could use my car key fob to turn the headlights on and bathe my tent in bright light, however, the car was facing the wrong way. That’s fine – I got dressed (and you have no idea how difficult it is to put a pair of wet jeans on in a 5ft tent when you’re 6ft 1″) and nipped out. A quick reverse to turn the car around and we’d be good, only, in classic me fashion, I managed to reverse over two of the lines keeping the tent fastened and also a good third of my tent. Listen, it was dark and I didn’t have my glasses on, so don’t be a judgemental cow. Tell you what though, instead of snapping, those ropes held firm and the car did a smashing job ramming the tent pegs into the Earth. I hope there wasn’t a lassie sitting having a piss on a beach in New Zealand because she probably got the end of my tent-peg tickling her clopper. Aside from a tyre print across the side of the tent, all was well, and I congratulated myself on my ingenuity by sitting and flashing my lights off and on: – …. .-. — – – .-.. . / — . .-.-.- / -… .-. . . -.. / — . .-.-.- / .-.. . .- …- . / … -. .- -.-. -.- … .-.-.-
And so it was that the night passed along, me entertaining myself to the fullest degree I could. The idea of setting in a canvas coffin, your breath and farts condensing on the ceiling and dripping into your hair as you sleep, might not appeal to most, but it was worth it for one moment in the middle of the night: I stepped out for a piss and after marvelling at the fact I no longer had a penis because it had hidden away in my lungs for the night, I looked up – not a cloud in the sky and all the stars you could ever want. Somewhere out there, a star shines for me. There was no sound, no light nearby, and it was just magnificent: an absolute blanket of space and for all intents and purposes, not another soul around. I haven’t felt so perfectly alone in a long while and, far from it being awful, it was everything. Now admittedly, my giddiness could have been somewhat influenced by intoxicants, but I don’t care. I love the stars and I adored that moment. I do wonder if there was another couple watching the sight of an almost nude me staring transfixed at the sky for a good solid fifteen minutes and, if they were, I hope they enjoyed the sight of my bullet nipples and my milky-white bumcheeks positively coruscating in the moonlight.
Back inside, comfortably returned to the welcoming embrace of rustling sleeping bags and my own scent, I fell into sleep, and my night was done, save for an arresting gasp at about half five when I woke up disorientated and panicking due to shuffling so far into my sleeping bag that I thought someone cruel had buried me alive, I slept like a log. Honestly, I could have cheerfully stayed, but boo, work and someone needs to feed the cats. And oh aye, Paul. I nicked into a nearby toilet block for a shower and what a treat that was, mind – I’ve never felt fresher than I did soaping my balls under a shower I had to walk around in to get wet. Temperature? Glacial. Which made the next fifteen minutes of drip-drying all the sweeter, I can promise you – I’d forgotten to bring a towel and well let’s be frank, there’s a lot of flesh and hair to hold the water. I had to knock the icicles forming on my cock before I had a piss. After twenty minutes of dry-humping the airbed to try and get enough air out to enable me to fold it into a C3 and ten minutes of feeling sorry for myself for falling over in the mud whilst doing so, I was on my way. Stopped for a fried breakfast in somewhere artsy-fartsy and was pleasantly surprised that she didn’t judge me for not having muesli, then a quick drive back home (after the briefest of 200 mile diversions, you understand, to take in some familiar views) it was all over.
Camping, done. Definitely going to do it again. But enough about me, suppose we should do the recipe. Sundried tomato, chicken and parmesan couscous, here we go.
A handy lunch this, if you're stuck on stuff to eat during the day. Keeps well in the fridge and tastes better for being left. If you're feeling like an indulgent hussy, add yourself a small knob of butter when you add the couscous. Enjoy!
200g Ainsley Harriott sundried tomato and garlic cous cous (6 syns) (save syns by using plain couscous, but you know: taste)
6 handfuls of baby spinach, chopped up
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 chicken stock cube
2 tsp dried basil
½ tsp pepper
30g parmesan, grated (1x HeA)
chop the spinach finely
spray a large frying pan with a little oil over a medium heat
add the garlic and cook for one minute
add the chicken and cook it off until it's white
add spinach, basil and pepper to the pan
crumble over a stock cube and add 350ml water along with the couscous
mix everything together and bring to the boil
remove from the heat, cover the pan with a lid and stand for 5-10 minutes until the water is absorbed
sprinkle over the parmesan and serve
Make it more indulgent by adding 90g more of parmesan (3 x HEA!) and living the bloody dream. Stir it in!
As with all of our recipes, you can add anything you like into this. It would work well with roasted peppers, feta cheese, olives, sausages, packet of crisps or Trex.
The problem with recipes like sundried tomato chicken and parmesan couscous is that it’s super hard to make the photos look good – doesn’t help that it looks as though I’ve tipped a ped-egg over the top! But damn it, it tastes good and is worth giving it a go! Want more lunch ideas? Sure thing, sugartits:
Been away, haven’t we? Anyway shut up, nonsense to follow. If you’re here for the chicken soup for the soul, that’s fine, scroll down until you see Willem Dafoe’s cumface. Everyone else, sit back, push out and prepare yourself, because I’ve got a lot to say!
First, a cat update! We’ve been ringing the vets occasionally over the last two weeks to find out how the stray cat we tirelessly and selflessly passed over to another gay is getting on. Good news: they’ve cleaned up his eyes, wiped his bum and found him a new home where he’ll be fussed over and spoiled rotten. The cat’s also doing fine. I did have to affect a genuinely awful accent when I called the vets because I loosely know the woman on reception and couldn’t deal with a guilt trip about rehoming him. We would have – in a heartbeat – only our two cats would have killed him without blinking. They’re hard cats: I’ve seen Bowser fighting a dog before, and Sola sells passable quality gear from her radiator bed. We were reflecting over this and patting ourselves on the back for a job well done when Paul started up with his nonsense about getting a dog. I shut that right down because, although I bloody love dogs, it’s too much of a commitment. With cats you can go on holiday, say, to Canada for five weeks, and as long as you leave their water fountain on, a tin opener within reach and a slab of Whiskas, they’ll be reet. They don’t care. I could die in my sleep tonight and the only concern Sola would show is that she’d have no-one to show her dewy bumhole to first thing in the morning.
We had a proper together-for-twelve-years day out yesterday. We’re not quite at the stage where that involves going to the garden centre and fingering the heathers whilst wishing for each other’s death, thank heavens – besides Paul won’t let me go to the garden centre because it’s right next door to a notorious gay cruising ground and frankly if you’re going to add getting seagulled into your day, you’re better off setting aside a couple of hours. So no, we went to Durham for no other reason than I wanted to go to the fancy tobacconist there and Paul wanted to ogle a bear we know. His was the better suggestion because he was fine (he had every episode of Juliet Bravo on tape!) and the tobacconist had nothing I needed and an unhelpful attitude. Paul, fan of a creaking apophthegm, told me that we’d come all that way for nothing and I could put that in my pipe and smoke it. How we laughed as I practised filling out a form D8 on his back with a rusty compass. We had a couple of drinks in a pub that gave me 60p change from a tenner for two pints and therefore made an enemy for life, then wobbled our way into a Wetherspoons.
Mentioned where we were to a good friend (introducing Paul II) who immediately sent us drinks via the app: I say drinks – he got me a double chambord (excellent choice, because I love insulin chasers) and Paul a glass of milk and a smoothie (he was driving, and Paul II is nothing if not a keen observer of the laws of the land) with some biscuits and crisps. Paul II tried to have Paul I’s milk delivered in a saucer for catty reasons but sadly, Wetherspoons weren’t playing ball.
Let me tell you: Brewdog Punk IPA combined with chambord and banana smoothie is a struggle to keep down, even for me. That app is cracking for mischief and I very much look forward to throwing it open to a group of 80,000 in due course. My liver has already taken a kicking – it’ll look like a pickled walnut by the end. Wandered back to the car, popping out little Chewit-scented burps and chewed-it-scented farts all the way – happened across an argument between a couple across the road. Spent ten minutes ‘tying my shoelaces’ so we could earwig from afar and it was a gloriously tawdry tale of cheating, shouting, adding ‘man’ onto every other word ‘Darren man for fucks man it meant nowt man’ and crying. We had to stop gawping when she clocked me trying to get a surreptitious recording of her grief: I don’t fancy breathing my last in a mist of Exclamation and spittle.
Went for a late dinner in Newcastle and I made the fatal error of saying to Paul he could pick anywhere he fancied. He fancied Chiquitos. I mean Christ, Newcastle has some proper exciting places to eat and he chose the last-resort restaurant of a regional airport. I had forgettable nachos and a beef burrito that celebrated Christmas in 2017. Paul had some jalapeño poppers and a chicken quesadilla that tasted like sandwich spread folded into one of those trays cheap pizza comes on. I ordered myself a honey and rhubarb margarita which tasted like a Strepsil and Paul’s cuba libre was adorned with a piece of palm and three fruit flies. We aren’t ones for complaining because we’re not devoid of all joy but didn’t fancy the desserts, so paid via the wee app thingy so we didn’t have to tip and made a dash for the escape room we were booked in for.
We’re all about escape rooms at the minute and reckon this was probably our 60th room – we’re still terrible at them, but always escape amidst much yelling and fretting. You know who I feel sorry for? The operators watching us on CCTV – we’re competent enough to crack on ourselves but they’re treated to all manner of sinister sights, including my arse-crack pushed up against the CCTV whilst I clit about trying to find clues. You’ve never lived until you’ve seen a 34″ waist pair of Calvin Klein knickers stretched over a 38″ waist. The name band looks like Japanese. Paul is no better – because he has absolutely no arse at all his trousers spend all their time jostling around his knees, meaning his cock and balls tumbling around in his Tesco boxers appear with frightening regularity. We finished the room with nine whole minutes to go and that’s after spending ten minutes furiously arguing over a combination lock, which, for the record, I was absolutely right about. The argument ended when I used my foot to tip him over as he bent to pick up the lock, leaving him rolling on the floor like the gluttonous turtle he is. We celebrated by having our photo taken and then immediately deleted because we look like two hot-water storage tanks, and then, after a brief stop to add more shit to the bottom of my shoes by visiting a Hungry Horse pub for a Stella, we were off to the cinema.
And how’s this for bliss: a cinema to ourselves. I spend all my time whingeing at Paul to come along to see superhero movies and he always says no, because the spinning fights make him queasy and they’re all the same. Please. Yet, in a rare moment of complaisance he readily agreed to come along and see Aquaman yesterday – I can’t imagine why a JASON MOMOA led movie would catch his interest but he certainly seemed more keen than joining me for Spiderman, for example. Actually, Spiderman 3 remains a sticking point in our Paris-car-crash marriage: our first date* involved us seeing that at some pokey Portsmouth cinema. Paul enjoyed it at the time – though it was probably just because he was sat next to the fragrant beau-ideal that is I – but even since has hurled it back in my face as ‘me suggesting bad movies’ whenever I point out my flawless record for choosing films. That’s how I knew we were a couple for life, you know: he shared all of his Revels with me, and not just the shitty raisin ones. Something I forgot yesterday when I almost snapped his fingers as he tried to reach into my £8.96 bag of pick-and-mix to steal a cola-cube: you can fuck right off, mate, you chose ice cream and picked shit flavours so I wouldn’t want to try any. I’m as wise to his games as he thinks he is to mine.
*I’m going to call that our first date, because me noshing him off behind the Spinnaker seems less romantic (he’s the one night stand that never went away!)
Aquaman was absolutely class though. Proper popcorn movie: brilliant action scenes, Patrick Wilson chewing the scenery like me with a vegan sausage roll and a villain who looks like a giant cock blowing things up. Highlights: Australia’s nana Nicole Kidman in a full-on action scene braying the shit out of water meanies. Jason Momoa ensuring I’ll be seeing those eyes whenever I shut my eyes during a “quiet moment of reflection” (I suppose I fell in love with him – like you do!). Fucking Pitbull sampling Rains of Africa during the bit in the movie when they go to Africa. Willem Dafoe in a good-guy role for once instead of being the last-minute turncoat like he always is (Willem Dafriend?) although I argue he’s never acted better than when he was knocking Sandra Bullock about in Speed 2:
Scary how much he looks like Paul’s mother when she finds an unopened 20-deck of unfiltered Rothmans in her boob creases, there. Anyway, final added bonus of the night? Empty cinema means time for shenanigans and I gave Paul a ‘thanks-for-coming’ handjob during the quiet bit in the middle. He seemed pleased (I was just a shag – I knew that!) and we agreed to meet again for the sequel. Came home, and so to bed.
And that’s that! Suppose we’re a recipe blog and I should bang out this chicken soup recipe, eh? Now look here: you can’t make a chicken soup look attractive in photos, you can’t. So don’t judge.
Oh and if you don’t have an Instant Pot, don’t shit the bed: you can make it in a pan too. Pleb.
Yes that's right, just a bog-standard no frills instant pot chicken soup recipe, or use a pan if you're still mastering the basics. We'll cover both. This might look like a bowl of arse but damn it if it doesn't taste good!
This recipe comes from A Saucy Kitchen, and we've adapted it for SW. Take a look at her site though, there's all sorts of tasty shizz on there!
two large stalks of celery
three carrots of indecent size, sliced
one giant onion, sliced and diced
two big handfuls of mushrooms, sliced
two cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp of rosemary
1 cup of wild rice (we buy ours in Tesco) (but feel free to use white rice)
3 big chicken breasts
1200ml of good quality chicken stock (low sodium is better so you're not clutching your arm in fright later)
Now honestly, you can add anything into this soup veg wise - don't be frightened
press the sauté button, wait for it to heat up and then add a few sprays of olive oil - or if you're sensible, like us, a good glug, and don't count the syns because oil is good for you - add the onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms and cook for three minutes until they're softened
add the garlic and rosemary and cook for another minute
add the chicken breasts (whole), stock and rice
seal the Instant Pot, cook on high pressure for five minutes (select Manual and then five minutes) and go pick your bum whilst it does its thing
let it depressurise unless you fancy putting a new parting in your hair with the roof tiles from your house
lift out the chicken and shred it on a chopping board and tip it all back in
let it sit for a few minutes to thicken nicely and then eat!