Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Tuna melt muffins (for Claudia)

Doesn't look much here but STAGGERINGLY tasty

I am always a bit shaken up by Christmas and New Year. It's something to do with the weight of expectation vs the result, which is worse times a million when you have little kids. When you are childless you can just laze about watching Christmas specials, which will make you feel Christmassy as hell, but as a parent of very little kids, it's not so simple. They still don't really get it - and you're still changing an awful lot of nappies, which at times can get in the way of conjuring up that Christmas feeling.

My main issue was the fact that I ought to have been lazing about watching Frozen. But Kitty is the only four year old IN THE WORLD who doesn't want to watch Frozen on repeat. I just adore Frozen. Adore it. I'd marry that reindeer in a heartbeat. And everyone loves Let It Go, surely?! (Except some hardcore refusniks who get upset about Elsa's sexy new ice dress.) I know, I know. I am a lamentable cliche.

I watched the other day Idina Menzel singing Let It Go on some Christmas special country channel on YouTube and she was nattering on about how the song is about having a special power and then letting everyone see that special power and I was like "Whut? No, Idina, Let It Go is about being weird." The ice shooting from the fingertips thing is a metaphor for freakishness. We're not mutants! You're not living an instalment of the X-Men franchise!!

I don't flatter myself into thinking that I'm such a bloody weirdo, so unique and special. I'm probably just a drudgy pedestrian normalton. But, still, everyone has probably felt pressure at some point, or even now, to be a thing that they are not. Or to construct some kind of socially-acceptable patina. And the fact is that at the long drawn-out end to a "best" friendship a few years ago, I got an email from her telling me that her friends all thought that I was "weird" (but she was friends with me anyway - why wasn't I more grateful?).

I was a bit shocked at the candour of the statement, but it's not like I didn't vaguely know. It wasn't a surprise, it was a bit like unexpectedly catching sight of yourself in a mirror - you feel a bit taken aback, but not terminally so. Though that's not to say that it didn't hurt my feelings. So although I don't think I'm some kind of magical being, I suppose it has been objectively observed that I'm not quite mainstream.

Let It Go makes me recall the acute relief of not having to be in that friendship any more, not having to present myself to those friends despite knowing, somewhere in the back of my mind that they said baffled things about me behind my back about what I said and did (if they deigned to discuss me at all).

Let It Go also makes me recall the relief of not being at university anymore, where everyone was so nice. Currency was niceness. Everyone was so lovely. Except me. And although I quickly after my first year tried to be nice all the time rather than horrible and snippy and mean the damage was done. My reputation as a Not Nice person was pretty much sealed. I spent the next two years trying to be nice all the time and it felt like constantly wearing clothes that were ever so slightly the wrong shape. After I left I could relax into my actual self, not a horrible person trying to be nice all the time, or a genuinely nice person, but something in-between.

Let It Go makes me recall the relief of getting married to someone who has never wanted me to change a thing about myself, the way I dress or what I say or the way I do my hair. He doesn't make me go out when I don't feel like it or see people I hate, or have a lot of dinner parties. He doesn't want me to go bloody ski-ing. He rants and raves about how bad I am at paperwork, how sloppy and lazy I am at my tax and at invoicing for work - but that's a genuine practical issue, he's not trying to get me to change myself in a way that others have.

More prosaically, Let It Go makes me recall the relief of taking off a pair of uncomfortable high heels after a party, or taking off a tight party dress, or of the feeling I get after I've dropped Kitty off at nursery after both children have behaved like complete monsters all morning, or of jumping into a swimming pool in a hot place having not been on holiday for an entire calendar year. It's just a great song, is what I'm saying and I wish Kitty would watch the fucking film.

Anyway, look, this is a perfectly mad thing to blog about, but I need you to know about these tuna muffins. I made them a few months ago for Sam's lunch, because toddler lunches are a bit of a pain - one doesn't want to do loads of cooking, but he's not really old enough for a sandwich yet - so I turned to Annabel Karmel for ideas and found these.

Sam wasn't really that bothered by them - he sort of ate them but was also happy with a bit of rice and butter and some carrot sticks.

I, however, fell on them like a starving wolf. They were the closest thing I have ever made in my kitchen to a McDonald's cheeseburger in terms of tang and moreishness. I have them for my lunch at least once a week. It's pretty much the one day a week I do actually eat lunch as there's this sort of shimmery dress with a kind of cloak thing I bought online that I'm hoping to squeeze into by next Christmas.

Annbel Karmel's tuna melt muffins
Serves 1

1 english muffin
1 tin tuna, the smallest tin you can find in the shop
1 handful finely grated cheddar
1/4 small spring onion, chopped
1 tablespoon sweetcorn - defrosted frozen is fine
3 heaped tsp ketchup
1 tbsp mayonnaise
pepper

1 Cut the muffin in half and lightly toast under the grill. I said lightly.

2 Mix together the tuna, mayo, ketchup, spring onion, sweetcorn and about 3 turns of the pepper grinder then spread it on the inner face of the muffin. Top with cheese and put under the grill until the cheese is bubbling and the edges of the muffin are dark brown

3 Eat, while sending plates and chairs and pot plants spinning around the kitchen using your special powers. No singing allowed.