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

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. 


  1. Tuna melts are quite ubiquitous in the US. Try adding BBQ sauce instead of ketchup!

  2. For one hideous moment I thought these would be savoury American muffins. I'm so glad they're not.

    I loved this post. Xx

  3. Not sure I have ever preordered anything! But have broken the habit of a lifetime for the bad mother. Pathetically excited. Also tried this recipe today but improv'd (as in ad libbed not made better) with tortillas instead of muffins due to lack of ingredients. So like a very unsophisticated quesadilla. Very nice! The 5 yr old approved. The 3 yr old rejected. I ate an obscene amount of leftovers. Overall success x

  4. My four year old boy wanders around with hand near-permanently attached to the front of his trousers. We now sing "Let it Go" to him constantly as a reminder that it really isn't appropriate. Good luck for when Sam gets older.

  5. Esther, I frequently wish you were my friend. It would have made my maternity leave a lot more fun.
    Tuna melts look good but am also going to do rice and butter for my 2. Can't believe I hadn't thought of that before. Genius.

    1. What do you mean, I AM your friend. Rice and butter - vg... don't forget a splash of light soy sauce for that extra bit of umami xx

  6. Esther, you write so well, and with so much humour. Thanks for brightening up my day! x

  7. Elizabeth Medovnik16 January 2015 at 00:17

    I've had a theory for a long time that everyone feels like they themselves are actually quite weird but we are all pretending to be normal to fit in with everyone else's pretended normality. It's a nice feeling to be able to be yourself in a relationship and be accepted warts and all (not implying that you have warts of any kind, obviously!), and I'm happy that you have that with Giles.

    Also...be careful what you wish for. Mimi is obsessed with Frozen and insists that we act out scenes from it several times a day in full-on nasal American accent glory, correcting us when we get the lines wrong. And she always wants me to do her hair in plaits like Anna (she calls them plaps or plapts, which is rather sweet) and that's hard to do with her curly hair. It is a great film and the songs are fantastic, although I still find 'Do You Wanna Build A Snowman' quite traumatic. Mimi just says cheerfully "Ahhh, Mummy and Daddy die" when the boat sinks, while I'm sobbing about the girls being separated and lonely and with no loving aunt and uncle to move in to act as guardians, preferably with some nice cousins. And are they getting any sort of education? Anyway, it's no bad thing if Kitty isn't interested in films about princesses, IMO xx

  8. Just finished your book and I love it. Congrats! Fave chapters: Help, Two, Three? & Temper.

    Keep writing xxxx I was laughing and nodding all the way through.

    Veronica x

  9. Not a comment about the above, but just read your new book. Really enjoyed it but found I had to skim the chapter about 'two' - as someone who only has one for reasons which are too boring and personal to go into, it made me sad reading that bit.

    Waiting for the next one now.....

  10. Am off to buy the book now, had totally forgotten about it until this evening. Weeeeee!!

  11. "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)."

    I can so relate to this, especially the acute relief, which is even more acute for being so unexpected - I thought I'd miss the group I broke up with, but actually better people have come along to fill the gap and I'm not really cut out for gangs anyway. Friendships are excruciating to end - but sometimes you just have to. Those 'friends' who thought you were 'weird' were without a doubt just jealous. Which isn't your problem.

    1. Bless you so much for this - but jealous? Non. They really did think I was weird and I don't blame them. Like you, though, so many excellent and similarly weird people have come along to fill the gaps. It didn't happen immediately, I was in a bit of a wilderness for along time - but like you I'm sure, I consider them worth the wait. Thanks for taking the time to write x

  12. My 'best' friend and I parted ways over Christmas. She was up in Yorkshire from London and came up with varying crap excuses to not come and see me so although there was no 'official ending', she made it clear that she just didn't want to be friends any more. It really hurts that she did it but what f**ks me off even more is that she was one of my bridesmaids and my oldest son's Godmother. That really really hacks me off because she's in all our bloody important pictures and I have to keep seeing her face every time I look at them!

    Anyway! Around the same time, a different friend put me on to your blog and it's so good. Your writing is fab and it is like reading my own writing, if I were a better writer and could get my thoughts out of my head and on to paper, or blog I suppose as I don't write on actual paper! You really make me laugh and now I know that there's a book, I'm going to have to go and get it!! Glad to know I'm not the only person that is not quite mainstream! I think we are the best kind of people!! Xx

  13. I just can't believe that someone would be so unbelievably cruel to tell you that her friends thought you were weird but she was friend's with you anyway! WTF! Although a boyfriend once said that to me but swap weird for fat. We didn't last too much longer....

    There must be a little part of you that thinks, "well fuck you for thinking I'm too weird to be friends with. 1000 random people think I'm funny, so in yo FACE bitches!". No?

  14. Your book's not priced in the Amazon shop! What to do????!!!

  15. Nice one... one more thing I wanted to add is chopped garlic. :)