In Scotland, you live a little bit like bears, all year round. In the winter, you hibernate (because it gets dark at 3pm), and in the summer, you stay up and bask in the sunshine all day (because it stays light until 11pm and gets light again by 3:30am). And so every winter, we (along with everyone else in this country) find ourselves eating dinner at 5:45pm, the minute we get home from work, because our bodies assume it must be at least 9pm, based on how long it's been dark. And in the summer, we routinely find ourselves awake (and convinced we've slept til noon) at 5am, and not eating dinner until we notice our stomachs growling and realise, with surprise, that it is, in fact, 10:45pm.
This is exactly what happened to us last week when I made this meal.
It was a normal Thursday night, we were hanging out doing Thursday night stuff, when suddenly I realised that it was 10pm and, though still light, far beyond a reasonable dinner hour. So I did what any self-respecting American living in Britain would do and got a box of 'Macaroni Cheese' out of the pantry. Over here, there is (bewilderingly) no 'and' in the title-- and while I am the first to admit when Scottish phrases surpass American ones in cuteness (wee), awesomeness (higgledy-piggledy), or weirdness (peely-wally), I think that in the case of macaroni, the 'and' is merited. Without it, I get nervous that it's the noodles that are cheese-flavoured, not the sauce, and that would just be terrible.
Also, Kraft and Velveeta aren't available in Scotland (which is why, when I spent a month in Miami in January, I ate macaroni and cheese approximately three times a week)-- there's just one terrible generic brand that comes with powder cheese that's not very cheesy so if you make it yourself you have to add real cheese in order to make it taste anything besides just yellow. The package, however, is tartan, so at least there's that. But the fact remains: it's a little embarrassing how I keep thinking that the weirdest-sounding recipes in the box will be absolutely disgusting, and then, inevitably, Judson and I end up happily munching away on our dinner... and this latest one is no exception. Neither of us are picky (we're both quite the opposite), and while we've definitely found recipes we wouldn't make again (looking at you, chicken-flavoured-chicken), there haven't really been any that we couldn't at least muddle our way through. (Judson's good humour in this regard is probably a giant reason that this blog still exists, as he's been stuck eating an awful lot of dishes we never would have otherwise tried since I started this project.) I thought for sure this recipe would change our near-perfect track record, though-- its core ingredient, after all, being a box of macaroni and cheese-- but I'll be damned if this wasn't a perfectly fine late-night meal on a cool summer night when we could hear a storm blowing in as we cooked.
Eleanor, who cut corners on dinners but never desserts, would be proud, I think, by our ability to make do with only the barest of pantry essentials on this recipe-- you're almost sure to have everything needed for this recipe already in your pantry, and whatever you're missing is, of course, completely omittable (except for the mac n' cheese, which is kind of the backbone of this recipe-- for better or worse). This is the kind of meal I imagine Eleanor making for her kids after a long day of work at the middle school where she made her career, and while it may not be healthy, it's got a vegetable, a protein, and a starch in it and sometimes, that kind of stodge is all you can ask for.
3 spoons out of five. I'd be embarrassed to give it a higher rating, but I'd also be lying if I said I wasn't excited to eat the leftovers on the night after we made this. It's not a glamorous recipe, and it's definitely not one to make on a date, but I'm almost thirty now and so I worry very little about impressing anyone anymore, and, for an almost-thirty-year-old with a cooking blog who still sometimes forgets to eat dinner, this meal will do the job.
Cheesy Tuna Macaroni
Prepare macaroni and cheese as directed.
While water is boiling, saute green pepper in olive oil until cooked but still crisp.
Add green pepper and tuna to prepared macaroni and cheese, mixing well over low heat.
Serve into bowls and top with sliced egg.
Makes 4 servings, perfect for a petite dinner with a wee salad on the side.
1 box macaroni and cheese
1 green pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil*
2 cans tuna
2 eggs, hard-boiled and sliced
*The original recipe called for margarine. I changed it. You're welcome.