As well as work, I am trapped by the twin rock of grief and anxiety. Grief for my mum, whose loss lingers in every lit up window, in every Christmas card, in every present wrapped. Grief in every present I would have bought her. Grief in everything I want to phone and ask her ("Mum, are you sure this bloody pudding needs three hours steaming??"). Grief in everything I want to share with her, every nativity and every funny thing Alex (experiencing his third Christmas, but his first as a properly aware person) comes out with.
And anxiety, because having a stupid fucking anxiety disorder which has MOSTLY gone away since The Worst Thing That Could Happen Happened And I Survived, rears its hideous and unwanted head at Christmas. "What if you all DIE ON CHRISTMAS EVE?" it whispers into my ear. "DID YOU LEAVE THE OVEN ON? WILL THE HOUSE BURN DOWN? I BET IT WILL". "YOU'LL VOMIT ALL OVER YOURSELF AND THE CHRISTMAS DINNER AND THE CHILDREN WILL HOWL AND YOU WILL REMEMBER THIS AS THE CHRISTMAS OF PUKE". I know it's irrational. It doesn't make it any easier to bear. My festive anxiety is not a new thing. As a seven(ish) year old, my parents had to take me to the emergency doctors on Christmas Eve because I was in such excruciating pain. It was just excitement. I used to puke every single Christmas Eve. The last time was when I was about 22. It's quite irrational. Thankfully, my endometriosis painkiller is also an anxiolytic, so at a push, I can eat them until I fall into a passive coma (*don't try this at home, kids*).
But this is all by the by. I came to give you a brilliant recipe for your leftover turkey, because I have always been revolted by the very fucking idea of cold turkey with a plate of bubble and squeak (sorry Dad). On Boxing Day, we don't have the older two boys, so I tend to breakfast on prosecco and REALLY EXPENSIVE bacon sandwiches like a luxuriant slattern. But you can't actually live on prosecco and bacon (and cheese) for the entire festive period (I KNOW, SO UNFAIR).
This is an adapted form of the Vietnamese sandwich, Banh Mi, which I have bastardised from a recipe by Niki Segnit in the fabulous The Flavour Thesaurus. If you're carnivorous, you can probably assemble this sandwich from what you have on hand. And it is WORTH getting rice wine vinegar in just to make it, believe me. It needs a little work in advance, but not like Christmas dinner levels, and it's bright and refreshing in a sea of fat and carbs and fat.
Sorry, no veggie/vegan alternative, but the pickled veg is bloody lovely in most things or indeed, on its own.
You Will Need For About Four Sandwiches:
For The Pickle
A peeled carrot
An unpeeled cucumber
Rice wine vinegar
Pâté - chicken liver for preference, but it's Christmas so whatever you've got. Nothing too spicy or herby though.
Mayonnaise - Helmans is fine
Fish sauce (aka nam pla)
Leftover turkey shredded into strips
Four short baguettes cut not-quite-in-half lengthways
Fresh coriander, but it's not essential
This is a recipe of two halves, so you need to plan it a tiny bit.
First, pickle your veg, Cut your cucumber and carrot into matchstick pieces. I am crap at cutting them this fine, but you want them fairly thin because nobody wants to bite down on a fucking enormous piece of carrot in their sandwich. Take the seeds out of the cucumber as you chop it up, or the resulting pickle will be a wet seedy mess. Once they are cut, cover them in salt and leave them for ten to twenty minutes. I do this with them on a piece of kitchen roll in a colander in the sink, because the salt draws the moisture out and then it drains straight out into the plughole rather than sitting about, sludgily. When you think they've had long enough, rinse them, dry them and then put them in a bowl. Mix about four tablespoons of rice wine vinegar with a tablespoon of sugar and then pour if over the veg. Leave it in the fridge to marinate until you want it. I tend to do this in the morning if I'm eating in the evening but you can really do it any time in the 24 hours before you want to eat. This sounds a faff. It is not.
And so to assembly. Drain the veg. Mix some mayonnaise with a dash of fish sauce and a dash of soy sauce - you don't want to make the mayo too runny. Then spread one cut side of the baguette with mayo. Spread the other side with pâté. Warm it through in the oven. Then stuff the baguette with drained veg and shredded turkey. Add fresh coriander.
EAT, GORGE, CONSUME! MAKE MERRY!
At this rate, my first book will be Soph's Big Book Of Fucking Amazing Sandwiches.
Merry Christmas xxx