Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Egg and potato pie

We have got a mouse.

I say that like this is a new thing. We've actually had a mouse for ages. And when I say mouse, I dearly hope I do mean mouse, singular, not mice, plural. It's hard to tell, mice look similar. And if there are two mice living in this house, it's highly likely they are related and therefore even more indistinguishable.

The reason I mention it only now is that up until a fortnight ago, only other people had ever seen this mouse and I, of course, dismissed the sightings as fanciful imaginings of hysterical people.

"Okay," I would say, "if there's a mouse, where's the mouse poo?" But then one evening when my husband was watching football, I was sitting right here at the kitchen table, writing, and out from under the oven came a small, sleek mouse with a twitchy nose, beady eyes and very large ears.

It was indescribably cute.

Then it saw me and disappeared like lightning, leaving, in terror, a trail of poo behind it.

I didn't say anything to my husband, because my husband thinks we should get Rentokil in and I do not want this. I do not want to set glue traps or lay down some sort of ghastly poison that causes the mice to die slowly from internal bleeding. Neither do I want to get a cat. I like cats, but there are too many cats already on our street already and they kill all the birds. I have never been ok with death. I don't like it and I don't want it around me. I certainly don't want to be party to it.

I have purchased, online from somehere that calls itself "Tooled-Up" a humane mousetrap but when I catch and release this mouse on to Hampstead Heath I fully expect another one to replace it.

Anyway, aren't mice inevitable? These old London houses with their mouse-sized gaps everywhere and rubbish aplenty - surely every building, except hermetically-sealed new builds, has got a mouse somewhere. Rather than issue a mouse holocaust, we should all just try to get along.

(Incidentally, my sister in law told me that she heard on the radio that there is an influx of mice at the moment because it has been so rainy - the mice flee the flooding sewers and take shelter under, for example, ovens in North London. She has the same attitude to mice as me: live and let live.)

Anyway I know why we have got a mouse. It's because of Kitty. Or rather, it's because of me. It's because I allow her to roam freely round the ground floor carrying a variety of brittle foodstuffs, which rain little mouse-snack-sized crumbs hither and thither, which, later on, the mouse posts into its gob with both hands. I have seen it with my own eyes, while sitting on the sofa watching Breaking Bad and eating Green&Blacks.

The only thing to do is vacuum the entire ground floor every night before bed. I do not wish to starve the mouse, you understand - merely think that it might have better luck elsewhere until the sewers dry out and it can return to its natural habitat.

Speaking of natural habitats, mine is carbohydrate-based. I have been dieting like mad recently because I am still so traumatised by being fat while pregnant (yes, after 17 months. That's how fat I was). But recently, I have fallen off the starvation waggon and have been scoffing like my little mouse friend. It's partly because I am trying to have another baby and think maybe if I've got a bit more meat on my bones it might help.

Incidentally, I know what you're thinking: you're thinking - why are you trying to have another baby when all you do is complain on and on about how awful having children is? And my answer is this: Kitty needs a little buddy. If she didn't need a little buddy I wouldn't do it. No way. The thought of doing it all again makes me feel quite ill but at least I only have to do it once more. Then I can wash my hands of the whole sorry business and concentrate on dieting until I'm so thin a stiff breeze would blow me over.

But until then, here is a terrific recipe for egg and potato pie that my husband makes when we're feeling skinny and virtuous enough to risk letting such things pass our lips.

Giles's egg and potato pie
for 4

3 large floury potatoes
4 eggs
butter - about 100g
salt and pepper

1 Peel and boil the potatoes whole for 15 minutes but stop boiling if they look like they're falling apart, as floury potatoes are so wont to do. Boil the eggs for 7 minutes, cool and peel.

2 Slice the potatoes and the eggs. This is a reasonably fiddly job - especially with the eggs. If you have a purpose-made egg slicer, this is the time to extract it from the back of that drawer, wipe the grease off and deploy it.

3 Butter the bottom of a baking dish, then cover with a layer of potatoes. Dot with butter and season. Then add a layer of sliced egg. Repeat this until you have used up all your egg and potato.

DO NOT fret if this all looks a bit of a mess, it is an imprecise dish and will taste terrific no matter how it looks.

4 Put in the oven for 45 mins at 180


  1. Kitty can have the mouse as her buddy. Two problems solved. Solutions orientated, that's me.

  2. I think Rentokil only really need to be called when Mr Mouse turns into Mr Rat and his very large family. Or perhaps when the mouse gets clever and starts being able to open your fridge....but for now, a little furry helper (well he does clean your floor or rusks) around the house cant be a bad thing.

    Good luck and godspeed on the conceiving front.

  3. We have mice. They play with a marble in the ceiling above where my desk is. I can hear them - they roll the marble, scuttle scuttle scuttle, then they roll it back. Cute. I don't tell the Husband because he'd be there with a manic look in his eye and the super glue - a bit like a cross between Rentokil and something out of a Roald Dahl story.

    Like the look of your pie.

  4. ANOTHER BABY! Amazing. xxx

  5. We had a mouse. Then we asked someone who knows about these things to have a snoop about - cue much pulling back of skirting boards etc - and he announced that we had a whole performing circus of mice. SO we got a nice humane sort of rentokill person, who put chilli oil all over the place where the circus liked to perform (they don't like chilli oil so stay outside - apparently) and plugged up the holes (amazed in fact we didn't have cats and dogs wandering through), and - ta da - no more squeeky visits. Mind you, it hasn't stopped the ants.

  6. Could you put cheese on the top of it? Or would that be weird with the egg...

  7. David Mitchell had a mouse and talked about it here:

    I found it funny :)

  8. Damn it, I just know I am going to have to add grated cheese to the top of that dish!

  9. Erghh mice.. I had one and was a total girl about it, only managed not to scream my head off because the baby was asleep in the room next door. I have a mouse man who puts some humane stuff that basically makes them go elsewhere, if you're interested? It has worked for us - and I have no qualms about killing mice, I just chose this option because it's safer to use this around babies than poison, and more effective.

  10. I like the idea of a humane mouse trap. When I was a kid, my mom set mouse traps and I heard one go off. Unfortunately, it didn't kill him and he flopped around in pain for hours. I was too much of a chicken to look.

    A few years ago, I had a mouse. I had read that they can collapse their cartilage and squeeze through the tiniest holes to gain entry. I found a a hole the size of a dime in the baseboard and plugged it up with putty. Never saw mousy again.

  11. We had mice and I refused to let Joe kill them... I got the humane trap and declared them my friends. Then kept being woken up in the middle of the night by what sounded like t-rex's tip-toeing round the kitchen. It was a rat... Let Joe get a neck snapper and kill it and felt guilty for ages. Now have a dog called Mouse and the rodents don't want to be my friends anymore,

  12. Lots of people have been mentioning Breaking Bad recently. Is it good? Or just good-enough as something to put in front of your eyes when you want to turn your brain off?

  13. Good luck with the next baby. Yay!

  14. Mice? Nothing. Here we worry about spiders who migrate to higher ground to avoid the floods.


    And we don't have any cute ones. Hideous isn't it?

  15. How timely. Apparently we have a rat. Not in the house thank god (oh god, I hope its not in the house. I feel the need to clean EVERYTHING right now just as the thought) but in our gigantic shed. I have no problem with poisoning them, as long as it doesn't also poison my dog or die where I can see it. I also do not want to touch its body. I just want it gone gone gone.

  16. ah ha! my own domestic mystery solved. Twin #1 claims to have seen our long-disappeared hamster scurrying across the kitchen floor - must be same (or related) mouse (we are also in North London) fleeing from the floods. And in other news this week there are bees swarming in Covent Garden and I saw a huge rat on Hampstead High Street right under the nose of a minature schnautzer in a bandana which was doing its best to ignore it. The wildlife is becoming far too brazen..

  17. It's been almost two years to the day since I last commented here and you kindly gave me some sushi-making advice. Since then I've moved back to Melbourne (so I can buy sushi whenever I like) and also had a baby (which kind of curtailed the sushi-buying for nine months or so). Just wanted to say: where you said "I know what you're thinking", that was EXACTLY what I was thinking ...

  18. That pie is perfect for my pregnant, egg and carb craving self.

    I think mice are incredibly cute, but if they get into your food cupboards do throw everything away, because mice are incontinent and dribble urine as they walk. So for every poo you see, there is an ocean of pee.

  19. I am not keen on mice but as for egg & potato pie......yes please. Can I add some bacon for good measure?!

  20. Elizabeth Medovnik28 June 2012 at 00:38

    Mice may be cute but I think they can cause fires by chewing through your cables, plus they leave a trail of wee wherever they go. Good luck with trying for a baby - my daughter is a few days younger than Kitty but I don't feel quite ready yet!

  21. Your second baby will be a joy. Think of all the stuff you know that you will not need to learn again. I say this to avoid thinking about the mouse.....

  22. In answer to your questions about adding cheese to the top of this pie and bacon with in, I would say no. This is an egg and potato pie and the purpose is to savour the simple flavours of those two things. Bacon and cheese are too overpowering.

    Or just do whatever the fuck you like tbh.

  23. They ARE cute and I know this because I have had to rescue improbably large amounts of them from the jaws of my murderous bastard cats. The last one we named Sadie Mouse, she survived for a whole 24 hours before sucumbing to her wounds. I am getting soft in my old age as I used to watch my father dispatch of them with a spade (Irish farmer type) and not even bat an eyelid. At least when the dog disposes of the odd wild rabbit she does it in a perfunctory manner, none of that flinging it about in the air and smearing rodent kidney across the patio.
    The trail of urine thing means I don't really want them in my house though. Cute or no.

  24. This is a Posher version of a regular Friday night dish from my childhood - baked potato and eggs. It was a nastalgia dish from my dad's childhood growing up on a farm in Ireland. The potato skinks were crispy, we'd melt lots of salty butter in them and the eggs were slightly runny and v v fresh from the local farm. Not sure it'd be the same with London supermarket eggs, even dear Waitrose. I love going up to my parents in Derbyshire and bringing home fresh that day eggs. So much nicer.

  25. May I ask an unrelated question? I can see you guys have a range oven. Is it worth it? We're hoping to remodel a not-yet-our kitchen and I'm divided between the range cooker (doesnt it look cool?! but i've read such mixed reviews.. ) and a couple of built in ovens (eye level - no bending down, child proof ==> more practical??). Any thoughts very welcome!

  26. If I had the opportunity to have built-in ovens, I would.

    Now, please, how the fuck do you pronounce your name. It looks perfectly wild written down.

  27. Oh thanks for that, i'm even more divided now. Any reason in particular?

    Anything else you hate/love/wish-for in your kitchen? You could - if you like - write up a post and invite your chatty commentators to join the discussion. That would be cool.

    P.S. Thats not my name, thats my blog's name. But Milda is fine if we're on first name terms.

  28. Esther, borrow a cat from a neighbour, and let it prowl around the house for a few hours during the day. it won't catch anything, but the smell of cat is highly likely to make the mice move out. we lend ours periodically to a neighbour who lives in a barn which sometimes gets overrun with mice (they once ate the electrics of a brand new car). amazingly, it works, although it's possible that London mice are more fearless than their country cousins

  29. One or two mice is no cause for panicking. It's when the two gets multiplied ten times when you have to do something about it. For now, the mouse can be Kitty's buddy.

  30. I totally understand your resistance to killing... but here is a story about how their is an inverse ratio of cuteness to numbers of individuals...

    My wife and I were once invaded by Ladybirds. At first we found two or three living up high above our curtains... we gave them names. thought they were cute, a little family sharing our home... Then there were more than ten, which is just too many to develop an anthropomorphic connection to. Eventually their were over 80 of them... they started falling off the ceiling and into our food. They got cocky. We had nightmares about them crawling on us as we sleep. I'm not even sure if it's possible but I'm pretty sure one of them bit me.

    Even after all that we still didn't want to kill them so we put them all into jars and took them to a local allotment and set them free.

    From then on every year we had to block every possible ladybird sized hole in our sash windows or they would start to come back. Apparently they lay down a pheromone that tells the other about good places to over winter.

    anyway this is turning into a long reply and since this is my first ever comment I should probably bring it to a close. here is a disturbing video to harden your heart towards these loveable, fuzzy little creatures. It might work. it probably wont. Just as a friendly warning... if it's been seen in the house. it's not A mouse. it's never A mouse.


    Really like your writing style.
    keep up the good work!

  31. having watch that video to the end... I suggest you don't watch the whole thing...

  32. We have had mice on and off for years in our old victorian house. We used a company that guarantees their work for a year (so they keep coming out until the mice have gone). Basically they block up all the holes that the mice can get in through with wire wool (that they cannot chew through). It is the only thing that worked for us and is humane too.

  33. 23 months into my second baby and I still have feelings of panic when I see a newborn. Thankfully I don't have to go through that all again.

    But, having said that, second babies are SO much easier. Honestly.

    Good luck with the mice. Our little intruder got so tame that it would let me catch it by hand. I think the neighbour's cat caught it, or the builders built on it when they did the extension as I haven't seen it in a while.

  34. Aww - WOW, congrats on your good news! More babies is always a good thing!

  35. Ooops, sorry missed this post, got sidetracked by the Olympics!

    Well done, this deserves to be published, all the entries are great, loved the pissed hazelnut thingy you did recently. Look forward to this as will buy it for all chums with kindles iPads etc.