Saturday, June 25, 2011

Olives and Cat-and-mouse-astrophes.

Well we've been busy little self-suffiency-ites today. 34 bottles of Olives now bottled and ready for putting away. We picked a little later and cut all the way around this year, and the results are excellent. The olives just did their 3 weeks in strong brine and are little salty but edible already. They'll only get better.

For the record here is the method we used: cut a slit all the way around the olive, and then soak changing the water at least daily, in fresh water weighted down with a plate to keep them below the surface for 20 days. I was cautious and started adding a half a handful of salt every day afer the first week, just to muck the pH around for any bacteria. At 20 days I made a strong brine (1 cup of salt 4 liters of water, and this got changed weekly. They did 3 weeks in strong brine. At this point I bottled them, put a little wreath of herbs on top (to keep the Olives down) and filled each bottle with weak brine. The olives are eatable now, and ought to be fantastic in a few months. Before we eat them, I rinse the salt off, put them into Olive oil and rosemary and lemon juice to steep for at least a day. 34 bottles may sound a lot, but I use olives in an array of things (and you thought that was a sour cherry in your black forest cake?), and they're also very popular trading produce items.

We also did the first pine-nuts from the garden. We have 34 shelled nuts, or about 15 grammes! And it only took about an hour, one crushed finger and a blood-blister on my palm. These are NOT trading items. Don't even suggest it! Some things may be not really worth self sufficiency. I will never look on pesto lightly again. There has to be a better way of doing this... like a supermarket.

We also finally had the right tide for squid not intersecting with a howling gale. We got 34... only minus the thirty. Still 4 was a good haul and Barbs and I each got a big one, and I lost one through trying to be be clever, and got bitten by one for the same reason. I don't know why I keep doing that... The same experiment and hoping for a different result.

Of course the morning did see its own little bit cleverness. Robin cat in wee-small hours, with a mouse. MEEEEEAOW! Meeeow! (out of the side of the meowth, the front being kinda mouse occupied.) "Lookit Me! I got a mouse. I am the cleverestest! I am the bestestest!"

Whereupon Barbs opens on eye, and tells her to shut up and eat it. Of course, cat, being a cat pays no attention and lets mouse go. Squeak-squeak meeeow squeak squeak meeow, snore (the snore is from me, happily in the land of Nod during this saga.) The noise stops before I am prodded from this happy country, and Barbs returns to sleep, until I bring her her coffee, blissfully unaware that there is a mouse (a live trapped mouse) behind the door screen.

Barbs gets up and realises Robin is staring intently at this piece of wood. So she moves it. The cat, not your real-life athlete, misses her pounce, and mouse on a serious shrink dives into the hinge corner of door and part way through. Barbs yells for me (in the throes of ye culinary task of making porrige) and armed only with a stirring spoon I arrive, panting. "There's a mouse stuck under the door."

I contemplate suggesting offering it some porrige. Decide the suggestion not worth the risk of being force-fed the spoon sideways down an orifice not designed for spoons, and grab some Loo-paper instead (on account of having been bitten by mice before) Try to sieze mouse. Mouse makes herculean effort on seeing hairy man with loo-paper, lifts door on its hinges and darts past my foot, into the gap under Paddy's room door - in theory stuffed with cloth to stop this very thing as Pads is allergic to cats and thus his door is always closed, and the cats excluded. Only the cats have taken to catching mice and letting them go in the passage... and they run under the door.

So we block it up. Especially seeing as B has been vaccuuming it and airing curtains and changing linen on account of the Pads and Clare coming on Monday...

Except the smart alec cats have clawed it out, because they're quizzy. So we had three cats and moi crawling around mouse hunting in the new cleaned room.

Fiction is so relaxing after this!


  1. I note there's no conclusion to this saga, i.e., did you catch the mouse, or are you leaving it for Paddy?

    Lisa S. in Seattle

  2. Hi both. The olives sound great and the cats sound, well like cats !! Our old boy is 19 now and tends to admire the athleticism of mice.

  3. Lisa - this one of life's little mysteries. Did the scullery-maid marry the Prince after that kiss at the end of the book? Did Batman run out with the mouse in his face (he DID run out, shortly before I chased the mouse from one hiding spot, and I could not find the mouse - despite a lot of searching with a torch and lifting and moving, after that. If we have a terrible shriek from Paddy, we will know a mouse has run up his trousers-leg. Probably short-trousers, knowing my son.

  4. Yes, Peter I think Robin thought she had a ticket for the mouse-and-people Olympics. A new spectator sport that is so much fun for cats!