Subscribe via RSS

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

How not to look like a fat frump when pregnant

You will notice, because you are smart, that I almost never promote anything on this blog. “Oh it’s too much like hard work,” I say to the occasional food person who gets in touch wondering if I’d like a free packet of spelt. “I’m so lazy,” I say. “I’ll never get round to it, sorry.”

But the fact is that I’m not interested in food freebies. (Sometimes I wonder whether I’m interested in food full stop.) If I want something for free I will say to my husband: “I want some rare albino truffle please,” and he will make a phonecall and it will turn up on my doorstep and I won’t even have to write about it.

But clothes? Cloooooothes?? Special nice clothes for preggy ladies that don’t make you look fat or pinch your bump or squish your boobs?

“Do you want some?” asked my friend Celia. “From ME+EM. We want you to be a sort of brand ambassador.”

“FUCK YEAH” I screamed. I didn’t even stop to say “Oh but why me? I’m so shit and fat and ugly. You don’t want me, you want someone more glamorous and interesting.” No, I did NOT say that, I just asked how much stuff I could have. Should I hire a parcel van to drive to the shop? Because I can do one on my Addison Lee app…

Then I immediately started to fret about it, as I always do. That the clothes wouldn’t fit or wouldn’t be nice and I would take a lot and then not wear them but have to be nice about them anyway. And then I would break our special bond, the one where I tell you the absolute truth about absolutely everything and don’t try and sell you anything, ever.

Don’t worry. I am not leading you a merry dance. This shit is for real. It’s amazing. There are dresses here that make you look, if you’re under, say, 20-24 weeks like you’re not pregnant. Especially from the front. And after that, they just expand like magic so even though you look like a Sherman tank, you feel comfy.

Pregnancy wear is mostly so so horrible. Massive floaty things with a big print. But this is all terrifically chic. And THE best long-length jersey vests and long-sleeved t-shirts EVAH.

THERE’S EVEN A SALE ON RIGHT NOW!!!

These are the things I got, which are particularly excellent and I recommend to you, pregnant or not. More original, I think, and better fabrics than Isabella Oliver or Seraphine – though God bless them both, eh? Where would we be without them.

On the ME+EM website they do a thing where they use skinny models for all the clothes, so you can’t really imagine how they would work on a massive pregnant arse and giant blobby tits, so this is my edit for anyone with a blubbery mess to cover up.

Just think of me like a very badass Gwyneth Paltrow, yeah?

Almost all of this comes in different colours and is available HERE. The sizing is very generous. I am 5’6” and weigh in at 10 stone 3.5 and fit into a small.

Crepe swing dress. MAKES YOU LOOK NOT PREGNANT. £104. You will wear it everywhere and it’s crepe so it won’t get bobbles.

Tuck neck swing dress. This is just so cool, such a nice shape. Great with long boots, ankle boots or little slippers. £115. I will be wearing this on Christmas Day.



Extra long layer T. The last word in long-length long-sleeved tops. Soft as a kitten. £42. There are also excellent vests at £19 each. Fucking BARGAIN.

V-neck box pleat dress. Very similar to one at Isabella Oliver but a nicer colour, a more slimming fit and less expensive at £104

An amazing thing. If you only get one thing when you are pregnant, get this. It is sort of drapey and concealing without being heavyweight so you don’t end up looking like a piece of soft furniture. It also has lovely long sleeves. I plan to wear mine until it has holes in it. Knit sleeve 3/4 jacket – £119

And a snood. Because I’ve decided that I hate scarves. Wide rib snood – £68
 

Happy shopping and have a great weekend.

 

Sushi for obsessives

This is why you need to wipe your knife between roll cuts. Notice how I have focused on the only clean one

Up until very recently I laughed at people who made their own sushi. There are some things that are best left to the experts, is my view – and sushi is one of them.

Then my raging pregnancy craving for sushi got quite out of control. It’s all I want to eat, ever. It’s all I can really stomach eating. I don’t really mean actual raw fish, although that will do, I really mean cut rolls, maki rolls – California rolls, spicy tuna rolls – even vegetarian rolls. I don’t care. I’m not fussy. I just want fucking sushi. I am an addict.

Even my Japanophile husband is getting a bit alarmed by it all, especially when we went out to a robata (a Japanese grill, where they cook tiny things on skewers – really delicious) and refused to eat anything except sushi.

But I can only squeeze a trip out for sushi out of him about once a fortnight or he starts getting bored with it, so I’ve had to come up with ways of filling in the gaps between my professional sushi hits. I stopped short at the Japanese sundries section of Waitrose the other day, dithered for a moment, then held out my arms, and swept the whole lot off the shelves and into my trolley: sushi mat, nori paper, wasabi, sushi rice, sushi rice seasoning. Then I wheeled back to the vegetable aisle and bought a cucumber, then I wheeled over to the fish section and bought some cooked, peeled prawns.

And I will say this: homemade sushi is actually pretty good. It’s not that hard to do and doesn’t make much of a mess – all you need to cook is the rice and everything else is just an assembly job – I can see if you did it reasonably often you’d get very good at all that rolling.

My problem is with the rice – although I’ve never been good at cooking rice, I’m hoping that results will come with practice. The two times I’ve cooked it now it comes out a bit overcooked and means a slight mushiness in the resultant roll. I now wonder if this might not be because of actual overcooking but allowing the rice to soak for more than the advised 30 minutes prior to boiling.

If you are going to make homemade sushi, then obviously the thing to do is look up a tutorial on YouTube, that is the only way to see properly how to do it, but I also offer the following additional notes:

1 When you cover your sushi mat with cling film, tuck the ends of the film in under the mat, to stop the film ending up getting rolled up inside the sushi, which is not the idea at all.

2 Sushi rice is like fucking concrete. Do not allow it, as I did, to sit in sieves, pots, on knives or sushi mats for more than a few minutes because it wil lliterally superglue itself to any unguarded thing – it’s mental.

3 Do wipe your knife on a wet cloth inbetween cuts of your sushi roll as it will make it all look so nice; if you don’t, little bastard grains of rice will stick to the knife and then stick to the next roll of sushi and look all messy (see photo above).

4 Be generous with your sushi rice seasoning. Plain old rice is awfully boring and I have found that the directions on the back of the seasoning bottle don’t allow for enough.