13

A Mouse in the House

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The homeowners’ association meeting was near its’ end, when the President asked if there were any issues someone wanted to raise.

Mortimer Mouse: I have a complaint to file against the cats in my neighborhood. Some of them stay up all night and hunt right outside my windows. It’s very traumatic.

President: You must have known there were cats in the neighborhood when you moved in. And cats do hunt at night.

Mortimer: They don’t have to do it right outside my window.

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President: You are aware that we don’t generally sell homes to mice in predator neighborhoods.

Mortimer: I don’t actually own the house. I’m visiting.

President: Are you visiting cats?

Mortimer: No, I’m staying with my sister. She lives with cats.

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President: Why is your sister living with cats?

Mortimer: I have no idea. They’re horrible creatures with no sense of humor. I tried to take a piece of kibble from one of the kids, and it tried to eat me. As far as I’m concerned, she should have bought her own house.

The room starts to respond angrily, but Mortimer doesn’t notice.

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Mortimer: It’s probably her stupid husband’s idea. He’s one of those ‘live and let live’ types. I think they should be in an all-mouse place.

President: Your sister and her family are staying with a family of cats?

Mortimer: That’s right. So, will you fix the problem?

President: We’ll definitely look into it.

Matt Manx quickly left the room and went home.

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Sandy: Matt, you’re home early from the meeting. How’d it go?

Matt: Some obnoxious mouse got up and started bad-mouthing cats. Then he said that he was visiting his sister who was living with cats. How many cats do you know who have mouse boarders?

Sandy: But our mice are so sweet!

Matt: I know, but you know the rules. We’re not allowed to have boarders, and they’re obviously not relatives.

Sandy: You mean they have to leave? I’m sure they don’t have anywhere to go.

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Matt: I’m afraid so. This mouse really got folks riled up.

Matt went downstairs to talk to John and Josie Mouse. He explained what had happened at the meeting and told them that they would have to leave.

Matt: I’m really sorry this happened. If that mouse hadn’t made such a fuss, no one would have known. But we’ll get kicked out if they verify that we have boarders.

John: I understand. It’s not your fault. You’ve been more than kind. We’ll get our things together and go.

Matt: Do you know where you’ll go?

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John: Not really. Probably into the fields for a bit so we can think it through.

They shook paws and Matt left.

John: I told you not to let that moron stay here. Look at what he’s done! We don’t have a home and Matt and Sandy are in trouble.

Josie: I’m sure Mortimer didn’t cause trouble intentionally.

Mortimer comes in.

Mortimer: I can’t believe you live in this neighborhood. They didn’t care that cats come around at all hours disturbing us.

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John: Of course there are cats around, you idiot. We live with cats! Or rather we did, until you moved in. Now we’re homeless.

Mortimer: What do you mean, homeless?

Josie: Matt and Sandy Manx let us live here as a favor. They aren’t supposed to have non-family members stay for more than a few days.

Mortimer: Well, you’re better off without them. These animals are rude and thoughtless.

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John: You didn’t have any right to go to that meeting. We’re going to have to live outside. Are you happy that your sister will be living a field because of you?

Josie starts to cry. She had always been a house mouse and now she was going to have to live in a field.

Mortimer: I’m sorry, Josie. I guess I didn’t think it through very well. I haven’t been getting much sleep lately.

John: A lot of good that does her. We’d better pack.

Mortimer: I’ll fix it. Just give me a little time.

Next week: find out what Mortimer has in mind.

Image result for mouse in a house

Pictures courtesy of Google Images

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2

Bring Me a Figgy Pudding

Pudding – [UK] a sweet and usually hot dish made with pastry, flour, bread,or rice, and often fruit: a stick toffee/treacle pudding  › [US] a sweet, soft food made from milk, sugar, eggs and flavouring, eaten cold: chocolate/vanilla/butterscotch pudding (Cambridge Dictionaries Online)

When I was little, I heard about plum pudding at Christmas. It sounded like a strange flavor, but grown-ups eat strange things sometimes. Imagine my surprise, while watching A Christmas Carol with my dad, to find Mrs. Cratchitt using a towel not to burn herself while serving the plum pudding. It looked like a brown lump of bread with raisins in it. I was close.

I found a recipe for it. The ingredients include whole wheat flour, fresh bread crumbs, shredded suet, eggs, carrot, apple, dark brown sugar, blanched almonds, preserved stem ginger in syrup, ground almonds, walnuts, candied cherries, raisins, dried currants, golden raisins, candied mixed fruit peel, plums, lemon, mixed spice, baking powder, and ale. Wow! This sounded a lot like my mother’s fruit cake recipe with suet added! Yum! Not only that, you have to steam them for 5 to 10 hours to set them, baste them in brandy or rum regularly, and steam them for 2-3 hours to reheat them.

I don’t care how much rum or brandy to add to it, that pudding is not coming to my table much less to my recipe collection. I wondered how the people who created the language had attached such an attractive name to such an, um, interesting set of ingredients. Of course, my mother’s family (from Cornwall) made tons of fruitcake every year. They liked to brag that they only used enough batter to hold the fruit together. I’m not sure it should be allowed to be called fruit once they petrify it like that.

With this background, I dreaded the thought of what figgy pudding might be. As near as they can tell, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” originated in England sometime in the sixteenth century. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that figgy pudding really does sound like a dessert. It’s a kind of souffle made with figs and walnuts. They say it tastes a little like spice cake. You will have to either take their word for it or try it yourself. Sticky brown lumps do not made a tasty base for any food as far as I’m concerned. However the serving suggestions include topping it with whipped cream or ice cream, which speaks well for it.

Thinking I was on a roll, I decided that I would look into one more “English dessert”, mincemeat pie. Silly me. I was thinking pumpkin pie when I should have been thinking meat pie. My grandparents from Scotland loved meat pies. Based on smell, I had never asked what was actually in the pie. Since all the jars of mincemeat I have seen in markets here have no meat, I figured it was some sort of substitute for people who couldn’t afford real meat. At least I think that’s the idea.

The Victorian recipe I looked at has the following ingredients: lemons, tart apples, raisins, dried currants, citron, candied orange peel, beef kidney suet, nutmeg, mace, ginger, salt, brandy, beef (optional). You mix it all together and let it set a couple of days for the flavors to mingle. More time with no beef. I am not a huge fan of beef, but in this case I think it would be a positive addition. My first image when I read the recipe was fruitcake mixed with suet (kidney suet at that). I now understand why the American supermarket version emphasizes that it is made with raisins and walnuts. I think the brandy manufacturers had a role in developing these recipes; I’m sure the more brandy you use, the better they taste.

For as long as I can remember, our desserts on Christmas have been hot-fudge sundaes and home-made cookies. A couple of times, I got really motivated and made a buche de noel. I was pondering the idea of making a more traditional dessert to go with the roast and Yorkshire pudding (yikes – I never made the name connection). Upon further thought, those molasses cookies are sounding pretty good.