Many moons ago, when our kids still lived at home, I grew some pretty doggone wonderful carrots. I’ve been making garden beds instead of rows to grow as much food as possible in my small plot. In those days, the soil was relatively weed free and I was able to get some pretty nice carrot beds which I’d cover with a nice layer of leaves just before the snow came. A bit labor intensive at first but once the carrots were established it was pretty much smooth sailing. The result was several harvests of candy sweet carrots just sitting in the beds waiting for me pretty much all winter.
Fast forward several years, and after allowing weeds to thrive the garden, well, let’s just say the term “labor intensive” grew several magnitudes larger. Those of you who know about gardening may have guessed why. Yep, I let too many weeds scatter their seeds in the dirt. There’s an old saying that refers to this blunder: “one year of seeds, seven years of weeds.” So there I was, on my hands and knees, carefully removing weeds from the carrot bed, sometimes using the scissors on my Swiss army knife to snip away any weeds that were too close to baby carrot seedlings to be yanked, because yanking that closely would rip the poor baby carrots out too and they are so very tiny and jeez I didn’t want to go through all the effort of planting and then watch them get crowded out by weeds like last year when I just completely gave up and there was no way that was gonna happen this time thank you very much and yes now it’s time to stop with the run-on sentence awreddy.
All those many afternoons (there were several) of tending the carrots paid off!! Lush foliage, and very nice sized roots. I picked a monster a few days ago that was literally over 3 inches in diameter near the top, and it tasted pretty darn good!! Then a horrible thing started happening. Something started nibbling the greens; and I didn’t find that amusing. Whatever it was had chomped off the greens about a foot off the ground; so I thought maybe a bunny or a chipmunk was trapped inside the fence. I put out a small live trap for a few days, but nothing. Examined the soil carefully for tracks but I couldn’t see any signs, so I began to suspect mice.
I hauled out my old Victor mouse traps and used my old “you ain’t licking my bait and gettin’ away” trick: I tied a small piece of walnut on the bait pan with some sewing thread. They can’t resist gnawing at the walnut, which of course causes them to tug a bit and the trap sends them to Mouse Heaven. I’ve gotten 5 so far and I’ll keep setting traps till I quit getting them. I do feel bad about killing them… I apologize as I remove their dead bodies from the trap and send them flying in to the woods while I utter a prayer in their behalf. Hey, mice gotta eat too ya know!!
They are too small to eat in my opinion; but if the end of the world comes, hey, who knows?? In the meantime, our family really does enjoy eating Maus (pronounced mouse). I made some Wednesday as a matter of fact. No mouse meat or any other kind of meat in Maus though. It’s really delicious with a couple of eggs fried over easy on top. Also very good with Norwegian meatballs and gravy. The recipe below is my rendition in honor of Mrs. Spoelma, the nice old Dutch lady that lived next door when my Beautiful Girlfriend was pregnant with our first child. She brought us a container of it and I asked “what’s in it?” She didn’t have a recipe but here’s what I do, and it is very, very good. Please note that the quantities are approximate, you can always adjust to your liking.
Maus: Delicious Mashed Potatoes, Kale, Barley and Onion
Potatoes : enough to fill a 6 quart pot a bit more than halfway when diced (we do not peel ours)
Barley: ½ cup hulled barley (pearled barley is OK but not as nutritious as hulled)
Kale: 3 – 4 tightly packed cups, chopped
Onion: one large yellow onion (about the size of a small apple) or 4 or 5 small onions, diced
½ stick of salted butter
½ cup of milk
salt to taste
Potatoes, barley, and kale will be cooked in separate pots.
Add more than enough water to the barley to cover, at least 2 inches higher than the barley. Boil the barley until tender, then drain, cover and set aside.
Add 1 cup water to the kale, and cover. Bring to boil, turn off heat after 2 or 3 minutes of boiling. Toss the onions in with the kale; stir to mix well, and cover again, let that sit for about 5 minutes. The heat will cook the onions just enough. Drain, then set aside.
Wash and dice enough potatoes to fill a 6 quart pot a bit more than half way (we leave the skins on). Fill with water till the potatoes are barely covered, and boil until tender, drain. Add butter and mash, adding milk and a dash or so of salt along the way. When the potatoes are creamy, add barley, kale and onions to the potatoes and mash together until mixed thoroughly.
OK, you’re done! Now, don’t just stand there, it’s time to eat!!
Speaking of Maus, here’s one I’ve never trapped nor eaten.