Pickled Beets; Mouse in the House and Why I Wear Shoes

Pickled Beets

The problem with not having mosquitoes is that without them, there is no compelling reason to have screen doors.

One still leaves the heavy, wooden doors open when the weather is nice but, without screen doors, the outside has a disconcerting habit of coming inside.

Last summer we had a snake in the pantry.  Not a poisonous, little 10" (25cm) viper, but a big, old, 4' (135 cm) harmless garden snake.  Safe, yes, but a bit off-putting.

A few weeks ago, as I was wandering into the kitchen for lunch, wearing shoes, thankfully, I felt a soft 'scrunch' underfoot.  I looked down to discover a rather large lizard in acute discomfort, all 4 legs flailing madly. 

I screamed; not because I had killed it; but because I hadn't quite.  Mon mari heard and, er, finished the job. 

I still got stuck with clean-up; once again grateful to not have carpet.

The most recent intrusion is a cute little brown mouse that has taken up residence in our trash.

Let me digress a bit to explain:

As most people know the French eat baguettes, or some version of them, either thicker or thinner, every day.  A typical French person will eat at least one per day.  If you have a large family that is a lot of long, skinny loaves of bread to deal with.

Being eminently practical, there is a baguette cupboard in the typical French kitchen, usually located near the stove.  It's a skinny cabinet, under the counter, that is hinged on the bottom and pulls open from the top.  It is often fitted with a linen sack and holds the daily bread.

Not being big baguette eaters we have discovered it also make a perfect trash bin.  (Compost bin is elsewhere.)

Back to the mouse. 

We first discovered our new resident the other night.  Mon mari opened the trash cupboard and a mouse jumped across his arm, hit the floor at a dead run, raced across the kitchen (right in front of the mighty girl dogs), through the pantry and out the back door.

He obviously knows his way around the house.

We thought that the sheer terror of the experience would solve the problem and he would take up residence in a safer place.

We were wrong.  The next night, the same thing happened, only it was my arm he ran up and over, hiding near my feet for a moment, before making his dash for the door.

Clearly  a trap was in order.

Yesterday, mon mari caught him.  I was in the garden when he walked by, little brown mouse frantically squirming in the trap with only one foot caught.  He took him over to the field and let him go.

I hope that's the last we see of him. We've been nice… So far.

While mon mari was dealing with the mouse I was making pickled beets.

Another oddity I have discovered, here in the Vendée is that one cannot buy raw beets (beetroot) – or, at least, not easily.

But one can always buy cooked beets.  They're either already in plastic bags or are in a big bowl with bags and a fork to help yourself.

The idea didn't really appeal to me, and I avoided them initially.  I kept seeing so many good recipes for beets I finally succumbed. 

Then I remembered how much we both like pickled beets…. And if someone else had already done most of the work…

These took me all of 10 minutes to make:

Pickled Beets (Beetroot)

1 lb (500gr) cooked beets, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp kosher or pickling salt
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, broken

Put all ingredients except beetroot in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Simmer 5 minutes.  Add sliced beets and simmer 3 minutes longer.  Put contents into a glass jar or container, cover  and let cool.  Refrigerate and eat within a month or two.

One more reason there are no screen doors here:  With screen doors one can't close the shutters up tight against the evil night air…

Oh, wait… We don't do that either…  Stupid Yanks!

31 thoughts on “Pickled Beets; Mouse in the House and Why I Wear Shoes”

  1. I’m afraid the only way I like beets are in beet soup. I remember my mom making pickled beets though and I took a taste once, mistaking them for canned blueberries (almost the same color). I haven’t had them in many moons – probably since I was a youth – so perhaps my taste has changed.
    Growing up we spent summers at the lake and summers at the lake meant mice in the cabin. My 4 sisters and I were VERY afraid of the mice – we’d lie in bed at night and then suddenly someone would shriek “I hear the mouse”. My bed (b/c it was a small cabin) was in a hallway so I was separated from my mom and sisters so I felt especially frightened!
    My eldest sister claims that one night she actually had a mouse fall on her head!

  2. Every time a mouse gets in my house (and it happens often, probably more often than I know about), I tell my husband to put the house on the market and we will find another place to live. I love the country, and I can put up with the ladybugs falling into my morning coffee and the birds nesting outside the bedroom window and the carpenter bees and squirrels running on the roof…. but the mice are what get to me. Perhaps your mouse will learn that the baguettes he’s looking for are at someone else’s house!

  3. My daughter is only 6 and she loves beetroot…this pickled beetroot would be lovely to keep in the fridge….

  4. Wonderful comments for your terrific mouse!
    Love the baguette spot, I’d use it. Do you think that would keep the mouse out.
    I can’t get Gorn to close doors and alway worry about the mice finding their way in.

  5. I am planning to grow my own beetroot this summer. I want the leaves for salads. I love roasted beetroot. Forget where I learned about those. I do miss Harvard beets, but if I really missed them I would make some. Not sure my husband would like them though. As for the mouse, I have two cats….. They keep all little furries away.

  6. Katie, I hate to break it to you but if there’s one mouse, there are others.
    Last fall, I got fed up with our problem and hired a service to “get rid of the problem”.
    You might have to change the open-door policy of your inviting home.
    As for beets…we’ve been jarring them for eons…very versatile and so healthy.

  7. Katie…we have had our share of mouse/mice/meese problems. I have seen them on top of the curtain rod in the living room, in the bottom drawer of the stove, and peering at me from behind the little cubby where we put the phone books. Farmboy dutifully sets the traps, and then poof…forgets about them. Hence, several weeks ago, a very disturbing odor was coming from the kitchen. Somewhere. Ah yes. The trap in the bottom drawer of the stove. Forgotten for how many days/weeks? Long enough for major nastiness to come emanating from it. Thank God, I was not on mouse clean-up that day…or any day for that matter!
    As for the beets, I have done the very same thing myself! Pickled beets are one of my favorites, but who has the time to boil the darn things, peel them, slice them, and still pickle them?

  8. One time, my colleague at work found a mouse in her office on the third floor of a city building! I caught it in a little box and let it go in a park near my house. City mouse to country mouse in one day!
    And we are fresh air fiends, too, always open the windows wide at night and sleep like babies. My French headmistress, however, thought I was nuts!

  9. a snake and mouse? whow you’re courageous. I’d get someone to install the screen doors the next day; I know it’s not that easy, I just don’t do well with crawling critters.

  10. Edi, fortunately, I’m not afraid of mice or snakes – although they do get a startled yelp out of me when they run out of hiding. It’s the spiders and centipedes I’m terrified or…
    Pille, I think of you every time I see the big bowl of beetroots – and I’m starting to try them more ways…
    Lydia, I can deal with the mice…if only they are spiders! And I hate the moths that come in and fly around the stove when I’m cooking… stupid moths!
    Tanna, nothing keeps the mice out. Mon mari cemented their favorite hole shut – the next day they had it opened again.
    Nina, it’s pretty and so easy to make…
    Pat, our ground is so hard we can’t really grow roots – I tried carrots, they were 2cm.
    Peter, I know, only too well! But in the middle of farm country nothing is going to get rid of them… We just encourage them to settle elsewhere.
    Val, I do too. I make my own – can’t find a decent dill pickle anywhere in Europe (the locals might disagree – but they’re not DILL pickles without dill)
    Farmgirl, I know that smell. I don’t do dead beasts either…esp not week old dead beasts!
    Pam, our neighbors think the same of us. I can’t set the clock by the closing of their shutters!
    Liberalfoodie, permanent screen doors won’t work, because of the shutters. And we have to be able to close the shutters when we go away or the insurance isn’t valid!

  11. you had your very own Rémy, you must have great food in your house.
    The kids and I love pickled beets and I have to say I was a little disappointed today at lunch when I could not get the jar open, I have to wait for Hubby to get home. I do plan to make a lot of pickled beets this year because the ones I like, the ones like my mom made when I was a kid, are $5.00 a jar. yes I know.
    There is not an oz of french blood in any of us here but we can eat bread like the french that is for sure.

  12. I remember asking my Uncle if his new screen door was effective and he drily said yes, the mosquitoes inside can’t go out anymore!
    I had a horrible experience with a mice that took up residence in my washing machine – I often get nightmares about more of them!

  13. Katie, put in a few raised beds. That is what I am using here…. Check out my garden blog. You can make them with just about anything. One year I even just piled dirt into mounds and covered them over with some dried leaves mixed with soil. Start composting!!! I even grew carrots in pots on the patio here last year.

  14. I adore pickled beets…but mice…eek. Very, very bad with mice. I hope your little visitor stays away…and didn’t bring family with him in.
    Heidi

  15. LOVE your stories. And, for the record, I would FLIP OUT if I discovered a snake in my pantry or a mouse jumped onto my arm. I guess I’m too much of a city girl.
    As for canned beets, I’ve never tried them. D’s big sister, however, has gotten really into canning over the last year. Maybe it makes her feel like less of a yuppie suburbanite :). She’s also gotten her two sons into it, and the 10 year old decided that it was high time that the family get into canned beets. He proudly brought them out at Thanksgiving. I am embarrassed to have to say that I very cordially encouraged his cooking streak… and avoided the canned beets. Maybe I’m ready to be convinced otherwise?

  16. Shayne, 5 a jar? Wow! I make them ’cause I can’t buy them…but I wouldn’t buy them at that price…
    Sra, I had them move into my car once… Took a week to get them and the nests out!
    Pat, That’s a great idea…but I already have way too much garden… and 2 compost bins. But raised beds is a great idea.
    Heidi, he probaly brought all the relatives… I just hope they move out for the summer. Then the hawks can be a natural mouse controller…
    Neen, aw, come’on…give them a try. There good, really…. I can because I have a garden…and you can’t freeze pickles (not good, ones, at any rate)
    Zoomie, I hate to tell you this but mice can get through holes the size of a dime….

  17. I just love the little varment stories! Speaking of mice, it was spring, time for first golf game of the season, grab shoes, clubs, etc. Foot will not go all the way into the golf shoes – reason – mouse nest in toes! At least they removed themselves before I stuck my foot in there! Yikes!
    I compliment you on your beet recipe, I make mine the same way!!!!

  18. Deb, I have learned to always look in my shoes…but, then, I am a bit paranoid.
    Shayne, might as well go with the flow!

  19. Yum pickled beets! One of my favourite things to eat. Glad to hear that the mouse is now safely outside – hopefully not to come back into your house!

  20. No mosquitos!!! Wow, as a girl who had to battle those Wisconsin flying demons, it must be fabulous.
    I planted beets a few weeks ago and I’ll probably pickle most of them.

  21. This recipe sound interesting. However I use beets to add color for pickled turnips.
    I use beets for a yummy oriental beet salad.

  22. How sweet of you to let the mouse run free!
    My parents had a country house and a enourmous jail with little hens and chicken and some birdies too. Once my parents discovered a mouse lair and he killed all of them :(. They were stealing all the grain… but still, it was sad!
    Concerning the beets… nothing to say about ups! Haven’t taste it yet! Bon weekend!

  23. Mmmm, pickled beets… j’adore pickled beets!
    (No mosquitoes, eh? How is it that I managed to find them – or rather, they managed to find me – the last time we were in France?)
    Pardon the following wordiness:
    One day a couple of years ago, just when the weather was starting to get cold, I was washing dishes and heard a HUGE commotion in the broom closet. A few moments later, our cat came out of the closet, tail in air, looking VERY pleased with himself. He had a little string hanging out of his mouth. Strings are his favourite toys… but you know where this is going, don’t you? Yes, indeed, as he looked at me, he smugly opened his mouth to show me the string. Which was a tail. Attached to the cutest little mouse that leapt out of said cat’s mouth and ran all over the kitchen. I was NOT wearing shoes. I was jumping to get out of the way of the cat. Of the mouse. Of the cat again. And amazingly, the mouse escaped! Unscathed. Didn’t see it again. Didn’t see any mice or signs of them for quite some time. Word must have gotten out. 😀

  24. My grandma made the BEST pickled beets. This recipe looks very much like the one she used. YUMMY!

  25. My grandma made the BEST pickled beets. This recipe looks very much like the one she used. YUMMY!

  26. My grandma made the BEST pickled beets. This recipe looks very much like the one she used. YUMMY!

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