As always, you can do catch-up reading at the serial’s homepage. Also, to keep the chuckles coming, there is a cute video at the end of this post.
Tune in again next time, when our ingredients come from New Mexico.
And now… Episode-5.
5. Butternut Squash, Olive Oil, Cracked Black Pepper
Cracker the parrot was very excited — either that or she was upset. I wasn’t sure which. She seemed to take to the veterinarian, Doc Vale. Then she fluttered up to Detective Daniels and perched on his shoulder, and I could have sworn she had a vindictive look in her eyes.
I gasped when the bird nipped at Dabney’s ear, leaving an angry looking red mark. I wondered if she resented him; if seeing him come “home” when her master did not come back caused her to associate the detective with the still unknown man’s absence.
When Dabney Daniels dislodged the bird she turned over a pitcher of water, which splashed to the blue and white tile floor. Cracker flapped all around the kitchen, and it seemed like there were colorful wings everywhere. The detective stumbled backward, knocking Vincent Vale to the floor. The veterinarian and the detective both slipped several times on the glassy floor as they tried to get back to their feet.
In all the commotion, a canister of cracked black pepper was spilled and everyone took turns sneezing. Everyone, that is, but the parrot. I swear she looked smug about it. Granny Fanny’s eyes bulged at the mess, and then she closed them and counted to ten. When she opened her eyes, she calmly walked across the kitchen, and uncorked a tall dark green bottle.
I grinned, thinking that must be where Granny kept her hooch. But I was wrong. She carried the bottle over to the detective and made to daub some of its contents on the painful looking red mark Cracker left on his ear. “It’s just olive oil,” she said when he drew away from her. When the tall detective relaxed, granny reached up and gently rubbed the oil into the inflamed spot.
“There now. That wasn’t so bad was it?” she chided mildly. “It’ll reduce the bruising. It should help it heal faster too.”
Once the parrot calmed down, Doctor Vale gave her a medical examination. He pronounced Cracker to be in good health. Then to our astonishment, he said she was about forty years old. “Parrots live a long time,” he explained. “They need a serious, long term commitment from their owners. Cracker,” he said taking my name for the bird, “is a Macaw. She might live to the ripe old age of 95.”
“Applesauce!” I exclaimed. “She’s already forty, but might still outlive me.” I scratched the good spot at the back of her head and Cracker leaned into the scratching.
“Paisley Idelle Peabody!” Granny said in a warning voice. “Don’t think you’re going to keep that nasty bird. Not in my house!”
Something impish took over me and I couldn’t resist. I smiled sweetly at my grandmother. “Of course not, Granny. I know how you feel about birds. I’d have to take her back to Florida.”
Silence descended. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that after all. I wasn’t really trying to blackmail Granny. Okay… maybe just a little. Well jeepers, I certainly had no wish to learn to cook. She had divulged that part of her reason for demanding that my father send me to her for the cooking lessons — for my sentence in Savannah, was that she needed help with her budding catering business.
To make a bad situation even worse, Cracker flew across the kitchen. She was probably running away from the glare Granny gave her. Several vegetables were on the counter for the soup she was about to make. Cracker lighted on a butternut squash, causing it to roll. The bird walked the rolling vegetable like a circus performer on a ball.
“Don’t you dare!” Granny Fanny cried. “That’s dinner!” she added as the squash got precariously close to the edge.
Luckily I caught the squash just as it bowled off the counter. But I missed the carrots and they rolled across the floor. It was too much for Granny. When I looked up, the broom was in her hand and she was chasing the parrot. Doc Vale tried to calm everyone, but he was waving his arms as if he might start to fly like the agitated avian. Detective Daniels drew his pistol. I shrieked, and he seemed to come to his senses. I think he was actually afraid Cracker would fly in and take another bite out of his ear. Dabney reluctantly holstered the gun.
A soft thumping sound accompanied the entrance of Cinnamon Bun, the Flemish Giant Rabbit. He immediately picked up one of the carrots on the floor and started munching. The rabbit sat up on his hindquarters and was nearly as tall as the countertop. The crafty Macaw swooped down and got behind the rabbit. Cinnamon Bun looked innocently at Granny as his cheeks wriggled with chewing. Personally I think the bunny and the bird were in cahoots.
Granny was gaga over that bunny. Her mouth twisted in resistance, but the next thing I knew she was smiling at Cinnamon Bun. She might even forgive Cracker if the parrot kept the sense to stay on the rabbit’s good side.
Fanny’s Butternut Squash Soup
Active Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes
6 cups cut up butternut squash
4 cups chicken broth
16 oz. cream cheese
salt and pepper to taste
fresh ground nutmeg
pumpkin seeds for garnish
Cook squash in chicken stock (add water to cover squash if needed.) When cooked, puree (this may be done in batches). Add cream cheese, salt and pepper, and freshly ground nutmeg. Heat until all mixed through. Do not boil.
Cracker probably won’t be able to win Granny over enough to allow this, but you never know…
Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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