Since I started this culinary mystery serial, The Three Ingredients, I’ve been reading a lot of cooking blogs. One of my favorites is Kooky Cookyng, written by Ishita. She was kind enough to provide the three ingredients for today’s episode.
Don’t be shy! Leave a comment with three food-related “ingredients” to help keep this story going.
I hope you’ll enjoy Episode-10. Bon appétit!
Liver, Za’atar, Sunflower Seeds
I stopped on the broad veranda to remove my gardening shoes. Cinnamon Bun, the Flemish Giant rabbit, thumped up the stairs behind me. I bent to scratch his long russet ears, and noticed that he had a small carrot in his mouth. The huge bunny usually ate everything he dug up, but I had noticed that sometimes he sneaked a tidbit inside and gave it to Cracker the parrot. I couldn’t help smiling at that.
We both went in by the kitchen door. Right away I smelled the plate of thinly sliced onions. The task had been left unfinished, with the next onion waiting to be cut.
Granny had mentioned making liver and onions. I loved the aroma of the dish… so why was it that I couldn’t abide eating it? Ugh! All morning I had been trying to think of an excuse to be away from the cottage come meal time.
The muffled sounds of voices drifted my way from the parlor. Someone must have interrupted Granny, so I washed up to take over where she had stopped.
The onion had warmed to room temperature, and it was already stinging my eyes. Granny always chilled onions before cutting them. Somehow that helped keep them from irritating the eyes. I blinked my watering eyes and sniffed. With the knife in hand, I stopped mid-slice. Granny’s voice rose enough that I heard her distinctly.
The first thing in my mind was concern. That didn’t sound like Granny Fanny’s reaction to anything. She was the most capable woman I had ever known. The next thing I thought was “Why is that revenuer here with Granny — again?”
I knew it wasn’t right to eavesdrop, but I couldn’t help myself. I tiptoed closer to the sound of their voices. Cinnamon thumped softly behind me, the carrot still in his mouth.
“Fanny, you know I’d never ask you to do this if I thought it would put you at risk,” Marshal Moses Myrick said. “I’ll have men there, some pretending to be guests, Detective Daniels disguised and acting as your waiter, and a dozen others outside, waiting for my signal to rush in.”
“Oh I’m not worried about that!” Granny said sounding more like herself. “I’m not afraid of any bootlegger, no matter how much money he’s got. No, it’s the fancy food they want me to make. I had never even thought of making crème brulee until I tested the recipe for it the day you were last here. It turned out fine, but I’m just not used to making… foreign things like that. And now, they say some ambassador is going to be there. They insisted that I make something with an exotic sounding condiment. I’ve never even heard of it, but it’s the big shot’s favorite thing,” she complained.
I eased a little closer to the parlor door. I could see into the room, but still couldn’t see the speakers. However, I could see stacks and stacks of books, mostly cookbooks and travel books. Granny must have checked out every book in the library on those subjects. She’d probably borrowed any her friends had as well.
Marshal Myrick spoke soothing words that I couldn’t make out. Granny continued, “Have you ever heard of za’atar?” The marshal must have said no, because my grandmother continued her lament. “I have to admit, za’atar does sound delicious, but I hope they don’t ask me to make anything else unusual. Why can’t they want turnip greens? I hulled sunflower seeds all morning, and I had a devil of a time keeping that parrot out of them. I ended up giving half the seeds to her to keep her quiet,” Granny said. Then to my surprise she chuckled. “I think I’ve found something I can use to bribe the little imp. She liked the sunflower seeds.”
Wonder of wonders — was Granny warming up to Cracker? The kindhearted defense Moses spoke for the parrot was in such contrast to his gruff manner and unflappable attitude that I still couldn’t get my head around it.
The G-man had learned the art of pitching his voice in a way that it didn’t carry. As I sidled closer a floorboard creaked. I just knew I was caught. Then I heard Cracker rattling her cage door. She could have it open in a matter of seconds, anytime she chose. Cinnamon Bun hopped past me and into the parlor.
I pretended that I was just walking up the hall and feigned surprise when I saw the marshal sitting on the settee next to my grandmother. However, I didn’t fool him one iota. “So Pip,” he began. “Now that you know something about this sting, are you onboard?”
Sting? As in bootleggers, and mobsters, and guns? Really? I gulped.
“Now Moses,” Granny Fanny began, shaking her head and giving the marshal a stern look from the corner of her eye. “I don’t know that I approve of Paisley having anything to do with this business.”
“Fanny, you had intended to have the girl help you with events. You can’t handle a big party like this alone. Detective Daniels can only do so much as a waiter, because I have to have him as an investigator,” Myrick said. Then he added as if to himself, “That young man’s got potential. As for the rest of my men, they wouldn’t make believable caterers. They’d stand out like a sore thumb. So you need the girl. She just needs to be an ordinary waitress and stay out of the way.”
Oh…! Now that was the last straw. It was bad enough that they were talking about me like I wasn’t even there, but stay out of the way? I was flabbergasted! I cleared my throat loudly. Granny’s eyes widened when she saw the expression on my face. There must have been steam coming from my ears.
“Marshal, I’ll have you know that I’m standing right here, since that fact seems to have escaped you,” I began.
“Paisley Idelle Peabody!” Granny said in a warning voice.
“I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself, and I most certainly do not need to ‘stay out of the way.’ Why of all the —”
I was fit to be tied because Moses Myrick sat there chuckling. Then he gave in to all out laughter! I was so put out that I was speechless.
“That apple didn’t fall far from the tree!” he said as he wiped his eyes. That’s how hard he was laughing; it had brought tears to his eyes. “Fanny, not that I ever doubted, but this is truly your granddaughter. Young lady I apologize. I just couldn’t help myself.”
I was not much mollified by the apology, but I didn’t know what to do besides accept it. I cleared my throat awkwardly. Then I heard the rattle of metal that meant Cracker had decided to let herself out of her cage and see what all the fuss was about. The parrot flapped into the room. She briefly perched on the back of the settee next to the marshal.
She bobbed her head and whistled at the marshal. “Fourandtwenty,” she said to him. However, she prudently fluttered out of Granny’s reach and alighted on the back of the chair beside me.
Cracker looked studiously at each of us in turn. She ruffled her feathers and shook her head. She turned to me and flapped her wings once. Then she turned a circle to make sure everyone was looking at her, and with another whistle she repeated, “Fourandtwenty! Fourandtwenty!”
Roasted Carrots with Za’atar
Recipe credit: Food Network.com
Photograph by Roland Bello
Total Cook Time: 20 minutes
4 pounds carrots
¼ cup olive oil
¾ teaspoon each salt and pepper
4 teaspoons za’atar spice blend
3 tablespoons parsley
Preheat 2 baking sheets in a 450 degree oven. Quarter 4 pounds carrots lengthwise and toss with 1/4 cup olive oil and 3/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Spread on the hot baking sheets and roast until browned, 18 to 20 minutes. Toss with 4 teaspoons za’atar (a spice blend available at Middle Eastern markets), 3 tablespoons chopped parsley and the juice of 1 lemon.
The Three Ingredients Serial: Copyright © 2013
by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
No part of this writing, blog, or book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.