Three Ingredients – 16: Pork, Braise, Fork

Parrots_Menu_Episode-16 copyHello everyone.  I hope you like the new look for Teagan’s Books.  I thought the new theme with the little houses and trees was a good fit for our 1920’s serial.  In a way it reminds me of my fictional town, Atonement, TN — so it will do for posts about my novel as well.

Secret of Old Clock coverEpisode-16 finds Pip waiting again.  However, our flapper never has an idle mind.  And Granny Fanny will make sure her hands aren’t idle either, in her determination to teach her granddaughter to cook.

Remember you can do catch-up reading on past episodes. Just click the “Three Ingredients” button at the top of the page.  Also — you’re driving!  So I hope you’ll send three food-related things to drive the story.

Bon appétit!

16.  Pork, Braise, Fork

The ticking of the clock had become my constant companion.  It seemed like ever since I came to Savannah half my days were spent waiting.  First Granny Fanny and I had waited, albeit briefly, before following Detective Dabney Daniels to the scene where Marshal Moses Myrick and his men had been ambushed.  Next we were on pins and needles until we learned whether the marshal would survive his wounds and the surgery.  Then I found myself in a holding pattern yet again.  That time the wait was again because of Dabney Daniels.

Detective Daniels left to join the rest of Savannah’s finest in a raid on Wetson’s Mill, where Moses Myrick thought the bootleggers were based.  Hank Hertz, the youngest policeman, made no secret of his annoyance at Hank Hertz or Hugo Johnstone-Burtbeing left behind.  However, he couldn’t hide the fact that he was still pretty dizzy from the bullet that had grazed his temple.  He also acted like he had a doozy of a headache.  Nonetheless he fiddled with the knobs and dials of the radio equipment as he expertly set up a base station.

I handed Hank a cup of coffee and a plate of biscuits with pork sausage patties.  He hungrily stuffed half of a biscuit into his mouth in one big bite.  Then I sat down to dig into some myself.  There was nothing like Granny’s biscuits!  The breakfast sausage was fried with a crisp outside and tender inside.  The biscuits were light and golden brown, and they melted in my mouth.

A groan from the open door where we had setup a hospital room for Marshal Myrick interrupted me.  Before I had time to turn around, I saw Granny coming with more medicine for the revenuer.  It was as if she knew about his pain even before he did; as if she had a nearly supernatural ability.  It was almost scary.  I glanced over at Hank for his reaction, but he hadn’t noticed.  He was still busy with the radio equipment, though biscuit crumbs dusted his chest.

1915 FantasioApparently Granny had some amount of medical training, somewhere along the line. However, she had never spoken of it in my presence.  It had been clear that she already knew how to administer the hypodermic needle even as Veronica Vale showed her.  However, Doctor Vale always drew the drug herself.  Apparently it was potent, dangerous stuff.

The down-side to the medication was that the marshal wasn’t coherent enough to advise the other policemen on the raid they were staging.  Through the open door I could hear the marshal talking, though none of it made any sense.  Veronica had said the drug would probably make him say crazy things.  Granny murmured soothing words that I couldn’t make out, but they seemed to settle the wounded man.  The parrot continued to sit vigil from her perch at the foot of the bed. I heard Cracker coo her usual comment, “Who’s your daddy?”

A few minutes later, Granny came out of the room with Cracker sitting on her shoulder.  I wondered how she had coaxed the parrot away from the marshal.  The bird had refused to leave the man’s side.  Then I noticed Granny hand her sunflower seeds.  In learning how to prepare za’atar, Granny had discovered sunflower seeds were Cracker’s favorite treat.

“Come on with me sweetheart, you need a proper breakfast.  And I know you’ll make too much of a mess if you eat it in a sick-room,” Granny told the parrot.1920s Peoples home journal girl parrot

Sweetheart?  It used to be nasty bird!  I was astonished at Granny’s 180 degree change of attitude toward the parrot.  I guessed they discovered a common bond in their mutual affection for Moses Myrick.  That was something else I had yet to pin down — my grandmother’s history with the revenuer.  Granny Fanny had a lot of explaining to do as I saw it.

“Pip, Sweet-pea,” she said to me.  “I’m sorry.  I know I said I would teach you to cook braised pork today, but circumstance has made a liar of me.  There isn’t time to work on anything like that today.  I hope you don’t mind.  You’ve been getting plenty of practice with doing things spontaneously and making do with what’s on hand in an unfamiliar kitchen, since all these awful events took place.  That’s valuable experience too.”

Did I mind?  I almost sputtered out a bite of biscuit, but I managed to control myself.  These cooking lessons had not been my idea.  I had been inclined to stay with my friend Mona until my Pops had sent me to Savannah with Granny.  Mona the Movie Star is what we called my friend.  The circus magnate, John Ringling had offered Mona a try-out and training as a trapeze performer.  We were both invited to stay at the Ringling mansion, Ca’ d’Zan.  That gilded mansion was the bee’s knees.  Ca’ d’Zan was the cat’s pajamas; the berries!  It was the most amazing, extraordinary place I had ever seen.

1920s Judge HourglassWhile I was enjoying my time with my grandmother more than I expected, I had not wanted to leave Sarasota, Florida.  There had been a lot of drama and trauma surrounding my beau, Frankie.  I needed to be near my friends. I needed their support to get over it.  And what flapper in her right mind would pass up a free stay at Ca’ d’Zan?  However, Pops didn’t share that feeling.

“It’s not really that difficult,” Granny was saying, and I brought my mind back to the present.  “It just takes a while to fix.  After braising the meat, you just insert a fork into pork. If the fork comes out easily the pork is done.  Then you can keep boiling down the braising liquid and it will cook down to a glaze.”

I nodded as if that made perfect sense to me.  I wasn’t sure of the concept of braising, let alone making a glaze.  “That’s okay, Granny,” I said in a consoling tone.

I schooled my expression to be one of self-sacrifice and disappointment.  When Granny Fanny raised one eyebrow at me, I knew she saw through me.  Luckily she didn’t get the chance to say anything.  She was interrupted when Cracker abruptly launched from her shoulder and glided down the long building.  One end of the structure was connected to the Vales’ house by a breezeway.  I heard the door open and the click of canine toenails on the tile floor.paris Poodle postcard

Excited yapping ensued.  I heard Vincent Vale trying to quiet the miniature poodle named Cotton.  Then Cracker flapped back to us with a small stuffed toy in her beak.  I recognized it for the dog’s toy.  The parrot flew low, getting the little poodle to chase her for the toy.  The two actually seemed to be enjoying themselves and I couldn’t help laughing.

Vincent darted to the sick-room and closed the door to make sure the antics of the dog and parrot didn’t disturb the patient.  Cotton proved that she could pounce high enough to grab the toy.  She shook her head with the toy in her mouth.  With her beak free, the parrot chirped, “Clever girl!” apparently encouraging the poodle.

Cotton dropped the toy and set after the bird when Cracker made another pass.  The parrot led the poodle all around the room.  As the dog barked, the parrot squawked “Clever girl,” which got the poodle more enthusiastic by the minute.

Then the dog jumped onto the table where Hank laboriously set up the radio station.  Cotton careened into and over the equipment.  I heard Veronica’s voice in the distance and then she whistled for the dog.  Cotton apparently recognized discretion as the better part of valor and ran toward her mistress’s voice.

Hank was beside himself.  Static emanated from the radio.  All the effort he put into setting all the knobs and dials just so was probably wasted.  At least nothing was broken… except the plate of sausage and biscuits that he 1920 Radio Newswas eating.  Hank bent to pick up the mess, shaking his head.  I noticed Cracker in the corner with one of Hank’s biscuits in her foot as she held it and broke off little bites.  So I diverted attention away from her.  There was no point adding insult to injury on Hank.  But the silly bird dropped her prize and swooped back to the radio table.

The parrot cocked her head at the radio and the noise and whistled.  “Who’s your daddy?” she said with what was actually a questioning tone.  Then she bobbed her head excitedly.  “Fourandtwenty! Fourandtwenty!”

There was that phrase again.  Granny and I exchanged a look.  She put out her hand when Hank made to shoo the bird away from the equipment.  Hank was a quick study and seemed to realize there was more to the situation than he knew.

A voice came clearly amid the static on the radio.  Cracker must have heard it when we were all too preoccupied with show she and the dog had provided.  Granny handed her a sunflower seed with an expectant look on her face.  “Now sweetie, ‘four and twenty’ what’s that about?” she coaxed the bird.  “What else can you say?”

“Fourandtwenty,” Cracker repeated bobbing her head.

Granny handed her another sunflower seed.  “Clever bird.  What else can you say?” she encouraged.

For a second I thought I heard a loud burst of static from the radio. Then I realized it was laughter.  “Yeah, we were long gone before they ever got to the mill,” I heard the voice say clearly.1920 Home Journal Parrot

The word “mill” got our attention.  Mill as in Wetson’s Mill, where Dabney and the other policemen had gone to raid the bootleggers?  Everyone else turned in surprise toward the sound of the voice.  Everyone that is, except Granny Fanny.  She barely spared us a glance. She was intently focused on Cracker.  Granny nodded to the parrot and repeated, “Four and twenty?”  Then she gave her another seed.

Jokerswild,” the parrot said and shook her foot.  Somehow the motion seemed disdainful, though I couldn’t say why.

“Eight and five,” the voice from the radio began.  At first that puzzled me.  Suddenly I remembered Moses Myrick had said the gang had code names based on playing cards.  Then I realized the numbers were being used as names.  Not eight and five, but Eight and Five.  “Pick up the Bishop and Nine,” the voice said in a commanding tone.

A different voice replied.  There was more static and we couldn’t make out the words.  Hank Hertz frantically fiddled with the radio.  “Queen said—… for the shindig— … back to town.  … Couldn’t stop her—” the new voice said between bursts of static.

Hank gave another dial a twist, holding his breath.

Joan Crawford Queen of Clubs“Look we’re doing the best we can!” the second voice complained, and it came through pretty clearly.  “We’ll hear their radio if anything changes.  Queenie Wetson’ll kill us if we don’t do what she says.  The King ain’t no more scary than the Queen!”

“Just do it, or the King will have your heads,” the first voice threatened.  “Get over here now.”

I gasped.  “So the gangsters have been listening to the police on the radio?”

“I’ve got to tell them!” Hank said, meaning his fellow officers, and he reached toward the equipment.

“No!” I cried.  “We can’t let them know, that we know, that they know…” at that point I got tongue-tied with all the they knows and we knows, so I stopped and stretched my hands out as if to stop the young copper.

Then the first voice repeated, “Just do it.  Go to the King’s.  Now!”

Cracker whistled excitedly, “Kinghenry!  Fourandtwenty! Kinghenry!”

***

Video

Mexican pulled Pork (Carnitas)

(Video credit America’s Test Kitchen)

***

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

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23 thoughts on “Three Ingredients – 16: Pork, Braise, Fork

  1. Pingback: Three Ingredients – 22: Black Olives, Mascarpone ,Thyme | Teagan's Books

  2. Pingback: Three Ingredients – 20: Beef Drippings, Dandelion & Burdock, Salmon | Teagan's Books

  3. Hi Evelyne. It’s so nice to see you again. I’m delighted that you have fun at Teagan’s Books. 🙂 And that the new theme “spoke to you” that way.
    I really enjoy your blog too.
    Happy spring,
    teagan

    Like

  4. King Henry, there’s an interesting twist. I know it as nboth a king and a herb. My father told me that in Germany it is called bad Henry but some googling informs me that the Germans also called it Good King Henry to distinguish it from a mischievous folklore sprite by the name of bad Henry.

    Alternatively, it might be the future name for Prince Harry (real name Henry) should he assassinate his older brother and claim the throne 🙂

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    • Hi Penny — I’m happy you stopped to comment!
      Oh… I had no idea King Henry was a name for an herb — even better!
      I added the “kinghenry” bit because in researching the old rhyme I found references to three different kings named Henry. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sing_a_Song_of_Sixpence
      As usual, I don’t know where this story is going from one episode to the next, but I think royal intrigue is a bit out of my league! LOL.
      Great-big hug,
      teagan

      Like

  5. Nice one Teagan. Totally intrigued about the Quenie Wetson character. Wonder whether there is a twist coming :-).

    Here are three ingredients if you feel like using (and you will laugh at one of them, I know!): quiche, quinoa and quorn.

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  6. What a wonderful episode this was and nicely long too. It sounds like we’re heading for some kind of conclusion soon and I’ll miss the Saturday evening pleasure so you’d better have more stories lined up…or else I’ll set Cracker on you.
    xxx Hugs Galore xxx

    Like

    • Oh nooo! Please don’t sic that parrot on me! LOL.
      David you are the kindest person.
      Well, I can sort of see a conclusion. However, there are some loose ends to tie up on the way.
      * The “Queen of Clubs” is on the lose. Is she headed into Savannah town? If so, then why? Apparently she’s even meaner than the mob boss.
      * Who is “King Henry”?
      * And who was the pushy voice on the radio? Is he the “Joker” of the card deck, and how did he earn that code name?
      * There’s still that big fancy reception that Granny was supposed to cater [as part of Moses Myrick’s plan… The marshal isn’t likely to be up to that sting, so what will our other characters do?
      * And most aggravating of all… what the devil is “four and twenty”?
      This might take me awhile… 🙂

      Mega hugs to you and little Reuben!

      Like

    • Hi Olga! Thanks so very much for commenting.
      I’m delighted that you enjoy Cracker. I hope her antics bring you a smile.
      I am not familiar with Enyd Blyton’s stories. I’ll have to look for them — they sound fun. 🙂
      Wishing you a superb Sunday.
      Great-big hug,
      teagan

      Like

  7. The recipe looks delicious. I never thought of putting oranges in a dish like this. Oh, I was quite surprised to hear Granny call Cracker…sweetheart. I think she’s coming around. Way to go on the radio conversation.

    Like

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