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.

Quaint New Look

1920s Typist-2.jpgWhen I chose the design-theme for this blog, I was attracted to the bright colors and the sense of movement I perceived in the design.  However, lately I’ve been thinking that modern look is not a good match for the 1920’s setting of the serial stories — or my novel, Atonement, Tennessee.

I couldn’t find anything that matched both things — the “midnight suspense” of Atonement, as well as the vintage feel of the 1920’s.

Then I ran across the theme you see here.  The quaint little houses reminded me of the town of Atonement, TN on a sunny day.  And they had a vintage look.

This theme is worlds away from the old one, so don’t think you’ve come to the wrong place.  This is still your road to Atonement, Tennessee, and it’s still the path to The Three Ingredients.

veil_of_sky_open_1 copy

See you soon with a new episode of the culinary mystery serial, The Three Ingredients.  You’re welcome to leave a comment with three food-related ingredients for a future episode.

Hugs,

Teagan

Three Ingredienst – 15: Chicken, Meatloaf, Cookies

Today’s “ingredients” are from my dear friend Nancy, from my Albuquerque days – however, she lives in Episode-15 PoodleCalifornia now.  She went to one coast and I went to the other, but we try to keep in touch.  Nancy has a fondness for little poodles, so I’m throwing a poodle into this episode as a bonus.

I hope you will enjoy this episode.  However, I fear I’m not in top form.  Let’s just say it was a heck of a workweek and I’m low on energy. So without further ado, here’s Episode 15.  Bon appétit!

15.  Chicken, Meatloaf, Cookies

A large ball of fluffy white darted into the room the instant the door opened.  It moved across the room so fast it was just a white fuzzy blur.  Then it bounded up into my arms.  I caught it instinctively.  “Cotton!” I gasped.

1928 Detroit police radioSomewhere in all that mass of curly fluff was a dog.  Veronica Vale’s miniature poodle, to be exact.  I had only met the little dog a matter of hours before.  The doctor had let him out briefly for some exercise, before she tiredly stumbled off to bed.

Cotton ran right between the young policeman’s feet as he was stepping over the threshold.  Hank Hertz stumbled as he carried radio equipment into the makeshift “command center” as Detective Dabney Daniels dubbed the room.  Not many hours earlier we sat in that same room; filled with worry as the doctors Vale operated on Marshall Moses Myrick.

Dabney caught a piece of radio equipment just before it hit the floor.  Hank sighed, audible relief.  “See.  That’s exactly what I mean.  You’re still woozy,” the detective admonished the young officer.  “That is why you are not going on the raid.”1920s Food-Health mag

“I should think not,” Granny Fanny muttered as she walked past carrying a pan of uncooked meatloaf.  She gave a derisive sniff.  “You should be in bed, young man.  Not toting radio tomfoolery around.”

She adjusted slices of green bell pepper on the top of the meatloaf.  Sliced horizontally the peppers looked like flowers.  Then she opened up the oven in the corner kitchenette and put the meatloaf inside.  Granny had been cooking up a storm while we waited for a pronouncement from Veronica Vale as to whether or not she believed Moses Myrick would survive the several gunshot wounds.  Apparently she was already using everything in the kitchen of the main house and now was taking over the kitchenette as well.

Marshal Myrick woke up briefly a couple of times in the early morning hours.  Cracker the parrot, having somehow found us after getting out of Granny’s cottage and flying around who knew where, had taken up the bedside vigil when my grandmother left the recovery 1920s Ja-Da Parrotroom.  Once I heard the parrot chirp to the marshal in a soft sad sounding voice, “Who’s your daddy?”  It had a tone of encouragement, as if she was trying to get him to respond to her.

The long building in which we stood had a small but complete kitchen area.  The Vales’ property consisted of their house, a small stable, a combination boarding and recovery building, and the large structure where I had spent much of the night, keeping company with whoever watched the marshal.

The building was a vaguely hospital-like facility that Vincent Vale used in his veterinary practice.  His wife, Veronica, also took part of it as her laboratory.  The married doctors, one a veterinarian and one an MD had saved the life of Marshal Moses Myrick after he and his men were ambushed.  Detective Daniels had also been instrumental in that, by getting the wounded man to medical attention so quickly.

Granny rummaged through the drawers and cabinets, probably trying to see what tools and dry goods would be useful to her.  I couldn’t imagine what she might cook next.  The entire place, even the areas between the buildings, was filled with delicious aromas from her non-stop cooking.  She was stretching in an unsuccessful attempt to reach a canister of flour on Kitchen Maid ada top shelf.  Dabney, a tall man, noticed what she was about and quickly stepped over to get it for her.

That was one thing I could say for the detective.  He might not know I was alive, as far as any romantic interest on his part.  However, he was kind to my grandmother.  So supposed I could forgive him for his lack of interest in me.  Then Dabney turned back to Hank Hertz, attentively taking instruction from the younger man about setting up the radio station.

Hank was a wonder with the technical things.  I had to admire his confidence in his ability.  It was an understated self-assurance, as if he “just knew” and took his knowledge for granted, as if it was nothing.  I hoped he would develop the same sureness in other parts of his career and life.  I felt a little protective of Hank for some reason.  He just seemed to need a bit of looking after.  I had never been anybody’s big sister, but I sort of had that kind of 1920-May Pop Sciencefeeling about Hank.

Vincent Vale came in carrying two heavy looking baskets.  The aroma of fried chicken wafted to my nose.  I couldn’t help imagining what foods filled the baskets.  And I hoped it was meant for us!  Dr. Vale set the baskets down and looked on as the two policemen worked.  Dabney talked about a raid that was soon to take place at Wetson’s Mill.  At the detective’s insistence, the coppers who followed the gangsters that ambushed Marshal Myrick held back and watched the place, rather than storming it.

As Dabney had expected, more villains gathered as the night went on.  The police intended to stage a raid not long after sunrise.  I knew that Dabney would leave soon to take part in that life threatening situation.  I also knew that was his job, as Granny had reminded me.  But I didn’t have to like it.  I supposed Granny felt the same way, because now and then she shot Dabney a worried look.

I let the poodle down and she went to Vincent.  I was headed toward the aromatic baskets when the sound of a truck outside sent me to the window instead.  Granny looked up and I noticed that the flour was transforming into biscuits ready to go into the oven along with the meatloaf.  “Pip,” she called over her shoulder as she continued to pat more biscuits and place them on the baking tray.  “Sweet-pea, would you go get my pocketbook?  That would be the young man from Gilley’s Grocery bringing more food.”1920s Royal baking

“I’ll get it Mrs. Peabody,” Vincent said in his usual polite if formal way.  Granny protested that she had already cleaned out their pantry, and couldn’t let him buy the food she had ordered too.  However, the veterinarian wouldn’t hear of it.  “This is my contribution.  At least let me do this much,” he added and I wondered again if he was feeling like he had done less than his surgeon wife in working on the marshal.

Granny relented.  “Well, all right then.  Godfrey Gilley said he would take those baskets to the families.  Would you kindly make sure the driver gets them?”

The families?  I was puzzled for a second.  Then I felt a pang of guilt for my thoughtlessness.  Two government agents, Moses Myrick’s men, were killed in the ambush where the marshal was left for dead.  So Granny hadn’t been performing a cooking marathon just out of worry.  She wanted to make sure the families of the two slain revenuers, the agents, had a good meal during their time of need.

I felt a second twinge of guilt when I was sorry to see all that lovely food leave.  My stomach growled in commiseration with my conscience.  Granny chuckled.  I blushed, knowing that my stomach must have been loud enough for her to hear it across the room.

Biscuits Brun ad“Pip, why don’t you go check the oven at the house.  I have some cookies that should be ready to come out about now.  Bring them back here with a picture of milk so we can all have a little bite to eat,” Granny suggested — to the intense relief of my stomach, my conscience, and me.

From the open door of the recovery room I heard Cracker chirp.  “Who’s your daddy?” Then more loudly, “Who’s your daddy?  Clever bird!

The parrot flapped out of the room and over to Granny.  Cracker bobbed her head excitedly.  Granny dropped what she was doing, but she was smiling.  “Yes, clever bird indeed!” she told the parrot.

It seemed that Cracker had finally befriended my grandmother.

Vincent Vale, tall as Dabney but thinner, wiry and long legged, ran past us to the marshal’s room.  Cracker glided just over our heads and back into the room.  The parrot cooed and chattered an entire collection of phrases that I didn’t know were in her vocabulary.  However, I had always suspected that she knew many more words than the few things I had gotten her to say.  Vincent had confirmed my idea that the parrot was probably traumatized by her owner’s death.

Doc Vale went into the room, right behind the parrot.  I heard muffled voices — two of them.  Moses Myrick was awake.

Parrot in flight

***

Good Eats Meatloaf-Food Network

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.