Two chickpeas, Pete and Repeat were in a pod-boat. Pete fell overboard. What was left?
“Repeat!” you say? Well, alright then… Pete and Repeat were in a boat—
Okay, I’m just being silly. I would have done something with “Lather, rinse and repeat” but I couldn’t come up with anything. It took me this long to realize that I was repeating an “ingredient” from Episode-13. But do you really mind? What vegetable could be cuter than a chickpea?
The ingredients for this episode are from the remarkable SheketEchad at the “Sunflower Solace Farm” blog. I hope you’ll visit and learn a little about her. I could relate to her “About” page, because the idea of a little piece of heaven homestead is akin to my own dream of a cottage in a tiny town, or an adobe in the desert. I’m in a wistful mood, so fantasies of a dream home and ideal life come readily, if intangibly to mind.
Since I didn’t give you an episode last weekend, you might need a refresher. At the top of this page, click on “Cookbook-2 Three Ingredients (Serial Home)” — all the past episodes are stored there (omitting the introductions).
Our flapper has been upset. Granny Fanny wanted to send her home. Andy was so afraid of Granny that he wouldn’t even look at Pip. What would become of our 1920’s culinary mystery without Pip? Here’s Episode-14. Bon appétit!
14. Chickpeas, Curry, Coconut Milk
I sat dangling my bare feet over the ocean. Daisy sat next to me, idly swinging her feet. Saltwater sprayed our toes when a wave came to shore. The salty mist was a little cold and I drew my feet back. However, it didn’t bother Daisy. She was dead.
Her head snapped toward the coast and her eyes looked like she had recognized something that I couldn’t see.
“You should go back,” she said with a wan smile that went no further than her lips.
“I don’t want to go back,” I told the ghost woman. “I’m too upset about all the horrid things Granny said to me. I haven’t done anything racy. And I was trying to help you! It’s wrong for her to take her spite out on me when I’m doing something good,” I said rebelliously.
“Her spite?” Daisy asked. “Oh, you mean about that handsome detective who had such a crush on her? It’s a shame that didn’t work out, but her heart is divided.”
“How did you know about all that?” I asked in surprise.
The dark-haired girl laughed. “We ghosts talk. Didn’t you realize? Some of them are big ole gossips!” Daisy said impishly. “Detective Dabney Daniels is not the only lawman in Phanny’s heart.”
“I think that’s part of your gift, Pip — the gift that lets you see spirits. I doubt that it sounded any different, but you knew that it was spelled differently in my mind,” Daisy explained as I waited in confusion. “Her name was originally spelled with a ‘Ph’ — it was Phanny, not Fanny. Didn’t you know that she was a ‘Pip’ too?” Daisy asked.
“You know, it seems like my pops said something about her being another Pip,” I said.
Daisy continued. “Not wanting to stand out or be different, when people spelled it with an ‘F’ she didn’t correct them,” the spirit told me.
“That does not sound like my grandmother at all,” I said shaking my head.
“She’s much stronger as a person now than when she was a young girl,” Daisy said agreeably. “But Phanny never liked feeling different. That’s why she unconsciously shut off her gift of seeing spirits. It made her unique when she desperately wanted to be like everyone else.”
Daisy patted my arm. Her hand was very cold. That time the smile reached her eyes. “Really though, you need to go back. It’s important that you witness something,” she said vaguely. “You’ll see,” she commented in answer to the question that was on my face.
With a huge sigh I stood up on the big rock. The sound of a large splash in the distance caused me to turn seaward. I wondered if it was the merman. Daisy urged me to go back. I knew I was procrastinating. I’d have to face Granny Fanny sooner or later.
I was so distraught when I ran away from Granny and the others at the church, when my shoes came off I hadn’t paid any attention. I had no idea where they were, but I spotted first one and then the other along the beach. Still dragging my heels about going back and facing everyone, I turned and looked at the big rocks. Daisy was gone.
Picking up my wet, sand covered shoes I headed back the way I had come. Or I tried. I quickly found that the property around the church was a labyrinth of garden paths. I wandered if frustration. Finally I spotted the gravel that reminded me of chickpeas, and I knew I must be headed the right way.
“Pip!” someone called and I turned toward the voice. “Not that way. What you need is this way,” Daisy appeared and motioned for me to take a different path.
Actually, it was hardly a path at all. Trail was a more fitting term, and that was generous. When I started down the narrow trail Daisy vanished again. Exasperated, I reached out and clutched at the air in the spot where she’d been. Why couldn’t she ever just tell me something, plain and simple? Why did there always have to be all that mystery?
After a few more steps I slowed my pace because I heard voices. I stopped beside some dwarf palmetto and other palms. A perfect red rose that reached through the palms hinted that more of the flowers grew beyond my hiding place. I knew I must be back in the main part of the garden.
I tried to place the voices, but they were only slightly familiar. Then I recognized the voices of Mattie Maddox and a man. Ah, that would be the vicar, Vance Varley. A third voice entered their conversation. Granny Fanny. Or should I call her Phanny, I thought in aggravation, but I let that go as unimportant.
The vicar sounded like he was consoling her, telling her not to worry. “If she’s not back soon, we’ll send a few men out to look for her,” he said and I realized they were talking about me.
I’d be in even more hot water if I caused them to go to any trouble. So I took a deep breath and got ready to make my presence known. Then I heard Andy’s voice. He sounded really agitated.
“I’m sorry to interrupt,” Andy began but my grandmother rode right over him, putting him in his place. Andy cleared his throat and started over. “Mrs. Peabody, it was firmly engrained in me to respect my elders, and not to talk back or interrupt. And I’m sorry to do just that, but I need to have my say,” he said so firmly that my mouth dropped open.
“Pip deserves some consideration here,” Andy began, and after the way he let me down when Granny showed up ranting at me for going to the island without asking her first, I was shocked. “She — we might have acted rashly, but we had to decide right then and there, if we were going to catch the last ferry. And in all fairness, Pip did send word to you. She’s not a little child —”
“As long as Paisley is under my roof she’ll live by my rules, or go back to her father!” Granny exclaimed, and I thought that would be the end of it.
However, Andy surprised me by continuing. “Please, Mrs. Peabody. I will have my say this once,” Andy said making me wonder at how he could be so polite yet so… so… insistent.
He wasn’t going to curry any favor with my grandmother, but my little Astronaute-man didn’t shut up at all. I grinned ear to ear as I listened. Who would have thought Andy could be that audacious? Then my always hungry stomach rumbled when I thought of the other kind of curry. Andy’s voice got my mind off my empty belly quickly though.
“Besides,” Andy was saying. “Mrs. Maddox was our chaperone the entire time,” he added on a note of finality. “I’m sure you don’t mean to cast aspersions on her morals and what she’d allow to go on in her home.”
Oh, I thought, nice one Astronaute-man. Even Granny fanny couldn’t have manipulated an argument any better than that. Maybe Andy wasn’t such a wuss after all. Granted he wasn’t exactly heroic. I’d always know he wasn’t the hero type; it took a little push for him to go into action during any of the things that happened to the group of us at Santa Rosa Sound and the Ca’d’Zan mansion.
Even so, I never would have thought Andy would sink so low as to just hide behind something, while somebody attacked me verbally — even if it was my grandmother! I still felt stung and abandoned that nobody stood up for me. However, at that moment Andy was doing a lot to make amends for his behavior a little earlier that morning. He stood up to my grandmother, and Granny Fanny in a tirade was enough to scare the pants off any man.
“It’s true,” Mattie confirmed. “Why they really were the sweetest most well behaved young couple I’ve ever seen. Why, nobody would have even thought there was anything between them,” she added sounding a bit mystified.
“That’s because we’re only friends,” Andy told her, sounded a tad exasperated. “There wasn’t going to be any hanky panky in the first place.”
Granny Fanny mumbled something that I couldn’t make out from where I stood. I moved closer and found a spot where I could peep between the palmettos. My grandmother sat on a garden bench with a large handbag clutched on her lap. Her fingers tightened on the leather, and she looked very stressed. At first I thought there was a piece of luggage next to her feet, then I heard whining which told me that the case was a carrier for Wriggles, the little pug dog she was keeping for Arabella Wong.
I was surprised that Granny brought the dog with her, but I supposed she felt like Tybee Island wasn’t part of the mainland and maybe she wouldn’t get home in time to take care of him. Wriggles barked and Granny started fishing in the huge handbag, eventually producing a leash. In a moment the pug was sniffing the garden, Mrs. Maddox, and the vicar, and living up to his name with that tail wagging wiggle of his.
A sudden gust of frigid air made me shiver. To my surprise I saw Daisy sitting on a bench across from Mattie Maddox. Granny’s eyes widened in shock when the spirit woman suddenly appeared and she clutched the leather bag to her chest. Andy saw the spirit too and took an involuntary step backward. Wriggles went over and sniffed her shoes, and Daisy reached down to pet the pug, but she kept her sad, uncertain gaze on Mattie. After a moment she smiled sweetly.
The spirit’s eyes wandered to the perfect red roses that grew behind the older woman. Following her gaze I saw that white daisies grew in between the roses. I realized that the setting was the same one I had seen in some of Mattie’s paintings.
Daisy’s words came back to me, “She said that I was as fine and good as any rose. Kind Mattie — she knew I never thought as highly of myself as I should.”
“My dear, dear friend,” Daisy murmured looking at Mattie. “How did you come to be an old woman? Has it been so long?”
Andy and Granny reacted to her words, but Mattie and Vicar Vance seemed oblivious to Daisy’s presence. Granny fidgeted with the big purse in her lap. I knew she wasn’t ready to accept the fact that she could see ghosts, but circumstances were forcing her to see them. Then she opened the bag and took out that old wooden owl clock. Maestro Martino bound himself to that clock when his cursed bottle was broken. It was part of his curse — he had to be bound to an object, and could not be away from it for too awfully long.
But why would my grandmother bring the clock with her? Yet she did, and moreover she held to it tightly, as if it was some sort of protection. I was so intrigued by the scene playing out before me that I didn’t realize I was walking out into the open, making myself part of it.
Granny Fanny looked at me, and her eyes lit with happiness. However, the joy quickly flashed to pain, and then to anger. I drew back, wishing I was still behind the dwarf palmettos. No one spoke and it was uncomfortably quiet. Daisy patted the bench beside her, and I gathered my courage and walked past my grandmother to sit beside my ghostly friend.
A pop-fizz sound broke the silence. Maestro Martino appeared. He was wearing his usual chef’s garb. Wriggles started barking furiously at him. Unlike Daisy, and I assumed most other spirits, Maestro Martino’s presence was so powerful that anyone could see him. Of course, that was provided he actually wanted to be seen.
I was blocking their line of sight, plus the barking of the little dog distracted the vicar and Mrs. Maddox enough that they didn’t realize that Maestro had not walked into the garden in the ordinary way. He really had simply appeared out of thin air. Maestro hurriedly took off the tall chef’s hat and hid it behind his back. Remarkably, the pug quieted and sniffed his odd Renaissance era boots.
I had thought the dog was afraid of the ghost chef, but then I realized Wriggles was afraid of the hat, not the spirit. Maestro was mischievous enough that he plopped the hat back onto his head for a moment and made a funny face. The pug started barking again. The poltergeist grinned and tucked the hat into his jacket. Wriggles looked up at him, yapped once, and then wagged his curly tail. His little black face looked like it was smiling.
Vicar Vance apologized and introduced himself and Mattie Maddox to the newcomer. “I didn’t see you come up, sir. Is there anything I can do for you?” he asked.
“This is…” Granny hesitated. “This is Mr. Martino. He was kind enough to escort me today on short notice,” she said somewhat awkwardly.
“Oh! It was you who radioed about the ferry being in trouble!” Vicar Varley cried. “You have my heartfelt thanks, Mr. Martino. I can’t tell you how helpful that was. Some of those people might have succumbed to hypothermia if we had not been ready for them. But thanks to you we had everything in place when the boat limped to the dock. I can tell you it was quite a scene on the beach last night.”
Maestro looked pleased but slightly embarrassed. He insisted that it was nothing, and started speaking Italian. Since his English was perfect, if accented, I thought he must have done that to throw off the vicar — to keep him from asking unwanted questions.
“Oh Signora, Che fortuna!” Maestro cried and pointed toward a palm tree that was different from the ones surrounding it. “How fortunate, no? It is a coconut palm. Perhaps we could get the coconut milk for your special fruit cake recipe?”
“We don’t need to bother anyone with that right now, Maestr… I mean Mr. Martino,” she stammered.
I was amazed that Granny had helped the ghost come to the island. She was still furious that Andy and I had unknowingly brought him into her kitchen in the first place. Granny Fanny and the poltergeist argued more often than they spoke civilly. Yet she backed up so that she stood closer to Martino than she did to the living people.
She didn’t get any closer to Daisy though. Granny looked at the ghost woman suspiciously. I supposed that Granny had grown accustomed to Maestro Martino. And as he said himself, he was one powerful poltergeist! Did she feel the need for protection? But why?
My grandmother glanced at me, and I saw worry and sadness in her eyes. Could she really have been so afraid for me that she took comfort in knowing someone powerful like Maestro was at her side? Had an imagined need to rescue or protect me been stronger than her fear and distrust of the supernatural? I suddenly felt like a heel for causing her to worry.
“Meraviglioso,” he murmured and cast a meaningful look at Granny Fanny. Maestro held the look for a bit longer than it seemed to me like he should have. It wasn’t just a look. It was an adoring gaze. Then I knew he was up to something. The exaggerated look of longing was an act, despite the fact that the spirit really was attracted to my grandmother.
The vicar and Mattie both noticed the way he was looking at Granny. She blushed and looked away, clearing her throat. Mattie gave an unexpected smile at Maestro’s behavior. She leaned toward the vicar and whispered something about people in love being so sweet at any age.
I wasn’t sure if my grandmother heard what Mattie said, but she shot a glare at Maestro. Then the flirty ghost bowed over Mattie Maddox’s hand in his courtly way. He whispered something in Italian and the old gal actually giggled like a school girl. I had to admit, the Maestro had a way about him. He said something else to her in that accent of his. It was English that time, but I didn’t catch what he said. However, Mattie blushed and tittered.
When Mattie caught her breath, she looked at my grandmother. “And you were worried about these two young people… but you set sail, so to speak, with this handsome rake!” Mattie chided playfully. “Oh, now… I was only joking, dear. No offense intended,” the older woman said when Granny’s glare transferred to her.
Maestro Martino laughed a bit too loudly. He was still up to whatever it was. “Sì, is it as you say, the pot calling the kettle black?” he exclaimed and then laughed again, but gave Granny an adoring little tweak on the cheek.
Granny looked astonished, not just at Maestro, but at what Mattie said. After a moment she shook her head ruefully. “I guess you have a point, Mrs. Maddox,” she said, but I knew my grandmother too well to feel relieved that fast.
“Now please, you call me Mattie,” the other woman said warmly.
I wondered what Maestro had said to Mattie. I couldn’t imagine what it was, but it seemed to have started things in the right direction. Between Mattie and Maestro, maybe Granny Fanny would calm down enough that she’d give up the idea of sending me home to Florida.
Or maybe the antics of the little dog would distract her enough, I thought as I watched Wriggles wrap his leash around and around a bench leg. When he ran out of lead, he started to whine and pull at the confining mess he’d made for himself. However, no one was paying much attention to him.
Just as I noticed that Daisy had disappeared, I saw that a rose and a white daisy were at Mattie’s feet. She wore a bemused expression as she leaned down to pick them up from the pavement. The woman looked at Granny rather than me when she spoke.
“You know, when I was young I had a friend, a best friend… Pip reminds me of her. She was so headstrong and intelligent, and so vital. But she didn’t think as well of herself as she should have,” Mattie said. “I hope your granddaughter realizes how special and valuable she is,” she added looking at me from the corner of her eye and giving a little nod.
“I’d love to hear about her, your friend,” I cut into the conversation, causing Granny to raise an eyebrow at me.
“It was so long ago now, but I’ve never forgotten,” Mattie Maddox spoke in a soft voice as her memory stretched back over decades. “Oh, she was a strong young woman, but just as sweet as she was strong. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could fail to love her, but there were plenty of people who resented her. King Henry though, that’s what they called Mr. Kingston senior, he worshiped the ground she walked on.”
Vicar Vance Varley at first gave Mattie a quizzical glance. Then the look on his face shifted to worry and fear. “Miss Mattie—”
“She?” Granny prompted, obviously curious despite the situation.
“Mr. Kingston’s second wife, Daisy,” Mattie said. “I was her personal maid, but she always said I was her best friend. She certainly was mine, but I always felt I didn’t do enough…” Mattie said but her words trailed away with her thoughts.
“I didn’t realize it at the time, but at the end, I think she thought King Henry had left her,” Mattie went on. “She was so badly off by then, I think time was passing differently for her. Daisy didn’t understand everything that was happening then as she drifted in and out of consciousness. Her husband wasn’t at her side every minute. To be honest, I thought he should have been there more, but he was beside her more than many men would have been,” she said in a reasoning tone.
“He arranged for an important doctor to come to Savannah and take a look at her. King Henry left on the ferry to pick up the doctor at Union Station. I think the hours must have felt like days to Daisy, and she thought he’d left her. She passed before he even got to Savannah.
“Miss Mattie,” the vicar interrupted. “What you’ve told me in confidence… It might not be wise to disclose to strangers,” he said sounding very agitated.
Mattie sighed and smiled a small smile. It reminded me of Daisy’s sad smile, and I wondered if they shared that expression because they had been so close. “Vance, I’m an old woman. I’m not worried about that. And I’m not going to look over my shoulder anymore,” Mattie said flatly and my curiosity rose at her affirming tone.
Though I was mesmerized by the odd exchange between Mattie and Vicar Vance, it registered with me that something in my surroundings had changed. Something was missing. It was quiet.
I glanced at the bench where I last saw Wriggles pulling at his leash. The collar was there, but the dog was gone. Granny followed my gaze.
“Oh great heavens! Where is that doggone dog?” she exclaimed. “I have to find him. I said I’d take care of him,” she said and hurried down what was probably a random garden path.
Everyone followed Granny. I heard barking up ahead. Even before I could see the building I saw the bright golden glow. My feet squished uncomfortably inside my wet shoes as I hurried along the paved path. The barking grew louder and then I rounded a curve where huge shell pink camellias grew extraordinarily tall. The path opened onto the beautiful stained glass window, the one Daisy showed Andy and me back at the abandoned warehouse, the same one Mattie Maddox had in her paintings.
The golden and aqua light reflected in the glass was impossibly bright. I knew it had some supernatural help. It cast a golden glow over the red roses that grew before it. I heard Mattie gasp. Vicar Varley clasped his hands prayerfully before his chest and murmured something about God. Wriggles stood barking at the window. With every bark his little body scooted backward a few inches.
Daisy, looking even more ethereally beautiful than I’d ever seen her walked toward us from the window. She gave me that little smile that rarely reached her eyes.
“You are so close Pip. I can feel it,” Daisy said.
Mattie Maddox crumpled to the ground.
Recipe: Curry Mushroom Toast – Cooking Club 1908
Adapted from: Cooking Club Magazine, February 1908
Recipe and Photo Credit: Tori Avey at History Kitchen http://toriavey.com/history-kitchen/2014/02/curry-mushroom-toast-cooking-club-1908/
Please visit Tori’s great blog for step by step instructions and photos, as well as a terrific post.
1 baguette, cut into 12 slices
1 lb button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 1/2 tsp curry powder (or more to taste)
2 tsp flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and black pepper
Yields 6 servings
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in the bottom of a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the sliced bread and toast for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown.
Transfer the toast to a baking sheet and place in the oven at 200 degrees F to keep warm.
Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and add about 1/2 of the sliced mushrooms. Cook until brown, about 8-10 minutes. Then add remaining mushrooms and continue cooking for an additional 5-7 minutes.
Sprinkle curry and flour over the mushrooms and stir to evenly coat.
Add vegetable stock to the pan and stir to combine. Cook until the liquid thickens and is reduced by half.
Reduce heat to medium and add cream. Cook until thickened. Stir in salt and black pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp of salt and a pinch of black pepper– your amount may vary based on the saltiness of your stock). Remove from heat.
To serve, place 2 slices of toast on a plate and spoon the curry mushroom sauce over the top. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley if desired.
Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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