Do you want some cheese to go with that whine, Teagan?
If you saw yesterday’s post, you know I have even more stress than usual right now. So thanks for letting me vent. Usually I have to be in a really “good place” or I can’t write. The spontaneous nature of the serials help with that, though I’m not sure why or how. Even so, yesterday… I didn’t think I could even write a serial episode this weekend.
But I kept thinking about how long the amazing Elini has been waiting to see the episode for her “things”… and I did manage to write a short episode. Elini is a fascinating person and chef. I relate to how she describes her life as a journey. I hope you’ll take a look at her blog and get to know her – as well as Elini’s Empanadas. She’s pretty amazing! So be sure to read to the end of this episode where you’ll find a link to one of her recipes. Then devour some more of her scrumptious posts.
By the way — we’re running low on things to keep this train running. Everyone is welcome to send three random things, including food-related things. Just leave your “things (ingredients)” in a comment.
Now, let’s get this steam locomotive rolling, even if the journey is brief today. All aboard!
The woman thought one of the voices she heard back at the Hixon estate could have belonged to Sheriff Alvin Bullard. Thanks to the magically juiced road locomotive, Copper, the alchemist, and the woman in trousers outdistanced the three presumably hostile groups that pursued them. However, when the speeding engine took a turn too fast, the woman and the skull of the alchemist ended up in the frigid waters of the river. The resultant head colds for those two temporarily stalled their adventure. Not to mention the strange things that happened when the alchemist sneezed.
8. Short Ribs, Eggplant, Red Pepper
Cornelis Drebble rolled his watery eyes up toward the frog that sat atop his head. “Huh. Huh—” Cornelis began and quickly put his finger under his nose in attempt to forestall yet another sneeze. The frog wisely jumped down from his head.
“For pity’s sake! There’s no telling what will rain down on us if you sneeze again!” I said, though I knew the alchemist couldn’t help himself.
“Ah-choo!” was the answer to my plea.
Another wet splat soon came. What smelled like a very savory reddish brown sauce splashed onto the legs of my trousers. I drew back, annoyed. I finally had been able to put on clean dry clothes, and they’d already been stained. Cornelis bent down with a curious expression on his face. Copper left off playing with the frogs to see what new wonder was produced by the sneeze of the alchemist.
He picked up the sauce covered thing that made the wet splat. I asked what it was as I tried to clean the warm goo from my pant legs.
I made a disgusted face. “Since that is the product of your sneeze, isn’t it rather like the equivalent of eating your own buggers?” I asked; just to see how he would react.
Copper burst out in a gale of laughter. Cornelis looked at me. One side of his mouth turned down in an expression of contempt. Cornelis raised an eyebrow and cast his eyes downward at the ribs. Then he shot a glare at me and took a big bite of the meat, licking his fingers for good measure.
Then the second wave came. Short ribs fell all around us. They landed on my shoulder and in my hair. They pelted the alchemist, who suddenly had sauce smeared across his nose. Even Copper wasn’t spared — nor were the frogs. Riotous ribbits ensued as the amphibians leapt for cover from the rain of ribs.
After calm returned, Cornelis and I discussed the three groups who converged on the Hixon estate. We both agreed that their only logical purpose would have been to abduct Copper. I supposed that was good at least in as far as it should mean her father was still alive. Of course that was no guarantee, as Cornelis quickly pointed out. Fortunately the girl had gone back to playing with the frogs and didn’t hear that comment.
Suddenly I beheld the strangest sight, and mind you, I have seen some very bizarre things since the alchemist came into my life. Hundreds of frogs made a procession toward the huge wrent in the building’s wall. Several hopped huddled together as they balanced an eggplant on their backs and heads.
Copper skipped along beside the strange spectacle. I told her not to go outside. She stopped and nodded regretfully as the frogs carried their eggplant away. I asked Cornelis what that could possibly be about.
“One sneeze doesn’t always produce a singular effect. The eggplant could have come from the same accident of alchemy that created the frogs,” he said.
The Dutchman shrugged it off. Even so, something nagged at me.
The frogs continued to stream out of the building. I followed in the opposite direction, tracing the line of amphibians to their source. Cornelis followed my lead. Ever curious, Copper came along too. With a ribbit, a last frog hopped out of a crate. The large wooden box was almost intact. Only one corner of it was broken.
I started to try and pry the crate further open to get a better look. Then, eyes bulging, Cornelis tapped his finger on the label he’d found on the container.
It was marked κόκκινο πιπέρι, and I thought the address was Macedonia, but I wasn’t sure. “What’s wrong? I don’t recognize the language,” I said.
Cornelis shook his head and pursed his lips. “Your education was sorely lacking,” he complained.
“This, κόκκινο πιπέρι or kókkino pipéri if you will, is Greek,” he informed me. “It means red pepper. So show a bit of mercy and do not open that crate. I don’t think I can bear another sneeze!”
“Then move away,” I told him with a motion of my arm. “I have a hunch.”
I had removed the priceless Leonardo da Vinci papers from the owl-shaped lamp. It was best that I carried them in the thin leather script that was tucked into my long coat.
“Copper, did there happen to be a magnifying glass among that carpet bag full of things you packed?” I asked the girl.
Apparently there had been. Copper hurried away to the place where our things lay. She was back in a moment with a lovely ornate magnifying glass. I imagined it was another of the treasures her father had brought her from his travels. Although perhaps it was not of the magical variety, as was the “bell” carved with the three wise monkeys which was in fact a harmonic tuner.
I opened the leather script and took out the embossed letter. Moving this way and that, I tried to get into the best light. As I held the magnifying glass to the faded seal embossed onto the letter I found the word Macedonia.
Was there finally a clue to the mysterious goings on? It didn’t feel like a coincidence to me.
Where will our trio go from here? Jump on-board next time when the “things” are from the incredibly creative Suzanne Debrango at “A Pug in the Kitchen”
Now for our recipe! In addition to things/ingredients, lovely Elini was kind enough to also provide a truly creative recipe to go with this episode. Bon appétit!
Recipe: Chocolate Chili Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Photo and recipe credit: Eleni Herrera
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