Three Ingredients – 25: Finale

Parrots_Finale

What’s a writer to do when more than one set of “ingredients” arrive at the same time?  Be grateful, that’s what!  Which leads me to a big reveal…

The following episode brings us to the finale of this storyline.  Oh, don’t fret!  The Three Ingredients hasn’t “given up the ghost!”  I didn’t have the heart to completely end things today.  Plus your ingredients led to several details that I wanted to carry-over.  I’m sure there will be some different characters, but if you root for your favorites in the comments area, I’ll try to keep them around.

So next time, “Cookbook 2” will begin with ingredients from writer/blogger Evelyne Holingue.  Pip will continue as the narrator of the culinary mystery, but the “spirit” of the story might be a bit different. (Are you beginning to get a hint about the future story here?) Phuong book-3

Now, for the finale!  I’m pleased to have the opportunity to share about cookbooks from a LinkedIn associate and fellow blogger, Dr. Phuong Le Callaway.  Phuong’s blog deals with leadership and motivation.  In addition to all her other work, Phuong wrote three cookbooks! Proceeds from any of her wonderful cookbooks go to charity. Now, let’s find out what happens when that cloud of red pepper settles.  Bon appétit!

25.  Ginger Roots, Chicken Breast, Cabbage

From the corner of my eyes I saw Arabella Wong, Alastair’s mother, walking up the path.  Her teal satin dress was heavily embroidered with designs of chrysanthemums and birds.  The satin shimmered in the Vogue-Apr 1919fairy lights that lined the walkway.  Granny Fanny stepped out the kitchen door, carrying a tray of beautiful meringue pies, but she stepped over to meet Arabella anyway.

I knew Arabella wanted to get a look at the big shindig, but I was also aware that Alastair told his mother to send someone else to do the errand.  He knew enough to realize that the evening could become dangerous.  All of us were sure Queenie Wetson and her gang of bootleggers were behind the ambush that left Marshal Moses Myrick gravely wounded, and his federal agents dead.

The young restaurateur cast a worried and frustrated look at his mother as she approached.  He had set up a table and equipment for making spring rolls.  A small group of hungry partygoers watched him prepare the ingredients. Who could blame them? It was fascinating to watch Alastair cook.  His movements were quick, deft, and graceful.  It was almost a dance.  He tossed a carrot into the air with a flourish before rapidly chopping it.  Then he arranged the carrot pieces into a swirl design on a gleaming white square shaped plate.

Arabella spotted her son and called out to him.  “Alastair I thought you might need more ginger roots too…”

However, Mrs. Wong’s voice trailed away from me, because I was focused on the chaos erupting before Joan Crawford Queen of Clubsme.  Our hostess wanted to hold a “parade of pets.” It was charming, but it went awry when several of the animals got loose.  Pandemonium ensued.

The cavorting furry kids knocked down Queenie Weston, bootlegger kingpin (or maybe I should say queen-pin), and her three white tuxedo clad henchmen.  That bunch surely deserved the tangle of arms and legs in which they landed.

The pets also ruined one of Granny’s hors d’oeuvre tables, sending all manner of food flying into the air.  The lovely and unique square shaped plates and saucers fared no better, all the dishes and containers were overturned and scattered.  This included a silver bowl filled with powdered red pepper.  In mute fascination, I watched the bowl somersault high overhead.  Time slowed to a crawl as I stared at the silver container.

A slow-motion cloud of red pepper sifted down toward the henchmen and Queenie.  Maybe it was because everything seemed to be moving so slowly, but in that moment I noticed Detective Dabney Daniels, in disguise, frantically patting his sheik’s robes.

As I watched, he exchanged a wide-eyed look with that bossy butler.  Farceur’s mouth gaped in apparent comprehension.  Earlier I watched those two sneaking around (right after I caught that copper kissing Granny!), and I saw the butler pass a small book to Dabney.  I wasn’t sure if they were up to good or no-good.  However, I did know that the incriminating journal had just gone missing.  Dabney had lost it somehow.

vintage queen of the mayBeside me, a girl in tomboy clothes darted under the descending pepper cloud.  She was moving normally, while everything else crept along slower than a tortoise.  A blue pop of electricity lit Queenie’s beaded evening bag. The Queen of Clubs cried out in surprised pain as she fell, tossing aside the offending purse.  The sound of her cry stretched out to a long slow moan.  The evening bag popped open as it skidded across the pavement, exposing the small journal inside.

Suddenly the girl in tomboy clothes was at my elbow.  “Daisy!” I exclaimed recognizing the young woman who repaired my uniform jacket earlier that day.

“Quick, Pip!” Daisy said pointing at the evening bag.  “Get it!”

Ever so slowly Dabney turned to look at Queenie and her men.  As one of them seemed to float toward the ground, positioned to land directly on top of the Queen of Clubs, I noticed the henchman’s smug grin as he looked at the distraught detective.  I thought he must have gotten the journal from Dabney without the detective knowing.

Bit by bit, the man’s smile faded as he realized he was falling.  I knew that whether or not they saw through Dabney’s disguise, the gangsters were onto the fact that he’d had the convicting book.  Had the butler, Mr. Farceur, tipped them off?lantern-press-joker-playing-card

Joker’s wild, Cracker the Parrot had repeated many times.  As best I could figure out, farceur was a French word for joker.  I didn’t know much about poker, but couldn’t a wild card be used for whatever you wanted it to be?  What if the gangster code named Joker was Farceur?  What if he was working both sides?  Could he pretend to work for both the police and the gangsters?

“Hurry, Pip!” Daisy urged, snapping me out of the ideas that had unexpectedly filled my mind.

Thinking fast, I grabbed a square saucer that stayed on the table, despite the shenanigans of the animals.  I rushed over to the evening bag.  I replaced the journal with the saucer, snapped the purse closed, and left the fancy evening bag where it lay.  I tucked the journal inside the waistband of my wide-legged trousers and covered it with the white waiter’s tuxedo jacket.  No one saw what I did.

Everything was still moving abnormally slow.  I couldn’t begin to understand why or how it could be so.  Just the same, Daisy and I seemed to be the only ones who were at normal speed.

“Your cute redheaded friend hid a radio in the delivery truck.  Tell him to have the coppers move in,” Daisy said.  “I can’t keep things slowed down much longer.”

1920s Cosmo Feb“What?  Do you mean you’re…” I began, but everything seemed so strange that I couldn’t finish forming the question in my mind, let alone spit it out.

Hank was right beside us, all but frozen in astonishment as he mutely watched the cloud of red pepper poof upward and then slowly descend.  Daisy touched a finger to his earlobe and Hank shivered.

“Tell him now,” she urged, and I leaned close to Hank and spoke the words into his ear, telling him he had to get to the radio and bring the coppers.

Savannah’s youngest policeman only twitched, but the expression in his eyes made me feel like he might actually have heard and understood.  Ever so slowly he began to turn on his heel.

“Thank you Pip,” Daisy said.  She no longer wore the tomboy outfit.  She was dressed elegantly in a diaphanous chiffon gown.  “So few people are aware of me — even when I try very hard to contact them.  You have a gift.”

I started to shiver with the cold I felt at her presence.  The clang of the silver dish against the pavement came to my ears, but I didn’t look as I stared in awe at Daisy.  Much lighter, the pepper continued its sluggish descent, seemingly long after the bowl hit the ground.

“I have helped you,” she continued.  “And I was happy to do it.  However, I now ask you to use your rare talent to help me.”

“Of course, Daisy. I would have helped you however I could anyway,” I said, though I continued a mental1920s Vogue poster struggle to comprehend the impossible happenings around me.  Was I really talking to a ghost?  Had she honestly managed to slow time?

“If I knew who took my life, I would just show you,” Daisy said.  “But after death, sometimes a spirit might know more about some things and less about others, especially when it comes to the life we lived.  I just want you to understand that I’m not just being vindictive or self-serving.  Yes, I’d like my killer brought to justice, but I also want to make sure he, she, or they don’t harm anyone else,” she said with an exasperated shrug.

I nodded my understanding.  The nausea came back full force.  Alastair was right about the cold and upset stomach accompanying a spirit’s presence.

“As I said, I know parts, but not the whole.  There are several people here tonight who either took part in my death or have information about it.  The presence of so many of them in one place is what drew me here — what gave me the strength to do the things I’ve done just now,” Daisy said.

“I’ll do all I can, Daisy,” I said with a big dry gulp.

“Oh, by the way, you’re right.  The Joker’s wild,” she added.  “He was secretly working for Moses Myrick.  Try not to give him away.  He’s not such a bad guy.”

Barrie Craig adventures“How could you know…” I began but stopped myself.

Daisy smiled.  “I met Moses.  He died for a moment.  Actually he died a couple of times.  First while that one was driving him to the doctors,” she said pointing to Dabney in his disguise. “And again when your grandmother and her friends were trying to save him.  That was how I knew to find you.”

She chuckled at my confused expression.  “Naturally Moses will not remember meeting me.  He said how much like your grandmother you are.  I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be mysterious,” she said as I tried unsuccessfully to form words.  “Your grandmother can see me, or rather she could if she didn’t have so many of her talents blocked.  Your gift comes from her line,” Daisy explained as she drifted away from me.

The motions in the scene around me gradually began to increase toward normal speed.  Daisy moved to stand beside Henry Kingston III, and she gave me a very significant look.  Then she disappeared.

Walking at a snail’s pace, Hortense Houston “hurried” toward the falling guests.  As the housekeeper, it was a matter of pride to her that the even went well.  She a look of horror painted her face as she saw the alphonse mucha 1calamity in progress.  She didn’t see the chicken breast she was about to step on, and I hoped it didn’t cause her to slip.  She had been nice to me.

As time started to pass at a rate that was very close to normal, I saw Daisy step through the broad French doors.  She went to a large framed photograph and placed her hand on it.  She nodded to me.  I knew there was information in that photograph. I’d have to make sure I got a good look at it.  Then Daisy vanished.

In a surge that I felt in the bottom of my stomach, everything rushed back to normal speed.  The sensation caused me to stagger.  Without a word, Hank made a beeline toward the delivery truck and the radio he had secretly hidden there.

The red pepper cloud finally reached Queenie Wetson and her henchmen.  Screaming, crying, and floundering erupted from the quartet.

I headed straight over to Dabney Daniels. Mr. Farceur reached him a fraction of a second sooner.  They were hissing something at each other when they saw me. Since I’d seen Dabney searching his robes for it Black Butler 2and make eye contact with the Joker, I knew they were talking about the incriminating journal.  Both men started jabbering at me, saying that I should go do this or that.

“Look, I know about that book,” I said loudly enough to cut across their combined chatter.  Then realizing the volume at which I spoke, I took a quick look over my shoulder.  Queenie and her men were still in the midst of a pepper induced fit.  Everything around them was in chaos, with the pets still on the loose.

“What I don’t know,” I said with an arch look at the butler.  “Is whether you can be trusted. Either of you!” I added, including Dabney in my gaze before turning back to Farceur. “But especially you.  Are you some kind of double agent, working both sides against the middle? Or were you working with the police all along?” I demanded.

Farceur drew an annoyed sounding breath.  Then to my surprise, he fessed up.  “I became acquainted with Marshal Moses Myrick when he began investigating my new employers, the Kingstons,” Farceur said in a clipped way.  “He discovered that I had done some… shall we say discrete work for my government before I came here.  He enlisted my help.  However, I did not expect to find anyone other than the marshal in the sheik’s robes tonight.”JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar ad

“Did you give him the real book then?” I asked jerking my head toward Dabney.

The butler looked like he was disgusted with himself.  “Yes, against my better judgment, I gave it to him.  He threatened to expose everything if I did not,” Farceur said, glaring at the detective.

“Pip, how do you know about any of this?” Dabney insisted.

“There’s no time for that,” I said in a rush, knowing he’d never believe me if I told him.  “Hank’s gone to radio the police.  I hope they’re nearby,” I said in a suggestive tone.

Dabney looked relieved but confused.  He nodded.  He wasn’t moving and I wanted to push him into action.  However, I glanced at the three men and the Queen of Clubs.  They were beginning to get to their collective feet.  There were four of them and only three of us.  Then I saw the flash of metal.  Apparently the men were distraught and felt threatened enough that they drew their guns.  I didn’t realize they had been carrying firearms.

Perils_of_Pauline_-_1947_PosterI gasped when I saw so many weapons on display.  Even Queenie drew a pearl handled pistol from a holster at her garter.  We were definitely outnumbered.

“Didn’t you notice the bulges in their jackets, Pip?” Detective Daniels asked with a smirk.  “Now you run along and stay out of the way.  This is no place for a girl.  And Fanny would never forgive me if something happened to you.”

Well… you can guess what effect those words had on me.  How dare he tell me to run along as if I were a child or a simpleton!  Having seen those guns, I might actually have run for cover if he hadn’t said that.  But there was no backing down then!

A pistol appeared in Dabney’s hand as if by magic.  It was probably hidden in the voluminous robes.  Farceur picked up a double handful of forks and knives from the nearest table.  In an instant he had one between each of the fingers of both of his hands.  The two men snaked between party guests toward the villains.

However, Queenie and her men were already regaining their wits.  The sound of police sirens cut through the noise of laughing and talking.  It brought the gangsters to their senses.Joan Crawford as Queenie Wetson

Hortense Houston had come back to full speed along with everything else.  The housekeeper hurried toward the guests to make sure they were unharmed from their fall.  Just as she reached them, Hortense slipped on the chicken breast that I noticed a moment before.  As she slid into one of the henchmen he grabbed her and put his gun to her head.

There was so much noise.  I could barely sort all the sounds.  The dogs howled, probably at the sirens — which continued to wail.  Someone screamed.  Everyone seemed to be shouting.

Queenie, her glittering tiara askew, stepped back onto the tail of Marie Antoinette, Mrs. Kingston’s Maine Coon cat.  The tall cat hissed and stood up on her hind legs, claws extended, and grabbed the posterior of the Queen of Clubs.  Queenie shrieked, waiving her pearl handled pistol.  Antoinette darted inside the mansion.

To my horror, I saw how close they were to Arabella Wong and Granny Fanny.  Alastair was only a few feet away at his table too.  What if the crooks started shooting?

One of the henchmen tripped over his own feet when he turned to see what was wrong with Queenie.  1916 Vogue springHis stumble put him in range of Arabella Wong and he made a grab for Alastair’s mother.  My stomach lurched.  Arabella wouldn’t hurt a fly; she was so ladylike and demure.  My brief acquaintance with her flashed before my eyes.  I heard the horrible man say, “Two hostages are better than one!”

In a heartbeat the man was socked in the noggin by a head of cabbage.  Since the man was so close to his mother, Alastair picked up the safest “weapon” at hand and threw the vegetable.  However, he threw it with such force and speed that it made the villain stagger.

The next thing I knew, Arabella was all over the guy.  Hands and feet flying in a blur, Arabella was like nothing I’d ever seen before as she attacked her would be assailant.  Then Granny Fanny started throwing those beautiful meringue pies!  It looked like something the Marx Brothers would have done, and I would have laughed if the situation had not been deadly dangerous!

A woman screamed when the henchmen aimed their guns.  Then I realized the screaming woman was me!  I was so afraid of what might happen to Granny and Arabella while I watched helplessly.

Parrot in flight

As if I had summoned her, Cracker soared into the fray, raking her sharp talons across the heads of the criminal quartet.  She caught Queenie’s tiara in her beak and tossed it violently.  As the parrot attacked one of the henchmen, he fired his gun wildly into the air.

Girls didn’t usually get much in the way of science classes in school back then, but I was luckier than most.  I knew enough to realize that a bullet going up would eventually come down.  I just hoped that it didn’t come down and kill an innocent.

With unexpected attack from feet, pies, and talons the villains were so surprised that Hortense managed to get away from the henchman who was holding her at gunpoint.  There were still so many people in the way that it wasn’t safe for Dabney to fire his gun.  At least I hoped he would realize that.  When I spotted1920s Flapper n Phoenix him, he was pointing the revolver but he couldn’t seem to get a clear shot.  I swallowed hard, fearing the wrong person would get shot.

The henchmen managed to get guns their aimed at Arabella and Granny, and the two women backed away.  The assault had pushed the criminals against the wall of the mansion.  Queenie and her men sidled toward the broad French doors.  However, they stopped when the police started pounding at the mansion’s front door.

Cracker glided to the table where Alastair stood, as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.  She picked up a carrot and flew to a corner of the terrace.  I hadn’t noticed Cinnamon Bun there.  Cracker gave the giant rabbit the carrot.  He nibbled it and then seemed to decide to carry it elsewhere.  I saw the bunny’s long ears as he quietly moved amid partygoers.  To my dismay, he ended up behind one of Queenie’s men.

The carrot was sticking out of Cinnamon Bun’s mouth as he curiously sat up on his haunches to investigate the man in front of him.  A Flemish Giant rabbit standing on his haunches is pretty tall.  The carrot poked the man’s side.  He must have thought someone had sneaked up on him with a gun, because he eased his hands into the air.

Queenie turned in consternation.  “What are you doing?” she shouted at him.  “It’s a rabbit for heaven’s sake!”Vintage rabbit driving

However, that was enough of a diversion for Mr. Farceur to get into place.  He was only armed with cutlery from the table, but his aim was dead-on.  The knives and forks whistled through the air in a rapid blur, and painfully struck the quartet of gangsters.

By then some of the policemen made their way to the back of the mansion, and the ones at the front door got inside.  Soon Queenie Wetson and her henchmen were arrested and locked up in the paddy wagon.

Dabney Daniels removed his sheik headdress and yellow tinted glasses.  He spoke individually to each person who had been directly in harm’s way, making sure they were unhurt and he put Hank Hertz to work taking statements from them.

Sheik of ArabyI lost sight of Granny Fanny after she and Arabella did their part.  However, she had looked unscathed at that moment.  When she walked up to Dabney he looked so relieved that I thought he was going to kiss her again.

Maybe he really was about to, because Granny took half a step back from him.  After my initial shock, I didn’t see anything wrong with Granny and Dabney being a couple. She was a good bit older than him, but that happened once in a while.  And it happened all the time if the man was the older one.  As a flapper, I had to be all for a modern relationship!  However, Granny was obviously not convinced.

I walked over to the pair and removed the journal from my waistband.  I made sure Granny saw it.  I wanted a witness of my own.  I couldn’t suddenly shift from suspicion of Daniels to complete trust.  I handed the journal to the detective.  It was the evidence the police needed to convict the rumrunners.

An important seeming man walked up just then and Dabney showed him the book.  The man turned out to be the police commissioner, the top copper.  He thumbed carefully through the journal, nodding 1920s Peoples home journal girl parrotapproval as he read random pages.

Dabney motioned for Hank and Alastair to join them and he introduced the younger men to the commissioner.  The commissioner had heard of Hank, Savannah’s youngest police officer, but he did not know him or Alastair personally.

I didn’t feel too comfortable being around anybody who was so… official so I stepped away before I was pulled into the introductions.  Daniels caught my eye, but he seemed to understand.  He nodded and I kept moving away.

Then a minor commotion came to my attention.  “What about him?” I demanded, pointing at Henry Kingston III.  “Isn’t he the King of Clubs?”

Mr. Farceur was beside me, but he was trying to be inconspicuous.  I wasn’t sure why he didn’t want any credit for the role he played in catching the bootleggers, but I was respectful of his wish for privacy.  He spoke quietly in answer to my question.

“Yes and no,” he said, and I couldn’t help rolling my eyes. Trust that butler to be cryptic.  “He was the King of Clubs, but Kingston’s participation was negligible.  Queenie Wetson manipulated him into most of his actions, so she was as much the King of Clubs as he was.  She was both king and queen.  Kingston’s a funny old bird, and not too bright.  I have a suspicion that his influential position, not to mention his expensive barrister — I mean attorney, will keep him out of jail.”

As Farceur spoke one of the party guests stepped in between Kingston and the police.  The man waved his arms, shouting about rights and evidence.  Oh, that would be the lawyer all right.

1917 Vogue“He is not blameless in all this.  It’s not fair if he gets off scot-free!” I complained, and Farceur agreed with a sardonic twist of his lips.

“One never knows,” Farceur said as he gazed beyond me and into the branches of the crepe myrtle trees that bordered that part of the terrace.  “He’s doubtless committed other crimes.  Something will trip him up eventually,” he said and gave a barely perceptible nod to someone behind me.

The butler had obviously been looking at someone, so I turned to see who was there.  All I saw was Cracker perched on a thick branch of the biggest crepe myrtle tree I had ever seen.  The thought went through my mind that it must be very old indeed, because those trees didn’t tend toward such size.

Abruptly I realized that Cracker was not alone.  Chiffon billowed on the night breeze.  Daisy sat on the branch next to the parrot.

“Applesauce!” I cried in astonishment and turned back to the butler.  “Do you mean to tell me that you can see her too?” I asked the empty space beside me.  Farceur was gone.

***

Here ends Cookbook-1 of The Three Ingredients

1920s face

Stay tuned for Cookbook-2!

Until next time — Great-big-hugs to you all.

Video:  Thai Cooking – Chicken Ginger

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kMtGxTNkWs

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.

 

Three Ingredients – 24: Aubergine, Thyme, Red Pepper

CB's sketch "Fox" It came as a very pleasant surprise when CB sent the ingredients for today’s episode. CB is new to the blogosphere.  That information was unexpected, because I think “Better Dressed than Joe” is a great blog, with posts that are quick, evocative, and charming — and delightful sketches too. It’s not something I’d expect from a beginner. I especially liked the “Fox” sketch, and I thought it was appropriate to this episode!  So before you read today’s spot, check out Better Dressed than Joe.

You can do catch-up reading at the page where this story lives, The Three Ingredients Serial Homepage. Just click the button at the top of this page.  Also there are a lot of online resources for 1920’s slang if some of the lingo stumps you.Episode-24 Rabbit_Sign copy

The animal characters have played such a fun part in this storyline that I’m happy to have the chance to feature all of them.  I hope you enjoy the reading as much as I enjoyed the writing.  Bon appétit!

 

24.  Aubergine, Thyme, Red Pepper

That bossy butler, Mr. Farceur, put a nervous idea into my head when he suggested that it would be best if Queenie Wetson didn’t see me.  I had a bad feeling that he was wright.  After all, I had been drugged and hit over the head, and woke up in a cellar at the mill and herb farm owned by the Queen of Clubs and her husband.  I couldn’t remember anything about that day, so for all I knew Queenie Wetson was behind the attack on me.Flapper Running

So I worked mostly in the kitchen, getting an occasional peep at the party, while the guys served at the tables.  I carried a tray of marinated aubergine to the table that had just been set up outside, where Hank Hertz stood.  I tried not to let him see me smiling.

He was all but unrecognizable with his henna treated hair and thin mustache. Rules said he was too young, but Hanks’ skill with the radio equipment got him special permission to be on the police force. It didn’t seem likely, but Granny was afraid someone in the rumrunner’s gang might recognize him. So she insisted he change his appearance, and then before he could back out, she hennaed his hair! I knew he was eggplant-note-card_1024x1024uncomfortable with the disguise, so I tried to smooth out my expression.

Hank inhaled and looked curiously at my tray, asking what it was on it.  The dish was warmed to room temperature and had a nice aroma.  “It’s marinated aubergine,” I told him.

“It looks like eggplant,” he returned.

“It is,” I said, and hurriedly turned to go back to the kitchen before I got drawn into a conversation.

Too many thoughts competed for attention in my head.  I had just seen my grandmother in the arms of a man I’d sort of had a crush on up until recently, when he rejected my affection.  He was a good deal older than me — Dabney Daniels was practically Father Time.  But he was a lot younger than Granny Fanny just the same.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, but maybe that was irrelevant since Granny told him the bank was closed.  Although she had kissed him back…

Detective Daniels was the focal point of my thoughts, but not because I saw him trying to make Granny into his blue serge. What was really troubling me was seeing the copper sneaking around with that majordomo, Mr. Farceur.  I’d bet anything the book I saw the butler hand Daniels was that secret journal, which Marshal Myrick hoped to obtain as evidence against the murderous gang of bootleggers!Sheik of Araby

Broad arched French doors opened from the mansion onto the large terrace.  There was plenty of room to take the shindig outside.  The paved area swept up alongside the back of the house, which overlooked the Savannah River.  Everyone worked together quickly to setup tables out there at the sudden change dictated by Mrs. Kingston.

I couldn’t blame the lady of the manor for her mood.  She had just learned her husband’s mistress would be at the party.  I hoped the“parade of pets” she pulled together at a moment’s notice brought her some happiness.  I shook my head at the
things some women were taught to put up with, and promised myself that I never would.  After all, I was a flapper, a modern woman!

A commotion at the primary doors to the terrace drew my eyes.  Queenie Wetson emerged in her dazzling flapper Joan Crawford as Queenie Wetsongown and jewels, flanked by her three “dates” who were dressed in all-white tuxedos.  She had taken the arm of a nervous looking Bishop Bradley Binghamton.  Tucking her hand into the bend of his billowy white silk shirtsleeve, she pulled the bishop along beside her.

Bishop was one of the code names we’d heard the crooks use on the radio transmission.  However, Bishop Binghamton was such a slight, unassuming looking man.  I couldn’t imagine him as a criminal.  Then the thought came to me that perhaps he was not a willing party to whatever was going on around him. He did seem like a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Before they could see me, I ducked behind a large camellia bush.  Then I left the trail of stepping stones, taking a shortcut to the kitchen.  I tried to step carefully, but I blundered into the herb garden despite myself.  There weren’t any of the pretty fairy lights there, but I felt it when I stepped on a plant, and then I smelled the scent of thyme.  I stooped down to see how badly I had damaged the herb.1920s_Life_Magazine-music

Most of the party noise was still inside the Kingston mansion, with the guests only beginning to move out to the terrace.  So it was quiet enough that I heard a man muttering.  Pacing and apparently deep in thought, I saw Farceur in the shadows near the main kitchen door.  He sure was acting hinky.

Just as I was about to move on, he started muttering again.  To my astonishment, I realized he was chanting the old nursery rhyme.

Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye,

Four and twenty parrots baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,

Wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the King?

“Dainty dish…” he said.  “That strangely beautiful woman — I keep getting just a glimpse of her… There’s more here than meets the eye, no matter what anyone else believes. I’m certain of it,” Farceur mumbled to himself.

1920s Evening gownThe majordomo’s behavior surprised and mystified me.  It was bad enough that he was babbling to himself. I would have thought he had a screw loose, but his words gave me pause.  What did he say? There’s more here than meets the eye.  And he mentioned an unknown beautiful woman.  His comment was so similar to what the lovely party guest wearing the billowing chiffon gown said to me, “Not all things are as they seem.”  And she was strangely beautiful — obviously gorgeous, and strange in that it was as if she was there one minute and then she disappeared the next.

Whatever Farceur was about, he was interrupted by the housekeeper, Hortense Houston.  “Oh Mr. Farceur!  I’m so relieved to find you.  We need your expertise coordinating the guests for Madame’s parade of pets,” she told him.

For a second, Farceur was looked so distracted that he didn’t seem to know what the housekeeper was talking about.  However, he blinked and then acted more like his usual self.  The majordomo walked straight-backed, tailcoat twitching, into the mansion.

I waited until the butler and the housekeeper were inside, and then I followed 1920s Arrow couplediscreetly.  Once inside I perceived an air of uncertainty. Guests and many new arrivals with their pets — thankfully on leashes, milled around.  The shindig no longer appeared quite as elegant.  Farceur and Mrs. Houston consulted quietly for a moment, their heads close together. Then they maneuvered quickly among the partygoers.  In moments the party returned to its former posh state.

Mr. Farceur stepped to the middle of the room and tapped a spoon against a champagne flute.  It rang like a chime three times.  He had a pleasant yet authoritative air, with a vague smile on his lips.  Everyone turned attentively to learn what he would say.

“For your enjoyment, Madame has arranged a Parade of Pets. If you’ll kindly step out to the terrace, you will find tables with finger foods, along with drinks at the outdoor bar,” he said.

Nobody had to tell that group twice.  All it took was the hint of hooch, and the guests meandered outside.  I saw Hortense Houston’s dark bun bobbing among the pet owners who gravitated toward her.  That must have been what she and the butler had been mentioning to people when they mingled among the partygoers a moment before.

Rabbit Flapper magI didn’t know Granny Fanny was at my elbow until she spoke.  It startled me.  “Granny!  There is something I need to talk to you about,” I exclaimed.  “I saw Detective Daniels and that butler.  He sneaked a book to Dabney.”

“When would you have seen Dabney?” she asked; that cagy old fox.

“I know who’s under that Sheik of Araby getup,” I said, unable to keep an edge from my tone.

Granny looked at me wide-eyed, and I plunged ahead before she could assert any grandmotherly authority.  “And so does that butler!  Those two are up to something, and I don’t think it can be good,” I said.

My grandmother’s face paled.  After a moment she said, “It’s best we don’t jump to conclusions.”

She scanned the vast room and my gaze followed hers.  I knew she was looking for Dabney Daniels.  However, there was no sign of a hunched old man in sheik’s robes.  Neither was there a man among the guests that fit the general shape and size Dabney would be without the disguise.

“Moses was going to use a sheik disguise when he planned all this,” Granny said softly, and it sounded like she was thinking out loud.  “He set everything up, including a fake identity to make them believe he was making a deal with the King of Clubs.  I learned man_ray_tearshow he’d be disguised just before the ambush when his men were murdered. I didn’t think he told anyone but me and maybe his men about the disguise.  But he might have taken Dabney further into his confidence.  Moses Myrick knew I trusted Dabney…” Granny said putting her hand over her mouth.  “And he brought him into his confidence, at least to some degree… because of me.”

“Granny, you aren’t blaming yourself for anything, are you?” I exclaimed.  “The Feds knew they’d need the help of the local police if it turned into a big sting operation,” I reminded her and she nodded, looking down at her feet.

I studied the troubled expression on my grandmother’s face.  It reminded me of how I felt when I had my first doubt about Frankie back in Florida.  The pain of that betrayal and of knowing he’d been shot washed over me as if it had just happened.  It hurt me to think Granny might be feeling something similar.

“Maybe Daniels is just taking the marshal’s part in this charade,” I offered in a whisperlantern-press-joker-playing-card, because anything was better than thinking my grandmother’s heart was hurting.

“Maybe I misunderstood what I saw between him and the butler.  Applesauce! Maybe it wasn’t even Dabney under that sheik getup — after all, it was dark, and I never saw his
face.  Like you said, Granny.  We shouldn’t jump to conclusions,” I told her and the idea of mistaken identity started to appeal to me. It was perfectly plausible.

When she didn’t seem to be listening I tried to distract her from her troubled thoughts.  “By the way isn’t farceur a French word for joker?  As in ‘joker’s wild’ like Cracker keeps squawking?  What could it mean?” I asked.

My attempt to divert Granny from her thoughts fell flat.  The faraway look was still in her eyes.  “I knew he must have duties at his job,” she continued as if I hadn’t spoken.  “But it bothered the dickens out of me that he didn’t take a bigger part in the search for you that day…” her softly spoken words trailed away.

When the butler sauntered to the big front door we both watched him.  The door opened and Granny gasped.  “No!  I told her to stay away from here.  It could be dangerous.  Why didn’t they listen to me?” Granny said with a worried look.

paris Poodle postcardFor a second I didn’t know what Granny meant.  Then I saw Cotton dance through the doorway on her hind legs.  The white poodle wore a tutu made of pink toulle. Her toenails were painted a matching shade of pink and they clicked on the shining white marble floor as she pranced.  Cotton’s pirouetting display got everyone’s attention as well as a round of applause.  Veronica and Vincent Vale followed the dog into the stylish foyer.

Cinnamon Bun, the Flemish Giant rabbit thumped quietly alongside Vincent.  The veterinarian had him in a harness and leash.  The huge bunny wore a white collar and bow tie, along with a top hat that had holes cut into it from which his long ears protruded.  As Cotton bounded back to Veronica, it pulled the crowd’s attention to the bunny.  Cinnamon sat up on his back legs and was at thigh level beside Vincent, who was not a short man.  Amazed murmurs filled the room when people realized how large the rabbit actually was.

The blue of Mrs. Kingston’s gown caught my eye as she hurried to greet the Vales.  She met them warmly. It was clear that she was acquainted with the couple and was very fond of Veronica.  Mrs. Kingston carried a remarkably big housecat.  The poor thing was shaved to look like a lion.  I stepped closer so I could hear their exchange.1926 life halloweenkitty

“Vincent dear, you were so right.  It about killed me to watch them shave Marie Antoinette’s beautiful fluffy fur, but her condition has cleared up!” Mrs. Kingston told the veterinarian with obvious gratitude.  “They left her a mane, and a fluffy tip on her tail.  She actually seems rather pleased with herself.  Once she got over it that is.”

“It’s not unusual for Maine Coon cats to get that skin condition, especially in our warm weather,” Vincent told her.  “The shaved coat makes it easier to get the medicine where it needs to go.  I don’t recommend this kind of shaving except for medical reasons, but still — Antoinette is the bee’s knees,” he praised the cat who purred loudly as he scratched under her chin.

“She is a particularly calm cat, with all these dogs and other animals around,” Veronica said appreciatively, which cause Mrs. Kingston to blush like a proud parent.

“Antoinette is used to being around other animals.  She’s good with dogs, and just very lady like,” the hostess said lightly.  “She was practically nursemaid when Charlie Chilton’s Chihuahua had her pups,” she said with a nod to a rotund man.  “Antoinette loves little Chichi.”

Vincent bent to pet the cat again as Mrs. Kingston let her down.  I saw that she was 1921 July Life Dogtrained to walk on a leash, which I thought was pretty impressive.  One of the guests said precisely what I was thinking.  Mrs. Kingston chuckled.  “Yes, as long as we practice it every day, she does well with the harness and leash.  But she wouldn’t have a
thing to do with the dress I had made for her to wear tonight!”

“Antoinette’s haircut is quite striking enough rather than a costume,” Veronica assured Mrs. Kingston.

Other pet owners moved forward to greet the Vales as they all moved to the terrace.  I noticed the big man, Charlie Chilton, held the tiny Chihuahua and a big sequined sombrero.  The man dropped the hat to the floor and shouted “Ole!” at which the little dog ran circles inside the brim of the sombrero, barking as it went.  Cotton was so inspired that she did her dance again without being prompted.  Cinnamon Bun looked on stoically.

A flash of vivid color streaked the length of the terrace bearing straight at the Vales.  Vincent ducked and dropped Cinnamon’s leash.  However, the giant rabbit only moved a few feet away.  He sat up on his haunches as Cracker the Parrot flew circles around him.  Cinnamon grabbed a carrot from the parrot’s outstretched talons as the bird made another pass.  I had to wonder how many times the two friends had played that game while no humans were watching.Rabbit with tophat

When Cinnamon sat back down to gnaw the carrot, Cracker perched on his harness.
She looked rakish with a white flower in her beak.  The rabbit hopped around a bit with the parrot clinging to the harness to the delight of the spectators.  The Vales were clearly surprised by the unexpected antics of the pair.  After a moment Veronica nudged Vincent, pointing to the leash that dragged behind the bunny, and he moved to take hold of it.  When everyone applauded, Vincent made a self-conscious bow.

“It seems our entertainers had their own schedule,” Mrs. Kingston said happily.  Then, with assistance from the butler, she had all the owners and pets line up to promenade the length of the terrace.

Cracker swooped to one of the hors d’oeuvre tables and I hurried to shoo the bird away from the food.  Only then did I pay attention to the flower that she still held in her beak.  It wasn’t just a white flower.

It was a daisy.Mavis ad

“Cracker, what’s that you’ve got, sweetheart?” I said coaxingly and she fluttered onto my outstretched arm.

The parrot bumped a silver condiment bowl when she launched herself.  The container rocked wildly but the contents didn’t spill.  I breathed a sigh of relief, because the dish held red pepper.  I wouldn’t have wanted that to go up in a big sneezy puff!

“Dainty dish,” Cracker said with a whistle.

Automatically, I looked in the direction from which Cracker had flown.  She’d soared the length of the terrace.  The library was at the upper end.  That was where I’d briefly seen the beautiful dark haired woman in the diaphanous chiffon gown.  Suddenly I felt that odd chill again, as well as the nausea that came with it.

“Pip, what is it?” Hank Hertz asked.

I hadn’t realized he was near.  All I could do was hold up the daisy.  He looked at me like I was loony, and rubbed that silly skinny red mustache.

1920s Mystic Mag“Let me get you a glass of water,” Hank offered and pulled me toward a white wrought iron chair.

Cracker hopped to my shoulder as I lowered my arm.  She ran her beak down a strand of my hair, her avian gesture of concern.  Then the parrot looked toward a small area just behind us, where a paved trail led to a birdbath and a flower bed.  The fairy lights illuminated the spot but no one was there.  However, as Cracker looked at it, she bobbed her head excitedly and squawked, “Dainty dish, dainty dish!”

“What’s the parrot carrying on about?” Alastair asked, having left his table to see what was happening.

“You got me,” Hank told him.  “I don’t see a thing over there.  Do you?”

A mischievous glint came to Alastair’s eyes. “You know… animals can see things that humans can’t see,” he commented.

“What do you mean?” Hank asked, taking the bait so quickly that I had to shake my head. I was sure Alastair was about to get one over on Savannah’s youngest policeman, disguised as a redheaded waiter though he was.Vintage magician poster

“Spirits and things,” Alastair told him in a very serious tone.  “Di fu ling, earth bound spirits,” he said.  “You know — ghosts,” he added upon seeing Hank’s blank expression.

The merriment that lit the young restaurateur’s eyes quickly disappeared.  His shoulders twitched beneath his waiter’s white tuxedo jacket as if a chill went down his spine.

“When a di fu ling is near, people who are sensitive to spirits get a cold chill.  Sometimes they get sick to their stomachs… like has been happening to Pip tonight,” he said raising one eyebrow as he studied my face.

I was beginning to think Alastair was serious about this spirit business.

Loud, shrill yapping cut through all the party sounds.  Chichi the Chihuahua tried to chase Mrs. Kingston’s cat, Marie Antoinette.  I expected the cat to hiss at the dog, but the incongruous difference in their sizes was in the cat’s favor.  It seemed almost like Antoinette was amused that the tiny dog would even try to provoke her.  Antoinette really did look like a lion standing near the Chihuahua.  The cat gave a disdainful lash of her tail.  With a leap she pulled free of Mrs. Kingston and chased the dog.

I reminded myself that Mrs. Kingston said the two animals were playmates.  The cat 1920s Catering Menu-1could have caught the dog easily if she’d wanted to, and there was nothing in her posture that suggested aggression.  Bemused, I realized Antoinette truly was playing with the dog.

Cotton jumped excitedly into the game, ignoring Veronica’s dismayed demand that she sit.  The Main Coon chased the Chihuahua and the poodle chased the Main Coon in a circle around the feet of the astonished Mr. Farceur.  Then the cat spun around and proceeded to chase both dogs down the length of the terrace.

When I stood up, I spotted Granny talking to the bent-over man in sheik’s robes. She must have felt that she was being watched, when she looked covertly over her shoulder, because she started to act as if she was pointing out the food tables, just assisting a party guest.

The commotion of the animals was too much to ignore and I reflexively returned my gaze to that chaos.  That’s when I saw Queenie Wetson and her three white clad men.  They all stepped out onto the terrace just as the animal chase came by.  The dogs barreled right into them.1923 Evening Shoes

Multiple feet went into the air.  One of Queenie’s rhinestone encrusted shoes spun skyward.  The four people went down in a tangle of arms and legs as the two dogs seemed to run right under them.  The cat leaped over the group as the humans hit the ground.  None of it did anything to slow the momentum of the trio of pets as they careened straight at the table where Alastair, Hank, and I stood.

I looked in helpless horror at the silver dish of red pepper…

The poodle pounced onto the table, scattering all the carefully arranged appetizers.  Cracker glided over to Cotton and I remembered they time those two cavorted and ran into Hank’s radio equipment.  They were already friends.  The parrot flew over the poodle and whistled, “Bad bird, bad bird!” but she sounded more like she was encouraging the poodle than admonishing her.1924 Red Pepper mag

Somehow the tiny dog got up onto the table top, and the Chihuahua ran from one end of the table to the other, careening into all manner of dishes, and Queenie and her men, just as they were getting up off the ground.  They went back down in a heap and Cinnamon bounded to a safer spot.

I never saw how it happened.  Time slowed like a movie projector running down.  I watched light reflect off the polished silver condiment bowl as it sailed high into the air.  Amazingly, it flipped all the way over without spilling a bit.  One time anyway.  It flipped again and a puff of fine red powder burst into the air.  The cloud of red pepper settled on the Queen of Clubs and her henchmen…

***

Be sure to come back next time.  There are still mysteries to reveal!

Recipe:  Broiled Eggplant with Capers and Mint

Recipe credit:  Yummly.com

Ingredients

1 pound thin Italian or Asian eggplants (2 to 3), cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

1/4 cup chopped mint

2 tablespoons small capers, rinsed

 

Method:

Preheat broiler. Arrange eggplant in 1 layer on a large baking sheet and brush both sides with 2 tablespoons oil (total). Broil about 4 inches from heat, turning once, until golden, 8 to 12 minutes total.

Stir together vinegar, mint, capers, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and remaining 3 tablespoons oil and toss with warm eggplant. Marinate at least 20 minutes.

Marinated eggplant can be made 1 day ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Yield:

Makes 4 appetizer-size portions

 ***

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.

Three Ingredients – 23: Seaweed Sheets, Rice, Sesame Oil

Fish Episode 23

Welcome back! Can you tell that I’m excited about this episode?  The ingredients for this episode are from Willy Nilly, writer of the blog Willy Nilly To and Fro ~ The Philosophy of Inanity.  However, there’s nothing willy-nilly or disorganized about the stories and posts you’ll find there.  I hope you’ll pay a visit to Willy Nilly’s blog.  I think you’ll be glad you did.

I’ll go ahead and tell you that the Three Ingredients serial does not end with this episode.  But my writing “crystal ball” tells me that we are very close to a conclusion.  However, I think I have a couple of surprises for you.  Plus something I’ve had up my sleeve for a long time finally wriggled free and onto the page.  Oooh, I really hope I’m going to surprise you with that one!  I wish I could see your faces.

Without further ado, here is Episode-23.  Bon appétit!

23.  Seaweed Sheets, Rice, Sesame Oil

“Pip, did you see the dry roasted salted seaweed sheets when you unpacked things in theSessue_Hayakawa_as Alastair kitchen?” Alastair asked.  “I need them for the sushi rolls.”

Alastair had introduced me to sushi when I first got to Savannah.  To my surprise I liked it, but I was still feeling queasy so I wasn’t so keen on being around for its preparation.  The young restaurateur had been super particular about exactly what kind of seaweed sheet he wanted.  Maybe if we couldn’t find the sheets he would settle for the cleverly made rice balls he was arranging. Alastair formed them so that they were mostly round, but each one had a simplified animal shape.  They were so adorable it made me smile just to look at them.

“Do you feel steady enough to stand at the table and serve while I go to the kitchen and check?” he asked with open concern on his face.

He added that so far the party guests were greeting one another and had not moved toward the tables where we arranged the foods from Granny Fanny’s Goodies.  Really, everybody was Harper-s-Bazaar-August-1920making too much of the little spell I had in the library. I felt better practically as soon as I got out of that room.  I promised Alastair that I was fine and shooed him toward the kitchen.

A woman in a stylish blue gown stood talking to a small group of guests. Their clothes looked expensive but somber.  The clothes of his office set Bishop Bradley Binghamton apart from the rest of that group.  He was a slight man wearing a long vest over a white silk shirt with billowy sleeves. A heavy gold cross hung from his neck.  The cross pendant almost seemed too heavy for him, as if the large jewelry weighted him down. Niven as Binghamton

My thought seemed preposterous as I watched the slender man.  Could he really be the Bishop from the gangsters’ code names?  After all, he was a real bishop.  He looked so quiet and peaceful as he stood listening to the people around him.  How could he be one of the gangsters. There must be another explanation, another Bishop.

It was a truly sophisticated party, unlike anything I had ever experienced.  There had been some fancy parties during my brief stay at the Ringlings’ gilded mansion, Ca’ d’ Zan. Glorious though those parties were, they did not match the elegance of the reception at 420 Kingston Lane.

A maid in a dressy black uniform stood peering between the lace curtains at one of the palladium windows on the front side of the house.  She motioned excitedly to the woman in blue.  The woman’s confidant manner told me that she was the hostess, Mrs. Kingston.  I saw her catch the butler’s eye and take a breath as if to call to him.  However, Farceur anticipated her wishes and strode to the front door, his black tailcoat moving gracefully as he walked.

1920s_Life_Magazine-musicThe butler ushered in a man who was somewhat stooped with age.  I imagined he was tall and strong when he was young.  He had a very deep tan that was in contrast to his thick white hair and beard, but that was far from the most unusual thing about him.  He didn’t look like Valentino, but he was dressed like the Sheik of Araby!  He also wore spectacles with yellow tinted lenses.

“The ambassador…” I whispered to myself. He must be that ambassador who was such a big deal to the hosts of the reception.  I watched as Farceur greeted the man.  I noticed that the butler looked at him intently, closely, even suspiciously.  I was quite intrigued by the way the major domo reacted to the ambassador.  However, Mrs. Kingston greeted the elderly man effusively, pushing the butler away.

The old man returned the courtesy of the hostess in a gravel voice.  Standing so far away, I could barely make out what he said, but it was something about being pleased to meet her.  So they weren’t old friends after all. Maybe the ambassador’s importance lay in a business deal that Kingston hoped to make.

Could this ambassador be the King of Clubs? The thought sprang suddenly to my mind.  No.  Surely not.  Wouldn’t he call himself a sheik or a sultan or something?  But then, he probably wouldn’t be the one who made up the code names for the bootleggers. However, my pondering was interrupted.

“Young lady, I heard one of Mrs. Peabody’s people wasn’t feeling well.  I take it that was you,” a 1920s Arrow tuxwell-heeled looking older man said in a solicitous voice.

I gaped in astonishment because he looked so much like the portrait of Henry Kingston.  His jaw had a softer line and his graying hair suggested a darker shade in youth than that of his ancestor.  I nervously excused my rudeness for staring, and commented on the portrait and the resemblance.

The shindig’s host sure was a talker.  He took my elbow and steered me to a sofa, despite my protest that I was manning the hors d’oeuvre table.  He chatted away. I was uncomfortable with how close he sat to me, plus he was one of those people who leaned in when they talk to you. That’s when I realized that he’d already had at least one martini.

It was an awkward predicament.  I admit that I’ve never been good at knowing for sure whether men were flirting with me unless something overt happened. So I tried to be polite, and my brain raced for a way to extract myself from the too friendly host.

“Yes that’s a portrait of ‘The King’ as they called my father,” he said with a motion toward the study, or library as he called it.

“But wasn’t he the first and you’re the third?” I couldn’t help asking, though I knew I shouldn’t say anything to encourage him to hang around.

“Oh, that was some foolishness on my parents part, and they left me spending my life explaining it,” he said with a wave of his hand.  “Henry II died as an infant. You know how that 1920s Judge Hourglasshappens so many times with newborns, though not quite as often as it once did, and the poor parents never understand how it came to pass,” he said with a dour expression.  He paused, probably for breath after that long sentence.  I nodded and he continued.  “So later, when I came into the world they saddled me with the confusing moniker of Henry III.”

That bossy major domo walked up and cleared his throat, looking at me accusingly.  I’d have him know that I didn’t work for him! But before I could say anything he cast a dramatic look toward the hors d’oeuvre table and I saw that I had my chance to exit.  Maybe he wasn’t such a creep after all.  I excused myself, but Henry III quickly grabbed my wrist as I stood.

“Sir,” Mr. Farceur leaned down and spoke softly, making it seem that what he had to say was important and required Kingston’s personal attention. “Madame made a change to the evening’s plans.  We will need help from all the serving staff, including this young woman, if you can spare her?” he ended the sentence with a tone that was just questioning enough to be respectful.

I moved half a step away, thinking I was free, but the old bugger still had ahold of my wrist. Farceur’s eyebrows went up minutely.  Kingston asked him to explain. I got the impression that he and his wife might not get along so well, and when he added “What has she come up with now?” I was sure.

“A pet parade, Sir,” Farceur said drolly. “Madame has contacted whomever she could and asked1915 Life January them to bring their animals… in fancy dress.  So she has prudently instructed that most of tonight’s event shall be held on the terrace.”

“Dogs and what-not in costumes!  Why the devil would she do such a thing?” Kingston exclaimed, and he jumped half out of his skin when his wife suddenly spoke from behind him.

“If your pet is going to show up, then everyone should be allowed to bring theirs,” she said acidly.

Oh, there was definitely marital discord at 420 Kingston Lane!  As if on cue the front doors flew open.  A man in an all-white tuxedo rolled out a bolt of shimmering gold cloth onto the marble floor. Then he bowed deeply as a cluster of people came through the door, walking on the fabric.  The partygoers stood in open mouthed silence as two more men in white tuxedos entered arm-in-arm on either side of a woman in a golden beaded flapper gown. The moment I saw the glitter of the ostentatious tiara she wore, I knew her identity.  Queenie Wetson.

“However, it looks like you need a leash for your pet,” Mrs. Kingston said with a sneer and turned on her heel.  She went back to a small group of guests who clustered protectively around her and pointedly ignored the newcomer.Joan Crawford as Queenie Wetson

Yes, Queenie had beguiled Kingston all right. I expected the woman could easily manipulate him.  Judging by the smitten look on his face, Kingston would do anything for her.  I was sure he danced on her strings whenever she wanted.  “Applesauce!” I thought.  If Kingston was her puppet, then the Queen of Clubs might also be the King of Clubs!

Farceur stepped in front of me as if he was about to walk forward and greet the woman. The three men acted subservient to her and Farceur appeared to dismiss them as if they in fact were servants.  However, he stopped midstride.  As I peeped around the butler I saw that the three men in white evening wear looked like they were uncomfortable in their own skins.  Wearing the glad rags didn’t come naturally to those thugs. The Queen of Clubs moved toward us.  The beaded fringe of her gown swung as her hips provocatively swayed.Black Butler 1

“You’d be well advised to make yourself scarce,” Farceur turned and whispered to me through his clenched teeth.  “It’s best that she does not see you.”

Anxiously I cleared my throat.  “I umm… I have to get the sesame oil.  I forgot to put it on the table earlier,” I turned to Kingston and babbled the first excuse that popped into my head.  However, nobody noticed what I said.  Kingston was mesmerized by the woman.  He let go of my wrist as if he had lost the feeling in his hand, and his arm dropped to his side.

Though I only saw her for an instant, Queenie Wetson struck me as one bad customer, a real piece of work. Instinctively I wanted to get as far away from her as I could.  It crossed my mind that it was odd that I’d feel that way.  I was truly my grandmother’s granddaughter and like Granny Fanny, I wasn’t too easily intimidated.  Yet despite the fact that I had never even met this woman, she unnerved me.

Or at least I didn’t think I had met her.  There were still some big holes in my memory – especially when they found me at Wetson’s Mill, which was also the location of the Queen of Clubs Herb Farm.  I woke up in a cellar, and managed to climb out.  Shortly afterward Alastair found me and summoned the others who were also searching for me.  Otherwise, that entire day was a blank.

1920s Catering Menu-1At any rate I thought it would be prudent to find Granny Fanny and ask about the sudden change Mrs. Kingston made, wanting to have a “parade of pets” out on the terrace.  I decided to go out through the kitchen.  I saw Alastair there.  He still hadn’t found the special seaweed sheets.  He got permission to use the house phone and called his mother asking her if she could send more.

Arabella Wong’s excited voice reached my ears.  She would bring them herself, just to come to the party.  The Kingstons didn’t seem like the stuffy type to me, and the Wongs were established members of the community.  They’d likely invite her to stay.  Alastair didn’t seem too pleased at the prospect of his mother being there.  Alastair knew the evening might turn out to be dangerous.  He tried to warn Arabella off without breaking the secret, but he didn’t seem to be getting through to her.

The evening really could get dangerous with all those gangsters around. I reminded myself that they weren’t just bootleggers, they were killers.  Marshal Moses Myrick had planned to turn this reception into a sting operation to catch the gangsters, but then he and his men were ambushed.  The marshal was critically wounded, and still not able to get around. However, he was the lucky one. His men were killed.

Then Granny got it into her head to at least try and get the evidence Myrick hoped to find at the vintage queen of the mayKingston estate.  He believed Kingston kept an incriminating journal of some kind.  However, I was pretty sure the journal was what Farceur removed from the safe while I hid under that massive desk in the library.  So even if we got the chance to sneak back into the room without the butler seeing us, I didn’t think we’d find anything inside the safe hidden behind the portrait of Daisy the Dainty Dish.

The main kitchen door opened and in came a harried looking Eunice Udall. She carried several bellhop uniforms.  It turned out that Mrs. Kingston wanted the servants who were going to help with the pet parade to change into a different uniform.  The bellhop outfits were the only thing Eunice could come up with on such short notice.

I apologized to Eunice for having been in such a rush earlier.  “Oh it’s all right dear,” she said.  “I’m glad my assistant was able to help you.  I was just confused because… What was the name you used? Doris?  Anyhow the girl’s name is Annie.  Actually, I had just discussed the job with her that morning.  I didn’t realize she was in the shop while you were.”

With a blink I repeated, “Annie?”  I wondered why Daisy would give me a different name.  Though we only spoke for a moment, I felt like the girl and I could be friends.  So it bothered me that she would call herself Daisy if her name was Annie.  Maybe there was some mistake.  Eunice was in a rush, and I knew I shouldn’t bother her, but I had to ask.  “A dark haired girl wearing tomboy clothes?” I asked.

Eunice looked at me strangely.  However, Hortense Houston, the housekeeper, pulled Eunice and the bellhop uniforms away.  I still needed to talk to Granny about the outdoor tables so 1920s Vogue postershrugged it off.  I went outside by a small side door.

A stone path led upward through a garden of mature camellias and dwarf palmettos.  I could see lights from the library window at the top of the hill.  Tiny fairy lights were strung all around the estate, so it wasn’t too hard to walk on the path, despite the cloud that blocked the moonlight.

As I rounded a corner I saw a party guest in the shadows. She reclined on a lounge chair on the terrace outside Kingston’s library.  Her beautiful chiffon gown billowed in an evening breeze that stirred her dark hair.

“Not all things are as they seem,” she turned to me and whispered.  Though I could not see her well in the near darkness, I could tell that she put a finger to her lips as if for quiet.  Then she looked pointedly to one side.  I followed her gaze and saw something white move.  Squinting into the dim light, I realized there were two people. They were a short distance down the path, obscured by all the bushes and crape myrtles trees.

Then movement from above drew my eyes.  Cracker sat in the branches of a flowering tree.  The parrot gave a soft whistle when she saw me looking.  “Dainty Dish!” she chirped.

My eyes widened and I whirled to face the dark haired woman, but she was gone.  Could she have been the Daisy I met earlier?  I looked back up at Cracker questioningly.  The parrot bobbed her head up and down and turned in a circle on the branch. Parrot Pin

Cracker looked toward the two people who were farther into the shadows on the unlit path.  It seemed almost like they were struggling.  Concerned, I quietly stepped closer.  The white I saw before turned out to be the white haired old man in sheik’s clothing, the ambassador.  He didn’t look like a stooped old man any more, as he held a woman in his embrace.

He leaned in to kiss her and she resisted.  That’s when I got worried.  So I turned onto that path, ready to help if necessary.  I heard the gentle swoosh of Cracker gliding from branch to branch behind me.  It was a truly passionate kiss that the woman resisted. Or rather, she resisted it for a moment before she started kissing him back.

I stopped in my tracks.  If there was nothing wrong, I wouldn’t want to interrupt.  As I hesitated the evening breeze pushed a cloud away from the moon, shedding light on the couple.  Granny?  Why she truly was a flapper at heart. I couldn’t help smiling.  I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, so I turned to go back the way I’d come.  However, Cracker noisily flew toward my grandmother and the ambassador.Sheik of Araby

I ducked behind the camellias so they wouldn’t see me, but I could still see them pretty well.  When the parrot swooped in on Granny and the ambassador, the bird knocked his yellow glasses aside.  He stood up straight and tall and exclaimed, “Cracker!”

How would a foreign dignitary know the parrot’s name?  The voice was not the gravely accented voice he’d used earlier.  I recognized that voice, and without the spectacles I knew the face despite the white hair and beard.  That was no ambassador and it wasn’t even an old man.  It was Detective Dabney Daniels!

“Don’t be mean to the poor bird,” Granny said.  “She did us a favor.  I can’t believe I just now gave in.  How many times have I told you that it just isn’t right?  You have a full life ahead of Mavis adyou. I’d be wrong to let you love an old woman like me.”

“Fanny,” Daniels said and some of the gravel that had been part of his disguise-voice returned.  “You are no old woman.  You’re just older than I am.  And that doesn’t bother me a bit,” he said and pulled her closer.

“Be serious Dabney.  Paisley would be a much better match for you,” my grandmother told the detective.  “It’s better for you to be ten years older than Pip than for me to be closer to fifteen years older than you.”

“Why do you worry about which direction the age difference is in?” he asked, and it had the ring of something he’d probably said before.  “If it’s all right for me to be older than her, then why is it wrong for you to be older than me?”

Granny leaned her head into his shoulder.  I thought she might be hiding her tears, or muffling a sob.  She shook her head then looked up into Dabney’s eyes.  “Don’t you see?  Twenty years from now, Pip would be married to a distinguished older man.  That’s what they call men when they begin to show signs of age — distinguished.”

She pulled back from him, though he still held her tightly.  “But with me being older…  Well, women aren’t referred to as distinguished.  Women just get old.  So not even twenty years from now… just ten or even five years from now, I’d be much older than you.  Much…  And the older people get the more rapid aging becomes.  Don’t you see?” Granny Fanny implored.  “You are dear to me and I would love you as a son-in-law.  But that would be all,” she added with a note of finality.Lucille Ball teenaged 1

“There is no substitute, no matter how much Pip seems like a younger version of you,” he said.  “I like the girl.  I’m actually very fond of her.  But you hold my heart in the palm of your hand Fanny.”

I plopped down on the cold stone of the path.  My grandmother?  All the time I had been infatuated with Dabney Daniels, he had been in love with my grandmother?  Granny?  I was stunned.  It was more than my poor noodle could process.  Rustling sounds told me the couple had parted.  I heard Granny moving toward the kitchen path, and Dabney went another way.

Cracker flew back and perched near me on a low branch.  As she had done once before, the parrot leaned close and took a strand of my bobbed hair in her beak.  It was as if she meant to preen my feathers to comfort me.  I just didn’t have any feathers, so she gently pulled at my short hair.  I don’t know how long I sat there on the stone path.  I would have been happy for Granny if I hadn’t been so shocked.  Or if I had known about Dabney’s feelings for her from the beginning.

With a sigh I told myself that I knew now, so I might as well accept it.  I already had known for a while that Dabney wasn’t interested in me.  And it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as when I’d found out Frankie the fireman was betraying all of us back in Sarasota, Florida.

I stood a little stiffly.  Then I dusted off the back of my wide legged black crepe waiter’s pants.  I was close to the library doors and I wondered if they were unlocked.  I’d rather not be seen 1920s Peoples home journal girl parrotcoming into the kitchen from the outside.  I didn’t want Granny to know I had seen her and Dabney.  They shared a private moment that was not meant for me.  I didn’t want to intrude on it any more than I already had.

As I started to move, Cracker darted to perch on my shoulder.  The parrot bobbed her head excitedly.  I looked at the library where light streamed from an opening door.  Farceur stepped out from the door and was met by Detective Daniels, still wearing his ambassador disguise.

The two men spoke too softly for me to know what they said.  As the butler moved the tails of his tuxedo twitched.  He reached into his jacket and withdrew a book which he discretely handed to Daniels.  The book disappeared into the folds of the opulent sheik’s robes the detective wore.  More words were exchanged.  They seemed to reach an agreement.  Then the two men parted and went back inside by different doors.

“What just happened?” I whispered more to myself than to the parrot on my shoulder.

Cracker tugged a strand of my hair. Then she whistled.

“Joker’s wild!”

***

Next week, CB at “Better Dressed than Joe” provides the ingredients.  Who can guess what chaos will ensue with the “pet parade.”  Not to mention that the Queen of Clubs is on the scene.

I’ll leave you with a video related to Willy Nilly’s ingredients.  See you next time.

Hugs,

teagan

Video: Making Sushi California Roll At Home

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.

 

 

Three Ingredients – 22: Black Olives, Mascarpone, Thyme

vintage queen of the mayHello everyone,

This vintage illustration of a “Queen of the May” from a bygone day immediately made me think of Daisy, “the dainty dish” mentioned in our previous episode. She has the ethereal beauty of a romantic heroine. The image popped up in a timely way too, because the ingredients for today’s episode were provided by a dear friend who is a romance writer.cowboybossandhisdestiny_med

Yes, author Mary J. McCoy-Dressel sent this set of ingredients. She has so many books both published and in-progress that I lose count.  (Do you hear a bit of awe in my voice?) One of my favorites is called Cowboy Boss and his Destiny. I hope you’ll visit Mary’s site and learn more about her books.

In an unrelated aside, those of you who know me well, are aware that something (in my non-blogging life) didn’t go as I had hoped this week. I’m still in search of a path to a dream… and as usual, wandering the dark forest of life without a flashlight!  🙂

However, maybe this episode will shed some light on the mysteries that all of your ingredients have facilitated. This is a true “panster” story — each ingredient gives a glimmer to light the path the serial takes.  Remember that you are welcome to leave “three ingredients” for a future episode in the comments.

Parrots_Episode-22

Will Pip and Granny Fanny get a chance to see what’s in that safe behind the painting of the late Daisy?  Or will that bossy butler, Mr. Farceur, stick his nose into things again?  Is it just a coincidence that that his name seems to mean “Joker” — the same as one of the gangster code names?  Maybe we’ll find out today. This episode will provide something of a recap of the several mysteries that have to be worked out before the storyline ends.

Bon appétit!

22.  Black Olives, Mascarpone, Thyme

Voguecover_Nov 1920I shivered from a sudden chill, and I felt queasy too.  As I lay on the rug, pretending unconsciousness in case anyone else happened to look, a few things went through my mind.  First I realized the sad look in the eyes of the Daisy in the portrait was the same expression I had seen earlier that day — but those melancholy eyes had belonged to Daisy the young seamstress at Eunice’s Uniforms.  And she had used the phrase “dainty dish” as well.  It was just too much to be a coincidence… Wasn’t it?  The cold sensation ran down my spine again.

Granny had told me to fake a swoon, as an excuse for us being in the off-limits library.  However, after I thought about it, I hadn’t heard anybody except that bossy major domo, Mr. Farceur, say it was forbidden.  If my name had been Alice, and I had gone “through the looking glass” I would have described the butler as curiouser and curiouser. Since I my prone position gave me a close-up view of the luxurious Persian rug, I kept an eye out for blue caterpillars and door mice, just in case.King of Clubs card

The sound of a woman’s shoes clicking on the parquet floor just outside interrupted my whimsy.  Before he stalked out of the room, the butler sent for Hortense Houston, the housekeeper, so that would be her.  I hoped she wasn’t suspicious.  I also hoped that I got another chance to see what was behind the painting of Daisy the Dainty Dish.  Surely it must hide a safe, maybe the safe where the King of Clubs kept the incriminating ledgers that Marshal Myrick suspected were somewhere in the huge house.

Cracking one eye open I could see the tall painting behind the massive desk.  It was of the man who made the fortune that allowed the beautiful estate to flourish, Henry Kingston.  Both my eyes 1920s Arrow tuxpopped wide open. Henry Kingston! Until that moment, I had been unable to remember the name of our host — Henry Kingston III.  Then I remembered that I was supposed to be unconscious and shut my peepers tightly.

However, the King of Clubs didn’t necessarily have to be Henry Kingston.  Earlier, Alastair said everybody called the man in the portrait “the king,” but that was maybe a hundred years ago.  I figured that it was most likely that the current Kingston was the King of Clubs, but I was trying to keep an open mind.

My memory flashed to the unexpected radio transmission Hank picked up. Oh, that was good, I thought.  Had another hole in my memory just been filled?  I remembered the voice of the Joker, but with the imperfect quality of the sound coming over the radio, I still couldn’t be sure if it had been Farceur’s voice.  It might have been his voice… But it could have been someone else’s too.  I sighed, and Granny whispered “Stay down.”

I wished the other holes in my memory would suddenly and miraculously heal.  A few things had come back to me since I was Harper-s-Bazaar-August-1920attacked and drugged at the Queen of Clubs Herb Farm out at Wetson’s Mill, but nothing about that day.  Not who attacked me; not what I might have seen on my way to the farm; not even what I had for breakfast that morning.  The entire day was a blank.

Seeing me sprawled on the floor, the housekeeper exclaimed, “Oh my heavens!” as she walked into the library, carrying the smelling salts.  Granny assured Mrs. Houston that I would be fine, that it was just a little bout of the vapors.  Honestly — as if I were some shrinking violet…  The vapors, Granny?  Applesauce!

“Paisley dear, can you hear me?” Granny asked, and I knew she was warning me to keep up the act. Then I heard her open the little bottle of smelling salts and she waived the noxious potion under my nose.  I thought the smell would take off the top of my head, but at that moment it wasn’t much of a challenge for me to act bewildered and woozy.

While I pretended to struggle into consciousness, I chanced a look at Hortense Houston.  She seemed to be a kind hearted woman.  Her brunette hair was tied into a neat bun.  She had the darkest eyes I’d ever seen, like shining black olives, but there was compassion in her gaze.

While Granny Fanny waived the bottle at me again (which by the way was just plain mean) the housekeeper walked to a gleaming brass bar set that was in the corner of the room.  She picked up a crystal decanter and poured some water onto a white linen napkin and told me to hold it under my chin if I felt nauseas. Then she and Granny knowingly exchanged a few words of wisdom about me and my delicate constitution.  Then the housekeeper went back about her business.  She wasn’t 1920s Faintconcerned about leaving us in the room the way Mr. Farceur was.

Anyhow, the faint may have been faked, but I honestly did feel a little wobbly. So I was grateful for Granny’s arm around me as she steered me out of the study.

“It might be a while before we’re able to get back in there,” Granny Fanny whispered and I nodded silently.

Alastair was arranging an assortment of Italian cheeses on one of several tables that would soon be laden with delicious food from Granny Fanny’s Goodies.  Wong’s Chinese was Alastair’s family restaurant, but he had a broad knowledge of cuisine that extended far beyond Chinese food.  He was expecting a slow night, so he left the running of his own establishment in the capable hands of his immediate family and was helping Granny Fanny with the big reception, her first significant catering job.1920s Shanghai night

His attention was fixed on making an artful presentation, and he barely glanced up when we came into the room.  “Miss Fanny, should we put out any serving utensils for spreading the mascarpone?” Alastair asked, but then concern painted his face when he took in my appearance.  “Pip?  Are you sure you’re okay?  Here, let me make a plate for you.  I remember that you liked the mascarpone,” the young restaurateur offered.

I shook my head — cheese in my queasy stomach did not seem like a good idea. I assured Alastair that I’d be fine, but I needed to sit down for a minute.  He was quick about pulling around a chair for me.  Before I knew it, he took the white linen napkin from me and folded around a bit of ice.  I held it under my chin, and started to feel better.  Then Granny handed me some hot tea with honey and told me to just sit still for a while.

Even before I drank the tea I started to feel more like myself.  In fact, I felt minutely better the moment I left Kingston’s library.  I stared at the closed door to the room with a mix of accusation and suspicion.  I had begun to feel chilled and nauseas the minute I walked into that room.

The sound of the doorbell drew my focus down a long marble floored hallway.  The polished surface reflected light from the Black Butler 1sconces on the walls in a way that dazzled my eyes.  Tall and trim, Mr. Farceur was dressed in a perfectly tailored black tailcoat.  He was the embodiment of confidence and elegance as he strode to the door.

The butler exchanged a greeting with an obviously wealthy man and woman.  The man wore a tuxedo and the woman’s glad rags were to die for.  She wore jewels in her hair that were doubtless custom made.  Light from the sconces glittered the yellow-green peridot stones as her head moved, and long fringe at the hem of her chartreuse flapper gown swayed as she walked.  She responded in giggling delight to some compliment that I didn’t quite hear from the major domo.

I did a double take at his next words.  He ushered in another man with a very respectful bow.  I didn’t see him do that with the rich guy.  “Bishop Binghamton,” he said.  “You honor us with your presence.  Won’t you please come inside?”

I leaned so far forward in my chair that I nearly fell out of it.  The Bishop was a dead ringer for Byron Binghamton, the owner of Binghamton’s Bijou theatre!  The theatre was where all the intrigue began.  When I first got to Savannah, Cracker the parrot’s owner, Cracker Jack Daddy, turned up dead at the Bijou, with cilantro all over his shoes.  Was this the Bishop mentioned by the Joker during that radio transmission?Alphonse-Mucha-Carnation-1898

Alastair deftly sliced goat cheese I had prepared with thyme, peppercorns, and lemon oil.  I was comfortable with that part of the event preparation — it was something I couldn’t burn!  My eyes followed Alastair’s quick hands, but my mind was still back in the library with the old portrait of a woman who was the spitting image of a girl I met mere hours earlier.

Was the Daisy I met somehow involved in Marshal Myrick’s sting plan?  Perhaps she was working secretly and he did not mention her to Granny.  Or maybe somebody told me about it, and that was one of the holes in my memory…  The continued partial amnesia was maddening!

I tried to let go of that baffling part of the puzzle and focused on the other bits.  In my mind’s eye, I spread the clues out like jigsaw pieces, irregular pointy edges and all.  I realized that most of the clues came from Cracker the parrot, except for the warnings on the playing cards.

First there was “fourandtwenty,” the phrase Cracker repeated with such excitement — and the address of the shindig was 420 Kingston Lane.  Then the parrot came up with the term “dainty dish,” which went with the portrait that concealed something, presumably a safe.

I tried not to think about the other mystery, of the Daisy I met that day being so similar to the woman in the portrait.  Maybe she was a relative.  Didn’t they say the simplest answer was usually the correct one?  I forced myself to let go of that line of thought.lantern-press-joker-playing-card

Another phrase Cracker spoke was “Joker’s wild.”  I thought about the way the parrot acted when she repeated those words.  I was certain that whoever the Joker was, Cracker did not care for that person at all.  And I was pretty sure the very unpleasant Mr. Farceur’s name meant joker.

Then I pondered the playing card code names of the bootlegger gang.  We knew Queenie Wetson was the Queen of Clubs.  Maybe Farceur was the Joker.  I still didn’t know exactly who the King of Clubs was, but it seemed likely that he was the host of the big reception and the owner of the big house in which it was held.  A needling thought reminded me that I had no evidence of that.  For all I knew the “king” was the husband of the “queen.”

My thoughts turned to that day at the Vales’ when the antics of Cracker and Cotton the poodle jostled the settings on the radio, inadvertently allowing us to realize the gangsters were spying on the police.  The man told Eight and Five to pick up Bishop and Nine.  I didn’t know who those bootleggers were, but I was sure it meant there were at least four more bad guys in addition to the Joan Crawford Queen of ClubsKing of Clubs, somewhere inside that house for the party.  Also, I had a strong hunch that Queenie Wetson, the Queen of Clubs, would not be able to resist the fancy shindig, and the men on the radio were more afraid of her than they were of anybody!

But wait… the Bishop wasn’t a playing card.  That jigsaw piece didn’t fit the puzzle I was working. I gave up that line of thinking for the moment.  I wondered if the rest of the nursery rhyme had any part in what was happening.  The words ran through my mind again.  Wasn’t there something about King Henry VIII and the Dissolution of Monasteries?

And the maid… Could that somehow be tied to Daisy the Dainty Dish?  The local story had it that she was given to “the King” as payment for a gambling debt.  The nursery rhyme said,

The maid was in the garden; Hanging out the clothes; When down came a blackbird; And pecked off her nose.

I had read that the blackbird taking the maid’s nose was seen as a demon stealing her soul.  I thought of the sad look in the eyes of the woman in the portrait and the girl in the shop.  Another chill went down my spine.

1920s Catering Menu-2Granny had said that there was no telling when we’d get a chance to sneak into the library again.  Considering how busy she was right then, there was no wonder she’d said 1920s Catering Menu-1that.  Granny moved quickly and gracefully among half a dozen food-laden tables, and back and forth from the kitchen, sometimes stopping to consult with Hortense the housekeeper.

Alastair moved skillfully, with very little direction from Granny.  Hank, with his henna treated red hair… well, Hank was working really hard, but I didn’t think he’d have much of a future in catering.  When he glanced at me he knocked a small silver serving plate off the table.  The plate landed on its edge and rolled several feet before disappearing beneath another table.  Hank ducked halfway under the table in pursuit of the plate.

Yes, Granny was too busy to do anything else.  However, Farceur was also busy ushering in one important group of guests after another.  He was even busier than Granny.  I noticed my grandmother follow the housekeeper to the kitchen.  I took a surreptitious look at the closed library door and I thought I heard the unmistakable “knock of opportunity.”  When the bossy butler moved fluidly to answer the door again, I walked nonchalantly to the library and slipped inside, softly closing the door behind me.

The painting drew me right away, just as it had the first time I saw it.  I would have been drawn to the portrait even if I had not felt the lever beneath the edge of the frame a short time earlier.  There was just something about it that compelled me to look into the sad eyes of the Dainty Dish.alphonse mucha 1

My hand lifted as if of its own volition and touched the canvas.  I shook my head, feeling almost like I had drifted off into a dream.  I moved my hand to the edge of the frame where I felt something earlier. A moment later my finger came to the small lever.  Just as I was about to press it, I heard a muffled thud followed by a clanging crash that must have been the large serving tray.  Mumbled apologies were overrun by the angry voice of Mr. Farceur.  Bless Hank! He had been watching out for me again.1922 Sat Post

I darted to the closest concealment, the massive desk.  I moved the chair the tiniest bit so I could tuck myself out of sight.  The trouble was — I couldn’t see a thing!  At the sound of the door opening, I held my breath.  Footfalls softened by the thick Persian rug, came surely across the room.  I knew it was the butler without looking, just by the confidence of his step.

At first it seemed like he was heading straight for the desk; and I was sure I’d been found out.  However, he didn’t seem to know I was in the room after all.  Farceur angled away toward the French doors that could open to the moonlit terrace.  When he didn’t open the doors I thought maybe he was going to draw the drapes.  My ears strained to hear, but there was no sound from the draperies.

It was hard to resist the temptation to peep out from my hiding place, but I knew the butler was far too alert for me to risk being seen.  A moment later I heard a soft click, followed by the sounds of subtle movements I couldn’t identify.  I was sure he had moved the painting of the late Daisy Kingston, the second wife of “the King.”

I heard the sound of paper moving, like the pages of a book turning.  Various other low noises reached my ears, and finally man_ray_tearsanother soft click.  Farceur moved rapidly across the large room.  I heard party sounds as he opened the door.  Then he closed it behind him.  Or did he?

With a shiver I stopped in mid motion. I was about to crawl out from under the desk, but what if he was still in the room.  What if he was sneaking back across the room and to the desk right then?  I froze in such an odd position that I didn’t think I could stay that way a moment longer.  I was getting cramps in one of my legs, and an especially painful one in my neck.

When the sounds of the party told me that he had opened the library door a second time, in the distance I also heard the doorbell.  I was sure Farceur would leave to answer it, but when the door closed, I was still afraid to crawl out of my hiding 1920s Style Bookplace.  By then, the cramp in my leg was so bad that I wasn’t sure I could move anyway.

As I eased out inch by inch, the desk still concealed me from most of the room.  I paused, still on hands and knees.  Maybe I could see part of the room reflected in the terrace doors.  Unfortunately, there was enough light from numerous fairy lights outside that I couldn’t tell much from the reflections on the glass.  While I hesitated, looking outside I thought I saw a bright flash of color.  I watched for a moment, but I didn’t see anything else.  Maybe it was a trick of the light.  Then I remembered overhearing someone mention fireworks.  Maybe they tested one.

I hazarded a quick peep around the corner of the massive desk.  It looked like I was alone.  I was about to stand up when movement from outside caused me to duck under the desk again.

My heart was about to beat out of my chest when I heard the sound.  It was sharp, but not loud.  Tap. Tap-tap. Tap. Tap-tap.  Wide-eyed and halfway to panic I stuck my head out and peered at the French doors. There was one more tap, and I beheld Cracker the parrot on the other side of the French doors.  She fluttered her wings and turned in a waddling circle, bobbed her head once, then gave me with what seemed like a conspiratorial wink!

“Dainty dish,” she chirped so softly that I barely heard her through the glass.  Then the parrot shook her foot and in a louder pitch she called, “Joker’s wild!”

stainge glass_parrot

***

Recipe:  Goat Cheese with Thyme, Peppercorns, and Lemon Oil

Recipe credit:  Epicurious.com

Total Time:  15 min

Servings:  6

Calories:  One serving (without baguette) contains the following: 134.12 Calories (kcal)

Ingredients:

• 1 (5.5-ounce) log soft mild goat cheese

• 1 teaspoon pink peppercorns or peppercorn mélange, cracked

• 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

• ½ small garlic clove, pressed (optional)

• Sliced baguette (toasted, if desired)

Pink peppercorns and peppercorn mélange (a mixture of black, pink, green, and white peppercorns) are available at many supermarkets

Method

Place cheese on plate; using plastic wrap as aid, shape into 5-inch round.  Sprinkle with salt, peppercorns, and thyme, and press into cheese.  Mix olive oil, lemon peel, and garlic, if desired, in small bowl.  Pour over cheese.  Serve with baguette.

 

***

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.

Photos and images courtesy of Pinterest unless otherwise stated.

Three Ingredients – 21: Lettuce, Beet, Stew

Rabbit_Episode 21I hope everyone had a wonderful week.  The characters in our 1920’s story might have been worried though.  The “ingredients cupboards” are bare!  The main idea behind this serial is to involve you readers, via the food-related things (the ingredients) you send.  Now, you wouldn’t want Granny Fanny to worry, or Cracker to stop getting into trouble would you?  So I hope you’ll send ingredients.  Anyone is welcome to leave three ingredients in a comment.

Also, you can do catch-up reading at the serial’s homepage. Just click on the button at the top of this page.

You might be expecting the fancy shindig Granny is catering to be the climax of this storyline.  So am I — but I’m depending on the ingredients you all send to take us there.  We’re closing in on it, but this episode reveals an unexpected layer to the culinary mystery.  I hope you enjoy it.  Bon appétit!

21.  Lettuce, Beet, Stew

Cinnamon Bun nibbled at a piece of lettuce.  I wondered absently where the huge bunny had gotten it. lantern-press-joker-playing-card Granny Fanny looked over my shoulder at the Joker playing card in my trembling hand and read the warning aloud.

“Be ready.”

Just then Alastair and Hank stepped up to the porch, having loaded the ice filled tubs of dandelion and burdock onto the young restaurateur’s truck.  One of Alastair’s eyebrows climbed nearly to his hairline.  He knew about the warning card that was found on me back at Wetson’s Mill.

Hank still looked uncomfortable with his henna treated red hair.  He took the card from me, murmuring something about evidence.  I reached to take it back and the sleeve of my white jacket tore free at the shoulder.  Granny took the card from Hank and discretely put it away.  Then she looked at my brand new uniform.

“Humph… That seam wasn’t properly sewed.  It was only basted.  Paisley, there’s still time if you’re quick about it.  Take my Model-T and get whoever is at Eunice’s Uniforms to stitch that back up, and check all the other seams while they’re at it,” she said.  Then she glanced at the black crepe trousers and said, “Make sure they check the pants too.”1914_Ford_Model_T_Speedster

My cheeks turned beet red at the thought of my trousers coming apart in the middle of the ritzy event we were about to cater. Without any hesitation, I hurried to the cherished automobile with its brightly painted yellow spoke wheels.  The fact that Granny was willing to trust me with her car was proof that she was determined to do her first big catering job well.  Or maybe it was confirmation that she still meant to carryout the sting operation that originated with Marshal Moses Myrick.  If I were to be truthful with myself I’d have to admit that I was more than a little worried about the dangers involved in busting a bootlegger kingpin who was already behind the killing of the marshal’s men and God knew how many other people.

Life October 1929As I got into the immaculate little car Granny called after me.  “You know the address and what time we’re supposed to be there to set up everything,” she said and it was only half a question.

I said that I did, and waived cheerily as the Model-T puttered onto the road.

Moments later I pulled up in front of a little shop in an historic part of Savannah, not far from River Street.  I knocked on the door but no one answered.  Maybe Eunice, or whoever was minding the shop for her, had gone out for a quick errand.  I bounced on the toes of my feet, feeling anxious and rushed.  Granny would skin me if I didn’t get that jacket fixed.  Well, okay, maybe not, but she’d surely be upset at the situation.

An unexpected cold breeze ruffled my bobbed hair.  When the chill went down my back, I almost wished I still had my long hair.  I shaded my eyes from the glare on the shop window and tried to see inside, wondering if I was being rude to peep into it like that.

While I didn’t exactly see anybody I did see movement inside the shop.  I knocked again, and still no one came.  I was sure someone was there.  Maybe they had moved to the back of the shop and didn’t hear my knock.  I placed my hand on the brass doorknob and it gave before I even turned it, as if the door had not been pulled all the way closed.

Leaning into the front room I called out, “Anyone here?”

Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell

In a jiffy, a girl who looked about my age came from the back of the shop.  She had a bright bandana died around her hair, and she was dressed in men’s clothes.  It was called the tomboy look.  Even Margaret Mitchell was doing it, but Granny got upset if I wore menswear for anything but gardening.  That’s why I had been so pleasantly surprised by her modern choice of uniforms for the catering business.  Though I realized their design was modified and cut for a woman, unlike the rather sloppy looking tomboy style.

“Can I help you miss?” she asked with a warm smile.

I introduced myself and she said she was called Daisy.  Then I explained about the uniform.

“It might be a little while before Miss Eunice gets back.  I’d be pleased to help you if that’s alright? Being as you’re pressed for time,” Daisy said glancing down shyly.

That was a great relief to me and I told her I’d be delighted to have her help.  So Daisy led me to the back of the shop.  She handed me a robe and motioned to a hand painted silk screen that I could change behind.  She made a quick but thorough inspection of the seams in the trousers, pronouncing them to be of fine workmanship.  Then she went about stitching the sleeve back onto the white tuxedo jacket.  By the Hand crank sewing machinetime I got changed back into the pants, she was already half finished with her work.  The hand cranked Singer sewing machine hummed as she worked.  The needle and thread moved so quickly that it was an amazing thing to watch.  In a moment she helped me into the jacket.

As Daisy carefully inspected the fit of the shoulder seams, her smile got even brighter.  I could tell she liked the uniform.  I commented on my amazement that Granny chose the style.  Daisy nodded her understanding.  A sad expression shadowed her eyes, though the smile didn’t falter.

“Yes, Miss.  It’s dangerous to be a girl out and about.  Too many men think you’re a dainty dish free for the taking.  I feel a lot safer when I wear men’s clothes,” Daisy confided as the clock in the front room chimed the quarter hour.

“A dainty dish?” I echoed, surprised to hear the phrase Cracker the parrot had squawked on more than one occasion.  I thought it must be a local expression.1920s Woman Parrot

“Yes, Miss.  But I’m no woman of easy virtue,” she added looking suddenly fearful.

I hastened to reassure her that no one would ever think such a thing of her.  It would have been nice to sit and talk with another girl — someone my own age, but the sound of the clock reminded me that I had to hurry.  I thanked Daisy and regretfully said goodbye.

As I got back into the Model-T, Eunice called out to me.  She quickened her step on the sidewalk.  “Hold your horses!  I’m back now,” she said looking a little annoyed.

“It’s okay,” I told her.  “A seam broke in my jacket but Daisy took care of it,” I said as I put the automobile into gear.  I didn’t mean to be abrupt, but I really had to hurry, so I wasn’t paying much attention to what she said.

“Who?” Eunice asked, looking confused.

“No worries,” I said pulling out onto the street.  “She did a fine job!” I called, and a backward glance showed Eunice standing with a fist on her hip and her head tilted in consternation.

1920s Flapper DrivingMinutes later I was taking the Model-T up a long and winding drive. Far below I could see the Savannah River glitter in the afternoon sun.  What a view those big wigs must have!  I forced my mind back to business and kept driving.  Granny Fanny met me at the side entrance of 420 Kingston Lane.  As she led me inside the grand home she admired the workmanship of the tuxedo jacket.  She asked if Eunice made any complaint, commenting on the occasional grumpiness of the seamstress.

“I only saw Eunice as I was leaving.  Her assistant, Daisy, took care of the repair,” I informed Granny.

“Daisy?” she commented in surprise.  “I wonder when Eunice got an assistant,” she said and then rattled off the list of things I was supposed to do.1920s Life parachute

“Paisley,” she began with my given name again.  That told me she was feeling stressed.  “There’s something sticking out of your pocket.  Make sure it’s tucked away.”

“But I don’t have anything in my pocket,” I said with a sudden sense of déjà vu as my fingers touched a folded slip of paper.  I removed it from my jacket and was relieved to see that it was only a receipt from Eunice’s Uniforms.  However, when I unfolded the paper I recognized the handwriting as a match for the warnings on the playing cards.  The front of the receipt said “No charge.”

Could the young seamstress be the person leaving the warning cards?  It was beginning to seem impossible for one person to have been in all the places where the playing cards had been left.  If Daisy was doing it, then maybe she wasn’t working alone.  How else could she manage to be in so many places?

I turned the receipt to look at the reverse side of the paper.  The words on the back made me gasp.

“Beware!”terror tales

Suddenly I felt dizzy.  I must have looked frightful too, because Granny took my elbow and pulled me into the next room.  The next thing I knew, Granny had put me in a big leather chair and pushed my head down between my knees.  A moment later I looked up to see Hank and Alastair staring down at me in concern.

We were in a big office room, or maybe rich people would call it a library.  French doors opened onto a terrace and a view of the Savannah River.  I looked around at the beautifully appointed room.  One wall was covered with book shelves from the floor to the high ceiling.  The other walls were paneled with expensive burled wood.  A massive desk dominated the room.  It was polished so well that the gas lamps reflected on the surface.1920s Arrow tux

Behind the desk hung a tall painting of a regal looking man with a touch of gray at his temples.  There was something familiar about his face, but he couldn’t be anyone I had met because the style of his elegant clothes told me the painting was about a hundred years old.  I stared at the picture, trying to figure out what was so familiar about the face.

Alastair quietly moved behind my chair and it startled me when he spoke.  “I remember my great-grandfather saying they called him ‘the king.’ He controlled most of Savannah at one point.”

I got up so I could take a closer look at the painting.  Hank pushed past Alastair and took my elbow as if he was afraid I might fall over or something.  Ordinarily that would have annoyed me, but I was too preoccupied by the painting and the half remembered thoughts that I was trying super hard to pull together.  It was as if I could almost touch a memory, but it kept slipping through my grasp.  I wondered again just how much I had forgotten when I was attacked and drugged back at Wetson’s Mill.

Several other paintings and photographs adorned the walls.  Another portrait caught my eye. I pulled free of Hank’s grasp.  He made a surprised, indignant noise.  Let him stew about that if he wanted.  Colors of grass and sky were worked into the background of the painting.  The artist showed a beautiful dark haired young woman with a simple white daisy in her hand.  Her eyes held a sad expression.  I alphonse mucha 1moved closer to the portrait.

“Daisy…” I whispered in awe, reading aloud the name on a brass plaque beneath the portrait.

Alastair shouldered Hank aside and continued his account of the paintings.  “Yes,” Alastair said.  “Nobody was dumb enough to say it in front of ‘the King’ but she was known as ‘the dainty dish.’  Rumors said she was given to him as a payment for a gambling debt, but he fell madly in love with her. Daisy died mysteriously.  There must be half a dozen stories about how she died, and none of them match or make much sense.”

No wonder there was such sadness in her eyes, I thought.  To be given as a payment?  Like property? I couldn’t imagine what that had been like for her, even if the rich man had fallen in love with her. The eyes in the portrait held mine in an almost hypnotic way.  I forced myself to look away.

I had thought Cracker the parrot was calling me “dainty dish,” but I started to wonder what the extraordinary bird had on her mind.  The headache that plagued me on and off ever since the attack, came back with a vengeance.  I put my fingers to my throbbing temples.SingSong6dcaldecott

“What’s the old nursery rhyme?” I asked, causing everyone to think I’d lost my marbles with that apparently sudden and incomprehensible subject change.

“Sing a song of sixpence. A pocket full of rye. Four and twenty blackbirds. Baked in a pie. When the pie was opened. The birds began to sing. Wasn’t that a dainty dish. To set before the king?”

I looked at the bewildered faces surrounding me.  I plunged ahead with the rhyme.

“The king was in his counting house. Counting out his money. The queen was in the parlor. Eating bread and honey. The maid was in the garden. Hanging out the clothes. When down came a blackbird. And pecked off her nose.”

I’d probably be lucky if they didn’t lock me up in the lunatic asylum, judging by their expressions.  But they probably forgot all about me acting oddly when the mean faced major domo walked in, acting like he might huff and puff and blow us all out into the river.

Black Butler 1He demanded to know what we were doing in that room.  His tone and manner were enough to make the boys and me jump and start babbling.  However, Granny Fanny looked up at the gruff man and tilted her head slightly to one side as if studying an insect.  Then she spoke in a tone every bit as chilly as his.

“My granddaughter became faint.  Sit back down, dear before you knees buckle again,” she told me sharply before turning back to the major domo.  “Would you kindly bring some smelling salts,” she said in a firm statement, not a question.  Then she turned to Hank and Alastair and told them to get back to work.

“There are salts in the kitchen.  You can ask the housekeeper for them,” he said in a haughty voice that more than implied that he would not take orders from her.  Then he turned on his heel and walked out with his nose in the air.  He turned back just long enough to snap at us.  “I suggest you regain your composure quickly, young woman, and do not go into this room again.”

Granny wriggled her eyebrows at his back and then winked at me.  My eyes strayed back to the portrait of Daisy, “the dainty dish.”  Then my thoughts went to something that had been troubling me, one of those gaps in my memory.

“Granny,” I whispered. “Just what did the marshal intend to do here?  I mean, he couldn’t have meant to Speakeasy_Stories-Julystart a shootout with a house full of party guests.  What was he after?”

“Evidence,” Granny summed it up in one word.  “He said ‘the King of Clubs’ keeps meticulous records and he was sure they were hidden somewhere in this house. Probably in a safe,” she said.

I moved wordlessly to the portrait of the young woman.  Heaven knows how I could feel so sure, but I was.  My fingers traveled along just beneath the edges of the intricately carved frame.  I felt something and pressed.  The picture moved slightly I was sure it would swing back on hinges if I pushed.

However I pushed it back into place when I heard a noise just outside the room.  It sounded like a bit of a scuffle.  I heard Hank’s voice making a profuse apology and the gruff voice of the major domo who muttered something like, “Red headed buffoon!” I could see my friend through the partially opened door, and he gave me a significant look.  Whatever had happened, Hank had done it on purpose to warn us.

Granny Fanny whispered.  “Fake a swoon.  Now!” she hissed insistently, and I obediently sagged to the sumptuous Persian rug on which we stood.

“For pity’s sake!” the man snapped.  “Are you still in here?  Haven’t you revived your girl yet?  Do I have to do everything myself?”1920s Faint

With caution I cracked one eye open, just a hair.  He haughtily strutted to the big desk and picked up a house phone.  Even his breath sounded impatient and domineering as he waited for someone to answer.  Then I heard a woman’s voice from the other end.  He told her to bring some smelling salts, pronto.  “Yes Mr. Farceur. Right away sir,” the voice said.

I saw Granny’s expression shift as if in sudden comprehension. But I had to close my eyes because he turned toward me.  Mr. Farceur bent over me with a distasteful expression on his face.  Yes, my eyes were shut, just like I said.  But I knew what look was on his face, just the same.  You could practically hear the look on his face.  He sniffed disdainfully.1920s Judge Hourglass

My mind worked furiously.  There was something about his name.  It was French.  I had some French lessons when I was younger, but I didn’t learn the language very well.  Farceur…  Applesauce!  Didn’t that mean joker?  As in “Joker’s wild?”

The memory of Cracker excitedly repeating that phrase rattled me so badly that I nearly sat up and opened my eyes.  I managed to control myself except for one little twitch.  Fortunately that spasm seemed to convince the major domo of the honesty of my faint and he strode out of the room.

As I sat up, I suddenly felt icily cold.  I shivered and wondered if maybe something really was wrong with me.

***

Video:  Greek Yogurt Beet & Feta Dip

 

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 mater

 

 

Three Ingredients – 20: Beef Drippings, Dandelion & Burdock, Salmon

Cat_menu_Episode-20Hello everyone.  My heartfelt thanks to all of you for coming back.  You supply the “ingredients” that built the mysteries in our 1920’s story — that’s what makes the serial interactive.  Now our story is drawing closer to revealing some of the answers to those questions and mysteries.

Without further ado, here is Episode-20.  Bon appétit!

20.  Beef Drippings, Dandelion & Burdock, Salmon

Bell phone ad copyRather than the bun she often wore, Granny Phanny had rolled and tucked her long hair into a style that at first glance looked a lot like a bob.  The wide legged black crepe trousers and white tuxedo jacket fit her perfectly.  She looked every inch the modern woman; and… younger too.  Eunice’s Uniforms had done a great job.  I straightened my own waiters’ uniform and Granny smiled.

The telephone rang and Granny hurried to answer it.  I knew she was still more than a little bit worried about Moses Myrick.  There was a tightness around her eyes that had not been there before the marshal was shot.

“Yes, Doc. Is that you?” I could hear the concern in her voice as she spoke into the receiver.  The ear piece was pressed tightly against her head.  Then she exhaled and her shoulders relaxed.  “You don’t really think so?  Considering the way she’s the-chinese-parrot adbeen acting I’m surprised,” she said but paused to listen.  “Yes Doc.  We’ll keep an eye out,” Granny said and hung up the telephone.

“Doctor Veronica says that parrot flew the coop.  Darnedest thing I’ve ever heard.  That nasty bird nearly took my finger off when I tried to pry her away from Moses.  But Veronica said she let herself out the window a few minutes ago.  The last time she saw Cracker, the parrot was headed in this direction,” Granny said shaking her head in wonder at the bird’s unpredictable behavior.  “I find it hard to believe that she’d suddenly give up her equally sudden devotion to Moses.  Be a dear and keep an eye out for Cracker just the same.”

I murmured my promise.  I found the parrot’s antics unexpected, but when I thought about it, we should probably expect the unexpected from Cracker.  However I didn’t give it that much thought because the aroma of the huge beef roast Granny had been cooking all day wafted to my nostrils.  My stomach gave a loud growl.  Granny chuckled and told me to go get a snack – but to Red-Headed-League-Sherlock-Holmes-Doyletake off the white jacket first.  Just then Hank Hertz walked in eating a yeast roll that was sopping with beef drippings.  It was a good thing he had removed his jacket, else Granny might have skinned him when a big drop of au jus went down his chest.

I barely recognized Hank, and it wasn’t because of the partial amnesia I’d experienced since my unknown attacker had left me in a root cellar at the Queen of Clubs Herb Farm out at Wetson’s Mill.  No, Granny had told Hank that if he was going to participate in the night’s “catering event” he’d have to let her treat his hair with henna.  Now his hair was bright red, and he had a little red mustache too.

Granny said she was concerned about Hank’s safety, since too many people knew he was quickly on theWeMustGrowAMustache scene after the villains had ambushed Marshal Moses Myrick and his men.  I’m sure that was true; Granny wouldn’t put anybody in harm’s way.  But I suspected that she planned to carryout Myrick’s original “sting” plan, with or without the injured marshal’s help.  So that was another reason for disguising Savannah’s youngest police officer.

Hank scratched at the mustache.  I quipped that I’d always wondered if those things itched.  He nodded and spoke quietly.  “I feel ridiculous with this red hair,” he confided.  “But Miss Fanny says it will fade away with washing.”

I thought Granny might have exaggerated about the “fading away” part of the henna, but I didn’t want to make Hank feel any more uncomfortable than he already was.  I gently poked his ribs with my elbow.  “I think it looks rather dashing,” I reassured him and he stood a little straighter.

1928 green kitchen adMy grandmother took Hank’s elbow and led us both to the kitchen.  She fixed snack plates for the three of us with roast beef, rolls, and candied carrots.  I gave a wistful glance at the za’atar she’d so carefully prepared, but I knew she was worried about having enough, so I didn’t say anything.

She glanced at the clock and took out a fourth plate and sat it on the green and white gingham tablecloth.  Then she turned to one of several tubs of ice that contained cobalt blue bottles with attached cork flip tops, and pulled out a few bottles.

“What is this anyway?” I asked and sniffed the liquid that reminded me of sarsaparilla.

I had been wondering what was inside the bottles, because I had heard Granny tell her client that he’d have to supply any alcohol, being as it was illegal.  I had not met the rich man who was hosting the reception Granny had agreed to cater.  But I overheard part of their telephone conversation — whether I wanted to or not.  He was one of those people who felt they had to shout into the telephone since he was talking to someone across town.  He sounded nice enough, but there was just something about him that rubbed me the wrong way, despite the fact I had never even seen him.hagues dandelion-burdock

Hank Hertz took a swig from the blue bottle.  “Umm.  It’s dandelion and burdock,” he said to my unspoken question.  “Dr. Veronica gave me some before.  She said it was kind of medicinal.”

“It’s also mildly alcoholic,” Granny interjected.  “Not enough to cause trouble for me, but that seemed to mollify tonight’s host.  He was… well… irritated that I wouldn’t bring any champagne because of the prohibition.  He was being pretty hard headed about that,” she said with a slightly annoyed twist to her mouth.  Granny didn’t like anybody trying to boss her around.

The putter of an engine sent me to the kitchen window.  I pushed back the eyelet curtain and saw Alastair Wong pull his delivery truck up beside the cottage.  Alastair had offered to help. He said he expected a slow night at his restaurant, and besides there was plenty of family to help there.  I saw that he had even temporarily covered his pride and joy slogan, “You’re always right with Wong’s” with a sign proclaiming Granny’s Goodies.  My grandmother quickly fixed the fourth plate with a snack for Alastair.1920s delivery truck

Moments later Hank and Alastair loaded the heavy galvanized steel tubs, filled with ice and cobalt blue bottles of dandelion and burdock onto the delivery truck.  Then they covered them with a tarp to help keep the ice from melting as fast.

I was surprised to see Cinnamon Bun, the Flemish Giant rabbit, thump up the back porch stairs.  He vintage bunnyhad been hiding from all the activity.  As usual, Granny went gaga over the oversized bunny and praised him for coming out to be sociable.  Cinnamon liked getting his ears stroked, but he sat up on his haunches as if looking for something in the distance.

A blur of brilliant color streaked down from the sky and Cracker the parrot alighted next to the rabbit.  She nibbled at his fur and cooed, “Good bird… good bird.”

My amazement at the bond between bird and bunny had no end.  My grandmother and I watched the two in fascination.  Then she got back to business.

“Sweet-pea,” she spoke to me.  “Would you get that poached salmon?  Just wrap it up tight.  I won’t plate it until after we get there.”1920s Peoples home journal girl parrot

“Exactly where is this shindig anyway,” I asked.  I knew it was at one of the fanciest homes in Savannah, but I didn’t know much more than that.  I wondered if I had known more before I was attacked and drugged.

“Umm… what was that address?” Granny Fanny said half to herself.  “Oh.  It’s at 420 Kingston Lane.”

Immediately Cracker flew into the air, making circles around Granny and me.  The parrot squawked excitedly, “Fourandtwenty, Fourandtwenty! Dainty dish to set before the king!  Dainty dish!” she repeated as she alighted on my shoulder and pulled my hair with her beak.  “Dainty dish. SingSong6dcaldecottFourandtwenty!

Cinnamon Bun sat up on his haunches inquiringly at the bird’s outburst.  He made a snorting sound that drew my eyes to him.  Then I noticed a small rectangle on the porch next to the rabbit.  I stooped to retrieve it.

Another playing card, I thought.  I knew I needed to turn it over, but I was afraid to look.  Cracker must have brought it with her, and dropped it when she started grooming the bunny.  But where had the parrot gotten the card?  Did she pick it up at the Vale residence?  Or did she find it somewhere along the way?  What if she didn’t bring the card at all?  What if an anonymous person had left it there on the porch as another warning?

I was shivering, though it was not cold.  I felt Granny step closer.  She was looking over my shoulder at the card.  Cautionary words were written across the back of the card in a familiar hand.

“Be ready!”

My hands were shaking so badly that I almost dropped the card.  Reluctantly I turned over the rectangle to reveal the sinister looking Joker on the face of the playing card.  Cracker fluttered off my shoulder and landed on the porch banister.  “Jokerswild!” the parrot shrieked and shook her foot.

lantern-press-joker-playing-card

I had a hazy memory of Cracker making that motion before.  I remembered thinking it seemed disdainful.  Whoever the Joker was, Cracker did not like him… or maybe her.  I reminded myself to think like a modern woman.  The villain might just as well be a woman as a man.

Turning the card face down once again I repeated the words “Be ready!” and felt the pit of my stomach freeze.

***

Recipe

French Dip Sandwiches

French dip sandwiches

Recipe and photo courtesy Rachael Ray

Total Time:  15 min            Prep:  5 min          Cook:  10 min

Yield:  4 servings                  Level:  Easy

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter

1 shallot, chopped

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 jigger dry sherry, optional

2 cans beef consommé, found on broth and soups aisle or beef broth

1 1/2 pounds deli sliced roast beef

Grill seasoning blend spices for steak, such as Montreal Steak Seasoning Blend, or, coarse salt and pepper

4 torpedo sandwich rolls, split

Directions

In a large, shallow skillet over moderate heat, melt butter. Add shallots to butter and sauté 2 minutes. Add flour to butter and shallot and cook a minute longer. Whisk in sherry and cook liquid out. Whisk in consommé in a slow stream. Bring sauce to a bubble and allow to simmer over low heat until ready to serve sandwiches.

Pile meat loosely across your cutting board or a large work surface. Season meat with grill seasoning or salt and black pepper. Set out 4 ramekins or small soup cups for dipping sauce, 4 dinner plates and 4 split torpedo rolls. To assemble, using a pair of kitchen tongs, dip meat into loose au jus sauce and pile into rolls. Set ramekins or cups with extra dipping sauce alongside the sandwiches.

 ***

 

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.

Except where otherwise noted, all photos and illustrations are from Pinterest.

 

Three Ingredients – 18: Fungus, Quiche, Quinoa

Cat_menu_Episode-18Dear readers, I’m finally back to following my own rules — working “three ingredients” into the serial episode, and treating you to recipes or videos, and some factual information along the way.

Ingredients for this episode are from my very talented friend Ishita.  To be fair — no, Ishita didn’t give us an unappetizing sounding ingredient like “fungus.”  She originally said Quorn, but I thought that was not invented during the timeline of our serial.  So after looking it up, I settled on fungus, which relates to Quorn.

With The Three Ingredients serial our story items are not always about recipe ingredients.  They may be utensils, preparation methods, or any food-related Quinua copything.  I’m going a step further in that direction with the gluten free “quinoa” (pronounced KEEN-wah) ingredient today and giving you an informative video.  However, I am not leaving you without a recipe this weekend, because Ishita recently blogged a delicious recipe, Quinoa, the Mexican Way! (Thank you, Ishita, for making this easier for me, by sharing your recipe.)

And now, I hope you’ll enjoy the Kooky ingredients of Episode-18.  Bon appétit!

18.  Fungus, Quiche, Quinoa

King of Clubs cardTime seemed to freeze.  I stood in a field of grass that swayed in a gentle breeze.  My head hurt and my stomach was upset.  I stared at the playing card Alastair Wong handed me.  How had it come to be in my pocket?  I felt like there was some significance to the King of Clubs card.  I delved my sluggish thoughts, but it was like swimming in mud.  I couldn’t remember what I should know about the card.  While I looked at it additional questions flooded my consciousness.  Why was I standing in the middle of a large herb garden?  Most of all, why had I been in a root cellar?

I wrapped my arms around myself, suddenly cold.  I noticed a tear in the sleeve of my dress and a scrape on my elbow.  Taking my fingers away from the spot I saw blood, dirt, and some kind of fungus.  Who knew what might grow in the darkness of a cellar.  The wound was dirty; it needed to be washed, I thought distractedly.

Then my exploring hands felt a gritty coating on my back and shoulders.  Alastair must have thought I was trying to dust myself off, but I was really just trying to figure out what had happened to me. Why couldn’t I remember?

He gently started to dust off my shoulders.  “Pip, you’re a mess,” he pretended to chide me.  I was sure he could tell I was distraught and wanted to lighten my mood.  “You have dirt on your face, and… what’s this all over your back?” the young owner of the local Chinese restaurant added.1920s Shanghai night

Alastair removed his hand from my shoulder and looked at his fingers.  His eyebrows knitted in a perplexed way.  I looked at the substance I felt on my own hands.  I sort of remembered landing on bags of something that broke my fall, like a cushion.  “Is it wheat or maybe some kind of seeds?” I muttered, still groggy.

“Fat hen!” he exclaimed.

“What did you call me?” I demanded, thinking my ears surely deceived me.

“No,” Alastair said. “Goosefoot.”

“That isn’t any better!” I cried.  How dare he?

“No, Pip.  I mean the grain.  Jeepers, what’s the real name—?  They call it fat hen, sometimes goosefoot…  Quinoa, that’s it! I haven’t seen much of this around here.  I think it’s quinoa.  That’s a high protein grain crop,” he said, showing off his knowledge of foodstuffs.  I was sure he was just as educated as any big restaurateur.

A sudden blast of sound startled me.  Alastair loudly blew a whistle.  Then he blew it two more times.  I covered my ears against the eardrum splitting noise.  Applesauce!  As if I didn’t already have a headache. You’d think he 1925 Judge Magcould have warned me.  Why did he blow a whistle in the first place?

I felt really woozy, and it must have showed.  Alastair stepped closer to me and took my elbow.  I didn’t realize until then that I stood dangerously close to the trapdoor type opening of that cellar. He guided me a few steps away from it, but his eyes narrowed suspiciously as he looked down.  Alastair bent to inspect the hatch.  It was covered with sod.  My mind was still muddled, but I realized the covering of dirt and grass explained why the door was so heavy and difficult when I shouldered it open.

“Somebody wanted to keep that cellar hidden,” Alastair said as he looked curiously into the dark maw of the vault.  “You don’t remember how you got here, huh?” he asked.

I shook my head then wished I had not moved it.

“Somebody must have pushed you into that cellar.  I’ll bet you landed on a bag of this quinoa,” he pondered looking at his dusty fingers.  “Then whomever it was closed the door and left you there.  Did you see anything else down there?”

“I felt bags of potatoes and rutabagas,” I replied.  “There was only a crack of light coming from the hatch.  I 1916 Vogue springmade out the shape of a ladder and used it to climb out.  I couldn’t see what else might be in there.”

The pink light that heralded sunset deepened.  The clouds turned orange and red in prediction of a fair night.  Alastair looked up expectantly toward the horizon.  He must have heard something I had not noticed, but then my ears were still ringing a bit.  A moment later I caught a faint shrill sound.  He smiled.

“We’ve been looking for you nearly all day, Pip,” Alastair told me, seeming amused at my puzzled expression.  “What in the devil were you doing out here?”

I confessed that I had no idea how I got there.  I couldn’t remember.  “Tofu,” I muttered.  “I remember something about tofu and Granny.”

He smiled at that and looked a little relieved.  “You had me worried.  I expect everything will come back to you,” Alastair told me as he led me away from the cellar.  “You were supposed to come to the restaurant to pick up some tofu.  Miss Fanny seemed intent on forcing it down her patient.”

Patient?  “Wha—?” I began, but my brain wouldn’t finish digging for the information.

Barrie Craig adventures“It’s okay, Pip.  Marshal Myrick?  The doctors Vale did surgery on him at their place?  After he was ambushed?  Do you remember any of that?  It sounds awfully exciting!  It’s okay,” he said in answer to my pleading look.  “It will come back to you.  Anyhow, when you didn’t show up I thought Miss Fanny’s Model-T must have broken down, so I headed out to meet you.  I got all the way to the Vales’ animal hospital and still hadn’t seen the car or you,” Alastair explained.

Applesauce!  Had something happened to Granny’s Model-T?  She’d kill me!

Alastair’s voice intruded on my panicked thoughts.  “Everybody was trying to guess where else you might have gone.  When you called, I remembered you saying something about cilantro, but you didn’t explain.  I figured if you had made a detour to get cilantro, then the Queen of Clubs Herb Farm was the only place that was between the Vale’s place and Wong’s.

“We found the Model-T hours ago, but we couldn’t find you anywhere.  The Wetson house and the buildings around it were deserted.  But I understand they’re linked to the ambush and the bootleggers somehow?” he said.1914_Ford_Model_T_Speedster

Slowly I nodded.  I wasn’t sure why, but what Alastair said seemed right.  I had a half-formed memory of something like that… I remembered being in the Model-T with Granny driving that cherished car like a bat out of hell.  Then I remembered all the blood at the scene of the ambush.  There were dead bodies.  I remembered that very clearly, even the coppery smell of the blood.  I turned away from Alastair and wretched, but there was nothing left in my stomach.  Thank goodness.

“Come on,” he said gently.  “My truck is right over here.  You can rest there.  The others will be here in a minute.”

“Others?” I asked groggily.

“Yeah.  That’s why I blew the whistle — to let them know I’d found you,” he said and motioned toward his truck.1920s delivery truck

Then I saw the truck, not too far away.  I thought I could walk that far.  The truck was painted with the name, Wong’s Chinese.  I noticed Alastair had added his new slogan below the restaurant name, “You’re always right with Wong’s,” and I thought it was strange that I could remember him telling me that silly slogan, but I couldn’t remember what had happened to me that day.  When we reached the truck I saw a crate of eggs in the back.  Half the eggs were broken.  I gave Alastair what must have been an odd look.

“I didn’t exactly drive carefully once we figured out something was wrong, that you’d gone missing,” he said and he blushed a little.  “When I said I was going to meet up with you, in case you’d broken down, Momma had me take some eggs.  She said Doctor Veronica likes to make quiche…  Then I forgot to give them to her.  I hit a lot 1920s woman scientist-microscopeof bumps on the way out here.  Not so good for eggs…  Maybe Doctor Ronnie can salvage some of them.”

He was saved from further explanation by the sound of yapping.  High pitched barking grew closer.  Something white bounded through the tall grass.  For a second I didn’t know what it was, but my mind started filling in blanks.  It was a little poodle.  Cotton, the name came to me; Veronica Vale’s dog.  Just as those thoughts fell into place the poodle pounced into my arms.

As the sky grew increasingly red with sunset, the field became more populated.  Veronica Vale puttered up in their slow moving jalopy.  She jumped out of the car and hugged me while I held the dog.  Cotton then struggled to get down.  “Cotton, you naughty girl,” Veronica chided the dog.  “You know you’re supposed to come when I call you.”  The dog only wagged her tail in answer, totally unrepentant.

Then a familiar automobile drove up, but I couldn’t say why I felt I knew it.  I recognized the car, but that was as far as memory would take me.

JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar adVeronica noticed my odd expression when a tall attractive man with deep blue eyes got out of the car.  He had a severe expression on his face, and an official bearing that made me feel like a kid in trouble.  He looked angry and I reflexively drew back.

Mrs. Vale seemed to think she was explaining the man’s presence when she spoke.  “We made Hank stay behind with Moses.  Mind you it was a task, because he was already out the door to go looking for you before Alastair even finished saying that he didn’t see you on the road anywhere.  However, Hank really should be resting from that head wound, and we couldn’t leave the marshal alone.  So I made him stay behind to mind the patient.  But the rest of us have been searching high and low for you,” she said then paused and looked expectantly at my blank expression.  “Hank radioed Dabney.  He left off investigating the bootleggers and joined our search for you.”

Who was Hank? I wondered silently.  A kind face hovered in my mind.  I associated him with a uniform and a radio.  That’s it!  Hank was the youngest policeman on Savannah’s force, and he was a wizard with radio equipment.  But who was this angry looking man?

“I whistled to the others, when I heard your signal,” Veronica added with a nod to Alastair.  “Vincent and your grandmother should be here shortly.”

“I’m sorry,” I began, “but who is that?  He looks like a copper.”  I said that quietly so as not to offend the man who was only a few feet away by then.  He looked like he was already annoyed enough.

When I spoke, Veronica looked at me intently.  She stepped closer and got all doctor-like.  She checked my eyes and felt around on my head, despite me trying to push her hands away.  “Pip…” she said warningly, and I was reminded that, well she was a doctor.  She asked what was wrong.1920 Radio News

“She can’t remember anything that happened today,” Alastair supplied while I struggled to form the right words.  “And apparently there are some other things she can’t remember too,” he added with his voice dipping in a worried tone.

Doctor Vale looked suspiciously at me and felt my head again.  By then the man had walked over to us.  “You do have a little bump on your head, but…” she began, but her words trailed away.  “You know Dabney Daniels, don’t you?  The police detective?” she asked.

I said nothing, but I spared a timid glance at the detective.  He looked from Doctor Vale to me and back to her again.  His posture became stiffer, if that was possible.  His face reddened.  Was he angry with me, I wondered.  Had I done something I couldn’t remember?  Broken some law?  Surely not.

Then Veronica leaned toward me and sniffed.  The awful sickly sweet smell still clung to my hair.  Right then, I would have given just about anything to wash that odor out of my hair.  It nauseated me every time I breathed.

Her eyes grew large.  “You’ve been drugged, Pip!” she said with surprise.  “Do you remember anything?  Anything about somebody frightening you, or doing something to you?” she asked, but I shook my head.

The detective’s hands clinched to fists.  Veronica put her fingers to a smear on my face, and then smelled of her hand and nodded knowingly.  “Someone probably grabbed you from behind.  Do you remember anything like that?”Life October 1929

Suddenly I remembered the air whooshing from my lungs as someone roughly caught me around my middle.  Yes, they had been behind me and I had not seen who it was.  Then I remembered everything going black.

“Show him the card, Pip,” Alastair said somewhat hesitantly and motioned to the detective.

I was sort of relieved to know that I wasn’t the only one who felt awkward around the man.  I couldn’t blame Alastair.  This detective was a fierce looking customer.  I took out the King of Clubs card and extended it toward the man without speaking.  Was I really supposed to be acquainted with this man?

“That card fell out of her pocket after she climbed out of the cellar,” Alastair supplied for me.

Ordinarily it would have annoyed me to have someone try and do the talking for me.  After all, I was a flapper — a modern woman!  However, Alastair simply picked up on how fuzzy my brain was and helped fill in while I was tongue-tied, so I was actually grateful.

The detective took the King of Clubs card from my hand.  His face turned from red to white, and then even redder than it was before.  A vein in his temple started to throb.  Reflexively I took a step backward.  That was one angry copper.  My stomach churned violently, and the unpleasant smell in my hair was inescapable.  The pain in my skull had grown from an ordinary headache to a horrible vice-grip that made me feel like it would explode.1920s-photoplay-new faces

“Pip,” the copper spoke my name as if he had used it many times.  “Do you understand what this means?  The most notorious gangster this side of the Mississippi River grabbed you, drugged you, and threw you down into a cellar!  Then he left his calling card in your pocket!  Was it a warning?  Or was it a bizarre clue? Or what?” he said in a demanding voice.

Flinching away from him I took another step backward.  How could I know the answers to those questions?  I felt my knees giving way.  The ground beneath my feet seemed to heave and spin, fit for the trapeze act my friend Mona was learning down in Sarasota, Florida.  Mona?  Yes, I suddenly remembered Mona and Andy, and Frankie.  Frankie who betrayed us all.

Then large black spots filled my vision.  I saw the tall detective take a big step toward me, just before the black spots crowded out all the orange light of sunset.  I felt him catch me with one arm and lift me up from the approaching ground.  Consciousness was escaping quickly, but I knew he sat me in Alastair’s truck.

***

Mavis adI awoke to something warm and wet against my face.  “Cotton, leave her alone.  Come here girl,” I heard Veronica tell the poodle.  Alastair Wong held me tightly.  I was still in the truck, but we were not in that field any more.  I recognized the lovely white house with a green roof.  We were at Veronica’s home.

“Don’t try to move yet, Pip,” Veronica instructed as she hurried from her old car.

I didn’t move, but that was mostly because I was so overwhelmed by all the different noises.  The put-put of Veronica’s engine, the louder sound of the truck, the yapping of Cotton.  A horse whinnied from the stable, and from inside the house I could hear a bird screech.  A parrot.  Cracker, I thought with a smile as another memory was retrieved.  Then I almost faded out of consciousness again.  I took a deep breath and focused on my breathing.

Alastair shut off the truck’s engine and that helped.  It seemed to remind Veronica that her car was still running and she rushed back to turn it off.  I felt safe and warm, tucked under Alastair’s shoulder with his arm around me.  He didn’t flinch and I had no wish to move.  However, as Veronica ran back to the truck I knew I couldn’t stay there.  I clawed my way toward a more alert state.Parrot in flight

A shutter banged against the wall and the parrot flew out of the building that housed the animal hospital.  That was also where we sat up a recovery room for the marshal after his surgery.  I was pleased that more bits of memory fell into place.

The clever bird could open anything when she set her mind to it.  She alighted on the back of the truck seat.  The parrot started preening strands of my hair as if it was feathers.  “Dainty dish,” the bird chirped as if she meant to comfort me. “Dainty dish, fourandtwenty.”

The roar of a mud-spattered motorcycle startled everyone and caused the parrot to flutter skyward.  I turned to see the man who rode it take off a goggled helmet.  To my surprise it was Vincent Vale.  I must have looked every bit as astonished as I felt because Veronica chuckled softly.

“Didn’t you know Vincent had a motorcycle?” she asked as the parrot settled back onto the truck’s open door.

1920s BSA Motorcycle ad“We were ready to search the four corners of the earth for you,” Alastair told me as he loosened his arm.  “And there weren’t enough cars to go everywhere Detective Daniels said we should look.”

“So Vincent rolled out his pride and joy,” Veronica said.  “It hasn’t touched a street in ages — let alone all that mud,” she added with a combination of a wince and a laugh.

Vincent got off the vehicle.  That’s when I saw that there was someone sitting behind the veterinarian on the motorcycle.  Boots, heavy trousers, and a leather helmet with goggles made for a smaller version of Vincent.  Gloved hands removed the helmet.  A cascade of hip-length gray hair tumbled from the helmet.

“Granny!” I cried incredulously.

***

Video:  Quinoa 101

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7uvygMiwfo

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Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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