Back to a Pug in the Kitchen — Granny Phanny & the Giant Rabbit

Update

I finally got around to making Suzanne’s “Creamy Spring Turnip Soup.”  I know anything from A Pug in the Kitchen is going to be delicious, but I confess to being lukewarm about turnips.  I say that for the non-turnip lovers in the crowd.  I always take shortcuts in cooking, so I know my versions won’t be as good.  So imagine my pleasure when, even in my clumsy hands this soup was stand-up-and -cheer delicious! 

Preparing to Launch…

This spring I plan to book-ize the second serial story, Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients I.   As I get ready for the takeoff, I’m doing a few collaborative posts with people who blog other topics — combining my stories with their respective talents.  Since Murder at the Bijou is a culinary mystery, I am particularly happy to do another joint post with the fantastic chef, Suzanne from A Pug in the Kitchen.

The post is already live at her blog.  Click here.  I appreciate those of you who have already left comments there.  pug memorial candle

First, here’s Suzanne to introduce our special purpose with this collaboration.  Go ahead, Suzanne…

Another delightful installment from the joint collaboration with writer/author extraordinaire Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, we planned this post to occur in March, Women’s History Month.  We’ve come a long way baby and every month, week, and day should celebrate women and our contribution to society, this country, our families, and communities. I am woman hear me roar.  Well that is a little cliché I know, but we are empowered and accomplished and strong and proud of how far we have come.  It amazes me that at one time women didn’t even have the right to vote.  In some countries women are still considered objects of disdain, almost subhuman, and of less importance than their male counterparts.

I also am including a recipe that I posted years ago for a spring turnip soup.  You may turn up your nose when you read “turnips” but honestly this soup is delicious.  I use Hakurai turnips, which appear late winter and early spring at the local green markets. They are crisp, sweet, and mild — making an outstanding soup!  The soup is topped with some crumbled bacon and the turnip greens, which are sauteéd in the bacon fat. For vegan and vegetarian option all you do is eliminate the bacon and use vegetable broth or water. For vegan option of course you would not use the cream but you can sub a non dairy option of your choice.

Creamy Spring Turnip Soup With Wilted Greens And Bacon

(Bacon is optional for my vegetarian friends)

Serves 4-6 depending on serving size

4 heaping cups turnips peeled and quartered (Use the small spring turnips if possible)

1 potato peeled and quartered (I used Yukon Gold and it’s Optional to use a potato)

2 cups leeks (cleaned well and sliced) or use a medium size onion or 2 shallots

4 1/2 cups broth (chicken, vegetable or water)

2 tbs butter

1/4 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg (optional)

4-6 slices bacon

Turnip greens cleaned VERY well

In heavy sauce pan heat a little olive oil, add the leeks or onion or shalot and sweat, cook just until tender don’t brown. Add the turnips and potato, now add the liquid (broth or water). Cover and cook until the turnip and potato are tender. Let cool for about 30 minutes and blend either in your blender or use the immersion blender. Note: If using an immersion blender remove some of the liquid you don’t want the soup too thin, you can always add it back in. Add the butter and cream and season with salt and pepper and nutmeg.

Fry the bacon until crisp, remove from the fry pan and add the greens to the bacon fat, season with salt and peppper and saute until the greens are tender and wilted.

To Serve:  Garnish the soup with the wilted greens and crumbled bacon.

suffragettes-in-white

When I asked Suzanne for an ingredient to use in a story for this collaborative post, right away she said turnips.  Every time I hear that word I think of the “Cinnamon Bun” character from my serial, Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-1 (which I mentioned at the beginning).  That story is in the timeline right after The Three Things Serial Story.

Many of you are familiar with my flapper character, Pip.  However, this time the story is told from the point of view of Pip’s grandmother, Phanny Irene Peabody.  (Yes, Granny was also a Pip.)  I thought that was appropriate since March is Women’s History Month.  Granny lived during the height of the suffragette era, and she was a woman to speak her mind.  It’s also something of a back-story for Cinnamon Bun.  I hope you enjoy the story as much as Suzanne’s recipe!  Although that’s a lot for me to live up to…

Granny Phanny and the Giant Rabbit

“The only true woman is a pious, submissive wife and mother, concerned exclusively with home and family!”

Even more irksome than the words themselves was the fact that they were uttered by a woman.  I was glad that I had already left the building.  Otherwise I might have lost my temper.  What business did anyone with that opinion have at a women’s meeting in the first place?

suffragettes-marching

In 1920, Georgia was the first state to “reject” the Nineteenth Amendment, which assured women the right to vote.  It was two years later before women actually got to vote in my home state.  Long after that, we were still suffragettes, working for equal rights.  We still wore suffragette white to our meetings.

That intolerable statement was immediately followed by the resounding crack of a slap across the speaker’s face.  I cringed, knowing full well who had likely delivered the smack.  I turned on my heel and hurried back inside.  Veronica Vale was no meek little lamb.  She was a force of nature when her righteous wrath was incurred.  I tried to make my way through the pandemonium to my friend.

1920s woman scientist-microscopeBy the time I got to Veronica, I could hear police sirens.  A quick look around told me several attendees had slipped quietly away, including the woman who spoke the words that started the trouble.

“It was all planned,” I muttered.  “That bunch wanted to make trouble from the minute they asked to join.”

Not much later a handful of us — enough to make an example, but not so many as to cause the coppers much trouble — were hauled down to the police station.  A group of men stood laughing and cat calling while we were hustled outside.  My cheeks heated in a blush.

Detective Dabney Daniels of the Savannah Police got a tip that something was going to happen.  By the time the paddy wagon reached the station, he was already diffusing the situation.

“Miss Phanny,” he began with a smirk and a shake of his head.  “I wish I could say I was surprised to see you,” he told me before turning to Veronica Vale.  “Mrs. Vale your husband is already here.  You’ll be released into his custody.”

I knew that “custody” statement wouldn’t sit well with Veronica.  She was a doctor and a scientist, not some man’s property.  No matter how good the man.  For years Veronica Vale had worked at a hospital in England called Clapham Common.  It had an all-female staff.  She retired and returned to Savannah.  Then she met the widowed Vincent and partnered with him in his veterinary practice.

Before she could complain, I blurted out my puzzlement.  “Dabney, how could you know…?”

“I’d like to claim powers as a mentalist, Miss Phanny.  However, Dr. Vale had just arrived to pick up someone else,” the handsome detective explained as chaos erupted elsewhere in the station.JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar ad

Detective Daniels quickly excused himself and walked toward the sounds of people shouting.

Veronica gave a downright evil chuckle.  I looked a question at her and she laughed out loud at the expression on my face.

“Phanny Irene Peabody,” she said.  “You are indeed a Pip.  I suppose you’ve never noticed the way that young man looks at you.  He probably doesn’t care a whit for the turnips  you’re always giving him, or the meals he gets in return for fixing one thing and another at your cottage.  Tsk-tsk.  Phanny, that young copper is smitten with you.”

“Veronica, don’t be ridiculous.  You couldn’t be more wrong.  Dabney is just a goodhearted young man,” I told my friend most emphatically.

Another crashing sound and men shouting prevented her from talking more of that nonsense.  How absurd.  I was old enough to be that boy’s mother.  We might enjoy one another’s company, but there was nothing more to it.

“Hi, Honey.  Are you hurt?” Vincent Vale asked his wife as he skidded to a stop.  As Veronica shook her head he turned to me.  “Mrs. Peabody, are you well?” he greeted me politely.Christopher Timothy as Vincent Vale

Veronica assured her husband that neither of us had come to any harm.  I noticed Vincent held some kind of harness.  There was more shouting, and then the veterinarian pelted away toward the commotion.

A moment later we heard Vincent shout.  “Got ‘em!”

However there was another crash.  I heard dull thumping noises.  The sound was quite rhythmic, and coming closer.  Veronica and I exchanged puzzled looks.

I stuck my head around the corner and gasped loudly.

“I must be seeing things.  Else I’m just plain zozzled,” I murmured.

Veronica craned her neck to see what had stunned me.

“Well horsefeathers!  In all my born days…” she began.  “A Flemish Giant.”

“Flemish?  Bushwa!” I exclaimed.  “You’re hallucinating too,” I mumbled.  “Somebody spiked our tea a little too much at the women’s meeting.  Or else I’m looking at a cinnamon colored rabbit that’s three feet tall, sitting on his haunches.”

I crouched down, befuddled.  The big bunny hopped over to me and nuzzled my hand.  I scratched between his impossibly long ears.  I helped hold the big bun still as Vincent got the harness around him.

“This big ole boy decimated Godfrey Gilley’s garden.  Dug up every turnip he had,” Vincent commented.  “When the big bun headed toward his grocery store, Godfrey was so upset that he called the police saying there was a bear in his yard!” the veterinarian laughed.  “Trouble is, I’m not sure what we can do with him.  We’ve taken on so many animals lately,” Vincent admitted, but cast a pleading look at his wife, who gave a resigned sigh.

My face ended up against the giant rabbit’s soft hair as Vincent adjusted the harness.  I found that I didn’t want to move.  My fingers sank into the plush fur.

“I’ll take him,” I spoke up, and questioned my own sobriety again.  “Oh good lord, but I need a hutch for him.”Vintage rabbit driving

I hadn’t noticed that Detective Dabney Daniels was standing beside us.

“Don’t worry, Miss Phanny.  I can take care of a rabbit hutch in a jiffy,” Dabney said.  “Even one big enough for this miscreant,” he added with a grin.

Veronica elbowed me sharply in the ribs.  She gave me an I told you so look and winked.

“He’s sweet on you,” she whispered into my ear.  “So what if he’s younger.  He’s a damn fine figure of a man!”

“Absolutely no!” I told her so fiercely that everyone looked askance.

Fortunately I was spared from an explanation because of Veronica’s loud bark of laughter.

The Vales offered to drive me home.  I got into the automobile with Vincent and Veronica, and of course the rabbit.  Dabney bent down and promised to come by to start on the rabbit hutch that evening.  Veronica wriggled her eyebrows at me.  I gave her a withering look, then turned and smiled at the detective as I thanked him.

“What was all that about?” Vincent wanted to know as we drove away.

Veronica had no inhibitions about sharing her embarrassing speculations to her husband, despite my denial. 

“It simply will not do!” I told her, my patience close to its end.

“She means that dear,” Vincent said.  “You might want to leave it alone before your sense of fun hurts your friendship.”

“You’re right,” she agreed with a sigh.  “I’m sorry Phanny.  I just want to see you happy.”

“I am perfectly happy as I am.  Besides, I told you that my granddaughter, Pip, is coming to live with me.  I’ll have my hands full, teaching her to cook,” I reminded my friends.  “I can’t wait for you to meet her.”

The End

***

Thank you all for visiting. If you’ve already been to this post at A Pug in the Kitchen then double-thanks.  Happy St. Patrick’s weekend.  I’m still wearing my green!

St Patricks Day Vintage

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work 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.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Three Ingredients II – 6: Turnips, Onions, Sauerkraut

Casper cookingWelcome back everyone! I’m pleased to tell you that today’s ingredients were sent by a reader who hasn’t always been with us here at Teagan’s Books — Jo Robinson.

Jo lives in beautiful South Africa, and has written quite a remarkable collection of stories.  She has a wonderful imagination.  For instance in her novel “The Shadow People, The Finding” characters are hurled across time and space, and find themselves on Lapillus, a beautiful world made up of precious gems.  (If you had any idea what a self-proclaimed “rock geek” I am, you’d understand that is a huge attraction. I have such a thing for semiprecious gems…)

Jo says all creatures feathered and furred inspire her writing, so I’m curious to know which of the “critters” in our serial she likes best.

Jo Robinson bk

This week’s ingredients have remarkable health benefits.  I never knew that about sauerkraut!  Another reader, Sally at “Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life,” told me she recommends onions (among many other vegetables) for their healthfulness in her book on nutrition and emotional health. Check out Sally’s nutrition book, “Turning Back the Clock.”

Episode 6Maybe I need a nice “dose” of sauerkraut myself — to energize me. But on with our “interactive” serial instead! Without further lament, here is Episode-6.  Bon appétit!

6.  Turnips, Onions, Sauerkraut

A scent of mint was on the breeze and I inhaled with pleasure.  I sat on the ground in Granny Fanny’s garden wiping dirt from a turnip and an interesting idea popped into my head.  “I wonder how turnips would taste cooked with some mint,” I pondered aloud.Vintage rabbit driving

Cinnamon Bun, Granny’s Flemish Giant rabbit, looked at me quizzically and twitched his dirty nose.  I could have offered the huge bunny a turnip, but he clearly enjoyed digging up his own.  Just as we both went back to the dirt, a loud noise cracked the air.  I jumped half out of my skin, and Cinnamon Bun dashed to the security of his hutch.

The loud sound was followed by the beep-beep or a horn.  I looked down toward the road and saw a Dodge Roadster.  It wasn’t new.  I guessed it was about a 1921 model.  It was a black two-seater with a tan rag-top and tan spoke wheels.  The automobile was not familiar to me.  However, it pulled into Granny’s driveway.  A moment later Andy Avis jumped out and hurried to the back yard, where I sat in the vegetable garden.

I shook my head and chuckled to myself.  It seemed like every automobile Andy ever drove backfired like that.

“What do you think?” Andy asked motioning to the Dodge.

“It’s the berries,” I told him, because it really was a cute little vehicle.  “What happened to your Studebaker?” I voiced my thought.1921 Dodge Raodster

“Oh, it wasn’t worth the cost of shipping it to Hollywood, so I had to let her go,” he said with a touch of regret in his voice.  “Garth Gilley, down at the garage, let me rent this roadster from him.  If I knew more about how long I was going to be in town, I’d just buy it,” he said and I chuckled.  “Yes, Pip. I’ve already succumbed to the charms of a new vehicle, before the dust of the Studebaker has even settled,” he said, taking off his hat and placing it over his heart in pretend drama.

Garth,owned Gilley’s Garage.  Garth’s brother Godfrey owned Gilley’s Grocery where my grandmother and I bought much of our food.  Godfrey was attentive to Granny Fanny’s preferences for just the right produce, and Garth handled her Model-T with kid gloves.  They were good people, the Gilleys.

I took my basket of turnips, and on impulse plucked some fresh mint.  Andy followed me to the side of the cottage, that’s where the water pump was.  Always thoughtful, Andy got the water going and I rinsed off the vegetables and cleaned my hands.

Vintage Water PumpThe pump was near the open kitchen window.  An unexpected sound caused me to be immediately concerned.  Andy asked me if I needed any more water, and I shushed him.  Then I apologized in a whisper and motioned to the window.  Had I heard sobbing?  Granny was the only one inside the cottage.  Or was she?

I strained to hear, but Wriggles the pug was whining at Cinnamon Bun’s hutch, trying to get him to come outside.  I didn’t worry about Cinnamon with the dog, because the rabbit was much larger.  Besides, they seemed to be friendly with each other.  They weren’t making much noise, but it was enough to prevent me hearing what was happening inside the cottage.

Yes, yes… I know I shouldn’t listen that way, but I felt awfully protective of my grandmother.  Suddenly I heard a consoling voice.  A male voice.  Quietly I moved to the house and stood below the kitchen window.  Andy was right behind me.

“Holy Hannah,” Andy whispered.  “It can’t be.”

I scrunched up my face and gave Andy a look because he wasn’t making any sense.  Then the voices became louder.  The man had an accent.  Applesauce!

“No, no, no bella.  A flower like you should not cry.  Dry your tears and tell the Maestro all about it.  This will make you feel better, no?” the ghost chef consoled my grandmother — and she let him, despite the fact that she kicked his posterior into the refrigerator and slammed shut the door the first time she saw him..

My jaw dropped open.  I heard Granny mumble something about onions.man_ray_tears

“No, no, Luce dei Miei Occhi!  Light of my eyes, you do not fool the Maestro.  These tears are not from the onion.  Someone has broken your heart, I can see it.”

Suddenly the sobbing grew louder.  Poor Granny!  She was bawling her eyes out.  I moved to go inside and make sure she was okay.  However, Andy held me back.

“Actually Pip… the ghost seems to be doing a good job of comforting her.  There might be things that she needs to get off her chest that she wouldn’t necessarily want to tell her granddaughter,” my friend whispered.

I had to admit that Andy had a point.  My thoughts went to the big shindig where we had cornered the gang of bootleggers, and moments before I had accidentally found Dabney Daniels and Granny in a passionate kiss.  Granny had rejected him because she1920s Arrow couple couldn’t accept being older than the handsome detective.  I figured she was probably no more than a dozen years his senior, and I couldn’t understand why she let that bother her.  But it did, and it was her choice, so I didn’t try to convince her otherwise.  Anyhow, when you consider Granny’s mixed feelings for Detective Dabney Daniels, maybe the ghost was right.  Maybe her heart was breaking.

I heard indistinguishable words in between sobs.  Then finally she spoke clearly.  “I don’t know if it was the right thing for me, but it had to be the right thing for him.  It just had to be.  A beautiful man, still in his prime shouldn’t be saddled with an old woman,” she said, though Maestro Martino protested.  “But just because I turned him down — it didn’t mean I wanted him to move halfway up the east coast!” she cried.  “And I surely didn’t want him to run off and do something so dangerous!” she wailed.

In between a lot of blubbering we learned that Dabney Daniels went to Washington DC to become part of a special taskforce.  Granny also felt a little betrayed, because her old friend, Federal Marshal, Moses Myrick gave Daniels a glowing recommendation for the new position.

“So he’s gone for training with the U.S. Marshal’s Service Fugitive Taskforce.  That’s even more dangerous than his work as a police detective.  If anything happens to Dabney I’ll never forgive myself,” Granny sobbed.  “It’s my fault.  I pushed him into it by rejecting his romantic advances.”

Martino continued to console Granny Fanny.  Once she seemed calmer, Andy and I went to the back porch and inside the cottage.  As I opened the kitchen door I heard Kitchen Maid adbustling sounds.  To my surprise, it wasn’t Granny moving around her kitchen.  It was Maestro in his white chef’s apron and hat, along with those odd looking Renaissance era boots.  His back was to us, but he appeared to be making tea and a snack.

I couldn’t believe Granny would sit still for the ghost to be cooking in her kitchen — not after the way she had acted the first time she saw him.  I supposed that was testament to how distraught she was.  I also didn’t know what to expect the ghost chef to do when he saw us.  I thought maybe he’d wink out, disappear; whatever you’d call it.

“Ah! Signorina o Signore please do make yourselves comfortable.  The Maestro, he will soon have prepared something nice to make everyone feel better, no?” the spirit said.

Granny avoided looking at us.  I knew she didn’t want me or Andy to see her tear stained face.  She excused herself and went to wash her face.  She gave a sidelong, annoyed glance to Maestro for daring to do anything in her kitchen, but she hurried out of the room without saying anything else.

Maestro Martino turned to watch her retreating form as she went down the hall.  He was humming a tune that I recognized for a madrigal, It Was a Lover and His Lass.  So intent was the ghost on watching my grandmother’s backside that he overfilled a teacup and didn’t notice, even when the liquid spilled over the countertop to the blue and white tile floor.

It Was a Lover and His Lass – Highland High School Madrigal singers 20131215

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTvcDjOrA9A

I cleared my throat loudly and then got a dishtowel and mopped up the mess.  The Maestro acted as if nothing had happened.  He served tea and sat down at the kitchen table to join Andy and me.  There was something different about his face.  I looked at him closely.  The corner of his lower lip was swollen and inflamed.  He seemed to sip his tea very carefully.

It was puzzling to me… after all, he was a ghost.  “Maestro, is everything okay,” I said pointing to the corner of my own mouth to show what I meant.

He sighed unhappily.  “No, Signorina.  It is only …” he paused, searching for the correct term.  “It is only a canker sore, I think you call it,” he said sardonically.

“Oh, that can be miserable,” I said sympathetically.

I moved to the refrigerator.  I took out a dish of sauerkraut and got a fork from the drawer.  “Here.  Get a wad of kraut Sauerkraut adand put it against the mouth ulcer for a minute or two.  Then chew it up and swallow it,” I instructed him in the same remedy Granny had
given others in the past.  “It works, I promise.”

He did as I said.  After a moment he chewed and gulped, then washed down the sauerkraut with his tea.  Andy looked at the ghost chef with a speculative expression on his face that probably matched my own.  My friend seemed to weigh a couple of options and then discard them.  Finally Andy cleared his throat and questioned Maestro Martino.

“Pardon me, but how can a ghost have a canker sore?” he asked what might have been an impertinent question as politely as he could.

“Ah Signore,” Maestro began and shook his head remorsefully.  “When first I met you two lovely young people, I told you of my predicament.  Through no fault of my own, I pissed off the Pope and in short the point of the parable is now I am a poltergeist,” he said and waited for us to confirm that we remembered.  “Perhaps I postponed providing the piece where my predicament also presents another problem,” he said looking embarrassed.

Had the spirit really used that many Ps?  I blinked and gave my head a shake to make sure I was keeping up with him.

Vintage kitchen bouquet ad“Well, part of the predicament is…” he paused and winced as apparently the ulcer pained him when he moved his mouth a certain way.  “Whenever I lust after a beautiful woman… I get the canker sore.”

Andy chortled and I gave his ankle a little kick under the table, and told him he was being insensitive.  However, Andy just laughed again.  “Pip, don’t you realize?” he asked, though I didn’t understand what he meant.  “The beautiful woman he was lusting after was your grandmother,” he said as he leaned his chair backward and
 rocked it on two legs while he chuckled at me.

My eyes popped open wide as I looked at Maestro Martino accusingly.  The ghost looked down at his teacup and nodded penitently.  I got up but I didn’t know what to do with myself.  When I rested my hand on the countertop it landed on the dishtowel, sopping wet with tea.  I threw the towel at Maestro’s face.

The ghost immediately became transparent, and the wet towel went right through him.  It plopped wetly across Andy’s face.  Apparently I threw it pretty hard.  Andy was still leaning his chair back on two legs, and he toppled over when the wet towel landed, covering his face.Lon-Chaney_London_after_Midnight poster

When Andy sat up, wet white towel still covering his face, he looked like a ghost out
of a Lon Chaney movie.  I made a comment to that effect, and Andy proceeded to make monster-like motions and chase me around the cottage, with the towel still covering his face.  It was amazing that he didn’t run into more furniture than he did.

Wriggles the pug’s sensitive ears picked up the excited noises of play and he barreled into the game.  The little dog barked as he chased behind Andy.  I ran into the parlor and both of them followed.  Granny Fanny must have been “on a mission” to learn something again, because there were several stacks of newspapers and other periodicals from the library around the room.

Unable to see very much, Andy stumbled over a stack of newspapers.  Our laughter subsided, but Wriggles hadn’t given up the game.  The pug bounced around on the strewn papers and in a moment the entire floor was covered.  Andy and I set about collecting the pages and putting them back into the right order.

I noticed that they were very old issues of the Savannah Tribune, from before I wasVintage Pug even born.  Andy was on his hands and knees trying to get newspapers away from the dog without tearing them.  Something caught his eye, and he shifted from his knees to a sitting position to read a page.  He scratched his head and made a humpf sound that I’d often heard him make when he was thinking about an idea for one of his science fiction stories.

“What is it?” I asked.

“This name is familiar, but I don’t know why.  It’s an announcement article about a local boy rising up in the organization of the Church here,” Andy said as he continued to browse the write-up.  “Two brothers had been on scholarships to some hoity-toity business university, but during summer break, back home in Savannah, one of them suddenly joined the priesthood.”

“Do you mean the Binghamtons?” I asked

“Yepper,” he said and then smacked his palm against the polished oak floor with a loud smack that started the pug barking.

I shushed the dog by scratching his back.  Wriggles lived up to his name.  That little dog loved getting his back scratched.  He stuck out his tongue to lick his little pugged nose and wagged his tail until I thought he’d tip over.

Andy continued. “Now I remember where I’ve seen that name.  I saw it when I was researching the ownership history of the abandoned factory Manny Mayer had me buy for him.  I don’t remember the first name, except that it started with a ‘B’ but the surname was Binghamton for sure,” he said.

I remembered the old photograph I had seen at the Kingston mansion during the big shindig. It seemed like Daisy wanted me to see something in it.  I remembered it clearly.  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 1917 Vogueme.  I knew there was information in that photograph. But then Daisy vanished.

He handed me the yellowed page.  It had a much smaller version of the same old photograph.  However this one had the surnames of the men listed under it.  Sure enough, one of them was Binghamton.  The image was so small, that it was hard to tell if one of them was a much younger version of the man who was now a bishop.

Looking closely, I realized there were two men who were thinner than the others.  The bishop was a very slight man.  So those must be the Binghamton brothers.  However, I couldn’t make out much about their faces from the old newsprint image.

Andy and I sat back and looked at each other.  One of the Binghamtons had owned the factory where Daisy the ghost girl said something happened to her.  It was something so horrible that she blocked it out of her living memory and she was afraid to go inside the place even as a ghost.

“We need to make tracks back to that factory and look around,” I said.

***

How to Preserve Onions

Next time, Barbeque Sauce, Baby Bok Choy, Aluminium Foil

 

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.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

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: Stay Tuned for the Parade of Pets

Episode-24 Rabbit_Sign copy

Don’t stray — Episode-24 is headed your way

 

You’re used to the new episodes of The Three Ingredients culinary mystery serial appearing on Saturdays.  This week getting it finished within that self-imposed deadline seemed like a big challenge.  I didn’t want anyone to feel abandoned if I didn’t get this post out until tomorrow.  So I’m sending this teaser.

 

What do you predict for Episode-24?  What do you see in your “crystal ball” for the conclusion of this storyline?  That’s part of the fun of a mystery story — anticipating the different outcomes.  When the setting is an era other than our own, there seem to be even more variables because we have to push our minds into an unaccustomed way of thinking.  Our 1920’s characters surely thought of everything from a perspective that is unlike from ours.

 

As a little treat to tide you over until tomorrow, here is a forward looking vision of the future from Pip’s era.

 

Video:  1920’s – What The Future Will Look Like

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czr-98yo6RU

 

Stay tuned for the next episode of The Three Ingredients serial!

 

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.Tall Animale Tales

The ingredients for this episode were generously supplied by Lord David Prosser of The Barsetshire Diaries blog.  David has several delightful books, including a collection of charming tales for children.  I hope you’ll add them to your reading list.

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 Fanny 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 – 11: Garlic, Crepes, Soufflé

rumi-workToday I’m suspending my self-imposed rules.  What rules?  Well, I promised myself that this blog would always be limited to writing related things. Next I’ve made it a general practice to use the “ingredients” in the order they are received.

This time I’m moving up the ingredients from Judith in California, aka Firecook, which were due for Episode -12.  Why? Because I had a Thursday that was straight out of… Hades. I had one career-related disappointment after another. I got knocked down first thing Thursday morning.  Before I could stand upright, something else knocked me down again.  And again.  And again!  All in one stinkin’ day.Episode 11 Victorian menu

What has that to do with my fellow blogger? I’m getting ahold of my metaphorical bootstraps by highlighting Judith’s own career challenge. The culinary arts are in her heart and she needs tips, insights, and information that will help her land an intermediate-level chef position — in a small town.  No matter one’s skills, finding a good job that lets you do the work of your heart in a small town is a huge challenge.  So please, if you have any tips, go to Judith’s blog, Culinaryspirit and leave a comment there if you have any ideas or encouragement for the Firecook.

As episode-related treats, I’m giving you a video on making garlic paste, and a simple recipe for shrimp scampi!  Judith supplied the ingredients this time.  Without further ado, here is Episode-11.   Bon appétit!

11.  Garlic, Crepes, Soufflé

1928 green kitchen adWe finished peeling shrimp to make scampi for supper.  My grandmother left the table where we sat and had me move to the counter with her.  I watched in fascination as Granny quickly chopped a clove of garlic.  She told me you could make garlic paste using just a knife and a bit of salt.  If anyone else had told me that I would have thought they were off their nuts.  But she proceeded to use the knife to rub the garlic bits into a perfect paste.

She sent me to the parlor to find the notes she had made about her latest culinary experiment, which was in the oven.  Granny fretted over the new “foreign” dish as if worry was an essential ingredient.  I looked everywhere without finding the notepaper.  So I started looking through the stack of cooking and travel books, thinking she might have left her notes in a book.  The minute I picked up a volume about France, with a beautiful illustration of crepes, I became distracted.  I wasn’t paying attention to anything else because I was so involved in the pictures in the travel books.  But I was still looking for her notes.  Honest.

The first indication I had that something was wrong was the sounds of dogs howling.  In the distance to the east,1921 July Life Dog two of them started howling.  It was so far away that I barely noticed.  Then somewhere south of Granny’s cottage another one added his canine croon.  I still wasn’t really paying attention until Cracker the parrot chirped “Hush puppy.  Hush puppy!” and paced on her perch looking very agitated.

I looked out the parlor window when the neighbor’s blood hound added a loud bellow to that unpleasant wailing.  A moment later I saw the source of the dogs’ discomfort as first one, then three police cars rushed past, sirens blaring.  It gave me goose bumps.

My little town outside Santa Rosa Sound, Florida was a world away from the larger city of Savannah, Georgia.  I wasn’t used to sirens and police cars running pell-mell down the streets.  One car backfired right in front of the cottage.  An unexpectedly vivid oath wafted from the kitchen along with a glorious aroma.  “Granny is everything okay?” I called.

“All that racket’s going to ruin my soufflé!” my grandmother said in a strangled exclamation.

1929 Mentor-aprilI grinned at her remark despite the unease I felt because of the unaccustomed sound of sirens.  Granny was experimenting with a number of dishes she described as “fancy cooking.”  That was mostly because of a big reception she was going to cater.  And it had turned out she was doing that as a favor to Marshal Moses Myrick, a revenuer of some renown.  He planned to use Granny’s catering as a way to sneak his men into the party.  The whole thing was a sting to catch a mobster.  Cracker’s late owner, Cracker Jack Daddy, had also been involved with the mobster.  We still didn’t know all the details of his demise, but there were obviously dangerous characters on the loose in Savannah.

Then an unmarked but familiar car screeched to a stop right outside.  The car door slammed as Detective Dabney Daniels got out and ran to the house.  His long legs covered the distance in a few strides.  The door crashed open — he didn’t even knock!

Granny Fanny started cursing fit to make a sailor blush.  I put my hand to my mouth, but it did no good.  I started laughing because I’d never expected such language from any older woman, and especially not my grandmother.  The soufflé fell.

My grandmother strode angrily to the front of the house.  I thought about hiding behind the settee, but decided 1929 Detective Novel MagDabney might need protection from Granny.  She and I saw the detective at the same moment.  She stopped her rant, and I sobered from my chuckles.  I had never seen such an expression on anyone’s face.  I thought my heart had stopped.

“Both of you stay here,” he demanded, pointing downward with emphasis.  “Close the curtains and stay away from the windows.  Do not open the doors for anybody!  I’ll be back as soon as I can,” he said and turned back toward the front door before the last syllable had left his lips.

“Dabney, what’s wrong?” Granny insisted, but the look in her wide eyes suggested that she already knew.  A woman’s intuition for unfortunate happenings was reflected in her eyes.

Daniels turned back toward her.  “Moses Myrick and two of his men were ambushed,” he said flatly, and then he looked guilty when he saw the pain in Granny’s eyes.

She was suddenly pale.  I grabbed her arm, wondering if she was about to faint.  Granny locked her knees and stood stiffly as if the floor was moving under her feet, but she didn’t falter.

“Is he…” she began, but swallowed hard and didn’t finish the question.

JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar adDabney belatedly removed his hat and crushed it in his large hand, not realizing what he did as he held the fedora.  “Miss Fanny… We don’t know.  He radioed for assistance, but his transmission cut off.  They were severely outnumbered.  The dispatcher lost count of the number of gunshots he heard in the background, there were so many,” the young detective said and looked down at the floor.

I knew he didn’t mean to be cruel with the words, because he and Granny were close before I ever came to stay with her.  Dabney often helped her with things around the house.  But she clearly had an old, long lasting relationship or friendship with the marshal that she had never discussed with me.

“We have to do something,” Granny stated with determination.

“Now see here!” Dabney exclaimed.  “That’s exactly what I was worried about.  You both need to stay here.  Miss Fanny, you at least must realize that you need to keep Pip out of harm’s way.”

“Excuse me!” I cried.  “Now you just wait a minute!” I meant to continue but their chaotic conversation ran right over me.

When Granny paused for breath, Dabney took her hand, making her look up at him.  “You told me once about a Barrie Craig adventurescut-through that you took out to the Vale place.  Myrick was headed that way, but not quite as far out.  Can you tell me about it?  I don’t think the others have any hope of getting there fast enough.”

“Dabney you don’t mean to try to… to cut ‘em off at the pass, so to speak — surely?” Granny said fearfully.  “Not alone!”

“No ma’am.  I don’t have any hope of that,” he told her in a regretful voice.  Then he gulped like he was about to say something he’d rather not tell her.  “Moses is probably injured.  I just hope to get there, and get him to a hospital before he bleeds to death.”

Granny gasped.  Holy Hannah, what a way with words!  I could have socked Dabney for his complete lack of tact.  However, Granny recovered herself right away.  She was one tough old bird — you’d think she and the parrot would get along better.

“Well if that’s the case, don’t try to get him to a hospital.  Take the cut-through and then go straight to Doc Vale’s,” Granny said firmly.

“But he’s an animal doctor!” the detective objected.

1920s woman scientist-microscope“Vincent isn’t the only doctor there.  Veronica Vale is a finer surgeon than any hospital doctor anywhere in this part of the country,” Granny reminded him, and then she made sure he knew the quickest combination of back roads and deer trails to use.

I started to run out the door on Dabney’s heels, figuring he wouldn’t have time to stop me.  I wasn’t about to let him run off alone, without anyone to help him, to face what he was up against.  But Granny Fanny was quicker and a lot stronger than I knew!  Her hand shot out like lightning and she grabbed my arm in a fierce grip.  Then for good measure she used her foot to trip me before I could get out the door.  By the time I got to my feet, Dabney’s car was out of sight.

After Detective Dabney Daniels left I couldn’t stop thinking of horrible possibilities… for Marshal Moses Myrick and his men.  And what if Dabney actually did run right into the men who ambushed the marshal?  He would be completely alone.

Granny and I sat in the parlor, listening to the clock tick.  Cinnamon Bun, the huge rabbit thumped quietly into the room and sat at Granny’s feet.  She stroked his soft fur absently.  Cracker paced, remarkably silent on her perch.  We all waited.1925 Model-T ad

We waited for all of five minutes.  Then Granny couldn’t take it anymore.  She calmly got up and motioned for me to come with her.  Then we got into her cherished Model-T, with the brightly painted yellow spokes at the wheels.  And she calmly drove us to her shortcut to the home and animal hospital operated by the doctors Vale.

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Video:  Knife Skills – How to Make Garlic Paste

Classic Shrimp Scampi

Recipe credit: EveryDay with Rachael Ray

Shrimp Scampi

Ingredients

6  tablespoons  butter

3   cloves garlic, mashed

1 1/2   pounds  medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

salt

1 1/2  tablespoons  minced parsley

Directions

Heat 2 tbsp. butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic; cook for 2 minutes.  Add shrimp and 1/2 tsp. salt; cook over medium-high heat for 4 minutes. Off heat, stir in remaining butter and parsley.

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The Three Ingredients Serial: Copyright © 2013

by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

No part of this writing, blog, or book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.