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

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

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

20.  Beef Drippings, Dandelion & Burdock, Salmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Be ready!”

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

lantern-press-joker-playing-card

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

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

***

Recipe

French Dip Sandwiches

French dip sandwiches

Recipe and photo courtesy Rachael Ray

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

Yield:  4 servings                  Level:  Easy

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter

1 shallot, chopped

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 jigger dry sherry, optional

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

1 1/2 pounds deli sliced roast beef

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

4 torpedo sandwich rolls, split

Directions

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

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

 ***

 

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

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

 

Three Ingredients – 19: Sugar, Salt, Strawberries

Thanks for coming back everyone! I’m sorry I couldn’t provide an episode last weekend.  So before I introduce the new episode, here’s a little treat to get you back into a 1920’s mood.

caseys gunslinger coverThe ingredients for today’s episode are from Catherine Wolffe, a writer who (like me) enjoys experimenting with the various genresBut whatever the style of story, Catherine’s characters follow their dreams.

Thank you Catherine, for today’s ingredients.  Remember everyone, you can do catch-up reading on any of the episodes at the serial’s homepage. Just click the button at the top of the page.  Now for Episode-19.

Bon appétit!

19. Sugar, Salt, StrawberriesEpisode19_Shopping-list

“Here darling, have a soda cracker,” Veronica Vale insisted as she handed me a saucer of crisp crackers. Despite being born in a southern state, her voice held a continental tone from many years studying and working abroad. “They have lovely sea salt on the tops. They’ll help calm your stomach,” she said encouragingly.

It was such an odd feeling. I can barely describe how I felt. It hadn’t been long since I woke up with a headache, an upset stomach, a foggy brain, and giant holes in my memory. For several hours I encountered people and had to stop and think about who they were, though they clearly expected me to know them… most people anyway.

1929 Radio News SeptI recognized Granny Fanny right away, despite the unexpected circumstance of watching her get off the back of Vincent Vale’s motorcycle. When Alastair Wong found me I heard his voice before I saw him. I had to first place the voice, so it didn’t seem like it took as long for me to remember who he was when I saw him. Hank Hertz was mostly a question mark in my mind. I had a vague memory of him and radio equipment. I knew he was Savannah’s youngest police officer, but that was about all.

This is what it would be like to live a silent movie, I thought. Talkies had not been around terribly long. Binghamton’s Bijou theatre in Savannah still showed more silent films than talkies. My hearing was fine, but the fogginess of my memory made me feel like I was in an old silent movie without a narrator or even intertitles. Walking a ledge with uncertain footing, not sure who might pull me to safety or who might push me over the edge, I met everyone I was supposed to already know with caution and distrust.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) used stylised intertitles.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) used stylised intertitles.

Then there were the ones I couldn’t remember at all… The scowling police detective, Dabney Daniels — I still had no memory of him period. Neither could I remember the man in the makeshift hospital room, a Federal marshal, Moses Myrick. I remembered being worried about him, but I couldn’t remember him.

Hank walked out of that room and looked at me with a relieved expression on his face. He hurried Hank Hertz or Hugo Johnstone-Burtacross the long room, but stopped short of hugging me when he saw the blank look on my face.

“Pip… are you okay? You don’t look so good,” he said awkwardly.

I was saved from the need to make polite conversation by a commotion from the marshal’s room. “Badbird, badbird!” Cracker the parrot squawked, clearly agitated.

Veronica ran to the little room with Hank right on her heels, apologizing for leaving the patient unattended. “He’s a grown man and should know better,” the surgeon muttered.

From where I stood I could see the two of them catch an older man just before he fell to the floor. However, I couldn’t hear what they said to one another above the cacophonous ranting from Cracker.

the-chinese-parrot adBadbird, badbird!” the parrot chided the marshal.

“Stubborn old man…” Granny muttered from behind me.

I turned to look at my grandmother. She hadn’t had much to say, but she watched me like a hawk. It made me feel like she was waiting to see if I was going to sprout a tail or grow an extra nose. After an intent look she nodded, as if confirming something to herself.

“Feeling a little better now, Sweet-pea?” she asked and I nodded silently. “I’m sure your memory will come back. Are you certain there’s nothing else wrong? Not keeping anything from us are you?”

“No, Granny,” I said reassuringly. “My head still hurts, and I’m a little queasy. It seems like things are beginning to come to me quicker now. Most things anyway. I don’t remember anything about the marshal in there, except being afraid he might die,” I said waiving toward the little recovery room. “And I don’t remember anything at all about that sourpuss detective. And the younger one, Hank… I sort of remember him, but I feel like I’ve forgotten most of the things about him.”

Granny patted my hand and then gave it a little squeeze. “Don’t fret, Sweet-pea. You haven’t known Hank Hertz very long and the place where you met him was pretty traumatizing. Come to think of it, you might connect a lot of what you know of Dabney and Moses to things that are Strawberry girlupsetting or frightening — or both. Maybe that’s why you don’t remember them. I’ll discuss it with Veronica and see what she has to say.”

I nodded again and watched as Granny rinsed a bowl of rich red strawberries and dusted them with powdered sugar. She put them on a tray and headed toward the recovery room, motioning for me to go with her.

“We’d best let that stubborn old man see for himself that you’re unharmed. Else he’ll break his fool neck trying to get out of bed,” she told me with a small smile.

***

The red sunset gave way to a clear night. The moon was bright as we rolled Marshal Moses Myrick in a wheelchair from the laboratory/animal hospital building to the main house. The Vales would have several overnight guests, as both doctors insisted we all stay until morning. They wanted all their patients under one roof.Vales House

They still wanted to keep an eye on Hank, and he certainly wasn’t trusted to drive alone with his recent head wound. Veronica made him use the radio to let his parents know he was okay but would be staying there for the night. The marshal wouldn’t be up and about for quite some time to come. And everybody kept looking at me. It was getting annoying. “I’m fine,” I said repeatedly, but the evaluative looks continued.

Granny said that she left enough food for Cinnamon Bun, the Flemish Giant rabbit. So she Beatrix Potter-1accepted the invitation to stay. It had been a long and disturbing day, and no one wanted her to drive so late at night. Me? I didn’t seem to have any choice in the matter. I sat down with a cup of chicken broth and soon felt up to eating a little something. I succumbed to the temptation of the luscious strawberries.

When I heard an automobile outside I jumped half out of my skin. I supposed I was pretty upset by the whole ordeal. Vincent was almost at the door before the two sharp taps of the doorknocker banged against my still aching head. It was that detective. He carried a large parcel wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine. He placed it on a table.

“Miss Fanny, I stopped by your house after I finished working, just to make sure you and Pip were okay. When nobody was home, I figured you ladies decided to spend the night here. Then I saw this package on your front porch. I had to check on the marshal and Hank anyway — for my report,” he said casually, but I got the impression he was hedging something, and I saw Veronica smirk. “So I decided to bring the package with me,” he explained.

Granny smiled and assured the detective that all the patients were on the mend. I saw Veronica 1920s Arrow couplesmirk again. I wondered what that was about, but I didn’t ask.

“Don’t worry Dabney,” Granny Fanny told the detective with a pat on his arm. “Veronica says Paisley’s memory will come back. But between the bump on the head, whatever she was drugged with, and all the recent frightful events, it might take some time. Pip will surely remember you before long,” she added and raised her eyebrows in an encouraging expression.

“What? You don’t know me, Pip?” the detective turned to me and said in an astonished tone. “I knew you were acting odd, but I thought that was just from… from what had happened. You really don’t remember me?”

I reflexively drew back from his intensity. I swallowed hard. My eyes widened as I tried to think of what to say. Veronica tilted her head and pursed her lips as if she wasn’t sure what to make of the detective’s reaction. Vincent and Hank both seemed mildly puzzled, but Hank also looked a little hopeful for some strange reason.

“You knew me though, didn’t you Pip?” Hank asked standing straighter.

“Well… sort of,” I said. He seemed to deflate a little, so I hastened to add, “I remember you being a wiz with the radio.”

1920s trioWhen I said that he put his shoulders back. His eyebrows went up for a second when he looked at the detective. Once again, I wondered about expressions and body language of the people around me. Hank’s reaction seemed almost competitive, and I couldn’t imagine why.

Granny leaned over the large brown package. “Oh, it’s from Eunice’s Uniforms!” she exclaimed. “This should be the outfits Moses told me to get to cater that fancy reception,” she paused and saw that everyone was looking at her. “You know, the one where he was going to have the st…” she paused and looked sheepishly at Daniels. “It is okay to mention that in front of the Vales, isn’t it? And after being on the scene of the ambush, Hank should probably know too.”

The detective sighed. “Miss Fanny…,” he began. Daniels shook his head and looked at his highly polished Florsheim shoes, but then he spread his hands as if admitting defeat. “It’s of no consequence now. With the marshal out of commission, we’ll be calling it off,” he said.

Then he gave a brief if vague explanation of the planned sting operation. He didn’t name names or places, but he said it was meant to catch a bootlegger kingpin. 1920s Style Book

As he spoke I remembered standing outside the parlor in Granny’s cottage, with Cinnamon Bun beside me, as I listened to a conversation between my grandmother and an unseen man. I remembered feeling surprised and somewhat distrustful to realize that man apparently had known Granny for a long time, but I had heard nothing of him. Although I couldn’t put a face to the memory, I was sure that man was Moses Myrick.

Meanwhile, Granny unwrapped the package. She removed two 1920s womens pant suitwaiter’s uniforms. They were fancy all right, black pants with a black satin stripe down the sides, and white tuxedo jackets. Then she grinned like a ‘possum when she saw the next two uniforms. Each had a white tuxedo jacket, but they were longer and cut for a woman. The jackets were paired with very avant-garde black wide-legged cuffed trousers with a satin stripe, similar to stripe on the men’s pants.

I always thought there might be a bit of a flapper in Granny’s heart. I couldn’t stop grinning. Veronica, the very definition of a modern woman, clapped her hands in childlike delight when she saw the women’s uniforms. The men just looked confused.

“If I’m going to cater a shindig like that one, then Granny’s Goodies is going to have a distinctive and modern look,” she said with an emphatic nod of her head. She picked up the second woman’s uniform. “Come over here Pip and try this tuxedo jacket on for size,” she told me.

Joan Crawford Queen of ClubsAs Granny held out the white coat something fluttered to the floor. I stooped to pick it up but my hand froze before I even touched it. A jolt went up my arm when I looked at the rectangle of paper. Another playing card. It landed face down. One word was written across the back of the card. Beware!

The detective took out his handkerchief and carefully picked up the card. He held it up for everyone to see. It was the queen of clubs.

***

How It’s Made – Saltine Cracker

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BR7Lv7sXk4o

 

 

 

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

Perils_of_Pauline_-_1947_Poster Hello everyone, I think this is the first weekend that I’ve failed to give you a serial episode since we started this, way back with the Three Things. So I hope you will tune in next weekend to find out what is happening with Pip, Granny Fanny, Cracker the Parrot, and the rest of the 1920’s crew.

The mean Queen of Clubs is on the loose somewhere in Savannah.

The mysterious King of Clubs left his calling card with (partial) amnesiac Pip.

And there’s still that unfinished sting operation at a ritzy reception Granny Fanny has to cater.

However, the real world intruded on me… and there is a lot of mundane work for me to do this weekend. Maybe this is a good time for you to do catch-up reading of past episodes.  Click on the Three Ingredients button at the top of the page.

So please come back next weekend… Same flapper time — same flapper channel!

Three Ingredients – 18: Fungus, Quiche, Quinoa

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

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

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

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

18.  Fungus, Quiche, Quinoa

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

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

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

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

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

“Fat hen!” he exclaimed.

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

“No,” Alastair said. “Goosefoot.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Others?” I asked groggily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Granny!” I cried incredulously.

***

Video:  Quinoa 101

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

Photos are either from Pinterest or they have been purchased, unless otherwise noted.

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 – 16: Pork, Braise, Fork

Parrots_Menu_Episode-16 copyHello everyone.  I hope you like the new look for Teagan’s Books.  I thought the new theme with the little houses and trees was a good fit for our 1920’s serial.  In a way it reminds me of my fictional town, Atonement, TN — so it will do for posts about my novel as well.

Secret of Old Clock coverEpisode-16 finds Pip waiting again.  However, our flapper never has an idle mind.  And Granny Fanny will make sure her hands aren’t idle either, in her determination to teach her granddaughter to cook.

Remember you can do catch-up reading on past episodes. Just click the “Three Ingredients” button at the top of the page.  Also — you’re driving!  So I hope you’ll send three food-related things to drive the story.

Bon appétit!

16.  Pork, Braise, Fork

The ticking of the clock had become my constant companion.  It seemed like ever since I came to Savannah half my days were spent waiting.  First Granny Fanny and I had waited, albeit briefly, before following Detective Dabney Daniels to the scene where Marshal Moses Myrick and his men had been ambushed.  Next we were on pins and needles until we learned whether the marshal would survive his wounds and the surgery.  Then I found myself in a holding pattern yet again.  That time the wait was again because of Dabney Daniels.

Detective Daniels left to join the rest of Savannah’s finest in a raid on Wetson’s Mill, where Moses Myrick thought the bootleggers were based.  Hank Hertz, the youngest policeman, made no secret of his annoyance at Hank Hertz or Hugo Johnstone-Burtbeing left behind.  However, he couldn’t hide the fact that he was still pretty dizzy from the bullet that had grazed his temple.  He also acted like he had a doozy of a headache.  Nonetheless he fiddled with the knobs and dials of the radio equipment as he expertly set up a base station.

I handed Hank a cup of coffee and a plate of biscuits with pork sausage patties.  He hungrily stuffed half of a biscuit into his mouth in one big bite.  Then I sat down to dig into some myself.  There was nothing like Granny’s biscuits!  The breakfast sausage was fried with a crisp outside and tender inside.  The biscuits were light and golden brown, and they melted in my mouth.

A groan from the open door where we had setup a hospital room for Marshal Myrick interrupted me.  Before I had time to turn around, I saw Granny coming with more medicine for the revenuer.  It was as if she knew about his pain even before he did; as if she had a nearly supernatural ability.  It was almost scary.  I glanced over at Hank for his reaction, but he hadn’t noticed.  He was still busy with the radio equipment, though biscuit crumbs dusted his chest.

1915 FantasioApparently Granny had some amount of medical training, somewhere along the line. However, she had never spoken of it in my presence.  It had been clear that she already knew how to administer the hypodermic needle even as Veronica Vale showed her.  However, Doctor Vale always drew the drug herself.  Apparently it was potent, dangerous stuff.

The down-side to the medication was that the marshal wasn’t coherent enough to advise the other policemen on the raid they were staging.  Through the open door I could hear the marshal talking, though none of it made any sense.  Veronica had said the drug would probably make him say crazy things.  Granny murmured soothing words that I couldn’t make out, but they seemed to settle the wounded man.  The parrot continued to sit vigil from her perch at the foot of the bed. I heard Cracker coo her usual comment, “Who’s your daddy?”

A few minutes later, Granny came out of the room with Cracker sitting on her shoulder.  I wondered how she had coaxed the parrot away from the marshal.  The bird had refused to leave the man’s side.  Then I noticed Granny hand her sunflower seeds.  In learning how to prepare za’atar, Granny had discovered sunflower seeds were Cracker’s favorite treat.

“Come on with me sweetheart, you need a proper breakfast.  And I know you’ll make too much of a mess if you eat it in a sick-room,” Granny told the parrot.1920s Peoples home journal girl parrot

Sweetheart?  It used to be nasty bird!  I was astonished at Granny’s 180 degree change of attitude toward the parrot.  I guessed they discovered a common bond in their mutual affection for Moses Myrick.  That was something else I had yet to pin down — my grandmother’s history with the revenuer.  Granny Fanny had a lot of explaining to do as I saw it.

“Pip, Sweet-pea,” she said to me.  “I’m sorry.  I know I said I would teach you to cook braised pork today, but circumstance has made a liar of me.  There isn’t time to work on anything like that today.  I hope you don’t mind.  You’ve been getting plenty of practice with doing things spontaneously and making do with what’s on hand in an unfamiliar kitchen, since all these awful events took place.  That’s valuable experience too.”

Did I mind?  I almost sputtered out a bite of biscuit, but I managed to control myself.  These cooking lessons had not been my idea.  I had been inclined to stay with my friend Mona until my Pops had sent me to Savannah with Granny.  Mona the Movie Star is what we called my friend.  The circus magnate, John Ringling had offered Mona a try-out and training as a trapeze performer.  We were both invited to stay at the Ringling mansion, Ca’ d’Zan.  That gilded mansion was the bee’s knees.  Ca’ d’Zan was the cat’s pajamas; the berries!  It was the most amazing, extraordinary place I had ever seen.

1920s Judge HourglassWhile I was enjoying my time with my grandmother more than I expected, I had not wanted to leave Sarasota, Florida.  There had been a lot of drama and trauma surrounding my beau, Frankie.  I needed to be near my friends. I needed their support to get over it.  And what flapper in her right mind would pass up a free stay at Ca’ d’Zan?  However, Pops didn’t share that feeling.

“It’s not really that difficult,” Granny was saying, and I brought my mind back to the present.  “It just takes a while to fix.  After braising the meat, you just insert a fork into pork. If the fork comes out easily the pork is done.  Then you can keep boiling down the braising liquid and it will cook down to a glaze.”

I nodded as if that made perfect sense to me.  I wasn’t sure of the concept of braising, let alone making a glaze.  “That’s okay, Granny,” I said in a consoling tone.

I schooled my expression to be one of self-sacrifice and disappointment.  When Granny Fanny raised one eyebrow at me, I knew she saw through me.  Luckily she didn’t get the chance to say anything.  She was interrupted when Cracker abruptly launched from her shoulder and glided down the long building.  One end of the structure was connected to the Vales’ house by a breezeway.  I heard the door open and the click of canine toenails on the tile floor.paris Poodle postcard

Excited yapping ensued.  I heard Vincent Vale trying to quiet the miniature poodle named Cotton.  Then Cracker flapped back to us with a small stuffed toy in her beak.  I recognized it for the dog’s toy.  The parrot flew low, getting the little poodle to chase her for the toy.  The two actually seemed to be enjoying themselves and I couldn’t help laughing.

Vincent darted to the sick-room and closed the door to make sure the antics of the dog and parrot didn’t disturb the patient.  Cotton proved that she could pounce high enough to grab the toy.  She shook her head with the toy in her mouth.  With her beak free, the parrot chirped, “Clever girl!” apparently encouraging the poodle.

Cotton dropped the toy and set after the bird when Cracker made another pass.  The parrot led the poodle all around the room.  As the dog barked, the parrot squawked “Clever girl,” which got the poodle more enthusiastic by the minute.

Then the dog jumped onto the table where Hank laboriously set up the radio station.  Cotton careened into and over the equipment.  I heard Veronica’s voice in the distance and then she whistled for the dog.  Cotton apparently recognized discretion as the better part of valor and ran toward her mistress’s voice.

Hank was beside himself.  Static emanated from the radio.  All the effort he put into setting all the knobs and dials just so was probably wasted.  At least nothing was broken… except the plate of sausage and biscuits that he 1920 Radio Newswas eating.  Hank bent to pick up the mess, shaking his head.  I noticed Cracker in the corner with one of Hank’s biscuits in her foot as she held it and broke off little bites.  So I diverted attention away from her.  There was no point adding insult to injury on Hank.  But the silly bird dropped her prize and swooped back to the radio table.

The parrot cocked her head at the radio and the noise and whistled.  “Who’s your daddy?” she said with what was actually a questioning tone.  Then she bobbed her head excitedly.  “Fourandtwenty! Fourandtwenty!”

There was that phrase again.  Granny and I exchanged a look.  She put out her hand when Hank made to shoo the bird away from the equipment.  Hank was a quick study and seemed to realize there was more to the situation than he knew.

A voice came clearly amid the static on the radio.  Cracker must have heard it when we were all too preoccupied with show she and the dog had provided.  Granny handed her a sunflower seed with an expectant look on her face.  “Now sweetie, ‘four and twenty’ what’s that about?” she coaxed the bird.  “What else can you say?”

“Fourandtwenty,” Cracker repeated bobbing her head.

Granny handed her another sunflower seed.  “Clever bird.  What else can you say?” she encouraged.

For a second I thought I heard a loud burst of static from the radio. Then I realized it was laughter.  “Yeah, we were long gone before they ever got to the mill,” I heard the voice say clearly.1920 Home Journal Parrot

The word “mill” got our attention.  Mill as in Wetson’s Mill, where Dabney and the other policemen had gone to raid the bootleggers?  Everyone else turned in surprise toward the sound of the voice.  Everyone that is, except Granny Fanny.  She barely spared us a glance. She was intently focused on Cracker.  Granny nodded to the parrot and repeated, “Four and twenty?”  Then she gave her another seed.

Jokerswild,” the parrot said and shook her foot.  Somehow the motion seemed disdainful, though I couldn’t say why.

“Eight and five,” the voice from the radio began.  At first that puzzled me.  Suddenly I remembered Moses Myrick had said the gang had code names based on playing cards.  Then I realized the numbers were being used as names.  Not eight and five, but Eight and Five.  “Pick up the Bishop and Nine,” the voice said in a commanding tone.

A different voice replied.  There was more static and we couldn’t make out the words.  Hank Hertz frantically fiddled with the radio.  “Queen said—… for the shindig— … back to town.  … Couldn’t stop her—” the new voice said between bursts of static.

Hank gave another dial a twist, holding his breath.

Joan Crawford Queen of Clubs“Look we’re doing the best we can!” the second voice complained, and it came through pretty clearly.  “We’ll hear their radio if anything changes.  Queenie Wetson’ll kill us if we don’t do what she says.  The King ain’t no more scary than the Queen!”

“Just do it, or the King will have your heads,” the first voice threatened.  “Get over here now.”

I gasped.  “So the gangsters have been listening to the police on the radio?”

“I’ve got to tell them!” Hank said, meaning his fellow officers, and he reached toward the equipment.

“No!” I cried.  “We can’t let them know, that we know, that they know…” at that point I got tongue-tied with all the they knows and we knows, so I stopped and stretched my hands out as if to stop the young copper.

Then the first voice repeated, “Just do it.  Go to the King’s.  Now!”

Cracker whistled excitedly, “Kinghenry!  Fourandtwenty! Kinghenry!”

***

Video

Mexican pulled Pork (Carnitas)

(Video credit America’s Test Kitchen)

***

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

Three Ingredienst – 15: Chicken, Meatloaf, Cookies

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

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

15.  Chicken, Meatloaf, Cookies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It seemed that Cracker had finally befriended my grandmother.

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

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

Parrot in flight

***

Good Eats Meatloaf-Food Network

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

Three Ingredients – 14: Pinto Beans, Brown Rice, Tofu

I’m relatively new to the blogosphere (December 2012)  so I count myself very lucky to have all of you providing encouragement.  Several of you have been here from the beginning — even before I started doing the serialized stories.  Your comments and “likes” truly give me joy.  And I’m absolutely delighted when anyone comments with “ingredients” for the story.

Mike Fedison of “The Eye-Dancers” has been constant in the encouragement he provides through “likes” on this blog.  Mike is a truly talented writer. I’m very happy to say that he has given us the three ingredients for Episode-14. I think you’ll enjoy his blog and his young adult novel — I know I do!

Links for The Eye-Dancers

  • Amazon, please click here.
  • Barnes and Noble, please click here.

Without further ado, here is Episode-14.  Bon appétit!

Pinto Beans, Brown Rice, Tofu

Young Lucille Ball

Young Lucille Ball

Hank Hertz was acting very protective of me.  This annoyed me because I was sure he must be at least a year younger than me.  To make things even worse, I slipped on some damp grass as we crossed the lawn.  I was half way to the ground but he caught my elbow.  However, the sudden bend and twist movement, combined with his head wound made him dizzy.  I ended up catching the young policeman too, which mollified me somewhat.  Somehow we both managed to stand and continue across the grass to the foot path.

There were several buildings of varied shapes and sizes, all painted in crisp white.  Stepping stones made paths between them.  The white structures shone brightly in the sun against the green of the thick grass.  The residence of the doctors had neat green shutters on either side of a bay window and its roof was the same shade of green.  A number of trees dotted the property.  Spanish moss hung from branches here and there.

Movement above caught my eye.  I was hoping that it would be Cracker the parrot, but I realized that was silly of me.  Instead a gray heron glided effortlessly on broad wings to land at the pond behind the house.  I watched in silent awe of its grace.  A horse whinnied in the small “recovery” stable, bringing me out if the brief reverie.  I pointed Hank to a side door in the animal hospital building.  I knew the surgery room was on that end of the building from the time Veronica Vale had showed me her work areas and let me use a microscope.

The path led alongside the house, right by the kitchen window.  It was open just a crack, and an aroma tickled my nose.  I noticed a pot on the stove at a very low simmer.  Then I recognized the scent for pinto beans.  I had the quick thought that maybe I should check them for Veronica, but the beans would be all right at that low temperature for quite some time.  Veronica had probably put the beans on to cook just before Detective Daniels showed up on her doorstep with the badly wounded Marshal Myrick.  So I kept walking to the long one-story building.Vales House

Vincent’s old jalopy was parked beside the house.  The door was left open and a box of dry goods was on the seat.  I noticed a bag of brown rice on the top of the stack.  I guessed they were planning to have beans and rice for supper.  Vincent must have just gotten back from a grocery run and was unloading the car when Dabney arrived.

1920s Cosmo FebLooking at the evidence of daily life that had been interrupted and virtually abandoned gave me a surreal feeling.  It was as if everything had been frozen in time.  I hesitated briefly with my hand on the doorknob.  My thoughts were in a jumble.  How close was Granny Fanny to the injured marshal?  There was clearly more of a history between them than I had ever known.  If Moses Myrick… if he didn’t make it, how badly would Granny be hurt?  I didn’t know how to deal with the prospect of my grandmother grieving.

Hank asked if I was okay.  I glanced up at him.  A dot of blood had seeped through the bandage Granny put on the place where the bullet grazed the side of his head.  It amazed me that he hadn’t realized he was hurt.  But I had heard that kind of thing could happen in an emergency or during disasters like hurricanes.  What if Dabney Daniels had been injured too and nobody knew it until it was too late?  I felt a little guilty about it, but I was as worried about the fact that the detective might be hurt as I was about the obviously critically wounded marshal.

I didn’t realize I had dropped my hand from the brass doorknob.  Hank took off his hat as he opened the door for me.  doorknobThen he courteously took my elbow as we walked over the threshold.  I was immediately met by the clean astringent odor; the hospital smell.  Then I saw Dabney at the other end of the room, pacing.  I breathed a sigh of relief that he was standing, but he was awfully pale.

The detective motioned to a table when he saw us.  His suit jacket was draped over the back of a ladder-back chair.  There was a tear at the shoulder.  With a gasp I realized it was made by a bullet.  “Are you hurt?” I exclaimed.

As he walked to the table he shook his head negatively, buy didn’t speak.  His silence was in no way reassuring, but at least he didn’t seem injured.  I started to hug him, but caught myself.  I had been so worried about him, but at that moment he barely seemed to know I was there.  I had become fond of the detective.  He wasn’t all that much older than me, and he was interesting in his own taciturn way.  Or at least I found him so.  I also JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar adthought he was rather dashing.  I know it was silly of me, but it stung when he didn’t react to me at all.  Maybe the emotional attachment had been completely one-sided.  I swallowed and looked away, feeling foolish.

He exchanged a few words with Hank Hertz about the crime scene.  Then he motioned for us to sit down.  A decanter of coffee steamed when he opened it.  Half a dozen cups and saucers were carefully stacked beside the carafe and neat containers of cream and sugar.  I suddenly felt a little awkward, so I made the first stupid comment that occurred to me.  “Expecting company?” I asked.

Dabney made a rueful face.  “I made coffee.  I tried to help the docs, but I was just getting in the way.”  Then his mouth twisted down at one side.  “And I was getting downright queasy.  Miss Fanny sent me out five minutes after she got here,” he said in a tone that suggested he was disgusted with himself.

“Pip,” he said shaking his head.  “I’ve always known your grandmother is a force of nature.  But she continues to amaze me.  Miss Fanny walked into that surgery room, with all that blood.  Then she went right to work helping the docs dig out bullets and handing them their surgical instruments.  She never even flinched, even though she looked right at what they were doing.  I managed to help some before she got here, but even I couldn’t look directly at what they were doing.”

Hours later Vincent Vale came out of the double doors that led to the operating room.  He looked positively 1920s Man Makes Coffeehaggard.  Dabney was quick to pour him a cup of coffee.  I knew the detective was trying to make up for feeling like he wasn’t useful enough.  “How is he, Doc?” Dabney asked.

The veterinarian let out a whoosh of breath, and took a grateful sip of coffee before answering.  He slumped into a chair and stretched his legs out in front of him as if he didn’t have the strength left to sit up straight.  “Only time can tell, Detective.  I’ve never seen a man shot up like that.  Not like that…  But Veronica has healed worse,” Vincent said of his wife who was an MD, not a veterinarian like him.

Abruptly Vincent noticed the bandage around Hank’s head.  The spot of blood had gotten larger.  He immediately got up and went to work, checking out the young officer.  “That’s quite a nice field dressing,” he commented as he removed the bandage.

Dabney grumbled something unintelligible.  Vincent turned to him with a steady gaze.  “You need to know that you made the difference, getting him here so fast.  If you had tried to get him into town he would never have made it.  If he survives, it will be every bit as much because of you as anything Veronica and I have done,” Vincent said in a tone that brooked no argument.

“Young man, this needs some stiches.  Come with me,” he said to Hank and rose purposefully from his chair.

1920s Halls Coffee“Veronica is finishing now,” Vincent told us.  “Maybe I’m biased as her husband, but I’ve never seen such beautifully done work.  Mrs. Peabody makes an extraordinary nurse too.  I wonder if she’s had formal experience,” he added, but his words trailed off in that preoccupied way that he had.  He took another drink of coffee and made an approving sound.  “It’s far too early to predict whether Mr. Myrick will recover, but I can’t help thinking that he will.”  Then the veterinarian looked sheepish.  “I apologize.  I shouldn’t say that in this circumstance.  It was unprofessional of me.  I suppose I’m just tired,” he said as he led Hank to an examination room.

I was still feeling awkward around Dabney after the epiphany that whatever I had been feeling for him probably wasn’t being returned.  I walked to the house to check on the beans that had been left simmering on the stove.  They seemed about done, so I turned off the burner.  Then I unloaded the box dry goods from Vincent’s car.  I tidied the kitchen even though it didn’t need it.  With a sigh I resigned myself.  There was nothing for it — I had to go back and sit with Dabney and Hank no matter how uncomfortable I felt.1920s Vogue red hat

A little while later the double doors pushed open again.  Doctor Veronica and Granny Fanny walked together.  They were in the middle of a conversation.  The doctor spoke to Granny.  “I spent a year in Hong Kong on an exchange program.  I studied Chinese medicine as much as time allowed, but there was so very much to learn.  I fear I only scratched the surface,” she told my grandmother.  “However, it should help reduce any inflammation.  It would be generally good for him, and actually an easy food for his recovery period,” she added.

Naturally I wondered what “it” was.  Granny nodded emphatically.  “I’ll call-up Arabella Wong.  They keep tofu for their restaurant.  I’ll ask her to fix plenty of it and have Pip fetch it.  That dang fool man…  He eats beef at least twice a day.  He doesn’t eat ‘meat and potatoes’ he eats meat and meat! I know it can’t be good for him.  He needs to have more than just meat,” Granny said and wiped the corner of her eye.

The next thing I knew she was crying.  I completely forgot about my confused feelings for the detective and the distress it had caused me a moment before.  I had never seen Granny cry, and I was beside myself.  I rushed to where she stood.  Dabney was there even faster; his long legs took him to her side in two steps.  A man_ray_tearsmoment later she tried to make as if nothing had happened, saying that she was just a silly woman.  Everyone knew that was far from the truth and said so in chorus.

“It’s just been a lot to bear,” she murmured, and I knew she meant watching and assisting during an operation performed on someone for whom she obviously cared deeply.

“Vincent,” Veronica Vale began, but paused with a sidelong look at the detective.  “Would you please get Fanny something… medicinal?  Something from the crystal decanter?  She needs a little something to strengthen her nerves,” she said and her husband nodded knowingly.

At Veronica’s instruction, the two policemen began rearranging an examining room so it could be a recovery room.  In no time they had dismantled and reassembled a bed, moved out a cabinet, and brought in several things the doctor said would be necessary.

1920s Royal bakingMeanwhile I took over supper preparations.  I didn’t have much confidence in my cooking yet, and I was in a strange kitchen.  I even felt odd about going through someone else’s pantry.  So I decided to work with what they apparently had in mind before their day was interrupted.  I gave the pinto beans another quick check, and then went about cooking the rice and an iron skillet of cornbread.  I spotted some okra so I saved some of the cornbread batter, dipped the okra in it and fried it.

While I cooked I thought about what Granny said to Veronica about tofu.  I wondered if she would make me learn to cook it.  I had no idea where to even begin.  I wasn’t sure if I had ever eaten tofu before.  It couldn’t be any harder than fried okra, I told myself.  I smiled when I looked at the golden brown pods.  They seemed to sparkle as I placed them on a towel to blot the oil.  For once I had gotten it right.

However, I could just imagine Pops complaining that there was no meat — it didn’t matter to Pops that beans and rice together were supposed to be a complete protein.  Pops always had to have meat or it wasn’t a meal.  So I wondered if Dabney and Hank might feel the same way.  Well, I told myself, I was doing the best I could with what I had.  Or at least with what I could find.  Then I found a Mason jar of chow-chow in the pantry.  The relish would go nicely with the beans.  That would have to do for a finishing touch.

Sure, I had cooked for Pops and me, and Granny had me make a number of meals in the time I had been staying with her.  However, this was the first time I had prepared a meal someone I didn’t know well, let alone for a group of people.  I checked every dish one last time.  Then I took a deep breath and went to let everyone know that supper was ready.

Vale windowI found Granny sitting on a chair beside Moses Myrick’s bed.  She looked so tired and small.  I thought I heard a little tap sound, but I had too many things on my mind to think about it.  Worry for Granny went to the top of that list.  I tried to convince her to go with the others and have something to eat.  No matter how faithfully I promised to sit with the marshal, she wasn’t going to budge.

There it was again.  That time the sound pushed through my troubled thoughts. It was like a tiny tap at the window, like the sound a pebble makes.

I walked to the window and pushed aside the white cotton curtain, but I didn’t see anything.  Then I noticed a smear on the otherwise clean windowpane.  I pushed the lever handle and the window swung into the room.  Before I could lean out to have a better look something grazed past my face.  I drew back and put my hand to my mouth to muffle a shriek of surprise.  Then I became aware of the bright color that went past me in a blur.1920s Peoples home journal girl parrot

Cracker alighted on the headboard of the marshal’s bed.  The parrot cooed softly and paced the length of the metal bedrail once.  Then to my utter astonishment the bird swooped to Granny’s shoulder and cuddled under her ear.

***

Clam and Tofu Soup

Clam-Tofu Soup

Recipe and photo credit: Judy Xu, “In Balance with Nature”

Ingredients:

Regular clams (Meretrix lusoria) 250g, Tofu 200g, Ginger 10g, Salt 3g, Pepper powder 2g

Method:

  • Wash the clams
  • Wash the tofu and slice the tofu into thick slices
  • Wash the ginger, cut into long thin strips
  • Add water into a pot and bring it to boil
  • Add clams, tofu, and ginger and boil them all together in the water for around 5 minutes
  • Add salt and pepper

The author of the recipe states certain Chinese medicine benefits.  Naturally I am not making any medical claim; rather I am just sharing what was included with the recipe.

Gentle reminder:  Don’t eat clams alongside river snails, orange and celery

Chinese Medicine Benefits:

The soup replenishes the Yin, improves vision, and softens and removes phlegm. Good for people of Dry Fire or Heavy & Humid Body Constitution.

***

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.