Three Ingredients Serial – 9: Cream, Vanilla, Sauce Pan

Graham Kerr-1While I waited for everyone to “get back behind the wheel” and send ingredients to drive this story, I wrote this — Episode-9.  But don’t fret.  Because Ishita at “Kooky Cookyng” sent very interesting ingredients for Episode-10! I hope to have it ready this weekend, so please come back again.

Get ready… because today’s episode reveals the identity of the “dead man” found in Episode-1.

Many times when I was a child I sat in front of the TV and watched “The Galloping Gourmet” — the Graham Kerr  show. I realized that I would not experience any of the dishes he cooked until I was grownup and on my own — if ever.  Even so, I was always fascinated and entertained.  So this episode of our serial is a nod to Graham Kerr.  The three ingredients for this episode come from his culinary creation in the video at the end of the post.

Oh, by the way… for those of you who receive this blog via email, the videos are not active.  You will have to visit the blog, but all you have to do is click the link in the title or click on my name.

9.  Cream, Vanilla Pod, Sauce Pan

“What’s the matter, detective?  You’re not afraid of a little old birdie are you?” Marshal Moses Myrick asked Savannah’s finest, Dabney Daniels.Cat_menu_Episode-9 copy

The older law man’s face looked as sour as his voice was gruff, but I saw a twinkle in his green pea eyes that made me suspect he was joking.  Dabney took another step backward, apparently without realizing.  It seemed like the cat had his tongue… or maybe I should say the parrot had it.  So I supplied on his behalf, “Cracker doesn’t seem to care for Detective Daniels.  Not at all really.”

“Cracker, you say?” the revenuer asked.

“Yes, that nasty bird went around screeching cracker-cracker-cracker for the better part of two days.  That was the only word it would say, until it came out with that vulgar comment it just made.  My granddaughter decided its name must be Cracker,” Granny explained with a frown at the parrot.

“Vulgar comment?” Moses Myrick queried.

“What she just said to you,” I began.  “Who’s your —”

Paisley Idelle Peabody!  I’ll not have you using that kind of language in my house!” Granny flared and the law men chuckled.  However, when Granny Fanny’s glare transferred to them they discretely put serious expressions back on their faces.

1920 Home Journal ParrotCracker prudently remained quiet, playing with a pod of vanilla that glittered in the sunlight as she twisted it.  I remembered Granny saying that you could tell a vanilla pod was good if it glittered.

“Oh Fanny,” the marshal said, and I immediately wondered how the illustrious revenuer came to be on a first name basis with my grandmother.  Not to mention the fact that the sourpuss seemed to be sweet on the bird!  “The parrot didn’t mean any harm.  In fact, she’s been doing her best to identify your dead body,” he added with a sly look at Dabney.

We all looked like a school of fish with our mouths open.  Cracker interrupted the silence by excitedly bobbing her head and squawking, “Who’s your daddy?”

Granny abruptly sat down and looked heavenward.  Then with a look of supreme patience, she turned to Myrick and silently bade him continue.  The marshal even gave Granny a wicked grin, as the parrot dropped the vanilla pod and fluttered back to his shoulder.

“The parrot’s owner — her daddy undoubtedly used to ask her ‘Who’s your daddy?’  To which she was supposed to reply Cracker,” Moses Myrick explained, but we were still puzzled.  As if to demonstrate, he practically cooed to the parrot, “Who’s your daddy, sweetheart?”

The parrot bobbed, wriggled, and turned circles, as if dancing.  I thought Granny’s eyes would pop out of her head.  Then the bird cried, “Cracker!”Speakeasy_Stories-July

Moses looked a tad impatient with our lack of comprehension.  “Her daddy was Cracker Jack Daddy, safecracker and up and coming mobster.  He was also the man who turned up dead at your local theatre.  Detective I’m surprised you haven’t figured that out yet,” he added pointedly.

“Oh!” I cried as my light bulb came on.  I turned to Detective Daniels.  “She’s so upset with you, because her ‘daddy’ didn’t come home, but you were there in stead.  Maybe she thinks you did something to him,” I said.  Then I moved to stroke the bird’s feathers.  “Oh Cracker, sweetie.  Dabney didn’t do anything to your daddy.  And I’m sorry, but he’s not coming back… but you already knew that, didn’t you.  Poor thing.”

The parrot cooed softly, but shot the detective one more suspicious look.  I handed her the vanilla pod she’d been playing with.  That’s when Granny noticed it.  “Where did you get that?” Granny demanded of the bird.

Cracker quickly escaped toward the kitchen.  “Oh no you don’t!” Granny said and ran after the parrot.  I heard a sauce pan crash to the floor.  “Get out of that you nasty bird!  That’s for my crème brulee.  No.  No!  Not the cream!  Get out of there!”

Then I heard the picture overturn and the cream splash.  I winced.  I would not want to be Cracker just then.

***

***

Three Ingredients Serial – 8: Peas, Noodles, Lemon

1920s Flapper Driving

You’re Driving

Dear readers, it is time once again for me to bid you “Come and dine!”  But first, to keep the culinary story going, we need ingredients.  Don’t be shy.  The three food-related things you send drive the story, and the Three Ingredient cupboards are bare — so to speak.  Please leave a comment with three food-related “ingredients” that can become a part of the story.

Also remember that you can do catch-up reading where the story lives, the Three Ingredients Serial homepage.

Our interactive story continues with three ingredients from a reader and friend who knows how to write an entertaining story and prepare an extraordinary meal — the Provincial Lady.  So I give you Episode-8, with three simple but elegant ingredients.Parrot Menu Episode 8 copy

8.  Peas, Noodles, Lemon

Detective Daniels gave me a lift back to Granny Fanny’s cottage.  I had actually watched most of the autopsy Veronica Vale performed on the man who had died mysteriously at the Bijou theatre.  Okay… so I watched it from a distance.  As much of a distance as the large room could possibly allow.  I admit that I had to look away a few times.Motobloc cover

“Pip, I’m rather impressed,” the detective said as he drove.  “I expected to have to carry you out of Veronica’s lab, but you held up better than my men did.”

I blushed at the compliment.  Then I wondered why my cheeks colored.  Sneaking a glance from beneath my eyelashes, I saw his strong profile above the crisp white collar of his shirt.  Frankie’d had a chiseled nose and chin like that, though he was a little rough around the edges, not as dapper as the detective.  Frankie — the fireman who turned out to be something completely different from what I had thought.  Different in a very bad, dishonest way.

I was still kind of heartbroken about that.  I tried not to wonder if he was okay, somewhere on the lam from the law.  Granny told me that it was for the best that I learned the truth of what kind of man he was before I cared any more about him than I already did.  She promised that time would give me perspective.

Without realizing I had done so, I sighed.  Dabney Daniels gave me a concerned look.  “Are you sure you’re alright, Pip?” he asked with what looked like genuine concern.  It gave his eyes a soft JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar adpuppy-dog look that was an endearing contrast to his usual no-nonsense manner.

Applesauce!  I did not want to think of Daniels as more than a copper!  I had suddenly realized that he was a very attractive man and it was more than my poor overworked noodle could handle just then.  I plastered a fake smile on my face before looking up at him.  The grin faltered when I saw his deep blue eyes, and I sat looking at him like a dumbstruck fool.

Lucky for me we reached my grandmother’s home just then.  Another car had pulled up beside the cottage, under the big lilac bush.  The Ford was almost hidden by the bush, but the observant detective noticed it right away.  Dabney recognized the car.

“Hell’s bells, what’s he doing here?” he exclaimed.  “Oh!  I’m sorry, Pip.  Pardon the expression,” he hastily apologized.  “That car belongs to Moses Myrick.  He’s run more covert operations and put more rum runners and mobsters behind bars than any other Fed.  He even got a commendation from President Coolidge.  And he’s got a sour disposition that just won’t quit.  Barrie Craig adventuresThey joke that he eats lemons for breakfast, and I think it might be a fact.  But what’s he doing here?”

As we walked up the brick path to the front door, I noticed the lace curtains in the parlor part just enough for someone to look outside.  At the door I raised my hand to knock, even though I was living there now.  I guess that’s how uncomfortable I felt about a big-shot revenuer being at Granny’s house.

I wondered briefly if Granny Fanny really did have a stash of white lightning somewhere.  But no, I told myself.  The man’s car was practically hidden under the lilac bush.  He wouldn’t do that if he had something against her.  Actually, it seemed like he was being discrete about visiting my grandmother.  But why?

While I stood with one hand raised to knock and the other hand on the doorknob, Granny answered the door and told us to come on inside.  She led us into the parlor and introduced Marshal Moses Myrick.  He was very polite and all, but I couldn’t help thinking what beady little the-chinese-parrot adeyes he had.  Green eyes… like little peas!

To my astonishment, Cracker the parrot fluttered up.  Marshal Myrick held out his elbow, as if he wasn’t even thinking about it, and the bird perched on his arm.  Cracker looked at Detective Dabney Daniels, and he reflexively put a hand to the ear the parrot had taken a bite out of the last time she got a chance.  Cracker made a rude sound that was a lot like a raspberry.

Then the parrot nuzzled her head against the revenuer’s chin while giving Dabney a sidelong look that caused me to imagine she would like to say “So there! Jealous yet?”  Then she bobbed her head at the marshal and said “Who’s your daddy?”

***

Recipe – Pasta with Fresh Herbs, Lemon and Peas

Recipe credit:  The New York Times, Martha Shulman

Pasta With Fresh Herbs, Lemon and Peas

Ingredients

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, tarragon, mint and chives

Zest of 1 organic lemon, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely minced

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

3/4 pound pasta, any type

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino

Method

1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large bowl or pasta bowl, combine the herbs, lemon zest, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil.

2.  When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the pasta. Follow the cooking instructions on the package, but check the pasta a minute before the indicated time. A few minutes before the pasta is done, add the peas to the water. When the pasta is just about al dente, remove a half cup of the cooking water and add to the bowl with the herbs. Drain the pasta and peas, toss with the herb mixture and the cheese, and serve.

Yield:  Serves four.

Advance Preparation

The herbs can be chopped several hours ahead, but don’t combine the ingredients until you’ve put the water on for the pasta.

Nutritional information per serving: 460 calories; 13 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 4 milligrams cholesterol; 70 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams dietary fiber; 123 milligrams sodium (does not include salt added during preparation); 15 grams protein

 ***

Three Ingredients Serial – 7: Burner, E. Coli, Marmite

Episode 7 cat-n-tombstone

I hope I haven’t kept you waiting too long for the next installment of the Three Ingredients SerialThe “ingredients” for Episode 7 are from Spock’s Sister.  She’s an extraordinary mix of creative and scientific knowledge — so these ingredients are far from ordinary!  Working them into our culinary mystery was great fun.

However, I hope she’ll forgive me for tampering with her ingredients.  She sent “microscope,” and I failed to find a way to make it food-related (but at least I added it to the mix last time in Episode-6).  Since I used one ingredient early, I’m throwing in an additional “science-food” related ingredient with Bunsen burner — letting “burner” be one of the ingredients I used for this episode, in place of microscope.

Remember, the food-related ingredients you send to me inspire each part of the story.  You’re welcome to leave your own three ingredients in a comment.

7.  Burner, E. Coli, Marmite

Doc Vale’s jalopy puttered outside Granny Fanny’s cottage.  I ran out to the car to save him the trouble of1927cadillac2-m ad coming to the door.  (Besides, Granny was chasing Cracker the parrot with her broom again.  Last time I saw the bird, Cracker was flying through the kitchen with a pair of Granny’s undies in her beak.  I took the excuse to beat a hasty retreat!)  Anyhow, the doc’s wife, Veronica had invited me to spend the day and offered to teach me about some of the scientific things she used in her work.  Their place was just west of Savannah.  They had built an animal hospital next to their home, as well as a facility for horses and other large animals.

“I hope I didn’t put you out of your way, Doc,” I told the veterinarian, feeling a twinge of guilt at being chauffeured.

“Not at all Paisley,” he began and I drew breath to beg him to call me Pip.  But I let it go.  I hated to correct anybody who was that nice.  Vincent Vale seemed to have a very… proper manner about him and tended to address everyone by their given name, rather than any nickname.

“Actually, Mrs. Peabody’s cottage was right on my way home.  I’ve just come from a meeting with Detective Daniels.  He received permission for Veronica to do an autopsy on the unfortunate man who died at the Bijou theatre,” Doc Vale informed me.

I knew Veronica would be delighted to put her medical research skills to work on the mystery of how the man died, so I was pleased for her.  Then another idea struck me — an unpleasant one.  “Applesauce!” I exclaimed in horror. “She doesn’t mean for me to help her with that does she?  I was excited to learn about the kind of work she did in 1920s PhotoPlayLondon, but I don’t think I could watch anybody dissect a dead person!”

The doc chuckled.  “Relax Paisley,” he said reassuringly.  “They won’t bring the body until later today.  There will be plenty of time for Veronica to show you her lab.  You certainly would not be expected to observe the autopsy, unless you just wanted to do so.  Veronica said you could come again whenever you want, since this came up unexpectedly and might cut your visit short.

When we walked into the kitchen I could smell tea brewing, but I didn’t see a teakettle.  Vincent smiled and shook his head.  “She’s brewing tea in her laboratory again.  She’d have a fit if anyone else did that.  I’ll make a little snack for us.  Have you ever tasted marmite?” he asked picking up a jar containing something dark.  When I looked at the jar skeptically he said, “Folks either love marmite or they hate it, so don’t feel like you have to eat it. Veronica got a taste for it1920s Marmite ad when she lived in London, and I guess you could say she infected me with it too.  I’ll fix some for all of us and bring it back in a jiffy.  Veronica’s back there,” he said motioning to a door.

I walked into the large pristine room Veronica used as a laboratory and found her using a blue flame to heat a glass container. After greeting me warmly she explained laughing.  “Oh, when I was young I had these specially made on a whim,” she said indicating the odd container and cups.  “I thought it would be fun to use the Bunsen burner to make tea!  After all these years I still get a kick out of it.”

Lucy 3 funny facesHer husband came in with toast spread with that dark… whatever it was.  Horse feathers! I was expecting it to be some kind of jam, but it was salty.  I nearly dropped my plate and it took all my self-control not to spit it out.  I made an awful face despite myself, but Veronica just laughed.  With encouragement from both the Vales, I tried a little more, and it seemed to grow on me.

It seemed like I hadn’t been there any time at all when Detective Daniels arrived with two other men rolling a gurney.  Holy Hannah, they had brought the corpse.  I don’t know why I reacted at all, because I realized they were coming.  But knowing what was about to happen gave me the heebie jeebies.

I watched in surprise as the Daniels deputized Veronica Vale.  The copper told me that he wanted to make sure whatever Veronica discovered would be admissible in court.  “Ah-ha,” I thought.  I just knew the detective had been keeping something from me about the dead man.  He must have a pretty strong hunch of one kind or another.

As I looked on in fascination, Veronica pulled the cover back from the body.  She pinched his skin then looked at the underside of his eyelids, poked, sniffed and examined the body before she ever moved to pick up a surgical instrument.1920a TB ad

She looked up at the detective.  “It may or may not have been what killed him,” she said with a concerned expression.  “But I expect we will find that this poor man suffered from severe effects of E. coli.  Did you bring his shoes, as I asked?”

Detective Daniels nodded and removed the shoes from a sack.  Some of the cilantro still clung to the soles.  Veronica picked up a shoe and looked closely at the sole, and then sniffed of it.  “That’s cow manure.  I hope we don’t have an E. coli contaminated dairy farm somewhere.”

Daniels groaned.  He started writing in the tiny notebook he carried.  Ripping out two sheets, he turned to the men who had brought the gurney.  “Head out to these addresses and see if you find any sick people or animals.  I’ve got a hunch Doctor Vale is right,” he told them.  “This could be serious.”

***

Okay… I know this is not marmite — but reading about that “love it or hate it” spread made me think of the Lucy skit and I couldn’t resist.  Enjoy!

Video:  Vitameatavegamin

Spaghetti with Marmite

Recipe Credit: Nigella.com

Ingredients

12 oz spaghetti

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon Marmite   (or more to taste)

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese   (to serve)

Method

1.  Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water, according to the packet instructions.

2.  When the pasta is almost cooked, melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the Marmite and 1 tablespoon of the pasta water, mixing thoroughly to dissolve.  Reserve ½ cup of pasta water; then drain the pasta and pour the Marmite/Vegemite mixture over the drained spaghetti, adding a little reserved pasta water to amalgamate if required. Serve with plenty of grated Parmesan cheese.

For vegetarians replace the Parmesan cheese with a vegetarian alternative.

***

Oh what the heck… Here’s a bonus video.

Video: How to Light a Bunsen Burner

Thanks for visiting.

 

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 Serial – 6: Turnips, Parsnips, Juniper Berries

Episode 6 dog cat copyA truly remarkable friend in Albuquerque supplied the “ingredients” for this episode.  Clever of her to think of juniper berries and how they relate to the 1920’s and prohibition! That’s how you drive the story.

I’m delighted to have all of you readers behind the wheel, steering this mystery with the ingredients you send.  And they’re coming from all over.  When Episode-7 comes around, the food-related things will be from the UK.  So stay tuned for that one.

Remember all the previous episodes live at the serial’s homepage.  And now, Episode-6…

6.  Turnips, Parsnips, Juniper Berries

I found Granny Fanny at the far end of her back yard.  The lot was a long fenced-in rectangle.  What looked like ordinary bushes at that time of year would blossom to reveal azaleas and forsythia in warmer months.  Granny and Cinnamon Bun were gathering turnip greens and some turnips.  I think she mostly took the turnips the huge rabbit dug up.  He was clearly enjoying himself.

Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell

“Now Cinnamon Bun, you’d better eat the next turnip you dig up,” she happily chided the bunny.  “And I don’t mean just nibble at it.  I don’t think you really like eating them, but you’re having a grand old time digging them up!”

She stood when she saw me.  “Pip, you’re a sight in those boy’s clothes!”  The good natured scolding switched focus to me for the Levis and flannel shirt I wore.  “And muddy taboot,” she added.

Then she smiled fondly.  “So how was the little foal?  Did you have a nice time with Doc and Missus Vale?” she asked.  “It’s a good clip out to that farm.  Did you and Veronica get to chat much?”

I nodded and smiled.  Did we ever!  It had been Granny’s idea that I go with the veterinarian and his wife when he called to check up on the foal he delivered.  It was born the day Detective Daniels and I found the parrot, Cracker, in the dead man’s room, so the vet wasn’t available to take the bird.  Granny wanted me to get to know the veterinarian’s wife.  She said that if I was bound to be an independent woman, then I should get to know the real deal.

1920s woman scientist-microscope“Yes, it was a nice drive,” I told her, and went into detail about the charming little foal, and what an accomplished and remarkable woman Veronica Vale was.

Veronica told me that for many years she worked at the South London Hospital for Women and Children.  Of course it was in England, but even more interesting, it had an all-woman staff.  Then Veronica retired and went back home to Savannah.  She met the widowed Vincent and partnered with him in his veterinary practice, doing what she called “lab work” with microscopes and other scientific things that I had never been around.  I had only touched a microscope one time.  I thought doing that kind of work must be the cat’s meow.

In turn I told the Vales about the man who turned up dead at the local premier of the movie “Night of the Killer Clam.”  I told them how strange I thought it was for him to have cilantro bits all over his shoes.  Doc Vale shrugged and looked puzzled.  Veronica seemed more interested as he drove.  “They still don’t know what killed the man?” she asked as the car puttered along.

I shook my head, and Mrs. Doctor Vale… or Doctor Mrs. Vale… Oh applesauce!  I didn’t know what title to give the woman.  She told me to call her Veronica, so I did.  Anyhow she looked at me conspiratorially and said she’d talk to Detective Daniels and see if she could get any samples to look at under her microscope.Turnip greens label

“I’m glad you had a good time,” Granny said, bringing me back to the present moment.  She looked pleased.  “Dabney Daniels is coming by to get some of these greens.  We’ve got more than we can use.  People who want catering don’t seem to eat turnip greens,” she added.

With a shooing motion she sent me inside to change clothes.  Granny didn’t think it was proper for a young woman to go around in trousers unless it was for a specific labor-related purpose.  They were acceptable for the “barn call” to see the new foal, but not if a visitor was coming to the house.

Detective Daniels arrived just as I put on a headband I had bought at a boutique in downtown Savannah.  It was a little plain (I wanted one with rhinestones) but it was pretty.  I noticed a little 1922_Saturday_Evening_Postflower arrangement Granny had set on the drop-leaf table in the parlor.  It had Cherokee roses and several stems of juniper.  I broke off a sprig with berries and tucked it into my headband to jazz it up.

“What’s that in your hair?” Daniels greeted me when I opened the door.

“Hello to you too,” I said.

“What are those,” he repeated.  The man was like a bulldog; single minded.  “Juniper berries?” he asked then chuckled.  “You’ll have me thinking Granny Fanny has gotten into bootlegging,” he commented and I looked a question at him.  “Don’t tell me you don’t know…  Okay, playing innocent, I see.”

I crossed my arms and raised one eyebrow at him.  “Detective Daniels, whatever are you talking about?”

He sighed and muttered that maybe I really didn’t know.  “Juniper berries are used in making gin,” he informed me.

Then a mischievous twinkle lit his eyes.  I had not seen that playful side of the policeman, and I rather liked it.  “Do I need to check the bathtub to make sure this establishment is not turning into a speakeasy?” he joked.  “Is there bathtub gin on the premises?”

“If Granny is making gin, then I sure don’t know where Cat_menu_Episode-6 copyshe’s hiding it!” I laughed.

“What do you mean, making gin?” Granny said as she walked into the room.

I could have sworn there was a guilty blush on her face.  I wondered if Granny really did have a stash of hooch somewhere.  She cleared her throat and deftly changed the subject.  “Dabney, Pip and I are about to sit down to some lamb and parsnip stew.  And I have some greens and cornbread to go with it.  Won’t you join us?”

The detective licked his lips just as his stomach growled.  I knew the answer to that question without having to hear it.

***

Lamb & Parsnip Stew

Credit:  The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Yield:  Makes 4 servings.

2 pounds cubed lamb

2 medium onions, quartered

2-1/2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large carrots, scraped and sliced

8 small parsnips, scraped and sliced

1 bay leaf

Brown lamb in a large stewpot, then add onions and sauté.  Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, and simmer for up to 2 hours.  Remove bay leaf before serving.  Juices can be thickened with flour or mashed potato to make gravy, if desired.

***

Tune in again next week.  Same flapper time, same flapper channel.

 

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 Serial – 5: Butternut Squash, Olive Oil, Cracked Black Pepper

Rabbit_Shopping-list_Episode 5Virginia’s own Provincial Lady graciously supplied the three ingredients for fifth installment of our culinary mystery.  Somehow these things took me to what I hope you’ll think is a humorous snippet.

As always, you can do catch-up reading at the serial’s homepage.  Also, to keep the chuckles coming, there is a cute video at the end of this post.

Tune in again next time, when our ingredients come from New Mexico.

And now… Episode-5.

5. Butternut Squash, Olive Oil, Cracked Black Pepper

Cracker the parrot was very excited — either that or she was upset.  I wasn’t sure which.  She seemed to take to the veterinarian, Doc Vale.  Then she fluttered up to Detective Daniels and perched on his shoulder, and I could have sworn she had a vindictive look in her eyes.

I gasped when the bird nipped at Dabney’s ear, leaving an angry looking red mark.  I wondered if she resented him; if seeing him come “home” when her master did not come back caused her to associate the detective with the still unknown man’s absence.Kitchen Maid ad

When Dabney Daniels dislodged the bird she turned over a pitcher of water, which splashed to the blue and white tile floor.  Cracker flapped all around the kitchen, and it seemed like there were colorful wings everywhere.  The detective stumbled backward, knocking Vincent Vale to the floor.  The veterinarian and the detective both slipped several times on the glassy floor as they tried to get back to their feet.

In all the commotion, a canister of cracked black pepper was spilled and everyone took turns sneezing.  Everyone, that is, but the parrot.  I swear she looked smug about it.  Granny Fanny’s eyes bulged at the mess, and then she closed them and counted to ten.  When she opened her eyes, she calmly walked across the kitchen, and uncorked a tall dark green bottle.

I grinned, thinking that must be where Granny kept her hooch.  But I was wrong.  She carried the bottle over to the detective and made to daub some of its contents on the painful looking red mark Cracker left on his ear.  “It’s just olive oil,” she said when he drew away from her.  When the tall detective relaxed, granny reached up and gently rubbed the oil into the inflamed spot.

“There now.  That wasn’t so bad was it?” she chided mildly.  “It’ll reduce the bruising.  It should help it heal faster too.”

Once the parrot calmed down, Doctor Vale gave her a medical examination.  He pronounced Cracker to be in good health.  Then to our astonishment, he said she was about forty years old.  “Parrots live a long time,” he explained.  “They need a serious, long term commitment from their owners.  Cracker,” he said taking my name for the bird, “is a Macaw.  She might live to the ripe old age of 95.”

Young Lucille Ball

Young Lucille Ball

“Applesauce!” I exclaimed.  “She’s already forty, but might still outlive me.”  I scratched the good spot at the back of her head and Cracker leaned into the scratching.

“Paisley Idelle Peabody!” Granny said in a warning voice.  “Don’t think you’re going to keep that nasty bird.  Not in my house!”

Something impish took over me and I couldn’t resist.  I smiled sweetly at my grandmother.  “Of course not, Granny.  I know how you feel about birds.  I’d have to take her back to Florida.”

Silence descended.  Maybe I shouldn’t have said that after all.  I wasn’t really trying to blackmail Granny.  Okay… maybe just a little.  Well jeepers, I certainly had no wish to learn to cook.  She had divulged that part of her reason for demanding that my father send me to her for the cooking lessons — for my sentence in Savannah, was that she needed help with her budding catering business.

To make a bad situation even worse, Cracker flew across the kitchen.  She was probably running away from the glare Granny gave her.  Several vegetables were on the counter for the soup she was about to make.  Cracker lighted on a butternut squash, causing it to roll.  The bird walked the rolling vegetable like a circus performer on a ball.

“Don’t you dare!” Granny Fanny cried.  “That’s dinner!” she added as the squash got precariously close to the edge.

Luckily I caught the squash just as it bowled off the counter.  But I missed the carrots and they rolled across the floor.  It was too much for Granny.  When I looked up, the broom was in her hand and she was chasing the parrot.  Doc Vale tried to calm everyone, but he was waving his arms as if he might start to fly like the agitated avian.  Detective Daniels drew his pistol.  I shrieked, and he seemed to come to his senses.  I think he was actually afraid Cracker would fly in and take another bite out of his ear.  Dabney reluctantly holstered the gun.

Dorothy Sebastian 1920's

Dorothy Sebastian 1920’s

A soft thumping sound accompanied the entrance of Cinnamon Bun, the Flemish Giant Rabbit.  He immediately picked up one of the carrots on the floor and started munching.  The rabbit sat up on his hindquarters and was nearly as tall as the countertop.  The crafty Macaw swooped down and got behind the rabbit.  Cinnamon Bun looked innocently at Granny as his cheeks wriggled with chewing.  Personally I think the bunny and the bird were in cahoots.

Granny was gaga over that bunny.  Her mouth twisted in resistance, but the next thing I knew she was smiling at Cinnamon Bun.  She might even forgive Cracker if the parrot kept the sense to stay on the rabbit’s good side.

***

Fanny’s Butternut Squash Soup

Credit:  Cooking.com

Active Time:  15 Minutes

Total Time:  30 Minutes

Ingredients

6 cups cut up butternut squash

4 cups chicken broth

16 oz. cream cheese

salt and pepper to taste

fresh ground nutmeg

pumpkin seeds for garnish

Directions

Cook squash in chicken stock (add water to cover squash if needed.)  When cooked, puree (this may be done in batches).  Add cream cheese, salt and pepper, and freshly ground nutmeg.  Heat until all mixed through.  Do not boil.

Cracker probably won’t be able to win Granny over enough to allow this, but you never know…

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.

Happy 2014! Three Ingredients Serial – 4: Graham Crackers, Apples, Cream Cheese

Parrot Menu Episode 4 copy

I for one am quite happy to welcome the arrival of 2014.  Did you notice that the new year begins on a new moon?  To me, that makes today very special.  May it bring wonderful new beginnings to all of us.  Happy New Year everyone!

This time our ingredients are from Alexandra of “A Scholarly Skater.”  I hope you’ll check out her blog.  Alexandra’s suggestion of “graham cracker” took my imagination to an unexpected character.  I’m not sure how long she will stick around.  Maybe you’ll have a comment about keeping this character (or not) after you read episode 4 of The Three Ingredients.

There is a how-to video for making graham crackers at the end of this post.  The narrator’s voice “feels like home” to me.  She really does make me think of Granny Fanny! (But of course these characters are strictly the product of my strange imagination and have no relationship to people living or dead, disclaimer disclaimer, disclaimer.)

4.  Graham Crackers, Apples, Cream Cheese

Biscuits Brun ad“Part of being a good cook is learning to work with whatever you have on hand,” Granny Fanny instructed me.  “You have to use your imagination in the kitchen just like you would if you were sewing a quilt or painting a picture.”

I tried not to fidget, and determined to be focused on what she was saying.  I stifled a yawn.  It had been a late night.  To my surprise, Detective Dabney Daniels had offered to let me tag along when he went to investigate the dead man’s hotel room.  I was even more surprised when Granny said it was okay for me to go with him.  Maybe she wasn’t as strict as I expected, letting me go off alone with a man.  But I guessed she knew him pretty well.

1920s Woman Parrot

It was more than just tagging along.  Daniels put me to work making an inventory list of everything in the man’s room.  And I mean every little thing, all the way down to receipts from the diner across the street from the hotel, to various items of trash in the wastebasket.  The detective still wasn’t sure who the man was, but he took some papers from the dresser drawer that he wouldn’t let me see.

The place was in a huge mess, mostly thanks to his pet.  The guy had a big parrot and it had shredded a fruit basket that was on the dresser.  There were bits of apples and other unidentifiable fruit everywhere.  Daniels called the veterinarian to get him to take charge of the bird.  However, the doctor’s wife said he was a good three hours’ drive away, for the birth of a champion thoroughbred’s foal.  So I ended up taking the cranky, loud, messy parrot back home to Granny’s.  At first my grandmother was horrified.  Granny always complained that birds were too messy, so she’d never had so much as a budgie.

“Paisley Idelle Peabody!” Granny said in a borderline tone that snapped me back to what she was doing.  “Now pay attention,” she said then suddenly sighed, stopped, and turned to face me.  “Pip darlin’ you aren’t here just because I convinced your father that you need to learn to be a passable cook.”

Her expression looked a little sad and I was immediately concerned.  “You’re here because I need your help, Pip.  I’ve been doing odd cooking jobs, treats for parties, and things like that.  It’s become a good bit to handle.  Now this hoity-toity family has asked me to cater their kid’s wedding.  I’ve taken on small cooking jobs, but never something that big.  It’s all too much for one person, so I need you to pay attention and learn.”

Granny was the most self-sufficient person I knew.  Her asking for help was a big deal.  I gave her a hug.  “I’m sorry Granny.  I’d be pleased to help you.  I promise to listen better.”

The words made her smile and she set about half a dozen items on the counter.  “Now, what would you make from these things?” she asked, and I thought so hard it felt like my head would explode.

“Come on now.  Don’t fret.  Just relax and think about it.  You have cream cheese, pepper jelly, graham crackers, a lemon, and an apple,” Granny said encouragingly.

“Well,” I began.  “I could just eat the graham crackers,” I caught her glare and desperately added to that idea.  “Okay the graham crackers —” I started to say but was interrupted by the afore mentioned avian.

“Cracker-cracker-cracker!” the parrot flew into the kitchen screeching.  It perched on the back of a chair bobbing its head up and down in a comical way.  “Cracker!” it repeated with emphasis.

I handed her a cracker, and the parrot made short work of it.  “Cracker…” it said softly that time and rubbed its head against my arm.

1924 Liberty-apple“Pip, I told you to put that nasty bird in its cage,” Granny said.

“I did, Granny.  But she knows how to open it,” I defended while I scratched the bird’s head.  “Poor thing.  She must have been scared to death when her master didn’t come home.  The Doc said they’re real smart.  I haven’t heard her say anything but cracker.  Have you?” I asked and my grandmother shook her head.  “I wonder if she’s traumatized?” I added.

My grandmother snorted at that idea.  But the wily bird looked at Granny and gave a wolf whistle.  Granny Fanny finally laughed and gave the parrot a piece of apple.  “It’s too bad she can’t tell us who her master was.  Back to work now.  What were you about to do with the graham cr — With those things right there,” she asked, apparently hoping the bird would stay quiet if she avoided using the word cracker.

I laughed.  “Maybe that’s her name.  Cra —”

“Shush Pip,” Granny interrupted in a whisper.

“Ha!  Okay.  Ummm… they’d be better with some cream cheese on them.”

She looked at me patiently then raised her eyebrows.  “Uh…  I could slice that apple and rub it with lemon juice so it doesn’t turn brown.  It would be good alongside the cream cheese spread graham crackers.  But I’m sorry Granny.  I can’t imagine how the pepper jelly works in with this.”

“Very good Pip.  Very good indeed.  It’d make a right nice snack to go with a cup of tea,” she said, and I couldn’t help smiling.  “This pepper jelly is actually really nice blended with the cream cheese.”1920 Home Journal Parrot

I handed Cracker a slice of apple and started trying to coax other words out of her.  I had the crazy idea that she might say something that would help us figure out who her late owner was.  However, I was interrupted by a knock at the front door.  Granny called out, “Come on in, we’re in the kitchen!”

A moment later Detective Daniels walked in with a man carrying a medical bag.  “I brought Doc Vale to give the bird a check-up,” he said and introduced me to Dr. Vincent Vale.

Cracker eyed the men and bobbed her head.  She made a cooing sound and then another wolf whistle.  “Hey baby!  Who’s your daddy?” the parrot wriggled her tail feathers and asked our visitors.

I thought Granny would faint.

******

Homemade Graham Crackers

Video

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

 

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Three Ingredients Serial – 3: Chocolate, Cinnamon, Blueberries

Rabbit Flapper mag

Every time I see the photos on Maureen’s blog, kiwissoar, I am completely charmed.  So when she sent three ingredients, I just had to find some kind of video that related an ingredient to New Zealand.  Luck was with me and not only did I find a video about New Zealand and blueberries, but it is partly about an American woman as well.  Now how’s that for pulling things together? It’s at the end of this post.  Thank you Maureen for the ingredients!

Next time, the set of ingredients (episode 4) will be from Alexandra of “A Scholarly Skater.”  So stay tuned for those.  Remember you can do catch up reading at the serial’s homepage.

And now, episode three with ingredients from New Zealand.  Bon appétit!

3  Chocolate, Cinnamon, Blueberries

Rabbit_Shopping-list_Episode 3As I stood up, I wiped chocolate from my mouth — I wasn’t so startled that I couldn’t appreciate that last bite of fudge!  I opened the kitchen door, and darn if Granny (mandolin blade still held threateningly) didn’t get over the threshold ahead of me.  A glance at that blade reminded me to stay on her good side.

The cottage had a wraparound porch that made the little house look a bit larger than it actually was.  I followed Granny out onto the porch.  Beside the kitchen door were two rocking chairs, a small table, and a tall metal cabinet.  Atop the cabinet were several potted herbs.  The rocker nearest the cabinet was overturned.  Underneath the other rocker I saw a set of reddish, furry hindquarters.

Cinnamon Bun!  What have I told you about those herbs?” Granny Fanny admonished, shaking a finger at the fuzzy posterior as it backed out from under the chair.

“Holy Hannah!” I cried.  I had been expecting a dog, but this was a rabbit.  It was as big as a dog; it had to be 30 inches long!  “What…  Where did you get that thing?”

Granny chuckled and hugged the oversized bunny, putting her face against its obviously soft fur.  “You naughty old bun,” she scolded the rabbit.  “The veterinarian gave him to me.  Doc Vale found him one day.  Called him a Flemish Giant Rabbit.  He said he never found out who owned the poor thing.  So Doc fixed him so he wouldn’t go around doing what rabbits do best, you know, making more rabbits.”Carot seed pkt

“And the vet ‘fixed’ it so he couldn’t…?  Applesauce, that sounds horribly painful,” I said.

“Doc says it wasn’t.  Doc Vale has all sorts of unusual training.  Things you don’t hear much about, like chiropractic — what he calls ‘noninvasive techniques.’  And he knows acupuncture.  He says sometimes he can use acupuncture instead of using dangerous things to make the patient sleep.  He said the ole bun didn’t have anything hurt but his pride.”

She fussed at the rabbit some more.  “Naughty bun.  I was afraid I’d never see you again.”  Then she looked over at me and added, “He got out of the fence and I couldn’t find him last night.”

I bent down to peer at the giant rabbit.  He had a bit of green stuck in his whiskers and I cautiously removed it.  “It looks like he’s gotten into your herbs,” I said.  I stood and looked up at the pots on top of the cabinet.  None of them contained what I had plucked from the rabbit — cilantro.  “Granny do you grow cilantro?”

“Not this year,” she answered, and then continued her story without missing a beat.  “I was so taken with Cinnamon Bun that I took him in.  He’s a sweet ole thing, and usually no trouble.  But he’s always trying to get to my herbs.  Thank goodness he hasn’t figured out how to get into the greenhouse.”

Photo credit yesterdish.com; See printed recipe at end of post.

Photo credit yesterdish.com; See printed recipe at end of this post.

“And that’s what you named him?  Cinnamon Bun?” I pondered.  “Okay, I guess his fur is about the color of cinnamon and ‘bun’ because he’s a bunny.”

A man called out to us as he walked around the corner of the cottage.  He wore a badge pinned to his lapel.  “Are you ladies okay?” he asked.  “I heard a commotion as I was coming toward the front door, so I headed on back here.  Oh, I see.  Cinnamon at it again?  I thought I got that fence fixed for you so he couldn’t get loose.”

“Oh you can’t keep a rabbit in a fence if he really decides to get out,” Granny said.  “It’s awful kind of you to help me with that sort of thing, Dabney.  Don’t think it’s not appreciated,” she said, but seemed to realize it was not a social call.  “What brings you, Detective Daniels?  Won’t you come inside?” Granny asked.

A moment later the three of us were sitting at the kitchen table drinking tea.  Granny set a large portion of fudge in front of the detective.  I looked at it mournfully as the copper popped a scrumptious square into his mouth.

The detective had been making a list of everyone who was at the Bijou when the man died.  I thought the guy had been bumped off, but nobody had used the word “murder” yet.  The police were investigating because no one seemed to know who the man was.  Granny asked if it had been a heart attack, since his death was sudden.

“The medical examiner said he choked.  They took a couple of blueberries from his windpipe,” Daniels said, but he sounded doubtful.

English: First blueberries of the season.

English: First blueberries of the season. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Dabney,” Granny began in an apologetic tone.  “I don’t think he would have died from choking on a blueberry.”

“Miss Fanny, to be honest I don’t think so either,” the detective said as he took a sip of tea.  He made an appreciative sound as he set the cup of Darjeeling on the table.  “But they can’t find anything wrong with him.  Except of course for being dead.”

I kept thinking about the cilantro on the man’s shoes.  It still made me feel foolish, but there was just something hinky about it.  Since I already felt like a sap for wondering, I asked in a roundabout way.  “Was there anything… strange about him?  I mean odd things on his body or in his pockets, or maybe his shoes?”

Dabney Daniels, Savannah Police detective had the nerve to laugh at me!  I glared at him.  “Well, was there?” I demanded, my cheeks heating.

He chuckled again and looked at Granny.  “She’s definitely your granddaughter.”  Then he turned to me and apologized.  “No ma’am.  I wasn’t at the scene, but I haven’t been told of any odd circumstances.”1920s flapper thinking

I was silent for a moment, trying to decide whether or not he was being condescending.  He eyed me closely and then looked down at a list on a sheet of paper.  “You were there, weren’t you, young lady?  I gather you saw something that didn’t seem right to you.”

He was going to think I was silly, I knew.  With a sigh I placed the cilantro I took from Cinnamon Bun’s whiskers on the table and pointed.  “There were bits of cilantro all over his shoes.  He must have been some place where somebody was using a lot of cilantro right before he came to the theatre.  Right before he died.”

I got the patronizing reaction I expected…

***

Blueberry farming video

Recipe from a 1920 edition of the Swayzee (Indiana) Press, advertising Royal Baking Powder.

Fanny’s Royal Cinnamon Buns

Ingredients

2 ¼ cup flour

4 t Royal Baking Powder

1 t salt

2 T shortening

1 egg

½ cup water

½ cup sugar

2 T cinnamon

4 T seeded raisins

Sift 2 tablespoons of measured sugar with flour, salt, and baking powder. Rub shortening in lightly. Add beaten egg to water and add slowly. Roll out 1/3rd inch thick on floured board. Brush with melted butter; sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, and raisins. Roll as for jelly roll; cut into 1 ½ inch pieces. Place with cut edges up on well greased pan. Sprinkle with a little sugar and cinnamon  Bake in moderate oven 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from pan at once.

***

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

 

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.