Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 4

A Flight of Fancy

Laura Locoul Gore (Dupree Family)

Laura Locoul Gore (Dupree Family)

Welcome. I invite you to come with me on a flight of fancy, somewhere in the late Victorian Era.

I’ve done all sorts of things in my life — nothing glamorous. There are also a lot of things I’ve never done. This is not a “bucket list” ramble, but one of those never-done things is Mardi Gras. In the USA, Mardi Gras is just around the corner. I’ve never been to that type of carnival.

I don’t think I want to be in the middle of that big crowd, but I do appreciate the spontaneous vibe of the celebration. And a virtual celebration seems like a great way to lift the spirits!  So I’m giving a nod to Mardi Gras with the images for this episode — and maybe next week too, since that’s closer to the carnival date.

Enough of my thoughts — back to the serial.  Remember, everyone is welcome to send three random “things” or food-related things (“ingredients”) to drive the story.  Please keep in mind that earlier things gave the story a setting in the late 1800’s.  So try not to send anything that didn’t exist back then.

Andrea Stephenson at Harvesting Hecate, Thoughts on life, writing, creativity and magic  sent the things/ingredients for Episode-4.  I sincerely admire her writing.  Andrea’s blog is stunningly well crafted.  Her writing style has what I would describe as an easy grace.  There’s something comforting to me about the way she uses language.  Her words and topics resonate with me.  Pay a visit to her blog.  I think you’ll enjoy yourself.

Orpheus Smoky Mary float Mardi Gras

Orpheus Smoky Mary, Mardi Gras

Andrea’s ingredient (food-related thing) was pease pudding. That sent me on an adventure!  I searched the WordPress countryside and found a truly entertaining cooking blog – Two Fat Vegetarians.  I enjoyed their presentation of pease pudding. You’ll find it at the end of this episode. Check it out.

A last nod to Mardi Gras, is inspired by Chris the Story Reading Ape. You’ll have to read to the end of the episode to find it.  Be sure to look for fun links along the way. Some are in images others are in the text.

Let’s get this steam locomotive back on track. Laissez les bons temps rouler!  Here’s Episode-4.

Artist’s Palette, Pease Pudding, Owl-Shaped Lamp

The hand of a heavenly painter colored the evening sky, dipping the brush in an artist’s palette of pink, orange, and gold.  Squinting in the fading light, I wondered if doing so would give me wrinkles as everyone claimed.  I didn’t particularly care.  What was a face without a bit of character?

I lifted the skirt of my dark green and cream striped gown as I picked my way through the barn, wishing I had brought a pair of trousers with me.  As I squeezed between the wall and a work table, a space I should have been able to navigate with ease, the wretched bustle got caught.  Carefully, I extricated myself.

Spooky Victorian in VeilThe barn was empty of life, except perhaps for a few mice.  It was easy to see that the horses had been gone for a while, evidence of the financial problem Cornelis uncovered.  Surely Hixon kept at least one for his own transportation, I thought.  Had he left on horseback then?  Was he abducted?  I came full circle to the first question I faced when I came to the estate – who was the dead man in the study?

Since I had no idea what I was looking for, my intention had been to search the storage building and barn for anything that didn’t belong.  However, Calvin Hixon was a man of extraordinary interests and tastes.  Not belonging was a description that could be applied to nearly everything he owned.  I supposed that made all the strange articles and artifacts actually belong, in that way.

Secretly I thought it would have been better if Cornelis had sorted through all the oddities in the outbuildings.  The alchemist had remarkably broad knowledge of such things.  However, Cornelis would have taken days with the task, getting consumed as he looked at each object.  So it was just as well left to me.

I searched the barn and the larger storage building.  There was another shed on the opposite side of the grounds.  I had not inspected it yet.  So far I had seen many interesting, if unexplainable, gadgets and oddments, but nothing that gave me a clue as to what was going on.  At least I found a stash of canning jars — and some containing food.  In the dim light they looked unspoiled.  The hungry girl had eaten everything I brought earlier, and I hadn’t seen much else in the larder except some dried peas.  I put the jars in a burlap sack and hefted it over my shoulder.

The food was welcome, as it was unlikely that I would spend any time at the Belle Inn when I went back for my things.  No matter what the obstacles, I had to return to the inn to get my hatbox.  I couldn’t leave the area without the hatbox.  It contained the skull of Cornelis Drebbel.

1903 Mardi Gras manLeaving the barn, I gazed in concern at the beautiful sunset.  How much time did we have?  Sheriff Alvin Bullard was going to send someone to attend to the body of the still unknown man.  As he left he indicated that might take a bit of time, but how much?  A few hours?  A few days?  To my knowledge, there was no doctor in residence in the little town.  The veterinarian was half a day’s ride away.  Perhaps they used him as the coroner.

With a sigh I headed back to the main house.  I walked through the rolling lawn to the back of the house and its broad covered porch.  I recalled that the child, Copper, had been out at play somewhere.  When she returned home she found her father gone and the stranger at his desk in that most unfortunate condition.  That was all Copper knew.

My heart lurched for an instant when I heard Copper’s shrill cry.  However, the exclamation became a gale of giggles.  While it was the last thing I could imagine happening, Cornelis Drebbel took a liking to the child.  The Dutchman was supposed to be investigating the sprawling manor while I looked through the outbuildings.  I began to wonder if the entire time he and Copper had been playing whatever spontaneous games the girl invented.

When I opened the kitchen door my nose met a shocking smell.  I was stunned because the aroma was delicious.  “Cornelis?” was all I could manage.  I was at a loss for words.

Masked Victorian GirlsThe kitchen still looked like a battleground for Armageddon, but the smell was tantalizing.  The Dutchman had a smug look on his face.  He gave the tip of his pointed beard a twist as he smirked.  “Haven’t I always told you I was a good cook?  Yet you never believed me,” he said and gave a sly glance at Copper who giggled again.

“I didn’t think there was any food to cook,” I said, trying to ignore the alchemist’s self-satisfied behavior.  “Admittedly it smells good.  What did you manage to make?” I asked.

He removed the lid from the pot to display a perfect pease pudding.  Then I remembered seeing the uncooked peas the first time I entered the horrifying mess of the kitchen.

“But we don’t have any bread to spread it on,” Copper said in a disappointed tone, but she quickly cheered when Cornelis waved the pot’s lid to push more of the aroma to her nose.  “All we need is a spoon,” she decided with a grin.

“Oh, but my dear, you are mistaken,” Cornelis told Copper.

Judging by the disorder, Copper had looked through every inch of the kitchen in search of food.  It was no wonder she looked surprised by his words.  The Dutchman pointed to a wooden breadbox atop one of the cabinets.  It was a little out of my reach, but I spotted a small stool in a corner.  I had the box in hand in no time.

1891 Masquerade dance card“Always,” Cornelis began and held up one finger to emphasize.  “When searching for something, always remember to look above your normal line of sight,” he told Copper.

“It’s stale,” she said in disappointment when I opened the breadbox.

“It’s not so bad that we can’t make toast from it,” I told Copper and her eyes lit up.

A short time later we were all happily stuffed with pease pudding and toast.  I asked Cornelis if he had found anything interesting while searching the house.  Or if he found anything that gave a clue to what might have happened to Copper’s father. Or that business of the letter from Alexander Graham Bell and the bizarre hydrofoil contraption.

Cornelis gave the back of my hand a sharp tap with one finger.  It gave an unpleasant static shock when he did that.  He refused to tell me how it was done.  However, it might have been one of the extraordinary things he was able to do after that accident of alchemy left him in his current state.  At any rate, he meant to remind me to think before I spoke.  I made a poor choice when asking about Copper’s father in the child’s presence.

“I mean a clue to where he might have gone,” I stammered, trying to backtrack.  However, the child was more concerned about getting the last bit of her pease pudding onto the remaining toast.

“What could possibly be more interesting than that wonderful Wurlitzer organ in the back parlor?” Cornelis exclaimed.  “It’s no ordinary musical instrument, you know.  It’s perfectly keyed to the harmonic tuner you found at the Belle Inn.  Why, there’s no telling what the two could do when used together.  If only I had the second harmonic tuner,” he said wistfully.

“The second one?  Do you mean there is another of those odd sounding little bells?” I asked.

Mardi Gras King, Dave Hennan, March 7, 1905

Mardi Gras King, Dave Hennan, 1905

“Naturally my dear.  Harmonic tuners are always made in pairs.  A single one will do remarkable things, but the pair together – and in combination with a harmonic amplifier like that very special Wurlitzer.  Why there’s no telling what could be done!” he said with enthusiasm.

I was never sure when Cornelis was onto something that held importance to a situation, or if he was being carried away by passion for his wild ideas and inventions.  Clearly the organ was something exceptional, but was it relevant?

“We found this too!” Copper cried, happy to be able to contribute.

Cornelis had that self-satisfied expression again.  I knew he had been holding back.  Copper got up and ran to a table in the corner.  Amid the clutter I had not noticed the addition of an object.  She picked it up carefully and brought it over to me.

“What have we here?” I said and for the girl’s sake I showed much more interest than I felt.

“It’s a lamp.  It’s supposed to look like an owl,” she said.

“Well, it’s certainly a curiosity,” I commented.  “It looks like it’s carved from some sort of rough mineral,” I added.

“It’s salt — Himalayan salt,” Copper told me.  “Daddy said it is special salt and when it gets warm, it gives off healthful vapors.”

1800 Mardi Gras Queen

1800 Mardi Gras Queen

My interest grew as I examined the unusual piece.  The Dutchman murmured something I didn’t quite hear in his usual droll tone.

“It’s even more interesting if you turn it over,” Cornelis repeated pointedly.

When I upended the owl-shaped lamp, I found an opening.  Some very old documents were tightly rolled and inserted into the lamp.

I was about to pull the ancient papers out of the lamp’s cavity when I heard a door bang open.  My immediate thought was that the coroner had already arrived.  However, it had been an interior door.  The sound came from the direction of the study, unless of course it actually was from the study.  The crash of the door was followed by strange sounds that steadily drew closer.  Thump-drag.  Thump-drag.  Thump-drag…

An earsplitting screech preceded a cacophony of similar sounds.  Scrabbling feet and overturning furniture followed.  The front door slammed open so hard the stained glass window rattled.  I looked at my companions.  Copper seemed curious but not alarmed as she ran her finger around the pot, getting the last bit of pease pudding.  Cornelis Drebble returned my questioning gaze with wide eyes and a knitted brow.

I dashed to the door and looked into the hallway.  I heard Cornelis depart with a pop.  The first thing I saw was the open door to the study, where the unknown cadaver had been left, sitting at the desk where we’d found him.  A table in the hallway was overturned, breaking a vase that held flowers.  The front door stood wide open.  I saw movement at the porch stairs, so I hurried to the door.

1857 Mardi Gras Mistick Krewe of ComusThree very large chimpanzees were in the process of dragging the corpse away.  I stood in mystified, shocked silence.  With a loud pop, Cornelis appeared at the foot of the stairs.

“What the bloody…” he began.  “Stop!  You lot!  Stop that this instant!” Cornelis ranted at the chimpanzees.

They stopped and looked quizzically at the alchemist.  One scratched its head.  They chattered briefly to one another.

“Now put that back where you found it!” Cornelis demanded regarding the body.  “This instant!” he added.

It looked as though the chimps might actually do as he said.  The alchemist dashed to the top of the stairs and motioned to the chimpanzees.  He certainly had their attention.  Cornelis switched to an encouraging tone.

Victorian Chimp sailor suit“Yes, bring it back up here.  Yes, you understand, I know you do.  Come on.  Back up the stairs,” he said and began cajoling the apes.

One of them took hold of the body’s foot and started pulling it back up the stairs.  It looked like the other two might follow suit.  Then a horrible shrill screech sounded right behind me.  Something bounded into me.  It knocked me down and my head banged against the doorframe.  A fast moving blur of fur hurtled past me and launched into the Dutchman, sending him tumbling down the stairs.

I heard a flat sounding pop, and Cornelis was gone.  I had only heard that particular sound one time before, and that time the alchemist had been seriously harmed.  It seemed that I was about to become insensible as well.  My legs wouldn’t hold me when I tried to stand.  When I touched my temple my fingers encountered blood.

Falling again to my hands and knees I saw the fourth chimp join the other three.  While the porch floor seemed to spin, I watched as the furry quartet danced a jig.  Then the naughty chimps dragged the unknown dead man away.  The whole world swayed and went dark as one chimp gave a parting screech.

Naughty Chimps

***

The mysterious woman in trousers is out cold.  She found the “flat sounding pop” with which Cornelis Drebbel vanished disturbing.  So what happened to the alchemist?  You’re invited back next weekend when Sally Georgina Cronin at “Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life” provides the things and ingredients — and the recipe too.

Here’s this week’s promised culinary delight, and featured cooking blog.  Be sure to check out “Two Fat Vegetarians.”

Recipe:  Pease Pudding

https://twofatvegetarians.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/recipe-pease-pudding/

Pease Pudding Episode 4

Photo and Recipe Credit:  Two Fat Vegetarians

 

 

Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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Three Ingredients II – 13: Chickpeas, Winkles, Rice Pudding

2 Flappers Pug Motorcycle SidecarOne of the ingredients for Episode-11, red currants, caused me to add a merman to our serial.  Later I had the thought that Andrea Stephenson might like that character. You see, she has written about mythical water beings like selkies.

So I am very pleased to tell you that the ingredients for this episode are from the marvelous magical mind of Andrea Stephenson at Harvesting Hecate: Thoughts on life, writing, creativity and magic.  Andrea’s blog is captivating. Charming and well written, it covers a wide range of things in a very organized, easy to navigate way. I always enjoy my visits there.

Last time we all wondered about the mysterious relationship between Daisy and Mattie Maddox. Will anything be revealed?  What turn will the “spooky ingredient” cause the story to take? Most importantly, we left Pip with Granny Fanny very angry, and exclaiming that she was sending our flapper back to live with her father!  Granny is a formidable woman and Pip has been through an awful ordeal.  What will Pip do?  Find out now.  Bon appétit!

 

13.  Chickpeas, Winkles, Rice Pudding

With Unnatural Cold

In the past twenty-four hours I had fallen overboard from a ferry, nearly drowned, been kissed by a merman, rescued by a ghost-rider (on a giant seahorse no less), and reduced to wearing a borrowed old-lady dress.  Add Granny Fanny’s eloquent outrage — and mind you Granny ranting on her soapbox could strike terror in the heart of a revival preacher…  I refuse to accept the label of emotional young girl, but hoserfeathers!  It was more than even a flapper could take.

1920s Buster Keaton sad

Buster Keaton, 1920’s

Andy Avis, my old friend gave me a sheepish glance and prudently retreated behind Vicar Vance Varley.  Good ole Andy wasn’t going to be any help.  Not that I could blame him.  Granny Fanny in a tirade was enough to frighten any man.  However, I couldn’t help feeling a little betrayed when my friend looked away without saying a word in my defense.

The thought flashed into my distraught mind and I wondered if that was why our friend Mona “the movie star” was never interested in Andy, despite the torch he carried for her.  I remembered the time, back at the building where I lived with all my friends.  Boris’ apartment was burglarized.  The Russian had a painful limp from a bad injury that ended his ballet career, but he charged after the burglar nonetheless.  When Andy and Mona arrived a moment later, Andy went after Boris and the thief.  But he hesitated noticeably, even though Boris had a head start and would catch up with the man first.  Andy wanted to impress Mona, so he gave chase, even though he was afraid.

At the time I had thought the fact that Andy rose above that fear made his action truly courageous.  However, as I stood outside the church on Tybee Island, with my grandmother ranting at me, I wondered if I had been right.  Mona never said an unkind word about Andy, but did she see something in him I had missed?  Something that told her Andy was a wuss?

man_ray_tearsAnybody would have thought Andy Avis didn’t even know me.  Unconsciously I stretched my hand toward him, but he studiously did not look at me.  I burst into tears, turned on my heel and ran.

I wasn’t paying any attention to where I was going.  The sound of the double doors closing behind me and cool air against my face told the functioning part of my brain that I had gone inside the church.  But I didn’t stop there.  I ran straight through the sanctuary and out the back door.

My shoes were still wet from my dunk in the Atlantic, and my feet slid around inside them as I ran tearfully through a carefully laid out garden.  My kitten-heels clicked on the brick pavers.  Shrubs, flowers and statues outlined the curving path.  Mulch surrounded colorful impatiens that circled the base of an ancient oak tree.  Tiny beige gravel that looked like Pink Pampas Grasschickpeas bordered a row of sculpted planters.  I pushed my way through ornamental grasses, some of which were taller than me.  Pink pampas and fountaingrass whispered drily at my passage as if accusing me.

Accusing me of what?  I hadn’t done anything, yet even the grass criticized me.

Then I was alone on a stretch of beach.  One of my shoes caught in the sand.  I stumbled when it came off my foot.  Not stopping, I kicked off the other shoe and continued my flight barefooted.  I saw a sand dune ahead, crowned by swaying cattails.  There was no clear way around it, so I just kept going.  I skirted the cattails and mostly slid down the other side of the dune.  The sound of waves lapping against the shore met my ears.  The ocean was about a hundred yards away.

I slowed to a staggering walk as I approached the sore.  Several large boulders dotted a haphazard path out into the Atlantic, and my feet moved toward them.  Sunlight shimmered in a small tide pool.  Little shells that were broadly ovate and sharply pointed were abundant in the pool.  Some of them crawled.  Winkles.  The sea snails moved as they fed on algae and barnacle larvae.

In the distance I heard a slap, like a large fish hitting the water.  I glanced out to sea and wondered if it might even be a dolphin.  However, it was too near the shore for a dolphin, unless the ocean floor dropped off sharply near those big rocks.  Some parts of the shore did that.  It could be dangerous for beachgoers.

A sunbeam glinted off one of the shells, and I stood and looked at the winkles.  My racing 1920s La Vie Parisienne Mermaid by hérouardthoughts gradually slowed as I watched the measured movements of the sea snails.  There was something almost hypnotic about it.  The salt breeze brought a snatch of song to my ears.  Or was it an instrument, rather than a voice?  The slow cadence matched the movements of the winkles and it soothed my troubled mind.

The music became more insistent.  The melody pulled me closer to the shore.  I wandered aimlessly, letting my feet choose the way.  I climbed onto the rocky path made by the boulders.  Perhaps mankind had lent a hand, because they were arranged in a way that made it easy to skip along from one to the next as they stretched out into the ocean.  The sun soaked rocks were comfortingly warm against my bare feet, and I skipped to the furthest one.

I sat down and dangled my feet from the rock.  The ocean didn’t reach that high except when a wave came in, but now and then the sea spray misted my toes.  I heard another big splash, followed by the sound of something large surging up from the water.

Abruptly the bright green eyes of the merman were locked with mine.  His long pale green hair tickled my shoulder as he leaned in and kissed me.

Now I want you to know that while I wasn’t a prude, neither was I in the habit necking with strangers.  No matter how exotically beautiful they might be… and the merman truly was stunning, both graceful and virile, and handsome as Valentino.  At the time I didn’t realize that he had an innate hypnotic ability.  He could lull the mind without 1925 Review Ad; butterfly kisshaving any intention of doing so.

So I kissed him back.  Come on… what else would a flapper do?  And I kissed him again.  His arm dropped from my shoulders to my hips as he wordlessly urged me to go back to the ocean with him.  I wondered foggily how I could understand him so well when he didn’t speak a word.

A large wave crashed against the rock, splashing both of us.  He smiled and I relaxed against him.  His arm around my hips held me tighter.  Then an unnatural cold touched the back of my neck and I shivered.  He mistook it for pleasure and his bright green eyes started to glow in response.  I didn’t pay any attention to a tiny pop-fizz noise that blended into the sound of the waves caressing the boulder.

“I remember this place. A few times I came out here to think,” Daisy said.

1920s face

The ghost woman appeared on the other side of me, and I pulled away from the merman’s kiss, turning to her in surprise.

“But I became too weak to hop across the rocks,” she added as if she described a distant memory.

The merman’s eyes widened when he saw the spirit.  He snarled then hissed.  There wasn’t so much as a splash as he dove into the ocean, cleanly cutting the water like a knife.  A broad green tailfin broached the surface and gave the water an angry slap.  Daisy looked at it with a derisive expression.

“Merfolk don’t cotton much to ghosts,” she said, her southern accent took on more of a rural 1920s Seaside Postcard Flapperedge than usual.

After I thought about it, I realized that Daisy had more of an accent when she spoke of times before her marriage.  I supposed that being around different people, hearing different ways of speaking caused her country manner to fade.

“After that… that place,” she said, sounding more her sophisticated self.  “I was hurt, bleeding.  Somebody brought me here.  I think it was Henry.  Yes,” she exclaimed as part of the memory became clear to her.  “My husband brought me here after that horrible hospital.  But I didn’t get better, and he went back to Savannah.  He came often, but I kept getting weaker.  I wasn’t able to be vivacious enough to make him stay,” she spoke softly and I could hear the self-blame in her tone.

What hospital, I wondered.  I thought whatever the horrid thing was that Daisy couldn’t remember had happened at the abandoned warehouse.  Then I remembered Andy’s title research on the building showed that it had been used as some sort of hospital at one time, during a war.  It was possible that it had some medical purpose again later.

A newer puzzle came to me.  “Daisy,” I began but wasn’t sure how to phrase the question.  “The old woman on the beach?  Mattie Maddox?  You stood behind her on the beach last night and you seemed very unhappy.  Did you know her?”

1916 Norma and Constance Talmadge

1916 Norma and Constance Talmadge, film stars

Daisy looked at me uncomprehendingly for a second.  Finally she seemed to remember the moment. “Oh yes, that woman. She seemed familiar to me.  Mattie, you say?  Mattie was the name of my personal maid!  Could that old woman have been my Mattie?  I believe you’re right Pip!”

“You seemed sad, maybe even angry when you looked at her,” I said rather cautiously.  “You had such a frown when you watched her.  Did Mattie do something to you?  Was she part of the horrible thing that happened?”

“Yes,” Daisy said then stopped.  “No.  No, she wasn’t part of it, I don’t think,” the spirit stammered.  “No, Mattie took care of me afterward.  I remember now.  Mattie stayed.  She refused to leave my side, even when Henry had to go back to town.  Why, her fiancé broke off their betrothal because she wouldn’t go back to Savannah.  I was so hurt for her sake.  I was upset with her too.  I felt she was ruining her life, to take care of me,” Daisy said sadly.

“I felt like Mattie was my only friend then.  I was too weak to go out and do much.  I remember that I lost a lot of blood, and there was infection…  But Mattie was always there.  She’d take me in a wheelchair outside into the pretty garden.  There were beautiful roses.  One day she upset everybody by planting daisies amid those prize roses.  She said that I was as fine and good as any rose.  Kind Mattie — she knew I never thought as highly of myself as I should.  And she’d even get the kitchen staff to make my favorite rice pudding.  She made sure I had it whenever I wanted.  But I suppose I reached a point where I wouldn’t eat much of anything,” Daisy told me.

I felt like I had pieces of a puzzle spread out around me.  It seemed like the parts of it should fit together, but they just weren’t quite right, they wouldn’t lock into place.  I tried to sort through all the things we had learned about Daisy and the warehouse.1916 Hart Schaffner ad

My jumbled thoughts centered on that big old photograph back at the Kingston mansion — the one of all the young men.  Daisy had made it clear that it held important information, even if she couldn’t say what it was.  Andy and I figured out that two of the boys were the Binghamton brothers.  One of whom owned the Bijou theatre, and the other became a high ranking bishop.  But who were the others?  The photo was of a large group and as far as I could remember it was mostly boys of about the same age.  There might have been a couple of older men.  If only I could remember all the faces.  Suddenly inspiration struck.

“Daisy, I know you can’t remember what happened to you.  And it’s okay that you don’t understand why the photograph you showed me is important,” I said.  “But can you remember the photo itself?  It was obviously a special occasion.  Can you tell me who was in it?” I asked imploringly.

Her eyes took on an unfocused look as she dredged up the memory.  Daisy jumped as if startled.  I asked what was wrong and she gave a rueful chuckle.

Vintage Tuxedo ad“I just remembered the big flash when the photograph was taken,” she answered.  “Yes, Pip.  I remember the picture now.  All those boys.  Of course Henry’s son was in it the photograph, and the Binghamton brothers.  Those three were thick as thieves.  Bradley was a nice enough boy. But that Byron — I just didn’t feel right about that boy.  He was so self-centered.  I was afraid he’d be a bad influence on young Henry.  I hate to say it, but my stepson had a tendency to be greedy,” Daisy remembered.

“Anyhow, it was a sort of mentoring group for future businessmen.  Henry and his friend Alastair coached all those boys along with their regular schooling, grooming them to be Savannah’s future, as Henry liked to say.  My Henry had the photograph taken after all the boys graduated from school.”

“His friend Alastair?” I asked as something tickled at the back of my mind.

It wasn’t a name I heard often.  The only Alastair I knew was my friend whose family owned Wong’s Chinese.  Granny was dog sitting their little pug while most of the family was on vacation in California.  Then I remembered Granny Fanny saying the words “Alastair the elder.”

My thoughts returned to Granny’s cottage and a time not too long ago (Cookbook-1, Episode-2) when she talked about her tea set.  Granny had given me a downright wicked, Grannys teacupmischievous smile and even wriggled her eyebrows.  Then her expression turned fond and she chuckled as she told me how she came to have the set.

“They were a gift — when I was a very young woman.  They were actually from Mrs. Wong’s grandfather,” Granny Fanny had told me.  “He was a widower.  Yes, he was interested in me.  Oh Pip, are you surprised that a man besides Grandpa was interested in your Granny?” she’d said with a smile.  “If ever I was going to be attracted to an older man, it would have been Alastair Wong the elder.  He was a fine man.”

I tried to remember seeing an Asian man in the old picture.  But the faces were all so small that nothing stirred in my memory.  However, I did remember an odd shape about one man.  I had thought maybe it was a flaw in the photo.  Yet as I concentrated I realized it was a thing, not a defect.

“So Alastair’s great-grandfather was in the picture,” I voiced the thought.  “Which one was he, Daisy?”

“Oh, that’s easy,” the ghost said with a smile.  “He’s the one with the parrot on his shoulder.”

chatelaine_1928 Feb

***

Recipe:  Creamy Rice Pudding with Brandied Cherry Sauce

Rice pudding

Recipe and Photo Credit:  Betty Crocker.com

Prep time:  15 mins

Total time:  4 hours, 20 mins

Servings:  8

Ingredients

Rice Pudding

4 cups milk

¾ cup uncooked regular long-grain rice

1/3 cup sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup whipping (heavy) cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Brandied Cherry Sauce

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

¼ cup orange juice

1 ½ cups frozen unsweetened tart red cherries (from 1-lb bag)

2 tablespoons brandy or orange juice

Directions

  1. In a 2-quart saucepan, heat milk, rice, 1/3 cup sugar and the salt to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered 40 to 45 minutes, stirring frequently, until rice is tender and mixture is thickened.

  2.  Stir a small amount of the hot rice mixture into eggs, then stir eggs back into mixture in saucepan. Continue cooking over medium heat about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until heated through. Cool for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. In chilled large serving bowl, beat whipping cream and vanilla with electric mixer on high speed until thickened. Fold in cooled rice mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours until well chilled.

  4. In a 1-quart saucepan, mix 1/2 cup sugar and the cornstarch. Stir in orange juice and frozen cherries. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture boils and thickens slightly.  Stir in brandy. Serve sauce warm or chilled with pudding.

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 Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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