Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 31

Three Things & Three Blogs

I hesitated to ask for more “things” to fuel the steam locomotive to the Victorian Era, because the serial is nearing the end of the line.  What if I got more things than I could use?  I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.  However, I still had to have the three things.  So as a way of showing my appreciation for your comments, I took one word from the blog names of the first three commenters on Episode 30!  (I was rather pleased with that idea, if I say so myself.)

So we have (drumroll please)…

3 locomotives

 

(Content removed.)

Kitchen from Suzanne at A Pug in the Kitchen, Good Food with Simple Ingredients http://apuginthekitchen.com/

It’s a rather noisy episode. I didn’t even hear the locomotive pull up to the platform.  However, I see the conductor waving, and now I can hear his voice.  All aboard!

31.  Purple, Diary, Kitchen

My finger traced the edge of a purple leather portfolio I found.  Now the case held the priceless drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, which were previously hidden in the owl-shaped lamp.  I nearly dropped the folio at the sight before me.

In open-mouthed wonder I stared at the riot of possessions and the general confusion of what might have been the alchemist’s bedroom.  It was such a mess that I wasn’t completely sure it was a sleeping chamber.  I thought that was a bed under a stack of shoeboxes and a pile of clothing, though I couldn’t imagine anyone managing to sleep on it.

Terrence Mann as Cornelis

Terrence Mann as Cornelis

I came to the conclusion that the meticulously way in which the laboratory was organized was not the doing of the alchemist — or I should say the version of Cornelis Drebbel that inhabited the amethyst world.  I shrugged.  After all, our Cornelis kept the most haphazard scheme of things, whether on his submarine or anywhere else.  So I expected it was only natural that his doppelgänger would be a slob.  Alright… that wasn’t very generous of me to use such a word to describe my traveling companion.  Shall I say untidy?

Thank goodness his skull, which was safely in my hatbox, wasn’t capable of disarranging things too.  Then I had an uneasy thought.  What if the skull had capabilities of its own?  I firmly pushed that idea into a dark corner of my mind.  There was more than enough trouble at hand, without borrowing even more.  But I digress.

No, I thought, the orderly one must be Cal Hicks, the amethyst ape of the strange purple world of doppelgängers where we’d run aground.  Cal was also the double of Copper’s father, Calvin Hixon.

I tapped my foot in a restless rhythm, annoyed with myself for wasting time, yet drawn to the room nonetheless.  My intuition had become a feather, tickling a sleeping notion in my mind.  That feather suddenly woke the notion and in the full light of thought, it quickly morphed into a certainty.Victorian w purple feather hat

“Ooooh…” I murmured aloud, stretching out the word.

Abruptly I was sure that the alchemist of the amethyst world was with Copper’s missing father!  However, the question remained — where?  How they got together in the first place was a secondary matter.  I hoped to find some sort of clue in the personal quarters of amethyst world’s version of Cornelis Drebbel.  Unfortunately I had no idea what I sought, and the disarray of the room didn’t help.

A soft snuffling sound alerted me to the presence of Absinthe, the Green Fairy.  He fluttered around the eyesore of a room before perching on a shoebox.  Absinthe looked at me and gave a derisive snort, clearly an opinion about the state of the bedroom.  I laughed.  For once I understood the little fairy.

Then Aubrieta, his mate, flew into the room.  Her purple wings missed a beat when she beheld the mess.  Aubrieta gave a little scream before recovering herself.  I had to agree.

I felt a moment of comradery with the two fairies.  They seemed to understand everything I said, but I could not interpret their snorts, grunts, and snuffles at all.  However, emboldened by that friendly feeling, I told them my thoughts about the alchemist of the amethyst world and Calvin Hixon being together somewhere.  I opened the portfolio of Leonardo da Vinci’s mechanical design drawings, and said that I felt one of the designs might also be involved.Aerial Screw drawing
When I added that I thought there might be a clue somewhere in the disarray of the bedroom, the fairies went quickly to work.  They busily looked through every pile and opened every box, cupboard, and drawer.

While they looked through the room, I turned to the closet.  When I opened the door I almost shrieked like Aubrieta.  Boxes and all manner of other things toppled out of the closet as soon as I opened the door.  Cases and trinkets continued to tumble for what seemed like an unnaturally long time.  A purple feather boa draped across my shoulders as it fell.  Aubrieta snuffled appreciatively.  Apparently the little skunk-looking fairy thought it looked good on me.

“So you like this?” I asked Aubrieta of the boa and she chirped enthusiastically.  “Well, it is your color,” I conceded with a smile.Woman in purple boa

As I held out the purple feather boa, Aubrieta wriggled the single eyebrow that was between her one eye and her golden unicorn-like horn.  Static ran through the feathers and with a spark the boa was transformed to a much smaller size — just the right length for the Purple Fairy.

By the way, I never mentioned that the Purple Fairy is a title for Aubrieta, just as Absinthe is the Green Fairy.  Though I had yet to meet them, there were other purple and green fairies, but our tiny companions held some particular distinction among their kind.

I bent down to pick up a full sized feather that was dislodged from the boa.  That’s when I saw the corner of a book.  Its cover was made of tooled lavender leather.  In the center elaborate script spelled the word diary.  It should be the journal of the Cornelis Drebbel doppelgänger.  Shouldn’t it?  Although, the Dutchman was a wily fellow.  It might belong to someone else.

Though it didn’t really help, I took a deep breath to steady my nerves.  Cautiously I opened the lavender tome.  The handwriting inside was a match for that of the alchemist of my world.  I surreptitiously looked over my shoulder.  I bit my lower lip, as with a bit of apprehension I began to read the diary.

However, the journal didn’t seem to be terribly personal.  (I admit I was a little disappointed.)  There were a lot of what I supposed were alchemy related notes, and symbols I didn’t understand.  Then I found a section of spells.  At least I could understand the language with those.

Lady writing lettersTurning the pages faster, I focused my search.  I hoped to find some mention of Cal Hicks, or even better, Calvin Hixon.  Unfortunately I hadn’t found either name.  However, I was skimming the pages awfully quickly.  I could easily have missed something.  I began to notice repeated references to “Cu” but that made no more sense than the rest of the text.  It seemed to be more of a name than initials.  I shrugged.  The inhabitants of the amethyst world did seem to be fond of very short names, like Cal and Von.

As I turned pages I also saw drawings and diagrams.  Some of the sketches reminded me of the da Vinci drawings.  I slowed down, paying closer attention.

My focus was broken by a commotion elsewhere in the laboratory.  It sounded like an argument.  Yes, there was some sort of disagreement.  Aubrieta made an impatient snuffling sound and winged away in a blur.  I figured the situation was safe in the Purple Fairy’s capable hands — or should I say wings?  Paws?  Whatever, I had no doubt that the one-eyed, erstwhile dragon could use that pointy horn to good effect.

I could hear the raised voice of Cornelis Drebbel, though I couldn’t make out his words.  I stood, placing my finger in the diary to hold my place.  I knew I’d best go see what the trouble might be before things got out of hand.  Then I heard Absinthe shriek an irritated noise.

As I walked quickly down the hallway I tried to determine where the commotion had come from.  Beyond the long workroom, the laboratory was a warren of hallways and alcoves.  I hesitated when I came to an intersection of corridors.

Jamie Murray as Felicity

Jamie Murray as Felicity

A teeth jarring screech of unused metal was followed by a crash.  The noise came from the kitchen.  The shouting was louder, but not coherent until I heard clearly the voice of Cal Hicks.  “Lord of Alchemy!” the amethyst ape cried.  “No!  Please wait!”

I broke into a run.

The “kitchen” of the laboratory was a combination food preparation area, dining room, and relaxation area, with several chaise lounges.  Above the wide open room was a clear crystal dome which let in the sunlight.  The dome was divided into sections, much like one would cut an orange.  The sections were held in place by brass strips.

Earlier, after a meal, I had stretched out on a chaise and gazed up at the pastel clouds drifting in the sky beyond the dome.  It was tranquil.  However, the sounds coming from the kitchen were anything but calming.

When I reached the kitchen I found Copper and Aubrieta perched on an open wooden packing crate.  Another metallic screech caused me to look upward.  The sections of the crystal dome slowly spread, opening to the sky.  It was a fanciful idea, but it made me imagine a clear flower bud with petals opening to the sun.

Directly beneath the dome I saw Cornelis and Absinthe.  They argued.  Cal Hicks stood between the two, urging them to be reasonable.  I got the feeling that the tableau might go on for a while.  There was nothing I could do to improve the situation, and no need for me to be agitated.  I leaned against the crate and turned to Copper who dangled her feet from the top of the wooden box.

Copper

Copper

“What was inside?” I asked her as I stuck my head into the empty container.

“That top thing Cornelis has.  I think Absinthe wants to play with it,” Copper said knowingly.  “Cornelis is too big for it.  He really ought to give it to Absinthe.”

Aubrieta snorted in a derisive tone and shook her purple head.  She didn’t seem to think Absinthe should have anything to do with it either.  I noticed the purple feather boa had returned to full size and was draped across Copper’s shoulders.  The little fairy must have wanted the boa so she could give it to the girl.  I was fascinated by the way both of the fae took to Copper.

“What top thing?” I wondered aloud and stretched in attempt to see around Cornelis and Cal Hicks.

The ape and the alchemist finally moved and I saw a working model of Leonardo da Vinci’s aerial screw.  It stood about waist high.  The “threads” of the screw were made of linen, and it rotated slowly.

“It’s only a model,” Cornelis told Absinthe.  “I need firsthand experience of it before we make a full-sized machine,” he said as the Green Fairy snorted and chirped.

Abruptly, Cornelis snapped his fingers.  A yellowish green glow surrounded the aerial screw and it gently rose from the floor.  With a last whine of metal, the dome finished opening.  The aerial screw continued to rise.  The alchemist schooled his face to a bland expression and he looked from Cal to Absinthe as the rotating machine rose above their heads.

“If the tiny fae thinks the device is unsafe,” Cal Hicks began, apparently understanding the sounds Absinthe made — was I the only one who didn’t understand fairy-speak?  “Don’t you think it would be wise to listen?  It needn’t be a long delay,” the ape offered in a reasonable tone.

With a mischievous glint in his eyes, Corenlis grinned.  He leaped up and grabbed onto the bottom of the aerial screw.  A green glow surrounded the contraption and the alchemist.  The device quickly moved up into the opening of the crystal dome.  Absinthe gave an angry scream.  He fluttered up to Cornelis and pointed his bantam backside at the alchemist’s face in a very threatening posture.  A poot of super-concentrated absinthe vapors would surely cause Cornelis to fall, and he was many feet above the floor.

“Well, climb on, old boy!” Cornelis told the Green Fairy.  “There’s room for one more,” Cornelis invited as he dangled high in the air.Green fairy skunk

However, Absinthe flew in circles around the aerial screw.  The Green Fairy jerked his head around, as if he heard something.  He screamed again and pointed.  The sound came again, loud enough for me to hear.  The linen “threads” of the screw ripped loudly.  The aerial screw lurched.  Cornelis struggled to keep his grip as the machine darted wildly.

***

Now what has Cornelis Drebbel gotten himself into?  Be at the train station next week to catch the steam locomotive to the Victorian Era.

Since one of the three blogs I used as this episode’s three things is a chef’s blog, I’m taking the recipe from it.  How could I resist this beautiful lavender colored cake to go with the amethyst world?  Thank you Suzanne, for letting me use one of your recipes.  Suzanne is a marvelously talented chef.  So be sure to take a look at her blog.

Recipe:  White Cake With Whipped Cream Icing and Blackberry Lemon Cream Filling

Suzanne lavender cake

Recipe and photo credit: Suzanne Debrango at “A Pug in the Kitchen”

http://apuginthekitchen.com/2012/03/28/white-cake-with-whipped-cream-icing-and-blackberry-lemon-curd-filling/

 

Copyright © 2015 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.

Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode- 30

Unexpected Connections

I don’t delude myself that my blog serials are “properly” written stories.  They are pure unplanned, pantser fun.  Since I never know what the next episode will bring, I can’t do advance planning so that everything is properly connected from the beginning. Events and characters show up later than is “acceptable.”  I’m aware that flaw exists as this story-line works its way to an eventual close.  Hopefully you can still enjoy this as unanticipated fun.

Phuong ShrimpThere have been other unexpected connections for me because of the serials.  I’m very pleased that many of you who comment here are also my connections on my “career network” at LinkedIn.  It was exciting to see that network reach a milestone number, and I was honored to have Dr. Phuong Le Callaway as my 100th connection there.  That was also around the time I started the first culinary serial.

Phoung Rolls-shrimp

Phuong is successful and admirable in her career.  A couple of years ago, I encountered some completely unexpected obstacles and had little idea of how to navigate them.  Phuong started mentoring me in those unknown seas.  I found her to be wealth of information, and a tireless fountain of support.

Phuong Cooking with MeHowever, she isn’t just a business woman.  Phuong has authored several cookbooks!  She was generous with photos from them, so I’ve added a few here.  I’m featuring her book Cooking with Me.  Check out all of Phuong’s books! You’ll also get one of her recipes at the end of this episode.

Episode 30 ties back to early chapters particularly Episode 5. That installment also has an unexpected connection to a famous person in history.

Are you ready to return to the Victorian Era, and the amethyst world? The steam locomotive is at the platform.  All aboard!

Train subway abandoned NYC

From Episode 4

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

From Episode 5

“Oh!  What have we here?” Cornelis Drebbel exclaimed excitedly over the ancient papers.  “Don’t tell me this is what was hidden in the lamp!” he cried and Copper and I both nodded, taken aback by his enthusiasm.  “Really?  The audacity!  To hide such treasures that way.  Don’t you know what these are?”…

… “My dear, these are the work of Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci!  They are valuable beyond belief,” Cornelis exclaimed.

“The Leonardo da Vinci?” I couldn’t help asking.  “Then they must be at the core of whatever is going on here,” I said with certainty. 

From last time…

The chimpanzee looked contrite, as if there was something he did not want to disclose.  “Viola’s son Von had that family ring he stole from your son.  There was a man who seemed to recognize the ring.  He tricked Von into giving it to him and then ran off.  Von slipped off to track him.  We found them at a fine home that looked a lot like yours.  But when we got there they were both dead,” the chimp explained.

“We took both bodies and hid them,” the chimpanzee added.  “We were afraid of what might happen if the residents of that world noticed the two were doubles.”

***

Steam Locomotive Wheels

30.  Herbs, Kitchen, Texan

Through an accident of alchemy, the submarine in which we traveled crashed on the shores of the amethyst world.  The Green Fairy and Cornelis Drebbel had an animated conversation about the submarine Cornelis invented, and whether it could be repaired quickly enough.  If we didn’t leave the strange purple place soon, we might be trapped forever.  After a moment they rejected using the submarine as a means of departure.

When the missing “chapel chimps” were returned to the amethyst world, a few of them hung back to talk to us.  Cal Hicks sent those chimpanzees back to submarine to retrieve our belongings.  The two fairies, Absinthe and Aubrieta, fluttered ahead of the apes, leading the way.  Copper watched from the laboratory window as they disappeared from view.

Copper with FlowersThe girl stood at a table in the far corner of the long building, tying string around a small bundle of herbs.  I noticed a number of varieties hanging to dry.  Unexpectedly, Copper seemed to know what she was doing.  When I commented on the fact, she told me that she used to help her governess dry herbs.

“Is Viola coming back?” she asked Cal Hicks, the amethyst ape.

“I’m sure you’ll see her again,” Hicks answered.  “You two became friends very quickly,” he prompted.

Copper nodded as she tied the string into a bow.  “She reminds me of Violet, my governess.  I didn’t want her to go away, but Daddy said she was going back to live with her son Vaughner,” Copper told him with a sad look in her eyes.  “Daddy shouldn’t have let Violet go.  I heard him say her son was a criminal.”

“He did?” I was surprised into saying.  I felt like my brain was pulling threads together that I couldn’t quite grasp.

“Yes.  I heard him tell your boyfriend,” Copper answered with a distasteful twist of her mouth and the glimmer of a dare in her eyes.

Basil Gill as Ignatius Belle

Basil Gill as Ignatius Belle

“My what?” I exclaimed with a strangled chuckle, but then I remembered her distrust of Ignatius Belle.

There had not been more between Ignatius and me than some light flirting.  In fact, when I saw how focused he had become on Copper, and apparently wanted to lure her away, I felt he had tried to use me.  I had developed my own mistrust of the tall handsome innkeeper, and learning that he was really Copper’s half-brother did nothing to allay my concern.  However, considering that father and son were somewhat estranged, I was surprised to learn Calvin Hixon had confided that information in Ignatius Belle.

“Daddy shouldn’t have made her go live with Vaughner.  I don’t think she wanted to,” the girl said of her governess.  “Anyway, I think Viola looks like her,” Copper added with a sudden grin.  “Or she would if she had been a chimpanzee.”

Another idea clicked into place when Copper spoke.  I looked around for Cornelis Drebbel, but he had popped off somewhere.  Where was the alchemist?  He’d finish my sentences for me and this would go a lot faster.

“He asked me if the laboratory had a kitchen,” Cal answered my question.  “I think the Lord of Alchemy was feeling a bit peckish.”

Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel

“Trust Cornelis Drebbel to go looking for a snack at a time like this,” I complained.

Without the alchemist to be my sounding board I spoke my thoughts aloud as I sorted them.  “So… Copper’s father dismissed the governess she loved because he could no longer pay her wages,” I remembered Cornelis figuring out that in the past.  “That woman’s son was a reputed criminal, as Copper told us…” my words trailed away as I continued to assemble jumbled bits and pieces.

“Meanwhile, here in this amethyst world, Voila is the double of that governess.  Viola’s son was a ‘scoundrel’ as you commented,” I added turning to Cal Hicks.  “And the son of the governess a criminal,” I repeated and Copper nodded.

I paced as I untangled the mess.  “So Viola’s son Von met his doppelgänger in our world… and that doppelgänger was the dead man in Calvin Hixon’s study — and he was Vaughner, the son of the governess!”Reading Ape purple

What a moment of crystal clarity!  If I’d worn suspenders on my trousers I would have given them a snap of satisfaction.  Copper had a wide-eyed expression on her face, but she seemed to have kept up with my summation.  Cal Hicks nodded every step of the way, an intelligent man for certain — or rather ape.

“Vaughner was surely up to some duplicity, since Copper heard her father calling him a criminal.  He stole the signet ring from Von so he could pass himself off as a member of the Hixon family.  He was in the house, sitting at Calvin Hixon’s desk when he died.  So he must have been looking for something.  But did he find whatever it was he wanted?” I questioned.

“I don’t think so.  You’ll see when the chimps get back,” Cornelis Drebbel said as he materialized at my side with a sharp pop.

I jumped, startled.  The Dutchman grinned, as it was his intention to disconcert me.

“Cornelis Drebbel!  Will you please cease doing that,” I insisted for the thousandth time.  “Where have you been?”

Purple Cowboy bootThe alchemist, originally from the 1600’s, was attired in knee britches with his favorite doublet, which had broad velvet sleeves, slashed with satin.  The broad brimmed hat that matched his ensemble was exchanged for a Stetson, and he wore tooled leather cowboy boots on his feet — both hat and boots were purple, of course.  Seeing me stare at his apparel Cornelis twisted his pointed blonde beard and wriggled his bushy eyebrows, clearly pleased with himself.

“I found my doppelgänger’s closet,” the Dutchman said with a twirl to show off his borrowed accessories.  “He has the most marvelously eccentric taste, don’t you think?”

I tried not to laugh, but I failed.  “Cornelis, you look like a Texan who fell into a Shakespearean fair,” I said and he pursed his lips, deciding how to react.

“I think they’re rather smart,” Cornelis replied, sticking out his lower lip.  “Copper, don’t you agree?”

Copper answered by giggling and hugging the alchemist.  I decided that was probably the safest response.  Besides, I was rather envious of those cowboy boots, just not with that outfit.Owl Lamp Victorian

There was a commotion at the front door of the laboratory.  The coverall clad chimpanzees brought in our belongings.

“Ah, good!” Cornelis said.  “You’ll see what I mean.”

He went directly to the large carpet bag Copper had packed with all manner of things.  Cornelis retrieved the owl-shaped lamp.  I gasped.  Inside that lamp, were hidden valuable drawings made by Leonardo da Vinci.

Cornelis upended the owl lamp and removed the priceless da Vinci papers.  He smoothed out one in particular.

“Is that some sort of children’s toy?  A top of some sort?” I speculated as I looked at the drawing.Aerial Screw drawing

“Oh no,” Cornelis corrected me.  “It’s an aerial screw.  I think it is the key to finding Copper’s daddy.  And it might be how we get back to our world.”

***

Will the combination of da Vinci’s aerial screw and the alchemy of Cornelis lead our trio to Copper’s daddy? Or will it lead to a disastrous accident of alchemy?  To find out, be at the train station again next time.

But first, here’s the recipe for this episode. Bon appétit!

Recipe:  Fish and Herbs in Soy Sauce

Recipe and photo credit, Phuong Le Callaway

Fish n Herbs in Soy Sauce

Copyright © 2015 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.

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Three Ingredients Serial – 2: Mandolin, Chinoiserie, Wimberries

1928 green kitchen adToday I feel like we’re getting to sneak a peek inside a Christmas package, because my friend Joye shared with us her semi-secret recipe for Fabulous Five Minute Fudge!  You’ll find the recipe at the end of this episode.  I wish I had been able to make WordPress fancy-up formatting do the recipe justice… but all I could manage was something plain.  Well, there’s nothing plain about Joye’s fudge, so enjoy!

These three ingredients took my mind to things that added to the character of Granny and the setting of her kitchen.  I hope you’ll enjoy this second episode of our new “interactive” serial.

And now — episode two…  Happy reading, and bon appétit!

2.  Mandolin, Chinoiserie, Wimberries

“Now you just calm down, Sweet Pea.  I know it was a terrible thing to behold, but it’s going to be all right,” Granny said as she sat me at the kitchen table.  “Why you’re shakin’ like a leaf, Pip!”

When I got back to her cottage, she had already brewed tea and produced some lovely fudge as if by magic.  Somehow Granny had already heard about what happened at the Bijou.  She dusted an imaginary speck from the green and white gingham table cloth, and then placed a Chinoiserie tea set on the table in front of me.  The dishes were done in a shade of sea green a little darker than the checks of the table cloth, and they were decorated with blue chrysanthemums.Grannys teacup

I gazed absently at steam rising from the cup of Darjeeling tea while Granny pulled out a white ladder back chair and sat down next to me.  My grandfather had made those cane bottom chairs himself.  My Pops had a set of them too, except those were stained wood rather than painted white.

Tracing my finger around the rim of the teacup, I spoke without looking up.  “I remember this tea set.  Have you always had it?”

Granny gave me a downright wicked, mischievous smile and even wriggled her eyebrows.  Then her expression turned fond and she chuckled.  “Almost always.  They were a gift — when I was a very young woman.  They were actually from Mrs. Wong’s grandfather,” my grandmother told me.

Surprised, I looked a question at her.  “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 said with a smile.  “If ever I was going to be attracted to an older man, it would have been Photoplay teacupAlastair Wong the elder.  He was a fine man.”

Now that surprised me.  But the unexpected was to be expected with Granny Fanny.  She was full of surprises.  I bit into one of the delicious pieces of fudge on my plate.  Granny’s fudge was enough to make me forget anything upsetting.  While it melted in my mouth I looked at a jar on the table.  Unfamiliar handwriting proclaimed it contained wimberry preserves, with Crickhowell Cottage printed at the top of the label.  I remembered Granny had a pen pal in Wales and thought it must be from her.

“So that would have been Alastair’s great-grandfather,” I said, trying to make an effort at conversation.  Granny nodded with an expression of reminiscence in her light blue eyes.

She poured more tea.  “Do you want to talk about it?” she asked gently, and I knew she meant the killing at the Bijou.

“I don’t know who the man was.  It just seemed so strange and out of place that he had bits of cilantro all on his shoes.  And I feel like there must be something wrong with me for being stuck on that thought,” I confided.

“Oh Sweet Pea,” she began.  “It’s normal to get focused on some odd thing or other when something awful happens.”  She paused and pursed her lower lip while she thought.  My Pops said I did the same thing.  “I do admit it seems odd though,” Granny said while she poured more tea into my cup.

Ma Kettle Ax2Granny moved to the counter and began tidying up.  I noticed she had dismantled her mandolin.  The whetting stone was beside the newly sharpened blade.  Granny always said you were more likely to cut yourself on a dull knife than with a sharp one.

Abruptly a huge thudding noise made me jump from my chair.  Granny suddenly had a dishtowel in her hand with the sharpened mandolin blade held like a weapon.

***

Fanny’s Fabulous Five-Minute Fudge

Ingredients

  • · 1 – 12  ounce package semisweet chocolate pieces (2 cups)
  • · 2/3  cup sweetened condensed milk (one-half of a 14-ounce can)
  • · 1  tablespoon water
  • · 3/4  cup chopped walnuts, toasted if desired
  • · 1  teaspoon  vanilla

Directions

1.  Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper; set aside. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate pieces, sweetened condensed milk, and water.

2.  Microwave, uncovered, on 100% power (high) for 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 1 minute more, or until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Pour mixture onto prepared cookie sheet and spread it into a 9×6-inch rectangle, or drop mixture by rounded teaspoons onto prepared cookie sheet.

3.  Chill fudge about 30 minutes or until firm. Cut fudge into 1-1/2-inch squares. Makes 24 pieces

Yield 24 pieces

Prep 5 minutes; chill 30 minutes

Nutrition Facts (Fabulous Five-Minute Fudge)
Servings Per Recipe 24,
cal. (kcal) 112, Fat, total (g) 7, chol. (mg) 3, sat. fat (g) 3, carb. (g) 14, fiber (g) 1, pro. (g) 2, vit. A (IU) 49, sodium (mg) 11, calcium (mg) 30, iron (mg) 1, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

***

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.