Three Ingredients II – 17: Spinach, Carrots, Yogurt

Horsefeathers! This took me by surprise. I didn’t know quite where the “ingredients” would take this story — until last evening.

Young Lucille Ball

Young Lucille Balltake this story or how many more episodes would be needed to conclude this ghost in the kitchen story-line.

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Sheiks and Shebas, I have to tell you — this is the penultimate episode of Three Ingredients Cookbook-2, a Ghost in the Kitchen.  Sorry I didn’t add that subtitle sooner — it’s always been in my head.  That’s right. Next week will be the concluding episode of this story. >
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Your ingredients have taken us for quite a ghostly ride — and a delicious, multi-cultural one too!  The three food related things for this chapter are from the very creative Ishita at Kooky Cookyng. It’s been a while since she contributed these ingredients to the serial’s “cupboards” so she might have forgotten.  I hope it’s a nice surprise for her.
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So that I had more time for writing this episode, I’m also featuring one of Ishita’s recipes this weekend. Her blog also includes tabs/pages with lots of useful information like “Weights & Measurements” and “Oils & Fats.” Spend some time there and enjoy yourself.
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I give my sincere thanks and appreciation to each of you who take time to read these stories, and to those of you who contribute to the “ingredients cupboard.” You make it possible — and you make it fun!
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Need a recap?  Go to the top of the page and click on “Cookbook-2 Three Ingredients Serial Home.”  Without further ado, I give you the penultimate chapter in our interactive culinary mystery, Episode-17.  Bon appétit!

17.  Spinach, Carrots, Yogurt

With Demon

FDR Little Whitehouse banner

The Little White House – President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Doctor Veronica Vale had arranged for Marshal Moses Myrick to go to Warm Springs, Georgia. She said the natural hot springs there were perfect for his convalesce.  Cracker the parrot left her perch on the G-man’s chair and glided across the Vales’ living room to perch on the back of the sofa where I sat.
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Cracker dropped a bit of spinach she’d been nibbling on the rug as she flew.  I saw Granny Fanny look disdainfully from the dropped food to the bird.  It sure seemed like the progress those two had made toward getting along had been forgotten.  When the marshal was shot, it looked like Granny and the parrot had forgotten their differences, in their mutual concern for Moses Myrick.  I was surprised to think that might have only been temporary.
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I missed Cracker terribly when she transferred her affection to Marshal Myrick, but I figured that she was helping the critically injured man in that amazing way that animals seem to help humans heal.  So I tried not to feel rejected, and repeatedly reminded myself that Cracker was just a bird.  She wouldn’t intentionally hurt my feelings.
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Veronica again mentioned that the spa didn’t allow any animals.  Cracker bumped the side of my head with hers.  Then she did it again a moment later, as if she was nudging me.
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“I don’t have any treats, Cracker,” I told the parrot.
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“Who’s your daddy?” Cracker asked in an imploring tone and bobbed her head in a way that looked much like a 1920s Woman Parrotnod.

“Oh that vulgar bird,” Granny Fanny complained, reminding me of how much she hated that phrase.
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“Oh Fanny, Cracker doesn’t mean any harm.  Why, she’s downright ladylike most of the time,” Moses said, and his voice seemed to echo the imploring tone Cracker had used.

“I realize it’s been quite a burden for Veronica and Vincent to have to look after me and Cracker too,” the aging law man continued amid protests from both the Vales.  “I’d hate to ask them to keep looking after the parrot while I’m at Warm Springs,” he added and Granny’s expression suddenly became stiff and suspicious.

“I know it was a challenge for you too, Fanny, when Pip was taking care of her.  It’s a lot of extra work for a woman to unexpectedly add a parrot to her household,” Moses said soothingly.  “I know Cracker gets messy sometimes too, just like a child.  Nobody could blame you for not being able to deal with it.”
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Oh Horsefeathers!  Granny could handle anything, and she’d be the first to say so.  Was the revenuer baiting my grandmother?  He couldn’t have said anything that was any more likely to get a rise out of her if he’d tried!  Had he done it intentionally?  I wouldn’t have advised anybody to get Granny’s back up on purpose, but I saw a twinkle in the Fed’s eyes that told me he had done exactly that.

1920 Home Journal Parrot
“I think the poor bird has missed Pip,” Marshal Myrick went on to say.
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“Whatever gives you that idea, Moses?” Granny exclaimed, agitated.  “It’s just a bird.  She switched her interest to you from Paisley easily enough.”
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“Paisley Idelle Peabody!” Cracker shrieked in a fair imitation of my grandmother.
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Moses started laughing, and then winced and clutched his side.  That was one of the several bullet wounds he had taken when Queenie Wetson’s thugs ambushed him.  “That’s why,” he said, still chuckling.  “She calls Pip’s full name several times a day.  I sort of think, since she’s calling her name the way you would, that it means she misses you too, Fanny.”
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While Granny blustered wordlessly over that comment, I turned to Cracker and scratched her neck.  “Oh Cracker,” I exclaimed.  “Have you really missed me?” I asked feeling oddly guilty — it wasn’t as if I’d had much choice in the matter.  “So do you want to go home with me… if Granny says it’s okay?” I said turning my most imploring and saddest eyes on my grandmother.1920s PhotoPlay

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I waited. I held the hopeful sad-eyed look for so long I thought my eyes might cross.  My eyebrows contracted and I was about to give up.  I looked down at my hands in my lap, unable to hold Granny Fanny’s gaze any longer.
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“Don’t worry Moses,” Veronica finally said.  “Vincent and I will look after Cracker.  It’s really no trouble.”
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“No, no…” Granny said.  “The bird can go home with us.  Paisley, she’ll have to stay in your room though.  And mind you, keep her out of my kitchen!”
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Cracker made a noise that sounded like laughter.  “You slay me!” she squawked.
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Moses started holding his side and laughing again, but I thought Granny’s eyes would pop right out of her head, she looked so mad.

“I remember Cracker Jack Daddy using that phrase a lot,” the G-man said.  There’s no telling what all she picked up from him.  “But I’ve noticed Cracker often says it when somebody laughs.  I wonder if she misses that gangster…” Moses said and his voice trailed away thoughtfully.  “I guess anybody can have a good quality, and Jack Daddy seemed to have taken good care of my girl here,” he said meaning Cracker the parrot.
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Country Gentleman Kernan Sat Eve PostSomehow that seemed to calm Granny’s flare of anger.  Our visit wasn’t eventful after that.  Moses made a big deal over the apple pie Granny had made for him.  But Granny’s apple pies were well worth the praise.  Of course we didn’t have the pie until after the delicious meal the doctors Vale prepared.
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Veronica said Vincent was a better cook than she, and the couple argued playfully about who was the better chef.  Soon we sat down to a delicious dinner that started with a beautiful creamy carrot soup, and just kept getting better from there.  Granny’s apple pie topped off the meal.
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As we were leaving Vincent asked a favor of Andy and me. “Could you kids deliver some medicine for me, first thing in the morning?” the veterinarian asked.  “Bishop Binghamton’s mare is having difficulties, and she could foal at any time.  So I don’t want to go into town,” he said.
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Cracker glided into the dining room.  I wondered if hearing the “Binghamton” name brought her.  She had acted strangely when she saw the bishop at a distance when we arrived earlier.  She’d said “Dainty Dish” when she saw him.  After the things Mattie Maddox had said about Henry Kingston III and the Binghamton brothers, hearing the parrot also connect Daisy, the ghost woman, to them made me really suspicious, despite how nice the bishop seemed.
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“It’s for Kate Kingston’s Maine Coon cat.  Poor Antoinette gets a terrible skin condition sometimes,” Vincent said.
>1920s Vaudeville Cats postcard

At the name “Kingston” Cracker cocked her head and looked at Vincent attentively.  “Fourandtwenty,” she chirped as if the phrase was a single word.
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“What’s that Cracker?” Moses asked, not understanding the rapid speech, but the bird didn’t respond.
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I could tell the G-man was going to miss the parrot.  It was as if he was paying extra attention to her all evening.  However, I remembered Cracker repeating that phrase when we were trying figure out who killed her owner, as well as when we worked to foil Queenie Wetson and her bootleggers.  She said four and twenty repeatedly and finally we ended up at…
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“Pos-i-lute-ly,” Andy said, interrupting my thoughts.
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“That’s quite alright, Vincent.  If it’s not too late, the children and I can run it over there this evening,” Granny offered.
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“Where do we deliver it?” Andy asked.
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Fourandtwenty!” Cracker screeched.
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Vincent gave the parrot a surprised look.  “The big estate at 420 Kingston Lane,” he said and Cracker bobbed her head excitedly.Vintage girl and parrot

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It was completely dark when we arrived at 420 Kingston Lane.  I could hear the river next to us as Granny headed the Model-T up the narrow drive that led to the estate.  Andy started complaining of a bad cramp in his foot.  We were just below where the drive forked with one way leading to the kitchen entrance and the other broader lane continued to the front of the mansion.
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I exited the Model-T with Andy so he could walk out the cramp.  He limped along and I pulled his arm over my shoulder so I could help him.  It must have been a fierce cramp because I saw a tear in his eye that he pretended wasn’t there.  We kept walking and eventually found ourselves on the beautifully landscaped terrace, where the “parade of pets” was held at the ritzy party Granny Fanny catered as a front for the lawmen’s sting operation.  It seemed like a lot of time had passed since then, but I knew it hadn’t been all that long.
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Michalemas daisy cardThe cramp finally left Andy’s foot.  We were near the big French doors and we debated whether we should knock there or walk all the way around to the front door.  As we stood discussing that minor problem a blast of frigid air tousled my bobbed hair.  I shivered and Andy tucked me tightly under his arm.  He’d never done that before.  Not to keep his arm there.  Not to hold me that close.
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However I didn’t have time to wonder about Andy’s behavior.  Softly glowing light drew my attention to the uphill path.  Tiny white flower petals cascaded toward us on the wind.  With the cold breeze, for a moment I thought the petals were snow.
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When the blossoms settled I saw Daisy at the top of the path.  She was dressed in a wedding gown, but the veil was turned back to reveal her angelic face.  Delicate lace trained behind her on the wide stone stairs.  White satin gleamed in the moonlight and beading glittered with her movements when she glided forward.
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I realized Daisy was reminiscing about her wedding to Henry “the king” Kingston.  I knew she had a horrible childhood, but her marriage to him was a happy one, and clearly their wedding was a fond memory.  She looked at Andy and me and smiled sweetly.
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The sound of a horse’s hooves on the pavers behind me caused me to start.  Turning, I watched the former ghost-rider, Caleb Colman dismount an otherworldly steed.  The spirit

Mary Pickford 1920

Mary Pickford 1920

horse whinnied softly.  The cowboy took off his Stetson when he saw me and nodded politely.
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“Ma’am,” Caleb said and then nodded to Andy as well.
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Then the cowboy saw Daisy glowing in the moonlight, a beatific specter in flowing white.  He gasped and dropped to one knee.  Hat over heart, Caleb bowed his head then slowly shook it from side to side as if in amazement.  He looked up at the spirit woman on the uphill path and his face was a mixture of wonder, uncertainty, and pain.  A single tear ran down his cheek.

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At that moment I saw Bishop Binghamton come out of the wooded path to our left, halfway between us and Daisy.  Binghamton stopped to put out a cigarette.  Andy, Caleb, and I were farther down, closer to the kitchen and in the shadows.  He didn’t see us, but he was headed straight for the big French doors and not paying attention.  I don’t know if Daisy would have been visible to him, but he didn’t look in her direction either.
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Daisy paused when she saw the bishop.  Her serene expression became puzzled and uneasy when she looked closely at the clergyman.  She moved toward him, but he continued toward the double doors and went inside the mansion.  Daisy’s full attention was on the scene within the house.
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Wind buffeted us.  It was hard for me to walk upright into the gale.  I wondered if we were about to be caught up in a tornado, then I saw the frightening light in Daisy’s eyes.  Caleb saw it too.
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“Daisy!  No!” the cowboy yelled.
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1920s Cosmo FebShe turned and looked at Caleb and at Andy and me as if she’d never seen us before.  Then she turned her attention back to the house.  She took another step toward it and the French doors opened as if of their own accord.
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We ran toward Daisy.  The bishop was standing just inside.  He turned in surprise when the doors opened behind him.
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Caleb’s presence seemed to comfort Daisy, and the horrible light in her eyes dissipated.  I heard the two spirits whispering to each other.  I didn’t think anyone inside, except perhaps my grandmother, could see them.  Granny Fanny vacillated between disbelieving it was possible for her to see ghosts and actually seeing them.
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As we moved close to the doors I heard Mrs. Kingston talking to Granny.  She sat a crystal bowl on a table.  It contained something creamy and white.

Yogurt is very good for lightening and brightening the complexion,” Kate Kingston said.  “Just leave it on your face for a few minutes and then wash it off,” she said, but her words died away when she saw the strange way the bishop was acting.
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Andy and I hurried up to the doors and went inside.
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“You didn’t open those doors,” the bishop murmured.
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Daisy followed us.  She turned to Bishop Binghamton, who was still near the doors.  Then she saw his brother, Byron, standing at the foot of the gracefully curving staircase.  Henry Kingston was at the top of the stairs, on his way back down to join his guests.
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“They’re all right where they were that night,” Daisy said as she stared transfixed by the scene.
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She blinked and turned to me.  “Pip, I remember!” Daisy exclaimed.
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Ghostly cowboy Caleb Colman moved closer to her.  “Ma’am?  Are you all right?” he asked, clearly concerned.

Choctaw Bill, Mora, NM 1920's

Choctaw Bill, Mora, NM 1920’s

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“I remember,” Daisy repeated and trembled violently, dropping the bouquet of flowers she held.
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Caleb took her hand.  I thought he meant to comfort Daisy, but I quickly saw there was more to the gesture than that.
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He grasped her hand tightly.  “Are these the men who hurt you ma’am?” he asked softly, but she didn’t answer.  “Show me!” Caleb said in a firm voice.
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Daisy squeezed the cowboy’s hand.  Wind wailed and buffeted inside the mansion.  A lamp turned over and shattered on the floor.  The crystal chandelier swayed dangerously overhead.  Voices rose near enough to panic.  The bishop fell to his knees, eyes tightly shut, praying for all he was worth.
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Caleb bowed over Daisy’s hand and then let it go.  Abruptly the wind stopped.  The room went completely silent and I knew that everyone could see the formerly cursed ghost-rider.  Maestro Mario had made a great sacrifice, giving up countless years that would have been removed from his own curse, just to give Caleb Colman a chance to redeem himself.  Else the cowboy was condemned to a futile eternal chase.  I remembered Caleb’s words the first time I met him.
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“It’s my curse.  Me and all the riders.  We chase that herd of red-eyed cattle, but we never get any closer to catching ‘em.  And we’ll chase them ‘til the end of time,” The ghost-rider had said seeing the expression on my face.

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I wondered if Maestro’s sacrifice was about to be wasted.  Caleb looked steadily at each of the three men in turn.  His eyes started to glow a frightening red to match the eyes of the demon heard he used to chase.
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The men cried out in fear as the spirit glowed with supernatural light and grew to twice his already impressive height.  The wind began again, lifting the bishop, his brother, and Henry Kingston III into the air where they remained suspended while Caleb cast that red-eyed stare at them.

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Recipe:  Autumnal Spinach & Carrot Soup, the Indian Way

Ishita spinach soup

Photo and Recipe credit to Ishita at Kooky Cookyng

This time I am just giving you the link to Ishita’s blog for the recipe and instructional photos.  I hope you’ll look at many of her creative meals.

http://kookycookyng.com/2014/09/12/autumnal-spinach-carrot-soup-the-indian-way/

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In Memory of Izzy

October 2014

pug memorial candle

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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 II – 16: Apples, Broad Beans, Curry Leaves

Sheiks and Shebas I’m sorry to keep you waiting. Yes, there is pos-i-lute-ly going to be a new episode of our 1920’s culinary mystery serial! The ingredients for Episode-16 are from the astonishingly prolific Olga Núñez Miret at Just Olga. Serendipity was with us, and this chapter coincided with the launch of her latest book, I Love Your Cupcakes Have a look at it — who can say no to a cupcake? Olga has a video trailer for this novel.  I thought it was so adorable I couldn’t resist sharing it with you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGFcWLwoFfA . Once again I’m giving you a few fun, informative links, so keep an eye out for them. This episode doesn’t have cupcakes, but it has something sweet — the return of a favorite character. Bon appétit!

16.  Apples, Broad Beans, Curry Leaves

I still remember the rough country road and how Granny Fanny patted her yellow 1924 Liberty-appleModel-T every time we hit a bump.  A half bushel basket of apples sat crowding my feet in the floorboard, and I held a peck basket of Vidalia onions on the seat beside me.

Andy Avis sat in the backseat with Granny’s favorite wicker basket in his lap.  He sneaked the lid open and the aroma of Granny’s apple pie drifted up to my grandmother and me in the front seat.  I looked over my shoulder and saw Andy lick his lips.  I knew that pie was mouthwatering.  The scent found its way to Granny’s nose, and she glanced suspiciously at Andy.

“Sweetheart, try and keep the basket closed so the pie will stay warm,” she said, as if the lid accidentally came loose, though it was obvious that she knew better.  “Now that Moses is well enough to be moved, that pie was the one thing he asked for before he leaves,” she added.

Marshal Moses Myrick was a close friend of my grandparents when they were young.  Not too long after Granddaddy passed away, Myrick’s law enforcement career took off.  He worked his way through the ranks and eventually became a Federal Marshal — a Revenuer; a G-man.

Myrick nearly died when Queenie Wetson’s men ambushed him, but Savannah’s dashing Detective Dabney Daniels was able to get him to Dr. Veronica Vale.  She had been a renowned surgeon, but tiring of hospital politics and spiteful attitudes about women doctors, she retired from medical practice.  She and her veterinarian husband had a home and a sprawling facility for Vincent’s veterinary practice that was much closer to the site of the ambush than any hospital.  If it hadn’t been for Detective Daniels’ knowledge of area back-roads and for the doctors Vale living nearby, Moses Myrick would have surely died.Vales House During the weeks since the surgery Veronica Vale had performed in her husband’s veterinary facility, Marshal Myrick stayed with the Vales.  Veronica refused to allow him to be moved.  Finally his condition improved enough that she wanted the marshal to go to Warm Springs, Georgia.  It was well known for therapeutic mineral springs which flow constantly at nearly 32 °C (90 °F).  Doc Vale wanted him to spend several weeks at a spa there.

Soon the yellow Ford puttered up to the lovely white house with a green roof.  Granny Fanny reminded Andy and me to be quiet once we got inside.  Moses Myric was still far from being well.  When I stepped out of the Ford, I heard a horse whinny from the 1914 Model-T 2stable, and from inside the house I could hear a bird screech.  A parrot.  Cracker, I thought with a smile.  So much for being quiet…

I became far too attached to that bird when I was taking care of her.  But it seemed the marshal had stolen Cracker’s heart.  She refused to leave his side after he was shot.

As I got out of the automobile, a streak of brilliant color erupted from an upstairs window and loomed toward me.  I drew back reflexively, even though I knew it was the parrot.  Cracker alighted on the open car door, chattering unintelligibly.  Yes, I know the bird isn’t supposed to be able to speak the way humans do, and could only mimic our words, but sometimes it sure seemed like she knew what she was talking about.  Her lack of coherent speech led me to think she was extremely excited.

Cracker hopped from the car door to my shoulder and started preening a strand of my bobbed hair, as was her old habit.  I tried to push her away from my head and was scolded.

“Bad bird! Bad bird,” Cracker chirped at me.1920s SheetMusic Parrot

I stroked the feathers of her back and told Cracker I had missed her.  The parrot started making a funny trilling sound.  When Detective Daniels handed me the chore of bird-sitting after Cracker’s owner was murdered at the Bijou Theatre he asked Mr. Doctor Vale… not the same as Mrs. Doctor Vale… Oh applesauce!  It sure got confusing having two Doctors Vale in one place.

Anyhow Dabney asked the vet doc to take a look at the parrot and make sure she was healthy. The memory of Vincent examining the parrot popped into my mind.  He had said Cracker was at least forty years old!

“Parrots live a long time,” he’d explained.  “They need a serious, long term commitment from their owners.  Cracker is a macaw,” he said taking my name for the bird.  “She might live to the ripe old age of 95.”

I couldn’t help thinking about the old photograph, our only hint of a clue to who was involved in the death of Daisy the Dainty Dish.  According to the ghost woman, what I thought was a flaw in the photo was actually a parrot.  I looked into Cracker’s bright, intelligent looking eyes.  She might be old enough to have been the parrot sitting on the shoulder of Alastair Wong the elder in that photograph. Andy’s eyes bugged out when I turned to him and whispered that thought to him.

Movement further down the gently sloping green caught my eye as I looked beyond Andy.  He turned to see what had my attention.Broad Beans Beyond the spot where we stood, was the vegetable garden where the last of the summer foods grew.  A few of the broad beans Veronica praised for their nutritional value remained.  I tried to point discretely in their direction. “Just past the garden,” I told Andy.  “Those two men.  One is Doc Vale.  The other one looks familiar to me,” I said uneasily.

The two men made their way to the stable.  It was as if they felt our eyes on them.  They turned our way.  Vincent Vale threw up his hand in a cheery wave.  The second man was dressed in working clothes.  He was smaller than the veterinarian.  When he turned I saw a spot of bright white at his neck. It seemed out of place with the work clothes.

Cracker followed my gaze.  She shifted from foot to foot where she perched on my shoulder. “Bad bird,” the parrot hissed quietly.1920s Ja-Da Parrot “What’s eating you?” Andy asked seeing the intent frown on my face.

“I can’t really tell from here…” I began, squinting in attempt to see farther.

Cracker had her eyes glued to the men right up until they went inside the stable.  “Dainty Dish,” the parrot chirped and bobbed her head up and down.

Andy gave a suspicious look at the bird.  I’d told him how clever she was, but he had not believed me.  However, he knew the spirit, Daisy, had been known as The Dainty Dish.  I wondered if he was about to change his mind and see how smart the parrot was.

“Well?” Granny Fanny looked back over her shoulder as she reached the front porch.  “Come along you two.  And Paisley, do try to keep that nasty bird quiet!” she said emphatically.

It had taken awhile, but Cracker eventually won Granny over despite my grandmother’s aversion to having an avian in the house.  I thought Granny might need a refresher course to remind her that she actually did like the parrot.  Or maybe she just didn’t like to let on that she did.

Barrie Craig adventuresAndy shifted the wicker basket to his left hand and knocked on the door.  Veronica called to us to come on inside, so he opened the door for Granny.  I was happy to see Moses Myrick doing well enough to be downstairs in the living room.

“Take this mixture of curry leaves with you,” Veronica was saying as she handed Moses a small tin container.  “It will help control your stomach acid.”

The G-man sat in a cushioned chair with his feet on an ottoman.  A carved walking stick was propped against the cozy looking chair.  Veronica Vale leaned down to hand him the tin, and then looked up at us with a warm smile.

I didn’t really expect the range of emotions that played across my grandmother’s face when she saw the marshal.  I knew she cared a lot about him, but I thought it was just a carryover from the fact that he had been such good friends with my granddaddy.

Yet before my eyes I saw her expression shift from anxious, to pleasure, to concern, to something that it took me a moment to name.  To my surprise I realized she was feeling the pain of loss. That puzzled me.  However, I remembered her saying that she didn’t understand how any woman could bear to have a law man for a husband or a son.  The dangers were just too much and the agony of losing them too great.

She had refused a romantic relationship with Detective Dabney Daniels, but she insistedSheik of Araby it was because she was too old for him.  I didn’t think their age difference was all that big, so I had always wondered if that was the truth of it.  I could see where his line of work would be a constant source of worry.

After seeing the expressions parade across her face, I couldn’t help wondering if something similar had happened between Granny Fanny and Marshal Moses Myrick at some point in the past.  As my grandmother had once reminded me, she had a life before and after my grandfather.

The G-man picked up the cane and made to get up from his chair.  Doctor Veronica shot him a warning look.  Granny gently laid a slender hand on his arm and he relaxed into the cushions of the chair.  When Moses looked up at my grandmother the most peaceful expression came to his face.  I didn’t realize I was staring at the two of them until I felt Andy’s elbow nudge my ribs.

“Fanny…” was all Moses said.

She sat down on the sofa opposite his chair.  She didn’t sit all the way back, and she leaned a little forward when she spoke to him.  Cracker the parrot settled on the back of the marshal’s chair.  She preened a strand of his gray hair in the same way she had mine.  He brushed a hand at the bird to shoo her away.

“Hold your fire!” Cracker squawked at his hand, causing Andy to burst out laughing.

Encouraged by the laughter, Cracker hopped down to the marshal’s lap, demanding the-chinese-parrot adattention.

“Hold your fire,” she said again when he told her to go to her perch by the window.

Moses pointed his index finger at Cracker, a pretend gun, and made a clicking sound with his tongue.  Cracker plopped over, playing dead.  Then she got up and stretched her head so that it was under his chin and whistled quietly.  I couldn’t say quite how, but the parrot seemed sad to me and I commented on it.

“She knows he’s leaving,” Veronica said.  “They don’t allow animals at the spa.”

Then the most remarkable conversation ensued between the revenuer and the parrot.  The fact that there was any conversation at all between a G-man and a bird was astonishing enough.  Moses told the bird that he would be away for a month or so. His tone suggested this was something he had explained many times.  The bird made squawks and whistles and even something a lot like a raspberry sound!  It was obvious that she was protesting. Then he took a firm no-nonsense tone.

“Look Cracker, I need you to stay with Pip until I get back.  No argument,” he said. “And that’s an order!” Cracker squawked back at him, but she flew over to me and perched on the arm of the sofa. “Don’t you backtalk me,” Moses told the bird and pointed threateningly.

“Hold your fire!” Cracker snapped, but she moved closer to me and looked suitably chastened.

Granny commented on the parrot’s new phrase, hold your fire.  Moses said he wasn’t sure where she got it.  It wasn’t something he had said to her.  However, we knew the parrot had had a number of owners in her lifetime.1920s Life Faded blonde

Then she took an interest in Andy.  She waddled down the back of the couch to where he sat.  Cracker cocked her head to one side and peered at Andy.  I could tell it was beginning to make him nervous.  She tilted her shoulder toward him and bobbed her head up and down.  To me it looked like the equivalent of a human bobbing their eyebrows flirtatiously.

“Who’s your daddy?” she chirped at Andy, causing him to blush.

“Oh that foul mouthed fowl,” Granny Fanny said.  “Haven’t you broken her from saying that yet Moses?” Granny demanded.

I remembered how my grandmother hated that phrase.  She said it was horrid and vulgar.  However, Cracker was saved from any scolding by the entrance of Vincent and the man we saw go into the stable with him.

“Dainty Dish,” Cracker hissed quietly, looking at the two men who stood in the foyer.

“It’s odd, but she says that every time she sees the Bishop,” Veronica murmured as if she voiced a thought.  “He is a rather slight man. I wonder if that’s what she means.”

Veronica explained that Bishop Binghamton’s mare was soon to give birth and her husband was watching over things.  So Binghamton had been a frequent visitor during the past few weeks. Niven as BinghamtonI supposed that explained the work clothes he wore, Levis and an old twill jacket, but with the priest’s collar at his neck.  It was hard for me to reconcile that attire with the elaborately dressed, fancy bishop I had seen from a distance at that ritzy shindig at the Kingston mansion.

However, he looked perfectly comfortable being seen in a working man’s clothes.  I half expected him to apologize for his appearance, considering how he had looked at the party, but he didn’t seem concerned.  That added something unexpected to my perception of him.  Was there a touch of the common man to this high ranking churchman?

Vincent Vale introduced Bishop Bradley Binghamton to Andy and me.  Apparently he was already acquainted with Granny Fanny.  I supposed that was to be expected.  They were of a similar age and from the same town, even if their social circles hadn’t mixed when they were young.

“A fascinating creature,” he said with a nod to Cracker whose steady gaze didn’t waiver.

I noticed that he didn’t offer to get any closer to the bird, but considering the hard look in her eyes, I couldn’t blame him.  So this was one of the “boys” — the men that Mattie Maddox believed were implicated in Daisy’s death… However, when I looked at him I saw a kind face and a gentle manner.  There was no harsh expression in his eyes or anything that would make me think he would threaten anyone; to make them leave town and never return.  Yet I didn’t disbelieve Mattie stainge glass_parroteither.

Bishop Binghamton looked like a man remembering bygone days and a small smile came to his lips.  He motioned toward Cracker. “When I was a lad, one of my teachers had a parrot a lot like this one,” he said.  “The name escapes me,” he commented thoughtfully and put a knuckle to the little cleft in his chin.  “A brilliant Asian gentleman,” he said and Granny’s eyes got wide.  “Ah yes.  He was Asian, but from England.  Wong.  That was it!  Alastair Wong.” My mouth opened, but no words came out.  Cracker looked from Granny to Andy to me. “Hold your fire!” Cracker hissed at us and I closed my mouth with a pop.

***

Recipe:  Southern Indian vegetable curry with curry leaves

With courgette, squash, peppers and cauliflower Photo and Recipe Credit:  JamieOliver.com

Indian vege Curry Leaves

  Method Heat the oil in a pan and fry the mustard seeds for 2 to 3 minutes or until they start to pop. Add the chillies, curry leaves, onions, coriander, cumin seeds, garam masala, turmeric, and chilli powder.  Stir and cook over a medium heat until the onion is soft.  Stir in the chopped tomatoes. Add your potatoes and aubergine to the sauce.  Pour in the coconut milk and cook until the potato is soft and cooked through.  Throw in the beans, peas and okra.  Season and cook for a few more minutes until tender, then serve with some nice fluffy rice.

***

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 – 16: Pork, Braise, Fork

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

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

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

Bon appétit!

16.  Pork, Braise, Fork

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Fourandtwenty,” Cracker repeated bobbing her head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hank gave another dial a twist, holding his breath.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

Video

Mexican pulled Pork (Carnitas)

(Video credit America’s Test Kitchen)

***

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

Three Ingredienst – 15: Chicken, Meatloaf, Cookies

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

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

15.  Chicken, Meatloaf, Cookies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It seemed that Cracker had finally befriended my grandmother.

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

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

Parrot in flight

***

Good Eats Meatloaf-Food Network

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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