Three Ingredients – 10: Liver, Za’atar, Sunflower Seeds

Episode 10 Rabbit signSince I started this culinary mystery serial, The Three Ingredients, I’ve been reading a lot of cooking blogs.  One of my favorites is Kooky Cookyng, written by Ishita.  She was kind enough to provide the three ingredients for today’s episode.

Don’t be shy!  Leave a comment with three food-related “ingredients” to help keep this story going.

I hope you’ll enjoy Episode-10.  Bon appétit!

Liver, Za’atar, Sunflower Seeds

I stopped on the broad veranda to remove my gardening shoes.  Cinnamon Bun, the Flemish Giant rabbit, thumped up the stairs behind me.  I bent to scratch his long russet ears, and noticed that he had a small carrot in his mouth.  The huge bunny usually ate everything he dug up, but I had noticed that sometimes he sneaked a tidbit inside and gave it to Cracker the parrot.  I couldn’t help smiling at that.

“You’d better not let Granny catch you digging carrots without her 1920s Pate adpermission,” I told him playfully.

 

We both went in by the kitchen door.  Right away I smelled the plate of thinly sliced onions.  The task had been left unfinished, with the next onion waiting to be cut.

Granny had mentioned making liver and onions.  I loved the aroma of the dish… so why was it that I couldn’t abide eating it?  Ugh!  All morning I had been trying to think of an excuse to be away from the cottage come meal time.

The muffled sounds of voices drifted my way from the parlor.  Someone must have interrupted Granny, so I washed up to take over where she had stopped.

The onion had warmed to room temperature, and it was already stinging my eyes.  Granny always chilled onions before cutting them.  Somehow that helped keep them from irritating the eyes.  I blinked my watering eyes and sniffed.  With the knife in hand, I stopped mid-slice.  Granny’s voice rose enough that I heard her distinctly.

“Moses, I just don’t think I’m up to this,” my grandmother said.1920s Style Book

The first thing in my mind was concern.  That didn’t sound like Granny Fanny’s reaction to anything.  She was the most capable woman I had ever known.  The next thing I thought was “Why is that revenuer here with Granny — again?”

I knew it wasn’t right to eavesdrop, but I couldn’t help myself.  I tiptoed closer to the sound of their voices.  Cinnamon thumped softly behind me, the carrot still in his mouth.

“Fanny, you know I’d never ask you to do this if I thought it would put you at risk,” Marshal Moses Myrick said.  “I’ll have men there, some pretending to be guests, Detective Daniels disguised and acting as your waiter, and a dozen others outside, waiting for my signal to rush in.”

“Oh I’m not worried about that!” Granny said sounding more like herself.  “I’m not afraid of any bootlegger, no matter how much money he’s got.  No, it’s the fancy food they want me to make.  I had never even thought of making crème brulee until I tested the recipe for it the day you were last here.  It turned out fine, but I’m just not used to making… foreign things like that.  And now, they say some ambassador is going to be there.  They insisted that I make something with an exotic sounding condiment.  I’ve never even heard of it, but it’s the big shot’s favorite thing,” she complained.

Vogue-Apr 1919I eased a little closer to the parlor door.  I could see into the room, but still couldn’t see the speakers.  However, I could see stacks and stacks of books, mostly cookbooks and travel books.  Granny must have checked out every book in the library on those subjects.  She’d probably borrowed any her friends had as well.

Marshal Myrick spoke soothing words that I couldn’t make out.  Granny continued, “Have you ever heard of za’atar?”  The marshal must have said no, because my grandmother continued her lament.  “I have to admit, za’atar does sound delicious, but I hope they don’t ask me to make anything else unusual.  Why can’t they want turnip greens?  I hulled sunflower seeds all morning, and I had a devil of a time keeping that parrot out of them.  I ended up giving half the seeds to her to keep her quiet,” Granny said.  Then to my surprise she chuckled.  “I think I’ve found something I can use to bribe the little imp.  She liked the sunflower seeds.”

Wonder of wonders — was Granny warming up to Cracker?  The kindhearted defense Moses spoke for the parrot was in such contrast to his gruff manner and unflappable attitude that I still couldn’t get my head around it.

The G-man had learned the art of pitching his voice in a way that it didn’t carry.  As I sidled closer a floorboard creaked.  I just knew I was caught.  Then I heard Cracker rattling her cage door.  She could have it open in a matter of seconds, anytime she chose.  Cinnamon Bun hopped past me and into the parlor.

Granny adored that oversized bunny.  “I thought I heard you out there, Cinnamon Bun!  How’d you get in?” she asked.Lucille Ball teenaged 1

I pretended that I was just walking up the hall and feigned surprise when I saw the marshal sitting on the settee next to my grandmother.  However, I didn’t fool him one iota.  “So Pip,” he began.  “Now that you know something about this sting, are you onboard?”

Sting?  As in bootleggers, and mobsters, and guns?  Really?  I gulped.

“Now Moses,” Granny Fanny began, shaking her head and giving the marshal a stern look from the corner of her eye.  “I don’t know that I approve of Paisley having anything to do with this business.”

“Fanny, you had intended to have the girl help you with events.  You can’t handle a big party like this alone.  Detective Daniels can only do so much as a waiter, because I have to have him as an investigator,” Myrick said.  Then he added as if to himself, “That young man’s got potential.  As for the rest of my men, they wouldn’t make believable caterers.  They’d stand out like a sore thumb.  So you need the girl.  She just needs to be an ordinary waitress and stay out of the way.”

1920s wrathOh…! Now that was the last straw.  It was bad enough that they were talking about me like I wasn’t even there, but stay out of the way?  I was flabbergasted!  I cleared my throat loudly.  Granny’s eyes widened when she saw the expression on my face.  There must have been steam coming from my ears.

“Marshal, I’ll have you know that I’m standing right here, since that fact seems to have escaped you,” I began.

“Paisley Idelle Peabody!” Granny said in a warning voice.

“I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself, and I most certainly do not need to ‘stay out of the way.’  Why of all the —”

I was fit to be tied because Moses Myrick sat there chuckling.  Then he gave in to all out laughter!  I was so put out that I was speechless.

“That apple didn’t fall far from the tree!” he said as he wiped his eyes.  That’s how hard he was laughing; it had brought tears to his eyes.  “Fanny, not that I ever doubted, but this is truly your granddaughter.  Young lady I apologize.  I just couldn’t help myself.”1920s Peoples home journal girl parrot

I was not much mollified by the apology, but I didn’t know what to do besides accept it.  I cleared my throat awkwardly.  Then I heard the rattle of metal that meant Cracker had decided to let herself out of her cage and see what all the fuss was about.  The parrot flapped into the room.  She briefly perched on the back of the settee next to the marshal.

She bobbed her head and whistled at the marshal.  “Fourandtwenty,” she said to him.  However, she prudently fluttered out of Granny’s reach and alighted on the back of the chair beside me.

Cracker looked studiously at each of us in turn.  She ruffled her feathers and shook her head.  She turned to me and flapped her wings once.  Then she turned a circle to make sure everyone was looking at her, and with another whistle she repeated, “Fourandtwenty!  Fourandtwenty!

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Roasted Carrots with Za’atar

Recipe credit: Food Network.com 

Roasted carrots Za'atar

Photograph by Roland Bello

Total Cook Time:  20 minutes

Ingredients

4 pounds carrots

¼ cup olive oil

¾ teaspoon each salt and pepper

4 teaspoons za’atar spice blend

3 tablespoons parsley

1 lemon

Directions

Preheat 2 baking sheets in a 450 degree oven. Quarter 4 pounds carrots lengthwise and toss with 1/4 cup olive oil and 3/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Spread on the hot baking sheets and roast until browned, 18 to 20 minutes. Toss with 4 teaspoons za’atar (a spice blend available at Middle Eastern markets), 3 tablespoons chopped parsley and the juice of 1 lemon.

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The Three Ingredients Serial: Copyright © 2013

by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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

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

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

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

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

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

9.  Cream, Vanilla Pod, Sauce Pan

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

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

“Cracker, you say?” the revenuer asked.

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

“Vulgar comment?” Moses Myrick queried.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Three Ingredients Serial – 8: Peas, Noodles, Lemon

1920s Flapper Driving

You’re Driving

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

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

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

8.  Peas, Noodles, Lemon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Recipe – Pasta with Fresh Herbs, Lemon and Peas

Recipe credit:  The New York Times, Martha Shulman

Pasta With Fresh Herbs, Lemon and Peas

Ingredients

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

Zest of 1 organic lemon, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely minced

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

3/4 pound pasta, any type

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino

Method

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

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

Yield:  Serves four.

Advance Preparation

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

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

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