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 II – 7: Baby Bok Choy, Barbecue Sauce, Aluminum Foil

Cosmo cowgirl vintageIsn’t it just the berries when with no planning at all, things just come together? Everything about our 1920’s serial is unplanned “panster” fun — even the timing of when you all send ingredients.  So I was tickled when I learned that the next set of ingredients coincided with something important for the reader who is featured this weekend.

Mary J McCoy-Dressel, who sent the ingredients for this episode, heycowboy_medjust happens to have just released a new cowboy romance novel — and you are among the first to know!  Sheiks and Shebas in Mary’s books are “Gentlemen cowboys (with a touch of bad) and their feisty heroines,” as the author describes them. So get ready for the sequel to Howdy Ma’amthe long awaited Hey Cowboy.  

Furthering the synchronicity, the fourth Saturday of every July is the National Day of the American Cowboy. I know this is unnecessary, but indulge me.  With ghosts in the story, and the cowboy references… I just can’t resist.

Right up to the very last minute, I didn’t know what I was going to do with this set of ingredients. I’m not sure what had me scratching my head more, barbecue sauce or baby bok choy.  Oddly enough, I wasn’t worried about aluminium foil. So I started writing this introduction rather than the story…  Then, after I went to bed, I remembered the Jar of Spooky Things. Naturally, with Ghost Riders in the Sky still playing in my head, I took a random ghostly ingredient from the song, rather than from the jar.

Now, hang on tight.  Here we go by the seats of our pants again!  Bon appétit!

 

7.  Baby Bok Choy, Barbecue Sauce, Aluminum Foil

With Ghost-rider

“So Andy, tell me all about Hollywood!  All the crazy stuff with the haunted wine bottle from the old factory and the ghost chef… All that started up before we ever got to talk about your new home,” I said to my old friend, Andy the Astronaute-man.

Pug episode-7Andy Avis was one of my group of friends back in a tiny town near Santa Rosa Sound, Florida.  I nicknamed him the Astronaute-man because he wrote science fiction stories and even screenplays.  I expected him to begin by telling me about his work at the movie studio, but apparently food was on his mind.  He told me about his favorite restaurant, a Chinese place.

“They really put on the Ritz!  It’s an amazing looking restaurant.  And they make this baby bok choy dish, with garlic.  I had never had it before, but it’s turned into one of my favorite foods,” he said enthusiastically.

I told him about Alastair and Arabella Wong and their restaurant, Wong’s Chinese.  “Oh yeah, he said.  “That’s the lady you said owns Wriggles, the little pug dog.  Mrs. Peabody is just dog-sitting until she gets back from vacation, right?”Vintage Asia mag

“Yes, that’s the one.  Funny isn’t it, the way this kind of thing seems to happen?” I commented.  “Alastair and Arabella leave here to visit California, while you come from California to here.”

Andy chuckled.  “Yeah, it’s like the hand of Fate making sure things stay in balance.  If one thing or person leaves a realm, then another must take its place,” he said, talking like he would in one of the science fiction stories he wrote.

The black Dodge Roadster puttered along toward the abandoned factory.  Andy had put the tan colored ragtop down when we started out, but he looked up at the clouding sky in concern.  “Do you think we should stop and put the top up?”

The old factory that Andy had bought on behalf of a studio executive was only a little further down the road.  “We’re almost there.  Why don’t we just take our chances?” I suggested, knowing Andy was probably more concerned about me getting rained on than himself or the automobile.

“So why in the world would Manny Mayer the Movie Maker want an abandoned factory in Savannah, Georgia?” I asked Andy about the executive.

Cowgirl valentineAndy Avis gave an exaggerated shrug.  “I sorta wondered that myself.  I was bragging.  Goading him a little you know.  He can be kind of a blowhard.  So I was telling him about how much better the barbecue sauce is here in the south, and how much better it is than anything he’s ever tasted.  So maybe he wants to open a huge barbecue place,” Andy said jokingly, which earned him a look from me.  “Okay, so maybe not.  To be honest, I didn’t want to ask too many questions, since he — or the studio was paying for my trip.  To me, it was as much for pleasure, for rest and relaxation, as for business,” he said and gave me a quick one-armed hug while he drove.

Something about his tone and a sad look in his eyes made me concerned.  “Are you okay?  Out there all the way across the country, by yourself?” I asked.

Andy grinned like his old self.  “Hollywood is the cat’s pajamas!” he said, though his smile waivered a little.  “But I admit it’s a big adjustment.  Everything is so different, whether I’m at the studio or just walking down the street.”

The sun came back out, clearing away the clouds.  Soon we were at the abandoned building.  It predated the Civil War.  The factory-warehouse was a sort of hideout for blockade runners back then.  We knew there might be all kinds of interesting stuff still inside because it was supposed to be haunted, and that would have kept away many thieves and vandals.

However, there wasn’t much of anything within plain sight.  There were plenty of crates
and even old trunks.  Plus the windows didn’t let in much light.  We had our work cut out for us, 1920s cowgirl grapefruit adbut we were armed with flashlights and dust-rags, and Andy had a crowbar for opening crates.

After a few minutes of stirring up dust, we spotted an old document lying on top of a tall crate.  We moved sturdy looking smaller crates to stand on, so we could see the top of the tall wooden box.  The paper was crumbling with age.  We were afraid it would fall apart into useless bits if we picked it up.  “If we just had something to put it in,” I muttered half to myself.

“It’s probably just a shipping manifest, but you never know.  Heck, even that could be interesting.  Oh!” Andy exclaimed.  “Granny is always determined to send food back with me, so I bought some aluminum foil… but I forgot to give it to her.  It’s out in the roadster.  That would work.  We can make a foil envelope around this paper.  If we’re real careful, it should hold together,” Andy said and headed back to the Dodge.

As I watched my friend’s form disappear into the dank building, I gulped.  Knowing I was alone in the abandoned factory gave me a creepy feeling, even though I knew Andy was only a shout away and would be back quickly.  Then a long roll of thunder filled the building.  It sounded close.  I realized Andy would be a little longer, since he’d need to put the top up on the ragtop two-seater.  I wondered if I should go help him.

Tom Mix poster“Just stay there, Pip!” I heard him call back to me, though he was out of sight.  “Sounds like the rain’s coming back.  There’s no point in you getting wet too.  I can put the top up on the roadster,” he said, voice fading into the distance.

A low whistle caused me to turn with a start.

“Well now, ain’t you a pretty little filly,” said a man wearing a Stetson hat.

He looked like he’d walked out of a Tom Mix movie.  Actually, he was tall, well-built, and a real looker.

“You startled me,” I gasped, stating the obvious.

He looked abashed and removed the Stetson with a sort of bow.  “Howdy, ma’am.  Pardon me. I seem to have forgotten my manners.  It’s been awhile since…” he began but his words trailed away as thunder rumbled again.

The room shook and it felt like the thunder was right beside me.  I felt the man’s hand around my waist, and he roughly pulled me against him.  My breath caught in my throat as I gazed up at his bright eyes, which shone with an emotion that I couldn’t define or even describe.  Suddenly a couple of huge red-eyed cows careened past.  They had long shiny black horns that missed me by an inch.  I realized that one of those horns would have gored me if the cowboy hadn’t pulled me aside.

“What… was that?” I said, pulling away from him.

Then I noticed a large lariat was in his hands.  I was sure it hadn’t been there before.1933 Macleans

“Dang it all…” he muttered and then sighed with frustration.  “I wouldn’t have caught them anyway,” he spoke words that rang of defeat.

He shook his head, looking after the longhorn cows, which disappeared as suddenly as they appeared.  Then he turned back to me. “Caleb Colman, ma’am,” the cowboy said and put out his hand to shake mine.

I might have giggled about the name Caleb Colman the Cowboy, but I didn’t.  Because the moment I shook his hand was when I realized how cold his touch really was.  I’d felt it all the way through my dress too, when he pulled me out of the way of the cattle.  I knew what he was.  By then, you’d think I’d have been used to meeting ghosts, but I introduced myself awkwardly.  He finished what he had been about to say before the red-eyed cows interrupted us.

“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 said seeing the expression on my face.

Caleb bowed his head, Stetson hat in hand. I didn’t know what to say.  Nothing seemed sufficient compared to the thought of an unwilling and futile chase that went on forever.  There was deep sadness and regret in the ghost-rider’s eyes.

Wild west weekly“I know I did some bad things during my life.  Some truly horrible things,” he said, shaking his head remorsefully.  “I only wish I could be allowed to make up for it, to redeem myself somehow.”

That was when everything started to happen at once.  I heard a distant rumble like thunder.  I felt Caleb’s cold hand at my waist again.  Andy called my name.  He had just come back into view, at the far end of the poorly lighted factory floor.  The room began to shake violently.  A dozen red-eyed cattle with long sharply pointed black horns charged past.  The Devil’s Herd was headed straight for Andy.

Caleb yelled at Andy to take cover, as he pulled me to the floor and out of the way.  Even if Andy hadn’t been frozen in shock, he wouldn’t have had time to move.  Immediately behind the cattle were two more ghost-riders, their horses snorting fire.

Their lariats spun circles of burning light as they tried to lasso the cattle.  One cowboy’s lariat went around a set of shiny black horns, but the beast managed to shake it off before the ghost-rider could tighten the rope.  The lasso went back into the air — and landed around Andy!

Glowing-Longhorns copy

As if by magic, a fire-snorting horse appeared and Caleb leapt into the saddle in a single motion.  He charged after the other ghost-riders, yelling at them to stop.  However, the lasso tightened around Andy, lifting him into the air as the riders thundered past.

Then with the sound of a thunderclap and a flash of fire, they all disappeared.

***

Recipe:  Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy with Garlic

by Lillian Chou on Epicurious.com

Baby bok choy

Recipe and Photo Credit:  Epicurious.com

Yield:  8 servings

Active time:  35 min

Total time:  35 min

Ingredients

1/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

1/4 cup thinly sliced garlic (about 8 cloves)

2 pounds baby or Shanghai bok choy, halved lengthwise

2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil

Equipment: a well-seasoned 14-inch flat-bottomed wok with a lid

 

Preparation

Stir together broth, soy sauce, cornstarch, and 1/2 teaspoon salt until cornstarch has dissolved.

 

Heat wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates instantly.  Pour peanut oil down side of wok, then swirl oil, tilting wok to coat side.  Add garlic and stir-fry until pale golden, 5 to 10 seconds.  Add half of bok choy and stir-fry until leaves wilt, about 2 minutes, then add remaining bok choy and stir-fry until all leaves are bright green and limp, 2 to 3 minutes total.  Stir broth mixture, then pour into wok and stir-fry 15 seconds.  Cover with lid and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, 2 to 4 minutes.  Stir in sesame oil, then transfer to a serving dish.

Chef’s  note:

Baby bok choy can be washed, dried, and halved one day ahead.  Chill wrapped in paper towels, in a sealed bag.

***

 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 – 18: Fungus, Quiche, Quinoa

Cat_menu_Episode-18Dear readers, I’m finally back to following my own rules — working “three ingredients” into the serial episode, and treating you to recipes or videos, and some factual information along the way.

Ingredients for this episode are from my very talented friend Ishita.  To be fair — no, Ishita didn’t give us an unappetizing sounding ingredient like “fungus.”  She originally said Quorn, but I thought that was not invented during the timeline of our serial.  So after looking it up, I settled on fungus, which relates to Quorn.

With The Three Ingredients serial our story items are not always about recipe ingredients.  They may be utensils, preparation methods, or any food-related Quinua copything.  I’m going a step further in that direction with the gluten free “quinoa” (pronounced KEEN-wah) ingredient today and giving you an informative video.  However, I am not leaving you without a recipe this weekend, because Ishita recently blogged a delicious recipe, Quinoa, the Mexican Way! (Thank you, Ishita, for making this easier for me, by sharing your recipe.)

And now, I hope you’ll enjoy the Kooky ingredients of Episode-18.  Bon appétit!

18.  Fungus, Quiche, Quinoa

King of Clubs cardTime seemed to freeze.  I stood in a field of grass that swayed in a gentle breeze.  My head hurt and my stomach was upset.  I stared at the playing card Alastair Wong handed me.  How had it come to be in my pocket?  I felt like there was some significance to the King of Clubs card.  I delved my sluggish thoughts, but it was like swimming in mud.  I couldn’t remember what I should know about the card.  While I looked at it additional questions flooded my consciousness.  Why was I standing in the middle of a large herb garden?  Most of all, why had I been in a root cellar?

I wrapped my arms around myself, suddenly cold.  I noticed a tear in the sleeve of my dress and a scrape on my elbow.  Taking my fingers away from the spot I saw blood, dirt, and some kind of fungus.  Who knew what might grow in the darkness of a cellar.  The wound was dirty; it needed to be washed, I thought distractedly.

Then my exploring hands felt a gritty coating on my back and shoulders.  Alastair must have thought I was trying to dust myself off, but I was really just trying to figure out what had happened to me. Why couldn’t I remember?

He gently started to dust off my shoulders.  “Pip, you’re a mess,” he pretended to chide me.  I was sure he could tell I was distraught and wanted to lighten my mood.  “You have dirt on your face, and… what’s this all over your back?” the young owner of the local Chinese restaurant added.1920s Shanghai night

Alastair removed his hand from my shoulder and looked at his fingers.  His eyebrows knitted in a perplexed way.  I looked at the substance I felt on my own hands.  I sort of remembered landing on bags of something that broke my fall, like a cushion.  “Is it wheat or maybe some kind of seeds?” I muttered, still groggy.

“Fat hen!” he exclaimed.

“What did you call me?” I demanded, thinking my ears surely deceived me.

“No,” Alastair said. “Goosefoot.”

“That isn’t any better!” I cried.  How dare he?

“No, Pip.  I mean the grain.  Jeepers, what’s the real name—?  They call it fat hen, sometimes goosefoot…  Quinoa, that’s it! I haven’t seen much of this around here.  I think it’s quinoa.  That’s a high protein grain crop,” he said, showing off his knowledge of foodstuffs.  I was sure he was just as educated as any big restaurateur.

A sudden blast of sound startled me.  Alastair loudly blew a whistle.  Then he blew it two more times.  I covered my ears against the eardrum splitting noise.  Applesauce!  As if I didn’t already have a headache. You’d think he 1925 Judge Magcould have warned me.  Why did he blow a whistle in the first place?

I felt really woozy, and it must have showed.  Alastair stepped closer to me and took my elbow.  I didn’t realize until then that I stood dangerously close to the trapdoor type opening of that cellar. He guided me a few steps away from it, but his eyes narrowed suspiciously as he looked down.  Alastair bent to inspect the hatch.  It was covered with sod.  My mind was still muddled, but I realized the covering of dirt and grass explained why the door was so heavy and difficult when I shouldered it open.

“Somebody wanted to keep that cellar hidden,” Alastair said as he looked curiously into the dark maw of the vault.  “You don’t remember how you got here, huh?” he asked.

I shook my head then wished I had not moved it.

“Somebody must have pushed you into that cellar.  I’ll bet you landed on a bag of this quinoa,” he pondered looking at his dusty fingers.  “Then whomever it was closed the door and left you there.  Did you see anything else down there?”

“I felt bags of potatoes and rutabagas,” I replied.  “There was only a crack of light coming from the hatch.  I 1916 Vogue springmade out the shape of a ladder and used it to climb out.  I couldn’t see what else might be in there.”

The pink light that heralded sunset deepened.  The clouds turned orange and red in prediction of a fair night.  Alastair looked up expectantly toward the horizon.  He must have heard something I had not noticed, but then my ears were still ringing a bit.  A moment later I caught a faint shrill sound.  He smiled.

“We’ve been looking for you nearly all day, Pip,” Alastair told me, seeming amused at my puzzled expression.  “What in the devil were you doing out here?”

I confessed that I had no idea how I got there.  I couldn’t remember.  “Tofu,” I muttered.  “I remember something about tofu and Granny.”

He smiled at that and looked a little relieved.  “You had me worried.  I expect everything will come back to you,” Alastair told me as he led me away from the cellar.  “You were supposed to come to the restaurant to pick up some tofu.  Miss Fanny seemed intent on forcing it down her patient.”

Patient?  “Wha—?” I began, but my brain wouldn’t finish digging for the information.

Barrie Craig adventures“It’s okay, Pip.  Marshal Myrick?  The doctors Vale did surgery on him at their place?  After he was ambushed?  Do you remember any of that?  It sounds awfully exciting!  It’s okay,” he said in answer to my pleading look.  “It will come back to you.  Anyhow, when you didn’t show up I thought Miss Fanny’s Model-T must have broken down, so I headed out to meet you.  I got all the way to the Vales’ animal hospital and still hadn’t seen the car or you,” Alastair explained.

Applesauce!  Had something happened to Granny’s Model-T?  She’d kill me!

Alastair’s voice intruded on my panicked thoughts.  “Everybody was trying to guess where else you might have gone.  When you called, I remembered you saying something about cilantro, but you didn’t explain.  I figured if you had made a detour to get cilantro, then the Queen of Clubs Herb Farm was the only place that was between the Vale’s place and Wong’s.

“We found the Model-T hours ago, but we couldn’t find you anywhere.  The Wetson house and the buildings around it were deserted.  But I understand they’re linked to the ambush and the bootleggers somehow?” he said.1914_Ford_Model_T_Speedster

Slowly I nodded.  I wasn’t sure why, but what Alastair said seemed right.  I had a half-formed memory of something like that… I remembered being in the Model-T with Granny driving that cherished car like a bat out of hell.  Then I remembered all the blood at the scene of the ambush.  There were dead bodies.  I remembered that very clearly, even the coppery smell of the blood.  I turned away from Alastair and wretched, but there was nothing left in my stomach.  Thank goodness.

“Come on,” he said gently.  “My truck is right over here.  You can rest there.  The others will be here in a minute.”

“Others?” I asked groggily.

“Yeah.  That’s why I blew the whistle — to let them know I’d found you,” he said and motioned toward his truck.1920s delivery truck

Then I saw the truck, not too far away.  I thought I could walk that far.  The truck was painted with the name, Wong’s Chinese.  I noticed Alastair had added his new slogan below the restaurant name, “You’re always right with Wong’s,” and I thought it was strange that I could remember him telling me that silly slogan, but I couldn’t remember what had happened to me that day.  When we reached the truck I saw a crate of eggs in the back.  Half the eggs were broken.  I gave Alastair what must have been an odd look.

“I didn’t exactly drive carefully once we figured out something was wrong, that you’d gone missing,” he said and he blushed a little.  “When I said I was going to meet up with you, in case you’d broken down, Momma had me take some eggs.  She said Doctor Veronica likes to make quiche…  Then I forgot to give them to her.  I hit a lot 1920s woman scientist-microscopeof bumps on the way out here.  Not so good for eggs…  Maybe Doctor Ronnie can salvage some of them.”

He was saved from further explanation by the sound of yapping.  High pitched barking grew closer.  Something white bounded through the tall grass.  For a second I didn’t know what it was, but my mind started filling in blanks.  It was a little poodle.  Cotton, the name came to me; Veronica Vale’s dog.  Just as those thoughts fell into place the poodle pounced into my arms.

As the sky grew increasingly red with sunset, the field became more populated.  Veronica Vale puttered up in their slow moving jalopy.  She jumped out of the car and hugged me while I held the dog.  Cotton then struggled to get down.  “Cotton, you naughty girl,” Veronica chided the dog.  “You know you’re supposed to come when I call you.”  The dog only wagged her tail in answer, totally unrepentant.

Then a familiar automobile drove up, but I couldn’t say why I felt I knew it.  I recognized the car, but that was as far as memory would take me.

JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar adVeronica noticed my odd expression when a tall attractive man with deep blue eyes got out of the car.  He had a severe expression on his face, and an official bearing that made me feel like a kid in trouble.  He looked angry and I reflexively drew back.

Mrs. Vale seemed to think she was explaining the man’s presence when she spoke.  “We made Hank stay behind with Moses.  Mind you it was a task, because he was already out the door to go looking for you before Alastair even finished saying that he didn’t see you on the road anywhere.  However, Hank really should be resting from that head wound, and we couldn’t leave the marshal alone.  So I made him stay behind to mind the patient.  But the rest of us have been searching high and low for you,” she said then paused and looked expectantly at my blank expression.  “Hank radioed Dabney.  He left off investigating the bootleggers and joined our search for you.”

Who was Hank? I wondered silently.  A kind face hovered in my mind.  I associated him with a uniform and a radio.  That’s it!  Hank was the youngest policeman on Savannah’s force, and he was a wizard with radio equipment.  But who was this angry looking man?

“I whistled to the others, when I heard your signal,” Veronica added with a nod to Alastair.  “Vincent and your grandmother should be here shortly.”

“I’m sorry,” I began, “but who is that?  He looks like a copper.”  I said that quietly so as not to offend the man who was only a few feet away by then.  He looked like he was already annoyed enough.

When I spoke, Veronica looked at me intently.  She stepped closer and got all doctor-like.  She checked my eyes and felt around on my head, despite me trying to push her hands away.  “Pip…” she said warningly, and I was reminded that, well she was a doctor.  She asked what was wrong.1920 Radio News

“She can’t remember anything that happened today,” Alastair supplied while I struggled to form the right words.  “And apparently there are some other things she can’t remember too,” he added with his voice dipping in a worried tone.

Doctor Vale looked suspiciously at me and felt my head again.  By then the man had walked over to us.  “You do have a little bump on your head, but…” she began, but her words trailed away.  “You know Dabney Daniels, don’t you?  The police detective?” she asked.

I said nothing, but I spared a timid glance at the detective.  He looked from Doctor Vale to me and back to her again.  His posture became stiffer, if that was possible.  His face reddened.  Was he angry with me, I wondered.  Had I done something I couldn’t remember?  Broken some law?  Surely not.

Then Veronica leaned toward me and sniffed.  The awful sickly sweet smell still clung to my hair.  Right then, I would have given just about anything to wash that odor out of my hair.  It nauseated me every time I breathed.

Her eyes grew large.  “You’ve been drugged, Pip!” she said with surprise.  “Do you remember anything?  Anything about somebody frightening you, or doing something to you?” she asked, but I shook my head.

The detective’s hands clinched to fists.  Veronica put her fingers to a smear on my face, and then smelled of her hand and nodded knowingly.  “Someone probably grabbed you from behind.  Do you remember anything like that?”Life October 1929

Suddenly I remembered the air whooshing from my lungs as someone roughly caught me around my middle.  Yes, they had been behind me and I had not seen who it was.  Then I remembered everything going black.

“Show him the card, Pip,” Alastair said somewhat hesitantly and motioned to the detective.

I was sort of relieved to know that I wasn’t the only one who felt awkward around the man.  I couldn’t blame Alastair.  This detective was a fierce looking customer.  I took out the King of Clubs card and extended it toward the man without speaking.  Was I really supposed to be acquainted with this man?

“That card fell out of her pocket after she climbed out of the cellar,” Alastair supplied for me.

Ordinarily it would have annoyed me to have someone try and do the talking for me.  After all, I was a flapper — a modern woman!  However, Alastair simply picked up on how fuzzy my brain was and helped fill in while I was tongue-tied, so I was actually grateful.

The detective took the King of Clubs card from my hand.  His face turned from red to white, and then even redder than it was before.  A vein in his temple started to throb.  Reflexively I took a step backward.  That was one angry copper.  My stomach churned violently, and the unpleasant smell in my hair was inescapable.  The pain in my skull had grown from an ordinary headache to a horrible vice-grip that made me feel like it would explode.1920s-photoplay-new faces

“Pip,” the copper spoke my name as if he had used it many times.  “Do you understand what this means?  The most notorious gangster this side of the Mississippi River grabbed you, drugged you, and threw you down into a cellar!  Then he left his calling card in your pocket!  Was it a warning?  Or was it a bizarre clue? Or what?” he said in a demanding voice.

Flinching away from him I took another step backward.  How could I know the answers to those questions?  I felt my knees giving way.  The ground beneath my feet seemed to heave and spin, fit for the trapeze act my friend Mona was learning down in Sarasota, Florida.  Mona?  Yes, I suddenly remembered Mona and Andy, and Frankie.  Frankie who betrayed us all.

Then large black spots filled my vision.  I saw the tall detective take a big step toward me, just before the black spots crowded out all the orange light of sunset.  I felt him catch me with one arm and lift me up from the approaching ground.  Consciousness was escaping quickly, but I knew he sat me in Alastair’s truck.

***

Mavis adI awoke to something warm and wet against my face.  “Cotton, leave her alone.  Come here girl,” I heard Veronica tell the poodle.  Alastair Wong held me tightly.  I was still in the truck, but we were not in that field any more.  I recognized the lovely white house with a green roof.  We were at Veronica’s home.

“Don’t try to move yet, Pip,” Veronica instructed as she hurried from her old car.

I didn’t move, but that was mostly because I was so overwhelmed by all the different noises.  The put-put of Veronica’s engine, the louder sound of the truck, the yapping of Cotton.  A horse whinnied from the stable, and from inside the house I could hear a bird screech.  A parrot.  Cracker, I thought with a smile as another memory was retrieved.  Then I almost faded out of consciousness again.  I took a deep breath and focused on my breathing.

Alastair shut off the truck’s engine and that helped.  It seemed to remind Veronica that her car was still running and she rushed back to turn it off.  I felt safe and warm, tucked under Alastair’s shoulder with his arm around me.  He didn’t flinch and I had no wish to move.  However, as Veronica ran back to the truck I knew I couldn’t stay there.  I clawed my way toward a more alert state.Parrot in flight

A shutter banged against the wall and the parrot flew out of the building that housed the animal hospital.  That was also where we sat up a recovery room for the marshal after his surgery.  I was pleased that more bits of memory fell into place.

The clever bird could open anything when she set her mind to it.  She alighted on the back of the truck seat.  The parrot started preening strands of my hair as if it was feathers.  “Dainty dish,” the bird chirped as if she meant to comfort me. “Dainty dish, fourandtwenty.”

The roar of a mud-spattered motorcycle startled everyone and caused the parrot to flutter skyward.  I turned to see the man who rode it take off a goggled helmet.  To my surprise it was Vincent Vale.  I must have looked every bit as astonished as I felt because Veronica chuckled softly.

“Didn’t you know Vincent had a motorcycle?” she asked as the parrot settled back onto the truck’s open door.

1920s BSA Motorcycle ad“We were ready to search the four corners of the earth for you,” Alastair told me as he loosened his arm.  “And there weren’t enough cars to go everywhere Detective Daniels said we should look.”

“So Vincent rolled out his pride and joy,” Veronica said.  “It hasn’t touched a street in ages — let alone all that mud,” she added with a combination of a wince and a laugh.

Vincent got off the vehicle.  That’s when I saw that there was someone sitting behind the veterinarian on the motorcycle.  Boots, heavy trousers, and a leather helmet with goggles made for a smaller version of Vincent.  Gloved hands removed the helmet.  A cascade of hip-length gray hair tumbled from the helmet.

“Granny!” I cried incredulously.

***

Video:  Quinoa 101

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Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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Three Ingredients – 12: Rye, Pie, Dainty Dish

Cat_menu_Episode-11 copyWith the exception of Pip, our story’s narrator, the character who seems to get the most interest is Cracker the parrot.  That amuses me, because Cracker is a character that I never anticipated. That’s the fun part of deliberately not planning this serial and letting the “ingredients” you send drive every aspect of it! I would have never planned Cracker.

A reader from across the pond, Spock’s Sister (aka Penny) quoted a nursery rhyme, and jokingly suggested that Granny might snap and put the parrot in a pie if Cracker kept pushing Granny’s buttons.  That is where today’s three ingredients originated.  Here in Episode-12 something does go amiss with our dear but mischievous bird.  However, Granny Fanny didn’t have a hand in it — I promise.

Keep the story going by leaving a comment with three ingredients.  Remember — you’re driving!

12.  Rye, Pie, Dainty Dish

As the Model-T bounced and jostled on the dirt road, I bent down and felt under the Art of Baking Breadseat.  However, my fingers didn’t touch what I hoped to find, or much of anything at all.  There was hardly even a bit of dust.  Well, I reminded myself, Granny did baby that car.  I found a tiny grain of something.  Inspecting my fingers I muttered, “Rye?”

Granny Fanny grumbled.  “Honestly… more of that rye?  Some of it spilled weeks ago when I bought the makings for marble rye bread.  It seems like I’ve been trying to get it all cleaned up ever since,” Granny said still focused on the narrow road, the back way to the Vales’ place.

Still contorted as I searched under the seat, I gasped out the question, “Granny, where is your shotgun?”

My shotgun?” she exclaimed.

“Of course your shotgun.  Have you got something better?” I New Movie magasked while I rummaged in the pocket on the inside of the passenger door, hoping to find anything we might use to defend ourselves.  “You don’t think I’m going to sit by like some silly doll?  Like some kind of, of,” I sputtered.  “Like some dainty dish, do you?”

Realization dawned on me like a block of ice in my stomach.  I stopped and turned wide eyed to my grandmother.  “Granny… Surely you don’t mean to tell me that we’re headed toward an entire gang of mobsters and rumrunners without any weapon?”

Granny took her eyes off the road long enough to frown at me with one eyebrow raised nearly to her hairline.  Then she turned her attention back to the road just as a deer sprinted across.  The deer’s white tail flashed as if she waived a handkerchief at us in quick farewell.  I reminded myself that a white flag was a sign of surrender and maybe I should give up this argument before it actually got started.

“Paisley,” Granny began, and I knew I was on thin ice or she would have called me Pip.  “Think.  You’re always saying you want to be a ‘modern woman’ so use your 1925 Judge Magbrain.  A gun is no good if you never get the chance to use it!  My shotgun!” she said acerbically. “Even if we each had a shotgun in one hand and a pistol in the other, it wouldn’t get us anything but dead against half a dozen, maybe a dozen armed men who have no compunction about killing.”

The tone of her voice and the pain in her eyes sent a wave of guilt across my stomach. Had I been selfish? I was only thinking about what I wanted to do, not the reality of what had happened.

All I could think about was Marshal Myrick being ambushed, and how Dabney said the man who heard the radioed distress call had lost count of all the gunshots because there had been so many.  An image of the scene came unbidden to my mind.  There must be bullet holes and blood everywhere.

I lifted my hand to push my hair out of my eyes.  Looking at my hand, it seemed odd that I would notice but there was still a bit of rye on my fingertips.  Then I realized my hand was shaking.  I was shaking.  Desperately I tried to stop my wayward mind from imagining what might already be happening to Dabney Daniels if he ended up crossing tracks with the villains.  Alone.

Johnsons autokitMy grandmother’s voice brought me out of my thoughts.  “I don’t mean to head off those bootleggers,” she said.  “Don’t you see how foolish that would be?”

It wasn’t really a question, but I nodded.  “Yes, I suppose so.  But if we’re not going to help, then what are we doing?” I asked.

“Oh, we are going to help.  We’ll help however we can.  I keep a first aid kit with bandages under the back seat.  We can at least try to stop the bleeding,” she said with a frown that gave me the surprised thought that she had done that kind of thing before.  “And we can help get the injured to Veronica and Vincent,” she added before abruptly hitting the brakes.

The Model-T skidded on the dirt road.  I grabbed the dashboard.  Granny gave me a quick glance to make sure I was okay, before looking skyward and pointing.  I saw a brightly colored streak go across the sky.  “That dad-blasted bird!” Granny exclaimed.1920s Ja-Da Parrot

Granny sighed and then punched the gas pedal, throwing me back against the seat.  Then she began to murmur in a singsong voice.

Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye,

Four and twenty parrots (she inserted drolly) baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,

Wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the King?

Applesauce!  Was that Cracker?” I cried.  “Oh no! How did she get out of the house?” I said before I thought about the fact that the clever bird could probably do just about anything if she put her mind to it.

My grandmother looked upward at the direction the parrot had flown and shook her head.  “That nasty bird… Just when I was getting fond of her.  Well, there’s nothing for it right now.  With Moses and Dabney—” her voice choked off before she finished.  She wiped her eye with the knuckle of her index finger and turned her attention back to the road.  Granny cleared her throat.  “When all this is over, we’ll get some sunflower seeds and apple slices…  We’ll drive around and see if we can spot her.  Maybe we can use a treat to coax her down.”

Beatrix Potter-1“You wouldn’t really cook Cracker, would you, Granny?” I asked, only half sure of the answer.

She chuckled quietly and sniffed, not looking at me.  “No, Pip.  Cinnamon Bun would miss her.  Did you know that he brings her treats?” she commented.

I knew that we both were trying to avoid thinking about what we might encounter in a few minutes, when we reached the scene.  However, I didn’t realize Granny knew about the bunny bringing tidbits to the parrot.  I laughed and nodded.  Brushing my hair back again I looked at my hand once more.  I was steadier by then.  I looked at my palm.  I did palmistry whenever I got the chance.  But my hand didn’t tell me what to expect.  “Do you still read tealeaves, Granny?” I asked the woman who had taught me palm reading.

No answer was forthcoming.  Abruptly Granny hit the brakes and then threw the Model-T into reverse.  Then she turned onto a trail that was barely wide enough for the car to get through.  I saw her cringe as a blackberry bramble scrubbed the side of 1920s German car adthe car.  I held on for dear life as we bumped along the trail.  A couple of times I thought my tailbone was going to pierce the seat, because I landed so hard.

Granny Fanny focused intently on the path ahead.  As if she hadn’t heard me, she spoke about Cracker again.  “What was the new phrase she came up with?  Four and twenty?” my grandmother asked and tilted her head as if she was deep in thought.  “Four and twenty… rye… rye that I bought for the marble rye bread… cilantro!” she finished with a gasp.

“Pip!” she exclaimed.  “You told me Dabney had his men checking at dairy farms for E. coli contamination, but you never said that any farm had been shut down.”

“Detective Daniels said they didn’t turn up anything,” I said, wondering at her seemingly disconnected train of thought.

Dews Pond Gristmill, GA“Wetson’s mill, where I got the rye, they have a few milk cows.  They’re not really in the dairy business, but sometimes they barter or sell a little milk if they have extra, mostly to folks they know.  Their main business is herbs, including cilantro.  Their place is called the Queen of Clubs Herb Farm.”

“So you think that’s where the dead man from the theatre, Cracker Jack Daddy — Cracker’s owner, got the cilantro all over his shoes?  But what made you think of it now?” I wanted to know.

“Because of the direction the parrot was flying.  Do you remember me telling you how playing cards were once used for readings?  Cartomancy is much older than card games.  The suit of clubs represents the element fire.  Another word for whiskey is fire-water,” she explained but I shook my head bewildered.

The Model-T nearly stopped when we came to a deep rut in the road.  After carefully driving across it, Granny continued.  “Moses had a hunch that ‘Queen of Clubs’ was a code name.  He told me there was a powerful group of bootleggers run by a woman Alice cardscalled the Queen of Clubs.  She used card names for her underlings.  And, while it isn’t spread around too awfully much, there have been rumors that the Wetsons make rye whiskey.  Moses thought Cracker Jack Daddy fit into that group as the Jack of Clubs,” she told me.

“What about the ‘fourandtwenty’ Cracker started squawking?” I pondered aloud.

“If there’s a Queen of Clubs, then there must be a king somewhere.  Moses thought the ‘king’ was a higher level mobster, not a common bootlegger,” she said.

Why would Marshal Myrick tell you those things?” I said in astonishment.  “Unless…  Applesauce!  Granny, did that revenuer send you to spy on bootleggers?  And that fancy party he wanted you to cater — that’s where the ‘king’ fits in, isn’t it! That’s too dangerous, Granny!”

“This from the girl who was going to take on a whole gang of armed men with one old woman and one shotgun?” she said dryly.

I didn’t have a response.

Up ahead I could just barely make out where our deer trail met the real road.  Then I heard gunshots — several of them.  Granny hit the gas to move to a place on the right 1922 Sat Postwhere the trail opened onto a meadow.  She pulled the Model-T off the trail and out of sight from the road ahead.  I could just barely see between the trees and blackberry brambles.  A moment later a car sped down the road.  A man leaned out and fired his gun one more time.  They drove off in the same direction Cracker had gone.

My heart raced.  I strained to listen for more gunfire, for other cars, other sounds that meant there might be more gangsters behind that carload.  After a minute Granny drove the Model-T back onto the road.  I expected to see Dabney’s car speeding after the crooks.  But his car didn’t come.  I swallowed hard and held on as Granny Fanny punched the gas.

***

How to Shape Marble Rye Bread