Three Ingredients – 21: Lettuce, Beet, Stew

Rabbit_Episode 21I hope everyone had a wonderful week.  The characters in our 1920’s story might have been worried though.  The “ingredients cupboards” are bare!  The main idea behind this serial is to involve you readers, via the food-related things (the ingredients) you send.  Now, you wouldn’t want Granny Fanny to worry, or Cracker to stop getting into trouble would you?  So I hope you’ll send ingredients.  Anyone is welcome to leave three ingredients in a comment.

Also, you can do catch-up reading at the serial’s homepage. Just click on the button at the top of this page.

You might be expecting the fancy shindig Granny is catering to be the climax of this storyline.  So am I — but I’m depending on the ingredients you all send to take us there.  We’re closing in on it, but this episode reveals an unexpected layer to the culinary mystery.  I hope you enjoy it.  Bon appétit!

21.  Lettuce, Beet, Stew

Cinnamon Bun nibbled at a piece of lettuce.  I wondered absently where the huge bunny had gotten it. lantern-press-joker-playing-card Granny Fanny looked over my shoulder at the Joker playing card in my trembling hand and read the warning aloud.

“Be ready.”

Just then Alastair and Hank stepped up to the porch, having loaded the ice filled tubs of dandelion and burdock onto the young restaurateur’s truck.  One of Alastair’s eyebrows climbed nearly to his hairline.  He knew about the warning card that was found on me back at Wetson’s Mill.

Hank still looked uncomfortable with his henna treated red hair.  He took the card from me, murmuring something about evidence.  I reached to take it back and the sleeve of my white jacket tore free at the shoulder.  Granny took the card from Hank and discretely put it away.  Then she looked at my brand new uniform.

“Humph… That seam wasn’t properly sewed.  It was only basted.  Paisley, there’s still time if you’re quick about it.  Take my Model-T and get whoever is at Eunice’s Uniforms to stitch that back up, and check all the other seams while they’re at it,” she said.  Then she glanced at the black crepe trousers and said, “Make sure they check the pants too.”1914_Ford_Model_T_Speedster

My cheeks turned beet red at the thought of my trousers coming apart in the middle of the ritzy event we were about to cater. Without any hesitation, I hurried to the cherished automobile with its brightly painted yellow spoke wheels.  The fact that Granny was willing to trust me with her car was proof that she was determined to do her first big catering job well.  Or maybe it was confirmation that she still meant to carryout the sting operation that originated with Marshal Moses Myrick.  If I were to be truthful with myself I’d have to admit that I was more than a little worried about the dangers involved in busting a bootlegger kingpin who was already behind the killing of the marshal’s men and God knew how many other people.

Life October 1929As I got into the immaculate little car Granny called after me.  “You know the address and what time we’re supposed to be there to set up everything,” she said and it was only half a question.

I said that I did, and waived cheerily as the Model-T puttered onto the road.

Moments later I pulled up in front of a little shop in an historic part of Savannah, not far from River Street.  I knocked on the door but no one answered.  Maybe Eunice, or whoever was minding the shop for her, had gone out for a quick errand.  I bounced on the toes of my feet, feeling anxious and rushed.  Granny would skin me if I didn’t get that jacket fixed.  Well, okay, maybe not, but she’d surely be upset at the situation.

An unexpected cold breeze ruffled my bobbed hair.  When the chill went down my back, I almost wished I still had my long hair.  I shaded my eyes from the glare on the shop window and tried to see inside, wondering if I was being rude to peep into it like that.

While I didn’t exactly see anybody I did see movement inside the shop.  I knocked again, and still no one came.  I was sure someone was there.  Maybe they had moved to the back of the shop and didn’t hear my knock.  I placed my hand on the brass doorknob and it gave before I even turned it, as if the door had not been pulled all the way closed.

Leaning into the front room I called out, “Anyone here?”

Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell

In a jiffy, a girl who looked about my age came from the back of the shop.  She had a bright bandana died around her hair, and she was dressed in men’s clothes.  It was called the tomboy look.  Even Margaret Mitchell was doing it, but Granny got upset if I wore menswear for anything but gardening.  That’s why I had been so pleasantly surprised by her modern choice of uniforms for the catering business.  Though I realized their design was modified and cut for a woman, unlike the rather sloppy looking tomboy style.

“Can I help you miss?” she asked with a warm smile.

I introduced myself and she said she was called Daisy.  Then I explained about the uniform.

“It might be a little while before Miss Eunice gets back.  I’d be pleased to help you if that’s alright? Being as you’re pressed for time,” Daisy said glancing down shyly.

That was a great relief to me and I told her I’d be delighted to have her help.  So Daisy led me to the back of the shop.  She handed me a robe and motioned to a hand painted silk screen that I could change behind.  She made a quick but thorough inspection of the seams in the trousers, pronouncing them to be of fine workmanship.  Then she went about stitching the sleeve back onto the white tuxedo jacket.  By the Hand crank sewing machinetime I got changed back into the pants, she was already half finished with her work.  The hand cranked Singer sewing machine hummed as she worked.  The needle and thread moved so quickly that it was an amazing thing to watch.  In a moment she helped me into the jacket.

As Daisy carefully inspected the fit of the shoulder seams, her smile got even brighter.  I could tell she liked the uniform.  I commented on my amazement that Granny chose the style.  Daisy nodded her understanding.  A sad expression shadowed her eyes, though the smile didn’t falter.

“Yes, Miss.  It’s dangerous to be a girl out and about.  Too many men think you’re a dainty dish free for the taking.  I feel a lot safer when I wear men’s clothes,” Daisy confided as the clock in the front room chimed the quarter hour.

“A dainty dish?” I echoed, surprised to hear the phrase Cracker the parrot had squawked on more than one occasion.  I thought it must be a local expression.1920s Woman Parrot

“Yes, Miss.  But I’m no woman of easy virtue,” she added looking suddenly fearful.

I hastened to reassure her that no one would ever think such a thing of her.  It would have been nice to sit and talk with another girl — someone my own age, but the sound of the clock reminded me that I had to hurry.  I thanked Daisy and regretfully said goodbye.

As I got back into the Model-T, Eunice called out to me.  She quickened her step on the sidewalk.  “Hold your horses!  I’m back now,” she said looking a little annoyed.

“It’s okay,” I told her.  “A seam broke in my jacket but Daisy took care of it,” I said as I put the automobile into gear.  I didn’t mean to be abrupt, but I really had to hurry, so I wasn’t paying much attention to what she said.

“Who?” Eunice asked, looking confused.

“No worries,” I said pulling out onto the street.  “She did a fine job!” I called, and a backward glance showed Eunice standing with a fist on her hip and her head tilted in consternation.

1920s Flapper DrivingMinutes later I was taking the Model-T up a long and winding drive. Far below I could see the Savannah River glitter in the afternoon sun.  What a view those big wigs must have!  I forced my mind back to business and kept driving.  Granny Fanny met me at the side entrance of 420 Kingston Lane.  As she led me inside the grand home she admired the workmanship of the tuxedo jacket.  She asked if Eunice made any complaint, commenting on the occasional grumpiness of the seamstress.

“I only saw Eunice as I was leaving.  Her assistant, Daisy, took care of the repair,” I informed Granny.

“Daisy?” she commented in surprise.  “I wonder when Eunice got an assistant,” she said and then rattled off the list of things I was supposed to do.1920s Life parachute

“Paisley,” she began with my given name again.  That told me she was feeling stressed.  “There’s something sticking out of your pocket.  Make sure it’s tucked away.”

“But I don’t have anything in my pocket,” I said with a sudden sense of déjà vu as my fingers touched a folded slip of paper.  I removed it from my jacket and was relieved to see that it was only a receipt from Eunice’s Uniforms.  However, when I unfolded the paper I recognized the handwriting as a match for the warnings on the playing cards.  The front of the receipt said “No charge.”

Could the young seamstress be the person leaving the warning cards?  It was beginning to seem impossible for one person to have been in all the places where the playing cards had been left.  If Daisy was doing it, then maybe she wasn’t working alone.  How else could she manage to be in so many places?

I turned the receipt to look at the reverse side of the paper.  The words on the back made me gasp.

“Beware!”terror tales

Suddenly I felt dizzy.  I must have looked frightful too, because Granny took my elbow and pulled me into the next room.  The next thing I knew, Granny had put me in a big leather chair and pushed my head down between my knees.  A moment later I looked up to see Hank and Alastair staring down at me in concern.

We were in a big office room, or maybe rich people would call it a library.  French doors opened onto a terrace and a view of the Savannah River.  I looked around at the beautifully appointed room.  One wall was covered with book shelves from the floor to the high ceiling.  The other walls were paneled with expensive burled wood.  A massive desk dominated the room.  It was polished so well that the gas lamps reflected on the surface.1920s Arrow tux

Behind the desk hung a tall painting of a regal looking man with a touch of gray at his temples.  There was something familiar about his face, but he couldn’t be anyone I had met because the style of his elegant clothes told me the painting was about a hundred years old.  I stared at the picture, trying to figure out what was so familiar about the face.

Alastair quietly moved behind my chair and it startled me when he spoke.  “I remember my great-grandfather saying they called him ‘the king.’ He controlled most of Savannah at one point.”

I got up so I could take a closer look at the painting.  Hank pushed past Alastair and took my elbow as if he was afraid I might fall over or something.  Ordinarily that would have annoyed me, but I was too preoccupied by the painting and the half remembered thoughts that I was trying super hard to pull together.  It was as if I could almost touch a memory, but it kept slipping through my grasp.  I wondered again just how much I had forgotten when I was attacked and drugged back at Wetson’s Mill.

Several other paintings and photographs adorned the walls.  Another portrait caught my eye. I pulled free of Hank’s grasp.  He made a surprised, indignant noise.  Let him stew about that if he wanted.  Colors of grass and sky were worked into the background of the painting.  The artist showed a beautiful dark haired young woman with a simple white daisy in her hand.  Her eyes held a sad expression.  I alphonse mucha 1moved closer to the portrait.

“Daisy…” I whispered in awe, reading aloud the name on a brass plaque beneath the portrait.

Alastair shouldered Hank aside and continued his account of the paintings.  “Yes,” Alastair said.  “Nobody was dumb enough to say it in front of ‘the King’ but she was known as ‘the dainty dish.’  Rumors said she was given to him as a payment for a gambling debt, but he fell madly in love with her. Daisy died mysteriously.  There must be half a dozen stories about how she died, and none of them match or make much sense.”

No wonder there was such sadness in her eyes, I thought.  To be given as a payment?  Like property? I couldn’t imagine what that had been like for her, even if the rich man had fallen in love with her. The eyes in the portrait held mine in an almost hypnotic way.  I forced myself to look away.

I had thought Cracker the parrot was calling me “dainty dish,” but I started to wonder what the extraordinary bird had on her mind.  The headache that plagued me on and off ever since the attack, came back with a vengeance.  I put my fingers to my throbbing temples.SingSong6dcaldecott

“What’s the old nursery rhyme?” I asked, causing everyone to think I’d lost my marbles with that apparently sudden and incomprehensible subject change.

“Sing a song of sixpence. A pocket full of rye. Four and twenty blackbirds. 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?”

I looked at the bewildered faces surrounding me.  I plunged ahead with the rhyme.

“The king was in his counting house. Counting out his money. The queen was in the parlor. Eating bread and honey. The maid was in the garden. Hanging out the clothes. When down came a blackbird. And pecked off her nose.”

I’d probably be lucky if they didn’t lock me up in the lunatic asylum, judging by their expressions.  But they probably forgot all about me acting oddly when the mean faced major domo walked in, acting like he might huff and puff and blow us all out into the river.

Black Butler 1He demanded to know what we were doing in that room.  His tone and manner were enough to make the boys and me jump and start babbling.  However, Granny Fanny looked up at the gruff man and tilted her head slightly to one side as if studying an insect.  Then she spoke in a tone every bit as chilly as his.

“My granddaughter became faint.  Sit back down, dear before you knees buckle again,” she told me sharply before turning back to the major domo.  “Would you kindly bring some smelling salts,” she said in a firm statement, not a question.  Then she turned to Hank and Alastair and told them to get back to work.

“There are salts in the kitchen.  You can ask the housekeeper for them,” he said in a haughty voice that more than implied that he would not take orders from her.  Then he turned on his heel and walked out with his nose in the air.  He turned back just long enough to snap at us.  “I suggest you regain your composure quickly, young woman, and do not go into this room again.”

Granny wriggled her eyebrows at his back and then winked at me.  My eyes strayed back to the portrait of Daisy, “the dainty dish.”  Then my thoughts went to something that had been troubling me, one of those gaps in my memory.

“Granny,” I whispered. “Just what did the marshal intend to do here?  I mean, he couldn’t have meant to Speakeasy_Stories-Julystart a shootout with a house full of party guests.  What was he after?”

“Evidence,” Granny summed it up in one word.  “He said ‘the King of Clubs’ keeps meticulous records and he was sure they were hidden somewhere in this house. Probably in a safe,” she said.

I moved wordlessly to the portrait of the young woman.  Heaven knows how I could feel so sure, but I was.  My fingers traveled along just beneath the edges of the intricately carved frame.  I felt something and pressed.  The picture moved slightly I was sure it would swing back on hinges if I pushed.

However I pushed it back into place when I heard a noise just outside the room.  It sounded like a bit of a scuffle.  I heard Hank’s voice making a profuse apology and the gruff voice of the major domo who muttered something like, “Red headed buffoon!” I could see my friend through the partially opened door, and he gave me a significant look.  Whatever had happened, Hank had done it on purpose to warn us.

Granny Fanny whispered.  “Fake a swoon.  Now!” she hissed insistently, and I obediently sagged to the sumptuous Persian rug on which we stood.

“For pity’s sake!” the man snapped.  “Are you still in here?  Haven’t you revived your girl yet?  Do I have to do everything myself?”1920s Faint

With caution I cracked one eye open, just a hair.  He haughtily strutted to the big desk and picked up a house phone.  Even his breath sounded impatient and domineering as he waited for someone to answer.  Then I heard a woman’s voice from the other end.  He told her to bring some smelling salts, pronto.  “Yes Mr. Farceur. Right away sir,” the voice said.

I saw Granny’s expression shift as if in sudden comprehension. But I had to close my eyes because he turned toward me.  Mr. Farceur bent over me with a distasteful expression on his face.  Yes, my eyes were shut, just like I said.  But I knew what look was on his face, just the same.  You could practically hear the look on his face.  He sniffed disdainfully.1920s Judge Hourglass

My mind worked furiously.  There was something about his name.  It was French.  I had some French lessons when I was younger, but I didn’t learn the language very well.  Farceur…  Applesauce!  Didn’t that mean joker?  As in “Joker’s wild?”

The memory of Cracker excitedly repeating that phrase rattled me so badly that I nearly sat up and opened my eyes.  I managed to control myself except for one little twitch.  Fortunately that spasm seemed to convince the major domo of the honesty of my faint and he strode out of the room.

As I sat up, I suddenly felt icily cold.  I shivered and wondered if maybe something really was wrong with me.

***

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Three Ingredients – 14: Pinto Beans, Brown Rice, Tofu

I’m relatively new to the blogosphere (December 2012)  so I count myself very lucky to have all of you providing encouragement.  Several of you have been here from the beginning — even before I started doing the serialized stories.  Your comments and “likes” truly give me joy.  And I’m absolutely delighted when anyone comments with “ingredients” for the story.

Mike Fedison of “The Eye-Dancers” has been constant in the encouragement he provides through “likes” on this blog.  Mike is a truly talented writer. I’m very happy to say that he has given us the three ingredients for Episode-14. I think you’ll enjoy his blog and his young adult novel — I know I do!

Links for The Eye-Dancers

  • Amazon, please click here.
  • Barnes and Noble, please click here.

Without further ado, here is Episode-14.  Bon appétit!

Pinto Beans, Brown Rice, Tofu

Young Lucille Ball

Young Lucille Ball

Hank Hertz was acting very protective of me.  This annoyed me because I was sure he must be at least a year younger than me.  To make things even worse, I slipped on some damp grass as we crossed the lawn.  I was half way to the ground but he caught my elbow.  However, the sudden bend and twist movement, combined with his head wound made him dizzy.  I ended up catching the young policeman too, which mollified me somewhat.  Somehow we both managed to stand and continue across the grass to the foot path.

There were several buildings of varied shapes and sizes, all painted in crisp white.  Stepping stones made paths between them.  The white structures shone brightly in the sun against the green of the thick grass.  The residence of the doctors had neat green shutters on either side of a bay window and its roof was the same shade of green.  A number of trees dotted the property.  Spanish moss hung from branches here and there.

Movement above caught my eye.  I was hoping that it would be Cracker the parrot, but I realized that was silly of me.  Instead a gray heron glided effortlessly on broad wings to land at the pond behind the house.  I watched in silent awe of its grace.  A horse whinnied in the small “recovery” stable, bringing me out if the brief reverie.  I pointed Hank to a side door in the animal hospital building.  I knew the surgery room was on that end of the building from the time Veronica Vale had showed me her work areas and let me use a microscope.

The path led alongside the house, right by the kitchen window.  It was open just a crack, and an aroma tickled my nose.  I noticed a pot on the stove at a very low simmer.  Then I recognized the scent for pinto beans.  I had the quick thought that maybe I should check them for Veronica, but the beans would be all right at that low temperature for quite some time.  Veronica had probably put the beans on to cook just before Detective Daniels showed up on her doorstep with the badly wounded Marshal Myrick.  So I kept walking to the long one-story building.Vales House

Vincent’s old jalopy was parked beside the house.  The door was left open and a box of dry goods was on the seat.  I noticed a bag of brown rice on the top of the stack.  I guessed they were planning to have beans and rice for supper.  Vincent must have just gotten back from a grocery run and was unloading the car when Dabney arrived.

1920s Cosmo FebLooking at the evidence of daily life that had been interrupted and virtually abandoned gave me a surreal feeling.  It was as if everything had been frozen in time.  I hesitated briefly with my hand on the doorknob.  My thoughts were in a jumble.  How close was Granny Fanny to the injured marshal?  There was clearly more of a history between them than I had ever known.  If Moses Myrick… if he didn’t make it, how badly would Granny be hurt?  I didn’t know how to deal with the prospect of my grandmother grieving.

Hank asked if I was okay.  I glanced up at him.  A dot of blood had seeped through the bandage Granny put on the place where the bullet grazed the side of his head.  It amazed me that he hadn’t realized he was hurt.  But I had heard that kind of thing could happen in an emergency or during disasters like hurricanes.  What if Dabney Daniels had been injured too and nobody knew it until it was too late?  I felt a little guilty about it, but I was as worried about the fact that the detective might be hurt as I was about the obviously critically wounded marshal.

I didn’t realize I had dropped my hand from the brass doorknob.  Hank took off his hat as he opened the door for me.  doorknobThen he courteously took my elbow as we walked over the threshold.  I was immediately met by the clean astringent odor; the hospital smell.  Then I saw Dabney at the other end of the room, pacing.  I breathed a sigh of relief that he was standing, but he was awfully pale.

The detective motioned to a table when he saw us.  His suit jacket was draped over the back of a ladder-back chair.  There was a tear at the shoulder.  With a gasp I realized it was made by a bullet.  “Are you hurt?” I exclaimed.

As he walked to the table he shook his head negatively, buy didn’t speak.  His silence was in no way reassuring, but at least he didn’t seem injured.  I started to hug him, but caught myself.  I had been so worried about him, but at that moment he barely seemed to know I was there.  I had become fond of the detective.  He wasn’t all that much older than me, and he was interesting in his own taciturn way.  Or at least I found him so.  I also JCLeyndecker Arrow Collar adthought he was rather dashing.  I know it was silly of me, but it stung when he didn’t react to me at all.  Maybe the emotional attachment had been completely one-sided.  I swallowed and looked away, feeling foolish.

He exchanged a few words with Hank Hertz about the crime scene.  Then he motioned for us to sit down.  A decanter of coffee steamed when he opened it.  Half a dozen cups and saucers were carefully stacked beside the carafe and neat containers of cream and sugar.  I suddenly felt a little awkward, so I made the first stupid comment that occurred to me.  “Expecting company?” I asked.

Dabney made a rueful face.  “I made coffee.  I tried to help the docs, but I was just getting in the way.”  Then his mouth twisted down at one side.  “And I was getting downright queasy.  Miss Fanny sent me out five minutes after she got here,” he said in a tone that suggested he was disgusted with himself.

“Pip,” he said shaking his head.  “I’ve always known your grandmother is a force of nature.  But she continues to amaze me.  Miss Fanny walked into that surgery room, with all that blood.  Then she went right to work helping the docs dig out bullets and handing them their surgical instruments.  She never even flinched, even though she looked right at what they were doing.  I managed to help some before she got here, but even I couldn’t look directly at what they were doing.”

Hours later Vincent Vale came out of the double doors that led to the operating room.  He looked positively 1920s Man Makes Coffeehaggard.  Dabney was quick to pour him a cup of coffee.  I knew the detective was trying to make up for feeling like he wasn’t useful enough.  “How is he, Doc?” Dabney asked.

The veterinarian let out a whoosh of breath, and took a grateful sip of coffee before answering.  He slumped into a chair and stretched his legs out in front of him as if he didn’t have the strength left to sit up straight.  “Only time can tell, Detective.  I’ve never seen a man shot up like that.  Not like that…  But Veronica has healed worse,” Vincent said of his wife who was an MD, not a veterinarian like him.

Abruptly Vincent noticed the bandage around Hank’s head.  The spot of blood had gotten larger.  He immediately got up and went to work, checking out the young officer.  “That’s quite a nice field dressing,” he commented as he removed the bandage.

Dabney grumbled something unintelligible.  Vincent turned to him with a steady gaze.  “You need to know that you made the difference, getting him here so fast.  If you had tried to get him into town he would never have made it.  If he survives, it will be every bit as much because of you as anything Veronica and I have done,” Vincent said in a tone that brooked no argument.

“Young man, this needs some stiches.  Come with me,” he said to Hank and rose purposefully from his chair.

1920s Halls Coffee“Veronica is finishing now,” Vincent told us.  “Maybe I’m biased as her husband, but I’ve never seen such beautifully done work.  Mrs. Peabody makes an extraordinary nurse too.  I wonder if she’s had formal experience,” he added, but his words trailed off in that preoccupied way that he had.  He took another drink of coffee and made an approving sound.  “It’s far too early to predict whether Mr. Myrick will recover, but I can’t help thinking that he will.”  Then the veterinarian looked sheepish.  “I apologize.  I shouldn’t say that in this circumstance.  It was unprofessional of me.  I suppose I’m just tired,” he said as he led Hank to an examination room.

I was still feeling awkward around Dabney after the epiphany that whatever I had been feeling for him probably wasn’t being returned.  I walked to the house to check on the beans that had been left simmering on the stove.  They seemed about done, so I turned off the burner.  Then I unloaded the box dry goods from Vincent’s car.  I tidied the kitchen even though it didn’t need it.  With a sigh I resigned myself.  There was nothing for it — I had to go back and sit with Dabney and Hank no matter how uncomfortable I felt.1920s Vogue red hat

A little while later the double doors pushed open again.  Doctor Veronica and Granny Fanny walked together.  They were in the middle of a conversation.  The doctor spoke to Granny.  “I spent a year in Hong Kong on an exchange program.  I studied Chinese medicine as much as time allowed, but there was so very much to learn.  I fear I only scratched the surface,” she told my grandmother.  “However, it should help reduce any inflammation.  It would be generally good for him, and actually an easy food for his recovery period,” she added.

Naturally I wondered what “it” was.  Granny nodded emphatically.  “I’ll call-up Arabella Wong.  They keep tofu for their restaurant.  I’ll ask her to fix plenty of it and have Pip fetch it.  That dang fool man…  He eats beef at least twice a day.  He doesn’t eat ‘meat and potatoes’ he eats meat and meat! I know it can’t be good for him.  He needs to have more than just meat,” Granny said and wiped the corner of her eye.

The next thing I knew she was crying.  I completely forgot about my confused feelings for the detective and the distress it had caused me a moment before.  I had never seen Granny cry, and I was beside myself.  I rushed to where she stood.  Dabney was there even faster; his long legs took him to her side in two steps.  A man_ray_tearsmoment later she tried to make as if nothing had happened, saying that she was just a silly woman.  Everyone knew that was far from the truth and said so in chorus.

“It’s just been a lot to bear,” she murmured, and I knew she meant watching and assisting during an operation performed on someone for whom she obviously cared deeply.

“Vincent,” Veronica Vale began, but paused with a sidelong look at the detective.  “Would you please get Fanny something… medicinal?  Something from the crystal decanter?  She needs a little something to strengthen her nerves,” she said and her husband nodded knowingly.

At Veronica’s instruction, the two policemen began rearranging an examining room so it could be a recovery room.  In no time they had dismantled and reassembled a bed, moved out a cabinet, and brought in several things the doctor said would be necessary.

1920s Royal bakingMeanwhile I took over supper preparations.  I didn’t have much confidence in my cooking yet, and I was in a strange kitchen.  I even felt odd about going through someone else’s pantry.  So I decided to work with what they apparently had in mind before their day was interrupted.  I gave the pinto beans another quick check, and then went about cooking the rice and an iron skillet of cornbread.  I spotted some okra so I saved some of the cornbread batter, dipped the okra in it and fried it.

While I cooked I thought about what Granny said to Veronica about tofu.  I wondered if she would make me learn to cook it.  I had no idea where to even begin.  I wasn’t sure if I had ever eaten tofu before.  It couldn’t be any harder than fried okra, I told myself.  I smiled when I looked at the golden brown pods.  They seemed to sparkle as I placed them on a towel to blot the oil.  For once I had gotten it right.

However, I could just imagine Pops complaining that there was no meat — it didn’t matter to Pops that beans and rice together were supposed to be a complete protein.  Pops always had to have meat or it wasn’t a meal.  So I wondered if Dabney and Hank might feel the same way.  Well, I told myself, I was doing the best I could with what I had.  Or at least with what I could find.  Then I found a Mason jar of chow-chow in the pantry.  The relish would go nicely with the beans.  That would have to do for a finishing touch.

Sure, I had cooked for Pops and me, and Granny had me make a number of meals in the time I had been staying with her.  However, this was the first time I had prepared a meal someone I didn’t know well, let alone for a group of people.  I checked every dish one last time.  Then I took a deep breath and went to let everyone know that supper was ready.

Vale windowI found Granny sitting on a chair beside Moses Myrick’s bed.  She looked so tired and small.  I thought I heard a little tap sound, but I had too many things on my mind to think about it.  Worry for Granny went to the top of that list.  I tried to convince her to go with the others and have something to eat.  No matter how faithfully I promised to sit with the marshal, she wasn’t going to budge.

There it was again.  That time the sound pushed through my troubled thoughts. It was like a tiny tap at the window, like the sound a pebble makes.

I walked to the window and pushed aside the white cotton curtain, but I didn’t see anything.  Then I noticed a smear on the otherwise clean windowpane.  I pushed the lever handle and the window swung into the room.  Before I could lean out to have a better look something grazed past my face.  I drew back and put my hand to my mouth to muffle a shriek of surprise.  Then I became aware of the bright color that went past me in a blur.1920s Peoples home journal girl parrot

Cracker alighted on the headboard of the marshal’s bed.  The parrot cooed softly and paced the length of the metal bedrail once.  Then to my utter astonishment the bird swooped to Granny’s shoulder and cuddled under her ear.

***

Clam and Tofu Soup

Clam-Tofu Soup

Recipe and photo credit: Judy Xu, “In Balance with Nature”

Ingredients:

Regular clams (Meretrix lusoria) 250g, Tofu 200g, Ginger 10g, Salt 3g, Pepper powder 2g

Method:

  • Wash the clams
  • Wash the tofu and slice the tofu into thick slices
  • Wash the ginger, cut into long thin strips
  • Add water into a pot and bring it to boil
  • Add clams, tofu, and ginger and boil them all together in the water for around 5 minutes
  • Add salt and pepper

The author of the recipe states certain Chinese medicine benefits.  Naturally I am not making any medical claim; rather I am just sharing what was included with the recipe.

Gentle reminder:  Don’t eat clams alongside river snails, orange and celery

Chinese Medicine Benefits:

The soup replenishes the Yin, improves vision, and softens and removes phlegm. Good for people of Dry Fire or Heavy & Humid Body Constitution.

***

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 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

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!

***

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.

***

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 – 7: Burner, E. Coli, Marmite

Episode 7 cat-n-tombstone

I hope I haven’t kept you waiting too long for the next installment of the Three Ingredients SerialThe “ingredients” for Episode 7 are from Spock’s Sister.  She’s an extraordinary mix of creative and scientific knowledge — so these ingredients are far from ordinary!  Working them into our culinary mystery was great fun.

However, I hope she’ll forgive me for tampering with her ingredients.  She sent “microscope,” and I failed to find a way to make it food-related (but at least I added it to the mix last time in Episode-6).  Since I used one ingredient early, I’m throwing in an additional “science-food” related ingredient with Bunsen burner — letting “burner” be one of the ingredients I used for this episode, in place of microscope.

Remember, the food-related ingredients you send to me inspire each part of the story.  You’re welcome to leave your own three ingredients in a comment.

7.  Burner, E. Coli, Marmite

Doc Vale’s jalopy puttered outside Granny Fanny’s cottage.  I ran out to the car to save him the trouble of1927cadillac2-m ad coming to the door.  (Besides, Granny was chasing Cracker the parrot with her broom again.  Last time I saw the bird, Cracker was flying through the kitchen with a pair of Granny’s undies in her beak.  I took the excuse to beat a hasty retreat!)  Anyhow, the doc’s wife, Veronica had invited me to spend the day and offered to teach me about some of the scientific things she used in her work.  Their place was just west of Savannah.  They had built an animal hospital next to their home, as well as a facility for horses and other large animals.

“I hope I didn’t put you out of your way, Doc,” I told the veterinarian, feeling a twinge of guilt at being chauffeured.

“Not at all Paisley,” he began and I drew breath to beg him to call me Pip.  But I let it go.  I hated to correct anybody who was that nice.  Vincent Vale seemed to have a very… proper manner about him and tended to address everyone by their given name, rather than any nickname.

“Actually, Mrs. Peabody’s cottage was right on my way home.  I’ve just come from a meeting with Detective Daniels.  He received permission for Veronica to do an autopsy on the unfortunate man who died at the Bijou theatre,” Doc Vale informed me.

I knew Veronica would be delighted to put her medical research skills to work on the mystery of how the man died, so I was pleased for her.  Then another idea struck me — an unpleasant one.  “Applesauce!” I exclaimed in horror. “She doesn’t mean for me to help her with that does she?  I was excited to learn about the kind of work she did in 1920s PhotoPlayLondon, but I don’t think I could watch anybody dissect a dead person!”

The doc chuckled.  “Relax Paisley,” he said reassuringly.  “They won’t bring the body until later today.  There will be plenty of time for Veronica to show you her lab.  You certainly would not be expected to observe the autopsy, unless you just wanted to do so.  Veronica said you could come again whenever you want, since this came up unexpectedly and might cut your visit short.

When we walked into the kitchen I could smell tea brewing, but I didn’t see a teakettle.  Vincent smiled and shook his head.  “She’s brewing tea in her laboratory again.  She’d have a fit if anyone else did that.  I’ll make a little snack for us.  Have you ever tasted marmite?” he asked picking up a jar containing something dark.  When I looked at the jar skeptically he said, “Folks either love marmite or they hate it, so don’t feel like you have to eat it. Veronica got a taste for it1920s Marmite ad when she lived in London, and I guess you could say she infected me with it too.  I’ll fix some for all of us and bring it back in a jiffy.  Veronica’s back there,” he said motioning to a door.

I walked into the large pristine room Veronica used as a laboratory and found her using a blue flame to heat a glass container. After greeting me warmly she explained laughing.  “Oh, when I was young I had these specially made on a whim,” she said indicating the odd container and cups.  “I thought it would be fun to use the Bunsen burner to make tea!  After all these years I still get a kick out of it.”

Lucy 3 funny facesHer husband came in with toast spread with that dark… whatever it was.  Horse feathers! I was expecting it to be some kind of jam, but it was salty.  I nearly dropped my plate and it took all my self-control not to spit it out.  I made an awful face despite myself, but Veronica just laughed.  With encouragement from both the Vales, I tried a little more, and it seemed to grow on me.

It seemed like I hadn’t been there any time at all when Detective Daniels arrived with two other men rolling a gurney.  Holy Hannah, they had brought the corpse.  I don’t know why I reacted at all, because I realized they were coming.  But knowing what was about to happen gave me the heebie jeebies.

I watched in surprise as the Daniels deputized Veronica Vale.  The copper told me that he wanted to make sure whatever Veronica discovered would be admissible in court.  “Ah-ha,” I thought.  I just knew the detective had been keeping something from me about the dead man.  He must have a pretty strong hunch of one kind or another.

As I looked on in fascination, Veronica pulled the cover back from the body.  She pinched his skin then looked at the underside of his eyelids, poked, sniffed and examined the body before she ever moved to pick up a surgical instrument.1920a TB ad

She looked up at the detective.  “It may or may not have been what killed him,” she said with a concerned expression.  “But I expect we will find that this poor man suffered from severe effects of E. coli.  Did you bring his shoes, as I asked?”

Detective Daniels nodded and removed the shoes from a sack.  Some of the cilantro still clung to the soles.  Veronica picked up a shoe and looked closely at the sole, and then sniffed of it.  “That’s cow manure.  I hope we don’t have an E. coli contaminated dairy farm somewhere.”

Daniels groaned.  He started writing in the tiny notebook he carried.  Ripping out two sheets, he turned to the men who had brought the gurney.  “Head out to these addresses and see if you find any sick people or animals.  I’ve got a hunch Doctor Vale is right,” he told them.  “This could be serious.”

***

Okay… I know this is not marmite — but reading about that “love it or hate it” spread made me think of the Lucy skit and I couldn’t resist.  Enjoy!

Video:  Vitameatavegamin

Spaghetti with Marmite

Recipe Credit: Nigella.com

Ingredients

12 oz spaghetti

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon Marmite   (or more to taste)

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese   (to serve)

Method

1.  Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water, according to the packet instructions.

2.  When the pasta is almost cooked, melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the Marmite and 1 tablespoon of the pasta water, mixing thoroughly to dissolve.  Reserve ½ cup of pasta water; then drain the pasta and pour the Marmite/Vegemite mixture over the drained spaghetti, adding a little reserved pasta water to amalgamate if required. Serve with plenty of grated Parmesan cheese.

For vegetarians replace the Parmesan cheese with a vegetarian alternative.

***

Oh what the heck… Here’s a bonus video.

Video: How to Light a Bunsen Burner

Thanks for visiting.

 

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 Things Serial: 15 – Tattered Quilt, Memory Squares, Quilting Bee

St. Joseph Sanitarium, Albuquerque, NM; 1920's

St. Joseph Sanitarium, Albuquerque, NM; 1920’s

Finally I’m posting another episode of our 1920’s serial.  These three things come from the most “crafty” lady I know — Joye in Albuquerque.

Since I didn’t do a mid-week post, you might need to refresh your memory of the serial.  You can read all the episodes at the Three Things Serial page.

Pip finds interesting things before the group even gets to the gate of the big shindig.  Read on as the mystery deepens…

Tattered Quilt, Memory Squares, Quilting Bee

Flavio bent closer to inspect the bullet hole, which was in the crease where the fender met the body of the car.  “I’m amazed that you spotted it,” he told me.

Frankie looked around uneasily.  One of the chauffeurs stopped his idle polishing of the limousine he drove and looked our way.  “We should get going,” the fireman said, with a significant nod in the guy’s direction.

He took my arm, but I pulled back.  What was that inside the car?  I sighed.  That chauffer was still looking at us.  “Mona, be a doll and distract that mug for a minute, will ya?  Ask him for something for Pear to eat.”

The movie star wriggled over to the first driver, and within seconds the other two were clustered around Mona and the tin lunch pail that housed the little hedgehog.  Flavio looked on with a hint of a green monster lighting his eyes.  I barely controlled the urge to tease him about being jealous.  The chauffeurs seemed to have completely forgotten about the rest of us.

I stealthily opened the car door and pulled out a piece of fabric.  I had to give it a good yank, as it was caught on some metal under the seat.  Then I eased the door closed again.  “What is it?” the Fabro cousins asked in unison.Vintage Quilt ad

“A tattered quilt,” I began.  “Or rather a torn off piece of one.  I think this is part of a memory square.”

Cotton batting clung to the bit of fabric.  I turned it over and saw part of an embroidered word was cut off at the tear.  It must have been a name.  I looked past the swirly print design and at the white muslin below it.  Frankie touched the print.  “Hey!  It’s Paisley, like you,” he kidded me about my given name.

I turned the bit of quilt this way and that to make out the stitched word.  “B-o-r… could that be part of the letter ‘I’ maybe?” I wondered aloud.  “Holy Hannah!  Boris!”

A reddish brown stain marred the white muslin, covered more embroidery.  The spot was caked and stiff.  Holding it close to my nose I detected a coppery odor.  Blood.

Frankie bent closer to have a look.  “That ain’t from the average quilting bee.”

Three Things Serial: 10 – Grandma, Big Feet, Woodpile

Enchantment… Doesn’t the word make you think of that harp-like sound effect? Of bright sunshiny magic, and unbridled potential?  No?  Maybe I’m feeling homesick then.  Today’s “three things” come to you from the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico, courtesy of RC.

Remember, you can do catch-up reading at the Three Things Serial page.  Now, the next episode.

10.  Grandma, Big Feet, Woodpile

1920s Woman in DoorwayI was stunned by what had just happened.  For a moment I couldn’t think what to do.  Boris the Ballerina ran pell-mell into the night after a burglar, (or maybe something worse).  I knew one person had already been badly hurt, or possibly killed, that night back at the theatre.  Had that glint of metal been a gun?  A knife maybe?  Should I try to catch up with Boris, and what would I do if I did?  The other man had seemed pretty big.

In the instant it took for those questions to run through my head, Andy and Mona came running up to see what had happened.  They both looked frightened.  As I described the scene their eyes got wider.  And wider.  Andy the Astronaut, ever the reluctant hero, at least when Mona was around, bravely plunged past his fear.

“I’m going after them,” he proclaimed.  Then there was a heartbeat’s hesitation on his part.  However, he took a breath and started running in the direction I had pointed.

As Andy rounded the corner, I heard a bump-tumble-crash from the woodpile in back of our building.  A muffled “I’m okay!” followed the commotion, and the sound of Andy’s running feet began.

It took a moment for me to decide, because I didn’t want to intrude on Boris’ privacy, but I went upstairs to look at his apartment — I mean office.  The door was standing wide open.  I hesitated, and then went inside, Mona at my heels.  She seemed more than curious.  She was positively eager for a look inside the Russian’s home.  When I stepped over the threshold I gasped.  Everything that had a drawer had been ransacked.  Papers, clothing, photos, and books were strewn around the room.1920s Russian Nesting Dolls

A collection of Russian nesting dolls was overturned and disassembled.  Then I spotted a beautiful ceramic vase that looked like it had been deliberately broken against the corner of the table.  When I picked up the top half I realized that the vase had been made with a false bottom.  The bottom part had a stopper that secured a small opening.  I could see how it might be easier to put something inside it than to get it back out again.  It would have to be something quite narrow though.

Had Boris hidden something the strange vase?  And maybe the man who ransacked the place had gotten in a hurry and shattered the vase to get whatever out quickly?  But what and why?  I mean, what kind of valuable would fit?  Jewelry?  Or maybe… Jeepers!

I clutched my pocketbook.  I felt the bent key still inside.  But the guy couldn’t have been looking for the key, because it dropped from the getaway car.  But if it had been dropped by the old woman… maybe Boris also had a key to the same thing.  Whatever it might be.

My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of male voices outside.  Mona and I exchanged a “were busted” glance.  We both felt guilty for going into Boris’ place without invitation, so we hurried quietly to the building’s entry foyer.  I recognized Andy first because the streetlight caught his glasses.  Boris was supported by Andy and another man — a large man with only one shoe.  Then I realized that man was Frankie.

Mona rushed to Boris to make sure he was unharmed, and backed away awkwardly when everyone noticed how much attention she was showering on the retired dancer.  He had not been attacked, but the chase was too much for his injured knee.  Andy said that he thought Boris also twisted his back when he tripped, chasing the burglar.

“Frankie, I thought you went home,” I said.  “And what happened to your shoe?”

“Oh I went back and got it,” Frankie said holding up the shoe.  “I just didn’t stop long enough to put it back on.”  When he saw my puzzled face he explained, “When I got home I saw a note from my cousin Flavio, asking me to go over to my grandma’s and help with something.  So I was headed that way when some jerk half ran into me.  Then Boris here charged up behind him.  I figured the first guy was up to no good.  But I’m not so fast.  Coach used to say my muscles slow me down.  Anyhow I knew I couldn’t catch the guy so I threw my shoe at him.”

I stood in mute amazement.  He threw his shoe at a thief?  Andy chimed in, “Yeah, beaned him good too!”  I tied him up and we left him there for the police.  Frankie went back inside to call the coppers to come and get him.”

Frankie held his shoe closer to me and I saw that there was blood on the heel where it must have hit the guy.

“Good thing I’ve got big feet!   I get them from my grandma,” Frankie said proudly.