Three Ingredients II – 15: Ribs, Watermelon, Corn

Welcome back to our interactive 1920’s culinary mystery serial!Kittens Daisies wheat ad vintage

The “ingredients” for this episode are from the very talented “Kraftycat” at Kraftycat Creations. You don’t have to be a crazy cat person to enjoy her blog.  Not only does she make adorable kitty toys, she makes wonderful gifts and jewelry for the humans.  I hope you’ll check out her great blog.

It seems that our “ingredients” bring as many questions as answers lately. What’s in store this week?  Keep reading to find out!  Bon appétit!

15.  Ribs, Watermelon, Corn

With Apparition

A vial of smelling salts that Maestro produced out of nowhere brought Mattie around from 1920s Fainther faint.  Andy and Vicar Varley helped her to the vicarage.  Everyone was concerned about the older woman, but she insisted that it was “only the vapors” and that she didn’t want anyone fussing over her.

The clang of pots and pans in the kitchen made me cringe.  It sounded like Maestro Martino was tearing apart the unfamiliar room as he looked for things.  The ghost chef had insisted that Mattie Maddox, and the rest of us too, needed a fortifying meal after the shock of seeing Daisy’s specter.  Of course, Vicar Vance Varley and Mattie had no idea that Maestro was himself a poltergeist.

Soon the aroma of Maestro’s bourbon baby back ribs dinner wafted to my nose as Andy, Granny Fanny, Mattie, the vicar, and I sat in the clergyman’s cozy parlor.  I could imagine the ribs melting in my mouth and my stomach gave an impatient growl.

The vicar’s cautions to Mattie about sharing information with “strangers” — that would be us, made Andy Avis suspicious and he whispered his concerns to me.  However, a discrete Daisy thread adquestion revealed Vance Varley moved to Tybee Island from Gulfport, Mississippi only ten years before.  So presumably he was nowhere around Savannah, Georgia at the time of Daisy’s demise.  Besides, I was pretty sure he would be a bit young to be involved.  When he again spoke to Mattie in a cautionary tone, she let him know where she stood, and explained to us.

“Vance has showed me great kindness since he came to Tybee.  He also became my friend and confidant,” Mattie said and patted the vicar on his knee.

There were a few age spots and an enlarged vein on the top of her hand.  It was clearly the hand of an old woman, but it did not look arthritic.  I was relieved for the painter in her.  It would be a shame for someone so talented to give up their art.

“Daisy wants me to tell what I know about her passing, else she would not have come to us.  There would have been no apparition,” Mattie said in a level voice.  “Vance, I know your only concern is for my safety, but I don’t want this shadow hanging over me anymore.”

She turned to the rest of us — Andy, Granny Fanny, and me.  “Don’t think poorly of Vicar Varley,” she said, though she didn’t sound worried.  “He’s only trying to protect me.  You see, after Daisy died, I continued to work for Henry Kingston senior.  However, when King Henry passed on, something odd happened.”

“Something odd, you say?  What sort of odd?” Granny asked, and I supposed she wondered Vintage Watermelon Seedswhat could be stranger than ghosts appearing.

Mattie’s expression and tone said she suspected more than she was about to reveal.  “After the funeral, I was surprised to see Byron Binghamton once again become very close to young Henry.  See, I had overheard King Henry tell his son that the Binghamton boys weren’t welcome in his home any more.  He told his son that he’d cut those ties if he knew what was good for him.

When the boy protested, Henry senior threatened to disinherit him.  So at least outwardly, young Henry quit having anything to do with the two Binghamton brothers, athough I was pretty sure they all hung out together when nobody was looking.  Why, they were so close you could spit a watermelon seed further than the space between them!  I always said those three were thick as thieves…” she said and seemed far away in thought for a moment.

Mattie’s eyes were on her hands folded calmly in her lap.  When she looked up, her tense frown suggested she wasn’t as calm as she appeared. She exhaled sharply, as if in frustration.

“Right after King Henry passed on, young Henry called me into his father’s library,” she said.  “When I entered the room I could still smell Henry senior’s cologne and a trace of tobacco from his pipe.  For a second it was as if he was still there.  It made me angry to see the boy sitting in the chair behind the big desk.  It was too soon, and it just wasn’t right,” Mattie said, clenching her hands.  “But I held my peace.  Then I saw those two Binghamton Antique daisy cup saucerbrothers lounging on the furniture…” she said.

“Or rather Byron was sprawled on the leather sofa.  Bradley was sitting with his legs crossed in a chair.  His posture was relaxed, but he looked tight as a drum.  His eyes had dark shadows under them, and his mouth looked like the frown he wore was etched permanently into his face,” Mattie remembered.  “Bradley acted so cold and detached that day, I couldn’t believe he went to the Church for his profession.  But then again, maybe it makes sense,” she said in a pondering tone.

Then she gave herself a little shake and went back to the core of her story.  “Anyhow, the group of them told me they were pensioning me off.  It wasn’t just Henry III, as one might have thought.  No, all three of them contributed.  And I had the impression that Bradley Binghamton was behind it — he looked so stern, and he took over the speech when young Henry started blustering and threatened me,” Mattie said.

“Threatened you?  How?” Granny asked her gently.

“There were all sorts of vague threats in that library,” Mattie answered shaking her head as if confused.  “I didn’t fully understand what they were talking about, but I did grasp the fact that they wanted me away from there and they wanted me quiet.  I just didn’t know what they seemed to think I knew about,” she said.

Vintage Daisy art“And Bradley — Bishop Bradley Binghamton, you think he was behind it?” Andy asked.

“What I meant to say,” Mattie corrected herself.  “I felt like Bradley was the one who wanted to pension me off, to pay me to keep quiet… even though I didn’t know what I was keeping quiet about…” she added looking confused.  “I believed young Henry and Byron had something a lot worse in mind for me,” Mattie said with a shiver.  “I actually think Bradley wouldn’t let them do something that bad, and made them basically pay me to go into hiding,” Mattie told us.

“They said I had to leave Savannah, and never show my face there again,” Mattie continued.  “Back then, Tybee Island seemed far enough away.  I’ve never been one to ‘think big’ as they say.  In those days there was no road here.  This barrier island was as far away from Savannah as I had ever been, so that was where I went.  And I went as fast as I could too, I can tell you.  Their threats were vague, but there was murder in their eyes,” she said and wrapped her arms around herself as if she was suddenly cold.

Andy looked at Vicar Vance Varley again.  “And what is your part in all this?” my friend asked suspiciously.  “You were pretty obvious about not wanting her to tell us anything.”

Vicar Varley shook his head as if in denial.  “Oh no, son.  You misunderstand,” the vicar began, but Mattie hurried to his rescue.

“I befriended the vicar when he first came to Tybee.  For years I had felt isolated, imprisoned here.  Vance didn’t have any family or friends anywhere in the Savannah area before he came here.  So I felt safe in making friends with him.  One day he wanted me to come to the mainland with him; he was being recognized for the work he’d done here on the island.  I got upset and refused to go.  Then I felt guilty, and I confided in him the things I’ve just told you,” she said.Daisy teapot

Well, applesauce!  Mattie Maddox told an interesting story, but it didn’t do a blessed thing but create even more questions.  It reminded me of the knitting I ruined for Granny once when I was a kid.  She made me unravel and untie every bit of it before I could go out to play.

As I saw it, the most tangled skein of yarn in this particular knitting basket was Henry Kingston, the young man who was actually a young punk.  It didn’t surprise me.  I thought back to the fancy shindig Granny catered at his mansion when I first came to Savannah.  It was all part of a sting operation put in place by Granny Fanny’s old friend Moses Myrick, a revenuer.  That’s right, a real life G-man.

Henry Kingston wasn’t found guilty of any crime related to that business, but his girlfriend Daisy cup saucer vintagesure was.  And Kingston knew all about it, even if his fancy lawyer got him off the hook.  Plus, Henry was a married man.  The fact that his wife knew about his affair didn’t make him any less of a heel in my eyes.

A strain of opera rolled from the kitchen.  I didn’t realize Maestro had such a voice.  Apparently he liked to sing while he cooked.  Granny had been so upset about having a ghost in her kitchen that he didn’t get to cook very often.  I knew he enjoyed cooking though, because often I heard him at night, puttering in Granny’s kitchen.  My stomach rumbled again, and I hoped that the aria heralded the arrival of dinner.

Regardless of the fact that Maestro Martino died centuries before, he had a wonderful Italian accent.  It was not diminished when he unexpectedly tried to take on a southern accent to announce that dinner was ready.  Andy and I looked at each other for a minute and then burst out laughing at his comical voice.

“Ya’ll come ‘n get it.  Dinner’s ready,” Maestro announced in a bizarre combination of Italian and southern accents.

“Why do you laugh Signorina o Signore?  I said it just as you taught me, Signore,” Maestro said sounding a bit crestfallen.

Daisies VictorianThe anticipation was clear on every face when we saw the meal the ghost chef had spread on the table.  He looked at our expressions and smiled, once again his bubbly self.  Bourbon baby back ribs, corn on the cob, sliced sweet potatoes drizzled with maple syrup, slaw, and cornbread awaited us.

Maestro pulled out a chair and seated Granny Fanny with more gallantry than I had ever seen, even from him.  Of course that prompted the vicar to seat Mattie.  With more grace and apparent practice than I would have expected, Andy did the same for me.  I was rather taken aback at the gentlemanly side of my old friend.  Maybe he was learning more than the movie business out in Hollywood.

We had barely begun to eat the delicious meal when a pop-fizz sound made me look up in concern.  I exchanged a look with Maestro, who seemed very apprehensive.  Just as I started to think nothing would happen, a mountain of white daisies cascaded down onto us, the table, and the food.  We were practically buried in blossoms.

No one spoke.  The vicar cast a fearful gaze around the room.  He clasped his hands in Michalemas daisy cardprayer, but I didn’t think he was saying grace.  Andy looked annoyed as he picked daisies from his ribs.  Then he shrugged and put a big bite into his mouth and complimented Maestro, in between the yum-yum sounds he mumbled.  Mattie laughed at Andy, and then threw a handful of daisies into the air with a girlish giggle.

I looked across the table at Maestro Martino.  He grinned jovially but the smile didn’t reach his eyes.  His smile quickly faded and his expression became contemplative and serious.  I asked him what was on his mind.

“Daisy has become suddenly powerful,” Maestro said in a tone that suggested he was sorting his thoughts as he spoke.  “I think here, with the flowers, she meant to celebrate seeing her old friend again, and naturalmente she used the daisies to let us be certain it was her, no?  Her physical appearance at the stained glass window, it also indicates she has become powerful,” he said in a worried tone.

“But that’s good isn’t it?” I asked.  “Maybe now she’ll be able to help us find out what happened to her — and what or who is responsible for her death.”

vintage queen of the mayÈ possibile,” Maestro answered doubtfully.  “But power, especially new power does not fill in the knowledge she was missing.  You see?  Daisy has power that is new to her.  She doesn’t know how to use it well, as you can see,” he said motioning to the flower covered dinner table.  “What if she becomes frustrated or confused in her quest for the truth?  What if she, with her new power, becomes angry?” Maestro asked in a dire tone that gave me goose bumps.

Daisy had been affable and kind in my encounters with her.  But what if she got upset with the search for her killer.  Or what if she suspected the wrong person and acted on a false assumption.  After all, moments ago Andy thought the vicar might be involved.  What if Daisy became a powerful, vengeful spirit?

***

Video:  Watermelon Lemonade | Volunteer Gardener

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8h9jzr_Q6l0

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.

atch?v=8h9jzr_Q6l0

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Three Ingredients II – 13: Chickpeas, Winkles, Rice Pudding

2 Flappers Pug Motorcycle SidecarOne of the ingredients for Episode-11, red currants, caused me to add a merman to our serial.  Later I had the thought that Andrea Stephenson might like that character. You see, she has written about mythical water beings like selkies.

So I am very pleased to tell you that the ingredients for this episode are from the marvelous magical mind of Andrea Stephenson at Harvesting Hecate: Thoughts on life, writing, creativity and magic.  Andrea’s blog is captivating. Charming and well written, it covers a wide range of things in a very organized, easy to navigate way. I always enjoy my visits there.

Last time we all wondered about the mysterious relationship between Daisy and Mattie Maddox. Will anything be revealed?  What turn will the “spooky ingredient” cause the story to take? Most importantly, we left Pip with Granny Fanny very angry, and exclaiming that she was sending our flapper back to live with her father!  Granny is a formidable woman and Pip has been through an awful ordeal.  What will Pip do?  Find out now.  Bon appétit!

 

13.  Chickpeas, Winkles, Rice Pudding

With Unnatural Cold

In the past twenty-four hours I had fallen overboard from a ferry, nearly drowned, been kissed by a merman, rescued by a ghost-rider (on a giant seahorse no less), and reduced to wearing a borrowed old-lady dress.  Add Granny Fanny’s eloquent outrage — and mind you Granny ranting on her soapbox could strike terror in the heart of a revival preacher…  I refuse to accept the label of emotional young girl, but hoserfeathers!  It was more than even a flapper could take.

1920s Buster Keaton sad

Buster Keaton, 1920’s

Andy Avis, my old friend gave me a sheepish glance and prudently retreated behind Vicar Vance Varley.  Good ole Andy wasn’t going to be any help.  Not that I could blame him.  Granny Fanny in a tirade was enough to frighten any man.  However, I couldn’t help feeling a little betrayed when my friend looked away without saying a word in my defense.

The thought flashed into my distraught mind and I wondered if that was why our friend Mona “the movie star” was never interested in Andy, despite the torch he carried for her.  I remembered the time, back at the building where I lived with all my friends.  Boris’ apartment was burglarized.  The Russian had a painful limp from a bad injury that ended his ballet career, but he charged after the burglar nonetheless.  When Andy and Mona arrived a moment later, Andy went after Boris and the thief.  But he hesitated noticeably, even though Boris had a head start and would catch up with the man first.  Andy wanted to impress Mona, so he gave chase, even though he was afraid.

At the time I had thought the fact that Andy rose above that fear made his action truly courageous.  However, as I stood outside the church on Tybee Island, with my grandmother ranting at me, I wondered if I had been right.  Mona never said an unkind word about Andy, but did she see something in him I had missed?  Something that told her Andy was a wuss?

man_ray_tearsAnybody would have thought Andy Avis didn’t even know me.  Unconsciously I stretched my hand toward him, but he studiously did not look at me.  I burst into tears, turned on my heel and ran.

I wasn’t paying any attention to where I was going.  The sound of the double doors closing behind me and cool air against my face told the functioning part of my brain that I had gone inside the church.  But I didn’t stop there.  I ran straight through the sanctuary and out the back door.

My shoes were still wet from my dunk in the Atlantic, and my feet slid around inside them as I ran tearfully through a carefully laid out garden.  My kitten-heels clicked on the brick pavers.  Shrubs, flowers and statues outlined the curving path.  Mulch surrounded colorful impatiens that circled the base of an ancient oak tree.  Tiny beige gravel that looked like Pink Pampas Grasschickpeas bordered a row of sculpted planters.  I pushed my way through ornamental grasses, some of which were taller than me.  Pink pampas and fountaingrass whispered drily at my passage as if accusing me.

Accusing me of what?  I hadn’t done anything, yet even the grass criticized me.

Then I was alone on a stretch of beach.  One of my shoes caught in the sand.  I stumbled when it came off my foot.  Not stopping, I kicked off the other shoe and continued my flight barefooted.  I saw a sand dune ahead, crowned by swaying cattails.  There was no clear way around it, so I just kept going.  I skirted the cattails and mostly slid down the other side of the dune.  The sound of waves lapping against the shore met my ears.  The ocean was about a hundred yards away.

I slowed to a staggering walk as I approached the sore.  Several large boulders dotted a haphazard path out into the Atlantic, and my feet moved toward them.  Sunlight shimmered in a small tide pool.  Little shells that were broadly ovate and sharply pointed were abundant in the pool.  Some of them crawled.  Winkles.  The sea snails moved as they fed on algae and barnacle larvae.

In the distance I heard a slap, like a large fish hitting the water.  I glanced out to sea and wondered if it might even be a dolphin.  However, it was too near the shore for a dolphin, unless the ocean floor dropped off sharply near those big rocks.  Some parts of the shore did that.  It could be dangerous for beachgoers.

A sunbeam glinted off one of the shells, and I stood and looked at the winkles.  My racing 1920s La Vie Parisienne Mermaid by hérouardthoughts gradually slowed as I watched the measured movements of the sea snails.  There was something almost hypnotic about it.  The salt breeze brought a snatch of song to my ears.  Or was it an instrument, rather than a voice?  The slow cadence matched the movements of the winkles and it soothed my troubled mind.

The music became more insistent.  The melody pulled me closer to the shore.  I wandered aimlessly, letting my feet choose the way.  I climbed onto the rocky path made by the boulders.  Perhaps mankind had lent a hand, because they were arranged in a way that made it easy to skip along from one to the next as they stretched out into the ocean.  The sun soaked rocks were comfortingly warm against my bare feet, and I skipped to the furthest one.

I sat down and dangled my feet from the rock.  The ocean didn’t reach that high except when a wave came in, but now and then the sea spray misted my toes.  I heard another big splash, followed by the sound of something large surging up from the water.

Abruptly the bright green eyes of the merman were locked with mine.  His long pale green hair tickled my shoulder as he leaned in and kissed me.

Now I want you to know that while I wasn’t a prude, neither was I in the habit necking with strangers.  No matter how exotically beautiful they might be… and the merman truly was stunning, both graceful and virile, and handsome as Valentino.  At the time I didn’t realize that he had an innate hypnotic ability.  He could lull the mind without 1925 Review Ad; butterfly kisshaving any intention of doing so.

So I kissed him back.  Come on… what else would a flapper do?  And I kissed him again.  His arm dropped from my shoulders to my hips as he wordlessly urged me to go back to the ocean with him.  I wondered foggily how I could understand him so well when he didn’t speak a word.

A large wave crashed against the rock, splashing both of us.  He smiled and I relaxed against him.  His arm around my hips held me tighter.  Then an unnatural cold touched the back of my neck and I shivered.  He mistook it for pleasure and his bright green eyes started to glow in response.  I didn’t pay any attention to a tiny pop-fizz noise that blended into the sound of the waves caressing the boulder.

“I remember this place. A few times I came out here to think,” Daisy said.

1920s face

The ghost woman appeared on the other side of me, and I pulled away from the merman’s kiss, turning to her in surprise.

“But I became too weak to hop across the rocks,” she added as if she described a distant memory.

The merman’s eyes widened when he saw the spirit.  He snarled then hissed.  There wasn’t so much as a splash as he dove into the ocean, cleanly cutting the water like a knife.  A broad green tailfin broached the surface and gave the water an angry slap.  Daisy looked at it with a derisive expression.

“Merfolk don’t cotton much to ghosts,” she said, her southern accent took on more of a rural 1920s Seaside Postcard Flapperedge than usual.

After I thought about it, I realized that Daisy had more of an accent when she spoke of times before her marriage.  I supposed that being around different people, hearing different ways of speaking caused her country manner to fade.

“After that… that place,” she said, sounding more her sophisticated self.  “I was hurt, bleeding.  Somebody brought me here.  I think it was Henry.  Yes,” she exclaimed as part of the memory became clear to her.  “My husband brought me here after that horrible hospital.  But I didn’t get better, and he went back to Savannah.  He came often, but I kept getting weaker.  I wasn’t able to be vivacious enough to make him stay,” she spoke softly and I could hear the self-blame in her tone.

What hospital, I wondered.  I thought whatever the horrid thing was that Daisy couldn’t remember had happened at the abandoned warehouse.  Then I remembered Andy’s title research on the building showed that it had been used as some sort of hospital at one time, during a war.  It was possible that it had some medical purpose again later.

A newer puzzle came to me.  “Daisy,” I began but wasn’t sure how to phrase the question.  “The old woman on the beach?  Mattie Maddox?  You stood behind her on the beach last night and you seemed very unhappy.  Did you know her?”

1916 Norma and Constance Talmadge

1916 Norma and Constance Talmadge, film stars

Daisy looked at me uncomprehendingly for a second.  Finally she seemed to remember the moment. “Oh yes, that woman. She seemed familiar to me.  Mattie, you say?  Mattie was the name of my personal maid!  Could that old woman have been my Mattie?  I believe you’re right Pip!”

“You seemed sad, maybe even angry when you looked at her,” I said rather cautiously.  “You had such a frown when you watched her.  Did Mattie do something to you?  Was she part of the horrible thing that happened?”

“Yes,” Daisy said then stopped.  “No.  No, she wasn’t part of it, I don’t think,” the spirit stammered.  “No, Mattie took care of me afterward.  I remember now.  Mattie stayed.  She refused to leave my side, even when Henry had to go back to town.  Why, her fiancé broke off their betrothal because she wouldn’t go back to Savannah.  I was so hurt for her sake.  I was upset with her too.  I felt she was ruining her life, to take care of me,” Daisy said sadly.

“I felt like Mattie was my only friend then.  I was too weak to go out and do much.  I remember that I lost a lot of blood, and there was infection…  But Mattie was always there.  She’d take me in a wheelchair outside into the pretty garden.  There were beautiful roses.  One day she upset everybody by planting daisies amid those prize roses.  She said that I was as fine and good as any rose.  Kind Mattie — she knew I never thought as highly of myself as I should.  And she’d even get the kitchen staff to make my favorite rice pudding.  She made sure I had it whenever I wanted.  But I suppose I reached a point where I wouldn’t eat much of anything,” Daisy told me.

I felt like I had pieces of a puzzle spread out around me.  It seemed like the parts of it should fit together, but they just weren’t quite right, they wouldn’t lock into place.  I tried to sort through all the things we had learned about Daisy and the warehouse.1916 Hart Schaffner ad

My jumbled thoughts centered on that big old photograph back at the Kingston mansion — the one of all the young men.  Daisy had made it clear that it held important information, even if she couldn’t say what it was.  Andy and I figured out that two of the boys were the Binghamton brothers.  One of whom owned the Bijou theatre, and the other became a high ranking bishop.  But who were the others?  The photo was of a large group and as far as I could remember it was mostly boys of about the same age.  There might have been a couple of older men.  If only I could remember all the faces.  Suddenly inspiration struck.

“Daisy, I know you can’t remember what happened to you.  And it’s okay that you don’t understand why the photograph you showed me is important,” I said.  “But can you remember the photo itself?  It was obviously a special occasion.  Can you tell me who was in it?” I asked imploringly.

Her eyes took on an unfocused look as she dredged up the memory.  Daisy jumped as if startled.  I asked what was wrong and she gave a rueful chuckle.

Vintage Tuxedo ad“I just remembered the big flash when the photograph was taken,” she answered.  “Yes, Pip.  I remember the picture now.  All those boys.  Of course Henry’s son was in it the photograph, and the Binghamton brothers.  Those three were thick as thieves.  Bradley was a nice enough boy. But that Byron — I just didn’t feel right about that boy.  He was so self-centered.  I was afraid he’d be a bad influence on young Henry.  I hate to say it, but my stepson had a tendency to be greedy,” Daisy remembered.

“Anyhow, it was a sort of mentoring group for future businessmen.  Henry and his friend Alastair coached all those boys along with their regular schooling, grooming them to be Savannah’s future, as Henry liked to say.  My Henry had the photograph taken after all the boys graduated from school.”

“His friend Alastair?” I asked as something tickled at the back of my mind.

It wasn’t a name I heard often.  The only Alastair I knew was my friend whose family owned Wong’s Chinese.  Granny was dog sitting their little pug while most of the family was on vacation in California.  Then I remembered Granny Fanny saying the words “Alastair the elder.”

My thoughts returned to Granny’s cottage and a time not too long ago (Cookbook-1, Episode-2) when she talked about her tea set.  Granny had given me a downright wicked, Grannys teacupmischievous smile and even wriggled her eyebrows.  Then her expression turned fond and she chuckled as she told me how she came to have the set.

“They were a gift — when I was a very young woman.  They were actually from Mrs. Wong’s grandfather,” Granny Fanny had told me.  “He was a widower.  Yes, he was interested in me.  Oh Pip, are you surprised that a man besides Grandpa was interested in your Granny?” she’d said with a smile.  “If ever I was going to be attracted to an older man, it would have been Alastair Wong the elder.  He was a fine man.”

I tried to remember seeing an Asian man in the old picture.  But the faces were all so small that nothing stirred in my memory.  However, I did remember an odd shape about one man.  I had thought maybe it was a flaw in the photo.  Yet as I concentrated I realized it was a thing, not a defect.

“So Alastair’s great-grandfather was in the picture,” I voiced the thought.  “Which one was he, Daisy?”

“Oh, that’s easy,” the ghost said with a smile.  “He’s the one with the parrot on his shoulder.”

chatelaine_1928 Feb

***

Recipe:  Creamy Rice Pudding with Brandied Cherry Sauce

Rice pudding

Recipe and Photo Credit:  Betty Crocker.com

Prep time:  15 mins

Total time:  4 hours, 20 mins

Servings:  8

Ingredients

Rice Pudding

4 cups milk

¾ cup uncooked regular long-grain rice

1/3 cup sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup whipping (heavy) cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Brandied Cherry Sauce

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

¼ cup orange juice

1 ½ cups frozen unsweetened tart red cherries (from 1-lb bag)

2 tablespoons brandy or orange juice

Directions

  1. In a 2-quart saucepan, heat milk, rice, 1/3 cup sugar and the salt to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered 40 to 45 minutes, stirring frequently, until rice is tender and mixture is thickened.

  2.  Stir a small amount of the hot rice mixture into eggs, then stir eggs back into mixture in saucepan. Continue cooking over medium heat about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until heated through. Cool for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. In chilled large serving bowl, beat whipping cream and vanilla with electric mixer on high speed until thickened. Fold in cooled rice mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours until well chilled.

  4. In a 1-quart saucepan, mix 1/2 cup sugar and the cornstarch. Stir in orange juice and frozen cherries. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture boils and thickens slightly.  Stir in brandy. Serve sauce warm or chilled with pudding.

 ***

 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 – 11: Red Currants, Baked Beans, Polish Sausage

Young Lucille Ball

Young Lucille Ball

Am I in an odd “place” or is it just the weather? The moon? Solar flares maybe? Could it be this week’s ghostly ingredient from the Jar of Spooky Things?

I can’t define it — this odd mood, so I may as well just roll with it.  However, be warned that it might make this episode of Cookbook-2 a little peculiar too!

Not everything writers do is influenced by the nature and contents of our mood, mind or memories. Some characters have nothing at all to do with our personalities or pain. And some do. However, I think most of what we write is influenced by our experiences. It would take a talented writer indeed to fully remove self from the words.

So for most of us, a piece of the heart, the soul goes into what we write. The same Episode 11is true for great cooks — a little of their spirit and a lot of their love is stirred into everything they prepare.  Take a tour of A Pug in the Kitchen, and you’ll see an example of how true that is.  Suzanne supplied the ingredients for this episode.  Her blog is packed with great food and clear instructions. But what makes it a truly special place are the touches of real life, the bits of her that you’ll find in each recipe and post.

And now, a brief reminder of where we left things last time…

Bon appétit!

***

Saltwater and rain drenched everyone.  Passengers screamed.  The captain shouted for calm.  Huge waves poured into the small craft.  Thunder roared.  Lightning blasted the darkness, eerily illuminating the terrified faces around me.

A double pronged bolt of lightning fractured the sky right above us.  The boat launched into the air again.  That time I lost my grip.  I felt myself lifted off my seat and into the air.

***

11.  Red Currants, Baked Beans, Polish Sausage

With Supernatural

Esther Williams

Esther Williams

It was a big soft cushion of black velvet.  I settled against it as I floated down.  Down.

The world was so quiet and peaceful.  I relaxed and drifted further into dark serenity.  A gentle downward motion cradled me.  Peace.  It was a wonderful calm feeling.  I never wanted to let go of it.

Then icy cold stabbed through me, jolting my arms, my legs with abrupt freezing pain.  Shocked, my eyes bulged open, but I couldn’t see.  The world around me was black and empty.  Suddenly I realized that I couldn’t breathe.

I finally understood that I was under water.  My arms and legs floundered as my mind told them to move, to swim.  However, in the shock of the cold depths, my body didn’t listen to what my brain said.  My muscles seemed confused, trying but not succeeding to comply with mental demands.

Something scaly brushed past my legs.  I twisted in the Atlantic, still descending.  Then I felt a soft caress, like a hand on my shin, gently pulling me even farther down.  I swung out my leg instinctively.  A bubbling chuckle answered my kick.

1920s La Vie Parisienne Mermaid by hérouardIn the darkness I saw a glimmer reflect from opalescent scales and a broad fishtail.  Bright green eyes were unexpectedly locked with mine.  I saw a beautiful face that could have been either male or female, surrounded by a nimbus of long floating green hair.  The face loomed closer and I was kissed passionately.

At first I struggled in fear.  Then I realized that my lungs were filling with air.  He backed away, and I saw his bare chest, marked with what appeared to be strange tattoos.  I stretched out my hand beseechingly.  I tried to plead for help, but only succeeded in taking in more of the ocean.  With another watery chuckle he glided closer, eyes softly glowing in the night.  He licked his lips and the light in his eyes intensified.  His expression scared me more than the prospect of drowning.

Abruptly he broke eye contact and looked around suspiciously.  Something about the way his green hair floated made me think he was using it in a sensory way.  His fierce expression turned fearful.  With a powerful thrust of the broad fin of his tail he plunged deeper into the Atlantic and disappeared.

Applesauce!  A mermaid.  No, a merman, I corrected myself as I struggled in vain to reach the surface.  I had always thought mer… people were supposed to be playful rescuers.  But that guy really scared me. Then I remembered something from school, about long ago sailors telling tales of men being dragged to their deaths by mermaids.  I 1903 Seahorse cigarette carddidn’t know what to think.  It had to be a hallucination anyway.  After all, I was drowning, and with that I realized the breath of air he gave me was already exhausted.

Despite the frigid ocean, my lungs burned, ready to explode.  I saw a narrow stream of small blood red bubbles, and I thought perhaps my lungs really had burst.  Although I knew that had not happened.  Yet.

I looked at the tiny bubbles in fascination as they floated toward me in single file.  They reminded me of ripe red currants.  The line of translucent red currant bubbles became a loop and it circled around me.  I heard a pop-fizz sound and the red bubbles drew snuggly around me, no longer a loop but a lariat.

A current surged against me, pushing me halfway around.  Charging toward me was a giant seahorse.  As it drew close, the seahorse reared back, snorting supernatural fire the ocean could not quench.  The glowing white form of a Stetson hat shone from behind the creature’s head.  Caleb Colman leaned forward, took off his hat, and gave me a dazzling grin.

“Hey little filly,” he said.  “It looks like you’re in a mite of trouble,” the erstwhile ghost-rider said as he gave the supernatural lasso a gentle tug.

Caleb put an arm around me and placed me in front of him where he sat astride the enormous seahorse.  He whipped the lasso, cracking it heavenward.  The seahorse snorted fire and bolted upward.

Boy and SeahorseIt was still pitch black, but I sensed we neared the surface of the Atlantic.  Caleb leaned down and gave me a quick kiss on the cheek.

“I know that I owe my chance at redemption to Maestro Martino, and I hope you’ll thank him for me.  But if it hadn’t been for you Miss Pip, it never would have happened.  I’m just trying to say that I’m grateful to you.  And I’m grateful to be able to help you in return,” Caleb said.

Unexpectedly when I broke the surface of the water, I sailed up several feet into the air, like a dolphin.  But what goes up must come down, and I hit the water again with a cold splash.  I heard Andy scream my name and immediately after, a life preserver plopped into the ocean next to me.

***

Sputtering, wheezing, coughing, and finally a belch of smoke preceded the reanimation of the ferry’s engine.  The captain’s soot streaked face broke into a smile.  Some of the passengers cheered, but half of them were too wet, cold, and shocked to express emotions.  The small craft limped to the dock at Tybee Island.1920s Fish Costumes

To my surprise a line of torches lit the shore.  A dozen people moved forward, eagerly greeting the passengers of the unlucky boat.  They had made fire pits, and had blankets ready, which was a great comfort to everyone.  The aroma of food came to my nose and I was suddenly hungry.  A woman came toward Andy and me with a bowl in each hand.

“It’s only baked beans,” she apologized.  “That’s all we could do on short notice.  I was already cooking them for the picnic tomorrow, but this is a more important use for them.  C’mon they’re warm and hearty.  Have some; it’ll do you good,” she said as she handed us the bowls which we gratefully accepted.

She called over her shoulder to someone.  “Vance Varley, will you please hurry up and give these kids some blankets?” she said, though I couldn’t tell to whom she spoke.

The woman was right.  Having some warm food in my belly did make me feel better.  At that moment, filet mignon couldn’t have been any better than those baked beans.

Heinz baked beans adA man put a blanket around my shoulders.  A bit of white at his collar shone in the firelight.  He turned and put another blanket around Andy.  The man quickly moved to someone behind us.  I heard the voice of Mattie Maddox talking enthusiastically to him as he tucked a blanket around her.  I was glad to see that the older woman had taken one of the few camp chairs.  He told her not to worry, that they would make sure everyone got home safely.

“Vicar Varley, how could you possibly have known, especially in time to get all this together?” she asked him.

“I tell you Mattie, it was the oddest thing,” the clergyman began.  “I was in the kitchen Vintage Mermaid Seahorsewhen I heard the radio start making all kinds of noise.  The dial was spinning crazily, not even on any normal channel.  The static and screeching were so fierce that I covered my ears.  Then I heard a foreign man.  He said the ferry was in trouble and that we had to be ready to care for the passengers when it got to shore.”

“A foreigner, you say?” Mattie Maddox said in a curious tone.

“I-talian, I think he was,” the cleric said.  “I believe he said his name was Mister Martino, but I’m not familiar with any Martinos in Savannah.”

Andy and I looked at each other, our jaws hanging open.  I moved my mouth to ask how, but the word didn’t come out.  Andy got that look on his face that he gets when he’s thinking up something for one of his stories.

“They say that spirits can control electrical things, like the telephones and radios,” Andy said in an amazed voice.  “Maestro must have pulled some kind of poltergeist switchboard shenanigan.  But I don’t understand how he could have known.”

Memory came clearly despite my frazzled and soggy state.  “Maestro knew I was upset when the ghost-riders accidentally took you,” I told Andy.  “He said the presence of the riders and the Devil’s Herd are such a strong phenomenon that he felt them, and somehow that let him tune into me as well,” I said but Andy didn’t seem to understand, so I tried to explain.  “Just before I went overboard, I saw the Devil’s Herd in the sky.  I 1920s Mermaidsalso saw a horizontal bolt of red lightning that seemed to point straight at the island,” I added and looked inland.

Andy followed my gaze.  The church steeple was alight.  A smaller, partially obscured building stood next to the church.  The lights were also on there.  I supposed it was the rectory.  I took a few steps in that direction so that I could see past a clump of needle palm trees.  The unobstructed view showed me an arched stained glass window that glowed golden and aqua in the night.

I shivered, and it wasn’t because I was soaked to the skin.  I was looking at the exact window that Daisy had made appear in the abandoned warehouse.

Mattie Maddox looked my way when I moved.  I gave her an encouraging smile.  She turned back to Vicar Vance Varley.  “That nice young couple over there,” she said in a quieter voice, but I was easily within earshot.  “They were planning to ask for beds in the hostel.  But are you going to have room? I expect some of these other passengers are going to need a place to stay the night.  It’s awfully late for anybody to be trying to get home,” Mattie said in a concerned voice.

Vicar Varley patted Mattie’s shoulder.  “Don’t you worry your sweet head about it Miss 1920s MermaidenMattie.  The hostel was already full, but we’ll manage in a time of need,” he said in a confident voice, but his face looked uncertain.

“No,” Mattie said flatly.  “I already offered to let them stay with me, but I could tell they just didn’t want to put me to any trouble when they said they’d go to the church hostel.  Vance,” she added with authority and switched from calling him Vicar to using his first name.

“You’ll have to insist to them for me.  It won’t be any trouble at all.  I even have a nice supper with Polish sausage already cooked and waiting in the icebox.  And it’s too much for just me.  Polish sausage, cabbage, pierogies — why that’s too good to let it go to waste.  Those two can stay the night at my house, and that’s that,” she said.

I had not expected Mattie Maddox to be such a forceful woman.  It seemed like she had known Vicar Varley for a long time, based on the way they acted with each other.  I had to laugh.  I’d hate to be on the wrong side of an argument with her.  Mattie had the heart of a flapper for sure.

The stained glass window in the rectory pulled my gaze back toward the churchyard.  That was definitely the window in Mattie’s painting.  I was certain that it was also the one Daisy, the ghost woman showed us as a clue to the mystery of who killed her. 1924 Peterpan Mermaids

I bit my lip in frustration, wishing poor Daisy hadn’t been too devastated to remember much of anything.  However, I shuddered to think what might be so horrible that even in death the memory was unbearable.  But then again, I guessed that anyone who was murdered would be traumatized.  Holy Hannah, what an awful thing!

I could imagine someone sweet and gentle like Daisy befriending Mattie Maddox.  Daisy was from a very poor family, and she wouldn’t have thought twice about her status being harmed by that kind of friendship.  Not Daisy.  If Mattie had been her friend before Henry Kingston fell in love and married her, then Daisy wouldn’t have ended the friendship just because Mattie was a maid rather than a socialite.Argosy Weekly Story Magazine The Sea Girl Ray Cummings

Another idea came to me before that thought even finished running through my waterlogged noodle.  A wealthy man like Kingston would have had a lot of servants, just like his son had a whole staff to take care of that swanky mansion.  Maybe I had it backwards. What if Mattie had worked for the Kingstons and then became friendly with Daisy?

No… I told myself that whole line of thought was crazy.  Savannah had plenty of rich bluenose aristocrat types who could afford maids.  Mattie knowing Daisy the Dainty Dish was too much of a longshot.

As I looked at Mattie, a pinkish aura appeared around the older woman.  I blinked.  Was I going to start seeing auras as well as ghosts?  I wondered what “pink” meant.

A moment later Daisy appeared behind Mattie.  The spirit frowned as she looked down at the woman.  I didn’t think her expression was one of anger.  Rather Daisy looked pensive or perhaps confused.  After a moment Daisy’s form disappeared.  Mattie turned around, as if she felt someone behind her.  The older woman looked at me and gave a cheery little wave.

The sound of the ocean drew me.  I pulled the rough blanket closer around myself and strolled out onto the beach.  Twinkling stars reflected in the water as it lapped against the shore.  The breeze hummed a hypnotic tune in my ears.  I saw two specks of sparkling green out on the gentle waves.

The emerald sparks started to move closer, and I realized they didn’t come from reflected starlight of any kind.  They were eyes.  A broad shimmering green tailfin surfaced and slapped the water with a loud splash before heading back to sea.VIntage Mermaid and baby

***

Recipe:  Baked Beans with Salt Pork

Recipe Credit: Mrs. Wilson’s Cook Book (1920).

Ingredients

1 pound of beans

1 can of tomatoes

1 cup of chopped onions

1/2 cup of syrup

1 pound of salt pork cut in pieces

2 tablespoons of salt

1 tablespoon of paprika

Instructions

Soak the beans over night or early in the morning. At noon place in a kettle and cover with water. Bring to a boil and drain off the water. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for fifteen minutes. Drain.

Now add tomatoes, onions, syrup, pork, salt, and paprika. Add sufficient water to cover beans one inch deep. Mix well and then cover the pot closely and bake in a slow oven for four hours.

 ***

Tune in next weekend for a new episode with “ingredients” from Willy Nilly To and Fro ~ The Philosophy of Inanity.

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 otherwise stated.

Three Ingredients II – 8: Lettuce, Shrimp, Hot Peppers

young Lucy blueThe other day I sent Pip to give everyone a “heads-up” that I wasn’t sure I could do this weekend’s episode… due to the unfortunate combination of my clumsiness and lots of stairs inside and particularly (the culprits in my misadventure) outside my home…

The story nagged at me though, so I’ll try to provide a quality episode.

However, I’m going to give my post-tumble achy self a little break, and challenge any or all of you — to leave a comment with a link to a favorite recipe that uses one of this week’s three ingredients!

This time the “ingredients” are from fellow blogger and LinkedIn member, Phuong Callaway.  You might also remember her collection of cookbooks from the conclusion of “Three Ingredients: Cookbook-1.”

Without further ado, here is Episode-8.  Bon appétit!

8.  Lettuce, Shrimp, Hot Peppers

With Unearthly

“Andy!  Annn-deee!” someone screamed hysterically, and after a moment I realized I was the one screaming.

Vintage world around us magI clamped my mouth shut.  Echoes of my own voice rang in the empty vastness of the abandoned factory.  I was alone.

Whether by accident or by design, the ghost-riders had taken Andy.  Caleb the spirit cowboy yelled at them to stop before he also disappeared, but it had done no good.

As I tried to collect my wits, I noticed a wooden box that bore a faded image of a head of lettuce.  I thought absently that it was a good thing the produce was gone; else the spoiled odor would fill the place.  But then again, maybe it rotted away so long ago that even the smell was gone.

The sudden stillness of the building felt unearthly.  I sat down on an old crate, not giving any thought to how dusty it was.  Had it really been only a little while since we drove up to the abandoned factory?  The words Andy had spoken at that moment came back to me and I shivered.

“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,” Andy had said.

Had the hand of Fate reached out and grabbed Andy to make sure whatever mystical realms stayed in balance?  Or what might happen if someone were to escape death?  Like Marshal Myrick — he died briefly and was revived by Dr. Veronica Vale.  Could that have disturbed a cosmic balance of some sort?  Or maybe the presence of one of the ghosts upset the balance of things.  Did Daisy or the Maestro have to “move on” before Andy could come back?

As if on cue Maestro Martino appeared.  He was bubbling over with excitement.  “Signorina,” he cried.  “A wondrous thing has happened!”

I looked at the ghost chef blankly, still reeling from the drama that took place only a moment before.

“I have been given a reprieve!  My curse is cut in half!” Martino exclaimed joyously as he all but danced around me.

Yes, I should have been happy for the ghost chef.  I should have congratulated him.  buster n lucyHowever, my worry for Andy was so great that I barely heard Maestro Martino’s happy announcement.

Maestro lifted me off my feet in a great bear hug.  I thought of Andy being pulled into the air by the ghost-rider’s lariat and I shuddered.  The ghost chef must have felt my reaction because he put me back down hastily.

“Oh forgive my excitement Signorina,” he apologized.  “I did not mean to be improper,” the spirit said and then glanced around as if he had only just noticed the location.  “But where is the young Signore?”

“They took him,” I said, distracted by the chaotic tumble of thoughts rolling through my head.

The Maestro looked a question at me, but instead of answering, I asked some questions of my own.  “Maestro, where is the wooden owl clock?  The one you had to bind yourself to?  And how were you able to find me?”

He chuckled.  “Signorina, I told you. I am one powerful poltergeist!” he said merrily.

Maestro Martino reminded me that he could be away from whatever object to which he was bound for limited periods of time.  He said that he sensed the strong supernatural activity relatively nearby and it attracted him.  Then he also sensed my presence in the midst of it, so he came quickly.  I marveled at how powerful he truly must be to pick up all those things.  I could understand that he might be aware of ghostly activity, but I thought it was particularly extraordinary that he felt my mortal presence.

I told him about the Devil’s Herd and the ghost-riders.  “Is there anything you can do to get Andy back, Maestro?” I pleaded.

Cowgirl valentineThe spirit chef paced the area where the ghost-riders had charged after the red-eyed cattle.  Then he moved to a spot behind me and made tut-tut sounds.

“One of them was here, strongly,” Maestro muttered.  “He was most interested in you, Signorina.”

Then he came close to me and put out his hands, palms toward me as if he could feel something in the air around me.  He tut-tutted some more.

“What is it?” I wanted to know.

“Can you not see it?” he asked but then seemed to remember himself.  “Of course not.  My mistake,” he said and wriggled his fingers.

I marveled to see a multi-colored aura all around me.  There were bright horizontal yellow-green bands around it at my waist and shoulder.

“A poltergeist made physical contact with you, no?” he asked but it didn’t sound like a question.

In answer I told the Maestro about Caleb the ghost-rider and how he pulled me to safety as the Devil’s Herd thundered past.  His thick eyebrows went up in an expression of curiosity that was accompanied by another tut-tut sound.

“So, a ghost who is cursed for his cruelty during life saves an innocent bystander…  This is most intriguing,” he said.

Martino put his hand to the places where Caleb had stood.  Then he apologized and placed his hand at my waist.  After a second the Maestro gasped.

“Repentance?” he said in an astonished tone.  “Remorse and repentance?  I’m sure I feel these things from your ghost-rider.  It must be one powerful curse that afflicts him.  I am amazed that the curse has not been lifted.”Vintage ghosts several

I looked at Maestro Martino sadly.  He had never shown anything but kindness to me.  Yet he said he was cursed also.  Always one to put my foot in it, I asked about something that was none of my bees wax.  “Then shouldn’t your curse be lifted as well?  You said just now that it was cut in half.  Why didn’t they… whomever, just take it away?” I asked and then blushed at my temerity.

He gazed at me with the saddest look in his eyes…  Even Wriggles the pug couldn’t look that sad.  Then he abruptly smiled and chuckled.

“Ah, but you see, Signorina Pip, I have no remorse for the things that got me thusly cursed,” he admitted and spread his arms in a big shrug.

Maestro went back to the spot where Caleb had stood when he whistled at me.  His entire body started to vibrate in a frightening way.  He waivered from transparent to solid and back again, sometimes blinking out entirely.  It was like a visual version of the static on the police radio.  There was also a low discordant hum that set my teeth on edge.

The spirit chef loudly clapped his hands together.  To my astonishment, Caleb the cowboy appeared.  At first he seemed confused, but when he saw me he grinned.  I ran toward the two ghosts.

“Where is Andy?  Caleb, do you know where he is?  Can you bring him back?” I asked in a jumbled rush.abandoned factory

“Simmer down now little filly,” he said.

The ghost-rider looked a little unsettled, and I supposed he might well be.  After all, he had just been plucked out of whatever and wherever without so much as a please or thank you.  Caleb turned to Maestro Martino.  Some kind of acknowledgment or recognition seemed to pass between them.  I had the feeling they had just gauged each other’s power.

Caleb took off his Stetson and scratched his head as if he didn’t know what I meant.  However, I was pretty sure he was playing with me.

“Oh, you mean the little shrimp that was here with you?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said bouncing on the balls of my feet.  “Andy!  My friend, the one the other ghost-riders took!”

He chuckled, but I thought there was sadness in the cowboy’s eyes.  “I’m sorry ma’am.  I know who you mean.  It’s just… well you’re so cute,” he said though it only sounded half apologetic.

Caleb seemed to be considering whether or not he would be able to do as I asked.  He looked around the factory floor where we stood.

“We’ve been here before,” he said sounding a little troubled.  “Me and the other riders, I mean.  But it doesn’t feel like it’s anywhere out west,” he added and I told him that we were in Savannah, Georgia.

“This has to be a strong place, to draw the Devil’s Herd so far away,” he said in a speculative tone.  “Something else happened here too.  I think that’s why the place is so strong…” his voice trailed away.

“A nexus,” Maestro murmured.

Moss on live oaks SavannahI didn’t understand the term, but my only concern was for my missing friend.  I told Caleb about Daisy and what she had said about something horrible that she couldn’t remember happening in the factory.  Caleb nodded as if what I said made perfect sense.

“Sometimes it’s best not to remember,” the cowboy said in a flat voice.  “Tell her that — your Daisy.  Tell her it’s best, even in death, to forget some things.  Those boys… it will catch up with them eventually.”

“What boys?” I asked.

“Boys… men now,” Caleb said with a faraway look in his eyes.

It was as if he was looking at something only he could see.  However, when I glanced at Maestro, I had the feeling he was looking at the same thing Caleb saw.

“The boys who were here on the day your Daisy can’t remember,” Caleb answered after a moment.  “They did something so bad that it attracted the ghost herd and the cursed riders.  We were here that day.  It scared ‘em off, but their damage was already done.  Daisy saw us, but all things together, she blocked out all the memory,” he said.Tom Mix poster

“You mean the ghost-riders tried to save Daisy?” I asked.

“No ma’am.  It had nothing to do with helping anybody.  The herd and the riders, we’re sometimes drawn to places where something awful has happened.  And those boys definitely did something horrible.  Those boys…  They’re not young anymore.  And they haven’t paid for what they did to her.  That’s what’s bothering Daisy, ma’am,” Caleb said.

His explanation seemed disjointed and difficult to follow, but Maestro nodded in agreement.  I, however, felt confused.

“Do you mean this is where Daisy died?” I asked in a whisper.

Caleb shook his head negatively.  Maestro gave a slight movement of his head too.  Apparently they both were able to see the same past event.

“Maybe.  Maybe not,” Caleb said.  “But there was cruelty here.  It’s not something a lady should have to remember,” he added and would say no more on the subject.

“Now listen here —” I began, ready to rail against the idea that gender should have the least bit to do with what anybody should about anything.  However, that was a ridiculous concept to most non-flappers.  It would have been even stranger in Caleb’s day.  Besides, there were more urgent things to address.

“What about Andy?” I asked, and I wondered if I sounded as distraught as I had to my own ears.

“Don’t you worry none, ma’am,” Caleb said with what was probably meant to be a reassuring smile.

The ghost-rider’s smile fell short of giving comfort.  It didn’t reach his eyes.  I was sure he had doubts about being able to help Andy.  The smile faded completely when he saw my face.1920s PhotoPlay

“Well, the truth is ma’am,” he paused and ground his boot against the floor.  “It would take a lot more power than I have,” he said.  “But you never know.  I’ll try my best.”

Maestro Martino unexpectedly grabbed Caleb’s hand.  The ghost chef put his other hand on the cowboy’s shoulder.  At first I thought it was an ordinary gesture of respect.  However, Maestro started to glow.  Then his hands seemed to merge with Caleb and they both became translucent.

A blinding white glow suffused the Maestro.  Soon it covered Caleb too.  The white light became so bright that I couldn’t see anything.  I shielded my eyes to no avail.  I turned my head and closed my eyes.

I heard a fizzing sound followed by a pop.  The light was gone.  I opened my eyes.  At first all I could see were spots.  Then I realized that Caleb the cowboy was gone.

Maestro Martino looked absolutely spent.  He plopped down on a crate.  The ghost chef dusted off part of the top and chuckled.  I noticed foreign lettering on the crate.  “Peperoncino,” it said.  Was that Italian?

He sighed.  “Ah… a bit of home.  Peperoncino.  Hot peppers.  Alas, home is as far away as ever,” he said sadly.  “But all is well.  It was the right thing to do.”

Bird Girl Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil“What do you mean, Maestro?” I asked.  His unexpected behavior was really worrying me.

“As you probably suspected, I leant the ghost-rider enough power to help the Signore.  But the only way I could do this thing was to also give him his wish,” Martino said.

I was so worried about Andy that I was feeling impatient with the cryptic answers from the spirit.  I tried to control my tone. “What wish?” I insisted.

Then I remembered Caleb’s words.  “I know I did some bad things during my life.  Some truly horrible things,” he’d said, shaking his head remorsefully.  “I only wish I could be allowed to make up for it, to redeem myself somehow.

“Maestro…” I began in an awed voice.  “You didn’t?  Oh, but you did,” I said as comprehension dawned.  “You gave Caleb the chance to make amends for the things he did in his lifetime?”

The ghost chef nodded but did not speak.

“And in doing that, you somehow gave up the time that was going to be taken off your own curse,” I said.

***

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.

 

 

 

Cookbook-2 Begins! Cherries, Mascarpone, Marsala

Cat_menu_Episode-1Hello and welcome back!

I can’t tell you how happy I am that you’ve been patient during the past couple of weeks, while I got ready for Cookbook-2 of our Three Ingredients Serial.  

The first set of “ingredients” for Cookbook-2 came from Evelyne Holingue. I guess they’re leftovers,  because I’ve been hanging onto them.  Evelyne sent them just before the first Three Ingredients Serial concluded.  Thank you, Evelyne for being patient while I got around to using them.

The first time I visited Evelyne’s blog I was amazed by how much I feel she has accomplished.  The blog is charming and includes posts in English and French.  There are also links to some National Public Radio (NPR) recordings of her lovely voice as she reads her stories.  (Yes, Americans are always charmed by accents, but hers really is lovely.) You will also find information about her books, including Trapped in Paris.

I can’t promise to dive right in for immediate shenanigans and chaos. Sometimes it1920s face
takes a bit of writing for the ingredients to lead the story, but I hope to entertain you just the same.

The cupboards are bare — so leave a comment with your three food-related ingredients.  

As before, I’m determined to let your “ingredients” drive the story.  I considered moving this story several years forward… but that was just what I wanted to do.  When I sat down with the ingredients, “Marsala” had other ideas.  So Cookbook-2 picks up about a month after the previous story.  It also brings back an old friend from The Three Things serial. (And watch out for that Marsala. Wink.)

Bon appétit!

1.  Cherries, Mascarpone, Marsala

Lucille Ball teenaged 1The pile of pits grew steadily as I worked.  My thoughts were a million miles away so I did the task absently.  But I wasn’t so preoccupied that I didn’t pop one of the dark ripe cherries into my mouth now and then.

It had been a month since the spirit of Daisy, the dainty dish, asked me for help.  She wanted me to find out who killed her.  However, I was no closer to solving that mystery than I had been the night she made the request.  Daisy helped me get incriminating evidence against the murderous gangsters, but she asked for my assistance in return.

I sighed and ate another cherry.

I had not seen Daisy again since that night.  Despite her claim that both Granny Fanny and I could see spirits, I hadn’t seen her or any other ghost.  I was actually relieved about that part.  However, I was very frustrated at not finding any new information about Daisy or her death.  I didn’t see how I was going to be able to do anything helpful.  The idea of not keeping the promise I made to her irked me.1920s Owl Clock

Occasionally I looked up at the clock on the counter.  I didn’t want to be late.  I wondered where my grandmother had gotten that unusual clock.  It was set into a hand carved wooden owl.  It took a while for the clock to grow on me, but I decided that I liked it.  When the owl chimed fifteen minutes past the hour, I got up and washed my hands, popping one last cherry into my mouth.

As if on cue, Granny came into the kitchen.  She began mixing milk, coffee, and mascarpone cheese, humming an old song as she worked.

“If the train is on time, you and your friend are welcome to have a snack with us.  Arabella’s cousin might come with her, but I expect it will just be Arabella and me,” Granny said.

Arabella Wong’s family came to the United States from England.  (It was many generations since that branch of their family had been in Hong Kong.)  So tea was customary with the Wongs.  It was something Granny enjoyed too.

1920s RefrigeratorEver the generous and flexible hostess, Granny wouldn’t mind if I brought half the people on the train, or if Arabella brought her family and everybody who worked at Wong’s Chinese, for that matter.  The friendship between Granny and Arabella Wong
had grown since the night of the big shindig Granny catered.  The two women, without guns or knives, fought back Queenie Wetson’s henchmen long enough for Detective Daniels and the mysterious Mr. Farceur to move into action.

“Is it okay if I play that by ear, Granny?” I asked.

“Of course, Sweet Pea.  I know you young people have a lot of catching up to do,” she said amiably.

Excited yapping preceded the sound of a knock at the front door.  Granny didn’t seem surprised, but I wasn’t expecting to hear a dog.  I followed her to the door and greeted Arabella.  She had brought a little pug dog.  Its curled tail wagged merrily.

“Where did you come from?” I said as I stooped to scratch the dog’s back.

“I haven’t had him long.  This is Wriggles,” Arabella said and the little dog wagged his tail so hard that his entire back half wagged along with it.Vintage Pug

Granny laughed.  “I can see how he got his name.  It’s too bad he didn’t get to be in the pet parade,” she said, referring to part of the aforementioned party.

“Oh no, he gets into things. You know how puppies are, and Wriggles is only six months old.  There’s no telling what trouble he would have caused at a posh party like that,” she said, but then she put her hand to her mouth and giggled.

Arabella was right. The pet parade had turned into utter chaos, so we all laughed.  “But I suppose he would have fit right in with the other pets,” she added.  “Anyway, there wasn’t anyone at home today, and I didn’t want to leave him alone.  So thank you Fanny, for letting me bring him with me.”

A moment later I was on my way to Union Station.  To my delight, Granny let me use her yellow automobile.  It was as old as the hills, but she kept it in pristine condition.

When I reached the station I realized the train arrived early.  I looked all around for a familiar face.  Finally I saw a man standing at the courtesy desk, talking animatedly on the telephone.  I’d know him anywhere.  I moved up behind him and stayed quiet while he finished his conversation.  He hadn’t heard me sneak up on him.  After a moment he hung up the phone.

Union Station, Savannah, GA

Union Station, Savannah, GA

“Andy, look at you puttin’ on the Ritz!” I said, causing him to jump and turn around.

“Pip!  You’re the cat’s pajamas for picking me up.  It’s great to see you,” Andy Avis exclaimed.

Back where I lived in the same building with my group of friends in Florida, I had nicknamed Andy the Astronaute-man because he wrote science fiction type stories.  You know, like H. G. Wells or Jules Verne.  Thanks to John Ringling, Andy made connections out in Hollywood, California and sold one of his screenplays.  He had been living out there ever since.  Based on the nice suit of clothes he wore, Andy was doing Buster Keatonpretty well for himself in Hollywood.

“Mona wrote to say she was going to Hollywood for that short film thing you got started back at Ca’d’Zan.  So I was surprised you would leave,” I said, trying not to let speculation show on my face.

My shy little Astronaute-man had always carried a torch for our beautiful friend Mona, but she didn’t return his feelings.  I knew he took it hard when she developed a really serious interest in our other friend, Boris.  Andy blushed and looked down.  I figured he was still hurting from that.

“Actually, that was one reason why I took this trip.  It kind of smarts to see Mona.  But she was looking great, as always.  Said to give you a big hug for her,” he said and followed Mona’s instruction.

Andy wasn’t much taller than me, so he had to bend back some to get my feet off the 1920s Friends at Beachground in a big bear hug.  We both laughed.  It was the bee’s knees to see Andy again.  Yes, I had been missing my little group of friends.  But I didn’t realize just how terribly I missed them until that moment.  I brushed a tear away while Andy wasn’t looking.

“One of the executives at the studio, Manny Mayer, he knows I’m from Florida, and he figured that wasn’t much different from Savannah,” Andy said and rolled his eyes.  “The guy needs to brush up on his geography… But I remembered you were here.  So anyway, I’m here for a couple of reasons,” he chattered away.

I chuckled to myself about the executive.  From then on, I’d think of him as Manny Mayer the Movie Maker.  After all, it went along with the other nicknames I’d given folks, Andy the Astronaute-man, Boris the Ballerina, and Frankie the Fireman.  Frankie — I didn’t want to think about him any more than Andy wanted to think about Mona.  Wishing my thoughts had not gone there, I turned my full attention back to Andy.

“So Manny asked if I could look at an abandoned factory he’s thinking of buying here.  He even gave me power of attorney to buy it, if I think it’s decent.  So I’m hoping we
can go take a look at it,” he said with an imploring expression.

“Sure thing,” I told him.  “Want to go check it out right now?” I asked and he agreed wholeheartedly.1914_Ford_Model_T_Speedster

“But here’s the fun part,” Andy said in a conspiratorial tone and wriggled his eyebrows playfully.  “The building predates the Civil War.  I looked into it before I ever left Hollywood.  It was a stop, a sort of hideout for blockade runners back then!” Andy said excitedly.  “There’s no telling what kind of stuff we might find in there — Naturally I told Manny about all that.  I wouldn’t swindle anybody.  He laughed and told me if I found anything I wanted that it was mine.”

I got caught up in Andy’s enthusiasm and grinned at him.  “That was a long time ago,” I said gently, not wanting to disappoint him.  “It’s probably been ransacked of anything good years ago.”

Maybe not…” he said in a meaningful tone.  “It’s supposed to be haunted!

Well, I can tell you… that was one spooky old building.  There was no wonder it had a abandoned factoryreputation for being haunted.  With all the cobwebs and the thick coat of dust that covered everything, it was hard to tell much about what was inside the old factory.

So Andy set about business first, and went over the big old place from top to bottom, making sure it was still solid, at least for the most part.  He said that it fit within the guidelines Manny Mayer gave him, so afterward went into town and took care of the paperwork.  Mr. Mayer was the proud owner of an abandoned Civil War era factory.

We decided to come back with flashlights the next day, so we could get a better look at things.  However, there was one storeroom where part of the floor above it had fallen in.  Under the debris we spotted some old crates that turned out to be filled with bottles of Italian wine.  The crates were heavy, but the two of us managed to get them to Granny’s automobile.

I told Andy that he could store them at Granny’s for the time being.  Granny Fanny also offered the guest room to him.  So we headed back to the cottage.

When we got there I found a note from my grandmother saying that she would be spending the evening with her ladies group.  She also left fried chicken, hush puppies, and coleslaw. “Incase Andy decided to stay,” the note said.  Based on the amount of Back porchfood, she must have been pretty sure he would stick around.  Andy’s expression when he saw all that home-cooked food was enough to confirm he was at least going to stay for dinner.

We had left the crates of wine on the cottage’s wraparound porch, beside the kitchen door.  All the crates looked old, but one of them was even older than the rest. We had to move it very carefully because it was about to fall apart.  Andy opened the crate and pulled out a remarkably ornate bottle.

Marsala!  I guess we should have white wine with chicken, but I won’t stand on formality.  Will you?” he asked with a wink.  Then looking more serious he warned, “It might be spoiled.  I can’t make out the date, but this must be plenty old.”

Andy dusted off the label.  We could make out a vineyard name, and Italy, and other words that told us it was in fact wine, but the date was not readable.  The bottle was so dirty that I insisted on washing it before we opened it.  I took a damp cloth and carefully cleaned every curve and crevice of the lovely old bottle.  Some of the designs were amazingly intricate.  This was going to be a very special bottle of wine, I was absolutely certain!

1922 Cherry RocherI didn’t realize that I was humming as I worked until Andy asked me what I as singing.  Suddenly puzzled, I stopped because I had no idea what the song was.  It was a tune I wasn’t even aware of knowing.  I hummed it louder for Andy, but he didn’t recognize it either.  I shrugged it off.  Obviously I must have heard the tune somewhere.
Turning the bottle this way and that, I admired my handiwork, as well as the beautiful design.  Only then did I notice that the top of the bottle’s neck was shaped like a skull with two swords beneath it.  I made a face and showed Andy.

“You don’t think that means it’s poison do you?” he asked.  “I’m sure the label doesn’t say that. And the seal hasn’t been broken.”

I had really been excited about that gorgeous bottle of wine.  I didn’t want to think it was anything other than what the label said.

“Wait.  For poison they use a skull and crossbones.  Those things look like swords — not bones.  Isn’t that the pirate symbol?” I commented and Andy nodded and grinned.

“Maybe that means it really is a pirate’s bottle!” he offered.  “This wine could have been made before the Civil War.  Or even before that.  It could date back to the American Revolution — or who knows how far!”

I handed Andy the corkscrew and told him to do the honors.  However, the cork was stubborn.  Finally I held the bottle with both hands, while he removed the cork.  It came loose with a reverberating pop, which I felt inside my teeth and eardrums.  The harmonic sound shifted into the melody I was humming a moment before.

“Holy Hannah,” Andy commented quietly.Skull Ghost Bottle

For a moment I thought the bottle must have been mislabeled. I thought it must contain Champagne rather than marsala.  A sort of fizzy purple vapor filled the air, expanding wider and taller.  I started waving a napkin, trying to clear the air.  Then I sneezed.  It was a big bend your neck, eye-squinting, bless-you-and-everybody-around-you sneeze.  Like I said, the vapor was weirdly fizzy.

I was about to make a smart-alecky remark to Andy about the fact that he didn’t say “Bless you.”  But as I raised my head and opened my eyes I saw a man standing where the vapors had been.  He wore a white apron, but his clothes were from an era long past.  When I looked closely, I realized that he wasn’t particularly… well… solid.

He bowed quite formally.  “At your service, Signorina,” the ghost said.

***

Recipe:  Coffee Milk Mascarpone

Coffee Mascarpone

Recipe and Photo Credit:  Purewow.com

Yields:  1 cup

Total Time:  2 hours 25 minutes (includes chilling time)

Ingredients

½ cup mascarpone cheese

¼ cup strong espresso

2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Ladyfingers or shortbread cookies, for serving

Cinnamon, for garnish (optional)

Directions

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cheese with the espresso, condensed milk and salt on medium speed until medium-stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours or overnight.

2. Remove the coffee milk mascarpone from the refrigerator and let warm until just slightly chilled. Garnish with the cinnamon, if desired, and serve immediately with desired accompaniments.

 

All images from Pinterest unless otherwise noted.

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.

Prep for Cookbook-2: Interview with Daisy

Prepping the Kitchen for Cookbook-2

Dog-Cat-Cooking_dreamstime_s_24255835

For the past ten years or so, I’ve felt very lucky to have a work schedule that gives me every other Friday off. In a two week pay period, week-1 has me working four 9-hour days and one 8-hour day. While week-2 lets me work just four 9-hour days. But when I have a “short” weekend, it’s hard to get everything done.  You guessed it — this is not my three-day weekend, and my mind has been racing as I try to begin the next incarnation of our interactive serial.

I’m not quite ready to dive right into the new “cookbook.”  Any kitchen needs preparation before cooking up a feast. So for as another prelude, I’m going to interview the Daisy character.  I hope it entertains you.

Interview:  Daisy, the Dainty Dishcandle

Teagan:  Welcome Daisy. Thank you for taking physical form to kindly speak to everyone.

Daisy:  It’s my pleasure, Teagan. I’m happy to have a chance to tell your readers that they needn’t fear me as an apparition. I truly am a kind soul. While I would like to see justice for my murder, I don’t think I’m a vindictive sort of spirit. Although none of us knows what we’re capable of until we’re put to the test.

Teagan:  Of course.  These stories are always meant to be “in good fun” and harmless, though I hope I add some suspense and excitement along the way. (Smiles.)

You told Pip that you didn’t know who killed you.  (Daisy nods.)

But I gather that you have some suspicions, or at least some doubts about some of the people who are alive in the timeline of our culinary mystery.  (She sighs, and takes a tornadodeep breath.)

Daisy:  Things were very different then — a world away from your own world, Teagan.  My family was dirt poor, and sometimes my father gambled.  That usually ended badly. Female children often weren’t valued. My parents figured the best they could hope for was to marry me off the first chance they got.

But one spring there was a bad tornado.  You haven’t told about it in the story, but it was the same tornado that orphaned Pip’s granny.

Teagan:  That’s right.  The “ingredients” haven’t taken the serial to Granny Fanny’s past yet.

Daisy:  Well, we were luckier than Miss Fanny’s family. The tornado took most of the roof off our house, but we all got to the storm cellar.  However, we lost our cows and the crops were devastated. In desperation, my father gambled with the last cent they had.  He lost.

I was horrified to learn that he tried to sell me to Henry Kingston to cover his gambling losses. Until then, I never realized how little my parents valued me.  So I was hurt by those events in many ways.

Everyone thought Henry Kingston was taking me as his dainty dish, a tart, little more vintage queen of the maythan a harlot. Frankly, it was what I expected too.  I can’t tell you how frightened I was when my father left me with a strange man who worked for the Kingstons. He dumped me in an upstairs room of that big house, and left me there alone.  For hours I stared at the locked door in fear.  I strained my ears, listening all night for the sound of footsteps, or the squeak of the doorknob turning.

However, no one came.

The next morning a young maid came to help me draw a bath and give me a clean dress.  It was a hundred times nicer than the one I wore… the only dress I had left after the storm.  Her name was Hortense.  Later she became the Kingston housekeeper.  She was kind to me, but she seemed to always be nervous or even fearful. I was happy to see that in later years she got over whatever bothered her back then.

Henry Kingston treated me like a guest in his home.  But whenever I left the house, people were unkind to me.  Some called me names. Some children even threw rocks once.  I cried when I understood that it was because they thought I was just… you know… (Daisy looks down at her hands, folded in her lap.  A tear lands on the back of one hand, just below a wedding band.)

Teagan:  Kingston was kind to you. Did he really fall in love with you?1926 Wedding

Daisy:  (Smiles fondly) Yes he did.  And I loved him too. The last time I saw my parents, they were arguing with Henry.  No one realized I was within hearing.  Henry told them I was not his prisoner or anything else. He said they could take me home, as long as my father never gambled again.  I was stunned when they said it would be a burden, and then asked in a very accusatory way if Henry was going back on his word.

It hurt me deeply.  As I got older I realized that my family had always behaved indifferently to me. I tried to reconcile myself to it… that was just how it was.  You know?  (I nod.)

Soon Henry and I were married. The Justice of the Peace came to the estate house.  Henry invited a few of his closest friends.  They were polite and even charming that day.  But they always acted sort of cool toward me. Their smiles never reached their eyes.

And my step-son, Henry III… he told Pip the story of why he’s the third, rather than Henery II.  Anyway, little Henry never accepted me.  He often said cruel things — when his father wasn’t in the room at least.  He and his friends… they were bullies.  I hate to say it, but I was afraid to be alone with those boys.

Teagan:  You don’t think the boys… Did they have something to do with your death?1920s Vogue poster

Daisy:  As I said, I don’t know. The boys truly were cruel. However, there were plenty of people who were jealous.  Others were resentful and it showed in various ways.

Also, Henry was a wealthy man. To my knowledge, he was a good and honest man… But that was a time when business was not typically discussed in front of the women folk. Sometimes he seemed more worried than I thought he should be for ordinary business things.

Teagan:  I get the impression that your happiness with Henry was always overshadowed by the attitude of other people toward you.  I guess they thought he “married below his station” as they used to say.  (Daisy nods.)

So you think it’s possible that someone killed you, whether deliberately or maybe accidentally, to get at your husband?  Or maybe you just got in the way when they meant to hurt him.  Collateral damage, as some might say.

Daisy:  I’ve had a long time to think about it… and I just don’t know.  However, some people make a chill go over me when I see them.  My step-son for one. Bradley Binghamton, who grew up to become a bishop, of all things!  When I look at him, thereNiven as Binghamton is just something that bothers me. I can’t put my finger on it. He and his brother, Byron — and Charlie Childers, the man with the chihuahua? Those four boys were thick as thieves.

But it isn’t just my doubt about the boys that leaves me restless. There were others.  Queenie for one. The years have been kind to her, but she isn’t much older than my step-son. Her beginnings were poor too, but not so poor as to prevent her looking down on me — and resenting my suddenly improved status. She behaved spitefully toward me.  You already know how vindictive Queenie Wetson is.  She is inordinately pleased to have seduced my step-son, mostly because she thinks it takes a jab at Henry and me.

Also there are plenty of townspeople who have passed on who made me wonder. It would be even harder for Pip to prove one of them had something to do with my death.  But if Pip can tap into her unused gifts, I think she can figure out what happened to me.  I think she can help me be at rest.

Teagan:   That seems like a tall order for Pip.Lucille Ball teenaged 1

Daisy:  Well, she will do the best she can.  I’ve no doubt of that. I hope she succeeds in finding my killer.  But if she does not, it is not my nature to hold it against her.

However, I admit to feeling a little guilty. In helping me, Pip might open herself to things that are even more dangerous than Queenie’s gang of bootleggers.  Murderers, yes. But supernatural things too.

Teagan:  Thank you Diasy, for gracing us with your presence.  I wish you peace.

(Daisy smiles and fades from view.)

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