Copper, the Alchemist, & the Woman in Trousers: Episode 28

RewindingWhite Mt Locomotive

It was serendipitous that “three things” from Western Romance writer Mary J McCoy-Dressel fueled the story-line of this episode.  While there’s not a typical romance involved, there is something sort of along those lines.

Mary has been a great supporter of this blog and all the serials.  In fact, if I were to rewind, you’d see that she sent the very first thing, for the very first of these interactive serials.Marys Blog

Since Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers has been progressing for several months, you might want to rewind to episodes four through six.  One element of today’s chapter is rooted in Episode-4. However, I’m rewinding to Episode-6 where it really escalated.

Ah! Here’s the locomotive now.  All aboard! 

 

***

A Rewind from Episode-6

The chimp must have seen me looking back at him.  It started wreaking havoc in the branches of the tree, jumping up and down and screeching bloody murder.  His fellows in the distance screamed back excitedly.  It sounded like there were a lot of them.  I remembered nervously how strong they were.  I hoisted the carpet bag, putting its strap over my shoulder so I could take Copper’s hand.  I had to make sure we weren’t separated.

An earsplitting screech made me look over my shoulder.  However, the noise was not simian; rather it was a metallic sound.  Then I heard the shrill whistle of escaping steam.  The doors of the outbuilding where Cornelis was working burst open.  The road locomotive moved toward us with a loud clickity-clack clickity-clack.  As it increased speed, the clicks and clacks blurred together into a continuous noise.

Copper squeezed my hand.  I followed her gaze.  The chimpanzees had amassed at the shade tree.  They milled curiously as they watched the road locomotive.  One and then another would chatter to the others.  I had a bad feeling that they were working themselves up for an attack.

***

And now, from last time…

The purple people eater flapped her broad wings and arched her back, fiercely roaring heavenward.  Then she belched an enormous ball of fire that spread out above her and Absinthe like a lethal flaming dome.  Suddenly, both Absinthe and the purple fairy dropped from the sky, the burning dome hurtling downward, ever closer to them.

“Lord of Alchemy!” Call Hicks yelled as Cornelis used one of his tricks to run right through the door without opening it.

“Cornelis, no!” I screamed.  “You’ll be burned to a crisp!”

***

Reading Ape purple

28.  Well-bred Man, Courtship, Horseback

Cal Hicks yelled at me that it wasn’t safe.  His expression immediately became rueful and he apologized profusely for his tone.  Hicks truly was a well-bred man — or rather ape.  However, my feet had taken me to the door before my common sense caught up with them.

When I opened the door I saw Absinthe and the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater hurtling toward the ground.  The vast dome of fire continued to descend.

Michael Whelan Dragon purple

A Michael Whelan dragon

The tiny green skunk-looking fairy shrieked something at the purple people eater and grabbed onto the tip of her tail as they fell.  Absinthe used a trick like the one Cornelis sometimes used to send his voice.  Though I didn’t understand him, I clearly heard him snuffle and grunt to the Alchemist.

Both Cornelis and the dragon looked at Absinthe doubtfully.  Cornelis held up the harmonic tuner and gave it one sharp ring.  Absinthe echoed the tone and the pitch of his voice merged with the harmonic sound.  I could see a emerald aura stretching up from Cornelis to the Green Fairy.  Absinthe glowed verdantly and the intensity of the aura doubled.  I was sure they had somehow combined their powers.

The she-dragon looked at Absinthe as he clung to the tip of her tail.  She snorted a puff of purple smoke that briefly circled her one-eyed one-horned head.  Then she flicked her tail, launching the tiny Green Fairy even closer to the flames above.

Absinthe summersaulted as he soared pointing his bantam backside toward the dome of fire.  He lifted his fluffy tail and proceeded to produce one of his powerfully potent poots.  The forceful fairy fart flew against the flaming dome.

Albert Maignan's "Green Muse" 1895

Albert Maignan’s “Green Muse” 1895

I had first-hand knowledge of the fairy’s flatulence.  When startled or threatened, the Green Fairy produced a spray that was essentially a very highly concentrated form of the liquor, absinthe.  I was fearful to see him aim that fart at the flames.  I was certain it would only make the fire worse.

Cringing, I looked over at Cornelis.  The Alchemist drew a deep breath and then blew upward.  I couldn’t see his breath, but I remembered Cornelis telling me that his alchemy sometimes worked to exchange or transform one thing into another.  As I watched, the cloud of green vapor from Absinthe’s bottom expanded to the width of the flaming dome.

My arm went up reflexively to cover my face when the green vapor met the flames.  A blinding flash and a loud crack of thunder shattered the air.  I braced myself for the blast of a huge explosion, but the opposite happened.  The alchemically charged green vapor caused the dome of flames to implode.

The immense Purple Fairy and the tiny Green Fairy settled to the ground, singed but unharmed.  I heard a long sustained grumble.  After a moment I realized that the sound was a low growl from the dragon.  Absinthe snorted and snuffled and the Purple Fairy continued to growl.  I gathered they had not yet settled their differences.

Green fairy skunkGlimmering green powder slowly drifted to the ground.  It settled on the two fairies, though they didn’t seem to realize it.  I stretched out my hand, watching as it dusted my palm.  Unexpectedly I felt content and happy.

“What is this shimmering powder?” I wanted to know.

“It’s residue,” Cornelis said with a shrug.  “It’s what was left of Absinthe’s defensive spray after it caused the flames to implode.  Have a care not to inhale the powder.  It’s not as potent as the concentrated absinthe vapors that Absinthe sprays, but it’s still intoxicating,” he cautioned.

Copper ran to the doorway, with Viola right behind.  The violet complected chimpanzee tried to grab the girl’s arm, but Copper was too quick.  Happily she stopped well away from the one horned cyclops Purple Fairy.

The sharp point of the dragon’s fat curved black onyx horn gleamed in the sunlight as the two fairies continued to make odd noises at one another.  However, they did seem calmer.  I thought I could see a bit of greenish dust on the black onyx horn.  I wondered if the powder had the same comforting effect on the fairies as it had on me.Copper curious w-green

“Don’t they like each other?” Copper asked.

“She’s his mate,” Cornelis said of the gigantic purple fae.  “They had a disagreement and both stormed off their separate ways.  Each was too stubborn to seek out the other.”

“You mean Absinthe was married to that big dragon?” Copper asked incredulously.

“Well, that would have been quite an unusual courtship, wouldn’t it?” Cornelis began.  “However, Aubrieta — that’s the Purple Fairy’s name — she wasn’t always a dragon.  I’m not sure how Aubrieta wandered into this place.  However, something about the combination of her particular magic and the nature of this amethyst world transformed her.  Of course, that situation made it even less likely for them to patch up their differences,” the Dutchman added.

Cal Hicks cautiously stepped out of the laboratory building.  Cornelis assured him that all was well.  He sketched a bow toward the two fairies, but did not approach them.

“Lord of Alchemy, you named the Purple Fairy Aubrieta?” the amethyst ape asked and his mouth twitched and puckered.  “Aubrieta is a tiny purple flower,” he whispered but failed to completely suppress a soft chuckle.  “No offense.  It’s just that I enjoy the irony of a one eyed one horned gigantic fairy being named for a tiny flower,” Cal said.

Victorian Ape CoupleThe mannerly ape composed himself and became businesslike.  “My family surely heard the commotion down at the main house.  That fireball was probably visible for quite some distance as well,” Cal reminded us.  “Since the effects of being too near their doppelgängers made young Copper and Lady Felicity so ill, I’m sure there is great merit to your assertion that bringing any of the two together would be dangerous indeed.”

“I’ll take care of that,” Viola called out as she came around the corner of the building leading an aubergine coated horse.  “Swift and I might be long in the tooth,” Viola began and patted the horse.  “If Nate and his wife and Penny are faster than us, we’ll still meet them on the trail.  I can turn them back, or prevent them trying to come in the first place, whichever the case may be,” she said as Cal helped her onto the horse.

We watched as Viola left on horseback.  However, our attention quickly transferred to the fairies.  Absinthe made a series of consolatory sounding chirps.  Then he fluttered up and perched on the curve of the dragon’s black onyx horn.  Aubrieta rolled her single eye upward at the tiny green fae.

I thought she was coughing.  A puff of smoke came from her snout.  Absinthe started chirping happily and flew backward several feet from Aubrieta’s face so she could see him better.  The dragon’s mouth curved and I realized she was not coughing, but laughing.Carson mansion Queen Annd

With an awkward pucker, Aubrieta spat out what looked like a purple grape.  She breathed lavender smoke onto the grape.  Absinthe chittered encouragingly.  The grape grew and grew to the size of a house.  It continued to expand until it finally exploded into a purple mist.

Aubrieta was suddenly transformed into a winged purple skunk-looking fae as tiny as Absinthe.  She still had only one amber eye.  In her dragon form she had a fat curved black horn, but it was changed to a golden unicorn-like horn.

As the purple fog settled, dozens of big chimpanzees could be seen.  They had the coloring of our home, not the hues of the amethyst world.

First one or two, then most of the chimps realized their nakedness.  Clearly embarrassed, they tried to cover themselves and hide.  However, a few stood boldly and cheered that they had returned home.  When they saw the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater, they too scattered and ran away.

Cornelis Drebbel

Cornelis Drebbel

“Are those…?” I began but the power of speech left me.

“Those naughty chimps!” Copper exclaimed.

Cornelis Drebbel folded his arms across his chest in a self-satisfied posture.  “Aubrieta, the purple people eater, didn’t devour the chimps, or rather the folk of this place who were lost at the abandoned chapel we saw on the way here,” Cornelis explained.  “However, she was angry at the way she had been treated here, and she used her power to banish them.  They of course ended up in our world.”

“So the chimp who was gesticulating what looked like sign language for Daddy—” I started to ask a question but the Dutchman finished my sentence.

“That clever chimp had figured out that Calvin Hixon, Copper’s father in our world, was the doppelgänger of Cal Hicks here,” Cornelis said with a nod.

Copper moved to the amethyst ape and took his hand.  “Can you help us find my Daddy?” she asked him with wide imploring eyes.

Portuguese Silver Toothpick HolderI thought Cal would melt on the spot.  He doubtless would do anything possible to help the girl who was so much like his own daughter.  The only question was — could he.

As the chimps fled into the distance I saw that their fur was already turning various shades of purple.  That reminded me of the device that looked like a silver toothpick holder.  It was shaped like a little gazebo with a domed roof supported by columns.  Within was a crystal bird with wings outstretched.  Tiny holes in the rounded roof held toothpicks.

It was a measuring device; if the toothpicks started to turn lavender, it was a warning that we had been in the amethyst world too long.  If all the toothpicks turned purple we were in serious danger of being unable to return home.  Should the bird turn purple, it would be too late.

I quickly took the detector out of the Dutchman’s bag so I could examine it.  The toothpicks were lavender.

***

Video:  Love potion number 9, The Searchers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rXhXLsNJL8

***

Now that the army of naughty chimps has returned to their amethyst world, how does that effect the search for Copper’s missing father?  However, the meter device that detects the danger level of their exposure to that world has begun to turn lavender — a warning sign.  Will our trio be trapped forever in the strange land where everything is purple?  Be at the train station next time to learn more.

***

 Don’t leave yet — we still have a recipe!  I briefly wondered what kind of “food” I could take from the three things that fueled the story-line of this chapter.  The obvious answer was bread.  The next thing that was clear to me was where to get a recipe.  That was easy! I turned to the wonderful Chitra Jagadish of Chitra’s Healthy Kitchen where I’ve often seen lovely bread recipes.

Recipe:  Garlic Parsley Flat Bread

garlic-flat-bread Chitra

Photo and recipe credit:  Chitra Jagadish 

Garlic Parsley flat bread

***

 

 

Copyright © 2015 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.

You’re Driving — Three Ingredients

Get behind the wheel! This isn’t a driverless car.

Gatsby carRemember the Three Ingredients Serial is driven by you sending me “ingredients” (preferably three food-related things) to include in the story.  There’s no telling what road the story will take, until you send the “ingredients” that point the direction.

So get your mental wheels turning.  Loosen up and let your thoughts flow wherever they may.  Now, tell me three random food-related things that pop into your head.  You can leave the “ingredients” as a comment.  It’s that simple.

The weekend will be here soon — and a new episode of Cookbook-2!  But after I use those ingredients, the serial’s cupboards will be bare.

Stay tuned for Episode-5 and find out what becomes of Pip, Andy, and the glowing goat, Greta.

Have a thriving Thursday!

… And send ingredients.  Oh, you’re the cat’s pajamas — thanks!

Three Ingredients II – 4: Ice, Squash, Goat’s Milk

1920s red white blueWelcome back to the 1920’s everyone.  Since we last met my country had a birthday.  Hopefully all of you in the USA had a fun Independence Day.  Wherever you are I hope life is just the berries for you!

Today’s “ingredients” come to you from the Land of Enchantment (that’s New Mexico) via RC, my inspiring friend.  RC can always come up with “things” or ingredients that are uniquely able to send my imagination into vivid stories.  She sent ice, squash, and goat’s milk.  Then I went to “the jar of spooky things” and drew phosphorescentour ghostly ingredient of the week.

Everyone is welcome to send ingredients for the Cookbook-2 “cupboard.”  Next week our shopping list consists of “apricots, eggs, and wheat-flour” as sent by Siobhan Daiko.  After we cook up an episode with those, the cupboards will be bare — so make sure you keep driving the story by sending ingredients.

Remember, you can do catch up reading at the serial’s homepage.  At the top of the screen, click on “Cookbook-2 Three Ingredients (Serial Home).”

By the way, two reader favorites, Cracker the parrot and Cinnamon Bun the Flemish Giant rabbit are still out there somewhere, waiting for your ingredients to take the story back to them.Rabbit_Shopping-list

And now… the fourth episode of Three Ingredients – Cookbook-2.  Bon appétit!

4.  Ice, Squash, Goat’s Milk

with a side of Phosphorescent

The cottage seemed so still.  I was the first one up that morning.  I didn’t think I had ever been up before Granny Fanny.  It felt strange and a tad lonely.  Events of the night before took on a fuzzy dream-like quality. Actually, all my thoughts felt kind of fuzzy, but there had been spirits, and spirits.

monarch coffee adI put a pot of coffee on to perk and found the burbling sound cheery.  When I went to the refrigerator to get the cream, I remembered Granny pushing the ghost chef into it with her foot firmly planted on his posterior.  I couldn’t help laughing.

It was some little while after the ghost was locked in there when one of us (namely me) got up the nerve to open the refrigerator door.  The smacking, munching, and belching sounds were replaced by silence and I got concerned about the spirit.  When I opened the icebox door, Maestro Martino was nowhere to be seen.  In fact, we hadn’t seen the poltergeist since.  I wondered a little sadly if he was gone for good.

Several antique wine bottles sat empty on the kitchen table.  I supposed it was no wonder Granny was still in bed.  She and Andy Avis had matched each other glass for glass the night before.  Although, I had to admit seeing a for real ghost — and talking to him was not easy on one’s peace of mind.

The wooden handle of the icepick was smooth in my hand as I started jabbing it into a Vintage Icepackchunk of ice.  I broke it up until I had enough small frozen bits to fill the icepack.  Either Granny or Andy was bound to need it.  Based on those empty wine bottles, both
of them would have a headache.  Too bad there was only one icepack.

Yawning I poured myself a cup of coffee and made a little sandwich from leftover chicken and a biscuit.  It hit the spot, so I made some for Andy and Granny too.  I wondered if I should wake them, and immediately thought better of it.  So I sat down at the table alone, with my chicken biscuit and coffee.  Stirring in some cream, I watched the liquid steam and swirl, white and brown.

A sharp clunk startled me out of my sleepy thoughts.  A mug of black coffee sloshed nearly over the rim as it wobbled.  The beverage steamed before the empty chair across the table from me.  A low moan met my ears and the cup rose up from the tabletop.  The mug tilted and I heard a slurp before the mug went back to rest on the table again.

vintage ghosts adMy eyes widened and I finished waking up before I even had a sip of my coffee.

Signorina you are fresh as a daisy.  This should be a crime after all the vino last night,” Maestro Martino said as he became semi-visible.

I smiled and let out a pleased breath.  Don’t ask me why I was relieved to see the poltergeist — I know it doesn’t make any sense, but I was happy to see the Maestro.

“Mr. Martino, I’m glad to see you again,” I said and as before, he insisted on being called Maestro.  “I guess I didn’t have as much wine as the others,” I said.  “But I thought you couldn’t eat.  I was sure I heard you chowing down on something last night,” I said before I realized that might be an awkward comment.

A belch from the ghost answered my question.  “No Signorina, I said there were often consequences,” he corrected me, and suppressed another burp.  “As you see.  Perdonatemi,” he added.  “A flower like you should not have to hear my uncouth noises, but such is the price I pay for the comfort of food and drink.”

Daisy, he’d said…  A thought popped into my mind.  It was probably ridiculous, but I asked anyway.  “So Maestro Martino,” I began hesitantly, but ploughed on ahead.  “Do you ghosts know one another?”vintage queen of the may

As I told the Maestro the tragic story of Daisy, the dainty dish, a range of emotions played across his face.  A white linen napkin materialized from somewhere and he wiped tears from his eyes when I finished relating the ghost woman’s history.  He sniffled and promised to do his best to help, even though he was completely unfamiliar with Daisy or any spirits from the current era.  Then Maestro Martino succumbed to a fit of all out blubbering.

Applesauce!  Who’d have thought ghosts could be so emotional?

“Would there be any more of that nice squash casserole from the fantastical icebox?” Maestro asked imploringly between sobs.

Had Granny made her squash casserole?  It was one of my favorite dishes.  I’d even eat it for breakfast!  However, after witnessing the belching, I was reluctant to let the spirit have any more food.  Even so, the crying was getting on my nerves.  I hurried to the refrigerator.  My hopeful eyes found the casserole dish.  I sighed.

I plopped the empty casserole dish on the kitchen table.  There was barely a crumb of squash left.  “Oh Signorina,” Martino said.  “Now don’t you be cross with a sensitive old man, perfavore.”

Vintage Squash seeds

***

Fortunately, by the time Granny Fanny came into the kitchen the ghost chef had disappeared into the carved wooden owl clock to which he had bound himself after the cursed wine bottle was broken.  I had just made a fresh pot of coffee and she took a cup, inhaling the aroma gratefully.

Pug Girl hatWriggles, the pug Granny was dog sitting for Arabella Wong, trotted into the room behind her, little toenails clicking against the blue and white tile floor.  I put some food in a bowl for the happy little dog and fed him.  Wriggles ate almost as noisily as the
ghost.  I grinned and scratched his back.

Granny looked at the empty casserole dish on the table and shook her head.  “Sweet Pea, much as you like it, I know you didn’t eat that whole squash casserole for breakfast… So I guess there really was a dad blamed ghost in my kitchen last night,” she said and put her head in her hands.

To my relief, Andy stumbled into the kitchen at that moment.  I went about serving them the chicken biscuits, trying to avoid any conversation about the spirit.  The telephone rang and they both groaned loudly.  I ran to the parlor to answer it.1920s Anacin

“Who was it?” Granny asked between sips of coffee.

“It was Doc Vale — I mean Mrs. Doc Vale,” I said.  The doctors Vale were a married couple.  Vincent was a veterinarian and Veronica was a renowned surgeon.  “She said she has the goat’s milk you wanted?” I couldn’t help my questioning tone because I thought the stuff smelled bad.  It made good cheese, but I did not care for the odor of the milk a bit.

“Stop making a face, Pip.  It might get stuck that way.  Besides, nobody’s going to make you drink it,” Granny quipped.  “One of the ladies in my book group needs it for her grandson.  Little tike can’t drink cow’s milk.  Could you be a dear and take my automobile out to the Vales’ and pick up the milk?  My head’s about to split wide open.”

Granny gave a little smile despite her headache.  She knew I’d jump at the chance to drive period.  But going out to the Vales’ place also gave me a chance to visit Cracker the parrot.  I got very attached to the bird, but she was apparently more devoted to chatelaine_1928 FebMarshal Moses Myrick.  The G-man was staying with the Vales while he recuperated from nearly fatal gunshot wounds he received in an ambush by Queenie Wetson’s gangsters.

My friend still looked bleary eyed, so I poured him another cup of coffee before asking if he wanted to come along.  Granny told Andy he was welcome to stay at the cottage if he didn’t feel like going out, that it was no bother.  Andy looked at the empty wine bottles, then at the wooden owl clock.  His face paled.

“Err… Thank you, Mrs. Peabody.  That’s kind of you, but I’m fine.  I’ll go along with Pip, in case she needs any help,” Andy told my grandmother.

It was obvious to me that he wanted to put some distance between himself and the poltergeist.

***

The bright yellow automobile, which would later be called a Model-T, puttered along the country road to the beautiful property owned by the Doctors Vale.  A cluster of pristine white buildings with green roofs shone in the morning light.  Before we got to the driveway we saw Vincent and I pulled over to talk to him.  He was leading a goat by a rope tied around its neck.Vales House

“Who’s your friend?” I asked with a grin when we pulled alongside the veterinarian.

Dr. Vale laughed and shielded his eyes from the sun.  “This is Gracie.  She’s not half as clever, and not anywhere near as sneaky as Greta.  We can’t find Greta anywhere,” he said.

Vincent told us the goats had gotten loose around the time Veronica had called about the milk.  They had found all of them except for Greta.  He asked if we’d mind looking around for the missing goat after we delivered the milk to Granny’s friend.

Hey, a missing goat was good entertainment back then.  Of course we agreed to help.Vintage Girl Goat

After dropping off the goat’s milk we drove around the countryside in search of Greta
the sneaky goat.  It also served as a nice little tour for Andy, who had never seen the area.

“You know,” I commented.  “I’m pretty sure we’re near that factory building of yours.”

“It’s not mine,” Andy reminded me.  “I don’t have that kind of money.  Yet,” he added with wriggly eyebrows to make me laugh.  “I just signed the paperwork.  It belongs to one of the executives at the studio where I work in Hollywood — Manny Mayer.”

Amid the weeds I spotted what was left of a gate and a gravel road.  “I’ll bet that’s the back way into the place,” I said.

Andy got out and moved the gate and we puttered along the gravel drive in the yellow automobile.  In a moment we could see the factory building in the distance.  It was a creepy looking place even in broad daylight.  There were several tumbledown outbuildings closer to us.  They were in the shadows of a cluster of huge old oak trees.  The shade looked inviting, and I took my foot off the gas.

“I didn’t realize these buildings were here,” Andy commented.  “I should probably check them out too, just so I can give Mr. Mayer a thorough report on the condition of the property and assets.”

Vintage Goat Ad

As we stepped away from the vehicle, I heard a flat clang, like a cowbell.  Andy and I turned toward the sound.  We were facing the back of the abandoned factory which sat at the top of a small hill.  A strange coarse sound came from the same direction.  Then the clanging got louder.  So did the other sound.  The eerie setting of the abandoned building combined with the sound was enough to make my hair stand on end.

Well, you’d be that way too if you’d just seen a ghost a few hours before.

Something burst from the cover of a stand of bushes about halfway down the hill.  It ran pell-mell toward us, clanging and making that half strangled sound.  I took a step back and tread on Andy’s toes.

Greta sneaky goat“Ouch!” he complained.  “It’s just a goat, Pip.  See, it’s wearing a cowbell.  Or I guess a goat bell!  Hey, that must be the Doc’s goat.  Her coat’s kind of an odd color though, isn’t it?”

“How could Vincent’s goat have gotten all the way out here?” I asked, though I knew it must be Greta.

“Hey, we’d better try to catch her.  She sure seems spooked though,” Andy said and then his eyes widened when he realized he’d said “spooked,” as in ghost.  “You don’t think…”

Whatever Andy thought, he didn’t have a chance to finish that sentence because Greta the sneaky goat ran right past us.  However, the wily thing dodged when we tried to grab her.  We ran after Greta who led us around, behind, and between each of the sheds.  Then I heard a crash and saw the half-hinged door to one outbuilding was open.

We followed the goat inside the shed.  The sudden change in brightness left me unable to see at first.  I heard a bucket or can overturn and then I saw a light.  Andy gasped.  I squinted.  A glowing shape moved slowly toward us.  Andy took a step backward and tripped over something.  With a scream he hit the floor of the shed.

“That’s the goat!” I said in astonishment.  “She’s… why she’s… phosphorescent!

Andy struggled to his feet.  Then the glowing goat lowered its head, made that coarse behhh sound, and charged toward us.

***

Recipe:  Two-Cheese Squash Casserole

Squash Casserole

Recipe and Photo Credit:  MyRecipes.com

 Ingredients

4 pounds yellow squash, sliced

4 tablespoons butter or margarine, divided

1 large sweet onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 1/2 cups soft breadcrumbs, divided

1 1/4 cups shredded Parmesan cheese, divided

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese

1/2 cup chopped fresh chives

1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

1 (8-ounce) container sour cream

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

Method

Cook squash in boiling water to cover in a large skillet 8 to 10 minutes or just until tender. Drain well; gently press between paper towels.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in skillet over medium-high heat; add onion and garlic, and sauté 5 to 6 minutes or until tender. Remove skillet from heat; stir in squash, 1 cup breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and next 7 ingredients. Spoon into a lightly greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir together melted butter, remaining 1 1/2 cups soft breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and garlic salt. Sprinkle mixture evenly over top of casserole.

Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until set.

Southern Living, May 2004

 ***

 

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 from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Happy May Day

vintage May Dayvintage May Day 3

Happy May Day

Since it’s actually still April (here anyway) forgive me for being early.

For a moment I deluded myself that I could do a mid-week episode of our 1920’s serial (and I might add that it’s coming along nicely, if I do say so myself).  However, that was more than I can manage on a work night.

So I hope to keep you in a “vintage” mood with some lovely May Day images from yesteryear.

May Day animals

Wishing you a wondrous season of freshly bloomed happiness.

I proclaim you all queens or kings of the May.

vintage May Day 2

Hugs,

teagan

 

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Three Ingredients – 21: Lettuce, Beet, Stew

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

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

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

21.  Lettuce, Beet, Stew

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

“Be ready.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Who?” Eunice asked, looking confused.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Beware!”terror tales

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sing a song of sixpence. A pocket full of rye. Four and twenty blackbirds. Baked in a pie. When the pie was opened. The birds began to sing. Wasn’t that a dainty dish. To set before the king?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

Video:  Greek Yogurt Beet & Feta Dip

 

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 mater

 

 

Three Ingredients – 20: Beef Drippings, Dandelion & Burdock, Salmon

Cat_menu_Episode-20Hello everyone.  My heartfelt thanks to all of you for coming back.  You supply the “ingredients” that built the mysteries in our 1920’s story — that’s what makes the serial interactive.  Now our story is drawing closer to revealing some of the answers to those questions and mysteries.

Without further ado, here is Episode-20.  Bon appétit!

20.  Beef Drippings, Dandelion & Burdock, Salmon

Bell phone ad copyRather than the bun she often wore, Granny Phanny had rolled and tucked her long hair into a style that at first glance looked a lot like a bob.  The wide legged black crepe trousers and white tuxedo jacket fit her perfectly.  She looked every inch the modern woman; and… younger too.  Eunice’s Uniforms had done a great job.  I straightened my own waiters’ uniform and Granny smiled.

The telephone rang and Granny hurried to answer it.  I knew she was still more than a little bit worried about Moses Myrick.  There was a tightness around her eyes that had not been there before the marshal was shot.

“Yes, Doc. Is that you?” I could hear the concern in her voice as she spoke into the receiver.  The ear piece was pressed tightly against her head.  Then she exhaled and her shoulders relaxed.  “You don’t really think so?  Considering the way she’s the-chinese-parrot adbeen acting I’m surprised,” she said but paused to listen.  “Yes Doc.  We’ll keep an eye out,” Granny said and hung up the telephone.

“Doctor Veronica says that parrot flew the coop.  Darnedest thing I’ve ever heard.  That nasty bird nearly took my finger off when I tried to pry her away from Moses.  But Veronica said she let herself out the window a few minutes ago.  The last time she saw Cracker, the parrot was headed in this direction,” Granny said shaking her head in wonder at the bird’s unpredictable behavior.  “I find it hard to believe that she’d suddenly give up her equally sudden devotion to Moses.  Be a dear and keep an eye out for Cracker just the same.”

I murmured my promise.  I found the parrot’s antics unexpected, but when I thought about it, we should probably expect the unexpected from Cracker.  However I didn’t give it that much thought because the aroma of the huge beef roast Granny had been cooking all day wafted to my nostrils.  My stomach gave a loud growl.  Granny chuckled and told me to go get a snack – but to Red-Headed-League-Sherlock-Holmes-Doyletake off the white jacket first.  Just then Hank Hertz walked in eating a yeast roll that was sopping with beef drippings.  It was a good thing he had removed his jacket, else Granny might have skinned him when a big drop of au jus went down his chest.

I barely recognized Hank, and it wasn’t because of the partial amnesia I’d experienced since my unknown attacker had left me in a root cellar at the Queen of Clubs Herb Farm out at Wetson’s Mill.  No, Granny had told Hank that if he was going to participate in the night’s “catering event” he’d have to let her treat his hair with henna.  Now his hair was bright red, and he had a little red mustache too.

Granny said she was concerned about Hank’s safety, since too many people knew he was quickly on theWeMustGrowAMustache scene after the villains had ambushed Marshal Moses Myrick and his men.  I’m sure that was true; Granny wouldn’t put anybody in harm’s way.  But I suspected that she planned to carryout Myrick’s original “sting” plan, with or without the injured marshal’s help.  So that was another reason for disguising Savannah’s youngest police officer.

Hank scratched at the mustache.  I quipped that I’d always wondered if those things itched.  He nodded and spoke quietly.  “I feel ridiculous with this red hair,” he confided.  “But Miss Fanny says it will fade away with washing.”

I thought Granny might have exaggerated about the “fading away” part of the henna, but I didn’t want to make Hank feel any more uncomfortable than he already was.  I gently poked his ribs with my elbow.  “I think it looks rather dashing,” I reassured him and he stood a little straighter.

1928 green kitchen adMy grandmother took Hank’s elbow and led us both to the kitchen.  She fixed snack plates for the three of us with roast beef, rolls, and candied carrots.  I gave a wistful glance at the za’atar she’d so carefully prepared, but I knew she was worried about having enough, so I didn’t say anything.

She glanced at the clock and took out a fourth plate and sat it on the green and white gingham tablecloth.  Then she turned to one of several tubs of ice that contained cobalt blue bottles with attached cork flip tops, and pulled out a few bottles.

“What is this anyway?” I asked and sniffed the liquid that reminded me of sarsaparilla.

I had been wondering what was inside the bottles, because I had heard Granny tell her client that he’d have to supply any alcohol, being as it was illegal.  I had not met the rich man who was hosting the reception Granny had agreed to cater.  But I overheard part of their telephone conversation — whether I wanted to or not.  He was one of those people who felt they had to shout into the telephone since he was talking to someone across town.  He sounded nice enough, but there was just something about him that rubbed me the wrong way, despite the fact I had never even seen him.hagues dandelion-burdock

Hank Hertz took a swig from the blue bottle.  “Umm.  It’s dandelion and burdock,” he said to my unspoken question.  “Dr. Veronica gave me some before.  She said it was kind of medicinal.”

“It’s also mildly alcoholic,” Granny interjected.  “Not enough to cause trouble for me, but that seemed to mollify tonight’s host.  He was… well… irritated that I wouldn’t bring any champagne because of the prohibition.  He was being pretty hard headed about that,” she said with a slightly annoyed twist to her mouth.  Granny didn’t like anybody trying to boss her around.

The putter of an engine sent me to the kitchen window.  I pushed back the eyelet curtain and saw Alastair Wong pull his delivery truck up beside the cottage.  Alastair had offered to help. He said he expected a slow night at his restaurant, and besides there was plenty of family to help there.  I saw that he had even temporarily covered his pride and joy slogan, “You’re always right with Wong’s” with a sign proclaiming Granny’s Goodies.  My grandmother quickly fixed the fourth plate with a snack for Alastair.1920s delivery truck

Moments later Hank and Alastair loaded the heavy galvanized steel tubs, filled with ice and cobalt blue bottles of dandelion and burdock onto the delivery truck.  Then they covered them with a tarp to help keep the ice from melting as fast.

I was surprised to see Cinnamon Bun, the Flemish Giant rabbit, thump up the back porch stairs.  He vintage bunnyhad been hiding from all the activity.  As usual, Granny went gaga over the oversized bunny and praised him for coming out to be sociable.  Cinnamon liked getting his ears stroked, but he sat up on his haunches as if looking for something in the distance.

A blur of brilliant color streaked down from the sky and Cracker the parrot alighted next to the rabbit.  She nibbled at his fur and cooed, “Good bird… good bird.”

My amazement at the bond between bird and bunny had no end.  My grandmother and I watched the two in fascination.  Then she got back to business.

“Sweet-pea,” she spoke to me.  “Would you get that poached salmon?  Just wrap it up tight.  I won’t plate it until after we get there.”1920s Peoples home journal girl parrot

“Exactly where is this shindig anyway,” I asked.  I knew it was at one of the fanciest homes in Savannah, but I didn’t know much more than that.  I wondered if I had known more before I was attacked and drugged.

“Umm… what was that address?” Granny Fanny said half to herself.  “Oh.  It’s at 420 Kingston Lane.”

Immediately Cracker flew into the air, making circles around Granny and me.  The parrot squawked excitedly, “Fourandtwenty, Fourandtwenty! Dainty dish to set before the king!  Dainty dish!” she repeated as she alighted on my shoulder and pulled my hair with her beak.  “Dainty dish. SingSong6dcaldecottFourandtwenty!

Cinnamon Bun sat up on his haunches inquiringly at the bird’s outburst.  He made a snorting sound that drew my eyes to him.  Then I noticed a small rectangle on the porch next to the rabbit.  I stooped to retrieve it.

Another playing card, I thought.  I knew I needed to turn it over, but I was afraid to look.  Cracker must have brought it with her, and dropped it when she started grooming the bunny.  But where had the parrot gotten the card?  Did she pick it up at the Vale residence?  Or did she find it somewhere along the way?  What if she didn’t bring the card at all?  What if an anonymous person had left it there on the porch as another warning?

I was shivering, though it was not cold.  I felt Granny step closer.  She was looking over my shoulder at the card.  Cautionary words were written across the back of the card in a familiar hand.

“Be ready!”

My hands were shaking so badly that I almost dropped the card.  Reluctantly I turned over the rectangle to reveal the sinister looking Joker on the face of the playing card.  Cracker fluttered off my shoulder and landed on the porch banister.  “Jokerswild!” the parrot shrieked and shook her foot.

lantern-press-joker-playing-card

I had a hazy memory of Cracker making that motion before.  I remembered thinking it seemed disdainful.  Whoever the Joker was, Cracker did not like him… or maybe her.  I reminded myself to think like a modern woman.  The villain might just as well be a woman as a man.

Turning the card face down once again I repeated the words “Be ready!” and felt the pit of my stomach freeze.

***

Recipe

French Dip Sandwiches

French dip sandwiches

Recipe and photo courtesy Rachael Ray

Total Time:  15 min            Prep:  5 min          Cook:  10 min

Yield:  4 servings                  Level:  Easy

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter

1 shallot, chopped

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 jigger dry sherry, optional

2 cans beef consommé, found on broth and soups aisle or beef broth

1 1/2 pounds deli sliced roast beef

Grill seasoning blend spices for steak, such as Montreal Steak Seasoning Blend, or, coarse salt and pepper

4 torpedo sandwich rolls, split

Directions

In a large, shallow skillet over moderate heat, melt butter. Add shallots to butter and sauté 2 minutes. Add flour to butter and shallot and cook a minute longer. Whisk in sherry and cook liquid out. Whisk in consommé in a slow stream. Bring sauce to a bubble and allow to simmer over low heat until ready to serve sandwiches.

Pile meat loosely across your cutting board or a large work surface. Season meat with grill seasoning or salt and black pepper. Set out 4 ramekins or small soup cups for dipping sauce, 4 dinner plates and 4 split torpedo rolls. To assemble, using a pair of kitchen tongs, dip meat into loose au jus sauce and pile into rolls. Set ramekins or cups with extra dipping sauce alongside the sandwiches.

 ***

 

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.

Except where otherwise noted, all photos and illustrations are from Pinterest.

 

Quaint New Look

1920s Typist-2.jpgWhen I chose the design-theme for this blog, I was attracted to the bright colors and the sense of movement I perceived in the design.  However, lately I’ve been thinking that modern look is not a good match for the 1920’s setting of the serial stories — or my novel, Atonement, Tennessee.

I couldn’t find anything that matched both things — the “midnight suspense” of Atonement, as well as the vintage feel of the 1920’s.

Then I ran across the theme you see here.  The quaint little houses reminded me of the town of Atonement, TN on a sunny day.  And they had a vintage look.

This theme is worlds away from the old one, so don’t think you’ve come to the wrong place.  This is still your road to Atonement, Tennessee, and it’s still the path to The Three Ingredients.

veil_of_sky_open_1 copy

See you soon with a new episode of the culinary mystery serial, The Three Ingredients.  You’re welcome to leave a comment with three food-related ingredients for a future episode.

Hugs,

Teagan