Three Ingredienst – 15: Chicken, Meatloaf, Cookies

Today’s “ingredients” are from my dear friend Nancy, from my Albuquerque days – however, she lives in Episode-15 PoodleCalifornia now.  She went to one coast and I went to the other, but we try to keep in touch.  Nancy has a fondness for little poodles, so I’m throwing a poodle into this episode as a bonus.

I hope you will enjoy this episode.  However, I fear I’m not in top form.  Let’s just say it was a heck of a workweek and I’m low on energy. So without further ado, here’s Episode 15.  Bon appétit!

15.  Chicken, Meatloaf, Cookies

A large ball of fluffy white darted into the room the instant the door opened.  It moved across the room so fast it was just a white fuzzy blur.  Then it bounded up into my arms.  I caught it instinctively.  “Cotton!” I gasped.

1928 Detroit police radioSomewhere in all that mass of curly fluff was a dog.  Veronica Vale’s miniature poodle, to be exact.  I had only met the little dog a matter of hours before.  The doctor had let him out briefly for some exercise, before she tiredly stumbled off to bed.

Cotton ran right between the young policeman’s feet as he was stepping over the threshold.  Hank Hertz stumbled as he carried radio equipment into the makeshift “command center” as Detective Dabney Daniels dubbed the room.  Not many hours earlier we sat in that same room; filled with worry as the doctors Vale operated on Marshall Moses Myrick.

Dabney caught a piece of radio equipment just before it hit the floor.  Hank sighed, audible relief.  “See.  That’s exactly what I mean.  You’re still woozy,” the detective admonished the young officer.  “That is why you are not going on the raid.”1920s Food-Health mag

“I should think not,” Granny Fanny muttered as she walked past carrying a pan of uncooked meatloaf.  She gave a derisive sniff.  “You should be in bed, young man.  Not toting radio tomfoolery around.”

She adjusted slices of green bell pepper on the top of the meatloaf.  Sliced horizontally the peppers looked like flowers.  Then she opened up the oven in the corner kitchenette and put the meatloaf inside.  Granny had been cooking up a storm while we waited for a pronouncement from Veronica Vale as to whether or not she believed Moses Myrick would survive the several gunshot wounds.  Apparently she was already using everything in the kitchen of the main house and now was taking over the kitchenette as well.

Marshal Myrick woke up briefly a couple of times in the early morning hours.  Cracker the parrot, having somehow found us after getting out of Granny’s cottage and flying around who knew where, had taken up the bedside vigil when my grandmother left the recovery 1920s Ja-Da Parrotroom.  Once I heard the parrot chirp to the marshal in a soft sad sounding voice, “Who’s your daddy?”  It had a tone of encouragement, as if she was trying to get him to respond to her.

The long building in which we stood had a small but complete kitchen area.  The Vales’ property consisted of their house, a small stable, a combination boarding and recovery building, and the large structure where I had spent much of the night, keeping company with whoever watched the marshal.

The building was a vaguely hospital-like facility that Vincent Vale used in his veterinary practice.  His wife, Veronica, also took part of it as her laboratory.  The married doctors, one a veterinarian and one an MD had saved the life of Marshal Moses Myrick after he and his men were ambushed.  Detective Daniels had also been instrumental in that, by getting the wounded man to medical attention so quickly.

Granny rummaged through the drawers and cabinets, probably trying to see what tools and dry goods would be useful to her.  I couldn’t imagine what she might cook next.  The entire place, even the areas between the buildings, was filled with delicious aromas from her non-stop cooking.  She was stretching in an unsuccessful attempt to reach a canister of flour on Kitchen Maid ada top shelf.  Dabney, a tall man, noticed what she was about and quickly stepped over to get it for her.

That was one thing I could say for the detective.  He might not know I was alive, as far as any romantic interest on his part.  However, he was kind to my grandmother.  So supposed I could forgive him for his lack of interest in me.  Then Dabney turned back to Hank Hertz, attentively taking instruction from the younger man about setting up the radio station.

Hank was a wonder with the technical things.  I had to admire his confidence in his ability.  It was an understated self-assurance, as if he “just knew” and took his knowledge for granted, as if it was nothing.  I hoped he would develop the same sureness in other parts of his career and life.  I felt a little protective of Hank for some reason.  He just seemed to need a bit of looking after.  I had never been anybody’s big sister, but I sort of had that kind of 1920-May Pop Sciencefeeling about Hank.

Vincent Vale came in carrying two heavy looking baskets.  The aroma of fried chicken wafted to my nose.  I couldn’t help imagining what foods filled the baskets.  And I hoped it was meant for us!  Dr. Vale set the baskets down and looked on as the two policemen worked.  Dabney talked about a raid that was soon to take place at Wetson’s Mill.  At the detective’s insistence, the coppers who followed the gangsters that ambushed Marshal Myrick held back and watched the place, rather than storming it.

As Dabney had expected, more villains gathered as the night went on.  The police intended to stage a raid not long after sunrise.  I knew that Dabney would leave soon to take part in that life threatening situation.  I also knew that was his job, as Granny had reminded me.  But I didn’t have to like it.  I supposed Granny felt the same way, because now and then she shot Dabney a worried look.

I let the poodle down and she went to Vincent.  I was headed toward the aromatic baskets when the sound of a truck outside sent me to the window instead.  Granny looked up and I noticed that the flour was transforming into biscuits ready to go into the oven along with the meatloaf.  “Pip,” she called over her shoulder as she continued to pat more biscuits and place them on the baking tray.  “Sweet-pea, would you go get my pocketbook?  That would be the young man from Gilley’s Grocery bringing more food.”1920s Royal baking

“I’ll get it Mrs. Peabody,” Vincent said in his usual polite if formal way.  Granny protested that she had already cleaned out their pantry, and couldn’t let him buy the food she had ordered too.  However, the veterinarian wouldn’t hear of it.  “This is my contribution.  At least let me do this much,” he added and I wondered again if he was feeling like he had done less than his surgeon wife in working on the marshal.

Granny relented.  “Well, all right then.  Godfrey Gilley said he would take those baskets to the families.  Would you kindly make sure the driver gets them?”

The families?  I was puzzled for a second.  Then I felt a pang of guilt for my thoughtlessness.  Two government agents, Moses Myrick’s men, were killed in the ambush where the marshal was left for dead.  So Granny hadn’t been performing a cooking marathon just out of worry.  She wanted to make sure the families of the two slain revenuers, the agents, had a good meal during their time of need.

I felt a second twinge of guilt when I was sorry to see all that lovely food leave.  My stomach growled in commiseration with my conscience.  Granny chuckled.  I blushed, knowing that my stomach must have been loud enough for her to hear it across the room.

Biscuits Brun ad“Pip, why don’t you go check the oven at the house.  I have some cookies that should be ready to come out about now.  Bring them back here with a picture of milk so we can all have a little bite to eat,” Granny suggested — to the intense relief of my stomach, my conscience, and me.

From the open door of the recovery room I heard Cracker chirp.  “Who’s your daddy?” Then more loudly, “Who’s your daddy?  Clever bird!

The parrot flapped out of the room and over to Granny.  Cracker bobbed her head excitedly.  Granny dropped what she was doing, but she was smiling.  “Yes, clever bird indeed!” she told the parrot.

It seemed that Cracker had finally befriended my grandmother.

Vincent Vale, tall as Dabney but thinner, wiry and long legged, ran past us to the marshal’s room.  Cracker glided just over our heads and back into the room.  The parrot cooed and chattered an entire collection of phrases that I didn’t know were in her vocabulary.  However, I had always suspected that she knew many more words than the few things I had gotten her to say.  Vincent had confirmed my idea that the parrot was probably traumatized by her owner’s death.

Doc Vale went into the room, right behind the parrot.  I heard muffled voices — two of them.  Moses Myrick was awake.

Parrot in flight

***

Good Eats Meatloaf-Food Network

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

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

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

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

Links for The Eye-Dancers

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

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

Pinto Beans, Brown Rice, Tofu

Young Lucille Ball

Young Lucille Ball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

Clam and Tofu Soup

Clam-Tofu Soup

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

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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

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

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

Chinese Medicine Benefits:

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

***

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.