Three Ingredients II – 17: Spinach, Carrots, Yogurt

Horsefeathers! This took me by surprise. I didn’t know quite where the “ingredients” would take this story — until last evening.

Young Lucille Ball

Young Lucille Balltake this story or how many more episodes would be needed to conclude this ghost in the kitchen story-line.

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Sheiks and Shebas, I have to tell you — this is the penultimate episode of Three Ingredients Cookbook-2, a Ghost in the Kitchen.  Sorry I didn’t add that subtitle sooner — it’s always been in my head.  That’s right. Next week will be the concluding episode of this story. >
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Your ingredients have taken us for quite a ghostly ride — and a delicious, multi-cultural one too!  The three food related things for this chapter are from the very creative Ishita at Kooky Cookyng. It’s been a while since she contributed these ingredients to the serial’s “cupboards” so she might have forgotten.  I hope it’s a nice surprise for her.
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So that I had more time for writing this episode, I’m also featuring one of Ishita’s recipes this weekend. Her blog also includes tabs/pages with lots of useful information like “Weights & Measurements” and “Oils & Fats.” Spend some time there and enjoy yourself.
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I give my sincere thanks and appreciation to each of you who take time to read these stories, and to those of you who contribute to the “ingredients cupboard.” You make it possible — and you make it fun!
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Need a recap?  Go to the top of the page and click on “Cookbook-2 Three Ingredients Serial Home.”  Without further ado, I give you the penultimate chapter in our interactive culinary mystery, Episode-17.  Bon appétit!

17.  Spinach, Carrots, Yogurt

With Demon

FDR Little Whitehouse banner

The Little White House – President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Doctor Veronica Vale had arranged for Marshal Moses Myrick to go to Warm Springs, Georgia. She said the natural hot springs there were perfect for his convalesce.  Cracker the parrot left her perch on the G-man’s chair and glided across the Vales’ living room to perch on the back of the sofa where I sat.
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Cracker dropped a bit of spinach she’d been nibbling on the rug as she flew.  I saw Granny Fanny look disdainfully from the dropped food to the bird.  It sure seemed like the progress those two had made toward getting along had been forgotten.  When the marshal was shot, it looked like Granny and the parrot had forgotten their differences, in their mutual concern for Moses Myrick.  I was surprised to think that might have only been temporary.
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I missed Cracker terribly when she transferred her affection to Marshal Myrick, but I figured that she was helping the critically injured man in that amazing way that animals seem to help humans heal.  So I tried not to feel rejected, and repeatedly reminded myself that Cracker was just a bird.  She wouldn’t intentionally hurt my feelings.
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Veronica again mentioned that the spa didn’t allow any animals.  Cracker bumped the side of my head with hers.  Then she did it again a moment later, as if she was nudging me.
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“I don’t have any treats, Cracker,” I told the parrot.
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“Who’s your daddy?” Cracker asked in an imploring tone and bobbed her head in a way that looked much like a 1920s Woman Parrotnod.

“Oh that vulgar bird,” Granny Fanny complained, reminding me of how much she hated that phrase.
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“Oh Fanny, Cracker doesn’t mean any harm.  Why, she’s downright ladylike most of the time,” Moses said, and his voice seemed to echo the imploring tone Cracker had used.

“I realize it’s been quite a burden for Veronica and Vincent to have to look after me and Cracker too,” the aging law man continued amid protests from both the Vales.  “I’d hate to ask them to keep looking after the parrot while I’m at Warm Springs,” he added and Granny’s expression suddenly became stiff and suspicious.

“I know it was a challenge for you too, Fanny, when Pip was taking care of her.  It’s a lot of extra work for a woman to unexpectedly add a parrot to her household,” Moses said soothingly.  “I know Cracker gets messy sometimes too, just like a child.  Nobody could blame you for not being able to deal with it.”
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Oh Horsefeathers!  Granny could handle anything, and she’d be the first to say so.  Was the revenuer baiting my grandmother?  He couldn’t have said anything that was any more likely to get a rise out of her if he’d tried!  Had he done it intentionally?  I wouldn’t have advised anybody to get Granny’s back up on purpose, but I saw a twinkle in the Fed’s eyes that told me he had done exactly that.

1920 Home Journal Parrot
“I think the poor bird has missed Pip,” Marshal Myrick went on to say.
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“Whatever gives you that idea, Moses?” Granny exclaimed, agitated.  “It’s just a bird.  She switched her interest to you from Paisley easily enough.”
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“Paisley Idelle Peabody!” Cracker shrieked in a fair imitation of my grandmother.
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Moses started laughing, and then winced and clutched his side.  That was one of the several bullet wounds he had taken when Queenie Wetson’s thugs ambushed him.  “That’s why,” he said, still chuckling.  “She calls Pip’s full name several times a day.  I sort of think, since she’s calling her name the way you would, that it means she misses you too, Fanny.”
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While Granny blustered wordlessly over that comment, I turned to Cracker and scratched her neck.  “Oh Cracker,” I exclaimed.  “Have you really missed me?” I asked feeling oddly guilty — it wasn’t as if I’d had much choice in the matter.  “So do you want to go home with me… if Granny says it’s okay?” I said turning my most imploring and saddest eyes on my grandmother.1920s PhotoPlay

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I waited. I held the hopeful sad-eyed look for so long I thought my eyes might cross.  My eyebrows contracted and I was about to give up.  I looked down at my hands in my lap, unable to hold Granny Fanny’s gaze any longer.
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“Don’t worry Moses,” Veronica finally said.  “Vincent and I will look after Cracker.  It’s really no trouble.”
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“No, no…” Granny said.  “The bird can go home with us.  Paisley, she’ll have to stay in your room though.  And mind you, keep her out of my kitchen!”
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Cracker made a noise that sounded like laughter.  “You slay me!” she squawked.
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Moses started holding his side and laughing again, but I thought Granny’s eyes would pop right out of her head, she looked so mad.

“I remember Cracker Jack Daddy using that phrase a lot,” the G-man said.  There’s no telling what all she picked up from him.  “But I’ve noticed Cracker often says it when somebody laughs.  I wonder if she misses that gangster…” Moses said and his voice trailed away thoughtfully.  “I guess anybody can have a good quality, and Jack Daddy seemed to have taken good care of my girl here,” he said meaning Cracker the parrot.
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Country Gentleman Kernan Sat Eve PostSomehow that seemed to calm Granny’s flare of anger.  Our visit wasn’t eventful after that.  Moses made a big deal over the apple pie Granny had made for him.  But Granny’s apple pies were well worth the praise.  Of course we didn’t have the pie until after the delicious meal the doctors Vale prepared.
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Veronica said Vincent was a better cook than she, and the couple argued playfully about who was the better chef.  Soon we sat down to a delicious dinner that started with a beautiful creamy carrot soup, and just kept getting better from there.  Granny’s apple pie topped off the meal.
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As we were leaving Vincent asked a favor of Andy and me. “Could you kids deliver some medicine for me, first thing in the morning?” the veterinarian asked.  “Bishop Binghamton’s mare is having difficulties, and she could foal at any time.  So I don’t want to go into town,” he said.
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Cracker glided into the dining room.  I wondered if hearing the “Binghamton” name brought her.  She had acted strangely when she saw the bishop at a distance when we arrived earlier.  She’d said “Dainty Dish” when she saw him.  After the things Mattie Maddox had said about Henry Kingston III and the Binghamton brothers, hearing the parrot also connect Daisy, the ghost woman, to them made me really suspicious, despite how nice the bishop seemed.
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“It’s for Kate Kingston’s Maine Coon cat.  Poor Antoinette gets a terrible skin condition sometimes,” Vincent said.
>1920s Vaudeville Cats postcard

At the name “Kingston” Cracker cocked her head and looked at Vincent attentively.  “Fourandtwenty,” she chirped as if the phrase was a single word.
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“What’s that Cracker?” Moses asked, not understanding the rapid speech, but the bird didn’t respond.
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I could tell the G-man was going to miss the parrot.  It was as if he was paying extra attention to her all evening.  However, I remembered Cracker repeating that phrase when we were trying figure out who killed her owner, as well as when we worked to foil Queenie Wetson and her bootleggers.  She said four and twenty repeatedly and finally we ended up at…
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“Pos-i-lute-ly,” Andy said, interrupting my thoughts.
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“That’s quite alright, Vincent.  If it’s not too late, the children and I can run it over there this evening,” Granny offered.
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“Where do we deliver it?” Andy asked.
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Fourandtwenty!” Cracker screeched.
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Vincent gave the parrot a surprised look.  “The big estate at 420 Kingston Lane,” he said and Cracker bobbed her head excitedly.Vintage girl and parrot

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It was completely dark when we arrived at 420 Kingston Lane.  I could hear the river next to us as Granny headed the Model-T up the narrow drive that led to the estate.  Andy started complaining of a bad cramp in his foot.  We were just below where the drive forked with one way leading to the kitchen entrance and the other broader lane continued to the front of the mansion.
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I exited the Model-T with Andy so he could walk out the cramp.  He limped along and I pulled his arm over my shoulder so I could help him.  It must have been a fierce cramp because I saw a tear in his eye that he pretended wasn’t there.  We kept walking and eventually found ourselves on the beautifully landscaped terrace, where the “parade of pets” was held at the ritzy party Granny Fanny catered as a front for the lawmen’s sting operation.  It seemed like a lot of time had passed since then, but I knew it hadn’t been all that long.
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Michalemas daisy cardThe cramp finally left Andy’s foot.  We were near the big French doors and we debated whether we should knock there or walk all the way around to the front door.  As we stood discussing that minor problem a blast of frigid air tousled my bobbed hair.  I shivered and Andy tucked me tightly under his arm.  He’d never done that before.  Not to keep his arm there.  Not to hold me that close.
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However I didn’t have time to wonder about Andy’s behavior.  Softly glowing light drew my attention to the uphill path.  Tiny white flower petals cascaded toward us on the wind.  With the cold breeze, for a moment I thought the petals were snow.
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When the blossoms settled I saw Daisy at the top of the path.  She was dressed in a wedding gown, but the veil was turned back to reveal her angelic face.  Delicate lace trained behind her on the wide stone stairs.  White satin gleamed in the moonlight and beading glittered with her movements when she glided forward.
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I realized Daisy was reminiscing about her wedding to Henry “the king” Kingston.  I knew she had a horrible childhood, but her marriage to him was a happy one, and clearly their wedding was a fond memory.  She looked at Andy and me and smiled sweetly.
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The sound of a horse’s hooves on the pavers behind me caused me to start.  Turning, I watched the former ghost-rider, Caleb Colman dismount an otherworldly steed.  The spirit

Mary Pickford 1920

Mary Pickford 1920

horse whinnied softly.  The cowboy took off his Stetson when he saw me and nodded politely.
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“Ma’am,” Caleb said and then nodded to Andy as well.
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Then the cowboy saw Daisy glowing in the moonlight, a beatific specter in flowing white.  He gasped and dropped to one knee.  Hat over heart, Caleb bowed his head then slowly shook it from side to side as if in amazement.  He looked up at the spirit woman on the uphill path and his face was a mixture of wonder, uncertainty, and pain.  A single tear ran down his cheek.

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At that moment I saw Bishop Binghamton come out of the wooded path to our left, halfway between us and Daisy.  Binghamton stopped to put out a cigarette.  Andy, Caleb, and I were farther down, closer to the kitchen and in the shadows.  He didn’t see us, but he was headed straight for the big French doors and not paying attention.  I don’t know if Daisy would have been visible to him, but he didn’t look in her direction either.
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Daisy paused when she saw the bishop.  Her serene expression became puzzled and uneasy when she looked closely at the clergyman.  She moved toward him, but he continued toward the double doors and went inside the mansion.  Daisy’s full attention was on the scene within the house.
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Wind buffeted us.  It was hard for me to walk upright into the gale.  I wondered if we were about to be caught up in a tornado, then I saw the frightening light in Daisy’s eyes.  Caleb saw it too.
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“Daisy!  No!” the cowboy yelled.
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1920s Cosmo FebShe turned and looked at Caleb and at Andy and me as if she’d never seen us before.  Then she turned her attention back to the house.  She took another step toward it and the French doors opened as if of their own accord.
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We ran toward Daisy.  The bishop was standing just inside.  He turned in surprise when the doors opened behind him.
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Caleb’s presence seemed to comfort Daisy, and the horrible light in her eyes dissipated.  I heard the two spirits whispering to each other.  I didn’t think anyone inside, except perhaps my grandmother, could see them.  Granny Fanny vacillated between disbelieving it was possible for her to see ghosts and actually seeing them.
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As we moved close to the doors I heard Mrs. Kingston talking to Granny.  She sat a crystal bowl on a table.  It contained something creamy and white.

Yogurt is very good for lightening and brightening the complexion,” Kate Kingston said.  “Just leave it on your face for a few minutes and then wash it off,” she said, but her words died away when she saw the strange way the bishop was acting.
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Andy and I hurried up to the doors and went inside.
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“You didn’t open those doors,” the bishop murmured.
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Daisy followed us.  She turned to Bishop Binghamton, who was still near the doors.  Then she saw his brother, Byron, standing at the foot of the gracefully curving staircase.  Henry Kingston was at the top of the stairs, on his way back down to join his guests.
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“They’re all right where they were that night,” Daisy said as she stared transfixed by the scene.
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She blinked and turned to me.  “Pip, I remember!” Daisy exclaimed.
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Ghostly cowboy Caleb Colman moved closer to her.  “Ma’am?  Are you all right?” he asked, clearly concerned.

Choctaw Bill, Mora, NM 1920's

Choctaw Bill, Mora, NM 1920’s

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“I remember,” Daisy repeated and trembled violently, dropping the bouquet of flowers she held.
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Caleb took her hand.  I thought he meant to comfort Daisy, but I quickly saw there was more to the gesture than that.
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He grasped her hand tightly.  “Are these the men who hurt you ma’am?” he asked softly, but she didn’t answer.  “Show me!” Caleb said in a firm voice.
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Daisy squeezed the cowboy’s hand.  Wind wailed and buffeted inside the mansion.  A lamp turned over and shattered on the floor.  The crystal chandelier swayed dangerously overhead.  Voices rose near enough to panic.  The bishop fell to his knees, eyes tightly shut, praying for all he was worth.
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Caleb bowed over Daisy’s hand and then let it go.  Abruptly the wind stopped.  The room went completely silent and I knew that everyone could see the formerly cursed ghost-rider.  Maestro Mario had made a great sacrifice, giving up countless years that would have been removed from his own curse, just to give Caleb Colman a chance to redeem himself.  Else the cowboy was condemned to a futile eternal chase.  I remembered Caleb’s words the first time I met him.
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“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 had said seeing the expression on my face.

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I wondered if Maestro’s sacrifice was about to be wasted.  Caleb looked steadily at each of the three men in turn.  His eyes started to glow a frightening red to match the eyes of the demon heard he used to chase.
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The men cried out in fear as the spirit glowed with supernatural light and grew to twice his already impressive height.  The wind began again, lifting the bishop, his brother, and Henry Kingston III into the air where they remained suspended while Caleb cast that red-eyed stare at them.

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Recipe:  Autumnal Spinach & Carrot Soup, the Indian Way

Ishita spinach soup

Photo and Recipe credit to Ishita at Kooky Cookyng

This time I am just giving you the link to Ishita’s blog for the recipe and instructional photos.  I hope you’ll look at many of her creative meals.

http://kookycookyng.com/2014/09/12/autumnal-spinach-carrot-soup-the-indian-way/

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In Memory of Izzy

October 2014

pug memorial candle

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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 – 16: Apples, Broad Beans, Curry Leaves

Sheiks and Shebas I’m sorry to keep you waiting. Yes, there is pos-i-lute-ly going to be a new episode of our 1920’s culinary mystery serial! The ingredients for Episode-16 are from the astonishingly prolific Olga Núñez Miret at Just Olga. Serendipity was with us, and this chapter coincided with the launch of her latest book, I Love Your Cupcakes Have a look at it — who can say no to a cupcake? Olga has a video trailer for this novel.  I thought it was so adorable I couldn’t resist sharing it with you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGFcWLwoFfA . Once again I’m giving you a few fun, informative links, so keep an eye out for them. This episode doesn’t have cupcakes, but it has something sweet — the return of a favorite character. Bon appétit!

16.  Apples, Broad Beans, Curry Leaves

I still remember the rough country road and how Granny Fanny patted her yellow 1924 Liberty-appleModel-T every time we hit a bump.  A half bushel basket of apples sat crowding my feet in the floorboard, and I held a peck basket of Vidalia onions on the seat beside me.

Andy Avis sat in the backseat with Granny’s favorite wicker basket in his lap.  He sneaked the lid open and the aroma of Granny’s apple pie drifted up to my grandmother and me in the front seat.  I looked over my shoulder and saw Andy lick his lips.  I knew that pie was mouthwatering.  The scent found its way to Granny’s nose, and she glanced suspiciously at Andy.

“Sweetheart, try and keep the basket closed so the pie will stay warm,” she said, as if the lid accidentally came loose, though it was obvious that she knew better.  “Now that Moses is well enough to be moved, that pie was the one thing he asked for before he leaves,” she added.

Marshal Moses Myrick was a close friend of my grandparents when they were young.  Not too long after Granddaddy passed away, Myrick’s law enforcement career took off.  He worked his way through the ranks and eventually became a Federal Marshal — a Revenuer; a G-man.

Myrick nearly died when Queenie Wetson’s men ambushed him, but Savannah’s dashing Detective Dabney Daniels was able to get him to Dr. Veronica Vale.  She had been a renowned surgeon, but tiring of hospital politics and spiteful attitudes about women doctors, she retired from medical practice.  She and her veterinarian husband had a home and a sprawling facility for Vincent’s veterinary practice that was much closer to the site of the ambush than any hospital.  If it hadn’t been for Detective Daniels’ knowledge of area back-roads and for the doctors Vale living nearby, Moses Myrick would have surely died.Vales House During the weeks since the surgery Veronica Vale had performed in her husband’s veterinary facility, Marshal Myrick stayed with the Vales.  Veronica refused to allow him to be moved.  Finally his condition improved enough that she wanted the marshal to go to Warm Springs, Georgia.  It was well known for therapeutic mineral springs which flow constantly at nearly 32 °C (90 °F).  Doc Vale wanted him to spend several weeks at a spa there.

Soon the yellow Ford puttered up to the lovely white house with a green roof.  Granny Fanny reminded Andy and me to be quiet once we got inside.  Moses Myric was still far from being well.  When I stepped out of the Ford, I heard a horse whinny from the 1914 Model-T 2stable, and from inside the house I could hear a bird screech.  A parrot.  Cracker, I thought with a smile.  So much for being quiet…

I became far too attached to that bird when I was taking care of her.  But it seemed the marshal had stolen Cracker’s heart.  She refused to leave his side after he was shot.

As I got out of the automobile, a streak of brilliant color erupted from an upstairs window and loomed toward me.  I drew back reflexively, even though I knew it was the parrot.  Cracker alighted on the open car door, chattering unintelligibly.  Yes, I know the bird isn’t supposed to be able to speak the way humans do, and could only mimic our words, but sometimes it sure seemed like she knew what she was talking about.  Her lack of coherent speech led me to think she was extremely excited.

Cracker hopped from the car door to my shoulder and started preening a strand of my bobbed hair, as was her old habit.  I tried to push her away from my head and was scolded.

“Bad bird! Bad bird,” Cracker chirped at me.1920s SheetMusic Parrot

I stroked the feathers of her back and told Cracker I had missed her.  The parrot started making a funny trilling sound.  When Detective Daniels handed me the chore of bird-sitting after Cracker’s owner was murdered at the Bijou Theatre he asked Mr. Doctor Vale… not the same as Mrs. Doctor Vale… Oh applesauce!  It sure got confusing having two Doctors Vale in one place.

Anyhow Dabney asked the vet doc to take a look at the parrot and make sure she was healthy. The memory of Vincent examining the parrot popped into my mind.  He had said Cracker was at least forty years old!

“Parrots live a long time,” he’d explained.  “They need a serious, long term commitment from their owners.  Cracker is a macaw,” he said taking my name for the bird.  “She might live to the ripe old age of 95.”

I couldn’t help thinking about the old photograph, our only hint of a clue to who was involved in the death of Daisy the Dainty Dish.  According to the ghost woman, what I thought was a flaw in the photo was actually a parrot.  I looked into Cracker’s bright, intelligent looking eyes.  She might be old enough to have been the parrot sitting on the shoulder of Alastair Wong the elder in that photograph. Andy’s eyes bugged out when I turned to him and whispered that thought to him.

Movement further down the gently sloping green caught my eye as I looked beyond Andy.  He turned to see what had my attention.Broad Beans Beyond the spot where we stood, was the vegetable garden where the last of the summer foods grew.  A few of the broad beans Veronica praised for their nutritional value remained.  I tried to point discretely in their direction. “Just past the garden,” I told Andy.  “Those two men.  One is Doc Vale.  The other one looks familiar to me,” I said uneasily.

The two men made their way to the stable.  It was as if they felt our eyes on them.  They turned our way.  Vincent Vale threw up his hand in a cheery wave.  The second man was dressed in working clothes.  He was smaller than the veterinarian.  When he turned I saw a spot of bright white at his neck. It seemed out of place with the work clothes.

Cracker followed my gaze.  She shifted from foot to foot where she perched on my shoulder. “Bad bird,” the parrot hissed quietly.1920s Ja-Da Parrot “What’s eating you?” Andy asked seeing the intent frown on my face.

“I can’t really tell from here…” I began, squinting in attempt to see farther.

Cracker had her eyes glued to the men right up until they went inside the stable.  “Dainty Dish,” the parrot chirped and bobbed her head up and down.

Andy gave a suspicious look at the bird.  I’d told him how clever she was, but he had not believed me.  However, he knew the spirit, Daisy, had been known as The Dainty Dish.  I wondered if he was about to change his mind and see how smart the parrot was.

“Well?” Granny Fanny looked back over her shoulder as she reached the front porch.  “Come along you two.  And Paisley, do try to keep that nasty bird quiet!” she said emphatically.

It had taken awhile, but Cracker eventually won Granny over despite my grandmother’s aversion to having an avian in the house.  I thought Granny might need a refresher course to remind her that she actually did like the parrot.  Or maybe she just didn’t like to let on that she did.

Barrie Craig adventuresAndy shifted the wicker basket to his left hand and knocked on the door.  Veronica called to us to come on inside, so he opened the door for Granny.  I was happy to see Moses Myrick doing well enough to be downstairs in the living room.

“Take this mixture of curry leaves with you,” Veronica was saying as she handed Moses a small tin container.  “It will help control your stomach acid.”

The G-man sat in a cushioned chair with his feet on an ottoman.  A carved walking stick was propped against the cozy looking chair.  Veronica Vale leaned down to hand him the tin, and then looked up at us with a warm smile.

I didn’t really expect the range of emotions that played across my grandmother’s face when she saw the marshal.  I knew she cared a lot about him, but I thought it was just a carryover from the fact that he had been such good friends with my granddaddy.

Yet before my eyes I saw her expression shift from anxious, to pleasure, to concern, to something that it took me a moment to name.  To my surprise I realized she was feeling the pain of loss. That puzzled me.  However, I remembered her saying that she didn’t understand how any woman could bear to have a law man for a husband or a son.  The dangers were just too much and the agony of losing them too great.

She had refused a romantic relationship with Detective Dabney Daniels, but she insistedSheik of Araby it was because she was too old for him.  I didn’t think their age difference was all that big, so I had always wondered if that was the truth of it.  I could see where his line of work would be a constant source of worry.

After seeing the expressions parade across her face, I couldn’t help wondering if something similar had happened between Granny Fanny and Marshal Moses Myrick at some point in the past.  As my grandmother had once reminded me, she had a life before and after my grandfather.

The G-man picked up the cane and made to get up from his chair.  Doctor Veronica shot him a warning look.  Granny gently laid a slender hand on his arm and he relaxed into the cushions of the chair.  When Moses looked up at my grandmother the most peaceful expression came to his face.  I didn’t realize I was staring at the two of them until I felt Andy’s elbow nudge my ribs.

“Fanny…” was all Moses said.

She sat down on the sofa opposite his chair.  She didn’t sit all the way back, and she leaned a little forward when she spoke to him.  Cracker the parrot settled on the back of the marshal’s chair.  She preened a strand of his gray hair in the same way she had mine.  He brushed a hand at the bird to shoo her away.

“Hold your fire!” Cracker squawked at his hand, causing Andy to burst out laughing.

Encouraged by the laughter, Cracker hopped down to the marshal’s lap, demanding the-chinese-parrot adattention.

“Hold your fire,” she said again when he told her to go to her perch by the window.

Moses pointed his index finger at Cracker, a pretend gun, and made a clicking sound with his tongue.  Cracker plopped over, playing dead.  Then she got up and stretched her head so that it was under his chin and whistled quietly.  I couldn’t say quite how, but the parrot seemed sad to me and I commented on it.

“She knows he’s leaving,” Veronica said.  “They don’t allow animals at the spa.”

Then the most remarkable conversation ensued between the revenuer and the parrot.  The fact that there was any conversation at all between a G-man and a bird was astonishing enough.  Moses told the bird that he would be away for a month or so. His tone suggested this was something he had explained many times.  The bird made squawks and whistles and even something a lot like a raspberry sound!  It was obvious that she was protesting. Then he took a firm no-nonsense tone.

“Look Cracker, I need you to stay with Pip until I get back.  No argument,” he said. “And that’s an order!” Cracker squawked back at him, but she flew over to me and perched on the arm of the sofa. “Don’t you backtalk me,” Moses told the bird and pointed threateningly.

“Hold your fire!” Cracker snapped, but she moved closer to me and looked suitably chastened.

Granny commented on the parrot’s new phrase, hold your fire.  Moses said he wasn’t sure where she got it.  It wasn’t something he had said to her.  However, we knew the parrot had had a number of owners in her lifetime.1920s Life Faded blonde

Then she took an interest in Andy.  She waddled down the back of the couch to where he sat.  Cracker cocked her head to one side and peered at Andy.  I could tell it was beginning to make him nervous.  She tilted her shoulder toward him and bobbed her head up and down.  To me it looked like the equivalent of a human bobbing their eyebrows flirtatiously.

“Who’s your daddy?” she chirped at Andy, causing him to blush.

“Oh that foul mouthed fowl,” Granny Fanny said.  “Haven’t you broken her from saying that yet Moses?” Granny demanded.

I remembered how my grandmother hated that phrase.  She said it was horrid and vulgar.  However, Cracker was saved from any scolding by the entrance of Vincent and the man we saw go into the stable with him.

“Dainty Dish,” Cracker hissed quietly, looking at the two men who stood in the foyer.

“It’s odd, but she says that every time she sees the Bishop,” Veronica murmured as if she voiced a thought.  “He is a rather slight man. I wonder if that’s what she means.”

Veronica explained that Bishop Binghamton’s mare was soon to give birth and her husband was watching over things.  So Binghamton had been a frequent visitor during the past few weeks. Niven as BinghamtonI supposed that explained the work clothes he wore, Levis and an old twill jacket, but with the priest’s collar at his neck.  It was hard for me to reconcile that attire with the elaborately dressed, fancy bishop I had seen from a distance at that ritzy shindig at the Kingston mansion.

However, he looked perfectly comfortable being seen in a working man’s clothes.  I half expected him to apologize for his appearance, considering how he had looked at the party, but he didn’t seem concerned.  That added something unexpected to my perception of him.  Was there a touch of the common man to this high ranking churchman?

Vincent Vale introduced Bishop Bradley Binghamton to Andy and me.  Apparently he was already acquainted with Granny Fanny.  I supposed that was to be expected.  They were of a similar age and from the same town, even if their social circles hadn’t mixed when they were young.

“A fascinating creature,” he said with a nod to Cracker whose steady gaze didn’t waiver.

I noticed that he didn’t offer to get any closer to the bird, but considering the hard look in her eyes, I couldn’t blame him.  So this was one of the “boys” — the men that Mattie Maddox believed were implicated in Daisy’s death… However, when I looked at him I saw a kind face and a gentle manner.  There was no harsh expression in his eyes or anything that would make me think he would threaten anyone; to make them leave town and never return.  Yet I didn’t disbelieve Mattie stainge glass_parroteither.

Bishop Binghamton looked like a man remembering bygone days and a small smile came to his lips.  He motioned toward Cracker. “When I was a lad, one of my teachers had a parrot a lot like this one,” he said.  “The name escapes me,” he commented thoughtfully and put a knuckle to the little cleft in his chin.  “A brilliant Asian gentleman,” he said and Granny’s eyes got wide.  “Ah yes.  He was Asian, but from England.  Wong.  That was it!  Alastair Wong.” My mouth opened, but no words came out.  Cracker looked from Granny to Andy to me. “Hold your fire!” Cracker hissed at us and I closed my mouth with a pop.

***

Recipe:  Southern Indian vegetable curry with curry leaves

With courgette, squash, peppers and cauliflower Photo and Recipe Credit:  JamieOliver.com

Indian vege Curry Leaves

  Method Heat the oil in a pan and fry the mustard seeds for 2 to 3 minutes or until they start to pop. Add the chillies, curry leaves, onions, coriander, cumin seeds, garam masala, turmeric, and chilli powder.  Stir and cook over a medium heat until the onion is soft.  Stir in the chopped tomatoes. Add your potatoes and aubergine to the sauce.  Pour in the coconut milk and cook until the potato is soft and cooked through.  Throw in the beans, peas and okra.  Season and cook for a few more minutes until tender, then serve with some nice fluffy rice.

***

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

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

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Three Ingredients II – 5: Apricots, Eggs, Wheat Flour

Cat_menu_Episode-5Recently Siobhan took up the torch and continued the “Meet My Main Character” blog tour.  (Thanks again Siobhan!)  She also gave us the ingredients for this week’s episode of our interactive culinary mystery.

I can’t believe we’re already at Episode-5.  By now, several of the characters from the previous serial have made appearances.  New readers, you might find the Character Recap post from Cookbook-1 helpful to get you acquainted with the personalities in the story.  Also remember, there is a button at the top of this page (Cookbook-2 Three Ingredients Serial Home) where all the episodes are posted in chronological order, sans the introductions.

 Wishing all of you a satisfying weekend filled with the kind of things I try to include in these stories — good food, friends — and hugs.

Bon appétit!

5.  Apricots, Eggs, Wheat Flour

 With Smoke and Mirrors

1920s man w-goats

Greta the goat gave a coarse behhh and lowered her head, ready to charge right into us.  My old friend Andy Avis and I both took a step backward, but there wasn’t anywhere to go in the timeworn shed.  We stumbled into each other before we got to the door.

If the goat was going to be that cantankerous, I wasn’t too excited about trying to take her back to Doc Vale.  “Greta, you just simmer down now,” I told her in what I hoped was a soothing voice.

The goat looked up at me curiously.  I couldn’t imagine what was causing her phosphorescent glow, but she was a scary sight.  There was a mean look in her eyes, and I wondered if she still might charge into us.  Then something else caught my apricotsinterest — something white was tucked into the rope around her neck.

“Is that a daisy caught in her bell?” I asked Andy, tilting my head as I tried to get a better look.

“Yeah, it looks real spiffy,” Andy quipped as he took another step toward the door, which
hung askew, dangling from one hinge.  “She can wear daisies or roses, or apricots in her bell.  She can put on a fringe dress and do the Charleston for all I care, as long as she doesn’t attack us!” he added in a hiss.

“No Andy, it is a daisy.  A daisy,” I said, thinking I was probably off my nuts.

I inched forward.  Andy reached out and caught my sleeve. He whispered for me to stay put.  I stooped down, getting eye-level with the goat.  It was definitely a daisy with the stem going through the loop that held the bell to her rope collar.

“Daisy, is that you?” I asked as I gazed at Greta, unsure of what result I expected from my questions.  “Are you here somewhere?” I questioned, casting my eyes around the dark shed.

Greta answered me with “Behhh!”

Then the goat abruptly plopped back onto her glowing haunches with a soft thud.  A human voice spoke my name.

I wasn’t sure if it came from the goat, or if the voice was just there in the shed somewhere.  My 1920s facehair stood on end.  Andy moved close enough to take a firm hold on my arm, ready to pull me out of the shed and into the comforting light of day.

“Pip,” the voice said.  “Something bad happened to me in that factory.  Something so bad that I blocked out the memory even when I was alive.”

“Daisy!  It is you!” I cried.  “I’ve tried so hard to help you,” I apologized to the ghost.  “I haven’t been able to find out anything, but I won’t stop trying.  I promise.  And I’m sorry… for whatever happened to you there,” I said and motioned toward the abandoned building Andy and I had been on our way to investigate for his employer.  “Are you saying that it’s connected to your… your death?”

“I know you’re trying, Pip.  And I am grateful,” the voice of Daisy said.  “I was drawn back to the factory but I was too afraid to go inside.  Yes, I feel like it’s related — not the place actually, but there is a tie.”1920s fireworks

I jumped when Greta, the phosphorescent goat sneezed and shook her head.  Then she shook her entire body, in much the same way a wet dog would, a head to tail shimmy.
The glow burst out around Greta in thousands of tiny shimmering specks, and then it was gone.

Greta had a confused look in her eyes.  She walked up to me docile as a lamb, no longer a mad-eyed goat.  Andy mutely handed me the rope he was holding and I tied it around Greta’s neck.  Neither of us spoke as I led the goat back to Granny Fanny’s yellow Model-T.

We put Greta in the back.  The goat was still meek and didn’t even try to chew on anything in Granny’s pristine automobile, which I thought was not goat-like at all.  Andy kept casting surreptitious glances at Greta, but she didn’t start glowing again, or anything else.

Finally, Andy cleared his throat.  “Err Pip?” he began hesitantly.  “Did that goat…  I mean when we were back there in that shed, did that goat umm glow?” he asked and I
nodded my head in answer.  “And did she umm… Did the goat talk?”

So, I thought, that was what had gotten his goat — har-de-har!  I wasn’t sure of the answer myself, and I said so.

1920s French egg ad“Whether the voice came from Greta or somewhere else, it was Daisy, the ghost girl I
told you about.  It wasn’t just smoke and mirrors,” I told him.

We decided not to mention anything to the doctors Vale when we returned Greta to them.  Neither Andy nor I had much to say on the drive there.  Heck, what could you say after witnessing a glowing goat and talking to a ghost?

As soon as we arrived, Veronica insisted that we come inside for a bite of lunch, or dinner as we called the midday meal back then.  I don’t know if it was an emotional reaction to what had just happened, or if we were really hungry, but neither of us could refuse.

One of Vincent’s veterinary clients had paid them in eggs — lots of eggs.  Veronica had cooked several quiches made with freshly caught crab-meat.  It was a delicious meal.  The Vales insisted on sending an entire basket of eggs back home with us too.  Like I said, it was a lot of eggs.

Marshal Moses Myrick was still convalescing at the Vale residence.  Veronica said he could have a visitor for a few minutes.  The last time I saw him, the marshal was a frightful sight.  He truly had been at death’s door.  I wanted to introduce Andy to him.  Andy wrote science fiction stories, and now screenplays out in Hollywood.  He  had already expressed an interest in the G-man from a screenwriter’s point of view.  However, Veronica seemed concerned about overtaxing her patient.  So while I went upstairs to visit the marshal, Andy took the basket of eggs out to Granny’s Model-T.1920s SheetMusic Parrot

As soon as I entered the cheery bedroom, Moses Myrick gave me a bright smile — and Cracker the parrot squawked and scolded me.  Mr. Myrick laughed and said the parrot missed me.  That touched my heart and I quickly brushed away a tear.  I missed Cracker terribly, but didn’t want the marshal to feel bad about the fact that she chose to stay with him rather than me.

Veronica, in doctor form, shushed the bird out of concern for her patient.  Cracker alighted on my shoulder and started preening a strand of my bobbed hair.  That was something she used to do when she was concerned or agitated about me in some way.

“Bad bird!” Cracker chirped loudly, apparently scolding me for not being there with her as she maintained her watch over Marshal Myrick.

To the parrot everyone was a bad bird if she scolded them, no matter their species.  The admonition got a chuckle from me, and a loud laugh from Moses.  The G-man grabbed his middle when he laughed though.  He winced with pain that was sharp enough to cause his face to blanch.

As you might imagine, considering she could fly, it was difficult to get the parrot to leave a room if she was not of a mind to comply.  Cracker was still on my shoulder, so Veronica gave me a meaningful look with a motion of her head.  I knew what she meant.  Quickly I blew a kiss to the marshal and stepped out of the room.

Cracker gave an irritated sounding whistle.  “Come on sweetheart,” I told the bird nonchalantly.  “Let’s go to the kitchen and find you a treat.”

1940 Webber Poodle hoopI hurried down the stairs, hoping the parrot wouldn’t fly back to the marshal’s room and make a noisy protest.  The door was shut, but the parrot could make an extremely loud commotion if she chose.  However, Cracker lifted her wings a bit to keep her balance, but she didn’t try to go back to the sick room.

She cut her eyes over to me when I reached the bottom of the stairs.  “Sneaky, sneaky,” Cracker muttered, letting me know I hadn’t fooled her a bit.

“Maybe there are sunflower seeds,” I suggested consolingly, and the mention of her favorite treat kept the parrot quiet.

Once in the kitchen, Cracker glided to a cabinet that had shiny new and complicated latch.  I chuckled.  That must be where her treats were kept.  The parrot had proven devilishly clever, and able to open almost anything she chose — particularly her cage!

A soft yip caused me to look down.  I hadn’t heard Veronica’s poodle come into the room.  Cotton seemed to recognize the treat cabinet too and she stood on her back feet and did a little pirouette.  That encouraged Cracker’s impatience and she started pulling at the latch with her beak.

“Now Cracker, you leave that alone,” I chided the parrot.

She fluttered to the floor and sat beside Cotton.  Then she gave an imploring squawk. “Who’s your daddy?” she repeated her favorite phrase while bobbing her head.

Vincent had done a good job with the parrot-proof latch.  I had to figure out how it myself, since I’d never seen one like it before.  As I fiddled with the odd latch, I was distracted by the voices of Andy and the veterinarian outside.  I turned to look out the kitchen window.  Vincent was showing Andy his motorcycle.edmonds-ads

Cotton became over excited upon hearing the unfamiliar voice of Andy.  I didn’t see the poodle when we came into the house, so she hadn’t met Andy yet.  I tried to quiet the dog, but she just yapped that much louder.

The agitated dog got the parrot excited and one of their games ensued.  They vigorously chased each other around the kitchen.  Their antics were entertaining, and I couldn’t help laughing.  However, I knew it was only a matter of time before they broke something, or worse, disturbed Doctor Veronica’s patient.

I tried to shush them, but to no avail.  I gave Cotton a dog biscuit.  She broke it in half with her teeth, but dropped it on the floor in favor of chasing the parrot.1920s Flour ad

Then it happened.  Cotton leapt amazingly high into the air, nipping at the parrot’s

tail feathers.  She actually had her mouth on the brightly colored plumage, but it
slipped out as Cracker flew.  The bird looped around the room.  I don’t know what she had in mind, but Cracker skidded the length of the longest countertop.  Then she collided with a canister of wheat flour.

The metal container sailed heavenward.  I moved toward it, arms out to catch the summersaulting canister.  I almost had it.  Then I stepped on a piece of the dog biscuit and slipped.  My bottom hit the floor around the same time the flour container hit my head.  The aluminium canister might have hurt me if it hadn’t been empty by then.  Yes, it was empty because its contents had poured all over me.

However, as the canister struck, so did inspiration.  Doused in wheat flour, I lay prone on the floor.  I didn’t even twitch.  My motionless body immediately got the attention of the cavorting animals.  I felt Cotton’s cold nose sniffing my ankle.  Cracker pulled my hair and chirped, “Whose your daddy?”

Fortunately my face was turned toward the doorway that opened onto the rest of the house.  I cracked open one eye when I heard footsteps.  Veronica appeared and gasped.  However she saw me wink at her and knew I was unharmed, albeit flour covered and unmoving.  I saw her mouth twist as she tried not to smile at the poodle and the parrot.  They continued to sniff and investigate my immobile form.

When I heard the kitchen door open, I figured the game had gone on long enough.  Vincent and Andy came into the room.  I slowly rose from the floor, a white covered mess.  Vincent gave me a puzzled expression.  I hadn’t thought about what I must look like, all dusted in white, until I saw Andy’s face.Vintage ghosts several

Wide-eyed and white as a sheet, Andy Avis screamed.

Veronica gave my friend an understanding smile.  I was thankful that she controlled the laugh that was undoubtedly on her lips, because I wouldn’t want Andy to be embarrassed.  After all, he had shrieked like a schoolgirl when he saw Maestro Martino. And there he was, coming close to repeating that performance.

Vincent gave him a lopsided grin.  “Calm down man.  Anybody would think you’d seen a ghost.”

I didn’t know what to say to that.  Apparently neither did Andy.  He, Granny, and I agreed to keep the existence of the ghost chef to ourselves.  However, I suspected Veronica might know something about Daisy.  I knew Granny had been upset about things after the big shindig when Daisy last allowed me to see her.

1917 VogueFor most of her life, Granny Fanny had been in denial about her gift for seeing spirits.  She had probably said some things to her friend Veronica as she tried to understand what was happening to her as she realized there was something “odd” about Daisy, the ghost woman.  Veronica might have pondered enough possibilities to make her inquisitive.

Andy and I stared at each other guiltily.  Veronica looked from him to me and back again.  Surgeon and researcher, her eyes narrowed as she considered us.

Cracker fluttered to the table and looked up at me covered in white flour.  The parrot tilted her head to one side curiously.  “Dainty Dish!” she squawked the other name for Daisy.

Veronica’s eyebrows went nearly up to her hairline.

***

Video:  Easy Grilled Fruit-Food Network

Roasted Apricots with Ginger

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3_vWZ3XWW0

 

 

 

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 – 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.

Three Ingredients – 19: Sugar, Salt, Strawberries

Thanks for coming back everyone! I’m sorry I couldn’t provide an episode last weekend.  So before I introduce the new episode, here’s a little treat to get you back into a 1920’s mood.

caseys gunslinger coverThe ingredients for today’s episode are from Catherine Wolffe, a writer who (like me) enjoys experimenting with the various genresBut whatever the style of story, Catherine’s characters follow their dreams.

Thank you Catherine, for today’s ingredients.  Remember everyone, you can do catch-up reading on any of the episodes at the serial’s homepage. Just click the button at the top of the page.  Now for Episode-19.

Bon appétit!

19. Sugar, Salt, StrawberriesEpisode19_Shopping-list

“Here darling, have a soda cracker,” Veronica Vale insisted as she handed me a saucer of crisp crackers. Despite being born in a southern state, her voice held a continental tone from many years studying and working abroad. “They have lovely sea salt on the tops. They’ll help calm your stomach,” she said encouragingly.

It was such an odd feeling. I can barely describe how I felt. It hadn’t been long since I woke up with a headache, an upset stomach, a foggy brain, and giant holes in my memory. For several hours I encountered people and had to stop and think about who they were, though they clearly expected me to know them… most people anyway.

1929 Radio News SeptI recognized Granny Fanny right away, despite the unexpected circumstance of watching her get off the back of Vincent Vale’s motorcycle. When Alastair Wong found me I heard his voice before I saw him. I had to first place the voice, so it didn’t seem like it took as long for me to remember who he was when I saw him. Hank Hertz was mostly a question mark in my mind. I had a vague memory of him and radio equipment. I knew he was Savannah’s youngest police officer, but that was about all.

This is what it would be like to live a silent movie, I thought. Talkies had not been around terribly long. Binghamton’s Bijou theatre in Savannah still showed more silent films than talkies. My hearing was fine, but the fogginess of my memory made me feel like I was in an old silent movie without a narrator or even intertitles. Walking a ledge with uncertain footing, not sure who might pull me to safety or who might push me over the edge, I met everyone I was supposed to already know with caution and distrust.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) used stylised intertitles.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) used stylised intertitles.

Then there were the ones I couldn’t remember at all… The scowling police detective, Dabney Daniels — I still had no memory of him period. Neither could I remember the man in the makeshift hospital room, a Federal marshal, Moses Myrick. I remembered being worried about him, but I couldn’t remember him.

Hank walked out of that room and looked at me with a relieved expression on his face. He hurried Hank Hertz or Hugo Johnstone-Burtacross the long room, but stopped short of hugging me when he saw the blank look on my face.

“Pip… are you okay? You don’t look so good,” he said awkwardly.

I was saved from the need to make polite conversation by a commotion from the marshal’s room. “Badbird, badbird!” Cracker the parrot squawked, clearly agitated.

Veronica ran to the little room with Hank right on her heels, apologizing for leaving the patient unattended. “He’s a grown man and should know better,” the surgeon muttered.

From where I stood I could see the two of them catch an older man just before he fell to the floor. However, I couldn’t hear what they said to one another above the cacophonous ranting from Cracker.

the-chinese-parrot adBadbird, badbird!” the parrot chided the marshal.

“Stubborn old man…” Granny muttered from behind me.

I turned to look at my grandmother. She hadn’t had much to say, but she watched me like a hawk. It made me feel like she was waiting to see if I was going to sprout a tail or grow an extra nose. After an intent look she nodded, as if confirming something to herself.

“Feeling a little better now, Sweet-pea?” she asked and I nodded silently. “I’m sure your memory will come back. Are you certain there’s nothing else wrong? Not keeping anything from us are you?”

“No, Granny,” I said reassuringly. “My head still hurts, and I’m a little queasy. It seems like things are beginning to come to me quicker now. Most things anyway. I don’t remember anything about the marshal in there, except being afraid he might die,” I said waiving toward the little recovery room. “And I don’t remember anything at all about that sourpuss detective. And the younger one, Hank… I sort of remember him, but I feel like I’ve forgotten most of the things about him.”

Granny patted my hand and then gave it a little squeeze. “Don’t fret, Sweet-pea. You haven’t known Hank Hertz very long and the place where you met him was pretty traumatizing. Come to think of it, you might connect a lot of what you know of Dabney and Moses to things that are Strawberry girlupsetting or frightening — or both. Maybe that’s why you don’t remember them. I’ll discuss it with Veronica and see what she has to say.”

I nodded again and watched as Granny rinsed a bowl of rich red strawberries and dusted them with powdered sugar. She put them on a tray and headed toward the recovery room, motioning for me to go with her.

“We’d best let that stubborn old man see for himself that you’re unharmed. Else he’ll break his fool neck trying to get out of bed,” she told me with a small smile.

***

The red sunset gave way to a clear night. The moon was bright as we rolled Marshal Moses Myrick in a wheelchair from the laboratory/animal hospital building to the main house. The Vales would have several overnight guests, as both doctors insisted we all stay until morning. They wanted all their patients under one roof.Vales House

They still wanted to keep an eye on Hank, and he certainly wasn’t trusted to drive alone with his recent head wound. Veronica made him use the radio to let his parents know he was okay but would be staying there for the night. The marshal wouldn’t be up and about for quite some time to come. And everybody kept looking at me. It was getting annoying. “I’m fine,” I said repeatedly, but the evaluative looks continued.

Granny said that she left enough food for Cinnamon Bun, the Flemish Giant rabbit. So she Beatrix Potter-1accepted the invitation to stay. It had been a long and disturbing day, and no one wanted her to drive so late at night. Me? I didn’t seem to have any choice in the matter. I sat down with a cup of chicken broth and soon felt up to eating a little something. I succumbed to the temptation of the luscious strawberries.

When I heard an automobile outside I jumped half out of my skin. I supposed I was pretty upset by the whole ordeal. Vincent was almost at the door before the two sharp taps of the doorknocker banged against my still aching head. It was that detective. He carried a large parcel wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine. He placed it on a table.

“Miss Fanny, I stopped by your house after I finished working, just to make sure you and Pip were okay. When nobody was home, I figured you ladies decided to spend the night here. Then I saw this package on your front porch. I had to check on the marshal and Hank anyway — for my report,” he said casually, but I got the impression he was hedging something, and I saw Veronica smirk. “So I decided to bring the package with me,” he explained.

Granny smiled and assured the detective that all the patients were on the mend. I saw Veronica 1920s Arrow couplesmirk again. I wondered what that was about, but I didn’t ask.

“Don’t worry Dabney,” Granny Fanny told the detective with a pat on his arm. “Veronica says Paisley’s memory will come back. But between the bump on the head, whatever she was drugged with, and all the recent frightful events, it might take some time. Pip will surely remember you before long,” she added and raised her eyebrows in an encouraging expression.

“What? You don’t know me, Pip?” the detective turned to me and said in an astonished tone. “I knew you were acting odd, but I thought that was just from… from what had happened. You really don’t remember me?”

I reflexively drew back from his intensity. I swallowed hard. My eyes widened as I tried to think of what to say. Veronica tilted her head and pursed her lips as if she wasn’t sure what to make of the detective’s reaction. Vincent and Hank both seemed mildly puzzled, but Hank also looked a little hopeful for some strange reason.

“You knew me though, didn’t you Pip?” Hank asked standing straighter.

“Well… sort of,” I said. He seemed to deflate a little, so I hastened to add, “I remember you being a wiz with the radio.”

1920s trioWhen I said that he put his shoulders back. His eyebrows went up for a second when he looked at the detective. Once again, I wondered about expressions and body language of the people around me. Hank’s reaction seemed almost competitive, and I couldn’t imagine why.

Granny leaned over the large brown package. “Oh, it’s from Eunice’s Uniforms!” she exclaimed. “This should be the outfits Moses told me to get to cater that fancy reception,” she paused and saw that everyone was looking at her. “You know, the one where he was going to have the st…” she paused and looked sheepishly at Daniels. “It is okay to mention that in front of the Vales, isn’t it? And after being on the scene of the ambush, Hank should probably know too.”

The detective sighed. “Miss Fanny…,” he began. Daniels shook his head and looked at his highly polished Florsheim shoes, but then he spread his hands as if admitting defeat. “It’s of no consequence now. With the marshal out of commission, we’ll be calling it off,” he said.

Then he gave a brief if vague explanation of the planned sting operation. He didn’t name names or places, but he said it was meant to catch a bootlegger kingpin. 1920s Style Book

As he spoke I remembered standing outside the parlor in Granny’s cottage, with Cinnamon Bun beside me, as I listened to a conversation between my grandmother and an unseen man. I remembered feeling surprised and somewhat distrustful to realize that man apparently had known Granny for a long time, but I had heard nothing of him. Although I couldn’t put a face to the memory, I was sure that man was Moses Myrick.

Meanwhile, Granny unwrapped the package. She removed two 1920s womens pant suitwaiter’s uniforms. They were fancy all right, black pants with a black satin stripe down the sides, and white tuxedo jackets. Then she grinned like a ‘possum when she saw the next two uniforms. Each had a white tuxedo jacket, but they were longer and cut for a woman. The jackets were paired with very avant-garde black wide-legged cuffed trousers with a satin stripe, similar to stripe on the men’s pants.

I always thought there might be a bit of a flapper in Granny’s heart. I couldn’t stop grinning. Veronica, the very definition of a modern woman, clapped her hands in childlike delight when she saw the women’s uniforms. The men just looked confused.

“If I’m going to cater a shindig like that one, then Granny’s Goodies is going to have a distinctive and modern look,” she said with an emphatic nod of her head. She picked up the second woman’s uniform. “Come over here Pip and try this tuxedo jacket on for size,” she told me.

Joan Crawford Queen of ClubsAs Granny held out the white coat something fluttered to the floor. I stooped to pick it up but my hand froze before I even touched it. A jolt went up my arm when I looked at the rectangle of paper. Another playing card. It landed face down. One word was written across the back of the card. Beware!

The detective took out his handkerchief and carefully picked up the card. He held it up for everyone to see. It was the queen of clubs.

***

How It’s Made – Saltine Cracker

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BR7Lv7sXk4o

 

 

 

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 – 18: Fungus, Quiche, Quinoa

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

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

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

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

18.  Fungus, Quiche, Quinoa

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

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

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

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

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

“Fat hen!” he exclaimed.

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

“No,” Alastair said. “Goosefoot.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Others?” I asked groggily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Granny!” I cried incredulously.

***

Video:  Quinoa 101

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7uvygMiwfo

Photos are either from Pinterest or they have been purchased, 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.

Three Ingredients – 16: Pork, Braise, Fork

Parrots_Menu_Episode-16 copyHello everyone.  I hope you like the new look for Teagan’s Books.  I thought the new theme with the little houses and trees was a good fit for our 1920’s serial.  In a way it reminds me of my fictional town, Atonement, TN — so it will do for posts about my novel as well.

Secret of Old Clock coverEpisode-16 finds Pip waiting again.  However, our flapper never has an idle mind.  And Granny Fanny will make sure her hands aren’t idle either, in her determination to teach her granddaughter to cook.

Remember you can do catch-up reading on past episodes. Just click the “Three Ingredients” button at the top of the page.  Also — you’re driving!  So I hope you’ll send three food-related things to drive the story.

Bon appétit!

16.  Pork, Braise, Fork

The ticking of the clock had become my constant companion.  It seemed like ever since I came to Savannah half my days were spent waiting.  First Granny Fanny and I had waited, albeit briefly, before following Detective Dabney Daniels to the scene where Marshal Moses Myrick and his men had been ambushed.  Next we were on pins and needles until we learned whether the marshal would survive his wounds and the surgery.  Then I found myself in a holding pattern yet again.  That time the wait was again because of Dabney Daniels.

Detective Daniels left to join the rest of Savannah’s finest in a raid on Wetson’s Mill, where Moses Myrick thought the bootleggers were based.  Hank Hertz, the youngest policeman, made no secret of his annoyance at Hank Hertz or Hugo Johnstone-Burtbeing left behind.  However, he couldn’t hide the fact that he was still pretty dizzy from the bullet that had grazed his temple.  He also acted like he had a doozy of a headache.  Nonetheless he fiddled with the knobs and dials of the radio equipment as he expertly set up a base station.

I handed Hank a cup of coffee and a plate of biscuits with pork sausage patties.  He hungrily stuffed half of a biscuit into his mouth in one big bite.  Then I sat down to dig into some myself.  There was nothing like Granny’s biscuits!  The breakfast sausage was fried with a crisp outside and tender inside.  The biscuits were light and golden brown, and they melted in my mouth.

A groan from the open door where we had setup a hospital room for Marshal Myrick interrupted me.  Before I had time to turn around, I saw Granny coming with more medicine for the revenuer.  It was as if she knew about his pain even before he did; as if she had a nearly supernatural ability.  It was almost scary.  I glanced over at Hank for his reaction, but he hadn’t noticed.  He was still busy with the radio equipment, though biscuit crumbs dusted his chest.

1915 FantasioApparently Granny had some amount of medical training, somewhere along the line. However, she had never spoken of it in my presence.  It had been clear that she already knew how to administer the hypodermic needle even as Veronica Vale showed her.  However, Doctor Vale always drew the drug herself.  Apparently it was potent, dangerous stuff.

The down-side to the medication was that the marshal wasn’t coherent enough to advise the other policemen on the raid they were staging.  Through the open door I could hear the marshal talking, though none of it made any sense.  Veronica had said the drug would probably make him say crazy things.  Granny murmured soothing words that I couldn’t make out, but they seemed to settle the wounded man.  The parrot continued to sit vigil from her perch at the foot of the bed. I heard Cracker coo her usual comment, “Who’s your daddy?”

A few minutes later, Granny came out of the room with Cracker sitting on her shoulder.  I wondered how she had coaxed the parrot away from the marshal.  The bird had refused to leave the man’s side.  Then I noticed Granny hand her sunflower seeds.  In learning how to prepare za’atar, Granny had discovered sunflower seeds were Cracker’s favorite treat.

“Come on with me sweetheart, you need a proper breakfast.  And I know you’ll make too much of a mess if you eat it in a sick-room,” Granny told the parrot.1920s Peoples home journal girl parrot

Sweetheart?  It used to be nasty bird!  I was astonished at Granny’s 180 degree change of attitude toward the parrot.  I guessed they discovered a common bond in their mutual affection for Moses Myrick.  That was something else I had yet to pin down — my grandmother’s history with the revenuer.  Granny Fanny had a lot of explaining to do as I saw it.

“Pip, Sweet-pea,” she said to me.  “I’m sorry.  I know I said I would teach you to cook braised pork today, but circumstance has made a liar of me.  There isn’t time to work on anything like that today.  I hope you don’t mind.  You’ve been getting plenty of practice with doing things spontaneously and making do with what’s on hand in an unfamiliar kitchen, since all these awful events took place.  That’s valuable experience too.”

Did I mind?  I almost sputtered out a bite of biscuit, but I managed to control myself.  These cooking lessons had not been my idea.  I had been inclined to stay with my friend Mona until my Pops had sent me to Savannah with Granny.  Mona the Movie Star is what we called my friend.  The circus magnate, John Ringling had offered Mona a try-out and training as a trapeze performer.  We were both invited to stay at the Ringling mansion, Ca’ d’Zan.  That gilded mansion was the bee’s knees.  Ca’ d’Zan was the cat’s pajamas; the berries!  It was the most amazing, extraordinary place I had ever seen.

1920s Judge HourglassWhile I was enjoying my time with my grandmother more than I expected, I had not wanted to leave Sarasota, Florida.  There had been a lot of drama and trauma surrounding my beau, Frankie.  I needed to be near my friends. I needed their support to get over it.  And what flapper in her right mind would pass up a free stay at Ca’ d’Zan?  However, Pops didn’t share that feeling.

“It’s not really that difficult,” Granny was saying, and I brought my mind back to the present.  “It just takes a while to fix.  After braising the meat, you just insert a fork into pork. If the fork comes out easily the pork is done.  Then you can keep boiling down the braising liquid and it will cook down to a glaze.”

I nodded as if that made perfect sense to me.  I wasn’t sure of the concept of braising, let alone making a glaze.  “That’s okay, Granny,” I said in a consoling tone.

I schooled my expression to be one of self-sacrifice and disappointment.  When Granny Fanny raised one eyebrow at me, I knew she saw through me.  Luckily she didn’t get the chance to say anything.  She was interrupted when Cracker abruptly launched from her shoulder and glided down the long building.  One end of the structure was connected to the Vales’ house by a breezeway.  I heard the door open and the click of canine toenails on the tile floor.paris Poodle postcard

Excited yapping ensued.  I heard Vincent Vale trying to quiet the miniature poodle named Cotton.  Then Cracker flapped back to us with a small stuffed toy in her beak.  I recognized it for the dog’s toy.  The parrot flew low, getting the little poodle to chase her for the toy.  The two actually seemed to be enjoying themselves and I couldn’t help laughing.

Vincent darted to the sick-room and closed the door to make sure the antics of the dog and parrot didn’t disturb the patient.  Cotton proved that she could pounce high enough to grab the toy.  She shook her head with the toy in her mouth.  With her beak free, the parrot chirped, “Clever girl!” apparently encouraging the poodle.

Cotton dropped the toy and set after the bird when Cracker made another pass.  The parrot led the poodle all around the room.  As the dog barked, the parrot squawked “Clever girl,” which got the poodle more enthusiastic by the minute.

Then the dog jumped onto the table where Hank laboriously set up the radio station.  Cotton careened into and over the equipment.  I heard Veronica’s voice in the distance and then she whistled for the dog.  Cotton apparently recognized discretion as the better part of valor and ran toward her mistress’s voice.

Hank was beside himself.  Static emanated from the radio.  All the effort he put into setting all the knobs and dials just so was probably wasted.  At least nothing was broken… except the plate of sausage and biscuits that he 1920 Radio Newswas eating.  Hank bent to pick up the mess, shaking his head.  I noticed Cracker in the corner with one of Hank’s biscuits in her foot as she held it and broke off little bites.  So I diverted attention away from her.  There was no point adding insult to injury on Hank.  But the silly bird dropped her prize and swooped back to the radio table.

The parrot cocked her head at the radio and the noise and whistled.  “Who’s your daddy?” she said with what was actually a questioning tone.  Then she bobbed her head excitedly.  “Fourandtwenty! Fourandtwenty!”

There was that phrase again.  Granny and I exchanged a look.  She put out her hand when Hank made to shoo the bird away from the equipment.  Hank was a quick study and seemed to realize there was more to the situation than he knew.

A voice came clearly amid the static on the radio.  Cracker must have heard it when we were all too preoccupied with show she and the dog had provided.  Granny handed her a sunflower seed with an expectant look on her face.  “Now sweetie, ‘four and twenty’ what’s that about?” she coaxed the bird.  “What else can you say?”

“Fourandtwenty,” Cracker repeated bobbing her head.

Granny handed her another sunflower seed.  “Clever bird.  What else can you say?” she encouraged.

For a second I thought I heard a loud burst of static from the radio. Then I realized it was laughter.  “Yeah, we were long gone before they ever got to the mill,” I heard the voice say clearly.1920 Home Journal Parrot

The word “mill” got our attention.  Mill as in Wetson’s Mill, where Dabney and the other policemen had gone to raid the bootleggers?  Everyone else turned in surprise toward the sound of the voice.  Everyone that is, except Granny Fanny.  She barely spared us a glance. She was intently focused on Cracker.  Granny nodded to the parrot and repeated, “Four and twenty?”  Then she gave her another seed.

Jokerswild,” the parrot said and shook her foot.  Somehow the motion seemed disdainful, though I couldn’t say why.

“Eight and five,” the voice from the radio began.  At first that puzzled me.  Suddenly I remembered Moses Myrick had said the gang had code names based on playing cards.  Then I realized the numbers were being used as names.  Not eight and five, but Eight and Five.  “Pick up the Bishop and Nine,” the voice said in a commanding tone.

A different voice replied.  There was more static and we couldn’t make out the words.  Hank Hertz frantically fiddled with the radio.  “Queen said—… for the shindig— … back to town.  … Couldn’t stop her—” the new voice said between bursts of static.

Hank gave another dial a twist, holding his breath.

Joan Crawford Queen of Clubs“Look we’re doing the best we can!” the second voice complained, and it came through pretty clearly.  “We’ll hear their radio if anything changes.  Queenie Wetson’ll kill us if we don’t do what she says.  The King ain’t no more scary than the Queen!”

“Just do it, or the King will have your heads,” the first voice threatened.  “Get over here now.”

I gasped.  “So the gangsters have been listening to the police on the radio?”

“I’ve got to tell them!” Hank said, meaning his fellow officers, and he reached toward the equipment.

“No!” I cried.  “We can’t let them know, that we know, that they know…” at that point I got tongue-tied with all the they knows and we knows, so I stopped and stretched my hands out as if to stop the young copper.

Then the first voice repeated, “Just do it.  Go to the King’s.  Now!”

Cracker whistled excitedly, “Kinghenry!  Fourandtwenty! Kinghenry!”

***

Video

Mexican pulled Pork (Carnitas)

(Video credit America’s Test Kitchen)

***

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.