Another delightful installment from the joint collaboration with writer/author extraordinaire Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, we planned this post to occur in March, Women’s History Month, we’ve come a long way baby and every month, week and day should celebrate women and their/our contribution to society, this country, our families and communities. I am woman hear me roar, well that is a little cliché I know but we are empowered and accomplished and strong and proud of how far we have come, it amazes me that at one time women didn’t even have the right to vote and in some countries women are still considered objects of disdain, almost subhuman and of less importance than their male counterparts.
I also am including a recipe that I posted years ago for a spring turnip soup, you may turn up your nose when you read turnips but honestly this soup is delicious, I use Hakurai turnips which appear late winter and early spring at the local green markets. They are crisp and sweet and mild and make an outstanding soup. The soup is topped with some crumbled bacon and the turnip greens which are sauteéd in the bacon fat. For vegan and vegetarian option all you do is eliminate the bacon and use vegetable broth or water. For vegan option of course you would not use the cream but you can sub a non dairy option of your choice.
Take it away Teagan…
Granny Phanny and the Giant Rabbit
Hi, Suzanne. I’m delighted to be back in your kitchen! Hello everyone, it’s great to see you.
When I asked Suzanne for an ingredient to use in a story for this collaborative post, right away she said turnips. Every time I hear that word I think of the “Cinnamon Bun” character from my serial, Murder at the Bijou, Three Ingredients-1. That’s a 1920s culinary mystery, which is in the works to be “book-ized” this spring.
Many of you are familiar with my flapper character, Pip. This time the story is told from the point of view of Pip’s grandmother, Phanny Irene Peabody. I thought that was appropriate since March is Women’s History Month. Granny lived during the height of the suffragette era, and she was a woman to speak her mind. It’s also something of a back-story for Cinnamon Bun. I hope you enjoy the story as much as Suzanne’s recipe! Although that’s a lot for me to live up to…
Granny Phanny and the Giant Rabbit
“The only true woman is a pious, submissive wife and mother, concerned exclusively with home and family!”
Even more irksome than the words themselves was the fact that they were uttered by a woman. I was glad that I had already left the building. Otherwise I might have lost my temper. What business did anyone with that opinion have at a women’s meeting in the first place?
In 1920, Georgia was the first state to “reject” the Nineteenth Amendment, which assured women the right to vote. It was two years later before women actually got to vote in my home state. Long after that, we were still suffragettes, working for equal rights. We still wore suffragette white to our meetings.
That intolerable statement was immediately followed by the resounding crack of a slap across the speaker’s face. I cringed, knowing full well who had likely delivered the smack. I turned on my heel and hurried back inside. Veronica Vale was no meek little lamb. She was a force of nature when her righteous wrath was incurred. I tried to make my way through the pandemonium to my friend.
By the time I got to Veronica, I could hear police sirens. A quick look around told me several attendees had slipped quietly away, including the woman who spoke the words that started the trouble.
“It was all planned,” I muttered. “That bunch wanted to make trouble from the minute they asked to join.”
Not much later a handful of us — enough to make an example, but not so many as to cause the coppers much trouble — were hauled down to the police station. A group of men stood laughing and cat calling while we were hustled outside. My cheeks heated in a blush.
Detective Dabney Daniels of the Savannah Police got a tip that something was going to happen. By the time the paddy wagon reached the station, he was already diffusing the situation.
“Miss Phanny,” he began with a smirk and a shake of his head. “I wish I could say I was surprised to see you,” he told me before turning to Veronica Vale. “Mrs. Vale your husband is already here. You’ll be released into his custody.”
I knew that “custody” statement wouldn’t sit well with Veronica. She was a doctor and a scientist, not some man’s property. No matter how good the man. For years Veronica Vale had worked at a hospital in England called Clapham Common. It had an all-female staff. She retired and returned to Savannah. Then she met the widowed Vincent and partnered with him in his veterinary practice.
Before she could complain, I blurted out my puzzlement. “Dabney, how could you know…?”
“I’d like to claim powers as a mentalist, Miss Phanny. However, Dr. Vale had just arrived to pick up someone else,” the handsome detective explained as chaos erupted elsewhere in the station.
Detective Daniels quickly excused himself and walked toward the sounds of people shouting.
Veronica gave a downright evil chuckle. I looked a question at her and she laughed out loud at the expression on my face.
“Phanny Irene Peabody,” she said. “You are indeed a Pip. I suppose you’ve never noticed the way that young man looks at you. He probably doesn’t care a whit for the turnips you’re always giving him, or the meals he gets in return for fixing one thing and another at your cottage. Tsk-tsk. Phanny, that young copper is smitten with you.”
“Veronica, don’t be ridiculous. You couldn’t be more wrong. Dabney is just a goodhearted young man,” I told my friend most emphatically.
Another crashing sound and men shouting prevented her from talking more of that nonsense. How absurd. I was old enough to be that boy’s mother. We might enjoy one another’s company, but there was nothing more to it.
“Hi, Honey. Are you hurt?” Vincent Vale asked his wife as he skidded to a stop. As Veronica shook her head he turned to me. “Mrs. Peabody, are you well?” he greeted me politely.
Veronica assured her husband that neither of us had come to any harm. I noticed Vincent held some kind of harness. There was more shouting, and then the veterinarian pelted away toward the commotion.
A moment later we heard Vincent shout. “Got ‘em!”
However there was another crash. I heard dull thumping noises. The sound was quite rhythmic, and coming closer. Veronica and I exchanged puzzled looks.
I stuck my head around the corner and gasped loudly.
“I must be seeing things. Else I’m just plain zozzled,” I murmured.
Veronica craned her neck to see what had stunned me.
“Well horsefeathers! In all my born days…” she began. “A Flemish Giant.”
“Flemish? Bushwa!” I exclaimed. “You’re hallucinating too,” I mumbled. “Somebody spiked our tea a little too much at the women’s meeting. Or else I’m looking at a cinnamon colored rabbit that’s three feet tall, sitting on his haunches.”
I crouched down, befuddled. The big bunny hopped over to me and nuzzled my hand. I scratched between his impossibly long ears. I helped hold the big bun still as Vincent got the harness around him.
“This big ole boy decimated Godfrey Gilley’s garden. Dug up every turnip he had,” Vincent commented. “When the big bun headed toward his grocery store, Godfrey was so upset that he called the police saying there was a bear in his yard!” the veterinarian laughed. “Trouble is, I’m not sure what we can do with him. We’ve taken on so many animals lately,” Vincent admitted, but cast a pleading look at his wife, who gave a resigned sigh.
My face ended up against the giant rabbit’s soft hair as Vincent adjusted the harness. I found that I didn’t want to move. My fingers sank into the plush fur.
“I’ll take him,” I spoke up, and questioned my own sobriety again. “Oh good lord, but I need a hutch for him.”
I hadn’t noticed that Detective Dabney Daniels was standing beside us.
“Don’t worry, Miss Phanny. I can take care of a rabbit hutch in a jiffy,” Dabney said. “Even one big enough for this miscreant,” he added with a grin.
Veronica elbowed me sharply in the ribs. She gave me an I told you so look and winked.
“He’s sweet on you,” she whispered into my ear. “So what if he’s younger. He’s a damn fine figure of a man!”
“Absolutely no!” I told her so fiercely that everyone looked askance.
Fortunately I was spared from an explanation because of Veronica’s loud bark of laughter.
The Vales offered to drive me home. I got into the automobile with Vincent and Veronica, and of course the rabbit. Dabney bent down and promised to come by to start on the rabbit hutch that evening. Veronica wriggled her eyebrows at me. I gave her a withering look, then turned and smiled at the detective as I thanked him.
“What was all that about?” Vincent wanted to know as we drove away.
Veronica had no inhibitions about sharing her embarrassing speculations to her husband, despite my denial.
“It simply will not do!” I told her, my patience close to its end.
“She means that dear,” Vincent said. “You might want to leave it alone before your sense of fun hurts your friendship.”
“You’re right,” she agreed with a sigh. “I’m sorry Phanny. I just want to see you happy.”
“I am perfectly happy as I am. Besides, I told you that my granddaughter, Pip, is coming to live with me. I’ll have my hands full, teaching her to cook,” I reminded my friends. “I can’t wait for you to meet her.”
Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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Creamy Spring Turnip Soup With Wilted Greens And Bacon
(Bacon is optional for my vegetarian friends)
Serves 4-6 depending on serving size
4 heaping cups turnips peeled and quartered (Use the small spring turnips if possible)
1 potato peeled and quartered (I used Yukon Gold and it’s Optional to use a potato)
2 cups leeks (cleaned well and sliced) or use a medium size onion or 2 shallots
4 1/2 cups broth (chicken, vegetable or water)
2 tbs butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg (optional)
4-6 slices bacon
Turnip greens cleaned VERY well
In heavy sauce pan heat a little olive oil, add the leeks or onion or shalot and sweat, cook just until tender don’t brown. Add the turnips and potato, now add the liquid (broth or water). Cover and cook until the turnip and potato are tender. Let cool for about 30 minutes and blend either in your blender or use the immersion blender. Note: If using an immersion blender remove some of the liquid you don’t want the soup too thin, you can always add it back in. Add the butter and cream and season with salt and pepper and nutmeg.
Fry the bacon until crisp, remove from the fry pan and add the greens to the bacon fat, season with salt and peppper and saute until the greens are tender and wilted.
To Serve: Garnish the soup with the wilted greens and crumbled bacon.