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Deal 1005: Stewed Birds and Open Fire

You always want to begin with a clean workspace and a stable source of heat. If burning wood, you will need a heavy cast iron pot to spread the heat from the fire to all sides, and hold it hot as the fire burns down. You won’t need to put the pot directly in the fire, balanced at one edge is often preferred because it can be turned occasionally, or moved closer and further as wood is added and consumed.

If potatoes are handy, tuck a few at the edge of the fire, in the ashes so they don’t burn. Turn occasionally and let them roast for a while before adding them to the pot near the end.

Butter and herbs will form the base. Other fats may be used, of course. Use what is at hand as long as it isn’t rancid. Rub the bird in salt and pepper too, and brown it in the hot fat before adding anything else. If the goal is a stew and time is not on your side, you can always break the bird down into pieces that will cook quicker and render more flavor into the broth.

Of course you can even spatchcock it if you’re feeling fancy. No one really enjoys picking around the backbone anyway.

Chop a few roots, rinse ashes off your potatoes and break them into chunks, and add to the pot along with more salt and pepper and some water. If some beer is at hand that won’t be missed immediately, add it in place of half the water or so. It will cook down and make a richer broth.

If you have time to simmer them until cooked, you can always drop chunks of biscuit dough into the top of the pot. Little fluffy bombs of bread will steam in the broth in no time at all.

To serve, all you need is enough large bowls and an appetite.

More of that beer you raided for the broth would probably go well too.

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Deal 949: Spots

The lights went down, and the audience held their breath for a moment. When the single pin spot appeared picking out a man standing alone on the dark stage, they applauded.

He was dressed conservatively in greys, with a splash of bright color at one lapel. He wore a bowler in dove grey with a narrow brim, and a single bright feather tucked in the band, which he removed with a flourish. Reaching into the hat, he became very puzzled, and reached further. This continued until his entire right arm was inside the hat. Then he found what he was reaching for, and withdrew the arm to reveal a bouquet of flowers.

A second pin spot appeared, illuminating a side table holding a vase. He walked over and placed the flowers inside, leaving the center spot empty. The flowers in the vase were a completely different color and variety, which didn’t seem to be noticed.

He stepped back into the center spot and tossed his hat off to the side. A third spot lit up on a hat stand just before the hat landed neatly on its top peg.

There was a loud squawk from the hat when it landed.

He ran over to the hat stand, reached under the hat and produced a large green parrot, which looked to be larger than the hat. He moved the hat to a lower peg and set the parrot down on the peg vacated by the hat. Now there was a noise from the vase.

He ran across to the vase, and found that the flowers were missing and in their place stood a very large bullfrog, croaking.

Hypnotizing the frog, he picked up a large cloth from the table, and draped it over the whole table, frog and all.

The parrot squawked. The lights flashed. The frog croaked again.

The draped table began to move, unfolding and lifting, until the drape was just barely off the floor.

The parrot squawked.

The drape dropped. In the place of the table, frog, and flowers stood a beautiful girl holding a single bloom.

As she took a bow, the audience realized that there was nothing else on the stage, and only a single pin spot lit the darkness.

The spot went out.

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Deal 941: Boom said the puppet.

Puppet boy has a problem.

Aside from being a puppet, that is. And aside from wanting to become a real boy. Those problems are normal for all puppet boys. Puppet boy has a problem that is his alone.

He’s nothing too exciting to look at, being about three feet tall, and being of the puppet persuasion. He’s usually dressed for a formal occasion, in a dapper black evening coat and tails. His current paint job has made him a red-head, but he’s considering a change.

Like all puppets (except for Mister Punch) he’s smarter than he looks. He does require a puppeteer to move him about, but even when left in a tumbled pile in the corner, he’s seeing all that goes on and stewing about it.

And this puppet has seen a lot.

It has changed him to his core. He’s no longer the happy scamp he’s painted to be. He’s hiding something.

He’s hiding a bomb.

And it is time for it to go off.