Chef Tom Dishes Up Mediterranean Chicken and 3 (Very) Short Stories

A Reminder: These short stories are from a writing program called Round Robin. Write something every day, set the timer for 12 minutes, the title of each piece is the daily prompt. Once the alarm goes off, stop writing.

Fancy Sandwiches

Formal house

Dime on the dollar. That’s what was left after her husband passed. Clara Lee Pricey is a proud woman. She’s so lovely sittin’ there in that high back chair with her hands in her lap just so and her thin-lady legs crossed at the ankles. She has all the poise and posture of a fashion model, yessir. That twenty-dollar dress looks like two-hunnert the way she wears it

Old Hestor Pricey gambled away all they owned, including that big old house with the wrap-around porch up on Beemers Hill. Nothing left, poor thing. After his debts was paid by sellin’ the house and most everythin’ they owned, he still owed the government and they just took his pension. Took it right away. Then, as if matters could get any worst, his million-dollar life insurance went bye-bye just as easy because old Sheriff Todd had to pull him outta the river in his car that he’d filled up with big rocks from their garden. Said is was suicide and the missus got nothin.’

Well, not nuthin.’ She got a dime on the dollar after all was through. Moved into this tiny place. But you know what? She brought all her good taste, good manners, and all the polite company she had with her when she came. She was famous across the county for her big tea parties with them fancy sandwiches and them canapes. Can’t afford them big to-do’s no more. But she still invites ladies from the neighborhood over for tea. The sandwiches are simple, but they tasty. The tea’s good, too, if you drink tea. But she puts on the best show she can with what she has left.

Lucky thing she charmed old Pastor Paul into giving her a call whenever one of them big estates upriver gets rid of stuff to the St. Vincent’s. He calls her when anything fancy comes in and she gets the finest she can afford. Her little home is the cleanest and sparkliest and most put together that I’ve ever seen. No dust, no cobwebs, nuthin.’ Furniture set up just so. Clever and interestin’ knickknacks. That big dining room table is set up with all kinds of glasses and plates and silver, all formal-like. She don’t use it but it’ll be ready whenever the occasion arises.

Bless her heart.

“More tea, Ms. Grace?”

“Why yes, Ms. Pricey. Thank you ever so.” (was that too much?)

“Please. Help yourself to a sandwich and a canape. It’s truly delightful to have you here.”

“Why thank you, Ms. Pricey. I do so appreciate it. M-m-m-m. These are sum delicious!” (ooooh….too country!) 

Sterling Flask

Ice

Paula caught herself in the mirror behind the bartender. She could see the red on her cheek where Chloe slapped her for the last time. After one smack too many, Paula swung right in a strong roundhouse and clocked the girl, connecting fist to mouth, knocking her backward onto the couch. She didn’t get up. Paula gathered her purse, her keys, and her dignity and slammed the door behind her.

She put her hand to her cheek and felt the heat. She noticed the skin on her right knuckle was torn and had bled a bit where she’d cut herself on Chloe’s tooth.

She won’t hit me again.

Punch.

Startled at her mind being read, she glanced quickly at the bartender who was offering her a crystal cup full of drink.

Paula looked down at the cut crystal punch bowl, at the beautifully clear ice ring full of tiny purple and white orchids floating in the golden liquid.

It’s Ms. Robert’s favorite drink. A gin Gimlet with lemon and lime and elderflower liqueur.

Thank you. Sounds delicious.

The need to self-medicate was strong. Paula took the cup from the young man and walked across the drawing room to a low mantle. Placing the cup on the ledge, she reached into the inside pocket of her lavender suit and took out the sterling flask she’d picked up at Les Puce antique market in Paris last summer. Chloe had playfully haggled with her over the price and they’d hit it off.

Found out early on the girl was insanely jealous. Started off with passionate yelling and way too quickly escalated to Chloe smacking her across the face or knocking her in the head.

You love it, don’t you.

Ms. Roberts stood close enough to Paula she could feel the heat of her body. Paula turned and kissed her full on the mouth.

Darling, what happened to your face?

 

Swamp

Swamp

(I hate this place. Like trying to breathe under water. Dirty water. It’s even thick. And wet. And sticky. And fucking hot. I know, I’m a California wimp and I appreciate the long, sordid history of the Louisiana Bayou, but geez frickin’ Louise, this is what they mean by oppressive. I hate this place.)

Yawannanotha beer?

Yes, please. Can you bring me one that’s frozen so I can hold it against my neck?

City boy.

This is awful, Jimmie. I knew it’d be hot, but hot like a sauna and a steam bath? I’m drenched and feelin’ mighty cranky, son.

Sun’s going down. The cicadas will start singin’ soon. Wait ‘til you hear that. Like a racket you ain’t never hear before. Sometimes I gotta dang near yell, just to hear myself. And twilight is when the gators pay a visit.

Gators?

Yessir. They like to come right up to the porch to see what’s goin’ on. Right close. Sometimes they crawl on out but not very often. They like the cool of the water. But I wanna show you sumthin’ you ain’t never seen.

Well, I can say that it does look like the brochures. All the Spanish moss, the thick tangle of trees, and kudzu vines. But I can tell you what it brings to mind for me. Vampires, voodoo, and zombies. Why do they always have to be vampires and zombies traipsin’ through the swamp? As if it weren’t already creepy enough. Like they’re lookin’ at us from the trees and waiting ‘til it gets real dark.

Nah. None of that. None of that voodoo scary shit. Not up here. Worse thing’s gonna happen is ya might get lost in the swamp, like on an airboat. Lots of tourists have rented themselves an airboat, took off to go explorin’ and find themselves in a hot maze where every turn looks like that last one.

Lookie’ there!

Jimmie walks over to the porch railing and clicks on the flashlight, slowly scanning the top of the water. Suddenly the light stops. There in the beam, like a stray cat, are two glowing eyes, just above the surface, looking at us. Looking at ME! I know what he’s thinkin’, “OK, that looks like a mighty tasty midnight snack. Gonna get me some of that.”

I am NOT sleepin’ tonight. No sir.

=====

Mediterranean Chicken

Mediterranean Chicken

Serves 4, twice

Ingredients:
8 bone in, skin on chicken thighs

4 teaspoons olive oil

2 small onion finely diced

4 cloves garlic minced

1 cup roasted peppers roughly chopped (can use red, yellow or orange peppers)

1 1/2 cups pitted green olives, halved

1 teaspoon dried Italian Seasoning

2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed (15 ounce)

1 can quartered artichoke hearts in water, drained

6 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped

kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet or pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.

Season the chicken generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in the pan and cook for 4 to 6 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove the chicken from the pan.

Drain off excess fat leaving about 1 teaspoon in the pan. Add the onion, cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for one minute more.

Add the Italian Seasoning, roasted peppers, olives and chickpeas to the pan. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the chicken on top of the veggie mixture; add chicken broth.

Bring everything to a boil, cover the pot with a lid and place into the oven. Bake for 35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle with parsley, then serve.

=CTH=

Chef Tom is currently transitioning from Personal Chef to Private Chef. He also teaches cooking classes, caters small parties and leads overseas culinary tours. His specialty for the last twelve years has been cooking for people with food allergies and sensitivities. His motto is “Food should give you pleasure, not pressure.”

Check him out at www.hippkitchen.com

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