Bonus Story: Kitchen Interlude

on April 6, 2008 in Other Tales

Amidst all the ongoing drama, a quiet moment with two friends.

In the girls’ lounge on the fifth floor of Harlowe Hall, Hazel the gnome sat on the end of the table that had been pushed against the wall. Spread out before her was a large metal mixing bowl, a saucepan full of berries, a bowl of custard, and several packages of ready-made ladyfingers. Under her instructions, the golem Two was using the spongy pastries to line the bottom of the steep-sided metal bowl.

“Now we pour in the custard,” Hazel said. Two reached for the bowl of custard, but Hazel held up a hand to stop her. “Wait… raspberries first. I forgot we’re making this upside-down. Biscuits, raspberry, custard, biscuits.”

“Okay,” Two said. She picked up the pot with the stewed raspberries in and started ladling them over the cake.

“Not too much, there,” Hazel said. “Just enough to cover the biscuits. Spoon up some of the syrup, though. It’s got to soak in.”

“Hazel, why did we put raw berries in with the ones that we cooked?” Two asked.

“Well, for consistency, love,” Hazel said. “Now the custard.”

“That doesn’t seem very consistent,” Two said, adding the custard.

“Now we put in another layer of biscuits,” Hazel said.

“It isn’t smooth,” Two said, reaching for a rubber scraper.

“Doesn’t matter,” Hazel said. “We smush it all flat, anyway.”

“I want to make it smooth,” Two said.

“Suit your self,” Hazel said, and Two meticulously scraped the surface of the custard until it was flat and even. “Right, now we lay in more biscuits.”

“Why do you call them biscuits?” Two asked as they pressed more of the ladyfingers down onto the surface of the custard.

“Well, because that’s what they are, love,” Hazel said.

“No,” Two said, shaking her head. “I think you’re mistaken.”

“I’m not,” Hazel said. “It’s just a language thing. You’d call them cookies, I think.”

“I’d call them cakes,” Two said. “Because that’s what they are.”

“Look, love, friends should never quarrel over trifles,” Hazel said. She looked at the layered ladyfingers. “Smooth enough for you?”

Two nodded.

“Let’s scoop up some more of those raspberries, then,” Hazel said. “Raspberries. Just like in that song I taught you, right?”

“Hazel, I’ve been thinking about that song,” Two said.


“I don’t think alligators eat raspberries,” Two said as she spooned the raspberries and their juices over the trifle.

“Well, it’s a bit of a joke, you know?” Hazel said.

“No,” Two said.

“Because they don’t eat raspberries,” Hazel explained. “That’s what makes it funny. Do you see?”

“No,” Two said. “My friend Dee doesn’t eat bread. I don’t think it would be funny if we gave her some.”

“No, I guess it wouldn’t,” Hazel said. “Come on, though. We’ve got to get this done up so it has time to set, and then get started on the rest. Think you’ve got this down?”

“Yes,” Two said.

“Then you can finish it up while I get started on the next,” Hazel said.

“Okay,” Two said, and she efficiently spread custard smoothly over the raspberries and then added more ladyfingers, humming the song about the alligator while she worked.

Meanwhile, Hazel pushed a chair over to the oven and began heating up some ground beef in a pan. There was a plate of fine-chopped cabbage and diced onion next to it, along with a hand-written sheet of instructions which Hazel peered at, mumbling to herself as she deciphered the loose, loopy scrawl.

“I guess they don’t do penmanship at dwarf school,” she said. “Or they do it with pickaxes, or something.”

“All done, Hazel!” Two announced, beaming proudly.

“You finish off with a layer of biscuits?” Hazel asked.

“No,” Two said. “I finished off with a layer of cakes.”

“Well, whatever you call them, double it up,” Hazel said. “That’s the bottom layer.”

“Okay,” Two said, and she added more ladyfingers.

“Then put the plate on,” Hazel said. “Weigh it down good, and put it away for now.”

“Okay,” Two said.

While Two put the finished trifle in the fridge, Hazel gave the pan a shake, tossing the browning meat around. She tipped the contents of the plate into the cooking meat.

“I think this might be a bit more onion than is called for, but that’s fine. This is probably more vegetables than they’ll eat in a month, otherwise. I asked Andy, don’t they eat any vegetables and he asked me if chicken counted,” Hazel said. “Chicken!”

“Chicken isn’t a vegetable,” Two said.

“Oh, I know, right?” Hazel said. “And those so-called ‘kitchens’ they have down there are a mess, though I don’t think anybody’s used them in years. It’s too bad, too. Everything would be closer to my size.” She sighed. “Be a dear and check on the dough?”

“Okay,” Two said. She reached up on top of the fridge and pulled down a large bowl covered with a towel. She lifted it down and peeked under the cover. “It looks okay.”

“Put it on the table and start rolling it out,” Hazel said, stirring the meat around. “I think we’ll be ready soon.”

Two took a portion of the dough and put it on a floured cutting board, using Hazel’s rolling pin to flatten it. She cut off squares of it and laid them out on a baking sheet.

When Hazel judged the meat and cabbage were sufficiently cooked, she enlisted Two’s help in transferring it to a potholder on the table. They then began scooping the meat filling into the centers of the dough squares, then folding the corners over and pinching them shut.

“Will you teach me another song?” Two asked as they began to flip the sealed meat rolls over.

“Sure,” Hazel said. “Well… let’s see.” She covered her mouth and cleared her throat, and then hummed a note, and then another one. “Not it,” she said. “Hang about.” She hummed again. “I think that’s as close as we’re going to get.” She repeated the note and began to sing. “An old man came courting me, hey ding doorum dow…”

“What’s that mean?” Two asked.

“It’s just nonsense words, to fill out the line,” Hazel said. “To make it smooth and even.”

“Oh,” Two said. “Go on.”

“An old man came courting me, me being young. An old man came courting me, fain would he marry me. Maids, when you’re young never wed an old man,” Hazel sang. “Then comes the chorus.” She took a breath. “Because he’s got no faloorum, fi-diddle-aye oorum. He’s got no faloorum, fi-diddle-aye day. He’s got no faloorum, he’s lost his ding-doorum…”

“More nonsense words?” Two asked.

“Well, no, it means… you know, come to think of it, maybe this isn’t the best song to teach you,” Hazel said.

“It’s about penises, isn’t it?” Two said.

“Yes,” she said. “Yes, it is. How about a different song?”

“Okay,” Two said. “I would like that.”

“I’ll tell me ma when I get home the boys won’t leave the girls alone, they pull me hair and stole me comb, but that’s alright till I go home,” Hazel sang.

“Why is it alright?” Two asked.

“Are you going to keep interrupting me every time I try to sing?” Hazel asked.

“None of your songs make any sense.”

“Well, they don’t have to,” she said. “They’re songs, not term papers. Come on, let’s pop this bunch into the oven and I’ll teach you the rest of the song while we get the next bunch ready.”

“Okay,” Two said, and she carried the tray over to the oven and put it in. “Hazel?” she said as she turned back.

“Yes, love?”

“Thank you for helping me with my homework,” she said.

“Oh, no problem,” Hazel said. “Thank you for helping me make these damnable things for Andy and his friends. I hope they turn out edible, anyway. Closest thing I’ve ever made to one is a meat pie.”

“Meat in a pie?” Two asked, crinkling her nose.

“Well, why not?”

“Pies are for dessert,” she said. “You don’t eat meat for dessert.”

“I think Andy might,” Hazel said. “Yeah, if it’s a tart or fruit pie or something, but you can bake just about anything in a pie. We’ll have to make kidney pie some night.”

“Are you going to marry Andy?” Two asked.

Hazel stared at her.

“Marry him?” she asked. “What put that idea in your head?”

“You like him,” Two said.

“I fancy him a bit, yeah,” Hazel said. “But I’ve only just met him. Anyway, I can’t imagine what my dad would say, if I married a dwarf.” She sighed. “If he even noticed. What’s this talk about marriage about, anyway?”

“I don’t like it,” Two said. “I do not approve.”

Hazel laughed.

“You’re a stern one, aren’t you?” she said. “Don’t worry. Even if I did get married, someday, to someone, I won’t forget about you. You’ll get an invite, even. Promise.”

“Okay,” Two said. “Will you finish the song?”

“Oh, right,” Hazel said. “Hmm… best to begin at the beginning. It takes a bit of momentum.

“I’ll tell me ma when I get home, the boys won’t leave the girls alone. They pull me hair and stole me comb, but that’s alright till I go home. She is handsome, she is pretty, she’s the belle of our fair city. She’s a courtin’, one, two, three. Please, won’t you tell me who is she…”

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5 Responses to “Bonus Story: Kitchen Interlude”

  1. Jaymie says:

    ROFL! The Rankins! Oh, that’s brilliant. xD You’re a genius. For much more than just including that song, but still.

    Current score: 0
  2. Kitten says:

    “I don’t think alligators eat raspberries,” Two said – I have to ask, because I know of no other song involving alligators and raspberries… You’re referring to Alligator In The House, by S.J. tucker, aren’t you? Because if you are, then I am GLEEFUL TO THE EXTREME. GLEEEEEEEEFUL. Not that the rest of the reading up to this point has not made me a very very happy girl, but that is simply icing to the cake.

    Current score: 0
  3. pedestrian says:

    “quarrel over trifles”


    AlexandraErin, you are a very punny author.

    Current score: 1
  4. Jechtael says:

    With no explanation what was going on beyond the layers of custard, raspberries, and ladyfingers before the ground beef and poor penmanship were mentioned, I expected this to be about a traditional Shirish trifle. You know, a layer of ladyfingers, custard from scratch, raspberries, another layer of ladyfingers, beef sautéed with peas and onions…

    Current score: 0
  5. Kalamorda says:

    Now I’m hungry and want some home made cabbage pockets…..

    Current score: 0