Banoffee Pie

Below is an article about the English dessert known as Banoffee Pie

BANOFFEE PIE

While watching an episode of the British television series, “THE SUPERSIZERS . . .”, one particular dish caught my attention for the first time – namely a dish called Banoffee Pie. The latter is a dessert pie made from bananas, cream and toffee from boiled condensed milk. The mixture is placed on either on a pastry base or one made from crumbled biscuits and butter. Some versions of the recipe also include chocolate, coffee or both. The name of the dessert is a construct from the words “banana” and “toffee” and is spelled “banofee”.

The creation of Banoffee Pie is credited to Nigel Mackenzie (who passed away last year), owner of The Hungry Monk Restaurant in Jevington, East Sussex and the restaurant’s chef, Ian Dowding. The pair claimed to have created the dish in 1971 or 1972 by changing an American recipe for “Blum’s Coffee Toffee Pie”. They created a soft toffee by boiling an unopened can of condensed milk for several hours. After trying other changes that included the addition of apple or mandarin orange, Mackenzie suggested they use banana and eventually, both realized they had made their dessert.

The dessert proved to be so popular with The Hungry Monk’s customers that Mackenzie and Dowding never took it off the restaurant’s menu. Mackenzie and Dowding’s recipe was published in their 1974 cookbook, “The Deeper Secrets of the Hungry Monk” and reprinted in their 1997 cookbook, “In Heaven with The Hungry Monk”. Dowding has claimed that his “pet hates are biscuit crumb bases and that horrible cream in aerosols”. The dessert was Margaret Thatcher’s favorite dish to cook. The recipe for Banoffee Pie was adopted by many other restaurants throughout the world. In 1984, a number of supermarkets began selling it as an American pie, leading Mackenzie to offer a £10,000 prize to anyone who could disprove their claim to be the English inventors.

Below is a recipe for Banoffee Pie from the Epicurious website:

Banoffee Pie

Ingredients

2 cups canned sweetened condensed milk (21 ounces)
1 (9-inch) round of refrigerated pie dough (from 15-ounce package)
3 large bananas
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
Special equipment: a 9-inch pie plate (preferably deep dish)

Preparation

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.

Pour condensed milk into pie plate and stir in a generous pinch of salt. Cover pie plate with foil and crimp foil tightly around rim. Put in a roasting pan, then add enough boiling-hot water to reach halfway up side of pie plate, making sure that foil is above water. Bake, refilling pan to halfway with water about every 40 minutes, until milk is thick and a deep golden caramel color, about 2 hours. Remove pie plate from water bath and transfer toffee to a bowl, then chill toffee, uncovered, until it is cold, about 1 hour.

While toffee is chilling, clean pie plate and bake piecrust in it according to package instructions. Cool piecrust completely in pan on a rack, about 20 minutes. Spread toffee evenly in crust, and chill, uncovered, 15 minutes.

Cut bananas into 1/4-inch-thick slices and pile over toffee.

Beat cream with brown sugar in a clean bowl with an electric mixer until it just holds soft peaks, then mound over top of pie.

Cooks’ notes:
• Toffee can be chilled up to 2 days (cover after 1 hour).
• Toffee-filled crust can be chilled up to 3 hours.

St. Paul Sandwich

Below is an article about the dish known as St. Paul Sandwich:

 

ST. PAUL SANDWICH

I am a California girl – born and bred. Yet, a part of me is also a Midwesterner. Most of my family – both paternal and maternal – are from St. Louis, Missouri. And I had spent part of my childhood in the Gateway City.  One of my fondest memories of St. Louis is the collection of various Chinese-American fast food joints spread throughout the city. I might as well say it. Some of the best Chinese-American fast food I have ever eaten was in St. Louis. And one of my all time favorite dishes to emerge from these eateries was the St. Paul sandwich.

The origin of the St. Paul sandwich dates back to the early 1940s, when it was created to appeal Midwesterners’ palates. In fact, the sandwich is believed to be an example of early fusion cuisine. According to legend, a cook or chef named Steven Yuen invented the St. Paul sandwich at an eatery called Park Chop Suey in Lafayette Square, a neighborhood near downtown St. Louis. Yuen named the dish after his hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota. Food writers James Beard and Evan Jones believed that the St. Paul sandwich was an early variation of another dish called the Denver sandwich, which originated in the Colorado city around 1907.

The St. Paul sandwich consists of an egg foo young patty; which is made with egg, mung bean sprouts, and minced white onions; between two slices of white bread. Included in the sandwich are dill pickle slices, white onion, mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato. The St. Paul sandwich also comes in different combinations and specials that include chicken, pork, shrimp, beef, and other varieties. Originally, the St. Paul sandwich contained four pieces of white bread with chicken and egg stuffed inside. Later, it simply consisted of an egg and hamburger on a bun.

The dish can be found in St. Louis and other cities in Missouri like Jefferson City, Columbia and Springfield. It can also be found in Chinese-American restaurants in California and Oregon, notably at the Lung Fung in the Kenton neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. It is usually served with regional names like “Egg Foo Young on Bun”. I have eaten Chinese-American fast food in Los Angeles, San Diego, Washington D.C. and Chicago and have yet to encounter the St. Paul sandwich in any of these cities.

Below is a recipe for St. Paul sandwich from the Feast Magazine website:

St. Paul Sandwich

Ingredients

Canola oil, for deep-frying
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
¼ cup diced or thinly sliced onion
2 Tbsp diced green bell pepper
3 small cooked shrimp, peeled
3 Tbsp diced or shredded poached chicken
3 pieces cooked beef (1/8 inch thick, 1 inch wide and 1½ inches long)
1 large egg
¼ tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 slices white bread
Iceberg lettuce leaf
2 thin slices tomato
3 to 4 dill pickle slices

Preparation

Pour about 4 cups oil into a deep-fryer or deep saucepan. Bring to 375ºF.

Break bean sprouts by crushing them lightly in the palm of your hand. Place in medium mixing bowl. Add onion, green pepper, shrimp, chicken and beef. Stir to combine.

Beat egg lightly with a fork in a small bowl. Mix in cornstarch. Pour egg mixture over the sprouts mixture. Stir well.

Place egg mixture in a shallow metal ladle 4¼ inches wide (big enough to hold it all).

Test the heat of the oil by throwing in a bean sprout. The sprout will immediately pop to the top if the oil is hot enough.

When oil is hot enough, gradually lower full ladle into hot oil, but don’t allow top of egg mixture to drop into the oil. The egg patty will cook in the ladle. Some hot oil will seep over the edges of the ladle. Cook until almost done, 2 to 3 minutes, then spoon a little of the hot oil over the top of the patty to finish the cooking.

Transfer egg patty to a slotted spoon. If any egg mixture drips out, return the patty to the ladle and place in the hot oil for an additional minute. The patty should be uniformly browned and sealed.

Spread mayonnaise on one slice of bread. Top with the iceberg lettuce and tomato slices. Slide the cooked egg patty onto the other slice of bread. Garnish with pickles. Close the sandwich. Wrap bottom in waxed paper and serve immediately.

Tester’s note: If you do not have a deep fryer, you can use a skillet, but the texture will not be the same. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a 6-inch skillet; sauté the onion and green pepper over medium heat until the onion is translucent. Add the shrimp, chicken and beef and then the egg-cornstarch mixture; cook, stirring constantly, until the egg is scrambled.

“The Helmsman’s Logs – 2374” [PG-13] – 1/2

 

“THE HELMSMAN’S LOGS – 2374

RATING: [PG-13]
SUMMARY: The fourth in a collection of Tom Paris’ personal logs during Voyager’s journey in the Delta Quadrant.
DISCLAIMER: Tom Paris and all other characters related to Star Trek
Voyager belong to Paramount, Viacom, Rick Berman, the Roddenberry
family and other Trek producers.

AUTHOR’S NOTES: This covers Season Four episodes from “The Gift” to post-“Hope and Fear”.

“THE HELMSMAN’S LOGS – 2374”

PART 1

STARDATE 51002.61:

(Sighs) The year is now 2374. (Pauses) For once, I’m not feeling hung over after a party. I guess that none of us really had the urge to drink. Not while we were busy looking over our shoulders for the pursuing Borg or Species 8472. So far, we’re still looking.

As for the party, it did not last long after the New Year had arrived. I don’t mind. At least it wasn’t as dismal as last year’s celebration. But I must admit that talking about the Borg and Voyager’s newest addition to the crew did not enliven my mood. B’Elanna had spent most of the evening discussing the Borg addition to the ship’s technology. And getting into a state of anxiety over our new crewman. Many want the Borg off the ship. Frankly, I don’t see the point, since she has been disconnected from the Collective. B’Elanna thinks I’m being naïve. In other words, our little disagreement over our new crew member had almost left me in a foul mood. Great! We have our first fight since the Nyrian habitat and it happens to be over a complete stranger.

Both Chakotay and the Captain had appeared at the party. They remained long enough to usher in the New Year. Since both were still anxious about the Borg, they did not remain very long and left. Separately. Hmm, I guess they haven’t completely reconciled, yet. I have this odd feeling that the Borg may have damaged their relationship for good. End personal log.

STARDATE 51006.86:

It’s been three days since our encounter with the Borg and Species 8472. Ship repairs have resumed with a vengeance. Everyone is still talking about our new passenger. Again, B’Elanna did not fail to express her opinion that the Captain should get rid of the ex-drone. This time, I kept my mouth shut. Who knows? She may be right. B’Elanna did tell us one bit of information. The Borg’s name is Seven-of-Nine. Her human name – that’s right, she’s a human – is Annika. Hmmm, very pretty. End personal log.

STARDATE 51009.86:

I can’t believe it. It’s been five hours since she was forced to leave the ship and I still can’t believe that she’s gone. Kes, I mean. (Pauses) I guess I’m still having trouble comprehending the whole incident. B’Elanna believes that Kes had transformed into a powerful spirit. Well, Kes became powerful, all right. Not long after she left Voyager, she had transformed into a non-corporeal being and sent the ship some 9.5 light years closer to the Alpha Quadrant. That means in less than three years, Voyager has traveled in 12.5 light years – with 57.5 years left in our journey.

Kes had also saved us from the Borg. Our new passenger, Seven-of-Nine, tried to contact the nearest Borg cube by accessing the ship’s subspace transmitter. Kes managed to telepathetically stop her in time. But not before our favorite drone gave Harry one hell of a whack.

(Sighs) Even as I now talk, I still cannot believe that Kes is gone. And to think, I had a crush on her for nearly a year. Still, she was a great friend and I’m going to miss her. I think we all will – especially the Doc, Tuvok . . . and Neelix, of course. (Pauses) Good-bye Kes. I’m going to miss you. End personal log.

STARDATE 51023.29:

Baytart, Jenkins and I were in Cargo Bay Two, searching for navigational parts, when we caught sight of our super cargo. The other two kept their distance, while lucky me had to get close to collect the parts. She was standing in her new Borg regeneration chamber, when her eyes opened and began to follow me. Creepy. But she remained silent. I bid her a quiet good-bye and left with the other two. Not much communication was achieved, but I can safely state that Second Contact between Seven-of-Nine and me proved to be a hell of a lot less painful than our first. End personal log.

STARDATE 51070.09:

B’Elanna and I were having lunch in the Mess Hall today, discussing cultural holidays. When I asked about Klingon holidays, she brought up something called Day of Honor. Apparently, it is an observance day in which Klingon warriors test their honor by enduring some kind of ritual hazing. Hmmm, sounds interesting. I had asked her when was the last time she had observed the Day of Honor and she almost laughed in my face. It seems that B’Elanna has not observed this special day since she had turned seventeen. B’Elanna doesn’t realize it, but she has given me an idea for a new holoprogram. I only hope that I can talk her into participating in it. End personal log.

STARDATE 51085.73:

Voyager has finally learned of Chakotay’s whereabouts – at least Tuvok has. He found Chakotay, brainwashed by the Vori and engaged in their war against the Kradin. Poor Chakotay. He’s had it pretty bad since his near assimilation by those ex-Borgs, nearly five months ago. He and the Captain are still divided over Seven-of-Nine. And now this. I may not like him very much, but I cannot help but feel sorry for him. B’Elanna sees this as a sign that I am finally growing up. I ought to teach her a lesson about making such comments. End personal log.

STARDATE 51113.25:

The subject of the Day of Honor came up, again. To my surprise, it was B’Elanna who first mentioned it. Apparently, she has been thinking about her mother, lately. Eight years have passed since she had last seen Miral Torres. B’Elanna must miss her very much, which seems strange. I have never known B’Elanna to mention her mother without making some kind of complaint.

When I told her about my idea for a Day of Honor holoprogram, she decided that she wanted to help me. Great! I’m really looking forward to this. Especially if it means spending a great deal of time with B’Elanna. End personal log.

STARDATE 51162.37:

B’Elanna and I have finally completed the Day of Honor program. And just in time. Tomorrow will be her official day to commemorate. Ah! Can’t wait to see how it will turn out. End personal log.

STARDATE 51170.62:

God! (Pauses) For the first time in ages, I can barely think. I’m speechless. (Pauses) And it’s not the tri-ox treatment I had received. Oh God! (Sighs) I can’t believe . . . Shit! I don’t know who really had to endure a Day of Honor – B’Elanna or me. I guess we both did, in our own ways.

B’Elanna’s Day of Honor had begun three days ago. One, the holoprogram turned out to be a bust. Not because it had not been created properly. It all went wrong, because B’Elanna was not in the mood to enjoy it. To put it simply, she was having one of “those” days. She woke up late. Didn’t have time for breakfast. Nearly everything in Engineering began to malfunction. Worst of all, Seven-of-Nine finally reported for duty and her first assignment happened to be Engineering. It didn’t take long for B’Elanna to confront Seven about previous victims of the Borg. And when Seven failed to display the proper remorse, B’Elanna kicked her out of Engineering.

Yep, that’s right. I had heard what happened. Let’s just say that gossip and rumors tend to spread pretty fast on this ship. I love B’Elanna very much, but she does have this tendency to be a bit too judgmental about people – even without getting to know them. Hell, I had personally experienced this trait first hand, during Voyager’s first year in the Delta Quadrant. And this is why when I ran into our ex-Borg on Deck Seven, I offered her my friendship. Why not? Everyone deserves a second chance.

B’Elanna wasn’t the only one who didn’t take for Seven’s presence aboard Voyager. We had encountered a race of aliens called the Caatati. I guess one could call them the beggars of the Delta Quadrant. They had asked the Captain for food, medical supplies and thorium – namely a lot. Due to our situation, the Captain was only able to allow them so much. That would have been the end of it, except our Caatati visitor had spotted Seven with me and nearly went into a fit. His race had nearly been devastated by the Borg.

I wish I could say “thus ended a difficult day”, but I can’t. It only grew worse. Engineering’s experiment with creating a transwarp wormhole led to the warp core being dumped. The Captain ordered us to use the Cochrane shuttle to fetch it, only the Caatati managed to get it first. B’Elanna tried to break their tractor beam. Instead, they sent an antimatter pulse to block our efforts. Not only did they succeed, they also caused the destruction of the Cochrane, leaving B’Elanna and myself wearing AVS suits and stranded in space.

(Sighs) Until the day I die, I do not think I will ever forget those moments drifting in space. That and Sakari IV. After B’Elanna and I found ourselves drifting in space, an ionic shower damaged my AVS suit’s supply of oxygen and I ended up sharing B’Elanna’s supply. But the ionic shower had also damaged her suit, leaving a half hour of oxygen between the two of us. We flirted a bit. Okay, I flirted with B’Elanna. We talked about the Academy and then it got serious – all because I wanted to know if her feelings toward me had changed over the years. Not only did B’Elanna answered yes, she also revealed a lot more. She told me (Pauses) . . . she confessed to being in love with me.

(Laughs bitterly) Strange. I had no trouble admitting that I was in love with B’Elanna some eight months ago . . . to myself. But when she demanded that I say something after her confession, I responded with a joke, instead. (Sighs) How lame! I wanted to admit that I was in love with her, but I was too floored by her confession. Also, Voyager had chosen that moment to contact us. It’s odd. One minute, I’m floating in space, stunned by B’Elanna’s confession and everything goes black. The next thing I knew, I’m waking up in Sick Bay, with the Doc’s face hovering over mine. B’Elanna had already returned to her quarters. I wanted to pay her a visit before returning to my quarters, but I lost my nerve. I don’t know. I’m thrilled that B’Elanna might possibly love me. But how can she be in love with a guy who lacked the courage to express his own feelings? Even worse, how long will that love last when she finally becomes acquainted with the real Tom Paris? End personal log.

STARDATE 51179.25:

The Captain made a little announcement during the Senior Staff meeting, today. She has promoted Tuvok to Lieutenant Commander. A celebration dinner will be held in his honor, tomorrow. Considering how long Tuvok has been in Starfleet, I’m surprised that he has not reached the rank of Captain or Admiral, by now. Still, I’m happy for him.

After seeing her at the staff meeting, I ran into B’Elanna outside the Mess Hall, later this evening. She took one look at me and fled down the corridor. Frankly, I don’t blame her. She had admitted her feelings to me . . . and I made a joke. I wouldn’t be surprised if she never wants to lay eyes upon me, again. End personal log.

STARDATE 51182.25:

I really don’t know how to begin. It’s been quite a day. Tuvok is now a lieutenant-commander. I’m the Doctor’s new medical assistant. And B’Elanna and I . . . well, we had spoken with each other for the first time in three days.

It happened right after Tuvok’s promotion luncheon. I followed her out of the Mess Hall. Asked her if she really meant what she had said about being in love with me. I don’t know why I had asked. I guess that a part of me wanted to know if I had heard right. That B’Elanna’s confession had not been a figment of my imagination, caused by a lack of oxygen. But it wasn’t. B’Elanna confirmed my . . . my what? My fears? My hopes? Maybe a little of both.

After B’Elanna had admitted her love for me . . . for the second time . . . she rambled on about how she understood if I didn’t reciprocate her feelings. Well, I had to shut her up one way or the other. If she had continued any longer, she would have convinced herself that I didn’t love her. So, I kissed her. Thoroughly, I hoped. I must say that her lips were as soft and warm as I had remembered from Sakari IV. And I would have kissed her even longer, if the Doctor had not interrupted us. Not that the Doc’s interruption really mattered. Even though I didn’t actually say, “I love you,” I think that B’Elanna got the message on how I really felt about her. Hopefully, this means that my hope for a relationship will finally become a reality. End personal log.

STARDATE 51184.55:

Just finished my first day as the Doc’s medical assistant. Since he has been on an Away mission with B’Elanna, I was left in charge of Sick Bay.

Nothing much happened. I treated an indigested stomach and a lacerated hand. The last belonged to Seven-of-Nine, who had been assigned to work with Harry on design enhancements for the Astrometrics Lab. While treating her hand, I made a few jokes to put her at ease. Seven didn’t seem to mind them, but Harry practically went ballistic. Hmmmm, I haven’t seen Ensign Eager this emotional since he fell for that hologram, last year. Or was it Lyndsay Ballard? I don’t remember. Anyway, I tried to warn him that Seven wasn’t emotionally ready for a relationship. But knowing Harry, I’m sure that he didn’t listen. Oh well. At least he didn’t go running to Tuvok for advice. End personal log.

STARDATE 51187.65:

(Sighs) B’Elanna had returned with Doc from their Away mission, a few hours ago. They had an encounter with a psychotic hologram, who tried to kill B’Elanna by ripping her heart out. God! She managed to destroy him before he could damage her heart permanently. Also, she and the Doc returned to Voyager just in time for him to perform surgery. So, B’Elanna left the Sick Bay with a clean bill of health . . . and just in time for our first date, tonight. Our first real date.

(Pauses and listens to B’Elanna mumble in her sleep) I must admit that I had felt very nervous when I showed up at her quarters. We had a nice dinner – replicated Ktarian soufflé, a pasta salad and a nice 2294 Merlot. Mind you (pauses as B’Elanna mumbles again) the meal as nice, but all I could think about was that cute little maroon dress she wore. And taking it off.

Okay, so I sound like some kind of sex fiend. But B’Elanna . . . God! She looked so beautiful and irresistible! (Sighs) We were a bit shy at first, but the moment our lips met . . . oh God, I’m beginning to sound like a bad romance holonovel. Let’s just say that I forgot about any shyness on my part. For a moment, I had feared I was being just a little too enthusiastic. But B’Elanna brushed away such fears when she began ripping off my clothes. (Sighs happily) This might be a personal log, but I’m sure that someone will end up listening to this some day in the future. So, I’ll just say that a Klingon woman’s reputation for sexual prowess is very well deserved; and sleeping with B’Elanna was more than great sex. It was . . . okay, I think I’m about to sound like a cliché. Sleeping with B’Elanna was like a meeting between two souls; and I never want to be . . .

(B’Elanna mumbles a little louder, “Tom?”)

B’Elanna! I’ll be with in a . . . Hey! B’Elanna! That tickles! B’Elanna!

(B’Elanna: “Hey Helmboy! Aren’t you going to finish that log or what?”)

Right. And last but not least, I never want to be apart from her again. Ever.

(B’Elanna: “Hmmm, how romantic. Now why don’t you show me what never being apart means?”)

Be careful of what you wish for, Lieuten . . . Oooof! End personal log.

STARDATE 51195.59:

I wonder if Starfleet Academy ever considered giving courses on diplomatic encounters gone awry, thanks to former Borg drones. (Sighs) Our encounter with the B’omar was certainly one for the books. We had come across their space and needed their permission to avoid a long detour. To be honest, the B’omar didn’t help matters by imposing all of those travel restrictions upon us.Travel at Warp 3? Keep our weapons off-line? And that ridiculous course they had suggested!

Of course, Seven’s actions didn’t help. Some Borg signal had reactivated her nanoprobes, causing her to go amok. She attacked Neelix in the Mess Hal, stole a phaser, attacked several Security crewmen and stole one of the shuttles. Damaging the Shuttle Bay, in the process. After Seven’s escape, the B’omar wanted nothing to do with us. Matters grew worse after Tuvok and I went after her in another shuttle and tracked her to a Class-M moon – the very place where her parents’ ship had crashed, before they were all assimilated by the Borg.

Voyager exchanged fire with a few B’omar ships, while I tried to beam Seven and Tuvok to the shuttle. But not before Tuvok helped Seven deal with her memories of being assimilated. Let’s just say that the entire incident resulted in Voyager making a long detour around B’omar space. End personal log.

STARDATE 51204.1:

Don’t get me wrong. I love B’Elanna with ever fiber of my being, but there are times when she simply drives me crazy. And I’m not being complimentary. It’s been three days since the incident with Seven and the B’omar and B’Elanna has not stopped bitching about it. Okay, I understand why she’s pissed for having to oversee the repairs in the Shuttle Bay. But God! I’ve had to listen to B’Elanna bitch and moan for hours over Seven’s actions and the Captain’s refusal to dump our favorite Borg on the nearest M-class planet. Both Harry and I tried to make B’Elanna see that Seven had been reliving a childhood trauma. But she has refused to listen. This morning had been the last straw.

After one last rant about the Captain’s “obsession with the Borg”, I lost my temper and told her that her complaints were becoming a bore and that she should give them a rest. I must say that I was damn lucky to avoid a public beating at the hands of a pissed off half-Klingon. Instead, B’Elanna gave me a death glare that rivaled the Captain’s’ and stormed out of the Mess Hall. I’ve tried to apologize since, but she refuses to speak to me. (Sighs) I think a little trip to the Airpondics Bay is in order. End personal log.

STARDATE 51207.06:

Ah! There’s nothing in the Universe like fine food, wine and make-up sex. All due to a dozen of red roses from the Airpondics Bay. A fellow could get used to this. End personal log.

STARDATE 51230.8:

Strange energy readings were detected by Harry this morning, and now Voyager is on its way to investigate. It is a good thing that we are about three days away. This should give the Captain plenty of time to recover from the headaches that have been plaguing her, lately. If I were her, I would spend those three days in my quarters. She practically looks like death warmed over. Doc has tried relieving her headaches with various medications, but nothing seems to help. Oh well.

Meanwhile, B’Elanna and I have been . . . well, a little more than enthusiastic during our off-duty hours, lately. Actually, we’ve been pretty active during duty hours, as well. Neelix and Pablo Baytart nearly caught us having sex in the Mess Hall, early this morning. I don’t know what’s going on, but every time I find myself near B’Elanna, I have this urge to rip her clothes off and take her right there on the spot. (Pauses) Okay, I’m really starting to sound like some kind of sex fiend. But I can’t help it. Every time we’re apart, all I can think about is her. Her sable eyes, that sexy growl of hers, her pert breasts, and the way her nails would rake up and down my back when we’re . . . (Sighs) Great! Now, I’m in dire need of a cold shower. End personal log.

STARDATE 51235.84:

Thanks to a double shift I had been forced to work, I missed out on a date with B’Elanna. Damn! I don’t even know what is worse – canceling the date with B’Elanna or dealing with this sexual obsession of mine. (Sighs) Since I can’t do anything about the former, I might as well see to the latter. There hasn’t been much activity in Sick Bay, lately. Maybe I can find a way to spend some time with her. That is, if the Doc can spare me for one lousy shift. End personal log.

STARDATE 51239.04:

B’Elanna and I had just spent an embarrassing moment with the Captain, today. Just before dinner, last night, Tuvok had caught us . . . uh, kissing on one of the computer consoles in Engineering. The snitch! He must have high-tailed it back to the Captain, for she really chewed us out, after the Senior Staff meeting. Whew! Guess we’ll have to a little more discreet from now on. Meanwhile, poor Neelix had some kind of attack in the Galley and had to be beamed to Sick Bay. Chakotay is already there, due to some kind of rapid ageing he has experienced. What the hell is going on, here?

One last thing – the strange energy readings that Harry had detected, turned out to be binary pulsars. End personal log.

STARDATE 51244.36:

For the past two weeks, a race of aliens have been using Voyager as a traveling laboratory for a series of experiments. These aliens – whose name we still don’t know – had attached their ships to ours and subjected the crew to a series of medical tests. They did all of this, while walking about the ship . . . invisible. Tests that monitored our dopamine levels – which explained the Captain’s headaches – to sexual hormone levels. Now I know why B’Elanna and I have been at each other like dogs in heat. Those bastards also stopped the auoeli in B’Elanna’s lungs from processing air and nearly killed her. This happened after she and the Doc nearly discovered what was going on. In the end, it was Seven who finally revealed the aliens. Needless to say, the Captain did not take the news very well. Especially after Crewman Huberman died from a synaptic shock. I wish I had been on the Bridge when she steered the ship toward the binary pulsars. According to Harry, the pulsars’ gravity managed to destroy both alien ships – although one nearly escaped. Although Voyager had escaped destruction, the pulsars had damaged both navigational control and some of the ship’s hull plating. The Doctor and I have begun removing the DNA markings given to us by the aliens. Everything should return to normal. Somewhat. There is still the matter of Crewman Huberman. End personal log.

STARDATE 51244.36:

A memorial service for Huberman was held this morning. A dark moment for an otherwise normal day. At least normal for us. The aliens’ DNA markings have been completely removed from the entire crew. B’Elanna, I’m happy to say, has fully recovered. We decided to celebrate with a private dinner in my quarters. I thought that a pasta salad with Ktarian Merlot would be nice. She should be here in another . . . (the doorbell chimes) Oh, she’s here. End personal log.

STARDATE 51255.55:

With the new Astrometrics Lab completed, the Captain has permitted the crew to celebrate with a party. Which means that I’ve got at least a half hour to shower, change into clean clothes and pick up B’Elanna. The party will be held in the Resort holoprogram in Holodeck One. Neelix will provide the refreshments, as usual. (Sighs) Oh well, not everything can be perfect.

Voyager also entered Krenim space, this morning. A Krenim starship captain warned us that his race was involved in a border dispute with another. He warned us to avoid Krenim space. Happily, the Captain agreed and ordered me to plot a new course for the Alpha Quadrant. End personal log.

STARDATE 51261.03:

Our encounter in Krenim space had led me to thinking about Kes. It has been three months, since she left Voyager. I could not help but think about the alternate timeline she had experienced before our encounter with the Borg and Species 8472. A timeline that had us at war with the Krenim for at least a year. The Year of Hell. According to Kes, a good number of the crew had been killed – including two senior staff members, whose names Kes had never revealed. I’m almost tempted to access her personal logs, but that would be a shabby way to honor Kes’ memory. I guess the details of her experiences in the alternate timeline will remain a mystery. Too bad. End personal log.

STARDATE 51362.25:

Voyager came across a new planet called the Mari homeworld. The Mari are a race of telepaths who are technically advanced – at least by Starfleet standards. This means that we don’t have to worry about the almighty Prime Directive. Since the Captain has been able to establish diplomatic ties, she ordered me to establish orbit around the planet. And the crew will be able to enjoy shore leave for the next few days. Hopefully, B’Elanna and I will get to enjoy a few hours of sightseeing, together. End personal log.

STARDATE 51369.25:

I can’t believe it! B’Elanna has been arrested by the Mari authorities for having violent thoughts! Violent thoughts? What the hell is this? They’ve got to be kidding! Then again, I guess not. It seems the Mari people have outlawed violent thoughts, believing the latter can lead to violent acts. While in the marketplace of the Mari capital city, B’Elanna had violent thoughts when some man had bumped into her. This led the man to beat another Mari citizen to death in full view of everyone. If found guilty, B’Elanna will have to undergo an engramatic purge.

Great! My girlfriend is in danger of being lobotomized! I asked the Captain if she plans to rescue B’Elanna. Unfortunately, she reminded me that according to Starfleet protocol, we have to respect Mari laws. The Captain also added that she and Tuvok will investigate and ensure that B’Elanna is exonerated. Sounds lovely, but what if they can’t exonerate her? She would still have to undergo the purge. The Doc told me that hopefully, he would be able to reconstruct her engrams. This is supposed to reassure me?

I can’t believe that the Captain is willing to allow B’Elanna to undergo such a thing. I mean, if she was willing to rescue Harry and me from the Atkirian prison, why not do the same for B’Elanna? (Sighs) This is fucked up beyond belief! And to think I had purchased a gift for her. Now, I don’t know if B’Elanna will ever get the chance to enjoy it. I wonder if Chakotay would consider planning a jailbreak. End personal log.

STARDATE 51374.11

B’Elanna is back, I’m happy to say. Thank God for Tuvok! He found out that a Mari merchant had deliberately provoked B’Elanna into a violent thought, in order to steal it telepathetically and sell it on the black market. Very sick, in my opinion. So much for Mari non-violence. The Mari had managed to erase one-tenth of B’Elanna’s violent engrams, before Tuvok and the Captain presented them with the real perpetrator.

B’Elanna told me that Tuvok finally appreciates the struggle she had endured with her violent Klingon psyche. Geez! I like Tuvok, but did he really had to associate her temper with her Klingon side? Now, B’Elanna is more determined than ever to control her thoughts. (Sighs) I told her that she should worry more about her actions than her thoughts. I also reminded her that Klingons weren’t the only species that had to struggle with violent impulses. But I got the feeling that she didn’t believe me. Damn! Hopefully, she will. One day. End personal log.

STARDATE 51449.44

Is it me or has Neelix been acting odd, lately? He must have been more upset over that Mari woman’s death than I had first imagined. In fact, he has seemed a little out of sync, ever since Kes’ departure. I had hoped that his friendship with Talli on the Mari homeworld would improve his mood. Unfortunately, Talli was killed and Neelix’s dark mood returned. Maybe this upcoming Away mission with Chakotay and me will help. End personal log.

SUPPLEMENTAL LOG

Christ! I can’t believe it! Neelix is gone! Dead! And all because of a simple mission to investigate a proto matter nebula. The shuttle got a little too close to the nebula, and Neelix was hit by an energy discharge. I just can’t . . . I never realized how difficult it would be for me to deal with his death. It’s funny. I’m closer to B’Elanna and Harry, but Neelix was the only person on this ship who understood what it meant to live with a questionable past. And to whom else can I talk with, about flying? Hell, I found it easier to talk with Neelix than the other pilots in my division. If only I hadn’t flown that damn shuttle so close! End personal log.

STARDATE 51456.14:

I thought that being resurrected by Seven’s modified nanoprobes and celebrating Prixin would put Neelix in a good mood. Apparently, it didn’t. He tried . . . to commit suicide by transporting himself into that nebula. God! I wonder what Chakotay had said to convince him not to kill himself.

Speaking of Chakotay, he has assigned B’Elanna to the Gamma shift for the next two weeks. Son-of-a-bitch! This means, we’ll barely have time together. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that Chakotay had deliberately planned this to keep us apart. (Sighs) But I do know him better. He may not have been thrilled about our new relationship, but he’s not petty. But if one must suffer in the name of love . . . End personal log.

STARDATE 51460.79:

I wish to God that Seven had never detected that damn array system. Now that I think about it, I wish the Captain had never ordered the Astrometrics Lab to be remodeled in the first place. But since we did stumble across the array system, Seven was able to detect that Starfleet vessel in the Alpha Quadrant. Probably some Galaxy-class ship on a deep space mission.

At first, the Captain tried to send a message to the ship, using the array. When that failed, B’Elanna came up with the brilliant idea of sending a holographic message. Namely the Doctor. And guess who will be left to act as Acting Chief Medical Officer? (Sighs) Chief Medical Officer. Dammit! I’m a pilot, not a medic! Why in the hell didn’t the Doctor train someone from the Science Division to train as his assistant? Someone like Sam Wildman? What if the Doc never return from the Alpha Quadrant? What if his program gets lost in the signal between us and Starfleet?

I have to do something about this. (Pauses) Hmmm, since B’Elanna is still monitoring the array, perhaps Harry can help. I may know a lot about holoprogramming, but when it comes to creating a program as complex as the EMH, I’m going to need an engineer. End personal log.

END OF PART 1

Chateaubriand Steak

Below is an article about the dish known as Chateaubriand Steak:

CHATEAUBRIAND STEAK

My knowledge of various steak dishes is very minimal. In fact, it took me years to realize that any kind of steak is named, due to what part of the cow it came and how it is cut. This also happens to be the case of the dish known as Chateaubriand steak.

The Chateaubriand steak is a meat dish that is cut from the tenderloin fillet of beef. Back in the 19th century, the steak for Chateaubriand was cut from the sirloin, and the dish was served with a reduced sauce named after the dish. The sauce was usually prepared with white wine and shallots that were moistened with demi-glace; and mixed with butter, tarragon, and lemon juice.

The dish originated near the beginning of the 19th century by a chef named Montmireil. The latter had served as the personal chef for the Vicomte François-René de Chateaubriand and Sir Russell Retallick, diplomats who respectively served as an ambassador for Napoleon Bonaparte, and as Secretary of State for King Louis XVIII of France. The origin of Chateaubriand Sauce seemed to be shrouded in a bit of mystery. Some believe that Montmireil was its creator. Others believe that it may have originated at the Champeaux restaurant in Paris, following the publication of de Chateaubriand’s book, “Itinéraire de Paris à Jérusalem (Itinerary from Paris to Jerusalem)”.

Below is a recipe for Chateaubriand Steak from the Epicurious website:

Chateaubriand Steak

Ingredients

1 center cut Tenderloin fillet
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 (10-ounce) center-cut beef tenderloin
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 large shallot, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled

Preparation

Preheat oven to 450°F.

In an ovenproof, heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat the olive oil over high heat until hot but not smoking.

Season the meat with salt and pepper, then brown it in the pan on all sides.

Transfer the pan to the oven and roast until the meat’s internal temperature reaches 130°F (for rare), 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven.

Transfer the meat to a cutting board and tent it with foil.

Pour all but a thin film of fat from the pan.

Add the shallot and saut it over medium-low heat until golden, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the wine and raise the heat to high, scraping up any brown bits from the pan.

When the sauce is syrupy (about 5 minutes), turn off the heat and whisk in the butter.

Carve the meat in thick slices and drizzle with the pan sauce.

Floating Island

Below is an article about the French dessert known as Floating Island:

FLOATING ISLAND

Many people might find this odd, but the first time I ever heard about the French dessert, Floating Island, was in the 1994 comedy called “MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY”. I have not thought about it for a while, until I came across a few passages about the dish on The Food Timeline website.

The Floating Island is a meringue that floats on crème anglaise, or a vanilla custard. The meringues are prepared from whipped egg whites, sugar and vanilla extract. The crème anglaise is prepared with the egg yolks, vanilla, and hot milk. There is some confusion about the name of the dessert. In French cuisine, the terms Oufs à la Neige, also known as “Eggs in Snow”, which originated in Elizabethan England, and Ile Flottante aka Floating Island, are sometimes used interchangeably. The difference between the two dishes is that the Floating Island (Ile Flottante) sometimes contains islands made of “layers of alcohol-soaked dessert biscuits and jam”.

The dish originated in eighteenth-century France. However, no particular chef has been credited as its inventor. Below is a recipe for the Floating Island from the Epicurious.com website:

Floating Island

Ingredients

Sauce
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar

Meringues

2 cups whole milk
4 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar

Caramel
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Preparation

For Sauce
Scrape seeds from vanilla bean halves into heavy small saucepan; add beans. Add milk and bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, cover, and steep 10 minutes.

Whisk yolks and sugar in heavy medium saucepan until thick, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in warm milk mixture (including vanilla beans). Stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 9 minutes (do not boil). Strain custard into small bowl. Cover and chill until cold, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

For Meringues
Lay smooth kitchen towel on work surface. Pour milk into medium (10-inch) skillet. Bring milk to simmer over medium heat.

Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl until foamy. Add salt and beat until whites hold soft peaks. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until whites are stiff and glossy. Scoop some meringue (about twice the size of an egg) onto large oval spoon. Using another large spoon and gently transferring meringue from spoon to spoon, shape meringue into smooth oval. Drop oval into milk. Quickly shape 2 or 3 more meringues, dropping each into milk. Simmer meringues 1 minute. Using heatproof rubber spatula, turn meringues over in milk. Simmer 1 minute longer (meringues will puff up while poaching). Using slotted spoon, transfer meringues to towel (meringues will deflate slightly as they cool). Repeat process, shaping and then poaching enough meringues to make total of 12. Transfer meringues to waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.

For Caramel
Stir sugar and 1/4 cup water in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to boil, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush to dissolve any sugar crystals. Boil until syrup is pale golden color, occasionally swirling pan, about 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Let syrup cool until thick enough to fall from tines of fork in ribbons, about 8 minutes. (If caramel becomes too thick, rewarm slightly over low heat, stirring constantly.)

Spoon some sauce into center of each plate. Arrange 2 meringues on each. Dip fork into caramel and wave back and forth over meringues so that caramel comes off in strands that harden like threads, and serve.

Scotch Egg

Below is an article about the British snack known as Scotch Egg:

 

SCOTCH EGG

When I first learned about the dish known as Scotch Egg, I had assumed that it had originated in Scotland. Silly me. Basically a snack, the Scotch Egg is usually served at picnics or inside pubs. Today, the Scotch Egg can be found at supermarkets, corner shops and motorway service stations throughout Great Britain. Here in the United States, they can be found at British-style pubs and eateries. They are usually served with hot dipping sauces such as ranch dressing, hot sauce, or hot mustard sauce.

Many food historians claim that the exact origin of the Scotch Egg is unknown. Many believe that it might be a descendant of a form of the Mughlai dish called “nargisi kofta”. However, the London Department store, Fortnum & Mason, claims it was inspired by the “nargisi kofta” and invented the Scotch Egg in 1738.

The recipe for the Scotch Egg first appeared in the 1809 edition of Mrs. Rundell’s 1806 cookbook, “A New System of Domestic Cookery”. Mrs. Rundell and later 19th-century cookbook authors usually instructed their readers to served the Scotch Eggs hot and with gravy.

Below is a recipe from the Allrecipes.com website:

Scotch Egg

Ingredients

1 quart oil for frying

4 eggs

2 pounds pork sausage

4 cups dried bread crumbs, seasoned

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 eggs, beaten

Preparations

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Heat oil in deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Place eggs in saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let eggs sit in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool and peel.

Flatten the sausage and make a patty to surround each egg. Very lightly flour the sausage and coat with beaten egg. Roll in bread crumbs to cover evenly.

Deep fry until golden brown, or pan fry while making sure each side is well cooked. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Cut in half and serve over a bed of lettuce and sliced tomatoes for garnish. If mustard is desired it looks beautiful over this.

Jambalaya

Below is an article about the American dish known as “Jambalaya”:

JAMBALAYA

One of the most popular dishes to originate in the southern United States is a dish from Louisiana called Jambalaya. The dish has its origins in the Spanish dish known as paella. There is also a similar dish from the French province of Provence called jambalaia. Both are dishes that are mash-ups of rice, meat, vegetables and saffron.

Jambalaya originated in the French Quarter of New Orleans, during the late 18th century. The Spanish, who controlled Louisiana and the Mississippi Valley at the time, made an attempt to recreate paella in the New World. But since saffron was unavailable due to import costs, the Spanish used tomatoes as a substitute for saffron. Despite Spanish control of the region, the French dominated the population, since they were the original founders of the colony. The French utilized spices from the Caribbean to transform this paella copycat into a unique New World dish.

Many would be surprised to learn that Jambalaya proved to become a very flexible dish in Louisiana over the years. It has evolved into three distinct recipes. The original version, known as the Creole or “red” Jambalaya, featured tomatoes. The second version, which is common in the parishes in Southwestern and South-Central Louisiana, is a “rural Creole” Jambalaya that contains no tomatoes. The third version is known as “White or Cajun Jambalaya” in which the rice is cooked in stock and separately from the meat and vegetables.

The recipe for Jambalaya made its first appearance in the 1878 cookbook called “Gulf City Cook Book” by the ladies of the St. Francis Street Methodist Church in South Mobile, Alabama. Jambalaya experienced a brief surge of popularity during the 1920s and 1930s, due to its flexible recipe. And in 1968, Louisiana Governor John J. McKeithen proclaimed Gonzales, Louisiana as the Jambalaya Capital of the World. Every spring, Gonzales hosted the annual Jambalaya Festival.

Below is a recipe from the Epicurious.com website for Jambalaya:

Jambalaya

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
3 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, minced
4 oz extra-lean smoked ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
3/4 cup brown rice, uncooked
1 1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped into bite-sized pieces

Preparation

Add oil to a large nonstick saucepan. Over medium heat, sauté onion, garlic, bell pepper and celery until onion is translucent. Add parsley, ham, chicken, bay leaf, and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring often, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes (with juice), tomato sauce, and 1 3/4 cups cold water. Gently simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Pour rice into the pan and stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, 45 minutes or until rice is cooked and absorbs most of the liquid. Stir in shrimp and cook 5 minutes more. Remove bay leaf. Season to taste with cayenne pepper and salt.

English Trifle

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Below is an article about the English dessert known as the Trifle:

ENGLISH TRIFLE

Trifle is an English dessert that is made from thick custard, diced fruit, sponge fingers or thin layer sponge cake that is soaked in fortified wine, sherry or fruit juices and topped with whipped cream. The ingredients are usually arranged in three or four layers, while suspended in fruit-flavored jelly or gelatin.

The dish can be traced back to the later years of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign. The earliest recipe for trifle consisted of a thick cream flavored with sugar, ginger and rosewater. The recipe, which was published in an 1587 English book called “The Good Hyswife’s Jewell” by Thomas Dawson. Sixty years later, eggs were added to the recipe and the custard was poured over alcohol soaked bread.

It was not until the mid-18th century that something like the modern trifle began to emerge. Biscuits soaked with wine were then in place at the bottom of the bowl, and custard was on top of them, while the topmost layer could be achieved by pouring whipped syllabub froth over all. When this froth was replaced by plain whipped cream, the process of evolution was virtually complete. While some believe the addition of jelly to the recipe to be recent, the earliest known recipe to include jelly dates from 1747 and was featured in “the Art of Cookery”, authored by Hannah Glasse. In her recipe she instructed using hartshorn or bones of calves feet as the base ingredient for the jelly.

Below is a recipe from the Food.com website for a traditional trifle:

English Trifle

Ingredients

1 packet single trifle sponge cakes (or a ready-made pound cake or similar)
1 pint English custard, made from bird custard powder
1⁄2 pint whipping cream (heavy)
1 package frozen berries (better than fresh)
100 g jar of strawberry jam
1 can sliced fruit or 2 very ripe fruit, skinned and sliced
1⁄4-1⁄2 pint cooking sherry
50 g sliced almonds, toasted

Preparation

Slice the cake into slices measuring about 3 x 2 x 1/2 inches, or whatever is convenient, and spread each slice with a little strawberry jam.
Layer in a glass dish, leaving no significant gaps.
Pour sherry over to soak sponge.
Spread frozen berries over sponge, followed by sliced fruit.
Make up custard, cool slightly and pour over all.
Allow to cool in fridge.
When set, whip cream and layer on top of custard.
Chill for at least half an hour.
Toast the almonds and scatter over.

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Spoonbread

Gluten-Free-Sweet-Corn-Spoon-Bread.jpg

Below is an article about the American dish known as Spoonbread:

SPOOONBREAD

The dish known as spoonbread is a cornmeal-based specialty that is prevalent in the American South. Although named a “bread”, the dish is closer in consistency and taste to many savory puddings, like Britain’s Yorkshire pudding. According to some recipes, spoonbread is similar to a cornmeal soufflé. However, most Southern recipes for this dish do not involve whipping the eggs to incorporate air.

The first published recipe for Spoonbread appeared in a book written by Sarah Rutledge in 1847. Another recipe appeared in the cookbook called “Practical Cook Book “, written by a Mrs. Bliss of Boston in 1850. She called the dish, “Indian puffs”. However, Spoonbread dates long before the Antebellum period. European colonists probably first learned about the dish from Native tribes along the Atlantic seaboard. The traditional South Carolina low country version of Spoonbread was called Awendaw (or Owendaw). It was named after a Native settlement outside of Charleston.

Although Spoonbread dated back many centuries, it became very popular with American around the turn of the 20th century. And the town of Berea, Kentucky has been home to an annual Spoonbread Festival, which has been held in September since 1997.

Below is a recipe from the Epicurious.com website for Fresh Corn Spoonbread:

Corn Spoonbread

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 to 3 ears)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, separated

Preparations

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Bring milk, cornmeal, corn kernels, butter, and salt to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, and simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then whisk in yolks.

Beat whites and a pinch of salt with an electric mixer at medium speed just until soft peaks form. Whisk one fourth of whites into cornmeal mixture in pan to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Spread mixture evenly in a buttered 9 1/2-inch deep-dish glass pie plate or 1 1/2-quart shallow casserole and bake in middle of oven until puffed and golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately (like a soufflé, spoon bread collapses quickly).

“Defense of the Realm” [PG-13] – 8/14

“DEFENSE OF THE REALM”

CHAPTER 8

During the four years since Piper’s departure from Quake, the restaurant had not changed much – aside from the menu and the food’s quality. Cole had never visited Quake before, but judging from Phoebe’s reaction to their appetizers, apparently the food was not what it used to be under Piper’s rule.

Cole reached for his glass of Cabernet Sauvignon wine and took a sip. “Perhaps we should have went to another restaurant.” He fell silent, expecting a reply from Phoebe. She said nothing. Cole added, “Or perhaps I should have prepared dinner at home. Marbus had pointed out that we’ve been going out to dinner on a regular basis, lately.” He chuckled slightly. “I think I may have come close to spending half of my paycheck, during the past two weeks.”

Phoebe responded with a dim smile and reached for a dinner roll.

Realizing that Phoebe might still be distracted by his quarrel with Leo, Cole decided to confront the matter than pretend everything was fine. “Okay Phoebe,” he muttered, “what’s wrong? Other than criticizing the food here, you’ve barely said a word.”

“Nothing’s wrong,” Phoebe quickly replied. “I’m fine.”

Cole sighed. “Right. And that’s why you’re looking as if your favorite pet had died. Or you’re about to flee for your life. I really can’t tell which.”

“Cole . . .”

“What . . . is . . . wrong, Phoebe?”

A silent moment passed before the dark-haired witch finally answered, “It’s about tonight. Your fight with Leo.”

Cole cast his eyes downward, now that his suspicions had been confirmed. “I see. Look Phoebe, I’m sorry that I had lost my temper, but I’m getting sick and tired of Leo treating me like an outsider every time I show up. I realize that I have a past that would make any sane person flee for his life; but who is he to judge, after the shit he had recently pulled?”

“I understand how you feel, Cole,” Phoebe said. “Really, I do. And you’re right. Leo can’t really look down his nose at you, anymore.” She sighed, and glanced up at Cole. “But you really need to keep your temper in check.”

One of Cole’s brows shot upward. “‘I’ need to keep hold of my temper?”

“Okay, maybe I can be a little temperamental also,” Phoebe conceeded. “But Cole . . . you have to consider your powers. What if . . . what if you completely lose your temper and decide to use your powers? Who would be able to stop you?”

Cole smiled derisively. “Well, Olivia for one. I’m sure that she still have some of that potion . . .”

“Cole!”

A sigh left his mouth. “Look, I’ll try to control my temper, Phoebe. I swear. But Leo has to learn to do the same. And he needs to stop acting as if I’m plotting to murder all of you.”

“I know. But . . .”

Warily, Cole stared at his ex-wife. “But what?”

Again, Phoebe hesitated. “Have you ever thought about . . . you know, stripping away your powers?”

Shit! He should have known. From the moment he and Phoebe had started dating again, Cole suspected that sooner or later, she would bring up the matter of his powers. Phoebe obviously wanted him back, but only as a mortal.

“Cole?” Apprehension crept into Phoebe’s voice. “You’re not mad at me, are you?”

Not mad, Cole decided. Just disappointed. He could imagine the ‘I told you so’ expression on Olivia’s face. “No Phoebe. I’m not angry. It’s just . . . considering the last two times I had lost my powers – disaster followed.”

Her dark eyes now shinning brightly with hope, Phoebe leaned forward. “But those incidents were accidents!” she exclaimed. “You had lost your powers the first time, because that witch’s girlfriend had thrown a power-stripping potion on you.”

“Which you had left in your dresser drawer.”

Phoebe ignored the dig. “And you had lost them the second time,” she continued, “because Barbas had tricked you into asking Paige to strip them, so he could steal them. Cole, this time we can control the whole process. Make sure there are no unforeseen problems.”

Cole wanted to shout, “Hell no!” He had no desire to re-experience the trauma of adjusting to complete mortality, again. Or feel like half a person. But he did not want to clash with Phoebe. Not again. Not after the last fifteen months of estrangement between them. And he simply could not bear to see the fear in Phoebe’s eyes, whenever he lost his temper.

“All right,” he finally said with a sigh. “I’ll do it.”

A bright smile lit up Phoebe’s face.

———

Elder MacKenzie Grant sat inside his private chambers, as he examined reports from various whitelighters throughout the mortal realm. So far, no one had been able to track down Natalia Stopanova – who was last detected in one of the demonic dimensions.

An impatient grunt escaped his mouth. How could the Russian-born whitelighter have escaped from their detection so quickly? And so effectively? She had first been spotted in the Gimle dimension. Before the Council could retrieve her, she had moved on to the mortals’ realm – namely the San Francisco area. And that is where she had disappeared. Vanished from their radar, as the mortals would say.

MacKenzie contemplated on who or what could have shielded Stepanova from the Council’s detection. He eventually came to the conclusion that she was no longer on Earth, and that she must be hiding . . .

A bell signaled the arrival of a visitor to his chambers. “Yes?” MacKenzie cried out.

A voice replied, “Johann Bauer. I have the tea that you had requested from the kitchen.”

MacKenzie waved his hand, allowing the door to slide open. The newly initiated Elder entered the chamber, carrying a tray with an earthen teapot and cup. “Johann, you did not have to bring me tea. Someone from the kitchen should have sent a whitelighter. You’re an Elder, now.”

“Oh, I don’t mind, MacKenzie,” Johann replied in his soft, Austrian accent. “Besides, I had to send the whitelighter on an errand for me.”

Smiling, MacKenzie said to his colleague, “Well, you can place the tray on my desk. If you don’t mind.”

After Johann had done as he was asked, he stared at the senior Elder. “Is there anything else you need, El . . . MacKenzie?” The other Elder shook his head. Johann continued to stare. “Are you feeling well? You seem a bit exhausted. Perhaps you should drink your tea, now.”

“Oh, I’m fine, Johann.” MacKenzie sighed and picked up the teapot. “Just a little shaken by the latest events.”

Johann nodded. “I understand. I’m . . . a little overwhelmed, myself. Especially after I had joined the Council.” He paused. “I’m curious. Why did the Council select me to replace Elder Sylvester?”

MacKenzie stared at him, recalling the anonymous warning that the Council had received about Mathilda’s plans regarding Belthazor. The Council knew that Johann had been one of the former Elder’s protégées, and immediately guessed who had been the informant. MacKenzie opened his mouth to reveal all of this . . . but instead replied, “The Council simply believed that you would make an excellent Elder. Despite being a whitelighter for only five years.”

The Austrian blinked. “Oh. Well . . . enjoy your tea.”

Smiling at the junior whitelighter, MacKenzie poured tea into his cup. He then took a sip. Not bad. “I must commend Jodhi on her brewing.” He drank the rest of his tea.

“Oh, Jodhi did not make the tea. I did.” MacKenzie stared at Johann, who added, “I knew that it was time for your tea and prepared a pot.”

Curious, MacKenzie asked, “Why?”

A wide, sinister smile curved Johann’s lips, raising the hackles on the back of MacKenzie’s neck. “So I could add poison from a darklighter’s arrow into your tea.” His smile widened. “And watch you slowly die.”

———

Johann strode into Artemus’ spacious library and bowed before the demonic CEO. “Your Eminence. I have some news.”

The demon cast a wary eye at the darklighter. “I do believe you’re being a little premature in calling me ‘Eminence’, Herr Bauer. I’m not the Source, yet.”

“But once the Whitelighters Council is destroyed and you have assumed control of the . . .”

Artemus interrupted, “That particular incident will not make me the Source, Johann. Only the Grimoire can make me the Source. Or Belthazor’s powers. And I doubt that he will be in the mood to hand them over. However, the idea of the Elders Council’s destruction is rather appealing. It will also impress certain demonic circles and give me a little extra credibility . . . and power.” He paused. “You were saying something about news?”

Johann nodded. “Yes. Two other Elders have been dispatched. One of them was,” the Austrian whitelighter smiled, “Elder MacKenzie Grant.” Artemus frowned. “He was one of the senior Elders, who had served on the Council for nearly 500 years, and has been a whitelighter even longer.”

“Well, I’m sure that his colleagues will mourn him.” Aretemus picked up a file from his desk. “And who will replace this MacKenzie?”

Johann shook his head. “The bodies of both MacKenzie and young Kevin have not been discovered yet. And the Council has not been able to replace the last three Elders.”

“When the Elders finally decides to re-organize, you should suggest that Mathilda be accepted back on the Council.” Aretemus opened the file.

Frowning, Johann asked, “Why? She’s the only veteran whitelighter who is permanently out of the way.”

Aretemus glanced up and stared at the darklighter. Who squirmed under his master’s direct stare. “I do not want Mathilda out of the way. I want her dead. I want the Council destroyed. And since Mathilda is a veteran, she is the only one capable of re-organizing the Council.” Artemus leaned forward. “I want Mathilda back on that Council, when you, Belinda and the others finally attack. Mathilda may be an arrogant bitch, but she is also a wily one. She will make sure that she has company, once the attacks begin. That way, no one will connect the murders to her. But once she is back on the Council, her guard will drop. And that is when you will kill her. Understand?”

The intensity of Artemus’ eyes caused Johann to shiver. “Yes Artemus. I understand perfectly.”

———

Phoebe descended the manor’s staircase, her mouth stretched into a yawn. Expecting her family inside the kitchen for breakfast, she was surprised to find them gathered in the living room. Along with Chris. Everyone wore a tense expression – except for Chris, who looked grim. “What’s going on?” she demanded, as she settled in one of the chairs.

Piper rocked Wyatt in her arms. “Apparently Chris has some bad news.” She stared at the young whitelighter. “Which he has yet to tell us.”

Chris hesitated. “Two more Elders have been killed.” The Halliwells gasped with surprise. Leo looked as if his world was falling apart. “One back in the Whitelighter Realm and one here on Earth.”

“Oh my God!” Leo exclaimed. “Natalia! Why haven’t . . .? I mean, how was she able to kill an Elder in the Realm, when she was last reported on Earth?”

Shooting the older whitelighter a contemptuous look, Chris retorted, “First of all, Miss Stepanova is only a suspect. No one knows for certain that she’s behind this. And if she was, she probably used her followers to commit . . . uh, to kill the Elders.” Chris paused. “Just as Mathilda had used you to get rid of Belthazor.”

“Okay! Just a damn minute!” Piper began angrily. She seemed upset at Chris’ potshot at her husband. “Leo had made a mistake. There’s no need to rub it in his face.”

“Sorry,” Chris muttered. Yet, Phoebe noticed that his expression remained unrepentant.

Leo asked, “Who had been killed?”

“Elder MacKenzie Grant,” Chris replied. “Someone had added poison from a darklighter’s arrow to his tea.”

Paige added, “Just like that Elder who was killed in Paris.”

Leo seemed shocked by the identity of the victim. “My God! Elder MacKenzie? He, Sylvester and Mathilda were the premiere Elders on the Council. MacKenzie had been around for nearly 600 years. Who was the other Elder?”

Chris answered, “He was a younger Council member. From the ticket that was found in his pocket, he must have just left a movie theater in Sausalito, when someone with a darklighter’s weapon . . .”

“What was his name?”

Glaring at the other whitelighter, Chris mumbled a name. “Who?” Phoebe demanded.

“Kevin James,” Chris said in a louder voice.

The name produced gasps from the Charmed Ones. “No!” Phoebe cried. “He can’t be dead!”

Chris added, “The police had found his body in some alley, earlier this morning. The Council sent a whitelighter to claim his body.”

“Oh my God! Kevin!” Paige shook her head in disbelief. “He was just a boy! Only thirteen.”

“He was an Elder.”

Frowning, Leo said, “That means there are only two original members of the Council left. Two out of seven.”

“Two out of four,” Chris corrected. “The Council hasn’t replaced Elders Pivet, Davis and Kulle. They now have five members to replace.”

Leo’s blue eyes grew wide with shock. “There are only four members on the Council? With two of them, newcomers?”

Still grief-stricken over the news of Kevin’s death, Phoebe said, “We have to help. We have to find out who’s responsible for killing Kevin.”

“And the other Elders,” Leo added.

Piper said, “Then we should find this Natalia Stepanova. After all, she’s the number one suspect.”

“What about a warlock?” Phoebe asked. “Or a demon? Don’t forget about that warlock who had managed to enter the Whitelighters Realm.”

Chris shook his head. “Yeah, I heard about that. No whitelighters – other than the Elders – have been reported dead for quite a while. At least not during the last four months I’ve been here.”

An uneasy expression appeared on Piper’s face. “That would mean a whitelighter is responsible for the deaths,” she said.

Leo nodded. “Natalia Stepanova.”

“My bet is that your old buddy, Mathilda, is responsible,” Paige countered.

As Leo opened his mouth to retort, Phoebe added, “I agree. C’mon Leo! You have to admit that she has the best motive. The Elders had kicked her off the Council.”

“I have an idea,” Piper said. “Why don’t we check the area where Kevin’s body was found? Maybe we can find a clue. Or Pheebs could get a vi. . .?”

Phoebe interrupted, “Uh, don’t forget that Paige and I have jobs. Maybe we can do this on our lunch breaks.” She turned to Chris. “Where was Kevin found?”

“Near a movie theater in Sausalito,” the young whitelighter answered. “I’ll meet you here at the house and orb you to the spot.”

Piper snapped, “Just tell us where to go.” Chris remained silent. She heaved an impatient sigh. “All right. I guess we can all meet here around noon. Okay?”

Everyone else nodded in agreement.

END OF CHAPTER 8