Teeny Templeton's Kitchen Diary
Food is one of man’s basic needs. A cook is a philosopher and a scientist--witha nurturing soul. That’s why I keep a food diary. It’s nothing fancy, just a spiralnotebook from the Dollar Store, but it’s a handy record of my kitchen memoriesand adventures, with a few photographs, quotes, and experiments gone awry.I spend a lot of time pondering how matters of the heart and mind are boundtogether—much like combining flour and oil to make a roux. Aunt Bluette usedto say a kitchen is much more than appliances and counter space—it’s a laboratoryfor life.That said, I don’t think cooking has to be complicated. Over the years, I’vecompiled some simple recipes for exhausted cooks. I’ve compiled a list of myfavorites. I hope you enjoy them.Love,Teeny Templeton
Teeny Templeton’s Kitchen Diary ................................ Food is one of man’s basic needs. A cook is a philosopher and a scientist--with a nurturing soul. That’s why I keep a food diary. It’s nothing fancy, just a spiral notebook from the Dollar Store, but it’s a handy record of my kitchen memories and adventures, with a few photographs, quotes, and experiments gone awry. I spend a lot of time pondering how matters of the heart and mind are bound together—much like combining flour and oil to make a roux. Aunt Bluette used to say a kitchen is much more than appliances and counter space—it’s a laboratory for life. That said, I don’t think cooking has to be complicated. Over the years, I’ve compiled some simple recipes for exhausted cooks. I’ve compiled a list of my favorites. I hope you enjoy them. Love, Teeny Templeton .......................................... Aunt Bluette’s Bird Biscuits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . “A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” — Chinese Proverb Today, while I organized my culinary gadget drawer, I found an old cookie cutter. It was one of my Aunt Bluette’s favorites—every spring she used the cutter to make “bird bread.” What you need canned biscuits (I used Pillsbury Grands) bird-shaped cookie cutter 1/4 stick melted butter pastry brush chopped parsley chocolate dots, or chopped chocolate (for the birds’ “eyes”) Procedure Dust a little flour onto a sheet of waxed paper. Use a rolling pin to gently flatten biscuits (roughly the size of your cookie cutter). Bake 350 degrees for 10 minutes or when browned. Remove from oven. Brush biscuits with melted butter. Press chocolate eye into the appropriate spot. Garnish with parsley. And that’s it! “I would rather learn from one bird how to sing than to teach 10,000 stars how not to dance.” — E. E. Cummings A Coastal Menu ................................ Endive with Grainy Mustard English Peas French bread with herbs and Garlic butter Peanut butter-chocolate cupcakes with Fluffy Icing Assorted Chocolates and Coffee .......................................... Pan-Fried Crab Cakes .......................................... What you need canned crabmeat, drained dry sherry bread crumbs salt, pepper, Tabasco chopped onions, celery, red bell pepper mayonnaise egg, beaten tiny bit of lemn juice Procedure Mix crab with beaten egg. Sautee onions, celery, peppers in a little heart-stopping but delicious bacon drippings. Remove from pan. Add to crab mixture. Now add a little mayonnaise and sherry and other condiments. Add breadcrumbs until you have the right consistency (the cakes will hold together, yet they aren’t soggy). Sautee in small amount of drippings, or a little butter (add a little olive oil...if you mix olive oil and butter into a pan, the food is less likely to burn). .......................................... Martha Stewart’s Endive & Grainy Mustard Salad .......................................... What you need 6 heads Belgian endive (this is a bitter green; to reduce *some* bitterness, remove the core from the stem. Martha says to buy it fresh=no green, just pale yellow. Also, it bitters up around sunlight). 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped 1 T. Italian parsley, chopped 1 t. grainy mustard 1 t. red-wine vinegar\ 4 t. Extra virgin olive oil salt, pepper personally? I added honey to taste. It was still too bitter for Dr. G, so I added sugar. Procedure Wash outer leaves and place in starfish pattern on the plate. Chop the remaining leaves (except for the bitter, bottom end). Add eggs & parsley. Make a vinaigrette with mustard, vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil. Salt and pepper (and honey) to taste. Pour into eggs and chopped endive and stir. Heap in center of “starfish.” Sprinkle with a bit of chopped parsley .......................................... Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes .......................................... What you need Chocolate cake mix Egg Water Oil Peanut Butter Cups (chopped) and Peanut Butter chips Procedure Follow the directions on the cake mix box. Then:Add chopped Reeses peanut butter cups (and unchopped peanut butter chips) to the batter. Bake according to directions. Pipe canned icing on the cooled cupcakes. If you don’t have a pastry bag, put the icing into a large plastic Baggie and snip one corner, then pipe little “waves” onto your cupcakes. .......................................... Gilding the Store-bought Cookie .......................................... Yesterday I bought a little box of chocolate chip cookies at the bakery, then I came home and “doctored” them. After melting the chocolate and peanut butter chips, I dipped & drizzled the cookies. dipped the rest of the cookies in chocolate, with more frenzied zigzags. What you need Store bought cookies (or homemade, of course!) Microwave dipping chocolate peanut butter chips squeeze bottle (a clean mustard bottle will work--or a fork, if you have a steady hand). waxed paper Procedure Melt the chocolate according to directions on the container. Melt the peanut butter chips in the microwave (I add a bit of milk after microwaving until the mixture reaches a “spreadable” consistency. Dip each cookie, just the edge. Alternate chocolate and peanut butter. Place remaining chocolate into a squeeze bottle. Set on waxed paper and drizzle. Dressing up Dressing up Store-Bought Desserts ................................ When spring fever hits and I am lost in the tulips (as my mama used to call it), home cooking falls by the wayside, and I rely on store-bought goodies. I made mud pies when I was a scruffy kid--and this cake reminds me of rich, dark potting soil that Aunt Bluette used for growing violets. At the supermarket, I found some irresistible hot cross buns, blueberry muffins, and a simple chocolate pound cake. Pansies and whipped cream are the busy cookâ€™s bestest friends. Shopping List: Chocolate pound cake from Kroger bakery, Hot Cross Buns from Publix bakery, Cool Whip Extra Creamy (or heavy whipping cream)organic pansies Teeny’s Menu for a Romantic Dinner .................................... Sometimes I’m too busy to cook. So why do I always find the time to eat? I love to feed people. It’s my “thing.” But if company is coming and I’m pressed for time, I’ve got the perfect menu. Mushroom Tart Salad with organic pansies Parmesan crisps Napoleons .......................................... Mushroom Tart .......................................... “A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” — Chinese Proverb Today, while I organized my culinary gadget drawer, I found an old cookie cutter. It was one of my Aunt Bluette’s favorites—every spring she used the cutter to make “bird bread.” What you need Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry sheets —2 (3 if you want to get fancy) mushrooms (shitake, etc) I used mushrooms leftover from another meal. 1 box shitakes, 1 box button mushrooms. shredded swiss cheese — 1 c, more if you like it cheesier rosemary — sprigs for garnishing and 2 sprigs (cut with scissors) to scatter over the tart chopped onions 1/4 c. leftover vegetables (peas) 1/2 c Procedure Sautee onions in butter. Add mushrooms, plus a little red wine (1 T) . Fold in peas. Line a deep pan with a thawed puff pastry sheet. Add mushrooms. Sprinkle with cheese. Place remaining sheet on top of mushroom mixture. (I used mushrooms leftover from the night before and added a handful of shitakes.)Crimp edges. Wash pastry with 1 egg plus a little water (whip with fork). Bake at 400 degrees 20 minutes or until pastry puffs and browns. To make the Fleur-di-lis center, I used the third, and final, puff pastry sheet. A large fleur-de-lis cookie cutter was used to cut out the centerpiece. The scraps were used for fun touches (see below). Garnish the tart with rosemary. But let it cool, or your rosemary will blacken in a flash. .......................................... Puff Pastry Animals .......................................... Whenever I have left over puff pastry scraps, I make “farm animal puffs.” What you need puff pastry scraps Easter cookie cutters pastry brush and rolling pin parsley butter chocolate bits Procedure Gently re-shape and roll dough on waxed paper, sprinkling rolling pin with flour. Don’t roll too much or the pastry won’t puff--and especially don’t roll to the edges. Spray cookie cutters with Pam. Cut dough, using cookie cutters of your choice. Place on parchment-lined pan. Refrigerate an hour. If you’ve had troubles with puff pastry in the past, sometimes it helps if you chill it. :Preheat oven, 400 degrees. Brush with egg wash (1 egg plus 1 t water). Bake for 10-15 minutes— keep an eye on them. Remove. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with chopped parsley. Let cool a bit and add chocolate “bits” for the eyes. .......................................... Parmesan Crisps .......................................... What you need shredded parmesan cheese cookie cutters non-stick cooking spray Procedure Select large cookie cutters. Spray inner surfaces of cutters with non-stick cooking spray. Set onto a baking pan. Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese inside cookie cutter. Bake at 350 degrees until brown. [Note: This took forever, maybe 25 minutes in my wonky oven.] Cool. The crisps “pop” out of the cookie cutter. .......................................... Garnishing Store-bought Napoleons .......................................... When time is short, garnishing desserts from the grocery-store bakery is a simple way to satisfy your sweet tooth and it will allow you spend time with your guests. These Napoleons could be garnished many, many ways. What you need Napoleons from Publix bakery kiwi slices Thin lime slices (remove rind) (edible) pansy buds and flowers .......................................... Low-Carb, Low-Cal Portobello Burger .......................................... Coop and I cooked out at his beach house last week. I couldnâ€™t wait to write about it in my diary. This burger really hit the spot. It was pure comfort food. What you need 2 lbs ground round 1/2 red onion, chopped portobello mushrooms 1 T Worcestershire sauce 1T catsup (we used a low carb brand) 1 t grainy mustard Salt & pepper to taste 1 egg, beaten white American cheese bacon roasted tomatoes (see below) low carb bread (grocery), 6 net carbs per slice Procedure Mix beef with onion, egg, and seasonings. Shape into patties. Grease grill with Pam or oil to prevent sticking. Cook 3 minutes on each side (high heat). Brush olive oil over sliced mushrooms and grill till tender. Build your burger, adding mayonnaise, sliced roasted tomatoes, bacon, mushrooms, and cheese. .......................................... Teenyâ€™s Roasted Tomatoes .......................................... I love fresh, simple food. Oven-roasted tomatoes are perfect for exhausted cooks. What you need Tomatoes Olive oil Salt and pepper Procedure Place on baking pan and drizzle with oil. Dust with salt & pepper. Bake at 220 degrees for 30 minutes. .......................................... Easy Bacon-Chive Cornbread .......................................... Sometimes my kitchen resembles Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory. The past few days I’ve stitched food together, scorched it, and turned it loose into the countryside. Today, I got lucky and made something time-saving and edible...with minimal effort. As usual. I found a box of cornbread mix in the pantry, and the mad scientist rose up in me. I’d used all the bacon for a pasta recipe, but I found a package of *real* bacon bits in the fridge. I added a few chopped chives, a farm egg, and 2% milk. Twenty minutes later, my experiment was ready. Nothing groundbreaking, but they were very good and at least I didn’t catch the stove on fire. The bacon pieces worked better than pan fried bacon (no grease and the texture held together); the chives added a hint of onion. What you need 1 box Old Glory cornbread mix (or Jiffy, Martha White, etc.) 1/2 bag Hormel Real Bacon pieces 4 T chopped chives (fresh--and finely chopped) 1 jumbo egg 2% milk Procedure Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin tins. Add milk and egg to mix. Spoon a layer, then add bacon and chives. Add another layer of cornbread batter. Gently stir each “cup.” Bake 20 minutes. Perfect with soups, salads, and pasta.Highly recommended for midnight snacks. Leftovers can be used for more kitchen experimentation--cubed and baked, then tossed in a salad instead of “croutons,” if there are leftovers. .......................................... Red Butler Hill’s Pancetta Carbonara* .......................................... Red is a huge fan of Giada De Laurentiis, and he adapted this from one of her divine recipes. What you need 8 oz pancetta, cut into bite-sized pieces 1.5 cups heavy cream salt and pepper to taste 1/2 package sun-dried tomatoes, chopped 4 strips bacon, cut up 1 package fresh linguine fresh chives, chopped Procedure Boil the linguine according to directions. Drain. Pan-fry pancetta and bacon, about 6 minutes on medium flame. Add sun-dried tomatoes and chives. Lower heat and add cream. Add pasta and stir. Simmer. .......................................... Carolina Seared Scallops .......................................... What you need Fresh scallops Non-stick pan Olive oil, salt, pepper, Italian parsley, red bell pepper Procedure Pat scallops dry with a paper towel. Season with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place in *hot* non-stick pan (we used a Le Crueset pan, sprayed with Pam, but any heavy pan will do)and sear on both sides, approximately 3 minutes or until they turn golden brown. If a milky liquid appears, drain pan and pat the scallops again with the paper towel. This will help give the scallops that lovely crust. As my Aunt Bluette used to say, “You can’t sear anything in liquid.” Remove from pan and plate the scallops on a bed of jasmine rice and roasted asparagus. Garnish with red bell peppers and Italian parsley. .......................................... A Teeny Spring Salad .......................................... What you need Mixed organic greens fresh strawberries, sliced chopped chives toasted nuts bacon & country ham—fried, drained, and chopped organic pansies (make sure no pesticides have ever touched them) Strawberry Vinaigrette* 1 T strawberry puree 1 T balsamic vinegar 3 T extra virgin olive oil salt & pepper to taste If you like a sweeter dressing, add honey (or artificial sweetener) to taste. *Adapted from a Rachael Ray vinaigrette at Food Network. .......................................... Reeses Peanut Butter Bars .......................................... Red is a huge fan of Giada De Laurentiis, and he adapted this from one of her divine recipes. What you need 1 box Krusteaz Bakery Style Peanut Butter Cookie Mix 1 tablespoon water 1 cup Reeses Peanut Butter chips 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips 1 egg 3 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil Procedure Mix egg, water, and oil in a large mixing bowl. Add cookie mix. (I used my KitchenAid and added a bit more oil, just a drop or two. This batter is dry and stiff. Grease your hands and pat batter into a 9 x 9 x 2” pan. Pat and pat. Add chips and apply gentle pressure to anchor them. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 28 minutes. Add Reeses sauce, if desired. .......................................... Almond Basil Shortbread .......................................... Coop and I hung out in my kitchen today, and he got tickled because my poor shortbread took all day to make and looked very weird, but he took back his jokes after he tasted it. If you’re thinking basil is an odd additive for a cookie, you are right, but it was fresh and delicious --a savory/sweet cookie that’s perfect with afternoon tea. What you need 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar 1 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour 1 teaspoon almond extract 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup (heaping)almonds (grind in a food processor or blender) 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil leaves 1 teaspoon orange zest 1 teaspoon lemon zest Procedure Place room temperature butter into a mixing bowl. I usually take my butter out of the refrigerator when I make my morning coffee, then I unwrap and place the butter into the mixing bowl. By the time I’m ready to cook, the butter will be soft. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. The almond extract and confectioners’ sugar will be added next; beat till fluffy. Find another bowl and mix flour and salt. I NEVER sift. I stir the flour with a fork (in the bag) and pour into a measuring cup. Add salt to the bowl and do the fork trick again. In small increments (1/4 c), add flour/salt to the whipped butter. Mix. Now, stir in the ground almonds and mix the dough on slow speed. Add basil and zest and stir to incorporate. Place two sheets of Saran Wrap on the counter and spray sheets with PAM. Place dough on the wrap. Chill at least 45 minutes. Spread flour onto a cutting board (or two sheets of waxed paper). Roll dough on paper. Using a cookie cutter, cut dough. Gather scrapes and knead a little, then roll onto board and continue cutting cookies. Place parchment paper in the bottom of cookie pans. Put uncooked cookies on the pan and chill for 15 minutes (at least). The dough is fragile and will stick to everything, even if you spray the rolling pin with PAM. I gave up and made a giant cookie, which I cut into bars. Preheat oven: 350 degrees.Bake till brown, 10-25 minutes. Enjoyed Teeny’s recipes? Read on for the first chapter of… GONE WITH A HANDSOMER MAN by Michael Lee West Available everywhere books are sold April 12, 2011 GONE WITH A HANDSOMER MAN by Michael Lee West Chapter 1 All I ever wanted in life was true love, a set of copper cookware, and the perfect recipe for Red Velvet cake. The last thing I wanted was to end up on Charleston’s six o’clock news, accused of murder and a slew of other crimes. It started Monday, the first week in June, when I got the dates wrong for my cake baking class. Numbers don’t usually stick in my mind, but this one did because it was my 29th birthday. My fiancé, Bing Jackson, surprised me with the darlingest gifts— pastry bags, a 53-piece Wilton Supreme decorating set, and eight pre-paid classes at the Vivienne Beaumont School of Cake Design. Before we left Bing’s house in Mount Pleasant, he opened a bottle of Möet and we toasted our upcoming wedding. Then we drove across the river into downtown Charleston and turned down East Bay Street. He pointed to a red brick building with a giant, neon cupcake sitting on the roof. “Teeny, this is where you’ll be every Thursday from seven to ten p.m.,” he said. “Classes start June fourth—that’s only three days from now.” A lot of women might have gotten suspicious over the exact details, but not me. Bing was all about timing. Thanks to the giant clock inside his head, he’d never been late to a real estate closing or open house. His Rolex was just for show. “Teenykins, I signed you up for this class because I want you to make our wedding cake,” he said. “But I don’t want something traditional. How about an 18-hole golf course? You can do sand traps and little spun-sugar balls.” “You bet.” I threw my arms around his neck. We were getting married in August—only ten weeks to go—and my thoughts were already skipping ahead to the wedding. Maybe I could make the groom’s cake, too, something unusual like a giant tee or a Big Bertha driver. On Thursday night, I put down the top on my beat-up turquoise Oldsmobile and drove from Bing’s house across the Cooper River. The school’s parking lot was empty and I began to fret. Was I Miss Vivienne’s only student, or had I arrived a tad early? I leaned toward the rearview mirror and combed my wind-blown hair—it’s long and blonde, prone to tangles. Normally I didn’t drive with the convertible top down, but my air conditioner was broken. I grabbed my cake decorating kit, along with the enrollment packet, and walked to the door. It was locked, and a memo was taped to the glass. Due to circumstances beyond Miss Vivienne’s control, classes had been rescheduled and would commence next Thursday. I walked back to my Olds and drove back to Mount Pleasant. When I passed the Piggly Wiggly on Ben Sawyer Boulevard, I did a U-turn and angled into the parking lot. I came out with an apple walnut salad with raspberry vinaigrette, a wedge of brie, and a cheesecake sampler. Nothing beats fresh, simple food on a sticky hot summer night in Charleston. It was almost eight o’clock when I turned down Rifle Range Road. The sky curved above me like an oyster shell, ribbed and grainy. Even though it was still daylight, the moon was on the rise, moving through the clouds like a dropped pearl. Long before Mama left for good, she used to say a full moon cleared troublesome matters of the heart, wiped the slate clean, and resolved unfinished business. My heart wasn’t burdened in the least as I sped down the highway. I turned into Jackson Estates, a new subdivision the economy had flattened. Bing owned all thirteen acres, and his green stucco house sat in the rear, surrounded by peach trees and empty lots. A real peaceful setting. But the minute I pulled into the driveway, I knew something was wrong. First, my bulldog, Sir, didn’t shoot out of the doggie door to greet me. Second, a white BMW convertible was parked under the mimosa. The license plate read, PAR-T-GIRL. Not a good sign. Not at all. From the backyard, I heard laughter, the high, twittery girlish kind. I stayed in my car, trying to get a deep breath, but the air was thick and watery. The last thing I needed was an asthma attack. I grabbed my inhaler and took a puff, then I got out of the car. Weeds brushed against my legs as I walked around the house. Our badminton net stood in the middle of the backyard. A boom box sat on the patio table, and Muse was singing, “Ruled by Secrecy,” which isn’t about cheating but ought to be. I started to holler for Bing when a naked brunette ran across the grass and swung her badminton racket at the birdie. I ducked behind a peach tree. Through the branches, I saw Bing and a tall redhead race toward the net. They were naked, too. I sucked in air, and it whistled through the thin gap between my front teeth. For weeks now, Bing had been pressuring me to do something kinky, but I had no idea he’d wanted a trifecta. Tears stung my eyes as I looked at the women. They had perky chi-chis, no tan lines, and no cellulite. Me, I’m a little too short and curvy, with brown eyes and the aforementioned blonde hair. When I was a little girl, Mama would get drunk and call me Possum Head. Sometimes she’d get on a roll and point out my major failings: my elbows were too far down, my teeth resembled a picket fence, I was too sweet and gullible, and my hair looked like something that grew in the Okefenokee Swamp. After she’d sober up, she’d hug me and say, “Teeny, nobody’s perfect. Besides, you’ve got a good heart.” Now that heart dropped to my navel and tapped a code: Run, Teeny. Run. The redhead grabbed the birdie. She was all legs and hair. Instead of hitting the birdie with her racquet, she giggled and threw it over the net. It was a prissy throw, but the brunette sacked the hell out of it. Bing took off running, his dangly parts swinging. I’d stood in line at Target to buy that badminton set. Bing had fussed when I’d called the white thing a birdie. He’d told me to call it by its proper name, a shuttlecock. Speaking of which, his privates jiggled violently as his racquet smashed into the birdie. It shot over the brunette’s head and thumped into my herb garden. “You get it,” the brunette told the redhead, then she struck a pose—hand on her hipbone, one leg bent at the knee, like she was a contestant in the Miss Tall Gal Pageant. The redhead squatted beside the rosemary bush and glanced around for the birdie. She wasn’t a knockout like her friend, but she was graceful. Bing slipped under the net, his straight blonde hair falling into his eyes, and placed the edge of the racquet under Miss Tall’s chin. Her head tilted back, and Bing kissed her pouty, wasp-stung lips like he’d never kissed me. I flattened my palms against the warm grass. A tear hit the back of my hand. St. Andrews Episcopal was reserved for our August 15th wedding. It wasn’t too late to cancel, right? I’d found true love once. I didn’t expect to find it again. But I didn’t have to settle for this. I could still opt for those copper pans and a good cake. My bulldog sniffed Miss Tall’s leg. She kicked him and Sir yelped. That did it. I wouldn’t let this skank abuse an innocent dog. I swallowed back tears. Things weren’t perfect between me and Bing, but I had no idea he was a man-whore. There’s no canary in the coal mine for cheating men. The redhead held up the birdie and looked past Bing, straight into my eyes. “Hey, there’s a girl watching us,” she yelled. I ducked low as Bing and Miss Tall broke apart. I’m mostly a calm person, but I wanted justice. I could break off a switch and beat their bony asses. But girls like that worked in a team. I’d end up in a body cast. “This is private property,” Bing cried. “Leave now, and I won’t call the police.” “You can call Jesus, for all I care,” I said. Sir’s head twisted when he heard my voice. I gazed up into the dark branches, each one loaded with hard, unripe fruit. I grabbed a low branch and shimmied up the trunk, not so easy in shorts. My legs would be a scratchy mess. “Who is she?” asked the redhead. She walked toward the net. “My fiancée,” Bing said. “I thought it was a dwarf,” said Miss Tall. I couldn’t argue with her. I’m barely 5’ 2”. When I was a kid, I was short in a noticeable way. It’s how I got my name. Bing tipped back his head. “Teeny, why are you in a tree?” he hollered up. “Why are you naked?” I called down. Sir ran to the tree and barked. I pulled off my engagement ring and threw it at Bing. He jumped back, like I’d hurled a watermelon. That gave me an idea. I grabbed a peach. In a month, it would be ripe, but now it was hard and heavy. I reared back and tossed it at Miss Tall. She ducked, and it hit Bing’s shoulder. “Hey!” he cried. “Cut that out.” “Screw you,” I yelled and lobbed another fruit. It smacked against Miss Tall’s hip. She screamed and threw her racquet at the tree. I grabbed another peach and aimed it at her mouth, but she ducked. The fruit hit the boom box; it knocked over and the music stopped. I tossed another and another. One peach smashed the redhead’s nose. Her chin snapped back, and blood trickled out of her nostrils, streaming over her lip. Bing stepped in front of her and spread his arms, shielding her. I fired down two more peaches. One whizzed over Bing’s head, but the other slammed into his nether-region. He screeched and doubled over. The redhead hung back, crying over her busted nose, but Miss Tall looked ready to fight. I threw peaches as fast as I could. It was like the old days when the pickers’ kids and I had fruit fights. “Dammit, Teeny. Get the hell out of that tree,” Bing cried. Though he was still bent into a C, he herded the women to the patio, into the house. Even the dog went. I stayed in the tree until Bing came back. He dared me to move as he pulled on his clothes. The police arrived a few minutes later. I started to climb down, but my hair caught on a branch. Bing’s entourage came out of the house. The women had gotten dressed. The redhead pressed a bag of frozen Brussels sprouts to her nose. “You’re going to jail,” she yelled. “I’m not the criminal,” I said. “This is pre-spousal abuse,” Bing cried. “Nobody hits me.” I didn’t get scared until two policemen advanced toward my tree. One was tall with pointy ears and the other had a caterpillar crawling on his lip. Then I saw it was a moustache. The pointyeared cop ordered me to climb down. While I tried to explain about the naked women and my snagged hair, Bing yelled, “I’ll get my chainsaw.” He walked toward the garage. “Bing, no,” I cried. In my mind, peach trees meant love, shelter, and comfort. I’d grown up on a peach farm in Bonaventure, Georgia. Bing knew how I felt. The engagement was broken but the tree should stay in one piece. The mustached cop looked up at me. “Lady, it’s against the law to hit people with peaches.” “Too bad I didn’t yank them baldheaded,” I said. “This ain’t funny,” the caterpillared cop yelled. Bing returned with the chain saw. I was in trouble now. Even though this was Mount Pleasant, I totally expected to get slapped with the death penalty. A mighty buzz filled the air as Bing leaned toward the tree. Bark churned in the air as the blade cut a wide kerf. The trunk cracked and leaned sideways. The cops lowered it to the ground and handcuffed me. Needless to say, the wedding was off.