"That's where the food goes, dear."
Relevant supplies having been identified, Handy Dave stood in the corner of the kitchen, looking with further fear as Suzanne Marr exclaimed in annoyance,
"We simply don't have time for beef wellington! We should make chicken en-croute!"
"Mrs Marr" Mrs Payne replied with amusement, "how might we en-croute a whole chicken?"
The kitchen was soon a hive of activity, with Mrs Payne making beef wellington and Suzanne Marr quite insistent regarding a whole chicken en-croute, both barking orders at Handy Dave, requiring this being sliced, or that being chopped. Molly Faith worked fearlessly on rolling out pastry, at which she was quite the expert, occasionally asking Handy Dave for a jot more flour. Two chickens, and two saddles of beef were covered in pastry as Molly Faith continued at a fearful pace, much to the admiration of Mrs Payne.
"You might like to stop now, Mrs Faith" Mrs Payne said kindly. Surveying her work, Molly Faith saw the trays of covered chicken and beef, and a whole counter of unused rolled pastry.
"Oh dear, I got rather carried away" Molly Faith said with dismay.
"Quite alright, dear" Mrs Payne said brightly, "we might have jam tarts with the remainder!" At this, much bickering commenced between Mrs Payne and Suzanne Marr regards whether to use marmalade or jam, resulting in both being used, and a fearful race to see who could fill the most pastry cases with their chosen preserve. Mrs Payne was most displeased as Suzanne Marr filled the last, and in a terrible accident, promptly dolloped a spoonful of preserve on Suzanne Marr's hand, exclaiming with shock,
"I'm terribly sorry, Mrs Marr!" as Molly Faith turned away to giggle rather.
Returning shortly before dinnertime, Molly Faith was delighted to find her tarts looking quite perfect. The trays having been removed from the oven, the tarts were carefully moved to cool, with a number positively welded to the tray. Judicious use of a knife by Mrs Payne found no success, except for bending the knife, and as they piled the used trays in a corner for cleaning later, Mrs Payne said with disappointment,
"I'll need a bigger knife".
It was some time later with a full dining room that Handy Dave was sent out to say gravely,
"I'm terribly sorry, dinner will be a while longer. Would you like a jam or marmalade tart?" The residents were terribly pleased by these, and nodded appreciatively when told Mrs Faith was the baker. This was duly passed on, to which Molly Faith was thrilled.
The tarts having been eaten in the dining room, it was nearing midnight that Barry Green appeared in the kitchen, saying optimistically,
"Might dinner be ready soon? We're fearfully hungry and there's dissension in the ranks!" Mrs Payne and Suzanne Marr checked their respective dishes, and seeing the pastry looking quite as delicious as the tarts, began taking them out of the ovens. Each exclaimed with pride of their dishes,
"Oh, they do look good!" The thermometer was soon prodding the wellingtons, finding them altogether cooked through. At this Molly Faith began carefully cutting into portions.
"They do look a bit dry!" Suzanne Marr said with satisfaction as she began using the thermometer on her chickens. After some poking of the thermometer, Suzanne Marr looked quite furious, and promptly slamming the trays back into the oven, saying brightly,
"Just a few more minutes! Might we wait with the wellington?" At this Mrs Payne said earnestly,
"Well, we wouldn't want the wellingtons to get any drier!" At this, Barry Green and Handy Dave began nervously transporting the items to the dining room, altogether avoiding Suzanne Marr's deathly stare.
It was universally acknowledged that the wellington was quite excellent, despite unfortunately small portions owing to a fearful lack of it. It was past 1 o'clock as Mrs Payne stacked with pride the empty plates for washing tomorrow as Suzanne Marr stared intently at the oven.
"Just a few minutes" Suzanne Marr said sternly, answering Mrs Payne's ambivalent gaze.
"Goodnight, dear" Mrs Payne said kindly.
Next part to be published Sunday 28th October 2012, 12pm UK
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