Hayley decided not to worry about Lex Bansfield. Unless she got served papers, or worse—was charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
Maybe her first instinct was right. Maybe it was not the right time to be going out on a date. She had way too much on her plate, plus she had to think about her column.
She decided to feature a decent New England clam chowder as a soup course. After nearly barfing up the rancid goop she’d tried at the hospital cafeteria, she knew her mother’s tried and true recipe would be a bona fide winner.
That’s what she would go with.
She sent her mother a message on Facebook. But after a few hours, she decided to call her in Florida since her mother rarely used the computer and got nervous thinking every website she went to had an insidious virus waiting to infect her HP desktop.
Everything to Hayley’s mother was some kind of evil conspiracy.
Hayley punched in her mother’s cell phone number and waited for her to pick up. She thought she was going to get her mother’s voice mail but on the fourth ring, a suspicious voice said in a deep tone, “Hello? Who is this?”
“Relax, Ma, it’s just me,” Hayley said.
“Your only daughter. Hayley, Mom. It’s Hayley.”
“Oh, hello. I’m about to go play a round of golf with Stan so make it quick.”
Hayley’s mother, Sheila, wasn’t one of those needy mothers who expected their kids to call a few times a week or even a few times a month to check in on her. She had a busy life, with a new beau she’d met at her retirement community near Melbourne, and very little time for small talk in between senior cruises and early bird specials.
“So did you go to the paper’s website and read my new column?”
“Yes. They should put a better picture of you in there. Your teeth look crooked.”
Always so supportive.
“Anyway, I’m doing a soup course next and I want your clam chowder recipe.”
There was a long awkward pause.
“You don’t mind giving it to me, do you?” Hayley said.
“No. I just don’t feel comfortable giving it to you over the phone. You know Homeland Security is listening in to everything we are saying right now.”
“Ma, I’m going to print it in the paper. If they really want to know your recipe, they can just read my column.”
“You know we’ve been on their list ever since your brother started dating that boy from the Middle East.”
“Sergio is Brazilian, Ma. He’s not from the Middle East. And he’s not a boy. He just turned forty.”
“Those CIA spooks are everywhere. Stan went to call Time Warner to complain about not having the Military Channel on his lineup and he swore he heard a clicking sound like his phone was being tapped. The cable woman said he was just being transferred. They’ll say anything to cover their tracks.”
Hayley took a deep breath. “So are you going to give me the recipe or not?”
“Fine,” Sheila sighed. “They know everything already anyway. What’s my panty size, Agent Triple X, you want to tell me that? I know you’re listening to us right now!”
“Fine. You got a pen?”
Hayley rummaged through her bag and found a pen, but she couldn’t find any paper so she scribbled down her mother’s instructions on a used lotto ticket, yet another one she’d bought with her hard-earned cash that came up empty.
After indulging her mother for another few minutes discussing senior profiling at airport security, Hayley hung up and left the office to buy what she needed at the Shop ’n Save to try out the clam chowder recipe.
She pushed her cart down the spice aisle and was eyeing her list on the lotto ticket. She only needed one last ingredient and was hoping to beat the after-work rush in the checkout lines when she suddenly slammed into another grocery cart.
One that was being wheeled by Karen Applebaum.
Hayley dropped her lotto ticket and her open bag. All the contents went scattering across the tiled floor.
Karen just stood there, eyes flaring, her white knuckles gripping the handle of the cart, not saying a word.
Great, Hayley thought, first the bank and now here.
“I’m so sorry, Karen,” Hayley said in a conciliatory tone.
“You really should watch where you’re going,” Karen said haughtily.
Hayley shrugged and then knelt down to scoop up the contents of her bag.
Karen sighed. “Do you need some help?”
“No thanks,” Hayley said. “I got it.”
An elderly woman rounded the corner with her cart and stopped, unable to get past the two other carts and Hayley’s belongings littering the floor.
Karen hissed, “You’re blocking the aisle. I’ll help. Just hurry up.”
Hayley felt her face burning again. This woman was insufferable.
Karen knelt down and picked up one eyebrow liner and waved it in Hayley’s face. “Here.”
Hayley clenched her teeth. “Thank you.”
Hayley went to take it from her, but Karen’s hand was wrapped around it in a viselike grip and she wasn’t letting it go. They struggled for possession of the eyebrow liner for a few seconds before Karen leaned forward and whispered in Hayley’s ear, “That was my recipe. You stole it.”
Karen suddenly let go of the eyebrow liner and Hayley fell back, slamming into the spice rack and knocking over a few bottles of paprika.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Hayley said.
recipe for Maine Crab Stuffed Mushrooms. I don’t know how you got your hands on it, but this means war.”
“I can assure you, Karen, that was my recipe. It’s been in my family for years.”
“You’re a lying bitch. And if you even dare come near my pan fried dumplings or Swedish meatballs, I will take you down.”
“You really are bananas, you know that?”
“You’re on my radar, Hayley Powell. You just better watch yourself.”
And with that, Karen Applebaum stood back up and pushed her cart past Hayley’s and stormed down the aisle.
Several shoppers, their mouths agape, watched the scene with rapt attention.
Hayley hated scenes. Karen looked so evil. Just like that Disney villain. And Hayley was suddenly afraid of winding up sleepwalking during the night and coming across a spinning wheel where she would prick her finger and slip into a deep coma never to awaken unless her lips were touched by a true love’s kiss.
Fat chance that would happen. There was only one guy in town she was attracted to and as for him, she had just nearly killed him with her car and then stupidly turned him down flat when he asked her out on a date.
Life sure could be depressing sometimes.
By the time Hayley arrived home from the market with her ingredients for the clam chowder, Gemma and Dustin were already eating day-old pizza warmed up in the oven and watching an Adam Sandler comedy on TV.
“I’m making a clam chowder so stop snacking on pizza!” Hayley said as she hurriedly unloaded her grocery bags.
A few grunts were heard from the living room. At least they were acknowledging she was actually in the house. Unlike her children, her dog, Leroy, was running around her in his usual circles, nipping at her pant leg, acting as if she had just returned from a two-year journey around the world. She tossed him a doggie treat as a reward for his utter devotion to her.
Hayley rifled through her bag for the lotto ticket where she had written down all the ingredients and instructions her mother had given her, but couldn’t find it. She emptied the bag on the counter, sorting every hairbrush and silver wrapped piece of chewing gum, but there was no sign of it. She then searched through all her pockets.
She knew she had it when she was at the store because she was holding it in her hand to make sure she didn’t forget any of the ingredients she needed.
Maybe she dropped it when she slammed into Karen Applebaum’s grocery cart. That’s the only explanation that made sense. She didn’t want to call her mother again, so she decided to re-create the cooking instructions from memory.
By the time she was finished, the kids were drawn into the kitchen by the delicious smell and began chowing down on it. They didn’t even wait for Hayley to sprinkle those cute little fish crackers on top, they were so ravenous. Hayley knew her chowder was a hit if her kids liked it. They were the pickiest eaters in the world.
Hayley sat down at the dining room table and began pounding out her column on her laptop. Leroy nestled in her lap, snoring softly. The kids went upstairs to do their homework. Or at least that’s what they told her. It was going on midnight when Hayley finally finished and e-mailed the column to the office.
Hayley was finally starting to feel like a real bona fide writer.
She slept surprisingly well given how much was on her mind. Hitting Lex in the crosswalk. The altercation with Karen at the grocery store.
And she even leapt out of bed the following morning without waiting for the alarm clock to annoy her into crawling out of bed. That was definitely a first.
She took Leroy out for a brief walk around the block, and even had time to iron her blouse before she was in her car by 7:45
and on her way to the office.
That’s when all hell broke loose. When she arrived at work, Sal was already there with a tall, lanky IT guy who was busily working on his computer. Eddie and Bruce were there as well, watching nervously. This was definitely another first. Hayley was always the first one to arrive at the office in the morning.
“What’s going on?” she asked as she went to pour herself a cup of coffee.
“There was a power surge in the building last night. Blew out the whole network of computers,” Bruce said.
“What?” Hayley said, nearly spilling hot coffee all over Bruce’s shirt.
“Sal’s got a guy working on it. Says we should be back up and running by noon, but we’ll be behind schedule, which means the paper’s going to be late coming out today,” Eddie said.
The paper had come out late before. When Sal’s wife had a baby. When a snowstorm swept through town with such force one February morning that everybody had to stay home. So it didn’t seem like such a crisis.
Little did Hayley know just what kind of crisis would balloon after this seemingly harmless office setback.
The IT guy was true to his word. By noon, the computers were humming like new, and the next issue was back on track again. Bruce had taken the morning to go interview the chief of police about the Razor Rick break-in, and when he returned to the office, he had a copy of the
Bar Harbor Herald
tucked under his arm.
Apparently they didn’t have a power surge at their office.
“I wonder what scrumptious delicacy Karen Applebaum wrote about this week,” Bruce said, thumbing through the paper. “I just love her column.”
“Don’t start with me, Bruce,” Hayley sighed. “I’m not in the mood.”
Bruce cleared his throat and skimmed Karen’s column. “Looks like a yummy recipe for a delicious New England clam chowder.”
“You can’t be serious,” Hayley said, grabbing the paper from Bruce.
Hayley’s mouth dropped open as she perused the column. Karen Applebaum’s recipe was an exact word-for-word replica of Hayley’s own. This could not be happening. The
Bar Harbor Herald
was already plastered all over town. When the
came out, it would look like Hayley was copying her. How did this happen?
The supermarket! When Karen banged her cart into Hayley’s and all the contents of her bag went scattering across the floor, Hayley must have dropped the lotto ticket. And when Karen bent down to pick up the eyebrow liner, she could easily have seen the recipe and pocketed the ticket. But Karen Applebaum couldn’t possibly be that sinister and devious.
Of course she could!
Hayley was fuming. She had been outplayed. And she wouldn’t be surprised if Karen somehow caused the power surge that delayed the paper. Who knew what that scheming witch was capable of? She had a lot of connections in town.
Hayley dashed into Sal’s office to stop him from running her column, but it was too late. The paper had already been put to bed and was now being printed and, worse, Hayley’s column had already been posted online.
Within minutes, her phone started ringing with people wanting to know why Hayley had stolen poor Karen Applebaum’s New England clam chowder recipe. Much to Hayley’s horror, it was quickly becoming obvious that the whole town was not only going to eat up two identical recipes for New England clam chowder, but also this delicious dishy feud between the two dueling kitchen divas of Bar Harbor.
Island Food & Spirits
by Hayley Powell
Have you ever had one of those days? Well, I certainly had a long one today, after fighting my way through the grocery store and losing my shopping list, then trying to remember everything on it. I couldn’t wait to get home and have a relaxing cocktail. Which reminds me. Last night when I was watching the Food Network, Sandra Lee made a fantastic concoction of vodka, club soda, and a splash of cranberry juice garnished with a lime, so I decided to try that and, wow, what a refreshing way to relax and begin your evening.
I envy that woman, with her cute little chic outfits that always match her kitchen décor, plates, glasses, and even her napkins so perfectly. When I get home, I grab the first pair of sweats I find lying on the bedroom floor and a t-shirt three sizes too big, which lately hasn’t seemed so big (note to self: start using the gym membership I transferred from my son’s name to mine and swore I was going to start using regularly).
So having a few minutes to myself before starting dinner (which is rare at my house because usually my kids cannot wait for dinner and start munching on leftovers before I even have a chance to get one frying pan on the burner), I decided to take my dog Leroy for a quick walk to the shore path and back in an effort to try and loosen up that T-shirt.
After filling my “To Go Cup,” we headed out. I was hoping not too many people would be there as Leroy can be quite a handful. But just my luck, as soon as we arrived, he began barking at seagulls and lunging at other dogs passing us by. My dream of relaxing and sitting by the water was completely shattered so when he pulled extra hard on his leash and broke free, I just gave up and sat down to watch him dig up every clam and mussel he could find.
Watching Leroy dig up the clams reminded me of a recipe I wanted to share with you this week.
I thought of it recently while looking for a small snack in the hospital cafeteria. I was there visiting a dear friend who had the unfortunate experience of being struck down by a car. Not to worry though. With the fast, highly skilled excellent care he received at our local hospital, I know he will be absolutely fine with just a scratch that shouldn’t even leave a scar. So I’m absolutely positive that it’s in my dear friend’s best interest and health that he should just forget about this small bump in the road and move forward and not look back and dwell on it.
Well, on to the secret recipe that has been safeguarded in my family for generations. One that I got from my mother and plan on handing down to my own children. But it’s just so good, I’ve decided to share it with you.
I thought my family’s secret New England clam chowder recipe would be the perfect recipe for our soup course. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do. So make yourself a cocktail, relax, and eat up this delicious recipe.
New England Clam Chowder
2 ½ cups water
20 to 30 fresh clams (which I buy at my friend Mona’s shop so I know they’ll be fresh)
2 strips thick sliced bacon
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
4 Tablespoons flour
1 clove garlic, minced
4 medium red potatoes, peeled and diced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 cups half & half
Pour 1 cup of the water in a large stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add clams, cover pot; reduce heat to medium and steam for 5 to 7 minutes or until clams start to open. Remove clams from pot as they open. Throw out any unopened clams.
Remove clams from shells, chop clams, and set aside.
Cook bacon in large saucepan until crisp. Remove bacon to paper towels, leave dripping in pan. Crumble bacon when cool enough to handle.
Add onion, celery, flour, and garlic to bacon drippings. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes or until veggies are crisp tender. Remove from heat.
Add potatoes to onion mixture. Stir in remaining 1 ½ cups of water, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a medium low and simmer uncovered until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
Stir in half & half and chopped clams, heat through over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Throw out your bay leaf. Stir in bacon. Serve with your favorite crackers (my kids prefer the Goldfish over the traditional Oyster Crackers).