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The Bloomsberry Cucumber Festival is under way, and Lindy plans to avoid all vegetables, as usual. But then she ends up with a plateful of Granny Goose's slimy, disgusting stewed ...
The Bloomsberry Cucumber Festival is under way, and Lindy plans to avoid all vegetables, as usual. But then she ends up with a plateful of Granny Goose's slimy, disgusting stewed cucumbers.
And a mystery.
How did a valuable stolen locket end up buried in cucumber sludge?
Granny Goose is a wacky lady, but Lindy knows she'd never steal from anyone. So, with best friend Margaret and know-it-all Gus Kinnard, Lindy sets out to find out who's behind the frame-up.
Can the threesome work together? And can they untangle the mess of clues fast enough to save Granny Goose—and collect a hefty reward?
A Recipe for Robbery
Veggie-licious . . . (Not)
"Yuck!" I nudged my best friend, Margaret, and pointed to a bowl on the serving table in front of us. Long, wrinkled greenish things were floating in some kind of thick sauce.
Margaret's eyes widened. "What is that stuff?"
I lifted the lid for a better look. A glob of sauce oozed down the side of the bowl and onto the tablecloth. It looked like a mixture of curdled milk and motor oil.
"It's something one of the Tarts made," I whispered. That's my mom's cooking club—the Bloomsberry Tarts, to be exact. It's named for our little town of Bloomsberry, Florida, also known as the Cucumber Capital of the World.
Every June the Tarts help organize the Bloomsberry Cucumber Festival in honor of our local vegetable and fruit farmers. The club's members whip up gobs of veggie dishes for the big event, and some of them even dress in vegetable costumes and ride in the Main Street parade—like my mom. An hour ago, she'd been the carrot riding on my dad's fire truck. Dad and my six-year-old-brother, Henry, had been on the truck with her, dressed like beets.
Up until this year I'd always played along.
"You ready to become a radish, Lindy?" my dad had asked earlier that morning. He'd just come out of the bathroom, and his hands were dark red from the gel he'd used to color his and Henry's hair. "Your mom has the costume ready."
I'd stared at him for a couple of seconds, tongue-tied. I didn't want to make my dad feel bad, but I'd been plotting for a while on how to get out of this family tradition. "Uh, well, Margaret and I werekind of planning to, um—"
"Lindy says it's dumb to dress up like vegetables," Henry called from the bathroom. "She's not gonna do it this year. She says you and Mom will have to tie her up and drag her with you before she—"
"Those were not my exact words," I'd said. "And how come you were eavesdropping on my private phone conversation, anyway?"
Dad just laughed. "It's okay, kiddo. Guess you've finally outgrown the costume thing, huh?" He'd been right about that. No other sixth grader in Bloomsberry (that I knew of, anyway) wanted to ride the Sizzler in a smothering hot radish costume.
After watching the parade and checking out the midway rides, all Margaret and I had in mind was finding the perfect lunch: corn dogs, french fries, and strawberry shortcake. But those lines were already a mile long, so we'd decided to cruise the main food tent to see what else looked good. That's how we'd ended up at the Tarts' serving table; it was the only one without a line. My mom had even made a giant sign that said, Free! Veggie-licious Treats From Our Tarts to Your Hearts, but so far only a few people had trickled over to check it out.
Margaret leaned toward the motor oil casserole. She pinched her nose and glanced back up at me. Her eyes were crossed. "Oh, gross. It's sour cream. Quick! Put the lid back on."
I should've taken her advice. Instead, I stuck my face within an inch of the muck. So close I could count the peppercorns on top of it. Whew. I nearly passed out.
"Hey, I know what this is," I said. "It's cream of alien fingers, sautéed over worms and—"
"Go ahead!" boomed a woman's voice from behind us. "Try some of it, girls."
I spun around, nearly swallowing my tonsils as a two-hundred-pound cucumber shoved her way through a couple of Tarts and a farmer-looking guy and barreled toward me. A fat, long-necked goose waddled at her heels. I knew right away this particular cucumber was Mrs. Evelyn Unger, the wacky old lady who lives near our school and collects more stray animals than Barbie has bikinis. It's because of the pet goose she's always got tagging along that we kids call her Granny Goose.
Before I had a chance to get away, Granny Goose took a ladle and dumped three heaping mounds of the stuff on my plate. We're talking a Mount Everest of mushy crud.
"These are my swamp-dilly-scrumptious stewed cucumbers," she said, grinning at me. "That sauce bubbled in my Crock-Pot all night long. It's one of my best recipes. Pickles here adores it. Don't you, love?" She tugged at the leash in her hand, and her goose honked.
Then she leaned toward me, dropping her voice like we were undercover FBI agents working a top secret case. "But I want human opinions, if you know what I mean. I can't really trust a goose, for goodness' sake." She thumped me on the back and hooted with laughter before going on. "Listen up. I'm entering this recipe in the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Cook-off, and I need to know if all my ingredients complement the cucumbers. So after you eat it, give it to me straight, honey. Is it too heavy on the mushroom paste?"
Mushroom paste? Whoa. I had to swallow twice to keep my breakfast of Fruity Bears from crawling back up my throat. I turned to Margaret for help, but she wasn't standing beside me anymore. She'd already moved to the far end of the table and was helping herself to some mashed potatoes.
I squirmed under Granny Goose's smiling gaze, secretly plotting what I could do with her cucumbers. Just when I decided to accidentally trip and spill them all, I noticed my mother—otherwise known as Miss Perfect Manners—standing on the other side of the serving table with Henry. I groaned. Mom still had on her carrot costume, and the steely gleam in her eyes warned me she was totally into this vegetable thing.
I really couldn't risk making my mom mad, because I planned on begging her for something huge later that evening. So I took a deep breath and smiled at Granny Goose. "Er . . . thank you very much, Mrs. Unger. This sure does look interesting. I'll let you know about the mushroom paste."
"Yes, and it smells delightful," Mom said.A Recipe for Robbery. Copyright © by Marybeth Kelsey. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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