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Chapter 2 – Soup in the Snow

snow-soup

Jasmine knew it had snowed even before she had got out of bed.  Hidden under her quilt,  she could hear the magical silence outside that  comes with a heavy snow fall.  She was too warm and snuggly to get out of bed and so she stayed under the covers,  waiting for Mum to come in and tell her to get ready for school.  When she heard the telephone ring downstairs,  she knew it would be her cousin Lucy.  Mum came in and handed her the phone.

‘Hiya Lucy.  Don’t tell me – its snowing.’

‘Yeah and guess what else.  Its amazing.  You’ll never guess.’   replied Lucy excitedly.

Jasmine couldn’t think of anything else.  She was still half asleep.   And Lucy’s voice was so loud it was hurting her ears.

‘I give in.  What else?’

‘Well, you know that massive tree outside Mrs Clancy’s house.

It crashed down during the night.  It must have been the weight of the snow or something.’   Lucy was now speaking at the rate of a million words per minute,  but Jasmine was unable to share her excitement.

‘Yeah.  So what’s so amazing about that?’

‘Its  blocked the main road.’

‘So?’

‘So  – the road has been blocked,  the teachers can’t get through and so,  SCHOOL HAS BEEN CANCELLED!’  Lucy yelled triumphantly.

At last Jasmine had some news that was worth getting out of bed for.  ‘A day off school!  That IS amazing.   Let me get dressed and I’ll meet you outside Mrs Clancy’s in twenty minutes.   I want to thank this tree personally!’

It felt brilliant pulling on jeans and a jumper,  instead of her dull school uniform.  Jasmine pulled on her furry boots before wrapping herself up in her coat,  gloves and a scarf.   Outside it was a cold clear day,  with blue skies and bright sunshine,  and the snow was for the most part clean and untouched.   As she walked to meet Lucy,  Jasmine wondered whether they should go sledging,  or open the cafe instead.

Unfortunately the scene at Mrs Clancy’s was not quite so perfect.  The huge oak tree had come down,  completely blocking the road and smashing Mrs Clancy’s wall.  A police car was parked at the far side of the tree,  turning back the huge queue of traffic.   Mrs Clancy herself was stood outside her house,  clearly upset and apologising to whoever would listen for what had happened.

‘It’s not your fault,  Mrs Clancy,’  said Lucy kindly.  ‘The tree belongs to the Council.  Its not even on your property.’

‘I just feel I could have done something.’  Mrs Clancy wrung her hands anxiously.  ‘I see that tree from my window every day.  If my Arthur were alive,  I’m sure he would have spotted that something was wrong.  It’s a miracle no one was hurt.   The sound it made when it came down,  I thought it was an earthquake.  First this loud cracking and then a huge crash.’

Mrs Clancy’s hands started to shake and it seemed as though she was about to start to cry.

‘Lets go inside,’  said Jasmine,  taking Mrs Clancy by the arm,   ‘me and Lucy will make you a nice cup of tea.’

The girls had never been inside Mrs Clancy’s house before, although they had seen her many times around the village and at the shops.   The hall and living room were small and dark.  But,  at the back of the house,  the kitchen was large and warm,  with an old fashioned stove and a large wooden table.  Hanging from the walls were large pots and pans,  and there was a shelf filled with dusty old cookbooks.

While Lucy filled a kettle with water,  Jasmine asked Mrs Clancy about the cookbooks.

‘I used to be a cook in a large house,’  she explained ‘before I met Mr Clancy.   The family were very well to do,  and I used to live in the attic room,  and cooked all their meals for them.  I had to give it up when we were married,  but then I had him and my sons to feed.   I used to love cooking  but I don’t bother much nowdays.’

Jasmine and Lucy began to tell Mrs Clancy about their cafe and their delicious hot chocolate and shortbread.

‘I haven’t made shortbread for years,’  sighed Mrs Clancy.  ‘But I used to make it every day for my boys when they came home from school.   I’m glad you girls are still doing the old fashioned recipes.’

It wasn’t long before Mrs Clancy had calmed down and felt up to going outside again.   The traffic jam had gone,  and the tree was surrounded by neighbours,  wrapped up warm against the snow which had started to come down again.  They were all working together,  using axes and chainsaws to cut up the enormous tree and clear the road.

‘Aren’t they marvellous,’  said Mrs Clancy.  ‘Do you know,  you two girls have given me an idea.  Come with me into the kitchen.   You’re going to help me make some soup.’

Lucy and Jasmine were set to work at Mrs Clancy’s wooden table, helping to  chop onions,  garlic,  leeks and potatoes.  Mrs Clancy made soda bread and before long,  the kitchen was filled with the glorious smells of cooking bread and delicious soup.

The three of them carried trays filled with cups of the steaming soup and warm bread outside.  They were greeted by a loud cheer and Lucy and Jasmine felt very proud,  when people started to say how delicious the food was.

By the time they had helped Mrs Clancy clear up and wash the dishes,  it was nearly dark.

‘Do you know,’  said Mrs Clancy,  putting the last of the pans away.  ‘Being busy in the kitchen with you two girls took me back to when I used to be a cook in that fancy house in the city.  I’ve really enjoyed it.’

‘So have we,’ replied Jasmine and Lucy nodded her head in agreement.

‘You’ve made a terrible day into something special.  Now let me say thank you to you.’  Mrs Clancy reached up to the dusty shelf full of cooking books.  ‘ This is the first recipe book I ever owned, and it taught me to cook.  Now you two can have it.  Keep it safe and make sure you come and see me to let me know how you  get on.’

That night,  the girls showed the book to Jasmine’s mum.

‘You girls are getting a reputation for being good cooks.  I wonder what your next adventure is going to be.’

Lucy and Jasmine looked at each other and grinned.  They were wondering exactly the same thing!

Chapter 1 – Hot Chocolate and Shortbread

hot-choc

It was a frosty November day and Jasmine and Lucy were wandering around the village looking for something to do.   They were both wrapped up in gloves,  hats and scarves so that all you could see were their eyes and red noses.  Their breath froze into white clouds in front of their faces.It was too cold to go to the park and the library was shut.

The two girls walked slowly passed the window of the village cafe and peered in.  Everyone inside looked warm and snug,  eating,  drinking and chatting.   Jasmine and Lucy wished they could go in too,  but neither of them had any money.

‘Do you think if we asked your mum,  she would give us the money for hot chocolate?’  asked Jasmine.

Lucy shook her head.  ‘No way.  She’d just point at the cupboard and tell us to make our own hot chocolate.’

‘Yeah,  that’s what my mum would say.  But its not the same!’  Jasmine pushed her hands deeper into her pockets.  ‘I love going to cafes.  I’m going to open my own cafe when I grow up,  and I am going to do special things for kids so that they can always afford to come in.’

Jasmine was about to stomp off home when Lucy stopped her.   ‘Jazzy,  I’ve just had a brilliant idea!   Why don’t we make our own cafe,  in your mum’s garage!   Its almost empty,  and we could use those old picnic chairs and tables.’

‘But whose gonna come.  And what will we serve?’ asked Jasmine.

‘Hot chocolate of course.  We’ll just ring our friends from school.  And tell neighbours. It’ll be so cool!’

Now all they had to do was convince Jasmine’s mum,  but amazingly,   she thought it was a great idea.  There was loads of milk that needed using up in the fridge,  and she said that if they wanted,  they could make some shortbread to serve with the hot chocolate.

They found some old tables from the shed,  wiped them down and borrowed chairs from the house.  The garage looked a bit dull,  even with the light on,  so they put up some fairy lights.  They looked fantastic!

Mum showed them how to make the shortbread.   The girls couln’t believe how easy it was.  ‘Is that it?’ asked Lucy, screwing up her nose.   They made two trays, enough for 24 biscuits.   While it was cooking,  they started to call their friends.

‘Hi, it’s Jasmine.  Me and Lucy have opened a cafe!    Yes,  really!   It used to be the garage,  but its a cafe now.   Are you coming?   We’re serving hot chocolate and freshly made shortbread.  Fantastic – see you then.’

15 minutes later,  all the calls had been made and the shortbread in the oven smelled fantastic.   ‘I think that’s done,’   said Mum.  ‘Cut it up into squares and sprinkle sugar on the top.’

Now all they had to do was wait for their first customers.  It was half past three in the afternoon,  and it was already starting to go dark,  which made the fairy lights look even more special.    Jasmine and Lucy had decided to wear brightly coloured aprons,  to make themselves look more professional.    On an old blackboard,  they had written ‘Hot Chocolate and shortbread – just £1.’

‘I hope some people come soon, ‘ said Lucy,  after ten minutes of standing around.   ‘What if nobody comes!  All this hard work will have been a waste of time.’

Jasmine was so nervous that she was stood at the end of the drive looking down the road so she could be first to catch a glimpse.   She was looking so hard that her eyes started to hurt.  Suddenly she caught sight of a group of people coming towards them.

‘Its Freya and Emma,  and some people I don’t know!   I am sure they are coming to the cafe!  Get ready!’

A few minutes later,   the tables in the cafe were full.  People kept their coats on,  because it was fairly cold in the garage,  but every one loved the hot chocolate and especially the shortbread.   Jasmine heated the milk  and mixed the hot chocolate while Lucy lifted the pieces of shortbread onto plates.   Mum washed the pans and cups as they went along,  which was a good job because they were SO BUSY.    All their customers were chatting and laughing,  while saying how delicious everything was.  They especially loved the shortbread,  which was still warm from the oven.   Jasmine and Lucy rushed around,  showing new customers to their tables and taking orders.  They never stopped.

Two hours later,  the shortbread had all been sold and people were starting to leave.  Jasmine and Lucy were surprised to see it was now properly dark outside.  The time had just flown past.   They said goodbye to the last of their customer,  cleared the pots from the table and last of all switched off the fairy lights.   The cafe was shut.

That night,  Lucy and Jasmine were curled up on the settee,  exhausted but still excited about the day.

‘That was amazing,’  said Lucy.  ‘How much money have we made?’    Jasmine counted it up,  and once they had paid Mum for the milk and shortbread ingredients,   they had made a profit of £8!

‘So what are you girls going to do with your profits?’  asked Mum.   ‘Are you going to spend it in the cafe in the village?’

‘No way’  said Jasmine.  ‘Running a cafe is much more fun that being a customer.  We are going to plan our next menu.’

‘Wow’  said Mum.  ‘Well you two girls have worked so hard,  I think you’ve earned some hot chocolate yourselves.’

‘But there’s no more hot chocolate powder’,  moaned Jasmine,   ‘we used it all up.’

‘My special hot chocolate doesn’t need powder,’ said Mum.  A few minutes later she brought through two mugs of milk,  she’d whisked them up to make them frothy.  ‘Here’s the milk,’  she said handing them a mug each,  ‘and here’s the chocolate.’   She produced two chocolate flakes.  ‘Just dip them in.  They make the milk chocolatey and you can eat the melted chocolate as you go along.’

‘Just perfect,’  sighed Lucy.

‘I think we’ve found a new addition to the menu!’  said Jasmine.