Friday, 15 November 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--Cendrillon

Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I'll begin.

For the last few weeks we have been looking at picture book versions of the classic tale of Cinderella and I would like to look at one of my favourite versions today. This is the tale of Cendrillon set in the Caribbean. It was written by Robert San Souci who also brought us Cinderella Skeleton and was exquisitely illustrated by Brian Pinkney. These two also collaborated on another fantastic and lesser known fairy tale called The Faithful Friend. This is a well-told tale full of colloquial French which makes it really charming.

This tale is unusual in that it is told from the perspective of the magical helper. Our narrator was raised poor, but her mother left her a wand of mahogany when she was dying. On her deathbed, her mother told her that the wand could transform one object into another, but only for a short time and will only work if the magic is used to help someone you love.

Many years later, our narrator is a poor washer woman who becomes the godmother to a friend's baby. When Cendrillon's mother dies, our washer woman cares for her and loves her as if Cendrillon is her own child. When her father predictably remarries a terrible woman it is our narrator who nurtures our young girl and helps her grow into a resilient young woman.

When a fete is being thrown in honour of a neighbour's son, Cendrillon wants to go but cannot. It is here that our godmother becomes a fairy godmother. She uses the wand of mahogany to transform a breadfruit instead of a pumpkin into a fine carriage and indigenous animals into coachman and horses. Lastly she changes Cendrillon's calico dress into one of blue velvet, with a matching turban and a silk shawl and the obligatory pink embroidered slippers. She uses the magic to dress herself in red and attends the fete as Cendrillon's chaperone.

As predicted at the fete, Paul (who is as handsome and well spoken as a prince but also kind) falls for our heroine and is left with one pink slipper after their midnight curfew chimes.

Interestingly, we have our heroine take to her bed, grieving with a broken heart instead of the prince wasting away. Her sadness comes from the fact that she believes it was only the magic that attracted him to her ad he will not love her for who she really is. When he comes to the door with the slipper, her sister cannot fit into it with her sausage toes. Her godmother tries to use the magic to change her back to glamorous, but Cendrillon prefers that he sees her as she is---poor and barefoot. He says she is more beautiful that she was the night before, proving he is a keeper and they are married and live (as expected) happily ever after.

Now, here is the problem. I cannot find a video of this story that is both well told and that you can see the illustrations. The video where the story is read so beautifully only shows the cover art and the tale which shows the pictures is poorly read and she mispronounces everything including the name Cendrillon. This is terribly grating as you can imagine. So, i have opted to go for the well-told tale, but will link the video with the illustrations below if you want to watch it with the sound down.

Part 1

Part 2

Watch with the sound down to see the illustrations.

That's all for this week. Stay tuned next week as we look at a Fractured Fairy Tale.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Chilli Sauce Chilli

Hello lovelies! Brrrr! Cold weather is upon us and all I am craving at the end of a damp and chilly day is hot soups and spicy chilli. Chilli defeats chilly! Woohoo!

This recipe is adapted from a recipe card I picked up at a Sainsbury's about 10 years ago. It is one of my favourite meals and you can have it as chilli the first night and turn the leftovers into soup. It also freezes well. I am making some this week for a friend who is having a baby so she can have some food in the freezer for when the baby comes.

It's hearty and nourishing with a real stick to your ribs quality.

Chilli Sauce Chilli
2 onions, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 pepper, diced
plenty of garlic (I do about 6 cloves) 
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp red chilli flakes (or less)

1 tin tomatoes
2 tins black beans, drained and rinsed (or whatever kind of beans you have on hand)
1 tin kidney beans in chilli sauce
1 and 1/4 cup sweetcorn (defrosted if frozen)

50 grams dark chocolate bar chopped into tiny bit (optional, but not optional....this gives it a real rich depth of flavour. If you don't want to use a chocolate bar use 3 TB cocoa powder  but it won't be as nice)  
juice of one lime

1. Cook your onion in a splash of water until softened and then add the garlic, carrots and pepper. Cook for a few more minutes and then add your spices and stir to coat.
2. Add the tin tomatoes, beans, chilli sauce beans and sweet corn. Bring to boil then simmer until the carrots are tender.
3. Add in the chocolate and stir til melted and add the lime juice.
4. Serve over rice.

I save back a little less than half and the next night:
1. put the leftover chilli in a large pot with 4 cups vegetable stock and a small tin of coconut milk (about 3/4 cup?) then heat until bubbling. Add 100g (several big handfuls) kale and cook until kale is softened.

2 meals in one!

Friday, 8 November 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--Cindy Ellen

Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I'll begin.

This week we look at a wild west version of Cinderella entitled Cindy Ellen. It was written by Susan Lowell who also wrote the charming The Three Little Javelinas and is illustrated by Jane K Manning. This story is interesting as it is filled with lots of colloquial language and is a nice twist on our traditional tale.   

This tale begins with a rancher who remarried a woman who was "meaner than a rattlesnake" and had two daughters just the same.  The father's daughter Cindy Ellen was "as pretty as a peach" and a good cowgirl, but her new stepmother (who wore the pants in the family) made her do all the hard work like mending the fences, mucking out the corral and tending the cows.

One day an invitation comes from the biggest cattle king in the area to attend his two day event--a wild west rodeo followed by a square dance. Cindy Ellen longs to go as she is a great rider,  but is not allowed by her family. When her step family leaves to go to the rodeo in their frilly shirts and frizzed up hair, Cindy Ellen cries.

This behaviour is not unexpected--many Cinderellas just sit and cry and wait for change to happen to them. However, when her fairy Godmother appears and shoots her golden pistol in the air, she tells Cindy Ellen to stop blubbering and get some gumption. Cindy Ellen does and is rewarded with some new duds which include some golden spurs covered in diamonds. She goes to the rodeo and wins--both the competition and the heart of Joe Prince the cattle king's son. At the square dance the next night they dance until her midnight curfew and when she runs off she loses one of her golden spurs.

Joe Prince travels all over the prairie looking for a girl who can fit the delicate spur over their boot, but everyone's feet are too big. Of course, with her it fits and she can produce the second spur so they "get hitched" and live happily ever after.

That's all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a tale from the Caribbean.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Stir fry Noodle Bowl with BOSH Black Pepper Sauce

Hello lovelies! How have you been? Me--good, but insanely busy. We have been gearing up for my big book launch for my new book Wounds: New Openings Into Old Stories and I haven't had much time or energy to try new recipes--it's all been tried and true and quick and dirty. You know what I mean?

Last Friday, I finished work at 5:30pm, needed to go home and and eat and be back at work for 6:30 for an evening event. I knew I would need something that could be cooked in under 10 minutes to have to time to get there, eat and get back.  I figured if i did the food prep before work, I would just have to throw it in the pan when I got home.

I did decide to try one new component to the meal--a different sauce. I found this BOSH recipe in their cookbook that I got from the library and thought I would give it a try. I am so glad I did.

If you do the food prep ahead of time this cooks in 10 minutes.

Stir fry Noodle Bowl with BOSH Black Pepper Sauce
1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
small carrot (or half a big one) cut into matchsticks
half a red pepper, chopped
100g kale--several large handfuls

2 quick cooking noodle nests--ramen noodles would do, I use brown rice noodle nests that cook in 4 minutes

100ml vegetable stock
1 TB cornflour (I used tapioca starch) 
2 TB water
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp coarse ground black pepper
3 TB tamari or soy sauce
2 tsp rice wine vinegar

 1.Boil your kettle.
2. Throw all your veg except kale and chickpeas in a hot pan with 1/4 cup water.
3. When kettle boils pour over your noodle nests and cook for whatever the package time says and then drain.
4. While noodles are cooking and veg are cooking make the sauce in a small bowl or pyrex jug.
5. When noodles are done and draining, add the kale and chickpeas and the sauce to the veg and cook until kale is softened and sauce is thickened. Stir in noodles to mix.
6. Eat.

This will be a firm favourite for future nights when we are tired and busy. The pepper sauce was really tasty--spicy but not too hot if that makes sense.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Fairy Tale Halloween--Cinderella Skeleton

Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Halloween. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I'll begin.

Normally I publish a Fairy Tale post on a Friday, but as today is Halloween I wanted to post a day early.
Image result for cinderella skeleton
This is truly one of my favourite picture books. Cinderella Skeleton was written by the delightful author Robert D San Souci. He was a consultant at Disney Studios and wrote the story for Mulan. He studied folklore and often worked with his brother Daniel who was a children's book illustrator. He is responsible for some of my favourite folk tale retellings--The Talking Eggs and Cendrillon. Both of those are beautifully illustrated by the talented artistic family The Pinkneys with father Jerry Pinkney illustrating The Talking Eggs and son Brian Pinkney illustrating Cendrillon.

This story is perfectly illustrated by David Catrow who was a visual developer for animated films such as Despicable Me and Horton Hears a Who. To be honest, these illustrations *make* the book what it is. It is written in verse and Catrow's perfect illustrations compliment the text.

In this tale Cinderella Skeleton was "foulest in the land" and everything a ghoul should be with her dankish hair, yellow nails and teeth of green. She is forced to do all the work in their mausoleum--hanging cobwebs, arranging dead flowers in vases and putting dust and leaves on the floor. When they are invited to Prince Charnel's Halloween ball she is not allowed to go. What I like here is that she is a plucky heroine with some initiative. She doesn't sit and cry and wait for a fairy godmother to rescue her to make her dreams come true. She marches off without delay to the witch in the woods to ask for help. She is given a funeral wagon made from a jack-o-lantern pulled by nightmares (part horse/part dragon) and a beautiful dress that looks like it made of cobwebs. But the piece de resistance is the dandelion flower growing out of the top of her head like a crown. (See picture above.)

As in many of these stories, our heroine has a midnight curfew. After dancing with Prince Charnel all night she runs away. However, instead of leaving a shoe behind she leaves her whole foot which snaps off when the Prince tries to stop her from departing. This is a hilarious and charming detail that is rendered so well in the illustrations. Our Prince travels the land and every maiden snaps off her foot at the ankle for a chance to be his wife.

Finally, she hops into the room and our lovers are reunited. He says to her the funniest compliment I have ever heard and always want to quote:
"Your gleaming skull and burnished bones,
Your teeth like polished kidney stones...
you make each day a Halloween."

 My only complaint (if there is any) is that there are several spiders featured in the illustrations, none of which are remotely anatomically correct. Not even close. But the rest of the story is delightful.

Stay tuned next week for a Wild West version of this classic tale.

Friday, 25 October 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--The Irish Cinderlad

Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday.  Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I'll begin.

This week we look at another story by Shirley Climo. It's a nice inversion of the traditional Cinderella story as our protagonist is male.

There is not much in the story that indicates that this takes place in Ireland, but it is still an interesting retelling. I would have liked a bit more Irish culture as we had last week in the retelling of the Korean Cinderella.   In many of the female driven stories our heroine does not have a name. It should come as no surprise that this tale names our hero. His name is Becon and he was raised by his mother. His father is a peddler and is often away from home. After his mother died his father comes home from his peddling with a new wife and new sisters who predictably treat him badly.

As in other tales our hero is starved of food and affection and is befriended by a bull who acts as magical helper providing him with food and friendship. He then runs off and shows his bravery by defeating a giant and a dragon who was menacing a princess.  He saves her and then runs away leaving his boot behind.

Now, in the female versions where a glass slipper is involved we are told how small and dainty her foot is and how no one's feet were small enough to fit into the shoe. This tale subverts this by having Becon's feet be really large. The princess says she will only marry  the man who fits the boot. After much searching, they are reunited and married.
That's all for this week. Stay tuned next week for the tale of Cinderella Skeleton.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Korma Roasted Vegetables

Hello lovelies! I am a big fan of curry paste and it seems to have more depth of flavour that curry powder which can sometimes be chalky. There are lots of varieties of curry paste--we have used balti for years because the first recipe I ever cooked with curry paste suggested that one.

The newest Tesco magazine had lots of really good looking recipes that were vegan or easily adapted. One of the soup recipes called for korma curry paste. I have avoided korma curries when we have been to a restaurant as korma is a creamy curry and so is often filled with dairy, but as it turns out--the paste is vegan. Woohoo! It also has less oil than the balti paste, which is good as we are reducing our oil intake.

The one we buy is Patak's and a jar lasts for about 5 or 6 curries. Korma paste is slightly sweet, contains coconut and is mild. We tried the soup from Tesco magazine using the korma paste first--it was delicious but I didn't get a good picture. Well...I will just have to make it again then won't I? But this one was adapted from a recipe for Super Simple Chicken Curry Traybake. Like I usually do, I substituted chickpeas for chickens (they both start with ch, after all!) and it was a huge hit.

Except I accidentally forgot to put in the chickpeas. Oops. In my defence I was trying to have a video call with my mum at the time. It was still absolutely delicious and will be even more delicious with the addition of chickpeas.

Korma Roasted Vegetables
Preheat your oven to 200C/400F
Add the following to your largest roasting pan:
1 large onion or two smaller, roughly chopped
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 500g?) diced
punnet cherry tomatoes, cut in half
tin of chickpeas, drained and well rinsed (or not if you are talking to your mum on the phone!) 
1.5 TB korma curry paste

For later:
small tin of coconut milk or half a regular tin--around 3/4 cup
brown rice to serve

1. Put all your veg and chickpeas in your big roasting pan and add the curry paste. Stir well to coat all the veg with paste.
2. Roast for 15 minutes, remove from oven and stir. Add the coconut milk and stir again. Roast for an additional 15 minutes.
3. Serve over brown rice.

That's it. Most of it is hands off leaving you time to video call your dear old mum.