Friday, 19 July 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--Fair Maria Wood (Italy, 1885)

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

This week we look at another tale from Italy collected by Thomas Frederick Crane in his 1885 Italian Popular Tales. Crane was an American folklorist, academic and lawyer who taught French, Italian, Spanish, and medieval literature. We looked at another of his Cinderella stories  HERE back in February.

Fair Maria Wood is another of those tales where the dying mother causes the hardship for her daughter later in life. It doesn’t seem a passive-aggressive selfish request like the ones that say, “don’t marry again unless you find someone as beautiful or wise as me.” She simply states that her ring has to fit the next wife well or her husband should not remarry at all. Perhaps this is just a more subtle tactic using the same logic as finding someone as beautiful or wise. I don't know. 

He can’t find someone that the ring fits and so he forces his daughter to try it and of course it fits. She protests and says she cannot marry her own father, but the story says he wanted to marry his daughter nolens volens. I had to look this term up as I was unfamiliar with nolens volens. It means “whether a person wants or likes something or not.”

She consents but asks for the usual things: many dresses each handsomer than the last and one not so usual thing—an airtight dress of wood that she might conceal herself in. You would think this request would arouse suspicion in her father/husband but it did not. Then she packs all her silk dresses in the wooden dress and throws herself into the river where she bobs like a cork and floats away.

She is taken in as a house servant claiming that she is so poor that all she has is a dress of wood. She is treated badly, first by the lady of the house who refuses her request to go to the ball by shouting that she was dressed so badly she would not be welcome and then the next day by her son who beats our heroine severely on the head with a stick for the impudence of a servant asking to go to the ball. The story says she wept but remained silent.

Despite the beating and the curious lack of bruises she once again dresses in her silk dress and goes to the ball to enchant him in her disguise. The gentleman is so bereft that he falls quite ill unto death and only the beautiful maiden can save him. She uses the diamond ring which he gave her to reveal her identity and the story ends with this speech:

"I am the woman dressed in wood who was your servant. It is not true that I was a poor girl, but I had that dress to conceal myself in, for underneath it I was the same that I am now. I am a lady; and although you treated me so badly when I asked to go to the ball, I saw that you loved me, and now I have come to save you from death.”

This, to me, does not bode well for their relationship. That is not what love is, Fair Maria Wood. I wish better things for you.
Image result for wooden barrel
Fair Maria Wood source
There was once a husband and wife who had but one child, a daughter. Now it happened that the wife fell ill and was at the point of death. Before dying she called her husband, and said to him, weeping, "I am dying; you are still young; if you ever wish to marry again, be mindful to choose a wife whom my wedding ring fits; and if you cannot find a lady whom it fits well, do not marry."

Her husband promised that he would do so. When she was dead he took off her wedding ring and kept it until he desired to marry again. Then he sought for someone to please him. He went from one to another, but the ring fitted no one. He tried so many but in vain. One day he thought of calling his daughter and trying the ring on her to see whether it fitted her. The daughter said, "It is useless, dear father; you cannot marry me, because you are my father."

He did not heed her, put the ring on her finger, and saw that it fitted her well, and wanted to marry his daughter nolens volens. She did not oppose him but consented. The day of the wedding, he asked her what she wanted. She said that she wished four silk dresses, the most beautiful that could be seen. He, who was a gentleman, gratified her wish and took her the four dresses, one handsomer than the other, and all the handsomest that had ever been seen.

"Now, what else do you want?" said he.

"I want another dress, made of wood, so that I can conceal myself in it." And at once he had this wooden dress made. She was well pleased. She waited until one day her husband was out of sight, put on the wooden dress, and under it the four silk dresses, and went away to a certain river not far off, and threw herself in it. Instead of sinking and drowning, she floated, for the wooden dress kept her up.

The water carried her a long way, when she saw on the bank a gentleman, and began to cry, "Who wants the fair Maria Wood?"

That gentleman who saw her on the water, and whom she addressed, called her and she came to the bank and saluted him.

"How is it that you are thus dressed in wood, and come floating on the water without drowning?"

She told him that she was a poor girl who had only that dress of wood, and that she wanted to go out to service.

"What can you do?"

"I can do all that is needed in a house, and if you would only take me for a servant you would be satisfied."

He took her to his house, where his mother was, and told her all that had happened, saying, "If you, dear mother, will take her as a servant, we can try her." In short, she took her and was pleased with this woman dressed in wood.

It happened that there were balls at that place which the best ladies and gentlemen attended. The gentleman who had the servant dressed in wood prepared to go to the ball, and after he had departed, the servant said to his mother, "Do me this kindness, mistress: let me go to the ball too, for I have never seen any dancing."

"What, you wish to go to the ball so badly dressed that they would drive you away as soon as they saw you!" The servant was silent and when the mistress was in bed, dressed herself in one of her silk dresses and became the most beautiful woman that was ever seen. She went to the ball, and it seemed as if the sun had entered the room; all were dazzled. She sat down near her master, who asked her to dance, and would dance with no one but her. She pleased him so much that he fell in love with her. He asked her who she was and where she came from. She replied that she came from a distance but told him nothing more.

At a certain hour, without anyone perceiving it, she went out and disappeared. She returned home and put on her wooden dress again. In the morning the master returned from the ball, and said to his mother, "Oh! if you had only seen what a beautiful lady there was at the ball! She appeared like the sun, she was so beautiful and well dressed. She sat down near me and would not dance with anyone but me."

His mother then said, "Did you not ask her who she was and where she came from?"

"She would only tell me that she came from a distance; but I thought I should die; I wish to go again this evening." The servant heard all this dialogue, but kept silent, pretending that the matter did not concern her.

In the evening he prepared himself again for the ball, and the servant said to him, "Master, yesterday evening I asked your mamma to let me, too, go to the ball, for I have never seen dancing, but she would not; will you have the kindness to let me go this evening?"

"Be still, you ugly creature, the ball is no place for you!"

"Do me this favour," she said, weeping, "I will stand out of doors, or under a bench, or in a corner so no one shall see me; but let me go!"

He grew angry then and took a stick and began to beat the poor servant. She wept and remained silent.

After he had gone, she waited until his mother was in bed, and put on a dress finer than the first, and so rich as to astonish, and away to the ball! When she arrived all began to gaze at her, for they had never seen anything more beautiful. All the handsomest young men surrounded her and asked her to dance; but she would have nothing to do with anyone but her master. He again asked her who she was, and she said she would tell him later.

They danced and danced, and all at once she disappeared. Her master ran here and there, asked one and another, but no one could tell him where she had gone. He returned home and told his mother all that had passed. She said to him, "Do you know what you must do? Take this diamond ring, and when she dances with you give it to her; and if she takes it, it is a sign that she loves you." She gave him the ring. The servant listened, saw everything, and was silent.

In the evening the master prepared for the ball and the servant again asked him to take her, and again he beat her. He went to the ball, and after midnight, as before, the beautiful lady returned more beautiful than before, and as usual would dance only with her master. At the right moment he took out the diamond ring and asked her if she would accept it. She took it and thanked him, and he was happy and satisfied. Afterwards he asked her again who she was and where from. She said that she was of that country,
That when they speak of going to a ball
They are beaten on the head

and said no more. At the usual hour she stopped dancing and departed. He ran after her, but she went like the wind, and reached home without his finding out where she went. But he ran so in all directions, and was in such suffering, that when he reached home, he was obliged to go to bed more dead than alive. Then he fell ill and grew worse every day, so that all said he would die. He did nothing but ask his mother and everyone if they knew anything of that lady, and that he would die if he did not see her. The servant heard everything; and one day, when he was very ill, what did she think of? She waited until her mistress's eye was turned and dropped the diamond ring in the broth her master was to eat. No one saw her, and his mother took him the broth. He began to eat it, when he felt something hard, saw something shine, and took it out. You can imagine how he looked at it and recognized the diamond ring! They thought he would go mad. He asked his mother if that was the ring and she swore that it was, and all happy, she said that now he would see her again.
Meanwhile the servant went to her room, took off her wooden dress, and put on one all of silk, so that she appeared a beauty, and went to the room of the sick man. His mother saw her and began to cry, 

"Here she is; here she is!" She went in and saluted him, smiling, and he was so beside himself that he became well at once. He asked her to tell him her story: who she was, where she came from, how she came, and how she knew that he was ill.

She replied, "I am the woman dressed in wood who was your servant. It is not true that I was a poor girl, but I had that dress to conceal myself in, for underneath it I was the same that I am now. I am a lady; and although you treated me so badly when I asked to go to the ball, I saw that you loved me, and now I have come to save you from death." You can believe that they stayed to hear her story. 

They were married and have always been happy and still are.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned for an even more bizarre version of Maria Wood next week.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Spag Bol with Walnut Meat

Hello lovelies! Summer is upon us and I want healthy meals that are easy to cook and don't take ages slaving over a hot stove with no air conditioning. Pasta is always a good option and there are some great Gluten free pastas out there.

I love Spaghetti Bolognese aka Spag Bol aka pasta with meat sauce. I make an amazing one with lentils in place of ground meat but it takes AGES for the lentils to cook and while this is delicious, if I have come home late from work and am hungry, I don't have time to wait ages for lentils to cook. I get HANGRY (Hungry + Angry.)

Don't make me HANGRY. You won't like me when I am HANGRY.

But then I thought....why not just use my WALNUT TACO MEAT to make it go quicker. This was a HUGE success. It was meaty and delicious and came together quickly as you don't have to cook the walnuts.

Plus, you don't use all the walnut meat...there was enough for another quick meal the next day. Bonus!

Spag Bol with Walnut Meat

1 onion, finely diced
half a red pepper, diced
lots of garlic
1/4 cup red wine (optional but adds flavour--I am told you could sub strong brewed tea for wine but i can't vouch for this) 
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 TB tomato puree
1 tsp each dried oregano and basil
1 tsp stock powder or half a crumbled stock cube 
1/4 to half cup water
some chopped sun dried tomatoes (optional but yum)

Whatever you fancy--enough for 2 people. I used 2 cups GF fusilli (rotini to my US peeps) pasta. 

 Walnut Meat

1.5 cups walnuts
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 TB tamari or soy sauce

Pulse the walnuts in your food processor until they resemble coarse crumbs. Take out the blade and stir in everything else. Mix well. That's it. Meat in under 5 minutes.

1. Start cooking your onion and pepper in a splash of oil or water and add garlic when onion is softened. When onion is soft, start your water boiling for pasta. (I boil a few inches of water in a pot while heating the kettle. When kettle is boiled, add to pot and put the lid on--your water will be boiling in no time.) 
2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the sauce and let it simmer while the pasta water comes to the boil.
3. Make your walnut meat and scoop out 1 cup for this recipe. Put the rest aside for another meal. 
4. Cook pasta according to package directions. When pasta is done, drain and add to the sauce and stir in the one reserved cup of walnut meat. 

Serve topped with vegan Parmesan cheese. (I took the picture first without cheese.) You can add something like Good Carma or make your own. 

My Vegan Parm
3 TB nutritional yeast flakes
3 TB almond meal (ground almonds) 
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder

This took about 30 mins and was really delicious. Dare I say I almost I like it better than the lentil version? 

Friday, 12 July 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--Broomthrow, Brushthrow, Combthrow (Austria, 1864)

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

This week we look at an Austrian tale by Germanic scholar Theodor Vernaleken. He was a teacher of German language and literature, a school reformer and later a school inspector. He also collected legends, myths, tales and customs from the Alpine countries. The story of Broomthrow, Brushthrow, Combthrow was published in his 1864 book  Österreichische Kinder- und Hausmärchen: Treu nach mündlicher Überlieferung (Austrian Children's and Household Tales: Faithful to Oral Tradition.)

I will begin by saying this is one of the few tales that actually gives our female protagonist a name. (In this case Adelheid.) Both she and her mother were born with a gold cross on their forehead and after her mother’s death her father says he will only marry someone else with the gold cross marking. He doesn’t outright pressure her and he isn’t a sex pest like in other tales. He says he will look for a woman with a gold cross on her forehead for a year and day and if one cannot be found he will marry her. This basically gives her a year and day to escape, which she does. She doesn’t need to plead or bargain or ask for gifts to stall the marriage. When her father leaves, she packs up her belongings and several of her trusted servants and departs in her carriage.

Together she sets up house with her servants and has her chief servant Gotthold go round the castle to enquire whether they had any jobs going for his “niece.” Now, if she is rich enough to set up house with a bunch of servants, why does she need to get a job as a kitchen maid? The story says, Adelheid had often stated that she wanted to earn her bread with the work of her own hands which to me smacks of slumming it for a lark like that song by Pulp that says:

I want to live like common people,
I want to do whatever common people do.

Also, every night she is given leave to sneak to the ball and watch the rich people dance, she simply goes home and has her servants wash her and dress her then she has them rough her up a bit before she goes back to work. I really don’t see why, if she is rich enough to do this, she can’t just go to the ball as herself and meet the prince. Why all the sneaking about? Why the disguise? Why the subterfuge?

Anyway, she finally meets the prince and he is a two-faced sort of character. He is repeatedly abusive to her in her guise as a servant throwing a broom, brush and comb at her head. This does not stop her from pursuing him and teasing him in her posh disguise. When he asks what exotic place she is from she replies Broomthrow, Brushthrow and Combthrow. It is his frustration in not finding these places on a map that causes him to lose his temper and assault her. Why she thinks this makes him good husband material I do not know. Look at how someone treats waiters and animals to know if they are good person or not. That is my philosophy.

In the end, a ring is used to snare her prince and she can stop slumming it and throw off her disguise and marry him. Her father came home from his travels and discovered she was already married and had to accept his fate.

Broomthrow, Brushthrow, Combthrow source

In a castle there once lived a count by the name of Rudolf. His wife had a golden cross on her forehead. Their daughter Adelheid had the same mark on her forehead. When she was twenty years old her mother suddenly died.

The count's and his daughter's sorrow and grief were endless. After the mother's burial, the father and his child locked themselves in their rooms and were seldom seen.

After a month had passed, the count had his daughter brought to his room and said to her, "Dear child, you know how much I loved your mother. I cannot live without a wife. Therefore I am going out into the world to seek a wife who -- like your blessed mother -- has a golden cross on her forehead. If I do not find such a woman within a year and a day, then I will marry you."

When Adelheid heard these words she was very upset, and she silently withdrew. The next morning Count Rudolf departed, promising to return within a year and a day.

When Adelheid was alone she considered whether or not it would be possible for her father to find a woman with such a cross. Then she remembered that her mother had once told her that except for her and Adelheid, no one on the entire earth had such a cross.
She decided to go away. She would rather earn her bread with the work of her own hands than to eat the finest tidbits at her father's table as his wife. She entrusted one of her loyal servants with her plan, and they made preparations to depart.

She secretly loaded her valuables, her jewelry, her gold, and her clothes into several large carriages. During the night she drove off with them, accompanied by her servant Gotthold and several others who were loyal to her. They came to a large city where she rented a house and moved into it with her servants.

Adelheid had often stated that she wanted to earn her bread with the work of her own hands. Therefore Gotthold sought a position for his mistress in the city. He learned that there was an opening for a kitchen maid in the castle of Prince Adolf. Thus he went to the chief cook and asked him if he would be willing to hire his niece, for that is what he called the countess. As he talked further with the chief cook, Gotthold recognized in him a friend whom he had not seen for many years. He told him that his brother had died, leaving a daughter in his care. The chief cook agreed to hire her.

The loyal servant happily returned to the countess and remained in the rented house.
Adelheid now dyed her face, neck, and hands brown; covered her golden cross and her hair with a large head-scarf; took off her magnificent robes, putting on instead old, dirty, torn 
clothing; and presented herself to the chief cook.

She was given a small room where she could sleep and keep her things. Slowly she grew accustomed to her job, even though she was exhausted by the hard work.

Until now she had not yet seen the prince. One day he invited all his friends and acquaintances to a great ball. On the morning of the ball, Adelheid was sweeping the staircase, when the prince, without being seen by her, walked up and tipped over the dust pail, thus dirtying his boots. As she was fleeing, he angrily ripped the broom from her hands and threw it at her.

That evening as the hall was filling with people, the young countess went to the chief cook and asked him for permission to go to the ball.

He replied, "No, I cannot allow you to do that. What if the prince were to find out!"

Adelheid continued to beg, until he finally said, "Just go. But don't stay too late, and if you get anything, bring some back for me as well."

Now she went to Gotthold's house, changed her clothes, washed away the colour, and ordered up a splendid carriage in which she rode to the prince's.

When the guests saw the splendid carriage approaching in the distance, they all hurried outside and said, "A foreign lady! A beautiful lady!"

The prince hurried toward her, lifted her from her carriage, and led her up the stairs. She had to dance with him the entire evening and to sit next to him at the table. After eating, he asked her what her name was and where she came from.

"My name is Adelheid, and I come from Broomthrow," replied the countess.

At twelve o'clock she left, and with her the majority of guests.

Arriving at home she quickly got undressed, coloured herself brown, and took three gold pieces which she gave to the chief cook, claiming that she had stood behind a door and had received the gold from an old woman.

The next morning the prince looked for Broomthrow on his maps, but he could not find it. He wanted to ask her about her home city once again, but because he did not know where she lived, he invited his friends to a second ball.

On the morning of the second ball Adelheid was brushing her clothing when the prince, without being seen, came up the stairs. She turned around and dropped the brush, which fell onto the prince's feet. Angrily Adolf picked up the brush and threw it at the embarrassed countess's head.

That evening the chief cook once again allowed her to go the ball, and she took advantage of his permission. At the ball Adolf told her that he had not been able to find Broomthrow.

"How could you be looking for Broomthrow?" she replied. "I said Brushthrow."

Once again they danced together, and as midnight approached she went home. She brought the chief cook a gold band, claiming that she had received it as a gift.

The next morning the prince looked for Brushthrow but could not find it. He then invited his friends and acquaintances to a third ball, which was to be even more magnificent than the first two.

On the eve of the ball, shortly before the festivities were to begin, Adelheid, contrary to custom, was combing her hair in the castle. The prince, displeased because the foreign lady had not arrived yet, walked up the stairs just as the countess dropped her comb. Prince Adolf picked it up and threw it at the kitchen servant's head. She quickly withdrew, changed her clothes, and went to the ball.

At the table the prince said that he had not been able to find Brushthrow anywhere.

"I can believe that," she said. "I called the place Combthrow." He didn't want to believe her, but she argued with him until he finally gave in. Before she left, he placed a ring on her finger, without her noticing it.

The next morning the prince was not well, and he asked a chief cook to make soup for him. 

The latter announced this in the kitchen, and Adelheid asked for permission to make the soup. 

But he said, "If you put something in the soup that doesn't belong there, then I am the one who will be punished."

She replied, "I will not put anything wrong in it." She made the soup, and without being seen, she threw the prince's ring into the soup.

The prince poured the soup into a dish and heard something jingle. He felt around and fished out the ring. Amazed, he then asked who had made the soup.

"The kitchen maid" was the answer.

Adolph ordered his servant, "Bring her here."

She hurriedly put on the dress that she had worn the previous evening, and when the prince saw her, he recognized his dance partner. She now had to tell him her life story, and soon afterward he married her.

In the meantime her father had come home, and when he discovered that his daughter had already married, he had to accept his fate.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for the tale of Fair Maria Wood

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Macaroni Cheese like the Blue Box Stuff

Hello lovelies! If you read this blog regularly, you know I get obsessions. Food obsessions. I see something and cannot stop thinking about it until I have made a vegan version at home and then I eat it until I am sick of it. Then after a while the memory surfaces and I decide to eat it again. And again. 
And quite possibly again.

My BFF and I were recently at the Allergy and Free from Show at Kensington Olympia. It was massive with hundreds upon hundreds of stalls. We ate ourselves silly trying samples of everything on offer but there was one thing we ate that stuck with me. There was this macaroni cheese made from a powder that you just added water or milk to that tasted just like the kind in the Blue Box. Just. Like. It.

Now, I wanted to buy some, but it was £4 for a one box serving and while it was amazing, I had spent my cash on other things and was out of money. But it got me thinking that I could make a powder mix at home and then just have easy mac and cheese whenever the mood took me. Theirs was nut free but their ingredient to make it creamy was powdered coconut milk. I was sure I could make something similar.

And I did.

The whole way home on the Megabus (6 hours—I told you I was obsessed!) I searched the internet for recipes for a vegan powder mix. I settled on THIS ONE because it was developed by Miyoko Schinner who developed all those aged artisan vegan cheeses so I thought it would be the best one. It does contain nuts so if you need a nut free one go here for a similar but allergy friendly version. NUT FREE VERSION

We had it last night and it did not disappoint. I was out of unsweetened non-dairy milk, so I made it with water and a few blobs of melted coconut cream. I think it would be even richer and creamier next time. And there will be a next time. The powdered mix made it super easy to have macaroni cheese in minutes.

Because mac and cheese by itself is not a meal I served it with some mushrooms and broccoli cooked with a splash of tamari.

And for once I followed the recipe exactly as it was written. Can you believe it? You can find the original recipe HERE. Also, you will need to source tapioca flour (sometimes called tapioca starch) as it gives it a stretchy quality. I think it would benefit from a little sharpness, so next time I might add a tablespoon of lemon juice at the end or add a bit of lemon pepper (if I can find it) like the nut free version above used. 

Macaroni Cheese Like the Blue Box Stuff

1 cup cashews
¾ cup nutritional yeast
¼ cup (GF) oat flour
¼ cup tapioca flour
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons powdered mustard
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons onion powder

Add the oats to a food processor and process until a powder is formed. Then add the cashews and pulse until they are coarse crumbs. Then add everything else and process until there are no discernible chunks or large granules of cashews--just a fine powder. 

Store this in a jar. It makes 1 and 2/3 cups which is enough for 5 bowls. 

How to use this mix
Cook 1 cup of dry (GF) macaroni according to package instructions and drain. Combine 1⁄3 cup mix with 1 cup water or unsweetened nondairy milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add in optional 1 TB lemon juice.  Whisk well and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 minute, then toss with hot cooked macaroni.

We doubled this recipe so we could each have a bowl of cheesy, noodle goodness because we are greedy vegans. I had forgotten how I love macaroni pasta as the sauce goes into the tubes and you can suck it out and make a little whistling noise to annoy your husband. ha ha.

This would be a great meal to take on a holiday where you had access to a kitchen as you could just buy some dry pasta and portion out the right amount of powder on a container and bring it in your suitcase. 

We will definitely be having this again. And again. And again. 

Friday, 5 July 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--Morag a Chota Bhain/Margery White Coats (Scotland, 1860)

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

This week we look at another tale collected by JF Campbell in his 1860  Popular Tales of the West Highlands: Orally Collected, vol. 1. We looked at his story of The King Who Wished to Marry His Daughter last week, but this tale of  Morag a Chota Bhain/Margery White Coats was sufficiently different to warrant its own entry.

This tale begins like last week’s tale with a father who says he will only marry the person that his dead wife’s clothes fit. Thankfully, this version does not go into the creepy aspect (It was fitting her well) like last week. In last week’s version she went to see her muime (foster mother) but this week out magical helper is her maternal uncle. He gives her the advice about requesting dresses and shoes (we are back to glass slippers again in a nod to Charles Perrault) as well as a filly with a magic bridle.

In other versions she asks for a disguise of fur or feathers or pelts of fleas, but here she just strips down to her petticoat and shift and goes to work in the kitchen, letting the hard work of tending the fire under the cauldron make her “dirty and ugly.”

Several other versions have the prince being very abusive to her, shouting and throwing things at her head when she is in her dirty state and wooing her in her clean state, making him (in my opinion) not a good love match. This tale is unusual in that it is her future mother-in-law the Queen who is so abusive. She throws a basin and a candlestick at our heroine’s head when she dares to ask to go to the feast. This does not stop our plucky heroine who goes out to her hidden chest of clothes, puts on her posh frock and calls for her filly by producing the magic bridle. She then rides to the feast and makes the prince fall in love with her.

At the end when the shoe fits, everyone (not just the Queen) is incredibly abusive until she goes out once again, puts on her posh frock and shows that she has a horse and then suddenly because she has scrubbed up well she is acceptable.

This tale also includes an interesting footnote from JF Campbell about how the story was collected.
Image result for candlestick

Morag a Chota Bhain -- Margery White Coats source

A king had four daughters, and his wife died, and he said he would marry anyone whom his dead wife's clothes would fit. One day the daughters tried, and the youngest only could wear them.

The king saw them from a window, and wished to marry her, and she went for advice to her mother's brother. He advised her to promise to marry the king if he would bring her a gown of birds' down, and a gown of the colours of the sky, woven with silver; and when he got that, a gown of the colours of the stars, woven with gold, and glass shoes.

When he had got them, she escaped with all her clothes, by the help of her uncle, on a filly, with a magic bridle, she on one side, and her chest of clothes on the other. She rode to a king's palace, hid the chest in a hill under a bush of rushes, turned the filly loose, and went to the palace with nothing on but a white petticoat and a shift. She took service with the cook, and grew dirty and ugly, and slept on a bench by the kitchen fire, and her work was to blow under the great caldron all day long.

One day the king's son came home and was to hold a feast; she went to the queen and asked leave to go and was refused because she was so dirty. The queen had a basin of water in her hand, and threw it at her, and it broke. She went to the hill, took out the dress of down and silver, and shook her magic bridle; the filly came, and she mounted, and rode to the feast.

The king's son took her by the hand, and took her up as high as any there, and set her on his own lap; and when the feast was over, there was no reel that he danced but he gave it to her.

He asked her whence she came, and she said, "From the kingdom of Broken Basins," and the prince said that he had never heard of that land, though he had travelled far.

She escaped and returned to the cook, and all were talking about the beautiful lady. She asked about her and was told not to talk about what she did not understand, "a dirty little wretch like her."

Then the prince had another feast; and she asked leave again, and the queen refused, and threw a candlestick at her, and it broke, and she did as before. She put on another dress and went; the king's son had eight men on each side of the door to catch her. The same scene went on, and she said she came from the country of Candlesticks, and escaped, leaving a glass shoe.

Then the king's son fell sick (of course) and would only marry the woman whom the shoe would fit; and all the ladies came and cut off their toes and heels, but in vain. Then he asked if there was none other.

Then a small creature put his head in at the door and said, "If thou didst but know, she whom thou seekest is under the cook."

Then he got the history of the basin and candlestick from his mother. The shoe was tried and fitted, and he was to marry Morag.

All were in despair and abused her; but she went out to her chest, shook the magic bridle, and arrayed herself, and came back on the filly, with a "powney" behind with the chest. Then all there that had despised her fell on their knees, and she was married to the prince.

"And I did not get a bit there at the wedding," said the girl.

Campbell’s Notes On the Tale

This was told as we walked along the road and is but a short outline of what was told me, written from notes made in the evening. The man said that the girl told it with a great deal of the queer old language, which he could not remember.

The girl and her chest on the same horse may be seen in the Highlands. The girl, in her white coats and short gown, may be seen blowing the fire in highland inns, the queen's likeness might be found; and the feast is a highland ball; the filly and the magic bridle are common in other stories; the incidents of the basin and candlestick have an equivalent in Norse; and I got them from a woman at the Sound of Barra afterwards, in another story. This shows what may be lost by dignified traveling. While the man was enjoying himself in the kitchen, the employer was smoking in solitary dignity, upstairs in his bedroom, writing a journal, and utterly unconscious that the game he pursued was so near.

I have other versions of this tale from other sources and may find room for them hereafter.

You can see more extensive notes by Campbell HERE if you’ are interested.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a tale from the land of Broomthrow, Brushthrow and Combthrow.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Cashew Milk

Hello lovelies! In my effort to reduce our waste I looked into my blue recycle bag and saw what seemed to take up the most space and it was tetra packs. Cartons. Mostly of almond milk.

Then I went on a picnic with a friend and we talked about how thirsty of a crop almonds are and how much water they need to grow and I got to thinking that maybe if I could find a lower waste DIY milk I would give it a go.

My first thought was Oat Milk. Oats are relatively cheap, but I tend to use milk on homemade granola made with oats and I didn't want to over-oat myself by having too much of a good thing at all once as that tends to give me tummy ache. Plus you have all this oat pulp that you strained out that you have to either dump or find a use for. When i looked into the logistics of buying a nut milk bag (or nut sack bag as my friend Jo refers to it as) and thought about the act of straining anything through a fiddly bag, it just sort of took the wind out of my eco-sails.

I needed something relatively cheap and extremely easy.

Then I thought of Cashew Milk. Cashews are something I can buy in bulk. They are soft and creamy and blend well. There is no need to strain.

Cashew milk for the win.

I scored some 750ml Kilner-type bottles at Poundland that were the perfect container. I had hoped to buy the cashews in the zero waste shop but they were nearly 3 times more expensive than buying them in a bag by the kilo at Grapetree. I have reused that nut bag as a rubbish bag in the bathroom. That's the best I can do for now.

I have not sterilised the bottles, just washed them in very hot soapy water right before i added the milk and all has been well. The cashew milk only lasts 3-5 days in the fridge anyway. A word of warning--it does separate, but just give it a shake before you use it and all is well.

I am still experimenting with how I make it. But this amount is just right for one person using milk daily for granola and the occasional date and banana smoothie to use up within 5 days.

I am thinking about supplementing. Maybe a brazil nut or two and possibly added calcium powder. We use calcium carbonate (limestone flour) for the snails and so why couldn't I add some to the milk? The one we buy for the snails is 100% pure with no additives and i read online that 1/2 tsp per litre gives you the equivalent calcium as cow's milk. The snails are EXTREMELY delicate and this has been fine for them, so why can't we eat it? The calcium we buy for the Bronte snails is THIS ONE. It says it is for reptiles and poultry. There is a food grade one HERE  if you are squeamish about the animal one but it costs 3 times as much.

This is the recipe I use. It works well for me. I soak the cashews for a few hours beforehand. Partially to make blending easier and partially because it makes the vitamins and minerals more bioavailable. Just soak for a few hours, then drain and rinse well.

Cashew Milk
1/3 to 1/2 cup soaked cashews (1/3 cup is more like the watery texture of semi-skimmed milk, 1/2 cup thick and creamy like whole milk--can you guess which one  I like best?)
3 -4 cups water (I use 3 cups as that's how much I can drink in 3-5 days)
4 pitted dates (soaked as well if not really soft)
pinch of salt

Blend in a blender until smooth. Decant in a clean bottle and refrigerate. Use within 5 days.

That's it. It takes no more than 5 minutes to make. Tastes amazingly thick and creamy. Cheaper than store-bought milk.

It will also be quite foamy when you take it out of the blender...but that settles down. Although the froth probably would be lovely in a hot coffee if i were allowed to have caffeine. Which I am not after eating a box of chocolate covered coffee beans at work recently and things went badly wrong. But that's a tale for another time.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--The King Who Wanted to Marry His Daughter (Scotland, 1860)

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

This week we look at a tale from Scotland called The King Who Wished to Marry His Daughter. It was collected by John Francis Campbell in his Popular Tales of the West Highlands: Orally Collected, vol. 1, published in 1860.  

JF Campbell (also known as Young John of Islay or Iain Òg Ìle in Scots Gaelic) was a renowned Scottish author and scholar who was an authority on Celtic folklore. He travelled  all through the Scottish Highlands with a group of scribes collecting the tales, ballads, songs and charms of the West Highland people. His source for this tale was listed as Ann Darroch of Islay.

Extra bit of trivia: He also invented the meteorological sunshine recorder called a thermograph called the Campbell-Stokes recorder.

This tale does not begin as many others have with the dying wife causing her daughter’s predicament by making her husband promise not to marry anyone who did not fit her ring/look as beautiful as she did/be as kind and wise. This father takes it into his head to only marry a woman who can fill out his dead wife’s clothes. I am not sure he ever shared this fact with his daughter, otherwise she might not have innocently been playing dress up and gone to show her father how well it fitted. But her certainly notices how she looks. The story says: It was fitting her well, which has a rather creepy vibe to it.

In many of these tales our young heroine has a confidant (magical or not) who gives her advice on how to avoid this disastrous union. In this tale she goes to see her muime. The story defines this word as foster mother, but it can also be translated as nurse, step-mother, godmother or midwife. Her muime advises her to ask for a gown of swan’s down and then a gown of moorland canach (which grows in acidic soil and is called bog cotton because of the cotton like tufty heads it has.) Then she asks for gown of silk that will stand on the ground with gold and silver and a golden shoe and a silver shoe. Lastly a chest that can lock from within. She tricks her father into putting the chest out to sea with her inside and she floats away to her destiny.

It then goes on as you would expect. Thankfully the prince is not abusive like he is in some of these tales, but his mother is. Our humble heroine asks to try on the shoe and the Queen refuses saying "Thou! thou ugly dirty thing, that it should fit thee." Luckily her son persuades her to let our unnamed heroine try it on and the shoe jumps onto her foot. The rest, as they say, is history.

Image result for moorland canach wiki
Bog Cotton source
The King Who Wished to Marry His Daughter source
There was a king before now, and he married, and he had but one daughter. When his wife departed, he would marry none but one whom her clothes would fit. His daughter one day tried her mother's dress on, and she came and she let her father see how it fitted her. It was fitting her well. When her father saw her, he would marry no woman but her.

She went crying where her muime was; and her foster mother said to her, "What was the matter with her?"

She said, "that her father was insisting that he would marry her."

Her muime told her to say to him, "that she would not marry him till he should get her a gown of the swan's down."

He went, and at the end of a day and a year he came, and the gown with him.

She went again to take the counsel of her muime. "Say to him," said her muime, "that thou wilt not marry him till he gets thee a gown of the moorland canach."

She said this to him. He went, and at the end of a day and year he returned, and a gown of the moorland canach with him.

"Say now to him," said her muime, "that thou wilt not marry him till he brings thee a gown of silk that will stand on the ground with gold and silver."

At the end of a day and year he returned with the gown.

"Say to him now," said her muime, "that thou wilt not marry him till he brings thee a golden shoe, and a silver shoe."

He got her a golden shoe and a silver shoe.

"Say to him now," said her muime, "that thou wilt not marry him unless he brings thee a kist that will lock without and within, and for which it is all the same to be on sea or on land."

When she got the kist, she folded the best of her mother's clothes, and of her own clothes in it. Then she went herself into the kist, and she asked her father to put it out on the sea to try how it would swim. Her father put it out; when it was put out, it was going, and going, till it went out of sight.

It went on shore on the other side; and a herd came where it was, intending to break it, in hopes that there were findings in the chest.

When he was going to break it she called out, "Do not so, but say to thy father to come here, and he will get that which will better him for life."

His father came, and he took her with him to his own house. It was with a king that he was herd, and the king's house was near him.

"If I could get," said she, "leave to go to service to this great house yonder."

"They want none," said the herd, "unless they want one under the hand of the cook."

The herd went to speak for her, and she went as a servant maid under the hand of the cook.

When the rest were going to the sermon; and when they asked her if she was going to it, she said, "that she was not; that she had a little bread to bake, and that she could not go to it."
When they went away, she took herself to the herd's house, and she put on a gown of the down of the swan. She went to the sermon, and she sat opposite the king's son. The king's son took love for her. 

She went a while before the sermon skailed, she reached the herd's house, she changed her clothes, and she was in before them. When the rest came home, it was talking about the gentlewoman that was at the sermon they were.

The next Sunday they said to her, "Was she going to the sermon?" and she said, "that she was not, that she had a little bread to bake."

When they went away, she reached the herd's house, and she put on a gown of the moorland canach; and she went to the sermon. The king's son was seated where she was the Sunday before, and she sat opposite to him. She came out before them, and she changed, and she was at the house before them; and when the rest came home, it was talking about the great gentlewoman that was at the sermon they were.

The third Sunday, they said to her, "Was she going to the sermon?" and she said, "that she was not, that she had a little bread to bake."

When they went away, she reached the herd's house. She put on the gown that would stand on the ground with gold and silver, and the golden shoe and the silver shoe, and she went to the sermon. The king's son was seated where she was the Sunday before, and she sat where he was. A watch was set on the doors this Sunday. She arose, she saw a cranny, and she jumped out at the cranny; but they kept hold of one of the shoes.

The king's son said, "Whomsoever that shoe would fit, she it was that he would marry."

Many were trying the shoe on and taking off their toes and heels to try if it would fit them; but there were none whom the shoe would fit.

There was a little bird in the top of a tree, always saying as everyone was trying on the shoe, "Beeg beeg ha nan doot a heeg ach don tjay veeg a ha fo laiv a hawchkare." -- Wee wee, it comes not on thee; but on the wee one under the hand of the cook.

When he could get none whom the shoe would fit, the king's son lay down, and his mother went to the kitchen to talk over the matter.

"Won't you let me see the shoe?" said she. "I will not do it any harm at all events."

"Thou! thou ugly dirty thing, that it should fit thee." She went down, and she told this to her son.

"Is it not known," said he, "that it won't fit her at all events? And can't you give it her to please her?"

As soon as the shoe went on the floor, the shoe jumped on her foot.

"What will you give me," said she, " to let you see the other one?" She reached the herd's house, and she put on the shoes, and the dress that would stand on the floor with gold and silver. When she returned, there was but to send word for a minister, and she herself and the king's son married.

Stay tuned next week for the tale of Margery White Coats.