Sunday, 23 July 2017

Murder Ballad Monday--Molly Bond

Welcome to murder Ballad Monday. Last week I looked at the traditional ballad Polly Von. This week I want to explore a version of this song called Molly Bond hauntingly sung by the Oysterband. We discovered this band when we lived in England and I was thrilled to have a counterpart to Polly Von.
I cannot find the origin of this particular version except that it is “traditional.” It differs from the Peter, Paul and Mary version in that the man does go to trial and at that trial Molly’s ghost appears and exonerates him saying that it was not murder, but a case of mistaken identity and accidental death. It also explains something that always puzzled me about the Peter, Paul and Mary version—why was she “hiding” with her apron wrapped around her? This song says there was freak hailstorm and she was sheltering herself from the hail.  

About 20 odd years ago, we found a picture book of this version at Barnes and Noble and we were surprised to see her ghost appearing at the end. I have searched on and off over the years and have never found this book again. If you know of it, please let me know.

Here is the Oysterband singing this ballad. The music has an almost sinister quality to it that gives me the chills. I have included the lyrics below if you’d like to follow along.

Come all you young gallants that delight in a gun
Beware of your shooting at the setting of the sun

It happened one evening in a large shower of hail
When under a bower my love was concealed

He apron flew around her, I took her as a swan
And I shot my own darling at the setting of the sun

As I walked up to her and found it was she
My limbs they grew weary and my eyes couldn't see

The ring on her finger, most bitterly I cried
O Molly, if you were living, you'd've been my fond bride

Home to my father like lightning I did run
Saying Father, dearest father, do you know what I've done?

Her apron flew around her, I took her as a swan
And I shot my own darling at the setting of the sun

Her apron flew around her, I took her as a swan
And I shot my own darling, and where shall I run?

His father in the corner with his hair turning grey
O my dear Jimmy, don't you run away

Stay in this country until the trial comes on
You never shall be hung by the laws of this land

The day of the trial to the judge she appeared
As God is my witness young Jimmy must go clear

My apron flew around me, he took me as a swan
And I know his heart lies bleeding for his own Molly Bond

That’s all for Murder Ballad Monday. Stay tuned for another version of Molly Bond. 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

What We Ate Wednesday--Copycat M&S Supergreen Salad

Hello lovelies! When we are on holiday, we often eat ready-made meals from M&S as they have a good variety of vegan and gluten free salads that are 2 for £4. Several times I have fallen in love with the salad and carefully torn off the label with the ingredients and then gone home and attempted to make a copycat version of it for less. And by less I mean less money and less plastic for while these meals are delicious on holiday, they are all just excess plastic. /sadface/

When we were on our anniversary trip the Magical Mystery Tour, I bought a new salad that M&S had on offer--Supergreen Salad. 

It was amazingly good and very green as the name suggests as it contained cucumber, edamame, peas, sugar snap peas, broccoli, courgette (zucchini to my American peeps), spinach, coriander, apple, pumpkin seeds in an apple juice based garlic ginger mint dressing.

I figured I could make a version of my own at home.

Firstly, I had to decide what ingredients to use. I always have peas and edamame in my freezer, so I knew that would be a given. We've also always got apples. Cucumbers are cheap and this would only use half (if that) so the rest could be used for another recipe. Even though it wasn't in the original recipe, this would be a great way to use the dreaded green pepper that comes in the three pack of peppers. I also decided to use kale instead of spinach just because we like it better and it lasts better in the fridge without going slimy. Mint sauce is also a staple in my kitchen as it is 55p a jar and gives a really nice flavour punch to food. I don't know if my American friends can find mint sauce in the States. Here, it is often eaten as an accompaniment to lamb (poor lambs *sob*) but it vegan and delicious.  I debated about buying a green apple like a Granny Smith for 35p, but decided to just use the Gala apple we already have and put that money towards the apple juice. I also decided to get some nice pressed cloudy apple juice from Lidl for £1 that was really delicious. Because I knew I would want to make this again, I froze enough for 3 more meals in the correct proportions and drank the rest.

Here is my version of Supergreen Salad.

Supergreen Salad
100g kale, (about 4-5 cups)  destemmed and torn into bite sized pieces
1 cup frozen edamame
1 cup frozen peas
1/3 of a cucumber, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 apple, diced
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
(feel free to add some broccoli and courgette if you have some on hand)

1/3 cup apple juice
3 TB lime juice
1 TB white wine vinegar
3 tsp mint sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp liquid sweetener (I used golden syrup)
1/4 tsp tamari or soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp stone ground mustard like Grey Poupon
pst of salt
3 grinds pepper

We served ours over brown rice, so if doing this cook your brown rice and when it is nearly finished make the salad.

To do:
1 Destem and tear up the kale..
2. Defrost the edamame and peas in boiling water for 5 minutes, drain.
3. Cook the kale in a splash of apple juice until bright green and softened and add the edamame, peas, apple, cucumber, pepper and the pumpkin seeds. Pour over the dressing.

This is a great summer meal with lots of flavour. try it today!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Murder Ballad Monday--Polly Von

Hello and welcome to Murder Ballad Monday. Last week we looked at Tom Dooley which was the first murder ballad that I ever recall hearing. Today I want to look at the second murder ballad that I remember from my childhood. It is a song called Polly Von sung by Peter Paul and Mary.

Versions of this traditional Irish ballad date back to the 1700’s and the first English tune by this name dates from around 1890. In the Roud Folksong Index it is listed as song #166 and has over 200 versions catalogued. It also can be listed with a variety of different spellings such as:

"Polly Vaughan"
"Polly Vaughn"
"Molly Bawn"
"Molly Ban"
"Molly Bender"
"Molly Bond"
"Molly Vaughan"
"Molly Van"

The ballad can be traced back to the Greek myth of Cephalus and Procris, which can be found in Ovid's Metamorphoses. In this tale, the hunter Cephalus, sees his wife hiding in a thicket, mistakes her for a deer and kills her with a magic dart. While Polly Vaughn is mistaken for a swan rather than a deer in this ballad, the similarities are certainly there. Interestingly, there is a variation entitled “The Shooting of His Dear” whose use of the homophone dear/deer is suggestive.
                         Image result for swan illustration
In the Peter, Paul and Mary version, a hunter went out shooting at sunset and saw what he thought was a white swan and shot it. He is horrified to discover it was not a swan, but rather his true love who was sheltering in the bushes. The song says, “she had her apron wrapped about her and I took her for a swan.” You never know the outcome except for his extensive grief. The song says, “He wept bitter tears, but his cries were all in vain.” Will he be tried for murder? It is up to the listener to decide.

I never realised until recently, that this was also a song about poaching. So, I suppose his fears could be that he would be arrested for both attempted poaching and actual murder.

To me, as an impressionable young child, it was an anti-hunting song. Those last lyrics broke my heart where he revisited the lake and saw a swan gliding by and mocking him.

It is certainly not a case of premeditated murder as so many have been, but a clear case of accidental death. But will a jury believe him?

Here is a recording of Peter, Paul and Mary singing Polly Von. I have included the lyrics below if you would like to follow along.

I shall tell of a hunter whose life was undone
By the cruel hand of evil at the setting of the sun
His arrow was loosed and it flew through the dark,
And his true love was slain as the shaft found its mark.

She'd her apron wrapped about her and he took her for a swan
But it's oh and alas it was she, Polly Von

He ran up beside her and found it was she
He turned away his head for he could not bear to see
He lifted her up and found she was dead,
A fountain of tears for his true love, he shed.

She'd her apron wrapped about her and he took her for a swan
But it's oh and alas it was she, Polly Von

He bore her away to his home by the sea
Cryin' "Father, oh father, I murdered poor Polly!
I've killed my fair love in the flower of her life!
I always intended that she be my wife."

"But she'd her apron wrapped about her
and I took her for a swan,
And it's oh and alas it was she, Polly Von."

He roamed near the place where his true love was slain
He wept bitter tears, but his cries were all in vain.
As he looked on the lake, a swan glided by
And the sun slowly sank in the grey of the sky.

She'd her apron wrapped about her and he took her for a swan
But it's oh and alas it was she, Polly Von."

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for another murder ballad.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

What We Ate Wednesday--Mini Crustless Egg Free Quiche

Hello lovelies! We still had a packet of delicious smoked tofu that was generously given to us by our friends Carole Rivers and Rosie-Mai Rivers-Cole and I thought quiche would be the perfect dish to use it in.

But wait can't make quiche without eggs! That's where you are wrong, my friend!

There are actually *several* ways to make quiche without eggs! This is the way I made quiche for many years. It is a good way, but it has a crust and therefore, by default, is more complicated that a crustless one. The way I make it now is cheaper, higher in protein and easier to make. It has 8 grams of protein per quiche and 7.2 grams fibre for the basic batter not counting vegetables!!

What's not to love?

My old recipe for quiche was made from silken tofu and it was good, but these days I make it with chickpea flour (sometimes called gram flour or besan in Asian shops) and it is better.

I also make it my handy-dandy muffin tin so it makes a dozen adorable little quiches! This is great for parties where you need to provide nibbles or portion control if you are a greedy so-and-so. We eat them over two days because they are delicious both hot and cold. One day we have it with sauteed kale and the other day with potatoes and peas in a cheezy sauce.

Chickpea flour is a bit lumpy, so be sure to sift. You can make these plain or you can make them with veggies. I normally use onion, peppers, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes. This time we also included the smoked tofu. I always cook more onion, pepper, mushroom than I need then fill the muffin cups and whatever is left over, gets cooked a bit more with the kale to add some veggies and flavour to my cooked greens. Also if you have de-stemmed and torn your kale into bits first, it makes a difference in how quick it comes together.

Egg Free Quiche
Preheat your oven to 250C/500F
Grease well (all the way up the sides) a 12 cup muffin pan (or 2 six cup muffin pans)

You need:
100g kale (4-5 cups) torn into bite size pieces (if you are having kale as a side dish)
1 onion, diced small
1 pepper, diced small
5 button mushrooms, diced small
half a pack smoked tofu, diced small (if you are lucky enough to have some)
sun-dried tomatoes snipped into tiny bits (optional, but good)

1. Tear up your kale first. If you are not having kale as a side dish, then obviously ignore this bit.
2. In a large pot cook your onion, pepper and mushroom until softened. Set aside to cool.
3. Put a little bit of the veg mixture into every muffin cup and top with a few pieces of smoked tofu and sun-dried tomatoes (if using)

In another bowl whisk together:
2 and  1/4 cups SIFTED chickpea flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 tsp salt
lots of black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
2 and 3/4 cups cold water
3 TB oil

1. Divide the batter between the muffin cups and bake for 12 minutes then open the oven for  ten seconds to let some steam out and bake for 10 more.
2. Remove from oven and let stand about 5 minutes to firm up and carefully run a butter knife around the sides to pry them out. Let cool on a cooling rack for another few minutes to firm up. If you are having kale, while the quiche is firming up and cooling then saute your kale for a few minutes with the leftover veg and a splash of water until bright green and softened. I love to add a splash of tamari soy sauce, but hey. Do what you like. Then eat.
3.Leftover can be stored in an airtight container.

These taste delicious and have a custard-y eggy texture. And did I mention the protein? It's a great way to show folks that they can still eat all their favourite dishes without animal cruelty. Enjoy!

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Murder Ballad Monday--Tom Dooley

Hello and welcome to Murder Ballad Monday. For 21 weeks, I researched different version of Child Ballad 10 (the folk song about a sister killing her sister out of jealousy and then the murdered girl’s bones being turned into a musical instrument that call out the name of the murderer) and then I spent ten weeks looking at prose versions that bore a similarity to Child Ballad 10. These “singing bone” tales were classified as ATU 780 The Truth Comes to Light in the Aarne-Thompson-Uther Tale Type Classification system.

I decided to move back to musical forms of murder ballads and I thought I would begin with the one that really started it for me—Tom Dooley. My dear old dad worked very hard learning to play this ballad on the guitar and it was the first murder ballad I ever consciously remember hearing. I have a vague memory that my father told me it was based on a true story, but it has been interesting to research it myself since he is not here to tell me about it.
                                     Image result for tom dula

Thomas C. "Tom" Dula was a Confederate soldier convicted of murdering his sweetheart the (possibly) pregnant Laura Foster in 1866. The murder and subsequent trial received extensive newspaper coverage which turned Dula’s story into a folk legend. Many years later, a North Carolina poet Thomas C. Land wrote a song about Dula using the Appalachian pronunciation of Dula which was Dooley. (This confused me until I thought about how folks say the words Grand Old Opry where the final letter a in opera sounds like an ee). The first notable recording of this song was in 1929 and the Kingston Trio had a hit record with it in 1958. This was the version I grew up with and undoubtedly the one my dad was trying to play on his guitar.

Dula was quite a musician and had a reputation as a bit of a “lady’s man.” He was supposedly in a relationship with both Laura Foster and her married cousin Ann. Some articles I read say he was also having his way with Ann’s sister Perline. Some accounts say he contracted syphilis and blamed Laura, some accounts say she was pregnant and they were running away together. Another account says Ann was jealous of Laura and murdered the girl to punish Dula for his unfaithfulness. The truth is not known. But what is known is that Dula was hanged for her murder.

According to the North Carolina Visitor’s Center:
It was on the first day of May, 1866, that Tom Dooley rode through the streets of Statesville in a wagon. He sat on the top of his coffin on that bright and shiny day with his banjo on his knee, joking with the throng of people walking along. He picked his favorite ballad on the old banjo, laughing as the wagon neared the gallows. When the rope was placed around his neck, he joked with Sheriff W. E. Watson, "I would have washed my neck if I had known you were using such a nice clean new rope".
Asked in seriousness if he had any last words to say, Tom held his right hand and replied, "gentlemen, do you see this hand? Do you see it tremble? Do you see it shake? I never hurt a hair on the girl's head". The trap door was dropped.

So, who did kill Laura Foster? I don’t know, but the song will forever remain in our consciousness.

Here is a video of the Kingston Trio performing Tom Dooley. I have included the lyrics below if you want to follow along.

Throughout history
There've been many songs written about the eternal triangle
This next one tells the story of a Mr Grayson, a beautiful woman
And a condemned man named Tom Dooley...
When the sun rises tomorrow, Tom Dooley... must hang...

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die

I met her on the mountain
There I took her life
Met her on the mountain
Stabbed her with my knife

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die

This time tomorrow
Reckon where I'll be
Hadn't a-been for Grayson
I'd a-been in Tennessee

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die

This time tomorrow
Reckon where I'll be
Down in some lonesome valley
Hangin' from a white oak tree

Hang down your head, Tom DooleyHang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die
Poor boy, you're bound to die
Poor boy you're bound to die
Poor boy, you're bound to die...

 That's all for this week's Murder Ballad Monday. Stay tuned next week’s song. 

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

What We Ate Wednesday--Garlic Alfredo Potatoes with Kale and Smoked Tofu

Hello lovelies! Thanks to our dear friends Carole Rivers and Rosie-Mai Rivers-Cole, we were gifted with some smoked tofu right before we went on the Magical Mystery Tour. I have been itching to use it since we came back and as it was a gift I wanted to create some spectacular recipes to use it in not just snaffle it all straight from the package. (Although we did allow ourselves to eat some as a treat during our monthly Doctor Who marathon.)
                                              Image result for taifun smoked tofu
This was originally going to be a pasta recipe, but we ate pasta the day before (see last week's WWAW for Creamy Tomato Pasta here.) and so were out of noodle-y goodness. But Adapt, Adopt and Improve is my motto. I thought this alfredo sauce would be perfect over potatoes, and I was right.

This was my first time trying this recipe and we *definitely* will be eating it again. Over pasta. Over potatoes. Over each other. (just kidding)

Over the years I've tried more than a few alfredo sauce's all a bit Goldilocks.

This one's too salty...
This one's too bland..
This one's too runny....
This one's too fatty....

But this one--THIS one--it's Juuussst Right.

This is a cashew based sauce, but it fits within my acceptable limit of how many cashew nuts I can afford to use in a recipe which is half a cup. If you don't have a high powered blender soak your cashew nuts overnight or at least several hours then drain and rinse. It helps it blend better to a velvety smooth texture.

I found this recipe on the blog The Vegan 8 and you can read her version here.  She uses all vegetable broth, but I used half veggie broth and half unsweetened soya milk and it was perfect. She also uses nutritional yeast, but I happened to have some vegan Parmesan in the fridge that needed using up so I used that since it was nutritional yeast based.

In case you forgot, my Parmesan recipe is:
3 TB nutritional yeast
3 TB ground almonds
1/2 tsp each sea salt and garlic powder and pulsed in a blender.

I will definitely try it with just nooch next time. Oh yes...there will be a next time.

Of course I couldn't make it just alfredo potatoes. I added our favourite leafy green, kale. Everything is better with kale. FACT.
Garlic Alfredo Potatoes With Kale and Smoked Tofu
Before you do anything:
destem and tear up into bite size pieces, 100g (about 3-4 cups) kale
Dice 500g potatoes

For the sauce:
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup  vegetable stock
half a cup soaked cashews
1 Tb lemon juice
1/4 cup plus 1 TB nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan
3/4 cup unsweetened non dairy milk of choice (we did soya milk)
1/2 a tsp salt

half a packet of smoked tofu, diced small or add a tsp liquid smoke if no generous friends have given you the gift of tofu.

To get started:
1. Put the potatoes in a pot and cover with water and bring to the boil and simmer until they can easily be pierced by a fork. Then drain.
2. Meanwhile, Put the onions in a pot with the veggie stock and cook on med high. When the liquid is almost evaporated, add the garlic. Cook until liquid is evaporated, remove from heat and let cool.
3. When not so hot, add to the blender with the rest of the sauce ingredients and blend until velvety smooth. The onions really thicken it up and add flavour.
4. Put the kale back in the pot that the potatoes cooked in and cook with a splash of water until bright green and reduced. Add in the potatoes, smoked tofu and alfredo sauce and heat until the sauce is bubbling.
5. Serve with a light sprinkle of flaked sea salt (optional) and quite a lot of freshly ground pepper. we had a little bit of parmesan left, so we sprinkled that on as well.

The picture *really* does not do it justice. The sauce was thick, creamy with a fatty mouthfeel, but not heavy or oily, flavoursome with a bit of a tang. I might even add an extra TB lemon juice next time.

Stay tuned next week where I show you how I used the rest of the packet of smoked tofu in some vegan quiche!

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Murder Ballad Monday The Magic Fiddle (India)

Hello and welcome to part 10 of Murder Story Monday. This week I explore a version of this tale entitled The Magic Fiddle. This is unusual in that while it may be classified as a “singing bone” tale, there are no bones to sing. The sister who is drowned by the jealous wives of her brothers does not “die”, but her spirit is transferred into some bamboo growing by the river where she drowned. The bamboo, however, does speak and is turned into a musical instrument which ultimately helps her be released from her limbo position as half human/half spirit. 

This tale speaks about Bonga Spirits which my research has concluded it is a bit of a redundant phrase because Bonga means Spirit in India. So, basically you are saying Spirit Spirit. From what I can gather, a Bonga is a type of spirit who might serve a God, but is not a God itself. I felt I had read other tales like this where the “spirit” of a woman comes out at night and does the cooking and cleaning (why is it always domestic tasks?) and is surprised and freed from enchantment by the man she has been selflessly serving. I have thought and puzzled and looked in our vast collection of fairy tales, but have not been able to come up with an example, despite feeling like I had read one. Perhaps had even read more than one. So, if you can recall such a tale, please leave me a comment.

This particular tale was collected by Joseph Jacobs in 1892 in a book entitled Indian Fairy Tales. He in turn got the story from a book called Santal Folk-Tales by A. Campbell which was published in 1891.

This version came from here.
                                  Image result for clay water pitcher   
The Magic Fiddle

Once upon a time there lived seven brothers and a sister. The brothers were married, but their wives did not do the cooking for the family. It was done by their sister, who stopped at home to cook. The wives for this reason bore their sister-in-law much ill will, and at length they combined together to oust her from the office of cook and general provider, so that one of themselves might obtain it. They said, "She does not go out to the fields to work, but remains quietly at home, and yet she has not the meals ready at the proper time." They then called upon their bonga, and vowing vows unto him they secured his goodwill and assistance; then they said to the bonga, "At midday, when our sister-in-law goes to bring water, cause it thus to happen, that on seeing her pitcher, the water shall vanish, and again slowly reappear. In this way she will be delayed. Let the water not flow into her pitcher, and you may keep the maiden as your own."

At noon when she went to bring water, it suddenly dried up before her, and she began to weep. Then after a while the water began slowly to rise. When it reached her ankles she tried to fill her pitcher, but it would not go under the water. Being frightened she began to wail and cry to her brother:

Oh! my brother, the water reaches to my ankles,
Still, Oh! my brother, the pitcher will not dip.

The water continued to rise until it reached her knee, when she began to wail again:

Oh! my brother, the water reaches to my knee,
Still, Oh! my brother, the pitcher will not dip.

The water continued to rise, and when it reached her waist, she cried again:

Oh! my brother, the water reaches to my waist,
Still, Oh! my brother, the pitcher will not dip.

The water still rose, and when it reached her neck she kept on crying:

Oh! my brother, the water reaches to my neck,
Still, Oh! my brother, the pitcher will not dip.

At length the water became so deep that she felt herself drowning, then she cried aloud:

Oh! my brother, the water measures a man's height,
Oh! my brother, the pitcher begins to fill.

The pitcher filled with water, and along with it she sank and was drowned. The bonga then transformed her into a bonga like himself, and carried her off.

After a time, she reappeared as a bamboo growing on the embankment of the tank in which she had been drowned. When the bamboo had grown to an immense size, a yogi, who was in the habit of passing that way, seeing it, said to himself, "This will make a splendid fiddle."

So, one day he brought an axe to cut it down; but when he was about to begin, the bamboo called out, "Do not cut at the root, cut higher up." When he lifted his axe to cut high up the stem, the bamboo cried out, "Do not cut near the top, cut at the root." When the yogi again prepared himself to cut at the root as requested, the bamboo said, "Do not cut at the root, cut higher up;" and when he was about to cut higher up, it again called out to him, "Do not cut high up, cut at the root." The yogi by this time felt sure that a bonga was trying to frighten him, so becoming angry he cut down the bamboo at the root, and taking it away made a fiddle out of it. The instrument had a superior tone and delighted all who heard it. The yogi carried it with him when he went a begging, and through the influence of its sweet music he returned home every evening with a full wallet.

He now and then visited, when on his rounds, the house of the bonga girl's brothers, and the strains of the fiddle affected them greatly. Some of them were moved even to tears, for the fiddle seemed to wail as one in bitter anguish. The elder brother wished to purchase it, and offered to support the yogi for a whole year if he would consent to part with his wonderful instrument. The yogi, however, knew its value, and refused to sell it.

It so happened that the yogi some time after went to the house of a village chief, and after playing a tune or two on his fiddle asked for something to eat. They offered to buy his fiddle and promised a high price for it, but he refused to sell it, as his fiddle brought to him his means of livelihood. When they saw that he was not to be prevailed upon, they gave him food and a plentiful supply of liquor. Of the latter, he drank so freely that he presently became intoxicated. While he was in this condition, they took away his fiddle, and substituted their own old one for it. When the yogi recovered, he missed his instrument, and suspecting that it had been stolen asked them to return it to him. They denied having taken it, so he had to depart, leaving his fiddle behind him. The chief's son, being a musician, used to play on the yogi's fiddle, and in his hands the music it gave forth delighted the ears of all who heard it.

When all the household were absent at their labours in the fields, the bonga girl used to come out of the bamboo fiddle, and prepared the family meal. Having eaten her own share, she placed that of the chief's son under his bed, and covering it up to keep off the dust, re-entered the fiddle. This happening every day, the other members of the household thought that some girl friend of theirs was in this manner showing her interest in the young man, so they did not trouble themselves to find out how it came about. The young chief, however, was determined to watch, and see which of his girlfriends was so attentive to his comfort. He said in his own mind, "I will catch her today, and give her a sound beating; she is causing me to be ashamed before the others." So saying, he hid himself in a corner in a pile of firewood. In a short time, the girl came out of the bamboo fiddle, and began to dress her hair. Having completed her toilet, she cooked the meal of rice as usual, and having eaten some herself, she placed the young man's portion under his bed, as before, and was about to enter the fiddle again, when he, running out from his hiding place, caught her in his arms. The bonga girl exclaimed, "Fie! Fie! You may be a dom, or you may be a hadi of some other caste with whom I cannot marry."

He said, "No. But from today, you and I are one." So they began lovingly to hold converse with each other. When the others returned home in the evening, they saw that she was both a human being and a bonga, and they rejoiced exceedingly.

Now in course of time the bonga girl's family became very poor, and her brothers on one occasion came to the chief's house on a visit. The bonga girl recognised them at once, but they did not know who she was. She brought them water on their arrival, and afterwards set cooked rice before them. Then sitting down near them, she began in wailing tones to upbraid them on account of the treatment she had been subjected to by their wives. She related all that had befallen her, and wound up by saying, "You must have known it all, and yet you did not interfere to save me." And that was all the revenge she took.

This is the last of the Murder Story Monday versions of the Singing Bone Tales which relate to my original research about variations of the murder ballad The Twa Sisters. Stay tuned next week as I delve back into musical murder ballads.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

RIP Sergeant Peppermill

                                     Image result for sergeant peppermill
Sergeant Peppermill was adopted into our family on November 26th, 2011. You can read about his arrival here.

He was an integral part of our kitchen and was used daily. In the early years, he was a cheerful fellow who never minded us twisting his head to make pepper come out of his butt. But as he grew older, his joints became stiff and his pepper butt was often constipated. The paint on his face began to peel from over-handling and he grew cranky.

He used to really love being filled with knobbly peppercorns and made it easy for us to do, but as years passed he seemed to resent having his head taken off and peppercorns poured down his neck. In protest, he refused to allow us to put his head back on until all the peppercorns had been poured back out and reinserted with tweezers one by one. We did not begrudge him for this, as he was old and you have to make allowances for the elderly.

Over the past year, we could really sense he was shutting down, so it came as no surprise tonight when we tried to twist his moustached head that it refused to turn. I think he was giving us a message.

Please let me die (he seemed to say).

So it is with great sorrow, that we report the death of dear friend and kitchen companion Sergeant Peppermill. Rest in Peace, my friend.

He will not be discarded or recycled, but his empty shell will stand on the mantelpiece (well, the kitchen shelf) in memory of our heroic friend who ground pepper so lovingly over our food for the last six years. He will be replaced in the kitchen (but not in our hearts) with travel pepper grinder who is not nearly as cute, but a helluva lot easier to fill.

In lieu of flowers, please send peppercorns.

Thank you.

What We Ate Wednesday--Bippy Dread and Creamy Tomato Pasta (2 recipes. Luxury!)

Hello lovelies! While we had a fabulous time away on the Magical Mystery Tour, we are both still a bit tired from all the travel, so have been planning simple but healthy meals that come together quickly.

On Sunday we had Bippy Dread (a spoonerism for Dippy Bread) with homemade GF flatbreads, store-bought hummus, mango chutney and minty yogurt raita with lime and chilli cucumbers topped with crushed peanuts. If you want details about how to make the flatbread, go here.

We had some leftover hummus and thought I would try this recipe from the blog Oh She Glows. I have been a fan of Angela Liddon for yonks. I read her blog and have one of her cookbooks. I hadn't made it yet as we rarely buy store-bought hummus as it is considerably more pricey than homemade (I can make the equivalent of 2.5 containers of hummus for the same price as buying one and there's not all that plastic to throw away.) But, we were tired and I didn't have everything needed to DIY so we bought some plain hummus at Lidl for Bippy Dread.

So this pasta thing--it is called Adriana's Fave 10 Minute Pasta (Toddler Friendly) and looked pretty easy. You can see her original blog post and recipe here. I used my standard homemade marinara sauce (as did she), but you could make it go faster by using a jar of red sauce. Basically, it is red sauce mixed with some hummus to make the sauce creamy and boost the protein. She tops her with hemp hearts for extra protein, but we can't afford hemp hearts and this came out fine without them.

She doubles the pasta so it will make 4 adult sized portions, but we like things saucy over here in the Spider household. Wayhey! Oo-er, Mrs! (Get you mind out of the gutter! you know what I mean!) so we just used 1.5 cups pasta as that's our normal serving, but you could easily use 3 cups pasta and just have less sauce. I am sure it would be equally delicious.

Creamy Tomato Pasta
1. measure out your pasta and put a large pot of lightly salted water on to boil. Use 1.5 cups pasta for two people, 3 cups for four folks. 

2. In another large pot, make your marinara.

1 onion, finely diced
half a red pepper, diced
1 grated carrot
3 cloves crushed garlic

3. Cook those for a bit in a splash of oil or 1/4 cup water then add:

1/4 cup red wine (optional--but really good...if you are worried about alcohol, buy alcohol free cooking wine)
1 tsp each dried basil and oregano
1/2 tsp broth powder or half a stock cube
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2-3 TB tomato puree to thicken

4. When the water boils, add your pasta and boil according to package directions. The GF pasta we buy is ready in 8 minutes. When the pasta is nearly done stir in:

1/3 to 1/2 cup hummus into the marinara sauce.

5. Drain the pasta and add it to the pot of creamy sauce. 

That's it. I had it made in under 30 minutes.

It was really tasty and fairly quick since I had hummus to hand. If I'd had to drag out the food processor and make a batch of hummus, it would have added and extra 10-15 minutes to it, so this is best done with something you have in the fridge already if you want to make it snappy.

We will definitely eat this again. This was made with regular flavour hummus (or hummus flavour hummus as we call it), but it would be great with some of my homemade roasted red pepper, smoky cheese flavour hummus or sun-dried tomato.

If someone asks you "Where do vegan get their protein?" you can serve them up a big bowl of this.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Murder Ballad Monday--Little Anklebone (Pakistan)

Hello and welcome to part 9 of Murder Story Monday. This week I explore a version of this tale entitled Little Anklebone.

 Its title alone should give us a clue that this is unusual as no other versions that I have discovered have used an anklebone as our singing bone. This story has a touch of Red Riding Hood at the beginning and then quickly morphs into something very unusual. There has to be a willing suspension of disbelief to believe that a mere anklebone (all that is left of the poor shepherd after being eaten by a wolf) can do so many things as if it were a whole body and not just a foot. I feel the story doesn’t make it clear, but I suspect he is meant to be a ghost and the only corporal part of him is the foot. It is also extremely unusual in that the bone does speak, but not to call his auntie out for encouraging the most polite wolf in literature to eat him, but rather seems very content with his lot in life as a disembodied foot that can somehow still play the pipe.

The source for this tale is Wide-Awake Stories: A Collection of Tales Told by Little Children, Between Sunset and Sunrise, in the Panjab and Kashmir, collected by F. A. Steel and R. C. Temple in 1884. Steel's and Temple's source was supposedly a small boy from “the  wilds” of the Gujranwala District in Punjab, Pakistan.

This version came from here.

Image result for foot bones  illustration pen ink 

Little Anklebone
Once upon a time there was a little boy who lost his parent so he went to live with his auntie, and she set him to herd sheep. All day long the little fellow wandered barefoot through the pathless plain, tending his flock, playing his tiny shepherd's pipe from morn till eve.

But one day came a great big wolf, and looked hungrily at the small shepherd and his fat sheep, saying, "Little boy! shall I eat you, or your sheep?"

Then the little boy answered politely, "I don't know Mr. Wolf; I must ask my auntie."

So, all day long he piped away on his tiny pipe, and in the evening, when he brought the flock home, he went to his auntie and said, "Auntie dear, a great big wolf asked me today if he should eat me, or your sheep. Which shall it be?"

Then his auntie looked at the wee little shepherd, and at the fat flock, and said sharply, "Which shall it be? Why, you, of course!"

So, next morning the little boy drove his flock out into the pathless plain, and blew away cheerfully on his shepherd's pipe until the great big wolf appeared. Then he laid aside his pipe, and, going up to the savage beast, said, "Oh, if you please, Mr. Wolf, I asked my auntie, and she says you are to eat me."

Now the wolf, savage as wolves always are, could not help having just a spark of pity for the tiny barefoot shepherd who played his pipe so sweetly, therefore he said kindly, "Could I do anything for you, little boy, after I've eaten you?"

"Thank you!" returned the tiny shepherd. "If you would be so kind, after you've picked the bones, as to thread my ankle-bone on a string and hang it on the tree that weeps over the pond yonder, I shall be much obliged."

So the wolf ate the little shepherd, picked the bones, and afterwards hung the ankle-bone by a string to the branches of the tree, where it danced and swung in the sunlight.

Now, one day, three robbers, who had just robbed a palace, happening to pass that way, sat down under the tree and began to divide the spoil. Just as they had arranged all the golden dishes and precious jewels and costly stuffs into three heaps, a jackal howled. Now you must know that thieves always use the jackal's cry as a note of warning, so that when at the very same moment Little Anklebone's thread snapped, and he fell plump on the head of the chief robber, the man imagined someone had thrown a pebble at him, and, shouting "Run! run! We are discovered!" he bolted away as hard as he could, followed by his companions, leaving all the treasure behind them.

"Now," said Little Anklebone to himself, "I shall lead a fine life!"

So he gathered the treasure together, and sat under the tree that drooped over the pond, and played so sweetly on a new shepherd's pipe, that all the beasts of the forest, and the birds of the air, and the fishes of the pond came to listen to him. Then Little Anklebone put marble basins round the pond for the animals to drink out of, and in the evening the does, and the tigresses, and the she-wolves gathered round him to be milked, and when he had drank his fill he milked the rest into the pond, till at last it became a pond of milk. And Little Anklebone sat by the milken pond and piped away on his shepherd's pipe.

Now, one day, an old woman, passing by with her jar for water, heard the sweet strains of Little Anklebone's pipe, and following the sound, came upon the pond of milk, and saw the animals, and the birds, and the fishes, listening to the music. She was wonderstruck, especially when Little Anklebone, from his seat under the tree, called out, "Fill your jar, mother! All drink who come hither!"

Then the old woman filled her jar with milk, and went on her way rejoicing at her good fortune. But as she journeyed she met with the king of that country, who, having been a-hunting, had lost his way in the pathless plain.

"Give me a drink of water, good mother," he cried, seeing the jar; "I am half dead with thirst!"

"It is milk, my son," replied the old woman; "I got it yonder from a milken pond."

Then she told the king of the wonders she had seen, so that he resolved to have a peep at them himself. And when he saw the milken pond, and all the animals and birds and fishes gathered round, while Little Anklebone played ever so sweetly on his shepherd's pipe, he said "I must have the tiny piper, if I die for it!"

No sooner did Little Anklebone hear these words than he set off at a run, and the king after him. 
Never was there such a chase before or since, for Little Anklebone hid himself amid the thickest briars and thorns, and the king was so determined to have the tiny piper, that he did not care for scratches. At last the king was successful, but no sooner did he take hold of Little Anklebone than it began to thunder and lighten horribly, whilst the little piper himself began to sing these words:

Oh, why do you thunder and lighten, dark heavens?
Your noise is as nothing to what will arise,
When the does that are waiting in vain for the milking,
Find poor Little Anklebone reft from their eyes!

Whereupon the King, seeing that it really was nothing but an ankle-bone after all, let it go.

So, the little piper went back to his seat under the tree by the pond, and there he sits still, and plays his shepherd's pipe, while all the beasts of the forest, and birds of the air, and fishes of the pond, gather round and listen to his music. And sometimes, people wandering through the pathless plain hear the pipe, and then they say, "That is Little Anklebone, who was eaten by a wolf ages ago!"

Stay tuned next week for a version from India. 

Magical Mystery Tour, part five

Day five Magical Mystery Tour
Image result for london zoo
Going to the zoo, zoo, zoo
You can come too, too, too (1)

                             Image result for london zoo
Backstage passes with penguin 
rock stars (2)

We tried (and failed) to cuddle a Puddle (3)

Having a cwtch with chicks in the creche, all downy fluff and snuggles  (4)

2 Cheeky penguins hiding under my skirts and preening the hairs on my legs (5)

Silly buggers!
So glad to see this as it opened right after we moved...

                         Spiders were enclosed (6)
 Prejudice was noted (7)
Spyder, spyder spinning bright,

In the forest of the night (8)
Flies were caught in sticky webs
And a good time was had by all. 

Spider selfie! (9)

Feelin’ hot, hot, hot! (10)
Unnaturally vivid orange ice-lollies (with no orange in them at all)

Bear with me (it’s a pun!) (11)
We set the controls for the heart of the sun (well for Wales) and mega-bussed back to Cymru. (12)

While we loved being back in the big city there was so much pollution and rushrushrushrushrush that we were glad to get back to the slow life and the clean air of Cymru. 
Image result for bilingual sign motorway wales swansea

My heart fluttered when I saw the first signs in Cymraeg. (13)

As the sun set over Swansea we asked each other:

Wyt ti’n hapus? (14)

And the only thing to say was

Hapus iawn, gyda ti. (15)
Happy 25th.
(1) you can come too if you are willing to spend around £25 per person. We got in free as Spiderman used to volunteer there for many years taking care of birds.

(2) As I said, Spiderman had connections. We got to go into the “backstage areas” of Penguin Beach with a keeper friends of his.

(3) Puddle (featured in picture above with Spiderman) was a hand reared chick who was very people friendly. We had hoped Spiderman and Puddle could have seen each other to see if he remember him since it had been three years, but Puddle was in a nesting box on the other side of Penguin beach and therefore inaccessible.

(4) Never fear! We got to go into the creche where they were hand rearing some chicks and got to meet the son of Puddle! (in the photo) And the word cwtch means cuddle in Welsh.

(5) We went to meet some year-old penguins who were VERY inquisitive. Two of them spent a great deal of time waddling under my skirt and nipping at the hairs on my legs. I am reliably informed that this is good as they are preening me, as if I had feathers and were part of the colony. So, I am “one of them.”

(6) We went to through the walk-through Spider Enclosure. It was as awesome as you’d expect. Jamie (the keeper featured in the film) was there and gave us more “backstage tour.”

(7) a little boy was in the entrance looking at all the spiders and the fascinating scientific information in the outer part and really wanted to go into the walk-through but his mother said “NO. WE’RE NOT GOING IN THERE. IT IS DISGUSTING IN THERE.” We were about to offer to take him in with us when she snatched his hand and dragged him out. It upset us because she planted the seed of fear and disgust.

(8) the walk-through bit was quite tropical with real trees and lots of golden orb weavers and some social spiders (social spiders are rare as they hang out communally)

(9) Spider selfie! They had a mirror behind the spider and her web so you could get a selfie. Also, there was a tiny male on her web, but alas! We didn’t see him get any action.

(10) It was really hot. Have I mentioned this before???? The only frozen vegan ice lolly was this artificial orange one. It was delicious.

(11) This is a statue of Winnipeg the bear who was the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh. I am (of course) holding my bear Laurence in the photo.

(12) Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun is another song by Pink Floyd from a Saucerful of Secrets (just to bring us neatly back round to where we began)

(13) Cymraeg is the language of Cymru (Welsh is the language of Wales). By law, all sign must be bilingual.

(14) Are you happy?

(15) Very happy, with you.