Monday, 27 February 2017

Murder Ballad Monday--Steeleye Span

 Hello and welcome to part fourteen of Murder Ballad Monday.

For the last few weeks we have looked at versions of The Twa Sisters where the supernatural element has been removed in favour of one sister pushing the other in, the drowning sister being rescued by the miller and then thrown back in again to drown.

Image result for steeleye span

This week I want to look at the version by Steeleye Span. This folk band, best known for their 1975 song All Around My Hat, does a cracking version of this ballad. While many variations are sung wistfully or like a funeral dirge (particularly the ones with the supernatural element) this one--like last week’s version by Clannad—is a bit more on the jolly spectrum.

The refrain for this version is:
Bow down, Bow Down
I’ll be true unto my love, my love’ll be true to me

This is similar to ones we have seen over the last few weeks. Also, there are three sisters mentioned, but only the two feature in the song. This has also been a trend in a few variations we have looked at. This one is interesting as the suitor plays both sides. He gives a gift to the eldest which angers the youngest, and he gives a gift to the youngest which causes the eldest to be angry. In many ways, it really is his fault that this happens. In other versions, his preference for one over the other causes the jealousy, but in this version, he adds fuel to the fire by courting them both.

Listen to Steeleye Span put their own spin on this traditional ballad here:



Here’s how it breaks down compared to other versions:

Name of ballad: Three Sisters
Performed by: Steeleye Span
Refrain:
Bow down, bow down
 I'll be true unto my love
My love’ll be true to me
Number of sisters: three
Where did they live: north country
Appearance described as: n/a
Sweetheart:  is not named
Excuse to go to the water:  none given
Body of water: the verge (presumably the edge of the water)
Does it contain the line “Sometimes she sank, sometimes she swam”:  “away she sank and away she swam”
Miller and child: just the miller
Mistaken for: n/a
Described in death: n/a
Who finds her on the bank: n/a
Instrument she becomes: n/a
Body parts used: n/a
Would her song “melt a heart of stone”: n/a
Do the strings sing individually: n/a
What does the instrument sing: n/a
Is the sister punished: no, the song says “the miller will hang on his high gate for drowning our poor sister Kate”, but the sister escapes punishment.

 Here are the lyrics if you would like to follow along. I have eliminated the refrain so that it won’t be so long.
I’ll be true unto my love, my love’ll be true to me.
I’ll be true unto my love, my love’ll be true to me.

There was a king of the north country
Bow down, bow down
There was a king of the north country
Bow down, bow down
There was a king in the north country
And he had daughters one, two, three
I’ll be true unto my love, my love’ll be true to me.

To the eldest he gave a beaver hat
To the eldest he gave a beaver hat
To the eldest he gave a beaver hat
And the youngest she thought much of that.

To the youngest he gave a gay gold chain
To the youngest he gave a gay gold chain
To the youngest he gave a gay gold chain
And the eldest she thought much the same.

These sisters were walking on the verge
These sisters were walking on the verge
These sisters were walking on the verge.
And the eldest pushed the youngest in.

Away she sank, away she swam
Away she sank, away she swam
Away she sank, away she swam
Until she came to the miller’s dam

The miller he took the gay gold chain
Then he pushed her into the water again.

Now the miller will hang on his high gate
Bow down, bow down
Now the miller will hang on his high gate
Bow down, bow down
Now the miller will hang on his high gate
For drowning our poor sister Kate.
I’ll be true unto my love, my love’ll be true to me.

So, that’s it for version fourteen of The Twa Sisters. Stay tuned next Monday for version fifteen.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

What We Ate Wednesday--cowboy beans and crispy potatoes

Hello Lovelies! Last week we were going out in the evening to a special Interactive Murder Mystery Night at the public library (it was awesome! And free!) so we needed something quick and filling to eat beforehand.

Cowboy beans (or as regular people call them baked beans) are a staple in our house. There is just one problem. A tin of baked beans in the UK looks something like this:

Image result for heinz baked beans

Whereas, Cowboy beans from Louisiana look more like this:

Spot the difference? British beans come in a runny, flavourless tomato sauce whereas Louisiana beans comes in a thick, smoky, flavourful molasses or brown sugar based sauce. 

If we lived in the US this recipe would be so much easier. we'd just open up a tin of something like these and be done with it. 
Image result for bush baked beans vegetarian

But since we live in the UK, we have to "pimp" our beans (as the cool kidz say). 
We buy Tesco brand reduced sugar and salt beans as we are going to add some sweetener back in. 
Image result for heinz smokey bbq sauce
we buy this from B&M Bargains for £1
If you want to pimp your beans I would suggest you add:
1 finely diced onion
garlic
a big squidge of BBQ sauce (make sure in doesn't have High Fructose Corn Syrup)
1 spoonful of molasses
a few drops liquid smoke

Before you pimp your beans, you need to work on your crispy potatoes.

Preheat your oven to 220C/425F.
Lightly oil your roasting pan

This recipe is for two people. I imagine you could double it, but you'd need to use a separate pan as you don't want overcrowding. Overcrowding=soggy not crispy potatoes. You'd probably need to rotate the pans at the half way mark as well.

Note: I find the best way to get the coating on is a way that is slightly less environmentally friendly. You need to mix it in a small bag--a bit like Shake N Bake--to really get the coating on there. Mixing it in a bowl just doesn't do it as well. We use a small biodegradable compost bag for this.

Crispy Potatoes for two (adapted from Angela Liddon's Oh She Glows)

400g potatoes--about 6 egg sized potatoes, cut into chunks
1 TB starch--I use tapioca starch, but you could use arrowroot or corn starch (cornflour to my British peeps)
1 tsp each garlic powder, onion powder and smoked paprika
salt to taste and lots of pepper
1 TB oil

1.Put the potatoes in the bag and put on all the dry ingredients. Holding the bag closed wiggle/shake the bag to be sure all potatoes are coated.
2.Add the oil and keeping the bag closed massage the potatoes to make sure all the potatoes are coated.
3. pour into an even layer in your roasting pan.
4. bake 13 minutes, then stir (If you oiled the pan they won't stick, if you forgot they will) and then bake for 13 more.

While the potatoes ate crisping up, cook your Cowboy beans. We like beans on bottom/potatoes on top, but serve it however you like.

If you are British, try pimping your beans and see how much better it tastes.

Enjoy!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Murder Ballad Monday--Two Sisters

Hello and welcome to part thirteen of Murder Ballad Monday.

This week our song is by popular Irish folk band Clannad. They are a family band which consists of three siblings and their twin uncles. Their sister/niece Enya (remember her?) left the band in 1981 to pursue a solo career. It is worth noting that this was the song Rosie-Mai and I heard at the Meadows family folk concert which piqued our interest into the history of this ballad.
 Image result for clannad band
In this version (like last week’s version) there are similarities in their refrain. The refrain for the Clannad songs goes like this:
Sing aye dumb, sing aye day
The boys are born for me
I'll be true for my love
If he'll be true to me

There is some evidence of the last line of the refrain having a reference in Child ballad 10 R and 10 U, 

Child ballad 10 R ends with:
I’ll be true to my love, and my love will be true to me
Child ballad 10 U ends with:
The bow is bent to me (Is that similar to the boys are born for me?)
So you be true to your own love and I’ll be true to thee

But the first two lines were a mystery to me. Where had they come from?
A little bit of lurking on folk music forums informed me that the melody and gist of the words is from Two Sisters version E in Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles, English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians. It was collected from Mrs. Clercy Deeton at Mine Fork, Burnsville, North Carolina, September 19, 1918. It's one of fourteen versions published there. I found a copy in The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads by Bertrand Harris Bronson. In that book the refrain is:
Sing I dum, sing I day
The boys are bound for me
 I’ll be kind to my true love
If he’ll be kind to me.

I can clearly see it is an amalgamation of The Two Sisters version E from the Cecil Sharp book and the Twa Sisters Child ballad 10 R. So, despite sounding quite Irish, this song is actually American!


Again, like last week’s version, this one leaves out the supernatural element However, in last week’s version the miller was done for the crime, but the sister got away. Not in this version!  I have included the lyrics below if you’d like to follow along. Listen to it here:



Here’s how it breaks down compared to other versions:

Name of ballad: Two Sisters
Performed by: Clannad
Refrain:
Sing aye dumb, sing aye day
The boys are born for me
I'll be true for my love
If he'll be true to me
Number of sisters: two
Where did they live: “side by side”
Appearance described as: n/a
Sweetheart:  young Johnny
Excuse to go to the water: n/a
Body of water: foamy brim
Does it contain the line “Sometimes she sank, sometimes she swam”:  “there she sank and away she swam”
Miller and child: just the miller
Mistaken for: n/a
Described in death: n/a
Who finds her on the bank: n/a
Instrument she becomes: n/a
Body parts used: n/a
Would her song “melt a heart of stone”: n/a
Do the strings sing individually: n/a
What does the instrument sing: n/a
Is the sister punished: yes, the miller is hanged on the mountain head and the sister boiled in lead

Finally, some retribution! Also, that line about being boiled in lead was completely an original idea from Andy Irvine of Clannad, so if you ever hear someone singing it you know they are copying his version!

Interesting trivia: The folk band Boiled in Lead get their name from this song.

Here are the lyrics if you would like to follow along. I have eliminated the refrain so that it won’t be so long.
There were two sisters side by side
Sing aye dumb, sing aye day
There were two sisters side by side
The boys are born for me
There were two sisters side by side
The eldest for young johnny cried
I'll be true unto my love
If he'll be true to me

Johnny bought the youngest a gay gold ring,
He never bought the eldest a single thing

Johnny bought the youngest a beaver hat,
The eldest didn't think much of that

As they were walking by the foamy brim,
The eldest pushed the youngest in

Sister, oh sister give me thy hand,
And you can have Johnny and all his land

Sister I'll not give you my hand,
And I'll have Johnny and all his land

So away she sank and away she swam,
Until she came to the miller's dam

Miller took away her gay gold ring,
And then he pushed her in again

Miller he was hanged on the mountain head,
The eldest sister was boiled in lead


So, that’s it for version thirteen of The Twa Sisters. Stay tuned next Monday for version fourteen.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

All Those Years Ago

Today is pretty special for us. The day that started it all.

It was 1989.  John David was having a birthday. I knew him from high school. Spiderman knew him from RA camp where they had been councillors together and Lottie knew him because their dads were friends.

Lottie invited me to the party that was being held at Louisiana College, in the common room of English Village. Before you get too excited about the term "party," let me just remind you that this was a Baptist party. So if you are thinking loud music, dancing and drinking you can just wipe that image from your mind. It was more of a Scrabble and cake sort of party. More on the cake later.

So, I was feeling a bit bored by the whole party business because I love to dance and there wasn't gonna be any dancing here. When the Scrabble board arrived and was met with an enthusiastic cheer, I knew it was time to go home.

I do not play Scrabble.
Image result for frank zappa ship arriving too late
But then, I heard it. A voice. A voice singing. A voice singing FRANK ZAPPA. Who in this Baptist college knows Frank Zappa besides me? I heard it again. Ship arriving too late to save a drowning witch. It was not mistake. I looked frantically around to see who it was and it was Spiderman.

Now, I had known Spiderman for a whole semester and we had gone on many group outings together, but not once had I ever heard him speak. He was always polite and did things like held the door open for me or brought me another glass of grape juice at lunch, but had I ever heard him speak aloud? No, I had not. He was very shy, you see.

(I asked him later why Frank Zappa? And all he could say was "I could tell you were about to go and I had to do something to make you stay.")

So, we walked away (far away) from the Scrabble game and sat by ourselves.

This is where the magic happened.

We talked. We talked and talked and laughed and laughed. We discussed the Romantic poets. He liked Keats and Shelley, I fancied Wordsworth, but we both could agree on Coleridge. We recited the entire dead parrot sketch from Monty Python and laughed until I fell off the sofa.
Image result for dead parrot
The air crackled. I could feel myself falling in love. Honestly, like all those cliched films where Cupid comes out and shoots someone in the heart and little cartoon hearts blip and twinkle above their heads. It was like that.

I suddenly had this idea that I really needed to make a good impression. The more excitable I get, the less dignified I am. I start to flap my hands like a insane goose trying to fly south for the winter. So, I thought of a solution.

Cake. I could have a slice of cake. If I was holding a plate and a fork, I could not flap like I was trying to fly to the moon. So I had a slice of cake.

It was all going so well. We talked about music and were going through the entire catalogue of Peter, Paul and Mary songs when someone said:
Where's the cake?
I realised, to my horror, that I had eaten the ENTIRE birthday cake. I had eaten it all myself. Eight slices. In front of him. 

I had tried to be dignified and instead had made an utter tit of myself. I burned with shame. 
Image result for german chocolate cake
In my defence, it was a German chocolate cake.

(I asked him later what did he think as he saw me go back for piece after piece of cake. he replied that he couldn't believe a 90lb waif could pack away that much food. It was apparently pretty impressive.)

I recovered my composure and hid my plate under the sofa. we continued to talk and I wondered if I had blown it. He could never love someone like me. It was many years later that I found out that he had already loved me. Ever since he saw me in the play Tartuffe in 1988. He had loved me for a whole year and been too shy to talk to me. That's why he didn't want me to leave. Hence the Frank Zappa.

At about 3am, it was time to go back to our respective dormitories.

He hugged Lottie goodbye.

He hugged her roommate Lisa goodbye, in what I judged to be longer than the hug he gave Lottie. (He says this wasn't so. He said he hardly knew Lisa.) I was mortified. What if all night he had been forced to talk to the mad cake eating woman who flapped her arms and threatened him with a fork if he dared leave the sofa?

I nearly started to cry. Because, you see, I loved him. I loved him already.

Then he hugged me. I was so ashamed that I tried to pull away and he wouldn't let me. He held me in those strong arms and I melted. The whole rest of the world faded away and we were actually in the night sky surrounded by stars. I know that sounds like a crap metaphor for love in a badly written romance novel, but it is true. Every word. We hugged for ages until someone went, "OooOooo," and everyone laughed. We broke apart and began to walk back to our dorms.

As we walked along the boardwalk, my feet didn't touch the ground. I know that is also a well worn cliche, but it is 100% true. I actually looked down and I was levitating slightly. Hand on heart, that really happened.

We got back to Cottingham, and we were all going to have a slumber part in one room. Everyone else was tired, but I was wide awake.It looked something like this:

Me: Wasn't he wonderful? he's so funny and clever. Do you think he likes me??
Everyone else: Shut up and go to sleep, it's almost 4 in the morning!!!

The next day, self doubt kept creeping in. I felt like he was my soul mate, but did he feel the same way? I was suddenly tongue-tied. Thankfully Lottie knew what to do.

Basically, she did the grown up equivalent of that eighth grade game:

Do you like Spidergrrl? 
Circle one
Yes       No
She phoned him up and asked him. I was in the TV room watching The Comic Strip Presents. It was the episode Consuela, or the new Mrs Saunders. Lisa came flying through the double doors and screamed, "he likes you! he says he likes you!" 

And that was it really. 

From that day in 1989 to the present, we have been inseparable. 

So thank you, John David for being born. Thank you for knowing Lottie who could invite me to your birthday party. Thank you  Lottie, for being brave enough to ask. And thank you to Spiderman, whose love transforms me. 

For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
that then I scorn to change my state with kings. 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

I See You

Some people like flowers. The one and only time Spiderman gave me roses was the night he proposed. They gave me a sinus infection.

Some people like chocolates. We occasionally splurge on posh vegan chocolates, but mostly we are ok. I do a lot of homemade baking so we always have a treat to nibble. No need to spend loads of money on a tiny, expensive box that comes with layers and layers of packaging.

We like art. We have collected original art for many years. These days our disposable income is considerably less than it used to be, but we still find ways to feed our souls and support artists that we admire.

We also like fairy tales. Not the Disney ones. But the darker ones. The slightly sinister ones. The ones written by the likes of the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and Charles Perrault.

I write fairy tales, the more slippery kind. They are spider webs and creaking stairs rather than twittering birds and comic mice. My tales are all inspired by the darker masters who wrote before me.

So, when we saw this painting by Kevin Chunisingh we knew we had to have it. He has made fantastic, museum quality prints of the original painting making this an affordable way to feed our souls with art. The print costs £25 and came professionally matted and ready to frame. That is very good value. 


The painting is called I See You and it is masterpiece.

It was two years in the making. You can go here to watch a short film about its development.

We are so in love with Kevin’s artwork. He paints with such a depth of feeling and many of the paintings are painted in such a way that you could read them like braille. The paint is thick and textured which makes my fingers itch to touch the brushstrokes.
No automatic alt text available.
from Kevin Chunisingh Art
He is a lovely bloke. We have had several back and forth conversations over private messaging about the print and he is always delightful to talk to. His wife Becky is equally wonderful. She has this amazing flamingo coloured hair. She graciously met me in town to deliver the print in person to save the cost of postage.

Image may contain: 1 person
from Kevin Chunisingh Art
He is a talented painter, full stop. But what makes him extra remarkable is that Kevin is a tetraplegic. He was in an accident and is in a wheelchair. His wife told me he straps the paintbrush to his hand to paint. Which is pretty damn remarkable.
Image may contain: drawing
from Kevin Chunisingh Art--his first sketch after figuring out how to strap a pencil to his hand

Go to his Facebook page (Kevin Chunisingh Art) and have a look at his artwork. He sells original paintings as well as prints and cards and accepts commissions. He told me that he will ship overseas if any of my American friends are interested in his work. 
No automatic alt text available.
from Kevin Chunisingh Art

Thank you, Kevin for expressing your creative side so beautifully. Thank you, Becky for delivering the print to me today. Thank you, Spiderman who saw it and agreed it was perfect for us. Lastly, thank you to Priya for giving me an unexpected half day of work in the shop so we could buy it.
It was a happy Valentine’s day, indeed.



What We Ate Wednesday--Roasted Piri Piri Chickpeas

Hello lovelies! Welcome to What We Ate Wednesday. This week Roasted Piri Piri Chickpeas. My recipe is a compilation of ones I found on the internet for Piri Piri sauce for chicken and adapted. It is tangy, spicy and a little sweet, but 100% yumilicious.

It is easy to throw together and happens pretty quickly. I do love fancy food, but sometimes you want to just be done in about 30 minutes. I use an easy cook brown rice that cooks in 25 minutes to make this happen.


Preheat your oven to 200C/400F.

You need: 
2 tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 3 cups chickpeas you cooked yourself) 
1 onion, diced
1 pepper, diced
Put all of that in your big roasting pan and top with the piri piri sauce. Stir well to be sure all the chickpeas are covered in sauce. 

Sauce recipe:
juice of one lemon (aprox 1/4 cup)
2 TB white wine vinegar
1 TB olive oil
1 TB tomato puree (tomato paste to my American peeps)
3 cloves (or more!) of grated garlic
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cinnamon
1 (or more!) tsp red pepper flakes
1 TB sriracha or hot sauce of your choice
1 TB liquid sweetener like agave, maple syrup or golden syrup. 
salt and pepper to taste

While that's getting ready, start your brown rice. I use 1 cup brown rice to 2 cups water with a tsp of vegetable stock powder. Towards the end of cooking I like to throw in some frozen peas to the rice as they look nice as a contrast to the red chickpeas. 

Anyway, once your rice has come to the boil and you've turned it down to simmer put your chickpeas in the oven to roast. Roast for 20 minutes, then take out and stir then an additional 5. The sauce will have concentrated and thickened, but if it seems too dry then add a splash of water and stir for the final five minutes. 

Serve over the rice and peas.

That's it. Really tasty and healthy. Enjoy!

Monday, 13 February 2017

Murder Ballad Monday--Two Sisters

Hello and welcome to part twelve of Murder Ballad Monday.

Last week, we started to look at versions where the supernatural element was removed in favour of one sister pushing the other in, the drowning sister being rescued by the miller and then thrown back in again to drown.
 Image result for tom waits

This week our version of Child Ballad 10 is sung by Tom Waits and it comes from the Bastards section of his Orphans, Brawlers, and Bastards CD trilogy. Interestingly, he calls his version Two Sisters, but his lyrics mention “daughters one, two, three, four.” Like the Paul Clayton and Loreena McKennitt versions, extra sisters mentioned at the beginning of the song are never heard from again.

This version is related to last week’s version and next week’s version through similarities in the refrain. Tom Waits’ refrain says:
Bow and balance me
And I'll be true to my love
if my love will be true to me

I established last week that the last line about being true to my love is related to Child ballad 10 R, 10 S, and 10 U.

I found the actual refrain Tom Waits uses in The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads
By Bertrand Harris Bronson. It appears as number 51. It was collected from Mrs May Kennedy McCord from  Springfield, Mo. on November 12th, 1941. She learned it from her mother in Galena, Mo. Circa 1890.

What also sets this one apart from other versions where the miller pushes the girl back in to drown, is the reason for his doing so. Variation one:  He fishes the drowning woman out of the river, and she offers him her gold rings to take her back to her father. He steals the rings and pushes her back in or Variation two: He fishes the drowning woman out of the river and he steals the rings and pushes her back in. Tom Wait’s version offers us Variation three: He fishes the drowning woman out of the river and the sister who pushed her in offers him five gold rings to push her back in again!

Here is Tom Waits’ version of this ballad. He really adds his own distinctive, gravelly-voiced flare to it. I have included the lyrics below if you’d like to follow along. Listen to it here:


Here’s how it breaks down compared to other versions:

Name of ballad: Two Sisters
Performed by: Tom Waits
Refrain:
Bow and balance me
And I'll be true to my love
if my love will be true to me
Number of sisters: four
Where did they live: by the seashore
Appearance described as: n/a
Sweetheart:  Willy
Excuse to go to the water:  to “see the ships as they're sailing on”
Body of water: the shore
Does it contain the line “Sometimes she sank, sometimes she swam”:  yes
Miller and child: just the miller
Mistaken for: n/a
Described in death: n/a
Who finds her on the bank: n/a
Instrument she becomes: n/a
Body parts used: n/a
Would her song “melt a heart of stone”: n/a
Do the strings sing individually: n/a
What does the instrument sing: n/a
Is the sister punished: no, the miller was hung in the old mill gate for drowning little sister Kate, but the sister escapes punishment.

 Here are the lyrics if you would like to follow along. I have eliminated the refrain so that it won’t be so long.

There was an old woman, lived by the seashore
Bow and balance me
There was an old woman, lived by the seashore
A number of daughters: one, two, three, four
And I'll be true to my love
if my love will be true to me
There was a young man come there to see them
There was a young man come there to see them
and the oldest one got stuck on him

He bought the youngest a beaver hat
He bought the youngest a beaver hat
and the oldest one got mad at that

Oh, sister oh, sister let's walk the seashore
Oh, sister oh, sister let's walk the seashore
and see the ships as they're sailing on

While these two sisters were walking the shore
While these two sisters were walking the shore
the oldest pushed the youngest o'er

Oh, sister oh, sister please lend me your hand
Oh, sister oh, sister please lend me your hand
and you will have Willy and all of his land

I'll never, I'll never will lend you my hand
I'll never, I'll never will lend you my hand
but I'll have Willy and all of his land

Some time she swam and some time she swam
Some time she sank and some time she swam
until she came to the old mill dam

The miller, he got his fishing hook
The miller, he got his fishing hook
and fished that maiden out of the brook

Oh, miller oh, miller here's five gold rings
Oh, miller oh, miller here's five gold rings
to push the maiden in again

The miller received those five gold rings
The miller received those five gold rings
and pushed that maiden in again

The miller was hung in the old mill gate
Bow and balance me
The miller was hung in the old mill gate
for drowning little sister Kate
And I'll be true to my love
if my love will be true to me


So, that’s it for version twelve of The Twa Sisters. Stay tuned next Monday for version thirteen.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

What We Ate Wednesday--Spag Bol

Hello lovelies! Today I want to share with you my recipe for Spaghetti Bolognese. I often hear it lovingly shortened to Spag Bol.  It is traditionally a tomato sauce made with ground beef  served over pasta. I am sure I must have eaten it as a child, but somehow I always picture spaghetti with meatballs. In my version, I substitute puy lentils for the ground meat for a stick-to-your-ribs pasta sauce. I even make a vegan Parmesan cheese to put on top!

This is one of our favourite meals and I have served it to company who declared it as tasty as the meaty one. This makes enough for 3 bowls (which is eaten by two greedy people!) and is easily doubled.

One thing I like to do if I have time is to soak my lentils for a few hours ahead of time as it can speed up their softening in cooking, but it is by no means necessary.





My recipe is based on the one from the Jack Monroe cookbook A Girl called Jack. It is not a vegan cookbook (although Jack is vegan now!) but rather it is budget cookbook. There are 100 recipes and at least 50 are vegan and a further 30 or so are easily adapted to being vegan with a substitute for cheese or margarine instead of butter. A vegan diet is a cheap diet when you stick to wholefoods and use things like beans and lentils instead of processed veggie burgers.  I used gluten free shell pasta as that is what I had, but traditional spaghetti would obviously work, too.

Spag Bol

You need:
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, grated
several cloves garlic, chopped
100g (1/2 cup) puy lentils (presoaked if you have time)
3-4 button mushrooms, diced (optional)
a few sundried tomatoes if you have them.I didn't, but sometimes do
 1 tsp each dried oregano and dried basil
60ml (1/4 cup) red wine (I use an alcohol free cooking wine)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 stock cube or 1 tsp powdered vegetable stock
60-120ml (1/4 to 1/2 cup) water
2-3 TB tomato puree (paste)

1. Cook your onion in a bit of oil or water until soft. Add the garlic and the carrot and cook for a further few minutes.
2. Add the herbs and the wine and increase the heat.
3. Add the mushrooms, stock cube or powdered stock, sundried tomatoes (if using), lentils, tin of tomatoes, water and tomato puree. Bring to the boil, then simmer until lentils are tender--about 25 minutes or so. If it seems too thick, add a splash more water.
4. After 25 minutes of simmering, then start boiling your water for pasta. Allow a heaping 3/4 cup pasta per person (70g) or a full cup per person (100g). Boil the pasta as the packet tells you to, then drain and add to the pasta sauce. Mix up all the sauce with the pasta. We prefer this method instead of putting pasta in your bowl and then ladling the sauce on top. I learned this method from my friend Angie Nida Marable.  Growing up it stopped arguments at the table of who had more and who had less. Not that I think Spiderman and I would argue over it...we just both want our fair share of this dish.



During that 25 minutes while the sauce is simmering, make your Parmesan cheese.

Parmesan
In a spice grinder or small food processor blend this until mixed and powdery.
3 TB nutritional yeast flakes (nooch!)
3 TB ground almonds
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder

That's it! Sprinkle artistically on top of your Spag Bol (and if I am honest, take your photo and then add several spoons more of this lovely stuff) and eat it all up! If you have any Parmesan left over, store it in the fridge.

That's it. A recipe adapted from a traditional one, but made healthier, cheaper and even more delicious (you don't have to drain all the saturated fat off the ground meat) so tuck in and enjoy!


Monday, 6 February 2017

Murder Ballad Monday--The Twa Sisters

Welcome to part eleven of Murder Ballad Monday.

Today’s entry is an Americanised version of Child ballad 10 sung by Paul Clayton. He learned it from Mrs. Kit Williamson of Campbell County, Virginia. Paul Clayton was not a familiar name to me, but he was an American singer and folklorist in the 1960s who specialised in New England sea shanties, ballads, and Appalachian songs. Wikipedia also mentions that he was a dear friend and mentor to Bob Dylan early in his career.
 Image result for paul clayton folk singer
Paul Clayton’s version shares a similarity with the Loreena McKennitt version in that three daughters are mentioned at the beginning, but the middle one is never mentioned again.

This version (and the next few versions) share a similar refrain. There is not an exact likeness found in Child ballad 10, but there are similarities. The refrain in today’s ballad is:
Bow down, bow down.
The boughs they bend to me,
Love will be true, true to my love,
Love will be true to me.                                                                                                                      

Child ballad 10 R says:
Bow down, bow down, bow down
I’ll be true to my love, and my love will be true to me
Child Ballad 10 S  says:
This story I'll vent to thee
I'll prove true to my love, if my love prove true to me
Child ballad 10 U says:
Bow down, bow down
The bow is bent to me
So you be true to your own love and I’ll be true to thee

This version (and the next few versions) are also unusual in that the supernatural element is completely removed. One sister may have pushed the other in, but it is the miller who actually lets her drown.

There is certainly an American drawl to this one. Paul Clayton’s voice is a bit like a cross between Pete Seeger and Johnny Cash. 
I have included the lyrics below if you would like to follow along. Listen to it here:


Here’s how it breaks down compared to other versions.

Name of ballad: The Twa Sisters
Performed by: Paul Clayton
Refrain:
 Bow down, bow down.
The boughs they bend to me,
Love will be true, true to my love,
Love will be true to me.                                                                                                                       Number of sisters: three
Where did they live:  the North Country
Appearance described as: n/a
Sweetheart: a young man
Excuse to go to the water: “to see the ships come sailing o’er”
Body of water: brook
Does it include the line “Sometimes she sank, sometimes she swam”: “down she sank and away she swam”
Miller and child: yes, a miller
Mistaken for: n/a
Described in death: n/a
Who finds her on the bank: n/a
Instrument she becomes: n/a
Body parts used: n/a
Would her song “melt a heart of stone”: n/a
Do the strings sing individually: n/a
What does the instrument sing:  n/a 
Is the sister punished: no, but the miller is hanged for killing the sister. It ends with the eerie line:
The miller was hung at his mill gate
For the drowning of my sister Kate.


Here are the lyrics if you would like to follow along. I have eliminated the refrain so that it won’t be so long.

There was an old man in the North Country,
Bow down, bow down.
There was an old man in the North Country,
The boughs they bend to me,
There was an old man in the North Country,
He had daughters, one, two, three.
Love will be true, true to my love,
Love will be true to you.

There was a young man came courting there,
He did choose the youngest fair.

He gave the youngest a gay gold ring,
And to the oldest not a single thing.

He gave to the youngest a beaver hat,
And the oldest she thought hard of that.

“Sister, O sister, let’s walk the sea shore,
To see the ships come sailing o’er.”

They were walking along on yonder sea-brim
When the oldest shoved the youngest in.

“O sister, O sister, hand me your hand,
And you may have my house and land.”

“O sister, O sister, hand me your glove,
And you may have my own true love.”

“I’ll neither hand you hand nor glove,
For all I want is your true love.”

So down she sank and away she swam
Until she reached the old mill dam.

The miller threw out his old grab-hook
And pulled the fair maiden out of the brook.

“O miller, O miller, here’s three gold rings,
If you’ll take me to my father’s again.”

He up with her fingers and off with her rings
And threw her back into the brook again.

The miller was hung at his mill gate
For the drowning of my sister Kate.


So, that’s it for version eleven of The Twa Sisters. Stay tuned next Monday for version twelve.