Wednesday, 30 January 2019

What We Ate Wednesday- Coconut Curried Cowboy Beans and Peshwari Naan Bread

Hello lovelies! This is just something I invented one day when I couldn't think of what to cook and got the idea to use a tin of cowboy beans (that's baked beans for the uninitiated) and making them fancier.

This probably only works with British baked beans as they come in a tin with a thin, flavourless red sauce. I am sure many British people will disagree with me, but you never grew up eating proper baked beans which are rich and smoky and full of molasses. If you want to see how to turn a tin of UK baked beans into US beans then go HERE to see how I pimp by beanz.

So, anyway I got the idea to turn a tin of cowboy beans into a curry by looking at recipes online. Most called for a tin of beans and a tin of tomatoes. Well, I thought--cowboys beans have both beans and tomato sauce in one container. Boom!

So I just started throwing some ingredients in and tasting until it tasted good. But what to serve with it? I decided to use my foolproof 5 minute flatbread and make it Peshwari style which means sweet.

Some people might recoil in horror, but I think they came out quite nice. Next time I think I will add some frozen chopped mango or a few spoons of mango chutney as I thought it could have used a little sweetness. It was also a chance to use these cute little tins of coconut milk I can buy at B&M Bargains 4 for £1.

Coconut Curried Cowboy Beans  
1 onion, finely diced
1 tin baked beans (we used Tesco reduced sugar and salt)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
165 ml coconut milk (about 3/4 cup?)
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp garam masala + 1 tsp turmeric (or 3 tsp curry powder)
1/2 tsp chilli flake
2 TB tomato puree
1-2 TB liquid sweetener if it doesn't seem sweet enough) 
1 cup frozen peas
Optional:  a few spoons mango chutney or some frozen mango chunks

1. Cook your onion in a splash of oil until softened. Add the spices and garlic and cook until fragrant.
2. Add the baked beans and the coconut milk and tomato puree and then simmer while you make your bread. When the bread goes into the oven, add your frozen peas.
3. Taste at the end and add the liquid sweetener if needed, but if you've added frozen mango or a few dollops of mango chutney you probably won't need it.

Peshwari Naan Bread

Note: this works great with GF flour, just add a tsp xanthan gum.

Preheat your broiler or grill to about 220C/425F. Oil your roasting pan. Move your oven rack to the highest position.

First make your buttermilk.
1 cup non dairy milk (soya works best) 
1 TB vinegar

Set aside to curdle.

200g (1.5 cups) sifted  (GF) flour
3 TB baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum (only if GF)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 TB ground almonds
3 TB desiccated  coconut
3 TB demerara sugar (( I used 1.5 TB Tate and  Lyle sugar with stevia)
2 handfuls dried fruit like raisins or cranberries

1. Mix it all together.
2. Add the buttermilk and mix to form a soft sticky dough.
3. carefully using wet hands, divide into 4 equal pieces and flatten into saucer shapes.
3. Grill for 5 minutes, then flip and broil for 5 minutes more.
4. Dunk in your curry.

I definitely think some mango would have made it even better, but it was quite tasty on its own.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--The Dirty Shepherdess-(France, 1892)

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

Last week we looked at a version of Cinderella that had some qualities of  Aarne-Thompson-Uther (ATU) 510a—persecuted heroine-- with some of the qualities you expect in a 510b classification story—the running away/being banished and having to disguise herself in rustic clothes and work as a scullery maid or other poor profession until she is spotted by the prince, but without the other hallmark of 510b tales which is a father who wants to marry her as the cause of her leaving.

This week we look at another tale that bears some of the 510b classifications as well as some of the classifications of ATU 923—love like salt. Last week’s version would also fall into the ATU 923 category since that is what drove her father to force her to leave. Not all versions of ATU 923 contain Cinderella elements as we will explore next week.

The Dirty Shepherdess is a French fairy tale collected by Paul Sébillot who was a folklorist, painter and writer. He wrote many books about his native province of Brittany as well as books like Le Folklore de France in 1906. I cannot find a record that says which of his many folklore books La Bergère Sale appeared, but Scottish folklorist Andrew Lang included it in The Green Fairy Book in 1892.

As in other versions, the other sister sucks up to the father and is rewarded while the younger sister is punished for her honesty. Interestingly, when she is banned from the kingdom, she fears she is too pretty to be taken into service. The story says. She was afraid that no housewife would want to engage a girl with such a pretty face, she determined to make herself as ugly as she could. I found that most interesting, a real telling feature of the time. I imagine a mistress of the house would be worried about a pretty servant attracting the master’s eye. I have read all too many cases (and seen enough historical dramas about life upstairs and downstairs) where a wicked master has his way with a pretty servant girl getting her in the family way and the mistress casting her out of the house in shame with no reference which means she and her bastard child end up in the workhouse. Here is where it really resembles other versions of ATU 510b where the protagonist goes into deep disguise, making herself dirty and unattractive. Here she wears beggar’s clothes, tangles her hair and smears her face and hands with mud. However, since she is an intelligent princess who planned ahead, she conveniently brought a bag with fine dresses and jewellery with her when she left. So when she is seen by a passing prince dressed in her finery out tending sheep, he falls in love with her as expected. Because no one else has seen her in her fancy clothes they think he must be mad to fancy the dirty shepherdess, but he insists she is lovely. He asks that the shepherdess bake him a loaf of bread. She makes everyone leave the kitchen, washes up and puts on her good clothes and jewellery and bakes the loaf. In Cap o’ Rushes, she puts the ring in the food on purpose, but here the ring falls into the dough by accident (surely there is a lesson here about don’t bake with bling unless you want to snag a prince.) One of the defining elements of a Cinderella tale is a lost object. Mostly this is a shoe, but in this case the prince finds the ring and has every maiden in the land try it on. Luckily her fingers are incredibly dainty. At the royal wedding, we get to see her teach her father a lesson and they are reunited bringing it back to ATU 923 again.
 Image result for the dirty shepherdess

The Dirty Shepherdess source

Once upon a time there lived a King who had two daughters, and he loved them with all his heart. When they grew up, he was suddenly seized with a wish to know if they, on their part, truly loved him, and he made up his mind that he would give his kingdom to whichever best proved her devotion.

So he called the elder Princess and said to her, 'How much do you love me?'

'As the apple of my eye!' answered she.

'Ah!' exclaimed the King, kissing her tenderly as he spoke, 'you are indeed a good daughter.'

Then he sent for the younger and asked her how much she loved him.

'I look upon you, my father,' she answered, 'as I look upon salt in my food.'

But the King did not like her words, and ordered her to quit the court, and never again to appear before him. The poor Princess went sadly up to her room and began to cry, but when she was reminded of her father's commands, she dried her eyes, and made a bundle of her jewels and her best dresses and hurriedly left the castle where she was born.

She walked straight along the road in front of her, without knowing very well where she was going or what was to become of her, for she had never been shown how to work, and all she had learnt consisted of a few household rules, and receipts of dishes which her mother had taught her long ago. And as she was afraid that no housewife would want to engage a girl with such a pretty face, she determined to make herself as ugly as she could.

She therefore took off the dress that she was wearing and put on some horrible old rags belonging to a beggar, all torn and covered with mud. After that she smeared mud all over her hands and face and shook her hair into a great tangle. Having thus changed her appearance, she went about offering herself as a goose-girl or shepherdess. But the farmers' wives would have nothing to say to such a dirty maiden and sent her away with a morsel of bread for charity's sake.

After walking for a great many days without being able to find any work, she came to a large farm where they were in want of a shepherdess and engaged her gladly.

One day when she was keeping her sheep in a lonely tract of land, she suddenly felt a wish to dress herself in her robes of splendour. She washed herself carefully in the stream, and as she always carried her bundle with her, it was easy to shake off her rags, and transform herself in a few moments into a great lady.

The King's son, who had lost his way out hunting, perceived this lovely damsel a long way off, and wished to look at her closer. But as soon as the girl saw what he was at, she fled into the wood as swiftly as a bird. The Prince ran after her, but as he was running, he caught his foot in the root of a tree and fell, and when he got up again, she was nowhere to be seen.

When she was quite safe, she put on her rags again, and smeared over her face and hands. However the young Prince, who was both hot and thirsty, found his way to the farm, to ask for a drink of cider, and he inquired the name of the beautiful lady that kept the sheep. At this everyone began to laugh, for they said that the shepherdess was one of the ugliest and dirtiest creatures under the sun.

The Prince thought some witchcraft must be at work, and he hastened away before the return of the shepherdess, who became that evening the butt of everybody's jests.

But the King's son thought often of the lovely maiden whom he had only seen for a moment, though she seemed to him much more fascinating than any lady of the Court. At last he dreamed of nothing else and grew thinner day by day till his parents inquired what was the matter, promising to do all they could to make him as happy as he once was. He dared not tell them the truth, lest they should laugh at him, so he only said that he should like some bread baked by the kitchen girl in the distant farm.

Although the wish appeared rather odd, they hastened to fulfil it, and the farmer was told the request of the King's son. The maiden showed no surprise at receiving such an order, but merely asked for some flour, salt, and water, and also that she might be left alone in a little room adjoining the oven, where the kneading-trough stood. Before beginning her work, she washed herself carefully, and even put on her rings; but, while she was baking, one of her rings slid into the dough. When she had finished, she dirtied herself again, and let the lumps of the dough stick to her fingers, so that she became as ugly as before.

The loaf, which was a very little one, was brought to the King's son, who ate it with pleasure. But in cutting it he found the ring of the Princess and declared to his parents that he would marry the girl whom that ring fitted.

So the King made a proclamation through his whole kingdom and ladies came from afar to lay claim to the honour. But the ring was so tiny that even those who had the smallest hands could only get it on their little fingers. In a short time all the maidens of the kingdom, including the peasant girls, had tried on the ring, and the King was just about to announce that their efforts had been in vain, when the Prince observed that he had not yet seen the shepherdess.

They sent to fetch her, and she arrived covered with rags, but with her hands cleaner than usual, so that she could easily slip on the ring. The King's son declared that he would fulfil his promise, and when his parents mildly remarked that the girl was only a keeper of sheep, and a very ugly one too, the maiden boldly said that she was born a princess, and that, if they would only give her some water and leave her alone in a room for a few minutes, she would show that she could look as well as anyone in fine clothes.

They did what she asked, and when she entered in a magnificent dress, she looked so beautiful that all saw she must be a princess in disguise. The King's son recognised the charming damsel of whom he had once caught a glimpse, and, flinging himself at her feet, asked if she would marry him. The Princess then told her story and said that it would be necessary to send an ambassador to her father to ask his consent and to invite him to the wedding.

The Princess's father, who had never ceased to repent his harshness towards his daughter, had sought her through the land, but as no one could tell him anything of her, he supposed her dead. Therefore it was with great joy he heard that she was living and that a king's son asked her in marriage, and he quitted his kingdom with his elder daughter so as to be present at the ceremony.

By the orders of the bride, they only served her father at the wedding breakfast bread without salt, and meat without seasoning. Seeing him make faces, and eat very little, his daughter, who sat beside him, inquired if his dinner was not to his taste.

'No,' he replied, 'the dishes are carefully cooked and sent up, but they are all so dreadfully tasteless.'
'Did not I tell you, my father, that salt was the best thing in life? And yet, when I compared you to salt, to show how much I loved you, you thought slightingly of me and you chased me from your presence.'

The King embraced his daughter and allowed that he had been wrong to misinterpret her words. Then, for the rest of the wedding feast they gave him bread made with salt, and dishes with seasoning, and he said they were the very best he had ever eaten.

Stay tuned next week for our last Cinderella/Love like salt version.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Hot Cocoa Mix

Hello lovelies! It's cold weather here (maybe where you are too?)  and it makes me want a cosy cup of hot cocoa in the evening. I do love a hot chocolate. It warms me up, fulfils my sweet tooth and gives me a burst of cocoa which is apparently GOOD FOR YOU.

I grew up drinking mixes that you just added water to. They were made with powered (icing) sugar, cocoa powder and cheap powdered milk. They tasted horrible, but all you had to do was add boiling water and they were ready. The nice kind is the slow kind--you know the kind you add plant based milk and heat it slowly on the hob. You lose the speed of instant, but you gain more flavour.

We decided to buy some.  It took ages to find one at the supermarket that wasn't full of non vegan ingredients like whey or palm oil or other weird fillers.

We found one that was decent--Tesco Drinking Chocolate. It cost £1.95 for 400g (about 2 cups). The ingredients were sugar, cocoa powder (25%), maltodextrin, salt, flavouring. It tasted alright. Better than just add water instant crap, but still had a whiff of artificial. Plus one container made about 12 cups of cocoa and since there are two of us, that makes 6 days worth of cocoa. And you have a container that didn't appear to be recyclable at the end of a week.

As usual, I was sure I could make one that was better and cheaper with less waste.

I started looking at recipe mixes online. There were several that called for cornstarch which sounded suspiciously like maltodextrin. Many recipes called for powdered icing sugar which smacked of those nasty ones from my childhood.

Finally I found it at WICKED KITCHEN. One that had three ingredients and none of them weird. It had options for a 2 cup mix, a 4 cup mix and an 8 cup mix. I decided to make the 2 cup mix to try it out and then if we liked it, I'd make the big batch.

Oh, we like it.

Wicked Kitchen makes it with a mix of white sugar and light brown sugar. If you want to do that, then click HERE and follow her recipe. I used demerara sugar for it all and it gives it a really rich caramel flavour.

You make each batch--no matter how big or small--the same way. Blend the sugar in your blender until it is powdered, pour it in a bowl and combine it with the sifted cocoa powder and salt until well mixed and then transfer into an airtight container. Don't leave out the salt--it enhances the sweetness. Trust your Auntie Spidergrrl on this.

Image result for hot cocoa illustration free public domain
Hot Cocoa Mix--2 cup mix (makes 12 cups of cocoa)
1 1/4 cups demerara sugar whizzed into powder in a blender
3/4 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp salt

Hot Cocoa Mix--4 cup mix (makes 24 cups of cocoa) 
2.5 cups demerara sugar whizzed into powder in a blender
1.5  cups sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
1.5  tsp salt

Hot Cocoa Mix--8 cup mix (makes 48 cups of cocoa) 
1 kg (5 cups)  demerara sugar whizzed into powder in a blender
3 cups sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
1 TB salt

How to make according to Amazing Spiderman who is the chief cocoa maker in our household:
1.Gently heat 1 cup (250ml) plant based milk per person--we dig almond milk--on the hob or in the microwave if you have one. we don't so, it's hob for us. .
2. Put 2 TB of mix in a mug and when the milk is hot but not boiling add it to the mug and stir well to mix it up. That's it. Some people do that thing where you add a splash of cold milk to the mug to make a paste with the dry mix and then add your hot non dairy milk. He says he can't be bothered to do that. All I can say, his cocoa tastes amazing, so I think you can skip that step.

I costed it up for an 8 cup mix based on ingredients I bought at Lidl.

1 kg demerara sugar £1.35
1.5 boxes of cocoa power--£1.29 + .65 = £1.94
Total £3.29 

That's makes 96 TB. Since you use 2 TB for every cup that's 48 cups of cocoa. 

The almond milk we like costs £1 for a litre, so 25p a cup.

Look at that. For the price of one cup at Caffe Nero I could make 48 at home.

I know which one we'll be drinking throughout the winter.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--Cap o' Rushes (England, 1890)

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

We’ve been looking at Scottish tales that have our heroine being forced not into rags but into clothes made out of rushes (Rushin Coatie) and so I chose this one because it had similarities (clothes of rushes) but also some big differences.

As you may remember, all fairy tales are classified using the Aarne-Thompson-Uther (ATU) classification system. Cinderella tales fall under ATU 510a –persecuted heroine. There is also a 510b—unnatural love—which involves a father wanting to marry his daughter (ew…) and her running away in a disguise and working as a lowly servant until she is discovered by a prince. The story we are looking at today bears some resemblance to 510b, but without the lecherous father. In this case, our tale resembles King Lear where the father thinking that the youngest daughter’s profession of love is not strong enough and so he banishes her. I will be looking at 510b versions with lustful fathers later in our study of Cinderella, but as this one contained clothes of rushes and no lascivious father, it seemed right to talk about it now rather than later.

Cap o' Rushes is an English fairy tale retold  by Joseph Jacobs in his book English Fairy Tales published in 1890. You may remember his version of The Cinder Maid and Rushen Coatie from previous weeks. According to Wikipedia Jacobs gives his source as:

"Contributed by Mrs. Walter-Thomas to "Suffolk Notes and Queries" of the Ipswich Journal, published by Mr. Lang in Longman's Magazine, vol. xiii., also in Folk-Lore September, 1890". In the latter journal, Andrew Lang notes the folktale was "discovered" in the Suffolk notes by Edward Clodd.

Finally, for a bit of trivia, Cap o’ Rushes was the first story ever read on the BBC programme Jackanory.  For my American friends, Jackanory was a BBC children’s programme where someone (possibly famous) sat in an armchair and read you a story. The show was designed to help kids be interested in reading. It ran from 1965 to 1996 and Cap o’ Rushes aired on 13th of December 1965 and was read by English tough guy actor Lee Montague.

Before we look at our tale, there is one line that puzzles me. 'Why, the beautifullest lady you ever see, dressed right gay and ga'. The young master, he never took his eyes off her.' I understand the word gay used here, but what the heck is ga’? If you have any ideas, please leave me a comment.
 Image result for cap o rushes

Cap o' Rushes source
WELL, there was once a very rich gentleman, and he had three daughters, and he thought he'd see how fond they were of him. So he says to the first, 'How much do you love me, my dear?'

'Why,' says she, 'as I love my life.'

'That's good,' says he.

So he says to the second, 'How much do you love me, my dear?'

'Why,' says she, 'better nor all the world.'

'That's good,' says he.

So he says to the third, 'How much do you love me, my dear?'

'Why, I love you as fresh meat loves salt,' says she.

Well, but he was angry. 'You don't love me at all,' says he, 'and in my house you stay no more.' So he drove her out there and then and shut the door in her face.

Well, she went away on and on till she came to a fen, and there she gathered a lot of rushes and made them into a kind of a sort of a cloak with a hood, to cover her from head to foot, and to hide her fine clothes. And then she went on and on till she came to a great house.

'Do you want a maid?' says she.

'No, we don't,' said they.

'I haven't nowhere to go,' says she; 'and I ask no wages, and do any sort of work,' says she.

'Well,' said they, 'if you like to wash the pots and scrape the saucepans you may stay,' said they.

So she stayed there and washed the pots and scraped the saucepans and did all the dirty work. And because she gave no name, they called her 'Cap o' Rushes'.

Well, one day there was to be a great dance a little way off, and the servants were allowed to go and look on at the grand people. Cap o' Rushes said she was too tired to go, so she stayed at home.

But when they were gone, she offed with her cap o' rushes and cleaned herself and went to the dance. And no one there was so finely dressed as she.

Well, who should be there but her master's son, and what should he do but fall in love with her the minute he set eyes on her. He wouldn't dance with anyone else.

But before the dance was done, Cap o' Rushes slipped off, and away she went home. And when the other maids came back, she was pretending to be asleep with her cap o' rushes on.

Well, next morning they said to her, 'You did miss a sight, Cap o' Rushes!'

'What was' that?' says she.

'Why, the beautifullest lady you ever see, dressed right gay and ga'. The young master, he never took his eyes off her.'

'Well, I should have liked to have seen her,' says Cap o' Rushes.

'Well, there's to be another dance this evening, and perhaps she'll be there.'

But, come the evening, Cap o' Rushes said she was too tired to go with them. Howsoever, when they were gone, she offed with her cap o' rushes and cleaned herself, and away she went to the dance.

The master's son had been reckoning on seeing her, and he danced with no one else, and never took his eyes off her. But, before the dance was over, she slipped off, and home she went, and when the maids came back, she pretended to be asleep with her cap o' rushes on.

Next day they said to her again, 'Well, Cap o' Rushes, you should ha' been there to see the lady. There she was again, gay and ga', and the young master he never took his eyes off her.'

'Well, there,' says she, 'I should ha' liked to ha' seen her.'

'Well,' says they, 'there's a dance again this evening, and you must go with us, for she's sure to be there.'

Well, come this evening, Cap o' Rushes said she was too tired to go, and do what they would she stayed at home. But when they were gone, she offed her cap o' rushes and cleaned herself, and away she went to the dance.

The master's son was rarely glad when he saw her. He danced with none but her and never took his eyes off her. When she wouldn't tell him her name, nor where she came from, he gave her a ring and told her if he didn't see her again he should die.

Well, before the dance was over, off she slipped, and home she went, and when the maids came home she was pretending to be asleep with her cap o' rushes on.

Well, next day they says to her, 'There, Cap o' Rushes, you didn't come last night, and now you won't see the lady, for there's no more dances.'

'Well, I should have rarely liked to have seen her,' says she.

The master's son tried every way to find out where the lady was gone, but go where he might, and ask whom he might he never heard anything about her. And he got worse and worse for the love of her till 'he had to keep his bed.

'Make some gruel for the young master,' they said to the cook. 'He's dying for the love of the lady.' The cook set about making it when Cap o' Rushes came in.

'What are you a-doing of?' says she.

'I'm going to make some gruel for the young master,' says the cook, 'for he's dying for love of the lady.'

'Let me make it,' says Cap o' Rushes.

Well, the cook wouldn't at first, but at last she said yes, and Cap o' Rushes made the gruel. And when she had made it, she slipped the ring into it on the sly before the cook took it upstairs.

The young man he drank it and then he saw the ring at the bottom.

'Send for the cook,' says he. So up she comes.

'Who made this gruel here?' says he.

'I did,' says the cook, for she was frightened.

And he looked at her.

'No, you didn't,' says he. 'Say who did it, and you shan't be harmed.'

'Well, then, 'twas Cap o' Rushes,' says she.

'Send Cap o' Rushes here,' says he.

So Cap o' Rushes came.

'Did you make my gruel?' says he.

'Yes, I did,' says she.

'Where did you get this ring?' says he.

'From him that gave it me,' says she.

'Who are you, then?' says the young man.

'I'll show you,' says she. And she offed with her cap o' rushes, and there she was in her beautiful clothes.

Well, the master's son he got well very soon, and they were to be married in a little time. It was to be a very grand wedding, and everyone was asked far and near. And Cap o' Rushes' father was asked. But she never told anybody who she was.

But before the wedding, she went to the cook, and says she:
'I want you to dress every dish without a mite o' salt.'

'That' ll be rare nasty,' says the cook.

'That doesn't signify,' says she.

'Very well,' says the cook.

Well, the wedding day came, and they were married. And after they were married, all the company sat down to the dinner. When they began to eat the meat, it was so tasteless they couldn't eat it. But Cap o' Rushes' father tried first one dish and then another, and then he burst out crying.

'What is the matter?' said the master's son to him.

'Oh!' says he, 'I had a daughter. And I asked her how much she loved me. And she said. "As much as fresh meat loves salt." And I turned her from my door, for I thought she didn't love me. And now I see she loved me best of all. And she may be dead for aught I know.'
'No, father, here she is!' said Cap o' Rushes. And she goes up to him and puts her arms round him.

And so they were all happy ever after

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned for a similar tale from France with a dirty shepherdess.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Jacket Potatoes with Roasted Vegetables

Hello lovelies! I almost didn't post this because it felt less like a recipe and more like a DUH! But I am because it was so delicious. We rarely have jacket potatoes as they take one hour to cook in the oven to get the perfect textures (crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside), but this reminded me of how good they can be. Sometimes simple food is the best food. And you can't beat a good ole tater.

 It also reminded me of the fact that that hour in the oven is mostly hands off, so you can get on with other things like reading your stack of 19 library books because you are trying to read all the books nominated for the Carnegie so you can predict the long list. Or is that just me?

The inspiration for this meal goes to our dear friends Rosie-Mai and Carole who paid us a spontaneous visit last month. we all went out to Wetherspoons and I got the jacket potato with roasted vegetables and salad. It was good. The vegetables had a tangy quality that tasted of balsamic vinegar.  I just wanted more roasted veg and a bigger salad without tomatoes with their squishy jelly bits leaking all over my leaves. Blech.

I wanted to make it great. I got to asking around as to how other people cook their jacket potatoes. Some use the microwave to cook it and then discard the skin (The skin is the best part, Soupy!), some cook it part of the way in the microwave and then finish in a hot oven to crisp it up, some wrap it in foil, others cook it directly on the oven rack.

 I once ate at a restaurant in Louisiana that made the *best* jacket potatoes. There was a certain savoury je ne sais quoi about their potato skins. Turns out they used bacon grease. Oops. But I got to thinking a little hint of fat and smoke could make potato skins just as delicious and cruelty free.

This is how I make mine.

Jacket Potatoes with Roasted Vegetables
Preheat your oven to 200C/400F
Get your largest metal roasting pan ready.

For the taters
2 fist sized baking potatoes (anything else takes too long to cook)
1 tsp  oil
1/8 to 1/4 tsp liquid smoke
fine grain sea salt

1. Wash and dry your potatoes. Prick them all over with a fork or sharp knife.
2. Pour a teaspoon of olive oil in a small dish and add the liquid smoke. Sprinkle a little fine sea salt on a flat plate.
3. Using your hands or a pastry brush, spread a bit of the smoky oil all over the skins and lightly roll in the salt.
4. Place on the far side of your metal roasting pan. (you'll be roasting your veg in the same pan in a while, so leave some room. )
5. Put in the hot oven and set your timer for 30 minutes while you chop up your veg.

The Veg
1 red onion
1 coloured pepper (I used half a red and half a yellow to make it purdy) 
1 fennel (or if you can't find a fennel or can't afford one, do what I did and use a white onion plus 1 TB fennel seeds)
3-4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
any unused oil from the potatoes above (I had about a half a tsp left)
1 TB balsamic vinegar
sprinkling of mixed herbs
several grindings of pepper

Optional but recommended toppings
sun dried tomatoes
hummus (we used caramelised onion hummus for #threekindsofonions)

1. Chop all your veg into roughly even sized pieces and put in a bowl with the remainder of the oil, the vinegar, the herbs and the optional fennel seeds. Leave to marinade until the timer goes off. Now is a good time to go read a book.
2. When the timer goes off, sigh and put down your book because it was a good part and take the roasting pan out of the oven. Gently flip your potatoes over and throw the veg on the other side of the pan to roast. Set the timer for 30 more minutes and get back to your book.

When the timer goes off, hey presto! You have lots of lovely roasted veg and a crispy, but fluffy jacket with a skin that has bit of oomph to it. Crack open your potato, dollop in some hummus, throw on some roasted veg, slap on half a plate of salad leaves and add the rest of the roasted veg to the salad.

Super yummus.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--Rashin Coatie Two versions (Scotland 1901 and unknown)

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

Last week we looked at an Anglicised version of this tale that was collected by Joseph Jacobs. There are two more Scottish versions I want to deal with today. The first was written by George Douglas  in his 1901 book Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales. It is a tale that retains some of the Scots Gaelic dialect and vocabulary, but still makes it accessible to the reader.
This story, like last week’s version by Joseph Jacobs, contains a calf as the magical helper. 

Last week the calf produced food from its ears, but this week it takes out heroine through the woods to a “bonnie hoosie” (lovely house) where a nice dinner was waiting for them. As in other versions, when the antagonist gets wind that a magical animal is helping the protagonist the usual response is to kill the animal. Normally our mistreated girl refuses to eat the meat of her dear departed friend and retrieves the bones and it is the bones that continue to help her. This version is a bit more bloodthirsty. The mother (notice it is not a stepmother here) hatches a plan that they will slaughter the red calf. The plan is for her favourite daughter (described as “ugly and ill natured”) to hold the calf’s head and the bonnie lass who is our heroine was to actually decapitate her friend. Naturally, she is reluctant to harm her animal friend, but the calf hatches a plan that she should instead cut off the head of her sister (not stepsister) and then she and the calf can run away together.  This they do and because she has not had the time to pack any clothes it is the calf that dresses her in a coat of rushes not her family.

Rashin Coatie gets a job as a lowly servant in the King’s house. At Christmas when everyone is going to kirk (church) she has to stay home and cook the dinner. The red calf provides her with clothes and offers to cook dinner for her so she may attend church. As you would expect the Prince sees her, falls in love, she loses a shoe and all the actions that traditionally follow. However, in other versions our heroine is still living at home. When the steward or the Prince travel from house to house they are bound to end up at the home of our heroine eventually, but in this version the lady he seeks is under his own roof and he does not try the slipper on any woman in his own household.

Also, in all other versions it is her own sister (or stepsisters) who mutilate their own feet to fit into the shoe. In this version, her family are never heard from again after she murdered her sister and ran away. In this version, it is the daughter of the henwife who clips off her toes to fit into the shoe. As in last week’s version, a little birdie tells him that the true bride is sitting by the kitchen fire. He goes home and finds her there, working as a servant in his household and then marries her. It is great that there seem to be no class issues here (she does not need to be of noble birth), but I wonder how he would feel knowing that his wife is an escaped murderer.

File:Douglas-Scottish FFT(1901)-p020(frontis)-Rashin-Coatie-illustr-J Torrance.jpg

Rashin-Coatie source
Once, a long time ago, there was a gentleman had two lassies. The oldest was ugly and ill natured, but the youngest was a bonnie lassie and good; but the ugly one was the favourite with her father and mother. So they ill used the youngest in every way, and they sent her into the woods to herd cattle, and all the food she got was a little porridge and whey.

Well, amongst the cattle was a red calf, and one day it said to the lassie, "Gee that porridge and whey to the doggie, and come wi' me."

So the lassie followed the calf through the wood, and they came to a bonnie hoosie, where there was a nice dinner ready for them; and after they had feasted on everything nice they went back to the herding.

Every day the calf took the lassie away and feasted her on dainties; and every day she grew bonnier. This disappointed the father and mother and the ugly sister. They expected that the rough usage she was getting would take away her beauty; and they watched and watched until they saw the calf take the lassie away to the feast. So they resolved to kill the calf; and not only that, but the lassie was to be compelled to kill him with an axe. Her ugly sister was to hold his head, and the lassie who loved him had to give the blow and kill him.

She could do nothing but greet [weep]; but the calf told her not to greet, but to do as he bade her; and his plan was that instead of coming down on his head she was to come down on the lassie's head who was holding him, and then she was to jump on his back, and they would run off. Well, the day came for the calf to be killed, and everything was ready -- the ugly lassie holding his head, and the bonnie lassie armed with the axe. So she raised the axe and came down on the ugly sister's head; and in the confusion that took place she got on the calf's back and they ran away. And they ran and better nor ran till they came to a meadow where grew a great lot of rashes; and, as the lassie had not on many clothes, they pu'ed rashes, and made a coatie for her. And they set off again and traveled, and traveled, till they came to the king's house. They went in and asked if they wanted a servant. The mistress said she wanted a kitchen lassie, and she would take Rashin-Coatie.

So Rashin-Coatie said she would stop, if they keepit the calf too. They were willing to do that. So the lassie and the calf stoppit in the king's house, and everybody was well pleased with her; and when Yule came, they said she was to stop at home and make the dinner, while all the rest went to the kirk. After they were away the calf asked if she would like to go. She said she would, but she had no clothes, and she could not leave the dinner. The calf said he would give her clothes and make the dinner too. He went out, and came back with a grand dress, all silk and satin, and such a nice pair of slippers. The lassie put on the dress, and before she left she said:

Ilka peat gar anither burn,

An' ilka spit gar anither turn,
An' ilka pot gar anither play,
Till I come frae the kirk on gude Yule day.

So she went to the kirk, and nobody kent it was Rashin-Coatie. They wondered who the bonnie lady could be; and, as soon as the young prince saw her, he fell in love with her, and resolved he would find out who she was, before she got home; but Rashin-Coatie left before the rest, so that she might get home in time to take off her dress and look after the dinner.

When the prince saw her leaving, he made for the door to stop her; but she jumped past him, and in the hurry lost one of her shoes. The prince kept the shoe, and Rashin-Coatie got home all right, and the folk said the dinner was very nice.

Now the prince was resolved to find out who the bonnie lady was, and he sent a servant through all the land with the shoe. Every lady was to try it on, and the prince promised to marry the one it would fit. That servant went to a great many houses but could not find a lady that the shoe would go on, it was so little and neat. At last he came to a henwife's house, and her daughter had little feet. At first the shoe would not go on, but she paret her feet, and clippit her toes, until the shoes went on. Now the prince was very angry. He knew it was not the lady that he wanted; but, because he had promised to marry whoever the shoe fitted, he had to keep his promise.

The marriage day came, and, as they were all riding to the kirk, a little bird flew through the air, and it sang:

Clippit feet an' paret taes is on the saidle set;

But bonnie feet an' braw feet sits in the kitchen neuk.

"What's that ye say?" said the prince

"Oh," says the henwife, "would ye mind what a feel bird says?"

But the prince said, "Sing that again, bonnie birdie."

So the bird sings:

Clippit feet an' paret taes is on the saidle set;

But bonnie feet an' braw feet sits in the kitchen neuk.

The prince turned his horse and rode home, and went straight to his father's kitchen, and there sat Rashin-Coatie. He kent her at once, she was so bonnie; and when she tried on the shoe it fitted her, and so the prince married Rashin-Coatie, and they lived happy, and built a house for the red calf, who had been so kind to her.

Now, normally I would have the next story as a separate entry, but I cannot seem to track down the true author of this very Scots Gaelic version. The source claims that is by noted folklorist Andrew Lang who published all the coloured fairy books (The Blue Fairy Book, The Red Fairy book etc.) It claims that they were published in his English and Scotch Fairy Tales but I find no record of this book or any other reference to Andrew Lang connected to a version of Rushin Coatie and so I am presenting it here as a contrast to the version above. The Scots Gaelic is very thick, so it helps to have read the version above.

Rashin Coatie source

THERE was a king and a queen, as mony anes been, few have we seen, and as few may we see. The queen she deeit, and left a bonnie little lassie; and she had naething to gie to the wee lassie but a little red calfy, and she telt the lassie whatever she wanted, the calfy would gie her. The king married again, an ill-natured wife, wi’ three ugly dochters o’ her ain. They did na like the little lassie because she was bonnie; they took awa’ a’ her braw claes that her ain mither had geen her, and put a rashin coatie on her, and gart her sit in the kitchen neuk, and a’ body ca’d her Rashin Coatie. She did na get ony thing to eat but what the rest left, but she did na care, for she went to her red calfy, and it gave her everything she asked for. She got good meat from the calfy, but her ill-natured step-mother gart the calfy be killed, because it was good to Rashin Coatie. She was very sorry for the calfy, and sat down and grat. The dead calfy said to her:

“Tak’ me up, bane by bane,

And pit me aneth yon grey stane,
and whatever you want, come and seek it frae me, and I will give you it.” 

Yuletide came, and a’ the rest put on their braw claes, and was gaen awa’ to the kirk. Rashin Coatie said, “Oh, I wad like to gang to the kirk too!” but the others said, “What would you do at the kirk, you nasty thing? You must bide at hame and make the dinner.” When they were gone to the kirk, Rashin Coatie did na ken how to make the dinner, but she went out to the grey stone, and she told the calfy that she could not make the dinner, and she wanted to win to the kirk. The calfy gave her braw claes, and bade her gang into the house, and say:
Every peat gar ither burn,

Every spit gar ither turn,
Every pot gar ither play,
Till I come frae the kirk this good Yule day.”

Rashin Coatie put on the braw claes that the calfy gave her, and went awa’ to the kirk, and she was the grandest and the brawest lady there. There was a young prince in the kirk, and he fell in love with her. She cam’ awa’ before the blessing, and she was hame before the rest, and had off her braw claes, and had on her rashin coatie, and the calfy had covered the table, and the dinner was ready, and every thing in good order when the rest came hame. The three sisters said to Rashin Coatie, “Oh, lassie, if you had only seen the braw bonnie lady that was in kirk to-day, that the young prince fell in love with!” She said: “Oh, I wish you would let me gang with you to the kirk to-morrow”; for they used to gang three days after ither to the kirk. 

They said: “What should the like o’ you do at the kirk—nasty thing? The kitchen neuk is good enough for you.” The next day they went away and left her, but she went back to her calfy, and he bade her repeat the same words as before, and he gave her brawer claes, and she went back to the kirk, and a’ the world was looking at her, and wondering where sic a grand lady came from; and as for the young prince, he fell more in love with her than ever, and bade somebody watch where she went back to. But she was back afore anybody saw her, and had off her braw claes and on her rashin coatie, and the calfy had the table covered, and everything ready for the dinner.

The next day the calfy dressed her in brawer claes than ever, and she went back to the kirk. The young prince was there, and he put a guard at the door to keep her, but she jumped over their heads, and lost one of her beautiful satin slippers. She got hame before the rest, and had on the rashin coatie, and the calfy had all things ready. The young prince put out a proclamation that he would marry whoever the satin slipper would fit All the ladies of the land went to try on the slipper, and with the rest the three sisters, but none would it fit, for they had ugly broad feet. The hen wife took in her daughter, and cut her heels and her toes, and the slipper was forced on her, and the prince must marry her, for he had to keep his promise. As he rode along with her behind him to be married, there was a bird began to sing, and ever it sang:

“Minched fit, and pinched fit,

⁠Beside the king she rides,
But braw fit, and bonny fit,
⁠In the kitchen neuk she hides.”

The prince said, “What is that the bird sings?” but the hen wife said, “Nasty lying thing! never mind what it says”; but the bird sang ever the same words. The prince said, “Oh, there must be some one that the slipper has not been tried on”; but they said, “There is none but a poor dirty thing that sits in the kitchen neuk and wears a rashin coatie.” But the prince was determined to try it on Rashin Coatie, but she ran awa’ to the grey stone, where the red calf dressed her yet brawer than ever, and she went to the prince, and the slipper jumped out of his pocket and on to her foot, and the prince married her, and they lived happy all their days.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a version similar to King Lear.