Thursday, 27 June 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He got her a golden shoe and a silver shoe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Walnut Meat Taco Salad

Hello lovelies! This was one of those "we need something quick" meals and it sure was delicious.

The walnut taco meat was spot on...the cheese sauce still needs a bit of work...I was trying to make pepper jack flavour and it wasn't quite there yet. I used tapioca starch which really does make it stretchy, but hadn't quite got the proportions right. This was tasty, but not drizzle-y enough--it would be perfect for scooping out as a dip though.  I will keep trying on the cheese and report back at a later time but you will definitely want to try the walnut taco meat (unless you have a nut allergy...then obviously you won't want to try it.)

Basically for taco salad just use whatever fixin's you want. We had some lettuce that needed to be used up. Sometimes I use sauteed kale, but this time I used the more traditional lettuce.

 I also added lots of pickled jalapenos as I had a jar that I am working through (hence the pepper jack cheese). You can make pico de gallo  or just crack open a jar of salsa like I did. Salsa jars are my favourite jar--they are great for reusing and I use them to store hummus, olive tapenade, pesto etc in my freezer.

You could also just do these in taco shells and eat them as tacos...but shells cost a lot more than a bag of tortilla chips, so we tend to make taco salad and eat it all in a glorious pile.... and you get more fixin's this way. I just can't stuff enough of the good stuff into a teeny-tiny taco shell. Why not just pile it on and enjoy yourself?

Walnut Meat Taco Salad

For the walnut meat you need:
1.5 cups walnuts
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 TB tamari or soy sauce

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

It made enough for 4 plates, but  if you need this to go further and feed more people, add in a tin of kidney beans. Taste for spices. Feel free to add more garlic powder, cumin, smoked paprika and tamari/soy sauce to the beans.

The fixin's:
I used
a caramelised white onion, cut into rainbows
half a red pepper
jar of salsa
tortilla chips

Top with vegan cheese sauce. I used a variation on this recipe Quick and Dirty Cheese Sauce but substituted tapioca starch for the flour and added jalapenos. As I need less tapioca starch than flour, but it did make it stretchy. So play around with it or just have really gooey cheese like we did.

That's it. It was on the table in 20 minutes, so will definitely become a regular meal in this house over the summer.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Recycling with Beyoncé (all the single plastics)

Hello lovelies. I have written over the years about our desire to cut back on our plastic waste. I know we tend to agonise more than the average person on stuff like this, but we still have so far to go.

One of the many reasons we wanted to emigrate to the UK was to be able to less recycle be car cut down on our carbon footprint. And in many ways we have been very successful. When we lived in England we had a glorious farmer's market and got most of our fruit and veg plastic free at really cheap prices. We also used a lot more reusables when we lived in England. Some of those things we let slide when we moved to Wales because they were too expensive. Even now that I have a good job and we have more disposable income, we still need to be cautious with our spending. It means we cannot be as ethical as we would like, but we do our best.

You read about tips and tricks to become ZERO WASTE and see people who fit all their waste for the year in a jar. They talk about all the money they save buying without packaging, but that really isn't the case. We are starting a journey to reduce our waste as much as we can and recycle LESS. I know that sounds mad as I am always banging on about recycling, but really we all need to create less waste. Especially since I recently read an article about how plastics that our councils told us had been recycled had actually been shipped to Malaysia and they were shipping it back.

This prompted me to really crack down and work harder to eliminate single use items. Single use plastics. Single use anything that cannot be recycled.

But cost has to be factored in, unfortunately. I am so thrilled to have a Zero Waste Shop right next door to my job. I shop there as much as humanly possible, but there are a lot of things I cannot afford to buy from her. Things like oats, nuts, gluten free pasta and rice are 3 to 4 times more expensive naked. I can't justify that. I want to, but I can't. But things like spices, vegetables, lentils, polenta and fruit are just a little more expensive than normal and so i buy what I can.

I bought a book called No. More. Plastic. by Martin Dorey. There are lots of good and helpful 2 minute solutions in there. Suggestions like if there is a choice between plastic and glass, choose glass. I have been doing that at only slightly more cost. But somethings like toasted sesame oil don't come in glass. Or sunflower oil.

It also says if a package says not currently recycled don't buy it again. That just won't work. We would never get kale again as I cannot find it anywhere fresh. Or rice. Or pasta. Or nuts at an affordable price. Which breaks my heart, but there you are.

So what are we actually doing to reduce our waste?

1. We always have water bottles with us and utensils in my cutlery wrap so we never have to get disposable stuff when we are out. 

2. It is a struggle to find affordable consumables, but we are vowing not to buy (as much as humanly possible) things that are single use plastics. If I can make it to avoid plastic I will.

3. To replace as many nonconsumables with reusable options. I spent around £30 and invested in some  fabulous silicone mats to eliminate things like parchment paper and cling film as well as some eco kitchen scrubby doodahs (technical term). I am loving all the silicone mats as I used to use an insane amount of parchment paper.  I will be doing a post next week about these and what has worked well and what had worked less well.

4. We currently get our rubbish picked up every other week. We normally put out one black bin bag every four weeks, but we are working toward moving to throwing away a bag of rubbish every six weeks then every eight weeks. 

5. Less recycling. Glass is acceptable as we can take it to the bottle bank. But single use plastics are out and we are decreasing our dependence of tetra packs. I noticed that quite a lot of the bulk of our recycling is drink cartons. We had been buying almond milk, but after a talk with a friend about how thirsty a crop that almonds are I decided to forgo almond milk in a carton and start making my own cashew milk. I bought 2 Kilner style bottles at Poundland and starting this week I will be making my own milk. I did have to get cashews in a plastic bag but I got a kilo for £9.99 so it really means only one bag, not lots of little single bags. Definitely more on this later...I just need to perfect my formula. I am even going to try my hand at supplementing it. Watch this space.

6. Any non recyclable plastics we do have to buy like kale and nuts that come in a big bag get a second use as a bin bag for the bathroom before throwing out. I've also found that crinkly plastics expand and don't stay scrunched up like they should. This means they expand in your bin bag and take up more space. If you use a bag like a rice or pasta bag and a outer bag and fill it with lots of folded scrunchy plastics, they don't expand as much and you can get more in your black bag and it takes longer to fill up, if that makes sense.

I am sure there are more things we are doing, but i really am too tired to think of any more. What are your top tips for reducing your waste?

Friday, 21 June 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--Cinder Blower (Germany, 1879)

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

This week we look at a tale from Germany with a spunky, resourceful heroine and an unfortunately abusive prince (which doesn’t stop her “liking him beyond measure.”) This tale was collected by German medievalist Karl Bartsch in his book Sagen, Märchen und Gebräuche aus Meklenburg (Legends, Fairy Tales and Customs from Mecklenburg) in 1879. Interestingly, Bartsch studied philosophy and was a pupil of Wilhelm Grimm—one of the Brothers Grimm along with his older brother Jacob.

In this tale, despite having a father who threatens to rape her, our heroine (who is not given a name) using cunning to outwit her father and improve her situation. In order to delay their union she asks for the typical silver, gold and jewelled dresses, and the customary strange coat (in this case a crow-skin) but also for a magic wand. In some tales she wears all the gowns at once, in other tales they are packed in walnut shells, but here she just hoiks them over her shoulder and magics herself to the next kingdom where she knew a prince lived. Then she magics a wooden chest for her dresses, disguises herself as a boy and seeks work at the castle in order to win the heart of the prince.

As expected in these tales, they meet while she is wearing one of the dresses and catches his eye. The prince, being in a foul temper because he cannot figure out who his mystery sweetheart is, throws both a boot and a brush at her head which does not deter her. He gives her a ring which she drops in his soup which catches his eye and make him look twice at the young boy Cinder Blower. Yes, remember oh best beloved, she is disguised as a boy. 

Then, in what can only be described as the most romantic chat up line of the century, he asks her to check his head for lice saying, "My head itches. Look and see if any vermin are there." He sees her diamond dress glittering under her crow skin coat and the rest is history. The whole “you were my male servant and now I want to marry you” reminded me a bit of that episode of Blackadder where Bob turns out to be a girl.
 Image result for crow

Cinder Blower source
A rich widower had an only daughter who was developing into a beautiful and charming woman. Her father's heart became inflamed with impure love, but she withstood his advances. He threatened to force himself on her, and she responded with cunning. She promised to yield to his will if he would give her a dress made of silver. When she received such a dress, she then demanded one made from gold, and the third time, one made from jewels. After receiving that one as well, she said, "Now all I need is a crow-skin coat," and then she made one last wish: a magic wand. These too she received.

Now in another land there lived a prince who had heard of the girl's beauty. Taking the magic wand in her hand and the dresses over her shoulder, she wished herself to the vicinity of the prince's castle. She immediately found herself in the castle garden. Then she wished for herself a chest in an oak tree in the garden, put her dresses in it, put on the crow-skin coat and went to the castle kitchen where she presented herself as a poor boy looking for work.

"I can use you," said the cook. "You can be the cinder blower."

A few days later the prince came to the kitchen with some freshly killed game. She saw him and liked him beyond measure.

Soon afterward, there was a wedding in a nearby castle, and the prince went to it. Many people went there to look on at the dance. Cinder Blower asked the cook for permission to observe. She ran to the oak tree, put on the silver dress, and wished herself a carriage in which she rode to the castle. The prince saw her and danced with her, but after a few dances she disappeared. Seating herself in her carriage she said,

Darkness behind me, Before me light,
So none can follow me into the night.

The next morning the prince was in a bad mood, for he had been awake all night thinking about his beautiful dance partner. Cinder Blower was asked to polish his boots, and this she did, but she failed to polish one small spot on one of the toes. The prince noticed this and angrily came into the kitchen and threw the boot at her head.

The next evening there was another dance, and Cinder Blower again asked for permission to go. This time she put on the golden dress, then rode there in the carriage. The prince had been looking for her and was very happy when she arrived. While dancing with her he asked her where she lived.

"In Boot-Throw" was her answer. She remained there one hour, and then disappeared. In vain the prince asked where Boot-Throw was. No one could tell him.

Again that night the prince could not close his eyes, and the next day he was in an even worse mood than before.

Cinder Blower was asked to brush his coat, but he did not like the way she did it, and finally he threw the brush at her head.

The third evening Cinder Blower again asked for permission to look on at the dance, then put on her dress of precious stones. While dancing with her the prince asked her where she lived.

"In Brush-Throw," was her answer.

"Whoever you are," he said, "take this ring from me."

She let him put the ring onto her finger. Then she tried to sneak away, but the prince carefully watched her and followed close behind her. She climbed out of her carriage near the oak tree. However, she did not have time to take off her dress, but quickly put on the crow-skin coat over it.

The next morning when the cook was preparing the soup, Cinder Blower dropped the ring into it. The prince found it and asked the cook who had been in the kitchen.

"Only Cinder Blower and I," he answered.

The prince summoned Cinder Blower and said, "My head itches. Look and see if any vermin are there."

Cinder Blower obeyed, but when she stood before him, he saw the diamond dress glistening forth from beneath the worn-out crow-skin coat. Then he recognized her. "Now you are mine," he said, and he made her his wife and they lived happily together until they died.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned net week for a tale of a princess who would not marry her father.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Black Bean and Mango Salsa with Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Hello lovelies! In my efforts not to buy as much plastic as I can, I have been trying to wait til mangoes go on sale, then when they get soft (but not too squishy) I can cut them up and freeze them instead of buying them in the non-recyclable freezer bag. The trick is to freeze them first in a single layer like on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or zero waste silicone alternative--more on this coming soon) and freeze them over night until solid. Then scoop them up and put them in the container of your choice in your freezer.

I had for mangoes--one was too squishy and we just ate it (what a hardship, I know) but the others were just right for cutting into strips that wouldn't disintegrate when frozen or cooked. Just remember to defrost overnight in the fridge the mango you need for the recipe.

So, I had all these mangoes and then I what can I make with this? And this is what happened.

Black Bean and Mango Salsa with Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Preheat your oven to 220C/425F.

For the potatoes:
400g (2 medium) sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
1 TB starch like cornflour (cornstarch) or tapioca or arrowroot
2 tsp chilli powder or 1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp smoked paprika
1 TB oil
1. Put potatoes in a large mixing bowl and stir over the starch and spices. When you are sure they are well coated, add the oil and stir well to coat.
2. In a large roasting pan, bake  for 13 minutes then flip with a spatula and bake 13 more minutes.

Gently heat the following in a saucepan and set aside until the potatoes are roasted.

1 tin of black beans,  drained and rinsed
half a red pepper
half a cup sweet corn (defrosted if frozen)
1 cup of mango (defrosted if frozen) 
4 sun dried tomatoes, snipped into bite sized pieces
juice of one lime

Serve the black bean and mango salsa with the spicy roasted potatoes. That's it.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--The Emperor's Daughter in the Pig Stall (Romania, 1845)

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

This week we look at a tale from Romania. It was collected by Arthur and Albert Schott and published in Walachische Maehrchen in 1845. I can find no information about Arthur and Albert Schott and these German (one presumes brothers but could be father and son I suppose) came to write a book in German about Romanian fairy tales. If someone out there knows, please be in touch. The story is called "Die Kaiserstochter im Schweinstall,"which translates to The Emperor's Daughter in the Pig Stall.

It begins as so many of these tales do, with a lecherous father. We also have the daughter and her helper (in this case a non-magical nurse) stalling by asking for silver, gold and diamond dresses. In other tales these are simply the colours of the gowns, but here she really means made out of the precious metal. A gown literally made of gold. This is part of a plan to stall him by bankrupting her father so they cannot be married. It fails. So she asks for the grossest thing she can think of—a dress made entirely of louse pelts and trimmed with flea pelts. He does it and she has to go ahead with the wedding. In nearly every other story, she runs away before this part, but here she gets married to her father. On their wedding night she escapes by asking to go outside for some fresh air. He does not trust her and much like the Little Red Riding Hood story you can read HERE he ties a string to her to be able to reel her back in. She sneaks out, puts on all three gowns (the silver, gold and diamonds) which must have been incredibly heavy and put the dress of fleas and lice over them all. It must have been so bulky. Then her faithful nurse tied the string to an old billy goat, and she makes her escape.

The prince is not nearly as unkind or abusive as he is in other tales, I am happy to say. He initially tries to shoot her in the forest when out hunting, but instead brings her home and lets her dwell in the pigsty. She manages to keep all of her fancy dresses clean under her lice pelt dress so that when the time comes to appear at an event, she looks clean and presentable. He slips a ring on her finger, which becomes the identifying object instead of a lost slipper. Because she appears to be quiet and well-behaved, the kitchen maid reluctantly allows her to warm herself by the fire.  This allows her to slip the ring in her true love’s milk so he will come and find her. It ends with him finding her clad in the diamond dress in the pigsty. Soon after, there is a wedding. Although isn’t she technically still married to her father since she actually went through with it at the beginning of the story? Was it annulled? Maybe a marriage to your father is not truly considered a valid union. The story doesn’t say.
Image result for flea drawing

The Emperor's Daughter in the Pig Stall

An emperor, whose wife had died, came upon the horrible idea to marry his daughter. However, she refused, and in this she was supported by her nurse with whom she confided all the secrets of her heart. When the emperor again brought his proposal to her, she declared -- following the old woman's advice -- that she would accept if she could have a beautiful silver dress. The emperor quickly had such a dress made and brought it to his daughter himself, hoping that now she would cease hesitating. But the princess, again coached by her nurse, this time demanded a beautiful golden dress, that would have to be ten times more valuable than the silver one. The emperor immediately ordered the master goldsmiths in his capital city to make such a dress, taking as much gold as they needed from his treasury. When it was finished, he joyfully took it to the princess, but found her as resistant as before. Now she demanded a beautiful diamond dress that was worth ten thousand times more than the golden one. "Such a dress," the nurse had said, "will cost more than his treasury contains, and that will be the end of his proposals."

The emperor was astonished at this monstrous requirement, but in order to achieve his goal he depleted his treasury, and what was still needed he forcefully took from his subjects. Thus he collected enough wealth to have a diamond dress made than cost ten thousand times what the golden one had cost.

The princess was startled when he brought it to her and asked for one day to think things through. The emperor granted her this, and she discussed the situation with her nurse, who advised her to demand a dress that he certainly would not be able to have made: one made entirely of louse pelts, and trimmed with flea pelts.

When the emperor heard the princess's latest wish, he became angry, but said nothing. Instead he issued the order to have such a dress made. It took an entire year to collect all the pelts and hides for this dress, and yet another year before they were all sewn together. Then emperor brought the dress to his daughter, and this time the princess -- following the old woman's advice -- let the marriage between herself and her father take place.

That evening, after entering the bridal chamber with him, she asked for permission to step outside for a moment. He refused, for he did not trust her and thought that she wanted to escape from him. She gave him a piece of string, tying one end around her own left hand, and told him that if she did not come back in time, he would only have to pull her in.

So the hateful father finally agreed, and the princess slipped out the door, where her nurse was standing ready with an old bill goat, and they quickly tied the string around its horns. Then the princess put on all her dresses -- first the one of diamonds, over that the one of gold, then the silver one, and over them all the disgusting one that the emperor had just had made. Then she fled.

Meanwhile the emperor waited impatiently, finally pulling gently on the string. Outside the billy goat pulled back. The emperor finally pulled hard, but the billy goat would not be outdone in such a tug-of-war. Finally the emperor, filled with rage, jumped up and went to the door. To his astonishment, instead of his charming daughter he found there a shaggy black billy goat, which rudely attacked him with its horns. The emperor retreated into the bridal chamber, and called for his people, who -- led by the nurse -- came to him. The emperor vented his anger with a storm of curse words. He told of his adventure and ordered that the billy goat be taken away.

The nurse began to shriek, "See here, you tyrannical father, see what you have caused? God has punished you because of your wicked marriage. He has transformed your daughter into this terrible horned monster!"

With these and many other words, the cunning nurse convinced the deceived ruler that the just anger of God had caused this miracle. Filled with shame, he said nothing more about the matter.
Meanwhile the princess fled into a great forest, where -- since the season was right -- she lived from berries and nuts that she found in the bushes.

Now it happened that the prince of the kingdom to which these woods belonged was hunting there. Evening was approaching when the prince, accompanied by just one servant, pursued a wild boar into a deep thicket. To his great astonishment he saw there an unusual forest creature. Not knowing what to make of it, he aimed an arrow at it. When he saw that it was not moving, he climbed the tree and captured the unknown animal alive.

With great clamour the forest creature was led through the city to the palace. There, because of its disgusting fur, it was turned over to the swineherd, who locked it in his worst pig stall, above which was a chicken coop. Thus the unknown forest creature's fur became even filthier. From the scraps that they brought it to eat, it would take only berries and nuts from the forest.

Soon afterward there was a glorious festival in the city. The son of a well-known gentleman was getting married. All the beautiful and important people were gathered there: maidens, ladies, and gentlemen, whatever their names.

When evening came the princess, pulled off her disgusting garb, revealing the silver dress beneath it, left the pig stall, and went to the wedding. The prince, who was also there, saw her and danced with her; and because he found her so extraordinarily beautiful that he gave her a valuable ring, after having spoken with her, and in the end having danced only with her.

Morning approached, and the unknown beauty disappeared from the hall without anyone observing where she went. The princess had put her stall garb back on and was peacefully asleep in the pig stall.

On the second evening she again appeared at the wedding, this time in her golden dress. The prince, who had been looking for her, was very happy to see her, and did not leave her side, for he wanted to know who this exceptionally wealthy gleaming beauty was. However, although he watched her carefully, trying to prevent her from escaping again, she took advantage of an opportune moment and slipped away. Before anyone noticed her absence, she was again hidden beneath her filthy garb in the pig stall.

On the third evening the mysterious maiden once again appeared at the wedding. Her glorious diamond dress astonished everyone. The prince thought that a maiden wearing such an incalculably costly dress must be of high nobility, but he was a thousand times more impressed by her personal beauty. He happily conversed with her alone, but to his dismay she would not tell him who she was or where she came from.

As morning approached, she again slipped away from the hall so cunningly that neither the prince nor anyone else noticed her leave.

The wedding was now over, and the prince had no hope of seeing his mysterious beloved again. This made him seriously ill. The princess sat in her pig stall, but not as calmly as earlier, for she too had fallen in love. A few days passed, and the prince, almost dying of longing, did not leave his bed. Then one of his friends came to visit him, and he ordered breakfast for the prince.

The strange forest creature appeared to be quiet and well-behaved, so they let it run about freely. On this morning it had gone to the kitchen to warm itself by the fire, for it was cold in the stall. Reluctantly the kitchen maid had allowed this, and the forest creature was cowering next to the stove. When milk was placed on the fire, the forest creature asked who it was for. Learning that it was for the prince, she secretly pulled from her finger the ring that the prince had given her at the wedding and dropped it into the pot. After warming herself, she crept back to the pig stall, put on her diamond dress, and was once again the most beautiful princess.

Meanwhile the prince was eating breakfast with his friend, and he was shocked almost to death to discover at the bottom of the milk pot the ring that he had given to his beloved mysterious stranger. He immediately summoned the kitchen maid who had prepared his breakfast, but she swore that she did not know how the ring came to be in the pot. The prince investigated further: Who else had been in the kitchen. Finally the girl admitted, after resisting for a long time, that the ugly forest creature had been there warming itself by the fire.

The prince and his friend immediately went to the stall where the disgusting forest creature was kept. He opened the door and looked inside, then took three steps back in joyful surprise. There sat his beautiful and beloved mysterious stranger, dressed in her glorious gown.

She stepped out and said, "I am the one, my prince!"

Answering his questions as to how she had come to this horrible place, she told him her story, which astonished everyone. Then the prince tenderly took his beloved princess into his arms. Soon thereafter, to the pleasure of the entire court, a magnificent wedding brought this story to a happy end.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for the tale of a Cinder Blower.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Ranch Potatoes with Buffalo Chickpeas and Ranch Dressing

Hello lovelies! There was no recipe last week due to unforeseen circumstances. But this week What We Ate Wednesday is back, baby!

I have had a weird craving for ranch dressing lately. My friend Danny, knowing my penchant for cosplay, suggested perhaps I was just craving dressing ranch. I do love me an episode of Bonanza and I look smashing in a cowboy hat. But no. It was definitely a craving for ranch dressing.

But when I looked at recipes they tended to be mayonnaise based (blech) and need buttermilk, but hey--I could veganise anything, so I knew I could work around the buttermilk issue. And yes, I am fully aware that I could use vegan mayo...but mayo by any other name would taste just as gross. (As Shakespeare really meant to write.)

So then I started thinking--what goes with ranch dressing? As (wo)man cannot live by dressing alone, I needed a full meal to go with it. Lots of recipes suggested Buffalo Wings with ranch dressing and so I did my old faithful substitute of chickpeas for chickens because they both start with CH. I also decided to use the ranch spices on some roast potatoes and the results were spectacular.

The chickpeas are a tad spicy (in a good way) and the cool dollop of ranch dressing made with soya yogurt is a pleasant contrast. I used Frank's Red Hot sauce for 2 reasons--it was on sale for £1 and it was the one I found people mentioned the most in Buffalo Wing recipes. Most recipes were a mixture of equal parts butter and hot sauce...I cut the butter down to a still get the flavour but without all the fat.

Ranch Potatoes with Buffalo Chickpeas and Ranch Dressing

Ranch Spice Mix
1 TB dried parsley flakes
1 TB dried dill--I use dill tips
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt. 
Mix well and store in a container.

Ranch Potatoes
Preheat your oven to 220C/425F
400g potatoes, cubed
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 TB nutritional yeast flakes
1 TB ranch spice mix
1 TB starch (like cornflour/cornstarch or arrowroot or tapioca)
1 TB oil (optional)
I did it with and without oil because i forgot it the second time and it was fine, just a little less crispy.
In a large bowl add your potatoes and stir over the vinegar and toss to coat. then add all the dry ingredients and make sure the potatoes are well coated then add the optional oil. Stir to coat then spread out over a greased roasting tin. Bake 13 minutes, stir and flip the potatoes and bake 13 minutes more. Make sure the grease the pan as they WILL stick otherwise.

Meanwhile, make the chickpeas.

Buffalo Chickpeas
1 onion thinly sliced
1 tin chickpeas
garlic to taste
1 TB vegan butter
1/4 cup (60ml) hot sauce
1/2 cup defrosted frozen peas
Melt your butter and cook your onion and garlic until soft and add your chickpeas and hot sauce. Simmer, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are done. Stir in the peas and warm through at the end.

Meanwhile, while the chickpeas are doing their thing, make the Ranch Dressing.

Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup plain unsweetened soya yogurt
1 TB nutritional yeast flakes
1 TB ranch spice mix
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Mix well.

Serve your crispy potatoes with the spicy Buffalo Chickpeas on the side with a dollop of cool ranch dressing. Yummers!

Friday, 7 June 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--Donkeyskin (France, 1695)

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

This week we look at a version entitled Peau d'Âne (Donkey Skin) by Charles Perrault. We have looked at other tales by Perrault already as he is the one responsible for all the traditional features you think of in a Cinderella story (fairy godmother, pumpkin into coach, glass slipper etc) This tale appeared in a small volume of stories in 1695 and was republished in Histoires ou contes du temps passé(Tales from Past Times) in 1697.

 In this version, as in other versions, the mother is the cause of her husband’s desire for his own daughter. On her deathbed she says, "Promise me that if, when I am gone, you find a woman wiser and more beautiful than I, you will marry her and so provide an heir for throne." She says this confident he will never be able to find these traits in any other woman and therefore happily dies, appearing generous but in reality, acting selfishly. When her father will not take no for an answer her fairy godmother advises her to stall for time by asking for three dresses—the colour of the sky, the colour of the moon and the colour of the sun. These he provides and so she is advised to ask for something which is his greatest possession and the source of all the wealth in the kingdom –a donkey that defecates gold. I kid you not. She asks for the skin of the donkey thinking he will never go for that, but he does. Her only choice is to take her three fancy dresses, disguise herself in the skin of the donkey and hit the road.

Later, she is a lowly servant in a neighbouring kingdom where she has to wash the dishcloths and clean out the pig troughs (one hopes that the same dishcloths are not used in the pig troughs) and she is noticed by the King’s son. On a whim he peeps through her keyhole (that’s not creepy) and sees her out of her donkey skin and dressed in her finest clothes. Did she know he was there? Could she tell she was being spied on? The story indicates she knew exactly what she was doing. This worries me ever so slightly, but I suppose girls in those days had to have some tricks up their sleeves to catch the eye of a suitable husband. He asks for a cake to be baked by none other than the dirty Donkeyskin and no one will argue because he is the Prince. She cleans herself up, bakes him a cake and accidentally/on purpose drops her ring in the dough for him to find. She knew exactly what she was doing. He uses the ring the way other tales use a shoe—everyone has to try it on, but no one but her has a finger so dainty.

At their wedding her father shows up and embraces her tenderly which skeeved me out. Her husband thinks it’s great his new father-in-law is a powerful king from far away and no one seems to be bothered when they tell the tale of how she became Donkey Skin. And because this was written by Perrault, there is a moral at the end. 

This story was also included in Andrew Lang’s Grey Fairy Book in 1900, albeit a more sanitised version that make her an adopted daughter rather than biological one and makes the gold come out of the donkey’s ears not its arse.

 If you’d like to read it in French go {HERE}

Image result for donkeyskin
Donkeyskin source

Once upon a time there was a king who was the most powerful ruler in the whole world. Kind and just in peace and terrifying in war, his enemies feared him while his subjects were happy and content. His wife and faithful companion was both charming and beautiful. From their union a daughter had been born.

Their large and magnificent palace was filled with courtiers, and their stables boasted steeds large and small, of every description. But what surprised everyone on entering these stables was that the place of honour was held by a donkey with two big ears. However, it was quite worthy of this position, for every morning, instead of dung, it dropped a great load of gold coins upon the litter.

Now heaven, which seems to mingle good with evil, suddenly permitted a bitter illness to attack the queen. Help was sought on all sides, but neither the learned physicians nor the charlatans were able to arrest the fever which increased daily. Finally, her last hour having come, the queen said to her husband: "Promise me that if, when I am gone, you find a woman wiser and more beautiful than I, you will marry her and so provide an heir for throne."

Confident that it would be impossible to find such a woman, the queen thus believed that her husband would never remarry. The king accepted his wife's conditions, and shortly thereafter she died in his arms.

For a time the king was inconsolable in his grief, both day and night. Some months later, however, on the urging of his courtiers, he agreed to marry again, but this was not an easy matter, for he had to keep his promise to his wife and search as he might, he could not find a new wife with all the attractions he sought. Only his daughter had a charm and beauty which even the queen had not possessed.

Thus only by marrying his daughter could he satisfy the promise he had made to his dying wife, and so he forthwith proposed marriage to her. This frightened and saddened the princess, and she tried to show her father the mistake he was making. Deeply troubled at this turn of events, she sought out her fairy godmother who lived in a grotto of coral and pearls.

"I know why you have come here," her godmother said. "In your heart there is a great sadness. But I am here to help you, and nothing can harm you if you follow my advice. You must not disobey your father, but first tell him that you must have a dress which has the colour of the sky. Certainly he will never be able to meet that request."

And so the young princess went all trembling to her father. But he, the moment he heard her request, summoned his best tailors and ordered them, without delay, to make a dress the colour of the sky, or they could be assured he would hang them all.

The following day the dress was shown to the princess. It was the most beautiful blue of heaven. 

Filled now with both happiness and fear, she did not know what to do, but her godmother again told her, "Ask for a dress the colour of the moon. Surely your father will not be able to give you this."

No sooner had the princess made the request than the king summoned his embroiderers and ordered that a dress the colour of the moon be completed by the fourth day. On that very day it was ready, and the princess was again delighted with its beauty.

But still her godmother urged her once again to make a request of the king, this time for a dress as bright and shining as the sun. This time the king summoned a wealthy jeweller and ordered him to make a cloth of gold and diamonds, warning him that if he failed, he would die. Within a week the jeweller had finished the dress, so beautiful and radiant that it dazzled the eyes of everyone who saw it.

The princess did not know how to thank the king, but once again her godmother whispered in her ear. 
"Ask him for the skin of the donkey in the royal stable. The king will not consider your request seriously. You will not receive it, or I am badly mistaken." But she did not understand how extraordinary was the king's desire to please his daughter. Almost immediately the donkey's skin was brought to the princess.

Once again, she was frightened and once again her godmother came to her assistance. "Pretend," she said, "to give in to the king. Promise him anything he wishes, but, at the same time, prepare to escape to some far country.

"Here," she continued, "is a chest in which we will put your clothes, your mirror, the things for your toilet, your diamonds and other jewels. I will give you my magic wand. Whenever you have it in your hand, the chest will follow you everywhere, always hidden underground. Whenever you wish to open the chest, as soon as you touch the wand to the ground, the chest will appear.

"To conceal you, the donkey's skin will be an admirable disguise, for when you are inside it, no one will believe that anyone so beautiful could be hidden in anything so frightful."

Early in the morning the princess disappeared as she was advised. They searched everywhere for her, in houses, along the roads, wherever she might have been, but in vain. No one could imagine what had become of her.

The princess, meanwhile, was continuing her flight. To everyone she met, she extended her hands, begging them to find her some place where she might find work. But she looked so unattractive and indeed so repulsive in her Donkey Skin disguise that no one would have anything to do with such a creature.

Farther and still farther she journeyed until finally she came to a farm where they needed a poor wretch to wash the dishcloths and clean out the pig troughs. They also made her work in a corner of the kitchen where she was exposed to the low jokes and ridicule of all the other servants.

On Sundays she had a little rest for, having completed her morning tasks, she went to her room and closed the door and bathed. Then she opened the chest, took out her toilet jars and set them up, with the mirror, before her. Having made herself beautiful once more, she tried on her moon dress, then that one which shone like the sun and, finally, the lovely blue dress. Her only regret was that she did not have room enough to display their trains. She was happy, however, in seeing herself young again, and this pleasure carried her along from one Sunday to the next.

On this great farm where she worked there was an aviary belonging to a powerful king. All sorts of unusual birds with strange habits were kept there. The king's son often stopped at this farm on his return from the hunt in order to rest and enjoy a cool drink with his courtiers.

From a distance Donkey Skin gazed on him with tenderness and remembered that beneath her dirt and rags she still had the heart of a princess. What a grand manner he has, she thought. How gracious he is! How happy must she be to whom his heart is pledged! If he should give me a dress of only the simplest sort, I would feel more splendid wearing it than any of these which I have.

One day the young prince, seeking adventure from courtyard to courtyard, came to the obscure hallway where Donkey Skin had her humble room. By chance he put his eye to the keyhole. It was a feast-day and Donkey Skin had put on her dress of gold and diamonds which shone as brightly as the sun. The prince was breathless at her beauty, her youthfulness, and her modesty. Three times he was on the point of entering her room, but each time refrained.

On his return to his father's palace, the prince became very thoughtful, sighing day and night and refusing to attend any of the balls and carnivals. He lost his appetite and finally sank into sad and deadly melancholy. He asked who this beautiful maiden was that lived in such squalor and was told that it was Donkey Skin, the ugliest animal one could find, except the wolf, and a certain cure for love. This he would not believe, and he refused to forget what he had seen.

His mother, the queen, begged him to tell her what was wrong. Instead, he moaned, wept and sighed. He would say nothing, except that he wanted Donkey Skin to make him a cake with her own hands.

"O heavens," they told her, "this Donkey Skin is only a poor, drab servant."

"It makes no difference," replied the queen. "We must do as he says. It is the only way to save him."
So Donkey Skin took some flour which she had ground especially fine, and some salt, some butter and some fresh eggs and shut herself alone in her room to make the cake. But first she washed her face and hands and put on a silver smock in honour of the task she had undertaken.

Now the story goes that, working perhaps a little too hastily, there fell from Donkey Skin's finger into the batter a ring of great value. Some who know the outcome of this story think that she may have dropped the ring on purpose, and they are probably right, for when the prince stopped at her door and looked through the keyhole, she must have known it. And she was sure that the ring would be received most joyfully by her lover.

The prince found the cake so good that in his ravishing hunger, he almost swallowed the ring! When he saw the beautiful emerald and the band of gold that traced the shape of Donkey Skin's finger, his heart was filled with an indescribable joy. At once he put the ring under his pillow, but his illness increased daily until finally the doctors, seeing him grow worse, gravely concluded that he was sick with love.

Marriage, whatever may be said against it, is an excellent remedy for love sickness. And so it was decided that the prince was to marry.

"But I insist," he said, "that I will wed only the person whom this ring fits." This unusual demand surprised the king and queen very much, but the prince was so ill that they did not dare object.

A search began for whoever might be able to fit the ring on her finger, no matter what the station in life. It was rumoured throughout the land that in order to win the prince one must have a very slender finger. Every charlatan had his secret method of making the finger slim. One suggested scraping it as though it was a turnip. Another recommended cutting away a small piece. Still another, with a certain liquid, planned to decrease the size by removing the skin.

At last the trials began with the princesses, the marquesses and the duchesses, but their fingers, although delicate, were too big. for the ring. Then the countesses, the baronesses and all the nobility presented their hands, but all in vain. Next came the working girls, who often have slender and beautiful fingers, but the ring would not fit them, either.

Finally it was necessary to turn to the servants, the kitchen help, the slaveys and the poultry keepers, with their red and dirty hands. Putting the tiny ring on their clumsy fingers was like trying to thread a big rope through the eye of a needle.

At last the trials were finished. There remained only Donkey Skin in her far corner of the farm kitchen. Who could dream that she ever would be queen?

"And why not?" asked the prince. "Ask her to come here." At that, some started to laugh; others cried out against bringing that frightful creature into the room. But when she drew out from under the donkey skin a little hand as white as ivory and the ring vas placed on her finger and fitted perfectly, everyone was astounded.

They prepared to take her to the king at once, but she asked that before she appeared before her lord and master, she be permitted to change her clothes. To tell the truth, there was some smiling at this request, but when she arrived at the palace in her beautiful dress, the richness of which had never been equalled, with her blonde hair all alight with diamonds and her blue eyes sweet and appealing and even her waist so slender that two hands could have encircled it, then even the gracious ladies of the court seemed, by comparison, to have lost all their charms. In all this happiness and excitement, the king did not fail to notice the charms of his prospective daughter-in-law, and the queen was completely delighted with her. The prince himself found his happiness almost more than he could bear. Preparations for the wedding were begun at once, and the kings of all the surrounding countries were invited. Some came from the East, mounted on huge elephants. Others were so fierce looking that they frightened the little children. From all the corners of the world they came and descended on the court in great numbers.

But neither the prince nor the many visiting kings appeared in such splendour as the bride's father, who now recognised his daughter and begged her forgiveness.

"How kind heaven is," he said, "to let me see you again, my dear daughter." Weeping with joy, he embraced her tenderly. His happiness was shared by all, and the future husband was delighted to find that his father-in-law was such a powerful king. At that moment the fairy godmother arrived, too, and told the whole story of what had happened, and what she had to tell added the final triumph for Donkey Skin.

It is not hard to see that the moral of this tale is that it is better to undergo the greatest hardships rather than to fail in one's duty, that virtue may sometimes seem ill-fated but will always triumph in the end.

The story of Donkey Skin may be hard to believe, but so long as there are children, mothers, and grandmothers in this world, it will be remembered by all.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for another version of  an Emperor's daughter in a pig stall.