Friday, 29 November 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--Fractured Fairy Tales Cinderella Returns

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 from the Fractured Fairy Tales portion of the The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. I remember that one very clearly from my childhood, but I was pleasantly surprised to see there was fractured sequel.

Our protagonist (still with her pronounced Jersey accent) is as pretty as a princess, except she isn't a princess. She is merely a commoner. Therefore she is never invited to any of the royal social events.

The fairy godmother (whom you may recall from last week where she was getting people to sell pots and pans) now works for Good Fairy Rentals and offers a "Go to the ball" package. For a mere 100 gold coins Cinderella can get a costume, transportation and entry to the royal ball and for an additional 10 gold coins can marry the prince. This is perfect for Cinderella who hates being a commoner and desires to live in the palace.

In the palace the prince is bemoaning the state of the castle. Upkeep is expensive and the place is falling apart. He wants to stop being a prince and live someplace more common. The only way for him to abdicate is to marry a commoner.

Predictably they meet at the ball--she pretends to be royal as she thinks that is the only way to marry him and he wishes she was a commoner so he could get out of being royalty.

It's like a bizarre version of Gift of the Magi.

She leaves her enormous sized 13 D shoe (it's roomy but comfortable) so he will find it and then come find her, but things do not go as expected.

Plus you get a pun on the word commoner. I do love a pun.

 That's all for this week. Next week we begin to look at musical versions of the story of Cinderella.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Peanut Butter Freezer Fudge (2 ways)

Hello lovelies! I was scrolling through all the various vegan Facebook pages I am on and this recipe caught my eye. I don't know which page it came from, or who posted it originally as I just did a quick screenshot to capture the recipe. For that I am sorry because I like to give credit where credit is due. The original recipe used Biscoff  spread so  know it wasn't one of the vegan and gluten free Facebook pages I am a part of because as lovey as Biscoff sounds the clue is the name--there are crushed up gluten-y biscuits in there.

But I tried it with peanut butter and it was mmm.

Seriously mmmmmmmm.

It makes in a jiffy out of stuff you probably already have in your kitchen. Then just bung it in the freezer until it hardens and viola! Fudge.

Top tip for my local peeps--you can get inexpensive coconut oil at B&M Bargains.

Peanut Butter Freezer Fudge
2 TB coconut oil
8 TB (half a cup) nut butter
2 TB syrup (maple, agave....I used golden syrup)
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
pinch salt

1.Carefully melt on low--15 seconds in a microwave if you have one, or on low heat on the hob. I do mine on the hob and melt the coconut oil first then add everything else.
2. Scrape the mixture into a small freezer safe container and freeze until solid.
3. Cut into 12 squares. This is really nutrient dense and quite filling so one square will do.
4. Keep stored in the freezer to keep its fudgy texture.

You can also make a darker fudge by subbing 2 TB blackstrap molasses for the syrup. It's good both ways.

This just melts in your mouth and is so good. It can be made in about five minutes plus freezing time and is great for a little pick-me-up.

Friday, 22 November 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--Fractured Fairy Tales

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

For many weeks we have looked at illustrated variations on the tale of Cinderella written primarily for children. For the next few weeks we will look at funny, animated versions of this story before moving into musicals and films. Then it will be the end of our Cinderella saga while I ponder what other fairy tale to explore.

This week we look at an old favourite from my childhood--Fractured Fairy Tales. these absurd little comedy shorts were part of the Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and are charmingly narrated by Edward Everett Horton. I always loved the opening credits with the fairy fighting with the ornery book which keeps threatening to slam on her.

Here we subvert all tropes featured in other Cinderella tales. Cinderella is quite lazy, lying on a chaise lounge, reading a True Romance magazine and carelessly dusting a lamp with a duster held between her toes whilst complaining of how much work she has to do. Meanwhile, her two sisters are hardworking and are "popular and sought after" scrub women in town.

Because this Cinderella always wants something for nothing when her fairy godmother appears she expects a makeover for free. What she gets is a makeover and set of pots and pans she has to flog by midnight in order to keep her flashy gear. There is only one person in the kingdom rich enough to buy all the cookware--the prince.

However, the prince is having problems of his own. His kingdom is bankrupt and he has to pay his creditors by midnight. He has to find a rich heiress to marry by the stroke of twelve.

This leads to an evening of talk about love and saucepans and ends with an unexpected twist.

That's all for this week. Stay tuned next week for another Fractured look at Cinderella.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Rosemary, Kale and White Bean Soup

Hello lovelies! It's cold here and by the time I get home from work it is dark and all I want is something quick and healthy. Preferably soup.

This is adapted from a recipe I got from the free magazine at Tesco. Their recipe used cannellini beans, but I used haricots, they used fresh rosemary and I used dried and they used pasta and I just made it without because we were out of pasta. The recipe said it would serve 4 and I suppose with addition of pasta it would have, but it served 2 quite well without it.

Rosemary, Kale and White Bean Soup
1 red onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 a red pepper (optional...I used it because I had it) 
6 garlic cloves, crushed
500g carton passata
100g kale
tin of white beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp dried rosemary
3 cups (750ml) vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
juice of half a lemon
optional: 150g soup pasta (I have no idea what this is...but I suppose regular pasta would do...or leave it out like I did)

1. Cook your onion and carrot and optional red pepper in a splash of water. When starting to soften add your garlic and cook a minute or two more.
2. Add everything else except the lemon juice and kale, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the kale and cook for 5 more minutes stirring every few minutes until the kale has softened and reduced. Add the lemon juice and taste for salt and pepper.
Note: If you are doing the pasta it says to simmer 10 minutes then add the pasta and cook for a further 10 minutes.

This was quick and easy and good on a cold night after a day of being on my feet at work.

Friday, 15 November 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--Cendrillon

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

For the last few weeks we have been looking at picture book versions of the classic tale of Cinderella and I would like to look at one of my favourite versions today. This is the tale of Cendrillon set in the Caribbean. It was written by Robert San Souci who also brought us Cinderella Skeleton and was exquisitely illustrated by Brian Pinkney. These two also collaborated on another fantastic and lesser known fairy tale called The Faithful Friend. This is a well-told tale full of colloquial French which makes it really charming.

This tale is unusual in that it is told from the perspective of the magical helper. Our narrator was raised poor, but her mother left her a wand of mahogany when she was dying. On her deathbed, her mother told her that the wand could transform one object into another, but only for a short time and will only work if the magic is used to help someone you love.

Many years later, our narrator is a poor washer woman who becomes the godmother to a friend's baby. When Cendrillon's mother dies, our washer woman cares for her and loves her as if Cendrillon is her own child. When her father predictably remarries a terrible woman it is our narrator who nurtures our young girl and helps her grow into a resilient young woman.

When a fete is being thrown in honour of a neighbour's son, Cendrillon wants to go but cannot. It is here that our godmother becomes a fairy godmother. She uses the wand of mahogany to transform a breadfruit instead of a pumpkin into a fine carriage and indigenous animals into coachman and horses. Lastly she changes Cendrillon's calico dress into one of blue velvet, with a matching turban and a silk shawl and the obligatory pink embroidered slippers. She uses the magic to dress herself in red and attends the fete as Cendrillon's chaperone.

As predicted at the fete, Paul (who is as handsome and well spoken as a prince but also kind) falls for our heroine and is left with one pink slipper after their midnight curfew chimes.

Interestingly, we have our heroine take to her bed, grieving with a broken heart instead of the prince wasting away. Her sadness comes from the fact that she believes it was only the magic that attracted him to her ad he will not love her for who she really is. When he comes to the door with the slipper, her sister cannot fit into it with her sausage toes. Her godmother tries to use the magic to change her back to glamorous, but Cendrillon prefers that he sees her as she is---poor and barefoot. He says she is more beautiful that she was the night before, proving he is a keeper and they are married and live (as expected) happily ever after.

Now, here is the problem. I cannot find a video of this story that is both well told and that you can see the illustrations. The video where the story is read so beautifully only shows the cover art and the tale which shows the pictures is poorly read and she mispronounces everything including the name Cendrillon. This is terribly grating as you can imagine. So, i have opted to go for the well-told tale, but will link the video with the illustrations below if you want to watch it with the sound down.

Part 1

Part 2

Watch with the sound down to see the illustrations.

That's all for this week. Stay tuned next week as we look at a Fractured Fairy Tale.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Chilli Sauce Chilli

Hello lovelies! Brrrr! Cold weather is upon us and all I am craving at the end of a damp and chilly day is hot soups and spicy chilli. Chilli defeats chilly! Woohoo!

This recipe is adapted from a recipe card I picked up at a Sainsbury's about 10 years ago. It is one of my favourite meals and you can have it as chilli the first night and turn the leftovers into soup. It also freezes well. I am making some this week for a friend who is having a baby so she can have some food in the freezer for when the baby comes.

It's hearty and nourishing with a real stick to your ribs quality.

Chilli Sauce Chilli
2 onions, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 pepper, diced
plenty of garlic (I do about 6 cloves) 
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp red chilli flakes (or less)

1 tin tomatoes
2 tins black beans, drained and rinsed (or whatever kind of beans you have on hand)
1 tin kidney beans in chilli sauce
1 and 1/4 cup sweetcorn (defrosted if frozen)

50 grams dark chocolate bar chopped into tiny bit (optional, but not optional....this gives it a real rich depth of flavour. If you don't want to use a chocolate bar use 3 TB cocoa powder  but it won't be as nice)  
juice of one lime

1. Cook your onion in a splash of water until softened and then add the garlic, carrots and pepper. Cook for a few more minutes and then add your spices and stir to coat.
2. Add the tin tomatoes, beans, chilli sauce beans and sweet corn. Bring to boil then simmer until the carrots are tender.
3. Add in the chocolate and stir til melted and add the lime juice.
4. Serve over rice.

I save back a little less than half and the next night:
1. put the leftover chilli in a large pot with 4 cups vegetable stock and a small tin of coconut milk (about 3/4 cup?) then heat until bubbling. Add 100g (several big handfuls) kale and cook until kale is softened.

2 meals in one!

Friday, 8 November 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--Cindy Ellen

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

This week we look at a wild west version of Cinderella entitled Cindy Ellen. It was written by Susan Lowell who also wrote the charming The Three Little Javelinas and is illustrated by Jane K Manning. This story is interesting as it is filled with lots of colloquial language and is a nice twist on our traditional tale.   

This tale begins with a rancher who remarried a woman who was "meaner than a rattlesnake" and had two daughters just the same.  The father's daughter Cindy Ellen was "as pretty as a peach" and a good cowgirl, but her new stepmother (who wore the pants in the family) made her do all the hard work like mending the fences, mucking out the corral and tending the cows.

One day an invitation comes from the biggest cattle king in the area to attend his two day event--a wild west rodeo followed by a square dance. Cindy Ellen longs to go as she is a great rider,  but is not allowed by her family. When her step family leaves to go to the rodeo in their frilly shirts and frizzed up hair, Cindy Ellen cries.

This behaviour is not unexpected--many Cinderellas just sit and cry and wait for change to happen to them. However, when her fairy Godmother appears and shoots her golden pistol in the air, she tells Cindy Ellen to stop blubbering and get some gumption. Cindy Ellen does and is rewarded with some new duds which include some golden spurs covered in diamonds. She goes to the rodeo and wins--both the competition and the heart of Joe Prince the cattle king's son. At the square dance the next night they dance until her midnight curfew and when she runs off she loses one of her golden spurs.

Joe Prince travels all over the prairie looking for a girl who can fit the delicate spur over their boot, but everyone's feet are too big. Of course, with her it fits and she can produce the second spur so they "get hitched" and live happily ever after.

That's all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a tale from the Caribbean.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Stir fry Noodle Bowl with BOSH Black Pepper Sauce

Hello lovelies! How have you been? Me--good, but insanely busy. We have been gearing up for my big book launch for my new book Wounds: New Openings Into Old Stories and I haven't had much time or energy to try new recipes--it's all been tried and true and quick and dirty. You know what I mean?

Last Friday, I finished work at 5:30pm, needed to go home and and eat and be back at work for 6:30 for an evening event. I knew I would need something that could be cooked in under 10 minutes to have to time to get there, eat and get back.  I figured if i did the food prep before work, I would just have to throw it in the pan when I got home.

I did decide to try one new component to the meal--a different sauce. I found this BOSH recipe in their cookbook that I got from the library and thought I would give it a try. I am so glad I did.

If you do the food prep ahead of time this cooks in 10 minutes.

Stir fry Noodle Bowl with BOSH Black Pepper Sauce
1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
small carrot (or half a big one) cut into matchsticks
half a red pepper, chopped
100g kale--several large handfuls

2 quick cooking noodle nests--ramen noodles would do, I use brown rice noodle nests that cook in 4 minutes

100ml vegetable stock
1 TB cornflour (I used tapioca starch) 
2 TB water
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp coarse ground black pepper
3 TB tamari or soy sauce
2 tsp rice wine vinegar

 1.Boil your kettle.
2. Throw all your veg except kale and chickpeas in a hot pan with 1/4 cup water.
3. When kettle boils pour over your noodle nests and cook for whatever the package time says and then drain.
4. While noodles are cooking and veg are cooking make the sauce in a small bowl or pyrex jug.
5. When noodles are done and draining, add the kale and chickpeas and the sauce to the veg and cook until kale is softened and sauce is thickened. Stir in noodles to mix.
6. Eat.

This will be a firm favourite for future nights when we are tired and busy. The pepper sauce was really tasty--spicy but not too hot if that makes sense.