Friday, 21 September 2018

Fairy Tale Friday--Little Red Riding Hood based on The False Grandmother (art film, 1997)

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 animated film versions of our tale. Many have featured sex starved wolves (and occasionally sex starved grandmothers) and last week we had a heroine with a bit of spunk who didn’t need to be rescued and outsmarted the wolf on her own.
See the source image

This week we look at an unusual version. A 1997 black and white art film with no dialogue, just a slightly sinister narration by Quentin Crisp. The film is a version of THE FALSE GRANDMOTHER which we discussed early on in Fairy Tale Friday.  This is another version where our clever protagonist outsmarts the wolf on her own through the use of her own bodily functions without the need to be rescued by the woodcutter.
It was directed by David Kaplan, a writer/director of several films based on fairy tales and folklore such as Little Suck-a-Thumb from Struwwelpeter (Shock-Headed Peter) and the Year of the Fish a modern retelling based on a ninth century tale of Ye Xian which is believed to be the oldest version of Cinderella. The film that we are looking at today stars Christina Ricci in the title role, dancer Timour Bourtasenkov as the anthropomorphised wolf and Evelyn Solann as the grandmother. Solann also starred in his version of Little Suck-a-Thumb as the mother.
It is a strange, stylised film full of symbols and symbolic behaviour. The contortions of the dancer cum wolf are frighteningly OTT as well as unintentionally hilarious. The sexiness of Ricci as Little Red cannot be denied and this is a perfect example of the earlier meaning of this tale. She is a young nubile female, seduced into bed by a wolfish man and told to take off her clothes and throw them on the fire as she won’t be needing them anymore. This version alone is worth it just to hear Quentin Crisp’s slightly creepy narration say the words pee-pee and ca-ca. This version ends with a bizarre form of "kiss chase"  which makes it more akin to Angela Carter's The Company of Wolves.  
Watch it Kere:

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a tale where no one is as they seem and everyone seems to be trying to Hoodwink everyone else.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

What We Ate Wednesday--Tuscan Chickpeas Mac and Cheese

Hello lovelies! This was a recipe I saw....not sure where...somewhere on Facebook. It had a recipe video and I was looking at it and thought, "I could totally veganise that!"

The original recipe used chickens, but I used my trusted chickpeas (I mean, they both start with CH!) and let me say, it came out GORGEOUS.

You can view the original recipe here from CAFE DELITES. Their recipe was a one pot dish because she seared the chickens in the same pan as she cooked the mac and cheese. I decided to roast my chickpeas in the oven  because roasted chickpeas=major yum. They go all crispy and crazy delicious when roasted. Like chickpea croutons.

 Her recipe used 3 kinds of cheese, however I cut the fat, but not the deliciousness.

Tuscan Chickpeas Mac and Cheese

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F
In a large roasting pan add the following:
1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 TB oil (you can use the oil from a jar of sun dried tomatoes to make it even yummier)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dried parsley

Coat with oil then the spices. Set aside while the oven heats. Meanwhile make your Parmesan. You can totally cheat and use something like Good Carma if you don't want to make your own.

in a food processor or spice grinder blend up the following:
3 TB nutritional yeast flakes
3 TB ground almonds (almond meal)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Set aside.

For the pasta in cream sauce:
1 white onion, diced small
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/4 cup plus 2 tsp white wine  (or do what I did--1/4 cup cloudy apple juice plus 2 tsp apple cider vinegar. Could use white grape juice instead of apple.)
5 oil packed sun dried tomatoes, blotted and snipped into small pieces
1.5 TB flour (I used rice flour)
1 tsp mixed herbs
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup non dairy milk (I used soya milk)
1/2 cup + 1 TB coconut milk or Soya cream or Oatly cream (I used this little tin of 165ml coconut milk we buy from B&M Bargains 4 for £1.)
2 cups dry (GF) pasta
100g curly kale, de-stemmed and torn into bits (4-5 cups?)
salt and pepper to taste

1. When the oven is hot, put the roasting tin with the chickpeas in and bake for 15 minutes. then remove and stir the chickpeas and cook for a further 15 minutes.
2. About five minutes after you start the chickpeas start your pasta in a big pot.
3. Cook the onion and garlic and sun dried tomatoes in a splash of oil or water (or knob of vegan butter) until softened. Add your white wine (or ersatz juice wine) and simmer for a few minutes until it reduces a little bit.
3. Add the flour and mixed herbs and stir to make sure all is thickened. Add the veg stock, the milk and the coconut milk (or cream). Bring to the boil.
4. When boiling, reduce heat to a high simmer and add your dried pasta and kale and cook STIRRING NEARLY CONSTANTLY  until your pasta is cooked. The pasta will clump and stick to the bottom if you do not stir. Heed the warning my friend. My GF pasta cooks in 8 minutes. After this time the pasta was al dente (it will continue to cook in the sauce, so don't overcook) so I took it off the heat and it had a thick creamy sauce.
5. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Taste for salt and add pepper.
6.Top with roasted chickpeas.

I took a picture with half of the chickpeas to make it aesthetically pleasing then loaded them up so thick you couldn't see the pasta underneath. This made 2 huge bowls. You could serve it for company by keeping the chickpea bit the same and doubling the pasta and sauce bit.

It was soooo creamy and cheesy and felt really rich and indulgent but without the cruelty or the fat. And no, it didn't taste like coconut. It just had a fatty mouth feel--the same that dairy gives you but without all the gunk like pus and hormones or the heartbreak of a baby taken from its mother.

We will definitely have this again.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Fairy Tale Friday--Fixed Fairy Tales

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 animated versions of Little Red Riding Hood. They have all featured an over-sexualised heroine and either an oversexed wolf, grandmother or both.

This week makes a pleasant departure from that degrading style of work. I stumbled on this version quite by accident when looking for new versions of our tale. It is part of a series entitled Fixed Fairy Tales made by HISHE KIDS.  HISHE stands for How It Should Have Ended
Image result for hishe kids red riding
This delightful tale is narrated by a wise but slightly sarcastic owl named Vincent Featherbottom, the story changing owl. He begins with:

Every knows the tale of Little Red Riding Hood. We know how she met the wolf in the woods. We know how the wolf got to grandma's house first and disguised himself as grandma. "What big eyes you have!" and "What big teeth you have!" Blah blah blah, rescued by the woodcutter at the last minute, etc, etc. But here's how Little Red Riding Hood should have ended.

I liked this film from the start as it was a fresh approach and we do often tire of hearing the same story over and over. I was curious to see how the alternate ending would play out and I was not disappointed. 

I got my first laugh as the wolf finishes picking his nose and declares not only can he smell a little girl, but he can smell her hooded cape and the Red Dye Number 40 used to make it red. Little Red, knowing how crafty wolves can be comes up with a clever plan on her own to outsmart the wolf that ties into another fairy tale. She completely spins a tale, exaggerating the feebleness of her poorly grandmother, which only makes the ending funnier. She then proceeds to use a variety of puns as she talks to the unsuspecting wolf which completely build to a huge crescendo and she spells out her plans right in front of him in the form of a joke and he is too thick to get it. She cleverly sends him away in the wrong direction (towards the house of the Three Bears) and safely arrives at her destination.

It ends with our narrator the owl saying :

And Little Red Riding Hood happily enjoyed muffins with her grandmother, who got well soon after.  All because Red Riding Hood was a smart and practical girl who knew that wolves were dangerous and can't be trusted. The moral? Always give wolves bad directions. Always. The end. 

I liked this version because our protagonist is witty and clever. She outsmarts the wolf on her own and doesn't need to be rescued by a male woodcutter. She reminds me of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. In the books Dorothy is a child of around seven years old and is brave and clever and resourceful and just gets on with things. She's out there killing the witch and saving her male friends not a sobbing teenager who is waiting for a man to come and save her as she's portrayed in the 1939 film.

I thoroughly enjoyed this Fixed Fairy Tale, as well as others on their channel. 

If you'd like to watch it, click here:

That's all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a strange black and white art film starring Christina Ricci that harks back to one of our earliest versions of Little Red Riding Hood.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

What We Ate Wednesday--Rice, Corn and Ginger Soup

Hello lovelies! I had the pleasure to make this soup yesterday for a dear friend. We had a fab day where she came for lunch, watched a film (the musical RENT if you are curious) and then stayed for dinner.

It's all about eatin' in the Spider household.

Dinner was followed by HOMEMADE PEANUT BUTTER CUP BARS. It was meant to be cake but there was a cakecident (a cake accident) where my cake didn't go as planned. *Something happened* and the cake collapsed and didn't cook properly in the middle. Not sure why it failed, but Spiderman and I hoovered up the edible bits. Waste not, want not and all that cliche rot. But it was not nice enough to serve for company.

But I digress.

Back to the soup. This is a lovely Asian inspired soup that is light and perfect to feed  people for lunch. If you want it for a dinner, you'll need to add some bread.

Normally, I make this soup with onion. But as my friend can't do onions (several of my friends have onion issues, so I always have recipes that can be adapted on hand) I made it with a yellow pepper instead. Either way is good.

This soup contains quite a lot of lemon juice and so is really bright and cheerful feeling. It goes well with the ginger and garlic. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper and it is a perfect meal to eat when you have a cold.

Rice, Corn and Ginger Soup
1.5 cups frozen sweetcorn, defrosted in boiling water and then drained
1 onion, finely diced (or a pepper if you are lucky enough to have an onion averse friend coming over)
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 heaping TB fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped really small
1/4 tsp turmeric (optional)
600ml  hot vegetable stock (2.5 cups)
1/3 cup white rice
juice and zest of one lemon (or scant 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook your onion or pepper in a splash of oil or water until softened. Add in your garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant.
2. Add your sweetcorn and rice. Add your turmeric and stir to coat.
3. Add the hot stock and bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the rice is done.
4. Add in the lemon and zest (if using) and the sesame oil.
5. Taste for salt and add a generous grinding of pepper.

That's it. A nice, light satisfying lunch made in about 15 minutes.

Perfect for sharing with a friend.

Thanks friend!

Friday, 7 September 2018

Fairy Tale Friday--Little Rural Riding Hood (Tex Avery, 1949)

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

Last week we looked at a cartoon by Tex Avery with a sexy Red Riding Hood and an oversexed Wolf and Grandma. This week we look at a similar tale modelled after The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse. 
Image result for little rural riding hood country
Our tale begins with a stereotypical hillbilly version of Little Red Riding Hood (complete with jug of moonshine) going to visit her sick grandmother who lives on a country farm. We then see the wolf at the farmhouse who confesses to the audience that he doesn’t want to eat Red, just “chase her and catch her and kiss her and hug her.” Again, harking back to earlier versions of the tale where the wolf wants to “consume” her sexually, not physically.

Red Riding Hood is a comical, gawky bucked-toothed figure with enormous feet and prehensile toes (she uses her bare feet to open and close the doors.) The wolf chases her around the farm trying to steal a kiss and all the time she cleverly avoids him—opening the door with her foot so he runs outside and kisses a cow and then slamming the door (again with her foot) so he crashes into it and flattens himself. At first you think she is rebuffing his advances, but right at the end she finally lets herself be “caught” and puckers up for a kiss. I really hate the idea of “playing hard to get” as I feel it sends the message that no really means yes.
Image result for little rural riding hood
Anyway, she is just about to receive her big kiss when the wolf receives a telegram. He drops her flat on the floor and reads the telegram from his sophisticated city wolf cousin who offers him a chance to come to the big city and includes a photo of Red Hot Riding Hood (from the film we looked at last week). The wolf behaves much as the wolf in Red Hot Riding Hood did—panting and howling as his tongue spools out if his mouth like ribbonthen drives straight to the big city.

His city cousin is much more suave and sophisticated and admonishes him for behaving in such an animalistic manner. He reprimands him and says, “But remember, here in the city we do not shout and whistle at the ladies.” That evening they go to the club and watch Red Hot Riding Hood sing and perform an erotic dance. Side note: The performance is actually cribbed from an earlier Tex Avery film called Swing Shift Cinderella where she had to be away by midnight because she was a Rosie the Riveter sort of gal and she was working the night shift.

Anyway, the song she sings is called “Oh, Wolfie” and is basically about how “all the chicks are crazy for a certain burly wolf” which just reinforces the idea that “girls love a bad guy.” Her dance is quite erotic (for a cartoon) and the country wolf is so overexcited that his eyes literally pop out of his head. His more sophisticated cousin tries to hold him back from such gross displays of affection. At the end when the country wolf rushes to the stage to grab her, he is hit over the head by his city cousin with a mallet that was conveniently just lying around and told that he is behaving inappropriately and that “this city life is just too much for you.”

When they arrive at the farmhouse, they find the country Red waiting for them. The city wolf, who up until this time has had impeccable manners, becomes wildly attracted to her. He begins to imitate the behaviour his country cousin showed in the city with his eyes literally popping out of his head while a horn goes AROO—GA! Just as he begins to chase after her, he is stopped by his country cousin with another conveniently placed mallet. The country wolf promptly decides to take his city cousin back home, exclaiming, “Sorry cousin, This country life’s too much for ya.” He then drives back to the big city where he can sexually harass the city Red again.

The conveniently placed mallet that wasn't there a minute ago is a trope used over and over in cartoons that really bugged me all my life, which is no doubt why I mention it twice here. It is just lazy animating to pull a mallet out of thin air when you need one character to clobber another character. /rant over/

There is a genuinely funny bit where after being hit by the pulled from thin air mallet each wolf gets wheeled around like a wheelbarrow with his head rotating like a squeaky wheel. This made me laugh. The rest, not so much.

Like all of these early cartoons they are filled with sex crazed characters who just harass their love interest like a sex pest. But they also contain messages about women playing “hard to get” and “no really means yes” which don’t sit well with me these days.

Watch it for yourself here.

Next week we look at a “how it should have ended” version of our tale.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

What We Ate Wednesday--Nacho Bowl

Hello lovelies! It's a very belated What We Ate Wednesday. I seem to have gotten my days mixed up. Here I was thinking it was Tuesday and then Spiderman said " It's Wednesday." And I was all like "Ahhhhhhhhhhh!"

Literally. Like that. Running in a circle. Flapping my hands and shouting "Ahhhhhhh!"

Then I calmed down and got stuck into writing a post.

Better late than never, eh?

We just got season 3 and 4 of Inside Number 9 on DVD (squee!) and we were looking forward to watching a marathon of interesting episodes, all with shocking twist endings that make you go "What????" so I had planned a dinner that was quick and easy.

Nacho Bowl.

It's practically not a recipe.

But really delicious and done in about 20 minutes.

Let's get stuck in so I can watch more episodes.

Nacho Bowl
1 onion, diced
a few cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 jar salsa
1 cup frozen or tinned corn
1-2 tsp chilli powder (optional)

a bag of tortilla chips

some vegan sour cream of plain yogurt if you happen to have it.

Quick and Dirty Cheese sauce based on THIS RECIPE
I use rice flour instead of all purpose flour and add 1/4 tsp each paprika and turmeric for colour. But the rest is exactly as she does it in that recipe in the link above.

Basically, cook the onion and garlic in a little oil or water. Add everything else and simmer while you make the cheese sauce.
Throw some tortilla chips in a bowl, top with the beans and salsa mix, drizzle with cheese sauce and top with a blop of sour cream or yogurt if you have it. Eat. Watch episodes of a cool show. Repeat.

I have posted other recipes that are similar to this...variations on this theme...but this is the most streamlined quick and dirty way to make it.

Now excuse me...I have some more shocking I-didn't-see-that-coming-ending episodes to watch.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Fairy Tale Friday--Red Hot Riding Hood (Tex Avery, 1943)

Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I’ll begin.
 Image result for red hot riding hood cartoon
This week we look at a cartoon from 1943 entitled Red Hot Red Riding Hood. It was directed by Tex Avery. In 1994 it was voted #7 of The 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field, making it the highest ranked MGM cartoon on the list.

The story begins in the traditional manner with a young, innocent girl skipping through the woods, on her way to her frail Granny’s house while being pursued by a wolf. Suddenly the wolf breaks the forth wall and explains to the director that he doesn’t want to to tell the same boring tale again. The little girl and the granny concur and all refuse to act it out unless it can be told in a new, more interesting way.

 The story begins again with the setting being upgraded from a forest to downtown Hollywood. We see the wolf (now representing more of a male sexual predator) cruising up and down the street in his limo cat-calling at women he passes. Grandma’s house is no longer a cottage, but a penthouse apartment complete with neon sign. Little Red has made the biggest change of all from small child in bloomers to sex goddess with the stage name Red Hot Riding Hood who sings at nightclub. This character is clearly the precursor to the curvaceous Jessica Rabbit.

The wolf follows Red to the club where she is performing, and goes mad with desire. He whistles and pants, pounds the table and howls and goes completely stiff all over with a *BOING* sound. It is said that the original animation was much more graphic. Tex Avery said censors made him edit out a shot where the wolf actually became physically aroused with lust. The uncut version was shown overseas to military officers who apparently went wild over it.  

At the end of her set, he forcibly grabs her and brings her to his table and tries to woo her. She claims she is “terribly shy” and insists she is not interested.  She excuses herself by saying she is going to her Grandma’s Place and points to the skyscraper. The wolf, off like a shot, manages to get there first. (His limo drives faster than her taxi.)  It turns out that Red's grandma is an oversexed man chaser who likes a “bit of rough.” Upon seeing him, she whistles and says, "At last, a wolf! Yahoo!"

The Wolf tries to escape, but Grandma blocks the exit and asks him, "What's your hurry, hairy?" She locks the door, drops the key down the front of her evening gown, and poses provocatively for him. She chases him around the room, oblivious to his terror. Moments before the wolf was predator and now he is the prey. He does not like it when the tables are turned. The wolf eventually escapes by leaping out a window and crashing painfully on the pavement below. He hobbles back to the nightclub, bruised and bandaged vowing, "I'm through with women. Why, I'll kill myself before I'd even look at another babe." Immediately Red Hot Riding Hood takes the stage and begins to sing. The Wolf pulls out two handguns and commits suicide, but his ghost rises from his dead body and whistles and howls at Red as he did earlier.

The original ending was that the Wolf and Grandma were forced to be wed in a “Shotgun Wedding” with a caricature of Tex Avery as the justice of the peace. There would then be a scene of hybrid human/wolf children running around. This ending was blocked by the censors for implied bestiality and making light of marriage. Apparently sexual harassment was acceptable and not a cause for concern.

This film is interesting because it portrays multiple stereotypes such as the man who can’t control his lust and the sex starved older woman. Interestingly, despite being very curvy with a deep, smoky singing voice (but a baby speaking one) the least sexual character is Red Hot Riding Hood.

This film raises all sorts of issues, but I can’t decide if showing a woman who feels sexual desire is a good thing or not. It is a pretty unusual idea for the 1940’s that women have desires too, it is just a shame that they have to show it in such an exaggerated way. But either way, the sexual harassment and lack of consent worry me on both sides. No one should have to be pursued without their consent. I had hoped that the wolf would learn a lesson about what it feels like to be considered just an object. But alas, no.

Watch it for yourself;

Stay tuned next week or another Tex Avery take on this classic tale.