Wednesday, 31 May 2017

What We Ate Wednesday--Southern Pasta Salad

Hello lovelies! As it is getting towards summer and the weather is warming up, I thought I'd post an easy stove-top/no oven meal for all my friends in the Southern states who are already hot. We had a few days of high temps where all you wanted to do was wilt, but now it is warm here in the day and  cool in the evening. No doubt this meal will appear loads of times on our summer rotation when the temperatures rise as we have no air conditioning.

I posted this recipe back in 2013, but have tweaked it a bit and made it even better value for money.

The original recipe was a way to use up smoked turkey meat after a holiday, but since we don't eat our friends (at holidays or otherwise) I swapped the turkey out for some smoked tofu. As I said last week, smoked tofu is now out of budget for us, so I substitute mushrooms for "meatiness" and liquid smoke for well...smokiness (duh!) and it is just as good.

Southern Pasta Salad

1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes (not the oil packed kind)

1 ½ cups dry pasta of your choice (we use GF pasta made from corn and rice)

1.5-2 cups black eyed peas

6-7 button mushroom, diced small

½ cup frozen peas

1 white onion, thinly sliced into rings

1 red pepper, cut into strips

Mix together:
¼ cup tomato soaking water

1 TB tamari or soy sauce

2 TB apple cider vinegar

juice of one lime (1.5-2 TB of the bottled stuff)

1 tsp molasses (we prefer blackstrap as it is higher in iron)

½ tsp marmite (if you can get it--it just adds a savoury beefy quality)

½ tsp ground cumin

1 ½ tsp chilli powder

Pinch hot chilli flakes

1 tsp sriracha (or hot sauce of choice)

1 tsp liquid smoke

Agave or maple syrup to taste (I just squirt and taste until the balance of sweet and spicy and tangy is spot on)*these days both agave and maple syrup are out of price range, so i just use Lyle's Golden Syrup.*
2 tsp starch like cornflour (cornstarch to my American peeps) or arrowroot or tapioca *Whisk it in to the cold sauce at the end before you add it to the hot pot to avoid lumps.*

What to do:

1.Rehydrate the sun dried tomatoes in hot water-saving the soaking water for the sauce.

2. Start boiling water for pasta while you cook the onion and pepper in a little oil in another, larger pan.

3. Add pasta to boiling water. Add squeezed out sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms and black eyed peas to onion and pepper mixture in other pot.

4. When the pasta is nearly finished, add the frozen peas to the boiling water for the last few minutes.

5. Drain the pasta/peas and add to the black eyed pea mixture.

6. Pour over dressing and heat until the sauce thickens

 This is delicious hot but equally good cold on scorching days like today. It makes quite a bit so plan for cool leftovers the next day.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Murder Ballad Monday-- The Little Bone (Switzerland)

Welcome to part 6 of Murder Story Monday. This week I am looking at another version of The Singing Bone from Switzerland. This is an unusual version in that the bone does not speak/sing, but bleeds in order to reveal the guilty party. Apparently, it was widely believed in medieval Europe that a murdered corpse (or any of its parts) would bleed in the presence of the murderer.

We see this idea in William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of King Richard III, act 1, scene 2 where Lady Anne is speaking to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who has murdered her husband King Henry VI .

O, gentlemen, see, see! dead Henry's wounds
Open their congeal'd mouths and bleed afresh.
Blush, blush, thou lump of foul deformity;
For 'tis thy presence that exhales this blood
From cold and empty veins, where no blood swells;
Thy deed, inhuman and unnatural,
Provokes this deluge most unnatural.

I could not find a version that featured a bleeding bone in any of my fairy tale collections, so this story is unique to me. If anyone else knows of a fairy tale/folk tale that features a bleeding bone, please let me know. 

This story  was also collected and retold by Swiss folklorist Otto Sutermeister in his 1873 book Kinder- und Hausmärchen aus der Schweiz. (Children and Domestic Fairy Tales from Switzerland)

This version came from here.
                                 Image result for tibia fibula graphic fairy

The Little Bone
Many years ago, a wicked man lived in a pasture hut. Like other herdsmen, he spent the summer there with his cattle. He was quick tempered and arrogant. He had a poor servant boy, whom he tormented in every possible way with hard work, rough words, and cruel blows. One day he gave the boy a task to do which beyond his strength. He was then overcome by such anger that he grabbed the boy and thrust his head into a a kettle of milk that was being boiled in order to separate it. Thus the boy died, and the herdsman threw his body into a mountain creek. Back at home he said, "The stupid boy must have been carried away by a rockslide. He went off to milk the goats, but never came back."

Many years passed, and the boys' bones hung unavenged on a cliffy bank of the mountain creek. From time to time a particularly strong rush of water would pick up one of the little bones, play with it for a while, and then leave it lying on a remote bank.

Once it happened that there was a fair in the valley. Everyone was making merry. The wicked herdsman, drugged by the wine, music, and dance, had lost all humility and good sense, and was reveling in his sinfulness. It was too hot for him inside, so he went out to the creek, which, swollen by a heavy, warm rain, was rushing by much stronger than usual. He kneeled down and took off his hat to scoop up some water. He drank the water that had run into his hat, but at the bottom he found a small white bone. He stuck it onto his hat and returned to the hall.

Suddenly the little bone began to bleed; and now everyone knew what had happened to the boy. The festivities were quickly brought to a close, and the evildoer was taken forthwith to the place of execution.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

What We Ate Wednesday--Caldo Verde

Hello lovelies!Summer is definitely approaching. We had a glorious day hiking in the hot sun in Pembrokeshire on Sunday (as my slightly sunburned nose will attest the sun was out in full force), but evenings are still on the cool side here. I am trying squeeze in as much soup as I can before it gets too hot to enjoy it. For my American peeps, it may be too hot for soup for you now (although you have the benefit of air-con, so maybe you can still soup things up a bit.)

I loves me some soup. Particularly this soup with its mix of garlicky broth, potatoes and kale. In fact, some people call it Portuguese Potato and Kale Soup, but I prefer Caldo Verde as it makes me sound more sophisticated.

One of my favourite bands Jonny and the Baptists even have a song about soup. This is from the Soup (reprise):
A melting pot that's good for the soul.
Multiculturalism in a bowl.
You don't need to chew unless you have a roll.
Soup is all you need!

That pretty much sums up my feelings about this soup. 

I have a recipe for Caldo Verde in no less than three cookbooks, but this is the one I come back to time and time again. It is adapted my well thumbed copy of Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson. Affectionately known as Cheap-Ass Vegan in our house. Her recipe calls for half a cup "smoky tempeh bits" (a recipe from earlier in her cookbook.) For years, instead of faffing about making smoky tempeh bits to put in this soup, we  just used half a packet of smoked tofu and called it a day.  These days smoked tofu is out of our budget (nearly £4 a packet) so i just add mushrooms for "meatiness"and some liquid smoke for that smoky yum factor. It is just as good as my original substitution, but more budget friendly.

I like to serve this with cornbread. As Chris Rock says: Cornbread. Ain't nothing wrong with that.

Caldo Verde

You need:
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, diced 
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1-2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp mixed herbs
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1.5 lbs russet potatoes, cut into cubes
7 and 1/4 cups strong vegetable broth (I use 6 tsp homemade broth powder, 1 tsp marmite and a good splash tamari soy sauce)
1.5 cups cooked white beans (like navy or haricot), drained and rinsed
4-6 cups chopped kale. (for us, 100g--half a bag)
2 tsp liquid smoke

If use use premade stock then just bung it in at the right time. If you are like me and use a powder, add the powder as you add the herbs and stir to coat. Then add your boiling water, marmite and a splash of tamari soy sauce. 

To make it:
1. In a really large pot, saute your onion in a splash of oil or 1/4 cup water until softening. Add the garlic and cook about a minute longer. 
2. Add in your herbs and salt (and powder if you make yours like I do.)  Stir to coat then add your carrots,mushrooms, potatoes and 7 and 1/4 cups boiling water (or stock if yours is premade) and bring to the boil. Boil then simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes are done.
3. Add in the beans and the kale and raise the heat on the soup a bit until the kale is softened and wilted to your liking. 
4. Add in your liquid smoke. 

This makes a huge amount and we eat it over two days. Both times with cornbread. It makes about six servings. 

It is really delicious and definitely keeps the vampires at bay. It is also cheap as potatoes and kale are fairly inexpensive. Don't go for the fancy Tuscan or Dinosaur kale...just the cheap, hearty curly kale. 

And to finish off--more wisdom from Jonny and the Baptists:

It's a meal you drink, a drink you eat.
A hearty, sloppy soupy treat.
You don't need teeth, you don't need friends.
Soup is all you need! 

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Murder Ballad Monday--The Dead Girl's Bone (Switzerland)

Hello and welcome to Murder Story Monday. For the next two weeks I will be looking at versions of the Singing Bone from Switzerland that were collected and retold by Swiss folklorist Otto Sutermeister in his 1873 book Kinder- und Hausmärchen aus der Schweiz. (Children and Domestic Fairy Tales from Switzerland)

This version has some similarities to the ballad The Little Maple Tree and the fairy tale The Griffin from Italy as well as the German version of The Singing Bone collected by the Brothers Grimm where siblings set out to complete a task, one is successful and then is killed and the other attempts to take the credit. 

In this variation, the murdered girl's bone is turned into a flute by a shepherd boy. 
This version came from here.

Image result for singing bone illustration
The Dead Girl's Bone
Once there was a king who died. His wife and two children, a girl and a boy, were still alive. Then one day they asked the mother which of them should someday become king. She said to them, "Dear children, go out into the woods together and look for a certain flower. The first one of you to find it will someday become king."

So the two set forth together, and while searching in the woods they separated, and the girl was the first one to find the flower. She thought she would wait for her brother, so she put the flower in her hand, closed it in God's name, and lay down in the shade.

Then the boy came to her. He had not found the flower, but when he saw it in his sister's hand, a terrible thought came to him: "I will murder my sister, take the flower home with me, and then I will become king."

That is what he thought, and that is what he did. He killed her and buried her in the woods, covering with earth so that no one would know what had happened.

Many years later a shepherd boy who was there tending his sheep found one of the girl's bones lying on the ground. He made a few holes in it like a flute, and blew into it. Then the bone began to sing ever so sadly and told the entire story how the girl had been killed by her brother. To hear the song would bring tears to your eyes.

One day a knight came by where the boy was playing the flute. He bought the flute and played it wherever he went in the land. Finally the old queen heard the knight and became very sad. She had her son removed from the throne, and she mourned for the rest of her life.

That's it for this week's Murder Story Monday. Stay tuned next week where I examine another version from Switzerland entitled The Little Bone.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

What We Ate Wednesday-Balsamic Potatoes, Apple and Kale

Hello lovelies! This week is not so much a recipe, but a "clean out the larder" sort of meal. However, this does not mean that it is not crazy delicious (because it is) it just means there aren't a great deal of measurements.

You see, one week sweet potatoes had been on sale so we bought some. The next week rolled around and when the new sale began, white potatoes were on sale. So this recipe uses the end of the sweet potatoes and the start of the white potatoes. Ya dig?

I also had 100g (about 4 cups) of curly kale left that wasn't designated to go in another recipe, so I invented this meal to use up what we had.

Isn't that gorgeous? It made enough for 2 bowls, but if you are feeling a crowd I would suggest adding a tin of chickpeas and serving it over rice to stretch it a bit more.

Balsamic Potatoes, Apple and Kale
Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Normally I roast at 200C/400F but you need a slightly lower temperature and longer cooking time so the apples don't turn to mush.

In your biggest roasting pan put all your chopped veg.
I used:
2 small to medium sweet potatoes (mine were about the size of a man's "naughty bits" if you know what I mean)
1 red onion, chopped
half a red pepper, chopped
2 gala apples,  cored and chopped
about 6 small potatoes, chopped (mine ranged between the size of a walnut to an egg)

So by now my pan was full, so I added:
1.5 TB tamari (or soy sauce)
3 TB balsamic vinegar
lots of shakes of dried rosemary
pinch of salt and pepper

Roast for 20 minutes, stir and roast for 20 more minutes.

Right before the veg are done then work on the kale. You need about 100g (4 cups or thereabouts). Make sure your kale is de-stemmed and torn into bite size pieces. Heat your biggest pot and add the kale and cook it with a splash of water until it turns bright green and reduces slightly. Then add:

a good "glug" of tamari or soy sauce
a good "drizzle" of toasted sesame oil
A good squeeze (2 times around the pot) of golden syrup or agave or maple syrup. If you don't have a squeezy bottle, then just drizzle 2 times round the pot from a spoon.

Stir to coat the kale. This makes The. Best. Kale. Ever. and is our favourite way to eat it. Then mix all the roasted veg with the kale and serve. As I said, you could add some chickpeas and rice to make this go further.

Definitely try this at home.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Murder Ballad Monday--The Griffin (Italy)

Hello and welcome to part four of Murder Story Monday. Today I will be looking at a version of The Singing Bones from Italy. 

This version bears some resemblance to other tales such as the Grimm's versions of The Griffin/Three Golden Hairs from the Devil in that someone is on a quest to steal the golden feather (or hair) in order to gain something important or heal someone. 

Jim Henson's The Storyteller does a version of this quest story called The Luck Child that features the golden feather of the griffin.

The griffin feather/quest story is expanded in this version. Three sons are sent on a quest to find the griffin's golden feather in order to save their father's sight.  When the youngest brother finds the golden feather, his brothers kill him and take the glory for themselves. As in Child ballad 10 and ATU 780, the bones of the wronged person sing/play music. 

Today's story is entitled The Griffin from Italian Popular Tales by Thomas Frederick Crane.
This version comes from here.

                     Image result for griffin  fairy tale

The Griffin
There was once a king who had three sons. His eyes were diseased, and he called in a physician who said that to cure them he needed a feather of the griffin. Then the kind said to his sons, "He who finds this feather for me shall have my crown."

The sons set out in search of it.

The youngest met an old man, who asked him what he was doing. He replied, "Papa is ill. To cure him a feather of the griffin in necessary. And papa has said that whoever finds the feather shall have his crown."

The old man said, "Well, here is some corn. When you reach a certain place, put it in your hat. The griffin will come and eat it. Seize him, pull out a feather, and carry it to papa."

The youth did so, and for fear that someone should steal it from him, he put it into his shoe, and started all joyful to carry it to his father. On his way he met his brothers, who asked him if he had found the feather. He said, "No," but his brothers did not believe him, and wanted to search him. They looked everywhere, but did not find it. Finally they looked in his shoe and got it. Then they killed the youngest brother and buried him, and took the feather to their father, saying that they had found it. The king healed his eyes with it.

A shepherd one day, while feeding his sheep, saw that his dog was always digging in the same place, and went to see what it was, and found a bone. He put it into his mouth, and saw that it sounded and said, "Shepherd, keep me in your mouth, hold me tight, and do not let me go! For a feather of the griffin, my brother has played the traitor, my brother has played the traitor."

One day the shepherd, with his whistle in his mouth, was passing by the king's palace, and the king heard him, and called him to see what it was. the shepherd told him the story, and how he had found it. The king put it to his mouth, and the whistle said, "Papa! Papa! Keep me in your mouth, hold me tight, and do not let me go. For a feather of the griffin, my brother has played the traitor, my brother has played the traitor."

Then the king put it in the mouth of the brother who had killed the youngest, and the whistle said, "Brother! Brother! Keep me in you mouth, hold me fast, and do not let me go. For a feather of the griffin, you have played the traitor, you have played the traitor."

Then the king understood the story and had his two sons put to death. And thus they killed their brother and afterwards were killed themselves.

Stay tuned next week for a version of the Singing Bone from Switzerland.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

What We Ate Wednesday--Hawaiian Cowboy Beans with Chutney Mushrooms

Hello lovelies! Sweet potatoes were on sale this week so there were several sweet potato dishes on the menu. I had one good sized one left and was deciding what to do with it so I went to recipe index (yes I have a recipe index, organised by major ingredients) and saw this recipe. We haven't had it in ages and so I was glad to have it again because it is delicious and uses many things that I always have on hand like curry paste and mango chutney.

It would be a great recipe for "jacket potatoes" if you cooked the sweet potatoes whole and in their skins, but I only had one tatws so I cubed it and roasted it that way.

It would also undoubtedly taste *amazing* with fresh pineapple, but my budget doesn't extend to that so I used tinned pineapple and you know what? It was FINE.

Now, I will be the first to admit that this is probably extremely inauthentic. Just because you add pineapple to something does NOT automatically make it Hawaiian. But that is what I call these, so that is what they will be. Call them whatever you like, just make them as they are a delicious meal using a cheap tin of baked beans.

If I was baking the potatoes in their jackets, I would put the pineapple in with the baked beans, but as I had cubed the sweet potato I just roasted the pineapple in the oven. I might go back to putting it with the beans next time.

Hawaiian Cowboy Beans with Chutney Mushrooms
Preheat your oven to 200C/400F.
If you are baking potatoes in their jackets they will need to bake longer so allow extra time for that. Here is how to do it with cubed sweet potato.

For the oven:
1 large or 2 smaller sweet potatoes, cubed
half a pepper, diced (red would have looked nicer, but all i had was yellow)
Tin of pineapple in juice not syrup (mine was in rings, so I drained it --save the juice--and chopped the rings)
1 TB oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Coat everything in oil and roast for 15 minutes, stir, roast 15 more. 


For the beans:
note about the beans: if you are British and using those flavourless red sauce beans, then add a big ole squidge BBQ sauce and 1 TB molasses. If you are using American beans with a decent sauce, then just use the beans)
1 white onion, sliced into thin rainbows
1 TB chopped or grated ginger root
1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 tin baked beans
2 TB pineapple juice (from the tin)
1. cook the onion in a splash of oil until softening and starting to brown then add the ginger and the red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant.
2. Add the beans (and the BBQ sauce and molasses if using) and the pineapple juice and simmer until the sweet potatoes are done. 

In another smaller pan, cook 8-10 sliced button mushrooms. While they are cooking make the sauce.

The sauce:
1 heaping tsp curry paste (we like Balti)
1 heaping TB mango chutney 
1-2 TB water or pineapple juice,  to thin
When the mushrooms are to your liking, then add the sauce and heat until the sauce bubbles. 

Serve the Hawaiian Beans and the Chutney Mushrooms over your Roasted Sweet Potato, Pepper and Pineapple.

You can just drink any remaining pineapple juice or if you are DIY inclined, you can save back a a few TB of the pineapple juice and mix with some bicarbonate of soda and make a nice alpha hydroxy acid scrub and exfoliate your face. I am sure that fresh pineapple would be even more amazing, but my skin looked brighter and felt softer afterwards, so tinned works too. 


Sunday, 7 May 2017

Murder Ballad Monday--Under the Green Old Oak-Tree (Antigua)

Hello and welcome to Murder Story Monday as I follow on from my research about Child Ballad 10 (The Twa Sisters) and explore the prose versions of bones that sing or tell of their fate to extract their revenge.

This week a tale in dialect from Antigua entitled  Under the Green Oak Tree. 
It was collected by  John H. Johnson in "Folk-Lore from Antigua, British West Indies,"  in The Journal of American Folk-Lore, vol. 34 (1921), Johnson's source was George W. Edwards, 50 years old, a native of Greenbay, Antigua.

This one bears some resemblance to the Hungarian version of Child ballad 10 entitled The Little Maple Tree that I discussed here in that the body of the girl was hidden in a tree and a bone was made into a musical instrument. The motif of the body parts being made into an instrument (in Child Ballad 10 most often a harp or fiddle, but in ATU 780 it is often a flute) is a common one in both song and story. 

This version comes from here
                                   Image result for the  singing bones
Under the Green Old Oak-Tree

Dis a nice little story. Der woman had two chil'ren. One was a boy, an' der oder was a girl. De fader a dese chil'ren die. Moder decide to marry again. She marry to anoder man. Each day dese chil'ren did go to de mountain to get flowers. Dey went on dis day. Girl had a better bucket den what de broder got. Dey comin' wid de flowers.

On his way home, de boy stop wid de gal. He t'inkin' some evil plan. Want dis bucket which was his sister. She would not consent to gi' him dis bucket. He t'ink it best to kill der sister. He kill de sister. He kill dis girl near to a big oak-tree. An' he hide her dere.

After he kill her, he go home. Can't give no account a he sister. Dey all went to search for de girl, but none can find her.

Der broder stay home. Month gone. Shepherd-boy dat is comin' down de mountain meet a big bone like a flute. He pick dis bone under dat same tree. He took up de bone an' play. Comin' home wid de flock, he play on de bone. It play a sweet tune:

My broder has killed me in de woods, an' den he buryth me.
My broder has killed me in de woods, an' den he buryth me
Under de green ol' oak-tree, an' den he buryth me.

Dat's all it could play. It play sweet, you know. Comin' home, all dat hear dis tune beg de boy for a play on it. He give dem a play. Now he way down de mountain. Mos' to where de moder is livin'. He meet de moder. She ask him for a play. He give her a play. As quick as she play, t'ing say:

My dear moder, my dear moder, it my dead bone you play.
My dear moder, my dear moder, it my dead bone you play.

She drop an' faint, but never die. All de people was lookin' for de girl. Dis broder meet de boy. He ask him for a play. Take de bone an' start. T'ing say:

My broder, it is you dat has killed me.
My broder, it is you dat has killed me.

An' dere he faints an' dies. Dat is de end a da green ol' oak-tree.

Stay tuned next week for a version of The Singing Bones from Italy. 

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

What We Ate Wednesday--Saucy Mushrooms and Kale with Roasted Sweet Vegetables

Hello Lovelies! Last week I talked about what I made with the 19p carrots and parsnips I got at Lidl on their Easter holiday sale. Last week I made savoury lentils and roasted sweet vegetables, but this week it's Saucy Mushrooms and Kale with Roasted Sweet Vegetables. The veg stays the same (because why mess with perfection?) but the main bit changes. I use mushrooms here as they are dead cheap and are a good source of, Folate, Iron, Zinc, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Potassium, Copper and Selenium just to name a few. Plus they are a wicked source of Vitamin D. But, if you are of the allergic persuasion like my friend Michelle, then you can substitute chickpeas for the mushrooms.

Saucy Mushrooms and Kale with Roasted Sweet Vegetables
Note: this sauce is based on one from Dreena Burton's cookbook Plant Powered Families. She uses it as a coating for making kale chips, but i don't have a dehydrator or the patience to do it in the oven, so we just use it as a sauce.

The sauce:
6 TB Nutritional yeast flakes
1 TB tahini
1 TB lemon juice
2 tsp tamari of soy sauce
1 tsp liquid sweetener (like agave, maple syrup or golden syrup)
1/4 tsp (smoked) sea salt
2 TB water to thin

To make the sweet vegetables;
1.Heat your oven to 220C/425F and preheat your pan. 
Slice your parsnips and carrots into baton shapes and place them in a large bowl. 
3. Then add 1 Tablespoon of oil, salt and pepper to taste.
4. When the oven is hot, remove the pan and pour pour veg into the hot pan (hear that sizzle!) and roast in a hot oven until brown and caramelised (30 minutes stirring half way) and then drizzle on a tablespoon of maple syrup or other liquid sweetener and cook for 2 minutes longer. Don’t overcrowd the pan or they’ll steam and not brown. I use 2-3 parsnips and 2 carrots. 

Meanwhile, do the rest. You need:
1 onion, diced
half a pepper, diced
12 button mushrooms, diced
2-3 cloves of crushed garlic
100g curly kale (4 cups or thereabouts we use half of a 200g bag), destemmed and torn into bits
1. Cook the onion and garlic in a splash of oil.
2. Add the mushrooms and pepper and cook until the mushrooms release their water.
3. Add the kale and cook until reduced and bright green (add a splash of water if needed) and then add the sauce and stir to coat.
4. When the sauce is hot,serve over brown rice with the roasted sweet vegetables.

It is a good combination of sweet and savoury. It is certainly a way to make kale more appealing for those who might be reluctant to try the leafy green stuff. I am sure this would have won me over as a child and I was a pretty hardcore veggie hater.

Which is only funny now as I am a veggie lovin', tree huggin' activist.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Murder Ballad Monday--The Singing Bones (French Louisiana)

Hello and welcome to the next part of Murder Story Monday. Last week I introduced the idea of the ATU classification system for folk tales and the first prose version of The Singing Bones that follows the same theme as Child ballad 10, The Twa Sisters.

This week our version of the story hails from my homeland. Not just America, but specifically Louisiana. This version was collected by Alcée Fortier in the book Louisiana Folk-Tales in French Dialect and English Translation  in 1895,  Fortier's source for the tale was "an old negress, 77 Esplanade Avenue [New Orleans]."

This version bears more than a passing resemblance to the Grimm's fairy tale The Juniper Tree. 
In that tale, the stepmother kills her stepson and feeds the boy to his father in the form of a stew. Little Sister Marlene saw the fate of her brother and refused to eat the stew, but instead carried the bones and buried them beneath the Juniper tree. The boy was reborn in the form of bird who sang a pretty song which said:

My mother, she killed me,
My father, he ate me,
My sister Marlene,
Gathered all my bones,
Tied them in a silken scarf,
Laid them beneath the juniper tree,
Tweet, tweet, what a beautiful bird am I.

The bird sang his song to the goldsmith, the shoemaker and the miller who gave him a gold chain, a pair of red shoes and a millstone. He gave the gold chain the the father, the red shoes to his sister and dropped the millstone on his wicked stepmother. (I always loved this tale, but struggled to believe that a tiny bird could carry a millstone round his neck like a collar. But I suppose he was an enchanted bird.)

If you'd like to read a version of the Juniper Tree then please go here.

Here is this week's version of the Singing Bones.

                              Image result for bones pen and ink hand graphics fairy

This version comes from here.

The Singing Bones
French Louisiana

Once upon a time there lived a man and a woman who had twenty-five children. They were very poor. The man was good, the woman was bad. Every day when the husband returned from his work the wife served his dinner, but always meat without bones.

"How is it that this meat has no bones?"
"Because bones are heavy, and meat is cheaper without bones. They give us more for the money."
The husband ate, and said nothing.
"How is it you don't eat meat?"
"You forget that I have no teeth. How do you expect me to eat meat without teeth?"
"That is true," said the husband, and he said nothing more, because he was afraid to grieve his wife, who was as wicked as she was ugly.

When one has twenty-five children one cannot think of them all the time, and one does not see if one or two are missing. One day, after his dinner, the husband asked for his children. When they were by him he counted them, and found only fifteen. He asked his wife where were the ten others. She answered that they were at their grandmother's, and every day she would send one more for them to get a change of air. That was true, every day there was one that was missing.
One day the husband was at the threshold of his house, in front of a large stone which was there. He was thinking of his children, and he wanted to go and get them at their grandmother's, when he heard voices that were saying:

Our mother killed us,
Our father ate us.
We are not in a coffin,
We are not in the cemetery.

At first he did not understand what that meant, but he raised the stone and saw a great quantity of bones, which began to sing again. He then understood that it was the bones of his children, whom his wife had killed, and whom he had eaten. Then he was so angry that he killed his wife, buried his children's bones in the cemetery, and stayed alone at his house.
From that time he never ate meat, because he believed it would always be his children that he would eat. 

That's all for this weeks Murder Story Monday. Stay tuned next week for a version of The Singing Bones from Antigua.