Friday, 29 June 2018

My new obsession--Emily Portman

Image result for emily portman

I am so enamoured with Emily Portman. 

She has a master's degree in folk music  She has a voice like an angel under water. A strange and haunting voice, sometimes harsh and discordant, sometimes melodic and ethereal. She sings about the darkest fairy tales, murder ballads and mythology.

Like me, many of her ideas come to her in the Dreamtime.

I want to BE her.

I love her the way that I love Kate Bush and Loreena McKennitt for their unusual voices and storytelling. She is like the musical version of a Pre-Raphaelite painting. Literary subject matter, exquisite attention to detail.

I first discovered her when I was writing my Murder Ballad Monday series where I was researching every different version I could find of Child Ballad 10 (The Twa Sisters.) She does a haunting version of this song which you can read about or listen to {HERE}

I do not know why I never investigated her other songs until now. But once I heard them, there was no going back. I found her BANDCAMP PAGE where you could digitally download her albums, but i was hoping for a proper CD with beautiful artwork on the cover and liner notes to answer my questions.

Luckily I found her HOME PAGE and she was having a sale on her CDs. You could get three of them

The Glamoury

all for £20 plus postage. Plus she said she would autograph them! I realise that CDs are is in and artwork and liner notes are out. So i was extremely thankful that she was selling them off so i could get a piece of beauty as well as the music.

If you like these songs, please do go to one of her pages and buy them.

I just want to share with you my favourite songs from The Glamoury. I have not had the chance to listen to the other CDs yet. However, liner notes tell me that the first song on Hatchling is a lullaby from Leda (who was raped by Zeus in the form of a swan) to her hatchlings. The poem LEDA AND THE SWAN by Yeats has long been a favourite. I can't wait to listen to it properly.  

Song one:
Tongue Tied. This a version of the fairy tale The Seven Ravens (similar version-- The Seven Swans) Basically, a mother wishes for a daughter and curses her seven sons who who are turned into ravens. The only way for them to be freed from their enchantment is for the sister to be silent for seven years as she weaves and stitches them seven shirts made from sharp thistles (some versions say stinging nettles). In most versions she marries and has children and her mother in law, fearing she is a witch, steals the babies and accuses her of cannibalism.  She cannot speak to defend herself or else her brothers will be ravens forever. At the moment of her execution, the seven years are up and she cries out and gives the shirts to the ravens who are transformed and plead her case. Sadly, she wasn't able to finish the shirts as she was about to be burned at the stake and so her youngest brother retains one raven's wing.

Listen to it here (helpful lyrics included.)
Song two:
Stick Stock. A favourite childhood tale of mine full of murder, cannibalism, reincarnation and revenge. The Juniper Tree has a stepmother murdering her stepchild (in this case a daughter in a sort of "jealous of her beauty in Snow White sort of way", but i have also seen it where the brother is murdered.)  The mother cooks the child and feeds it to the unwitting father, but the brother who knows what happened will not eat. He gathers her bones (sometimes tying them in a silk handkerchief) and buries them under the juniper tree. The spirit of the murdered child is reborn into a songbird who sings a refrain that says:

 My Stepmother slew me 
My dear Father ate me 
Little brother whom I love 
Sits below, I sing above

In many versions the bird sings the song around town exchanging the tune for gifts for the family, such as a pair of boots for the father, a toy from the brother and a millstone for the stepmother. As a child i spent hours trying to picture how a tiny songbird carried any of these things but particularly a millstone. The gifts are given and the stepmother is crushed under the weight of the millstone and dies. In a few versions (though not this one) the death of the stepmother reverses the death of the child and they are transmogrified from bird form back to human.

This is one of her discordant and angular songs, but i love it.

Listen to it here (helpful lyrics included):
Song 3:
Hide. I was just struck in the solar plexus by this song. I had no idea what it was based on. Since it involves the killing of a horse and using it's skin as well of themes of an abusive spouse my first thought was it was a version of Donkeyskin. But no. This is based on an old  ballad The Wife Wrapped in Wether's Skin. The ballad is about a man who marries above him and his wife refused to do her duty (either in the bedroom or with cooking and cleaning). He cannot beat her because of her high status, but he can beat his animals and so he kills his mare (or sheep or other farmed animal) and covers his wife with the skin and gives her a good hiding. In the traditional ballads, the beating "fixes" her attitude and she behaves. It is a comedy ballad about how to get your wife to stay in line. Emily Portman has turned this into both a feminist and animal right's anthem. The refrain of
Hide Woman Hide/ She won't lay down her pride is extremely powerful and the double meaning of the word hide a really good choice.

Listen to it here:

Song 4:
Grey Stone. A song about a Selkie. In traditional folklore a Selkie is a seal who can take off her skin and become a woman. If her skin is stolen, she will have to remain a human and marry the man who stole the skin and bear his children, though she will forever long for the sea. In this song a daughter reunites her mother with her seal skin .

Listen to it here:
The harmonies in this are exquisite. They vibrate like a harmonium.

I cannot wait to explore these albums further. I suspect they will give me many dreams that will turn into short stories.

Fairy Tale Friday--Kuttel Daddeldu Tells His Children The Fairy Tale of Little Red Cap by Joachim Ringelnatz (1923)

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

Last week we looked at a delightful tale of a grandfather gently messing up the details of a beloved familiar story, but this week we contrast it with an alcoholic father venting his rage and spleen on his children as he haphazardly retells Little Red Riding Hood.

Kuttel Daddeldu Tells His Children The Fairy Tale of Little Red Cap  was written by Joachim Ringelnatz (pen name of the German author and painter Hans Bötticher.)  According to Wikipedia:  In the 1920s and 1930s, he worked as a Kabarettist which is a kind of satirical stand-up comedian. He is best known for his wry poems that use word play and sometimes bordering on nonsense poetry. In 1933 he was banned by the Nazi government as a “degenerate artist.”

This story was first published in Kuttel Daddeldu in 1923. According to English translator Trevor Helminski,  Kuttel Daddeldu is a frequently drunken sailor who shows disdain for authority and colours his German with puns and foreign words and phrases.

Image result for drunken sailor painting
Kuttel Daddeldu Tells His Children The Fairy Tale of Little Red Cap  
So kids if you can shut your traps for just five minutes, then I'll tell you the story of Little Red Cap, if I can still make sense out of it. Old Captain Muckelmann told me this story when I was as little and dumb as you are now. And Captain Muckelmann never lied.

There once was a little girl. She was dubbed Little Red Cap—that means, she was named that because she had a red cap on her head night and day. She was a beautiful girl, as red as blood and as white as snow and as black as ebony .She had such big, round eyes, and from behind her legs were nice and plump and in front—well, in short, she was one hell of beautiful, wonderful, splendid little lass.

And one day her mother sent her through the woods to Grandmother. She was sick, naturally. And the mother gave Little Red Cap a basket to take with her, and it had three bottles of Spanish wine and two bottles of Scotch whiskey and a bottle of Rostock rye and a bottle of Swedish punch and a bottle of schnapps then a few more bottles of beer and cake and some other junk that was supposed to help Grandmother get back her strength.

"Little Red Cap," her mother said on top of that, "do not stray from the path, for there are wild wolves in the woods!"(This whole thing must have taken place near Nikolayevor elsewhere in Siberia.) Little Red Cap promised everything and went off. And the wolf met her in the woods. He asked, "Little Red Cap, where are you headed?" And so she told him everything she knew so far. And he asked, "Whereabouts does your Grandmother live?" And she told it to him quite exactly:"Schwieger Street, thirteen, on the ground floor.” And then the wolf pointed out some juicy raspberries and strawberries to the child and lured her far away from the path, deep into the woods. And while she was busy picking berries the wolf ran full sail ahead to Schwieger Street numero 13 and knocked on the Grandmother's door on the ground floor. The Grandmother was a gap-toothed old hag and very mistrustful. Hence she barked, "Who is this knocking on my little house?" And then the wolf, who was outside, said in a fake voice, "It’s me, Sleeping Beauty!" And then the old woman called, "Come in!" And then the wolf swept into the front room. And then the old woman put on her nightgown and laced up her bonnet and gobbled up the wolf in one whole bite. 

Meanwhile, Little Red Cap had gotten lost in the woods. And as it always is with these dumbass little girls she started bawling at the top of her lungs. And deep in the woods the hunter heard this and the came in a rush. Well—What business is it of ours what these two got up to with each other deep in the woods now that it was completely dark out! Anyway, he saw her to the right path. So, now she ran off to Schwieger Street. And there she saw that her Grandmother had become completely fat and bloated. And Little Red Cap asked, "Grandmother, how come you have such big eyes?" And the Grandmother answered, "So that I can see you better!" And then Little Red Cap asked further, "Grandmother, how come you have such big ears? "And the Grandmother answered, "So that I can hear you better! "And then Little Red Cap asked further, "Grandmother, how come you have such a big mouth? "Now is that any way for a child to talk to a grown-up Grandmother? So then the old woman got hopping mad and couldn't even utter a word. Instead, she gobbled up poor Little Red Cap in one whole bite. And then she snored like a whale. 

And just then the hunter was passing by outside. And he wondered to himself how a whale ended up on Schwieger Street. And then he loaded his musket and drew his long knife from its sheath and stepped into the living room without knocking. And there to his horror he saw not a whale but the bloated Grandmother in bed. And—diavolo carajo! —This will knock you down flat on deck!—It's hard to believe ,but the gluttonous old woman gobbled up the hunter too.—Yeah, you brats are gawking at me with your mouths wide open like there’s something more coming. But clear on out of here now quick as the wind, or else I'll tan your hides. My throat is all dried out from these stinking, dumb stories, which are all just lies anyway. March out of here! Let your father drink one down now, you leftover small fry!

Stay tuned next week as we begin to explore some modern versions of Little Red Riding Hood that hark back to the sexual nature of its origin.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

What We Ate Wednesday--Peanut Butter Cup Bars

Hello lovelies! The heatwave has come upon us and I want to be in and out of the kitchen as quickly as possible.  But I still have a sweet tooth and want a little smackeral of something sweet after our evening meal. But it has to be a no bake sort of affair. Something that is made in the freezer and lives in the fridge. Something quick, but delicious.

Hello Peanut Butter Cups. Or rather Peanut Butter Bars because I don't time to faff about with putting them all in single use paper muffin liners.

Ain't nobody got time for that.

I also can't be bothered to coat them in chocolate all the way, and that''s OK too. These really have more than a passing resemblance to those Reese's Peanut Butter Cups of my childhood without having nineteen ingredients (nineteen ingredients, people!) which include 2 kinds of hydrogenated oil and rather more worrying PGPR. Wikipedia says:

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are made with the controversial ingredient PGPR (Polyglycerol polyricinoleate, E476, a.k.a. Palsgaard 4150), which is used as a replacement for cocoa butter. The FDA has determined it to be "safe for humans as long as you restrict your intake to 7.5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.

Um...that's a big fat NO THANKS from me. 

I adapted the peanut butter layer from this recipe on the blog of BEAMING BAKER.  For the chocolate I literally melted a chocolate bar and poured it on top. Beaning Baker got all fancy with drizzles and sprinkles of chopped nuts. I just did good ole PB with Chocolate on top.

And you know what? It is fine. More than fine. it's like a Reese's Cup but with ingredients you can pronounce. 

Some  ingredient information:
1.I use Meridian brand peanut butter whose ingredients are as follows: PEANUTS. 
2.You could use any form of liquid sweetener like agave or maple syrup, but those are expensive. I used Lyle's Golden Syrup.
3. I got my coconut flour for cheap (£2.99 for 500g!) at GrapeTree.
4. The Nutritional Yeast is totally optional, but i read that it gives it a more "authentic" Reese's Cup taste. 
5. I buy a 39p dairy free 100g chocolate bar with 50% cocoa solids from Lidl. It gives it a more milk chocolate taste without the milk. If you want to use a more expensive posh choc bar, by all means go ahead. If you are desperate to make this and have no vegan chocolate bar just hanging around then melt 1/4 cup coconut oil and stir in 1/4 cup liquid sweetener and 1/4 cup cocoa powder and use that. This supposes you just have these ingredients just hanging around, so if you don't you're out of luck til you go to the shops. 

Peanut Butter Cup Bars
Line an 8 by 8 square pan with parchment paper. Clear some freezer space if you need to. 

In a bowl mix the following:
2/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup liquid sweetener
1/3 cup coconut flour
1-2 TB Nutritional Yeast Flakes (optional) 

Mix until it forms a soft, slightly tacky dough. Press it down with damp fingers until it forms an even layer. Pop into the freezer to harden while you melt your chocolate. 
Image result for lidl chocolate bars fin care

In a double boiler (basically a glass bowl sat atop a pan with an inch or two of simmering water) or the microwave carefully melt 100g of chocolate. This is perfect because most chocolate bars come in this size. If microwaving, check every 30 seconds and stir to prevent scorching.

When melted, use a spatula to spread over the peanut butter layer that you just took out of the freezer. When all the chocolate covers the peanut butter layer, go ahead and cut your dessert into the desired number of pieces. Then pop it back in the freezer to harden up. When the chocolate has hardened it will break apart easily on your cut lines. Put into an airtight container and store in the fridge. 

Most recipes like this says MAKES 16 SQUARES but I cut ours into 8 RECTANGLES because we are greedy vegans. Plus we are honest with ourselves. We know we are greedy. We're not going to pretend to just have one and sheepishly go back for two. We eat a huge-ass piece the first time and are proud of it. 

Then you sneakily lick the bowl and think you've gotten away with it until your dear husband points out that you've got a little something on your face. 


Thursday, 21 June 2018

Fairy Tale Friday--Little Green Riding Hood (1974)

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 humorous versions of Little Red Riding Hood. Today we look at one of my favourites entitled Little Green Riding Hood by Gianni Rodari. 

Gianni Rodari was an Italian writer and journalist whose most famous work was Il romanzo di Cipollino (The Adventures of Little Onion) which was a children’s book about political oppression.

According to Wikipedia:
In a world inhabited by anthropomorphic produce, Cipollino fights the unjust treatment of his fellow vegetable townsfolk by the fruit royalty (Prince Lemon and the overly proud Lord Tomato) in the garden kingdom. The main theme is the struggle of the underclass against the powerful, good versus evil, and the importance of friendship in the face of difficulties.

Rodari was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for children’s literature in 1970.

Little Green Riding Hood is a delightful little tale about a grandfather trying to tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood to his increasingly exasperated grandchild. We get the sense that he is tired of telling the same tale over and over and messes up the details for a bit of fun. It never fails to delight me as this was a game I played with my dear old dad where he repeatedly gave the “wrong” punchline to my jokes which made me squeal with laughter.

Image result for cricket and other friends
This short tale was featured in the very first issue of Cricket magazine (My story The Changeling Child will be featured in the October issue this year!) and was also released on the Cricket audio LP Cricket and Other Friends with the part of the grandfather being played by the delightful Old Cricket (Clifton Fadiman.)

I have found an audio recording of Little Green Riding Hood from Cricket and Other Friends and I would highly recommend listening to it. It is delightful. I have also included the text below if you’d just like to read it but do have a listen.

ONCE UPON A TIME there was a little girl called Little Yellow Riding Hood."
“No! Red Riding Hood!"
“Oh yes, of course, Red Riding Hood. Well, one day her mother called and said:
'Little Green Riding Hood--’"
“Sorry! Red. 'Now, my child, go to Aunt Mary and take her these potatoes.’"
“No! It doesn't go like that! 'Go to Grandma and take her these cakes.’”
“All right. So, the little girl went off and in the wood she met a giraffe."
“What a mess you're making of it! It was a wolf!"
“And the wolf said: 'What's six times eight?’”
“No! No! The wolf asked her where she was going."
“So he did. And little Black Riding Hood replied-"
“Red! Red! Red!!!"
“She replied: 'I'm going to the market to buy some tomatoes."'
“No, she didn't. She said: 'I'm going to my grandma who is sick, but I've lost my way."'
“Of course! And the horse said-"
“What horse? It was a wolf."
“So it was. And this is what it said: 'Take the 75 bus, get out at the main square, turn right, and at the first doorway you'll find three steps. Leave the steps where they are, but pick up the dime  you'll find lying on them, and buy yourself a packet of chewing gum."'
“Grandpa, you're terribly bad at telling stories. You get them all wrong. But all the same, I wouldn't mind some chewing gum."
“All right. Here's your dime." And the old man turned back to his newspaper.

Stay tuned next week for a much less amiable children’s storyteller.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

What We Ate Wednesday--Coconut Lime Sauce Noodle Bowl

Hello lovelies! It is that time of year when you want to eat lighter foods as the thought of standing over your cooker makes you want to cry.

Or maybe that's just me.

We eat lots of noodle bowls this time of year as they come together quickly and taste good cold. The noodles I buy are brown rice noodles from Tesco that come in little nests. You pour boiling water from the kettle over them and 4 minutes later....pasta is done. Just about as long as it takes to stir fry the vegetables.

We do several variations of these with mostly the same vegetables, just a different sauce. And that's absolutely OK.

This one has quickly become a favourite and seems to make it into the rotation more than the others. If you use 2 noodle nests, it makes enough for 4-5 bowls. Perfect for two greedy vegans (with some leftovers.)

Coconut Lime Sauce Noodle Bowl

crushed garlic (we use about 4 cloves)
a TB of peeled and chopped ginger root
100g curly kale, destemmed and torn into bite sized pieces (about 4 cups)
half a pepper, sliced into strips
half a carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 noodle nests
2 TB sesame seeds (for garnish)

165ml coconut milk (I buy these tiny tins of coconut milk that are this size --see picture below--but this is roughly a half a cup plus a few TB coconut milk if you can 't get it in wee tins like me)
3 TB lime juice (from a bottle is fine)
1/2 tsp liquid sweetener (I use Golden Syrup)
1/4 tsp salt
2 TB tamari/soy sauce
1 TB toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp chilli flakes

1. Make your sauce and set aside.
2. Tear up your noodle nests and put them in a small pot and boil your kettle.
3.  In a large pot cook your garlic and ginger in a splash of oil or water until the kettle boils.
4. Pour the boiling water over the noodle nests and set your time for whatever the package directions say--mine say 4 minutes. When done, drain the noodles and set aside.
5. As soon as you add the water to the noodles throw all the ingredients in a large pot and cook until softened. You may need to add a splash of water to help the kale along.
6. When it is ready, add the noodles and the sauce and heat until the sauce is bubbling.
7. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Image result for full moon coconut milk
We have discovered these wee tins of coconut milk that are 4 for £1 at B&M Bargains. They are 165ml and perfect to add to a recipe. No more having to separate the coconut milk, freeze the other half or remember to have a second coconut recipe later in the week.

Stay tuned next week for some more quick and cool summer recipes.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Fairy Tale Friday--Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf by Roald Dahl (1982)

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

Last week we looked a short, funny version of Little Red Riding Hood by James Thurber. I feel sure that today's version by beloved British author Roald Dahl was influenced by Thurber.

Undoubtedly you know Roald Dahl. He is considered one of the best loved modern British children's authors having written such works as The Witches, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,  Fantastic Mr Fox, the BFG and The Twits just to name a few. He is also responsible for his unsettling tales for adults entitled Tales of the Unexpected which were adapted rather badly for the small screen. (They really are crap. Read the stories. They really are genius.)

He was born in Wales to Norwegian immigrants, served in the RAF in WWII and wrote one of the best short stories about his experience as a fighter pilot entitled Beware of the Dog. He wrote two cracking biographies of his life entitled Boy and Going Solo which really are ripping yarns.

This poem comes from his hilarious collection of fractured fairy tales entitled Revolting Rhymes. 

We have this on audio CD, but I have found it on video where someone shows the pictures while the CD plays. It is read by the wonderful actress Prunella Scales (Sybil faulty from Faulty Towers) and  her equally talented husband the actor Timothy West.

It is best known for delighting school children who dissolve into giggles at the way he rhymes the words flickers and knickers. (Knickers being underwear, specifically ladies underwear for my American peeps.)

You can see how he is clearly influenced by Thurber's version.

That's all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a Riding Hood of a different colour.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

What We Ate Wednesday--Spicy Sour Chickpea Chaat

Hello lovelies! I am a sucker for a free magazine. I will read recipes, tips and tricks, product reviews, enter competitions. I like to look at every recipe and see how I can "veganize" it.

Liking to bring home free magazines is slightly at odds with my Zero Waste initiative.  It is one of those things I am try to reconcile.At least  I can cut out interesting letters for craft projects and then recycle it.

Tesco do a decent free magazine and have recently added a Vegan logo to mark out appropriate dishes. There are several in each issue (more every time they publish) and I want to be able to try them and then feedback to the company about the fact that someone likes them and would they print more please.

This recipe caught my eye for it's simplicity (and I have simplified it even further using Mint Sauce as a cheat), colourfulness and looked like the perfect recipe for when the weather gets hot and you can't be arsed to turn on the stove for very long. It also cooks in less than 15 minutes--also perfect for a hot day after work when you are tired.

We've eaten it twice and you can easily throw in some cooked pasta or boiled potatoes to stretch it even further, but it makes a very generous 4 bowls. (5 bowls with added pasta or potatoes)

The recipe called for you to puree a 30g pack of mint and a 30g pack of coriander with a chilli and the juice of a lime. I didn't want to faff about with all that blending (not to mention the non-recyclable plastic bags around the fresh herbs), so i just subbed 3 TB mint sauce from a 55p jar and a TB lime juice from a squeezy bottle. And you know what? It was FINE.

The recipe also called for some pomegranate seeds. The only ones I could find cost £1 for a tiny single use plastic tub. Not doing that. I ended up buying frozen ones where you got 200g for £2. Yes, it still comes in a plastic bag, but I will get about 15 meals out of it. When it runs out I would probably replace it with dried cranberries, but who knows. They do add a pop of juicy sweet/tartness.

The recipe also called for one chopped tomato. One. I could only find anaemic looking ones loose and if I wanted some nice juicy red ones I would have to buy them on a plastic tray wrapped in crinkly plastic, so i just subbed 4 sun dried tomatoes from a jar.

Spicy Sour Chickpea Chaat

200g/1.5 cups frozen sweetcorn, defrosted (you could use a tin of sweetcorn that has been drained, but I always keep frozen on hand for quick meals) 
1 onion, chopped
4 sun dried tomatoes, blotted with paper towels and cut into little bits (or snipped into pieces with the scissors).
Half a pepper, chopped 
Half a cucumber, chopped
½ tsp red chilli flakes
½ tsp garam masala
1 tin Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries
3 TB mint sauce
1 TB lime juice

1. Defrost the corn in boiling water, drain and set aside.
2. Cook the onion in oil or a splash of water until softened.
3. Stir in the sun dried tomatoes and spices and stir to coat.
4. Add the sweetcorn, pepper, cucumber, chickpeas and pomegranate seeds and heat until pomegranate seeds are defrosted (if using cranberries, just take off of heat.)
5. Stir in the mint sauce and the lime juice.

That's literally it. It takes no time at all and you only have to heat it up to cook the onion. Mint Sauce is a Godsend. You can throw it over boiled potatoes or mix it into plain soya yogurt for a mint raita dip. And it's cheap. This Tesco jar cost 55p and makes 2-3 meals.
Tesco Mint Sauce 185G
I just wish it didn't say "delicious with lamb." Grrr...

But anyway, give this a go. It is really fresh tasting and summery.

We need a bit of that here in rainy Wales.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Fairy Tale Friday--The Little Girl and the Wolf by James Thurber (1939)

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

For the past three weeks we have looked at versions of Little Red Riding Hood written in dialect. Now we are going to look at some more humorous versions of our tale.

This week we start with the classic  The Little Girl and the Wolf by James Thurber. Thurber was a cartoonist and one of the most famous humorists of his day. He was also well known for his short stories such as The Catbird Seat, The Night the Bed Fell and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (twice made into films.) His terrific use of satire was highlighted in such works as The Unicorn in the Garden. He was also the author of several wonderful children's books The 13 Clocks and The Wonderful O. 

Interestingly, he was virtually blind in one eye due to a childhood accident where his brother shot him in the eye with an arrow while they were playing William Tell. He also suffered from Charles Bonnet syndrome where a person with a loss of vision suffers from complex visual hallucinations. Because of his failing eyesight, his cartoons had an eerie, wobbly feel to them.  He once wrote that people said it looked like he drew them under water. Dorothy Parker, a contemporary and friend of Thurber, referred to his cartoons as having the "semblance of unbaked cookies." (according to Wikipedia.)

Image result for thurber little red

The Little Girl and the Wolf 

One afternoon a big wolf waited in a dark forest for a little girl to come along carrying a basket of food to her grandmother. Finally a little girl did come along and she was carrying a basket of food. "Are you carrying that basket to your grandmother?" asked the wolf. The little girl said yes, she was. So the wolf asked her where her grandmother lived and the little girl told him and he disappeared into the wood.

When the little girl opened the door of her grandmother's house she saw that there was somebody in bed with a nightcap and nightgown on. She had approached no nearer than twenty-five feet from the bed when she saw that it was not her grandmother but the wolf, for even in a nightcap a wolf does not look any more like your grandmother than the Metro-Goldwyn lion looks like Calvin Coolidge. So the little girl took an automatic out of her basket and shot the wolf dead.

(Moral: It is not so easy to fool little girls nowadays as it used to be.)

Stay tuned next week for a Revolting Rhyme.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

What We Ate Wednesday--Vegan Philly "Cheesesteak" Pasta

Hello lovelies! I take my food inspiration from where I can get it. I read all sorts of recipes (not just vegan ones) and sometimes I see something and think, "I can make that vegan!!"

This was the case when I saw one of those quick cooking demo recipe videos that people post on Facebook. This was posted by someone I know who was a meat eater, but I was fascinated by the recipe. It was for Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Pasta Shells.  I kept looking at it and thinking, "I could substitute lentils for the ground meat!" and "I could just use vegan cheese sauce made with nutritional yeast!" And most importantly of all, "I could just use regular GF pasta rather than faff about with stuffing the filling in giant pasta shells."

Ain't nobody got time for that.

I have a recipe for Savoury Lentils that I adapted from Dreena Burton's cookbook Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. I thought it would make a terrific ground beef substitute. The cheese sauce in the video was made half with milk and half with beef broth. I could just make a beefy stock with tamari/soy sauce and Marmite. (or rather Tesco Brand Yeast Extract, because real Marmite is owned by Unilever who tests on animals.)

We had it and it was OUTSTANDING. weirdly, it reminded me of Chef Boyardee from my childhood. The lentils make enough for two meals, so once we had lentils with roasted broccoli and lemon roast potatoes, but the second day we had it as Philly Cheesesteak.

I think from now on we may just have to have it as Philly Cheesesteak two days in a row. It was that good.

Vegan Philly "Cheesesteak"  Pasta
1 cup of brown or green lentils
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp mixed herbs/Italian herbs
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp whole grain mustard like Grey Poupon
1/2 tsp Blackstrap molasses (optional, but adds depth of flavour)
2 cups of vegetable stock 
1 tsp Marmite or yeast extract
2 TB tamari/soy sauce
5 oil packed sun dried tomatoes, blotted and snipped into bits
salt and pepper to taste

1. Put everything in a medium pot and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed and the lentils are soft. About 30 minutes.
2. Put half the cooked lentils aside to cool and refrigerate for another meal the next day.

While the lentils are cooking:
1. Cook the (GF) pasta according to package directions. For two people I used 1.5 cups pasta.

In another pot cook:
one onion sliced into rainbows
one sliced green  pepper 
2 TB tomato puree/paste
1. When ready, add half the lentils and heat until piping hot.

While the onions etc are cooking make the cheese sauce:
1 TB vegan butter
6 TB nutritional yeast flakes
1 TB (rice) flour
1/2 cup non dairy milk (I used soya milk)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 tsp Marmite or yeast extract
1 TB tamari/soy sauce
1/2 tsp each garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric, smoked paprika
1.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan.
2. Whisk remaining ingredients together in a small jug and slowly stream into melted butter.
3. Heat until bubbling and thickened, stirring constantly. It will be a dark orange sauce.

In your pot with onion, green pepper and lentils add the cooked pasta and hot cheese sauce and stir to coat.

This is so good. Comfort food at its best. It really reminds me of eating Chef Boyardee from a can, but in a good way.