Friday, 31 May 2019

Fairy Tale Friday All-Kinds-Of-Fur (Greece, 1894)

Before we look at this week's story, could I ask you to take a moment to look at my Kickstarter campaign? I am raising money to publish a book of feminist fairy tales. Just click the link below to take a look.  Thanks!
Wounds: New Openings Into Old Stories

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

This week we look at a variation on last week’s tale of All-Kinds-Of-Fur. In many of the tales, the incest is just implied (the father had an “unnatural” desire to marry his daughter or he was forced into it because she was the only one who could fit his late wife’s ring) but this tale goes full out on the incest front. It was collected by German scholar and father of Albanian studies, Johann Georg von Hahn who studied law and worked in the newly founded kingdom of Greece. He published Griechische und albanesische Märchen (Greek and Albanian Folk Tales) in 1864.

What makes this story quite so serious is the way it is condoned by the church. She is a God-fearing young woman and pleads with him to ask the Bishop, certain that the clergy will back her up. The father couches his request in hypothetical language by saying, "If someone has a lamb that he himself has cared for and raised, is it better that he should eat it, or that another person should eat it?" to which the Bishop replies that he should eat it. I am not really sure if the Bishop is thinking literally or figuratively here, but either way it is disconcerting.

Like many other tales under the ATU 510b heading, our heroine agrees to marry her father but only after certain conditions are met. Mostly these requests are for fine dresses, but here she asks for two dresses of pure gold with pockets filled with ducats. This is interesting as our protagonist rarely asks for money, just clothes or a cloak that will be used as a disguise. She also asks for a bed and a shaft that goes ten fathoms deep into the earth. In other versions, she escapes wearing a disguise, but here she just says, “Earth open further” and it does, and she and the bed end up someplace else entirely like when you we were children and tried to “dig to China.” A prince finds her wrapped in an animal skin, but the tale is very vague as to where the skin has come from. It is not clear as in other tales that the animal skin is her disguise and part of her dowry.

In several of these tales our heroine is forced into lowly circumstances in a neighbouring kingdom—most often working as a scullery maid, but in some versions working with farmyard animals. Here she is a Goose Girl who attends the dance and loses a shoe and the story plays out like other versions we know. However, she plays a little trick of her own to get herself notices in her animal skin disguise. She offers to take the Prince water and then carefully splits her animal skin at the knee. Not much, but just enough for her gold dress to show when she kneels before him. He sees the gold and recognises the dress and leaps up to claim his beloved.
Arthur Rackham

Once upon a time there was a king whose wife died, leaving him a small daughter. With time she grew into a beautiful maiden, and when the king saw how beautiful she was he said to her, "I want to marry you. You must become my wife."

"How can you take me for a wife," said the girl, "for I am your daughter."

"That is all the same to me. I want to marry you."

"That is entirely impossible!" said the girl. "Just go to the bishop and listen to what he says. If he says that you are right, then take me in God's name."

So the king went to the bishop and asked, "If someone has a lamb that he himself has cared for and raised, is it better that he should eat it, or that another person should eat it?"

"No," answered the bishop, "it is better for the person to eat it who raised it."

Then the king went back to his daughter and said, "He told me that I may take you."

"If he really told you that you make take me, then take me in God's name. But first make me two dresses of pure gold and fill the pockets with ducats. Also make a bed for me, and a shaft that goes ten fathoms deep into the earth."

When the king had done all this, the girl took the dresses, climbed into the bed, then rode in into the shaft, saying, "Earth, open further." And the earth opened further, and she rode one until she came out at another place, and there she remained.

A prince was hunting there, and he found the girl, wrapped in an animal skin. He approached her and asked, "Are you a human?"

She answered, "Yes, I am a human. May I go with you?"

He replied, "For all I care you may come with me." He took her with him and let her herd the geese.

One day the king gave a feast, and the women began to dance. Then the girl slipped out of her animal skin and went to the ball in her golden dress and danced. The prince saw her and said to himself," Who can that be? When she leaves the ball, I will follow her."

When the ball was over the girl left, and the prince crept after her. She noticed him, and she began to run, and he ran after her. Then the girl took a handful of ducats and threw them to the ground. While the prince was gathering up the gold she slipped away and hid herself in her animal skin.

Then the prince said, "Tomorrow I will give another feast, in order to see who she is."

The next day at the ball the girl came again and danced, and when she left the ball the prince ran after her. While running away she lost a shoe, and while the prince was picking it up, she escaped half barefoot, then hid herself again in her animal skin.

The prince took the shoe and tried it onto all the girls in order to see whom it fitted, but he could not find the right one.

When the servant girls were taking wash water to the king before he ate, the girl split her animal skin a little at her knee so that her gold dress was visible. Then she went to the servant girls and said that she would like to take the water to the king.

But they said, "What? You, a goose girl want to take water to the king?"

"What is the matter?" asked the king.

"The goose girl want to bring your water."

"Then let her do so. Just let her come."

When she knelt down the golden dress shone through the slit. The prince saw this and cried out, "So you are the one who tormented me so!" And with that he took her as his wife.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for another version of  a poor Donkeyskin.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Umami Mushrooms with Moonshine Mash and Roasted Broccoli

Hello lovelies! This was kind of a made up on the spot sort of dinner.  I got the idea for Moonshine Mash from a recipe by poverty campaigner Jack Monroe. Her recipe uses "grated strong hard cheese" but i figured some vegan Parmesan would work. I loved the golden colour from the sweetcorn mixed in with the potatoes and then was thinking "What would go well with this? What have I got in my kitchen?"

The answer was an onion, some mushrooms and half a head of broccoli.

It was like an episode of Ready, Steady, Cook.

So while the potatoes and sweetcorn were boiling and the broccoli was roasting, I was trying to make some savoury mushrooms. The results were spectacular.

Now, you can't see the Moonshine Mash in the bowl as i covered it up with mushroom and broccoli goodness, but trust me--it's there. This was a quick and dirty meal--in under 30 minutes.

Umami Mushrooms with Moonshine Mash and Roasted Broccoli
Preheat your oven to 200C/400F

For the broccoli:
as much broccoli as you want cut into pieces (cut florets in half or quarters)
spritz of oil
salt and pepper
Place broccoli in a large roasting pan, spritz with oil and add salt and pepper. Set aside while oven preheats.

For the Moonshine Mash:
400g potatoes, cut into small chunks
1 cup sweetcorn (if frozen defrost a bit by running under hot water)
enough vegetable stock to cover the potatoes
6 TB vegan parmesan cheese (something like Good Carma would work great here or see recipe below) 
Vegan parmesan:
3 TB ground almonds
3 TB nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Put the potatoes and sweetcorn in a saucepan and cover them with strong vegetable stock.
Make your parmesan cheese and set aside.

For the umami mushrooms:
1 white onion sliced into rainbows
as many mushrooms as you want--6-10 button mushrooms depending on size, thinly sliced
lots of garlic
tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp yeast extract like Marmite or miso

1. As the oven preheats, bring your potatoes and sweetcorn to the boil.
2. Start cooking your onion, slowly at a low temperature so that it will caramelise. I like to scoop out a little vegetable stock from the potatoes to cook it in. It makes the onions really flavourful.
3.When the oven is ready, roast your broccoli for 20 minutes until it is lightly charred.
 4. Meanwhile, when the potatoes and corn start to boil, turn the heat to medium low and continue to vigorously simmer.
5. When the onions are soft, add in the garlic and the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are browning and softened. Add a few more spoonfuls of vegetable stock from the potatoes and a good glug or two of tamari or soy sauce.
6. When the broccoli is nearly done, drain the potatoes and sweetcorn reserving about a half cup of the vegetable stock. Return it to the pan and mash until it forms a chunky mixture. If it seems too dry, add back in a bit of the veg stock you held back. Stir in your parmesan and mix well.
7. When the broccoli comes out of the oven, add your tsp of yeast extract or miso to the mushroom mixture and a little bit of the reserved stock you saved back from the potatoes and serve.

This was really good...the flavours complimented each other very well. Too bad you can't see the Moonshine Mash under there....but rest assured, it was delicious!

Friday, 24 May 2019

Fairy Tale Friday All-Kinds-Of-Fur (Germany, 1812)

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

Since November of 2018 we have been exploring variations on the classic fairy tale Cinderella. For seven months we have looked at the Aarne-Thompson Uther classification 510a which deals with persecuted heroines. This is the most well know variant of the Cinderella style tales. But there is another variation.

ATU classification 510b is entitled unnatural love. This is a subcategory of persecuted heroines where our young and beautiful protagonist is pursued sexually by her own father. She must disguise herself as ugly to ward off unwanted sexual advances and travel far and wide on her own to another kingdom. These disguises often involve the skin or feathers of animals (e.g. Donkeyskin or Thousand Furs).  There the story often merges with the 510a motifs. She sheds her animalistic appearance, goes to a ball and wins the hand of the Prince. says that 510b folktales include the follow the following motifs:
  • ·     A dying woman extracts from her husband the promise that he will remarry only if he can find a woman that fits a certain description.
  •       After a period of mourning, the widower discovers that only his daughter meets the requirements for remarriage set by his deceased wife, and he asks her to marry him.
  •      The daughter, in order to buy time, and in hope of dissuading her father, asks for a number of gifts, but he finds these with little difficulty.
  •      Seeing no other solution to her dilemma, the girl dresses herself in an unusual garb and runs away.
  •      She finds both refuge and abuse in another man's household, where she serves as a maid.
  •      She temporarily escapes from the kitchen where she works and makes a series of appearances at a dress ball.
  •      A prince falls in love with the heroine in her beautiful attire. He discovers that the beautiful woman is none other than his maid, and he marries her.
  •     In some versions of the story, the incest motif that sets the plot into motion is suppressed, with a different conflict being given between father and daughter.
I would also like to add that often the prince is incredibly abusive to her in her rough, disguised form but softens once he knows she is secretly a princess. This makes them both not very likeable—him for being so abusive to his servants and her for forgiving and forgetting quite so easily once she is no longer a servant herself.

So for the next few months, we will be looking at variations of this classic tales with an incest theme.

The story that I chose to look at first is All-Kinds-Of-Fur (or Allerleirauh in German) which roughly translates as Thousand Furs. It was collected by the Brothers Grimm and published in Kinder- und Hausmärchen in 1812. It was republished in a slightly sanitised form in 1819 where the Grimms de-emphasise the abusive nature of their relationship (he throws his boots at her head every night). They also made clearer in later version that her fiancé that is mentioned is not her father. There are some difficulty with pronouns in this one right at the start—it is hard to work out which he we are talking about, her father or her sweetheart.

This version is unusual in that she flees to her fiancé’s kingdom and works in his household as a servant before revealing herself. Most versions the prince is a stranger to her, and she earns his love when she is all cleaned up. I found it interesting that he does not readily recognise her, despite being engaged to her. He sort of does—she looks like his fiancée, but he is never certain until the end. However he does recognise the small golden trinkets that he gave her. I found it quite interesting that he can recognise objects over a person.

You can read it in the original German {HERE}
Allerleirauh by Henry Justice Ford (1892) 02.jpg
by Henry Justice Ford

All-Kinds-of-Fur source
Once upon a time there was a king whose wife was the most beautiful woman in the world, with hair of pure gold. Together they had a daughter, and she was as beautiful as her mother, and she had the same golden hair. The queen became ill, and when she felt that she was about to die, she called the king to her side and asked him not to marry anyone following her death, unless she was just as beautiful as she, and unless her hair was just as golden as hers. The king made this promise, and she died.

For a long time the king was so grieved that he did not think about a second wife, but finally his councillors advised him to marry again. He sent messengers to all the princesses, but none was as beautiful as the deceased queen, and such golden hair could not be found anywhere in the world.

Then one day the king's glance fell on his daughter, and he saw that she looked just like her mother, and that she had the same golden hair. He thought to himself, "You will never find anyone in the world this beautiful. You will have to marry your daughter." And in that instant, he felt such a strong love for her, that he immediately announced his decision to his councillors. They tried to dissuade him, but to no avail.

The princess was horrified at his godless intentions, but because she was clever, she told the king that he should first get her three dresses: one as golden as the sun, one as white as the moon, one that glistened like the stars. Further, he was to get her a coat made from a thousand kinds of fur. Every animal in the kingdom would have to give up a piece of its skin for it.

The king was so fervent in his desires, that he had his huntsmen capture animals from across the entire kingdom. They were skinned, and a coat was made from their pelts. Thus, it did not take long before he brought the princess everything that she had asked for.

The princess said that she would marry him the next day. That night she sought out the presents that she had received from her fiancé: a golden ring, a little golden spinning wheel, and a little golden yarn reel. She put the three dresses into a nutshell, blackened her hands and face with soot, put on the coat of all kinds of fur, and left. She walked the entire night until she came to a great forest. She would be safe there. Because she was tired, she sat down in a hollow tree and fell asleep.

She was still asleep the next day when the king, her fiancé, came to this forest to hunt. His dogs ran up to the tree and sniffed at it. The king sent his huntsmen to see what kind of animal was in the tree. They came back and said that it was a strange animal, the likes of which they had never seen before. It had every kind of fur on its skin, and it was lying there asleep. The king ordered them to capture it and to tie it onto the back of his carriage. As the huntsmen were doing this, they saw that it was a girl. They tied her onto the back of the carriage and rode home with her.

"All-Kinds-of-Fur," they said, "you are good for the kitchen. You can carry water and wood and clean out the ashes." Then they gave her a little stall beneath the steps, where the light of day never shone, and said, "This is where you can live and sleep."

So she had to help the cook in the kitchen. She plucked chickens, tended the fire, gathered vegetables, and did all the dirty work. Because she did very well at all this, the cook was good to her, and in the evening, he often invited her in and gave her something to eat from the leftovers. Before the king went to bed, she had to go upstairs and pull off his boots. When she had pulled them off, he always threw them at her head. Poor All-Kinds-of-Fur lived like this for a long time. Oh, you beautiful maiden, what will become of you?

Once there was a ball at the castle, and All-Kinds-of-Fur thought that she might see her fiancé once again, so she went to the cook and asked him if he would allow her to go upstairs a little and look in at the splendour from the doorway. "Go ahead," said the cook, "but do not stay longer than a half hour. You still have to clean out the ashes tonight."

Then All-Kinds-of-Fur took her little oil lamp and went to her stall where she washed off the soot. Her beauty came forth just like blossoms in the springtime. She took off the fur coat, opened up the nut and took out the dress that glistened like the sun. She put it on and went upstairs. Everyone made room for her and thought that a noble princess had entered the hall. The king immediately invited her to dance, and as he danced with her, he thought how closely this unknown princess resembled his own fiancée. The longer he looked at her, the stronger the resemblance. He was almost certain that this was his fiancée, and at the end of the dance, he was going to ask her. However, when they finished dancing, she bowed, and before the king knew what was happening, she disappeared.

He asked the watchmen, but none of them had seen the princess leave the castle. She had run quickly to her stall, taken off the dress, blackened her hands and face, and put on the fur coat once again. Then she went to the kitchen to clean out the ashes, but the cook said, "Leave them until morning. I want to go upstairs and have a look at the dance. You make some soup for the king, but don't let any hairs fall into it, or there will be nothing more to eat for you."

All-Kinds-of-Fur made some bread soup for the king, then she put the golden ring in it that he had given her. When the ball was over, the king had his bread soup brought to him. It tasted better than any he had ever eaten. When he was finished, he found the ring on the bottom of the bowl. Looking at it carefully, he saw that it was his engagement ring. Astonished, he could not understand how it had gotten there. He summoned the cook, who then became very angry with All-Kinds-of-Fur. "You must have let a hair fall into the soup," he said. "If you did, there will be blows for you."

However, when the cook went upstairs, the king asked him who had made the soup, because it had been better than usual. The king had to confess that it had been All-Kinds-of-Fur. Then the king had her sent up to him. "Who are you?" he asked upon her arrival. "What are you doing in my castle, and where did you get the ring that was lying in the soup?"

She answered, "I am only a poor child whose father and mother are dead. I have nothing, and I am good for nothing more than having boots thrown at my head. And I know nothing about the ring." With that she ran away.

Soon there was another ball. All-Kinds-of-Fur again asked the cook to allow her to go upstairs. The cook gave his permission, but only for a half hour, because by then she would have to be back in the kitchen to make the king's bread soup. All-Kinds-of-Fur went to her stall, washed herself clean, and took out the moon-dress. It was purer and brighter than newly fallen snow. When she arrived upstairs the dance had just begun. The king extended his hand to her, and danced with her, and no longer doubted that this was his fiancée, for no one else in the world had such golden hair. However, the princess immediately slipped out when the dance ended, and the king, in spite of his great effort, could not find her. Further, he had not spoken a single word with her.

She was All-Kinds-of-Fur once again, with blackened hands and face. She took her place in the kitchen and made bread soup for the king, while the cook went upstairs to have a look. When the soup was ready, she put the golden spinning wheel in it. The king ate the soup and thought that it was even better this time. When he found the golden spinning wheel, he was even more astonished, because it had been a present from him to his fiancée some time ago. The cook was summoned again, and then All-Kinds-of-Fur, but once again she answered by saying that she knew nothing about it, and that she was there only to have boots thrown at her head.

For the third time, the king held a ball. He hoped that his fiancée would come again, and he would not let her escape this time. All-Kinds-of-Fur again asked the cook to allow her to go upstairs, but he scolded her, saying, "You are a witch. You are always putting things in the soup. And you can cook better than I can." But because she begged so, and promised to behave herself, he gave her permission to go upstairs for a half hour.

She put on the dress of stars. It glistened like stars in the night. She went upstairs and danced with the king, and he thought that he had never seen her more beautiful. While dancing, he slipped a ring onto her finger. He had ordered that it should be a very long dance. He could not bring himself to speak to her, nor could he keep her from escaping. As soon as the dance ended, she jumped into the crowd and disappeared before he could turn around.

She ran to her stall. Because she had been gone more than a half hour, she quickly took off her dress, and in her rush she failed to blacken herself entirely. One finger remained white. When she returned to the kitchen, the cook had already left. She quickly made some bread soup and put the golden yarn reel into it.

The king found it, just as he had found the ring and the golden spinning wheel, and now he knew for sure that his fiancée was nearby, for no one else could have had these presents. All-Kinds-of-Fur was summoned. Once again, she tried to make an excuse and then run away, but as she ran by, the king noticed a white finger on her hand, and he held her fast. He found the ring that he had slipped onto her finger, and then he ripped off her fur coat. Her golden hair flowed out, and he saw that it was his dearly beloved fiancée. The cook received a generous reward. Then they got married and lived happily until they died.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for another version of All-Kinds-Of-Fur from Greece.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Posh Salted Caramel Truffles

Before I begin this week I would like to ask you a favour. If you are a reader of What We Ate Wednesday and would like to support me, would you consider backing my kickstarter campaign to help me publish my book of retellings of traditional tales through a feminist lens? Please go to the link below and see what it is about. I am grateful for your support. Thanks.

Hello lovelies! This week I thought I would share with you the dessert we've been having for the last few weeks. These posh truffles are ridiculously easy to make and taste like a million bucks. Or pounds. Or euro. Or currency of your choice. 

I got the idea from a cookbook I got from our local library called Bliss Bites by Kate Bradley. She called them Date Night Truffles, but we have enjoyed them every night. Maybe every night is date night for us. 

The one thing you do need is really good dates. Soft ones. Squidgy ones. Not dry ones. Blended recipes can get by with cheap, dry dates you soaked but these need to be the real deal. Our local Tesco has started carrying an 800g box of big, soft dates for £3 which is what started this off. 

You also need flaked sea salt...if you can get smoked sea salt like we can then use that. But any old flaky salt will do. 

Posh Salted Caramel Truffles

Line a pan with parchment paper.

100g dark chocolate bar, melted
1 dozen big soft pitted dates --if some dates are medium not big then you might can get up to 14 dates
peanut butter or nut butter of your choice (almond butter would be amazing) 
flaked sea salt

1.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 the chocolate. If microwaving, check every 30 seconds and stir to prevent scorching. When melted remove from heat.
2. Meanwhile while chocolate is melting carefully pit the dates but try not to cut them in two, just slit them and pop the pit out.It should be like having a hinge on the back side, if that makes sense. If you accidentally cut through don't worry about. 
3. Fill each date with about a half teaspoon peanut butter and then close it up with most of the peanut butter inside the date. If you accidentally cut a date in half, then just put the other half back on top of the peanut butter like a hat. 
4. With a spoon drop each date into the melted chocolate and roll it around to coat it on all sides.  Then carefully put it on the parchment paper and sprinkle with a little smoked sea salt while the chocolate is still warm so it will stick. I tend to do three chocolate covered dates, then salt, three more dates, then salt. You get the idea. 

When all are done, pop in the fridge to harden up. When the chocolate is hardened then peel them up from the parchment and store in an airtight container in the fridge. 

These truffles are delicious. You get the gooey peanut butter filling, surrounded by the caramel layer from the date, enveloped in a sweet chocolate shell and contrasted with the flaky sea salt. With all those adjectives, I sound like an M&S advert, but it's true. 

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--The Most Obedient Servant (Cricket Magazine, 1996)

Before I begin this week I would like to ask you a favour. If you are a reader of Fairy Tale Friday and enjoy it, would you consider backing my kickstarter campaign to help me publish my book of retellings of traditional tales through a feminist lens? Please go to the link below and see what it is about. I am grateful for your support. Thanks.

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

This week we look at an unusual tale in that the gender roles are reversed. I found this story in the March 1996 issue of Cricket Magazine for Children. Like many of its counterparts, our hero’s abusers are lazy, rude and selfish and it is the opposite qualities which set our protagonist apart that make them marriage material. This version is entitled The Most Obedient Servant retold by Anna Salyers Miller and illustrated by Deborah Nourse Lattimore.

Sadly, in so many of the female versions (basically every other one) our heroine is admired by the prince for her beauty and her grace and perhaps her quiet self-effacing attitude. We have seen heroines who are passive and wait for a magical helper to solve their problems get chosen by the prince. We have seen heroines who displayed some spunk and ingenuity to make their dreams come true get chosen by the prince. But the prince never knew what lengths she had gone to get there. He just saw her pretty face and her fancy dress and her shy demeanour (so shy she won’t even tell him her name!) and that’s why he wanted her. Which makes me really sad.

This version has a loyal servant who is everything his two masters are not. He is kind and caring. He is studious and wise. He is loyal. The two brothers and their mother are the male equivalent of the wicked stepmother and ugly stepsisters, treating him badly after his father dies. In some of our tales our heroine wants to go to the ball, in other tales she wants to go to church. In every one of these tales, she needs new clothes to do it. She has to look to good to catch the prince’s eye. In this tale, a decree goes out that all unmarried men must come and take an examination to see who is best suited to become a high ranking government official and marry the king’s only daughter and someday rule the land. The spouse of the royal person is not chosen by their looks but by their intellect. This also makes me sad that so few of the female protagonist tales mention her intellect at all.

As you would expect, the two lazy masters don’t study at all. They tell their stepbrother the servant to study for them and fill them in later about what he has learned. Moonhi, being a very obedient servant, obeys. When they all go to the palace for the exam (Moonhi is there to do the cooking and the cleaning) they happen upon an old man. The man is hungry and so Moonhi shares his rice. The man is injured so Moonhi makes a poultice for the old man’s hand. The old man is so impressed that he encourages Moonhi to sit the exam which, being an obedient servant, he does. And what do you know—the old man was the king and he sees the true worth of our protagonist by his actions, in spite of his social class. In the female versions, we nearly always see the prince not care that her background was once humble or that she is dirty and wears rags because she scrubs up well. But here it is Moonhi’s actions and not his looks (although the story describes him as handsome) that make him a suitable mate.

The story itself is so beautifully rendered in Cricket magazine that I asked my husband the Amazing Spiderman to scan it for me. You will need to click on them to enlarge to read. 

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week as we start to look at the other variation of Cinderella with a more incestuous edge.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Pea and Pesto Soup

Hello lovelies! This another one of those really-quick-when-you-are-tired-after-work sort of meals where you need something quick and nourishing. It comes together even quicker if you have made several batches of BESTO PESTO in advance and can just defrost one in your fridge the day before you plan to cook with it.

I made this with some spinach and walnut (with extra garlic) pesto from my freezer and it was done in about 25 minutes.

A word of warning....when I was researching Pea and Pesto Soup recipes many called for just 4 tablespoons of pesto for a huge batch of soup. Nah uh. Not me. No way. I used a full cup of pesto for an intense mmmmm factor.

I based my recipe around this one from VIBRANT PLATE but added the pesto. I chose her recipe because it added a potato which gave it a bit more oomph.

Pea and Pesto Soup
First make your spinach and walnut pesto. Recipe is {HERE} Or just defrost one you made earlier in your fridge the day before you want it.

You need:
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 large potato (about the size of a man's fist)diced
300g (2 cups) frozen peas, defrosted 
700ml (about 3 cups) hot vegetable stock
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large pot saute the onion and the garlic in a splash of oil or water until softened. Add the potato and the defrosted peas and the hot vegetable stock and bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft (about 12-15 minutes)
2. When potatoes are soft, add your pesto and transfer the whole lot to a blender and puree until smooth. This is one recipe that needs to be immersion (stick) blender just does not cut it. Put the pureed green soup back in the pan and add the juice of half a lemon and salt and pepper to taste. Reheat to piping hot and serve.

That's it. Really easy. Really quick. Made 4 big bowls and was really delicious.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--Tattercoats (England, 1893)

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

This week we look at a tale entitled Tattercoats which was collected by Joseph Jacobs. Jacobs was a prolific collector of tales and popularised some of the world’s bet known English fairy tales such as Jack and the Beanstalk, Goldilocks and the Three Bears and The Three Little Pigs. He not only collected English fairy tales, but also collected Jewish, Celtic and Indian fairy tales which made him one of the most popular writers of fairy tales and an expert of English folklore. We have already seen some of his retellings of Cinderella with Cap O' Rushes, Rushen Coatie and The Cinder Maid.

 I was lucky enough to find a combined copy of Jacob’s  English Fairy Tales (1890) and More English Fairy Tales (1893) at Carmarthen Free Books. 

This is an interesting tale as it features elements of Aarne-Thompson Uther 510B—persecuted heroine but without the bit about father wanting to marry her. It also features a neglectful grandfather rather than a stepmother, which makes a nice change. Tattercoats is an orphan whose mother died in childbirth and whose father is not mentioned. The tale is interesting in that the reason she is hated and neglected by her grandfather is that his favourite daughter died in childbirth and he cannot forgive her for that. In other versions such as the Meat Loves Salt variant of this tale we see the father learn the errors of his ways and embrace the daughter he turned his back on, but not here. At the royal wedding he leaves because he cannot bear to look at his granddaughter. 

It also contains a few elements of one of my favourite fairy tales The Goose Girl. In Tattercoats, she spends her days in the fields with the gooseherd boy dancing to his sweet piping amongst the geese. The Gooseherd is her magical helper, not by changing her clothes from rags to beautiful gowns but by playing his pipe and encouraging her to dance barefoot in the street on the way to the palace where she is seen by the Prince. At the end the gooseherd is never seen again, and the story says, “no one knew what became of him.” Was he really magical or was he just a boy with a flock of geese?

The character of the grandfather reminded me of Mrs Havisham from Dickens' Great Expectations slowly going mad in his own house. The story says:
So he turned his back, and sat by his window looking out over the sea, and weeping great tears for his lost daughter, till his white hair and beard grew down over his shoulders and twined round his chair and crept into the chinks of the floor, and his tears, dropping on to the window-ledge, wore a channel through the stone, and ran away in a little river to the great sea.
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Arthur Rackham
Tattercoats source
IN a great palace by the sea there once dwelt a very rich old lord, who had neither wife nor children living, only one little granddaughter, whose face he had never seen in all her life. He hated her bitterly, because at her birth his favourite daughter died; and when the old nurse brought him the baby, he swore, that it might live or die as it liked, but he would never look on its face as long as it lived.

So he turned his back, and sat by his window looking out over the sea, and weeping great tears for his lost daughter, till his white hair and beard grew down over his shoulders and twined round his chair and crept into the chinks of the floor, and his tears, dropping on to the window-ledge, wore a channel through the stone, and ran away in a little river to the great sea. And, meanwhile, his granddaughter grew up with no one to care for her, or clothe her; only the old nurse, when no one was by, would sometimes give her a dish of scraps from the kitchen, or a torn petticoat from the rag-bag; while the other servants of the palace would drive her from the house with blows and mocking words, calling her 'Tattercoats', and pointing at her bare feet and shoulders, till she ran away crying, to hide among the bushes.

And so she grew up, with little to eat or wear, spending her days in the fields and lanes, with only the gooseherd for a companion, who would play to her so merrily on his little pipe, when she was hungry, or cold, or tired, that she forgot all her troubles, and fell to dancing, with his flock of noisy geese for partners.

But, one day, people told each other that the king was travelling through the land, and in the town nearby was to give a great ball, to all the lords and ladies of the country, when the prince, his only son, was to choose a wife.

One of the royal invitations was brought to the palace by the sea, and the servants carried it up to the old lord, who still sat by his window, wrapped in his long white hair and weeping into the little river that was fed by his tears.

But when he heard the king's command, he dried his eyes and bade them bring shears to cut him loose, for his hair had bound him a fast prisoner and he could not move. And then he sent them for rich clothes, and jewels, which he put on; and he ordered them to saddle the white horse, with gold and silk, that he might ride to meet the king.

Meanwhile Tattercoats had heard of the great doings in the town, and she sat by the kitchen door weeping because she could not go to see them. And when the old nurse heard her crying she went to the lord of the palace, and begged him to take his granddaughter with him to the king's ball.
But he only frowned and told her to be silent, while the servants laughed and said:
'Tattercoats is happy in her rags, playing with the gooseherd, let her be -- it is all she is fit for.'

A second, and then a third time, the old nurse begged him to let the girl go with him, but she was answered only by black looks and fierce words, till she was driven from the room by the jeering 
servants, with blows and mocking words.

Weeping over her ill success, the old nurse went to look for Tattercoats; but the girl had been turned from the door by the cook, and had run away to tell her friend the gooseherd how unhappy she was because she could not go to the king's ball.

But when the gooseherd had listened to her story, he bade her cheer up, and proposed that they should go together into the town to see the king, and all the fine things; and when she looked sorrowfully down at her rags and bare feet, he played a note or two upon his pipe, so gay and merry that she forgot all about her tears and her troubles, and before she well knew, the herdboy had taken her by the hand, and she, and he, and the geese before them, were dancing down the road towards the town.

Before they had gone very far, a handsome young man, splendidly dressed, rode up and stopped to ask the way to the castle where the king was staying; and when he found that they, too, were going thither, he got off his horse and walked beside them along the road.
The herdboy pulled out his pipe and played a low sweet tune, and the stranger looked again and again at Tattercoats's lovely face till he fell deeply in love with her and begged her to marry him.

But she only laughed and shook her golden head.

'You would be finely put to shame if you had a goosegirl for your wife!' said she; 'go and ask one of the great ladies you will see tonight at the king's ball, and do not flout poor Tattercoats.'

But the more she refused him the sweeter the pipe played, and the deeper the young man fell in love; till at last he begged her, as a proof of his sincerity, to come that night at twelve to the king's ball, just as she was, with the herdboy and his geese, and in her torn petticoat and bare feet, and he would dance with her before the king and the lords and ladies, and present her to them all, as his dear and honoured bride.

So when night came, and the hall in the castle was full of light and music, and the lords and ladies were dancing before the king, just as the clock struck twelve, Tattercoats and the herdboy, followed by his flock of noisy geese, entered at the great doors, and walked straight up the ballroom, while on either side the ladies whispered, the lords laughed, and the king seated at the far end stared in 

But as they came in front of the throne, Tattercoats's lover rose from beside the king, and came to meet her. Taking her by the hand, he kissed her thrice before them all, and turned to the king.
'Father!' he said, for it was the prince himself, 'I have made my choice, and here is my bride, the loveliest girl in all the land, and the sweetest as well!'

Before he had finished speaking, the herdboy put his pipe to his lips and played a few low notes that sounded like a bird singing far off in the woods; and as he played, Tattercoats's rags were changed to shining robes sewn with glittering jewels, a golden crown lay upon her golden hair, and the flock of geese behind her became a crowd of dainty pages, bearing her long train.

And as the king rose to greet her as his daughter, the trumpets sounded loudly in honour of the new princess, and the people outside in the street said to each other:

'Ah! now the prince has chosen for his wife the loveliest girl in all the land!'

But the gooseherd was never seen again, and no one knew what became of him; while the old lord went home once more to his palace by the sea, for he could not stay at court, when he had sworn never to look on his granddaughter's face.

So there he still sits by his window, if you could only see him, as you some day may, weeping more bitterly than ever, as he looks out over the sea.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a gender reversal of this traditional tale. 

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Olive Tapenade Pasta with Kale and Roasted Tomatoes

Hello lovelies! This is another quick but delicious meal that we have been eating on a Saturday night after we both get home late from work. It comes together in a snap (especially so if you have made your olive tapenade ahead of time) and tastes gorgeous.

If you can't remember how to make the olive tapenade then click {HERE}. I make a huge batch and freeze it, so all I have to do is defrost it overnight in my fridge when I plan to use for the next day. 

This is so delicious and has a real umami savoury quality. The roasted tomatoes add vibrant colour and sweetness and really compliment the salty olives and cheesy sprinkles. Plus you get a serving of kale. What's not to love?

Olive Tapenade Pasta with Kale and Roasted Tomatoes

Move your oven rack to the highest place and turn on your grill or broiler. I set my temperature at 220 degrees C/425F.

You need:
1 cup olive tapenade
100 grams of kale, destemmed and torn into small bites (about 4 cups?) 
juice of half a lemon
6 TB nutritional yeast flakes
(GF) pasta for two 

1. Make your olive tapenade. Or be like me and have some already made that you defrosted. Click {HERE} to remind you how to make it.
2. Tear up your kale
3. Juice half a lemon
4. Boil your (GF) pasta according to package directions. I used 2 cups of dry pasta for 2 people. 

Meanwhile roast your tomatoes:

Punnet cherry tomatoes (250g)
Slice in halves or quarters and drizzle with
1 TB olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
generous salt and pepper

Arrange cut side up in a roasting pan.
Roast 15 minutes under the grill until collapsed and slightly blackened.

1.When your pasta is boiling and the tomatoes are roasting, cook your kale with a splash of water in a large pot until bright green and reduced. Add the olive tapenade, the nutritional yeast flakes and the lemon and stir until heated through. 

2.When the pasta is ready, drain it in a colander and add it to the kale and olive mixture. Divide the mixture into two bowls and top with the roasted tomatoes. 

 That's literally it. It doesn't even feel like a recipe. And it comes together in a snap when you are tired, but want something healthy. 

Friday, 3 May 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--Cinder-Girl (Wales, 1923)

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

This week we look at a tale from Wales. I came across this book at our public library entitled Welsh Folk Tales by Peter Stevenson a few years ago. Recently, we got a copy in at the bookshop where I work and a re-read of it reminded me there was a most unusual Cinderella version in it.

The introduction states that there was a welsh gypsy storyteller by the name of Ellen Woods of Gogerddan who was said to be a witch who was paid to curse enemies, bewitch animals, tell fortunes and make love potions. She passed her tales onto her grandson the fiddler and storyteller Matthew Wood. John Sampson who was a librarian at Liverpool University translated these tales from Romani to English for the Gypsy Lore Society after meeting Matthew in 1896. The story of Cinder-Girl the Little Slut was published in 1923.

This tale follows the traditional storyline we have come to expect in these tales up to a point. Girl is persecuted by her sisters, girl is made to dress in rags and can’t go to church, a magical helper appears (an old beggar woman) who grants her a wish, a shoe is lost and found, and wedding takes place. Where it becomes unusual is after the royal marriage and the birth of her children. Still jealous, the eldest sister replaces our heroine’s babies with ugly dogs and her husband has her declared a witch and tries to burn her at the stake. The old beggar woman reappears and turns her into a wild pig and she runs off into the forest. Here she becomes the magical helper for her own children who are being raised by the eldest sister.  She is eventually murdered by her husband’s huntsman but her brave Firstborn Girl retrieves a piece of her mother’s liver from her corpse hanging outside the city gates and uses it to make a wish that brings her family back together. Now that is an unusual tale. It is also told in a very engaging style. The book credits the Society for Storytelling and you can see why—this would make a cracking oral story. It also wins the award for most commas in a list. As you read it, see if I’m wrong about this.
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A small house, three sisters. The two older sisters thought themselves grand ladies, but they were ashamed of their grimy youngest sister, so they hid her amongst the cinders in the coal-hole where no one could see her. If anyone came to call they said, “Hide yourself, little slut.”

One Sunday, the two sisters came home from church all a-flutter about a handsome prince they had seen. Cinder-girl asked if she might be allowed to go to church and see the prince? “No, grimy little pig,” they said, “go and hide with the coal.”

Next Sunday, the two sisters went to church, leaving the Cinder-girl alone. An old beggar woman came to the door. Cinder-girl invited her in and gave her tea and cake. The old woman took the grimy girl by the land and led her outside. She gave her a white pebble and said, “Throw it against that rock, you will see a door, go inside, there will be a bed chamber, take off your grimy clothes, put on a fine dress, and a pair of golden slippers, go outside, you will see a pony, ride to the church, sit by the door, the prince will see you, then hurry home, put on your grimy clothes and say nothing.” And the old beggar woman disappeared, as they do in fairy tales.

Cinder-girl did as she was told, and everything happened the way the old woman said. Later that morning, a fine lady in golden slippers entered the church. The prince asked who she was, but no one knew. This went on for three weeks. On the third Sunday the beggar woman came again and told the Cinder-girl, “This day, leave early, the prince will follow, a slipper will fall from your foot and he will find it.”

Cinder-girl did as she was told and as she ran home a slipper fell from her foot. The prince followed and found the golden slipper. He held a banquet and invited every maiden in the land to attend. They came, rich and poor, fair and dark, scrubbed and grimy. Each lady tried on the slipper, in they came, out they went, and it fitted none. Eldest sister chopped off a piece of her foot and it still didn’t fit, and oh, there was blood and mess. The prince called for the serving maids, until there was only one girl left. Cinder-girl held out her foot. The slipper fitted, the prince wiped away the grime and recognised her. Eldest sister cursed her.

Well, there was a wedding and a feast, and they went to bed, and within a year Cinder-girl gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Eldest sister was so green with envy she stole the newborn baby and left an ugly dog in the bed. When the prince saw the child, he was so embarrassed that he had fathered a dog, he said nothing.

Another year, another child, this time a son. Eldest sister stole the child and left an even uglier dog in the bed and told the prince that Cinder-girl had given birth again. The prince felt disgraced. Cinder-girl implored him for another chance.

Another year, another son, another ugly dog, and the prince convinced himself he had married a witch. He ordered the servants to drag her out of bed, tie her to a stake and burn her. The beggar-woman appeared, enchanted the servants, freed Cinder-girl, turned her into a grimy pig and told her to hide in the forest or else her husband’s huntsmen would cut out her liver and hang it by the castle gate.

So Cinder-pig hid in the forest for many years while her children were raised by her eldest sister. One day, she saw her children playing by the river. She approached them and told them not to cry. She explained that she wasn’t a pig, she was their mother, and she was about to be slain by their father’s huntsmen, who would hang her liver by the castle gate. She told them not to be squeamish, to go to the castle, take a piece of her liver, make a wish and all would be well. Being children they were quite happy to follow the advice of a talking pig.

The day dawned when Cinder-pig was chased and slain by the prince’s huntsmen, and her liver was hung by the castle gate. Firstborn girl was the bravest. She remembered what her Cinder-pig mother had told her, and she went alone to the castle gate, reached up on her tiptoes, picked a piece of the slimy red liver and took it to her brothers who were waiting by the river. They made a wish, to live happily together by the river, and in the blink of an eye there stood a cottage full of gold.

The children ran away from eldest sister and lived in the cottage by the river. One day, a stranger passed by and stopped to light his pipe. He saw three children wearing golden belts, so he knocked on the cottage door and asked for a light for his pipe. The boys invited him in, but the girl said no. He ordered the boys to give him their belts and as they did, they turned into swans and swam on the lake. Firstborn girl ran into the forest and hid. She remembered what the talking pig had told her.
She crept back to the castle gate, picked a piece of the red liver, returned to the cottage and wished for her family to be together again. The swans turned back into her brothers, the pig liver became her Cinder-girl mother and the prince walked in as if he had woken from a dream.

Cinder-girl’s family lived a simple life in the cottage by the river, and the brave firstborn girl, when she was old enough, travelled the world and became rich with wisdom.

Well, those are the adventures, there’s no more to tell.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a tale of Tattercoats.