Friday, 27 September 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--Cinderella Penguin or The Glass Flipper

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

For many weeks we have looked at literary versions of the fairy tale Cinderella, but now I would like to spend a few weeks looking at versions that appeared as picture books.

Cinderella Penguin or The Glass Flipper was written by Janet Perlman. This charming story is basically a play by play retelling of the Perrault version in that it has a fairy godmother, a pumpkin and mice that turn into a coach and horses, a midnight curfew and of course a glass slipper--or in this case a glass flipper.

I used to read it to my students when i taught first grade at Rosenthal in Louisiana and they loved it. Word-wise, it wasn't much different from any standard retelling, but it is the illustrations that make this so charming. All the penguins are slightly dumpy and wear strapless boob tube dresses and the way that with just eyes and a beak emotions are portrayed (sad and romantic for our heroine, cruel and haughty for her stepmother and stepsisters) is delightful.

The illustrations are what make this story and when I found out there was a wordless animated film version (done with splendid Baroque music) I jumped for joy.

This story was also a great one for "Easter eggs" like you find on DVDs. There are several pieces of famous artwork recreated in background shots (but with penguins instead of people) including The Arnolfini Marriage by Jan Van Eyck and that tapestry with the lady and the unicorn. See if you can spot them!

 That's all for this week, stay tuned next week for a tale of a Rough Face Girl.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Kale and Butterbean Soup with Rosemary and Parmesan

Hello lovelies! This is another soup adapted from Fast Days and Feast Days by Elly Pear. Her recipe called for Swiss chard, fresh rosemary and sherry vinegar--none of which I had. But I did have kale (I always have kale!) and dried rosemary on hand. The recipe called for the zest of a lemon but sherry vinegar and I was like " need a boost of something acidic and I don't have any sherry vinegar. I wonder what I can do with this lemon I just zested?"

And so the adaptation was born. This was really good and fairly quick to make after a long day at work. I also added more vegetable stock than the recipe called for as it wasn't soupy enough.

My recipe for vegan Parmesan is quick and easy to make up...but if you don't have the time you could always use some Good Carma which is made locally by some friends of ours.

Kale and Butterbean Soup with Rosemary and Parmesan

1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
1 tin of butterbeans, drained and rinsed
100g kale (3 big handfuls?) de-stemmed and torn into pieces
750ml (3 cups) hot vegetable stock
zest of one lemon
juice of half a lemon

1. Cook the onion and carrot in a splash of water until softened. Then add the garlic and cook one more minute.
2. Add the rosemary and chilli flakes and stir to coat the onion mixture and then add the butterbeans and the hot vegetable stock and bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. While to soup is simmering make your Parmesan.

3 TB ground almonds
3 TB nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Blend until combined. I use a little food chopper/spice grinder.

4. After soup has simmered for 15 minutes, add the kale and increase the heat and keep stirring until the kale has wilted. Then add the zest and lemon juice.
5. Serve topped with Parmesan. 

This was really good--the sharpness of the lemon contrasted well with the earthiness of the rosemary and kale. The Parmesan really added a flavour pop. This was delicious and made in under 30 minutes. Perfect for after a  hard day at work.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--How a Pious Greengrocer Tested His Daughter's Virtue (India, 1895)

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

This week we look at a tale from India. According to the source is:

The Jataka; or, Stories of the Buddha's Former Births, translated from the Pali by various hands, under the editorship of E. B. Cowell; vol. 2, translated by W. H. D. Rouse (Cambridge: University Press, 1895). 

This one differs from other tales we have looked at as the father does not actually want to have sex with his daughter, it is just a test to see if his daughter is a disreputable slut. Then, once he finds she is innocent and upset by the fact that the one who should love her best treats her with violence, he gives her away to a man in marriage because she is his property. There are so many things about this tale that make me angry, I do not know where to begin.

There are many ballads and poems and stories about men testing their sweetheart to see if she is true or not then rewarding her with marriage when she proves to be virtuous. I have never liked this genre of literature. It is much harder to find works where the woman tests the man. They are there I am sure, but few and far between compared to ones where the man tests the woman. If you can think of one, please leave me a comment below.

There is also that issue, which is still around today, where a father “gives” his daughter away. In the past it was a literal transfer because women were viewed as property, but today it is symbolic. You still see it at modern weddings when a father walks his daughter down the aisle and gives her away. I have no trouble with a parent who wants to walk his beloved daughter down the aisle, but the idea of transferring her from one man to another really rankles me. We solved this at our wedding by getting married in a church with two aisles—my parents walked me down one aisle and my husband’s parents walked him down the other and then we made the voluntary choice to be joined.

This really doesn’t fit the Cinderella motif that we have been looking at except for the father wanting to have sex with her bit. So why did I include it? Mainly, I wanted it included as these stories all show the difficult circumstances women have faced. That they are second class citizens, that marriage really is the only way they can raise their status. They hope to marry for love, but many of the heroines we have looked at marry an abuser because having the protection of an abusive man is better than having no protection at all.

This story bothers me because as her father calls her the town whore and pretends to rape her, he looks for a certain reaction. He wants to see her protest that she is virtuous. But what does non-consent look like? What if she had frozen? What if after the person she trusted the most in the world called her a slut and pawed at her body she could not move and stood like a deer in the headlights? What if she was too afraid to cry out? Would he have found her virtuous then? But because she has the reaction he expected, he is well pleased and marries her off to a young man.

At least it wasn’t an old man.

Image result for indian wedding sad bride
Seggu-Jataka: How a Pious Greengrocer Tested His Daughter's Virtue source

This story the Master told, while dwelling at Jetavana, about a greengrocer who was a lay-brother. The circumstances have been already given in the First Book [Jataka 102]. Here again the Master asked him where he had been so long; and he replied, "My daughter, Sir, is always smiling. After testing her, I gave her in marriage to a young gentleman. As this had to be done, I had no opportunity of paying you a visit.”

To this the Master answered, "Not now only is your daughter virtuous, but virtuous she was in days of yore; and as you have tested her now, so you tested her in those days. And at the man's request he told an old-world tale:

Once upon a time, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisatta was a tree spirit. This same pious greengrocer took it into his head to test his daughter. He led her into the woods, and seized her by the hand, making as though he had conceived a passion for her.

And as she cried out in woe, he addressed her in the words of the first stanza:

All the world's on pleasure bent;
Ah, my baby innocent!
Now I've caught you, pray don't cry;
As the town does, so do I.

When she heard it, she answered, "Dear Father, I am a maid, and I know not the ways of sin"; and weeping she uttered the second stanza:

He that should keep me safe from all distress,
The same betrays me in my loneliness;
My father, who should be my sure defence,
Here in the forest offers violence.

And the greengrocer, after testing his daughter thus, took her home, and gave her in marriage to a young man. Afterwards he passed away according to his deeds.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week as we begin to look at Cinderella in picture book form (unless I find another story worth sharing in the mean time!)

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Cajun Red Lentil and Sweetcorn Soup

Hello lovelies! I've been working overtime for the last few weeks and I haven't really had the energy to try new recipes...we've just been sticking with tried and true, quick and easy meals.

I got a cookbook by Elly Pear called Fast Days & Feast Days from the library and I saw this recipe for Cajun Split Pea and Corn Soup. I didn't have any split peas, but I did have red lentils. Her recipe also took an hour to cook because split peas take longer, so i went with red lentils and they only take about 15 minutes to cook. The whole soup was done in about 30 minutes.

I also added some nutritional yeast and the lemon as I felt it needed a little something to lift it at the end. She added salt, but I didn't as my Cajun seasoning contained salt.

Also, this expands HUGELY due to the lentils swelling so use your biggest pot.

Cajun Red Lentil and Sweetcorn Soup

1 onion, diced
4-6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 TB Cajun seasoning
500 g red lentils, picked over and rinsed in a sieve
500 g defrosted frozen sweetcorn
2 litres (8 cups) hot vegetable stock
juice of one lemon

1. Cook your onion and garlic in a splash of water or oil. I tend to use water these days and it works fine. While the onion is cooking, defrost your frozen corn with boiling water. Drain the defrosted and corn.
2. Add your Cajun spices and stir to coat the onions then add your well rinsed lentils, sweetcorn and boiling vegetable stock. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer.
3. After about 15 minutes your lentils should be soft and swollen. Scoop several cups of hot soup into your blender (be careful!) and blend til smooth. Add back to your soup.
4. Add your nutritional yeast flakes and the lemon juice and lots of black pepper. Taste and see does it need more Cajun seasoning. If so add a little more.

This made 6 HUGE thick, filling bowls of soup. We are just having it over several nights, but  I suspect it will freeze well.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Fairy Tale Friday --The Story of Catskin (England, 1853)

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

This week we look at a verse form of the tale of Catskin.It was collected by James Orchard Halliwell who was an  English Shakespearean scholar, antiquarian, and a collector of English nursery rhymes and fairy tales.  This story is found in his 1853 book of Nursery Rhymes of England. His second book Nursery Rhymes and Nursery Tales, containing the first printed version of the Three Little Pigs and a version of the Christmas carol The Twelve Days of Christmas.

According to Wikipedia:

 From 1845 Halliwell was excluded from the library of the British Museum on account of the suspicion concerning his possession of some manuscripts which had been removed from the library of Trinity College, Cambridge. He published privately an explanation of the matter in 1845. Halliwell also had a habit, detested by bibliophiles, of cutting up seventeenth-century books and pasting parts he liked into scrapbooks. During his life he destroyed 800 books and made 3,600 scraps.

This is an unusual form of a fairy tale—and not just because it is in poetic form and not prose.

D. L. Ashliman says: The conflict between father and daughter in most folktales of type 510B derives from the mother's death and the father's subsequent attempts to marry his own daughter, as evidenced in the previous tales at this site. In some versions, however, the incest motif is suppressed, and the conflict between father and daughter is given a different motivation. The following tale, told here in verse, illustrates this minority group. The heroine here is not at risk because of her father's incestuous desires, but for an inclination much less governed by taboo: his displeasure over the birth of a female child. Note also that the abusive relationship between the heroine and the man she will ultimately marry has also been altered in this version. She receives the same blows, but from the hands of her female employer, not her future husband.

Other tales talk about the blows our protagonist receives, but these are way more severe beatings she receives from the cook. Each night of the ball she is beaten until bloody and then leaves to wash the blood off in “some crystal waterfall” so that she can attend the ball and attract the Lord of the manor. After their marriage others insinuate that she is no better than a beggar as her background is indeterminate, so she looks up her father who had disowned her to try to clear her name. She finds him, a shell of his former self, after all his other daughters died and he never had a son. He wishes he still could know the one he threw away so he wouldn’t be a childless old man (even a girl child is better than no child, he reasons) and so their reunion and her status is assured.
Image result for skimmer
The Story of Catskin source
There once was a gentleman grand,
Who lived at his country seat;
He wanted an heir to his land,
For he'd nothing but daughters yet.

His lady's again in the way,
So she said to her husband with joy,
"I hope some or other fine day,
To present you, my dear, with a boy."

The gentleman answered gruff,
"If't should turn out a maid or a mouse,
For of both we have more than enough,
She shan't stay to live in my house."

The lady, at this declaration,Almost fainted away with pain;
But what was her sad consternation,
When a sweet little girl came again.

She sent her away to be nurs'd,
Without seeing her gruff papa;
And when she was old enough,
To a school she was packed away.

Fifteen summers are fled,
Now she left good Mrs. Jervis;
To see home she was forbid,
She determined to go and seek service.

Her dresses so grand and so gay,
She carefully rolled in a knob;
Which she hid in a forest away,
And put on a catskin robe.

She knock'd at a castle gate,
And pray'd for charity;
They sent her some meat on a plate,
And kept her a scullion to be.

My lady look'd long in her face,
And prais'd her great beauty;
I'm sorry I've no better place,
And you must our scullion be.

So Catskin was under the cook,
A very sad life she led,
For often a ladle she took,
And broke poor Catskin's head.

There is now a grand ball to be,
When ladies their beauties show;
"Mrs. Cook," said Catskin, "dear me,
How much I should like to go!"

"You go with your catskin robe,
You dirty impudent slut!
Among the fine ladies and lords,
A very fine figure you'd cut."

A basin of water she took,
And dash'd in poor Catskin's face;
But briskly her ears she shook,
And went in her hiding place.

She washed every stain from her skin,
In some crystal waterfall;
Then put on a beautiful dress,
And hasted away to the ball.

When she entered, the ladies were mute,
Overcome by her figure and face;
But the lord, her young master, at once
Fell in love with her beauty and grace;

He pray'd her his partner to be,
She said, "Yes!" with a sweet smiling glance;
All night with no other lady
But Catskin, our young lord would dance.

"Pray tell me, fair maid, where you live?"
For now was the sad parting time;
But she no other answer would give,
Than this distich of mystical rhyme, --

Kind sir, if the truth I must tell,
At the sign of the Basin of Water I dwell.

Then she flew from the ballroom and put
On her catskin robe again;
And slipt in unseen by the cook,
Who little thought where she had been.

The young lord, the very next day,
To his mother his passion betrayed;
He declared he never would rest,
Till he'd found out this beautiful maid.

There's another grand ball to be,
Where ladies their beauties show;
"Mrs. Cook," said Catskin, "dear me,
How much I should like to go!"

"You go with your catskin robe,
You dirty impudent slut!
Among the fine ladies and lords,
A very fine figure you'd cut."

In a rage the ladle she took,
And broke poor Catkin's head;
But off she went shaking her ears,
And swift to her forest she fled.

She washed every blood stain off
In some crystal waterfall;
Put on a more beautiful dress,
And hasted away to the ball.

My lord, at the ballroom door,
Was waiting with pleasure and pain;
He longed to see nothing so much
As the beautiful Catskin again.

When he asked her to dance, she again
Said "Yes!" with her first smiling glance;
And again, all the night, my young Lord
With none but fair Catskin did dance.

"Pray tell me," said he, "where you live?"
For now 'twas the parting time;
But she no other answer would give,
Than this distich of mystical rhyme, --

Kind sir, if the truth I must tell,
At the sign of the Broken Ladle I dwell.

Then she flew from the ball and put on
Her catskin robe again;
And slipt in unseen by the cook,
Who little thought where she had been.

My lord did again, the next day,
Declare to his mother his mind,
That he never more happy should be,
Unless he his charmer should find.

Now another grand ball is to be,
Where ladies their beauties show;
"Mrs. Cook", said Catskin, "dear me,
How much I should like to go!"

"You go with your catskin robe,
You impudent, dirty slut!
Among the find ladies and lords,
A very fine figure you'd cut."

In a fury she took the skimmer,
And broke poor Catskin's head;
But heart-whole and lively as ever,
Away to her forest she fled.

She washed the stains of blood
In some crystal waterfall;
Then put on her most beautiful dress,
And hasted away to the ball.

My lord, at the ballroom door,
Was waiting with pleasure and pain;
He longed to see nothing so much
As the beautiful Catskin again.

When he asked her to dance, she again
Said "Yes!" with her first smiling glance;
And all the night long, my young Lord
With none but fair Catskin would dance.

"Pray tell me, fair maid, where you live?"
For now was the parting time;
But she no other answer would give,
Than this distich of mystical rhyme, --

Kind sir, if the truth I must tell,
At the sign of the Broken Skimmer I dwell.

Then she flew from the hall and threw on
Her catskin cloak again;
And slipt in unseen by the cook,
Who little thought where she had been.

But not by my lord unseen,
For this time he followed too fast;
And, hid in the forest green,
Saw the strange things that past.

Next day he took to his bed,
And sent for the doctor to come;
And begg'd him no other than Catskin,
Might come into his room.

He told him how dearly he lov'd her,
Not to have her his heart would break;
Then the doctor kindly promised
To the proud old lady to speak.

There's a struggle of pride and love,
For she fear'd her son would die;
But pride at the last did yield,
And love had the mastery.

Then my lord got quickly well,
When he was his charmer to wed;
And Catskin, before a twelvemonth,
Of a young lord was brought to bed.

To a wayfaring woman and child,
Lady Catskin one day sent an alms;
The nurse did the errand, and carried
The sweet little lord in her arms.

The child gave the alms to the child,
This was seen by the old lady mother;
"Only see," said that wicked old woman,
"How the beggars' brats take to each other!"

This throw went to Catskin's heart,
She flung herself down on her knees,
And pray'd her young master and lord
To seek out her parents would please.

They sent out in my lord's own coach;
They traveled, but naught befell
Till they reach'd the town hard by
Where Catskin's father did dwell.

They put up at the head inn,
Where Catskin was left alone;
But my lord went to try if her father
His natural child would own.

When folks are away, in short time
What great alterations appear;
For the cold touch of death had all chill'd
The hearts of her sisters dear.

Her father repented too late,
And the loss of his youngest bemoan'd;
In his old and childless state,
He his pride and cruelty own'd.

The old gentleman sat by the fire,
And hardly looked up at my lord;
He had no hope of comfort
A stranger could afford.

But my lord drew a chair close by,
And said, in a feeling tone,
"Have you not, sir, a daughter, I pray,
You never would see or own?"

The old man alarm'd, cried aloud,
"A hardened sinner am I!
I would give all my worldly goods,
To see her before I die."

Then my lord brought his wife and child
To their home and parent's face,
Who fell down and thanks returned
To God, for his mercy and grace.

The bells, ringing up in the tower,
Are sending a sound to the heart;
There's a charm in the old church bells,
Which nothing in life can impart!

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a greengrocer who tests his daughter’s virtue.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Fairy Tale Friday--The Princess in the Cat-Skins (Ireland, 1870)

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

This week we look at a tale from Ireland collected by Patrick Kennedy in his 1870 book The Fireside Stories of Ireland. Kennedy was a folklorist and bookseller from County Wexford, Ireland. 
According to Wikipedia:

The tales are told in rusticated English of the Irish peasantry and he is widely credited with preserving Irish idioms in the turn of phrase, sentence structure, Irish words.

This is an interesting tale in that our unnamed protagonist’s widowed mother remarries a terrible man and then dies shortly thereafter. Therefore it is a stepfather (not natural father) who wants to marry her. Which only makes it slightly better.

Despite having no name she is a clever girl who has a way with words and knows how to play the game. She is aided by her filly who is actually a fairy in disguise who advises her (as in other tales) to ask for certain items of clothing before the wedding can take place. Many other tales just have the dresses fit in a walnut shell (something I have always wondered how that was achieved) but this tale actually specifies that they must fit in the walnut shell as part of the requirement. Other tales often do not express how long this takes but this one does—each dress takes at least 6 months or more to complete buying her plenty of time to plan an escape. Her step-father grows exasperated that she did not ask for all three dresses at the same time, but she replies:

"Oh, I'll never ask another, you may depend, till I'm married."
She didn't say till we're married.

I told you she had a way with words.

She escapes with the three walnuts wearing a dress made from top to bottom with cat skins and her skin browned up. She is found sleeping in the woods by the young King and his pack of hunting dogs. He sees her all wild from top to toe and brown as a berry and the story says:

Well that didn't hinder her features from being handsome, and the prince was astonished at her beauty and her colour and her dress.

He finds work for her in his royal household. The other servants laugh at her because of her skin colour and cat skin dress, but she keeps herself to herself. The King, who clearly fancies her, asks for her to come and do many personal tasks for him which are above the rank of scullery maid. He tries to woo her, but she will have none of it. When she is all dressed in her finest at the ball with pale skin (having washed off the brown stain) he tries to woo her there too and she calls him out on it. She tells him she knows he’s been trying it on with his scullery maid. He believes they may be one and the same, but she tests him to be sure he is loyal just as he tests her to see if she is truly a woman of quality in disguise.
Image result for catskin

The Princess in the Cat-Skins source

There was once a queen that was left a widow with one daughter, who was as good and handsome as any girl could be. But her mother wasn't satisfied to remain without a husband; so she married again, and a very bad choice she made. Her second husband treated her very badly; and she died soon after. 
Well, would you ever think of the widower taking it into his head to marry the young princess at the end of a year? She was as shocked as she could be when he made her the offer and burst out a crying.

"I took you too sudden," said he. "Sleep on it, and you can give me an answer tomorrow."

She was in great trouble all the rest of the day, and when the evening came she went out into the paddock, where a beautiful filly she used to ride was grazing. "Oh my poor beast! " said she, "I'm sure if you knew my trouble, you'd pity me."

"I do know your trouble, and I pity you, and I'll help you too," says the filly. "I'm the fairy that watched over you from the time you were born, and I am here near you since your mother married the second time. Your stepfather is an enchanter, but he'll find me too strong for him. Don't seem shocked when he'll ask your consent tomorrow but say you must have first a dress of silk and silver thread that will fit into a walnut shell. He'll promise, and will be able to get it made too, but I'll bother his spinner and his weaver long enough before he'll get it wove, and his seamstress after that, before it's sewed."

The princess done as she was bid, and the enchanter was in great joy; but he was kept in great trouble and anger for a full half year before the dress was ready to go on the princess. At last it was fitted, and he asked her was she ready to be his wife.

"I'll tell you tomorrow," said she.

So she went to consult her filly in the paddock. Well, the next day he put the question to her again, and she said that she couldn't think of marrying anyone till she had another dress of silk and gold thread that would fit in a walnut shell.

"I wish you had mentioned itself and the silver dress together. Both could have been done at the same time. No matter. I'll get it done."

Whatever trouble the spinner and the weaver and the seamstress had with the other dress, they had twice it with this; but at last it was tried on and fitted like a glove.

"Well now," says Fear Dhorrach, "I hope you're satisfied, and won't put off the wedding again."

"Oh, you must forgive me," said she, "for my vanity." She was talking to the filly the evening before. 

"I can't do without a dress of silk thread as thick as it can be with diamonds and pearls no larger than the head of a minnikin pin. Three is a lucky number, you know."

"Well, I wish you had mentioned this at first, and the three could be making together. Now this is the very last thing you'll ask, I expect."

"Oh, I'll never ask another, you may depend, till I'm married."

She didn't say till we're married.

The dress came home at last. Well, the same evening she found on her bed another made from bottom to top of cat-skins, and this she put on. She put her three walnut shells in her pocket, and then stole out to the stable, where she found her filly with a bridle in her mouth, and the nicest side-saddle ever you saw on her back. Away they went, and when the light first appeared in the sky, they were a hundred miles away.

They stopped at the edge of a wood, and the princess was very glad to rest herself on a bunch of dry grass at the foot of a tree. She wasn't a minute there when she fell asleep; and soundly she did sleep, till she was woke up by the blowing of bugles and the yelping of beagles. She jumped up in a fright. 
There was no filly near her, but half a hundred spotted hounds were within forty perches of her, yelling out of them like vengeance.

I needn't tell you she was frightened. She had hardly power to put one foot past the other, and she'd be soon tore into giblets by the dogs on account of her dress, but a fine young hunter leaped over their heads, and they all fell back when he shook his whip and shouted at them. So he came to the princess, and there she was as wild looking as you please, with her cat-skins hanging round her, and her face and hands and arms as brown as a berry, from a wash she put on herself before she left home. Well that didn't hinder her features from being handsome, and the prince was astonished at her beauty and her colour and her dress, when he found she was a stranger, and alone in the world. He got off his horse and walked side by side with her to his palace, for he was the young king of that country.

He sent for his housekeeper when he came to the hall door and bid her employ the young girl about whatever she was fit for, and then set off to follow the hounds again.

Well, there was great tittering in the servants' hall among the maids at her colour and her dress, and the ganders of footmen would like to be joking with her, but she made no freedom with one or the other, and when the butler thought to give her a kiss, she gave him a light slap on the jaw that wouldn't kill a fly, but he felt as if a toothache was at him for eight and forty hours. By my word, the other buckeens did not give her an excuse to raise her hand to them. Well, she was so silent and kept herself to herself so much, that she was no favourite, and they gave her nothing better to do than help the scullery maid, and at night she had to put up with a little box of a place under the stairs for a bedroom.

The next day, when the prince returned from hunting, he sent word to the housekeeper by the whipper-in to let the new servant bring him up a basin and towel till he'd wash before dinner.

"Oh, ho!" says the cook, "there's an honour for Cat-Skin. I'm here for forty years and never was asked to do such a thing; how grand we are! purshuin to all impedent people!"

The princess didn't mind their jibes and their jeers. She took up the things, and the prince delayed her ever so long with remarks and questions, striving to get out of her what rank of life she was born in. As little as she said he guessed her to be a lady. I suppose it is as hard for a lady or gentleman to pass for a vulgarian, as for one of us to act like one of the quality.

Well to be sure! all the cold and scornful noses that were in the big kitchen before her; and it was, 

"Cat-Skin, will you hand me this? Cat-Skin, will you grease my shoes? Cat-Skin, will you draw a jug of beer for me?" And she done everything she was asked without a word or a sour look.

Next night the prince was at a ball about three miles away, and the princess got leave from the housekeeper to go early to bed. Well, she couldn't get herself to lie down. She was in a fever like; she threw off her outside dress, and she stepped out into the lawn to get a little fresh air. There what did she behold but her dear filly under a tree. She ran over, and threw her arms round her neck, and kissed her face, and began to cry.

"No time for crying!" says the filly. "Take out the first walnut shell you got."

She did so and opened it.

"Hold what's inside over your head," said the other, and in a moment the silk and silver dress wrapped her round as if a dozen manty-makers were after spending an hour about it.

"Get on that stump," says the filly, "and jump into the side-saddle."

She did so, and in a few minutes, they were at the hall door of the castle where the ball was. There she sprung from her saddle and walked into the hall. Lights were in the hall and everywhere, and nothing could equal the glitter of the princess's robes and the accoutrements of her steed. It was like the curling of a stream in the sun.

You may believe that the quality were taken by surprise, when the princess walked in among them as if they were the lords and ladies in her father's court. The young king came forward as he saw the rest were a little cowed, and bade her good evening and welcome; and they talked whatever way kings and queens and princesses do, and he made her sit on his own seat of honour, and took a stool or a chair near her, and if he wasn't delighted and surprised, her features were so like the scullery maid's, leave it till again.

They had a fine supper and a dance, and the prince and she danced, and every minute his love for her was increasing, but at last she said she should go. Everyone was sorry, and the prince more than anyone, and he came with her to the hall, and asked might he see her safe home. But she showed him her filly and excused herself.

Said he, "I'll have my brown horse brought, and myself and my servants will attend you."

"Hand me up on my filly," says she, " first of all," and, be the laws, I don't know how princes put princesses on horseback. Maybe one of the servants stoops his back, and the prince goes on one knee, and she steps first on his knee and then on the servant's back, and then sits in the saddle. Anyhow she was safe up, and she took the prince's hand, and bid him good night, and the filly and herself were away like a flash of lightning in the dark night.

Well, everything appeared dismal enough when he went back to where a hundred tongues were going hard and fast about the lady in the dazzling dress.

Next morning he bid his footman ask the girl in the cat-skin to bring him hot water and a towel for him, to shave. She came in as modest and backward as you please; but whenever the prince got a peep at her face, there were the beautiful eyes and nose and mouth of the lady in the glittering dress, but all as brown as a bit of bogwood. He thought to get a little talk out of her, but dickens a word would come out of her mouth but yes or no.

And when he asked her was she of high birth, she turned off the discourse and wouldn't say one thing or the other; and when he asked would she like to put on nice clothes and be about his mother, she refused just as if he asked her to drown herself. So he found he could make nothing of her and let her go downstairs.

There was another great ball in a week's time, and the very same thing took place again. There was the princess, and the dress she had on was of silk and gold thread, and the darlintest little gold crown in the world over her purty curling hair.

If the prince was in love before, he was up to his eyes in it this time; but while they were going on with the nicest sweet talk, says she, "I'm afraid, prince, that you are in the habit of talking lovingly to every girl you meet."

Well, he was very eager to prove he was not.

"Then," said she, "a little bird belied you as I was coming through the wood. He said that you weren't above talking soft even to a young servant girl with her skin as brown as a berry, and her dress no better than cat-skin.''

"I declare to you, princess," said he, "there is such a girl at home, and if her skin was as white as yours, and her dress the same, no eye could see a bit of differ between you."

"Oh, thankee, prince!" says she, "for the compliment; it's time for me to be going."

Well, he thought to mollify her, but she curled her upper lip and cocked her nose, and wasn't long till she left, the way she did before. While she was getting on her filly, he almost went down on his knees to her to make it up.

So at last she smiled, and said, "If I can make up my mind to forgive you, I'll come to the next ball without invitation."

So she was away, and when they came under the tree in the lawn she took the upper hem of her dress in her fingers and it came off like a glove, and she made her way in at the hack door, and into her crib at the stair-foot.

The prince slept little that night, and in the morning he sent his footman to ask the girl in the cat-skins to bring up a needle and thread to sew a button on his shirt sleeve. He watched her fingers, and saw they were small and of a lovely shape; and when one of them touched his wrist, it felt as soft and delicate as silk.

All he could say got nothing out of her only, "It wasn't a nice thing for a prince to speak in that way to a girl of low degree, and he boasting of it after to princesses and great ladies."

Well, how he did begin to deny anything so ungenteel, but the button was sewed, and she skipped away downstairs.

The third night came, and she shook the dress of silk and pearls and diamonds over her, and the nicest crown of the same on her head. As grand and beautiful as she was before, she was twice as grand now; and the lords and ladies hardly dared to speak above their breaths, and the prince thought he was in heaven. He asked her at last would she be his queen, and not keep him in misery any longer, and she said she would, if she was sure he wouldn't ask Miss Cat-Skin the same question next day.

Oh, how he spoke, and how he promised! He asked leave to see her safe home, but she wouldn't agree.

"But don't be downcast," said she. "You will see me again sooner than you think; and if you know me when you meet me next, we'll part no more."

Just as she was sitting in her saddle, and the prince was holding her hand, he slipped a dawny limber ring of gold on one finger. It was so small and so nice to the touch he thought she wouldn't feel it.

"And now, my princess," says he to himself, "I think I'll know you when I meet you."

Next morning he sent again for the scullery girl, and she came and made a curtchy.

"What does your majesty want me to do?" said she.

"Only to advise me which of these two suits of clothes would look best on me; I'm going to be married."

"Ah, how could the likes of me be able to advise you? Is the rich dressed lady, that I heard the footmen talking about, to be your queen?"

"Yourself is as likely to be my wife as that young lady."

"Then who is it?"

"Yourself, I tell you."

" Myself! How can your majesty joke that way on a poor girl? They say you're promised to the lady of the three rich dresses."

"I'm promised to no one but yourself. I asked you twice already to be my queen; I ask you now the third time."

"Yes, and maybe after all, you'll marry the lady of the dresses."

"You promised you'd have me if I knew you the next time we'd meet. This is the next time. If I don't know you, I know my ring on your fourth finger."

She looked, and there it was sure enough. Maybe she didn't blush.

"Will your majesty step into the next room for a minute," said she, "and leave me by myself?"

He did so, and when she opened the door for him again, there she was with the brown stain off her face and hands, and her dazzling dress of silk and jewels on her.

Wasn't he the happy prince, and she the happy princess? And weren't the noisy servants lewd of themselves when they saw poor Cat-Skin in her royal dress saying the words before the priest? They didn't put off their marriage, and there was the fairy now in the appearance of a beautiful woman; and if I was to tell you about the happy life they led, I'd only be tiring you.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a poem about Catskin.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

What We Ate Wednesday--Salted Caramel Snacks

Hello lovelies! I like to make little healthy snack balls (I feel ridiculous calling them Bliss Balls...but these are blissful) to have as a dessert treat after a meal. Mostly they are made with cocoa powder but I wanted some salted caramel flavour and so threw these together with stuff I had in my kitchen.

Man, they are good. You can make them even more yum with a teaspoon of salted caramel extract from your baking aisle, but they are lovely without it too.

These are quick to throw together and get much of their caramel flavour from dates....they need to be nice big sticky ones not dry hard ones. Medjool if you can afford them. I can't but I get a huge box of "Jordan River Dates" from Tesco (800g for £3.10) which are lovely.

Salted Caramel Snacks
2/3 cups (GF) oats
heaping 1/3 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
heaping 1/3 cup ground almonds
pinch sea salt 
1 tsp salted caramel extract (optional) 
10-12 sticky dates depending on size
a few TB water

1. Throw your oats, coconut and almonds into your food processor and grind into a powder.
2. Add the dates and salt and optional salted caramel extract and blend again until it sticks together. Add water a TB at a time and re-blend if it is is not sticky.
3. Roll into balls and store in the fridge.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy and healthy.