Friday, 3 April 2020

Fairy Tale Friday--The Origins of Snow White

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

Previously on Fairy Tale Friday we have explored Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella. Each one of these tales had hundreds of versions of each tale available free in the public domain. Each one of these stories took well over a year to share on a weekly basis. It is harder to find fairy tales where this much material is available and not subject to copyright, but I will do my best. What we can't find in written versions we make up for in film versions, so there will still be plenty to share. 

For the next Fairy Tale Friday topic I have chosen the tale of Snow White which is classified as number 709 in the Aarne-Thompson-Uther Tale Type Classification (ATU).

Just a quick refresher course about how the ATU index came about:

Antti Aarne was a Finnish folklorist and began the classification system used today to categorise folk tales. He first published his classification system in 1910. In 1920, Stith Thompson translated Aarne's work and expanded it making the Aarne-Thompson Classification. In 1961, Thompson published an updated version of Aarne's catalogue and created the AT Number System. The AT Number system was updated and expanded in 2004 by Hans-Jörg Uther where it became known as the ATU Classification System. 

What was your first exposure to the tale of Snow White?

Most likely it was the Disney animated film, however Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has existed in many versions in the centuries preceding Disney. The most famous (though not the earliest) literary version of this tale was collected by the Brothers Grimm and published in 1812, but the story of Snow White was well known before it was published by the Grimms and appeared with little variation from Ireland to Asia Minor to Central Africa.  Except for one Portuguese tale which appeared in Brazil, the tale did not apparently travel verbally to the Americas which is unusual as the other tales we have looked at have had versions from all nations and all cultures. 

Many of the earlier version are quite gruesome with the Queen demanding parts of Snow White’s body (heart, liver or lungs) as proof of her death with the intention to eat them. Later versions often sanitised this cannibalistic element. Disney based his film on the Grimm's version of the tale and so included the aspect of the Queen asking for the heart of Snow White. source: SURLALUNE.

What are the elements we expect in a Snow White story?


The fairy tale features such elements as the Magic Mirror, the poisoned apple, the sleeping enchantment, the glass coffin, and the characters of the beautiful princess and titular character Snow White, the Evil Queen (Snow White's wicked stepmother), the Huntsman, a handsome prince, and Seven Dwarves. 

It is worth noting that all of these elements are based on the Grimms’ tale.

Was Snow White fictional or based on something real?

This is where the story gets interesting.  ANCIENT ORIGINS has this to say about it:

In 1994, a German historian named Eckhard Sander published Schneewittchen: Marchen oder Wahrheit? (Snow White: Is It a Fairy Tale?) , claiming he had uncovered an account that may have inspired the story that first appeared in Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

According to Sander, the character of Snow White was based on the life of Margarete von Waldeck, a German countess born to Philip IV in 1533. At the age of 16, Margarete was forced by her stepmother, Katharina of Hatzfeld to move away to Wildungen in Brussels. There, Margarete fell in love with a prince who would later become Phillip II of Spain.

Margarete’s father and stepmother disapproved of the relationship as it was ‘politically inconvenient’.  Margarete mysteriously died at the age of 21, apparently having been poisoned. Historical accounts point to the King of Spain, who opposing the romance, may have dispatched Spanish agents to murder Margarete.

So what about the seven dwarfs? Margarete's father owned several copper mines that employed children as quasi-slaves. The poor conditions caused many to die at a young age, but those that survived had severely stunted growth and deformed limbs from malnutrition and the hard physical labour. As a result, they were often referred to as the ‘poor dwarfs’. As for the poison apple, Sanders believes this stems from an historical event in German history in which an old man was arrested for giving poison apples to children who he believed were stealing his fruit.

The ‘talking mirror’ constructed in 1720 that furnished the home of Maria’s stepmother, the Countess of Reichenstein
Not everyone is convinced by Sander’s claim that Snow White’s character stems from the life of Margarete von Waldeck. According to a study group in Lohr, Bavaria, Snow White is based on Maria Sophia von Erthal, born on 15 June, 1729 in Lohr am Main, Bavaria. She was the daughter of 18th century landowner, Prince Philipp Christoph von Erthal and his wife, Baroness von Bettendorff.

After the death of the Baroness, Prince Philipp went onto marry Claudia Elisabeth Maria von Venningen, Countess of Reichenstein, who was said to dislike her stepchildren.  The castle where they lived, now a museum, was home to a ‘talking mirror’, an acoustical toy that could speak (now housed in the Spessart Museum). The mirror, constructed in 1720 by the Mirror Manufacture of the Electorate of Mainz in Lohr, had been in the house during the time that Maria’s stepmother lived there. The dwarfs in Maria’s story are also linked to a mining town, Bieber, located just west of Lohr and set among seven mountains. The smallest tunnels could only be accessed by very short miners, who often wore bright hoods, as the dwarfs have frequently been depicted over the years.

The Lohr study group maintain that the glass coffin may be linked to the region’s famous glassworks, while the poisoned apple, may be associated with the deadly nightshade poison that grows in abundance in Lohr.

Very interesting stuff. I look forward to sharing Snow White with you over the coming months. 

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

What We Ate Wednesday--Chickpea Curry Stew With Kale

Hello lovelies! Finding meals that we can eat under quarantine that are easy and made with ingredients we can find at our local supermarket can be tricky. I had everything for this recipe, so thought it would be a good one to try as it was fairy economical. The recipe is from the Forks Over Knives website and can be found {HERE}

This recipe is made creamy by some unsweetened plant-based milk. I used soya milk as that is what I had. Don’t use sweetened or vanilla milk, obviously. If I had a tin of coconut milk it would have been nice, but I didn’t. I thought a handful of raisins or a spoonful of mango chutney would have been a nice addition, but I didn’t have any. I used a red onion because that was all I could get at the shops. Use whatever kind of onion you can get. No kale? Use spinach or peas. Can’t get a fresh lemon? Bottled is fine. Save the other half of the tin of tomatoes by decanting it in a jar and using it within 24 hours or freezing it (I froze mine for a recipe later.)

Chickpea Curry Stew With Kale
1 (red) onion, finely chopped
1 potato, cut into ½-inch cubes (1 cup)
1.5 tablespoon curry powder
Dash cayenne pepper or chilli flakes
2 cups chopped kale, de-stemmed
1½ cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup unsweetened, unsweetened plant-based milk (I used soya milk)
½ of a tin of diced tomatoes (¾ cup), undrained
2 tablespoons lemon juice (bottled is fine)
½ teaspoon sea salt
1½ cups cooked brown rice, warmed

1. In a large saucepan combine the first four ingredients (through cayenne) and ¼ cup water. Cook over medium 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it looks dry or potatoes don’t seem to be softening, add another splash of water.
2. Add kale, chickpeas, milk, and tomatoes. Cook about 10 minutes more or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
3. Add lemon juice and salt to taste. Serve over rice.

That's it. It was relatively easy to do and was quite tasty. I definitely might throw in a handful of raisins or a spoon of mango chutney the next time if I can get them at the shops. But it was good just like it was.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

What We Ate Wednesday--Lentil Dahl with Kale and Toasted Coconut

Hello lovelies! This was a quick and easy meal I made after work a few times but is perfect for quarantine.  I found the recipe HERE and adapted it slightly to what we had.

I picked this recipe because it said to sprinkle toasted coconut on top so when I toasted the coconut for German Chocolate Cake Treats a while back I just toasted a bit extra for the dahl. Total honesty here--I don't think it really added all that much to the dahl so I probably won't bother in the future, but feel free if you have time.

I also cheated by  using Korma curry paste I had in the fridge instead of measuring out five types of spices because I was lazy. I also upped the lentils to 3/4 cup as I wanted more lentil-y goodness. It's all good.

Lentil Dahl with Kale and Toasted Coconut

1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 TB ginger root, finely chopped
1 tsp each ground cumin, ground coriander, chilli flakes, turmeric and garam masala or just use 2 TB curry paste
1/2 to 3/4 cup red lentils, rinsed in a sieve
450 ml vegetable stock
200 ml (half a can) coconut milk
100g (4-5 handfuls) kale
 2 TB toasted coconut for sprinkling (optional) 

1. Cook your onion, garlic and ginger in a splash of water/vegetable stock until softened. Add your spices or curry paste and stir to coat.
2. Add the lentils, stock and coconut milk and bring the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until lentils are soft and swollen.
3. Add the kale and cook for another few minutes until kale has softened.
4. Top with toasted coconut if you can be bothered.

I served it with Peshwari naan bread (flatbread with almonds, coconut, sugar, cinnamon and raisins) but it would be equally good over rice.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

What We Ate Wednesday--Caramelised Onion Hummus

Hello lovelies! I make my own hummus most of the time as it is more cost effective and you don't have that tiny plastic tub to get rid of.

The one exception is caramelised onion flavour. I buy that from the shops and Eat. It. All.

I figured there was a way to make it at home and I was right. It made 3 big cups which we put one in the fridge and two in the freezer for later.

Hummus itself is quick and easy to make. But the onion bit is what takes long on this one. My suggestion is cook your onion while you are cooking your tea. It can be just just browning away while you are doing other things on the hob otherwise you have to stand over the stove cooking an onion for 30 minutes while wishing you were doing something else. Just sayin'.

I also used soft white haricot beans instead of chickpeas, but use whatever beans you like.

Caramelised Onion Hummus

1 large or 2 small white onions, finely diced
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp marmite (or GF equivalent like Tesco brand--optional but gives it just a bit more umami taste)
2 tins of beans, drained and rinsed save the aquafaba liquid!(bean juice) 
6 TB lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini

1. Cook the onion in the 1/4 cup veg stock until softened. When the liquid has all been absorbed add the sugar and balsamic vinegar and cook until the onion starts to brown. Remove from heat.
2. Add everything but the aquafaba and blend like heck in a food processor until smooth. Add in the bean liquid a TB at a time until soft and creamy. I used about 1/4 cup.

This is a fat free hummus that I made without oil. Feel free to add 2 TB olive oil, but we honestly thought it was amazing without it.

Friday, 13 March 2020

Fairy Tale Friday--Disney's Cinderella (1950 )

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

Beloved reader, we come to the last of the Fairy Tale Fridays. This series on Cinderella has run since November 2018 and has finally run its course. I will be withdrawing for a few weeks to do research and will resume in April.
Our last entry is about the one you probably know the best—the Disney animated film from 1950. It was clearly based on the version by Charles Perrault as it contains a fairy godmother, a pumpkin into a coach, a midnight curfew and lost and found glass slipper.

If I am honest, I was never a fan of this even as a child. Perhaps because I preferred my fairy tales with my blood and guts (no stepsister tries to slice off her toes or heel to fit into the shoe in this version), but perhaps because I felt that our protagonist was too passive for my liking. Those would not have been the words I would have used as a child, but it how I felt. At home she seemed so resigned to her situation. I was worried that she had no fight in her. She took abuse and just lived in a daydream. I wanted to see her say “I’m mad as heck and I’m not taking it anymore!” I realise now that it was not very easy for a single woman at this period in history (I mean the olden times when Perrault wrote it, but it could also apply to the 1950s) to do something without a man to support her. As a child I just really wanted her to have more spunk. In Variety’s review of the film, they describe Cinderella as being on the “colorless, doll-faced side.” I would agree with that description.

I was also really upset by the fact that she was willowy, graceful and blonde and he fell in love with her at first sight  just based on her appearance. He doesn’t even talk to her (there is no time after the dancing and the chimes of midnight) he just sees her and wants her. She’s the same. For her it is “Met a hot guy, danced with him, let’s get married.” I wanted more adventure out of my life. However, I think what really bothered me the most was the thought that I would never be a tall, graceful or blonde. I am like an elf crossed with a hobbit and no prince was going to fall in love in me at first sight without talking to me because my personality is where I shine.

There are so many things I could say about this film, but this Honest Trailers says it better than I could so I will let them do the talking.

And just as a bonus, this clip from Saturday Night Live. I loved the scenes of the mice sewing her a dress. I really wanted mice to sew my clothes for me, but this sketch is how it actually would have happened.

That’s all for Cinderella. Thank you for joining me on this journey. Stay tuned for April when we begin to explore other fairy tales.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

What We Ate Wednesday--Apple Juice Lemonade

Hello lovelies! Okay. Let me just be honest. This is not really a recipe. Not really. it's a cheat. A shortcut.

I am not ashamed of this.

A while back my wise friend Sage (see what I did there?) asked me if we had a juicer. I said no. She told me that they used to juice a few apples and throw in a lemon to make a naturally sweetened lemonade that was refreshing to drink and made great ice lollies.

So I started thinking...could I just do this with apple juice and a lemon? Yes. Yes I could.

I love lemonade, but don't really want to make up a sugar syrup to add to lemon water. I love naturally sweet  cloudy apple juice, but often wish it was a little more tart. This just works!

Basically, I buy a litre of cloudy pressed apple juice and pour off 3/4 of a cup of juice. Then I either drink the juice or freeze in in an ice lolly mould. Then I add 3/4 cup lemon juice back into the container the juice is in filling the juice back up to the top.

Now you have apple juice lemonade! It's sweet! It's tart! It comes in its own container. Sure, a juicer where you juice your own would be infinitely better. but I don't have one. Adapt, adopt and improve is my motto.

Now, I don't have a photo because I am just storing mine in the apple juice container and I don't have any of those lovely tall glasses that would photograph well on a picnic table in the sunshine. I don't even have a picnic table, we live in Wales so sunshine is rare and all my drinkware consists of mix-matched chipped mugs.
Lemons are a very handy cure all
So to recap:
Apple Juice Lemonade

1 litre of really nice cloudy apple juice minus 3/4 cup---roughly 3 and 1/4 cup apple juice
3/4 cup lemon juice (about 3 fresh lemons--I cheated and used 2 fresh lemons and 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice)

Mix the apple juice and lemon together. Drink and feel amazing.

Friday, 6 March 2020

Fairy Tale Friday--Cinderella (Disney live action, 2015)

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

This week we look at the Disney version of Cinderella. It would make sense chronologically to do the animated film first, but I want to save it until last and so I will be discussing the live action today.

I remember when this film came out in 2015. It was directed by Kenneth Branagh and featured some impressive names-- Lily James as our heroine, Cate Blanchett as the Stepmother, Derek Jacobi as the old king, Richard Madden as the prince and Helena Bonham Carter as the fairy godmother. I recall reading an article at the time about how Lily James had to eat a liquid diet to fit into her dress and how impossibly tiny her waist looked in the trailer. It seems that she did not need the liquid diet to fit into the dress, but once corseted could not eat solid food which if I am honest, is not much better. Branagh attributes her tiny waist in the dress to her naturally slim waist, but I still have visions of her internal organs being displaced while she sipped clear broth through a straw.

I was pleasantly surprised by the film. The costume design (despite the agonisingly tight corset on Lily James) was impressive.  The film received a nomination at the 88th Academy Awards, 21st Critics' Choice Awards and 69th British Academy Film Awards, all for costume design. I can see why. The choice was made not to have Cinderella in a dress with a ragged hem and contrasting patches but to be in a dress that had once been new and beautiful and had faded over time. There were also so inspired choices for the stepsisters played to perfection by Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger as silly, talentless (but vain enough to believe they were genuine prodigies) who were constantly squabbling and disappointing their very cool (in every sense of the word) mother. Their costumes mimicked the clothing of the day bit with just an edge of wrongness—colours a little too bright, just a few too many shiny sequins, slightly too fussy. Cate Blanchett looked like she should have been in a 1940s film with her Veronica Lake wavy hair and icy flint like demeanour. The dress for Cinderella at the ball was made with layers of blue and purple gauzy silk which succeeds in giving her a look like a watercolour painting in motion. It was not just the women’s costumes with their extreme corsetry that were difficult to wear. I read that the prince’s trousers were so tight they kept showing an unsightly bulge that was unsuitable for a family film. They kept giving him tighter and tighter jock straps to press down the bulge—so tight that it made him nearly cry. But enough about the costumes.

If there was one thing I could say about this film that sets it apart from other versions it is this. This is the film of backstories. We see WHY characters are the way that they are. Cinderella is shown to have a happy “modest” upbringing with parents who love each other. Her parents teach her to revel in nature and look after animals. On her deathbed, her mother urges Ella to “have courage and be kind” which becomes her lifelong motto.

 Later when she meets Prince Kit in the woods while he is hunting a stag, she is angered by him hunting a defenceless creature. He replies “But we're hunting, you see. It's what's done.” She retorts,  “Just because it's what's done, doesn't mean it's what's should be done.” He later takes on this philosophy himself having seen her kindness and wisdom. When they meet he claims to be an apprentice (well, he is a prince in training) and she says she is a servant. When he asks if they treat her kindly she replies that they treat her as well as they are able.

We also see backstory of the Stepmother. She does seem cold, but it could just be self- protection. As we have discussed with this story, there was not much a woman could do in this time when this story was written to better herself than marry well. The Stepmother was married before to a successful merchant. She is widowed. She has no means of her own as women cannot own property or run a business. She has two unmarried daughters and mounting debts. She remarries to keep a roof over her head and to have enough dowry for her two disappointing daughters. She is continually reminded that her husband loved and treasured someone before her and has a beautiful, accomplished kind daughter to prove it. She sees his warmth with Ella, and it reminds her of everything she has lost. Even though she went into the marriage as a business arrangement that has to hurt. Then Ella’s father dies, and she is saddled with a second man’s debt. She must harden herself like flint if she is to survive. 

She makes a speech to Ella late in the film after she has found the glass slipper about how her own happiness has been crushed. She says:
Very well, I shall tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a *beautiful* young girl who married for love. And she had two loving daughters. All was well. But, one day, her husband, the light of her life, died. The next time, she married for the sake of her daughters. But that man, too, was taken from her. And she was doomed to look every day upon his beloved child. She had hoped to marry off one of her beautiful, stupid daughters to the prince. But his head was turned by a girl with glass slippers. And so, I lived unhappily ever after. My story would appear to be ended.

The fairy godmother deserves a paragraph to herself despite her tiny screen time. Helena Bonham Carter does what she does best---ham it up with glee. She gets ten minutes of film time but gets top billing and it is no wonder. We first see her doing the standard Cinderella test where our heroine has to prove her worth by being kind to a helpless old lady in disguise (HBC in full age makeup.) Then she transforms herself into a slightly dippy (possibly tipsy?) fairy godmother who says things like "I'm your hairy dogfather!" 

Overall, I think it a decent adaptation of the Charles Perrault version with additional backstory. Stay tuned for the final version of Cinderella you have all been waiting for--the animated Disney version.

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

What We Ate Wednesday--Za'atar and Lemon Roasted Vegetables with Chickpeas and Kale

Hello lovelies! A few weeks ago I showed you have to make the spice mix Za'atar. We have eaten it several times in a variety of ways and I have learned a few things.

It tastes better and brighter and fresher if you put it on at the end instead of roasting it on the veg.

It also goes really well with sweet potatoes and kale.

Za'atar and Lemon Roasted Vegetables with Chickpeas and Kale

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F

In a large roasting tin put the following:
 a few sweet potato chopped into cubes (don't bother to peel) 
1 red onion, roughly chopped
half a red pepper, roughly chopped
1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 TB olive oil

Roast for 15 minutes, remove from oven and stir, then roast 15 more minutes.

Then top with 2 TB Za'atar and juice of half a lemon. 

Serve over brown rice with sauteed kale.

Just a reminder how you make Za'atar:

Za'atar Spice Mix
2 TB dried oregano 
2 TB dried mixed herbs (mine contain oregano, parsley,rosemary, tarragon, basil, thyme and sage)
2 TB sesame seeds (toasting optional)
2 TB sumac
1 tsp fine grain salt

Mix and store in an airtight jar.

This was so bright and fresh. Thank you Za'atar!

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Because I could not stop for Death

We are thrilled to share the newest addition to our art collection.

I came home from work one day last month and Spiderman was waiting impatiently for me.

"You HAVE to see this!"he cried and led me to our computer to look at the twitter page of artist Chris Mould. You might have seen some of Chris Mould's artwork in children's books. He is responsible for the illustrations in that gorgeous new version of Ted Hughes'The Iron Man. You can see his style of artwork here at his Etsy shop: ChrisMouldArtwork.

Anyway, I took one look and it took my breath away. It was so beautiful--something Victorian Gothic but full of symbolism.  Just the sort of things we love.  You might remember our DEATH AND THE MAIDEN that we bought from artist PJ Lynch.

Then Spiderman said "Look closely.  What Emily Dickinson poem is this?" I peered closer and started to hyperventilate and flap my hands. It was so obvious when you know Emily poems like I do.

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –

And Immortality.

Now, if you know me at all (especially from my Louisiana College days) you will know I once was in a one woman show about Emily Dickinson called The Belle of Amherst. I was directed by a great New York director named Bill Pomerantz and Spiderman was my stage manager. So Emily D is a HUGE part of me.

So are you ready for the reveal?
He kindly signed it to H and T and we had asked if he would not mind writing out the quote on something small so we could frame them together and he really outdid himself. He drew this amazing drawing to go with it for free. Isn't that stunning??

We are hanging it in the bedroom with the other Gothic skeletons because that's how we roll.

Happiness is being able to buy art from real artist especially ones that come from literature. Thank you so much to artist Chris Mould!

Friday, 28 February 2020

Fairy Tale Friday--Cindy (made for TV, 1978)

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

This week we look at a 1978 made for television film of Cinderella entitled Cindy that features an entirely African-American cast. It was directed by William A. Graham, and  is an urbanised retelling of Cinderella set in Harlem after World war II.
Image result for cindy 1978
It boasts an exceptional cast with Nell Carter (known for the sitcom Gimme a Break and so much more) and Alaina Reed Hall (who played Gordon’s younger sister Olivia on Sesame Street for many years) as the spoiled stepsisters. The title character of Cindy played by Charlayne Woodard was a marvellous wide-eyed character full of childlike joy and wonder. I kept thinking she looked familiar. She was Tituba in that fairly dreadful adaptation of The Crucible with Daniel Day Lewis and Winona Ryder, but she was terrific in both the film Unbreakable and Glass as the mother of  Elijah.

Interestingly, both Charlayne Woodard and Nell Carter were in the musical Ain’t Misbehavin’ on Broadway. Both were nominated for a Tony as Best featured Actress in a musical, but the award went to Nell Carter.

I watched this film today (hence why this post is so late going out) and I really enjoyed it. The musical numbers were good albeit a bit strange. There is this New Orleans style jazz band that just pops up everywhere like through their apartment window or out of a cubicle in the hotel men’s room. But if you suspend your disbelief and just go with it, it is a very enjoyable ride. I also laughed out loud with a snort several times.

There was no handy summary of the film to fall back on so I have taken notes throughout the film.

After the war Cindy has moved from the south to live in Harlem with her newly blended family. Her father has married a woman with two grown daughters and has neglected to tell her that not only was he married before, but he also has a grown daughter whom he would like to live with them. He also makes the mistake of saying, “She makes your two daughters look like dog meat” which clearly doesn’t help his case.

The stepmother is not pleased and says if she’d have known she wouldn’t have married him, and he replies that is precisely why he didn’t tell her.  She says that even though he has a good job as a hotel doorman at the Plaza, it is not enough to feed another mouth. I liked this because often we see a father allowing his daughter to be neglected and abused and you don’t know why. Here you see how henpecked he is with his hat in hand shuffling nervously. There is a very good reason for him to be nervous which we will discuss in a bit.

Cindy is seen jumping rope with some neighbourhood children on the street in a white pinafore dress and shabby worn out white Keds shoes. She has a childlike exuberance that makes her seem like a good person. We see them in various day to day scenes where the stepmother and sisters are abusive, and the father won’t stand up to his domineering wife.

There is a hilarious scene in church. The father warns her they are not in the south anymore. This is no Baptist church but an Episcopal one. He tells her that she can’t look like she enjoys it so much and should only amen if they ask you to. But as the hymn is sung slow and dreary, she gets the Holy Spirit and can’t hold it in any longer. She sings and dances up and down the aisle and gets the church to join in with some soul but it puts her in the doghouse with her stepmother.

There is a dance called the Sugarhill Ball coming up and she really wants to go. She is out on the fire escape singing and cleaning the ironwork when she meets Michael who is sleeping on the fire escape of the next building(it’s wartime and there is a housing shortage). He is a draft dodger who works as a chauffeur to the biggest blackmarketeer in Harlem. He explains that he is happy being a coward because cowards don’t fight or start wars.

The stepmother has made new dresses for her spoiled daughters (who are seen to repeatedly play tricks on the stepfather) but she refuses to make a dress for Cindy. Her father vows to go out and make enough money to buy her a dress for the ball that night. She thinks he can do it as he is the doorman of the Plaza hotel. But in reality, he is the men’s room attendant who dreams of a better career and a fancy red jacket with gold braid on it. He works hard all day with no break trying to get lots of quarter tips to have enough money to buy his daughter a dress.

Back at the house the stepmother and sisters are getting ready for the dance. Cindy wasn’t able to “pad both their brassieres” because they only had one box of Kleenex and she casually remarks she can’t wait to be fat enough to wear a girdle which makes them mad. She asks about what the Sugarhill Ball will be like and they break into song with the jazz band coming in through the window from the fire escape. This is an amazing number full of scat and fast wordplay.

The father returns home dejected because he didn’t earn enough money to buy her a dress. Cindy bears it bravely while her sisters laugh. The father refuses to go to the ball without Cindy and decides to stay home and get drunk.

Michael (acting as magical helper here)shows up in his chauffeur's uniform which looks like a military uniform and invites her to the ball. He presents her with a beautiful dress. She says her mama always told her to never accept expensive gifts from men, but he replies that he stole it. She is outraged shouting, “What’s wrong wichoo?” But he explains it belongs to his boss’s wife and he just borrowed it for a few hours. His boss and his wife will be home at 12:30 so they have to get the dress back by midnight. She changes clothes in the back of his car and he acts like a gentleman by handing his hat on the rear view mirror so he won’t see her undressed.

The party is a hopping one and there are some funny antics with one of the stepsisters Kleenex coming out of her bra and her pretending to dab sweat off her brow to cover up her stuffing coming out.

Decorated war vet marine captain Joe Prince takes the stage as Cindy arrives. We see her lift her dress to climb the stairs and we realise she still has her white bobby socks and raggedy Keds sneakers underneath. Joe Prince makes his way around the room dancing with all the ladies, but really takes a shine to Cindy. He takes his distinguished service cross and tries to give it to her, but she refuses. At midnight she runs away leaving her dirty sneaker behind. Michael is afraid they won’t make it back in time and he will get fired, but they make it back safely.

Joe Prince employs a Private Investigator to find out who the sneaker belongs to. He visits every woman in Harlem to have every woman try it on which leads to a hilarious montage of trying on the sneaker. One of the stepsisters tries to use Vaseline to slide her foot in and the other rolls off the chair trying to jam her foot into it. Outside their house the PI runs into Michael who recognises the sneaker but is reluctant to give away Cindy’s details. The PI says that Joe Price is a fine upstanding soldier that“The Japanese think it is an honour to be killed by him,” but Michael feels he is equally worthy for her despite being poorer and a draft dodger.

We then see the stepmother take a taxi to the Plaza Hotel where she is shocked to find out that her husband has lied about his job. She storms into the men’s room to give him what for and he responds by standing up for himself in a jazzy song about he may only be a men’s room attendant, but he is the best one out there. Then the jazz band saunters out of a bathroom stall while white men pop up and sing over their cubicle doors.

They go home and find out that the rich Joe Prince wants to marry Cindy and then sugar wouldn’t melt in their mouths. Cindy goes out on the fire escape and finds out that Michael was fired for borrowing the dress and he is now enlisting. Joe Prince joins them on the fire escape and remarks “Why what a beautiful view. You can see all the way to the end of the alley.” Then he says something so bizarre—“I don’t really have a way with words as I am just a common leatherneck. But there is no one I would be prouder to have as my widow than you.” She asks to think it over and he says that there is no time for deliberation as he has a photographer waiting. He starts singing at her about how she shouldn’t say no (with the jazz band shown on the fire escape above), but she climbs down the fire escape and tracks down Michael who is at the recruitment office.

She finds him there and professes her love saying, “I’d rather starve with you than live in a palace with that captain.” The military man turns on a portable fan so the flag will wave while the jazz band just casually walks in on the swearing in ceremony and nobody seems to notice. Michael is sworn into the military and they vow to write six letters a day and they leave—him to go to basic training and her skipping away with him to see him off at the train station and then presumably to go home and have to face her family. I worried greatly at this point that her greedy, selfish family (which includes her father) would be horrible to her for turning down a rich offer for a true love match, but a Military Policeman comes out of the building and assures me that everyone (and I mean EVERYONE he barks) lived happily ever after.

It ends with an epilogue where you see what happened to everyone:

Cindy’s father finally gets promoted to doorman and gets to wear a red coat with shiny gold trim.

The stepsisters became famous as tag-team women’s wrestlers.

The detective ended up opening a shoe store and got to put shoes on pretty women’s feet forever.

Joe Prince spent the years after the war posing for recruiting statues.

The stepmother became a happy step-grandmother when Michael and Cindy had a baby girl.

Michael was the happiest of all—he got the girl.

It ends with Cindy singing about how she got everything she wanted—to be loved.

This film is well worth watching. You can watch it here:

Stay tuned for the last two weeks of Fairy Tale Friday Cinderella as we look the Disney versions.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

What We Ate Wednesday--German Chocolate Cake Treats

Hello lovelies! Since last week was the anniversary of our first date where I ate all the German Chocolate Cake (No, really. And he still married me) I thought it would be fun to make some German Chocolate cake flavoured treats.

So what so you need for German Chocolate Cake flavour? Pecans. Toasted coconut. Caramel. Chocolate. Those are the hallmarks of a GCC. 

So I splurged on some pecans (they cost over £3 for 200g) and bought some coconut from our zero waste shop The Green Scoop (no packaging!) and used dates for the caramel and cocoa powder for the chocolate that I already had. I threw in oats for a cake flavour and some vanilla and salt. 

There will not be a picture of these luscious treats as no matter how good they taste (and they taste *really* good) they look like something a dung beetle has just rolled up. So here is a photo of some German Chocolate Cake instead. 
This recipe calls for toasted coconut. Which feels like this when you are toasting it:

Me: (Shakes the pan) Hurry up. It's been ages. (Stirs the coconut) Come on...hurry up and toast. (shakes pan again) OH FOR FRITH'S SAKE WILL YOU....oh wait! Nevermind. it's toasted.

German Chocolate Cake Treats

1 cup of pecans
1 cup of toasted unsweetened desiccated coconut (see instructions below)
1/2 cup (GF) oats
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
pinch salt
1 cup soft sticky dates (soaked in hot water if your dates are dry)
a few TB water if it needs it

1. First toast your coconut. 

Toasted Coconut:

Toast in a dry frying pan over medium heat stirring and shaking the pan frequently until the coconut browns. Incidentally, toasted coconut tastes smashing on top of a vanilla cake. It will seem like ages with nothing happening but do not leave it unattended as it goes from white to brown in a matter of moments once it finally gets hot enough. When brown, set aside. If you are not making this right away, decant into another container to cool as it will continue to brown in your hot pan. 

2. Add all your dry ingredients into your food processor and blend until broken down. You can leave it a bit chunky for texture if you like. 

3. Add the dates and vanilla and blend again. Stop and scrape it down and see if it is sticking together enough to roll into balls. If not, add a TB water and blend again until it sticks together.

4. Roll into balls and store in the fridge. Mine made 16 walnut sized GCC balls. 

This was lovely to get all the flavours of GCC but less faff and sugar and fat. 

Friday, 21 February 2020

Fairy Tale Friday--Cinderfella (Jerry Lewis, 1960)

Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I’ll begin.
This week we look at a 1960 comedy film starring Jerry Lewis entitled Cinderfella. I will be the first to admit I am not a fan of Jerry Lewis and his gurning schtick, but this had some charming moments. Ed Wynn plays his Fairy Godfather in that daft other-worldly way that only he can. Has anyone ever seen a film where Ed Wynn was anything but weird? 

This is a role reversal story starring Lewis as Fella that features most of the hallmarks of a traditional Cinderella tale.

Wikipedia summarises it like this:

When Fella's  father dies, he continues to live with his wicked stepmother, Emily, and her two sons, Maximilian and Rupert. His stepfamily takes over the family mansion, while Fella is reduced to living in an unfinished room at the end of a long hallway. He has in essence become their butler, catering to their every whim.

Note: This scene shows Fella as a slightly awkward, possibly dyspraxic, earnest fellow who tries but fails to light his stepbrother's cigarette.

Fella dreams nightly that his father is trying to relay a message to him about where he has hidden his fortune, but he always awakens before he learns the hiding place. His stepfamily knows of this secret fortune and some go to great lengths to discover its whereabouts, while others pretend to befriend him in order to wrangle Fella's fortune away once it is found.

Princess Charming of the Grand Duchy of Morovia is in town, so the stepmother decides to throw her a lavish ball in order to get her to marry one of the sons. Fella is not allowed to go to the ball, but his fairy godfather says he will not remain a "people" much longer, but will blossom into a "person." His fairy godfather also says that Fella will bring right to the men and will make wives stop looking for their Prince Charming because there was only one.

Note: Here we have Ed Wynn doing his trademark squeaky voice and quirky personality. it also shows, like in other versions, that our protagonist is humble and kind. 

Before the ball, Fella is turned into a handsome prince. Count Basie's orchestra is playing at the ball when Fella makes his grand entrance. The young man quickly gains the attention of the Princess and they dance.

Note: Here we see a very loose-limbed Jerry Lewis do a floppy sort of dance to Count Basie's Orchestra which attracts the attention of the princess.

 The night is cut short when midnight strikes and Fella flees, losing his shoe along the way.

Note: This energentic dash up the stairs like a rocket actually gave Jerry Lewis a heart attack. 

Wikipedia reports:
The scene was shot with one take of Jerry Lewis going down the stairs and one take going up. He ran up the stairs in less than nine seconds and collapsed at the top. He was taken to the hospital and spent four days in an oxygen tent with his second cardiac event. This delayed filming for two weeks.

Back to the story: 
Back home, one of Fella's stepbrothers realizes that Fella is the supposed "prince." They wind up in a struggle under a tree, in the process discovering that this is where Fella's father's fortune is hidden. Fella gives the money to his stepfamily, saying he never needed money to be happy, he only wanted a family. Shamed, his stepmother orders her sons to return the money to Fella.

The Princess arrives with Fella's lost shoe, but Fella explains that they could never be together because she is a "person" and he is a "people." She tells him that, underneath the fancy clothes, she is a "people" too.

Note: Sadly, I cannot find a separate clip for this, but you can watch the whole film in the link below. The scene in question where they meet and talk about her being people too starts at 1:08. Interestingly, she is dressed in a lavish red dress with long sleeves, fur trim and high heels. As they start to argue where he says he is ordinary and she is special, she rips her clothes--pulling off her sleeves and fur trim, breaking the heels off her shoes to make them flats (it doesn't really work that way, but still) until she is wearing an ordinary red dress. 

I think the one interesting thing to take away from this is that rarely do we see Cinderella have an inferiority complex about the fact that she is not good enough for the prince like we see here. He has real doubts but she makes a speech much like the one at the end of Notting Hill about being a girl standing in front of boy trying to get him to love her and it works. 

That's all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a tale with more colour. 

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

What We Ate Wednesday--Savoury Cheesy Snackles

Hello lovelies! Regular readers will notice that I skipped last week's post. We had just come back from the epic holiday and we hadn't eaten anything new or worth blogging about so I felt there was nothing to say.

This week I want to share a savoury snack recipe. Whether you call them bliss balls, energy balls or whatever new, hip term there is out there--balls are all the rage. I love me some ball shaped snacks. They are portion sized and travel well. You only need one or two to feel like you have gotten a treat. Plus, I just laugh every time I say the word balls because I am secretly a twelve year old boy inside a fifty year old woman.

Mostly they are sweet because they rely on dates to hold them together. But every now and again I like to try to make a savoury one. This one has sunflower and pumpkin seeds and the glue that holds it together is tahini (sesame seed paste). It also is rolled in a cheesy powder that reminded me of Dorito Dust but without boatloads of salt and MSG.

It makes a nice change from the sweet ones. I crumbled two on a salad and it was delicious.

Savoury Cheesy Snackles
1/2 cup (GF) oats
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
pinch of salt (optional)
3 TB tahini
2 TB Dorito Dust (see recipe below)
1 TB tamari or soy sauce (optional for an even  more savoury option...or just use water)
1-2 TB water to help it stick together

Dorito Dust
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder 

1. Mix your Dorito Dust in a container.
2. Throw the oats and seeds and salt in a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs. Add the tahini, tamari/soy sauce (or 1 TB water) and the Dorito Dust and blend until it sticks together well enough to roll into balls. If it seems dry add a bit of water 1 TB at a time and reblend until it is compacted. Don't let it get too wet.
3. Roll into balls and roll in leftover Dorito Dust to have a cheesy outer coating.

These were great for lunches and could handle being bashed about in my lunch bag.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Fairy Tale Friday--Poor Cinderella (Betty Boop 1934)

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

This week we look at an animated film by Fleischer Studios starring Betty Boop. It was founded in 1921 by brothers Max Fleischer and Dave Fleischer who ran the company until it was bought by Paramount Pictures. Fleischer Studios was the chief competitor of  Walt Disney Productions in the 1930's.

Fleischer Studios characters included Koko the Clown, Betty Boop, Bimbo, Popeye the Sailor, and Superman. While other studios used anthropomorphic animals, the Fleischers used mostly humans as their main characters.
Image result for betty boop cinderella
This animated short film starring Betty Boop was made in 1934 and was the first colour film by the Fleischer Brothers.

It is interesting to note that having only seen Betty Boop in black and white, I was surprised to see that they have made her a redhead.

According to Wikipedia:

Cinderella (portrayed by Betty Boop) is a poor young woman forced to be the virtual slave of her two ugly stepsisters, who demand she prepare them for the prince's ball while she is left at home to lament her spinsterdom, singing that no one loves her and that her only respite is her dreams, but she holds out hope of being a real princess someday. 
NOTE: She has a brief creepy dance with a broom that reminded me of the walking brooms from  The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The stepsisters are made ugly by large flat feet and rubbery arms with wide shoulders and flat chests.  Cinderella may be wearing rags with patches, but she also manages to do all her work in high heels. There is a great visual montage of Cinderella inside a clock with Roman numerals doing all the cleaning to show the passage of time.  
Image result for betty boop cinderella
 Cinderella is visited by her fairy godmother, who grants her wish to attend the prince's ball, giving her beautiful clothes, a carriage, and the traditional glass slippers, with the warning that she must leave by midnight before the spell expires.
Note: Her fairy godmother appears from a sputtering candle flame. She also magics a lace handkerchief so Cinderella can blow her nose. She asks for a pumpkin, six mice and two lizards who then dance around the drawing room singing with creepily human teeth. Even the pumpkin is glad to be part of the transformation to our help our kind protagonist and a jack-o-lantern face appears and sings in a bass voice that he narrowly escaped being pumpkin pie. The fairy godmother waves her wand and Cinderella’s ragged dress gets shorter and shorter until it disappears. She is left in her ruffled pantaloons which also disappear making this rather racy as she stands in tiny cartoon frilly knickers. A garter and corset magically appear as well as a beautiful dress.

During the ball, Prince Charming, provoked by a mallet-wielding Cupid, descends the staircase in royal fashion and is instantly smitten by Cinderella. 
NOTE: After being brained with a mallet, he slides down the stairs to the tune of a swanee whistle. Also, everyone else appears to be cardboard cutouts in the background. I know that this is an animation time saving technique, but it sort of gives the effect that they feel like they are the only two people in the room. Then  a caricature of Rudy Vallee serenades them.

The two have a wonderful time dancing together, but when midnight strikes, she rushes out of the ball, leaving behind her shoe.
NOTE: The ballroom must be on the top floor of the palace as she has to descend several flights of stairs to get out the door. She runs into a mirror she thinks is a hallway then slides down the banister to get out.

The prince proclaims that whoever can fit her foot into the shoe shall be his wife; all the maidens in the land line up to try, with none in the queue able to fit until Cinderella arrives and fits into the shoe easily. 
NOTE: It is interesting to note that everyone else seems like they are in a different historical period than she is. They all have big powered white wigs and she has flapper hair and a shorter dress. 
Also the way they try on the shoe is unusual. Instead of the shoe being put on the stationary foot, the shoe remains on a pillow and an assembly line of women try their foot in the stationary shoe.

The two are married, and the ugly stepsisters are left to argue with each other until the end title's doors smack their heads together. 
NOTE: In the wedding carriage, the prince is *definitely* wearing blue eyeshadow and mascara.

This is an interesting film that is slightly risqué with the near nudity of Betty Boop. Watch it here:

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a comic reversal.