Wednesday, 1 July 2020

What We Ate Wednesday--Savoury Stuff over Polenta

Hello lovelies! We have been eating a lot of polenta recently. It is delicious comfort food that heats up quickly and have just made whatever we have in the fridge on top.

Now I am not a whizz at maths. I make no secret of that. Most of our potato based meals use 400g potatoes. But trying to work out what to do with the last 200 grams of a kilo bag of potatoes is like a word problem. If a kilogram is 1000 grams, then how can Spidergrrl make these into three meals? Answer A: Buy another kilo and mix 200g new potatoes with 200g leftover old potatoes. Answer B Boil up all the leftover bits and bobs in your fridge and chuck them over some polenta. Had enough potato maths or do you want some more? 

This meal was made with those leftover 200g and some other stuff I had like a quarter of  red pepper and half a bag of kale and 6 slightly wilted mushrooms. Yours don't have to be wilted...that's just how I roll to avoid food waste. 

Savoury Stuff over Polenta 
200g potatoes, diced
enough strong vegetable stock to cover them

1 onion, sliced into rainbows
quarter of a red pepper, diced
6 mushrooms, sliced 
100g of kale (4 good handfuls)
splash tamari or soy sauce

1 cup polenta
4 cups boiling vegetable stock
1/2 cup non dairy milk (we used soya)
1 batch vegan parmesan cheese

Parmesan Cheese
3 TB nutritional yeast flakes
3 TB ground almonds
1/2 tsp garlic powder

1. Boil your potatoes in a pot with some vegetable stock until they can easily be pierced by a fork. Drain but SAVE THAT STOCK!
2. Cook your onion and garlic in a splash of vegetable stock from your boiling potatoes then add the pepper and the mushrooms and cook til softened. Add your splash of tamari or soy sauce and the boiled potatoes. 
3. Make your polenta by boiling your stock and slowly streaming in the polenta and whisking until it thickens then add your milk and parmesan and stir with a spoon.
4. When the polenta is thickened, take off the heat and put the kale and some of the leftover potato stock into the veg pot and cook until kale is wilted and it is as saucy as you like. I started with a half a cup of stock and then added a splash more at the end.
5. Serve the veg and mushroom mix over the polenta. 
6. Go nom nom nom as you eat it. 

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Schrodinger's Birthday

Hello lovelies! Today is my UN-BIRTHDAY. My mum's birthday was yesterday and my dad's (heavenly) birthday will be tomorrow. As a child it was very hard to have a December birthday when everyone else in your household had a birthday right at the same time, so the day in between was declared my un-birthday like in Alice in Wonderland.

Spiderman likes to pretend this is not a real holiday, but it totally is. Every year we laugh about it being Schrodinger's birthday--the holiday that is and is not simultaneously happening. Every year he makes a big production of saying in a pantomime gesture behind his hand to an invisible audience that it is not real and I am talking nonsense, but every year I get a gift--so who's laughing now? 

This year I was stunned by not only the gift, but the grand gesture of remembering something I had vaguely mentioned a few weeks ago but also of finding a whopping great bargain. Because i do love a bargain.

Spiderman is great at this sort of thing. He listens and makes a mental note and then surprises me with something personal and meaningful and I run around in a little circle flapping my hands out of joy. 

Fairy Tales are important to me. I write a blog about them every Friday. I published a whole book of them last year. I love illustration. I just made an altered book with 60 illustrations during lockdown. I made a companion art exhibit to go with my book launch last year. Shaun Tan just won the Greenaway award for best illustrations in a children's book. His book The Singing Bones was a huge influence on me when I was making the companion art for my book Wounds: New Openings Into Old Stories. I checked it out of the library half a dozen times while I was creating my artwork.

He created lots of grotesquely beautiful sculptures and then photographed them and I love the juxtaposition of them all.  

When Shaun Tan won the Greenaway, I said to Spiderman I wish I had that book. I regretted not ever buying me a copy. Spiderman said--in that casual dismissive way he does that I fall for every time--"Well, the one we should have gotten you was the collector's edition in the slipcover with the two signed prints, but it is too late now as it was a limited edition." 

I sighed and agreed. Plus it was really expensive, I told myself.  

Well it turns out that that was a big ole lie. Because yesterday, what should arrive in the post but the limited edition of The Singing Bones that he found on a clearance sale at 30% of the original price. 

And you want to see what is cool? The clasps on either side are in the shape of bones that you thread through ribbons. 

Here are my two prints signed by Shaun Tan. You can't see the signatures in the photo, but they are both signed.

I love this book because it features some very familiar tales like these:
Grimm fairytales you can touch: The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan ...
Red Riding Hood

Grimm fairytales you can touch: The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan ...

Also lesser know tales like these:
Monday Reading] Lesser Known Grimm(er) Fairy Tales Especially ...
Mother Trudy

The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan

I love it so much. Thank you Amazing Spiderman! Even as you handed it over saying this was definitely NOT for my un-birthday as that holiday does not exist I saw your sly wink and that twinkle you get as you saw how happy I was with my un-birthday gift. Thanks, best beloved. 

Friday, 26 June 2020

Fairy Tale Friday--Nourie Hadig (Armenia)

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

Today we look at a tale from Armenia entitled Nourie Hadig. It is an Armenian fairy tale collected by Susie Hoogasian-Villa in 100 Armenian Tales. I first read a version of this tale in Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales and fell in love with it. I started developing a storytelling with props to go with it, but never finished. Perhaps now that the children’s section at the bookshop where I work has expanded there will be an opportunity to tell it.

This is a tale that also uses the moon as the magic mirror. In this tale the mother (not step mother) puts her husband to the test saying, "Tell me, who is more important, your daughter or me?" The husband who SHOULD have said "my daughter because she is not asking me to kill someone I love" pulls a Hansel and Gretel and abandons his own flesh and blood in the woods.

What marks this out as different is that the place she stumbles on to is rather like a reverse Sleeping beauty where she finds a sleeping prince. A disembodied voices tells her "You must look after him for seven years and then the spell will be broken." And so she does, all the while her mother is searching for her to kill her because the moon keeps telling her that her daughter is alive.

It gets lonely tending to a sleeping prince for seven years and so halfway through she recruits a passing Gypsy girl to help with the labour. Now, I am not happy with the emphasis on Gypsy here (and will not say than in my storytelling--I plan to say a village girl) because she is a dishonest sort and I don’t feel comfortable with that connection being drawn just because of her heritage. But when the prince wakes up during the Gypsy girl’s shift, she neglects to mention that the other lady is the true bride and she merely the servant. And so like The Goose Girl, the poor girl and rich girl switch places. The prince offers to buy the servant a gift to celebrate his upcoming wedding to the false bride and she asks for a Stone of Patience. Have you ever heard of one of these? No, nor had I but the stonecutter says, “If the Stone of Patience sees that your troubles are too great to repair, it will swell and break wide open."

Our heroine not wanting to snitch directly on the usurping bride, tells her sorry tale to the stone while the prince secretly listens. The stone swells and cracks and he realises she is the true bride. Here in this version nothing seems to happen to the betrayer, but in the Angela Carter one Nourie Hadig keeps insisting it is fine to be a servant and let the false one be his bride because the wedding preparations are all ready, but you know she secretly is wanting the prince to insist otherwise. Quakers would not put up with that. “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” If he had been a Quaker, he would have taken her at her word and married the Gypsy.

So does it end there with a happy ending? No of course not. Her mother asks the moon who is the most beautiful and the moon replies, the Princess of Adana so her mother knows not only is her daughter still alive, but now she is married to royalty. She sends a poison ring as a wedding gift which our heroine duly puts on and falls down in a deep sleep from which she could not be awakened. In a lovely twist of fate, her husband lovingly cares for her for years just as she had cared for him. When it is finally removed, she is revived, and they lived happily ever after. Upon finding out, her mother dies of shock though I would have preferred dancing in red hot shoes.

If you ever come across the Angela Carter version, I would highly suggest you check it out. I think it is more poetic than this version. It is on page 200 in case you happen to pick it up.

How was I going to do this as a storytelling, I hear you cry? Well, once on a tree planting expedition with a bunch of unruly ten year olds a series of interesting rocks were found in the mud. I saw the first one and thought it could be the stone of patience and so asked muddy kids to bring me rocks of various sizes as they slopped about getting filthier by the minute with their spades and little tree branches. I found several identical ones in ever increasing size and for the piece de resistance, I found a large one that was split in two and could easily slot together like a puzzle and then crack open for the final reveal. So I went home from that trip about 20 pounds heavier due to a rucksack full of rocks.

How To Cut A Pomegranate - Family Spice

Nourie Hadig source

Once upon a time, there lived a rich couple, and each month the woman asked the new moon, "Am I the most beautiful in the world, or are you?"

Each month the moon replied, "You are most beautiful."

The woman gave birth to a baby girl, and they named her Nourie Hadig which means ‘tiny piece of pomegranate.’ She grew more beautiful with each passing year, and one night when she was 15, her mother asked the moon who was most beautiful. The moon replied, "Nourie Hadig is more beautiful than you or I."

She fell instantly sick with jealousy. When Nourie Hadig noticed her mother's fevered brow, she ran to her father. When he asked his wife what was wrong, she said, "Tell me, who is more important, your daughter or me?"

"I cannot answer such a question," he said.

But she would not be calmed; she insisted her husband kill their daughter.

The man was sick with grief, but he felt he must somehow cure his wife of her illness. And so he told his daughter they must go into the forest to seek help. This they did, but at sunset the father tearfully looked at Nourie Hadig and said, "Wait here for my return."

Nourie Hadig waited, but after many days when he did not appear, she began to search for him. She came to a house where she hoped she might find shelter. As she reached to knock, the door opened. She walked inside, and the door closed behind her. She turned to open it, but she could not.

Nourie Hadig discovered rooms full of silver and gold, silks and satins, rugs and candelabra, jewels and chandeliers, and at last a room where a handsome young man lay fast asleep. When she spoke, he did not answer or move.

And then she heard a disembodied voice that told her the prince was under a spell. "You must look after him for seven years," the voice said, "and then the spell will be broken."

And Nourie Hadig's work began.

Three years passed, and Nourie Hadig tended to the sleeping prince.

One night her mother smiled up at the new moon, and for the first time since her daughter's death, she asked, "Tell me, am I still the most beautiful in the world?"

The moon gleamed, as if winking, and said, "Nourie Hadig is most beautiful."

And the woman understood her husband had not killed their daughter as she'd asked, and so she knew she must do it herself.

So the mother set off to find Nourie Hadig.

Each month the mother asked the moon, "Who is most beautiful?" and each month the moon answered, "Nourie Hadig."

Another year passed.

One day in her loneliness Nourie Hadig cried out the window to a group of Gypsies, "Will someone help me tend to a sleeping prince?" She dropped a rope, and one young girl agreed to climb the rope and help.

Nourie and the Gypsy girl took care of the prince together, and three more years passed.

One summery day, the Gypsy girl sat beside the bed when the young man woke. "You have broken my spell, and I shall marry you and make you my princess!" he said, and naturally the girl agreed.

Nourie Hadig loved the prince, but she did not say a word. When the prince asked if she would like a gift for her service, she told him she would like the Stone of Patience.

"And your happiness," she said.

In the city the prince bought a ring and a bridal gown, and he went to see a stonecutter to ask if he might have the Stone of Patience.

The stonecutter smiled. "Yes," he said, "but you must know this: If the Stone of Patience sees that your troubles are too great to repair, it will swell and break wide open."

He agreed to sell the stone to the prince.

Back home the prince gave Nourie Hadig the Stone of Patience. At once she began to tell her tale.

"My father left me," Nourie Hadig said, and the stone swelled to twice its size. She went on to tell of the four years she took care of the prince all alone, and it swelled still more. She spoke of the three years she and the bride-to-be worked, and she asked the stone, "Tell me, am I more patient, or are you?"

With those words the Stone of Patience broke open, and the prince understood Nourie Hadig had saved him. He asked her to become his wife.

And she became Princess of Adana.

Soon after, when her mother asked the moon who was most beautiful, the moon answered, "Princess of Adana."

Now she knew how to find her daughter, and so she had a beautiful ring made and filled it with poison. She sent a servant to deliver the ring with a note asking for forgiveness.

Overjoyed by this, Nourie Hadig slipped the ring onto her finger. At once she fell into a deep sleep from which no one could wake her.

Three years passed, and just as his wife had looked after him, the prince looked after Nourie Hadig.

One day a healer came, and as he tended to Nourie Hadig, he noticed the ring. Hoping no one would see, he slipped the ring from her finger, and she woke.

He knew he had discovered a secret. He returned the ring to her finger.

"I can cure your wife," he told the prince, "if you'll pay me in silver and gold."

Naturally, the prince agreed.

The healer removed every necklace, bracelet and ring Nourie Hadig wore.

Last of all, he slipped off the mother's ring from her finger, and Nourie Hadig awoke at once.

That night, when her mother asked the new moon who was most beautiful, the moon answered, "Nourie Hadig, Princess of Adana."

And the mother, shocked at this news, died that night.

But Nourie Hadig and the prince lived happily ever after.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a tale with a scorpion necklace.



Wednesday, 24 June 2020

What We Ate Wednesday--No Bake Millionaire Shortbread

Hello lovelies! I wanted to make something decadent, but easy and reasonably healthy last week and so I was googling recipes and hit the motherlode. This recipe from the blog Fit Mitten Kitchen and it was really impressive. At first, I was worried because it seemed to make such a small amount (you make it in a loaf pan) because we are two greedy vegans, but they are so rich that a little dab will satisfy you. Spiderman said, “I can’t believe I am saying this and I have never uttered this phrase in my life but one really is enough.”

This is also a no bake recipe as the weather has hotted up again. It is easy to make, takes about a half hour in total with some fridge chilling time for each layer as you make the next layer. It is made with mostly wholefood ingredients and was all stuff I had in my pantry.

Millionaire Shortbread is something I only ever remember eating in the UK. Is there a US equivalent? I guess it is like a posh Twix. You have a layer of shortbread at the bottom, then a layer of caramel in the middle and topped with chocolate. Mmmmmm. Let’s get cracking.

For once I have made this recipe almost exactly like it says to (I did have a few tiny tweaks because I cannot help myself). This recipe came from FIT MITTEN KITCHEN

Millionaire Shortbread

First line a loaf tin with (reusable) parchment paper letting it hang over the sides to make it easy to get out later.

shortbread crust:

1/2 cup + 3 TBS coconut flour (70g)

1/4 cup liquid sweetener—she used maple syrup, I used golden syrup, but agave would work too

1/4 cup extra virgin  coconut oil, melted and cooled

Mix everything in your food processor and pulse til combined. Or mix in a bowl, but that takes more elbow grease. Spoon into parchment lined loaf tin and press down to an even layer. Then pop in the fridge and rinse out your food processor to make the caramel.

date caramel:

Soft, squidgy dates, 1 cup loosely packed (175g), pitted

1-2 TB non-dairy milk (I used soya milk)

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Pinch of salt (optional)

I also layered on some salted peanuts because I had them but probably wouldn’t use them again. I would suggest a pinch of salt to this section because salted caramel.

Add everything to your food processor starting with 1 TB of milk and blend until you have a thick caramel. I needed to use a second TB of milk. You may need to stop and scrape down a few times whilst blending.  Then spread on your shortbread and pop back in the fridge. If the caramel is too sticky to spread, use a wet spatula. 

chocolate layer:

100g dairy free chocolate bar (or equivalent of vegan chocolate chips)

1 tsp extra virgin coconut oil

Melt chocolate and coconut oil together in medium microwave safe bowl in 15 second increments, stirring in between until fully melted. Or do it like I do it in a bain marie by putting a glass bowl on top of a pot with an inch of simmering water. It takes longer this way, but we don’t have a microwave.  Pour melted chocolate into pan and spread smooth.

Place pan in fridge and allow bars to set for 20-30 minutes (Don’t put the bars in freezer here as it makes the crust too hard).

Once the bars have set, lift the (reusable) parchment paper out and place on cutting board. Using a large sharp knife slice bars into 8 squares. She got 16 bars out of it. We made it into 8—so I guess we are still greedy vegans.

Bars can be enjoyed at room temperature but store in container in fridge.

These were so rich and decadent. Worth it for the date caramel alone. This would easily impress nonvegans and vegans alike.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

There's No Place Like Home--Oz pages 59-60

Hello lovelies! Here we are at the end of our journey .If you are like me and don’t want it to end, then remember there are thirteen other Oz books by L Frank Baum (plus other good ones like The Sea Fairies, Sky Island and the Life and Adventures of Santa Claus) out there just waiting to be read! You can read them all for free here on [PROJECT GUTENBERG}

It has been so wonderful to revisit this book. I truly believe it holds up well and is as delightful as when my mother first shared it with me all those years ago, side by side in the brown recliner. She read me two chapters a night for two years and it is my happiest memory of time spent with her.

Here are the last two pages:

I made the rainbow just like I did at the start of the book by using torn tissue paper  and had it lead diagonally into the desert which I made out of sandpaper and then back to the sepia of Kansas. I made the sepia just a little brighter this time and not as dreary to show that Dorothy had brought a little of the rainbow back with her and is no way an indication that I couldn’t remember how I had made the sepia at the start of the book since it was the first illustration. I did NOT have trouble remembering which paints I used and the story about Dorothy bringing back some magic is in no way a cover story for my inability to have written down my paint formula. So there. I made their little house similar, but slightly different as it did have to be rebuilt.

Dorothy now took Toto up solemnly in her arms, and having said one last good-bye she clapped the heels of her shoes together three times, saying:

"Take me home to Aunt Em!"

Instantly she was whirling through the air, so swiftly that all she could see or feel was the wind whistling past her ears.

The Silver Shoes took but three steps, and then she stopped so suddenly that she rolled over upon the grass several times before she knew where she was.

At length, however, she sat up and looked about her.

"Good gracious!" she cried.

For she was sitting on the broad Kansas prairie, and just before her was the new farmhouse Uncle Henry built after the cyclone had carried away the old one. Uncle Henry was milking the cows in the barnyard, and Toto had jumped out of her arms and was running toward the barn, barking furiously.

Dorothy stood up and found she was in her stocking-feet. For the Silver Shoes had fallen off in her flight through the air and were lost forever in the desert. Note: As the silver shoes were lost in flight  there is no way that she can return to Oz this way—but there are many ways to get to Oz! There is also a fantastic indie comic called The Royal Historian of Oz by Tommy Kovak and Andy Hirsch which is based on the idea of what would happen if the silver shoes were ever found. This is a great adventure with so many Oz references from all fourteen of the books that it is a joy to read. 

Aunt Em had just come out of the house to water the cabbages when she looked up and saw Dorothy running toward her.

"My darling child!" she cried, folding the little girl in her arms and covering her face with kisses. "Where in the world did you come from?"

"From the Land of Oz," said Dorothy gravely. "And here is Toto, too. And oh, Aunt Em! I'm so glad to be at home again!"

There’s no place like home! This book is always home to me—it is my first love. The first book that really inspired me and fired up my imagination. All of my first stories were re-tellings of Oz with me as the heroine and whichever characters were in the book my mother was currently reading aloud to me. When we became British citizens I got a tattoo of a woodcut of Oz from the book Ozma of Oz to remind me “there’s no place like home.”  It is my source of comfort and joy. It was the perfect project to work on during lockdown and I needed the comfort of Oz to see me through. Thank you to L Frank Baum for such wonderful stories. Thank you to my Mum for introducing me to the world of Oz. Thank you to my beloved Amazing Spiderman who feeds my habit of Oz memorabilia. And thank all of you for coming on this magical journey with me.  

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Saying Goodbye --Oz pages 57-58

Hello lovelies! Today is the penultimate illustration in my altered book of Oz. can you believe it? Today we look at saying goodbye and how Dorothy got home. It is bittersweet both in her staying goodbye to beings she has loved and that we are nearing the end of the book. But don’t get too tearful. In the film they gaslight Dorothy into thinking it was all a dream but in the book it was real and Dorothy goes back many times to Oz in her lifetime. This is not goodbye forever.

Here are the pages side by side:

"The Silver Shoes," said the Good Witch, "have wonderful powers. And one of the most curious things about them is that they can carry you to any place in the world in three steps, and each step will be made in the wink of an eye. All you have to do is to knock the heels together three times and command the shoes to carry you wherever you wish to go."

"If that is so," said the child joyfully, "I will ask them to carry me back to Kansas at once."

This is my second picture. I used the words  knock your heels together three times (the film says tap instead of knock) and had Glinda tapping her feet with the magic ruby wand from her bosom. Even though textually this comes first, her actually leaving comes after the goodbyes so I felt it was acceptable to have this on the right page.

She threw her arms around the Lion's neck and kissed him, patting his big head tenderly. Then she kissed the Tin Woodman, who was weeping in a way most dangerous to his joints. But she hugged the soft, stuffed body of the Scarecrow in her arms instead of kissing his painted face, and found she was crying herself at this sorrowful parting from her loving comrades.

You can’t really tell but the Lion and the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow’s words all have a colour wash with an appropriate colour for them—orange, silver and blue, respectively. I coloured the background with gold paint mixed with pink streaks then added four glitter hearts—one for each of our friends.  

Glinda the Good stepped down from her ruby throne to give the little girl a good-bye kiss, and Dorothy thanked her for all the kindness she had shown to her friends and herself.

Dorothy now took Toto up solemnly in her arms, and having said one last good-bye she clapped the heels of her shoes together three times, saying:

"Take me home to Aunt Em!"

I am getting quite emotional at this point, so I will leave it here. Tomorrow we see her flight home back to Kansas and the book will be finished.

Friday, 19 June 2020

Ruler, Ruler, Ruler, Home--Oz pages 55-56

 Hello lovelies! Our story is nearing the end! Glinda the Good is here to help everyone achieve their dreams. This is a mostly wordy illustration in that I wanted to illustrate what each of our Fab Four wants to do after Dorothy goes back to Kansas. I used the harlequin style of painting again. I like this because it is like the Ozian version of Duck, Duck, Goose--three will go off to be rulers of their respective countries, and Dorothy goes home. But don't worry about Oz being so male dominated--in the next book the rightful ruler of named Ozma ascends to the throne. 

Before they went to see Glinda, however, they were taken to a room of the Castle, where Dorothy washed her face and combed her hair, and the Lion shook the dust out of his mane, and the Scarecrow patted himself into his best shape, and the Woodman polished his tin and oiled his joints.

When they were all quite presentable, they followed the soldier girl into a big room where the Witch Glinda sat upon a throne of rubies.

She was both beautiful and young to their eyes. Her hair was a rich red in colour and fell in flowing ringlets over her shoulders. Her dress was pure white, but her eyes were blue, and they looked kindly upon the little girl.

"What can I do for you, my child?" she asked.

Dorothy told the Witch all her story: how the cyclone had brought her to the Land of Oz, how she had found her companions, and of the wonderful adventures they had met with.

Note: Later Oz books by Baum have Glinda use the Great Book of Record where everything that happens in Oz in recorded in her book and she can see at a glance what is happening in the furthest corner of the country. This would have been really handy here and could have saved Dorothy all that trouble!

"My greatest wish now," she added, "is to get back to Kansas, for Aunt Em will surely think something dreadful has happened to me, and that will make her put on mourning; and unless the crops are better this year than they were last, I am sure Uncle Henry cannot afford it."

Glinda leaned forward and kissed the sweet, upturned face of the loving little girl.

"Bless your dear heart," she said, "I am sure I can tell you of a way to get back to Kansas." Then she added, "But, if I do, you must give me the Golden Cap." Note: I hope she doesn't mean in the southern way, but she is the good witch of the south after all so maybe she does. 

"Willingly!" exclaimed Dorothy; "indeed, it is of no use to me now, and when you have it you can command the Winged Monkeys three times."

"And I think I shall need their service just those three times," answered Glinda, smiling.

Dorothy then gave her the Golden Cap, and the Witch said to the Scarecrow, "What will you do when Dorothy has left us?"

"I will return to the Emerald City," he replied, "for Oz has made me its ruler and the people like me. The only thing that worries me is how to cross the hill of the Hammer-Heads."

"By means of the Golden Cap I shall command the Winged Monkeys to carry you to the gates of the Emerald City," said Glinda, "for it would be a shame to deprive the people of so wonderful a ruler."

"Am I really wonderful?" asked the Scarecrow.

"You are unusual," replied Glinda.

Turning to the Tin Woodman, she asked, "What will become of you when Dorothy leaves this country?"

He leaned on his axe and thought a moment. Then he said, "The Winkies were very kind to me, and wanted me to rule over them after the Wicked Witch died. I am fond of the Winkies, and if I could get back again to the Country of the West, I should like nothing better than to rule over them forever."

"My second command to the Winged Monkeys," said Glinda "will be that they carry you safely to the land of the Winkies. Your brain may not be so large to look at as those of the Scarecrow, but you are really brighter than he is--when you are well polished--and I am sure you will rule the Winkies wisely and well."

This is my first page. As the Scarecrow wants to go back to the Emerald City and the Tin Woodman wants to go back to the country of the Winkies, I have painted their triangles green and yellow respectively. In some illustrations the Scarecrow is pictured wearing a gold crown until Ozma becomes the rightful ruler of Oz and he steps down, so I have given him a gold jewelled crown. The Tin Woodman was given  a silver oil-can, inlaid with gold and set with precious jewels so I made him a silver jewelled oil-can. You can't tell the Scarecrow's words and washed with iridescent blue and the Tin Woodman's with silver.  

Then the Witch looked at the big, shaggy Lion and asked, "When Dorothy has returned to her own home, what will become of you?"

"Over the hill of the Hammer-Heads," he answered, "lies a grand old forest, and all the beasts that live there have made me their King. If I could only get back to this forest, I would pass my life very happily there."

"My third command to the Winged Monkeys," said Glinda, "shall be to carry you to your forest. Then, having used up the powers of the Golden Cap, I shall give it to the King of the Monkeys, that he and his band may thereafter be free for evermore."

The Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman and the Lion now thanked the Good Witch earnestly for her kindness; and Dorothy exclaimed:

"You are certainly as good as you are beautiful! But you have not yet told me how to get back to Kansas."

"Your Silver Shoes will carry you over the desert," replied Glinda. "If you had known their power you could have gone back to your Aunt Em the very first day you came to this country."

This is my second illustration. I made the Lion’s triangle red because his forest in in Quadling country and Dorothy’s a sort of sepia to represent Kansas. Since the Lion will be king of the beasts, I made him a crown that looks like it was carved out of a tree since he will live in a forest and I gave Dorothy one of her silver shoes. The Lion's words are iridescent orange and Dorothy's are a wash or brown. 

 Note: This quote about "If you had known their power you could have gone back to your Aunt Em the very first day you came to this country" works in the book because she has never met Glinda before. Remember in the book it is a whole different witch who meets her when she first arrives in Oz. In the film Glinda says the same thing, but it makes her come across as a “psycho glitter bitch” for making Dorothy go through all that. The film tries to fob Dorothy off with the line “If I had told you, you wouldn’t have believed me” which always made me mad. Why wouldn’t she believe you?  You need two witches to pull this off. 

"But then I should not have had my wonderful brains!" cried the Scarecrow. "I might have passed my whole life in the farmer's cornfield."

"And I should not have had my lovely heart," said the Tin Woodman. "I might have stood and rusted in the forest till the end of the world."

"And I should have lived a coward forever," declared the Lion, "and no beast in all the forest would have had a good word to say to me."

"This is all true," said Dorothy, "and I am glad I was of use to these good friends. But now that each of them has had what he most desired, and each is happy in having a kingdom to rule besides, I think I should like to go back to Kansas."

Stay tuned tomorrow as Dorothy says goodbye to her companions.


Fairy Tale Friday--More Beautiful Than the Moon--Algeria

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

Last week we looked at a tale featuring seven ghouls and this week we look at a tale with seven ogres. This story is from Algeria and is entitled More Beautiful Than the Moon. It was originally featured in a book called Tales Arab Women Tell collected by Hasan M. El-Shamy who is a folklorist and ethnologist . Wikipedia says: Some of his research interests include religion, myth and ritual, narrative folk poetry, typology and classification, kinship and folklore, which he has analysed through comparative, ethnographic and psychological approaches. He has published several books about Egyptian and Arabian folklore.

I was not able to find the actual source for this story, but was able to find two different summaries of it from HERE and HERE which I am going to amalgamate into one tale since both summaries focused on different details from the original.

This is one like others we have looked at where the moon acts as the magic mirror. But this mirror forces the mother to murder her daughter Lalla or the moon will kill her. The mother is more than happy to do this and not under any duress in any way. It reminds me of a short story by Chris Priestly in his Tales of Terror series where a girl thinks a painting is telling her to do evil things, but it turns out to be a mirror and all of those things were her own desire.

Her mother pays the butcher in jewellery to kill her and bring her a flask of her blood to drink. But as in all these tales, the man lets the poor child go because she is beautiful and innocent. Lalla hides in a cave with some ogres who smell human blood and search for her, but cannot find her but no doubt would eat her if they could because they are ogres. When they do find her, her beauty stuns them and they begin to fall in love with her. In an interesting twist of fate the story says  she cleaned them up and discovered they became human again. Whereas in the last story she DOES want to marry a ghoul because he is kind and gentle, these humans who were formerly ogres are still not her type. She likes them as brothers but definitely wants to keep them all safely in the "friend-zone." She gently tricks them so she doesn’t have to marry any of them and can continue to live as their sister. I like this bit because it showed her having choices. She likes the ogres but does not “like-like” them and isn’t forced to marry any against her will.

As in last week’s tale, a neighbour causes trouble for our heroine and kills her. A prince sees her dead body and falls in love, but his father insists she be buried because she is DEAD. The story then says:  The undertaker discovered the needles and removed them and Lalla woke up but was unable to talk. The prince insisted on marrying her. Soon Lalla became pregnant and gave birth to a son. Being dead has robbed her of her voice and ability to choose. HE insisted on marrying her and impregnating her, but she was unable to voice her consent for this.

It does end happily in that her voice is restored when she is able to speak about her past and the seven “brothers” she is missing and has missed for the last seven years. For seven years her husband has never asked her about her family or where she came from and she had nothing to say--only when her son asks about her past is she able to find her voice again.  They are all reunited and in a perverse “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” twist, after killing the Ogress who tried to murder Lalla, the seven ogres marry the seven daughters of the ogress who they just killed. Huzzah!



More Beautiful than the Moon

The story is about a beautiful woman who was very vain. She would talk to the moon each night and ask, "Oh, moon is there someone prettier than me?" The moon would answer, "I am pretty but you are prettier than everyone." Then the woman became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter who was named Lalla Ayshah el-Khdrah. The daughter was very beautiful and grew more so every day.

The mother went to the top of her house and asked the moon her question. This time the moon answered, "I am pretty and you are pretty, but Lalla Ayshah el-Khdrah is prettier than everyone.” The mother was filled with jealousy and asked the moon if she should kill her. The moon told her to wait until she was weaned from breast milk. When this happened, the mother again asked the moon her questions getting the same answer. The moon told her to wait for another milestone and this continued until Lalla Ayshah el-Khdrah knew how to cook, clean and sew and was old enough to get married and have children. The moon then told the mother to kill her or the moon would kill the mother.

The mother paid the butcher in jewellery to kill her daughter. The butcher took the jewellery but could not kill the innocent girl. He left her in the woods to let God decide what would happen to her. Then he killed an ewe and filled a flask with its blood for the mother. She drank the blood.  Meanwhile, Lalla found a cave to hide in away from all the animals. When the mother asked the moon, it replied, "I am pretty and you are pretty, but no one is prettier than you." The moon answered this way since Lalla was sleeping in the cave--underground.

When Lalla woke up, she heard seven ogres eating meat from a carcass of an animal. She remained hiding. One of the ogres said he smelled human blood. They searched but could not find anyone. When they were all asleep, Lalla snuck out for a little food and drink and then went back into her hiding space.

When the ogres awoke the brother again said he smelled human blood and noticed some of his food and drink was gone. They searched again but could not find anyone. Then they yelled that if someone was there, they would not harm the person. When Lalla came out they were stunned by her beauty and said she was their sister. She would cook and clean for them and they would give her whatever her heart desired. She cleaned them up and discovered they became human again. They moved into the forest and she was very dear to them all. In fact they all began to fall in love with her.

Meanwhile, her mother asked the moon again her questions. She was in shock to learn Lalla was still alive.  She was so angry and jealous the mother dropped dead.

The ogres had all fallen in love with Lalla and each wanted to marry her. She found a trick to not marry any of them. To decide which one she would marry, she put henna on their hands, covered them in cloth, and told them she would marry the one whose henna turned the reddest. In the morning, none of the ogres’ hands were red at all, as she had tricked them by using another herb, so she remained unmarried as their sister.

Then the cat and Lalla got into a fight and the cat put the fire out. She had to go to an ogress house to get a flame. The ogress gave her a flame but also ashes that dropped so she could follow the girl home. While Lalla was sleeping and the brothers were not home, the ogress went in and put seven needles into Lalla's head. The brothers returned thinking she was dead. They put her body on a horse and let it carry her through the forest. A prince was out hunting and found her. He fell in love with the beautiful dead girl, but the king insisted she must be buried. The undertaker discovered the needles and removed them and Lalla woke up but was unable to talk. The prince insisted on marrying her. Soon Lalla became pregnant and gave birth to a son.

Years passed, and the boy grew up and was playing in the garden. Some of his friends teased him about his mother having no relations and he went to his mother and cried about it. For the first time she was able to speak and told her son to tell his father that he wants to see his seven maternal uncles. This happened and Lalla, her son and soldiers and servants went to look for her brothers. She glimpsed the seven walking in sorrow and sent the soldiers to get them. She invited the brothers to dinner. At dinner her son asked her tell him a story and she told him the story of her life. Her brothers realized who she was and embraced her. They visited the house of the ogress that had stuck her with needles and set her on fire. They discovered the ogress had seven daughters, to which the ogres were married, and lived happily ever after with the Prince and Lalla.

Stay tuned next week for the tale of the Stone of Patience.





Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Quadling Country and the Dastardly Hammerheads--Oz pages 53-54

Hello lovelies! Well you are in for a treat today! Oz is full of so many interesting characters and these are one of my favourites. Today our band of friends enter Quadling country. Now, if I haven’t explained before there are 4 major countries in Oz—Munchkin Country (blue), Winkie country (yellow), Gillikin country (purple) and Quadling (red) with the Emerald City in the middle. If you really want to get to be a top level geek like me, then read this interesting article about Oz and the countries of Oz and the map that reverses east and west--the Land of Oz

Here we meet the Hammerheads who are a bit like a scary clown crossed with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum in the original illustrations. Take it away, Mister Baum:

The four travellers passed through the rest of the forest in safety, and when they came out from its gloom saw before them a steep hill, covered from top to bottom with great pieces of rock.

"That will be a hard climb," said the Scarecrow, "but we must get over the hill, nevertheless."

So he led the way and the others followed. They had nearly reached the first rock when they heard a rough voice cry out, "Keep back!"

"Who are you?" asked the Scarecrow.

Then a head showed itself over the rock and the same voice said, "This hill belongs to us, and we don't allow anyone to cross it."

Here is my first illustration. I based my Hammerhead on the original illustrations by WW Denslow. It took me several days to make this illustration because I knew I wanted to make a sproingy neck that went out like a spring. I knew there was a way to do it, but I had to find a tutorial to help me. If you want to make a paper spring check out this website: {Paper Spring}

Here is a view from the side:

"But we must cross it," said the Scarecrow. "We're going to the country of the Quadlings."

"But you shall not!" replied the voice, and there stepped from behind the rock the strangest man the travellers had ever seen.

He was quite short and stout and had a big head, which was flat at the top and supported by a thick neck full of wrinkles. But he had no arms at all, and, seeing this, the Scarecrow did not fear that so helpless a creature could prevent them from climbing the hill. So he said, "I'm sorry not to do as you wish, but we must pass over your hill whether you like it or not," and he walked boldly forward.

As quick as lightning the man's head shot forward and his neck stretched out until the top of the head, where it was flat, struck the Scarecrow in the middle and sent him tumbling, over and over, down the hill. Almost as quickly as it came the head went back to the body, and the man laughed harshly as he said, "It isn't as easy as you think!"

A chorus of boisterous laughter came from the other rocks, and Dorothy saw hundreds of the armless Hammer-Heads upon the hillside, one behind every rock.

The Lion became quite angry at the laughter caused by the Scarecrow's mishap, and giving a loud roar that echoed like thunder, he dashed up the hill.

Again a head shot swiftly out, and the great Lion went rolling down the hill as if he had been struck by a cannon ball.

Dorothy ran down and helped the Scarecrow to his feet, and the Lion came up to her, feeling rather bruised and sore, and said, "It is useless to fight people with shooting heads; no one can withstand them."

"What can we do, then?" she asked.

"Call the Winged Monkeys," suggested the Tin Woodman. "You have still the right to command them once more."

"Very well," she answered, and putting on the Golden Cap she uttered the magic words. The Monkeys were as prompt as ever, and in a few moments the entire band stood before her.

"What are your commands?" inquired the King of the Monkeys, bowing low.

"Carry us over the hill to the country of the Quadlings," answered the girl.

"It shall be done," said the King, and at once the Winged Monkeys caught the four travellers and Toto up in their arms and flew away with them. As they passed over the hill the Hammer-Heads yelled with vexation, and shot their heads high in the air, but they could not reach the Winged Monkeys, which carried Dorothy and her comrades safely over the hill and set them down in the beautiful country of the Quadlings.

"This is the last time you can summon us," said the leader to Dorothy; "so good-bye and good luck to you."

"Good-bye, and thank you very much," returned the girl; and the Monkeys rose into the air and were out of sight in a twinkling.

The country of the Quadlings seemed rich and happy. There was field upon field of ripening grain, with well-paved roads running between, and pretty rippling brooks with strong bridges across them. The fences and houses and bridges were all painted bright red, just as they had been painted yellow in the country of the Winkies and blue in the country of the Munchkins. The Quadlings themselves, who were short and fat and looked chubby and good-natured, were dressed all in red, which showed bright against the green grass and the yellowing grain.

The Monkeys had set them down near a farmhouse, and the four travellers walked up to it and knocked at the door. It was opened by the farmer's wife, and when Dorothy asked for something to eat the woman gave them all a good dinner, with three kinds of cake and four kinds of cookies, and a bowl of milk for Toto.

"How far is it to the Castle of Glinda?" asked the child.

"It is not a great way," answered the farmer's wife. "Take the road to the South and you will soon reach it."

My next illustration is the Castle of Glinda. I used the same model that I used for the Emerald City and the Wicked Witch’s castle with a hill and a castle on top. Because everything in Quadling country is red I made the castle red with my glitter card, but also put in a lot of pink as a nod to the film where Billie Burke wore that huge puffy pink dress. Glinda is very beautiful and feminine and ample (I already told you about her keeping her wand in her bosom) so I made it with lots of hearts.

Thanking the good woman, they started afresh and walked by the fields and across the pretty bridges until they saw before them a very beautiful Castle. Before the gates were three young girls, dressed in handsome red uniforms trimmed with gold braid; and as Dorothy approached, one of them said to her:

"Why have you come to the South Country?"

"To see the Good Witch who rules here," she answered. "Will you take me to her?"

"Let me have your name, and I will ask Glinda if she will receive you." They told who they were, and the girl soldier went into the Castle. After a few moments she came back to say that Dorothy and the others were to be admitted at once. 

The next page we will meet Glinda and see where all the companions will go when Dorothy returns to Kansas. 

What We Ate Wednesday--The End of Everything Meal

Hello lovelies! We have still struggled to find the ingredients from the supermarket that we need and so mealtime has been a bit of a juggling act. It is tricky when only one person can do so the shopping due to coronavirus. Since we don't drive, it has to be Spiderman as he can carry all the heavy stuff. I have to write every ingredient down on the list and then write several acceptable alternatives in case he can't find what I have asked for. It is exhausting and sometimes he still isn't successful! 

I have started saving back little bits from other meals--cooking one less potato or a keeping back a handful of cherry tomatoes and stretching them into another meal. This is a practice i think I will continue when covid19 has passed. 

This is one of the meals. it is odds and ends. The end of everything. Fag-end food. My British peeps will know what I mean there--but for my Americans fag-ends are literally cigarette end, but figuratively an expression that means the last part of something, especially when regarded as less important or interesting.  

This meal contains the last of several ingredients--onions, potatoes, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and quinoa. But together formed a really tasty meal. 

The End of Everything Meal

1/2 cup quinoa --rinsed really well
1 cup vegetable stock

100g (handful) cherry tomatoes
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
mixed herbs

1 or 2 onions thinly sliced (I had 1 and 1/2 onions because I had a half onion leftover from a lunch)
200g button mushrooms (about 6?)
lots of garlic
splash of tamari or soy sauce 
a few handfuls kale or spinach

200g new potatoes (about 4) diced

Move your rack up to the top position and preheat your grill/broiler to 220C/425F

1. Slice your cherry tomatoes and put them cut side up and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with mixed herbs. When your oven is preheated, grill your tomatoes for 15 minutes.
2 Meanwhile cook our rinsed quinoa in one cup of vegetable stock until all liquid is absorbed. Set aside. 
3. Meanwhile cook your onions in a splash of water or vegetable stock then add your garlic and mushrooms and cook until soft. Add a splash of the veg stock from the potatoes and then add your kale. Cook until kale is softened and reduced adding another splash of veg stock from the potatoes if the kale seems dry. Add your splash of tamari/soy sauce. 
4. Meanwhile boil your potatoes in vegetable stock. Add a splash of the stock in with the mushrooms and onions. When potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork then drain them and add them to the mushroom and onion mixture.
5. When tomatoes are roasted remove from oven and serve on top of the quinoa.  

I realise it is a lot of meanwhiles, but it was pretty easy.