Friday, 31 January 2020

Fairy Tale Friday--Cinderella (Mary Pickford, 1914)

Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I’ll begin.
Mary Pickford cph.3c17995u.jpg
We have been looking at silent films for the past few weeks. Several have had impressive effects for their times, but also some stylised overacting (which I suppose you have to do if you have to mime everything.) This week we look at a feature length silent film made in 1914 and starring “America’s Sweetheart” Mary Pickford. Her acting is really quite good for a silent film and it is no wonder. She was a feminist pioneer actress and businesswoman. Wikipedia tells us:

With a career spanning 50 years, she was a co-founder of both the Pickford–Fairbanks Studio (along with Douglas Fairbanks) and, later, the United Artists film studio (with Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith), and one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who present the yearly "Oscar" award ceremony.

Who knew?

Pickford was one of the earliest stars to be billed under her own name and was one of the most popular actresses of the 1910s and 1920s, earning the nickname "Queen of the Movies". She is credited as having defined the ingénue archetype in cinema.

She was awarded the second ever Academy Award for Best Actress for her first sound-film role in Coquette (1929) and also received an honorary Academy Award in 1976. In consideration of her contributions to American cinema, the American Film Institute ranked Pickford as 24th in its 1999 list of greatest female stars of classic Hollywood Cinema.

You go, girl!

My overall opinion is that the acting is much better and more subtle than the other films, but the effects are rather same-y. It does however have helpful title cards to help you understand what the upcoming scene will be about. 

Because this is a long film I will use Wikipedia again to help me summarise.

Cinderella is a kind young woman who lives with her wicked stepmother and ugly stepsisters. They abuse her and use her as the housemaid. One day Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters refuse to help a beggar at their door, but Cinderella offers her food and drink. The beggar woman is revealed to be a beautiful fairy in disguise, who then secretly helps Cinderella for her kindness. One day when Cinderella is sent to gather firewood, her fairy godmother summons a troupe of fairies who secretly gather a bundle of wood for her. Cinderella meets Prince Charming who is walking in the woods, and each is smitten with the other in their short encounter.
 NOTE: This is typical of Cinderella tales where her kindness must be tested to see if she is worthy of magical help. Also the meeting in the woods and falling in love is exactly how it happens in the pantomime version of Cinderella.

Soon, a ball is arranged so the prince may choose his future wife. The sisters visit a witch-like fortune teller in the woods, who predicts that a member of their family will be chosen by the prince. The sisters are delighted, thinking it will be one of them.

That night, the stepsisters have nightmares of the old fortune teller, while Cinderella has pleasant dreams of fairies dancing.
NOTE: This reminds me a bit of Macbeth where the witches tell him no man born of woman can defeat him and he totally doesn’t think there might be any other possibility and styles himself as invincible. And why are there always dancing fairies in a silent film? I wonder if this is all silent films or just fairy tales?

When the stepsisters leave for the ball, Cinderella is left behind. The fairy godmother appears asks Cinderella to bring her a pumpkin, some mice, and some rats. The fairy transforms the pumpkin into a coach, the mice into horses, and the rats into grooms and footmen. Finally, she changes Cinderella's ragged dress into a gown fit for a princess (with glass slippers, of course). She tells Cinderella she will to be back at home before the clock strikes midnight, for then, her fine dress will turn into rags and the coach and servants will become what they were before.
NOTE: Here we have all the elements we expect from a Charles Perrault version—pumpkin, mice, rats, glass slippers and midnight curfew.

The unknown lady who arrives at the ball charms the guests, and especially the prince. He and Cinderella slip away to the garden. Their flirtations are interrupted by the clock striking midnight. Cinderella rushes away, losing one of her slippers, and she arrives home, a ragged cinder girl once more.

Cinderella tosses on her bed, suffering a surrealistic dream in which evil-looking dwarves ring the midnight bell and the numbers on the clock's face dance and scramble wildly. She is awakened by the arrival of her step-family, who kick her out of bed and set her to her daily drudgery again.
NOTE: This motif of being tormented by clocks was also featured in the 1899 version.

Later, heralds announce the Prince's wish to marry the woman whose foot fits the lost shoe. The sisters go to the palace, and a comic scene ensues as each tries to force her too-large foot into the dainty slipper. The Prince learns that every girl in the kingdom save one has tried the slipper on and failed the test and announces that he will bring her to the palace himself. Finding Cinderella, he escorts her to the palace, where the slipper fits her. Her beautiful raiment is magically restored, and all bow to the future princess. Although a courtier suggests that this is an excellent opportunity for Cinderella to have her stepmother and stepsisters beheaded, she forgives them all.
NOTE: Cinderella is always nicer than I am. Off with their heads!

The prince and Cinderella again sneak away to the garden. When midnight strikes, Cinderella panics and starts to run away again, but her fairy godmother reappears and blesses her, assuring her that a good and noble spirit is always rewarded.
NOTE: I quite liked this happy ending. Cinderella will not be able to sabotage her own happiness by running away and her virtue is rewarded. Sadly, virtue should be its own reward because you can be a good person and bad things still happen but, in this case,, we get a fairy tale ending.  

You can watch it here. I feel the film below has better quality (less blurry) but it only goes until she leaves for the ball.

Here is the whole film of slightly less good quality (title cards also dubbed into what I think is Spanish)but shows you all the way to the end of the film.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for the Laugh o Gram version.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

What We Ate Wednesday--Za'atar

Hello lovelies! I go through periods of food obsessions. This is one of those times. I recently ate some hummus with za'atar on it and it was love at first bite.

What is za'atar, i hear you cry? Well, I am so glad you asked. Za'atar is a spice mixture consisting of various woody herbs, sesame seeds and lemony sumac. it is often used in middle eastern cooking. 

Even the name is cool. Za'atar. The two letter a's separated by an apostrophe just amp up the coolness factor. Or should that be the Z factor?

I searched online for recipes and found half a dozen...some had cumin and coriander which gave it an earthy quality, but I wanted fresh and woody--like a forest in the sunlight. Because this is how za'atar makes you feel--like you are forest bathing on a sunny day.

I made my recipe as simple as possible. I couldn't even be arsed to toast my sesame seeds and it still turned out amazing. I had everything in my cupboard except for sumac which I bought at Tesco. Don't leave out the sumac. This tart, lemony red spice gives it the sunshine taste.

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 together and sprinkle on EVERYTHING. Literally everything. Your mouth will thank you. 

Friday, 24 January 2020

Fairy Tale Friday--Cendrillon,ou la Pantoufle Merveilleuse (Cinderella, or the Marvellous Slipper) 1907

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

This week we look at a silent film made in 1907. It was directed by Albert Capellani who was a French film director and screenwriter of the silent era. He had a theatrical background and often cast stage actor colleagues for his films. Capellani's films cover many genres, including melodramas, fairy tales, costume dramas with historical and biblical themes, and literary adaptations including adaptations of Beauty and the Beast as well as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and  Les Misérables.
Image result for cinderella silent film 1907 albert capellani
It stars Louise Lagrange in the title role. Lagrange was a French actress of the silent screen  who starred opposite Valentino. I personally do not think much of her silent acting skills, but perhaps I am not wise to the subtleties of the silent film era. 

This film is 14 minutes long and there are some surprisingly good effects in it, but a few “what the heck is going on” moments. Perhaps that was indicative of all silent films, I don’t know. Perhaps if you had never seen talkies you would be able to follow the plots better.  

This film has useful title cards which set the scene. We begin with The Invitation to the Ball. We see our heroine weeping as she is chastised by her stepmother and stepsisters. She does a lot of weeping, which is really just putting her face in her hands and shaking her head to give you the impression of sobbing, but as every good crybaby knows—sobs come from your shoulders. A man enters the room and comforts her and wipe her tears. I thought because he touched her on the face to wipe away her fake tears was meant to be her father since he was so overly familiar, but I wasn't sure. I think he is. He opens the door and lets in a clumsy man from the palace who brings news of the ball. This becomes clear after some wild gesticulating and a jig to indicate there will be dancing. The clumsy man from the palace seems to fall down in every room they go in. I presume this is some sort of comic relief (because watching people fall down is funny.)

As you would expect, she isn’t allowed to go. She lays her head on the table and pretends to cry when--and I really have no idea what this is even after watching it five times—some sort of goblin appears out of a box on the kitchen wall. My husband said “Is it meant to be a rat? Or a cat?” But it definitely has a jester’s cap on and tries to repeatedly taunt or frighten her throughout the film. I genuinely have no idea, so if you do please leave me a comment. Then her fairy godmother appears and seems to chase away the goblin acrobat. She summons a hoard of dancing girls (why are there always dancing girls in togas in silent films?) who appear to weaving a giant fishing net (I kid you not) which turns into a fancy gown for Cinderella. I suppose if you had them weave a fancy gown with actual thread it wouldn’t show up on film.

They go into the lounge and the goblin does a somersault and becomes a man in period clothes in a very good special effect. He then throws two chair cushions on the floor which become footman. I presume he is meant to be the driver of the coach, but then he spends a few minutes teaching our heroine how to dance and bow and other things she might need to know when going to a royal ball. A minute ago he was some sort of hobgoblin and now he teaches deportment.

There is a big orange warning card to remind her to be home by midnight followed by  a fantastic special effect of a pumpkin becoming a coach. Then she is whisked off to the ball which turns out to be an outdoor affair. It is some sort of garden party where is quite hard to tell who is who (these white period wigs make it very hard to tell people apart.) While other people dance, she walks for ages in a circle  with someone that I thought must be the prince but then after her long walk she is introduced to someone (without a white period wig) and they dance so HE must be the prince. Then cleverly, the musical accompaniment begins to chime twelve times and she runs away leaving her shoe.

The escape was the strangest I had ever seen. She is running down a road and is suddenly attacked by that inexplicable goblin (for the love of God, please help me figure out what he is!) and then is seen to be exaggeratedly limping with a whole search party twenty steps behind her. They catch up to her and the prince seems to ask a “Have you seen a lovely maiden pass this way?” sort of question which she violently shakes her head to say “No.” He doesn’t recognise her in her rags, and she breathes a sigh of relief.

The next scene is the most extraordinary. She sobs herself to sleep resting her head on the kitchen table. Then her fairy godmother appears and with a wave of her wand the entire kitchen wall explodes like a bomb went off.  THE ENTIRE KITCHEN WALL. She doesn’t wake up at all despite a huge chunk of masonry landing on her leg. This leaves a handy hole to  view the palace and see them plotting to try the slipper on every available maiden. Then--in an amazing trick of reversing the film footage—the wall flies back up and puts itself back together like a jigsaw puzzle.

We then see them trying the slipper on every maiden in the land, and I do mean every maiden--rich or poor. We see ladies sitting in Chippendale style chairs in a garden (rich) and a lady with an apron chasing a huge flock of chickens (poor.) They both are unsuccessful at getting the slipper to fit. They go to her house and she takes off her wooden clogs and lo and behold –the slipper fits. Suddenly he recognises her, and they get married in colour. That’s right folks—the last few minutes of this early black and white film were hand coloured in a sort of garish Easter egg colour scheme. And they lived happily ever after.

You can watch it below:

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a longer silent film starring Mary Pickford.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

What We Ate Wednesday--Cranberry Almond Energy Balls

Hello lovelies! Spiderman and I both have a sweet tooth and we love a little smackeral of something sweet after our evening meal. I used to always have cake or brownies or some other more decadent dessert, but these days we tend to go for energy bites. Or bliss balls. Or whatever trendy name is going around.

I try to vary the flavors we eat. I was having a rummage through my cupboards when I came across a bag of dried cranberries left over from Christmas. My mind starting whirring (you could practically hear it churning out loud according to Spiderman) and a few google searches later I found this recipe from the blog CUPCAKES AND KALE CHIPS.

 I  wanted a real tangy cranberry vibe not just a few cranberries sprinkled throughout. This one hit the spot.

As I was typing this I mused to Spiderman that the next time I made it I would try substituting orange juice for the water which would make it even more scrummy. This recipe is easy peasy orange squeezy. See what I did there?

Cranberry Almond Energy Balls
1/2 cup (GF) oats
1/2 cup ground almonds (almond meal) or more oats if nuts aren't your thing
1/2 cup sticky dates
1/2 cup dried cranberries
pinch salt
3 TB water or orange juice

In your food processor grind the oats, almonds and salt to a fine powder. Add the dried fruit and while the machine is running add the liquid one TB at a time until it all sticks together. Roll into balls. Mine made 13.

It was really nice and tasted a bit like a Bakewell Tart. But the orange will alter the flavour profile. So we will have to just try them both!

Friday, 17 January 2020

Fairy Tale Friday Cendrillon (Georges Méliès, 1899)

Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I’ll begin.
For the next few weeks we are going to look at silent film versions of the classic tale of Cinderella. I will start with the oldest I can find by Georges Méliès.
Image result for georges méliès camera
According to Wikipedia:
Méliès was a French illusionist and film director who led many technical and narrative developments in the earliest days of cinema. Méliès was well-known for the use of special effects, popularizing such techniques as substitution splicesmultiple exposurestime-lapse photographydissolves, and hand-painted colour. He was also one of the first filmmakers to use storyboards. His films include A Trip to the Moon (1902) and The Impossible Voyage (1904), both involving strange, surreal journeys somewhat in the style of Jules Verne, and are considered among the most important early science fiction films, though their approach is closer to fantasy.

He also experimented with “stag films.” His most famous of these risque films was After the Ball. "The film's plot is a one-minute scene of a servant bathing a woman, along with the scenarios before and after as the servant is helping her get undressed (down to a bodystocking which simulates nudity) while revealing a few layers of clothing, bathing her, and finally covering and drying her with a robe. This is the earliest known film to show simulated nudity." (again thanks to Wikipedia for that information.) If you would like to watch it click{HERE}

This film of Cinderella was made in 1899 and features several elements we recognise and a few that are really strange.  It begins with Cinderella begging her stepmother to go to the ball and then being refused. Her fairy godmother appears, and our protagonist brings a crate of live animals who transform into larger papier mache animals and then to footmen for her coach. Similarly a real pumpkin is transformed into a giant fake one and then a carriage. Her fairy godmother gestures sternly at the wall which I presume there hangs a clock, but it is hard to see as this is in black and white and 121 years old. When Cinderella leaves for the ball the godmother disappears down a trap door (much like the effect that was used in the 1939 Wizard of Oz where the witch of the west leaves Munchkinland.) We see Cinders and the prince at the ball dancing away to some waltzy music (as opposed to the jaunty music at the start of the film) when suddenly who should appear but Father Time with an enormous white beard holding a huge clock showing it is midnight. He somersaults into a puff of smoke and disappears. Her fairy godmother shows up and waggles her finger and turns our heroine’s dress back to rags. The Father Time bit was weird but made sense in the context of the showing it is midnight part of the story, but then he reappears at her house with a bunch of dancing girls who all turn to giant clocks and torment her. Then it goes back to be the tale we know—the slipper is tried on and it ends with a wedding with some exuberant dancing by girls outside the church who look suspiciously like they were the ones being clock tormentors.

Watch the film here:

This film and its effects are amazing since it was made in 1899. I have long been a fan of Georges Méliès so this was a delight to find.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for another look into the silent film industry and Cinderella.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

What We Ate Wednesday--Alfredo Potato Soup with Bacon Mushrooms

Hello lovelies! Like so many people I dream about food. Do you do that too? Surely that can’t be just me.

I dream about food marriages--what would happen if Food A married Food B….what kind of Food Baby would they make?

This recipe was born out of one such dream.

I woke up and said to Spiderman, “What do you think would happen if I mixed my white bean alfredo sauce with potato soup?” This is the result of that.

It made a HUGE amount. 8 bowls in total. Well 7 bowls but I added some sweetcorn the next day to the soup which made it go to the full 8 servings. This could well be 8 meals for less greedy vegans but was only 4 meals for us because we each had two bowls every night.

I also topped it each night with Bacon Mushrooms. These savoury mushrooms are always a welcome addition to potato soup. You can find my recipe for them below:

Preheat your oven to 220C/425F.

Start by marinating your mushrooms for the bacon mushrooms in  a small bowl.

100g button mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 5 mushrooms)
1 TB tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1. Scoop out the mushrooms from the marinade with a slotted spoon and bake them on parchment paper (or silicone mat) for 12 to 15 minutes. Reserve the marinade to add to the soup. 

If you do want to make the mushrooms, do it while the soup cooks and don’t forget to add your leftover marinade to the soup for an extra pop of flavour.

Alfredo Potato Soup
The soup:
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
800g white potatoes, diced (don’t bother to peel, the good bits are in the skin)
6 cups hot strong vegetable stock (I used regular powder stock, plus a glug of tamari/soy sauce and a teaspoon of Tesco brand marmite)  

1. In a big ole pot, cook the onion and carrot in a splash of water or oil until softened. Add in the potatoes and the hot stock and bring to the boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile make your alfredo sauce.

For the sauce:
1 onion, diced
4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup  vegetable stock
1 tin white beans, drained and rinsed (I used butter beans)
1 TB lemon juice
1/4 cup  nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan
1 cup unsweetened non dairy milk of choice (we did soya milk)
1/2 a tsp salt

1. Put the onions in a small pot  with the veggie stock and garlic and cook on med high. Cook until liquid is nearly absorbed, remove from heat and let cool for a minute or so.
2. Add to the blender with the rest of the sauce ingredients and blend until velvety smooth. The onion really thickens it up and add flavour.
3. When the potatoes are soft remove from the heat and use an immersion blender to puree the soup to your liking—we like it 80% smooth/20% chunky.
4. Add the alfredo sauce and gently reheat---not too high or the milk might split if it is soymilk.
5. If you made the bacon mushrooms throw some on top of your soup. Also if you made the bacon mushrooms, don’t forget to throw the leftover marinade into the soup for another flavour boost. If you didn’t make the bacon mushrooms then add 1 TB tamari/soy sauce, 1 tsp liquid smoke and 1 tsp toasted sesame oil to recreate that boost of flavah.

The second day I reheated what was left of the soup with an additional cup of defrosted frozen sweetcorn and more marinade from the bacon mushrooms.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Fairy Tale Friday--Ash Girl (Emily Portman)

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

We have been looking at musical versions of Cinderella (meaning versions from a musical) but this week I would like to look at a musical version (meaning music from a song).
Image result for aschenputtel painting"
This version is by one of my favourite folk singers Emily Portman from her award winning second album Hatchling.

According to her Bandcamp page:
Emily Portman is a singer, writer and concertina player from Glastonbury and hailed as ‘one of the new British folk scene’s most beguiling presences’ (Uncut). Emily is the 2013 holder of the BBC Radio Two Folk Award for Best Original Song; an accolade which reflects her power to conjure darkly surreal netherworlds where folklore and myth collide with urban landscapes. 

If you want to hear more about her, please go here:MY NEW OBSESSION EMILY PORTMAN

This song includes many elements from the oldest versions of our tale—the helpful animal to give her food or milk when she is being starved by her stepmother, the blood and pain and sacrifice that it takes to get to the ball and the grave of her mother being a helpful place. This is no wonder as Emily Portman has a master’s degree in folk music. But being Emily Portman she has made it dark and surreal. Almost grotesque in its beauty.

I find it interesting that the song mentions the little red calf whose milk will wash the soot and the scars away. It reminds me of The Rough Face Girl whose skin was scarred from the popping of the fire but was made as soft as silk after bathing in the lake.

In many tales the hazel tree was planted on her mother’s grave and she watered it with her tears. It is the tree imbued with the spirit of her mother that grants her wises for a dress and shoes. In this version, the white dove in the hazel tree  pecks at her own breast covering our heroine with a torrent of blood that changes to a crimson gown. It’s  like a fairy tale form of Stephen King’s Carrie but with a happy ending not the death of everyone at the prom.  It also puts me in mind of the Louisiana flag where the pelican slashes her breast open feed her babies with her own blood. Everything we do involves sacrifice.

The last part reminds me of the test that our heroine often has to go through. Here she must be brave enough to actually step into the open grave of her mother. She must face the worms and her worst fears—she must see her true self. Then the grave will turn into a carriage and horses and take her away from this life that is no life. But in order to escape, she must face her own demons. Powerful stuff.

Here are the lyrics, that read like a poem. If you have read my book Wounds: New Openings Into Old Stories then you will definitely see the influence of this song on my writing. 

Ash girl, ash girl with your coal black eyes
Coal black eyes that have given up burning
Go down, go down to your father's yard
Help will be at hand
For the little red calf will give you milk
To wash the soot and the scars away
'Til your skin is soft as silk
Changed from its colour of ashen grey

Ash girl, ash girl with your mouth that's forgotten
Your mouth that's forgotten about upturning
Go down, go down to your hazel tree
Help will be at hand
For the little white dove will peck at her breast
'Til the ruby blood in torrents runs down
Down onto your waiting skin
Then it will change to a crimson gown

Ash girl, ash girl with your feet that are tethered
Your feet that are tethered with no hope of leaving
Go down, go down to your mother's grave
Help will be at hand
For the grave will open, inviting you in
To feel the worms against your skin
Don't let the fears pull you down
For brave ones there's treasure to be found
Step into her grave and cut all your losses
The worms will turn to rubies rare
The grave will change to a carriage and horses
Ready to take you the devil knows where.

Ash girl, ash girl with your coal black eyes
Coal black eyes so brightly they're burning
Remember the name your mother gave
Before she let go of your hand
Remember your name and pull at the reins
Your hour is calling, there's no time for stalling
Remember your name and pull at the reins
They'll follow the turn of your hand

Now the little red calf can sleep in the hay
The little white dove can sleep in her nest
The fire will sleep, they can tend it themselves
And under the earth your mother can rest

If you would like to hear her singing, please go to the link below on her Bandcamp page:

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week as we begin to look at silent film versions of our classic tale.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

What We Ate Wednesday-- Luscious Lemon Sauce

Hello lovelies! How do you be a vegan and still eat the things you love? Easy! Many moons ago when we still ate animals, lemon chicken was something we loved. In 1990 when we were exchange students we discovered a little Chinese restaurant called the Man Po. They served a lemon chicken that was my favourite dish. These days we don't eat our friends so lemon chicken doesn't sound like a meal, but I still crave that tangy slightly sweet sauce. Because what is it 9 times out of 10 that tastes so good on a meat dish? It's not the meat, is it? Nope. It's the sauce. Put that sauce on something else and you have yourself a cruelty free winner.
Image result for lemon"
I searched for years trying to come up with the right combination.  I was like the Goldilocks of sauces. Some were too sour. Others were too sweet. This lemon sauce is so delicious--it is just right. It tastes just like I remember the Man Po lemon chicken tasting (minus the chicken.)

We have tried this sauce on everything. Literally everything.

Pasta? Check.
Potatoes? Check.
Chickpeas? Check.
Kale? Check.
Broccoli? Check.
All the leftover veg in your fridge? Check.

Some combination of all of the above? Check.

Too tired to cook? Need something fast? Boil some potatoes in vegetable stock,  saute some kale and any other finely chopped veg then throw in some chickpeas. Smother in lemon sauce. Boil some pasta, saute some finely chopped veg with some broccoli and chickpeas and cover in luscious lemon sauce. Both take about 10 to 15 minutes to make.

Luscious Lemon Sauce 
1/2 cup vegetable stock
Juice and zest of one lemon
2 TB tamari/soy sauce
1 TB brown sugar (we use demerara) 
1 TB starch for thickening (cornflour/cornstarch...I use tapioca starch)
2 tsp sesame seeds (optional)  
Lots of pepper for a lemon pepper sauce (optional)

After you have cooked your food, pour in the sauce and increase the heat. It will thicken as it boils.

This has saved us on late nights after work when we are tired and hungry.  Spiderman does the sauce while I do the rest and we have dinner on the table lickity-split.

And I do mean lickity. Mmmm.

Friday, 3 January 2020

Fairy tale Friday--Cinder Fella-A Love Story (Todrick Hall)

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

This week we look at a Cinderella version with a twist by the talented Todrick Hall. Hall is a jack-of-all-trades. He is a Broadway performer, American Idol finalist, songwriter, actor, director and choreographer for RuPaul's Drag Race. He is excellent at putting together mash-ups of popular songs into a cohesive narrative. He does an amazing retelling of the Wizard of Oz (entitled The Wizard of Ahhhs) with Pentatonix. He also had a concept album called Straight Outta Oz that uses my favourite magic land as a metaphor for his childhood and rise to fame. The fact that he is a "friend of Dorothy" makes me admire him quite a lot.

Image result for todrick hall cinderfella"

His version is Cinder Fella which reverses our expectation by having the protagonist be male. Cinder Fella (played by Hall)  wants to go to the ball to meet the prince. And why shouldn't he? This is a very pro-gay take on the Disney classic.

Huffington Post says:

Hall brings "Cinderella" up to date, mixing iconic Disney tunes with pop songs like Katy Perry's "Firework" and Chris Brown's "Turn Up The Music," and features celebrities, such as Janice Dickinson, Shangela and Willam from "Rupaul's Drag Race," Lance Bass  and Daniel Franzese, in classic fairy tale roles.

Best of all, the pro-gay music video breaks the unshakably straight Disney tradition: Jasmine hits the dance floor with Alice, and Prince Charming has a happily-ever-after with Cinder Fella. As Hall writes, "This story speaks volumes and I think that love is as classic as this fairy tale. It's time for us to legalize love in all shapes and colors."

I love that Lance Bass--that gay heartthrob from the boy band NSYNC--is the prince. It is very well performed and choreographed. There are funny moments. The fairy godmother's response of "Then you nasty!" makes me laugh out loud every time. There is also a very funny throwaway reference to the film Mean Girls.

It is an interesting subversion of our classic story. However we still have our downtrodden protagonist who longs for a better life, a magical helper, a fancy ball to attend and most importantly, we still have our happy ending.

Stay tuned next week as we look at a folk song about an Ash Girl.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

What We Ate Wednesday-- Sweet Potato Soup with Leftover Orange Cranberry Sauce

Hello lovelies! Happy new year! I hope 2020 will bring clarity and good health to you all.

This recipe came about by accident. A week or two ago I posted THIS RECIPE from the cookbook Vegan in 15. Then came Christmas where I made a delicious orange cranberry sauce. But alas! There are but two of us and so there was leftover cranberry sauce. What a shame. As I was trying to figure out what to do with it, I had the thought to add it to a sweet potato soup. And what better recipe than this quick and easy one. I just omitted the curry paste and used the cranberry sauce instead. Genius.

Don’t forget to chop your veg into rice sized pieces in a food processor. It really makes this soup get done in less than 20 minutes.
This picture does not do it justice--it was more of a pink colour in person. 

 Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup with leftover Cranberry Sauce
1 onion, roughly quartered
2 medium sweet potatoes, roughly chopped
1 large or 2 small carrots, roughly chopped
400ml tin coconut milk
tin refilled with water
1 tsp vegetable stock powder (or half a stock cube)
1 cup leftover cranberry sauce

Cranberry Sauce
300 g fresh cranberries
1/2 cup water
zest and juice of 1 orange
1/3 cup liquid sweetener of choice (we like it tangy...but if too tart for you add a TB or two more)
Boil until the cranberries pop and break down and it thickens. Let cool.

1. Heat 1/4 cup water while you chop your vegetables. Throw your onion in a food processor and blitz then add to pan.
2. In your food processor, add the sweet potatoes and carrot and pulse til the size of rice grains. You may have to do this in 2 parts...all of this would not fit in my machine in one go then throw into the pan with the onion and curry paste.
3. Add the tin of coconut milk and refill the tin with water and add to the pan. Add the stock powder/half a stock cube and bring to the boil as quickly as you can.
4. Vigorously simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on then test for doneness. My sweet potato was soft after 10 minutes. Stir in your cranberry sauce and simmer for a few more minutes.
5. Remove from heat and quickly blend with an immersion blender. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.