Tuesday, 18 March 2014

A side of Cinderella you haven't seen!

Mr Clean

One older sister: Cinderella, wash the floor.
Other older sister: Yeah, wash it, and then re-wax it.
(Sisters leave for the ball.)
Cinderella: Wash, wax, pfui
(Fairy Godmother appears)
Fairy Godmother: Phew, ammonia. That strips wax. But use Mr Clean with no ammonia. Mr Clean gets the dirt but leaves the wax shining and you get a shine.
Cinderella: Wow
Fairy Godmother: And now off to the ball?
Cinderella: Ball-schmall. Tonight's my bowling league. 'Bye.

- Proctor and Gamble Ltd. Ad.

If you ask me, I like this Cinderella much more than the other versions. Even the Grimm's Brothers and I'm doing a blog in their name! Do me favor, and keep this between us?

No food in this version, and I believe I've already mentioned the lentils in the previous post.
So, I guess I will have to improvise. What would Cinderella want? (food wise, at the ball- you know if her bowling league wasn't at the same time)

- Hors D' oeuvres
- A delicious Main
- And something Chocolatey for desert (like any sane person)

I'm going to show you how to make Hors D' oeuvres (you're going to have to figure out how to pronounce it yourself), as I think they're the hardest! You need something light and teasing so you guests don't pass out from the diets they've been on to get into their ball gowns but not too filling so as to ruin their mains.

The Easiest Way to Make Mushroom-Polenta Diamonds, courtesy of Martha Stewart.


  • 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, and caps wiped clean
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more for baking sheet
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons port or dry white wine
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup instant polenta
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)
  • 2 roasted red bell peppers, cut into thin slivers, for garnish (optional)
  • Mascarpone cheese, for garnish (optional) 


  1. Step 1

    In a food processor, pulse mushrooms until finely chopped. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add port, and stir until evaporated. Stir in cream; simmer until mixture is thick, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat; let cool.
  2. Step 2

    Butter a 10-by-15-inch rimmed baking sheet; set aside. Boil 1 quart water in a large saucepan; add 1 teaspoon salt. While whisking constantly, gradually add polenta. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook, whisking constantly, until soft and all water is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Stir in Parmesan. Immediately transfer to prepared baking sheet; spread evenly. Let cool completely; cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to proceed. Polenta can be made up to 1 day ahead.
  3. Step 3

    Halve the polenta crosswise. Carefully transfer one half, smooth side down, to a clean work surface; spread mushroom mixture on top. Place remaining polenta half, smooth side up, on top; trim edges.
  4. Step 4

    Cut polenta lengthwise into 3/4-inch-wide rows; cut rows at an angle to form 1-inch-long diamonds. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Wrap in plastic wrap; freeze until ready to use, up to 6 weeks.
  5. Step 5

    To serve, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Transfer sheets to oven. Bake diamonds, rotating sheets halfway through, 12 to 15 minutes. Garnish each with bell pepper and a dab of mascarpone, if desired. Serve warm.
 And this is the End Result:


Sunday, 16 March 2014

Breaking the Magic Spell!

This was a really interesting read by Jack Zipes. He offers Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales. Since I'm doing a blog on fairy tales, it makes sense to take a look, right?

"Every ruling class produces sensual present-day products of a better life. It produces needs in the masses which it cannot satisfy. To be sure, the palaces are not built for the masses. However, the needs of the masses are measured by them. This is most fully and freely articulated by fairy tales." (93).
                                                                                 Oskar Negt and Alexander Kluge,
                                                                                 Offentilchkeit und Erfahrung

Zipes discussion of fairy tales, bourgeois thinking, culture and mas media, makes a good point. Fairy tales do illicit in everyone a search for "present-day products of a better life", take for example Cinderella. She cooks, she cleans, she does household chores, picks up after everyone and takes care of them. So that they can lead carefree lives because Cinderella is carrying them all and not receiving back any of the rewards, until of course a rich Prince falls in love with her.
A rags to riches story, the message that despite starting from nothing you can have everything.
It is a very modern trait, the masses accumulating products for a better standard of living.

The Grimm's Brothers Fairy Tales, on the other hand focus on the simpler things in life, such as food, morality, the rights and wrongs in life and more times than not they are linked with the theme of hunger.
It's fair to say the brothers believed in the biblical reference 'to lose is to gain', experiencing something like hunger is to appreciate it when you have a full stomach or not take for granted what is already yours. This is perhaps the reason why they use 'humble' foods to illustrate a point for example, if we use the Grimm's brothers version of Cinderella she is given the task to pick out lentils from ashes as a test and if she succeeds her step-mother will allow her to go with them. I'm sure you've guessed this was a trick but the point is lentils are not considered luxurious. As a dish by itself, you can only really make lentil soup, a theme the Grimm's brothers keep to. For example the fairy tale 'Donkey Cabbages', 'The mouse, the bird and the sausage', 'The crumbs on the table'. 

Horkheimer and Adrno, however, argue "the purpose of production is to make the people into bigger and better consumers with no regard to the quality of the things they produce and consume. Culture expressions are mediated for the people by an industry which seeks to make the masses into automatons not autonomous beings" (98). Eek!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

The Ear of Corn

You may be familiar with this title or maybe even heard of corn of the cob being referred to as the "Ear of Corn". I've even heard that it's a common misconception to believe when someone says Ear of Corn, they think you are talking about your ear. Maybe read this first before doing anything weird with your ear?

That was a bit mean, I know, It's actually not that hard to believe.
The Ear of Corn is by the Grimm's brothers like all the blog posts, this story is interesting though because it links religion to food, and although some people treat food as a deity, corn may no be at the top of their list. This fairy tale is about a gift from God, yes you guessed it, it's corn, to help the people in the town flourish.

The title personifies the corn, as if it can hear what is going on. Not surprising as it has religious connotations. You know, God can hear everything? The story also mentions "God" (377), "fruitful-ness"(377) & "much greater" (377), these connotations all give the sense of something bigger. For the people in the fairy story, they rely on God, he is their savior but one that is on Earth. "When God himself still walked the earth" (377), so for them religion is not just a belief, its physical, seeing is believing.

The gift of the corn from God to help the people, is actually wrapped up in the leaves or "Ear" like a gift. The "ears of corn did not bear fifty or sixty, but four or five hundred-fold... the corn grew from the bottom to the very top of the stalk" (377), if you imagine the corn wrapped up in that many amount of leaves it would be very thick, and there is a whole field of corn like this.
The story begins in this way and emphasize to the reader how great and prosperous the people were, until they took it for granted.
"Men however are so made, that when they are too well off they no longer value the blessings which come from God"(377). It seems the Grimm brothers are offering up an explanation for why god isn't revealed to us: He gives us what we want and then due to our natural instincts we become complacent, perhaps there is some truth to this, this story certainly thinks so.

As "one day a woman was passing by a cornfield when her little child, who was running beside her, fell into a puddle, and dirtied her frock. On this the mother tore up a handful of the beautiful ears of corn, and cleaned the frock with them." (377)
God seeing this is angered, understandably as His gift is being treated so callously, because as it was a gift, it is therefore sacred. There is the tone that it is considered almost blasphemous that she used the "beautiful ears" to clean a frock. It was an example of how "men however are so made.. they no longer value the blessings" (377) In this case, however it was a woman who betrayed this privilidge.

It brings to mind of another woman in biblical history who had God's trust and betrayed it: Eve. Although, of course the crimes were different and one more significant than the other, this woman also took for granted what they need to survive.

A 16th Century artist, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, created a painting called 'Summer', with ears of corn.

Cited by the 'Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales'. 2012. Barnes & Noble Inc. 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

"Sweet Porridge"? How sweet we talkin'?

After I stared reading this fairy story, I realized I actually remembered it from my childhood! Granted it's very short, explaining why I remember it. Yes, I was that kid, the one where the slightest thing, such as an ordinary bird flying past a window would take my attention. In my defense, it was a very rare bird, I was a birdwatcher you see. No, alright I wasn't, I just liked to space out.

The story, is also about a little girl, and of course has the theme of food (what with the title being 'Sweet Porridge'), of which this post is going to look at why and how such an innocuous meal makes such an impact.

"There was a poor but good little girl who lived alone with her mother, and they no longer had anything to eat".
This theme of hunger is not only popular with the Grimm brothers (because of their own experience with a pauper life, they would often skip meals to give something to their younger siblings and mother) but other story-tellers. Most children's fairy tales have morals behind them, otherwise what wold be the point in retelling these stories? And, in this case it is quickly established, as despite having nothing and on the brink of starvation the little girl is still "good" a good moral lesson for children, to not give up hope or turn churlish because of your circumstances.

Fortunately, the little girl is given a helping hand, and in a turn of extremely good luck she is given a little pot with magical abilities:
"An aged woman met her who was aware of her sorrow, and presented her with a little pot, which when she said, "Cook, little pot, cook", would cook good, sweet porridge" ".

The food itself, porridge, is quite simple. It doesn't take long to make or many ingredients, however it will most likely seem quite luxurious to the mother and daughter as they have no food left.
Porridge generally has quite a bland flavor unless you add sugar to it after but this little pot will already cook "sweet" porridge and by itself, saving the mother from this little chore.

"Now they were freed from their poverty and hunger, and ate sweet porridge as often as they chose".

It's interesting that the Grimm brothers decided the little pot would conjure porridge for the poor mother and daughter, instead of say, something which would be considered a treat for them, for example chocolate.
Possibly because porridge can be considered a 'humble' food. For example, take Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (of course, as you know not by the Grimm bothers), the little spoiled girl in particular, one of the handful of children given the rare chance to visit every child's dream, took it for granted when she snatched the experimental 'dinner' chewing gum and began chewing. It was great, at first, she tasted delicious appetizers, a main course and the beginning of a scrumptious dessert; until the blueberry desert became too much for her and she began to grow bigger and bigger until she was the size of a house! 

A similar scenario occurs within Sweet Porridge, as the porridge becomes too much for the mother to handle and the porridge begins to overflow the little pot, into the kitchen, into the house and even into the town.
It teaches humility and a lesson on greed, especially since, thanks to the little pot, they would never be hungry again, despite it making porridge. Nor would they ever, hypothetically have to cook again, so the pot making a treat such as chocolate, could be interpreted as being 'too much'; which could lead to suspicion from the little girl and mother, therefore unlikely they would accept for fear of the repercussions.

If I could just take you back to the pot overflowing,
"So it went on cooking and the porridge rose over the edge, and still it cooked on until the kitchen and the whole house were full, and then the next house, and then the whole street, just as if it wanted to satisfy the hunger of the whole world, and there was the greatest distress, but no one knew how to stop it"
Isn't it a little comical, to imagine an entire town running around, and even swimming in the lumpy porridge, panicking about the house that won't stop producing it, and not a one of them thinks to just say 'stop'? Maybe it's just me, but I always love it when something happens that is so over the top, that even though it's not supposed to be funny, it is.

What's interesting though is that the two male authors decided to make the protagonist a little girl, not even a woman but a child. It's refreshing to have a girl save the day for once isn't it? I don't know about you but the prince charming act just makes me want to roll my eyes.
Yep, she's was the savior of the whole town and not just a slipper.
Just to get technical, it was a nice touch from the Grimm brothers to personify the pot: "as if it wanted to satisfy... world", treating the inanimate object as if it has a mind of it's own, which in turn makes it seem like the little girl has more power than the others, as she wasn't able to just stop the pot but control it.

I've never craved porridge but this video makes it look delicious!! For all you Porridge Lovers, try these out!!

How To Make Perfect Porridge- 5 Ways: Jamie Oliver!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Red Riding Hood's Goodies!

Her Cakes, of course. What goodies did you think I meant?

Like the good little red riding hood that she is, she does as her mother instructs and delivers cake and wine to her sick grandmother. Er...... Cake? What happened to chicken broth or soup for when you're sick?
What's next, spicy Thai food when you have the flu? Uhhmmm, Thai food.....

But it was cake she was on her way to delivering. "Grandmother is to have something good, to make her stronger". I know, I know, I'm thinking it too, it seems an odd choice of food to give to an old woman who's sick but maybe they had different social mores at the time. This was written a long time ago after all. Although it seems to be more of a treat rather than something like broth, something sweet to take her mind off her sickness. It's also a bit of a role reversal as most likely when red riding hood visited her grandmother she would make her something sweet as a treat. Perhaps, something like this?

(www.browneyedbaker.com- the recipe is also here)

Unfortunately for them, the wolf also wants a treat. "What a nice plump mouthful- she will be better to eat than the old woman. I must act craftily so as to catch both". Within these two sentences the themes of cannibalism and deception are offered in children's stories. You would think this unusual, but actually it's quite common. From a Freudian perspective, it would not be read as the wolf 'eating' her. Particularly as there is an overly sexual theme in the story. The "plump mouthful", "devoured her", and of course red riding hood's famous line "Oh! but Grandmother, what a terrible big mouth you have!". The wolf's response "the better to eat you with".    

Saturday, 1 February 2014

An Introduction to the Grimm Brother's Fairy Tales

The brains behind our favorite childhood stories: the Brothers Grimm.

The two boys, Jacob and Wilhelm, close in age had always been the best of friends and their lives began in prosperity. Their father a successful lawyer continuing onto greater things. Their mother from a good family, the daughter of a councilman, who then went on to have six children surviving into adulthood, unfortunately this meant three did not. The first tragedy to strike.
The second strike occurred when their father suddenly died from pneumonia, forcing them to leave their beloved home behind, dismiss their servants and live more frugally.
The mother became depressed, viewing this as another burden he must shoulder the eldest Grimm, Jacob, went off to school. Feeling responsible for his family and honor bound to follow in his late fathers footsteps, he studied to become a lawyer. Jacob and Wilhelm had studied and boarded together at their local high school, after their father had died, and had become known for being hard working students. So when Jacob, in strong health went to study at University level, it was unfortunate that Wilhelm, who suffered from asthma and attacks of scarlet fever could not yet join his brother.
Disaster hit again as their grandfather passed away, along with any financial support they received.
The boys did, however reunite and achieved honors in their respective studies. They began to relate to the lower class as they were no longer looking down in sympathy but looking across in empathy as they had become one among them.
During Jacob's time at University, he dutifully studied law but as he made acquaintances he discovered what he was passionate about: folklore, romantic literature, poetry and especially German  Literature. He introduced Wilhelm and both were never the same again.  

Now, is it just me, or was this like a fairy story in itself? They suffered, they knew impoverishment, felt duty-bound to continue a legacy despite the yearning in their own hearts but against the odds they become a success. A legacy of their own to build upon.
It makes sense, now that you know their history for them to include the theme of food into a lot of their fairy tales. The children leave a trail of breadcrumbs, their hunger lures them into danger by a house made of sweets, a lonely girl wanders into a small house with many bowls set on the table, a girl in a cloak takes food in a basket to her sick grandmother, I could go on. And will, so look out for the next installment of Craving Grimm Foods!!