Monday, 31 October 2016

Lentil, potato and Cauliflower stew

Lentil, potato and Cauliflower stew in lemon - North African style with a yoghurt and cumin mix
1/2 cup of green lentils
250g small potatoes 
350g cauliflower florets
Juice of 1 whole lemon
250ml of vegetable stock
1tsp of cayenne pepper
2tsp sumac
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp rose water
1 top pomegranate molasses
Salt and pepper to taste
2 top of extra virgin olive oil
2 tblesp plain yoghurt
3/4 top cumin
3 large mint leaves
Boil the lentils for 20 minutes while steaming the potatoes and cauliflower over them. Meanwhile make your stock by adding the spices, lemon juice and garlic together with the stock.
Add together in an oven dish and cook at 200c for 30mins keep an eye on the dish as you want the stock to be absorbed but not for the dish to dry out. Serve in a bowl with some torn fresh mint leaves and a raita of yoghurt and ground cumin
A high fibre, big tasting dish. Add black olives for a stronger flavour

The Dogs of Wales

Corgi and Fairy
Corgi and Fairy | Source
The lore of dogs in Wales shows how deep the relationship is between humans and their animal best friend. They appear not only in Welsh mythology, but extant breeds have been developed by the Welsh to aid them in many ways. From pagan mythology to more modern folklore to Welsh dog breeds, here shall be unleashed the Dogs of Wales.
Dogs of Myth
Perhaps the most famous of Welsh dogs are the Cŵn Annwn, the Hounds of Annwn. These are the spectral hunting hounds of Arawn, the ruler of the Welsh Otherworld Annwn. Featured in the First Branch of the Mabinogi, we meet them as they have taken down a stag, but then are driven away by Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed, setting up his first meeting with Annwn. The hounds are said to be of white coloration with red ears, red being the color associated with death for the Celts and white being associated with the supernatural. Their existence and sightings continue in to the Christian era, where they are called The Hounds of Hell or Dogs of Hell, although of course there is a vast difference between the Christian Hell and the Welsh Otherworld, a place of beauty, repose, and feasting, rather than a realm of eternal punishment. In post-pagan Wales, they are also said to be accompanied by the hag Mallt-y-Nos, Matilda of the Night. In both Pagan and Christian times, they are a part of the Wild Hunt, a folk myth in Northern, Western, and Central Europe. The Wild Hunt is a group of ghostly hunters that pursue humans, sometimes the living and sometimes the souls of the departed. The Hounds of Annwn themselves are used to hunt the evil doer until the Huntsman, whether Arawn or Gwyn ap Nudd, another Welsh deity of the Otherworld, catches up to them. Even today, it is said to hear their howl is a portent of death, a belief that is very prominent around the mountain of Cadair Idris, which is a known hunting ground for the hounds.
The Wild Hunt
The Wild Hunt | Source
Another mythical dog from Wales is the Gwyllgi. It appears as a ghostly mastiff with blazing red eyes and baleful breath that haunts lonely roads at night. A related beast is the spectral black dog of St. Donat’s castle, in the Vale of Glamorgan, who haunts alongside a frightening hag.
Gwyllgi | Source
A less frightening, but more poignantly sad tale is that of Gelert. The favorite hunting hound of Prince Llywelyn, Gelert was usually at the front of the pack. On one fateful hunt, the prince noticed Gelert was missing and came back to find the dog coming out of his infant son’s room covered in blood. Fearful and angry that the hound had killed his heir, Prince Llywelyn drew his sword and killed Gelert. He then walked into his son’s room to find the infant unharmed, along with the body of a wolf that Gelert had killed in order to protect the babe. The prince erected a monument to the dog, for which the village of Beddgelert (Gelert’s Grave) owes its name.
Bedd Gelert
Bedd Gelert | Source
Dogs of Folk-Lore
Many are the tales of lost fairy dogs being found by farmers, only to not then being taken care of properly. Once the fairy owners find the dog, it is willingly given back to them, with the farmer being handed a bag of coins as a reward. Later, though, the coins would turn into worthless items, such as leaves or shells, as the fairies teaching them a lesson for being so uncaring towards their pets. Unlike the stingy farmers, though, there are tales of kindly women taking care of the found fairy dogs. A farmer’s wife took care of such a dog and, when the fairies inquired, she willingly gave back the now-healthy animal. The fairies rewarded her by making her cows give more milk than any other in the area.
Fairy dogs would howl at crossroads, biting anyone foolish enough to get in their way or those who would attempt to shoo them off. Occasionally the person would even be drug away by the dog, never to be seen again. Even normal dogs had abilities, such as being able to see the aura that surrounds humans, are also able to track their masters’ souls after death, as the soul also contains that aura.
A more Christian tale, it is said Satan erected the Devil’s Bridge, to help people cross a deep gorge, with the understanding that the first thing to cross would become his. A man came upon the bridge but, knowing whose it was, threw bread across it. The man’s trusty dog ran across, chasing the bread, becoming the first thing to cross. Satan, afraid of the dog, chose not to take his due. In a similar tale, it was an old woman who threw the bread across. While Satan was not afraid of the dog, he also did not want it in place of the woman, either. In separate tales, it’s the devil himself who is the dog, appearing around Wales as an enormous mastiff black.
The mists of Cadair Idris.
The mists of Cadair Idris. | Source
Many famous figures of legend had dogs as companions. Lupus, the dog of St. Kevin, helped capture the last snake that left Ireland. Cavall was the favorite hound of King Arthur, and was the first of his hounds to run down a stag. Hodain of Sir Tristram passed up stags in order to find the knight, succeeding when finding his owner’s corpse laying in wake in a church. Gorban, the white dog of Ummad, was lamented at death by his bardic master with poem and song.
Corgis – the fairy mount
Although there are several Welsh dog breeds, including the well-known Welsh Terrier and the Welsh Sheepdog, perhaps the best known, and most linked with folk-lore, is the Welsh Corgi, a name derived from the Welsh words for dwarf (“cor”) and dog (“ci”).
Bred as a herding dog, the corgi is the embodiment of Welsh tenacity. Rather than herd cattle by running around the animals, the corgi instead nips at their heels, working and worrying them from behind. As a herder, it is an offensive dog, as it does not back away when a member of the herd decides to charge the dog. Rather, the dog will simply snap at and bite the charging animal’s nose, causing it to rejoin the herd. Although cattle are the primary herding unit, the corgi is just as adept at herding sheep and Welsh ponies. They are even strong willed enough to herd flocks of geese!
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Cardigan Welsh Corgi | Source
A faithful dog, they can be pets as well as work dogs, and have been used to guard children. Their herding instinct still kicks in when playing, as they may nip at the children’s heels during play! They make excellent guard dogs, being shy around strangers, causing them to bark loudly when an unknown presence is close.
The corgi is said to be a gift to humans from the fairies, returning to their fairy friends at night to play. Those who stay with the fae are sometimes used as mounts for the woodland warriors and even today some carry the mark of saddles on their back fur. The companionship between the fairies and corgwn are commemorated in songs and poetry, such as this poem:
Made them work the fairy cattle,
Made them pull the fairy coaches,
Made them steeds for fairy riders,
Made them fairy children’s playmates;
Kept them hidden in the mountains,
Kept them in the mountain’s shadow,
Lest the eye of mortal see one.
St. Donat's Castle
St. Donat's Castle | Source
Further Reading:
The Mabinogion (a collection of Welsh mythology of which several versions are available)
The Mythology of Dogs: Canine Legend (Gerald Hausman and Loretta Hausman)
Welsh Folk-Lore: A Collection of the Folk-Tales and Legends of North Wales (Elias Owen)
British Goblins, Welsh Folk-Lore, Fairy Mythology, Legends and Traditions (Wirt Sikes)
The Bizarre Notes and Queries in History, Folk-Lore, Mathematics, Mysticism, Art, Science, Etc. (S.C. & L.M. Gould)
A Book of South Wales (Sabine Baring-Gould)
The Welsh Fairy Book (W. Jenkyn Thomas)

The Creatures of Samhain

Arthur Rackham "Autumn Dancing Fairies" (public domain)
Arthur Rackham "Autumn Dancing Fairies" (public domain)
The meaning of the word Samhain comes from Old Irish meaning “summer’s end,” from summer, samh and end, fuin. The modern Irish word for summer is samhradh, and Samhain is still the name for the month of November in Ireland. Celts considered sundown as the start of the day, which is why, though Samhain actually falls on November 1st, it would have been celebrated starting at sundown the night before, on October 31st. It is one of the four main festivals in Celtic tradition, making up the “quarter days,” the days between the equinoxes and solstices.
With Samhain comes a wide variety of supernatural creatures.
The festival of Samhain has many names and is celebrated differently throughout the Celtic lands. Now it is synonymous with the American-born holiday Halloween; with older traditions becoming more modern while others have returned to their roots, and some simply being a part of the modern celebrations.
Turnip-o-lantern | Source
As most of the legends and aspects come from Ireland, let’s start with Oíche Shamnha, or Night of Samhain, as it is called on the Emerald Isle. On this night, the dead and the Aos Sí, also known as fairies or the Shining Ones, come out from their mounds and visit us from the Otherworld, due to the veil between the worlds being at its thinnest at this time. It is wise to stay indoors on this night, or at the very least to have travel companions, as the hosts of the Aos Sí might kidnap you and take you away to their realms. Families would leave a spot at the table open so their ancestors could join them. In the case of both Otherworld visitors, gifts of food and drink would be left outside the house to appease them, thus quelling any anger or mischief they had in store.
On Samhain, household fires would be extinguished, to be relit from a communal bonfire, in order to cleanse the house and start the year anew. The Hills of Tara and Tlachtga, which are about 12 miles apart from each other, and are located less than 30 miles northwest of Dublin, are particularly associated with this, as locations of fire festivals. Another location linked to Samhain is Oweynagat (“cave of cats”) in County Roscommon, from whence the hosts of the Otherworld spew forth.
Sunset at the Hill of Tara
Sunset at the Hill of Tara | Source
Samhain holds importance in many of the Irish myths and the Irish polytheistic religion. The Ulster Cycle mentions Samhain several times. It is the first quarter day discussed by the heroine Emer in the Tochmarc Emire. The later sagas Mesca Ulad and Serglige Con Culainn start at Samhain.
The Irish hero Fionn Mac Cumhaill protects Tara from the god Aillen at Samhain. The Dagda, the Irish All-Father, has an affair with The Morrígan at Samhain (the Irish goddess of battle and strife) to ensure his victory in battle. The Morrígan is associated with Samhain on her own; as she rides out of the Sídhe of Cruachan on this night in a chariot, pulled by A One-legged Horse! Darker connections occur with Donn, a Celtic god of the dead, and with Crom Cruaich, a deity with connections to ritual slaughter.
Fionn mac Cumhaill, by Stephen Reid (public domain)
Fionn mac Cumhaill, by Stephen Reid (public domain)
Scotland has the most in common with Ireland’s festival, with even the name Oidhche Shamhna being very similar. This is natural, as they are both Goidelic Gaelic languages.
Samhain’s pagan traditions are still strong in Scotland, with games of divination still being played, as divination is most effective when the veil is thin.
Robert Burns, the best-known poet of Scotland, wrote the poem “Halloween,” containing many references to pagan practices which continued as Scottish Halloween traditions well into his time. For example, young women would peel apples and see what initial the peeling formed, as that would tell you the first letter of the name of your future husband. Or, engaged or newlywed couples would each put nuts, often hazelnuts, beside each other in the fire and whether the nuts stayed together in the flames or moved apart would be an indicator of the couple’s future happiness. However, the nuts might hiss and spit at each other.
Illustration of Robert Burn's Halloween (JM Wright and Edward Scriven)
Illustration of Robert Burn's Halloween (JM Wright and Edward Scriven)
A more recent tradition in Scotland is the seasonal eating of pork pies or sausage rolls. Due to the Witchcraft Act of 1735, it was illegal to eat pork, so when that act was ended in the 1950s, these dishes became very popular again for Halloween in Scotland.
In Gaelic lore, and especially in Scotland, the Cailleach is the divine hag who represents the winter with her seasonal rule starting on Samhain and lasting until the first of the summer on Bealtainn. The west coast of Scotland has her washing her great plaid for three days in a giant coastal whirlpool, which ends with the land being blanketed in snow.
In Wales this day is called Nos Calan Gaeaf. The name is derived from the Latin term for the first day of the month (calends) and the Welsh term for winter. It was one of the Ysbrydnos, the days when spirits walked abroad, with the other being Bealtainn. One particular form of traditional divination was families placing stones around a fire with each of their names on them. If someone’s stone was missing in the morning, that person could plan on dying that year. In Welsh lore, a spirit called Yr Hwch Ddu Gwta takes the form of a black sow and roams the countryside with a headless woman at this time.
On the Isle of Man, Hop-tu-Naa is celebrated. As in other Celtic lands, jack-o-lanterns are carved out of turnips, called swedes by the Manx. Divination was also used at Nop-tuNaa, in that families would scatter ashes at the door. The direction of the first footprint would determine whether the household in the coming year would see a death, if the footprint is facing away from the house, or a birth, if the footprint is facing towards the house. The future could also be conjured in prophetic dreams by stealing a neighbor’s salt herring and eating it before going to bed. It makes one wonder who was foolish enough to leave their salt herring on display this night!
The Celts and their druids did not leave many written records but rather used an oral tradition that entailed decades of training. Because of that, and of the Romans’ ability to culturally ensnare those they’ve conquered or accepted, there are no extant records of any rituals, let alone Samhain rituals. Fortunately, that does not stop modern people from celebrating the festival with their own rituals. Celtic Reconstructionists, Neopagans, and Wiccans all have their own styles for creating rituals, and for Samhain this typically involves an acknowledgement that the summer is ending and the new year is beginning, as it grows ever darker. From that point the rituals, and their “creatures,” can diverge greatly in style, even within the same religion.

These Tales Aren't as Innocent as You Think

Definitely not for children

These Tales Aren't as Innocent as You Think

Halloween Provides A Look Into Human Psychology

Halloween can reveal a lot about human psychology.
Ariel Skelley/Getty Images
Halloween plays on our fears and our fantasies.
We craft haunted houses and scary decorations to evoke particular emotions. We choose our costumes to reflect something about the kinds of people we are or want to be — edgy, sexy, funny, clever. For children, Halloween is an experiment in delayed gratification and negotiation — which candies to eat now, which to trade, which to save. It's no surprise, then, that Halloween might reveal interesting features of human psychology.
But you might be surprised by just what we can learn.
In fact, there's a long tradition of using Halloween to shed light on the human mind and behavior. Consider three examples of clever studies that use this yearly event to uncover features of human morality, belief and allegiance.
In a study published in 1976, researchers observed over 1,000 trick-or-treating children as they visited houses in Seattle on the evening of Halloween. The researchers were interested in understanding the conditions that lead to "uninhibited" behavior: in this case, stealing Halloween candy or money. One of the variables they manipulated was whether the adult who greeted the children at the entrance to a house asked for each child's name and address, thereby treating each child as an identifiable individual, or instead let each child remain anonymous. Either way, the adult then instructed each child to take one candy from the table while the adult went away to "work in another room."
Unbeknownst to the children, their behavior was recorded by an observer behind a peephole. For each child, the observer recorded how many candies were taken, as well as whether the child took any money from a bowl of coins next to the candy. And take candy and money they did: About 30 percent of children took extra candy, money or both.
The researchers identified several factors that influenced the probability that a child would steal candy or money. Thefts were more likely for children who remained anonymous, who were in groups rather than alone, and who were not accompanied by an adult. There was also an important influence of peer behavior: Kids in groups were more likely to steal if the first child in their group did so.
And so it is that the simple pleasures of trick-or-treating can reveal something about the conditions that support bad behavior.
Almost three decades later, in a study published in 2004, three psychologists used Halloween to better understand how children differentiate fantasy from reality. In the study, 44 children heard about the Candy Witch at their child care center just before Halloween. The children were told that when invited to do so, the Candy Witch visits a house after Halloween to swap candy for a toy.
Half the children also received "evidence" for the existence of the Candy Witch. They "overheard" their parents call the Candy Witch to arrange a toy swap — and the next morning they found that some of their candy had been replaced with a toy.
Overall, 66 percent of the children claimed that the Candy Witch was real just after Halloween, with younger children (mostly 3-year-olds) no more likely to do so than older children (mostly 4- and 5-year-olds). However, the older children were more sensitive to the presence or absence of evidence: Those who received evidence were often fooled; those who did not were more skeptical.
These findings challenge the idea that children are indiscriminately gullible. Levels of belief were quite high, but many children were never fooled, and the older children were appropriately influenced by the presence or absence additional evidence.
As a final example, consider a paper published earlier this year in which two economists reported the results of Halloween experiments used to assess children's political preferences before the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. To do so, they set up two candy tables at a house in a liberal neighborhood of New Haven that attracts many trick-or-treaters. One table was decorated with Obama campaign props; the other with campaign props for either McCain (in 2008) or Romney (in 2012).
When children arrived to trick-or-treat, they were given one of two choices. Half the children were told that they could go to the Obama table or to the McCain/Romney table and that they would receive the same amount of candy at each table. The other half were told that they would receive twice as much candy at the McCain/Romney table. The researchers were interested in how children would choose in the first case, but also whether extra candy would be enough to sway their choice.
In both years and in both cases, a majority of the 479 participants chose the Obama table. In 2008, 78 percent of children chose the Obama table when the candy payouts were equivalent, and 71 percent did so even when the McCain table offered more candy. In 2012, 82 percent chose the Obama table when the payouts were equivalent, and 78 percent did so even when the Romney table offered more candy.
These results suggest a pretty robust political preference, even among young children (some as young as 4). They also suggest that a candy incentive wasn't enough for most children to switch their preference. Interestingly, though, the older children (9 and older) were more willing to shift their choice for greater candy. It's unclear whether this reflected a weaker political preference or a better appreciation for the extra value of the candy, and the otherwise relatively inconsequential nature of the table choice.
Fast-forwarding to this election cycle, the findings suggest that even young children are likely to be feeling the power of political allegiances in their homes and communities, and that even a symbolic gesture (which table to choose) has personal value — at least the value of one or two pieces of Halloween candy.
These three examples of Halloween research — and they aren't the only ones out there — suggest some clever ways in which we can learn about human psychology from this yearly tradition. They also put a new spin on the "trick" in trick-or-treat — you might just think twice about what's governing your choices and beliefs this Halloween, just in case the trick's on you.

Tania Lombrozo is a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley. She writes about psychology, cognitive science and philosophy, with occasional forays into parenting and veganism. You can keep up with more of what she is thinking on Twitter: @TaniaLombrozo