Soup Of The Day: With Heather White
Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and I’m always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious!
Helping me this morning is Steampunk Fairytale writer Heather White, you may have heard Max and Collin singing her praises with their Morning cuppa last Monday. Good morning Heather, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Tell me, have you brought along some soup to share with us?
I don’t really cook, lol. My wonderful husband does. But my equally awesome mom has a recipe you might enjoy:
2 T. margarine or butter
¾ c. onion, chopped
6 cubes chicken bouillon
8 oz. fine noodles
6 c. water
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper (or to taste)
2 (10-oz.) pkgs. frozen broccoli, chopped
1/3 tsp garlic powder
1 lb. Velveeta cheese, cubed
6 c. milk
Heat margarine in a large pot. (Personal note: get the largest pot you have. This makes a lot of soup.) Add onions and sauté for three minutes. Add water and bouillon cubes, bringing the water to a boil. Stir until cubes are dissolved. Add noodles and salt. Cook uncovered for three minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in broccoli and garlic powder. Cook four minutes. Add milk, cheese, and pepper; cook over medium heat until cheese is melted, stirring constantly. Do not boil after adding milk.
Note: can substitute fresh broccoli, fresh minced garlic, and wider noodles. May need to increase cooking time, insuring the broccoli and noodles are completely cooked.
Further note: Mom would often add shrimp to the soup as well, particularly for Lent. That would go in last, after the cheese was melted. Let them thaw a bit before adding though.
Mmm, it smells delicious, I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t you tell us all a little more about the second volume of Steampunk Fairy Tales, it has certainly had us all enchanted here in Lancaster!
Steampunk Fairy Tales is a series of anthologies where each author chooses a fairy tale and adapts it to fit a steampunk or gaslamp motif. It’s the brain child of Angela Castillo, the author of “The Clockwork People” and “Open Sesame” in the two volumes, and I’m so glad she invited me to join.
We don’t have any limitations on fairy tales in terms of region or familiarity, so you’re going to see stories that may be easily recognized as well as tales that are all new to you.
Your own contribution to the book is a reworking of the Vasilisa myth, what made you decide to punk this story in particular?
Growing up, I was a big fan of fairy tales and myths. I think I checked out every version of Andrew Lang’s Fairy books. I don’t recall if her tale was in those books (checked: nope) or in another collection I read, but it always fascinated me. Partly because it was the story that made me recognize how different cultures have very, very similar tales. But it’s always been a favorite for me. It was actually one of my first thoughts for the first anthology.
The real deciding factor was Baba Yaga and the riders. I had very, very specific images for how I would want to see them in a steampunk setting. The biggest trouble was adapting the plot and themes to the steampunk ideology as most Russian tales have a firm base in faith and hospitality, two things that aren’t prevalent in the genre.
So do you think it is important to keep exploring new and different versions of traditional stories, myths and histories?
Definitely. Those tales are basically the core of our storytelling tradition: they embody much of what we value as communities and societies. By changing and adapting the stories, we can explore and show how our values have changed over time. A great example is how some folks have analyzed the live-action Cinderella movie to talk about strength while staying in an abusive situation. What we focus on and portray in our fairy tales speaks to what we care about.
And of all the stories in the collection, could you tell us a little about your personal favourite?
Besides my own? Well, that’s a bit difficult. On the one hand, I completely love “Water of Life”, which is a retelling of the tale by the same name, but taking place in a war-blasted landscape and an ancient, cursed city, but I’m my husband’s biggest fan, so that feels a bit unfair.
Beyond that, it’s a toss-up between two, “Felis aurantiacus” by Kathy Steinemann and “Open, Sesame” by Angela Castillo.
“Felis aurantiacus” is an original fairy tale that has strong call-backs to The Time Machine and “A Sound of Thunder” but in a way that is both bittersweet and adorable. I can’t really say too much, lest I ruin the surprise of it, but between the plot and the voice, it’s well worth the read.
“Open, Sesame” is a retelling of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”. However, in this version, we follow Morga – Morgiana in the original – instead of Ali Baba. Morga is a fascinating and strong character, and the world building and adaptations in the story are superb. To go back to why retelling tales is important, the ending to this one is a great example of how new values can be expressed in retellings.
And will there be a third volume?
Most likely. It’s already being batted around. I’m debating if I want to do more with Vasilisa and/or Baba Yaga or go to a different fairy tale.
And where else can we find your writing?
Primarily at my website http://heatherwhiteauthor.wordpress.com. The anthologies are my first publications, although I hope to have more.
Do you have any new projects or releases planned that we can get excited about?
Beyond the potential third volume, I don’t have anything that would be coming up anytime soon. My main work-in-progress is a spec-fic/paranormal romance in a comic book setting that asks how could a Lois Lane type of girl end up with a Deathstroke/Slade type of villain (assuming Deathstroke isn’t insane). It’s a lot of fun, and I hope that I can finish it soon.
And now the all important question which do you prefer, coffee or tea? (and how do you take it?)
…Hot chocolate. Keep your coffee and your tea, and give me drinkable chocolate. And if it’s the Arctic White that Land O’ Lakes puts out? Even better. Yum.
Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Heather, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready and the little urchins have their rosy noses pushed up against the glass in anticipation so shall we start dishing it up?
Thanks for hosting me. I am so glad you enjoyed the book!
I will be back in the kitchen next week with another very special guest, Max and Colin will be ‘All Punked Up With No Place to Poe’ (apparently?!?) tomorrow and of course Peril will be sharing something from his lovely library on Friday.
Blessings on your brew my dears.