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Viewing Blog: the thinkings of a lili, Most Recent at Top
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The blog of lili wilkinson, reader, author, youth literature advocate, watcher of quality television and eater of mashed potato.
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26. Book clutch: Love is the Higher Law

(This post is part of an occasional series where I talk about books I like. They’re not reviews – I’m calling them book clutches, because they’re all books that I want to clutch close to me.)

“I liked breathing it in.”

And he doesn’t get it. So I say

“That air. The air afterwards. I wanted to breathe it in. It felt right to breathe it in. Because we were breathing them in, weren’t we? And the buildings. We were breathing it all in. And I thought, there’s a part of this that’s actually a part of me now. I now have that responsibility. I am alive, and I am breathing, and I can do the things this dust can’t do.”

I’ve always been a big David Levithan fan – Pink is dedicated to him. So when I saw a copy of Love is the Higher Law*, I immediately snatched it up.

It’s the story of three teenagers, Claire, Jasper and Peter, who are in New York City on September 11, 2001. Perhaps not the cheeriest of subject matters, but in typical Levithan fashion, the book is so imbued with hope and love and friendship and humanity that it outshines the fear and the tragedy, and while the book is very sad, it is ultimately uplifting and life-affirming. I didn’t need to read the author’s note to realise that this is a deeply personal story. And that’s the novel’s greatest strength. The events of September 11 are personal to everyone – we all remember where we were when it happened, even those of us on the other side of the world. But Love is the Higher Law takes that a step further and lets us really be there, without feeling like we’re voyeurs or tourists.


*I would like to know why, whenever I see the title of this book, U2′s One doesn’t pop up in my head. No. It’s this instead.

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27. New Website! New Blog!


It's now liliwilkinson.com.au, not liliwilkinson.com. This is Important.

Also my blog is now here, and the RSS feed is here, but if you already subscribe via RSS it should update automatically.

Change your bookmarks!

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28. Philip Pullman on Lewis and Tolkien

Tolkien was a Catholic, for whom the basic issues of life were not in question, because the Church had all the answers. So nowhere in 'The Lord of the Rings' is there a moment's doubt about those big questions. No-one is in any doubt about what's good or bad; everyone knows where the good is, and what to do about the bad. Enormous as it is, TLOTR is consequently trivial. Narnia, on the other hand, is the work of a Protestant - and an Ulster Protestant at that, for whom the individual interaction with the Bible and with God was a matter of daily struggle and endless moral questioning. That's the Protestant tradition. So in Narnia the big questions are urgent and compelling and vital: is there a God? Who is it? How can I recognise him? What must I do to be good? I profoundly disagree with the answers that Lewis offers - in fact, as I say, I detest them - but Narnia is a work of serious religious engagement in a way that TLOTR could never be.

From an oldish interview here.

1 Comments on Philip Pullman on Lewis and Tolkien, last added: 5/11/2010
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29. Request

Hello There.

Are you wondering what to do with your life? Are you looking for a niche that needs to be filled? Somewhere where you will be needed, appreciated?


Somebody, please, open a butcher on Queens Parade.

There are two empty shops available, or you could take over one of the 8 cafes, 4 hairdressers, 4 bakeries, 2 chicken & chips shops/pizza places/florists/fruit&veg.

Thank you,


3 Comments on Request, last added: 5/4/2010
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30. Ron Mueck

I went to the Ron Mueck exhibition at NGV yesterday. It was extraordinary.

Ron Mueck is an Australian-born artist, who creates hyperrealistic sculptures at adjusted and unusual scales. He had a good education in the surreal and uncanny, working for Jim Henson as a sculptor and puppeteer (he played Ludo in Labyrinth - squee!).

The first piece - Dead Dad - was a very vulnerable naked replica of Mueck's father after his death. The sculpture is scaled down about 2/3, and is the only one of his sculptures where Mueck used his own hair.
There's almost no explanation about Mueck's work in the exhibition - we are invited to come to our own conclusions. One of the most fascinating things was seeing what caught people's attention: blood on the giant baby's toenails, the Wild Man's feet, the bunched brown stockings on the two old women. People saw their grandparents in some of the pieces, Christ in others, and themselves in many. It was the perfect kind of utterly democratic art - you don't need to be a critic to "get" it, and it means something different to everyone. There were plenty of children in the exhibition, and they too were fascinated - I suppose the constant reevaluating of your scale in relation to others is something that children are very familiar with.

But it was this piece that really caught me. I'm not sure why. Michael said it left him wondering if he was a normal sized man looking at a small man in a boat, or whether HE was a giant, and the man in the boat was normal sized. I just loved his vulnerable fragility, his dignity, his loneliness. It left me itching to write a fantasy novel. I might just go and jot down some notes now...

1 Comments on Ron Mueck, last added: 4/18/2010
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31. Looking for a girl who can make her own clogs?

Among the awesome loot I got for my birthday, there was this book:
I am curled up on the couch with endless cups of tea today, learning how to guddle (or tickle) trout, skin a rabbit, make cider, sweep a chimney, lay out a hedge maze, make a weathercock, right a wheel, craft a Welsh love spoon and paint a canal boat.

Is it wrong that now I'm actually kind of looking forward to the apocalypse? So I can wow everyone with my ability to work scrimshaw and make my own besom broom?

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32. Juvenilia

My agent recently shared some of her teen writing, and as it's my birthday and you're not allowed to be too mean to me, I'm going to be brave and do the same.

Between the ages of 10 and 14, I wrote a novel. It's about 65 000 words long, and every one of them is crap. Looking through it for a suitably embarrassing passage to share, I was struck by how totally and thoroughly I stole from other books. It's like a list of my teenaged reading:

(Cold Comfort Farm)
The gateman closed one eye in speculation, and scratched his head. “Wull,” he said in his simple countryman's accent. “If ye follow this 'ere road, down over th' bridge, then it's th' first buildin' on yer roight.”
“Thank you,” said Nellwyn, and they turned away.
“'Ere!” said the man, waving at them. “Y' mun stay on this road, an' down't stray int' th' back-streets, loike, for there be some nasty characters about.”

(Lord of the Rings)
The next evening, Nellwyn came down reporting bad news, he had not seen the explosions because of the high mountain peaks, but he had seen a gigantic flock of evil-looking crows flying in their direction.
“Crows?” said Flontale, looking up from where he was sitting cross-legged by their campfire. “What could crows do to us?”
“These aren't just a few crows,” Nellwyn said, frowning at the thought Flontale might be braver than one of the best fighters in the village. “They're huge! Each one has a wingspan of about three feet, and their eyes - ugh.” He shuddered.
“How many?” asked Dadoe, reaching for his axe and testing the point with his thumb. Dadoe was never one to mince words.
“I don't know. They were stretching off over the top of the mountain beyond my line of vision.”
Dadoe put down the axe carefully. “Ah. Maybe fighting them wouldn't be such a good idea.”

(Chronicles of Prydain)
“You cannot treat me this way!” cried Dylarn, “I am ill!”
“And I'm the great God Tefflar!” snapped Leyha, “Stop whining and get on with the packing!”
“But I am ill!”
“I know, you said it before.” She turned to the others, “And he says that he's a warrior, hmph!”

(Alanna series)
The Third of the Yswin reached into the three's minds.
He projected images of home, of death, of killing, all three saw Leyha burying a black sword with a yellow jewel embedded in the hilt into Sul's chest....

(David Eddings)
He sighed, and called for Elondwar. He hadn't really wanted to become a God. Of course it was nice having the power to make the kingliest of kings bow down to Him, but a lot of hardships came with being a God.
“You called, Divine One?”
He looked up, “Entertain me, Elondwar.” He said wearily.
She grinned mirthlessly, showing her long, blood-red fangs.
“I think I can manage that.”

(Anne Rice)
He leapt, catlike over a fence, and slid in the window of a peasants house. Inside, four peasants were asleep. Tel crept over to one of them, and raised their wrist to his lips. Ari saw him bite down hard, and the peasant jolted in pain, but slept on. As Tel drank, the colour came back into his face, and he straightened, sliding a gold coin into the still-sleeping peasant's clenched fist.

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33. Newses

1. Angel Fish is a CBCA Notable book for 2010! I'm so very happy about this. Pink and Angel Fish came out at the same time and everyone was very excited about Pink, and Angel Fish was like the quiet child who people often don't notice. So it's nice to be noticed. I'm also just really pleased with the Older Readers shortlist this year (despite not being on it) - it's a great mix of books, with some fresh new faces as well as some old favourites. And LOTS OF GIRL PROTAGONISTS!

2. There's a new SHORT anthology out! I didn't edit this one, but I DO have a story in it. The anthology is Short and Scary, and my story is called The Moth-er.

3. Angel Fish is going to be published soon in the UK, except it's going to be called Company of Angels. The UK cover is awesome, and I hope to be able to share it (and the US cover for PINK which I've just seen) very soon.

3 Comments on Newses, last added: 4/1/2010
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34. Best YA titles

Adele from Persnickety Snark is compiling a list of the Top 100 YA Novels of All Time. I've just agonised over my own personal Top 10 to add to the list. It was HARD, and I'm sure I've forgotten some. But here they are:

  1. Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones
  2. Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody
  3. Ready or Not by Meg Cabot
  4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
  5. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
  6. Mandragora by David McRobbie
  7. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
  8. Skellig by David Almond
  9. Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
  10. Abyssinia by Ursula Dubosarsky
I actually started with a list of 20, and getting it down to 10 felt a bit like murder. So here're the runners-up, all of which I also adore:

Del Del by Victor Kelleher
So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Forever by Judy Blume
The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
Space Demons by Gillian Rubenstein
Doing It by Melvin Burgess
48 Shades of Brown by Nick Earls
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

What are yours?

3 Comments on Best YA titles, last added: 3/23/2010
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35. Rant. Women. Writing. Chicklit.

So there's been a bit in the media lately about women writers and some other related bits and pieces. And I know this is a soapbox that I've jumped up and down on before, but I'm going to have to keep jumping for now.

First, there's an article in the Telegraph about the Orange Prize, a literary award for women writers:

Given that women have won five out of the last six Whitbread/Costas, does the level of injustice remain enough to justify the Orange?

Women are predominant, in terms of numbers and power, in most of the major publishing houses and agencies. They sell most of the books, into a market that largely comprises women readers. They are favoured by what is overwhelmingly the most important publishing prize (the Richard and Judy list), and comprise most of the reading groups that drive sales. Girls in schools are more literate than boys, and pupils are taught reading mainly by female teachers promoting mainly female writers.

Well. A few points, if I may.
  • Six out of the last 20 Booker Prize Winners have been women.
  • Two out of the last 20 Booker Prize Winners have had a female protagonist. That's 10%.
  • Publisher's Weekly's Best Books of 2010 list are all by men.
  • Our own Miles Franklin longlist features 3 women and 9 men.
  • There are more women working in publishing than men, more women write books and more women read books. This is all true. Yet capital-L-literary awards are undeniably skewed towards men.
  • There are more female teachers because teaching continues to be a low pay, low status job.
  • Despite this, the vast majority of class texts are by men, and feature male protagonists.
  • In VCE this year, there are 9 texts available by women, and 27 by men.
  • I know of a local private girls' school where, from Years 7-10, not one text is studied featuring a female protagonist. NOT. ONE.
What this is telling us, and the message we are sending to young people (both male and female) is this: despite the fact that the majority of people involved in the publishing industry are women, our society as a whole deems women's stories as unimportant (at least as far as capital-L-literature is concerned). Female authors only get recognised when they write about men. And I am not in ANY way blaming men for this. It's something we're all doing together. As a whole literary culture. Here's Lizzie Skurnick:

"I just want to say," I said as the meeting closed, "that we have sat here and consistently called books by women small and books by men large, by no quantifiable metric, and we are giving awards to books I think are actually kind of amateur and sloppy compared to others, and I think it's disgusting."
Our default is that women are small, men are universal.
Here's a (relatively mild) comment from that article about the Orange Prize:
I am a life long reader and have read thousands of books, however I have read probably less than 20 books written by women. Women write differently from men and I feel their efforts appeal mostly to other women.
Which brings me to our friend Nicholas Sparks. Nicholas is the author of The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe and Dear John, among others. First, I have to admit that I've never read any of his books, nor seen any of the film adaptations. But I've seen the previews, and that was enough to know that it isn't really my thing. On the whole, I prefer my rom to also include com.

So Nicholas 7 Comments on Rant. Women. Writing. Chicklit., last added: 3/21/2010
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36. Pink Highly Commended

I'm so very pleased to tell you all that PINK has been Highly Commended for the Barbara Jefferis Award.

Barbara Jefferis was the founding President of the Australian Society of Authors, and the Award is for “the best novel written by an Australian author that depicts women and girls in a positive way or otherwise empowers the status of women and girls in society”.

Last year Helen Garner won, so it's pretty nice company to be in.

You can view the shortlist and the other Highly Commended title here.

And here's what the judges said about PINK:

As a novel written for young adults, Pink deals in some refreshing and witty ways with the stock themes of confusion over sexuality, peer group pressure, and what not to wear. While Ava’s parents have no problems with her lesbianism or goth attire, she is not so sure. She dons a pink cashmere jumper and switches schools. But rather than just inverting a conventional coming-out plot to produce something more conservative, Pink complicates the simple trajectory of this kind of narrative. It depicts young women, gay and/or straight, positively, and offers a far from neat conclusion. Ava, having learnt several Emma-esque lessons about tolerance and judgment, still remains undecided.

4 Comments on Pink Highly Commended, last added: 3/11/2010
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37. Poetry Friday... no, really!

Those of you who know me will be aware that I'm not an enormous poetry fan. I think it mostly comes from writing too much dreadful stuff as a teen. But I make some exceptions, and one of those is children's poetry. And I thought I'd share a poem by one of my favourite children's poets, E.V. Rieu, who is perhaps better known for his Penguin Classics translations of The Odyssey and the Bible.

The Hippopotamus's Birthday

He has opened all his parcels
but the largest and the last;
His hopes are at their highest
and his heart is beating fast.
O happy Hippopotamus,
what lovely gift is here?
He cuts the string. The world stands still.
A pair of boots appear!

O little Hippopotamus,
the sorrows of the small!
He dropped two tears to mingle
with the flowing Senegal;
And the 'Thank you' that he uttered
was the saddest ever heard
In the Senegambian jungle
from the mouth of beast or bird.

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38. Leaping from project to project

I have handed in the first draft of my mystery novel. *chews nails*

It turns out that writing a mystery novel is really hard. Especially as I've never been a big reader of detective or mystery fiction. I had this list of truly excellent clues that I planted at the beginning, and as I crawled to the finish line, I kept thinking I must figure out how those clues fit in. And then I got to the end and realised I hadn't, and had to go back and try and retrofit them. Or delete them.

Anyway, it is done now, and I have taken the weekend off before leaping back into the story I wrote for NaNoWriMo. I'm just reading it at the moment. I don't really remember much about it at all, because it was written so fast. There are some good bits, though. Sporadic, but present.

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39. What's in Your Handbag?

Simmone Howell asks what I have in my handbag, and I respond:

This is actually my standby handbag. My proper one is bigger, but the zip is broken and it is off being fixed.

Contents (clockwise from top left):
-Moleskine notebook, for writing thoughts
-One Big Damn Puzzler, which is so far a very entertaining read
-glasses case (containing reading glasses)
-two pens, one pink for signing, one with a sekrit USB stick in the middle.
-smartcard for access to work.
-iPhone earbuds (the iPhone itself is being used to take the photo)
-lipstick (salmon) and lipgloss (something Japanese and pink)
-pink Raybans
-20c in change
-book of stamps
-earphone splitter thing in case Michael and I both want to listen to something.

What's in YOUR handbag? (or manbag)

2 Comments on What's in Your Handbag?, last added: 2/27/2010
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40. New face for Scatterheart

This is the new Australian cover for Scatterheart. Isn't it pretty?

3 Comments on New face for Scatterheart, last added: 2/16/2010
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41. No-brain creative

I've just spent a whole week working on my book. It's totally mentally exhausting, so by about 4pm, I still have plenty of energy, but don't want to use my brain. And that's why I love craft. I'm currently 44 squares into a 440 square queen size string quilt. I got the idea from here, and if you're interested there's also a tutorial. It's a very easy pattern to follow, and requires almost no measuring, which is awesome. Here's some in progress pics:

Strips are sewn to a 5" square of phonebook paper.
Then all the raggedy bits are trimmed.

Four squares together make a DIAMOND.

This is what I've done so far, all laid out.

I also baked on Sunday, to celebrate the awesome that is the Winter Lolympics. Curling! Skeleton! Mogul! Such hilarious (and totally dangerous) sports. Anyway. I made wintry Canadian critters:
And one special one

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42. Snails

One of the characters in my WIP is fascinated by insects, and knows all manner of trivia about them. I was telling some of this trivia to my dad today, and he pressed Snail, by Peter Williams into my hand. And I'm sure you don't think a book about snails could ever be interesting, but let me share the first paragraph with you, and we'll see if you change your mind.

So attached was the author Patricia Highsmith to snails that they became her constant travelling companions. Secreted in a large handbag or, in the case of travel abroad, carefully positioned under each breast, they provided her with comfort and companionship in what she perceived to be a hostile world.
It just gets better from there.

1 Comments on Snails, last added: 2/13/2010
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43. JaFeNoWriMo

I have a deadline. It involves finishing my work in progress by the end of February, which basically boils down to 35 words in 35 days. A challenge, but a not insurmountable one. January and February are not particularly busy times of the year for me, at work or socially. Basically, they're no November. So I apologise for the lack of bloggery. I beg forgiveness and offer the first snippet from the work in progress as a teaser. I think I've already put the first line up before, but here's the entire first BIT.

On entering the taxidermy laboratory in Melbourne Natural History Museum’s department of Preparation on the morning of January 18th, at approximately 9:25, Beatrice May Ross noticed six unusual things, all of which turned out to be of utmost significance. The things (in no particular order) were:

a. The clock on the wall was running three minutes fast, putting the time at 9:28.

b. On the third shelf from the right (four shelves down), a jar marked “Eyes, mammal, XL” was missing a lid.

c. Gus, the head taxidermist, was eating a wholemeal sandwich containing roast chicken, mayonnaise, alfalfa sprouts, plastic cheese, tomato and beetroot.

d. The beetroot was about to make a desperate bid for freedom and head for the relative safety of the front of Gus’s bottle green Natural History Museum hoodie.

e. Gus didn’t seem to be particularly concerned that Bee was running 25 minutes late (or 28 if you believed the clock on the wall).


f. Someone else was in the laboratory. A young man, probably a couple of years older than Bee. He had artfully messy dark brown hair, black plastic framed glasses and a glint in his eye that Bee found simultaneously alluring and deeply irritating.

2 Comments on JaFeNoWriMo, last added: 1/31/2010
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Roasting a Christmas Turkey is a daunting task, but it's really not that hard. It just takes a bit of planning. So here are my tips.

1. Buy a turkey. A good one, free-range. It will make all the difference.

2. Brine your turkey for 24 hours before you cook it. This is this totally complicated scientific thing that I don't quite understand, but soaking a raw bird in salt water makes it retain its moisture and juiciness when it's cooked. Plus it's a good opportunity to add some FLAVOUR.

To Brine A Turkey
Get a bucket containing
  • about six liters of cold water
  • 2 quartered oranges
  • 250g Maldon salt
  • 3 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp caraway seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 tbsp allspice berries
  • 4 star anise
  • 2 tbsp white mustard seeds
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 unpeeled quartered onions
  • 1 6cm piece of ginger, cut into slices
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • stalks from a bunch of parsley (you will use the leaves for the stuffing)
  • a bunch of sage
  • a turkey (5-6 kilos, will serve around 10 people)

Doesn't it look pretty? Cover it all up with some gladwrap, and stick it somewhere cool and out of the way for 24 hours before you cook it (the turkey should be pretty cold and possibly frozen anyway, so you don't need to worry about it going off. Just don't stick it in the sun).

3. Don't stuff it. Stuffing means your turkey is denser, which means you have to cook it for longer, and the meat is dry and tough. I cook my stuffing separately in a dish, which has the added bonus of it going all awesomely crunchy on top.

4. Prepare your turkey.
After taking your turkey out of his briney bath, give it a good pat down with some paper towel, then rub it all over (inside and out) with a lemon and some squished cloves of garlic. Then make a glaze containing:
  • 75g butter
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • chopped sage
  • a few cloves of garlic.
Paint the turkey inside and out, then chuck a bundle of fresh herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme - really!) and your lemon carcasses in the turkey's front and rear cavities. I do not truss my turkey, because it takes longer to cook that way.

5. Cook your turkey. BUT NOT TOO MUCH.
Stick your oven on at 200C. Put the turkey straight onto the wire rack of the oven, breast up. You will not have to turn it. Put a pan below the turkey to catch the drippings. Chuck a cup or so of water into the pan, so the drippings don't burn. Baste the turkey with these drippings every half hour. Roast a 5-6 kg turkey for 2 1/2 hours. Yep. Two and a half hours. That's all. Then take it out and let it sit for AT LEAST 20 minutes, but ideally 40 or even an hour. The turkey will continue to cook when it comes out of the oven, and reabsorb all of the juices. Letting it sit also makes it easier to carve, and gives you a good opportunity to reheat your stuffing and bread sauce, and really CRANK your roast veggies to get them all crispy.
Here is last year's turkey, fresh out of th

3 Comments on TURKEY, last added: 12/10/2009
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Bread sauce is one of those awesome traditional dishes that sounds disgusting until you actually eat it, and then it is the best thing ever. This is my grandma's recipe, spruced up a bit with additions from Nigella.

You will need about 800g stale white bread, so make sure you leave the bread out overnight if you've brought it fresh. Then cut or tear it into rough cubes (about 1-2cm square)

Then on the day, heat a pan containing 1/2 a litre of full-fat milk, and 1/2 a litre of chicken stock. Then add:
  • 1 finely diced onion
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.
Heat it all up but don't let it boil. Remove from heat once it's almost boiling, cover with lid. The longer you let it sit and infuse, the tastier it will be. This is a good thing to do in the early stages of the day, when you've just put the turkey on.
When you're almost ready to serve (turkey is out of the oven), put the mix back on the stove over a low heat, and either strain or fish out all the cloves and bayleaves and peppercorns (this is optional, you don't have to). Then add the stale bread cubes and cook for 15 minutes.
Just before serving, stir in 30g of butter, and if you've still got a bit of time, pop it in the oven for a bit. Serve with turkey.

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46. Stuffing

As I mentioned in the turkey post, I don't put stuffing in my bird. But that doesn't mean there is no stuffing. WHAT A TERRIBLE THOUGHT.

My stuffing recipe is pretty flexible and changes every year. But it usually goes a bit like this:

Fry an onion (or two), some garlic, and 3-4 finely chopped celery stalks in butter, in a reasonable sized pot. Then add:
-lots of parsley
-lots of sage
-a bit of rosemary and/or thyme if you have any
-more butter
-bacon, if you feel like it
-1 egg
-some kind of nuts - I like walnuts or pine nuts, although chestnuts are traditional.

Then chuck in about 300g of roughly cubed bread. I like to use a really seedy multigrain with a hearty rye flavour, but if you want to go more traditional you can just use white bread.

Add some chicken stock to keep the whole thing moist, then put into a baking dish. I usually do this the night before Christmas, so it has plenty of time to get tasty and flavourful. But take it out first thing Christmas morning so it'll be room temperature by the time it goes in the oven.

My oven is usually pretty full of turkey and veggies by this stage, so I just chuck it in as soon as the turkey comes out, uncovered, for 40 minutes, as high as my oven will go. It warms all the way through and ends up all crunchy on top.

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47. Potatoes!

You can't have Christmas dinner without some good roast veg. Potatoes are a must, and a little roast pumpkin and onion and garlic won't go astray either.

I also steam some green beans, just so there's something in the meal that isn't totally artery-clogging.

Let's start with potatoes. I par-boil them first (just peel and boil them in salty water for about 10 minutes). Then drain, and bash them around a bit in the pot with some salt, rosemary and a little semolina.

Now, there are two options.

1. When my turkey has been cooking for about an hour and a half, I pour off most of the juices from the dripping pan and save them for gravy and more basting. Then add the potatoes to the pan (with pumpkin if you like, but you don't have to parboil that), and let them roast while catching all that delicious turkey juice.

2. Pour a jar of duck-fat into the now-empty dripping tray, and let it heat up while the turkey does its last hour in the oven. When the turkey's out, crank the oven up as high as it will possibly go. When the fat is HOT HOT HOT, put in the potatoes. They'll need about 20 minutes each side. Duck fat has a higher burning point to other fats, so it can get REALLY hot. This will make them all crunchy and awesome on the outside, but it does mean resting your turkey for nearly an hour.

Either way, make sure your potatoes are the last thing you take out of the oven and serve at the table. They should be PIPING hot. Crunch crunch crunch.

2 Comments on Potatoes!, last added: 12/20/2009
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48. 2009

I wasn't going to write this post, after reading everyone else's 2009 wrap-ups, but people convinced me.

A lot of people I care about had a crappy 2009. I didn't.

2009 started well, surrounded by my friends in Philip Island. Then Michael came into my life and made everything just that little bit more awesome. I've never felt so lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful, inspirational, supportive people.

It's also been a bloody good year for writing. I was a guest at the Edinburgh Book Festival and did about a zillion school visits which I thoroughly enjoyed. I had two books published, Angel Fish and Pink. I'm especially proud of Pink because it's the first book I've written that I wasn't commissioned to write, it was all me. It's been so exciting to see it do well, and I can't wait for it to come out in the US next year and see what they make of it. This year I've also sold books to the UK, Italy, China and Turkey, and I saw my first international editions (the UK and German versions of Scatterheart).

I did NaNoWriMo, which nearly killed me but felt like a pretty awesome achievement. I baked Christmassy things. I learnt how to use a sewing machine. My cat that I'd had since grade 5 died. I visited my senile grandmother and was pretty sure she had no idea who I was. I helped deliver another successful Reading Matters. I turned 28. I fell in love. I joined a writers' group. I walked along Hadrian's Wall for three days. I learnt the six steps of drinking whisky. I read lots of books. I finally started watching Battlestar Galactica.

I've watched people I love be sad this year, and struggle, and make hard decisions. And sometimes I feel guilty, because my life is pretty damn awesome. But guilt is a useless emotion, so my New Year's Resolution is to feel lucky instead of guilty. And take the awesome while it's here, and acknowledge that I've worked damn hard for it.

I'm really looking forward to 2010. I'm looking forward to writing a lot, and getting better at it as I do. I'm looking forward to reading exciting new things. I'm looking forward to all the adventures that life presents (except for the complicated provisional tax thingy the ATO wants me to do). And most of all I'm looking forward to spending time with the people I love, and doing everything I can to make their 2010 as awesome as my 2009 was.

Happy New Year!

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49. Homemade Christmas

So I didn't do EVERYTHING home made this year, but I still got my crafty oar in.

teacher gloves for a @jellyjellyfish

strip quilt cushion for Michael's mum

patchwork cushion for Erin

coasters for mum and dad

strip quilt cushion for mum and dad

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50. The kindness of strangers and the mystery of old books

It's lovely when things just come to you, unexpectedly.

I got an email about a month ago from a kindly soul who said she had an old Collins' dictionary that was inscribed to a Lily Wilkinson in 1924, and would I like to have it?

It was her husband's, the kindly soul told me. He used it to learn English when he first came to Australia. It's such a beautiful little dictionary, with lovely little woodcut illustrations.

The inscription says "To Lily, with love and best wishes from E Anderson, 2.11.24", and above it is written "Miss L Wilkinson, Post OFfice, Woodford". I'm not sure if it's a Woodford in Queensland or England or the US, and I'm pretty sure that this Lily Wilkinson isn't directly related to me (surely Family History Mother would know if she was), but now I'm all afire with curiosity to learn who she was.

In her email, Joanna (the kindly soul) said this: "Only if 'old books' could talk... you could find out so much more."

She's right, and yet I also love the mystery of an unknown Lily Wilkinson. She could have been anyone. I wonder what her favourite word in the dictionary was.

I'm pretty sure this dictionary will make its way into a novel or story sooner or later, so thank you, Joanna, for this amazing and generous gift!

4 Comments on The kindness of strangers and the mystery of old books, last added: 1/31/2010
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