Highlights of the Christmas season

This post was originally a fairly long account of miscellaneous events between 10 December 2011 and 14 January 2012. But in a 2015 review of this blog’s archives, I’ve decided that most of it is not of long-term interest.

Among other things, it described:

  • My participation in Austalk, a nation-wide study of how Australians speak. At the time, the entire study was expected to take about a year, after which data would be made available to participants. But even now, in late 2015, that hasn’t happened, to the great annoyance of everyone.
  • The mini Christmas puddings that we often make at that time of year, according to the following recipe:
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General updates 2011: May


I invented a new dessert and recommend it to others. The main ingredients are yoghurt, mulberries, and chocolate-coated honeycombe. Here’s a photograph [update: replacement photograph uploaded in 2015], followed by details.


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Halloween memories

I grew up in rural South Australia, and when I was young my family often hosted Halloween parties. I particularly enjoyed carving the faces on the jack-o-lantern. Evil eyes, gorilla nostrils, and sharp teeth with long canines were my style. Incidentally, our jack-o-lanterns were watermelons, because they’re bigger than pumpkins.

Another favourite activity was the doughnut game. It seems not many people know about this, and I don’t know where we picked it up from. You’ll find some relevant hits if you search the Internet for “halloween doughnut game”, but they’re all tragically misinformed because they leave out the most important part (the chocolate sauce).

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Washing dishes

This is a blog post about the accessories and techniques I use for washing dishes.

It might not sound like a promising topic. But I find that interesting observations can be found in the most trivial of places, and that there’s much to be learned in comparing how different people go about ordinary tasks. So to start with, here’s a photograph of the various accessories I use for dish washing (some are posing for the photograph):


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Food and drink in Australian English

In Lynne Murphy’s blog Seperated by a Common Language, she routinely discusses dialectal differences between British and American English. I recently left comments on a number of her posts from 2006 and 2007, in most cases adding an Australian point of view.

Below are some points where Australian vocabulary differs from British and American vocabulary on the topic of food and drink. Many (but not all) of these items are based on comments I posted on Lynne’s blog.

Natural foods:

  • They’re usually red or green, sometimes yellow, and common on pizza. The British and Americans call them peppers, but Australians call it capsicum.
  • Apparently in Britain, monkey nuts are peanuts with the shells still on. In Australia, however, the term “monkey nut” refers to pine nuts. (This is a new one for me: until I read Lynne’s blog post I thought monkey nuts were pine nuts everywhere.) My guess is we call them this because they grow in tall trees where people can imagine monkeys to play, rather than in small trees or bushes like regular nuts.

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Chocolate and garlic cake

This chocolate and garlic cake recipe was invented by Carol Willis and shared on the Lspace recipe archive. It’s not the easiest dessert to prepare (involving tricky manouvres such as separating eggs and crushing garlic), but well worth the effort for special occasions such as parties to which vampires are not invited.

I tried it a couple of times years ago, and found it very nice to eat. The garlic flavour is quite strong when it is fresh, but gradually fades over the week, so those who prefer a milder flavour can simply wait a few days and eat the leftovers. I believe this recipe should be preserved for posterity, so here is my paraphrase of Carol’s recipe.

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Favourite spelling error

Do you have a favourite spelling error? One that made you cry with delight when you noticed it in print? That you have vowed never to tell the perpetrator about lest they fix it and deprive the world of a good laugh? I do, and I’m going to share it. I’m also going to recommend a nice place to eat.

To understand why this error is so funny, it helps to be familiar with Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. I’m sure you all are, but here is a quotation from Mort to refresh your memory:

Reannuals are plants that grow backwards in time. You sow the seed this year and they grow last year. Mort’s family specialized in distilling the wine from reannual grapes. These were very powerful and much sought after by fortune-tellers, since of course they enabled them to see the future. The only snag was that you got the hangover the morning before, and had to drink a lot to get over it.

Got that? Well, the spelling error is on the menu from a small North Indian restaurant/takeaway not far from where I live. It’s under the entry for fish curry, which reads:

Fish in a thick sauce of onions, tomatoes, tamarind, fish gravy and traditional time reversed spices.

Time-reversed spices! I love it! Of course, it’s meant to say time-revered, but I love the idea that spices grown on reannual plants from the Discworld are a traditional part of North Indian cuisine.


For old time’s sake, I recreated something with a piece of toast today that I haven’t made for years. Strawberries and grapes atop chocolate spread, like this:

Toast, chocolate spread, grapes, strawberries

I also had ago at implementing an idea that I thought of years ago but have never actually tried before. Sculpting Stonehenge, out of the above ingredients. This is the best I can do:

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