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Here are three traditional
Australian recipes that have been
part of my family for generations. I
hope they help you get into the spirit
of The Great Plains.
The heart of Australian storytelling
This recipe is from the 1940s and was a favourite with the
stockmen on their day off when they went fishing.
3 cups self-raising flour
1 dessertspoon sugar
2 dessertspoons of powdered milk
Pinch of salt
Sufficient beer for a sticky consistency.
Knead well. Shape into a flattened ball and place in a camp oven with lid on.
If your coals are good and hot it should take around 20-30 minutes to cook.
Alternatively you can place on a grease proof papered tray in a hot oven.
Serve sliced thickly while still hot. The traditional accompaniment is to spread
golden syrup (treacle-a by-product of cane sugar) on it. Another favourite
additive is to throw a handful of raisins into the mix before cooking.
NICOLE ALEXANDER The heart of Australian storytelling
This recipe belonged to my great-grandmother, Sarah-Ann
Alexander (ne Howard. Died 1925). She harvested the fruit which
grew wild on our property and made jam from it. Quandongs have
been an important traditional aboriginal fruit. The tart fruit contains
heaps of vitamin C and the wood was used for making bowls.
1 pound of fruit
1 cup of sugar
2 cups of water
cup of mixed peel (candied fruit-rind from lemon, oranges, grapefruit etc)
Put the Quandong and mixed peel in a pan, add two cups of water and simmer
for twenty minutes until soft. Remove pan from the heat and add the sugar, stir
until dissolved. Bring to boil and then simmer for 20 minutes or so, stirring all
the time. Remove from the heat and mash up a bit, making sure you leave some
nice chunky pieces. Spoon into a jar and cover to cool.
You can buy dried Quandong at specialty stores. You simply soak in water
overnight before making jam.
NICOLE ALEXANDER The heart of Australian storytelling
Traditional Billy tea was made in a quart-pot or Billy. Fill the Billy with water
(around 800 ml) and add three tablespoons of loose-leaf Billy Tea (this is an
actual brand of tea which is readily available). Sit Billy in camp-fire or hang
above. Bring to boil. Remove from fire (make sure you have a cloth so you dont
burn your hand) and swing the Billy quickly in an arc to settle the tea-leaves
(this takes some practice and is not mandatory but is an authentic part of the
process). Allow to steep and then pour. Add sugar and a bit of water to cool
if too hot.
NICOLE ALEXANDER The heart of Australian storytelling
1. Do you think Aloysius Wades obsession regarding his niece,
Philomena, is justified?
2. How relevant is the nature versus nurture debate in todays society?
3. There are two distinct settings in the novel. How well has the author
conveyed a sense of time and place for both America and Australia?
4. Compare and contrast the beliefs of the indigenous Australian aboriginal
and the Native American Indian.
5. What symbolic purpose do eagles play in The Great Plains?
6. Wes Kirklands loyalty to the Wade family equals Hugh Hockings hatred
of them. Why do each of them have such strong feelings?
7. Philomena, Serena and Abelena are all victims of a tragedy beyond their
control. Discuss their shared strengths and weaknesses.
8. Is Abelenas hatred of the Wade family justified?
9. What is the common bond that brings Abelena Wade and Will Todd
10. How much do you believe that fate plays a hand in the destiny of the
characters in The Great Plains?
11. How important are the themes of identity and displacement in the book?
NICOLE ALEXANDER The heart of Australian storytelling
Great Plains