Monday, April 29, 2013

Guest: LJ LaBarthe

Please welcome guest author LJ LaBarthe! I got to say The Body on The Beach sounds like it needs a home on my Nook.


Thanks for having me, Hayley!

The "Under the Southern Cross" anthology has stories from different genres and various Australian experiences, and I think it's fair to say that one thing the binds us all together, whether we're Australian or New Zealander or American or British or any other nationality, is food. Every country has its own 'signature dish(es)' and Australia is no different.

Anyone who has lived or visited here knows very well the deliciousness that is the Tim Tam cookie, which comes in a variety of flavours, or the tasty candy called Jaffas. We have billy tea, which is tea brewed in a tin can over an open fire, made popular in Australian folk song and poetry; damper, which is bread baked in an open fire or the meat pie. There's the pie floater (a meat pie in the middle of a bowl of green pea soup), or Vegemite (a spread made from brewer's yeast), or chiko rolls (a deep fried savoury roll vaguely like a spring roll).

There's also things like lamingtons (vanilla sponge cake squares coated in chocolate and coconut), fairy bread (buttered bread topped with hundreds and thousands), sausage rolls (flaky pastry wrapped around minced meat with herbs and spices, shaped like a long roll), or pavlova, which is a meringue cake with fruit and cream. There's some dispute about the origin of the pavlova, as some say it originated in New Zealand and not Australia.

One of the things I remember from my childhood is ANZAC biscuits. Originally, they were made as digestive biscuits for soldiers in the First World War, hence the name ANZAC. (ANZAC – Australia and New Zealand Army Corps.) Eggs were scarce during war time, so these biscuits are egg-free, which is great for me, as I'm allergic to eggs.

ANZAC biscuits were—and are—a popular biscuit. The scent of freshly baked ANZAC biscuits is one that always reminds me of home and family, and it's part of the Australian and New Zealand heritage. As the anthology and my story, "The Body on The Beach" are about Australians in Australia, I want to share this recipe with you and hope that you too will enjoy these biscuits as much as we do.

ANZAC Biscuits:

1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup (if you don't have golden syrup, treacle is a close substitute).
1 teaspoon boiling water
1 cup rolled oats
125 g butter
2 teaspoons bicarbonate soda

*Note: Some recipes call for 2/3 cup of desiccated coconut as well, but my mum never put that into her biscuits. It's up to you.*

Mix flour, oats and sugar (and coconut, if using). Melt butter and golden syrup together. Mix bi-carbonate soda with boiling water and add to the butter mixture. Pour into dry ingredients and stir to combine. Place spoonfuls of mixture onto greased oven trays, leaving room for them to spread. Bake at 170o Celsius / 338o Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Put onto a cooling tray to cool completely before packing away. Makes about 30.

(This recipe is from the East Goulburn Valley Country Women's Association and was first on the ABC.)

"The Body on The Beach" by L. J. LaBarthe.

Blurb: In 1920, a body is found on Brighton Beach, Adelaide. Billy Liang has been living a respectable life as the representative of Adelaide’s Chinese community—with his lover, lawyer Tom Williams, discreetly at his side. When evidence seems to implicate the people Billy represents, he steps up to help solve the murder. He and Tom deal with illegal opium dens, fantan games and gambling, racism, and being shot at. Though Billy’s family accepts the love he and Tom share, Australia’s laws against sodomy and homosexuality pose a constant danger. Now, the body on the beach brings a whole new threat to Billy and Tom’s life in Adelaide.

You can find L. J. at:
Twitter: @brbsiberia

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