Crazy QuiltEdi Cookie Traditions

I think there are two things I manage to do every December: blog about cookies and collect for Salvation Army’s little red bucket. I don’t know that I’ll collect for the Salvation Army this year, but I will be blogging about cookies. In a big way! Now through Christmas, I’m going to be posting “recipes’ of holiday cookies from bloggers, librarians and authors. “Recipes” because I’ll be posting recipes for making cookies from scratch, how to make a better cookie from a mix or refrigerator dough or where to find a special cookie at a certain bakery. And, they’re ‘holiday’ cookies, not Christmas cookies. It’s all about the joy of the cookie and special memories brought together as the winter weather slows us down, the year winds down and cookies and a beverage are just the thing!

My sister and I will be doing our annual cookies and cocktails next weekend! I think we’ll be sipping grasshoppers as we make things like oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, peppermint bark candy and I’m not sure what else. I just know it will be lots and lots of sisterly fun!

I’m still collecting cookie posts, but I really think you’ll enjoy the one’s I’ve collected like this first one from Malaika Rose Stanley. Malaika is a Children’s writer, author of Skin Deep, Spike and Ali Enson, Miss Bubble’s Troubles and more. She’s currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at London College of Fashion. She shares here about one of her favorite Christmas books and a recipe for Mince Pies. I remember Mince Pies from when I was a little girl! My dad liked them and they probably reminded him of his mom who was from London.

~From Malaika Rose Stanley

One of the earliest stories about Christmas that I remember reading is The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden, first published in 1958 – although it has been reprinted many times since and was adapted as an animated film called The Wish That Changed Everything in 1991 It probably says quite a lot about me that my other childhood favourites include Heidi by Johanna Spyri and The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. As a children’s author, my current tastes are for stories altogether edgier but even today, The Story of Holly and Ivy still evokes the magic of Christmas with a charming and nostalgic story about a lonely orphan, a doll without an owner and a woman with a Christmas tree and no one to enjoy it.

And for me, nothing evokes the taste of Christmas more than Mince Pies. These are small, individual shortcrust pastry cases filled with mincemeat. These days, the filling contains no meat and is actually made from minced fruit: raisins, currants, cherries, sultanas, apricots, candied citrus peel, apples, walnuts or almonds, mixed spices and sometimes a splash of brandy or rum.

Ready-made pies are available in the USA as well as the UK and even though many families bake home-made pies, the filling still usually comes out of a jar!

Mince pies have been part of British Christmas celebrations since the 17th century when the pies contained shredded meat or suet made from beef or mutton fat, as well as fruit. European crusaders returned from the Middle East with spices – cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves – which were added to Christmas pies to represent the three gifts given to the Christ child.

Traditions and Superstitions

  •  On Christmas Eve, children leave out a mince pie and a glass of milk for Santa Claus
  • The mincemeat mixture should only be stirred in a clockwise direction to avoid bad luck
  • Make a wish while eating the first mince pie of the festive season – and always eat them in silence
  • Eat a mince pie on each of the 12 days of Christmas, ending with Epiphany on 6th January to bring good luck for the New Year
  • To avoid bad luck, never refuse the offer of a mince pie or cut them with a knife
  • A star on the top of the mince pies represents the Christmas star that led the Magi and Shepherds to Bethlehem
  • ‘Mince pies’ is London cockney rhyming slang expression for ‘eyes’ – but although I live in London, I have never heard anyone use it

Recipe for Malaika’s Really Easy Mince Pies


225g (8 ounces) cold butter, diced

350g 12 ounces) plain flour

100g (3½ ounces) sugar

280g (10 ounces) mincemeat

1 egg


1. To make the pastry, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs. Mix in the sugar and a pinch of salt. Combine the pastry into a ball – don’t add liquid – and knead it briefly. The dough should be firm to the touch.  It can be used immediately or chilled in the fridge for later.

2. Preheat the oven to 200° C, 392° F or gas mark 6. Line 18 holes of two 12-hole bun tins by pressing small walnut-sized balls of pastry into each hole. If desired, mix a few drops of brandy or rum into the mincemeat and spoon the mixture into the pastry cases.

3. Take slightly smaller balls of pastry than before and pat them out between your hands to make round lids, big enough to cover the pies. Top the pies with their lids, pressing the edges gently together to seal. The pies can be store in the freezer for up to a month or baked immediately.

4. Brush the tops of the pies with the beaten egg. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool in the baking tin for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack. They can be stored for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

Lightly dust with icing sugar or serve hot with ice cream, cream or custard – the traditional British sort, of course.

Thanks, Malaika!






Male Monday

Today, I thought I’d mention a few male authors who published in 2011. WordPress is killing my layout here, and I apologize for that.

Chilito by Charles Rice-Gonzalez; published by Magnum Books

Set against a vibrant South Bronx neighborhood and the queer youth culture of Manhattan’s piers, Chulito is a coming-of-age, coming out love story of a sexy, tough, hip hop-loving, young Latino man and the colorful characters who populate his block. Chulito, which means “cutie,” is one of the boys, and everyone in his neighborhood has seen him grow up–the owner of the local bodega, the Lees from the Chinese restaurant, his buddies from the corner, and all of his neighbors and friends, including Carlos, who was Chulito’s best friend until they hit puberty and people started calling Carlos a pato…a faggot.

Culito rejects Carlos, buries his feelings for him, and becomes best friends with Kamikaze, a local drug dealer. When Carlos comes home from his first year away from college and they share a secret kiss, Chulito’s worlds collide as his ideas of being a young man, being macho, and being in love are challenged. Vivid, sexy, funny, heartbreaking, and fearless, this knock out novel is destined to become a gay classic.

21: The story of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago

Dragons of Silk by Laurence Yep; published by Harper Collins

click to browse the book

In this masterfully woven conclusion to the series that includes two Newbery Honor Books, Dragonwings andDragon’s Gate, award-winning author Laurence Yep brings the acclaimed Golden Mountain Chronicles full circle and pays tribute to the love of family, art, and heritage.

 We Are the Animals by Justin Torres; published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

"A novel so honest, poetic, and tough that it makes you reexamine what it means to love and to hurt." Oprah Magazine

Excerpt of We Are the Animals

Three brothers tear their way through childhood – smashing tomatoes all over each other, building kites from trash, hiding out when their parents do battle, tiptoeing around the house as their mother sleeps off her graveyard shift. Paps and Ma are from Brooklyn – he’s Puerto Rican, she’s white – and their love is a serious, dangerous thing that makes and unmakes a family many times.

Life in this family is fierce and absorbing, full of chaos and heartbreak and the euphoria of belonging completely to one another. From the intense familial unity felt by a child to the profound alienation he endures as he begins to see the world, this beautiful novel reinvents the coming-of-age story in a way that is sly and punch-in-the-stomach powerful.

Thanks, ALAN11!!!

Between work and preparing for the ALAN conference, I’ve not been blogging much. I’ve been back  home for a couple of

Ari opening her wonderful box of books

days now and have processed much of my experience, so I think it’s time to try to write about it.

Simply put ALAN is incredibly awesome!!!!!

Rita Williams Garcia signs One Crazy Summer which will have a sequel "P.S. Be 11"

ALAN, the Assembly of Literature for Adolescents, meets annually as part of the National Council of Teachers of English conference. This was the first year I attended and between its proximity (Chicago) and an invitation from Lyn Miller Lachmann to be part of a panel, I couldn’t miss it this year. Through funding from my school and a generous Minde Browning Grant from the Central Indiana Community Foundation, I was able to attend.

Lyn moderated a panel entitled “ Teen book bloggers forge a new reviewing model” which also included teen bloggers Ari (Reading in Color) and Maggie (Maggie’s Bookshelf-Bibliophilia). If you don’t know these blogs, you really need to start visiting. These teens are doing amazing things on their blogs, not just as teen bloggers but as bloggers. I’m extremely grateful to Lyn, Ari and Maggie for asking me to present with them and am awed by the fantastic work they do.

I liked being made to feel a part of the young adult literary community, having in-depth conversations with professors, authors, teachers, bloggers (BrainLair!!), and literacy coaches about media literacy, schools reform aroudn the country, literacy trends and what our students read.

And then there was Laurie Halse Anderson. She says  “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.”. And then, her voice, her body shakes and she lies on the floor before she falls. I don’t know that she ever put the microphone down. She delivered her entire speech, most of it while lying on the floor. Talk about walking the walk!

Authors spoke and of course some promoted their books, but many promoted causes like the rights of children whether they be gay or straight or Asian, smart or athletes; about protection from bullies and abusers; the requisite for fair and decent education and more. And they talked about equality, promoted diversity and championed literacy.

“We have to talk about things that make us uncomfortable.” Megan McCafferty

“There’s not a lot of curiosity in anything labeled standardized” Dom Testa

I got Paul Yee's autograph twice, on two different books!

Chris Crutcher “No act of heroism doesn’t include standing up for yourself”.

Sarah Dessen: “Stories are as vast and as diverse as teens themselves. There is no single teen story”.

“YA is not adult-lite. It’s teen extra-strength”. Kristen Chandler

M.T. Anderson spoke of a new, non-linear narrative, one in which place rather that character drives the story which has no beginning and no end. Check out or the Fry Chronicles app.

Walter Dean Myers recalled how technology has changed research methods; how a simple email can be used to immediately gather information, online tools translate on demand, interactive components engage readers in new ways and book publishing is just becoming more and more exciting.

Did you know Dom Testa has a foundation called Big Brain Club where ‘smart is cool’? He begins working with middle schoolers to let them know how important it is to have a good attitude towards education.

I think if it were up to authors and readers, we’d have more books that truly reflect the world around us. Have you read the statistics on how few MG and YA books were published by Black authors this year, and the reaction that it has more to do with what’s submitted that racism in publishing?

And, there was the public librarian who chose me to give all of her books written by or featuring people of color because she

authors Medeia Sharif, J. L. Powers and Lyn Miller Lachmann

felt she couldn’t use them in her library. She should have waited until Coe Booth said “Suburban students need to read Tyrell to be prepared for the world”.

So gracious, Mr. Francisco Stork!

And I wondered about the panel of four authors (two White, one Black, one Asian) who said a character’s ethnicity didn’t matter, only the quality of the story. They all pretty much said if it’s a good, well written story then readers would enjoy the message of the story. Is this how we talk about race to White audiences? Do we simply share milquetoast with this audience?

Thanhha Lai said “Once you find your voice, the story is there” and as she was finding her voice Nikki Grimes told her “You own it, girl! You’re a poet!”

Matthew Quick was inspired by Sandra Cisneros.

Coe Booth wanted to be the white Judy Blume.

Matt de la Pena was influenced to read and keep reading after picking up The Color Purple. He hooked his dad with 100 Years of Solitude.

 Ari read so few Black characters that when she was younger she wanted to be White. In her book world, there were no Black

I finally met Coe Booth in person!

characters. And in our presentation she continued talking to tell about her blog and why it exists. Maggie, who was too ill to attend, wrote eloquent responses to questions from Lyn about what blogging and reading has meant to her. Lyn Miller Lachmann coordinated our presentation. She and I provided groundwork information while Ari and Maggie exemplified the power of teen bloggers. These are the readers Rita Williams Garcia referred to when she said that “too often we choose books for reluctant readers, ignoring what well read readers bring to the table”.

Cheryl Rainfield said “I lived too dark. There are teens today who live too dark… I write books I needed as a teen”.

“When you sit at the bottom of the barrel, it’s very quiet.” Francisco X. Stork

Katie Alender “I hope the future of YA is diversity”.

There was much that was said that I didn’t write here, some that may have I mis-heard and some that I wrote down but cannot read. What I know is authors show us our world, some more eloquently, some with greater vision and some with greater skill than even they themselves will ever know.

In between spaces

the cracks

the part we try not to step on,

A reader

is sitting there.

~Rita Williams Garcia

‘Where’ is it!!

One of my favorite beverages these days is my homemade chai. I add warmed vanilla coffee creamer to any tea (usually Tahitian vanilla hazelnut) and I sit back and relax. I’m sipping a cup now as I write this post which should have gone up yesterday! I was so looking forward to participating in the Salute to City Reading that I’m still going to, even though I’m a day late. The day’s posts can all be found on Colleen Mondor’s blog, Chasing Ray.  BTW, Colleen also contributes to GuysLitWire where they have announced their holiday book fair and will be teaming up with Ballou High School in Washington D.C. Here’s a short story on the school.

I couldn’t believe the timing of the request for me to participate in this project because of where it takes place. Glitz is written by Philana Marie Boles. Her main character, Ann Michelle, is a pretty average high school Black girl. She attends a Catholic high school, lives with her grandmother, loves rap music and regrets that her life is so middle class. She’s a ‘wannabe’. Enter Raq, the hard core tattooed chica in whom few people see any good. But, Ann Michelle does. Ann Michelle gives into peer pressure big time, following along with all of Raq’s crazy schemes.

 And, the story works because it’s set in Toledo, Ohio. C’mon, don’t you expect a main character from Tooddle-ee-doo to be naïve? A bit slow and easy to influence?

The city’s proximity to Detroit takes our characters into a most precarious adventure.

Toledo? Yep. Toledo is my hometown and when I saw that a new, young Black author had set a book in Toledo, I had to read it. I grinned when I found that the main character attended an all girl Catholic high school, as I had as well. The streets, restaurants and stores took me back home and developed a special relationship between the book and this reader.

While books can take us places, sometimes we like them because they take us home. <sipping>

The season begins with Chronicle Books

It’s been a tough year for non-profits, libraries, reading rooms, and literacy programs. But you can make your favorite charity’s holiday season bright by entering the 2nd Annual Happy Haul-idays Giveaway!

This year, we’re not only giving away up to $500 worth of Chronicle books to one lucky blogger and one commenter on the winning blog post—we’re also asking the winning blogger to choose one charity to receive up to $500 of books from us. It’s just our way of spreading holiday cheer and sharing the gift of reading.

Here’s my wish list!

Design Collaborations in the Public Schools Princeton Architectural Press By Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi  30.00

When Louis Armstrong taught me scat By Muriel Harris Weinstein,Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie 16.99

Milk and Cookies 89 Heirloom Recipes from New Yorks Milk & Cookies Bakery By Tina Casaceli,Foreword by Jacques Torres,Photographs by Antonis Achilleos 24.95

Just a minute A Trickster Tale and Counting Book By Yuyi Morales 15.99

Kikkari: Contemporary Greek Flavors  By Erik Cosselmon and Janet Fletcher Photographs by Sara Remington 40.00

Super-Charged Smoothies: More than 60 Recipes for super charged smoothies 19.95

Quick and easy Chinese: 70 everyday recipes 19.95

Turquoise: A chef’s travels in Turkey  50.00

Tartine By Elisabeth Prueitt,and Chad Robertson,Photographs by France Ruffenach,Foreword by Alice Waters 35.00

Sienna’s Scrapbook Our African American Heritage Trip By Toni Trent Parker,Illustrated by Janell Genovese 15.95

Mexicocina  The Spirit and Style of the Mexican Kitchen Photographs by Melba Levick,Text by Elizabeth E. McNair 24.95

Rude hand gestures around the worlds A Guide to Offending without Words By Romana Lefevre Photographs by Daniel Castro 12.95

I was here A Travel Journal for the Curious Minded By Kate Pocrass 16.95

Ruhlman’s Twenty The Ideas and Techniques That Will Make You a Better Cook By Michael Ruhlman Photographs by Donna Turner Ruhlman 40.00

Moleskin city notebook Paris (of course, Paris!) 17.95

Gratitude a journal 14.95

Dawn of the bunny suicides 12.95

Best shot in the west: The adventures of Nat Love 19.95

total: 430.

If I win, Eufaula Dormitory, Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Eufaula OK will also receive $500 in books.

2012 Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA) Scholarships

2012 Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA) Scholarships

Submitted by admin on Wed, 11/02/2011 – 08:13.

2012 Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA) Scholarships

Application Deadline: March 31, 2012

Online Application URL:


Founded in 1973, CALA has seven regional chapters. It is affiliated with the American Library Association. In addition to holding annual and regional programs, CALA publishes its own Newsletter, Membership Directory, and the Journal of Library and Information Science in cooperation with the National Taiwan Normal University. CALA is pleased to announce the availability of the 2012 CALA Scholarships:

  • The CALA Scholarship of Library and Information Science
    This scholarship awards $1,000 annually to a full time student at an ALA-accredited library school in North America.
  • The Sheila Suen Lai Scholarship
    The scholarship awards $500 to a full time student at an ALA-accredited library school in North America.

These Scholarships are designed to encourage professional and leadership development in Chinese American librarianship. They are open to full-time students of Chinese heritage who are currently enrolled in an ALA-accredited master’s or doctoral program of library and information science at an institution of higher education in North America. The recipient must be enrolled as a full-time student at the time the Scholarship is awarded. Applicants may apply for any or all of the scholarships listed above.

One application and reference package will be sufficient. For more information, please visit the CALA website at, choose and click the name of the scholarship to access the application guidelines, online application forms, online application reference forms, and other information. The application is completely online. Please submit all the documents online at   

Study Abroad Opportunity for High School Students

This is a rare opportunity for high school students. Please share this with any students you know who may be interest.

Application Deadline—January 11, 2012

Go to

The Kennedy-Lugar YES Abroad program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is offering American high school students and recent graduates in the U.S. full scholarships for up to one academic year to live and study abroad in countries with significant Muslim populations. Scholarships cover expenses for program fees, pre-departure and arrival orientations in Washington DC, secondary health insurance, and ensure careful placement with host families that, like you, are eager to share themselves with the world.
Participate on a program in one of these countries: Click on the country for more information:

Bosnia & Herzegovina | Egypt | Ghana | India | Indonesia | Mali (semester only)
Malaysia | Morocco | Oman | Thailand | Turkey

Like the YES inbound program, students live with host families, attend high school, engage in activities to learn about the host country’s society and values, acquire leadership skills, and help educate others about American culture while learning about their host country’s culture. During the 2012-2013 school year, 55 American students will travel overseas.

Upon their return the students will apply their leadership skills in the United States. In addition, alumni groups will help participants continue to be involved with many community service activities including: clothing drives, mentoring younger children, and much more.