Happy Friday, Feasters, and welcome to everyone’s favourite day of the week. Besides being the start of the weekend and another round of football fun (gooo Swans!), we get to snuffle out excellent books and recipes. Perfect!
And today is no different. Thanks to rural lit author Margareta Osborn, who I’m absolutely delighted to have on the blog, we have another fabulous book and recipe to share. Margareta’s a fifth generation farmer who grew up on her family’s historic Gippsland dairy farm, so she’s well-versed in the highs and lows of rural life. And that’s exactly what she writes about. Not only did Margareta’s debut release Bella’s Run garner rave reviews, it sold its cute-covered socks off. With jolly good reason too.
Check it out.
Bella threw her hat into the air. ‘We’ve lived one of our dreams, Patty. Our outback road trip is done. Now we’re free and ready for our next adventure. I love my life!’
Now they are coming to the end of a road trip which has taken them from their family farms in the rugged Victorian high country to the red dust of the Queensland outback. For almost a year they have mustered on cattle stations, cooked for weary stockmen, played hard at rodeos and danced through life like a pair of wild tumbleweeds.
And with the arrival of Patty’s brother Will and Bella’s cousin Macca, it seems love is on the horizon too …
Then a devastating tragedy strikes, and Bella’s world is changed for ever.
So she runs – from the only life she has ever known. But can she really turn her back on the man she loves? Or on the land that runs deep in her blood?
Both funny and heart-wrenching, Bella’s Run is a rip-roaring debut brimming with the colour and vitality of life on the land.
And now you’ve finished admiring that stunning cover and blurb, you can settle down to Margareta’s wonderful post!
There were many recipes I could’ve shared here with you today. I love to cook thanks to my grandmother who brought me up to think Saturday afternoon baking sprees at the family homestead were what everyone did (minus the sponges that didn’t work which flew like UFO’s out the back screen door).
In fact when Cathryn first invited me take part in her Friday Feast some months ago, I had thought to share the pavlova recipe that garnered a mention in BELLA’S RUN. (As an occasional relief station cook in outback-western Queensland, one day I decided I’d give the stockmen a treat and make the said pavlova. Beating sixteen egg whites to froth in one mix master bowl can cause all sorts of problems. Let’s just say the clean up afterwards ensured a mate and I needed to drive the hour to town to find a drink – well, maybe many drinks – and the experience provided excellent research for a book.)
BUT, I changed my mind (I’m female, I reserve the right ;-). Sitting here on our property that is snugged hard up against the mountains of the Great Dividing Range, it’s damn cold at the moment. Not to mention the floods we’ve just experienced followed by that 5.2 magnitude earthquake (Yes, my gumboots fell over :-). So I decided we needed comfort food for Cathryn’s Friday Feast, specifically a CHOCOLATE kind of comfort food that really hits the spot when things are cold, wet and shaky.
The slice I am about to share has had many lives. It started out as my grandmother’s chocolate coconut slice, but over the years it has evolved into, well, anything I’ve wished it to be. You can cook it ‘Plain Jane’ OR … (and this is the most important bit, so listen up) grab two Peppermint Crisps, slice/scrunch them up with a big knife. Mix one Peppermint Crisp into dry mixture. Reserve the other until after you ice the slice (must be iced while warm) and sprinkle it over the top. YUM-MY!
You can also use Cherry Ripes, Crunchie bars, Turkish Delights … all fabulous reasons why this is one AWESOME slice.
Awesome Chocolate Slice
½ cup caster sugar 2 dessertspoons cocoa
1 cup Self Raising flour 1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup coconut 4 oz butter plus a smidge more
Melt butter (I just do it in the microwave)
Mix other ingredients together and add melted butter, followed by the egg.
Press into a flat slice tin and cook in a moderate oven for approx. 10 minutes.
Ice with chocolate icing while warm. Sprinkle with shredded coconut or chopped Peppermint Crisp or Cherry Ripe or Crunchie or … whatever! (Although I’ve never tried mini M & M’s. Anyone want to give that a go?)
*Note* I have also made this slice without cocoa and just added a few drops of peppermint essence into some vanilla icing. This adds to the taste of the Peppermint Crisp sprinkled on top.
Oh, I am so, soooo going to make the Peppermint Crisp version of this. And it’s so easy! Thanks, Margareta. I think there may be some whipping out of slice tins when everyone’s finished reading this.
Now, my lovelies, what tricks do you have to make your favourite recipe shine? A spoon of redcurrant jelly in your gravy to give it a bit of zing? Some crumbled fetta in your pumpkin scones for a cheesy delight? If you’re anything like me you’re continually fiddling with old recipes to liven them up. Sometimes – as my other half will attest – with horrid results. Ahh well, there’s nothing like a danger element to add fun to the kitchen!
And keep your eye out for Margareta’s next release, Hope’s Road. Coming March 2013.