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Welcome to the first Friday Feast of autumn 2014.

To celebrate, we have suitably fabulous author sharing her latest release and a delicious recipe that  will have your tastebuds dancing. But first, the news you await every week from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. It rained so hard last weekend that my round was washed out. Naturally, this occurred right when my game was coming together. The Great Golfing God has it in for me, the sod. Hmph.Author photo of Margareta Osborn

But enough of that, let’s get onto the really important stuff: BOOKS and FOOD!

My guest this week is Margareta Osborn, best-selling author of rural-set romances Bella’s Run, Hope’s Road and A Bush Christmas. Not only does Margareta write great heroines, she is one herself as a volunteer fire-fighter, recently helping to fight the choking Hazelwood coal mine fire in Gippsland, among other incidents.

Margareta’s new release is Mountain Ash and the premise will have you hooked!

 

MOUNTAIN ASH

 

Cover of Mountain Ash by Margareta OsbornAfter years of struggling as a single mother, Jodie Ashton has given up on love and passion. What she craves now is security for herself and her beloved daughter Milly. And marriage to widower Alex McGregor, the owner of the prosperous Glenevelyn cattle station in East Gippsland, will certainly offer that. If only he wasn’t so much older and so controlling.

Needing space to decide her future, Jodie reluctantly agrees to a girls-only weekend at the Riverton rodeo …

Meanwhile, cowboy Nate McGregor vows off women, after his latest one-night stand costs him his job in the Northern Territory. Perhaps it’s time to head back to his family home, Glenevelyn, to check out for himself the ‘gold-digger’ his father seems determined to marry.

But first, on his way through Riverton, he plans to stop off at a rodeo.

Two lives are about to collide in one passionate moment – with devastating results…

 

Doesn’t that sound like a riveting read? Which is why you should be clickety-clicking right now on these ‘buy’ links. For the paperback, visit most excellent Australian online bookstore Booktopia. You can also try Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Dymocks, QBD the Bookshop, your local independent, or your nearest chain store. For the ebook try Amazon for Kindle, Kobo, iTunes, Google Play or your favourite online retailer.

Loaded up? Good. Because you’ll need something delicious to snack on while eating and Margareta has just the thing!

 

Cooling It

 

Hi Cathryn, thanks so much for having me back on your blog. It seems like we’re  making this a yearly event!

Seeing the last few mornings up here in the Gippsland hills have had a snippet of autumn in the air (you can feel it, taste it, smell it), I had thought to give you a yummy autumn cum winter-ish recipe to get us in the mood for all that cool weather with it’s comforting, scrumptious food to come.

BUT … then we hit today.

Outside the temperature is in the mid 30’s and there’s a blistering hot wind blowing itself into frenzy. The dust is spinning into willy-willys and I can see what’s left of our pasture shrivelling before my eyes. So, I can hardly talk about warming casseroles and oozing puddings with all of us sweltering like lizards on a pile of hot rocks. Summer is obviously not done yet. In addition, the fire pager’s doing a dance on my desk requesting change-over crews for tonight, as the people of Gippsland have also been fighting bushfires, yours truly included. In fact it’s a wonder anyone in this part of the world is going to have time to read my latest novel MOUNTAIN ASH (just released on March 1, 2014) until autumn – and relief from the heat – arrives! The tagline of my latest novel, reads, ‘In matters of the heart she’s playing with fire …’. Unfortunately it’s a tad apt at the moment in this part of the world. And that’s before you throw in a devastating love triangle twist.

So maybe it’s time to head back to the kitchen and make the most decadent treat to cool off. I made this stunning looking, deviously simple and delicious ice-cream cake for Christmas lunch. It was a H.I.T. (in capitals!)

 

Ice-Cream Cake

 

Margareta Osborn's Ice-Cream Cake

Ingredients:

3 litres of vanilla ice-cream

400 g of chocolate honey-comb pieces, chopped into chunks

220g bottle of chocolate Ice-Magic

Fresh berries (I used strawberries & would’ve added raspberries if I’d had some) & icing sugar

Put 3 litres of ice-cream into a big bowl. (It needs to be BIG, trust me.) Leave to soften for 10 minutes (don’t let it melt).

Gently fold in the chopped honeycomb. (I did this in two bowls as one wasn’t big enough.)

Grease a 22cm spring-form tin. Line base and sides with 2 layers of baking paper. I suggest you go 2-3cm above the edge of the pan with the paper, creating ‘hungry-boards’, so you can get all that yummy ice-cream into the tin.

Spoon ice-cream and honeycomb mixture into the tin and level with a knife or spatula. Freeze overnight.

Just before serving tip ice-cream cake from tin (I removed sides of tin along with the paper, laid a plate on the ‘top’ and tipped the cake upside down so the bottom became the top.) Drizzle immediately with Ice Magic, allow a minute or so to harden then top with fresh fruit. Sift icing sugar over the fruit to finish.

This cake goes ultra well with plum pudding but it would be terrific with any other desert or just by itself.

Note: You can replace the honey-comb with other lollies or chocolate bar treats. Let your imagination run wild!

 

Thanks, Margareta. My imagination is absolutely running wild. Imagine this with Smarties or broken up Peppermint Crisp. The possibilities! And so stunning too.

Okay, Feasters, what dish do you like to make that is disproportionately impressive to the amount of effort that went into its creation? I have one that I’ve been making for years – meringue towers with berries. They’re basically glorified individual pavlovas, but constructed in such a way to form an impressive tower on the plate. Dead easy. The only tricky part is piping the meringue into circles and stripes.

So what about you? Can you make a stunning soup in a heartbeat? Whip up a colourful salad in moments that looks like it was taken from the pages of Gourmet Traveller? Make our lives easier so we have more time to spend with friends and family – or reading – and share away!

If you’d like to learn more about Margareta and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Twitter and Facebook.

 

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Well, spank me with a dried cow-pat. It appears we’re having a mini rural-fest on Friday Feast.LBP_0058-1 Cropped And rightly so too. It is, after all, the hottest genre around!

So it’s fitting that I should also host one of Australian rural fiction’s hottest authors. Margareta Osborn rose to prominence with her debut release Bella’s Run and her second release is following rapidly in its best-selling footsteps. As a fifth generation Gippsland farmer, Margareta understands intimately the landscape in which she sets her books. She also understands the pull of the land, how it can burrow into a person’s heart, something she shows beautifully in her new release.

Take a look…

 

HOPE’S ROAD

 

HOPE'S ROAD FINAL FRONT COVERIn the rugged and beautiful high country of East Gippsland, HOPE’S ROAD connects three very different properties and three very different lives.

Sixty years ago, heartbroken and betrayed, old Joe McCauley turned his back on his family and their fifth-generation farm, Montmorency Downs. He now spends his days as a recluse, spying upon the land – and the granddaughter – that should by rights have been his.

For Tammy McCauley, Montmorency Downs is the last remaining ties to her family. But land can make or break you – and, with her husband’s latest treachery, how long can she on to it?

Wild-dog trapper, Travis Hunter, is struggling as a single dad, unable to give his son, Billy, the thing he craves most. A complete family.

The, out of the blue, a terrible event forces the three neighbours to confront each other – and the mistakes of their past …

 

Hope’s Road is available now from all good book retailers. You can also order online from Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks and QBD Books. For the ebook try Amazon Kindle, iTunes, Kobobooks or Google Play. Go on. I promise you won’t regret it!

Now please welcome Margareta.

 

Bush Inspiration

 

Thank you, Cathryn, for inviting me back on your blog. I’m hoping my ‘Awesome Chocolate Slice’ hit the spot for readers last time (and by the comments left, I think it did), so this time round I thought I’d digress away from sweets to another little beauty of a recipe I have tucked in my cooking files.

But first, let me explain. In my past life I have been (and no, I’m not going to tell you about the time I was a chook stuffer), amongst other things, a vegetable grower. Yep. I have been an unreal cauliflower catcher (Duck!), a discerning green bean taster (light green tasted better, dark green sold better), a shucking corn specialist (I just hate any of those stringy bits left on my cob) and a perfect pea picker (except when those driving the machine fell asleep and drove waaayyyy off course). So, perhaps not perfect, but hey, you can’t be good at everything. Ahem.

Anyway, I have spent hours and hours being a perfect 1950’s type wife (there’s that ‘P’ word again), picking, blanching, bagging and freezing tonnes of beautiful fresh vegies. I do love my greens. Well, when I’m not forced to pick, blanch and bag the darn things anyway. Then, I can assure you, one would prefer to never see another floret in your life!

These days, and seeing I’m now a beef grower, I rarely buy (or blanch) frozen foodstuffs. We kill our own beef, have just gone into stocking a few sheep and the only vegetables I buy are fresh from my local IGA or nearby growers. Of particular interest is The Spud Shed, which lies on the road half way to Melbourne (some three hours away). Whenever a close family member is coming or going to the city, we usually send out the call to grab us a bag or two of potatoes. And have they got spuds galore. Coliban, Sebago, Pontiac, Desiree – it’s a spud woman’s mecca.

And so, why the focus on vegetables and particularly spuds? Because I reckon that’s exactly the type of favourite dish the bushie, Old Joe McCauley, in my latest book HOPE’S ROAD was wishing someone would serve him. I’m hoping Tammy, his niece, got that message loud and clear after the disaster with Meals on Wheels (you’ll have to read the book). Joe’s a three vegies and meat man, for sure. I adore him nearly as much I want to swoon over my Dog Trapper hunky hero, Travis Hunter. Tammy needs to know I am seriously green with jealousy! And those love scenes – Whew-y. Are they hot or what?!

I should get back to the spuds. Deep breaths.

Joe McCauley, my spud man, was the catalyst for writing HOPE’S ROAD. He was the one who kept appearing in my dreams and telling me I had to write this story. Unfortunately I kept pushing him away and it wasn’t until one bright sunny day when I had reason to sit high upon a hill and just be for a while, that I finally gave in and let the man have his way. I mean Joe, not Travis. And with my head, not my body. Oh dear … I’m just digging my own grave, here aren’t I?! Do not tell my husband! (Or Tammy for that matter.) Anyway, moving right along … HOPE’S ROAD is the result of three fabulous people and their lives coming together in a story of love, faith, heritage, and loss. When pitted against adversity – whether in the form of abusive, unfaithful husbands, absent mothers, deep feelings of betrayal and anger, lack of self belief, the perils of the land or the temperament of Mother Nature, Joe along with Tammy and Travis unite to show that no matter what life throws at you, there is always hope.

And now for my Coupe de Grace spud recipe, which I hope you’ll love as much as my new book.

 

Warm Roasted Potato Salad

As soon as it appears, it just disappears!  I was given the recipe by a friend a few years ago so I’m not sure where it came from originally but man, is this one a goody. And I think even Joe would have to agree with that.

Ingredients:

1 kg or so of chat potatoes, not peeled; 2 tbsp oil; 1 tub of Basil, Cashew & Parmesan Dip; salt & pepper;1/2 red capsicum diced or cut into fine strips; 1/2 salad onion or a couple of spring onions, finely chopped; 2 tbsp lemon juice; 1 bag of rocket leaves (or I use half bag rocket leaves & half mixed gourmet lettuce).

Dressing: 2 tbsp sour cream; 1 tsp lemon zest finely chopped/grated (or some lemon juice if you don’t have zest – see below).

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Cook potatoes in boiling water until just tender. Drain. Put potatoes into a mixing bowl with the oil, 3/4 of the Basil, Cashew and Parmesan Dip and salt & pepper (to taste). Toss until potatoes nicely coated in mixture. Line an oven tray with baking paper. Place potatoes on tray. Roast for 20 or so minutes or until golden and crisp.

In a separate bowl mix the remaining dip, sour cream and lemon zest. (If you don’t have any zest just add a good dollop of lemon juice.)

Once potatoes are cooked, toss potatoes, their juices and crispy bits with the capsicum, onion and lemon juice. Spread rocket leaves out on a platter, top with potatoes and then the dressing. Serve while warm

Enjoy!

 

Enjoy indeed! That sounds absolutely divine, Margareta. I love a good salad and this one looks a beauty. No wonder it disappears fast with all those fabulous flavours to tempt the tastebuds.

I’m always on the lookout for good spud recipes. They’re such a crowd pleaser and a vege rack staple, on hand when you need to whip up a tasty meal at short notice. One of my favourites is Pete’s Pommy Pommes from my Two Fat Ladies cookbook, where layers of thin potatoes rounds are baked with herbs, garlic and stock until the top layer is chip-crispy and the interior all soft and luscious.

So my lovely Feasters, what’s your favourite spud recipe? No going past the humble chip? Or do you prefer silky smooth mash (mmmm!)? Perhaps, like Margareta you have a special spud recipe, something a little different. If so, please share. We’d love to hear and salivate!

If you’d like to learn more about Margareta and her best-selling rural fiction, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter.

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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’S RUN

 

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!’

Bella Vermaelon and her best friend Patty are two fun-loving country girls bonded in a sisterhood no blood tie could ever beat.

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!

Country Comfort

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

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!

If you’d like to learn more about Margareta and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter.

And keep your eye out for Margareta’s next release, Hope’s Road. Coming March 2013.

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