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Posts Tagged ‘Cathryn Hein’

Hello, Feasters! We’re getting swish this week on Friday Feast with a recipe that will really get your tastebuds tingling. It’s delicious, literally!

But first, this week’s instalment of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf which is making an appearance despite the fact that it’s now footy season and I should be swapping to updates about my beloved Sydney Swans. Unfortunately, they were poo against GWS on Saturday and I have the sulks, whereas the golf news is good! Yes, I whacked a ball into the water on the 12th and 14th, and another rotten crow pinched my ball on the 13th but they were only minor issues. Overall, I played well! Still can’t quite believe it… could I be on the upswing???

Now, to today’s guest Tricia Stringer, best-selling author of Queen of the Road and 2013 winner of a prestigious Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year award (the Ruby) in the romantic elements category. And South Australian. Cos, you know, all the best writers come from SA. Ha!

Like the Ruby judges, I thoroughly enjoyed Queen of the Road and look forward to reading Tricia’s new one Right as Rain. Not only is it rural, it features food! How can a girl resist?

Take a look…

 

RIGHT AS RAIN

 

Right as Rain by Tricia StringerMack’s determined to do what’s right for her father…but will she choose what’s right for herself?

Mackenna Birch thinks she’s met the man of her dreams while on holiday in New Zealand. Adam Walker seems funny, kind and loving…until — to Mack’s disbelief — he walks out on her. Nursing a broken heart, Mack returns to the family farm in Australia to find her beloved father unwell and her scheming younger brother home from the city, showing a great interest in taking over the business. Also in her absence, a new worker has been hired, and Mack’s unsure of his motives.

Mack longs to make big changes to the farm — changes her father has approved. But with her dad’s ailing health, all her plans have been put on hold. Soon Mack finds herself turning to Hugh — her old friend and neighbour — as her confidant. As they support each other through family pressures, their friendship strengthens, leading them to question their true feelings for each other.

Then, out of the blue, Adam turns up from New Zealand, adding to the melting pot of emotions. Soon Mack’s juggling some tough decisions and trying to make those around her happy. But can she find the balance and have her own ever-after?

 

Ooh, doesn’t that sound intriguing? You want a copy, don’t you? Well, simply click away. For the paperback try Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, QBD The Bookshop, direct from the publisher Harlequin or your local independent or chain store. For the ebook, try Amazon for Kindle, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, iTunes, Google Play, BigW ebooks, Harlequin or your favourite ebook retailer.

All set? Here’s Tricia!

 

The Gatehouse at Woolly Swamp Farm

 

I love food – but – when thinking about what to blog, I couldn’t decide.

The library decked out as Woolly Swamp Farm.

The library decked out as Woolly Swamp Farm.

My immediate thought was to tell you about the wonderful launch party for Right as Rain at Moonta Community Library. My daughter, Kelly, and fellow library staff went to great lengths to make sure there were many lamb nibbles for guests to try. Why the lamb? Right as Rain main character, Mackenna, is a farmer and also a qualified chef. Her father who works the farm with her is in failing health, her mother isn’t supportive and the love of her life has stood her up. Against the odds, Mackenna has a dream to bring people to the farm gate to taste the lamb produced on their property. Her grandparents little stone cottage is the perfect place. She calls it the Gatehouse and sets out to make her dream come true.

I had such a lot of fun researching and writing this story. It’s full of food. I grew up on a farm so lamb (or more often mutton) was always on the menu. People do so much more with it these days. While I was writing I discovered the best way to try out new recipes rather than cook it myself was to eat out. Yum! My youngest son, Jared is a chef and helped me out a lot with ideas.

My husband and I at the Moonta launch.

My husband and I at the Moonta launch.

There are so many great ways to cook with lamb.

Mackenna has a grand opening of her Gatehouse for her family where she serves assorted lamb dishes. Thus at the book launch we had nibbles including lamb and rosemary sausage rolls, Moroccan lamb tarts and lamb kofta balls.

To carry on with the food theme I was lucky enough to have two great foodies help me with my Adelaide launch at Dymocks in Rundle Mall. My son, Jared, who’d just flown home from Europe, was a fantastic Master of Ceremonies and Duncan Welgemoed, chef and owner of Bistro Dom in Waymouth St, Adelaide, did the official launch. Duncan had recently won South Australia’s Chef of the Year but the reason I asked him to do the honours was it was in his restaurant that I first got the idea for showcasing lamb from a particular property.

A batch of my daughter’s sausage rolls just out of the oven.

A batch of my daughter’s sausage rolls just out of the oven.

In spite of all that, the recipe I’m going to share with you is not a lamb recipe, it’s an old family favourite dessert.

Now you’ll really think I’ve lost the plot. What’s that got to do with Mackenna and her Gatehouse? Well she did have to serve dessert but that’s not the reason. When I asked my son which lamb recipe he would suggest for this blog he said, “Even though we’re spread far and wide we always come home for special occasions/dinners. They now include our extended family with our partners etc. Family gatherings are the best. We always have great dinners with good wine and good conversation. The recipe should be your lemon delicious pudding. It always reminds me of our family dinners, right back when we were only small, we would still have a properly set dining table, no TV, just conversation. Something I treasured and still look forward to when I come home.”

Table loaded with the wonderful lamb nibbles.

Table loaded with the wonderful lamb nibbles.

So there you have it – a message that went straight to this mother’s heart. Even more so as my mother, who died many years ago, used to make this for our family. The original recipe came from the South Australian Country Women’s Association Calendar of Puddings. It’s called Baked Lemon Delicious (Swiss). My copy of this book is falling apart but is special as my mother was once State President of the CWA and her Foreword is in the front of the book. It reads in part – The recipes were freely given by members to be compiled into a calendar… The recipes have stood the test of time and may all who use this book find the same satisfaction and delight in the recipes as those who first tried them so long ago. Patricia Phillis.

Here I am with Jared and Duncan.

Here I am with Jared and Duncan.

I hope that while we strive to find new ways with food we will still share the old recipes and serve them with love and laughter just like at the family

gathering. At three my grandson knows the importance of the family dinner table. “Let’s sit at the table together and tell each other our adventures,” he said recently then added. “I’ll go first.”

Perhaps I was influenced by our family dinners when I wrote about Mackenna’s Gatehouse at Woolly Swamp farm.

Here’s my version of the recipe.

I call it…

 

Lemon Swish Delish

 

??????????????????????

Ingredients

2 tbspns butter

¾ cup sugar

4 tbspns plain flour

juice and rind of 1 large lemon

2 eggs

1 cup milk

Method

It’s important to add ingredients in the following order.

Cream the butter and sugar then add the sifted flour.

Stir in the rind and juice of the lemon.

Beat egg yolks then stir into mixture along with the milk.

Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture.

Pour into a greased dish and stand in another dish of water. *(Very important)

Bake in a moderate oven approx. 40 mins.

It’s a nice light dessert which serves six to eight. You can eat it hot or cold but I love it hot with cream or ice-cream or both!

 

Oh, I just ADORE lemon delicious, Tricia! It’s one of those wonderful old-fashioned desserts that everyone loves. And you can play around with it too, adding lime juice or blood orange or whatever citrus takes your fancy.

Thanks so much for a hugely entertaining post. What fun you had with your book launches. Those sausage rolls look perfect. And Right as Rain sounds wonderful.

Now, my lovely Feasters, Tricia is very generously offering a signed paperback copy of Right as Rain as a giveaway prize. But as usual you have to work for it. Don’t worry, it’s easy! All you have to do is reveal your favourite family recipe in the comments and the one that tickles Tricia’s fancy the most will win.

Does your family adore pavlova? Perhaps a good old roast (lamb, of course) gets them running to the table? Maybe it’s your Gran’s favourite recipe for tomato soup that does the job. Simply share and you’ll have a chance to win this excellent book.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 25th March 2014. Australian and New Zealand entries only.

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

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Jodi who has won a copy of Tricia’s Right As Rain. Thanks to everyone who took part. You made this Friday Feast a blast. Hope to see you again soon!

 

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It’s everyone’s favourite time of the week again, which means more Feasty goodness. And this week we have just the thing to satisfy the beast in all of us.

But first, in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, last Saturday’s round saw a crow pinch my ball on the 2nd. I then hit three trees in a row on the 14th, and ruined a magnificent drive on the 17th by smacking two balls, one after the other, straight into the dam.Leisl Headshot tweet

That crow, it was an omen.

Speaking of omens, today’s guest, Australian author Leisl Leighton, understands them well. After having her dreams plagued by stories, Leisl decided to start writing them down. And a good thing she did too. Leisl’s stories have won and placed in many competitions in Australia and the US, including the STALI, Golden Opportunities, Heart of the West, Linda Howard Award of Excellence, Touch of Magic and many others.

Those dreams are now books, with Leisl’s latest paranormal fantasy hitting shelves next week. Take a look.

 

DARK MOON

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Cover of Dark Moon by Leisl LeightonLately, Skye Collins has been unable to shake the feeling that she’s being watched. After a lifetime spent hiding her true nature, she knows that any unusual attention is something to be wary of.  And the only attention she’s been receiving lately is from the intense and attractive Jason McVale. 

Jason claims to know things about Skye that can’t be true, and it’s obvious he’s hiding secrets of his own. Yet despite herself, Skye can’t resist the attraction between them, and her surrender will set in motion a chain of events that will have consequences for everyone she holds dear.

Gradually, Jason convinces Skye that she has to trust him if she is to solve the riddle of her past and learn the truth about her power.  But believing Jason means that her entire life has been based on a lie.

As her enemies gather strength and the danger increases, Skye is forced to accept who she really is. Will she risk everything and fight for those she loves? Or save herself and let them be destroyed by the forces of darkness?

 

Doesn’t that sound thrilling? Dark Moon can be pre-ordered now with just a click or two. Try Amazon for Kindle, iTunes, Google Play, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer, or direct from the publisher Destiny Romance.

Okay, so you’re all stocked up? Marvellous. Now feast on this!

 

STEAK – THE WAY TO MAN AND BEAST’S HEART

 

It’s a thrill to be here again on Friday Feast talking food (and romance). I was trying to think of the things that my characters eat in my new paranormal romance, Dark Moon so I could talk about that. They seem to eat soup a lot with yummy, crusty bread, particularly because it’s winter and they’re up at the snow.

Those of you who remember my last guest blog here will know about my love affair with soup and its hearty warmth in the cooler months – particularly my fond memories of those eternal favourites, minestrone and pumpkin, when we were up skiing at Mt Buller every year. And those are the soups that I mention in Dark Moon (I very obviously have an obsession 🙂 ). However, I didn’t feel like it would be right to go on about soup again. So, I put on my thinking cap and wondered what other things my characters would eat if I hadn’t given my obsession for soup free reign and drowned them in it.

My male characters are Weres – shapeshifters who turn into wolves – and my female characters are Witches and Wiccans. My Wiccan characters are very much into the herbal side of things, but I didn’t feel like banging on here about all things herbal (even though they are pretty great for much of what ails you.) So, I turned my attention wholly to my male characters (not hard given they are pretty gorgeous if I say so myself) and the answer came to me in a flash.

Steak. No. Steak sandwiches.

Big, juicy, dislocate your jaw to get your mouth around it and taste that little bit of meaty- chilli-onion-tomato-cheese-beetroot-egg-and-lettuce heaven. The kind of steak sandwich that has sauce and juices dripping down your chin and across your hands that you lick off with relish, but still leaves you feeling a little sticky – doesn’t sound romantic at all, does it? But wait, if shared with someone else, that very someone could do the licking for you and you for him and…

I’ll leave that up to your imagination.

Anyway (big breath and a moment to still my madly beating heart), my characters would most definitely eat a steak sandwich. It is hearty and warming for the winter setting, but the beauty of a steak sandwich is that it can also be enjoyed in the height of summer when you really don’t feel like cooking, but firing up the barbie to sear a steak quickly and fry up some onions and egg, doesn’t seem like too much of a challenge. This summer, my family and I have enjoyed many a steak sandwich – the boys have got a sudden passion for them, and who can blame them? I cut up a bunch of toppings, put out a bunch of sauces, and they just make themselves up the steak sandwich their heart desires.

Too easy. Here’s a photo of one I whipped up tonight.

Leisl Leighton's steak sandwich

Steak Sandwich Recipe

 

Well, there’s not really 1 recipe for a steak sandwich, but this is how I like mine.

1 beef steak BBQ’d to taste – I prefer porterhouse, medium rare, but your choice really.

2 slices of bread – your choice what sort of bread you pick. We prefer soft sourdough or a good grain bread. You can toast it lightly if you want.

1 onion

1 tomato

1 egg

1 slice of tasty cheese (light if you want)

Sliced beetroot (this is really an Australian thing, but give it a go – it’s delicious)

Jalepeno peppers

Mixed lettuce

Chunky pickle mustard

BBQ sauce

Sweet chilli sauce

Balsamic vinegar

I make a kind of chilli jam out of the onion by sauteeing it in oil until it’s soft, then adding a decent splash of balsamic vinegar and half a cup of sweet chilli sauce. Then I turn it down to low and let it all simmer together until its thick and jammy. I then push it aside and cook my egg in the same pan (saving on the dishes later). I like my egg cooked so it is a little runny in the yolk still.

I toast the bread lightly, then put the chunky pickle mustard on one slice, the BBQ sauce on the other. Then on the chunky pickle side, I put the peppers, beetroot, egg, sliced up pieces of steak my manly man of a husband has BBQ’d to perfection, the cheese, tomato, onion-chilli-jam, and finally some lettuce. (picture 2 here) Then I put the BBQ sauce-smeared piece of toast on the top.

I cut in half and then dislocate my jaw to eat it! 🙂 I lick up the juices that run down my hands and chin, although, if a hunky Were offered to do it for me, I wouldn’t say no – but, my hubby might have a problem with that, so probably not. Sigh. I’ll just have to write about it in a future book.

And there it is, my steak sandwich, good enough to feed man and beast (and little boys), perfect for any time of year and always yummy. I hope all you wonderful Friday Feasters enjoy.

 

Wow. That is one amazing steak sanga, Leisl. Seriously mouth-watering. There is nothing so lovely as a burger that drips juices. The mess just adds to the taste!

Are you drooling out there, Feasters? Here’s your chance to drool some more. I think we can already tell that Leisl is a generous person from the size of her steak sandwiches. Well, now she’s going to prove it by giving away a Kindle ebook copy of Dark Moon.

Naturally, you’ll have to do something to earn this most excellent book and that’s by answering this question: What meal soothes the heart of your savage beast (or beasties) at home?

That’s easy for me – a big fat juicy steak. The man of the house just loves his beef. ‘Tis the north Queenslander in him.

But what about for you? Does a luscious lasagne satisfy your beasties? Maybe they all go quiet and dribbly with one sniff of a roast chook? Perhaps they’re softer beasties and roll over like puppies at the thought of a quiche?

Simply leave your soothing meal in the comments below and you’ll be in with a chance to win!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 18th March 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

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

 

 

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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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Last week I finished the extremely messy first draft of The Falls, my 2015 rural romance release. Much slurping of pink champagne followed, but so did that horrible, hollow feeling that comes with leaving characters behind; what I’ve come to think of as my book hangover.

It doesn’t seem to matter that I’ll be playing with them again in a week, when I knuckle down to the second draft. Writing The End still brings on a sense of loss and yearning. It happens with every book and I can’t help finding it odd. I mean, by the time the book is through its final edit I’ll be well and truly sick of it. Yet at this point, without fail, all I ever want to do is dive back into my characters’ lives and fall in love with them all over again.

I miss them. Badly. Like this…

empty

I think that’s why we adore serial fiction so much. It keeps us connected with people we’ve been through a great deal with and fallen in love with; that have become part of our world. Which is why I’ve planned three, maybe four loosely linked books to follow on from my upcoming May release, Rocking Horse Hill.

Emily Wallace-Jones, the heroine of Rocking Horse Hill, has two best friends, Jasmine and Teagan. The Falls is Teagan’s story, Admella Beach will be Jasmine’s and there’s a possibility of a fourth with another character. Plus a novella I’ve already half completed called Summer and the Groomsman.

I have to say it was hugely satisfying being able to include Emily and Josh in The Falls, even if only in a minor way. I look forward to doing the same for Teagan and Lucas in the other books I have planned.

Now, if there were only more hours in the day to write these stories…

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Welcome to Friday Feast, where food and fiction unites in one mouth-watering place!

And we’re going to be getting very mouth-watery soon with a Feast first-timer. But I’m sure you’re anxious for the latest instalment of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf, and I wouldn’t want to deprive you. Last week I only lost one ball to a dam. A miracle! Next week I’m aiming for none. Can such a feat be achieved? Stay tuned!author JM Bray

Now on to my guest, a man set to break Feasty tradition. No, not because he’s a he – although this is unusual – but because he’s… American. Yes, today’s guest, J.M. Bray hails from Southern California.

I know, I know. Friday Feast is usually restricted to my enormously talented and glamorous Australian compatriots, but  J.M. asked nicely if he could and I said yes. ‘Tis good to have variety, plus J.M. is a member of the Romance Writers of Australia and is published by Australian publisher Escape. And he plays guitar and races a Porche, which, let’s face it, sounds pretty damn cool, so I think we can kind of claim him for today.

J.M.’s debut release is a new adult romantic fantasy novel called Tearing The Shroud and it looks a brilliant read. Take a peek.

 

TEARING THE SHROUD

 

Cover of Tearing The Shroud by JM BrayFall in love, be possessed, hunt a sorcerer and save the world — and Vincent thought calculus was tough.

1984 — Vincent expected college to be about freedom and girls, but then the nightmares of sorcery, monsters and other worlds began. Not even the surprising attention from his dream girl, Julie, could shake them.

Before he’s even nailed his second date with Julie, he’s possessed by Coleman, a warrior from another realm. Coleman is hell bent on defeating the monstrous Kafla who threatens to tear into Vincent’s reality, changing both his and Coleman’s worlds forever. They have one chance to stop them: Vincent must allow Coleman to share his body and wage war against the sorcerer.

Now it’s up to them, the women they love, and Vincent’s rag-tag bunch of role- playing and gaming friends to save the world, or see 1984 descend into the apocalypse.

 

See? Told you it sounded fantastic. It’s available now for immediate download to your e-reader, tablet, computer and phone.  Buy from Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, BigW ebooks, Google Play and JB Hi-Fi, or your favourite ebook retailer.

Loaded up? Excellent. Now enjoy this man-in-the-kitchen moment!

 

On Grandmother’s Stepstool

 

The earliest memory I have of a cooking is being on a stool next to my grandmother. We lived in a small house behind her home and every morning until I was five, I’d toddle down to her back porch where she waited for me. I can still here her say, “Come on, honey, help grandma cook.” Her heavy, white porcelain, gas stove with cast iron skillets and big pots bubbled and sizzled magically. I would watch as she fried bacon, then used the dripping to fry eggs, the centers soft and the edges a crispy dark brown from the bacon fat.

Photo of JM Bray Teaching his 2 year old grandson some kitchen skills

Teaching my 2 year old grandson some kitchen skills

My very first experience as a “cook” was near that time, stirring the white, sausage gravy. Yes, sausage, bacon, fried potatoes, eggs, fluffy biscuits (scones), coffee and juice was the normal breakfast. She was from the south, of Irish descent, born in 1898, five foot two inches tall and not a thin woman…which isn’t surprising given the food she made. Based on the time frame, I was about four. I’d stir the white gravy, with a spiraled whisk, careful to keep it from sticking as it thickened to a creamy consistency, later to be slathered over buttered biscuits.

Through years, she taught me how to bake bread (which she did twice a week until her death at age 81,) flip eggs without breaking them, make gravy and cook my favorite…potato soup. I once ate so much of it as a young teen that when I tried to stand afterward, I ended up on the kitchen floor. I learned my love for cooking at her side. I am the cook in our family and every time I lift a ladle or toss a spice in without measuring it, she is with me.

Today’s recipe is of that same soup…though I’ve made a slight improvement on her recipe. I think she’d approve. This soup, made by my protagonist for his girlfriend and her family, appears in Mending the Shroud, book two of the Shroud Trilogy. It will release mid-year through Escape Publishing. Consider this a preview.

In the Comments section post a fond memory of you have of a family recipe or cooking with grandma. We’ll roll the dice among the entrants and the winner will receive an ebook (.mobi or .epub) of my romantic fantasy novel, Tearing the Shroud.

 

 Potato Soup

 

Ingredients for potato soup

8 large-ish russet potatoes (about fist sized) peeled and cubed

1 medium onion chopped

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)

1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk

Water

Salt

Pepper.

Serves 6-8 as a full meal.

chopped onions

Chop the onions and put them in a large pot with the stick of butter on a low-medium heat to cook until transparent or slightly golden.

cooking the onions

While that’s cooking, peel the potatoes and cube them to about 3/4 inch.

chopped potatoes

When the onions are ready add the potatoes to the pot and stir carefully, coating them with the onion butter mixture. Add just enough water to come ¾ of the way up the potatoes.

Adding the potatoes to the pot

Bring to a light boil, cover and let cook until the potatoes break apart when poked with a fork. Check occasionally to make sure you don’t run out of water.

(This is the change from grandma. who boiled the potatoes and onion in a lot of water, poured it off, then added the butter. Which I think tosses away some of the potato-y-goodness)

Add the can of milk and mash with a hand potato masher…DO NOT MIX with a mixer or immersion blender. It breaks up the potato too much and makes it too starchy. You want the soup to have texture with little pieces of potato.

Potato soup 

If you need to thin the soup, use milk or half and half, not water.

Salt and pepper to taste. It takes much more salt than you’d think, so don’t be shy.

As you can see, this is not a health conscious recipe, but is it ever good! It is, however economical. For less than five dollars, you can serve a hearty meal for 6-8 people. This soup also works wonderfully as a starter for large dinners or banquets. When I’ve done this, I just multiply the ingredients for my crowd and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped chives just before bringing to the table.

Enjoy!

JM

 

I think we will enjoy, J.M. What a handy recipe. With that creamy, buttery spudly goodness I’m thinking it’ll taste awesome too.

So Feasters, we have another giveaway!

Share a fond memory of cooking with your grandma or a treasured family recipe and you’ll go into the draw to win an e-book copy of J.M.’s fab novel, Tearing The Shroud.

I have lots of wonderful memories of cooking with my Nanny. Mum used to go off to netball on Saturdays and I would spend the afternoon with my grandparents. During those hours Nanny taught me to bake and sew and do all sorts of house-wifely things. They were lovely times that I’ll always treasure.

What about you? Any sweet memories you can make us dewy-eyed with?

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 4th March 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about J.M. and his books, please visit his website. You can also connect via Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, and also through his blog.

 

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Welcome to Friday Feast!

This week we’re getting magical. Not that we aren’t every week but this week we’re really magical… and ferrety. But more on that in a minute.

First, DID YOU SEE MY DARLING SYDNEY SWANS? Yes, footy is nearly here. My boys were magnificent in their NAB Challenge game last night against GWS which bodes well for the upcoming season, set to kick-off in just 21 sleeps. Not that I’m counting or anything…

Speaking of counting, in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, apparently I can’t add up. It turns out that I didn’t lose the Great Murray River Golf Challenge but in fact won it by two strokes. Rah! I think this is my first holiday golfing challenge win ever. I feel a glass of fizz is required to celebrate this milestone.

As should we all raise a glass of fizz to celebrate the release of young adult author Ebony McKenna’s third Ondine novel. Like the author herself, the Ondine series is simply gorgeous. How can you go wrong with a talking ferret called Shambles? Reviews for Ebony’s series have been amazing, like this for The Summer of Shambles: “One of the best and funniest books I have ever read! Don’t be a bampot, give this absolutely fantastic book a read, you won’t regret it.”

This latest instalment in the Ondine series is a cracker. Check it out.

 

ONDINE: THE WINTER OF MAGIC

 

Cover of Ondine: The Winter of Magic by Ebony McKennaThis third enthralling instalment in the young adult fantasy romance series takes a dark turn, as the country of Brugel descends into anarchy. Mutating magic is spreading across Europe. ‘Normals’ are developing supernatural powers at a startling rate and 16-year-old Ondine appears to be at the heart of it.

To unravel the mystery, Ondine and her boyfriend (and part-time ferret) Hamish infiltrate CovenCon, a gathering of hundreds of witches presided over by wanna-be-witch-queen Mrs Howser. There, she tempts Ondine with an intriguing offer – but can Mrs Howser be trusted? It transpires the powerful witch has her claws in the arrogant royal heir Lord Vincent, in a covert bid to control all of Brugel.

As dark magic riots break out in the nation’s capital, Ondine is left with a heart-breaking choice that could tear her apart from her beloved Hamish. Forever.

The Winter of Magic is the third novel in Ebony McKenna’s comedic and wonderfully weird four-part ONDINE series. Fans will devour this spellbinding adventure, which will have readers gasping in shock and laughing with delight. Occasionally at the same time.

 

What a hoot! The Ondine series is truly delightful for young and not-so-young readers alike. And you can own it right now with just a few clickety-clicks! Buy from Amazon for your Kindle, iTunes, Kobo and Nook. Go on. You’ll love this series I promise.

Now that you’re all bookified, come dipping with Ebony…

 

Do You Fondue?

 

I’m so happy to be sharing more foodie goodness with everyone on Friday Feast.

There’s something a bit nerdy about having a fondue kit. It can be one of those ‘great idea at the time’ gadgets that ends up hibernating in the back of the cupboard for years before throwing it out.

Being the proud nerd that I am, I have a fondue kit at home and it gets a fair bit of use.

Not an original from the 70s (I have to wait to inherit that heirloom), but a little ripper all the same. And while fondue is supposed to be about dipping bread into melted cheese during cold European winters, my version is all about dredging fruit into warm coconut-chocolate sauce during summer.

Healthy AND naughty. Because chocolate.

And coconut.

It’s quick, easy to make and only requires three basic ingredients (plus whatever fruit you like to dip).

The best bit is the compliments you’ll get from everyone as the fruit and choc fondue disappear!

As an added bonus, this recipe is dairy free, gluten free and suitable for vegans and celiacs.

 

Coconut Chocolate Fondue

You will need:

Coconut milk or coconut cream.

Cocoa powder

Coconut sugar (or any sugar really, but I’m hooked on Coconut sugar at the moment, and it’s low GI)

Fruits for dipping

Ingredients for Ebony's fondue

Method:

Put a couple of tablespoons of cocoa in a microwave safe bowl.

Pour in enough coconut milk to stir it into a thick paste.

Add a couple of teaspoons of coconut sugar.

Mixing Ebony's fondue

Bung it in the microwave for about a minute. The edges will bubble up but that’s OK.

Stir it all together and. Have a taste. Add more coconut milk and sugar so it’s just how you like it. You can microwave it again if the cocoa doesn’t taste “cooked”.

The finished fondue

Pour into a fondue bowl, sprinkle more coconut sugar on the top for decoration.

Light a candle underneath and get ready to dip your favourite fruits in.

The mix will become runnier the longer it sits over the fondue candle, but that’s part of the fun.

Add desiccated coconut to the fondue for more texture if you like.

Perfect for entertaining at a BBQ, date night or Eurovision Song Contest parties.

I’m having some right now as I celebrate the release of the third novel in my ONDINE series, The Winter of Magic.

In a nutshell, it’s about a teenage girl whose pet ferret talks with a Scottish accent. He’s not a real ferret, but a man living in reduced circumstances. Shambles offended a witch and she cursed him a good one!

Thank you once again Cathryn for the opportunity to share the recipe and some weird romance with your readers.

As a special treat, I’m giving away an ebook copy of ALL THREE BOOKS to one lucky commenter.

In the comments, share what fruit you would dunk in that lovely chocky fondue, or share a cheesy fondue story.

Love Ebony

 

Did you hear that, Feasters? A THREE BOOK GIVEAWAY! I’m wriggling in excitement here. How’s that for generosity? But I’d expect that from Ebony. She’s that kind of person.

So, what’s your fondue story? I had a wonderful fondue experience in Lyon, France. Outside it was snowing but we were snuggled up tight in a cosy restaurant with chunks of bread, a bottle of red and an artery-clogging cheese fondue, dipping and laughing. We nearly didn’t feel the cold walking back to our hotel afterwards… nearly.

Have you fondued? Dipped a few strawbs into caramel perhaps? Dribbled chocolate down your front after dipping with too much enthusiasm? Maybe you’ve never fondued but long to? That’s okay. Share your desire (or non-desire) anyway and we’ll put you in the draw to win the first three ebooks in Ebony’s wonderful Ondine series.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 25th February 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

Don’t have an e-reader? That’s okay, you can easily read ebooks on your computer, phone or tablet via downloadable apps. It’s easy!

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

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Heidi who has won the first 3 books in Ebony’s Ondine series. What a great lot of reading! Thanks to everyone who joined in the fun. What wonderful fondue memories we all have!

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On Sale April 23rd 2014

 

Cover of Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein

Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.

When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.

But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.

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