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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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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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Welcome to Friday Feast! I’m very excited about today’s guest. Not only is she a fabulous writer and gorgeous person, she’s taking us on an armchair trip to my favourite country, Italy!

First, an update from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf Weekly, because I know how much you hang on it during my beloved Sydney Swans off season. I’m beginning to believe that all the golf balls I buy are suicidal. Fiona Palmer author photoI can think of no other explanation for why they keep diving for eel ridden dams and blacksnake infested rough. Spookily, it only ever seems to happen to the brand new ones…

Enough of that. Time to say ciao bella to one of Australia’s favourite rural romance authors, Fiona Palmer!

Fiona is a born and bred country girl who shot to ru-ro (as we fondly call it) stardom with The Family Farm, following that huge success up with Heart of Gold, The Road Home and The Sunburnt Country. All best-sellers and complete heart-warmers. Now Fiona has another story for your rural library, and this is being touted as her best yet. Take a look at The Outback Heart.

 

THE OUTBACK HEART

 

The Outback Heart by Fiona PalmerIndianna Wilson is a country girl through and through. She’ll do anything she can to save her beloved home town from disappearing off the map – even if she has to die trying. She brings Troy Mitchell to her tiny outback town, with hopes that he can bring a breath of fresh air to the Saints football club and lift the wider farming community.

He’s just the spark they need in Hyden but it’s the fire that he ignites in Indi’s heart that takes her by surprise. She knows he’s feeling something too – why, then, does he insist on pushing her away? What is it from his dark past that’s preventing them from sharing a future?

As the town rallies together and their fighting spirit returns, Indi and Troy discover that sometimes life offers up a second chance – you just have to be brave enough to take it.

The most heartfelt and moving novel yet from favourite Australian rural romance writer and bestselling author of The Family Farm.

 

Footy, love and the outback, how can you resist? Hie thee down to your nearest bookstore or get that mouse a-clicking. Signed copies of all Fiona’s books are available now from her website, and between now and Christmas Fiona will throw in a stubbie holder with every purchase. Otherwise, for the paperback, try Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, QBD The Bookshop, Angus & Robertson, direct from Penguin Australia, your local independent bookshop or nearest chainstore. For the ebook visit Kobo, Amazon (for Kindle), iTunes, Google Play, BigW ebooks or JB Hi-Fi.

Now enjoy your Italian holiday.

 

Pizza Passion

 

Thanks to my mate Cathryn for having me, I love her Friday Feasts. Today I thought I’d talk about Pizza. (An all time favourite of mine because its easy and my kids eat it!!) This is funny because I hadn’t eaten a Pizza Hut pizza until I was 18. We ate plenty of frozen McCain’s pizzas growing up but I’d never had a fresh made one. I was living in Perth and had part time work (while at College) at the Peppy Grove Pizza Hut and that was the first time I’d ever eaten one, especially hot out of the oven. Then I couldn’t understand why I’d never eaten one sooner.

Anyway the reason I’ve gone with Pizza for this Friday Feast is because I just recently went to Italy for 3 weeks on a ‘research’ tip for my next book. And I ate pizza. I didn’t go over board while there, I shared it around with the pastas and we cooked for ourselves for 11 nights while in Montone (a small village in Umbria) and we had lots of salads. (Must even up the carb/veg ratio)

But as I was looking back through my photo’s for a ‘Pizza’ pic I was quite shocked to see how many photo’s I had of me eating pizza! Crikey, it makes it look like that’s all I ate!

One thing I realised is that the pasta and pizza’s are really simple in Italy. They are not full of other ingredients. We make pizza’s or pasta at home and have heaps of vegies and herbs in them, in Italy its simple. In Pompeii we had a pasta dish which just looked like pasta with a tin of crushed tomatoes in it and a basil leaf on top.

But you know what? It was soooo tasty. We think it must be the delicious tomatoes grown in the volcanic soils. Maybe we put too much ‘stuff’ in our dishes? I do tend to load my homemade pizzas with every topping possible to make sure I’m getting plenty of vegies lol

Fiona Palmer aunt and cousin eating pizza in Florence

So here we are eating pizza in the street in Florence. We’d caught up with my cousin who just happened to be in Italy on her trip at the same time as us. My Aunty Lorna and I were the Pizza testers. I never pizza’ed alone. (We did wonder if we’d have to attend a Pizza Anonymous group when we got back!)

Fiona Palmer eating pizza in Gubbio

This is yours truly pigging out on a yum slice of pizza in Gubbio. (An amazing Medieval town not far from where we were staying in Montone. We actually found this place by accident. A wrong turn somewhere landed us here. Much to our delight!)

A pizza meal Fiona Palmer enjoyed in Perugia

When we visited Perugia (another town south of Montone) we went to this little restaurant which was down a little alleyway. It was gorgeous with round exposed rock ceiling. And it seemed small but as you kept walking you came to other little eating areas. Just to note, my Aunty and I couldn’t finish these ones but took the rest home to eat later. 🙂

A pizza meal at Brancaleone, a bar and restaurant in Rome

When we were in Rome, we found a fantastic ristorante/pizzeria right behind our hotel. Sadly we wished we had found it two days earlier!! But we went there so often that we felt like locals and the managers were so lovely. Even their little girl was gorgeous.  They had a big pizza oven and the size of our pizza’s were huge. But the nice thin base made it possible to eat the whole lot! One night we had something different (see I didn’t always eat pizza) and they brought us one of the pizza bases which had been coated in oil, sea salt and sprinkled with rosemary. OMG it was delicious and perfect with our meal. They also served their own fresh cooked potato chips while we waited. Brancaleone the place was called. Loved it. I won’t mention the yummo choc cake we had too.

So that was a snippet of my time in Italy. I have since tried making a few of the things we had over there like the basic oil, sea salt & rosemary pizza base. Goes great as a side to salad. 🙂

 

Sigh. My jealousy of you right now, dear Fiona, is ENORMOUS! Italy is such a wonderful place. Gorgeous people, beautiful scenery and language, all that history and art, and the food! Simple and delicious.

Now, Feasters, we have a giveaway, Simply share your favourite pizza topping in the comments and you’ll go into the draw to win a signed paperback copy of The Outback Heart. Easy!

So… are you a traditionalist, and prefer a good old Margherita? Or maybe you’re a modernist and enjoy exotica like tandoori chicken or roast pumpkin, fetta and chorizo? I’ll admit to the youthful indiscretion of loving pineapple on my pizza but now I’m a Margherita girl through and through, although I did once have a wonderful pizza made with tiny slivers of potato, garlic and herbs that I’d be happy to scoff again. So what’s your preferred topping? Reveal and you could win!

Entries close midnight Tuesday, AEST, 19th November 2013. Australian postal addresses only please.

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

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Melissa who has won a signed copy of The Outback Heart. Thanks to all who took part. I hope you’ll join in the fun again.

 

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The footy season is now well and truly over, with my beloved Sydney Swans safely tucked up on holidays so I think it’s time to bore you with my golf game instead… or perhaps not. As my dad so loves to say, us Heins weren’t meant to play golf. A truism I sadly keep proving each week.Australian author Kate Belle

‘Tis a good thing then that I have all the deliciousness that is Friday Feast to keep you entertained. And this week’s guest is hugely entertaining too!

Multi-published Melbournian Kate Belle’s latest novel The Yearning is a must read. There was so much I related to with this book – the setting, the era – but it was the compelling story and Kate’s mastery of language that I adored most. A wonderful read that I can’t recommend highly enough, especially if you were a child of the 70s.

Take a look…

 

THE YEARNING

 

Cover of The Yearning by Kate BelleIt’s 1978 in a country town and a dreamy fifteen year old girl’s world is turned upside down by the arrival of the substitute English teacher. Solomon Andrews is beautiful, inspiring and she wants him like nothing else she’s wanted in her short life.

Charismatic and unconventional, Solomon easily wins the hearts and minds of his third form English class. He notices the attention of one girl, his new neighbour, who has taken to watching him from her upstairs window. He assumes it a harmless teenage crush, until the erotic love notes begin to arrive.

Solomon knows he must resist, but her sensual words stir him. He has longings of his own, although they have nothing to do with love, or so he believes. One afternoon, as he stands reading her latest offering in his driveway, she turns up unannounced. And what happens next will torment them forever – in ways neither can imagine.

 

Intrigued? Of course you are! The Yearning is available now from Amazon for your Kindle e-reader or reading app, Kobo or iTunes. For the print book visit Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, QBD The Bookshop, Eltham Bookshop and other independent book stores, or your local chainstore.

Unsure? Then read an extract here. You’ll be hooked, believe me.

Now please welcome Kate who is generously sharing a wonderful family recipe. Just the sort of Friday Feast I love.

 

Christmas Hand Me Downs

 

Hi Cathryn and readers. What a boon to finally get a guernsey on the famous Friday Feast. I’ve looked forward to this for a long time and even though I’ve literally had MONTHS to consider what to write about, I still can’t decide what recipe to share with you.

After checking the recipe index and seeing the poorly state of the vegetable list, and because I’m a vegetarian, I thought perhaps I should do a vegetable recipe – like creamy mashed potatoes, lemon & butter beans, or roast vegetable medley. But that seems a bit mumsy and boring and ‘eat up your veggies before you have dessert’. (Although there is nothing dull about the way I do veggies. Plenty of good quality butter, salt, pure olive oil, black pepper and cream. I’ve already told my doctor I’m here for a good time, not a long time. Bugger the cholesterol.)

But at heart (the part that’s still beating after all that fat) I’m a cake and pastry girl with a natural leaning toward carby, home-baked fare, and this is the time of year I embark on my boiled fruit cake, white chocolate white Christmas,Calendar showing Kate's pudding day and plum pudding.  So, against the repressed murmurings of my must-eat-wholesome-low-fat-food-fairy, I’m going to treat you to a special Christmas recipe that was passed to me by my dearly beloved’s ex-wife (yes, you read that right), who in turn inherited it from her Great Auntie Flo.

There are so many things about this recipe that appeal to me. Firstly, it’s been handed down three generations. Its history is as long as my list of ex-lovers and I can’t help wondering how many Christmas tables it has graced in the last century. Secondly, the family this recipe originated from were teetotallers and it contains so much alcohol there’s no need to refrigerate it. It just sits in its pudding bowl in a cool, dry cupboard for months developing mouth watering celebratory flavour. Thirdly, I love that it’s a second hand recipe. It goes well with my second hand kitchen utensils, second hand pets, husband and aprons. We are a fully recycled household so it seems appropriate to offer Friday Feast up a second hand heirloom recipe I’ve appropriated from someone else’s family.

Kate's pudding day ingredientsEvery October this recipe makes an appearance at my kitchen bench on a Saturday I’ve allocated for pudding making. Be warned, this pudding is a serious and messy commitment, but well worth it. The pudding itself is medium weight, very dark and moist. The amount of butter in it makes it very rich necessitating only small servings. One pudding goes a long way. I recommend you start early in the day and have no other plans. My first attempt at Auntie Flo’s pudding (actually, my first attempt at any Christmas pudding) took a day and a half (my fault, not the pudding’s) and almost put me off the whole exercise. But with practice I’ve got the preparation down to about four hours. With up to six hours boiling time on the stove top that’s the day done.

The recipe itself is photocopied from a cookbook and includes a footnote about how individual members of the family prefer their pudding served – X: bit of custard, Y: piles of brandy cream, Z: a smidget of cold whipped cream – which is a delightful addition and brings extra warmth to the experience of making it.

All in all, it’s a recipe befitting a writer. It brims with mysterious back story, has great depth of character and a compelling and involved plot that leads to a profoundly satisfying climax.

Just one more thing – the secret to the inherent goodness of Great Auntie Flo’s Christmas pudding isn’t in the butter, the dried fruit or even the booze. It’s in the Christmassy feelings that flourish as you get your hands utterly sticky and hum your way through your daggiest Christmas music while you work. (Yes, you must!)

 

Auntie Flo’s Christmas Pudding

 

Ingredients for 1 standard 2 ½ pint pudding (Use as best quality as you can manage – no substituting!)

Daggy Christmas CD – push play and turn up loud

250g currants

250g sultanas

250g raisins

90g candied peel

½ cup blanched chopped almonds

70g minced fresh apple

125g plain flour

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp mixed spice

250g suet (or butter if you’re vegetarian)

250g soft breadcrumbs (I blitz day old bread in the food processor)

125g soft brown sugar

Grated rind 1 orange

2-3 eggs (free range of course)

1 tblsp brandy

2 tblsp rum

200ml beer (heavy only)

Method

Chop up dried fruit and nuts and combine with minced apple.

Chopping ingredients for the Christmas pudding

Sift flour with salt and spices into large mixing bowl (big enough to take the rest of the ingredients)

Grate the butter/suet into flour and rub in well (this gets very sticky but is quite enjoyable if you give in to it)

Christmas pudding preparation - rubbing butter or suet into flour

Add breadcrumbs, sugar and grated orange rind and mix with hands until even.

Mixing Christmas pudding by hand

Mix in fruit and nuts (yes, using your hands)

Beat eggs, adding brandy and rum (you can use a utensil for this bit)

Mix boozy eggs and beer to other ingredients and mix thoroughly into a soft mixture (okay, you can use a wooden spoon for this, but really, it’s better with hands :-))

Kate Belle's Christmas Pudding mix

Grease the pudding basin well (with butter) and line the base with baking paper. Press the mixture into the basin, pushing out all air pockets until the basin is brimming with yummy pudding.

Cover the top with a double thickness of greased baking paper followed by a double layer of tin foil and tie down tightly around the bowl rim with strong string, making a string handle for ease of removal from the boiling pot.

Pudding bowl preparation

Put the pudding bowl into a huge saucepan on the stove top and pour in enough hot water to come half way up the sides of the basin. Cover and boil for 6 hours (NB I usually make 2 smaller puddings by dividing this mixture in half and boil them for half the time). Keep an eye on the water level and top up as necessary. Too much water will soak into the pudding and make it gooey, not enough will make the pudding dry.

Allow pudding to cool and store for 2-3 months in cool, dry, dark cupboard. Cook it for a further 2 hours (adjust time according to pudding size) on Christmas day.

Serve with copious quantities of the reveller’s choice of brandy cream, custard, cream or icecream (or all of them!) and devour lustily.

Do you have a traditional Christmas recipe your family serve up every year?

 

Ooh, Kate, I could wrap you in a big Father Christmas hug! What a gorgeous post, and thanks so much for sharing such an important recipe with everyone at Friday Feast. I can just picture you now, boogie-ing to Jingle Bell Rock as you rub butter into flour or mix ‘boozy’ eggs.

So Feasters, do you have a Chrissy recipe that’s adored? I’ve got to brag that I make a mean Christmas cake, completely overloaded with brandy-soaked fruit. Because we tend to travel interstate, alternating between far north Queensland and south-east South Australian I haven’t had much of chance to create our own tradition, but we do get to savour other’s.

What about you? Do you get in the spirit with rum balls? Maybe fruit mince tarts? Or perhaps you have a special way with turkey? We’d all love to hear. Your tradition might inspire a new one for the rest of us.

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

 

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Greetings from sunny Townsville! Yes, the man and I have zoomed off to the tropics for a few days to help celebrate my in-laws’ golden wedding anniversary. Fifty years, isn’t that wonderful? And I think there’ll be many more good years to come for this couple too. They’re very special people.

This week’s Friday Feast guest has rapidly become one of my favourite authors, whose books I’ve taken great pleasureJaye Ford, author in recommending to others because I know what a rollicking time they’ll have. Jaye Ford broke into best-sellerdom with her first novel, Beyond Fear, a book which had my heart racing throughout. Scared Yet?, another brilliant read, followed last year and now Jaye has released her third thriller, the evocatively titled Blood Secret. Like all of Jaye’s fans, I cannot wait to read this. There is nothing more delicious than a book that makes you feel things physically, and Jaye is an absolute master.

Take a look at Blood Secret

 

BLOOD SECRET

 

Blood Secret by Jaye FordNothing ever happens in Haven Bay, which is why Rennie Carter – a woman who has been on the run for most of her life – stayed there longer than she should.

However, the illusion of security is broken one night when Max Tully, the man she loves and the reason she stayed, vanishes without trace.

Rennie, though, is the only person who believes Max is in danger. The police are looking in the wrong places, and Max’s friends and his business partner keep hinting at another, darker side to him.

But Rennie Carter understands about double lives – after all, that’s not even her real name …

And she has a secret too – a big, relentless and violent one that she’s terrified has found her again … and the man she loves.

 

I’m all shivery with excitement now and I bet you are too, and with just a few clicks, you could own a copy of Blood Secret. Try Booktopia, Dymocks, Angus & Robertson, QBD The Bookshop, Bookworld, or take a wander to your local independent book shop (like MacLean’s for those in Newcastle) or chain store. For the ebook, you can download instantly from JB Hi-Fi, Kobo, Amazon (for Kindle), iTunes or Google Play.

Now please give a big Feasty hello to Jaye…

 

A Taste of Character

 

Thanks for having me back at Friday Feast, Cathryn. I love reading about characters eating. Not the chewing and slurping but what their choices are. It’s a little tell about who they are on the inside and what nurtures or energises them. Some of my favourite characters have particular tastes: Lee Child’s Jack Reacher downs gallons of cafe-brewed black coffee (can’t help feeling a little Reacher-esque drinking black coffee on my own in a cafe!) and Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone makes peanut butter and pickle sandwiches – not something I’ve tried but I get where she’s coming from.

In my novels, I try to give a nod at foods that say something about my main characters. In Blood Secret, Rennie has a thing for French toast, Liv in Scared Yet? eats Vegemite toast when she’s worried and Jodie in Beyond Fear has only one thing she cooks well – a steak.

I recently got that ‘tell’ in real life from my son. He left home in January to travel the world and after eight months, he finally stopped somewhere long enough to think about cooking. And I got the call: ‘Mum, can you send me some recipes?’

He’s living in Munich with a German girlfriend but the request wasn’t because he couldn’t read her cookbooks. He wanted a little of home over there and he wanted to share it with someone he cared about.

He gave me a list recipes he wanted, which told me a lot about what he missed. Family favourites that have been made so many times I don’t need the instructions: a coleslaw that’s the standard for family get-togethers, a slice that rarely survives more than a day, a cake that gets trotted out for everyone’s birthday, and a cheese sauce that goes with just about anything.

The recipes speak of summer barbeques, family days, parties at home and hearty meals around the kitchen table – and I loved that he both missed them and wanted to share them.

So I packed up some Aussie food supplies – Vegemite, Milo, Caramello Koalas, etc – a few of the ingredients I thought he might have trouble finding in Munich and photocopies of stained and well-used pages from my cookbooks. When his ‘care package’ arrived two weeks later, his girlfriend videoed him opening it and my six-foot-four, 24-year-old son looked like a little boy with a present from Santa. It produced tears on both sides of the world.

So here’s the recipe for our family coleslaw. It came from my mother-in-law, who got it from someone else, who possibly found it in a magazine – the best kind of road-tested recipe. It makes a huge salad so I halved the quantities in the photo to make a smaller version for dinner.

 

Jaye’s Family Coleslaw

The ingredients for Jaye's family coleslaw

Chinese Salad:

½ shredded cabbage (Chinese cabbage or wombok)

½ packet of slivered almonds, toasted

1 packet of Chang’s Fried Noodles

½ bunch of shallots, sliced

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix together.

Dressing:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

½ cup of oil

½ cup white sugar

¼ white vinegar

Mix ingredients together, microwave on low or heat slowly on stove until sugar is dissolved. When cool, pour over salad and mix well.

I’d love to know what food you’d miss from home if you were on the other side of the world. I have a copy of Blood Secret for the comment that makes me want a care package from your place!

 

Oh, I love this story! Thanks so much for sharing, Jaye. I must admit, we were the same when we lived overseas and a ‘care’ package arrived. Nothing like Vegemite to bring tears of happiness to an expat Aussie’s eyes.

Now, my lucky Feasty lovelies, here’s your chance to win a copy of Jaye’s new release, Blood Secret. Reveal in the comments what you’d miss from home if you lived overseas and Jaye will choose her favourite. She wants her heartstrings tugged and her mouth to water, so make it good!

And get in fast because entries close midnight Tuesday, 24th September 2013 AEST. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Jaye and her brilliant thrillers, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and her publisher, Random House.

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Gloria who has won a copy of Jaye’s latest release Blood Secret. Thanks to everyone who shared their favourite care box contents. That was fun!

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You know, there’s something thrilling about seeing another author succeed, especially when you know how hard they’ve worked to achieve their goals. I was so delighted when Jenn J McLeod announced that she’d been contracted by Simon and Schuster Australia, and even more excited to discover her debut novel, House For All Seasons, is the Dymocks Pick of the Month in the March issue of the Australian Women’s Weekly. Now how’s that for praise!

And well deserved too from the rave reviews that keep appearing. Here’s a few examples:

From the inside out, this book is beautiful. A story that sweeps you in and holds you there. There’s a little bit of magic in this one. Bree ~ 1girl2manybooks

This book is a must read and is the first on my top ten books list of 2013. I cannot say enough good things about this book, I highly recommend it as a must-add to your personal library. Jennie ~ Daystarz’s Books

Impressive, huh? Now take a closer look…

 

HOUSE FOR ALL SEASONS

 

HFAS front cover working

Four women,

Four lives unravelled.

The truth will bind them forever.

Bequeathed a century-old house, four estranged friends return to their New South Wales hometown, Calingarry Crossing, where each must stay a season at the Dandelion House to fulfil the wishes of their benefactor, Gypsy.

But coming home to the country stirs shameful memories of the past, including the tragic end-of-school muck up day accident twenty years earlier.

 

Poppy, a tough, ambitions journo still craving her father’s approval;

Sara, a breast cancer survivor afraid to fall in love;

Amber, a spoilt socialite addicted to painkillers and cosmetic procedures;

Caitlin, a third generation doctor frustrated by a controlling family and her flat-lining life.

 At the Dandelion House, the women will discover something about themselves and a secret that ties all four to each other and to the house – forever.

 

Oooh, intriguing! Nothing like a juicy secret to keep you turning those pages and you can own your own copy right now by clickety-clicking on over to Booktopia (a bookseller I am feeling the luuuuurve for after their sponsorship of ARRC2013). Or try Dymocks or QBD The Bookshop. If ebooks are your thing, then try the Kobo store (which I also luuuurve thanks to Kobo’s ARRC 2013 cocktail party and multiple ereader giveaways), Amazon Kindle or Apple’s iTunes store.

Now that you’re all stocked up, please welcome Jenn!

 

Come home to Jenn J McLeod’s Friday Feast

 

Cathryn, your publishing journey inspired me to keep trying. I remember the day you announced online your two-book deal with Penguin. Having submitted a novel myself I was certain I’d be taking this journey with you. But my big announcement would be another twelve months away – also a two-book deal – with the amazing Simon & Schuster.

So now I’m here, right where I want to be, with my debut novel on the shelves and joining you on a Friday Feast. Life’s good. But life’s even better with good food, so let’s talk about that.

Being part of your Friday Feast I can’t help but smile as it combines my two greatest passions—writing and food; I’ve been lucky enough to make a business out of them both.Chicken Asian Salad

I’m so passionate about food I walked away from a well-paid corporate job in Sydney to swap city chaos for a new life in the country as owner of a small café. (I mean, let’s face it, I’d drunk loads of coffee throughout my career. How hard could making one be?)

My tree-change was like coming home. Coming home to the country is also the theme of my Australian small town stories and House For All Seasons is the first of two set in the fictional town of Calingarry Crossing.

House For All Seasons is a story about small-town life, family relationships and country roots that run deep. And yes there’s a cafe in it, even though I have since sold my cafe to focus on my new career as published author *big grin*. I instead spend my days writing contemporary women’s fiction and running Wagtail Cottage— a dog-friendly B&B we purpose-built for people who travel with their pets.

Salmon fillet w cous cousWhile I initially enjoyed the café business, it has ruined eating out for me. (I can’t help but size up a meal when it’s delivered, knowing the cost of producing the dish was a fraction of what you’re paying by a none-too-happy waiter usually.)

On the positive side, having learned so much about cooking I can satisfy my passion for food preparation by providing healthy (garden fresh where possible) evening meals to our B&B guests. Meals such as:

BBQ chicken with Asian-inspired noodle salad

Char-grilled Atlanic salmon fillet on Moroccan-spiced cous cous w/ homemade mango chutney, minted yoghurt and a warm fetta, pistachio & bean salad

But my Friday Feast offering is from our breakfast basket which we stock with homemade jams and goodies including…

 

Jenn’s Home-Made Muesli

Brekkie!

Food for me these days is healthy, fresh and homemade. This recipe is so simple you’ll never buy highly sugared/salted, packet muesli again.

I make a big batch (you might like to halve it, but it does last for ages – I store it in a big ice cream container) as it’s more economical to use both shelves in the oven. So if you have two good-sized roasting trays, use the following big batch quantities:

Ingredients:

500 gram pkt of rolled oats, coconut (long thread is best), sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, canola/vege oil, honey, hot water. After cooking add sultanas and toasted almond flakes (optional).

Preparation:

Preheat oven at 150 degrees

Boil the kettle

Spray two good-size roasting dishes with spray oil (to minimise sticking.)

Method:

Spread the 500 gram pkt of rolled oats over the two sprayed pans.

Add 1½ cups of coconut

1 cup sunflower seeds

¼  cup sesame seeds

Mix well then:

Pour (drizzle) ½ cup of oil

½ cup honey

½ cup of boiling water. Add water slowly, mixing all ingredients. (The hot water will soften the honey to make blending easier.)

Bake:

Place the roasting pans in the oven and SET THE TIMER for 10 mins.

Check/stir mixture every ten minutes until the entire contents is a golden colour and dry. Depending on your oven it could take about an hour.

(And don’t do what I do; get so caught up in writing you don’t hear the oven timer!!!!!)

Tips:

Set a timer for each ten minutes rather than rely on your memory.

Once the cooking is complete, stir immediately to both cool and lift baked bits off the pan. (Makes for easier cleaning.)

You can also toast flaked almonds (separately as they don’t take long) and add with your choice of dried fruit. (I use sultanas.)

 

Oh yum! That sounds delicious, Jenn. Actually your Wagtail Cottage sounds gorgeous and one of these days I plan to visit it in person.

So, my lovely Feasters, what’s your favourite breakfast? Are you a healthy muesli sort or completely naughty and skip it all together? I’m a Vita Brits girl, except on weekends before golf, then it’s a big cooked brekky courtesy of the man of the house. He does a fiiine job too.

If you’d like to learn more about Jenn and House For All Seasons, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Oh, I do adore Friday Feast. Sometimes it’s like owning a bookshop with a bakery and café attached. All those great stories! All that delicious food! Hmm, maybe I should hunt down a wine writer so we can make this place trulyauthor pic perfect…

Speaking of perfect (sigh, love a good segue nearly as much as the Feast itself), today I welcome  back a wonderful Australian author who’s had the perfect start to her writing career. Not only was Loretta Hill’s debut novel, The Girl In Steel-Capped Boots, a rip-roaring chart-busting success, so is her second novel, The Girl In The Hard Hat, which released last month. No wonder given these rave quotes:

This is the sort of book that I would recommend to everyone I know, especially if they liked The Girl In Steel-Capped Boots. And if you haven’t read that one then… you definitely need to! Bree at One Girl… 2 many books!

Well written, witty and entertaining, The Girl in The Hard Hat is an engaging contemporary romance in an unique Australian setting that I can’t wait to visit again. Shellyrae at Book’d Out

Check it out.

 

THE GIRL IN THE HARD HAT

 

HardHat cover finalTo tame a bad boy you will need:

a.      One hard hat

b.      Three hundred and fifty sulky FIFO workers

c.       A tropical cyclone

Wendy Hopkins arrives in the Pilbara to search for the father who abandoned her at birth.

Getting mixed up in construction site politics at the Iron Ore wharf just out of town was not high on her ‘to do’ list.

But when she takes a job as their new Safety Manager she becomes the most hated person in the area. Nicknamed ‘The Sergeant’, she is the butt of every joke and the prime target of notorious womanizer, Gavin Jones.

Giving up is not an option, though.

For, as it turns out, only Wendy can save these workers from the coming storm, find a man who wants to stay buried and … put a bad boy firmly in his place.

From the author of The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots comes another funny and deliciously romantic tale of a woman in a man’s world.


The Girl In The Hard Hat is available now from your local book or chain store. You can also order online from Dymocks, Booktopia and Bookworld, or download the ebook from Kobo, Google Play, Amazon Kindle or iTunes.

Now here’s Loretta!

 

Spoon Lickin’ Good

 

When Cathryn first asked me to write a blog for Friday feast, I knew exactly what I was going to write about, Chocolate Cake! Any time of year, any time of day, chocolate cake is by far my favourite comfort food.  I also have 001four kids. So baking a cake always makes a great activity in which they can get involved.   I measure out all the ingredients and put them on the counter so that they can tip them into a giant mixing bowl. It makes them feel so important – like they’ve really baked this cake all by themselves. After the ingredients are in, they take it in turns stirring – because you know, a good stir is essential to a good cake. But that’s not the best part. The best part is licking the bowl and the spoon afterwards which unfortunately usually doesn’t take nearly long enough.  You see, after that, the questions start.

“Is it ready yet?”

“Can we eat it now?”

“I think it’s cooked mummy!”

Baking in the oven for half an hour is a very difficult concept for a five year old to grasp. Let alone, a three and one year old. My youngest luckily is 3months, so he is content to just watch, gurgle and wave chubby fists.  All the 004same, I hear myself repeating the same phrase over and over, “Not yet. But soon.” Then at last the cake is out and cooling on a rack. They take it in turns sniffing it as if by sucking in the chocolaty steam they can somehow experience coco nirvana.   They’re not half wrong. I say, “Back away everyone.  It needs some time before we can ice it.”  To stall them, I have the ingredients for the icing there so that we can make it. Again using the electric mixer is a very big deal. And when the last spindle has been licked clean the cake looks cool enough to ice. I layer it on with a big plastic spatula. Yumo! The icing is the best part of cake. Thick and buttery. My mouth is watering.  But it’s not my turn yet. I cut all the kids a slice each. We put them on plastic plates and take them outside so they can spill as many crumbs as they like. Michael is asleep now, so he gets wheeled into the bedroom. The other kids park themselves on the garden chairs and don’t move until their faces are covered in chocolate. It’s clean up time. Off to the bathroom to wash up. When they are relatively presentable again and run off to play I creep back to the kitchen and put the kettle on. I then cut myself a very generous slice. With coffee in one hand and cake in the other hand, I shuffle over to my computer. It has been winking at me on the dining table to no avail all afternoon. Hero and heroine have been waiting for their next move. The kids are quietly watching a dvd now. As sweet chocolately goodness infuses my senses, I begin to type.

016

Here’s a great recipe for a very simple but delicious chocolate cake that I make all the time!

Ingredients

Cake

1 cup self raising flour

3 tablespoons cocoa

250g butter

½ cup of caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

2 eggs

 

Icing

1 cup of sifted icing sugar

1 teaspoon of sifted cocoa

A tablespoon of milk

2 teaspoons of softened butter

 

Method

  1. Grease and line one 20cm deep cake tin
  2. Combine flour, cocoa, sugar, vanilla essence and melted butter
  3. Add eggs and mix for one minute
  4. Pour into cake tin and cook for 25-35minutes at 160 degrees C
  5. Icing: Mix icing sugar ingredients together and beat with electric mixer to make fluffy.

Tip : Don’t over cook. Test often with a knife after 25 mins

Ahh, Loretta, you have no idea how tempted I am to dash from the calorific desert that is my office to the kitchen and start baking. As you so perfectly describe, there’s nothing like a chocolate hit to fire up the muse. Thanks so much. These tried and true Friday Feast recipes are like having a precious family cookbook on hand, except in this case, the ‘book’ is full of others’ favourite recipes and made all the more special for it.

Okay, Feasters, what food fires up your imagination? I’ve considered this deeply and think that perhaps it’s good old Vita Brits (or Fart Bricks as my other half so charmingly calls them). A bit dull I’ll concede, but as that’s my usual breakfast fare and given that after breakfast is when I start writing, there has to be some sort of correlation, surely? Mind you, I do have a habit of succumbing to episodes of mad scribbling after a couple of glasses of red wine too, but that’s another tale…

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

 

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