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Posts Tagged ‘RWA Romantic Book of the Year’

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

 

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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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THIS WRITING LIFE: Riding a Post RWA Conference High!

I’m home and back on the writing job after a week away in Western Australia at the 2013 Romance Writers of Australia Riding the Waves conference. What a ball was had! Romance writers are the kindest, friendliest and most generous people out there which makes conferences a hoot. They’re also hugely inspirational, loaded with wonderful craft and business information, and a fantastic way to connect with people who understand exactly how crazy this writing affliction can be. I always return from conferences more than a little bit excited and ready for action, which is just as well considering I have edits coming and a new book to write. This lark can’t all be flitting around Australia, hanging with glamorous authors…

I had hoped to share a pile of glossy, vibrant photos with you, but some numpty managed to upset the camera settings and half of them came out blurred. Sigh. Fortunately a few survived that I can present for your viewing pleasure.

Oh, and so you’re warned, this post is LONG!

Opening night on Thursday was Destiny Romance’s first birthday and, boy, was it loud. Plonk a hundred or so romance writers in a room, feed them cupcakes and bubbly, and you have a racket on your hands. But what a fun night, and what a delight to receive a fabulous Classic Penguin goodie bag at the end of it. Mine contained Anna Cowan’s much lauded Untamed and Peta Crake’s Harbinger, both of which I was thrilled to collect. Afterwards, Destiny Romance and Penguin Australia authors were treated to dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant and more chatter.

Margareta Osborn, me and Kathryn Ledson at the Destiny Party

Margareta Osborn, me and Kathryn Ledson at the Destiny Party

Carol George, Destiny Romance editor, welcoming and thanking everyone, and toasting Destiny's fabulous first year

Carol George, Destiny Romance editor, welcoming and thanking everyone, and toasting Destiny’s fabulous first year

Fab bag and even more fab reads thanks to Destiny Romance and Penguin Australia.

Gorgeous bag and even more gorgeous reads thanks to Destiny Romance and Penguin Australia.

Friday saw dedicated delegates attend either the Venus On The Half Shell workshop presented by Kim Hudson, or the Elizabeth Jolley Conference – Reading and Writing Romance in the 21st Century. Me? I snuck off and played golf at Joondalup Resort. What can I say? A girl has to wear off cupcakes, fizz and spaghetti vongole somehow, and the course was brilliant!

But I was back in time for the all-important Harlequin Nautical or Nice cocktail party. At my first RWA conference, back in 2007(?), hardly anyone dressed up. A feather boa here, a quirky outfit there, but mostly normal cocktail-conference dress. Now everyone’s into it and the atmosphere is fantastically silly.

Rural romance authors Fiona Palmer and Jennifer Scoullar.

Rural romance authors Fiona Palmer and Jennifer Scoullar.

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Ondine series author Ebony McKenna. You can show me to my berth anytime, Ebs!

Paula Roe as the world's most glittery desert island!

Paula Roe as the world’s most glittery desert island!

Rural romance author and good buddy looking super cute in her onesie!

Rural romance author and good buddy Rachael Johns looking super cute in her onesie!

Glam pirate Fiona Palmer

Glam pirate Fiona Palmer

Saturday morning saw the conference proper begin. Julia Quinn’s keynote address of her top 4 list of top 4 lists was wonderful and if there’s one thing I’ll forever remember from Riding the Waves it’s her saying: You will never hurt your career by helping another author. Yeah.

Harlequin’s sponsor address followed with Margaret Marbury (Vice President, Harlequin Single Title – HQN, Mira, Luna) and Sheila Hodgson (Harlequin Mills and Boon, London) talking enthusiastically about eHarlequin, their range of imprints, and what Harlequin can offer authors.

Paths to Third Party Publication saw Abby Zidle (Simon & Schuster, New York), Nina Bruhns (Entangled Publishing), Sheila Hodgson, Bernadette Foley (Hachette Australia), Kate Cuthbert (Escape Publishing), Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press), and moderator Alex Adsett (Alex Adsett Publishing Services) take the stage to discuss how to submit to publishers and what they’re looking for. My impression was that they were all hungry for your work. Really hungry, and throughout the panel I kept thinking what a great time it was to be an author. We are wanted, no longer beholden and we have options. A lot of options.

Shelia Hodgson, Alex Zidle, Nina Bruhns, Alisa Kradnostein, Bernadette Foley and Kate Cuthbert

L to R: Alex Adsett (moderating), Shelia Hodgson, Alex Zidle, Nina Bruhns, Alisa Kradnostein, Bernadette Foley and Kate Cuthbert

Morning tea: bacon and egg muffins and pastries. Enough said!

For my first breakout session I did Nina Bruhns’s session on Save the Cat! which I loved. She talked about the 10 types of movies (fascinating stuff), loglines and why you need them, and Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheets for plotting. Really useful stuff and some of the worksheets are available on Blake’s website under the Tools tab. Quite a few writers I know swear by his Save the Cat! book and after the amount I got out of this session I’ve decided to join the crowd and have just ordered it.

Nina Bruhns presenting her Save the Cat! workshop

Nina Bruhns presenting her Save the Cat! workshop

I loved Nina’s “when you’re stuck” tip, which I’ve heard a few times before but it never hurts to hear these things again. If you’ve come to a standstill, make a list of 10, 20 or more different things that could happen in your book. Be outrageous, take the editor off your shoulder and just brainstorm. It doesn’t matter if they’re clichéd or unrealistic, write them down. The more you list the more likely you are to come up with something fresh and unexpected to brighten and intrigue your reader. I’m testing this right now as I broaden the plot outline of my next rural romance and have already come up with a couple of good ideas.

For breakout session two I moderated the Shark In Your Story panel (which for some daft reason I couldn’t stop thinking of as the Jump The Shark panel) with Helene Young, Shannon Curtis and Bronwyn Parry. As you’d expect from ladies so highly acclaimed for their romantic suspense novels, the panel was full of fascinating titbits, especially when it came to crafting great villains (Shannon likes to get her freak on; Bronwyn tends to get her ideas for villains from the news). I wish it had gone on longer but there was lunch and more chattering to be had!

The Shark in Your Story panel L to R: Shannon Curtis, Helene Young and Bronwyn Parry

The Shark in Your Story panel L to R: Shannon Curtis, Helene Young and Bronwyn Parry

For breakout three, I joined best-selling historical romance author Anne Gracie and a round table of published authors to discuss business. Again, I wish we had longer because I feel like we barely skimmed the surface, especially when it came to rights and contracts. These are issues authors can never know enough about. Maybe next year in Sydney, when author day returns, we’ll get to talk about the business side of writing a bit more.

Thanks to the Australian Romance Readers Association we had another authorfest on Saturday afternoon with an ARRA booksigning event. 50+ authors seated in the one room with their books for sale and pens poised for signings.  Not quite as loud as the Destiny Party, but close! I sat between paranormal and fantasy romance author Kylie Griffin and best-selling author of The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots (and others) Loretta Hill. Kylie’s books sold like crazy which was delightful to see, and I was seriously chuffed to do a few signings myself. I don’t think I’ll ever get over that thrill. It’s something very special.

All action at the ARRA booksigning

All action at the ARRA booksigning

Amy Andrews came prepared...

Amy Andrews came prepared…

Ebony McKenna brought her ferret, Fiona MacArthur only needed her charming self.

Ebony McKenna brought her ferret, Fiona McArthur only needed her charming self.

Eleni Konstantine wearing her conference team hat. Sweet!

Eleni Konstantine wearing her conference team hat. Sweet!

Me!

Me!

Elise Ackers. An author to watch!

Elise Ackers. An author to watch!

Oof, those romantic suspense types... Helene Young with Bronwyn Parry.

Oof, those romantic suspense types… Helene Young with Bronwyn Parry.

Jennifer Kloester with Juanita Kees

Jennifer Kloester with Juanita Kees

Paranormal and fantasy romance author Kylie Griffin.

Kylie Griffin. There weren’t many of those books left by the end.

Harlequin Romance author Michelle Douglas with historical author Michelle Diener

Harlequin Romance author Michelle Douglas with historical author Michelle Diener. I was thrilled to score Michelle Diener’s kindly donated raffle prize, complete with pretty bookmarks, and look forward to sinking my nose into her stories.

Visiting US author Maisey Yates with Rachael Johns

Visiting US author Maisey Yates with Rachael Johns

Then it was out for dinner and a frock up before returning to the Esplanade Hotel for dessert and the RWA’s Awards Gala, where there was much applauding and cheering for our contest and RuBY winners, and where I was delighted to see Bronwyn Jameson awarded life membership of the RWA. So well deserved. Then we had… dancing! I tell you, these romance girls (and boys) know how to rock on.

A glamorous night awaits!

A glamorous night awaits…

...with desserts. Lots of desserts!

…with desserts. Lots of desserts!

The rural romance girls!

The rural romance girls.

Amanda Knight with Bronwyn Parry

Amanda Knight with Bronwyn Parry

Rachael Johns and Beck Nicholas

Rachael Johns and Beck Nicholas

Harlequin Sexy author and hot sheik expert Annie West with best-selling historical romance author Christina Brooke

Harlequin Sexy and Presents author and hot sheikh expert Annie West with best-selling historical romance author Christina Brooke

Kat Mayo with Alex Adsett

Kat Mayo with Alex Adsett

Me and Fiona McArthur

Me and Fiona McArthur

Those romance gals sure know how to boogie!

Those romance gals sure know how to boogie!

Found resting their dancing feet in the Esplanade Hotel's bar afterward: Jennifer St George and Amy Andrews

Found resting their dancing feet in the Esplanade Hotel’s bar afterward: Jennifer St George and Amy Andrews…

...Christina Brooke and many others. Glam ladies with stamina!

…Christina Brooke and many others. Glam ladies with stamina!

Sunday morning. Ahh, yes, a few bleary eyes can be seen, but all in good cause: ie fun. Harlequin’s second sponsor address followed and my heart was all a-flutter at Kate Cuthbert’s news that Escape’s Australian-set rural romances are doing well in the US. Could this be the start of an Aussie invasion? I hope so!

Then the scary Submission Island panel with Margaret Marbury, Abby Zidle, Laura Bradford (Bradford Literary Agency), Nina Bruhns, Joel Naoum (PanMacmillan/Momentum) and Alex Adsett. Manuscript openings were read out and the panel held up STOP signs when they’d heard enough. Wow. Just… wow. If you ever needed a show of how hard it is to hook an editor or agent then this is it. But what also sank in for me was how subjective opinions are when it comes to manuscripts. Some panellists dropped out early, others hung on to the last. Sometimes there was a point where a few would be put off by the same sentence or paragraph and cards would flip up all at once. Overall, it was a insightful demonstration of how authors not only have to have thick skins, but tenacity too. Keep trying. Just because one or two agents or editors don’t like your work, that doesn’t mean there isn’t someone out there who’d love it.

Survivor: Submission Island with L to R: Margaret Marbury, Abby Zidle, Laura Bradford, Nina Bruhns, Joel Naoum and Alex Adsett

Survivor: Submission Island with L to R: Margaret Marbury, Abby Zidle, Laura Bradford, Nina Bruhns, Joel Naoum and Alex Adsett

I did Anne Gracie’s The Power of Detail for my first Sunday breakout session and enjoyed it immensely. Anne is a passionate speaker, with a real knack for getting information across in a way that resonates, and I walked away with excellent tips on how to bring the particular and every person together in my writing.

For the post lunch breakout I attended the self publishing panel with Cathleen Ross, Nina Bruhns and Kandy Shepherd. As with all the other panels, this contained more gems of insight from highly experienced authors, from the importance of meta-data, to advertising, to making sure that your books look as professional as traditionally published editions, and beyond. Given the attendance and range of questions, I suspect there’ll be even more on self-publishing at next year’s conference.

Self publishing panel with L to R: Kandy Shepherd, Cathleen Ross and Nina Bruhns

Self publishing panel with L to R: Kandy Shepherd, Cathleen Ross and Nina Bruhns

My last session was a free-for-all chat with Julia Quinn where delegates could ask her anything. I was so pleased to hear she was an edit-as-you-go writer too, because that’s how I work and I can’t help feeling that it somehow lets me down productivity wise. Doesn’t look like it’s hurt Julia!

Those that attended the Navigating the Choppy Waters of Online Reviews panel with Sarah Wendell (Smart Bitches, Trashy Books), Kat Mayo (Bookthingo and Booktopia) and Kate Cuthbert said that was worth attending too, offering plenty of cautionary advice about social networking and online communities.

We closed the conference with plenary addresses from Kim Hudson and Sarah Wendell, more raffles (I won something, rah!), the announcement of next year’s conference venue (Romance Rocks at the Novotel Sydney Olympic Park, double rah!) and Anne Gracie’s now traditional stand-ups where we celebrate all our achievements for the year (rah, rah, rah!).

After that, it was back to the bar for more chatter, a few drinks and farewells.

L to R: Fiona McArthur, Anne Gracie, Kaz Delaney, Bronwyn Jameson, Alison Stuart and Melanie Milburne

L to R: Fiona McArthur, Anne Gracie, Kaz Delaney, Bronwyn Jameson, Alison Stuart and Melanie Milburne

To the Riding the Waves conference committee and the RWA, I say thank you and bravo. Wonderful, wonderful conference and I can’t wait to do it again next year. So much so I’ve even put my hand up to help.

So now I’m home, furiously plotting when all I really want to do is soak up the glorious weather we’re having and snuggle down on the patio with a book from my RWA haul. But where-oh-where is a girl to start when she has all these beauties on offer?

Books

 

 

 

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Happy Friday, Feasters. Never fear, I won’t subject you to another Heart of the Valley promo this week. No, no, no! Indeed, this week we have someone very special toting their wares. A certain lady from Armidale way who writes gobsmackingly good romantic suspense. RWA Romantic Book of the Year finaling and Australian Romance Reader Award winning romantic suspense, in fact.

Yes, Feasters, I bring you As Darkness Falls and Dark Country author Bronwyn Parry!

Bronwyn has a new book out and what a beauty it is. Dead Heat has been gaining five star reviews all over the blogosphere and elsewhere, with reviewers raving about her characters and suspenseful plot.  Here are a few samples:

The moment I picked up this book I didn’t want to put it down and I guarantee I won’t be the only one in that position! The Australian Bookshelf

This is a strongly plotted novel that incorporates organised crime, police corruption, gang activity and murder in a fast paced and exciting story. I reluctantly put it aside only to attend to my family’s pleas for a meal. Book’d Out

Dead Heat was a wonderful read – it drew me in right from the beginning and kept me intrigued all the way. 1 girl…too many books

Intrigued? Check out this cover and blurb.

 

DEAD HEAT

 

Trapped in rugged country in scorching summer heat, pursued by ruthless gunmen who can’t afford to fail, Jo and Nick will need all their skills and courage to survive.

The national parks where Ranger Jo Lockwood works, on the edge of the NSW outback, are untamed stretches of dry forest cut through with wild rivers. She’s often alone, and she likes it that way until she discovers the body of a man, brutally murdered, in a vandalised campground.

Detective Senior Sergeant Nick Matheson knows organised crime and gang violence from the inside out. He’s so good at undercover work that his colleagues aren’t sure which side he’s really on. His posting to Strathnairn is supposed to be a return to normal duties, but the murder victim in the campground is only the first of Jo’s discoveries.

As Jo and Nick uncover drugs and a stash of illegal weapons, the evidence points towards local young men already on the wrong side of the law. But as far as Nick s concerned, it doesn’t add up. When the body count starts mounting – each brutally punished before death – he becomes convinced that one person is behind the killings, one person is manipulating the men to commit horrific crimes, forming them into his own private drug-dealing cartel.

Jo has seen the man’s face, and now she’s his next target. Nick’s determined to protect her, but trapped in the rugged outback he and Jo will have to act quickly if they are going to survive.

 

Amazing cover, isn’t it? You can almost see the heat shimmering off it. I love it and the blurb sucks me right in. And the best thing is that Dead Heat is available right now, so off you go a-book-buying.

Done? Excellent. Now you can enjoy Bron’s faaaaabulous post.

 

Hi Cathryn! It’s a pleasure to be here – thanks so much for inviting me to your Friday Feast! Like many writers, I have a love-love relationship with food – especially comfort food and procrastination food. I’d like to find the ideal inspiration food, but despite many, many episodes of fridge and cupboard-watching, and much cooking experimentation, I have yet to find the perfect one.

Despite my fondness for food and the frequency with which I restlessly get up from the computer to study the fridge contents, I don’t actually give my characters much to eat. I don’t exactly starve them – I’m not that cruel – but my romantic suspense plots usually keep them far too busy to indulge in the luxury of a proper meal. A hurried hamburger, a couple of muesli bars, dried fruit, a slice of toast – they often eat on the go. At least I do give them plenty of coffee, or, in the case of Jo, the heroine in Dead Heat, proper leaf tea.

Perhaps in some future book I’ll give my hero and heroine the chance to enjoy some quality cuisine in a quiet romantic setting. The main course choices would depend on the characters, but it’s not hard to imagine a sinfully sensuous dessert – pannacotta, perhaps, or crème brulée, or rich, creamy, handmade icecream. Of course, being romantic suspense, I’d probably have to distract them half-way through dessert!

While writing Dead Heat, I started making my own sourdough bread. I love bread, fresh from the oven, with butter melting through it, but it hasn’t always loved me. When I read that some people find the wild yeasts of sourdough much easier on their systems than commercial yeast, I decided to give it a try. Sixteen months later, I’m a convert.

Now, amongst sourdough bakers, there are purists who approach it Very Seriously, and Very Scientifically, with measurements and special kneading techniques and Very Exact percentages of ingredients. I am not one of those purists. I’m just practical about it – people have been making bread with wild yeasts for thousand of years, without the aid of recipes, kitchen scales, or measuring cups, over hearth fires that can’t be easily regulated for temperature.

I did some web research, and made my initial sourdough starter based (loosely) on instructions from the sourdoughbaker.com.au and made my first loaf based on a recipe on a much simpler website that I now can’t find. (Sorry!) A quick web-search for ‘sourdough starter’ will produce many good results, however.

After my first few loaves, I tried the breadmaker for mixing the dough, and that worked very well – and was much easier on my hands! Since then I’ve learned, through trial and success, more about making bread in dry, cool climates (a moister dough works better), and I’ve put together a number of recipes that work for me (and my husband!) Our freezer is generally full with sourdough bread, rolls, fruit bread, crumpets, cinnamon scrolls…

At one point in Dead Heat, Jo and Nick have a hasty breakfast of fruit toast from Jo’s freezer. In the book, it’s not mentioned that it’s homemade sourdough fruit toast – chatting about food isn’t their top priority at that point – but of course I imagine that Jo makes sourdough bread! So here’s our recipe:

 

Bron’s (and Jo’s) Sourdough Fruit Toast

(makes one large loaf or two small ones)

2 cups of fed sourdough starter (100% starter – ie, equal amounts of flour and water)

½ cup of milk

1 tablespoon golden syrup

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons salt

3 ½ cups plain flour

tepid water as required (approx 1/2cup)

approx 300 grams mixed fruit (including some chopped up dates) (toss in small amount of flour)

If using a bread machine pan for the dough:

Add into the pan in the following order: Starter, milk, golden syrup, cinnamon, flour, salt.

First knead: Set bread machine to ‘dough’ setting – check after a few minutes that there is sufficient liquid – add a little water if necessary.

If kneading by hand, put on some good music before you start, and give it a good ten minutes or more. A basic kneading motion is fine – you don’t have to do anything fancy, just keeping working the dough evenly to make it smooth and elastic.

First rise: Leave dough to rise in the bread machine or covered in a warm place; maximum rise is when it doesn’t bounce back when pushed gently with a finger tip.

Second knead: Using ‘dough’ setting on bread machine, knead for 5 minutes or so. Or knead it again by hand for around the same length of time.

Fruit and shaping: On a floured surface, press gently on dough with tips of fingers (without squeezing air out) to stretch out sides until it’s a large rectangular shape. Scatter floured fruit over the surface of the dough. Starting with the far end, tightly roll the dough towards you. Fold one end in over the other (ie in thirds).  Gently stretch and mould dough into desired shape. Place seam side down into oiled bread tin.

Second rise: Leave to rise in tin – best rising is in a warm place out of draughts, with a little humidity. I put a mug of hot water beside the tin, and place a large plastic box over the tin and the mug. A heat pack can also assist on cold days. Depending on temperature, humidity, and moistness of dough, rising can take 2-3 hours.

Bake at 180 C for about 30 minutes or until cooked – it should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom of the loaf.

Eating: Prepare a cup of leaf tea – chai is ideal. Toast your fruit bread lightly, spread with butter and maybe a touch of marmalade, and relax and enjoy in a pleasant environment, preferably avoiding interruptions from gun-toting criminals intent on killing you. If interruptions cannot be avoided, offer them fruit toast and a cup of chai. As they sinking into a state of bliss, apprehend them and then return to your breakfast.

 

Oh, thanks so much for this, Bron! Sourdough you can knead in a breadmachine might actually convince me to have another go at making this bread. I tried a few years ago, developing my own starter with spelt flour and whatnot, then on baking day, I (for once) followed instructions and used this ridiculous slap-kneading technique which resulted into sticky dough being shot into every crevice of my kitchen. It took forever to clean and the bread turned out ordinary to say the least. Never again, was the motto after that. But after reading this recipe I may have to rethink this stance.

Now Feasters, Bron, being the lovely person that she is, has very generously offered a giveaway prize and it’s the one you all want. Yes, you can win a copy of her brilliant new novel, Dead Heat! But freebies like this don’t come easy. You have to work for it, and by work Bron means sharing your favourite bread or bread topping, or simply a bready memory.

So get commenting!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 22nd May 2012 AEST. Australian addresses only, sorry.

If you’d like to learn more about Bronwyn and her award-winning romantic suspense novels, please visit her website. You can also connect via Twitter and Facebook.

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Imelda who has won a signed copy of Bronwyn’s Dead Heat. Lucky girl! Thanks to all who stopped by to comment. Looks like we may see a few sourdough converts!

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