O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Don’t mind me, just channeling a little Lewis Carroll to celebrate the release of my new rural romance, Heartland. Cathryn Hein Author PhotoBooks always seem to take so long to birth that it’s wonderful when they finally pop out, all pretty, pink (or in Heartland’s case, blue), and shiny.

Yes, yes, I know it’s my baby and I’m terribly biased, but Heartland really is a comely thing. I love its soaring black cockatoos, stunning sky and summer-parched landscape. And the model? She’s the perfect Callie.

But it’s the content that matters, and Heartland has been earning praise. Oh, yes it has!

9/10 from 1 girl, 2 many books and this gorgeous comment:

“It’s easy to overhype books in your mind sometimes, which can lead to them not living up to expectation. That was definitely not the case with this one – it was everything I thought it would be and more. It’s a beautiful story of finding courage to be happy and letting go of the past but without forgetting it.”

And 5/5  from Marcia at Book Muster Down Under.

“Cathryn so skilfully combines atmosphere with location, creating a world which offers authenticity and a full range of sensory stimuli.  As I felt the sun stinging my shoulders, the red dust settling on my tongue and licked the saltwater from my lips, I was immediately pulled in by her fluid and easy writing style and a narrative which has a well thought-out pace, enabling this reviewer to live vicariously through her well rounded human (and animal) characters.”

But you know what else is really cool about release time? I get to take over Friday Feast.

Ahh yes, tis a frabjous day indeed!




Heartland_cvr_640x480A powerful, passionate and moving rural love story from Cathryn Hein, author of Promises and Heart of the Valley.

When Callie Reynolds arrives at Glenmore, the property she’s recently inherited, the last thing she wants is to be saddled with a warty horse, an injured neighbour and a mad goose. Haunted by her sister’s death and her fractured family, all she wants is freedom.

But Callie hasn’t counted on falling for Matt Hawkins, an ex-soldier determined to fulfil his own dream of land and family. Nor could she predict the way the land, animals and people of Glenmore will capture her heart.

Callie is faced with impossible choices. But she must find the courage to decide where her future lies, even if it costs her everything she holds dear.


Heartland is available now from chain stores (it’s in this week’s BigW Catalogue) and your favourite book retailers, including Booktopia (who, as you recall, we luuuurve because of their most splendiferous ARRC2013 sponsorship). You can also buy the ebook from Amazon (Kindle), Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. For a longer list of retailers please visit the Heartland page on my website.

And now please welcome… er… me!


My Kind Of Research


Novels take research. Some more convivial research than others and such was the case with Heartland. There’s a fun scene in the book where the heroine, Callie Reynolds, learns to drive Glenmore’s old Fiat tractor. As a child she’d watched her grandfather work machinery plenty of times but she’d never actually done it herself. The Fiat, with its gears and knobs and PTO, leaves her flummoxed, so she calls on Heartland’s sexy hero Matt Hawkins for help. But Callie doesn’t ask outright. Instead, in one of my favourite scenes of the book, she leaves a bemused Matt sifting through their flirtatious banter, trying to decipher what she’s really come over for.

Now, because you’re all special Feasty lovelies, I’ll reveal a bit of a secret. I nicked part of this scene from an old unpublished manuscript. The tractor in that instance was my brother’s ancient Massey Ferguson, but I needed a few more details and wouldn’t be travelling to Mt Gambier for a while to check. Rather fortuitously, I was heading to Stawell for a library talk, and had planned to spend the rest of the weekend out of town on a farm with my girlfriend and her gorgeous family, who also just happened to have the perfect tractor hiding in a shed.

And so ensued a weekend of research merriment!

Ahh, country kids. They’re classics. This lot insisted on being photographed with a stinky dead sheep.

Ahh, country kids. They’re classics. This lot insisted on being photographed with a stinky dead sheep.

The Fiat, now immortalised in a rural romance.

The Fiat, now immortalised in a rural romance.

Stawell, if you’re unaware, is in the Victorian Wimmera, two hundred and fifty or so kilometres from Melbourne and close to the magnificent Grampians National Park. It’s also very close to the Great Western wine growing region. So what’s a girl to do on a Saturday in a wine region? She goes a-tasting, of course!

Where else to venture than historic Seppelt at Great Western, which not only has a wonderful history, it has amazing drives (cellars) you can tour. Seriously, if you’re cruising around the region do not miss this tour. It’s fascinating, enlightening and afterward you can sample wines not normally on Seppelt’s tasting list. Details of the tours, history and wine on Seppelt’s website.

By the time of completion in 1932, Seppelt's drives extended 3km

By the time of completion in 1932, Seppelt’s drives extended 3km

Mould creeps onto every surface in the drives. A bit War of the Worlds red weedy but harmless.

Mould creeps onto every surface in the drives. A bit disturbingly War of the Worlds red weedy but harmless.

The drives were dug by goldminers for sparkling wine maturation. Seppelt's most iconic (and tasty!) fizz is their Salinger range which is made using the best grapes of the year's vintage.

The drives were dug by goldminers for sparkling wine maturation. Seppelt’s most iconic (and tasty!) fizz is their Salinger range which is made using the best grapes of the year’s vintage.

Where some of the special wines are kept locked. Legend has it Dame Nellie Melba took a bath in champagne here.

Where some of the special wines are kept locked. Legend has it Dame Nellie Melba took a sparkling wine bath here. The bathfizz was later poured back into 152 bottles and recorked. One hopes the contents were all wine!

Naturally, enthused by the sight of those bottles and the post-tour tasting, we stocked up and tonight, to celebrate Heartland’s release (because celebrations are indeed warranted!), I’ll be popping the cork on the very nice bottle of Seppelt Original Sparkling Shiraz that I bought post tour. Lovely!

Now, what does one eat when one has built a red wine appetite? A deliciously flavoured casserole, of course! And this one is a beauty.


Slow Cooked Lamb casserole

You’ll need to begin this recipe the night before.

1.5 kg trimmed, boneless lamb (leg or shoulder), cut into 4-5cm pieces

4 cloves garlic, crushed

250ml shiraz – use something decent!

A good slug or two of olive oil

1 red onion, finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika (I use La Dalia brand Pimentón de la Vera dulce)

2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped finely

3 red capsicums roasted, deseeded and peeled and cut into strips. Or for speediness and rather excellent flavour, use a jar of wood-roasted piquillo peppers.

300 g tomato passata

1-2 bays leaves

½ cup shiraz, extra

½ cup beef stock

Place the lamb in a bowl with the garlic and red wine and marinate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 160° C (or whatever temperature equates to ‘slow’ on yours).

Strain off the shiraz marinade and discard. Heat the oil in a large heavy casserole (an enamel-coated cast iron Le Creuset style pot is perfect) and brown the lamb in batches until a rich, dark colour. Remove browned meat and juices and set aside.

Add the onion and paprika to the pan and stir together for 30 seconds or so, then return the meat and juices, along with the chopped rosemary, peppers, tomato puree and bay leaves. Season well with salt and pepper and mix.  Add the extra shiraz and stock, and bring to a simmer. Cover and place in the oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours, checking occasionally to ensure the meat is covered in liquid. When meat is tender, taste and adjust for seasoning.

Serve with lots of crusty bread to mop up the delicious gravy. And don’t forget a nice red wine to match!

And now, because I’m all dosed up with red fizz cheer and book release excitement, I’m going to run a giveaway. Simply reveal a wine-y tale – anything from your favourite cellar door, to a much loved wine-including recipe, to dear old Uncle Albert’s infamous port barrel dunking – and the one that tickles my fancy most will win a signed copy of Heartland.

But get in quick. Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 30th April 2013. Australian addresses only, sorry.

If you’d like to learn more about me or my books, including the story behind Heartland, please visit my website. You can also find me chattering away on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.



0 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEAST with Me!

  1. Avatarchristinestinson

    First, congratulations again on Heartland’s release. Second, YUMMMM. Will definitely be trying that recipe. Having spent an enjoyable hour ot two in wine tasting rooms over the years, my favourite story would have to be the Lovedale Long Lunch in the Hunter Valley (, for those interested in finding out more about it) The year we did it, there were eleven participating wineries with exhibitions/rides/musical events at each venue. Camel rides were the attraction at the last venue we visited and by the time we arrived, one of the camels had had a gutful (humpful?) of drunken people trying to get on its back. We watched a girl climb on, promptly fall off the other side and sit there laughing, and it was literally the last straw. The camel cracked it, hissing and spitting and carrying on like a pork chop. Hilarious. (No one was hurt in the incident although the poor girl did cop a sizeable lump of camel snot on her dress…)

  2. AvatarCathryn Hein

    Thanks so much for the congratulations, Christine. Everyone has been so supportive.

    Oh, I LOVE your wine-y story!! A cranky camel complete with snot. That must have been so funny.

    We never made it to a Lovedale Long Lunch when we lived in the region but I know it’s a huuuuuge event on the Hunter’s wine calendar. Busloads head up from Newcastle for a day eating and drinking and, it sounds, misbehaving. I did the Clare festival once, back in 1989, and ate the most unreal salmon coulibiac from Stephanie Alexander’s stand. The recipe was posted in (I think) Gourmet Traveller a year or so later and I still have it. Which means I’ve been meaning to make if for over 20 years and still haven’t! I will though, one day…

  3. AvatarAnne Gracie

    MMmmm that sounds yummy, Cathryn — perfect for these crispy autumn evenings.
    Congratulations on the new book and the fabulous reviews. Can’t wait to read it.

    My favorite wine experience is when I went to my first Hunter Valley winery — I knew and loved the big fat Victorian reds and the SA’n ones from Barossa and McLarenvale, but Hunter wines were new to me and their reds seemed lighter somehow, but not weak or anything. So we told the old guy there (who turned out to be the winemaker) that we were new to Hunter Valley wines and didn’t know a thing. He spent the next few hours taking us through everything — even though we were just students and in a battered little bomb and clearly weren’t going to buy up big. He gave us all kinds of wines to taste — early picked, late picked, south side of the hill, north side of the hill — we really could taste the difference. It was magic. A wine education such as I’ve never experienced before or since.

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      It’s a great winter dish, Anne, really tasty and warming. Love paprika!

      What an amazing experience you had in the Hunter! That must have been so special. Some people are so kind. It’s interesting how different the Hunter Wines are. Lately we’ve been quaffing a lot from McLaren Vale but I think it’s about time we tried a Hunter red.

      Thanks so much for the Heartland release congratulations and for stopping by to comment. I really appreciate it.

  4. Avataranniewest

    Cathryn, love the sound of your latest book! Congratulations. As you know, that back cover blurb had been hooked from the start. I’m looking forward to it. Thanks too for sharing the recipe and pics. I’ve just recently had a meal of duck simmered in shiraz and just a tiny chunk of dark chocolate dissolved in the sauce. Talk about rich!

    Hm, winy stories? Too many. I live in the Hunter Valley so the vineyards are on my doorstep. While at university I used to pick grapes in summer, which gives you a whole new perspective on the wine making process, believe me. I used to shut my eyes at night and see bunches of grapes dancing behind my eyes.

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      Oh, Annie, that duck dish sounds divine!! I love duck, especially confit, which is seriously naughty but so worth the calories. Actually, you’ve just reminded me that I need to stock up on beans for cassoulet. Any moment the weather will turn and it’ll be the weather for it.

      I can relate to the dreaming of grapes after picking. I did a stint picking strawberries one summer. I thought it’d be impossible to dislike strawberries but after that overdose it took me years to touch them again!

      Thanks for dropping by!

  5. AvatarRachael Johns (@RachaelJohns)

    Happy Heartland release m’dear! Can you make that stew for me one day!? Much easier than me trying to do it, I’m sure you’ll understand. And safer. Love the pics of the country kids – nothing better than rambling round a farm!

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      Thanks, Rach. As for that stew, my wordy I can make it for you. Come on over!

      The kids were so funny. They had some lambs they were bottle feeding and we spent ages laughing as they tried to ride them. Could’ve done without the stinky dead sheep though!

  6. AvatarLouise Reynolds

    Yay, congratulations on the release, Cathryn!! This sounds such a treat and the heroine even has my name. I can tell she’s going to be nice, lol 🙂 As to wine, despite drinking more of the lovely stuff than I ought, I have no really amusing tales about wineries. Only two images stick in my mind, both at Cape Mentelle Winery in Margaret River. Went there to taste their fabulous Zinfandel in about 1985. When we drove up we had to negotiate a gaggle of geese at the winery door. The winemaker informed us that he had just had one, cooked in zinfandel, for lunch! Last year we were back again. No geese (all eaten?) and the zinfandel sold out. But we did sit in beautiful sunshine on their glorious lawn, with a tasting menu. Everything seemed very right with the world at that particular moment.

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      Ooh, I didn’t realise that. So Callie does have your name! She must be a good sort then.

      Your goose story made me laugh. Given the behaviour of Heartland’s mad goose Honk, I think a few characters would have liked to have seen him cooked in Zinfandel too!

      What a shame about the Zinfandel selling out. We’re big fans of it in our house but good ones tend to be a bit tricky to find. Thanks for the description. If I can organise my other half (never an easy thing), a spot of post conference wine-tasting down Margaret River might be on the menu and Cape Mentelle sounds lovely.

  7. AvatarJuanita Kees

    Firstly, congratulations on the release of Heartland. Wooooohoooo! I’ve been waiting patiently, like a very good girl 😉 for its release.
    Thanks to an alcohol-intolerant hubby, I can’t use wine in cooking. Of course this could be the reason I’m not a great cook. Since I can’t cook with it, well…I might as well drink it while I cook. I have a penchant for Margaret River wines with a quirky label – like Madfish. And then too, there is the fabulous Grove Winery Port offered for tasting by a particularly good looking young winemaker with an awesome sense of humour and well-sculpted muscles developed from his wine-pouring skills. Quite the ladies man, he is. But the best label I’ve come across (not necessarily the best wine, though) was a South African wine intriguingly called…wait for it…Fat Bastard! And yes, I did wonder about the hero winemaker behind that one 😉
    Happy Heartland release xxx

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      Ahh, Juanita, you crack me up. I have very Keith Floyd visions of you now, swigging away while in charge of a stove.

      Interesting wine label!! Wonder how well it sells…

      I saw a wine advertised yesterday, a Cotes du Rhone, called Legless Frog. And I remember when we lived in France that there was some kerfuffle over a South African company marketing a wine as Goats do Roam. Thought that was rather clever myself but others weren’t impressed!

  8. Avatararethazhen

    Hi Cathryn congrats for the release of your new book. Love the cover . I never go to any winery so I don’t have Any winery story but I have a story about my very first wine tasting . I come to the wine tasting at my friend’s house. At that time there was a guest who brought along her dog and naturally there was another guest who brought his cat. All was well in the beginning but as soon as the dog spotted the cat , the dog became really anxious and he ran after the cat who jumped to one of the table and ran over all of the wine table . All were in chaos after that and that night we did not enjoy the wine because one of the guy who tried to catch the dog kick off the wine table. All the wine flew over to several of the guests including the host as well . And oh well that was my experience . Cheers aretha

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      Thanks, Aretha. Exciting times here!

      Oh, dear. What a disaster for your friend! I think I’d be in tears if that happened to me. Or drowning my sorrows. Not sure what the other guest was doing bringing their cat though. They must be very close!!!

      Thanks for dropping by. Lovely to see you here again.

  9. AvatarSuzanne Brandyn

    Congratulations Cathryn. Love the look of that recipe. I’m definitely going to make that one. Yum. It’s made me instantly hungry.
    I am yet to read Heartland, it’s on my tbr list.

    My first experience with visiting a winery was years ago at Pokolbin, with around 60 wineries to choose from the one I recall was the Pokolbin Estate.

    I remember well, although it wasn’t particularly due to the sandstone cottage that was over a hundred years old, but the tasting session lasted longer than intended. I tasted too many wines which spoilt the entire experience. Since then I have learned to taste no more than three within a short time. It was fun though.

    We have a two wineries close by and they both have restaurants and serve some great warm reds. There’s nothing nicer than sitting with a warm red in front of a fire place over a lovely meal. I think you’d agree. 🙂

    1. AvatarCathryn Hein

      If you’re anything like me, Suzanne, your TBR list is monster sized. Not enough reading time!

      I do hope you try the recipe. It’s a real favourite, with great flavours and perfect for the approaching cooler months.

      It’s so easy to wear out your palate with too much tasting. That’s why we only did a couple of wineries on our Great Western trip. We learned long ago that we’d end up buying wines that we didn’t actually enjoy that much because we’d become a tad over excited.

      As for a glass of red in front of a fireplace with a good meal, oh yeah!!