Tag Archives: AFL

FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona McArthur

Feeling pretty chuffed this week. My beloved Sydney Swans are still perched very nicely near the top of the AFL ladder, my book is finished (at least until edits come), and I’m playing decent golf for a change, but I’m also super thrilled to introduce a new Friday Feast guest, lovely Australian author Fiona McArthur.

Fiona’s a country midwife who knows all about babies, which is why she writes gorgeous Medical Romances for Harlequin Mills & Boon. And they’re popular. Like over two million copies worldwide style popular. Yup, this is a lady who knows her stuff!

Fiona’s next release is Two Tiny Heartbeats (isn’t that a beautiful title?) and it sounds wonderful. Check it out.

 

TWO TINY HEARTBEATS

 

Two Tiny Heartbeats by Fiona McArthurGold Coast City Hospital

First-day baby bombshell!

Discovering she’s pregnant—with twins!—is not how midwife Lucy Palmer imagined her first day in her new job. Worse is that it took her gorgeous new colleague Nikolai Kefes to suggest a pregnancy test and scan. As they watch those tiny heartbeats on the monitor, Lucy knows instantly that her two little babies are the only things she can focus on. And that her highly inconvenient attraction to the hunky Greek obstetrician—with his legendary reputation for short, sweet, emotionally unavailable relationships—definitely has to be ignored…!

 

Doesn’t that sound fun? I bet it’s gorgeous. Keep your eye out for the release of Two Tiny Heartbeats in October. In the meantime, Fiona has many other novels to warm your heart.

Speaking of warming hearts, try this fantastic post on for size!

 

Train Journeys and Falling In Love With Them

 

Thank you Cathryn, for asking me to join you on your Friday Feast. Not known for my culinary skills but I do like eating so thought I’d share a food journey with a difference.

Early start at the station on the Spirit of the Outback trainFancy a Trip on the Spirit Of the Outback? Longreach to Brisbane. Ever wondered about the cost, the time it takes, the sleepers and the meals?

You have to love being a writer because research trips are definitely perks of the trade. Not often I can drag my husband on trips so we went the whole hog. I thought it was worth saving up for, sleeper class, which included all meals in the Tuckerbox Dining car, and we put the car on the train (ours was the only one on there – it looked so cute) and it meant I could be back at work a day earlier if we drove home from Brisbane – so more time out west. Vote one. Queensland Rail. Seriously. They do it right.Fiona's car on the train

This was the final stage of our recent ten day trip around the amazing red earth of western Queensland, an absolute joy, and more of that coming on my new webpage soon, and a whole lot more in my next book, but I know Cathryn loves to hear about something in the food department.

The good thing is you can’t talk about the Spirit Of The Outback without talking about the meals. A skillful chef, a huge kitchen and a unique and fabulous setting makes the cuisine as tasty and elegant as any restaurant. But in the beginning…

Longreach station

Longreach at sunrise is a little chilly in June while the excitement of looking for your carriage makes up for it. When you leave Longreach, you’ve got half an hour to settle in and admire the glorious colours of those first Fiona enjoying the view on the Spirit of the Outbackgolden rays on the plains and the contents of your little hessian comfort bags – sigh for the days airlines used to give you half what was in these little packs – with eye masks, washers, organic lip balm, plus the usual’s. I love stuff like this as my friends will laughingly tell you. Sniff. Anyway, the views are magic as you peer out the windows, and wave at the traffic when we run alongside the road.

Then your delightful hostess, in our case, Raylene of the endless goodwill – will encourage you to make your way to the dining car and take a seat at the beautifully set alcoves complete with white linen tablecloths, wildflowers and silverware, and best of all, lovely big windows that showcase the reds, browns and orange of outback Queensland.  Truly we are blessed by our beautiful country. Especially arid and sparse it takes my breath away.Fiona's husband Ian at the table

But back to food. Breakfast was all hubby could wish for, (because I had fruit and water – NOT!)  crisp bacon, soft eggs, buttery mushrooms and sausage, grilled tomato, fresh juice and hot, freshly brewed coffee. Groan. And no gym to work it off, still, probably wouldn’t have used it if they had one. But leisurely, and fun.

Then it’s back to your private cabin or into the spacious lounge car. Next time, I’d spend more time in the lounge car because a carriage full of windows give the best view of the surrounding countryside and it’s too easy to stay comfortably antisocial in your own little lounge cabin although the windows are lovely there too.The Tree of Knowledge

Rattle, rattle, rattle for a couple of hours and then a leisurely meander off at Barcaldine to admire the cleverly created replacement Tree of Knowledge, didn’t notice Kevin or Julia poking around up there just outside the station, and a walk along the platform and cheeky peer in the window by my DH. Then back on board where we took the chance for us to go through the hundreds of photos we’d taken over the last week and a half, a joke about the fact that I’d been keen to visit the Qantas Museum in Longreach when hubby decided I’d seen more planes than he’d had breakfasts, and a few more notes on my computer.

Before we knew it lunch was on, must admit I had a wee glass of Sav Blanc to go with my Barramundi Fillet with citrus butter and garden salad. Divine. Ian had Backstrap Lamb and we both daintily nibbled at the Pavlova. Actually not dainty at all. There was also Haloumi salad and Chicken terrine so lots of choices.

It was nice to go for a wander when we paused at Emerald, one of my boys had spent a bit of time working at the feed lot up here for Australian Ag, and I’d heard a lot about Emerald and wanted to see it. Looks like a great town. Love the way the station steps are in the middle of town. Couldn’t believe the agricultural equipment for sale. Must have been millions of dollars worth which illustrates the amount of food produced in this area.Fiona enjoying bubbles in the lounge car

Back for a quick freshen as the afternoon sun was casting long shadows away to the mountains and then I was sipping bubbles in the lounge car chatting to fellow travellers. It wasn’t quite as formal as the Orient Express, God Bless Australia,  but we’d all spruced up and the sun was casting  golden halo around Blackwater. We flew through Comet, but I hear (from that son) it had a good pub, but I digress.

Sunset out of Blackwater (apparently the creek ran black – from the tree roots but now it’s coal miners heaven – and as evening and dark arrived we went through to dinner to find tender grain fed pepper steak and sticky date pudding. Amongst others, and seriously I think I’ve eaten enough.Sunset from the train

When we came back, after a desultory discussion with our fellow travellers,  our lounge had been made into two surprisingly wide and comfortable bunk beds with crisp white sheets and bottled water. Did they know about that second glass of bubbles? After the early start (my car climbed on the train earlier than we did) we were well ready for bed. Loved snuggling down to the peaceful rattle of the rails – apparently it’s better to get a middle cabin as it’s quieter not perched above the wheels but –  zzzzzzzzzz.

And in the morning, (sounds like one of my books) by the time we’d washed and changed (and yes there is a shower with wonderful hot water), captured a great pic of one of the ?Glasshouse Mountains, and it was time to disembark in Brisbane.One of the Glasshouse Mountains

To retrieve our own car we simply walked to the end of the train, were escorted to a driveway, and within twenty minutes it appeared beside us. A little meander through only a couple of Brisbane streets and we popped out on the freeway to Gold Coast. Easy Peasy for this country bumpkin. So twenty four hours flew and I adored it all.

Have you any train stories? Been on any scenic train journeys?  I’d love to hear because I fear I am now addicted. Xx Fi

Spirit of The Outback leaves Longreach 0715 Monday (and Thursday) Arrives Brisbane 0710 Tuesday (or Friday) So 1325 kms in 24 hours.

Cost from Longreach:

Economy non-sleeper between $152-235 depending when you buy the ticket – purchase food from the snack bar

Economy with sleeper – $244-315 depending when you buy the ticket – purchase food from snack bar

First class with sleeper-$427-529 depending when you buy your ticket – all meals but purchase wine and beer

Car -$299 and unaccompanied $499.

There are good discounts for seniors and concession and unlike lots of other telephone booking services Queensland rail sales people are awesome.

Ph 1800 872 467       And no, I didn’t get this journey compliments of QRS. 🙂

 

Thanks so much for sharing your journey, Fiona. It sounds absolutely wonderful. I’m a sucker for train travel after living overseas. It’s such a great way to explore a country and an easy way to cross long distances in comfort. A bit of bubbly while watching the world pass by? That’s my kind of travelling!

So, Feasters, enjoyed any iconic or scenic train rides that you’d like to tease us with? Or maybe your relaxing foodie adventure was on a cruise. Maybe you flew to an exotic tropical island for a picnic (in which case I shall hate you a little bit). We’d love to hear.

Given my last trip anywhere was on the Blue Mountains train into Sydney Harbour to meet up with faaaabulous authors Christine Stinson and Jaye Ford for lunch, I need a bit of armchair travel!

If you’d like to learn more about Fiona and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Twitter and Facebook. You can also write to Fiona direct at fionamcarthur2@gmail.com

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Nicole Flockton

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Winter is fully fledged now, so much so we’re halfway through the footy season with my darling Sydney Swans sitting very comfortably in 4th place on the AFL ladder, just ahead of those pesky Fremantle Dockers.Nicole Flockton author photo

Now, speaking of the Dockers, it’s my joy today to introduce one of their greatest fans, an ex-pat Aussie living in Texas who can’t let go of her footy-lovin’ roots. Nicole Flockton writes contemporary romances, moving from the sexy power of boardrooms and business, to equally drama-filled medical settings, with her latest, Rescuing Dawn firmly in the latter category. Check it out…

 

RESCUING DAWN

 

Cover of Rescuing Dawn by Nicole FlocktonHe helps save lives, now he wants to save hers.

Dawn Granger has loved and lost and it’s a road she’s not prepared to travel again, that is until her past turns up and has her questioning her resolve.

Andrew Holmes has sailed the globe numerous times, when he almost loses his life, he decides he needs to give something back so he returns home and trains as a paramedic. When he runs into his former sweetheart he is surprised to find an attraction he thought dead come to life. When he sees the sadness in Dawn he knows he will do anything to make her smile again.

Dawn tries to resist Andrew but their past pulls at her in ways she thought long dead. Can she trust a man who’s run out on her once before? Can she risk putting her heart on the line again? Or will it all be taken from her again.

 

Ooh, I adore a lovers reunited story and Rescuing Dawn sounds fabulously romantic. You can own a copy right now with just a few clickety-clicks on any of the following ebookstores: Kobo (most excellent sponsor of the 2013 Australian Romance Readers Convention), Google Play, Amazon (for Kindle) or iTunes.

All loaded? Marvellous. Now let Nicole warm you up!

 

 A Winter Delight

I’m thrilled to be part of Cathryn’s Friday Feast. After looking over the previous Feast posts I wondered what the heck I was going to talk about. You see I’m the world’s most basic cook. If I could get away with it I’d have the same thing every night. Actually when I was living by myself I would. I’d have a piece of meat (steak or chicken or lamb) some salad, pasta shells, broccoli and peas. I figured the whole meat and vege deal was a good healthy meal. Not to mention it was easy and after a day at work I was all about easy.

But now I’m a mum and wife so I need to get creative. Well I said I need to get creative doesn’t mean I do! My poor husband puts up with very boring fare. LOL

Now that I’m a published author I find I get caught either doing work work, or writing and it’s four o’clock and I haven’t thought about dinner! Some days I pull out my favourite little appliance – the Crock Pot! When my son walks in and sees it he’s all excited that I’m cooking his ‘favourite’ meal.

So seeing as it’s winter in Australia, I thought I’d share my favourite Crock Pot recipe. It’s actually an adaptation of a recipe that I got from Jamie Oliver for Lamb Shanks. All my measurements are extremely accurate (not) I guestimate most of the time :-). So here it is, “Zane’s Crock Pot Delight!”

 

Zane’s Crock Pot Delight

1-2kg of diced meat or 3 lamb shanks.

1 can of diced tomatoesNicole Flockton's Crock Pot

2 carrots chopped

4 celery sticks chopped

Splash of Balsamic Vinegar

¼ cup of water

¼ cooking wine

A few sprinkles of paprika, chilli powder, ground cumin

Any other spices you may like!

Put everything into the pot and cook on low for 6-7hrs

So there you have it. It really is a recipe where you can adjust the measurements to your liking. I’ll boil up some rice and serve it up with some crusty bread. Nice and warm on a cold winters night!

Do you have a favourite winter meal?

 

Ahh, the good old slow cooker, a saviour of many working folk, and this recipe looks a beauty, Nicole. Lamb shanks would have to be one of the most satisfying winter meats. All that sticky meat, cooked long and slow so it falls sweetly off the bone. Sigh. One could almost compose an ode to their joys.

So, Feasters, hit us with your winter wonders. I know you have them. Delicious comfort foods just made for warming the soul when the weather is bad. Lamb shanks are a firm favourite in the Hein household but we’re also rather partial to a good beefy casserole like boeuf bourguignon or beef cooked in beer (oh, how I love that!). Oops, just made myself a bit drool-y, but I’m sure you have plenty more mouth-watering dishes to tempt us, so share away!

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

 

FRIDAY FEAST!

The AFL Grand Final is upon us. Sadly, we have Collingwood and Geelong playing and not my darling Sydney Swans, but there’s always next year and I’ll still watch the game because I love it. Tomorrow will find us crowded around the telly barracking madly for the Cats (there’s no way we could barrack for the Pies – that would be just wrong), enjoying a couple of beers and over-indulging in footy food.

I have all sorts of footy food recipes, from traditional meat pies, sticky spicy chicken, and barbeque sauce smothered ribs to comforting meze dishes, mouth numbingly hot Asian inspired finger food, and pizzas of various persuasions. What ends up being chosen all depends on how busy I’ve been and how inspired I’m feeling.

So, as I’m feeling a bit perky today, I’m going to prepare one of our favourite dishes – Moroccan Spiced Grilled Chicken. Not traditional, sure, but very tasty and easy on me because, bar whipping up a salad, all the hard work is done the day before. Which means I’ll be able to relax tomorrow and Jim will be happy because he gets to do his man thing with the barbeque. All good!

Oh, and don’t forget to do the sherbetty lemons. They’re nearly the best part of this dish.

MOROCCAN SPICED GRILLED CHICKEN

1 X 2kg approx chicken

A pinch of saffron threads

2 teaspoons coarse salt

4 garlic cloves, chopped

3 teaspoons smokey paprika

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 lemons

Icing sugar

Spatchcock the chicken by cutting down its backbone using kitchen shears, then press flat to break breastbone. Remove breastbone if desired. Use skewers inserted across the legs, thighs and wings to hold chicken flat. Slash the legs, thighs and breasts with a knife.

Put the saffron in a mortar with the salt and pound with pestle to pulverise. Add garlic and pound to a paste. Work in the paprika, cayenne, cumin, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil. Rub the spice mix into the chickens, pushing into slash marks. Cover and marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Bring the chicken to room temperature one hour before cooking (unless it’s stinking hot!).

Prepare a charcoal fire or preheat a bbq and place chickens on the grill, skin side up. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, continually turning and brushing with any remaining marinade. If using bbq, cover chicken with an inverted baking tray, watching temperature carefully to ensure chicken doesn’t burn. Cooking time this way is approximately 20 – 25 minutes depending on bbq, thickness of chicken and degree of boning. Rest for 5 minutes with lemon squeezed over.

Cut the lemons in half crossways, remove any seeds, cut again into quarters. Dip cut surfaces into icing sugar and grill on bbq hotplate until golden and caramelised. Squeeze lemon juice over chicken while it rests.