Tag Archives: afternoon tea

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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Greetings from the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference in vibrant, footy-mad Melbourne! The conference kicked off last night with publisher drinkies and everyone had a ball. But enough of that. I’ll be telling you aaaaall about the conference later, when I’m home and recovered. Today it’s Friday Feast time, once again with yours truly, and a Country Women’s Association morning tea favourite.

First, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Did I tell you about my new putter grip? The super fat one that is supposed to do wonders for your putting? The one that didn’t fit in my old golf bag so I had to buy an expensive new one just to accommodate it? Yeah, that putter grip. Romance author Cathryn HeinWell… it doesn’t work. Either that or it has an allergy to one-putting and can only two, three and *sobs hysterically* four putt. If it can’t find some immunity soon, it may not be long for this world.

We had my latest release, The Falls, as feature book last week, so to keep things interesting, let’s go back in time to my second novel, Heart of the Valley. I love this book. Luuuuuurve it. I love the gutsy heroine Brooke, the truly babelicious hero Lachie, the horses, the heroine’s friends, even Billy the dog.  The crush I had on Lachie took about a year to get over and even now I still sigh when I think about him. If you haven’t read this book, please do. It’s lovely, I promise!

Take a look.

HEART OF THE VALLEY

Heart of the Valley  by Cathryn HeinA vivid, moving and passionate story of love and redemption.

When a tragic horse float accident leaves young showjumper Brooke Kingston unable to properly manage her family’s Hunter Valley property, she believes nothing worse can happen. Until she discovers her well-intentioned family have employed a new farm manager for her beloved Kingston Downs. But stubbornness runs in the family, and Brooke isn’t about to leave her home or abandon her darling horse Poddy. Working on the principle possession is nine-tenths of the law, she digs in her spurs and stays put.

Lachie Cambridge is unimpressed to arrive at his new job and find the boss’s sister still in residence. Lachie immediately classifies Brooke as yet another spoilt brat, but to his surprise Brooke proves nothing of the sort. She’s clever, talented and capable, but it’s her vulnerability he can’t resist and after a shaky start they develop a friendship. A friendship that soon evolves into something more.

As his feelings for Brooke deepen, and the Valley and its people wriggle further into his affections, Lachie starts to question what he really wants. He’s always believed that home is where your heart is, and his lies in the soil of his family property Delamere. Torn by his love for Brooke, Lachie must make a decision – to chase his dream or follow his heart.

But Fate has other plans, and Brooke and Lachie are left reeling when the very things that brought them together now threaten to tear them apart.

Sigh. Did I mention how much I love that book? Heart of the Valley is available right now from Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite book store or e-tailer.

All set? Excellent. Now grab a cuppa and settled down for some old-fashioned goodness.

Fluffy Fun!

My mother-in-law is a pretty handy baker. She makes beautiful cakes of all sizes and flavours, her peanut biscuits are seriously moreish, and there’s an ongoing argument over who makes the better ANZAC biscuits in the family – Alice or Essie. As you can imagine, I’ve snaffled a few recipes from her over the years.

Those of you who receive my newsletter and read the Christmas edition will know that my in-laws run a livestock transport company, carting cattle (and other things) all over from their north Queensland small country town base. Here’s me with one of their giant trucks, of which they have a lot. The one below is only a B-double but they run up to triples as well, which are seriously long.

Romance author Cathryn Hein with one of her in-laws' trucks

Anyway, back to foodie goodness and country kitchens. Morning smoko is a bit of a ritual around the yard, with everyone stopping for a cuppa and whatever sweet goodies happen to be on hand. Alice makes it all – cakes, biscuits, slices – and there are usually at least a couple of things to choose from.

Now, my mum and grandmothers used to home bake everything too, and occasionally we’d have pikelets. As country people know, buttered pikelets are standard CWA fare. They’re delicious and dead easy to make, and rarely do you find any left over after an event.

But did you know all pikelets aren’t created equal?

Seriously, they’re not. And I never knew until I discovered my mother-in-law’s Fluffy Pikelets. They’re the same as the ones I ate as a kid, only lighter and better and oh so scrumptious.

In fact, you could whip up a batch now. Go on, I dare you…

Fluffy Pikelets

Fluffy pikelets on Friday Feast

1 cup self-raising flour

Pinch salt

¼ teaspoon bi-carb soda

2 tablespoons sugar

1 egg

½ cup milk

1 dessertspoon melted butter

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Add egg and milk and whisk well. Fold in melted butter.

Heat a flying pan over a medium heat. Add a little butter to coat the base of the pan, pouring off any excess then drop in tablespoon amounts of the batter. Turn pikelets over when bubbles appear on the surface and cook until lightly golden.

Makes approximately 12

*

Okay Feasties, what’s your favourite morning tea snack?

Are you a gingernut and a cup of tea person or perhaps a healthy piece of fruit muncher? Maybe you… *gasp* skip morning tea. Me, I have a coffee and a wholemeal Salada, and kid myself it’s healthy. Otherwise there are always home-made goodies in the freezer, like banana and oat cake, muffins and the like, that I make for Jim. But I try to be good and avoid those. Writing is an unhealthy enough occupation as it is without adding that naughtiness too it.

If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, please feel free to explore my website. There are plenty of cool things to discover, especially on the blog, my about page and each book’s “the story behind” page. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Google+, Goodreads and Pinterest.

For all the latest news and new releases, plus free short stories and other goodies, please sign up to my newsletter.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Anne Gracie

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Hello lovelies, and welcome to another super-tasty edition of Friday Feast. This week, in a not-to-be-missed post, one of my absolute favourite historical romance authors shows off her gorgeous new release, gives you a step-by-step guide to jelly cake bliss, and generously offers a wonderful giveaway. So keep reading!

But first, the sigh-worthy saga that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. At last I’m home from South Australia and have managed to hit a familiar golf course with my own clubs. Author Anne GracieI was more than a bit fretful that some of Dad’s bad golfing juju might have followed me home and curled its sniggery, meddling self around my clubs but fortunately that wasn’t the case. Thank god. Then again, it could be simply biding its time. The curse is sneaky that way.

What is most definitely not sneaky is this week’s Friday Feast guest. She’s a joy! Multi-award winning and best-selling Regency romance author Anne Gracie is an auto-buy author for me. Her stories are charming, fun, emotional and absolute delights to read. If you’ve never tested the Regency romance waters, then Anne’s Chance Sisters series it the perfect place to start. The Autumn Bride and The Winter Bride were completely heart-warming and now book three in the series, The Spring Bride, has hit Australian shelves with US following shortly. It looks another beauty. Check it out.

THE SPRING BRIDE

US Cover of The Spring Bride by Anne GracieOn the eve of the London Season, Jane Chance is about to make her entrance into high society. Haunted by a childhood riddled with poverty and hardship, Jane is determined her own children will never suffer the same; she intends to make a good, safe, sensible marriage. All goes according to plan until a dark, dangerous vagabond helps her rescue a dog.

Zachary Black is all kinds of unsuitable–a former spy, now in disguise, he’s wanted for murder. His instructions: to lie low until his name is cleared. But Zach has never followed the rules, and he wants Jane Chance for his own.

If that means blazing his way into London society, in whatever guise suits him, that’s what he’ll do. Jane knows she shouldn’t fall in love with this unreliable, if devastatingly attractive, rogue. But Zach is determined–and he’s a man accustomed to getting what he wants.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? I already have The Spring Bride loaded to my e-reader and with a few quick clickety-clicks you could have this charming book too. Try those good people at Booktopia, Bookworld or Angus & Robertson. Or visit Book Depository, Amazon.comAmazon.au, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, Fishpond, Boomerang Books, or your favourite book retailer.

All loaded up with some spring goodness? Great. Now get some jelly in your belly with Anne!

A Retro Wonder

I made these recently to take to a friend’s birthday party. I was going to make something savoury, but I’ve known this woman since she was 15, so I decided to make something fun and yummy and retro. They proved a big hit.

Cup cakes are very fashionable, but for my money these are more delicious and fun. And surprisingly easy to make. The hardest part is getting the jelly at the right texture, and that’s all a matter of timing. And I had to buy a new patty pan tin because Mum’s old one was all rusty.

Jelly Cakes

Makes up to 30 or more little cakes, depending how you fill the patty pans.

Anne Gracie's Jelly Cakes

The cakes:

60g butter, softened

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup caster sugar

1 cup self-raising flour

2/3 cup milk

The coating:

85g packet raspberry jelly crystals (any flavour will work, though)

1 cup boiling water

2/3 cup cold water

3 cups desiccated coconut

The filling:

Lashings of whipped cream (a 300ml container of thickened cream is plenty)

Method:

1) Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 12 hole shallow patty-pan tin (1.5 tablespoon capacity) or a gem-iron pan. (If you don’t have one, a cup cake or small muffin pan might do)

2) Cream butter and sugar with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Add in egg, a little at a time, beating until well combined.

3) With a big spoon, gently fold in half the flour and half the milk. Repeat until remaining flour and milk is used up.

Jelly cake batter

4) Spoon mixture into patty pans. Bake for 10 — 15  minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool cakes on a wire rack. (Cakes can be frozen in this state and kept for coating later.)

Jelly cakes ready to bake

Baked, un-iced jelly cakes

5) Make the jelly in a big shallow bowl. Stir jelly crystals and boiling water together until crystals are dissolved. Mix in the cold water. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until cold and slightly thick. (*This is the trickiest part. It needs to be the texture of unbeaten egg white.  Too runny and it soaks into the cake, too thick and it won’t coat the cakes at all. Check frequently. If too solid sit the bowl in some hot water to reverse the setting process. Or maybe zap it in the microwave.)

Jelly cakes being coated in jelly

6) Place coconut into a large bowl. Make like lamingtons — coating each cake in jelly, then rolling in coconut. Pop them into the fridge for half an hour or so to let the jelly set.

Jelly cakes being rolled in coconut

You can serve the cakes like this or fill them with cream, which is decadent and delicious and as far as I’m concerned traditional.

7) I put the jelly-and-coconutted cakes in a large plastic container, and keep overnight or until an hour or two before I want to serve them in. (You can freeze them at this point, too, I believe.)

Place jelly cakes into the fridge

8) Whip cream. Carefully slice the top off each cake and place large blob of cream on the inside. Replace top of cake. That’s it.

Anne Gracie's Jelly Cakes

When you’ve finished creaming all the cakes, eat the wonkiest looking one — you owe it to your guests to make sure the cakes are fit to be eaten. 😉 Put the remainder in the fridge. Then resist temptation firmly, or else there will be no cakes left!

A bitten-into jelly cake

Oh, these are brilliant, Anne! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. Jelly cakes were such a favourite growing up and you don’t see then often now, certainly not  home-made ones, which are the only ones to have. Love the step-by-step instructions too. Very helpful.

Now for the bit we all adore. Yes, Feasty lovelies, Anne has offered a…

GIVEAWAY!

But of course you’re going to have to work for it. Not very hard though, I promise. Today your task is to choose which cover of The Spring Bride you prefer most and why. So… does the Australian version do it for you?

1SpringBrideAussieMed

Or the US version?

US Cover of The Spring Bride by Anne Gracie

Me? I love the covers of both. They both sing spring, but I have to admit that the US version is the one I like best. Her dress is stunning!

So what about you? Reveal which cover you prefer and why and we’ll pop you into the draw to win a copy of The Spring BridThe. Just the thing to enjoy with a cuppa and a sweet jelly cake.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 2nd June 2015. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Anne and her gorgeous books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter using @AnneGracie, and the totally fabulous WordWenches blog.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with D.B. Tait

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Welcome to another round of total deliciousness that is Friday Feast. This week: crimes, passion(fruit) and a giveaway!

But first, the segment formerly known as Us Heins Weren’t Mean To Play Golf. I say formerly because in a miracle moment, caused by who knows what, I played an absolute blinder. And when I say blinder, I mean smacking it like an ‘A’ grader blinder. It was, dare I say, a fiiiine thing. Perhaps a little too fine because that burst of unprecedented form cost me two whole strokes off my handicap. Expect a giant crash next week as I panic trying to play to it. Sigh.

Never mind. Off we trip to much more exciting things.

Author DB TaitI’m thrilled to bits to be introducing you to a brand spanking new author this week. Well, not completely brand new, because this author has appeared on Friday Feast in the guise of her alter ego Keziah Hill.

But that doesn’t make me any less delighted to introduce you to Australian crime author DB Tait. A lady who not only writes wonderfully, but really knows her stuff thanks to a long career working in the criminal justice system. DB now lives in the beautiful Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, where works part time in the community sector and writes super-exciting crime novels.

DB’s upcoming release is Cold Deception. Take a look.

COLD DECEPTION

Cover of Cold Deception by DB TaitSecrets, lies, deception. That’s what it takes to stay alive.

At 20, Julia Taylor went to prison for murdering a man who deserved it. Ten years later, she’s ready to put the past behind her and get on with her life. But someone won’t let her.

Someone will do anything to drive Julia away, including murder.

As the body count rises, Julia is forced to accept the help of Dylan Andrews, a cop with dark secrets of his own. Unfortunately help has a cost. Dylan is digging into Julia’s past, uncovering secrets she is desperate to keep.

Julia must keep Dylan at a distance, or else risk her own safety, and the safety of everyone she loves…

What a ride that sounds! I’m really looking forward to reading this one and already have it pre-ordered. You can do the same. Simply clickety-click over to Amazon, Amazon.au, Amazon.uk, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, or your favourite ebook retailer and add it to your list. Come March 12th it’ll then be all secure on your ereader, tablet, phone or computer. Too easy!

Set? Excellent. Now please give a big Feasty welcome to DB Tait!

Mood Food

Cathryn bellisima! Thank you for having me!

Food is definitely a passion of mine. I like to eat. I’m not a bad cook, but I definitely prefer to eat. Which for a writer is a bit of a disaster, especially if exercise consists of crossing the lounge room to look up a reference book or going out to check the mail.

Food is also comfort for me, which of course all sensible dietary advice tells us is bad. Bad. Very bad. Nevertheless, I am shameless when it comes to wanting food to lift my mood. I often wonder what life would be like without the pleasure of chocolate, the tangy rush of lemon or the nutty, earthy taste of garlic. I am fortunate to be able to indulge my love of mood altering food in my kitchen whenever I want.

That’s not the case with some women. If you are unfortunate to end up in prison, like my heroine Julia, food is something that other people control. Which is why most people in prison become obsessed with food. Correctional administrators know that food is vital in the ongoing stability of prison life. As you can imagine, it’s basic and can be pretty terrible. Inmates can buy extra food if they have the money, but no juices, citrus fruit or sugar, only artificial sweeteners. That’s because alcohol can be fermented from citrus and sugar.

However, by the time a prisoner gets to minimum security and can see release is getting closer, food can improve, mainly because in some jails, it’s easier for inmates to make their own food. For women in jail, a favourite dessert was making caramel from boiled condensed milk. Comfort food par excellence.

Rather than boiling condensed milk, which I’m always a bit nervous about, I make a passionfruit slice (which my friend Kandy Shepherd is particularly fond of).

Sometimes when I make this slice I remember some of the women I met when I worked in the jail system and hope they’re out, crime and drug free and cooking with sugar and citrus in their own kitchens, like Julia.

This recipe is straight from taste.com.au

Passionfruit Slice

Passionfruit slice

Melted butter, to grease

150g (1 cup) self-raising flour

85g (1 cup) desiccated coconut

100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar

100g butter, melted

1 x 395g can sweetened condensed milk

125ml (1/2 cup) fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons passionfruit pulp

Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush a 16 x 26cm (base measurement) slab pan with melted butter to lightly grease. Line the base and 2 long sides with non-stick baking paper, allowing the sides to overhang.

Use a wooden spoon to combine the flour, coconut, sugar and butter in a bowl. Use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl. Transfer to the prepared pan. Use a metal spoon to press firmly over the base. Bake for 12 minutes or until light golden. Set aside to cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 150°C. Mix together the condensed milk, lemon juice and passionfruit pulp in a large bowl until smooth and well combined. Pour into the pan and spread evenly over the base. Bake in oven for 15 minutes until just firm to the touch. Set aside to cool completely. I like drizzling some more passionfruit pulp on top. Cut into squares to serve.

 

What a blast from the past! I remember having this as a kid at Pony Club when all the mums would bring a plate for afternoon tea. There were some serious plates on offer too. I bet this recipe would be right at home. Mind you, anything with condensed milk in it…

Thanks so much for sharing, DB. And for telling us about food in the correctional services. Very educational.

Now, as you know, Friday Feast guests are very generous souls, and DB is no exception, which is why she’s offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, you could be the lucky winner of an ebook copy of DB’s exciting crime novel, Cold Deception. But as always, you must work for it. This time we want to know your favourite mood food.

What puts you in a happy mood, or even a bad one? Or perhaps a sexy one…

The food guaranteed to make me one happy little Vegemite is a fresh rice noodle dish that I make. It’s made with chilli bean paste and seriously cannot get enough of it. Every time I eat it, it’s like the world has turned marvellous. And hot. It’s a bit spicy, that dish. I’ve also been known to get hot and bothered over a big bowl of beautiful cherries but that’s another tale…

My other half swears that vegetarian meals ruin his day. I just have to think “meatless dinner” and he’s condemned.

What about you? What food changes your mood, for the better or worse?

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 3rd March 2015. Ebook only. Open internationally. Rah!

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Sue who has won a copy of DB Tait’s new crime novel, Cold Deception. Thanks to all who joined in the mouthwatering fun. 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Alissa Callen

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Hello, my Friday-loving lovelies, and welcome to another mouth-watering edition of everyone’s favourite food series, Friday Feast!

Things have calmed down a little at Chez Hein now that the initial flurry of Rocking Horse Hill release run-around has passed, which means I can now concentrate better on other things, like my darling Sydney Swans and golf. My boys had a most excellent win last week in the footy. I, in golf, did not. Well, not when it counted. Whupped butt ANZAC day when I went out for a practice hit and then it all fell apart in the comp on Sunday. Sigh.

However, all going well this afternoon I’ll become the proud owner of a new 3 wood…

Speaking of afternoon delights, this week’s guest has some beautiful afternoon tea recipes to Author Alissa Callenshare. A born and bred country girl living in the central west of NSW, Alissa Callen’s books are a wonderful addition to the rural romance genre. It’s in the sweeping Australian countryside and small rural towns that she knows so well that Alissa sets her stories. What Love Sounds Like is out in ebook right now, while the first book in her Red Dust Outback series, Beneath Outback Skies, has just hit the shelves in paperback.

The second in the Red Dust Outback series released this week. Check out Down Outback Roads.

DOWN OUTBACK ROADS

Cover of Down Outback Roads by Alissa CallenSometimes you need to give yourself permission to fall in love.

Kree Garrett’s younger brother Seth is all the family she has left, so when he goes missing in the Australian outback, she doesn’t think twice about leaving her American home to find him. When Seth is rescued Kree vows to find a way to thank the small town of Glenalla. It isn’t long before she falls in love with the tight-knit rural community. But is it really the town she’s falling for?

Ewan Mackenzie has given up everything for his brother’s family, but he can never give enough to assuage his guilt at what happened one dark night, years ago . . . Ewan knows he doesn’t deserve a second chance at happiness, but when beautiful, open-hearted Kree stays to fight to save his home town, he finds it hard to keep his distance.

Can Kree and Ewan leave their pasts behind for long enough to find a future together?

Doesn’t that sound romantic? Ahh. Makes my heart all a-flutter reading that. You can own a copy right now with just a few clickety-clicks. Purchase your ebook copy of Down Outback Roads from Amazon for Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now settle back with cuppa and munch on this!

Afternoon Tea Treats with Alissa Callen

In my new release, Down Outback Roads, I had so much fun using food as a way to integrate the two different worlds of my main characters. Kree Garrett is from the Rocky Mountains in America while Ewan Mackenzie is from the small rural town of Glenalla, Australia.

Kree quickly develops a liking for iconic Aussie lamingtons while Ewan, who initially can’t bring himself to eat peanut butter with chocolate, crosses to the dark side and tries American peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. Much to the delight of his small twin nephews, quietly-spoken Darby and mischievous Braye, he finds the cookies not only edible but also delicious and goes back for seconds.

Lamingtons

Lamingtons

1 plain and unfilled sponge or vanilla cake cut into squares. Can be made from scratch, a packet mix or purchased.

Chocolate icing:

2 ½ cups icing sugar/mixture

¼ cup cocoa powder

2/3 cup warm water

Sift together dry ingredients, whisk in water until smooth.

Tip 2 cups desiccated coconut into a wide-mouthed bowl.

Roll chocolate-covered cake in coconut until evenly coated.

Lamingtons can also be sliced and filled with whipped cream or jam before being rolled in the chocolate icing and coconut.

Allow to set and then enjoy 🙂

 

 Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut butter and choc chip cookies

1 cup of peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)

1 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix first four ingredients. Drop small spoonfuls of mixture onto a lined biscuit tray, keeping in mind the cookies will spread. Press in the chocolate chips onto the cookie tops. Bake in a moderate oven until golden.

For the batch in the photo my kids substituted small chocolate m and m’s instead of chocolate chips.

 

Deeeeelicious, Alissa! As one would expect from a country gal. And who can go past lamingtons? My other half turns into the Cookie Monster whenever he spies a plate. They are the perfect morning or afternoon tea treat.

Now, speaking of treats…

GIVEAWAY!

Alissa has very generously offered one lucky reader the chance to win a Kindle copy of her charming and heart-warming book What Love Sounds Like, featuring a an outback based Cover of What Love Sounds Like by Alissa Callenspeech pathologist, a man who believes money is as important as breathing, and a little girl who will bring them together.

To be in the giveaway, simply reveal what sweet treat you enjoy from another country.

That’s an easy one for me. Baklava! This Greek treat is such a favourite, with its sticky syrup, nutty layers and beautiful pastry. Gawd, I really want a piece now!

What about you? Maybe a traditional Devonshire tea is your go. Perhaps pecan pie from the US or an Italian canoli. There’s a whole world of sweet treats out there. Share your favourite and you’ll go into the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 6th May 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

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

FRIDAY FEAST with Alissa Callen

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As you know, I’m always thrilled to introduce new authors on Friday Feast. It never ceases to amaze me how much talent we have in Australia, especially in the romance writing community, and I want everyone to know and Author Alissa Callen relaxing with a bookcelebrate it too.

This week I’m delighted to present Alissa Callen who has had a fabulous start to 2013 by releasing not one, but two novels, both of which have received wonderful reviews. January saw the release of What Love Sounds Like, followed closely in February with her captivating rural romance, Beneath Outback Skies. Talk about hitting the ground running.

Alissa is a farm girl who, after living overseas, now calls the central west of N.S.W. home and where life is kept very busy with four children, three dogs, two horses and a renegade cow.

Alissa also runs a great Facebook page called Books For Country Girls and Guys. If you’re a fan of rural romance, this page is not to be missed.

I have no doubt we’ll be hearing a lot more from Alissa in the future. In the meantime, take a look at Beneath Outback Skies. Love that cover!

 

BENEATH OUTBACK SKIES

 

Book cover of Beneath Outback Skies by Alissa CallenPaige Quinn will let nothing and no one distract her from caring for her wheelchair-bound father, Connor, and fighting for her remote, drought-stricken property, Banora Downs. Least of all a surprise farm-stay guest named Tait Cavanaugh, whose smooth words are as lethal as his movie-star smile. Except Paige can’t help noticing that, for a city-boy, Tait seems unexpectedly at home on the land. And he does ask a lot of questions…It doesn’t matter how much he helps out or how much laughter he brings into her life, she soon suspects he is harbouring a big secret – the real reason he has come to Banora Downs…

 

How cool does that sound! And the ebook can be yours in just a few clickety-clicks. Try Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, Amazon (for Kindle), and iTunes. You can also find a list of retailers at publisher Random House.

Now grab yourself a napkin (you’ll need it to wipe up your drools) and enjoy Alissa!

 

Friday Afternoon Tea Feast with Alissa Callen

 

It’s no secret I’ve a sweet tooth. It’s also no secret I read the desert menu first to know how much room to leave. So it’s no surprise my Friday feast recipes require chocolate.

I blame living in America for my obsession with chocolate chip cookies (and with Reese’s peanut butter cups – but that’s another story) and over the years have accrued a collection of recipes. This particular cookie recipe uses condensed milk which results in a decadent and creamy dough that is a treat within itself.

Chocolate chip cookie dough mixture

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

250 gm melted butter

2/3 cup sugar

1 tin condensed milk (I use condensed skim-milk)

3 1/2 cups of SR flour

250 gm chocolate chips (white, milk, dark, caramel or a combination)

Mix all ingredients in bowl by hand. Roll into small balls and press onto a greased or paper lined tray. Cook in an 180C oven until slightly golden. Left over mixture will thicken so cover bowl with tea towel or plate to prevent dough from drying out.

Afternoon tea with baked chocolate chip cookies

Another family afternoon tea favourite that again involves chocolate is banana and chocolate chip muffins. Packed with banana, cinnamon, egg and milk and with a reduced sugar content they are more nice than naughty.

Banana and Chocolate Chip muffins

1 ½ cups SR flour

¼ tsp bicarb of soda

½ tsp cinnamon

½ cup brown sugar

1 ripe mashed banana

100gm chocolate chips (white, milk, dark, caramel or a combination)

¼ cup vegetable oil

¾ cup milk

1 egg

Sift SR flour, bicarb of soda and cinnamon into bowl. Add brown sugar. Or just throw all 4 dry ingredients into food processor. Add rest of ingredients and stir until just combined. If using food processer add everything but chocolate chips. Add them in at end and stir by hand.

Spoon into greased or paper lined muffin tin. Bake in a hot oven 210C until golden.

A display of banana and choc chip muffins

Happy baking 🙂

 

Ha! I told you that you’d need that napkin to mop up your drools. Don’t those muffins and biscuits look amazing? Just the thing to satisfy an afternoon hunger.

Thanks so much, Alissa. Wonderful post.

Now, lovely Feasters, what is your all-time favourite afternoon tea treat? Are you a humble scone lover? Perhaps a brownie is your go (check out the Friday Feast index for some seriously decadent recipes), or maybe you prefer a delicate cucumber sandwich or smoked salmon blini. Let us know. Curious minds are, well, curious!

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

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Jenny Schwarz

Happy Friday and welcome to another fabulous edition of Friday Feast. And what a treat we have this week!

Break out the good china and cock those pinkies because Carina Press author and proud West Australian Jenny Schwarz is here to talk about that most delicious and civilised of traditions, afternoon tea.

Jenny has the most marvellous book out at the moment. It’s a steampunk. Don’t know what steampunk is? Think a Victorian-era parallel world full of brilliant contraptions and technology advanced way beyond what we understand from the time, sometimes even beyond our own modern technology. A great example is the graphic novel series and film, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but there are many more. Google and ye shall find.

But you know what makes Jenny’s book different and even more exciting? It’s Australian steampunk. How cool is that!

Check it out…

Wanted: One Scoundrel

All suffragette Esme Smith wants is a man. A scoundrel to be precise. Someone who can be persuaded to represent her political views at men-only clubs. As the daughter of the richest man in Australia, Esme can afford to make it worth the right man’s while.

 

Fresh off the boat, American inventor Jed Reeve is intrigued by Esme’s proposal, but even more interested in the beauty herself. Amused that she takes him for a man who lives by his wits, he accepts the job—made easier by the fact that he already shares her ideals. Soon, he finds himself caught up in political intrigue, kidnapping and blackmail, and trying to convince his employer he’s more than just a scoundrel…

Isn’t that fantastic? Definitely one for the to-be-read pile and available right now with a speedy click.

As usual I’ve rabbited on far too much, so time for me to shut up and hand you over to Jenny.

Hi, Cathryn!

Thanks for inviting me to Friday Feast. I’m here to celebrate the joys of afternoon tea, memory and writers’ inspiration—plus Mum’s custard sponge cake recipe 🙂

Last year I wrote a steampunk story, Wanted: One Scoundrel set in Western Australia during the goldrush of 1895. Back then, WA was known as the Swan River Colony and ambitious and/or desperate men from the eastern colonies flooded over here to try their luck. My great-granddad was one of them.

Strangely, when I wrote my history-with-a-twist story I didn’t realise great-granddad had arrived in the state that early or that my great-grandma had grown up here. Amazing what you can find out with three tools: Google search, Births, Deaths and Marriages registers and Trove.

But as I thought about my family history I realised that its traditions had been the basis for the afternoon tea scene in Wanted: One Scoundrel. Not that my family were rich—far from it! Great-granddad worked on the railways. But they did enjoy their afternoon tea.

As a kid in the ’70s and ’80s I grew up with Sunday afternoon tea at Grandma’s every other week. Three generations of an extended family would gather around Grandma’s kitchen table to eat, talk and then wander around the garden for more talking!

Social commentators and historians label things “colonial” or “interwar” or “modern”, but in real life, people don’t stop doing something just because the calendar or century has changed. I grew up with the experience of a working class Sunday afternoon tea tradition that started in the colonial days—and it was fun.

The best days were in winter. Grandma had a wood stove and I was allowed to feed it. Once tea was made in a big brown teapot and covered in a tea cosy to steep, another kettle of water was kept simmering on the stove for top ups. We ate scones—yes, even pumpkin ones!—sandwiches (ham and tomato, which when I think about it, maybe went all the way back to great-granddad’s habit of raising his own pigs and smoking his own ham), various biscuits and cakes that changed over time, but I really remember the lamingtons.

Ah, lamingtons. Mum experimented with them once. She’s Polish—which means an entirely different food tradition that Dad’s family never adjusted to. She used a light cupcake mix in place of the traditional sponge cake. It made dipping the squares in the chocolate syrupy mess and then in the coconut much easier. I wonder if anyone has ever taken that idea to the next step and made lamington cupcakes, dipping the mini-cakes?

But when I look back at childhood cakes, my favourite has to be Mum’s custard sponge. Even now, she still uses it as the basis for her famous Christmas trifle. The recipe is decades old, so I’ve no idea where she found it—apologies if I’m trespassing on someone’s copyright, but here is the yummy recipe.

Custard Sponge Cake

Oven temp: Heat oven to 220C (reduced to 160C when cake goes in)

4 eggs

6 oz sugar

4 oz custard powder

1 oz plain flour

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda

2 tablespoons water


Beat eggs and sugar together till thick and creamy, add water and continue beating for a few minutes. While the lovely mix master beats the concoction, sift the dry ingredients together 3 or 4 times then fold gently into the beaten concoction. Pour into a 9 inch greased tin. Heat oven to 220C then reduce to 160C when the cake goes in. Bake for 30 minutes. Don’t let anyone jump up and down in front of the oven during baking, though this actually a fairly robust sponge. Store in fridge, or better yet, in tummy!

I hope I’ve stirred up your memories of afternoon teas and childhood treats. I’d love to go all nostalgic with you, so please share them! Chocolate crackles, anyone? And looking to the future, well, how can we resist afternoon tea at the Writer’s Bar at the Raffles in Singapore? One day…when I’m rich and famous…or when I win Lotto…I hope to see you there!

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Well, I can vouch for this cake because I made it yesterday and it turned out lovely, as you can see from the pics above and to the right. Naturally, I then had to make pot of tea cut myself a slice for my morning break. Gorgeous flavour and wonderfully light texture. I’ll be making this again and perhaps using it in a trifle as Jenny mentioned. Hmm…

Thank you so much for coming on Friday Feast, Jenny. It’s been a delight.

Does any else have any afternoon tea or childhood treat traditions? Honey crackles are mine. Oh, I LOVED those, and don’t get me started on caramel tart. To this day I still can’t resist its sticky sweet lusciousness. What triggers your childhood memories and turns you gooey with want? Please share. We’d love to hear.

If you would like to hear more about Jenny and her wonderful Australian steampunk and paranormal romances, please visit her website. You can also connect via Twitter, Facebook and Google+