Tag Archives: Bookworld

FRIDAY FEAST with Jaye Ford

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WHAT A DAY! Not only do we have the most splendiferous of authors guesting today on Friday Feast, plus a gobsmacker of a giveway, my beloved Sydney Swans play the Kangaroos in the AFL Preliminary Final tonight. WHAT EXCITEMENT!

Things may get verra, verra rowdy in the Hein house. You have been warned.

Now, seeing as my darling boys had last week off, you’re stuck with Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news. In an astonishing development, apparently I won my club’s Div 2 Weekend Golf NSW Women’s Golf Medal. I know, I know. I’m amazed too. But it means I now have to toddle Author Jaye Fordoff to the final and try not embarrass myself by playing like a 45 handicapper. Fortunately I have many weeks to work myself into nervous wreckage. Or get back into form. My money’s on the former…

Okay, let’s get down to why we’re really here: for the woman whose books I can’t get enough of even though they give me anxiety attacks. Jaye Ford has rapidly become one of my absolute favourite thriller authors. Her debut, Beyond Fear, was a triumph. Scared Yet was a heart-pumper of a read, and this week I finished Blood Secret which scared the pants off me and I loved every damn moment.

Jaye’s latest release is Already Dead. I cannot wait!

ALREADY DEAD

Cover of Already Dead by Jaye FordMiranda shrank away from him, arm pressed to the driver’s door. ‘What’s your name?’

‘I’m already dead. That’s my name now. That’s what they called me. I’m Already Dead.’

Journalist Miranda Jack is finally attempting to move on from the death of her husband by relocating up the coast with her young daughter, Zoe. Then a single event changes everything.

On a Monday afternoon as she waits at traffic lights, a stranger jumps into her car and points a gun at her chest.

Forced to drive at high speed up the motorway, Miranda listens to the frantic, paranoid rants of Brendan Walsh, a man who claims he’s being chased and that they’re both now running for their lives.

Two hours later her ordeal is over in the most shocking fashion. Miranda is safe but she can’t simply walk away – not without knowing the truth about that terrifying drive.

As a journalist Miranda has always asked questions. But this time the questions are dangerous – and the answers might get her killed . . .

Wow. This one sounds amazing, and Already Dead can be yours right now with a few clickety-clicks. Try Booktopia, Bookworld, Abbey’s BookshopAngus & Robertson, QBD The Bookshop, your favourite independent bookshop or chain store. For the ebook, visit Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, eBooks.com, JB Hi-Fi or your preferred retailer.

Enjoy your time with Jaye!

Putting a Spargel in my eye!

I’ve always been a fan of asparagus. As a kid, it was one of those ‘special’ foods, the kind that came out for guests, usually for ladies lunches or when mum was taking her turn hosting the ‘card girls’. I’d come home from school and the leftover finger foods would be laying around for the taking while they finished their last hand – slice and homemade chocolate things and delicate sandwiches.

Call me weird but I loved the asparagus rolls the best – a slice of soft white bread (crust removed), smeared with butter and folded around a single spear of (canned) asparagus, like a baby wrapped in a blanket … and stabbed through with a toothpick.

Asparagus rollsThese days, I’ve always got a container of canned asparagus in the fridge. I love the fresh stuff but it’s expensive – yesterday I picked up two bunches (a dozen spears) for $4! So you can imagine my joy when I was in Munich earlier in the year and discovered I’d arrived in the middle of the white asparagus season … and that the Bavarians truly love their asparagus!

Spargel stall

So I’ve got to explain – white asparagus is like the beer-swilling, steroid-using Goliath of the asparagus family. It’s huge – tall, fat, fleshy and, well, pasty white. It has to be peeled before it’s cooked because the outer flesh is tough and woody. Called Spargel in German and sometimes referred to as White Gold or the royal vegetable, the early shoots are covered over with soil to starve them of light, which produces the ivory colour.

Sign advertising seasonal spargel

 

During Spargelzeit (asparagus time), it’s sold on the street from fruit and veg vendors straight from the farms, stacked in great mounds like a whole lot of felled trees. It coincides with vegetable stallstrawberry season and I saw wagons everywhere with gorgeous red and white displays, always with a queue of customers. Both items are outrageously cheap – the asparagus sells for about $5 a kilo and the huge local strawberries are less than a dollar for an equally huge punnet. And of course, I wanted to try some Spargel.

The restaurants have special Spargelkarte – asparagus menus – for the couple of months its available, often advertised on boards in the street. You can pretty much eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, if you wanted to, with hollandaise or pork medallions or chicken breast, More spargel 2.0eggs, potato … you name it. Lemon and butter with lots of cracked pepper, mmm thanks. It’s mild in flavour, surprisingly tender without the stringy texture of its smaller, green cousin and just sops up the flavours around it.

I wanted to have a go at cooking it but it’s best done with an asparagus pot, a tall, narrow pot with a lid and a basket for keeping the spears upright. I was all for buying said cool equipment but, yeah, what was I going to do with it when I got it home? So I can’t give you a brilliant and mouth-watering recipe – what would you do with it anyway? But I’ve got pictures of this amazing vegetable … hope you enjoy them!

 

Those pictures are beautiful, Jaye. Who wouldn’t want to scoff spargel or munch down on juicy strawbs after seeing those? Asparagus with hollandaise, now there’s one to get me excited. Or asparagus served with a softly poached egg and parmesan. Love that. Such a pity my other half doesn’t. Sigh.

Anyway,  enough lamenting the poor tastebuds of my darling beloved, let’s get onto something super exciting. Yes, Feasty lovelies, Jaye has a…

GIVEAWAY!

And what a cracker it is too. This is your chance for a thrill-ride like no other. Simply reveal what holiday food has sent you into a spin but you just can’t get at home and you’ll go into the draw to win a copy of Already Dead.

For me it’d have to be foie gras. A crusty baguette, a pot of fatty goose liver and glass of something fizzy and I’m a content girl. I have seen it in Australia but it’s not the same as buying your own straight from a Perigord processor or a specialist store in Paris. In France I also enjoyed these delicious tiny squid called soupions. I’m sure something similar is available in Australia – we have amazing seafood after all – but I haven’t noticed any.

So what’s a holiday food you’ve had but can’t easily get at home? Something unusual and wonderful from Asia perhaps? Maybe an American speciality, or something fascinating from Africa. Or perhaps it’s simply the fish and chips like no other from the shop opposite your favourite Aussie beach. Share and we’ll pop you into the Already Dead giveaway.

Giveaway closes Midnight Tuesday AEST, 23rd September 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Jaye and her amazing books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Twitter using @JayeFordAuthor and on Facebook.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Andrea who has won a copy of Jaye’s Already Dead. A thrill ride awaits! Thanks to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun. See you next time!

FRIDAY FEAST with Anna Campbell

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Now this is an exciting Friday. Not only do we have a most awesome author as guest, with all sorts of indulgent delights and a giveaway, it’s also Book Expo Australia weekend and the final round of the AFL season (for international visitors, that’s our beloved Australian Rules Football).

All happening!

But first, AFL. Have you seen where my darling Sydney Swans are perched? Yes, there they are at the top of the ladder looking magnificent. With the finals just around the corner I’m gathering all my lucky Swans charms, including my knitted octopus and gnome, and rubbing their bellies for luck to ensure we suffer no injuries before the finals. And that we win against Richmond Saturday night, of course!

Author Anna Campbell

Photo courtesy of Robyn Hills www.robyngraphs.com.au

If you’re in Sydney on Saturday and Sunday, take a trip out to the showgrounds for Book Expo Australia where you’ll find panels, talks, the Australian Romance Readers Association stand and more. I’m on two romance panels on Sunday, at 10-30am and 3-45pm, as well as feature author on the ARRA stand from 2-30 to 3-30pm. Come say hello.

And now to one of my favourite Friday Feast guests ever, Anna Campbell, also known affectionately as the Romance Queen for her multiple ARR Awards and other accolades. And let’s not forget brilliant Regency romances. Anna’s latest has just hit the shelves and as a total fan girl I cannot wait to get stuck in. Take a look…

WHAT A DUKE DARES

Cover of What a Duke Dares by Anna CampbellA reputation at risk

What woman in her right mind would say no to marrying the dashing Duke of Sedgemoor? Miss Penelope Thorne, that’s who. She’s known Camden Rothermere since they were children – and she also knows she’d bring nothing but scandal to his name.

Cam can hardly believe Penelope turned down his proposal. But if she wants to run off to the Continent and set the rumor mill ablaze, he can’t stop her. Then her brother’s dying request sends him to bring home the one woman he thought he’d finally gotten over.

The only way they’ll both get back to London without their reputations in tatters is to pretend they’re married during the journey. That means kissing like they mean it and even sharing a bed – until it becomes hard to tell where the game ends and true desire begins…

Oh, oh, oh. Don’t you just WANT IT NOW! Of course you do, and What a Duke Dares can be yours with just a few simple clicks. Try Booktopia, Bookworld, Book Depository, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, Barnes & Noble or your favourite book store.

Not sure? Then why not read an excerpt to see what wonders awaits.

Now let’s go dancing with Anna.

Having a Ball with the Duke!

Cathryn, it’s always a pleasure to be here to do a Friday Feast post and to talk about my latest release. Thank you again for inviting me!

My new book (out 26th August from HarperCollins Australia and Grand Central Forever in North America) WHAT A DUKE DARES starts out as a road-trip romance as the Duke of Sedgemoor (the daring duke of the title) reluctantly escorts his childhood bugbear Penelope Thorne back to England from Italy. But most of the book takes place in England, allowing me to have fun with high society life during the glittering London Season.

Rogue from GCP siteNot only that, I get to talk about clothes (my heroine’s dress sense plays quite a large part in this story) and sparkling jewels and dancing the night away in the arms of a handsome rake or two. I haven’t had the chance to go wild in society since MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION. The two earlier Sons of Sin books, SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED and A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS, take place out in the English countryside so nobody gets to go to the ball.

I always loved reading the ball scenes in Georgette Heyer when I was a girl (still do). There’s something so glamorous about the gleam of candlelight and an orchestra playing a waltz, which at this stage was still considered a touch scandalous, and ladies dressed up to the nines in silks and satins. Not to mention all those elegant gentlemen in their black and white.

Rake AmazonDuring the London season, most balls didn’t start until 10pm, giving guests the chance to have dinner first. In fact, being invited to dinner at the hostess’s home before the larger entertainment was considered a signal mark of honor. Then the party would continue until around 3am. No wonder those Regency girls all slept in so late!

Around midnight, a lavish supper would be served in a separate room (you needed a big house to do this properly!). Wine and champagne would flow, and also punch and popular Regency drinks like ratafia and orgeat. Webster’s defines ratafia as “a liqueur made from an infusion of macerated fruit or fruit juice in a liquor (as brandy) and often flavored with almonds.” Orgeat (which was pronounced or-zha, think Zsa-Zsa Gabor) is another almond concoction made with an enormous amount of sugar.

Pardon me, but I think both of these sound quite revolting and I’ll stick to the champagne. At the famous Almack’s rooms, they only served lukewarm lemonade! Something many a Regency hero complains about when he needs to seek a wife in that temple of the aristocratic marriage mart.

The Great Lobster CookbookThe food for supper was a mixture of sweet and savory and there was usually vast amounts of it, including quite substantial items like roast chicken or lamb, pies, seafood, and vegetables. Something that has intrigued me ever since my first Georgette Heyer was the lobster patties that her heroines nibble on. Partly because they sounded scrumptious.

So today I went on the hunt for a lobster patty recipe. This, with some tweaks, is the best one I found. It sounds like a lobster-filled vol-au-vent, which makes sense if you’re in your good clothes, I suppose, although I’d always imagined something a little more like a Thai fish cake.

I hope if you hold a ball and serve these luscious delicacies that you’ll remember to invite me!

Lobster Patties

Ingredients:

8 oz. (225g) flaky pastry

8 oz. (225g) cooked lobster meat

quarter pint (125ml) thick white sauce

1 tbsp. cream

pinch of paprika

1 tsp. chopped parsley

salt and pepper

beaten egg to glaze

squeeze of lemon juice

Cooking Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 450F/230C ,Gas Mark 7.

Roll pastry thinly and cut into 3 inch (7.5 cm.) rounds.

Line some fairly deep patty tins with half the rounds.

Add the chopped lobster to the white sauce, cream, lemon juice, seasonings and parsley.

Put a spoonful of the mixture into each patty case, moisten the edge of the pastry and put another round on top, pressing the edges well together.

Crimp the edges and make a hole in the top of each patty with a skewer and brush over with a little beaten egg.

Bake for about 20 minutes in the pre-heated oven.

ENJOY!

Don’t those sound delicious? No wonder Regency heroines can’t get enough of them! I can’t offer anyone today a lobster patty in the mail – I suspect food poisoning might be an issue. Or perhaps hungry postmen! But if you comment on this post, you’ll go in the draw to win a signed print copy of WHAT A DUKE DARES.

Did you hear that, Feasty lovelies? Darling Anna is offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

But as always you’ll have to do a little smidgin of work and answer this simple question from Anna:

Lobster patties sound pretty delicious and decadent to me. What’s the most deliciously decadent thing you’ve ever eaten and where did you eat it?

Ooh! Decadent food, where to start! I was lucky enough to dine with friends at a two-star Michelin restaurant in France. We were so spoiled! We even had our own water waiter, with a choice of waters. The canapés were amazing, the veal I ate sublime. It was all very indulgent, and wallet draining, but we couldn’t help it. We were in France! Sometimes you have to do these things!

So what about you? Perhaps you’ve scoffed truffles in Tuscany, or caviar while dining alongside the Caspian sea. Maybe it was prawns in Australia’s top end. Or the seriously naughty chocolate cake your mum made for your birthday one year. As long as it’s indulgent and special, anything goes!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 2nd September 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Anna and her truly wonderful books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @AnnaCampbellOz and Goodreads.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Pintip, who has won a copy of Anna’s What a Duke Dares and is in for some fabulous reading. Thanks to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun and shared their beautiful and indulgent experiences. You made us all very hungry!

A Taste of The French Prize

Only one week until The French Prize officially hits the shops and I’m suuuuper excited. I adore this story and can’t wait for people to start reading it.

My author copies arrived last week and I’ve spent a rather silly amount of time caressing the cover. The text embossing is beautiful, like glossy white enamel, and I so adore the image of the woman walking through an ancient stone arch.

The publishers, Harlequin, have made the full first chapter available for you to read and enjoy. So if you’d like to taste The French Prize, simply click on the image below and you’ll be whisked away to Olivia’s and Raimund’s world of drama, secrets, danger and legend.

The French Prize chapter sampler

The French Prize is ready for pre-order now from Booktopia, Bookworld, Amazon, Google Play, iBooks, Angus & Robertson, QBD The Bookshop and Fishpond.

If you’d like to learn how I came to write The French Prize then check out The Story Behind page on my website.

And don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter while you’re nosing around to receive notice of all my releases as well as exclusive treats and giveaways.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona Lowe

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And so another fabulous Friday has arrived. What fun! Partly because I get to brag about my darling football team, the Sydney Swans, who won AGAIN last week and remained happily perched at the top of the ladder. I have everything crossed that they won’t fall off!

Speaking of having everything crossed, I’m also hoping that my golfing winning streak will continue. Yes, Feasters, the news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf is good. I had a Author Fiona Lowewin! Still rather flummoxed by this but I’m not complaining. The curse has lifted, if only momentarily. One must enjoy the moment!

A bit like weddings. Things to be savoured and enjoyed. And no one writes a wedding like award-winning Australian author Fiona Lowe. Fiona is an author of over 25 novels, including the Rita® and Ruby award-winning book, Boomerang Bride. Whether her books are set in outback Australia or in the mid-west of the USA, they feature small towns with big hearts, and warm, likeable characters that make you fall in love.

Right now, Fiona has an anthology out: four of her stories repackaged into one wedding filled pack for you to savour. Check it out.

FIONA LOWE’S WEDDINGS

Fiona Lowe's weddings anthologyFour of Fiona’s favourite rural romances republished together in one volume!

They may have sworn off romance but could wedding bells be on the horizon for these couples? In the small outback town of Warragurra, widow Kate Lawson and single dad Baden Tremont fight their feelings for each other, and nurse Emily is vowing she’ll never fall for her playboy boss, Linton. In far north Queensland, doctor Sarah is intrigued by her gorgeous new neighbour, enigmatic surgeon Ryan who’s also a blast from her past. Over in stunning Vietnam, Tom is on a quest to discover his past. Will he also find his future with Bec?

Discover how these couples get their happy ever afters, as Fiona Lowe welcomes you into warm-hearted small communities with stories packed with emotion and sparkling, feel-good romance!  This bundle includes: The Warragurra Duo; A Wedding in Warragurra & The Playboy Doctor’s Marriage Proposal as well as A Woman to Belong To and The Surgeon’s Chosen Wife.

How’s that for a host of hot romance! You’ll be throwing confetti with glee after reading this lot. So why not grab a copy right now from Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Big W ebooksAmazon, iBooks, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi or direct from Mills & Boon. Or hop on down to your local chain store.

Now here’s Fiona.

Country Cooking

As a prelude to my Wedding Fever trilogy, (Saved By The Bride, Picture Perfect Wedding and Runaway Groom), which is hitting Australian, shelves this September, October and Fiona Lowe's WeddingsNovember, Harlequin have re-released three of my Aussie rural medical romances (and one set in Vietnam) in an anthology called, Fiona Lowe’s Weddings.  It includes my Warragurra books…two stories set in a town with a flying doctor’s base. I loved these books and they were the impetus for me to go on and write longer novels. Warragurra is in outback NSW, sheep and cattle country and wholesome country cooking abounds. Given it’s July, and the nights are chilly, I wanted to share a recipe that’s featured in the book and a big fave of mine and the rest of my family…

Apple and Rhubarb Crumble

Apple and rhubarb crumble

A bunch of rhubarb, washed and diced

6 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored and sliced.

A lemon

Either microwave them on the vegetable setting or cook them slowly in a saucepan on a low heat with a tablespoon of water.  When soft, stir and taste…you may wish to add a little sugar. Pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish.

Mix together oats, brown sugar, flour, butter, coconut and seeds…sesame, sunflower, poppy…I add the cape-seed mix I use when I make bread.  Whiz it all together. Place it over the top of the apple and rhubarb mix. Bake for 30 minutes at 180C.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or cream or yoghurt.

The great thing about this recipe is that not only is it a yummy dessert, it makes a fabulous breakfast the next morning!

 

Ahh, crumble. Such a simple but delicious dessert and an absolute crowd-pleaser. Thanks so much for sharing this one, Fiona. I’m going to test it out on the man of the house as part of my quest to find the perfect crumble topping. Apparently last week’s version wasn’t crumbly enough. Hmph.

Do you have a favourite fruit crumble combination? What about a favourite topping? Perhaps you like coconut in yours, or know how to whip up a dead easy topping with muesli? I’d LOVE to hear your suggestions so share away!

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

 

New Cover For PROMISES

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On August 27th, the smaller (and cheaper) ‘B’ format paperback edition of my debut rural romance PROMISES will hit the shelves, complete with a swanky new cover.

Isn’t it lovely? I adored the original with the couple gazing into each other’s eyes, but this one’s gorgeous. Then again, I’m a terrible sucker for a noble headed horse!

Don’t yet own a copy of Promises? Pre-order this new edition from Booktopia or Bookworld. The ebooks are also available right now from Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

 

Promises by Cathryn Hein

A father with something to hide, a jockey with a taste for blackmail, a man with an agonising secret… and a young woman in love, defying them all.

Sophie Dixon is determined to leave her tragic past behind and forge a bright future on her beloved farm. While looking to buy a new horse, she is drawn into her neighbour Aaron Laidlaw’s orbit, despite the bad blood between their families. As the racing season unfolds, Sophie and Aaron’s feelings for each other deepen. But Aaron is torn, haunted by a dark secret he fears can never be forgiven – especially by Sophie.

Sophie believes herself strong, but the truth behind her mother’s death will test her strength, and her love, to the limit. She’s been broken once. No one wants to see her broken again. Least of all the man who has grown to love her.

FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona McArthur

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Hello, lovely readers! I’m very excited about today’s Friday Feast. Always the way when we go a-rural romancing.

But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. I’ve been on a little holiday to SA and Victoria, and managed to sneak in games at a couple of top 100 rated courses, both of which defeated me. Sigh. I blame the cold. Playing in sideways sleeting rain and single digit temperatures doesn’t do much for one’s temper. However, my darling Sydney Swans have been a light, continuing their winning streak with a victory against the GWS Giants. If this keeps up, I’ll really start developing Premiership hopes!

Now to today’s guest, multi-published author Fiona McArthur. Fiona has published 30 novels, been nominated for some of romance writing’s most prestigious awards and sold over two million copies world-wide. She’s also a highly experienced midwife, the author of two ‘Don’t Panic’ guides on birth and writes for Mother and Baby magazine. Impressed? I am! But what I’m really excited by is that she’s now turned her formidable talent to rural romance. The result is a book that’s been garnering amazing reviews and one I very much look forward to reading, Red Sand Sunrise.

Take a look…

RED SAND SUNRISE

CoverCan three sisters save the outback town they’ve grown to love?

When the father she barely knew dies suddenly, midwife Eve Wilson decides she owes it to him to go to the funeral and meet her stepfamily in Red Sand. She doesn’t expect to be so completely charmed by the beautiful remote township in far west Queensland – or by local station owner, Lex McKay. After disappointment and heartbreak in Sydney, Dr Callie Wilson doesn’t hesitate to move home and spend some time with her grieving mother.

When she is approached to oversee the establishment of the area’s first medical clinic, it seems the perfect opportunity. And Callie is keen to involve Eve, the sister she’s just getting to know. Melbourne-based obstetrician Sienna Wilson can’t understand why anyone would want to bury themselves in the outback, but when her hospital sends her north to research the medical mystery affecting women in Red Sand, it seems fate is intent on bringing the three sisters together. And when disaster strikes, they must each decide if being true to themselves means being there for each other…

Red Sand Sunrise is a heartfelt story from an internationally bestselling author. It celebrates the strength of family ties, the renewing power of love, and the passion of ordinary people achieving extraordinary things.

Doesn’t that sound fab? Red Sand Sunrise is on my reading pile and it could be on yours too. Simply zoom down to your favourite bookseller or chain store. Or stay right where you are and purchase with a few clicks. Try Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, QBD The Bookshop, Fishpond, Boomerang Books. For the ebook, visit Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, iBooks, and JB Hi-Fi.

Picnic in Red Sand Sunrise

Thanks for asking me Cathryn. To think there was a whole book to be written a year ago and here it is. Very exciting stuff to come out in Trade paperback, last week. Thought I’d share a little more about the background of the research trip for those interested.

The last time I blogged on Cathryn’s page I talked about the experience of our overnight adventure on the Spirit Of The Outback – back from Longreach to Brisbane.

This time I thought I’d share the stop out past Windorah, (that would be the last place with a pub out towards Birdsville), and the glorious red sand hills out of town.

The gateway to the outback town of WindorahIt was the impact of climbing and soaking in these windblown pyramids of sand that played such a major part of the background of the book. Those sand hills are part of an amazing landscape that truly grabs you. If you get a chance it’s well worth the trip, especially at sunrise and sunset.

The red sand hills near WindorahI rave about them a bit in the book so here’s an excerpt from RED SAND SUNRISE and the sand hills.

Eve heard the swish of the sand for the first few steps as he began the descent and then there was silence again with just the wind gently blowing and the birds cawing overhead.

She sat down with her knees under her chin. Dug her hands into the sand again and twisted them so that the warm particles massaged her fingers as she let the peace envelop her. Out in the distance a windmill was turning. She could imagine the creaking noise she’d come to recognise of the shaft moving as the blades turned but she couldn’t hear it.

Up above the flat world on her little red castle she could feel the magic soak into her like chalk soaking up red ink. She’d missed her quiet times and vowed to make the time to renew each day before she was caught up in the slower but relentless pace of Red Sand township.

Peace. Strangely, unexpectedly, she didn’t want to leave this spot, didn’t want to walk back down the hill, wanted to stay in the embrace of the red sandhills she’d fallen in tune with today.

But she was thirsty and hungry and Lex waited. All good reasons to come down off the hill.

Windorah also has a fab rustic pub, The Western Star, where we stayed overnight and enjoyed scrumptious pub food. There’s a genuine country hospitality and atmosphere with the roaring fire outside in a big ex-farm drum under the stars.  There are some quirky fun characters and amusing signs on the walls, plus important information if you don’t want to miss the next yabbie races. Will try and coincide my next visit with the yabbies and love that some of the proceeds go to the RFDS.

Funny notice about the rural recession at the Windorah PubSign about the annual International Yabbie Races at WindorahThough it has a big heart, Windorah is not a big town, so I walked over to meet the current very accommodating local nurse and check out the ambulance she has to drive if required. It wasn’t hard to see her passion for being there to help people in need,  ‘anytime’, knowing she was it. I loved the ‘I can do the best for people I can and the RFDS help is a phone call away if I’m out of my depth’. I’m used to a little more back up so was very impressed with the generosity and diversity of skills. I guess she’d need them because you’d never know who was going to pull up at the health centre in crisis and if it was closed, the sign says ring on her phone at home. That’s a true hero as far as I’m concerned.

Ambulance at WindorahSo here was fabulous research material and the pleasure of meeting amazing people. Then you could throw in a bit of midwifery, some gorgeous station owners and I guess you’re beginning to see where some of the ideas gelled for the book.

To food. Seeing as this Cathryn’s FRDAY FEAST blog I thought I’d share a cooking scene from the book. Well, not really a cooking scene, more of a picnic, I do love picnics, and have favourite picnic food that makes my mouth water. What’s your favourite thing to add to a picnic basket?

For me it’s different types of quiche and thick bacon and egg pie with lots of crispy pastry and a big dish of green salad – though must have mayonnaise and salt and pepper in the basket. A big thermos of hot water and tea and coffee is a must and especially the fresh date scones with real butter to sit back with afterwards.

Here’s a scene from Eve and Lex’s picnic at the sand hills.

Lex had set up the food under the shade of the lone spotted gum about fifty metres away from the helicopter. Some time in the past someone had rolled a couple of logs under the branches to sit on and the scene was peaceful as well as promising to settle the embarrassing rumbling from Eve’s stomach.

She eased down on the log and sighed as she glanced around. Bare paddocks, galahs in the distance, a few white Brahman cattle grazing.

Lex put a tin mug in front of her and poured a tea from the thermos. He passed across a huge slice of thick-crusted spinach quiche on a metal plate and one of two small bowls of salad and some cutlery.

Eve fell on it with passion. ‘This is very good.’ She spied a tea towel semi-unwrapped exposing date scones and a small round plastic tub of butter.

He laughed as she unwrapped it and put one at the side of her plate.

‘You love your food. I like that in a woman.’

‘Lucky.’ She rolled her eyes and groaned as the last of the quiche went down.

GIVEAWAY!

So would anyone like to share a favourite surprise they like to add to their picnic basket? Everyone who posts a comment goes into the draw and Cathryn will draw a name out of the Akubra next week. I’ll send you a copy of Red Sand Sunrise as soon as I have your postal address.

Have fun at your next picnic. Xx Fi McArthur

A pile of Red Sand Sunrise booksDid you read that, folks? We have a giveaway! As Fiona said above, all you have to do is share your favourite surprise to add to a picnic basket and you’ll go into the draw.

Perhaps you like to sneak in some toffees? Maybe a pre-mixed summery cocktail is more your go, or marinated chicken legs roasted to sticky goodness? I like a bit of terrine or pate and some nice crusty bread. Although I could get equally excited by a bowl of plump, glossy cherries. LOVE those babies!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 8th July 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Delores who has won a copy of Red Sand Sunrise. Lots of reading pleasure ahead! Thanks to everyone who played along. You were all great sports with some wonderful picnic suggestions. Hope to see you again soon.

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

10 Replies

Hello Feasters! Yes, it’s ME on Friday Feast today, all ready to spoil you with something deliciously bad for you but perfect for winter. However, I know you’re itching to hear the latest Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news. Much to our shock, after combining well last week Jim and I headed into the second round our club’s foursomes championships as the nett score leaders. Alas, the curse struck. We were poo. Collapsed in screaming heap of three putts and duffed shots. My darling Swannies, however, did not, beating Richmond by 11 points and leaving them in third behind the Hawks only on percentage. Rah! Now, the second half of this year is rather exciting for me. Not only will The French Prize release in September, my debut rural romance Promises is re-releasing at the end of August in the smaller and cheaper ‘B’ format with a new cover (which I can’t show you just yet). This is a lovely book with a gorgeous story, a courageous heroine and a hero torn by his past. Truly sigh-worthy (if I do say so myself!). Plus lots of funny horses. Take a look.

PROMISES

Promises by Cathryn HeinA father with something to hide, a jockey with a taste for blackmail, a man with an agonising secret… and a young woman in love, defying them all. Sophie Dixon is determined to leave her tragic past behind and forge a bright future on her beloved farm. While looking to buy a new horse, she is drawn into her neighbour Aaron Laidlaw’s orbit, despite the bad blood between their families. As the racing season unfolds, Sophie and Aaron’s feelings for each other deepen. But Aaron is torn, haunted by a dark secret he fears can never be forgiven – especially by Sophie. Sophie believes herself strong, but the truth behind her mother’s death will test her strength, and her love, to the limit. She’s been broken once. No one wants to see her broken again. Least of all the man who has grown to love her. You can buy Promises right now with just a few clicks. Try Booktopia, Bookworld, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, QBD The Bookshop, Angus & Robertson, or direct from the publisher Penguin.

Winter Nesting

Ah, comfort food. From thick, vege laden soups through to slow-cooked casseroles and fantastically fattening desserts, there is nothing quite like loading up on rich food in the winter. There’s something so warm and homely about a house that smells of good food when it’s miserable outside. We call it “nesting” in the Hein house. Kind of like date night but without going out. Usually there’ll be some sort of casserole, tagine or curry burbling away in the oven or on the stovetop. Something that requires a long, slow cook like spicy lamb shanks, beef in beer, our awesome goat tagine recipe, or even one of our favourite curries (of which we have many). While that’s cooking, we’ll have the stereo going, maybe a Guinness will be cracked, and I’ll be working on some sort of tasty dessert that we won’t need but we’ll eat anyway. The house will smell wonderful and feel cosy and we’ll be all snug and happy. Seriously, if it weren’t for the cold, winter would be my favourite season simply because of the food. It’s 11 degrees and raining as I write this. Last Friday I finished the 2nd draft of The Falls, my 2015 rural romance, which means I’m having a little holiday before knuckling down to my next romantic adventure. Time to indulge in recipes like the one I’m about to share. Something that has winter and nesting written all over it. It’s luscious, beautiful tasting and not terribly healthy. But who cares? You can exercise it off in the spring.

Braised French Green Lentils with Sausages

2 tablespoons duck fat 1 onion, finely diced 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 150 g mild pancetta, finely dicedMcKenzies French Style Green Lentils 2 celery stalks, finely diced 1 small carrot, finely diced 150 ml dry white wine 185 g French green lentils 3 sprigs thyme 2 bay leaves 1 litre beef stock 6 Toulouse sausages (or any other good quality pork sausage) Melt the duck fat over a medium heat in a heavy casserole. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft. Add pancetta, celery and carrot and cook for 5 minutes or so. Add wine, lentils, thyme, bay leaves and stock. Bring to the boil then lower to a simmer. Cover and cook for approximately 1 hour or until lentils are tender. Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary. When lentils are ready, grill the sausages. When they’re nicely done, spoon lentils onto plates and top with sausages. Enjoy!   Okay, my Feasty lovelies, what’s your favourite naughty winter indulgence? Is it super-fattening chocolate pudding? Maybe pints of Guinness are more your go. Perhaps you like nestling down in your local pub or club or booking yourself into a day spa for some pampering. Or maybe, most excellent and discerning person that you are, you hang around bookshops, stocking up on goodies. Share and give us all ideas on how to make our winter special. Want to find out more about me than my love of naughty wintery comfort food? Check out my website. You can also find me playing around on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. And while you’re exploring, take a minute to sign up to my newsletter. All the news and releases and special things direct to your inbox. Sign up at the bottom of my Home page or via my Contact page.

FRIDAY FEAST with Kate Belle

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Hello Feasters! I’m super excited because today we have the author of one of the best reads of the year on the blog.

But before I get into rave-land, let’s have some Sydney Swans news. Oh, my darling boys are really giving it to them now. Last Saturday we shorted out ladder leaders Port Power in a magnificent display of footy wizardry, leaving us still nicely perched at third. Rah! Speaking of nicely perched, in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, Jim and I combined well inAuthor Kate Belle the first round of our club’s Foursomes Championships to be sitting as the nett leaders. Can we hang on to win? Stay tuned!

Now on to today’s guest.

Kate Belle took many of us on a trip down memory lane with her debut novel, The Yearning, a read I enjoyed immensely. So when her publicist contacted me with an offer of a review copy of her second novel, Being Jade, I leapt at it. What a story! What writing! From the opening page I was mesmerised. Being Jade was fascinating and heartbreaking and so much more.

Seriously, you have to read it.

BEING JADE

Being Jade by Kate BelleA tragic death. A family divided. One truth can set them free.

Banjo Murphy is killed on the night he finally musters the courage to walk away from his wife Jade after twenty five years of repeated infidelities. In the aftermath, Banjo is bewildered to discover he still exists, but death has placed an invisible wall between him and his beloved family. In despair he watches Jade collapse into deep depression and his daughters, Lissy and Cassandra, struggle with their unexpected loss.

Lissy is tortured by guilt and the mysteries surrounding her father’s death. What compelled Banjo to leave the night he died? Why won’t Jade speak about what happened? In spite of their volatile relationship, Lissy believes her parents’ love to be enduring, but sensible Cassandra sees things differently. When Cassy discovers a sketch book chronicling Jade’s extra-marital affairs, the truth of their parents’ relationship begins to unfold and Lissy’s loyalties are divided.

Searching for answers, Lissy contacts Jade’s ex-lovers, unaware her father’s spirit watches as they visit. Unable to let go of his one true love, he aches to know that Jade loved him above all others. Banjo is taken on a journey of discovery through Jade’s memories as the lovers unveil long hidden secrets about her affairs. But the mystery remains, frustrating Banjo and Lissy, until Lissy’s questioning leads her to an explosive truth. One that will finally set her family free.

Did I mention you should read this book? You should. Like, really. Which means you’ll need to buy it and you can do that right now with a quick trip to your favourite book store or a few clickety-clicks of your mouse.

For the paperback try Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, Angus & Robertson, QBD The Bookshop, Boomerang Books, Fishpond, Collins Booksellers or your local independent. For the ebook, try Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, or JB Hi-Fi.

Still not sure? Read the opening chapter. You’ll be hooked I promise!

Now please give Kate a big Feasty welcome and enjoy!

Instant Human – Just Add Coffee…

Hi Cathryn and readers – thanks for having me back on Friday Feast.

When I visited last year I gave you the Big Effort High Reward Heirloom Recipe – Great Auntiecoffee meme 1 - resized Flo’s Christmas Pudding. This required significant time, a fair bit of alcohol (both in the recipe and cook) and sticky hands. I thought I’d take it a bit easier on you this time around by sharing one of my FAVOURITE combinations in the whole world – caffeine and cake.

I’m a bona fide coffee addict. If I don’t have my coffee by about 11am I find it difficult to speak. I’m dependent on that early morning caffiene shot to function. I also have a penchant for desserts. Cakes, pastries, puddings, tarts – I’m not too fussed as long as it’s full of carbohydrate and sugar. But the very, very best in life is when the two are combined.

coffe meme 2I used to work in Melbourne CBD, at the Paris end, and discovered the Treasury Cafe nestled beneath the treasury building near Parliament. When I first walked in I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. A loooong glass counter laden with every kind of cake, tart, pudding, pastry you could imagine. Glazed apricot and cherry Danishes shone under the light of the counter, clouds of cream topped jam lamingtons the size of a man’s palm, summer yellow custard tarts, glorious wedges of dark chocolate mud cake and butterscotch fudge dripped over fluffy sticky date puddings. My mouth waters at the memory.

More often than not I left empty handed only because I couldn’t choose which sweet morsel to indulge in.coffee meme 3

Inspired by Treasury Cafe’s dessert cabinet, I went through a period of frenzied baking and rediscovered a promotional Nescafe coffee table recipe book I’d won years ago featuring – yep, you guessed it – coffee desserts. I have a few favourites in this book but nothing quite beats the cappuccino cheesecake. The recipe calls for instant coffee but I say Pfft to that! Brewed coffee is the only coffee worthy of a good dessert, so I amended the recipe to make sure the end result had the kick I looked for in this gorgeous cappuccino cheesecake.

Cappuccino Cheesecake

Cappuccino Cheesecake

Before you begin, brew yourself some fresh coffee, pour a cup and leave the rest to cool while you read your copy of Being Jade (like how I slipped that in??). Oh, and leave 500g of cream cheese on the bench to come to room temperature. If you’re able to stop after a couple of chapters you’ll need to head to the kitchen and find ingredients for the cheesecake crust:

•             100g mild-coffee biscuits

•             75g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

•             ¼ cup (70g) packed dark brown sugar

•             A pinch of nutmeg

•             40g hot, melted unsalted butter

To make the crust finely grind the biscuits (I use my mother’s method – chuck them in an empty cereal bag and beat them to death with a rolling pin). Mix in the chopped chocolate, brown sugar and nutmeg then bind it all together with the melted butter until the crumbs stick together. Press the mixture into the base of a 19cm springform pan, flattening it with the bottom of a glass. Put the pan in the fridge for 20 -30 minutes.

Pick up your book and read just a couple more pages…

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees then get to phase 1 of the filling:

•             500g low fat cream cheese (or be brave and go full fat if you want the full flavour!)

•             ½ cup sugar

•             1 tablespoon plain flour

•             ¼ cup strong brewed coffee (for real caffeine addicts you can also add 1 tablespoon of finely ground coffee – YEAH!)

•             1 teaspoon vanilla extract

•             2 large eggs

Blend cream cheese and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer. Beat in flour, then add brewed coffee, ground coffee (if you dare), and vanilla until combined. Beat in eggs one at a time, make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the mixture is smooth.

Pour filling over the cooled crust, place the cheesecake on a tray covered with a baking sheet and put in the middle of the oven to cook 45 minutes until the top is browning, puffed and cracking at the edges. Take it out to cool for 15 minutes, but leave the oven on while you make the frothy cappuccino topping.

Topping:Cappuccino Cheesecake

•             ¾ cup light sour cream (I reckon full fat’s better)

•             1 tablespoon sugar

•             1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk the ingredients together in a medium bowl and pour over warm cheesecake, spreading to cover it completely. Bake until the topping is set, about 10 minutes.

You could probably squeeze in a few more pages here.

Cover the baked cheesecake with gladwrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Before serving (with brewed coffee, of course!) shave a little dark chocolate over the top to decorate. Devour as you finish off Being Jade –  or, if you’re feeling more generous, share it with friends over afternoon tea or dinner and watch how animated your guests become after they’ve eaten it!

GIVEAWAY! 

Oh, Kate, that sounds divine! Hard to go past good cheesecake. Hard to go past good coffee too. And this combines them in one. Bliss!

Okay, my Feasty lovelies, for your chance to win a signed copy of Being Jade, what’s your favourite bit of cheesiness? I’m going to get a bit “out there” and suggest this song from the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. Teo from Belarus singing… Cheesecake. Ha!

But perhaps you’ll be more traditional and suggest a slice of brie, the tv show Happy Days or even a spot of dad dancing. Whatever your fancy, cheese away and you could WIN!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, AEST 24th June 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Kate and her fabulous books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using the handle @ecstasyfiles, Goodreads and The Reading Room.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Sue who has won a copy of Kate’s brilliant new novel, Being Jade. Thanks to everyone for getting cheesy with us. Hope to see you again soon!

 

NIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN: Rural Romance Authors Come Out!

8 Replies

And come out we did, but perhaps not in the way you’re thinking…

A few weeks ago I posted an update to Facebook where I mentioned that my gorgeous niece About to make my debut at the 1985 Highland Debutante Ball in Mount Gambierwould be making her debut soon. With it I attached of photo of me on my big day and asked if anyone else had made their debut. The update was hugely popular, with readers posting photos and stories from their own debutante balls.

Which then caused fellow rural romance author Karly Lane to state what a cool blog post this would make. I then emailed a heap of rural romance authors, asking who had made their debut and would be willing to go public with memories and photographs. Karly, Jenn J McLeod and Tricia Stringer answered the call. Margareta Osborn did too, but sadly her photos have gone walkabout.

Now, in case you haven’t the faintest idea what a debutante ball is, let me explain…

It’s an old-fashioned event, dating from the times when young, usually aristocratic ladies “came out” to society. In other words, they were fair game for marriage. Modern Australian debutante balls are rather more egalitarian and, I suspect, a lot more fun. They’re group affairs, where everyone frocks-up, gets presented to a local VIP, has a bit of a dance, and mums ‘n dads and family and friends all stand around with their chests puffed out.

As for what they mean… I don’t know. I suspect the event’s paternalistic symbolism has long passed – certainly it had for me! – and now coming out as a debutante holds no more meaning than a first school formal. What it is though, for those that did it, is a wonderful night, forever cemented in memory.

So here we are, in all our white-frocked, innocent glory. Enjoy!

CATHRYN HEIN

Portrait - croppedI made my debut in 1985 at the Mount Gambier Highland Debutante Ball, coming out to the mayor Mr McDonnell and member for Mount Gambier, Harold Alison, with my partner David Earl (who I had a SHOCKING crush on – oh, the agony!).

It was fabulous, teenage crush agony and all! Being 1985, everything Lady Di was the rage and I wore a suitably puffy, blindingly white dress made my by clever Auntie Merna. Because it was the Highland Ball, we wore sashes. Mine was dress Stewart tartan held in place with a silver and topaz brooch, both of which were Mum’s. I think from when she played bagpipes in the Blue Lake pipe band and which I also think she wore at her debut. It’s terrible that I can’t recall. Sadly, neither can Mum now with Alzheimer’s having stolen her memories.

There were fifteen in my debut group, many school mates and good friends, and deb chatter kept us occupied for weeks. As did rehearsals. I can’t remember how long they went for but it was at least a few months. You, and your partner, had to be dedicated to do the ball.

Dancing at my debut

It’s a while ago, but I was sick with nerves, terrified I’d trip over or wobble on my curtsey or completely forget how to dance the Pride of Erin. But it all went smoothly and everyone had a ball.

It was the best fun, worth all the rehearsals and frock worries. I felt like a princess!

KARLY LANE

How to bring a halt to a productive writing day! There I was madly writing, ok so I took a small break and went on Facebook…anyway, it was there that I came across Cathryn’s debut post and when I answered the call for fellow debutantes to raise their hands, I ended up getting side-tracked while going through old photo albums to find some happy snaps of my Karly Lane in her debut dressown big night.

I have to admit, I was not that keen on making my debut initially, despite the fact I’d grown up hearing about my mother’s debut, where, as the story goes, she and her best friend poured through the school year book to pick out who they were going to ask to partner them, kinda like ordering from a catalogue! The boy she chose, initially turned her down, and then when he told his mother he’d been asked to partner someone in the debut, his mother MADE HIM go back and accept! That boy turned out to be the man who became my dad! So I always knew it was a big deal for my mum, but I was surprised to discover that it was also a huge deal amongst my class mates in Parkes, where I went to high school, located in central west NSW. In fact, it turned out to be a really big deal. My grandparents even travelled out to Parkes to be there, as well as other family so I was feeling pretty special on the big night.

I do remember that choosing the dress was quite stressful… all the tantrums, tears and pouting…and that was just from my mother! However, we all somehow managed to survive and I ended up with a gorgeous dress.

Karly adjustedBut now, as a mother of teenagers, I do think back and feel a bit bad. I can’t remember how long we had to practice for, it felt like months. Every week we’d turn up to the local leagues club and head upstairs to get ordered around the room by a pair of cranky old ducks, (I said I felt bad about it now!)  These poor women selflessly sacrificed their time year after year to create these elaborate events, putting up with a bunch of whiny, hormonal teenagers who I’m sure tested their patience to the limit ninety-nine percent of the time. And yet, they somehow managed to turn all those sullen, uncoordinated teens into the epitome of grace and elegance. To those women, I’m really sorry for any eye rolling I may or may not have done at rehearsal.

Looking back, I realise I didn’t appreciate the tradition and history behind the event at the time, but I’m very glad that I did it just the same.

Poppys Dilemma - tinyKarly’s latest rural story is Poppy’s Dilemma, available right now from your favourite bookstore. For instant book gratification, try Booktopia, Bookworld, Amazon, Google PlayiBooks, JB Hi-Fi and Kobo.

JENN J McLEOD

The Accidental Debutante

jenn collage

Presentation of Debutantes

at

Police Commissioner’s Ball 1976

to

His Excellency the Governor of NSW

Sir Roden Cutler.

I think I was supposed to be 18 but… they were a girl short and I was tall and because Dad (as a member of the Police Band) was the pianist, I stepped in at the last minute.

The trouble was, however, at 16 I was so tall they needed to source an extra tall trainee constable to be my partner.

In final rehearsals we were all told not to put too much pressure on Sir Roden’s hand in case we toppled him on his wooden leg! That put the fear of God into me, so it was a very wonky five-second curtsey while he spoke to me about my dad and what a very good musician he was.

Proud daughter, proud dad that night. (And Mum looking very Harlequin in that dress!)

Debut mum and dad - adjusted

Simmering Season cover - tinyThe second in Jenn’s Seasons Collection, Simmering Season, is out now. Grab your copy from Booktopia, Bookworld, Amazon, Google Play. iBooks, JB Hi-Fi and Kobo.

TRICIA STRINGER

Deb Ball Tumby Bay 1973

009

Mum made my beautiful dress which I loved. Went to hair dresser for the bouffy hair do. At the time I felt very grown up. I was away at boarding school so didn’t get to attend many practices.

tricia collageOn the night we were all so nervous, would we trip coming down the stairs, would we fall on our face making the curtsy? We bumbled around the floor doing the Queen’s Waltz – an elegant dance that we didn’t do justice to. My partner, Daryl was the love of my life, still is, we’ve been together ever since.

002

right-as-rain - tinyTricia’s most recent release is the rural romance, Right As Rain. Available right now from your favourite bookseller, or online via Booktopia, Amazon, Google PlayiBooks, JB Hi-FiKobo or direct from the publisher, Harlequin.

 

I hope you enjoyed this frocked-up trip down memory lane. We sure did!

And we’d also love to hear your debutante ball memories. Please feel free to share along with us.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Helene Young

26 Replies

Hello Feasters, and welcome to another truly excellent Friday filled with food and fabulous authors.

But first…. DID YOU SEE MY SWANNIES? At last, we have scrambled our way into the eight. Now, if we can just do the righty and give Hawthorn the spanking they deserve tonight all will be well in Swanfan world. Which reminds me, all is rather well with Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news too. No, I don’t have my new 3 wood yet, it’s on order, but I did play well enough last week to win a golf ball.

Go ahead and laugh, but remember: From little things, big things grow!

Speaking of growing, how about the superstar growth of our guest today! Helene Young ishelene-young-2-0 not only a multi-award winning author, with Australian Romance Reader Awards and RWA Romantic Book of the Year honours galore, she’s also one of Australia’s best-selling authors. And a lovely lady to go with it.

An airline pilot now living on a catamaran in Queensland (I know, I know), Helene continues to write romantic suspense novels that capture the Australian landscape beautifully, as well as keeping you on the edge of your seat.

Her latest release is Safe Harbour. Take a look…

SAFE HARBOUR

Cover of Safe Harbour by Helene YoungWhen Darcy Fletcher drags a handsome sailor from a stricken yacht, she finds herself drawn into his mysterious world.  Having saved his life can she now rescue him from his dark past? Or will that endanger all she holds most dear?

Noah, keeper of the peace and guardian of the Banskia Cove secrets, can’t tell Darcy the real reason this man has washed up on their shores. If she knew the links between the stranger and her own dysfunctional family, she’d flee the Cove and he’d lose her love for good.

As they take refuge in an old whaling station, only one thing is certain – by morning, no one will be the same again. Lies will surface, hearts will break, and not all will find safe harbour.

Doesn’t that sound exciting? This is one book you won’t want to miss and it can be yours now with just a quick trip to the shops or a few clickety-clicks of your mouse (or finger taps for you tablet and phone users). Buy Safe Harbour now from Booktopia, Bookworld, Collins Booksellers, Dymocks, QBD the Bookshop, Angus & Robertson, Fishpond, or your local independent. For immediate download of the ebook, why not try Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now kick back and be comforted by Helene!

Fresh Is Best

Thanks to Cathryn for allowing me to visit Friday Feast one more time – I’m very honoured 🙂 I’ve discovered so many wonderful recipes on this amazing blog and it goes from strength to strength.

So, Feasters, let me start with a question. How do plan your meals? Do you begin with a recipe or do you source the ingredients first? I have to admit that I was someone who would decide on the menu, usually by drooling over glossy photos in magazines and recipe books. Then I’d head out to scour the shops for the ingredients. Sometimes I’d be beside myself scene from manly marketbecause pomegranates weren’t in season or the tender asparagus shoots looked more like stakes I’d use to prop up a wilting tomato plant that something that would grace the smoked salmon ravioli. Or rhubarb was only to be found in the frozen section and the new potatoes were decidedly last season…

And then I had an epiphany. How about I check out what’s in season and then build the menu around that? You can stop laughing right now… For a girl who spent a lot of time in restaurants – both working and eating – you might assume it would be basic stuff, but clearly I’m a slow learner. Now we’re living aboard a boat with limited storage it’s even more important. We choose the fresh, glossy produce and then decide what to cook. Simple food takes on a new flavour when it’s market-day fresh.

The Goat Pie Guy's stallLucky for us there are markets every Sunday in the local park at Manly. Once a month there’s a fantastic Farmers Market with everything from Goat Meat Pies (which are delicious!) to hot smoked salmon and stalls full of fresh produce. You can chat to the stall owner about the best way to cook something new – or new to Capt G in the case of custard apples – and you can sample their wares before you buy.

In Safe Harbour, Darcy Fletcher is a chef and she’s come home to Banksia Cove to open a restaurant in an old whaling station. In her words – ‘There’s unlikely to be any truffle oil on the menu or wagyu beef, but there will be melt in your mouth beef from west of Rockhampton, luscious Scene from Manly marketsseafood hauled from the Pacific, beetroots and sweet potatoes straight from the ground, asparagus spears whose tips have basked in the same morning sun as my patrons. Don’t think you can ask for anything better than fresh food, simply prepared with love.’

So, I’d love to hear how you go about deciding what to cook? Are you a ‘once a week shopper’ or a ‘shop as you go’ kind of cook? Do plan or go with the flow? Join in the discussion to go into the draw for a copy of Safe Harbour. 🙂

And I thought I’d share one of my favourite potato dishes because, for me, winter is all about comfort food and there is nothing more comforting than a well-dressed potato.

Here’s our never fail recipe for stuffed jacket potatoes.

Stuffed jacket potatoes

Choose a potato variety that is good for mashing and baking – Coliban, Desiree or Golden Delight all work well. Select one per person and choose good oval shapes of medium size.

Wash well, pat dry, stab with a fork on top and bottom and then microwave until cooked. Timing will depend on your microwave, but around 3-5 minutes should be sufficient for one potato. Allow to cool enough to handle, place on the bench so it rests easily – usually that will be length ways – then slice a ‘lid’ off the top and put to one side. Using a dessert spoon carefully scoop out the soft flesh, making sure not to break the potato skin, and put into a large mixing dish (depending on how many potatoes you’re cooking).

Add a good dollop of butter, a slurp of milk or cream, a small handful of chives, parsley or any fresh herbs you may have left over. Stir well to make a smooth potato mash (firm not sloppy works best). Then add a small handful of grated Parmesan cheese and season to taste.

You can vary the type of cheese or herbs, add crispy bacon, chopped hard-boiled eggs, or salami, so go to town and experiment.

Once you’re happy with the taste and texture of your filling spoon it carefully back into the shell so that it sits mounded higher than the original size of the potato. Place the lid on top, brush the top and sides with oil and grind a scatter of sea salt over it.

Pop on a baking tray and cook in a preheated 180 deg oven for no more than 30 minutes. They will be fluffy on the inside and delicious and crispy on the outside.

Bon appetit!

I am drooling here. DROOLING I tell you! Helene, that stuffed spud sounds absolutely divine. And perfect for the cooler months when we’re allowed to load up on carbs and buttery things to keep out the chill.

GIVEAWAY!

Now, my delicious little Feasty dumplings, time to join in the fun with another giveaway. This time a copy of Helene’s wonderful new release, Safe Harbour.

As Helene has already described above, simply reveal how you go about deciding what to cook. Are you a planner or a spur of the moment cook? Or do you leave it to the whim of someone else? Share and you’ll go into the draw.

Me, I’m a combination. Sometimes I plan, sometimes I get carried away when I spot something delicious. On Tuesday I discovered a tub of duck fat at my local IGA. Yes, yes, I KNOW it’s super bad for me and cooking duck fatty food on a weeknight goes against my house rules, but it just so happens I have this fantastic recipe for braised Puy lentils…

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 13th May 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Helene, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter as @heleneyoung.

And while you’re here, why not check out Helene’s exciting booktrailer for Safe Harbour. It’s a cracker!