Tag Archives: Gather The Bones

FRIDAY FEAST with Alison Stuart

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Welcome to another mouth-watering edition of Friday Feast! This week, we’ll be exploring the delights of Belgium with a hugely talented historical author, salivating over a fruit dessert and offering you the chance to win a swag of Waterloo memorabilia!

First, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. So the new golf bag didn’t work either. I’m still playing like poo and my handicap is going out with every round. The glory days of the start of the year, where a single figure handicap seemed within reach, are now mere wispy memories. I have, it has to be said, descended back into the quagmire of hackerdom and become bogged.

But maybe this is only a winter anomaly? Maybe, come spring, things will change? Surely, if I’ve reached those heights before I can manage it again? There must be hope!

Author Alison StuartTime to move on to the real reason you’re here, because I’m certain it’s not the embarrassment that is my golf game.

Today’s guest is award-winning, cross-genre historical author Alison Stuart. If you haven’t read her novel Gather the Bones, then you’re missing out on a terrific read. I adored that book as did many others, which is why it was a finalist in numerous awards. Reflecting her background in the military and fire service, Alison has a predisposition to men in uniform (don’t we all!) and her latest follows that path.

Take a look at Lord Somerton’s Heir

LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR

Lord Somerton's Heir by Alison StuartCan the love of an honourable man save her from  the memory of a desolate marriage?

From the battlefield of Waterloo to the drawing rooms of Brantstone Hall, Sebastian Alder’s elevation from penniless army captain to Viscount Somerton is the stuff of dreams. But the cold reality of an inherited estate in wretched condition, and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his cousin’s death, provide Sebastian with no time for dreams — only a mystery to solve and a murderer to bring to justice.

Isabel, widow of the late Lord Somerton, is desperate to bury the memory of her unhappy marriage by founding the charity school she has always dreamed of. Except, her dreams are soon shattered from beyond the grave when she is not only left penniless, but once more bound to the whims of a Somerton.

But this Somerton is unlike any man she has met. Can the love of an honourable man heal her broken heart or will suspicion tear them apart?

Ah, now doesn’t that sounds romantic? It can be yours with just a few clicks. Try Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, Nook, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

All set? That’s the way! Here’s Alison.

It’s Tuesday – It Must Be Belgium

Ah, the culinary delights of travel!

My husband and I have just returned from 6 weeks in the UK and Europe and one of our favourite aspects of travel is food… and beer… and wine. We make a point of eating local food and drinking local brews, wherever possible (a visit to the Champagne region of France was particularly tough!). There were two destinations on our journey when this policy failed us – Copenhagen and Berlin where it seemed that the only eateries around where we were staying were provenders of every world cuisine – except the local. We ate noodles and Thai.

Inevitably our journeying footsteps take us through Brussels. Why? You may well ask. We have rather a soft spot for this quaint little town. My husband had several business trips to Brussels before I made it there so by that time he was well acquainted with the local cuisine and the best places to find it. Of course it helps that the local cuisine is beer and chocolate. We have only just finished the 1kg box of our favourite Corne Port Royale chocolates that we lovingly hauled back with us. When every second shop sells chocolate it pays to know the good ones and you know you’ve been to a city too often when you get annoyed that your favourite shop has moved!

Which brings me to beer. We have two favourite haunts… A La Mort Subite, a beer hall just off the Grande Place with wonderful arched mirrors, murals and brasswork. It opened in 1928 and nothing much has changed since, including the paintwork. In my book GATHER THE BONES, the characters have a brief interlude in Brussels, although, given the circumstances it is doubtful they visited beer halls, but I am sure Paul and Tony would have enjoyed a beer at La Mort Subite and not felt out of place or time. The speciality of LMS is the Lambic White Beer… and it HAS to be eaten with a plate of cheese, salami, gerkins and pickled onions – sprinkled with celery salt and eaten with mustard.

La Mort Subite, Brussels

On to La Becasse, another beer hall, discreetly tucked away and quite hard to find if you don’t know where to look. Here the decor is wooden panelling and brasswork – just wonderful on a cold night. In fact it was rather odd being in Brussels in warm weather… as all my previous trips had been in the cold. It is one place I distinctly prefer a little cold.

A popular haunt of students La Becasse was oddly deserted on our recent trip (exam season  apparently). We spent a pleasant evening working our way through the beer menu. Particular favourites are the Lambic Beer, the fruit beers (particularly the Kriek or cherry beer) and the wheat beers all served in fabulous blue earthenware jugs and accompanied by another plate of cheese, salami and little pickled onions. Who needs dinner?

But if you are on the hunt for real food, the Belgians are best known for their Moules Marinieres (not to be eaten in a month with no ‘R’), their Frites (potato chips) and Goffres (waffles) all served from ‘holes in the wall’ or street carts tucked into corners. Nothing like a warm goffre dripping chocolate on a chilly night while you admire the Mannekin Pis, which has to be world’s most underwhelming statue.

We only had one full day and we occupied that fully in a day trip to visit Waterloo, on a stuffy local bus. We missed the bicentennial of the battle by a week. I won’t bore you with that here – you can read about it on my own blog, but in recognition of this important battle, my ‘Waterloo Story’, LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR is on sale on Amazon and iBooks for this week at only .99c and I am also running a contest to win some Waterloo memorabilia. You can enter via Rafflecopter through this link… Click HERE to enter.

Author Alison Stuart at Waterloo

And now to my recipe… which is not, as far as I know, Belgian, but is a family favourite passed on to me by a dear friend when I got married (origin unknown).

NECTARINE NUT KUCHEN

(serves 8)

PASTRY

I cup (125g) plain flour

2 TBLSP castor sugar

30g finely ground almonds

60g butter

1 large egg

Grated rind 1 lemon

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Place flour and castor sugar with the almonds into a bowl. Add butter cut into small pieces and either process for a moment until crumbly or mix, using your fingertips.

Add the egg lemon rind and vanilla essence and mix until it binds together.

Remove and wrap well then chill for 30 minutes. Roll pastry out between some waxed paper or on a lightly floured board. Press into a tin (with removable base) or a form tin or a quiche tin, approx 20”. Butter the tin lightly on the base and sides. Having pressed the pastry into the tin, chill while preparing the fruit and topping.

FILLING

500g firm ripe nectarines or plums

1tblsp lemon juice

2 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cut the fruit into segments, removing the stone from each one. Place in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon and stir gently until the fruit is coated.

Place into the crust, pressing down lightly with a spoon to slightly flatten the top without crushing the fruit.

TOPPING

45g ground almonds

2 tblsp sugar

1 tblsp brown sugar

30g unsalted butter

Mix the almonds with both sugars. Add the melted butter and stir with a fork. The topping should be quite moist. Scatter this evenly over the top of the fruit.

Place in a moderate oven and cook for about 35-40 mins until pastry is golden and fruit is tender. Remove from oven, stand for 5 mins then cut into wedges and serve warm with cream.

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That sounds absolutely delicious, Alison! Anything with fruit in it is a house favourite and I adore being able to take advantage of a season’s abundance. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

Did you read, Feasties? Alison is running a…

GIVEAWAY!

And it’s a really super-simple one too. No commenting – although we would love if you did – just a quick click then choose how many times you want to enter!

Visit Alison’s Rafflecopter giveaway today. Go on! You could win a swag of Waterloo memorabilia, including a reproduction of The Times with Wellington’s Waterloo despatch, a Wellington keyring, a Napoleon bookmark and other goodies.

ALISON STUART (1)

If you’d like to learn more about Alison and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @AlisonStuart14 and her blog.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

Not rising, soaring!

My Australian Women Writers

Challenge Update

 

Oh, I underestimated myself bigtime! Back in mid-February when I signed up for the Australian Women Writers Challenge I was obviously feeling delusional. awwbadge_2013I should have known from my past reading how often I choose books by women writers and, more importantly, by Australian women writers.

My AWWC goal was to read 10 books. Last update I stated that I was rising to the challenge but was yet to reach that target. It turned out that wasn’t quite true. If I’d counted Hannah Richell’s The Secrets of the Tides I would have hit the big 10. Phht. Who’s quibbling? Not me, that’s for sure, because not only have I now absolutely reached my goal, I’ve given it a good spanking!

Here is what I’ve read since that June 19th update:

Six of them are by authors I’ve never read before. Sarah Mayberry’s two Favourite books were completely delicious. Outback Bride was gorgeous, with a sweet pony and a lizard race for extra fun. The Yearning had some stunning writing as did The Light Between Oceans, although with very different styles. The Mistake was a fascinating look at rural society, while Gather the Bones was simply an amazing story that I think everyone should read.

That’s TEN books by Australian Women Writers since my last update, which makes it TWENTY for the year, and with a quick glance at my to-be-read bookshelf there are plenty more to come.

So, seeing as it’s only September, can I challenge myself to read another ten books by Australian women authors by the end of the year?

I think I can!

If you’d like to know more about the AWWC, check out the website. You can also follow and contribute to discussions on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads.

Sinking my teeth into more great reading!

Sinking my teeth into more great reading!

FRIDAY FEAST with Alison Stuart

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Ahh, my Feasty Friends, are you in for a treat this week! My guest today is award-winning Australian author Alison Stuart, recently home from the Romance Writers of America conference where she took out the Hearts Through History Chapter’s Romance Through The Ages Award for an unpublished manuscript. That’s not the first award Alison has won either. In 2008 her novel, By The Sword, won an EPPIE for Best Historical Romance. Yup, she’s an achiever, our Alison.

Alison began her writing career as a result of a skiing accident, which left her stranded in a snow-bound chalet in the Australian Alps with nothing for company but a notebook computer and a long-brewed story itching to be told. A good lesson that opportunities can arise anywhere. Or perhaps that skiing is bad for your health…

Anyway, she has a wonderful new release out, and it’s one you won’t want to miss. Seriously. Think Downton Abbey with ghosts. If that doesn’t convince you, Anna Campbell, Australia’s queen of Regency noir, says of Alison’s book: …breathtakingly romantic. This moving and dramatic love story will haunt you long after you turn the last page. For me, I can’t see how anyone could possibly go past a book titled Gather The Bones. It’s so deliciously evocative!

 

GATHER THE BONES

 

War leaves no one untouched

The horrors of the Great War are not the only ghosts that haunt Helen Morrow and her late husband’s somewhat reclusive cousin, Paul. Unquiet spirits from another time and another conflict touch them.

A coded diary gives them clues to the mysterious disappearance of Paul’s great-grandmother in 1812, and the desperate voice of a young woman reaches out to them from the pages. Together Helen and Paul must search for answers, not only for the old mystery, but also the circumstances surrounding the death of Helen’s husband at Passchandaele in 1917.

As the mysteries entwine, their relationship is bound by the search for truth, in the present and the past.

 

Doesn’t that sound exciting? Coded diaries, mysterious disappearances, the tragedies of war… Ooh, you want this book. Oh, yes you do! So get a clickety-clicking. Gather The Bones is available now from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

And now I bring you Alison’s WONDERFUL post.

 

Where Does The Bwana Sleep?

Thank you for inviting me on to Friday Feast, Cathryn.

In my new release, Gather The Bones, set in 1923, my hero, Paul Morrow, was born in Malaya and as I was born into Colonial East Africa (Kenya to be exact), I thought a hark back to my own colonial past may in order.

My mother’s parents had gone out to Kenya in the late 1920s.  My grandfather worked in the civil service and my grandmother bore three children and ran a household that could not have been more removed from her life in working class Barnoldswick.

In 1928 St. Andrews Church Women’s Guild produced THE KENYA SETTLERS COOKERY BOOK and HOUSEHOLD GUIDE.  My grandmother had a copy and my mother, likewise had her own copy of this invaluable little book which for a young wife in the colony would have been a veritable bible.

This useful book (or at least my mother’s 1950s version of it) contains handy household advice on preparing for a safari: “It really pays to have special place in each box for each thing…and to insist the boys (and I don’t think she means small children) return things to their proper places”/ “A couple of chargals (whatever they were) slung outside the car, and kept filled with water will give a constant supply of cold water”…

There are instructions to servants (given in Swahili) that just curl our 21st century toes! “Do not be sulky” / “You are insolent! You must look pleasant”/ “Every day the bwana wants hot water for shaving” and (oddly) “Where does the bwana sleep?”

We were an unusual family, in that we did not have a resident domestic staff, only a daily home help and a gardener. Mum did all the cooking and brought up her children without the aid of an “ayah”. Consequently my brother and I were deprived of the chance to learn Swahili. Just as well I didn’t resort to the Kenya Settler’s Cookery Book for language guidance!

Our favourite Sunday lunches were curries and Mum had an alternate of a beef/mutton curry or a chicken curry. There was a large Indian community in Nairobi and I loved going on trips to the “bazaar” where the exotic smells of spices have stayed with me all my life. It was only when I went to live in Singapore and visited “Little India” that the smells returned to me, evoking the memories of the little “dukahs” that sold everything from pots and pans to vegetables. Smell is a very powerful stimulant.

Mum’s curries would always be followed by a light cold lemon soufflé (for want of a better description) we called LEMON SNOW, a recipe in the Kenya Settlers Cookery Book. I make a variation known to my family as LEMON THING.

Today large family gatherings are nearly always curry parties. Everyone brings their variations. My brother makes fantastic dahl and my youngest son, the best curry puffs.

So after much thought, the recipe I have chosen is not one of my mother’s but one of my own curry recipes. While I was living in Singapore I did some Indian cooking classes with a wonderful woman called Kirti Diyani.  Of all the dishes she taught me, this has now joined the family repertoire and no family gathering would be complete without it.

 

KIRTI’S CHILI PRAWN MASALA

(for 3-4 people – I always make double quantities)

Ingredients:

500g unshelled green prawns

2 large onions (cut lengthwise)

2 medium tomatoes (cut into wedges)

1 tsp of tomato paste

½ tsp ginger paste

½ tsp garlic paste

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

¾ tsp turmeric powder

½ to 1 tsp red chilli powder

¾ tsp garam masala powder

Salt to taste

lime or lemon juice to taste

1-2 tblsps coriander leaves (chopped)

3 tblsps vegetable oil

Method:

  1. De-shell and clean prawns, leaving tails intact (I buy the frozen packets of green prawns and defrost them). Wash and pat dry. Marinate with salt and ¼ tsp of turmeric powder.
  2. In a heavy based pan, fry the onions in oil until they change colour. Add the garlic and ginger paste, crushed garlic and the chilli powder.
  3. Add in the salt, turmeric powder, tomatoes and tomato paste and fry well. You may cover the pan and cook on a low flame for 5 mins so that the tomatoes will get soft.
  4. When the masala is aromatic and richly coloured, add in the prawns. Keep on stirring until the prawns are well coated with the onion and tomato mixture.
  5. If mixture is too dry, add water. Stir and then allow the dish to simmer by covering and cooking on a low heat. Cook for around 10 minutes. DO NOT OVERCOOK THE PRAWNS.
  6. Lastly stir in the garam masala powder and turn off flame. Sprinkle with lemon/lime juice and garnish with coriander leaves.
  7. Serve with rice or Indian bread.

 

How awesome does that curry sound? Alison’s recipe has definitely made it on my ‘try’ list.  Nothing like a bit of spice to perk up your life!

Now, Alison – lovely author that she is – has a wonderful giveaway for Friday Feast readers. All you have to do to be in the draw to win a Gather The Bones notebook and pen is share your favourite childhood food memory. Like me, you probably have plenty. Caramel tart, anyone? What about a honey joy or two? Perhaps you loved your Nanna’s rabbit stew (we loved ours – stew and nanna) or special vege soup or lamb roast. Simply add your comment and you could win.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 11th September 2012 AEST. Australian authors only, sorry.

If you’d like to learn more about Alison and her books, including her utterly compelling Gather The Bones, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter.