Tag Archives: Heart of the Valley

HEARTLAND RELEASE DAY!

It’s here! And I came very, very close to popping the champagne before 8am this morning. Why? Because Heartland received the most gobsmacking review from Bree, at 1 Girl, 2 Many Books.

This is just a little of what she had to say…

“It’s easy to overhype books in your mind sometimes, which can lead to them not living up to expectation. That was definitely not the case with this one – it was everything I thought it would be and more. It’s a beautiful story of finding courage to be happy and letting go of the past but without forgetting it. Callie had such a touching vulnerability and Matt such a gentle strength but that didn’t stop it from being plenty saucy either! Another fabulous rural romance release that just proves why this genre continues to grow in popularity.”

9/10

Isn’t that the loveliest thing? Read Bree’s full review of Heartland here.

But wait, there’s more! Bree also has an in-depth Q&A with me, covering everything from how I choose my settings, to my love for the Sydney Swans, to what was the most difficult part of Heartland to write. Plus a teensy bit about my next book. Check it out!

Also around the net, I’m on the Australian Romance Readers Association’s blog, talking about what made Heartland special to write. All ARRA members who comment will go into the draw to win a copy.

Tomorrow, ANZAC Day, I’m at Book Muster Down Under with an author Q&A (including some seriously tricky questions) and with THREE copies of Heartland up for grabs courtesy of my publisher, Penguin Australia.

Friday will see me flopping about with exhaustion… or perhaps not. No rest for the bookish! I’m hosting myself here on Friday Feast and revealing some of the onerous research I had to undertake for Heartland. I’m talking winery visiting onerous. Terrible, but we authors are selfless creatures and don’t mind suffering for our craft. Oh, and there’ll be a Heartland giveaway too. But you’ll have to work for it with a wine-y story!

Also on Friday, I’ll be at Jenn J McLeod’s Author Harvest, discussing garden gnomes, what my protagonists think about me, and the current lust of my life, Inspector Davide Rivera from Rex in Rome…among other equally serious and important things!

Then on Sunday, 28th April, it’s back to ARRA for a guest post titled The Heart of Rural Romance. Find out what makes this genre so great.

Oh, and before I go, three things.

1/. Heartland is in this week’s BigW catalogue. Wheeeeee!

2/. The ebook price promo will run out soon. Get in quick if you want to score Heartland at a discount. Try Amazon (Kindle), Kobo, Google Play or iTunes. There’s also special pricing for Heart of the Valley and Promises.

3/. My Goodreads giveaway closes May 1st. Simply visit Heartland’s page and clickety-click the Enter to Win button.

To finish off , thank you to everyone for your amazing support. I’ve been overwhelmed with congratulations this morning and made to feel really special. I can’t express how much that means to me.

Nearly forgot! I have another Heartland quote for you.

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Mustn’t let all my photo fiddling go to waste!

 

HEARTLAND COVER REVEAL!

It’s been a while coming but here, at last, is Heartland’s gorgeous new cover and blurb. Isn’t it beautiful? From the perfect heroine image, to the soaring blue skies, black cockatoos and summer-parched landscape, I love it!

 

Coming 24th April 2013

Heartland_cvr_640x480

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

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

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

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

FRIDAY FEAST with me!

It’s not very often I get to do a Friday Feast post, although expect to see a bit more of me around Heartland release time. But this week is the Australian Romance Readers Convention in Brisbane, and with so many Australian authors heading along for a weekend of full-on romance (book romance, that is… for me, anyway. Can’t speak for the others!) I thought I’d take pressure my busy guests and take over the slot.

Now, because I’m a complete fusspot who likes her systems, I’m going to stick with the normal Friday Feast format and hit you once again with Heart of the Valley’s cover and blurb. Oof, stop your groaning. You know you haven’t seen it enough!

Besides, this is different. On March 24th the smaller format of Heart of the Valley releases and it has an extra pretty new cover. Compare and contrast with the example on the right. See? What, you can’t see any difference? Phht. Look at the colours! There, what did I tell you? A pretty pinked-up new cover and a slightly altered blurb. All good!

 

HEART OF THE VALLEY

 

HotV Cover - smaller 2013 formatBrooke Kingston is smart, capable and strongwilled – some might even say stubborn – and lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley on her family property. More at home on horseback than in heels, her life revolves around her beloved ‘boys’ – showjumpers Poddy, Oddy and Sod.

Then a tragic accident leaves Brooke a mess. Newcomer Lachie Cambridge is hired to manage the farm, and Brooke finds herself out of a job and out of luck. But she won’t go without a fight.

What she doesn’t expect is Lachie himself – a handsome, gentle giant with a will to match her own. But with every day that Lachie stays, Brooke’s future on the farm is more uncertain.

A vivid, moving and passionate story of love and redemption from the author of Promises.

 

Yet to own your own copy of Heart of the Valley? Then you must satisfy that burning urge and buy! Try your local BigW or bookshop, or go online to Booktopia or Bookworld. If ebooks are your go, try Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Google Play or iTunes. Sorry, international visitors, my books are currently available only in Australia and New Zealand but I’m working on it!

And now I bring you…er…me!

 

OVEN LOVE

 

We have now been in our new house for 15 days. Ahh, the utter bliss of having all my clothes, my kitchen things, my cookbooks! and a lovely big office in which my beloved workstation fits just beautifully. Moving in had its usual issues of breakages and missing items but after 20+ years of doing this we’ve learned that there’s no point in getting cranky. Well, not very cranky. I have been known to crack a wobble over my cookbooks being mishandled and I did nearly lose it this time at the mysterious disappearance of one my favourite French copper pot lids, but overall stoicism was my friend.

Anyway, it’s all very hard to stay cranky when one has succumbed to the intensely blissful delight of  oven love. Yes, I am besotted with an inanimate object. But this, my dear Feasters, is not just any inanimate object. This is a brand spanking new 90cm, 5 burner stove and oven.

Regardez

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Isn’t it lovely? All that stainless steel and heavy cast iron. That deliciously fat size. That range hood with its fantastically bright LED light and timer function. That wok burner. All those settings to suit anything from pizza to pavlova. Sigh. Makes one’s heart rather skippy.

So, you’re probably wondering what I’ve baked. Well, you have to remember that we haven’t actually been moved in for that long, and for the first 5 days at least I was too knackered too cook, but I have managed to make an apricot and Frangelico frangipane tart (yum!), roasted some pork and created beautiful crackling, baked a couple of home-made pizzas, roasted veges, baked a casserole, stirfried about four lots of noodly dishes, and last night I whipped up a tasty leek and fetta tart. Not a bad effort, but you wait until winter when I really get cooking. Then there’ll be some fun!

Which brings me to what recipe I should share. I had great plans of doing a marvelously complicated story called “My Week With Hugh” where I regaled you with adventures from my week of cooking recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall’s new cookbook, Hugh’s Three Good Things, a book I won just before Christmas thanks to those fantastically generous souls at The Essential Ingredient (who also run a most excellent website). Alas, time has not permitted and I’ll have to save that for another Feast.

But it just so happens that I picked up some juicy looking sirloin steaks from the Mulgoa butcher the other day, which then led me to whip up a batch of Café de Paris butter for the freezer. Now, I have no idea how authentic my version is of this butter. I’m not even sure there is an authentic version, but I started out using Neil Perry’s recipe from Rockpool (it’s up on the restaurant website if you search) then over time adapted it using Iain Hewitson’s version from his Tolarno Bistro cookbook and another couple of recipes from cooking magazines, until I arrived at the butter that we now make and love.

There’s something quite seductive about a beautifully cooked steak glistening with a disc of slowly melting Café de Paris butter. Yes, yes, horribly bad for you and all that, but that’s okay. Just don’t have it every day!

Go on, give it a try. You know you want to…

 

Café de Paris Butter

125g butter

1 French shallot, finely diced

1 scant teaspoon of good quality curry powder

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon baby capers, rinsed and finely chopped

2 anchovy fillets, chopped

1 small handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped

1 small handful of basil leaves, finely chopped

The leaves from a few springs of fresh thyme

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce???????????????????????????????

Stick the lot in a food processor and whiz until well mixed. If you don’t have all the ingredients don’t fuss, just use what you have. I’ve made it on occasion missing some of the herbs or spices and it turned out fine. Plus each time I make this butter it tastes slightly different, even when I use every ingredient. Adds to the fun!

???????????????????????????????Using a spatula, scoop the butter out onto a good sized square of plastic wrap then shape into a log. Fold over the wrap and then, holding the ends, roll back and forth until it forms a nice sausage shape. Plonk the sausage in the freezer and simply cut off discs whenever you want some super tasty flavoured butter for your steaks. Easy!

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So, what’s your favourite steak accompaniment? Perhaps you’re a spicy sort and can’t live without a good, peppery sauce. Maybe you’re a naturalist and prefer it bare and beefy. Maybe you like to be extravagant and tournedos Rossini, with its layers of crouton, foie gras and truffle all dressed in a rich demi-glace. I’d love to hear your thoughts. With autumn coming up, and the nesting season approaching, it’s nice to have a few new steaky things to try.

If you’d like to read more about Heart of the Valley or Promises and how they came into being, please visit my website. You can also keep up with my natterings on Facebook, Twitter and Google+

 

THIS WRITING LIFE: Greetings from the realm of the semi-homeless!

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After less than 12 months in vibrant, football obsessed Melbourne, we returned north just after New Year to the land of many cockroaches and my beloved Sydney Swans. Yes, we’re back in NSW, floating around the far, far outer reaches of Sydney. Frustratingly, we’ve yet to find anywhere to live but we’re working on it. Hard. I’m rather jack of tramping around houses and poking around realestate.com but these things must be endured, and it does help me get to know the area little.

Never mind. There are marvellous things occurring to make up for it.

Firstly, I was ridiculously chuffed to learn that Heart of the Valley was a finalist in the Favourite Contemporary Romance section of the Australian Romance Readers Awards. It’s so amazing to see HotV (as I affectionately call it) listed alongside such illustrious 2012 ARRA finalistcompany and I cannot wait for the first weekend in March when the winners will be announced at the Australian Romance Readers Convention. I’m not expecting even slightly to win – not against THAT competition – but it’ll still be great to be a part of the celebrations.

Secondly, I’m writing up an absolute storm! Monday week ago I started my next novel and the words have been gushing out. It’s amazing. Given the circumstances, I’d expected some sort of keyboard constipation but the opposite has occurred. I can only put it down to how completely besotted with this story I am. Either that or I’m plain old bored out of my skull, and getting lost in my imagination is far more preferable than staring at the stark black and white interior of our temporary accommodation. Nah. Has to be the former. I LOVE this story!

Thirdly, I’m finally making a big dent in my massive to-be-read pile and have read some wonderful books. Monica McInerney’s The House of Memories is a stand out (oh, I bawled!), as was Jonas Jonasson’s The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared (what a hoot!). So far I’ve read five books since the start of January – a lot for me – and with almost a week to go the tally’s likely to be six. Looks like I’ll have to go a-bookbuying again. What a shame…

And lastly, my May release Heartland is becoming real. Soon I’ll have a cover to show off and a blurb to tease you with, and it won’t be long and it’ll be off to the printer. I’m doing a final proof of its pages right now and having a wonderful time revisiting Callie and Matt at Glenmore. Giggling a little too over the antics of Honk, Glenmore’s highly territorial and more than a little bit brain-fried goose.

So it’s not all bad. In fact, when I discount the “of no fixed abode” part of my life I have to admit it’s all pretty damn fabulous!

Speaking of fabulous, this time next week will see the return of Friday Feast and you should see the line up of authors booked for 2013. It’s droolworthy. We kick off with Man Drought and Stand-In Star author, and very good buddy of mine Rachael Johns, who was only this week also ranked as Australia’s 10th favourite novelist in Booktopia’s Australia Day poll. So stay tuned!

Wishing you all a brilliant Australia Day tomorrow. Enjoy those barbecues.

 

STOP PRESS: A minor miracle has occurred. We think we’ve found a house! Please join us in throwing streamers and generally wahooing about the place.

 

THIS WRITING LIFE: A Christmas Bargain

First up, some exciting news. For a very limited time, the ebook of Heart of the Valley will be made available in all formats at the bargain price of $2-99. So if you, your family or friends are after a heart-warming Australian story to read over summer, here’s a great chance to pick one up at a super sharp price.

Don’t have an e-reader, tablet or smartphone? That’s okay. Simply download Kindle or Kobo app for your desktop and away you go.

Now, click, click and be merry!

Amazon (Kindle)

Kobo

iTunes

Google Play

Bookworld

 

Also available at other good ebook retailers.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a truly magic-filled Christmas and a wonderful New Year.  Thank you for all your support through 2012 and I look forward to having more fun with you in 2013.

O

FRIDAY FEAST with me!

Happy birthday to Promises, happy birthday to my book! Yes, Feasters, it’s been one whole year since my debut rural romance was unleashed on the Australian public and what a wonderful time it’s had, from posing in Cosmo to lounging nonchalantly across the shelves of BigW and everywhere in between.

Birthdays need a party, even those belonging to inanimate objects, and I do enjoy an excuse to crack a bottle of fizz, so this week on Friday Feast we’re celebrating. But as regulars know there’s a style to this segment and, queen of fusspottiness that I am, I must keep the format intact or risk much twitchiness. So here’s Promises’ gorgeous cover and blurb, cos I just know you haven’t seen it enough…

 

PROMISES

 

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.

 

Aww, now isn’t that just lovely? Yes, yes, so I’m biased but that’s my authorly prerogative and I’m going to indulge. Now, for those of you who don’t own a copy I just know – oh, yes I do! – that you are itching, itching I say, to buy one. So trundle on down to your local independent and ask or clickety-click right now over to Bookworld or Booktopia. Prefer the ebook? Promises is also available from the above sites, as well as ebook retailers like Kobobooks and Amazon (Kindle).

And now that little sales spiel is over, here’s…er…me!

 

BIRTHDAY BEEFCAKE

Like the title of this post? I’d love to lay claim to it but, alas, it didn’t come from my RWA Conference exhausted brain but from Anne Gracie, much admired author of wonderful Regency historical romances. Clever lady.

So, yes, beefcake…

Oh, you mean you’re expecting sexy man piccies? Like this, perhaps?

Love the Old Spice Man. Such fun.

 

Not your thing? What about this chappie, looking sternly suave in breeches?

 

 

Can’t say he does anything for me but that’s probably because he’s my great-grandfather. Anyway, always a bit hard to go past a man in uniform and here’s a whole bunch.

These lovelies were snapped in Stockholm. There seems to be quite a few piccies of Scandinavian good sorts in my collection. No idea why. My finger must have accidentally slipped on the shutter button or something…

Now, seeing as we’re on the subject of beefy things, I suppose a recipe is in order. Except as I flick through my “favourites” self-made cookbook the only thing I can find that remotely fits the criteria of beefy and cakey is this pork and veal terrine recipe. Not quite the celebratory dish I had in mind but it’ll have to do. Besides, it’s simple to make, tastes good and can be enjoyed outside with a glass of dry rosé. My favourite kind of recipe.

 

PORK AND VEAL TERRINE

Fits 28cm/1.2 litre Le Creuset cast iron terrine dish.

375g diced pork (a nice fatty cut)

375g diced veal

125g good quality smoky bacon, pancetta or speck, diced

1 large clove garlic, chopped finely

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

30g shelled pistachios

1 tablespoon cognac (substitute brandy if you don’t have any)

15 or so slices prosciutto (bacon can be substituted but the terrine will be very fatty, as you can see from the above pic)

Preheat oven to 180ºC

Coarsely chop pork, veal and bacon together in a food processor using the pulse function, making sure to keep plenty of chunky bits for texture.

Tip meat into a bowl. Add the garlic, thyme, pistachios and brandy, season well with salt and pepper, and mix well with your hands.

Line a terrine or loaf tin with prosciutto, making sure to leave plenty hanging over the edges as these will be used to cover the terrine top. Pack the terrine with the meat mixture, pressing down well, and drape prosciutto edges over the surface to cover.

Lay a piece of baking paper over the folded over prosciutto and place the terrine lid on top. Transfer to a baking dish lined with a folded tea-towel (this helps stop the terrine slipping about) and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the terrine.

Bake for 90 minutes, remove from the oven and then remove the terrine from the baking dish. Keeping baking paper in place, take off the lid and set aside. Place a heavy weight on top of the terrine to weigh it down – I use a small wooden board topped with tinned tomatoes but a brick is perfect if you have one handy.

Cool to room temperature, and refrigerate overnight. Turn out onto a board and serve with cornichons and a baguette.

 

Now, it’s a birthday party so that means pressies and it just so happens I have a goodie bag handy. Not only is there a very practical canvas tote, there’s a nice mug and all sorts of items for the discerning Promises fan. There may also be Lindt chocolates inside…

Tell me which of the above beefcakes you prefer – Old Spice Man, Breeches Boy or Sexy Scandinavian  – or your favourite beefy recipe and I’ll pop you in the draw. 

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 28th August 2012 AEST. Australian addresses only, sorry.

If you wish to find out more about Promises or my second novel, Heart of the Valley, including extracts for your reading pleasure, please visit my website. You can also connect via my Facebook page and Twitter.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Brenda, who has won a gorgeous goodiebag with bonus choccies. Thanks to all who joined in the fun and helped celebrate Promises‘ birthday. It’s been a hoot!

 

This Writing Life: E-book Update

A quick heads-up for e-book readers. My debut rural romance PROMISES is now available on Kindle and from Kobo, Borders and other ebook retailers for $10. Bargain!

Here are the links:

If you have a Kindle, you can buy Promises here. Currently $10-03

If you own a Kobo, Sony or other e-reader that accepts the ePub format then you have a wider choice of stores and the book is slightly cheaper at $9-99.

Kobo

Booktopia

Borders.com.au

Angus & Roberstson

Dymocks

 

HEART OF THE VALLEY is also available as an ebook from the same retailers for around $19-99

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Rachael Johns

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Well, Feasters, I’m super excited today. Not only am I in Stawell, Victoria, talking at the local library’s Girl’s Night In (7-30pm, Stawell Library, Sloane Street in case you’re in the area and on the hunt for a faaaaabulous evening) but it’s the official release day of my good buddy Rachael Johns’ rural romance Jilted.

Now, call me biased (cos I am), but I can honestly say that Jilted is a wonderful book. It’s the sort of story that hooks you from page one and keeps you entranced until the final page. The characters are vividly drawn, the setting dynamic, the story emotional and don’t get me started on the hero, the super sexy farmer Flynn Quartermaine. He’d nearly give Lachie from Heart of the Valley a run. Nearly. A girl has to stand up for her man after all, even if he is fictional.

Here’s the cover and blurb to whet your literary appetite.

 

JILTED

 

She left him at the altar, but her heart was always his…

After more than ten years away, Australian soap star Ellie Hughes returns to the small country town of Hope Junction, determined to remain anonymous while caring for her injured godmother, Matilda.

But word spreads fast in the tight-knit community. It isn’t long before the people of Hope’s are gossiping about the real reason for Ellie’s visit and why she broke the heart of golden boy Flynn Quartermaine all those years ago.

Soon Ellie and Flynn are thrown back together again, forced to deal with the unresolved emotions between them. For Ellie is not the only one with secrets. Flynn has his own demons to battle, and Matilda is hiding something from her much-loved goddaughter.

When all is uncovered, can the ill-fated lovers overcome the wounds of their past? Or is Flynn destined to be jilted again?

 

Fantastic, isn’t it? Fortunately Jilted is now released and you can buy it right here, right now.  Just click!

And now here’s Rach…

 

Hiya Cathryn!! Am ecstatic to be back on your wonderful Friday Feast for a number of reasons:

  1. It’s YOUR blog. Nuff said. For all Cathryn’s readers she’s not only an awesome writer, but an ace crit partner and fabulous friend. I certainly couldn’t do without her!!
  2. We’re talking food and I am a MASSIVE food fan. I admit I bake/cook less and less lately (probably cos my kids whine too much about my cooking and it’s given me a complex) but I’m a VERY good eater.
  3. Today is an extra special day for me – it’s the actual RELEASE date of my first print book – JILTED!

 The Way To A Heroine Is Through Her Stomach…

 

I thought as well as talk about food, I’d talk about fictional heroes! My ideal hero in a book is much the same as in real life – as well as being good looking, hard-working, intelligent, I like a man who can cook and happily does so for the woman in his life. Seriously, I think the saying should be ‘the way to a WOMAN’S heart is through her stomach’ because what woman doesn’t like a man to cook for her?

The hero of Jilted – Flynn – shares some traits with my hubby. When Ellie is at her absolute lowest, Flynn looks after her. He makes her tea, offers a shoulder to lean on and COOKS! Swoon. In one section of the book, he cooks her pancakes for breakfast and pancakes just happen to be one of my favourite foods.

When I was pregnant with my first son, my darling hubby would go into the kitchen at all hours of the night and whip me up some pancakes when I was hungry. Occasionally he’d use that ghastly stuff in a bottle but most of the time, he make them from scratch. How’s that for love!? Let’s not talk about the fact he didn’t make me even ONE pancake for the next two pregnancies.

Pancakes are important in our family. Whether it started with the pregnancy cravings, who knows, but every Sunday morning, we eat pancakes. 51 weeks of the year, I’m the pancake chef and on Mother’s Day my hubby and the boys will give it a whirl.

I’m a bit of a throw it all together and hope for the best cook, so rarely do my pancakes turn out the same. Sometimes they’re thick and fluffy, other times they’re almost crepes. But a few weeks back I saw a recipe in the Masterchef magazine for Coconut Pancakes with Orange Maple Plums. I didn’t do the plum bit but I did try the coconut and I’m hooked!! Delicious. Almost as scrumptious as the time I put choc-chips in the batter, actually maybe more so.

So today, I’d like to share with you a recipe I pretty much stole from Masterchef…

 

COCONUT PANCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ cups SR flour
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp bi-carb soda
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 60g butter, melted
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Extra butter

Method:

  1. Line a baking tray with baking paper to keep made pancakes warm. Heat oven to 160 degrees.
  2. Sift flour, bicarb, sugar and salt into a bowl.
  3. Place eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and melted butter in another bowl and whisk to combine.
  4. Pour wet mixture onto dry mixture and whisk until smooth.
  5. Melt some butter in non-stick frying pan over low-medium heat. Spoon batter into the pan, and spread to desired size. Wait until bubbles appear, scatter coconut and then flip pancakes with a spatula.
  6. Cooke until lightly browned underneath. Transfer pancake/s to oven to keep warm while you repeat the process until the mixture is finished.
  7. EAT!

We prefer our pancakes the traditional way with maple syrup (must be the real stuff) or sugar and lemon. We also occasionally have strawberries and cream. These pancakes can be made without the coconut, but the coconut is what makes them stand out!!!

 

Mmm, now that’s a recipe to start your day with. Thanks, Rach. Love the piccies of your boys. They’re so cute!

Now, my lovelies, Rachael has very generously offered up a signed copy of Jilted as a giveaway. But to be in the running you have to share your ideal breakfast dish. Don’t have one? That’s okay. Rachael and I will compromise and accept a juicy description of your ideal hero instead. Better make him good though, between Rach’s Flynn and my Lachie that’s a whole lot of man to live up to!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 5th June 2012 AEST. Australian addresses only, sorry.

If you’d like to know more about Rachael and her wonderful books please visit her website. You can also connect via her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Gemma who is the lucky winner of a copy of Jilted. Thanks everyone for joining in the fun and for all those beeeoooootiful (and rather fattening) breakfast ideas!

 

This Writing Life: Media stardom

Oh, all right, so it’s not media stardom. But I was still pretty chuffed to score a full page spread about my recent South East South Australia library tour in my hometown paper, The Border Watch.

 

 

Thanks so much to Cathryn Harris and all the staff at the Mount Gambier, Bordertown, Millicent, Naracoorte, and Port MacDonnell libraries for making the tour such a success. I had a ball!

And while I’m here, check out the fantastic hat that the ladies at Port MacDonnell Library presented to me as a thank you gift (along with some other lovely goodies).

 

 

Complete glamourpuss. Yep, that’s me!

For those unfamiliar with the area, Port MacDonnell is a fishing village about 30 kms south of Mount Gambier and “Australia’s Southern Rock Lobster Capital.” The town recently celebrated the opening of its new Port MacDonnell and District Maritime Museum, which I was lucky to catch a sneak peek of during my visit, and it’s wonderful!  Full of interesting exhibits and artefacts from all around the district, but what fascinated me the most were all the shipwreck displays, especially that of the SS Admella in 1859, which claimed 89 of the ship’s 113 passengers and crew.

Two days after the steamer hit Carpenter Reef two brave seamen finally made it to shore. Exhausted, they trekked to the lighthouse at Cape Northumberland, only to discover the lighthouse had no telegraph and the keeper had lost his horse a few days before. It took another trek to a farm followed by a ride to Mount Gambier before authorities were alerted. Thanks to severe swells and inaccurate communication, it wasn’t until 8 days after the wreck that a lifeboat reached the Admella survivors, of which, by now, there were very few. I can’t even begin to imagine how terrifying that must have been.

The history of this wreck and its social and political impact is well worth exploring. So next time you’re planning a trip to South Australia, make sure you include the Limestone Coast and Port MacDonnell. A visit to the museum, fish and chips (or maybe a crayfish sandwich) on the foreshore followed by some local adventuring and you have yourself a mighty fine day.

FRIDAY FEAST with Bronwyn Parry

Happy Friday, Feasters. Never fear, I won’t subject you to another Heart of the Valley promo this week. No, no, no! Indeed, this week we have someone very special toting their wares. A certain lady from Armidale way who writes gobsmackingly good romantic suspense. RWA Romantic Book of the Year finaling and Australian Romance Reader Award winning romantic suspense, in fact.

Yes, Feasters, I bring you As Darkness Falls and Dark Country author Bronwyn Parry!

Bronwyn has a new book out and what a beauty it is. Dead Heat has been gaining five star reviews all over the blogosphere and elsewhere, with reviewers raving about her characters and suspenseful plot.  Here are a few samples:

The moment I picked up this book I didn’t want to put it down and I guarantee I won’t be the only one in that position! The Australian Bookshelf

This is a strongly plotted novel that incorporates organised crime, police corruption, gang activity and murder in a fast paced and exciting story. I reluctantly put it aside only to attend to my family’s pleas for a meal. Book’d Out

Dead Heat was a wonderful read – it drew me in right from the beginning and kept me intrigued all the way. 1 girl…too many books

Intrigued? Check out this cover and blurb.

 

DEAD HEAT

 

Trapped in rugged country in scorching summer heat, pursued by ruthless gunmen who can’t afford to fail, Jo and Nick will need all their skills and courage to survive.

The national parks where Ranger Jo Lockwood works, on the edge of the NSW outback, are untamed stretches of dry forest cut through with wild rivers. She’s often alone, and she likes it that way until she discovers the body of a man, brutally murdered, in a vandalised campground.

Detective Senior Sergeant Nick Matheson knows organised crime and gang violence from the inside out. He’s so good at undercover work that his colleagues aren’t sure which side he’s really on. His posting to Strathnairn is supposed to be a return to normal duties, but the murder victim in the campground is only the first of Jo’s discoveries.

As Jo and Nick uncover drugs and a stash of illegal weapons, the evidence points towards local young men already on the wrong side of the law. But as far as Nick s concerned, it doesn’t add up. When the body count starts mounting – each brutally punished before death – he becomes convinced that one person is behind the killings, one person is manipulating the men to commit horrific crimes, forming them into his own private drug-dealing cartel.

Jo has seen the man’s face, and now she’s his next target. Nick’s determined to protect her, but trapped in the rugged outback he and Jo will have to act quickly if they are going to survive.

 

Amazing cover, isn’t it? You can almost see the heat shimmering off it. I love it and the blurb sucks me right in. And the best thing is that Dead Heat is available right now, so off you go a-book-buying.

Done? Excellent. Now you can enjoy Bron’s faaaaabulous post.

 

Hi Cathryn! It’s a pleasure to be here – thanks so much for inviting me to your Friday Feast! Like many writers, I have a love-love relationship with food – especially comfort food and procrastination food. I’d like to find the ideal inspiration food, but despite many, many episodes of fridge and cupboard-watching, and much cooking experimentation, I have yet to find the perfect one.

Despite my fondness for food and the frequency with which I restlessly get up from the computer to study the fridge contents, I don’t actually give my characters much to eat. I don’t exactly starve them – I’m not that cruel – but my romantic suspense plots usually keep them far too busy to indulge in the luxury of a proper meal. A hurried hamburger, a couple of muesli bars, dried fruit, a slice of toast – they often eat on the go. At least I do give them plenty of coffee, or, in the case of Jo, the heroine in Dead Heat, proper leaf tea.

Perhaps in some future book I’ll give my hero and heroine the chance to enjoy some quality cuisine in a quiet romantic setting. The main course choices would depend on the characters, but it’s not hard to imagine a sinfully sensuous dessert – pannacotta, perhaps, or crème brulée, or rich, creamy, handmade icecream. Of course, being romantic suspense, I’d probably have to distract them half-way through dessert!

While writing Dead Heat, I started making my own sourdough bread. I love bread, fresh from the oven, with butter melting through it, but it hasn’t always loved me. When I read that some people find the wild yeasts of sourdough much easier on their systems than commercial yeast, I decided to give it a try. Sixteen months later, I’m a convert.

Now, amongst sourdough bakers, there are purists who approach it Very Seriously, and Very Scientifically, with measurements and special kneading techniques and Very Exact percentages of ingredients. I am not one of those purists. I’m just practical about it – people have been making bread with wild yeasts for thousand of years, without the aid of recipes, kitchen scales, or measuring cups, over hearth fires that can’t be easily regulated for temperature.

I did some web research, and made my initial sourdough starter based (loosely) on instructions from the sourdoughbaker.com.au and made my first loaf based on a recipe on a much simpler website that I now can’t find. (Sorry!) A quick web-search for ‘sourdough starter’ will produce many good results, however.

After my first few loaves, I tried the breadmaker for mixing the dough, and that worked very well – and was much easier on my hands! Since then I’ve learned, through trial and success, more about making bread in dry, cool climates (a moister dough works better), and I’ve put together a number of recipes that work for me (and my husband!) Our freezer is generally full with sourdough bread, rolls, fruit bread, crumpets, cinnamon scrolls…

At one point in Dead Heat, Jo and Nick have a hasty breakfast of fruit toast from Jo’s freezer. In the book, it’s not mentioned that it’s homemade sourdough fruit toast – chatting about food isn’t their top priority at that point – but of course I imagine that Jo makes sourdough bread! So here’s our recipe:

 

Bron’s (and Jo’s) Sourdough Fruit Toast

(makes one large loaf or two small ones)

2 cups of fed sourdough starter (100% starter – ie, equal amounts of flour and water)

½ cup of milk

1 tablespoon golden syrup

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons salt

3 ½ cups plain flour

tepid water as required (approx 1/2cup)

approx 300 grams mixed fruit (including some chopped up dates) (toss in small amount of flour)

If using a bread machine pan for the dough:

Add into the pan in the following order: Starter, milk, golden syrup, cinnamon, flour, salt.

First knead: Set bread machine to ‘dough’ setting – check after a few minutes that there is sufficient liquid – add a little water if necessary.

If kneading by hand, put on some good music before you start, and give it a good ten minutes or more. A basic kneading motion is fine – you don’t have to do anything fancy, just keeping working the dough evenly to make it smooth and elastic.

First rise: Leave dough to rise in the bread machine or covered in a warm place; maximum rise is when it doesn’t bounce back when pushed gently with a finger tip.

Second knead: Using ‘dough’ setting on bread machine, knead for 5 minutes or so. Or knead it again by hand for around the same length of time.

Fruit and shaping: On a floured surface, press gently on dough with tips of fingers (without squeezing air out) to stretch out sides until it’s a large rectangular shape. Scatter floured fruit over the surface of the dough. Starting with the far end, tightly roll the dough towards you. Fold one end in over the other (ie in thirds).  Gently stretch and mould dough into desired shape. Place seam side down into oiled bread tin.

Second rise: Leave to rise in tin – best rising is in a warm place out of draughts, with a little humidity. I put a mug of hot water beside the tin, and place a large plastic box over the tin and the mug. A heat pack can also assist on cold days. Depending on temperature, humidity, and moistness of dough, rising can take 2-3 hours.

Bake at 180 C for about 30 minutes or until cooked – it should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom of the loaf.

Eating: Prepare a cup of leaf tea – chai is ideal. Toast your fruit bread lightly, spread with butter and maybe a touch of marmalade, and relax and enjoy in a pleasant environment, preferably avoiding interruptions from gun-toting criminals intent on killing you. If interruptions cannot be avoided, offer them fruit toast and a cup of chai. As they sinking into a state of bliss, apprehend them and then return to your breakfast.

 

Oh, thanks so much for this, Bron! Sourdough you can knead in a breadmachine might actually convince me to have another go at making this bread. I tried a few years ago, developing my own starter with spelt flour and whatnot, then on baking day, I (for once) followed instructions and used this ridiculous slap-kneading technique which resulted into sticky dough being shot into every crevice of my kitchen. It took forever to clean and the bread turned out ordinary to say the least. Never again, was the motto after that. But after reading this recipe I may have to rethink this stance.

Now Feasters, Bron, being the lovely person that she is, has very generously offered a giveaway prize and it’s the one you all want. Yes, you can win a copy of her brilliant new novel, Dead Heat! But freebies like this don’t come easy. You have to work for it, and by work Bron means sharing your favourite bread or bread topping, or simply a bready memory.

So get commenting!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 22nd May 2012 AEST. Australian addresses only, sorry.

If you’d like to learn more about Bronwyn and her award-winning romantic suspense novels, please visit her website. You can also connect via Twitter and Facebook.

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Imelda who has won a signed copy of Bronwyn’s Dead Heat. Lucky girl! Thanks to all who stopped by to comment. Looks like we may see a few sourdough converts!