Tag Archives: Mandy Magro

FRIDAY FEAST with Mandy Magro

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Greetings food and book lovers! Welcome to Friday Feast, the blog series where Australian authors prove they’re as talented in the kitchen as they are at producing great reads. This week, a favourite rural romance author with a favourite Aussie snack. Perfect!

Mandy picBut as always, you must first endure Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. I played well! Bet you weren’t expecting that, were you? Not after all the weeks (months?) of doom and gloom. But it’s true. In fact, I played so well I knocked half a stroke off my handicap. ‘Tis this glorious spring weather I think, all those positive vibes in the air. Or maybe I just started looking at the ball. Whatever it was, I want more of it, please. The club championships approacheth!

This week’s Friday Feast guest is much-loved Australian rural romance author Mandy Magro, whose first novel, Rosalee Station was a huge hit and she hasn’t looked back since. Rosalee Station was followed by Jacaranda, Flame Tree Hill, Driftwood and Country at Heart, which makes The Wildwood Sisters Mandy’s 6th release. This is an author definitely pleasing her readers!

THE WILDWOOD SISTERS

The Wildwood Sisters by Mandy MagroThe past Renee Wildwood once ran from still haunts her…

Ten years ago, Renee’s twin sister Scarlet went missing. In the threatening aftermath, seventeen-year-old Renee was forced out of her home at Wildwood Acres, leaving her family and her boyfriend behind. Although the case has long gone cold, every day Renee hopes the person responsible will be found. She has since made a new life for herself in the city but fate intervenes when a family emergency forces her to face up to her fears and her painful memories. But can she go back to Wildwood Acres, the one place her heart yearns to be but where her life may be in grave danger?

Dylan Anderson has never quite got over the loss of his first love, Renee Wildwood, who left him without a word. He’s now a single father trying to make it on his own after the tragic death of his wife, and his cattle property is struggling financially. Against all odds he’s taking steps to get his life back on track, starting with a new job. But how will he feel when he finds Renee, the girl who stole his heart, is back at Wildwood Acres? Will he ever be able to forgive her?

Doesn’t that sound amazing? And how about that stunning cover? You will want this, oh yes you will! The Wildwood Sisters releases on October 26th but you can pre-order it right now and have it in your hot little hands right on release day. Try Booktopia, Amazon, iBooksKobo, your favourite book retailer or direct from the publisher, Harlequin (where you can also sample an extract).

All set? Now enjoy this delicious treat with Mandy.

Home Comforts…

Thanks for the warm welcome back to your Friday Feast blog filled with drool-worthy yumminess, Cathryn. This will be my fourth time visiting and I’m so excited because as you already know from my previous visits, I love anything to do with food.

I’m renowned amongst my friends and family for always thinking about my next meal, be it a home cooked creation or a meal enjoyed out and about at a favourite restaurant or pub. If given a choice to go clothes shopping or to shop to my heart’s content at a food market the latter will always win, hands down. I adore seeing and tasting all the delicious delectables showcased at a good foodies market like cheeses – the mouldier the better, deli-style meats, fresh pastas, dips, breads, chocolates, teas, spices…oh my I think I’m beginning to drool.

I better get on with sharing the recipe of my favourite sausage rolls…Lamb and Fennel!

Lamb and Fennel Sausage Rolls

(click link above for the recipe)

Mandy's lamb and fennel sausage rolls

I follow this recipe word for word and the golden parcels of scrumptiousness turn out perfect every time. 🙂

Happy eating!

Mandy

*

They sound delicious, Mandy! Thanks for sharing the link. I remember seeing this recipe in the Woolworths store magazine and tore out the recipe myself. I’ve yet to make it but it appears I’ll definitely have to remedy that. They look fab and who doesn’t love a sausage roll?

What about you, Feasties? Are you a sausage roll or a pie or pasty person? What bakery style food is your favourite?

Must admit, I really do love a sausage roll but they’re terribly bad for you, so a once-in-a-while treat. A pasty is a good option. The veg in it means you can kid yourself it’s healthy.

If you’d like to learn more about Mandy and her wonderful rural romances, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

 

Rural Romance Book Heaven Could Be Yours!

How would you like the chance to win a Valentine’s bouquet that lasts forever? Well, perhaps not forever, but a bloody long time.

Then you need the…

AustralianRuralRomance.com

Valentine’s Day Giveaway!

There are 6 book bouquets – yes, SIX! – up for grabs, with each bunch containing 5 of the best from our Australian rural romance stars. We’re talking the likes of Rachael Johns, Fiona Palmer, Loretta Hill, Helene Young, Tricia Stringer, Barbara Hannay, Fleur McDonald, Fiona McArthur, Jenn J McLeod, Mandy Magro, Margareta Osborn, Bronwyn Parry, Jennifer Scoullar and many more. And all you have to do to be in the draw is sign up to the australianruralromance.com blog. Easy-peasy.

Lucky me is in two book bouquets, one featuring a signed copy of Promises, the other a copy of Heart of the Valley. Check out the amazing company I’m in…

Australian rural romance book bouquet with Promises

 

Australian rural romance book bouquet with Heart of the Valley

And there are another four fabulous book bouquets up for grabs. Wow!

So either click on one of the images above or hit australianruralromance.com to lodge your entry.

This is a fantastic opportunity to score books from some of Australia’s most popular writers, for yourself or to share. Don’t miss out!

Winners will be drawn on February 14th. Australian postal addresses only.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Mandy Magro

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Hello Feasters, and welcome to the devilish deliciousness that is Friday Feast! This week is pure gold, with a gold standard rural romance author, an 18 carat cover and a golden syrup based dessert to die for. So read on…

First, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. On Monday I trekked up to Windsor to play in the final of the Women’s Golf Nepean Silver Brooch thing that I somehow qualified for. The course was lovely, my playing companions too, and… wait for it… I didn’t disgrace myself! Mandy MagroActually, I played quite well. I know, amaaaaazing. Who’da thunk it? Not me, that’s for sure. I was predicting duffed shots and a score that read like cricket a innings.

Speaking of amazing…

My Friday Feast guest today is Mandy Magro, a Queensland country gal who has quickly become one of Australia’s favourite rural romance authors. Her books are lush with outback imagery, emotional and a bit sexy. This isn’t a gal who keeps the bedroom door closed on her heroes and heroines!

Mandy’s latest book is Country At Heart. Take a look.

COUNTRY AT HEART

Country At Heart by Mandy MagroA wounded soldier and a free spirit, both determined to follow their dreams – can their love survive?

The Army, protecting the country he loves, and his dearly beloved explosive detection dog Indy are Dean’s life – he can’t imagine doing anything else. But life has other plans for Dean when he and Indy are wounded in action in Afghanistan and sent home to his family’s seaside horse property, Whispering Meadows, to heal.

Free-spirited Summer has agreed to spend one last holiday with her parents at their luxurious vacation home, despite her father’s resistance to her plans for her career. But events take an unexpected turn when Summer and Dean meet and discover that love at first sight truly exists.

But can they overcome the very real challenges of coming from different sides of the tracks? And when Summer has to face the unpleasant truth about an old friend, as well as come to terms with the after-effects of a bewildering assault, she has to make a heartbreaking decision about their relationship. Can Dean’s love ultimately sway her?

‘A timeless tale of love and war brought to vivid life from war-torn Afghanistan to country Australia’ –TONY PARK, bestselling author of The Delta and Ivory

Doesn’t that sound a cracking read? You can have your hands on it in a jiffy with just a few clickety-clicks. For the paperback, visit Booktopia, Bookworld or Angus & Robertson. For the ebook, click on over to Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or buy  direct from the publisher Harlequin.

All stocked up? Excellent. Now for more gold, thanks to Mandy!

The Sweet Side Of Life…

Thanks for inviting me back to your mouth-watering Friday Feast, Cathryn. I just adore anything to do with food – recipe books, growing it, shopping for it, cooking it and eating it! I will admit I do like to eat healthy – the majority of the time. But then there are the moments when I crave comfort food, the kind of stuff you eat with a stupid grin while fighting the urge to lick your bowl clean.

So, I’m very excited to share my favourite dessert with you, Steamed Golden Syrup Pudding. My mouth is watering just thinking about its delicious golden gooiness.

Steamed Golden Syrup Pudding

Mandy Magro's cooked Steamed Golden Syrup Pudding

Ingredients

150g soft brown sugar

150g softened butter

1 lemon – zested

3 eggs, beaten

150g self raising flour, mixed with a pinch of salt

10 tablespoons golden syrup

Method

  1. Butter a 2-pint (1.1 litre) pudding/steamer dish. Put the sugar and butter in a large bowl and beat with electric beaters until pale and fluffy. Beat in the lemon zest and eggs (add a couple of tablespoons of the flour to help), and then fold in the flour. Mix in 5 tablespoons of golden syrup – or a little more if you like. Put the other 5 tablespoons of syrup – or a little more if you like – in the bottom of the steamer dish. Spoon the pudding mixture on top.
  2. Secure the lid on the steamer basin.
  3. Place the steamer basin in a large pan on an upturned saucer (to stop it touching the base of the pan) with simmering water coming a third of the way up the sides of the dish. Steam for 2 hours, checking the water now and again and topping up if needed.
  4. (This is where my inner-child comes out and I lick the bowl!)
  5. Rest the pud for a couple of minutes before turning it out (you may need a palette knife to loosen)
  6. Serve with lashings of cream, or ice-cream, or custard, or all three – why not live it up! 🙂

So there you have it, my wickedly full-fat over-indulgent syrup pudding. I promise every single mouthful will be worth the sin of it!

Happy cooking, and eating!

Mandy

Happiness indeed! Thanks, Mandy. What a beautiful recipe you’ve shared. Golden syrup is a bit like condensed milk I think. There is no bad recipe with it in!

I adore classic puds like this. They’re tried and true, and so very comforting. They also look great and taste divine.

Okay, my darling Feasties, what is your favourite naughty pudding or dessert? One that is so, so bad it’d clog an elephant’s arteries but you can never resist?

For me, it would have to be caramel tart because it reminds me so much of my childhood. And Mum opening the condensed milk tin too early and painting the ceiling in hot caramel. Funny to me, but not even remotely funny for her. Imagine trying to clean that off! I could also add the Chocolate, Walnut and Prune cake that I recently discovered in the November Gourmet Traveller to the list. That cake is AMAZING.

So what about you? What’s your favourite naughty dessert? Curious minds want to know so we can go and try it too!

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

THIS WRITING LIFE: Sex and the Rural Romance Author

Got your attention? Good, because this is serious stuff!

There was an interesting article that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers recently about ‘heat’ ratings in romance novels, which prompted me to ponder sex in our home-grown rural romances and what reader expectations might be on that front.

Heartland by Cathryn Hein coverI have no idea, and that bothers me because I’m all for fulfilling my readers’ expectations, but I’ve had no feedback or seen any comment about the sex in my books at all. The explicitness has varied with each release, so what then do readers prefer?

For me it all depends on the characters. Callie and Matt in Heartland, being the people that they are, seemed to suit spontaneous, rompy sex and I had a hell lot of fun writing those scenes.

Matt stumbled his way to the single bed until they fell in a tangle of sweaty arms and legs amid creaking springs and laughter. Callie’s shorts winged across the room, following his cargo pants, the last of her underwear sling-shotting after them. Callie laughed as Matt’s jocks caught on his springy cock, enjoying his hungry, almost pained expression as she levered him out and tugged them over his hips and down his legs. Grinning, she twirled the jocks around her finger before flinging them toward the wardrobe.

I would have felt awkward doing the same for Sophie and Aaron in Promises because they were quite sweet characters, while describing the bedroom antics of my 2014 release Rocking Horse Hill’s privileged heroine would have made me feel like a dirty perv. She’s definitely not the sort of person who would appreciate others being privy to her private life (although, given Rocking Horse Hill’s sexpot hero, I bet she has an amazing time in the bedroom).

So I asked a couple of rural romance buddies how they decide how explicit to be with their sex scenes…

 

Fiona Palmer, best-selling author of The Family Farm, The Sunburnt Country and other great rural reads is of similar opinion to me:

Cathryn, I agree that it is up to the characters. In one of my books it happens on the back of a ute and in another book the sex scene called for a more soft gentle approach.  The Outback Heart by Fiona PalmerSo I go with what I feel, what I think the characters would do and see where it leads. I do love good sexual tension in books and so I like a little sneak peek of when they get to finally act on this tension. I personally enjoy the hot parts, but it doesn’t sway my like or dislike of a book if it has hot sex or not. Just like in Pride and Prejudice, sometimes just the touch of a hand can mean so much more.

I haven’t heard back from any readers saying they didn’t enjoy the sex scenes in my books. (In fact I have the blokes asking for more!) So I will just keep going based on what I think the characters need and want.  Here is a snippet from my latest book The Outback Heart and this paragraph is the raunchiest of the whole sex scene.

‘Amazing.’ Troy’s gaze swept across her breasts as she arched her back, waiting for his touch. A shaky hand caressed her soft skin, his thumb flicking over an already hard nipple. Indi tightened her legs around his waist as he bent to taste one bud, before moving to the next, his tongue flicking and teasing. His hand went down to where she was hot and moist. Indi dug her fingers into his shoulders as a moan fell from her lips.

 

Rachael Johns, best-seller and Australian Romance Reader Award winner expands on the sex depends on character theme:

I consider my rural books very much romance books and therefore exploring the chemistry between the main characters is a must for me. But how heated and graphic that exploration is really does depend on the hero and heroine in each book.

Outback Dreams by Rachael JohnsThings such as whether the characters have just met play a factor and also their previous relationship experiences. In my first book Jilted, Ellie and Flynn were high school sweethearts and the attraction between them was always spicy but at the beginning of the book they are trying to fight it because of the hurt they both carry.  In Man Drought, Imogen and Gibson experience instant attraction but they both have reasons to steer clear of the opposite sex, however each interaction between them gets hotter and hotter till it blows up in his ute on the side of the road. That might be my sauciest rural romance scene.

If I know my characters well, I find the sex scenes almost write themselves. In Outback Dreams, my latest release, Faith and Monty have been best friends forever but have only just realized they also find each other attractive, so their first sex scene had a different tone again.

Her smile gave her consent and within seconds they were tumbling backwards, pausing only to tear up the zip on the tent, before collapsing on top of their waiting swags. She couldn’t tell who hit the ground first but they both reached for each other, tearing at each other’s clothing like hungry beasts. In complete darkness and with no method to their madness they didn’t seem to be getting anywhere, so Faith pulled back and took care of her own clothes. Monty did the same and when he reached for her again, she felt his warm, naked flesh against hers.

A moan of approval slipped from her lips.

Damn the dark. She willed her eyes to adjust so she could look her fill at the specimen beside her.

And then he was touching her. He pulled her towards him, tugged a blanket over the top of them and smoothed her hair. ‘You okay?’

Okay? Words could not do justice to her level of okay-ness. Why had they never gone here before? ‘Yes.’

I like reading about the sex between two people who are in love or at least on the road to falling in love, and so I like to give a glimpse of this to my readers as well. However, I don’t get too graphic with my sex scenes as I believe it is the emotional not the physical side of a love scene that is most important.

 

Karly Lane, best-selling author of North Star, Morgan’s Law and Bridie’s Choice is also mindful of her readers:

I’ve noticed a steady increase in what my editor and publisher expect in my books. In North Star I was asked to trim a lot of the scenes, but in Morgan’s Law I was asked to show the readers more!Bridie's Choice by Karly Lane I think publishers are aware of the whole Fifty Shades of Grey epidemic and that women’s fiction is undergoing a shake up at the moment, and so they’re willing to stretch the boundaries a little more than they may once have.

I personally, write what suits my plot and characters. I won’t write an explicit love scene just to keep up with a current trend. I had a reader who told me she allowed her young teenage daughter to read my books because she knew they weren’t too overly explicit. I’m very conscious of what my readers like which is why I won’t be jumping on the mommy porn band wagon just for the sake of it.

This quote from Bridie’s Choice gives a good example of Karly’s boundaries.

She heard him groan softly next to her ear, and she urged him onto his back, following him down until she straddled him. His surprised chuckle soon faded and was replaced with an intense look as he cupped her face in his hands, holding her gaze silently for a long moment. The depth of feeling in that one shared look made Bridie quiver with a mixture of emotion and lust. Leaning forward, she kissed him, pouring into the kiss the feelings she knew she couldn’t voice.

His hands slipped to her waist, holding her firmly as she began to move slowly against him. The gentle moans of their mutual need drifted away on the breeze above them.

 

Mandy Magro, best-selling author of Rosalee Station, Jacaranda and Flame Tree Hill has a different take:

I like to leave the bedroom door wide open, in ALL my novels. Driftwood 3Actually, I love to take my characters out of the bedroom to make it even steamier 🙂 When two people fall in love, the most intimate way to show this is through love making, be it slow and sensual or hungry, hot and steamy. I love writing these scenes and will endeavour to include them in each and every one of my future novels.

Mandy demonstrates just how steamy with this excerpt from her November 1st release, Driftwood.

Taylor panted as she reached out and gripped the sides of the rock, her hips arching into Jay’s lusciously warm mouth, his tongue and lips seducing her into seventh heaven. Her eyes closed in ecstasy as she teetered on the edge, her entire body quivering. How could a man send her into a sexual trance so beyond the normal realm she felt as though she was floating into an abyss? Finally, succumbing to his enchanting mouth, she toppled over the edge of self-control and screamed out his name, pulsating against his ravishing tongue as she climaxed to the point of breathlessness, every centimetre of her shuddering.

So, dear readers, what do you prefer? Well described sex or more teasing hints? The door open or closed? Do you need sex to complete the romance side of the story? Or does it depend on the characters or plot?

Comment away! Fiona, Rachael, Karly, Mandy and I would love to hear your thoughts.

If you’d like to know more about Fiona, Rachael, Karly, Mandy and their books, or wish to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, you’ll find all the links on their websites. Just click a name below to discover more.

Fiona Palmer

Rachael Johns

Karly Lane

Mandy Magro

Cathryn Hein

 

 

Hot News & Events!

Keep your eyes out for some fantastic events happening now and soon…

Heartland Review Fun

A wonderful review of my latest rural romance Heartland on the Australian Romance Readers Association blog.

“I’m missing the people in this story. I didn’t realise until I read the last page and shut the book. When I walked away, from it, I realised I felt bereft.” Rosalie for the ARRA blog.

Isn’t that a lovely thing to say? I’m so delighted.

If you’re an ARRA member, leave a comment and you’ll go into the draw to win a copy of Heartland. Giveaway closes 17th July.

You can read more about Heartland, including an excerpt and the story of how the book came into being, on my website.

 

Booktopia’s Australian Romance Month, Featuring Fabulous Giveaways

Join most excellent Australian online bookseller Booktopia for their Australian Romance month, where I, and a fine line-up of Australian romance authors, will be entertaining you with our witty answers to questions like: Who do you swoon over? and Tell us something very few people know about you, and the ever so tricky, Finish this sentence: I would do anything for love, but I won’t do  ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­____

Newsletter_Banner(1)

You can read my answers to those questions and more on July 12th.

There are plenty of other rural-set fiction authors joining me across the month, including Rachael Johns, Fiona Palmer, Rachael Treasure, Barbara Hannay, Jennifer Scoullar, Loretta Hill, Mandy Magro, Bronwyn Parry, Margareta Osborn, Helene Young, Nicole Alexander, Jenn J McLeod and others!

Plus all month there’ll be competitions to win great books, and if you order an Aussie Romance Author book from Booktopia in July, you’ll go into the draw to win a fantastic book pack. For more details, click on the banner above or visit Booktopia.

 

Romance Writers of Australia Conference, August 16th-18th 2013

It’s only 6 weeks until the RWA Conference in Fremantle, W.A. and I can’t wait. This is THE event of the year for romance authors, published and aspiring. A chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones, plus learn more about our business and craft. There are also opportunities for authors to pitch their work to leading Australian and international editors and agents.

I have a great deal to thank the RWA for and can’t recommend the organisation and its conference highly enough.

For more information on the RWA and the conference, visit the website.

 

Australian Romance Readers Association Booksigning Event, Saturday 17th August 2013

I’m signing and so are 55 others local and international authors. These events are a hoot! Register now at the ARRA blog.

BSE3 I'll be signing 500

 

 

J’aimee Brooker’s Spotlight On Aussie Rural Novelists

Last week I answered a series of fun questions on contemporary romance author J’aimee Brooker’s blog as part of her week-long spotlight on Aussie Rural Novelists. Find out the one author I’d spend my last $20 on, who I’d be if I was a character from a novel and more!

Also featured were Rachael Johns, Karly Lane, and Jennie Jones. Check it out!

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Mandy Magro

Hello, Feasters! Have you been checking the bookstores lately? Aren’t there some wonderful releases out at the moment, especially from Australian authors. I always find all those Aussie titles such a heart-warming sight and getIMG_1559 a real kick out of knowing that some of these clever people have appeared, or will be appearing, on Friday Feast. Good books and food, that’s us!

Which brings me to my guest today, Mandy Magro. A country girl through and through, Mandy lives on the family farm in Mareeba, far north Queensland, and her love for Australia and the outback is vividly evident in  her wonderfully real Australian stories.

Mandy’s latest release is Flame Tree Hill and continues the success of Rosalee Station and Jacaranda. Take a look…

 

FLAME TREE HILL

 

High Reso FTH newKirsty Mitchell is ready to come home. After a tragic accident that left her scarred, she fled overseas. Now, three years later, she’s finally returning to Flame Tree Hill, her beloved family farm.

But at twenty-five Kirsty isn’t prepared for the terrifying new challenge ahead: breast cancer.

Kirsty’s never been a quitter and that’s not about to change. But can her budding romance with local vet Aden bear the strain?

As she battles with chemotherapy and as her past threatens to overwhelm her, Kirsty realises you can never take anything – or anyone – for granted. Drawing strength from her family and the beauty of Far North Queensland, Kirsty finally understands what she must do.

A lyrical and heart-warming testament to the power of love – and forgiveness.

 

Wow, doesn’t that sound an emotional read but with Mandy in charge you can be assured it’ll also be an uplifting one. A few clickety-clicks and Flame Tree Hill can be yours. Purchase the paperback from Booktopia (most excellent Platinum sponsor of ARRC2013) or your favourite bookseller. Signed copies are also available from Mandy herself. For the ebook version, try Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, iTunes, Amazon Kindle or direct from Penguin Australia.

And now here’s Mandy!

 

Spice ‘n All Things Nice

 

Hi Cathryn,

Thank you for having me on your yummy blog today. I adore anything to do with food and cooking …oh, and eating! 🙂

In all of my novels I find food is the thing that can bring my characters together. Be it in a big homestead kitchen, a festive celebration or just sitting around a campfire toasting marshmallows. It is the universal language, I feel, and such a wonderful way to share times with loved ones. Imagine life without food…there would be no farmers, no shopping, no cooking, no barbeques, no cooking shows…and the list goes on. I reckon it would be pretty boring!

Today I wanted to share my favourite sauce recipe…Nam Jim. It is an Asian style sauce, which you can tell from the name :-), and it goes with so many things. You can use it for a delish Thai Beef Salad, to marinate chicken, over natural oysters or even as a dipping sauce for seafood and naughty deep fried foods. The list is endless!

Nam Jim

nam jim

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch coriander
  • 3cm piece ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 long red chillies
  • 2 limes, zested, juiced
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 55g (1/4 cup firmly packed) brown sugar

Method

Rinse coriander well. Process coriander, roots and all, ginger, garlic, chillies, lime zest and juice, fish sauce and brown sugar in a food processor until well combined and finely chopped. And that’s it, easy as.

If you don’t like things too hot, then just alter the amount of chilli put in. It will also last in the fridge for a week, so make a good batch and just use at your liking.

Happy eating!

Mandy xx

 

Happy eating indeed! Thanks, Mandy. Luuurve your sauce – so versatile and, as you say, it can be tweaked to suit everyone’s tastes. Nam jim is a big favourite in this house. We love it as a dipping sauce for fresh prawns. The flavours seem to work perfectly together.

Now, my saucy Feasters, what’s your favourite Asian food? I’m a huge fan of anything made with fresh rice noodles. Oh, and laksa. Mmm. We’ve recently discovered a new local noodle bar and they don’t do a bad laksa at all, although perhaps next time I’ll skip the spicy version. I like things hot but that one made my eyeballs sweat. Maybe you’re more partial to a spot of yum cha? Perhaps complex Indian curries get your juices flowing. Knowing all you adventurous Feasters, you’re bound to enjoy some interesting Asian treats, so share away!

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

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Mandy Magro

Happy Friday, Feasters, and what a wonderful day it is, not least because this weekend means EUROVISION. Oh yes, well may you laugh, but you can take your Idols and The Voices and X’s Got Talent and all those other amateur productions, and plonk them right in the bin of television obscurity where they belong. Because there’s only one song contest which matters – the absolute kitschy glory of Eurovision.

SBS Television’s broadcast begins tonight at 7-30. Be there!

(Oh, and foodie sorts, if you check this month’s SBS Feast magazine, there’s even a feature on Eurovision party food. Rah!)

It’s also a wonderful day for another reason and that’s because my Friday Feast guest today is delightful rural romance author Mandy Magro. Mandy hails from north Queensland way, from the country town of Dimbulah, where she and her husband Drew run their tropical fruit farm.

Mandy’s debut release, Rosalee Station was a big hit, its cover tagged with an endorsement from Fiona Palmer no less, and fans have been eagerly awaiting her next book. Now it’s here! Yes, Jacaranda hit the shelves just a few days ago. Here’s a sample.

JACARANDA

 

At nineteen, Molly Jones has the world at her feet. Then one drunken night she falls into bed with Mark, a cowboy just passing through. By the time Molly realises she’s pregnant, Mark is long gone.

Now, at twenty-six, Molly’s life is almost perfect. She’s the devoted mother of Rose, and a renowned horse trainer. She lives amid the beauty of Jacaranda Farm, surrounded by family and friends – none closer than hunky stockman Heath. But she’s still looking for the love of her life, and a father for Rose.

When Mark stumbles back into her world, as charming as ever, Molly begins to hope for a future she’d long ago relinquished. But how will Mark react when he learns he’s a father? And could the man of Molly’s dreams be closer to home than she thinks?

 

How gorgeous is that cover? Mind you, I’m biased toward anything with a horse on it, but there’s no question Jacaranda is super pretty. I bet it flies off the shelves. If you want to score a copy right now, why not rush down to your local bookseller or, if you don’t feel like venturing outside, click your mouse right here. You can also download Jacaranda as an ebook from Amazon Kindle, Kobo and many other ebook retailers.

Anyway, enough of me, it’s Mandy you’ve come to read. So without further ado, here she is.

Food, Food, Glorious Food

Thank you for inviting me onto your yummy weekly blog, Cathryn. I am so thrilled to be here!

Can I begin by saying, Ahhhh food, glorious food! I love it, all of it, everything from Thai, Italian, Greek, Turkish and Indian through to melt in your mouth steak and chips down the local pub. I love travelling round the world for it, growing it, shopping for it, cooking it and eating it. I am an absolute foodie. I would much prefer to spend a day at food markets then in dress shops so that says it all – I can hear some women gasping from here.

Food brings people together, whether it’s in celebration of a wedding, a casual night out at your favourite restaurant, right down to the Aussie tradition of a backyard barbeque. It can even cross the boundaries of language, my experiences when travelling through parts of Asia perfect proof of that. I visited some remote villages where they didn’t speak a word of English but we could laugh and connect over meals. It was wonderful, food is wonderful. What would we do with all our spare time if we didn’t eat? I couldn’t imagine it!

I would like to share with you a recipe that has been passed onto me by my English mother-in-law. It is tradition for them to have this dessert every Christmas after devouring a lavish roast goose with all the trimmings, add in the crackling of the fire and the feathery snow falling outside and it is magical. Chocolate Orange Cheesecake is now one of my all time favourite desserts and there is certainly not a crumb left when I take it to family gatherings. It might be a little on the fattening side but who cares if it tastes good, right?

 Shazza’s Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

100g softened butter

250g digestive biscuits (UK brand but can get these from Coles)

50g Demerara sugar

500g of Philly cheese

2 oranges

250mls single cream

15g gelatine

50g dark chocolate

1. Leave the butter at room temperature (or melt it in the microwave slightly). Blend the biscuits until fine in a food processor then mix in the butter. Push this into a round spring form tin and place this in the fridge while you prepare the filling so it can harden a little.

2. In the food processor place the Philly cheese, cream, rind from 1 orange and juice from both. Turn processor on high and mix until the filling is looking creamy. Then, add the gelatine which has been mixed with a little water (according to the container’s instructions) and stir this through. Pour the mixture on top of the biscuit base.

3. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, making sure to stir it every 15 seconds so it doesn’t burn. Then, drizzle this over the top of the filling. Grab a fork and swirl the fork ever so lightly through the drizzled chocolate, just over the surface, to give it an artistic design.

4. Pop it in the fridge to set. It takes a few hours for this or preferably overnight.

5. Devour with oohs, mmmms and ahhs!

I hope you all enjoy this recipe and it is one you are proud to share with loved ones.

All this talk about food is making me hungry so I must be off to the fridge. I wonder what deliciousness lies within its clutches today.

Thanks, Cathryn; it’s been so much fun talking with you about food – one of my favourite subjects.

Mandy x

 

Have a look at that cheesecake. Wow, is all I can say. Just…wow. It’s like a Jaffa except bigger, flatter and so, so much better. Mmm. Wonder if I should make this for the Eurovision final on Sunday?

Thanks so much, Mandy, for that lovely post and even lovelier recipe. And congratulations on the release of Jacaranda. May it fly off the shelves.

So Feasters, what’s the best recipe you’ve filched from someone? I still have the recipe for lemon butter my friend’s mum gave me when I was about 12. Delicious, especially mixed with mascarpone and cream to make lemon icecream. And then there’s my mother in law’s ANZAC biscuits, which are, quite simply, the best. Then there’s my Mum’s pav, my friend’s friend’s spring roll recipe… The list is huge! So what’s yours? We’d love to hear.

Although if you also want to chat about Eurovision party food I’m sure Mandy will be in that too. I certainly won’t object!

 

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

 

THIS WRITING LIFE: Release Day Approacheth!

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Can you believe it? There’s only ONE sleep until my new rural romance, Heart of the Valley, releases.

I’m always amazed how quickly release date comes around. When the last edits are handed in you think it’s forever until release day, but then suddenly it’s racing toward you, bringing with it all the nerves and bubbly excitement that comes with knowing people will soon be buying, reading and commenting on your book.

I’m far more excited than nervous about Heart of the Valley because, quite frankly, I love this book. I love the characters, the emotion, the drama and the complex family relationships. I love how the animals are so integral to the story they’re almost characters in their own right. I adore the landscape of the Hunter Valley, viewed so passionately through the heroine, Brooke’s, eyes. I admire Brooke’s strength, her devotion to her friends, to her animals, to the property she loves. And I still have an embarrassingly monster-sized crush on the hero, Lachie. Sigh. I’m not sure I’ll ever recover from that man. He is one hell of a babe. Good thing he’s fictional or there might be trouble in the Hein household!

There have already been a few reviews.

The West Weekend Magazine’s Amanda Keenan had this to say:

Brooke Kingston is a pure-bred horsey girl soaring to great heights in the saddle. But a tragic twist of fate robs the agile rider of her confidence, and life as she knows it. Cue a love triangle including an old friend and a brooding man with a complicated history who will seek to salve her wounded soul and get her back in the saddle – so to speak. This sounds like the master stock for a rural romance recipe because it is. But that’s not a criticism – there’s something wonderfully absorbing about a rough and ready country yarn heavy with heartache, which weaves in complex family relationships, our gorgeous environment and a bit of raunchy rainstorm sex. Yee ha!

The Age and Sydney Morning Herald also had a large spread on rural lit, with Heart of the Valley reviewed alongside Fiona Palmer’s fabulous The Road Home, Fleur McDonald’s Purple Roads and Margareta Osborn’s Bella’s Run. In other words, pretty illustrious company!

Heart of the Valley is shown in great glory in this week’s BigW catalogue alongside Karly Lane’s Morgan’s Law, which also releases this week. Okay, so that’s not exactly a review but it still gives me a complete attack of the warm fuzzies.

Much to my surprise, I also received a gorgeous review for Promises this week which appeared in the Ipswich Advertiser.

Australian author Cathryn Hein had me from the first page and I’m sure anyone who likes romance novels without bodice ripping or cliché phrases will also love this story.

Lastly, I have a lot of blog visits coming up, some with giveaways, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for those. You can currently find me at Booktopia, answering their Nine Naughty Questions and on Mandy Magro’s Awesome Aussie Authors segment. Friday I’ll be here for Friday Feast sharing a favourite winter-perfect soup recipe I nicked from my mum and giving away a copy of Heart of the Valley to one lucky commenter.

Yup, it’s all happening!

Before I go I’d like to leave you with a few photos from our time in France. Jim and I were fortunate enough to attend two ANZAC Days on the Somme, as well as the Service of Reinterment of four Australian soldiers whose remains were found near Merris in 2003 and reburied in an incredibly moving ceremony at Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension, Bailleul, near the Belgian border.

Dawn service at Villers-Bretonneux is one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever had and one I will never forget.

View from the tower

Australian National Memorial, Villers Bretonneux, France

An unknown soldier of the Great War

Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France

Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery

Passchendaele, Belguim.

Tyne Cot is the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world.  There are now 11,956 soldiers buried here, 8,369 are unidentified.  This photo doesn’t do any justice to the heart-breaking scale of the place.

Reinterment for the four Australian soldiers whose remains were found near Merris in 2003

Outtersteen Communal Cemetery Extension, Bailleul, France

Lest we forget