Tag Archives: Picnic food

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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Welcome, food and book lovers, to the blog series that satisfies both mind and body. This week on Friday Feast, you have me. I’m sharing a childhood memory along with an easy picnic food recipe, and showing off my upcoming release Summer and the Groomsman.

Author Cathryn HeinBut first, the rollercoaster ride of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. After flopping dismally in the ladies premier competition, the Goblet, I’m now focusing on the club championships. Three rounds in and I’m sitting pretty in second. And no one can catch me! That might have something to do with the fact that there are now only two ladies left in the contest, but we won’t talk about that. Second is still second, even if is also technically last. And who knows, if the gun player ahead of me also pulls out, I might even win!

Enough of golf silliness. It’s time to wax lyrical about next week’s release of my rural romance novella Summer and the Groomsman. To say I’m excited about it is an understatement. This sweet, heart-warming story has been in my head for so long I thought it would never get out, yet here it is, all golden and lovely, and ready for you.

Take a looksie…

SUMMER AND THE GROOMSMAN

Cover of Summer and the Groomsman by Cathryn HeinIt’s Levenham’s wedding of the year but unlucky-in-love Harry Argyle has more on his mind than being groomsman.

After yet again nearly colliding with an escaped horse while driving home to the family farm, Harry Argyle comes face-to-face with its pretty owner, and doesn’t hold back his disapproval.

Confronted by a bad-tempered giant on a dark country road, beautician and new arrival in town Summer Taylor doesn’t know who to be more afraid for: herself or her darling horse Binky. It’s not her fault Binky keeps escaping. The alcoholic owner of the paddock she rents won’t fix the fence and Binky can be sneaky when it comes to filling his stomach. But no matter how big and muscled the bully, she refuses to be intimidated.

When Harry’s wedding party book a session at the day spa where Summer works, both she and Harry are horrified to be paired together. Grudgingly, they agree to make the most of it – only for the session to spiral into disaster. Realising he’s made a dill of himself in front of sweet Summer yet again, Harry vows to set things right.

Summer isn’t about to easily forgive the man who called her horse stupid, no matter how brave and kind, but with everyone on Harry’s side, even fate, resistance is hard. Can these two find love or will Summer’s wayward horse put his hoof in it again?

Doesn’t that sound fun? I promise it is. Secure your copy today by pre-ordering from Amazon.com, Amazon.auAmazon.uk, Kobo, iBooks, or Nook.

All sorted? Good. Now come on a picnic with me.

A Rocky Tale

Who doesn’t love a good picnic? There’s something about eating al fresco that increases your appetite and makes everything taste better. Throw in great company and you have the best of days.

Well, mostly…

About 100 kilometres from my home town of Mount Gambier, parallel to the Coonawarra wine region but across the Victorian border toward the small town of Dergholm, there’s a state park. On its western edge is a camping area called Baileys Rocks. This has great significance to our family because it’s where my maternal ancestor John Bailey settled with his wife Frances in 1888. Probably to escape his 5 brothers and 5 sisters in Portland (they bred well in those days).

When Mum, who was mad about genealogy, discovered that the old homestead’s foundations could still be seen at the site, she ordered my family up for a look, dragging my godparents and their family along for the ride.


The area contains the most amazing rock formations: 500 million-year-old boulders of granite that look like giant marbles, and possess an eeriness that just begs you to hum the haunting Picnic At Hanging Rock movie theme tune under your breath as you walk around.

I was quite young at this point. Perhaps around age 10, I can’t be sure, but I recall having a great day. Running around the giant rock formations, exploring the bush, following the creek, breathing in the scents of eucalyptus and scrub… what better adventure for a kid? Some of the boulders had drill holes and blast marks where attempts had been made to mine the granite, only to be foiled by the hardness of the rock. We had picnic food and cordial and found the original house foundations. I have a feeling we may even have played bush cricket. All was good.

As everyone who lives in Australia knows, picnicking is not without its perils. Besides sunburn, we have pesky wildlife to contend with. There wouldn’t be too many of us who haven’t been annoyed by flies, spiders, snakes, wasps, bees, dive-bombing birds, even the occasional fearless emu, when dining outdoors. And everyone has had trouble with ants.

Ant quoteBaileys Rocks had the usual small black ants – those determined, pesky creatures that can sniff a sausage from a mile away – but it also had bull ants. Great big fat aggressive ones. The territorial sort that attack and take about ten heavy stomps to kill, and even then the buggers keep twitching.

Unfortunately my poor godfather got bitten by one.

To be fair, it could be my faulty child’s memory but I swear he went red, then purple, then his neck went missing as his entire upper body swelled up like a provoked toad. Bemusement was followed by concern and mutterings about how bad it truly was, what his laboured breathing meant, whether a hospital trip to Penola was in order. These days, we’d probably recognise his condition for what it was – an allergic reaction that needed medical attention, but this was the 70s and in my experience it took more than an ant bite and a touch of anaphylaxis to put people in a flap.

So my godfather was left wheezing, and we carried on having fun before eventually packing up and tottering off home, happy and tired from the day and filled with wonder for those amazing rocks. He survived – god knows how – but a lesson was learned: watch out for bull ants. They can spoil your day and make you look freaky.

Fortunately I already knew that thanks to an experience I had when I was little and out rabbitting with my dad. I needed the loo and being in the middle of a paddock, Dad just told me to go. So I did. Straight on a bull ant’s nest.

But that’s a story for another day.

Eh hem. Time to get back to the subject, which is picnic food!

Here’s a recipe for a dead easy frittata that’s as good cold as it is hot, can be made well in advance, and is perfect for an outdoor meal. It’s also very adaptable. As long as you have the main ingredients you can tweak it however you like. The photo below has the frittata made in an enamel-coated cast iron pan, but life’s much easier using non-stick.

I made this recipe last night for dinner (that’s the slice of frittata photo) using red onion because I didn’t have any spring onions, and served it with salad. Delish!

Picnic Frittata

Frittata

Serves 8

1 kg waxy or all-purpose potatoes, skin on, cut into 2 cm chunks

2 chorizo sausages, halved lengthways and cut into 1 cm slices

100 g baby spinach

10 eggs, beaten

6 spring onions, finely sliced

Heat a good wodge of olive oil in a 27 cm non-stick pan over medium heat and throw in the chorizo (you can also chuck in roughly chopped red onion at this stage, if you want). Cook until lightly browned and the oil has lots of flavour from the chorizo, then remove the meat using a slotted spoon, leaving the oil in the pan.

Slice of Frittata

This version was made with sauteed red onion instead of spring onions. Great for lunch!

Meanwhile, steam the potatoes until just tender. Allow to dry out a little, then add to the flavoured oil and sauté until slightly crispy and the potatoes have taken on the spiced oil.

Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Return chorizo to the pan and combine.

Mix the spring onions with the whisked eggs. Season with salt and pepper.

Lower the heat and pour egg over the potato mix. Stir to even out the ingredients, plonk on a lid and cook until the egg is set, about 10-15 minutes or so, depending on thickness. If you’re feeling excited, finish it off by lightly grilling the top.

Cut into slices and serve warm or cold.

No chorizo? No problem. Simply swap with any other kind of spiced sausage, ham or bacon. No spinach? Leave it out. Honestly, as long as you have eggs and spuds, you’ll be right. The rest is up to your imagination.

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So, clever Feasties, what’s your favourite picnic food? Do you have something special you make for outdoor events? Please share. We’d all love to hear!

If you’d like to learn more about me or my books, why not tootle around the website for a while? There’s lots to explore. You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Google +, Goodreads and Pinterest.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona McArthur

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

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

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

Take a look…

RED SAND SUNRISE

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

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

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

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

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

Picnic in Red Sand Sunrise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GIVEAWAY!

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

Have fun at your next picnic. Xx Fi McArthur

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

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

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

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

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

FRIDAY FEAST with Anna Campbell

A happy bouncy Friday to you all! I hope you’re all revved up for a fantastic weekend. I know I am. It’s AFL Footy Finals time and my beloved Sydney Swans are out to defend their premiership crown, plus I have one of my favourite Author Anna CampbellAussie authors visiting Friday Feast. Too much excitement!!

Multi-award winning author Anna Campbell writes luscious Regency period historicals overflowing with passion and emotion. They’re simply brilliant reads and I’m a huge fan-girl who gets more than a little bit giggly in Anna’s presence. Thanks to winning ARRA’s Favourite Australian Romance Author Award four years in a row, it’s fair to say she’s the reigning queen. A girl’s bound to get a bit silly!

Anna’s latest release is A Rake’s Midnight Kiss, a book I’m very much looking forward to reading, not least because of its magnificent cover. Take a look…

 

A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS

 

A Rake's Midnight Kiss by Anna CampbellIt Takes a Lady…

Brilliant scholar Genevieve Barrett knows how to keep a secret. Her identity as the author of her father’s academic articles has always been her greatest deception-until a charming housebreaker tries to steal the mysterious Harmsworth Jewel from her. She doesn’t reveal that she recognizes her father’s devastatingly handsome new student as the thief himself. For Genevieve, this will be the most seductive secret of all…

...To Catch a Thief!

Sir Richard Harmsworth has been living a lie, maintaining a rakish facade to show society that he doesn’t care about his status as a bastard. Yet long haunted by his unknown father’s identity, Richard believes the Harmsworth Jewel will confirm his claim as the rightful heir. But when Richard sets out to seduce the bookworm who possesses the stone, he instead falls for its beautiful owner. But even as she steals Richard’s heart, Genevieve will be in greater danger than her coveted treasure…

 

You want this, oh yes you do! And you can score your own rake with just a few easy clicks. Try most excellent Aussie bookseller Booktopia, otherwise Amazon or Bookdepository. For the ebook, try Kobo, Amazon (Kindle), JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, iTunes or your favourite retailer.

And now I present the Romance Queen. Take it away, Anna!

 

Life is a Picnic!

 

Hi Cathryn! Thank you so much for having me as your guest today on Friday Feast. You know I love being here, although I always feel like I emerge five kilos heavier after I’ve read your guests’ posts! Yum, yum, yum. Followed by nom, nom, nom.

Oh, dear, I’m starting to sound like an Internet Cat! I promise no cheeseburgers were harmed in the making of this post.

One of the fun things about visiting this blog (apart from hanging out with the very groovy Cathryn) is talking about scenes in my latest release that involve food. Last time I was here, I discussed yummy American wedding cakes. AndSeven Nights in a Rogue's Bed by Anna Campbell the time before that, I talked about a scene in SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED involving seduction by baklava.

By the way, if anyone wants to try this out on me for real, I’m game. I LOVE baklava!

In A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS, my latest release, more meal scenes are more prevalent than usual, partly because my rascally hero Sir Richard Harmsworth has infiltrated himself into the heroine’s home under a false identity. There are quite a few prickly conversations over the dinner table as Genevieve strives to dampen his seductive wiles. Needless to say, she doesn’t get far, but watching heroines try and depress our heroes’ impudence is always fun, isn’t it?

Probably the most enjoyable meal for my hero and heroine takes place on a punt in Oxford. Richard has lured Genevieve into floating away to a secluded spot under a willow where sensual pleasures are rife. Including lunch!

These Regency rakes know how to picnic in style. Fine gilded china. Crystal glasses. Linen napkins. Silk-covered cushions. Vintage champagne – allowing me to employ that romance staple, the heroine wrinkling her nose at her first taste. It’s a scene that pops up often in a romance. I think it’s a show don’t tell moment to demonstrate that the hero intends to sweep our heroine away into a world of new and glorious experiences.

Like all good Regency picnics, the one in A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS involves roast chicken. So I thought today, I’d share a VERY complicated recipe for chicken.

 

Anna Campbell’s Chicken and Wine

(degree of difficulty: 1 million stars)

A chicken ready for roasting with a bottle of wine

  1. Cover the bottom of a baking dish with oil of choice.
  2. Place in conventional oven at 180/200 degrees Celsius. Heat for 30/45 minutes.
  3. Take fresh or defrosted chicken and remove fat from the cavity. Rinse out the cavity. Wrap in tea towel to absorb extra moisture. Don’t refrigerate at this point.
  4. Pour large glass of wine and sit down somewhere comfy. Drink at own pace. Refilling as needed. If you are the heroine of a romance novel and the wine is a sparkling variety, wrinkle your nose, giggle winningly and say, ‘Oh!’ to the bubbles. Await kisses.
  5. When oil is sizzling hot (and preferably before you’ve had TOO much wine), place chicken in baking dish, breast down. Move around a bit to seal and to stop skin sticking to the pan. Baste.
  6. Return baking dish to the oven for 45 minutes.
  7. Repeat step 4.
  8. Stagger to oven. Turn chicken over and baste. Return to oven. If it’s a large chicken, leave it another 40/45 minutes. For a smaller chicken, around 30 minutes, but check regularly after 20 minutes, basting each time.
  9. Repeat step 4.
  10. Remove chicken. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Carve and eat.
  11. Open a new bottle of wine if old one is exhausted.
  12. Repeash shtep foursh. Hic!

I hope one day you’ll all try this complicated but rewarding recipe. I’ve made it several times myself to great headaches, um, success.

So let’s talk picnics. What’s your ideal picnic location? Picnic menu? Picnic companion? Or don’t you like picnics at all and you’d rather do you nose wrinkling indoors?

I’ve got a print copy of A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS (with de rigueur champagne scene and roast chicken) for one commenter today. Giveaway is international!

 

Roast chicken and wine…ooh, Anna, you’ve captured my heart! I can so, so relate to this kind of cooking. Happens rather regularly here on Friday nights thanks to Friday Feast inspiration.

Now, my most gorgeous Feasters, you heard Anna. A print copy of A Rake’s Midnight Kiss awaits one lucky commenter. So get those typing fingers ready and share your picnic love (or unlove).

Me, I adore a good picnic, even good old Aussie ones with ants and flies and other critters. My darling beloved used to treat me to rainy day picnics, where we’d lay out a rug on the lounge room floor, crack a bottle of excellent white wine, have a bucket of prawns at the ready and opera (yes, OPERA – we’re classy folk here at Chez Hein) on the telly. Prawns, a good white, Turandot, and a lovely time can be had. As long as my darling Sydney Swans aren’t playing at the time, of course!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 10th September 2013. Open internationally. Rah!

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

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Paula who won herself a copy of Anna’s new release A Rake’s Midnight Kiss. Thanks to everyone who took part. Hope you had as much fun as Anna and I did.