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FRIDAY FEAST with Jaye Ford

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

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

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

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

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

ALREADY DEAD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your time with Jaye!

Putting a Spargel in my eye!

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

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

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

Spargel stall

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

Sign advertising seasonal spargel

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

GIVEAWAY!

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

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

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

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

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

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

FRIDAY FEAST with Sarah Mayberry

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It’s Friiiiiday and what better way to celebrate this most favourite of days than with fantastic food and fabulous fiction?

I know… FOOTY! Yes, my darling Sydney Swans AFL team had a win. About time, too. This losing business was leaving me very flat. I think that’s what’s been affecting my golf. I had the footy sooks. Speaking of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, I played rather well last week. For nine holes. Then it all collapsed in a muttering heap. But for nine blissful holes it was happening. No balls in the water, no thieving crows to upset me. Lovely.Author Sarah Mayberry

Speaking of lovely (oh, I am the segue QUEEN!), today’s guest is most certainly that. Lovely, and an amazing author. It’s no wonder I have serious fangirlness. Sarah Mayberry writes amazing books with brilliant dialogue and storylines that hook you from the first page. I’ve just finished reading the first of her April releases, Satisfaction. Oh boy, was that good. Really, really good, but I’ve come to expect that from Sarah. Which is why I’m very excited about her second April release, Her Kind of Trouble. Can’t wait to read this one!

HER KIND OF TROUBLE

Cover of Her Kind of Trouble by Sarah MayberryIt takes one to know one 

The moment Vivian Walker spies Seth Anderson she knows they’re a match made in hedonistic pleasure. And everything that happens between them proves her right. Even better, they both agree their one night together is all they’ll share. 

Now, years later, Seth remains one of Vivian’s favorite memories. Surely the sizzling chemistry has faded, though, right? Apparently not. Because when she sees him again he’s still sinfully attractive. More than that, she actually likes the man he is. When Seth suddenly becomes a full-time dad to a newborn, Vivian falls hard. Despite the changes, however, she knows Seth will never settle down. And he will definitely never commit to one woman. So she needs to strengthen her defenses before she gets into real trouble!

“As she always does, Mayberry has delivered a passionate, psychologically astute romance with a hero and heroine who are both charmingly flawed. The pages practically turn themselves” –  New York Journal of Books.

They do! Pick up a Sarah Mayberry and you’ll be hard pressed to set it down. Which is why you want to buy Her Kind Of Trouble right now. Oh, yes you do! For the paperback try Booktopia, Bookworld, Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes & Noble, direct from the publisher Harlequin or Mills & Boon Australia, or your local chain store. For the ebook click on Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now, have fun with Sarah!

Cravings

One of the things I love about writing books is that I get to give my characters the cars, houses, wardrobes and shoe collections I would love to have in real life – and I also get to feed them. I don’t think I have ever fed one of my characters something that I personally can’t stand. That would be so…wrong. More often than not, they get to have something I am craving or something I wish I could try again. Her Kind of Trouble is no exception to this rule.

I don’t want to ruin the plot for you, but there is some sadness mixed in with the sexy times and romance in this book, and at one point the heroine comes over to the hero’s house and cooks him dinner before lining up the shot glasses, breaking out the tequila bottle and helping him deal with his feelings.

Here’s a little excerpt from the scene:

“How’s your liver?” she asked as she reached for the tequila bottle.

“I own a bar, remember?” There was a good measure of his old cockiness in his response.

“Big talk, Anderson. Let’s see you put your money where your mouth is.”

“That doesn’t even make sense. You bought the tequila, remember?”

“You know what I mean.”

“To Lola,” she said solemnly.

 Grief raced across Seth’s face like a cloud across the sun. Then he blinked and nodded and raised his own glass. “To Lola.”

They both licked the salt off their hands before knocking back the tequila and sucking on their lime wedges. Vivian inhaled sharply as the alcohol seared its way down her throat to her belly.

“Oh, man, I hate tequila,” Seth said.

“I know. You could so strip marine varnish with this stuff. Brutal.” She poured them a second shot as she spoke, and Seth reached for the salt cellar.

“Gives the worst hang-overs, too,” he said.

“No way. Nothing is worse than a champagne hangover,” she said, sliding his shot across the table toward him.

“Talk to me tomorrow,” he said knowingly.

They both threw back their second shots, Seth wincing as though he’d just swallowed acid.

“Feeling alive yet?” she asked him.

Before she gets Seth drunk, however, Vivian cooks him dinner – Mexican, Vivian style. I LOVE Mexican, always have, always will. Here is my chicken fajitas, Vivian style, as featured in Her Kind of Trouble.

Vivian’s Chicken Fajitas with Two Salsas

2 chicken breasts

2 medium Spanish/red onions

1/2 a fresh pineapple

1 fresh lime

A handful of fresh mint leaves

A ripe avocado

1 large or 2 medium tomatoes

Burritos/soft tacos of your choice

Olive oil

Portuguese chicken/Cajun Chicken spice mix or other spicy chicken seasoning of your choice

1. Slice the chicken breast into bite sized pieces, then coat them with the spicy chicken seasoning of your choice. I’ve found both Cajun Chicken and Portuguese Chicken seasoning to be good. Pour olive oil into a frying pan and cook.

2. While the chicken is cooking, dice the Spanish onions finely and separate into two bowls, half per bowl.  Slice the pineapple, removing skin and hard core, then finely dice also. Mix the pineapple with one portion of onion, then slice the mint leaves finely and add to the same bowl. To complete the pineapple/mint salsa, squeeze the juice from a fresh lime and mix through the pineapple and mint.

3. Dice the avocado and add to the second bowl of diced onion. Cut the tomato in half and scoop out the seeds, then dice finely. Add to the second bowl, season with salt and pepper. You can also add a dash of olive oil at this point if you like.

4. Place your cooked chicken, bowls of salsa and warmed tortillas onto the kitchen bench or table, and invite your family and friends to assemble their own fajita.

The mix of the tart pineapple and lime juice with the mellow avocado and spicy chicken makes this one of my favourite easy summer meals. I think Seth liked it quite a bit, too! I hope you enjoy!

 

I will most assuredly, Sarah! Thank you. What a zingy fast meal, perfect for whipping up mid-week or weekend lazing with a margarita in hand.

GIVEAWAY!

Now, Feasters, we know you love a giveaway and Sarah has a beauty! Simply reveal your favourite spicy dish and you’ll go into the draw to win not only a paperback copy of Her Satisfaction by Sarah MayberryKind Of Trouble but also an ebook copy of Satisfaction AND a packet of the world’s best biscuit, Tam-Tams!

How’s that for a prize? Told you it was a beauty. So start sharing your favourite spicy foods and get yourself in the draw.

I don’t even have to think about what my favourite spicy dish is. I have a dead simple rice noodle and pork stir-fry recipe using chilli bean sauce that I just love. Like, really love. To the point that I could eat it every night for a week, easily. But what about you? Maybe you love a fiery rogan josh? Perhaps a Moroccan tagine is more your go. What about a bit of well-seasoned chorizo? There are plenty out there and your favourite could make you a winner. And a very happy reader!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 15th April 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Julie who’ll be not only enjoying Sarah’s wonderful books but soon tasting Tim-Tams! Thanks to everyone else who played along in the Friday Feast fun. Wonderful comments as always.

FRIDAY FEAST with Anne Gracie

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It’s that day of the week again, the one where we celebrate all things bookish and foody on the incomparable(!) Friday Feast.

I’m rather excited about this week’s guest too, because not only does she pen wonderfully warm and smile-inducing books, she’s a lovely lady as well.

And, STOP PRESS: She’s a Romance Writers of America RITA NOMINEE!

Anne Gracie

But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. It was not my finest decision to attempt to walk 18 holes of golf in horrible humidity the afternoon after the Australian Romance Reader Awards dinner. Ugly doesn’t even begin the describe my play. Balls were drowned in dams. Swear words were uttered. And if that wasn’t enough, a crow pinched my brand new ball on the fourth. Again. I’m really beginning to hate those birds…

Now onto the also incomparable Anne Gracie! Anne writes GORGEOUS historical romances that truly warm the heart. Her new series features the Chance sisters, with the second The Winter Bride just released. I finished reading the first, The Autumn Bride, only yesterday and can’t tell you the fun I had. Anne’s books make me smile. A lot.

Take a look at The Winter Bride. I so, so, so want to read this!

THE WINTER BRIDE

The Winter Bride by Anne GracieDamaris Chance’s unhappy past has turned her off the idea of marriage forever. But her guardian, Lady Beatrice Davenham, convinces her to make her coming out anyway—and have a season of carefree uncomplicated fun.

Handsome rake Freddy Monkton-Coombes —pursued by muffins, with a view to marriage — finds himself about to be trapped in an untenable situation by his match-making parents, and pays Damaris to enter into a faux betrothal. But then an accident throws them into a compromising situation, and they’re both forced to reevaluate their position.

Will Damaris’s secrets destroy her chance at true happiness? Or can Freddy help her cast off the shackles of the past, and yield to delicious temptation?

With a 4 1/2 star Top Pick from Romantic Times, this is the second in the Chance sister’s series. Publishers Weekly  called it “charming,” and Kirkus Reviews said: “A romantic winner, with Gracie’s typical witty charm and sweeping emotion.”

Seriously, if you haven’t tried Anne then you MUST. Her books are like warm cuddly blankets. You can buy the print version of The Winter Bride now from Booktopia, Bookworld, QBD The Bookshop, Angus & Robertson, Amazon, Bookdepository, Fishpond, Barnes & Noble or your local independent book shop or chain store. Purchase the ebook from Amazon (for Kindle), iTunes, Google Play, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook reseller.

Time for some fun with Anne. Enjoy!

Pursued By Muffins, With A View To Marriage

What’s that, you say? Pursued by muffins?

Yes, muffins. In the words of Freddy, my bad-boy hero in The Winter Bride, muffins are: “Females. Eligible females. Seriously marriage-minded eligible females, usually of the reforming type.” Here’s a taste of the Winter Bride:

Freddy stared gloomily at the plate before him. Lady Bea was convinced that muffins were the Monkton-Coombes food of choice. That was Max’s fault, blast him. He’d told his aunt that Freddy was obsessed with muffins, and of course the old girl thought he meant these blasted bun things. She had him served with them each time he called. And expected him to eat them. With enthusiasm.

He picked up a muffin, hefted it lightly and eyed the fire with a narrowed gaze. It was a good blaze, strong enough to reduce a muffin to ash in a short time.

But would there be an incriminating smell?

He raised the muffin, aimed and was about to toss it in the fire when feminine footsteps sounded in the hall. He dropped the muffin, turned toward the open doorway and saw four smartly dressed females advancing toward him, smiling.

The hairs on the back of his neck rose. Why the devil were they grinning at him like that? What did they know? What did they want?

He had a powerful urge to flee.

So naturally when it came to deciding what food to talk about on Friday Feast, I had to choose muffins.

For a long time the only muffins I knew were the kind you toasted. My first experience of the other kind was many years ago when I was backpacking in the USA — I ordered a toasted muffin and coffee for breakfast.
The waiter eyed me suspiciously. “We don’t toast muffins.”
“Ok,” I said.
He came back with a large cupcake. “I didn’t order this,” I told him. “I asked for a muffin.”
He rolled his eyes at my ignorance. “Ma’am, that IS a muffin.”

So on with the recipe, and I’m sure there will be a few shrieks because actually it’s a friand recipe and I know a friand isn’t really a muffin, but… well, I made these and they’re yummy and easy and I did cook them in a muffin tray. And they look like muffins.

Friands

Friands

 

Ingredients:

175g (1 1/4 cups) pure icing sugar

75g (1/2 cup) plain flour

155g (1 1/2 cups) ground almonds (hazelnuts are yummy too)

3 eggs, lightly beaten

180g butter, melted & cooled a little

150g frozen blueberries (or raspberries or any berries really)

2 tbs flaked almonds

(I was v. liberal with both the blueberries and the flaked almonds)

Method:

1) Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a muffin tray and dust with a little plain flour.

2) Sift icing sugar and flour, add the ground almonds, then stir in eggs and melted butter. Mix until just combined.

3) Stir in half the blueberries.

4) Distribute mixture between the muffin moulds. Plop a few remaining blueberries on top of each one and sprinkle with flaked almonds

5) Bake for 15-20 minutes or until light golden. Cool for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

6) You can dust them with icing sugar to serve, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

* For gluten-free types, I have made these with gluten-free flour and they’re just as yummy.

 

Thanks, Anne! Those friands sound delicious. And healthy, too. Anything with fruit has to be.

US cover for The Winter Bride

US cover for The Winter Bride

Just the thing to kick back with a book and a nice cuppa.

At the risk of doing another fangirl rave, I loved that excerpt from The Winter Bride. Freddy cracked me up in The Autumn Bride with all his muffin chatter. He sounds such FUN.

GIVEAWAY!

Oh, we love a generous author on Friday Feast and Anne is no exception. Here’s your chance to win a paperback copy of The Winter Bride. Simply answer this question: What is your favourite thing to have with a cuppa? Reply in the comments and you’ll go into the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 1st April 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Anne and her books – which you do! – please visit her website. You can also connect via Twitter using @AnneGracie and Facebook.

Go Anne in the RITAs!

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Tami who has won a copy of Anne’s The Winter Bride. A lovely reading time ahead! Thanks so much to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun. I hope you come back again for some more foody-booky goodness! 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Tricia Stringer

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Hello, Feasters! We’re getting swish this week on Friday Feast with a recipe that will really get your tastebuds tingling. It’s delicious, literally!

But first, this week’s instalment of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf which is making an appearance despite the fact that it’s now footy season and I should be swapping to updates about my beloved Sydney Swans. Unfortunately, they were poo against GWS on Saturday and I have the sulks, whereas the golf news is good! Yes, I whacked a ball into the water on the 12th and 14th, and another rotten crow pinched my ball on the 13th but they were only minor issues. Overall, I played well! Still can’t quite believe it… could I be on the upswing???

Now, to today’s guest Tricia Stringer, best-selling author of Queen of the Road and 2013 winner of a prestigious Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year award (the Ruby) in the romantic elements category. And South Australian. Cos, you know, all the best writers come from SA. Ha!

Like the Ruby judges, I thoroughly enjoyed Queen of the Road and look forward to reading Tricia’s new one Right as Rain. Not only is it rural, it features food! How can a girl resist?

Take a look…

 

RIGHT AS RAIN

 

Right as Rain by Tricia StringerMack’s determined to do what’s right for her father…but will she choose what’s right for herself?

Mackenna Birch thinks she’s met the man of her dreams while on holiday in New Zealand. Adam Walker seems funny, kind and loving…until — to Mack’s disbelief — he walks out on her. Nursing a broken heart, Mack returns to the family farm in Australia to find her beloved father unwell and her scheming younger brother home from the city, showing a great interest in taking over the business. Also in her absence, a new worker has been hired, and Mack’s unsure of his motives.

Mack longs to make big changes to the farm — changes her father has approved. But with her dad’s ailing health, all her plans have been put on hold. Soon Mack finds herself turning to Hugh — her old friend and neighbour — as her confidant. As they support each other through family pressures, their friendship strengthens, leading them to question their true feelings for each other.

Then, out of the blue, Adam turns up from New Zealand, adding to the melting pot of emotions. Soon Mack’s juggling some tough decisions and trying to make those around her happy. But can she find the balance and have her own ever-after?

 

Ooh, doesn’t that sound intriguing? You want a copy, don’t you? Well, simply click away. For the paperback try Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, QBD The Bookshop, direct from the publisher Harlequin or your local independent or chain store. For the ebook, try Amazon for Kindle, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, iTunes, Google Play, BigW ebooks, Harlequin or your favourite ebook retailer.

All set? Here’s Tricia!

 

The Gatehouse at Woolly Swamp Farm

 

I love food – but – when thinking about what to blog, I couldn’t decide.

The library decked out as Woolly Swamp Farm.

The library decked out as Woolly Swamp Farm.

My immediate thought was to tell you about the wonderful launch party for Right as Rain at Moonta Community Library. My daughter, Kelly, and fellow library staff went to great lengths to make sure there were many lamb nibbles for guests to try. Why the lamb? Right as Rain main character, Mackenna, is a farmer and also a qualified chef. Her father who works the farm with her is in failing health, her mother isn’t supportive and the love of her life has stood her up. Against the odds, Mackenna has a dream to bring people to the farm gate to taste the lamb produced on their property. Her grandparents little stone cottage is the perfect place. She calls it the Gatehouse and sets out to make her dream come true.

I had such a lot of fun researching and writing this story. It’s full of food. I grew up on a farm so lamb (or more often mutton) was always on the menu. People do so much more with it these days. While I was writing I discovered the best way to try out new recipes rather than cook it myself was to eat out. Yum! My youngest son, Jared is a chef and helped me out a lot with ideas.

My husband and I at the Moonta launch.

My husband and I at the Moonta launch.

There are so many great ways to cook with lamb.

Mackenna has a grand opening of her Gatehouse for her family where she serves assorted lamb dishes. Thus at the book launch we had nibbles including lamb and rosemary sausage rolls, Moroccan lamb tarts and lamb kofta balls.

To carry on with the food theme I was lucky enough to have two great foodies help me with my Adelaide launch at Dymocks in Rundle Mall. My son, Jared, who’d just flown home from Europe, was a fantastic Master of Ceremonies and Duncan Welgemoed, chef and owner of Bistro Dom in Waymouth St, Adelaide, did the official launch. Duncan had recently won South Australia’s Chef of the Year but the reason I asked him to do the honours was it was in his restaurant that I first got the idea for showcasing lamb from a particular property.

A batch of my daughter’s sausage rolls just out of the oven.

A batch of my daughter’s sausage rolls just out of the oven.

In spite of all that, the recipe I’m going to share with you is not a lamb recipe, it’s an old family favourite dessert.

Now you’ll really think I’ve lost the plot. What’s that got to do with Mackenna and her Gatehouse? Well she did have to serve dessert but that’s not the reason. When I asked my son which lamb recipe he would suggest for this blog he said, “Even though we’re spread far and wide we always come home for special occasions/dinners. They now include our extended family with our partners etc. Family gatherings are the best. We always have great dinners with good wine and good conversation. The recipe should be your lemon delicious pudding. It always reminds me of our family dinners, right back when we were only small, we would still have a properly set dining table, no TV, just conversation. Something I treasured and still look forward to when I come home.”

Table loaded with the wonderful lamb nibbles.

Table loaded with the wonderful lamb nibbles.

So there you have it – a message that went straight to this mother’s heart. Even more so as my mother, who died many years ago, used to make this for our family. The original recipe came from the South Australian Country Women’s Association Calendar of Puddings. It’s called Baked Lemon Delicious (Swiss). My copy of this book is falling apart but is special as my mother was once State President of the CWA and her Foreword is in the front of the book. It reads in part – The recipes were freely given by members to be compiled into a calendar… The recipes have stood the test of time and may all who use this book find the same satisfaction and delight in the recipes as those who first tried them so long ago. Patricia Phillis.

Here I am with Jared and Duncan.

Here I am with Jared and Duncan.

I hope that while we strive to find new ways with food we will still share the old recipes and serve them with love and laughter just like at the family

gathering. At three my grandson knows the importance of the family dinner table. “Let’s sit at the table together and tell each other our adventures,” he said recently then added. “I’ll go first.”

Perhaps I was influenced by our family dinners when I wrote about Mackenna’s Gatehouse at Woolly Swamp farm.

Here’s my version of the recipe.

I call it…

 

Lemon Swish Delish

 

??????????????????????

Ingredients

2 tbspns butter

¾ cup sugar

4 tbspns plain flour

juice and rind of 1 large lemon

2 eggs

1 cup milk

Method

It’s important to add ingredients in the following order.

Cream the butter and sugar then add the sifted flour.

Stir in the rind and juice of the lemon.

Beat egg yolks then stir into mixture along with the milk.

Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture.

Pour into a greased dish and stand in another dish of water. *(Very important)

Bake in a moderate oven approx. 40 mins.

It’s a nice light dessert which serves six to eight. You can eat it hot or cold but I love it hot with cream or ice-cream or both!

 

Oh, I just ADORE lemon delicious, Tricia! It’s one of those wonderful old-fashioned desserts that everyone loves. And you can play around with it too, adding lime juice or blood orange or whatever citrus takes your fancy.

Thanks so much for a hugely entertaining post. What fun you had with your book launches. Those sausage rolls look perfect. And Right as Rain sounds wonderful.

Now, my lovely Feasters, Tricia is very generously offering a signed paperback copy of Right as Rain as a giveaway prize. But as usual you have to work for it. Don’t worry, it’s easy! All you have to do is reveal your favourite family recipe in the comments and the one that tickles Tricia’s fancy the most will win.

Does your family adore pavlova? Perhaps a good old roast (lamb, of course) gets them running to the table? Maybe it’s your Gran’s favourite recipe for tomato soup that does the job. Simply share and you’ll have a chance to win this excellent book.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 25th March 2014. Australian and New Zealand entries only.

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

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Leisl Leighton

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It’s everyone’s favourite time of the week again, which means more Feasty goodness. And this week we have just the thing to satisfy the beast in all of us.

But first, in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, last Saturday’s round saw a crow pinch my ball on the 2nd. I then hit three trees in a row on the 14th, and ruined a magnificent drive on the 17th by smacking two balls, one after the other, straight into the dam.Leisl Headshot tweet

That crow, it was an omen.

Speaking of omens, today’s guest, Australian author Leisl Leighton, understands them well. After having her dreams plagued by stories, Leisl decided to start writing them down. And a good thing she did too. Leisl’s stories have won and placed in many competitions in Australia and the US, including the STALI, Golden Opportunities, Heart of the West, Linda Howard Award of Excellence, Touch of Magic and many others.

Those dreams are now books, with Leisl’s latest paranormal fantasy hitting shelves next week. Take a look.

 

DARK MOON

Cover of Dark Moon by Leisl LeightonLately, Skye Collins has been unable to shake the feeling that she’s being watched. After a lifetime spent hiding her true nature, she knows that any unusual attention is something to be wary of.  And the only attention she’s been receiving lately is from the intense and attractive Jason McVale. 

Jason claims to know things about Skye that can’t be true, and it’s obvious he’s hiding secrets of his own. Yet despite herself, Skye can’t resist the attraction between them, and her surrender will set in motion a chain of events that will have consequences for everyone she holds dear.

Gradually, Jason convinces Skye that she has to trust him if she is to solve the riddle of her past and learn the truth about her power.  But believing Jason means that her entire life has been based on a lie.

As her enemies gather strength and the danger increases, Skye is forced to accept who she really is. Will she risk everything and fight for those she loves? Or save herself and let them be destroyed by the forces of darkness?

 

Doesn’t that sound thrilling? Dark Moon can be pre-ordered now with just a click or two. Try Amazon for Kindle, iTunes, Google Play, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer, or direct from the publisher Destiny Romance.

Okay, so you’re all stocked up? Marvellous. Now feast on this!

 

STEAK – THE WAY TO MAN AND BEAST’S HEART

 

It’s a thrill to be here again on Friday Feast talking food (and romance). I was trying to think of the things that my characters eat in my new paranormal romance, Dark Moon so I could talk about that. They seem to eat soup a lot with yummy, crusty bread, particularly because it’s winter and they’re up at the snow.

Those of you who remember my last guest blog here will know about my love affair with soup and its hearty warmth in the cooler months – particularly my fond memories of those eternal favourites, minestrone and pumpkin, when we were up skiing at Mt Buller every year. And those are the soups that I mention in Dark Moon (I very obviously have an obsession 🙂 ). However, I didn’t feel like it would be right to go on about soup again. So, I put on my thinking cap and wondered what other things my characters would eat if I hadn’t given my obsession for soup free reign and drowned them in it.

My male characters are Weres – shapeshifters who turn into wolves – and my female characters are Witches and Wiccans. My Wiccan characters are very much into the herbal side of things, but I didn’t feel like banging on here about all things herbal (even though they are pretty great for much of what ails you.) So, I turned my attention wholly to my male characters (not hard given they are pretty gorgeous if I say so myself) and the answer came to me in a flash.

Steak. No. Steak sandwiches.

Big, juicy, dislocate your jaw to get your mouth around it and taste that little bit of meaty- chilli-onion-tomato-cheese-beetroot-egg-and-lettuce heaven. The kind of steak sandwich that has sauce and juices dripping down your chin and across your hands that you lick off with relish, but still leaves you feeling a little sticky – doesn’t sound romantic at all, does it? But wait, if shared with someone else, that very someone could do the licking for you and you for him and…

I’ll leave that up to your imagination.

Anyway (big breath and a moment to still my madly beating heart), my characters would most definitely eat a steak sandwich. It is hearty and warming for the winter setting, but the beauty of a steak sandwich is that it can also be enjoyed in the height of summer when you really don’t feel like cooking, but firing up the barbie to sear a steak quickly and fry up some onions and egg, doesn’t seem like too much of a challenge. This summer, my family and I have enjoyed many a steak sandwich – the boys have got a sudden passion for them, and who can blame them? I cut up a bunch of toppings, put out a bunch of sauces, and they just make themselves up the steak sandwich their heart desires.

Too easy. Here’s a photo of one I whipped up tonight.

Leisl Leighton's steak sandwich

Steak Sandwich Recipe

 

Well, there’s not really 1 recipe for a steak sandwich, but this is how I like mine.

1 beef steak BBQ’d to taste – I prefer porterhouse, medium rare, but your choice really.

2 slices of bread – your choice what sort of bread you pick. We prefer soft sourdough or a good grain bread. You can toast it lightly if you want.

1 onion

1 tomato

1 egg

1 slice of tasty cheese (light if you want)

Sliced beetroot (this is really an Australian thing, but give it a go – it’s delicious)

Jalepeno peppers

Mixed lettuce

Chunky pickle mustard

BBQ sauce

Sweet chilli sauce

Balsamic vinegar

I make a kind of chilli jam out of the onion by sauteeing it in oil until it’s soft, then adding a decent splash of balsamic vinegar and half a cup of sweet chilli sauce. Then I turn it down to low and let it all simmer together until its thick and jammy. I then push it aside and cook my egg in the same pan (saving on the dishes later). I like my egg cooked so it is a little runny in the yolk still.

I toast the bread lightly, then put the chunky pickle mustard on one slice, the BBQ sauce on the other. Then on the chunky pickle side, I put the peppers, beetroot, egg, sliced up pieces of steak my manly man of a husband has BBQ’d to perfection, the cheese, tomato, onion-chilli-jam, and finally some lettuce. (picture 2 here) Then I put the BBQ sauce-smeared piece of toast on the top.

I cut in half and then dislocate my jaw to eat it! 🙂 I lick up the juices that run down my hands and chin, although, if a hunky Were offered to do it for me, I wouldn’t say no – but, my hubby might have a problem with that, so probably not. Sigh. I’ll just have to write about it in a future book.

And there it is, my steak sandwich, good enough to feed man and beast (and little boys), perfect for any time of year and always yummy. I hope all you wonderful Friday Feasters enjoy.

 

Wow. That is one amazing steak sanga, Leisl. Seriously mouth-watering. There is nothing so lovely as a burger that drips juices. The mess just adds to the taste!

Are you drooling out there, Feasters? Here’s your chance to drool some more. I think we can already tell that Leisl is a generous person from the size of her steak sandwiches. Well, now she’s going to prove it by giving away a Kindle ebook copy of Dark Moon.

Naturally, you’ll have to do something to earn this most excellent book and that’s by answering this question: What meal soothes the heart of your savage beast (or beasties) at home?

That’s easy for me – a big fat juicy steak. The man of the house just loves his beef. ‘Tis the north Queenslander in him.

But what about for you? Does a luscious lasagne satisfy your beasties? Maybe they all go quiet and dribbly with one sniff of a roast chook? Perhaps they’re softer beasties and roll over like puppies at the thought of a quiche?

Simply leave your soothing meal in the comments below and you’ll be in with a chance to win!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 18th March 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

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

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Margareta Osborn

Welcome to the first Friday Feast of autumn 2014.

To celebrate, we have suitably fabulous author sharing her latest release and a delicious recipe that  will have your tastebuds dancing. But first, the news you await every week from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. It rained so hard last weekend that my round was washed out. Naturally, this occurred right when my game was coming together. The Great Golfing God has it in for me, the sod. Hmph.Author photo of Margareta Osborn

But enough of that, let’s get onto the really important stuff: BOOKS and FOOD!

My guest this week is Margareta Osborn, best-selling author of rural-set romances Bella’s Run, Hope’s Road and A Bush Christmas. Not only does Margareta write great heroines, she is one herself as a volunteer fire-fighter, recently helping to fight the choking Hazelwood coal mine fire in Gippsland, among other incidents.

Margareta’s new release is Mountain Ash and the premise will have you hooked!

 

MOUNTAIN ASH

 

Cover of Mountain Ash by Margareta OsbornAfter years of struggling as a single mother, Jodie Ashton has given up on love and passion. What she craves now is security for herself and her beloved daughter Milly. And marriage to widower Alex McGregor, the owner of the prosperous Glenevelyn cattle station in East Gippsland, will certainly offer that. If only he wasn’t so much older and so controlling.

Needing space to decide her future, Jodie reluctantly agrees to a girls-only weekend at the Riverton rodeo …

Meanwhile, cowboy Nate McGregor vows off women, after his latest one-night stand costs him his job in the Northern Territory. Perhaps it’s time to head back to his family home, Glenevelyn, to check out for himself the ‘gold-digger’ his father seems determined to marry.

But first, on his way through Riverton, he plans to stop off at a rodeo.

Two lives are about to collide in one passionate moment – with devastating results…

 

Doesn’t that sound like a riveting read? Which is why you should be clickety-clicking right now on these ‘buy’ links. For the paperback, visit most excellent Australian online bookstore Booktopia. You can also try Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Dymocks, QBD the Bookshop, your local independent, or your nearest chain store. For the ebook try Amazon for Kindle, Kobo, iTunes, Google Play or your favourite online retailer.

Loaded up? Good. Because you’ll need something delicious to snack on while eating and Margareta has just the thing!

 

Cooling It

 

Hi Cathryn, thanks so much for having me back on your blog. It seems like we’re  making this a yearly event!

Seeing the last few mornings up here in the Gippsland hills have had a snippet of autumn in the air (you can feel it, taste it, smell it), I had thought to give you a yummy autumn cum winter-ish recipe to get us in the mood for all that cool weather with it’s comforting, scrumptious food to come.

BUT … then we hit today.

Outside the temperature is in the mid 30’s and there’s a blistering hot wind blowing itself into frenzy. The dust is spinning into willy-willys and I can see what’s left of our pasture shrivelling before my eyes. So, I can hardly talk about warming casseroles and oozing puddings with all of us sweltering like lizards on a pile of hot rocks. Summer is obviously not done yet. In addition, the fire pager’s doing a dance on my desk requesting change-over crews for tonight, as the people of Gippsland have also been fighting bushfires, yours truly included. In fact it’s a wonder anyone in this part of the world is going to have time to read my latest novel MOUNTAIN ASH (just released on March 1, 2014) until autumn – and relief from the heat – arrives! The tagline of my latest novel, reads, ‘In matters of the heart she’s playing with fire …’. Unfortunately it’s a tad apt at the moment in this part of the world. And that’s before you throw in a devastating love triangle twist.

So maybe it’s time to head back to the kitchen and make the most decadent treat to cool off. I made this stunning looking, deviously simple and delicious ice-cream cake for Christmas lunch. It was a H.I.T. (in capitals!)

 

Ice-Cream Cake

 

Margareta Osborn's Ice-Cream Cake

Ingredients:

3 litres of vanilla ice-cream

400 g of chocolate honey-comb pieces, chopped into chunks

220g bottle of chocolate Ice-Magic

Fresh berries (I used strawberries & would’ve added raspberries if I’d had some) & icing sugar

Put 3 litres of ice-cream into a big bowl. (It needs to be BIG, trust me.) Leave to soften for 10 minutes (don’t let it melt).

Gently fold in the chopped honeycomb. (I did this in two bowls as one wasn’t big enough.)

Grease a 22cm spring-form tin. Line base and sides with 2 layers of baking paper. I suggest you go 2-3cm above the edge of the pan with the paper, creating ‘hungry-boards’, so you can get all that yummy ice-cream into the tin.

Spoon ice-cream and honeycomb mixture into the tin and level with a knife or spatula. Freeze overnight.

Just before serving tip ice-cream cake from tin (I removed sides of tin along with the paper, laid a plate on the ‘top’ and tipped the cake upside down so the bottom became the top.) Drizzle immediately with Ice Magic, allow a minute or so to harden then top with fresh fruit. Sift icing sugar over the fruit to finish.

This cake goes ultra well with plum pudding but it would be terrific with any other desert or just by itself.

Note: You can replace the honey-comb with other lollies or chocolate bar treats. Let your imagination run wild!

 

Thanks, Margareta. My imagination is absolutely running wild. Imagine this with Smarties or broken up Peppermint Crisp. The possibilities! And so stunning too.

Okay, Feasters, what dish do you like to make that is disproportionately impressive to the amount of effort that went into its creation? I have one that I’ve been making for years – meringue towers with berries. They’re basically glorified individual pavlovas, but constructed in such a way to form an impressive tower on the plate. Dead easy. The only tricky part is piping the meringue into circles and stripes.

So what about you? Can you make a stunning soup in a heartbeat? Whip up a colourful salad in moments that looks like it was taken from the pages of Gourmet Traveller? Make our lives easier so we have more time to spend with friends and family – or reading – and share away!

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

 

FRIDAY FEAST with J.M. Bray

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Welcome to Friday Feast, where food and fiction unites in one mouth-watering place!

And we’re going to be getting very mouth-watery soon with a Feast first-timer. But I’m sure you’re anxious for the latest instalment of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf, and I wouldn’t want to deprive you. Last week I only lost one ball to a dam. A miracle! Next week I’m aiming for none. Can such a feat be achieved? Stay tuned!author JM Bray

Now on to my guest, a man set to break Feasty tradition. No, not because he’s a he – although this is unusual – but because he’s… American. Yes, today’s guest, J.M. Bray hails from Southern California.

I know, I know. Friday Feast is usually restricted to my enormously talented and glamorous Australian compatriots, but  J.M. asked nicely if he could and I said yes. ‘Tis good to have variety, plus J.M. is a member of the Romance Writers of Australia and is published by Australian publisher Escape. And he plays guitar and races a Porche, which, let’s face it, sounds pretty damn cool, so I think we can kind of claim him for today.

J.M.’s debut release is a new adult romantic fantasy novel called Tearing The Shroud and it looks a brilliant read. Take a peek.

 

TEARING THE SHROUD

 

Cover of Tearing The Shroud by JM BrayFall in love, be possessed, hunt a sorcerer and save the world — and Vincent thought calculus was tough.

1984 — Vincent expected college to be about freedom and girls, but then the nightmares of sorcery, monsters and other worlds began. Not even the surprising attention from his dream girl, Julie, could shake them.

Before he’s even nailed his second date with Julie, he’s possessed by Coleman, a warrior from another realm. Coleman is hell bent on defeating the monstrous Kafla who threatens to tear into Vincent’s reality, changing both his and Coleman’s worlds forever. They have one chance to stop them: Vincent must allow Coleman to share his body and wage war against the sorcerer.

Now it’s up to them, the women they love, and Vincent’s rag-tag bunch of role- playing and gaming friends to save the world, or see 1984 descend into the apocalypse.

 

See? Told you it sounded fantastic. It’s available now for immediate download to your e-reader, tablet, computer and phone.  Buy from Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, BigW ebooks, Google Play and JB Hi-Fi, or your favourite ebook retailer.

Loaded up? Excellent. Now enjoy this man-in-the-kitchen moment!

 

On Grandmother’s Stepstool

 

The earliest memory I have of a cooking is being on a stool next to my grandmother. We lived in a small house behind her home and every morning until I was five, I’d toddle down to her back porch where she waited for me. I can still here her say, “Come on, honey, help grandma cook.” Her heavy, white porcelain, gas stove with cast iron skillets and big pots bubbled and sizzled magically. I would watch as she fried bacon, then used the dripping to fry eggs, the centers soft and the edges a crispy dark brown from the bacon fat.

Photo of JM Bray Teaching his 2 year old grandson some kitchen skills

Teaching my 2 year old grandson some kitchen skills

My very first experience as a “cook” was near that time, stirring the white, sausage gravy. Yes, sausage, bacon, fried potatoes, eggs, fluffy biscuits (scones), coffee and juice was the normal breakfast. She was from the south, of Irish descent, born in 1898, five foot two inches tall and not a thin woman…which isn’t surprising given the food she made. Based on the time frame, I was about four. I’d stir the white gravy, with a spiraled whisk, careful to keep it from sticking as it thickened to a creamy consistency, later to be slathered over buttered biscuits.

Through years, she taught me how to bake bread (which she did twice a week until her death at age 81,) flip eggs without breaking them, make gravy and cook my favorite…potato soup. I once ate so much of it as a young teen that when I tried to stand afterward, I ended up on the kitchen floor. I learned my love for cooking at her side. I am the cook in our family and every time I lift a ladle or toss a spice in without measuring it, she is with me.

Today’s recipe is of that same soup…though I’ve made a slight improvement on her recipe. I think she’d approve. This soup, made by my protagonist for his girlfriend and her family, appears in Mending the Shroud, book two of the Shroud Trilogy. It will release mid-year through Escape Publishing. Consider this a preview.

In the Comments section post a fond memory of you have of a family recipe or cooking with grandma. We’ll roll the dice among the entrants and the winner will receive an ebook (.mobi or .epub) of my romantic fantasy novel, Tearing the Shroud.

 

 Potato Soup

 

Ingredients for potato soup

8 large-ish russet potatoes (about fist sized) peeled and cubed

1 medium onion chopped

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)

1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk

Water

Salt

Pepper.

Serves 6-8 as a full meal.

chopped onions

Chop the onions and put them in a large pot with the stick of butter on a low-medium heat to cook until transparent or slightly golden.

cooking the onions

While that’s cooking, peel the potatoes and cube them to about 3/4 inch.

chopped potatoes

When the onions are ready add the potatoes to the pot and stir carefully, coating them with the onion butter mixture. Add just enough water to come ¾ of the way up the potatoes.

Adding the potatoes to the pot

Bring to a light boil, cover and let cook until the potatoes break apart when poked with a fork. Check occasionally to make sure you don’t run out of water.

(This is the change from grandma. who boiled the potatoes and onion in a lot of water, poured it off, then added the butter. Which I think tosses away some of the potato-y-goodness)

Add the can of milk and mash with a hand potato masher…DO NOT MIX with a mixer or immersion blender. It breaks up the potato too much and makes it too starchy. You want the soup to have texture with little pieces of potato.

Potato soup 

If you need to thin the soup, use milk or half and half, not water.

Salt and pepper to taste. It takes much more salt than you’d think, so don’t be shy.

As you can see, this is not a health conscious recipe, but is it ever good! It is, however economical. For less than five dollars, you can serve a hearty meal for 6-8 people. This soup also works wonderfully as a starter for large dinners or banquets. When I’ve done this, I just multiply the ingredients for my crowd and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped chives just before bringing to the table.

Enjoy!

JM

 

I think we will enjoy, J.M. What a handy recipe. With that creamy, buttery spudly goodness I’m thinking it’ll taste awesome too.

So Feasters, we have another giveaway!

Share a fond memory of cooking with your grandma or a treasured family recipe and you’ll go into the draw to win an e-book copy of J.M.’s fab novel, Tearing The Shroud.

I have lots of wonderful memories of cooking with my Nanny. Mum used to go off to netball on Saturdays and I would spend the afternoon with my grandparents. During those hours Nanny taught me to bake and sew and do all sorts of house-wifely things. They were lovely times that I’ll always treasure.

What about you? Any sweet memories you can make us dewy-eyed with?

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 4th March 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about J.M. and his books, please visit his website. You can also connect via Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, and also through his blog.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Ebony McKenna

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Welcome to Friday Feast!

This week we’re getting magical. Not that we aren’t every week but this week we’re really magical… and ferrety. But more on that in a minute.

First, DID YOU SEE MY DARLING SYDNEY SWANS? Yes, footy is nearly here. My boys were magnificent in their NAB Challenge game last night against GWS which bodes well for the upcoming season, set to kick-off in just 21 sleeps. Not that I’m counting or anything…

Speaking of counting, in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, apparently I can’t add up. It turns out that I didn’t lose the Great Murray River Golf Challenge but in fact won it by two strokes. Rah! I think this is my first holiday golfing challenge win ever. I feel a glass of fizz is required to celebrate this milestone.

As should we all raise a glass of fizz to celebrate the release of young adult author Ebony McKenna’s third Ondine novel. Like the author herself, the Ondine series is simply gorgeous. How can you go wrong with a talking ferret called Shambles? Reviews for Ebony’s series have been amazing, like this for The Summer of Shambles: “One of the best and funniest books I have ever read! Don’t be a bampot, give this absolutely fantastic book a read, you won’t regret it.”

This latest instalment in the Ondine series is a cracker. Check it out.

 

ONDINE: THE WINTER OF MAGIC

 

Cover of Ondine: The Winter of Magic by Ebony McKennaThis third enthralling instalment in the young adult fantasy romance series takes a dark turn, as the country of Brugel descends into anarchy. Mutating magic is spreading across Europe. ‘Normals’ are developing supernatural powers at a startling rate and 16-year-old Ondine appears to be at the heart of it.

To unravel the mystery, Ondine and her boyfriend (and part-time ferret) Hamish infiltrate CovenCon, a gathering of hundreds of witches presided over by wanna-be-witch-queen Mrs Howser. There, she tempts Ondine with an intriguing offer – but can Mrs Howser be trusted? It transpires the powerful witch has her claws in the arrogant royal heir Lord Vincent, in a covert bid to control all of Brugel.

As dark magic riots break out in the nation’s capital, Ondine is left with a heart-breaking choice that could tear her apart from her beloved Hamish. Forever.

The Winter of Magic is the third novel in Ebony McKenna’s comedic and wonderfully weird four-part ONDINE series. Fans will devour this spellbinding adventure, which will have readers gasping in shock and laughing with delight. Occasionally at the same time.

 

What a hoot! The Ondine series is truly delightful for young and not-so-young readers alike. And you can own it right now with just a few clickety-clicks! Buy from Amazon for your Kindle, iTunes, Kobo and Nook. Go on. You’ll love this series I promise.

Now that you’re all bookified, come dipping with Ebony…

 

Do You Fondue?

 

I’m so happy to be sharing more foodie goodness with everyone on Friday Feast.

There’s something a bit nerdy about having a fondue kit. It can be one of those ‘great idea at the time’ gadgets that ends up hibernating in the back of the cupboard for years before throwing it out.

Being the proud nerd that I am, I have a fondue kit at home and it gets a fair bit of use.

Not an original from the 70s (I have to wait to inherit that heirloom), but a little ripper all the same. And while fondue is supposed to be about dipping bread into melted cheese during cold European winters, my version is all about dredging fruit into warm coconut-chocolate sauce during summer.

Healthy AND naughty. Because chocolate.

And coconut.

It’s quick, easy to make and only requires three basic ingredients (plus whatever fruit you like to dip).

The best bit is the compliments you’ll get from everyone as the fruit and choc fondue disappear!

As an added bonus, this recipe is dairy free, gluten free and suitable for vegans and celiacs.

 

Coconut Chocolate Fondue

You will need:

Coconut milk or coconut cream.

Cocoa powder

Coconut sugar (or any sugar really, but I’m hooked on Coconut sugar at the moment, and it’s low GI)

Fruits for dipping

Ingredients for Ebony's fondue

Method:

Put a couple of tablespoons of cocoa in a microwave safe bowl.

Pour in enough coconut milk to stir it into a thick paste.

Add a couple of teaspoons of coconut sugar.

Mixing Ebony's fondue

Bung it in the microwave for about a minute. The edges will bubble up but that’s OK.

Stir it all together and. Have a taste. Add more coconut milk and sugar so it’s just how you like it. You can microwave it again if the cocoa doesn’t taste “cooked”.

The finished fondue

Pour into a fondue bowl, sprinkle more coconut sugar on the top for decoration.

Light a candle underneath and get ready to dip your favourite fruits in.

The mix will become runnier the longer it sits over the fondue candle, but that’s part of the fun.

Add desiccated coconut to the fondue for more texture if you like.

Perfect for entertaining at a BBQ, date night or Eurovision Song Contest parties.

I’m having some right now as I celebrate the release of the third novel in my ONDINE series, The Winter of Magic.

In a nutshell, it’s about a teenage girl whose pet ferret talks with a Scottish accent. He’s not a real ferret, but a man living in reduced circumstances. Shambles offended a witch and she cursed him a good one!

Thank you once again Cathryn for the opportunity to share the recipe and some weird romance with your readers.

As a special treat, I’m giving away an ebook copy of ALL THREE BOOKS to one lucky commenter.

In the comments, share what fruit you would dunk in that lovely chocky fondue, or share a cheesy fondue story.

Love Ebony

 

Did you hear that, Feasters? A THREE BOOK GIVEAWAY! I’m wriggling in excitement here. How’s that for generosity? But I’d expect that from Ebony. She’s that kind of person.

So, what’s your fondue story? I had a wonderful fondue experience in Lyon, France. Outside it was snowing but we were snuggled up tight in a cosy restaurant with chunks of bread, a bottle of red and an artery-clogging cheese fondue, dipping and laughing. We nearly didn’t feel the cold walking back to our hotel afterwards… nearly.

Have you fondued? Dipped a few strawbs into caramel perhaps? Dribbled chocolate down your front after dipping with too much enthusiasm? Maybe you’ve never fondued but long to? That’s okay. Share your desire (or non-desire) anyway and we’ll put you in the draw to win the first three ebooks in Ebony’s wonderful Ondine series.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 25th February 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

Don’t have an e-reader? That’s okay, you can easily read ebooks on your computer, phone or tablet via downloadable apps. It’s easy!

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

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Heidi who has won the first 3 books in Ebony’s Ondine series. What a great lot of reading! Thanks to everyone who joined in the fun. What wonderful fondue memories we all have!

FRIDAY FEAST with Amy Andrews

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Are you feeling the luuuurve? Or are you suffering a touch of the bah humbugs over the day?

I’m on holidays so I’m most definitely feeling loved up. Er…*cough*… I’m not sure that came out quite right. I meant I’m feeling relaxed and happy with the world. Not the… um… you know, which is not something I want to talk about or you want to hear!

Okay, let’s start again.

Welcome to this Valentine’s Day version of Friday Feast featuring a lady who knows all about heart flutters, in more ways than one!Photo of Amy Andrews, author

But first, because I just know you are fascinated, this week’s edition of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Despite one day of brilliance, I’m losing the Great Murray River Challenge miserably. I swear my other half is cheating on his scorecard. Either that or he has snuck death-seeking balls into my bag. On the other hand, I’m having fun so not all is lost.

Now back to my guest. Amy Andrews has published forty books. Yes, FORTY. And if that isn’t enough, she’s been nominated for FIVE Australian Romance Readers Awards this year. Fortunately Amy is also a most excellent lady and we love her, despite her clear penchant for overachievement and making the rest of us look bad.

Amy’s latest release (and ARR Award nominee in both the Favourite Contemporary Romance and Sexiest Hero categories) is Holding Out For A Hero. Take a lookie…

 

HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO

 

Cover of Holding Out For A Hero by Amy AndrewsWhen sensible schoolteacher Ella Lucas rides into her home town on a Harley and seduces the resident football hero, Jake Prince, she figures she can be forgiven and move on. After all, she’s just buried her mother.

Two years later, back in the city, their paths cross again but this time Jake is in the process of destroying her favourite dive bar. With her home facing a wrecker’s ball, her school being closed down and her 15-year-old brother hell bent on self-destruction, it’s the last straw. Throw in a dominatrix best friend who is dating a blue ribbon guy so straight he still lives at home with his mother, it’s no wonder the sanest person in Ella’s life is a dog.

With all this to contend with, the last thing Ella needs is Jake back in her life. But, as fate would have it, Jake is the only chance she has to save her school.

As the school football season heats up, old secrets threaten to surface and Ella takes on greedy developers, school boards and national tabloids. But can she save not just her home, her school and her brother, but also the reputation of the man she’s never been able to forget? And, more importantly, does she want to?

Holding Out for a Hero is a quirky, heartwarming tale of unlikely romance, friendship and family.

 

Now that sounds seriously sexy! And Jake and Ella can be all yours with just a clickety-click from Amazon (for your Kindle or Kindle reading app), iTunes, Google Play and Kobo. It’s on my e-reader. Go and put it on yours!

Now come blow kisses at Amy. She has chooocooolate!

 

Claytons Cooking Part 2 – The Valentine’s Day chapter

Or

My Cheating Heart

 

So, we’ve already established I’m not a cook. That I cheat in the kitchen – often. That I construct dishes from pre-made ingredients and kind of smash it all up to make something new and exciting.

Yep, that’s the way we rock in my house. And everyone’s still alive and adequately nourished.

Yes, I’m a fraud who does not belong on such a magnificent blog with people who make their own spaghetti sauce. From scratch…

But Cathryn likes to indulge me so I thought I’d treat you to another easy-peasy food construction tip for Valentine’s Day!

Now…Valentine’s Day means chocolate right? Well, you know, it means love and romance and all that good stuff too but let’s face it, we’re women, right?

So….back to chocolate.

How about this Valentine’s Day you surprise your lover with some home-made chocolates? Well, you know, home-made in the loosest sense of the word….

The first thing you need is some chocolate moulds. Now, I used to have a stack of plastic moulds that I bought from Robin’s Kitchen years ago when I did this kind of stuff with the kids. I’m sure I had hundreds of them. No, I do have hundreds of them. I just couldn’t find any today when I came to do this recipe…. We food constructors are also bad at keeping track of our kitchen stuff… So I popped out and bought a proper you-beaut sturdy petit four tin. Impressive right?

Amy Andrews's petit fours tin

Next you need chocolate. What? You didn’t think I was actually going to make the chocolate did you? Perish the thought! But I do advise you to buy the most expensive cooking chocolate you can find – might as well dazzle your significant other with the taste of it, right? I used Cadbury. It’s more expensive than most but worth it.

Photo of the chocolate Amy used

Lastly you need stuff to mix in to the chocolate. I’ve used pistachios, coconut, peppermint essence, sprinkles and cranberries. Also Cointreau and rum. Because alcohol. But you can use whatever you want – chilli anyone?

Ingredients for flavouring the chocolates

Now all you do is melt the chocolate. You can get really authentic and do it in a double bowl over a boiling saucepan of water but why? Throw it in the microwave and it’s melted in like 1 minute! Plus, no saucepan to wash up!  Pour the melted chocolate into the individual moulds about half way up. Add whatever bits and pieces you’d like to each one, give it a gentle stir then fill the rest of the way with more chocolate.

Petit fours tin filled with chocolates

Refrigerate!

The end.

And here’s what they look like after they’ve been chilled a while.

The finished chocolates on a plate

Now, if you want to make it really special you can find a cute box or some cellophane and present them nicely. Knowing my hubby he’d prefer me to line them up on his naked body and lick them off after they’ve oozed a little but, you know, whatever works for you! 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day!

For a chance to win a digital copy of my Aussie romcom Holding Out For A Hero tell me – do you like chocolate? Got a favourite brand? Or do you prefer something non-edible for the big-day-of-lurve?

 

And a big chocolate-flavoured Valentine’s Day right back at you, Amy! I now have a fair idea of what you’re doing today. Don’t wear out your tongue!

*cough*

Oh, dear. We really are having one of those days on the Feast, aren’t we? Never mind. Valentine’s Day is but once a year. Next week we shall return to normal innuendo free programming.

But only after we’ve given away a Kindle copy of Holding Out For A Hero!

You heard Amy. Share your favourite chocolate or whatever turns you on for Valentine’s Day and you’ll go into the draw. Me, I have a deep, deep affection for Jeff de Bruge chocolates, a brand I fell for when we lived in France. Luscious little babies. My mouth waters just thinking of those truffles. Otherwise, feed me red wine.

What about you? Maybe you like to suck on a Lindt ball? Perhaps pink champagne is more your go? Or maybe the best Valentine’s Day gift you could receive is a promise to babysit and 12 hours uninterrupted sleep. Share and you could win!

Giveaway closes midnight AEST 18th February 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

Don’t have a Kindle e-reader? That’s okay. You can download the reading app to your phone, tablet, laptop or computer and read where you like. It’s easy!

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Ingrid who has won herself a copy of Amy’s Holding Out For A Hero. What fun she’ll have! Thanks to Amy and to all who joined in the Friday Feast fun. Hope to see you again soon.

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Victoria Purman

We’re baaaaaack!

Welcome to the first instalment of Friday Feast for 2014. And what a cracking year it’s going to be. Already slots are filling up fast, with a fantastic line-up of authors for your delectation.

How has your summer been so far? Stinking hot no doubt. It’s been a blistery one, that’s for sure. Never fear. You can be super cool with Friday Feast.

And now, because I just know you’re hanging out for Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, here’s a quick update: After three-putting 8 out of 18 holes the week before last and too many again last week, I fear my putter has developed yet another fault. Or my brain has. I suspect the latter. Sigh. But at least my new bright purple golfing outfit looks totally groovin’, even if it does make me resemble a grape-flavoured jube.Austrlalian author Victoria Purman

Speaking of groovin’, my guest today hails from my home state of South Australia, which naturally means she’s super talented as well as nice. Victoria Purman hit the charts with her debut novel Nobody But Him. Now she has a new romance on the shelves with the second in her Boys of Summer series.

Take a look at the utterly gorgeous Someone Like You.

 

SOMEONE LIKE YOU

 

Cover of Someone Like You by Victoria PurmanWhen Lizzie Blake knocks on the door of Dan McSwaine’s beach house at Middle Point, she barely recognises the man who answers. What ever happened to the guy who swaggered into her home town with a grin and left wither heart in his back pocket? Lizzie wonders if he’ll ever be that man again – and if she should risk everything she’s built her life on to help him.

Dan can’t normally bear to be more than ten minutes from a hip bar, an imported beer and a group of hot women. So what is he doing holed up in a falling down beach shack at Middle Point? All he knows is that he’s made some crazy decisions since the night a truck slammed into his care and almost killed him. The first one was to think that buying a crumbling piece of coastal real estate was a good idea. The second crazy decision was to try to hide away from the world when a woman like Lizzie Blake is determined to drag him right back into it.

 

Doesn’t that sound delicious? The perfect summer read. And it can be yours with a quick trip to your local independent bookseller or a trip to your nearest chain store. Or you can just click away at these retailers: For the print and ebook, try direct from the publisher, Harlequin, or Booktopia, Bookworld, and QBD The Bookshop. For the ebook, try Amazon (Kindle), Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, iTunes, Google Play, BigW or your favourite store.

All bookied up? Excellent. Now get cool with Victoria!

 

Summer Love Is Like No Other Love…

Neither Is The Food

 

It’s hot where I live.

In South Australia, we’re in the middle of our second heat wave of the summer, during which we’ll have temperatures of 40 degrees and above for ten days or more.  It’s been so hot that we consider 35 a cool change.

Victoria and her mum Emma

Victoria & her mum Emma

When it’s this hot, the last thing I feel like doing is cooking.

Funny that the heat doesn’t seem to dull my hunger, however.

This recipe is one of my summer standbys – handed down to me by my Hungarian mother, Emma.

You might by thinking that this is just a plain and simple potato salad. But the secret of its Hungarian deliciousness is the eggs – lots of eggs – and those delicious Euro-style gherkins.

My Mum serves it with her special-recipe crumbed chicken – which my three teenage boys aka The Hungry Horde – devour like it’s their last day on earth.

I cook up a huge batch of this salad and have it on hand on the fridge to fill the stomachs of The Hungry Horde with a cold chicken or some snags.

Oh, and it’s delicious with a cold beer.

Oma’s European-Style Potato Salad

European style potato salad

2kg potatoes

8 hard-boiled eggs

1 onion, very finely chopped

Finely chopped gherkins (the European kind)

Lovely mayonnaise – I use the whole egg kind

Salt and pepper to taste

Boil your potatoes and let them get cold. Peel them and slice them into a huge bowl.

Wait for your eggs to cool and break them up with a fork. I actually use one of this ginchy egg slicer doohickeys, which is fun as well as fast. Add the eggs to your potatoes, along with the finely chopped onion and gherkins.

Add your mayo a tablespoon at a time so you don’t over-mayo.

Stir. Voila! You have your wonderful, eggy deliciousness!

 

Oh, yumptious! Thanks, Victoria. I’m a complete sucker for potato salad at the best of times but add some eggs and we’re talking heaven! Perfect for this time of year, when we’re entertaining outdoors, picnicking and barbecuing.

Would you like to win a Kindle copy of Someone Like You? Well, here’s your chance. Reveal your favourite summer salad and you’ll go into the draw. I have a new one I’m rather enamoured of, made with baby spinach, chick peas, red onion, roasted sweet potato and other goodies, and dressed with a yoghurt and pomegranate molasses dressing. It is beautiful!

So what about you? Are you a traditionalist who loves nothing better than a crunchy coleslaw? Maybe you prefer a touch of exotica with some hot and sour Asian noodles to spice things up. Share away and you’ll go into the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight AEST Tuesday 11th February. Open to Australian addresses only.

Don’t have a Kindle e-reader? That’s okay. You can download the reading app to your phone, tablet, laptop or computer and read where you like. It’s easy!

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Iris who has won a Kindle copy of Victoria’s latest release Someone Like You. Thanks to everyone for playing along.