Oh, my lovely Feasters, what lucky people we are. Why? Because today on Friday Feast we’re off to the country, that fecund (ooh, I do so adore that word) land where so much of Australia’s fabulous produce originates. And who better to talk about country food and cooking than rural lit queen and best-selling author of Red Dust, Blue Skies and Purple Roads, Fleur McDonald.

Now, if you haven’t read any of Fleur’s books then someone ought to take you over their knee and paddle your bottom with a stale Iced VoVo because these are WONDERFUL books. Not only wonderful but important, because they’re stories about the people we so often take for granted – Australia’s farmers.

Here’s a look at Fleur’s latest release, Purple Roads, to give you a taste…




Anna and Matt Butler were childhood sweethearts with a dream of owning their own land, a dream they achieved through hard work and determination.

But as the seasons conspire against them and Matt is involved in a terrible accident, the couple face financial ruin and the loss of their farm.

As they fight for everything they hold dear, they suddenly find themselves caught up in events much bigger and more dangerous than they could ever have imagined.

Purple Roads is a story about maintaining faith in yourself, staying true to your ideals and, most of all, the belief that some things are worth fighting for.


Told you. A must-read. As is Fleur’s post!

Thanks Cathryn, for having me over today and especially to chat about one of my favourite things in the world; FOOD!

I am a foodie from way back, but I didn’t start off that way. Uh uh! My mum can’t cook anything but chops and three veg or chops and salad, so I didn’t have the best start into the world of food. However, both of my Nana’s were brilliant cooks – Nana Heaslip’s sponges, homemade bread rolls and chocolate chip biscuits were the world’s best and fed many a hungry shearer or workman. Nana Parnell’s Russian Toffee and pancakes were sublime.

Both Nana’s were also great gardeners (as all good station wives were) and in fairness to my Mum, she got the gardening gene as did my Aunty Jan, but she managed the cooking gene too. I only go the cooking one – can’t stand gardening.

My husband actually taught me to cook – oh I could do small things like chocolate cakes and pancakes, but anything else was a challenge, when I first met him. I remember cooking bacon and eggs for my brother one morning and he sent it back! ‘I like mine cooked a bit more.’ What? How rude!

So painstakingly and carefully, Anthony set about teaching me to read recipes and cook meals.

After a few dinner parties I realized how important food was in the social setting and making people feel comfortable. I announced no one was ever going to leave my house hungry, I was going to serve hearty home-cooked meals that people couldn’t get enough of. And I did. Well, still do. Lamb casseroles cooked on the grill of our tile fire, a joint in the Weber, chicken curries or crumbed lamb chops or steak. All served with homemade bread rolls… Yum! I admit I enjoy the eating side as much as I do the cooking!

I love to experiment with cooking and the place I like to visit most in my kitchen is Italian – an old friend turns forty the same year as I do (we have a little way to go yet, mind you!) but we’ve made a pact we want to go to Italy for our fortieths and eat. Not look at the scenery or anything like that, just eat! (I’m hoping I don’t come back the size of a house… That’s if I actually get to go!)

I think I have more recipe books than anyone I know! Maggie Beer is my all time favourite cook (along with my aunty and sister).

So, even though you may be met at the front garden with a pile of weeds knee high or a dead rose plant, you will be assured of a ‘good feed’ at my house. When are you coming?


Nana Heaslip’s Choc Chip Biscuits

Brilliant for hungry kids or shearers!

4 0z butter

2 oz sugar

2 tablesp Condensed Milk

6 oz SR Flour

2 oz dark chocolate (I put mine through a food processer so we get LOTS of little bits!)

Beat butter, sugar and condensed milk to cream.

Add flour and chocolate

Add a little bit of milk if you need to

Roll into balls and place on a tray

Cook in a hot oven for about 10 min until golden on top.


Thanks, Fleur. Those biccies sound wonderful. Mind you, anything with condensed milk in it is a winner in my book. AND  this recipe has the added bonus of only using 2 tablespoons of that moreishly sticky-sweet nectar, which leaves the rest of the tin for finger dipp—  er…I mean more *cough* cooking.

So, Feasters, how did you learn too cook? My grandmother taught me to bake but everything else I pretty-much learned myself. What about you? Were you one of those lucky children who, thanks to your foodie family, knew how to make a plate of pasta or cook a roast to perfection before you could walk? Perhaps you’re still learning the basics. Or maybe you’re a trained chef!

Share your experience and you could score one of Fleur’s gorgeous bookclub packs, including a shopping list notepad, bookmarks with bookclub questions, and a fridge magnet.

Closes midnight, Tuesday 17th April 2012 AEST. Australian addresses only.

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


This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Bec who has earned herself a Fleur book club pack. Thanks to everyone for your wonderful comments. It’s been fun as always.


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