Greetings, Feasters, from (sort of) sunny South Australia. I’ve been on a library tour all week around the south east of the state, chatting about Heart of the Valley and my journey to publication, plus whatever else I go off on a tangent about. And it’s been huge fun! Delightful crowds who ask lots of questions, and the hospitality of the library staff has been wonderful. There are links on my Facebook page to photos if you want to take a look, and a radio interview I did which was rather fun.
Heart of the Valley has been earning some amazing reviews, which is really heart-warming. How about this one from Shelleyrae at Book’d Out.
Heart of the Valley is a novel about letting go and moving forward that mixes tender romance with heartfelt drama. I finished Heart of the Valley with a contented sigh for a story well told and a longing for a horse of my own. Cathryn Hein has joined my ever growing list of must read Australian women writers.
Heart Of The Valley is an excellent addition to the ever-growing rural lit genre – it showcases a beautiful area, contains wonderful, well thought out characters that I really, really enjoyed and I felt the story was rounded and well paced.
And the Facebook comments keep coming too. So on the off chance you haven’t seen Heart’s cover or read the blurb, and to keep the Friday Feast posts consistent and me from getting twitchy about them not matching, here it is again!
Brooke Kingston is smart, capable and strongwilled some might even say stubborn and lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley on her family property. More at home on horseback than in heels, her life revolves around her beloved ‘boys’ showjumpers Poddy, Oddy and Sod.
Then a tragic accident leaves Brooke a mess. Newcomer Lachie Cambridge is hired to manage the farm, and Brooke finds herself out of a job and out of luck. But she won’t go without a fight.
What she doesn’t expect is Lachie himself a handsome, gentle giant with a will to match her own. But with every day that Lachie stays, Brooke’s future on the farm is more uncertain. Will she be forced to choose between her home and the man she’s falling for?
A vivid, moving and passionate story of love and redemption from the author of Promises.
Right, enough promo, it’s FOOD TIME!
I had planned to write another Heart of the Valley themed post, maybe sharing another Nancy Burrows-style, hearty country recipe, but then I realised that Sunday was Mother’s Day. Given Jim and I move around quite a bit, and sometimes reside long distances from our families, we don’t get to see our mums as often as we’d like and it’s rare for us to spend Mother’s Day with them. Things are easier for me now we’re in Melbourne because that makes Mount Gambier only a 4 ½ (give or take a bit) hour drive away, but it’s still not pop-around-the-corner easy.
So this will be the first Mother’s Day I’ve been able to spend with Mum for donkey’s. To celebrate, we’re planning a nice family brunch on Sunday morning at Mum and Dad’s. There’ll be fresh eggs from my brother’s chooks, maybe a bit of bacon or some chipolatas if I can track some tasty ones down, fruit, cereal, toast and whatever else we can think of. Simple, but good. Anyway, like most celebrations the food won’t really matter. It’s the company that counts.
If I was home, though, and had all my cooking toys at hand, I’d probably try something a bit fancier. In fact, I’d probably make it a Mother’s Day lunch instead of a brunch because then I’d have an excuse to crack a bottle of fizz. Always feels a bit naughty to drink fizz in the mornings, even for a champagne breakfast on Melbourne Cup day, but lunch is another matter. There’s something deliciously indulgent about it, and let’s face it, Mother’s Day is all about indulging Mum.
But if you’re considering lunch for your mum and have a bit of time to prepare, here’s a recipe that might appeal. Serve with a nice green salad, and a glass of crisp white wine, rosé or even fizz, throw in good company, and you have yourself the makings of a perfect afternoon.
LEEK, FETTA AND TOMATO TART
This will make much more than you need, but it’s very hard to measure half an egg. Refrigerate or freeze the rest for another time.
225g (1 ½ cups) plain flour
90g butter, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon cold water (you may need more)
Place flour and butter in a food processor and whizz until crumbly (or use the tips of your fingers to rub butter into flour). Add egg and water and pulse until a ball forms. You may need to add extra water. Tip out onto a floured surface and knead lightly. When smooth, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180°C
Take a 35cm by 13cm loose bottomed tart tin and line it with pastry. Rolling out the pastry can be extremely painful so just use your fingers to press balls into the tin until a nice shell forms. Bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, halved, washed and white part very thinly sliced
200g pancetta or good smoky bacon, cut into small fine batons
1 clove garlic, crushed
A few good handfuls of baby spinach
100g fetta, crumbled
6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
3 or so tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Add leek, garlic and pancetta and cook over medium heat until the leek is nice and soft and starting to caramelise a little. Add spinach and wilt.
Spread leek mixture over the cooked pastry case. Top with fetta.
Whisk eggs with Parmesan cheese and then stir in cream until well-combined. Pour over leek mixture. Dot surface with halved cherry tomatoes.
Bake 30 minutes or until set. Serve warm.
I’d love to hear what would make a perfect Mother’s Day for you, or even how you plan to celebrate with your mum. Maybe you get to flop around in your PJs all day with people waiting on you hand and foot. Perhaps you’ll be picnicking or adventuring or doing something completely indulgent. Maybe Sunday will find you whipping up your favourite recipe for your mum. I bet there are some wonderful ideas out there we could all gain inspiration from.