FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona McArthur

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Greeting Feasty people, and welcome to what will be a truly fabulous edition of Friday Feast. This week, a rural romance to warm your heart, a travelogue from one of Australia’s most adored writers, cheese scones and a giveaway!

But first, the slow fade into sporting oblivion that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. So the Ricky Fowler Puma duds failed to channel any talent, and both my new golf shoes and oversized putter grip also let me down. Not one to be put off, this time round I’m seeing if a shiny new Fiona McArthur Authorgolf bag won’t help. I had to buy one because now the fat grip of my putter won’t fit into my old bag. Honestly, it’s like a tumbleweed this drama, it just  keeps on collecting!

To the good stuff! Please give a big tasty welcome to Fiona McArthur, one of my favourite guests. Fiona is a midwife, author and all-round gorgeous lady. She began her writing career penning medical romances for Mills & Boon, earning multiple award nominations, and now has over 30 novels in print in 12 languages. Fortunately for rural romance readers, Fiona turned her talents to our genre, releasing first Red Sand Sunrise and following up with The Homestead Girls, out this month.

Check it out.

THE HOMESTEAD GIRLS

The Homestead Girls by Fiona McArthurMoving to the outback to join the Flying Doctors will change Billie’s life forever.

After her teenage daughter Mia falls in with the wrong crowd, Dr Billie Green decides it’s time to leave the city and return home to far western NSW. When an opportunity to pursue her childhood dream of joining the Flying Doctor Service comes along, she  jumps at the chance. Flight nurse Daphne Prince – who is thrilled to have another woman join the otherwise male crew – and their handsome new boss, Morgan Blake, instantly make her feel welcome.

Just out of town, drought-stricken grazier Soretta Byrnes has been struggling to make ends meet and has opened her homestead to boarders. Tempted by its faded splendour and beautiful outback setting, Billie, Mia and Daphne decide to move in and the four of them are soon joined by eccentric eighty-year-old Lorna Lamerton.

The unlikely housemates are cautious at first, but soon they are offering each other frank advice and staunch support as they tackle medical emergencies, romantic adventures and the challenges of growing up and getting older. But when one of their lives is threatened, the strong friendship they have forged will face the ultimate test . . .

A heartwarming story of friendship, courage and compassion in the outback from internationally bestselling author Fiona McArthur.

You will LOVE this one, so get that clicking finger ready because here come all the buy links. Purchase The Homestead Girls from Booktopia, Angus & Robertson or Bookworld. You can also buy from Amazon.au, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, QBD the Bookshop, Abbey’s Bookshop, Fishpond, your favourite independent bookshop or chain store.

All clicked out? Excellent. Now kick back for a lovely journey with Fiona.

A Smile Around Every Corner

Thanks for asking me back, Cathryn, I can’t believe it’s a year since we shared picnic ideas together. But it must be, because my new Ruro Medical is out and about and I have another quick recipe.

Launched last week, THE HOMESTEAD GIRLS, is set in western NSW and around the iconic Broken Hill. Broken Hill. Now there’s a place with the unexpected smile around every corner.

The drive itself was a marathon, two days of eight hours for us, but it’s such a pleasure driving through the changing landscape and I can see why people hitch up caravans and head off to follow the sun.

The big research need this year was to soak in the landscape, research the flying doctor base, and savour a sojourn at a sheep station. See my fictitious Blue Hills Station. I called it Blue Hills because the barren looking hills are actually not barren, and one of the most common of those plants is Blue Bush, a species of Salt Bush. Kym made me chew some. I haven’t included the recipe here. Think salty string.

The main reference for my western NSW knowledge was Kym and John Cramps, the two person dynamos that run the station we stayed on. About half an hour out of Broken Hill lies Mt Gipps which used to be almost a million acres, well the original ‘broken-hill’ silver discovery was by a boundary rider on Mt Gipps Station, but the station covers around 85,000 acres now.

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They have accommodation, Shearer’s Quarters, Overseers Cottage and a Jillaroo’s Cottage (where we stayed which was a no-frills two bedroom house with everything you need) and all are down the hill from the sheep yards and shearing sheds. They were trucking out sheep the next morning so the timing was good to watch the action at the yards and Kym drove us around to see the breath-taking (bone dry) creek beds, gorgeously ghostly gums, and studded ridges. I can imagine budding geologists must have to fan themselves with excitement – even to me the glint of mica and multi-coloured rocks and formations were fascinating.

Kym offers Sunset Drinkies up on the ridge where you can see all the way to the machinery poking from the huge mine at Broken Hill, 40 kms away. The station is part of the Barrier Ranges, and in every direction the view is fabulous with a rustic utility shell to use as a backdrop for photos. To make it even better the company is a hoot and it turned out my husband did his ambulance training with Kym more than 30 years ago. How typical of travelling is that!

We took photos, drank bubbles and munched on nibblies as the sun went down. I was definitely going to have a scene here. From THE HOMESTEAD GIRLS out now!

“They were climbing up the last part of the track and she could see it wouldn’t be much further to the flat spot on top of the range.

Someone had dragged a rusted 1940’s utility as a car burial ground feature against the sparse scenery. It added a surreal quality with the wheel-less chassis resting on the ground and a tumble of larger granite rocks piled around it.

The golden ball of the sun was almost to the distant skyline, and the undulating ranges behind them were dusted red-gold with the reflection. Long shadows stretched from rocks and stunted trees and side of the rusted vehicle cabin and she leant against it to watch the shadows lengthen.

Morgan opened the creaking door and gestured her in. ‘Where would you like to go.’

She declined. ‘I like a few springs on my seat when I travel.’

He laughed. ‘There’s no pleasing some women.’ Then he shut the door on the empty cab so she could lean against it and they both turned to the view.

‘This is really beautiful.’

Morgan shifted up next to her and leant his hip against hers. ‘Scenery’s good too.’

She turned her face towards him and he leant forward and took her hand. Stroked her fingers. Waited for a reaction.

She stared down at their fingers entwined. How long since a man had done this simple caress? Since she’d let one?  The gentleness was so beautiful she just allowed herself the luxury of receiving without comment or movement.

Not a good enough response for Morgan apparently. ‘Dead fish,’ he said, and shook her wrist and she laughed though she felt like a shy schoolgirl on her first date.

‘I was waiting to see your moves,’ she quipped. It was his turn to laugh.

‘Oh. I’ve got moves.’

A sunset scene 🙂

But to food. You all know how I just LOVE to cook. Not! But I do have these sudden urges to make something I can slather butter on – and eat at sunset. Hence my cheese scones. It was actually Cathryn’s fault because she did cheese bread and it made me hungry. You reckon THAT bread was made in a hurry. Ha! I’m known as Mrs Quick!

Fi’s Mrs Quick Cheese Scones

(half recipe because there was only two us of that day)

Buttered cheese scones

1 ½ cups wholemeal self-raising flour

small pinch salt and a decent shake of parmesan from the container with holes.

half cup milk

60 gram butter (I melt it and put it in the milk)

Chuck all that in a bowl, stir with a knife, should all stick together. Then turn it out onto baking paper (means you don’t have to flick flour everywhere as it didn’t stick) and form by pressing with your hands it into a small, 2 cm high, flat ball.

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Really important – sip a small glass of Caramel Tequila, then use the glass to cut the scones.

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Lean them up against each other, melt another 80gms of butter and paint the tops of them, sprinkle with liberal grated cheese, and re-arranging them on the same baking paper ( I gingerly lift that onto a tray)  to cook for 10-15 mins in a very hot oven. I have a ‘smart’ oven that turns itself off so I don’t burn things.

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Break apart, slather with butter (otherwise they are incredibly dry – but they were quick!) and afterwards throw away the baking paper and you don’t even have to wash the tray.  I know, I’m a cooking heathen, but I LOVE writing books.

What’s your favourite food to nibble on? Do you have something you whip out at unexpected sunset parties. The quicker the better. I really would love to know and there’s a signed copy of THE HOMESTEAD GIRLS for the favourite recipe.

Cheers xxFi

Did you hear that, lovelies? We have a…

GIVEAWAY!

For your chance to win a signed copy of Fiona’s brand spanking new rural romance, The Homestead Girls, simply reveal your favourite quick food to munch on or a rapid and sure-fire recipe for surprise moments and you’ll go into the draw.

I’m going to say my easy-peasy cheesy bread from my recent Friday Feast, as mentioned by Fiona above. Fast and delicious! What about you?

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 7th July 2015. 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.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

25 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona McArthur

    1. AvatarFi

      Thanks Rachel. Ditto re loving your books. 🙂 Seriously, loved Broken Hill, and they love writers visiting, too. Road trip! 🙂 xxFi

  1. AvatarSarah Mary

    I love grilled cheese on toast! So quick, easy and you really can’t go wrong! Sometimes I’ll be more extravagant with the toppings, but cheese is everyone’s favourite

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      Oh yes, a definite crowd pleaser, Sarah. Everything taste better with cheese!! Well, maybe not everything but most things. Not sure cheese and choc go together…

  2. AvatarDelores Bebbington

    Absolutely love cheese scones, so if we’re talking cheese and nibbles. try these cheese straws.
    Cheese Straws
    2 sheets of puff pastry
    1 egg
    A mixture of grated parmesan and cheddar
    Paprika
    Method;
    Brush pastry sheets with egg mix and cut into strips. cover evenly with grated cheese and sprinkle paprika over the top. Taking the opposite ends of each strip twist a few times and lay onto baking sheet. Repeat until all strips are completed and use the left over cheese to sprinkle over strips. Pop into hot oven for ten minutes. Serve with your favourite dip i.e. hummus or eat as is. Yummy with Semi-Sav Blanc. Loved ‘Red Sand Sunrise Fiona and looking forward to ‘The Homestead Grls’

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      Oh, YUMMO! What a fab easy recipe, Delores. They sound great and can be whipped up in moments. Just the thing for when people pop in. Lovely, especially with a nice glass of something. Speaking of which, is it wine o’clock yet?!

      Thanks for sharing and good luck in the draw.

  3. AvatarFi

    Lovely, thanks Delores. Reckon I could make those. Paprika is a fab idea, too. Love it on fried mushrooms too. So glad you enjoyed Red San Sunrise. Good luck with the copy of Homestead Girls up for grabs today 🙂 xxFi

  4. AvatarTrish Morey

    I LOVE cheese scones. Almost as much as I loved reading The Homestead Girls. You really had me in places, Fiona, really had my heart strings tugging or me cheering for the girls – I felt their pain, their joy and their fear – fabulous, fabulous read! (So don’t put me in draw, I couldn’t wait:))

    But couldn’t help but comment about cheese scones. And Delores’ cheese straws! These are so good! I made them recently for a dinner for pre dinner drinks. Sadly they didn’t make it, and I realised I would need three times the quantity and figured I’d rather keep that treat for when there’s fewer of us around:)

    Must be the cheese. Mmmmm. But then I have a thing for “ch” words. Cheese. Chocolate. Chips. Chorizo…

    🙂

    Trishx

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      Ooh, what an endorsement for Delores’s cheese straws. Thanks, Trish. They’re definitely going on the to-make list. Just so happens I have some puff pastry in the freezer right now.
      And LOVELY comments about The Homestead Girls. Unsurprising though. Fiona’s a great author.

  5. AvatarFi

    Laughing at the cheese twists that didn’t make it, Trish. And thank you for kind words re THG. It’s been a lovely journey . Thanks for dropping in and can’t wait for Cherry Season
    By Trish Morey xx Fi

  6. AvatarNoelene Jenkinson

    Hope this recipe isn’t too complicated!! It’s for my simple Pastry Savoury Nibbles.
    Start with 1 or more sheets of frozen puff pastry [depending on mixture quantity and how many you want to make] cut into circles to fit shallow non stick baking pans. If you can’t be bothered waiting for 10 minutes until it thaws, use whole slices of bread out of the packet and leave uncut until cooked].
    Chop up roughly equal quantities of an onion, some bacon or sliced ham, grab a handful of already shredded packet cheese [tasty, light, whatever] and toss it into the bowl. Throw in a pinch or two of dried parsley [saves chopping up fresh but you can do that too], crack in an egg, stir it all together and spread thickly on the bread or spoonfuls into pastry cups. Really hot oven [200°+] for 15 mins for bread, 20 mins for pastry.
    While they’re baking, tumble 2 ice cubes into a splash of brandy then munch on savouries when done.
    Warning, grandchildren tend to burn their hands grabbing them while still hot out of the pan or off the tray.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      I remember those from when I was a kid, Noelene! They were such a favourite at parties and were always the first to go. Although the versions I remember were always made with bread, and sometimes just left flat and toasted. Whatever shape, they were DELICIOUS! Thanks so much for sharing. I bet your grandchildren adore them.

  7. AvatarFi

    Ah, Noelene, I particularly like the brandy splash with ice, ( I was a bit slow as I read through and thinking how does that fit in the recipe until it dawned on me with a big grin) but the rest sounds yummy too. Yep, I can handle the simplicity of that recipe. 🙂 Thanks so much and really lovely to touch base with you.
    xxFi

  8. AvatarNoreen Allan

    Love all the cheese recipes and love Fiona’s books. My mother did her midwifery in Broken Hill in about 1941. My recipe is simple and goes great with drinks. You need a lot of basil, chopped finely. Put it into a bowl and add about 250gms mozzarella cheese. Combine. Have a moderately hot oven and a baking paper lined tray. Put teaspoon sized heaps on the tray and cook until melted. You could also try chilli flakes with the cheese instead. They go hard once cooled. The blokes like them with a beer.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      I’d love those with a beer too, Noreen!! I’ve done similar with Parmesan which you can form into little cups or wafers but never with mozzarella, so definitely one to try. Plus mozzarella and basil are a marriage made in heaven. Impossible to go wrong!

  9. AvatarFi

    Wow Noreen, basil and Mozzarella? And it just goes hard, nice. Crunchy, too, I’ll bet. Will try. Would be nice with slivers of sweet potato sprayed with olive oil, I use the potato peeler for them and they’d lie next to these on the tray very nicely in the oven. Thank you, will try. And thank you for your kind words about my books. Still pinching myself the next one is out there.
    And how fab your mum trained in Broken HIl.. I’ll bet she has some stories. Did you know our current chief nurse of NSW trained in Broken Hill? She’ s an amazing woman and doing a brilliant job.
    warmest regards and lovely to hear from you too
    xxFi

  10. AvatarMissy

    I’ve always wanted to visit Broken Hill – even more so now!
    Those cheese scones sound amazing – i will have to make some for morning tea on friday with friends.
    My go to easy peasy recipe is the 4 cup loaf:
    1 cup sr flour
    1 cup milk
    1 cup desiccated coconut
    1 cup sugar (any sugar – I tend to use brown)
    1 cup ‘other stuff’ ie choc chips, fruit pieces etc. My favourite combo is dark chocolate & craisins.
    then put in loaf tin & bake in moderate oven for 40-45 mins.
    Always a winner and I don’t have to think about it.
    i have another one that I love but you have to think forward at least 6 hours and with a 9 month old, that’s sometimes impossible.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      I bet that recipe is a winner, Missy. It sounds fab and so easy too! I can picture that with dried apricots. Mmmm.

      Thanks so much for sharing and for playing along. I’m just about to email Fiona to ask her to choose her winner. Stay tuned!

  11. AvatarFi

    Hello there Missy,
    sorry I’m late. I read your lovely comment yesterday just before work and ran out of time but love the sound of your loaf. Will try. Yum. And thanks, six hours in advance is so not my style and I don’t even have a 9 mth old. 🙂
    Broken Hill is a fun place and I hope you get there.
    warmest wishes
    xxFi

  12. AvatarFi

    Thanks so much everyone, the name out of the Akubra was Missy, so glad I didn’t have to decide and the hat did, but a worthy winner and I do love the simplicity of those measurements. Thank you one and all for dropping in and Cathryn for having me, and I hope to see you here next year xxFi
    Missy if you could drop me an email via my contact page, please, at FionaMcArthurAuthor.com with your address, I’ll post that out to you tomorrow 🙂

  13. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

    Thanks to Fiona for her wonderful post (Broken Hill has now zoomed up the bucket list) and to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun. What clever clogs you all are with those easy recipes!

    Congratulations to Missy who has won Fiona’s giveaway. Some wonderful reading ahead for her with The Homestead Girls. Hope to see you all again soon for another delicious Feast.

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